Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2015

26
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2015

On March 26, 1734, the British House of Commons voted £10,000 to subsidize the Georgia colony, down from £26,000 the previous year.

On March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise, the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published. The author was 23 years old.

On March 26, 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Washington, DC for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the design approved a couple weeks earlier was by 21-year old Yale architecture student Maya Lin.

Under the Gold Dome Today

So far this year, Governor Nathan Deal has signed ten bills into law. This is the same pace as last year, and most of the legislation signed to date has been local.

It is being widely reported that Gov. Deal will sign House Bill 1 at 11 AM at the Capitol tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2015 on the steps of the State Capitol.

8:00 AM House Env’tal Quality Sub Natl Res 606 CLOB
8:00 AM SENATE FINANCE – CANCELED 307 CLOB
8:00 AM SENATE REGULATED IND AND UTILITIES 310 CLOB
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 37) HOUSE
12:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVIVCES 341 CAP
12:00 PM SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS DEV 403 CAP
1:00 PM SENATE INTERSTATE COOP 123 CAP
1:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE AND TECH 310 CLOB
1:00 PM SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS 450 CAP
2:00 PM House Tax Reform Sub Ways & Means 133 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB
2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1
2:00 PM SENATE REAPP’T AND REDISTRICTING 307 CLOB
2:30 PM Joint High School Athletics Overview/SB 288 506 CLOB
3:00 PM SENATE HIGHER ED – CANCELED 310 CLOB
3:00 PM SENATE VETERANS, MILITARY 125 CAP
3:00 PM SENATE NAT’L RESOURCES AND ENV’T 450 CAP
4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

Senate Rules Calendar

HB 397 – State Soil and Water Conservation Commission; revise provisions; provisions (As Passed House) (Substitute) (AG&CA-49th) Knight-130th

HB 106 – Highways; revise what constitutes part of the state highway system; provisions (As Passed House) (Substitute) (TRANS-19th) Roberts-155th

HB 177 – Social services; school personnel required to report child abuse shall be notified by child protective agency upon receipt of report and completion of investigation; provide (As Passed House) (H&HS-45th) Wilkerson-38th

HB 183 – Home Care Patient Protection Act; enact (As Passed House) (H&HS-13th) Knight-130th

HB 225 – Local government; all for-hire drivers obtain a for-hire license endorsement before driving for hire; provide (As Passed House) (Substitute) (S&T-21st) Powell-32nd

HB 252 – J. Calvin Hill, Jr., Act; enact (As Passed House) (GvtO-56th) Caldwell-20th

HB 263 – Criminal Justice Coordinating Council; advisory board to the council for juvenile justice issues; provide (As Passed House) (Substitute)(JUDYNC-18th) Coomer-14th

HB 299 – Contracts; provide for definitions; provisions (As Passed House) (B&FI-49th) Dunahoo-30th

HB 347 – Interest and usury; interest on certain domestic relations cases; clarify provisions (As Passed House) (JUDY-54th) Hightower-68th

HB 353 – Nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions; revise definitions; revise provisions (As Passed House) (H ED-40th) Rogers-29th

HB 505 – Physical therapists; licensure and regulations of therapists and therapy assistants; revise various provisions (As Passed House) (Substitute) (H&HS-52nd) Cooper-43rd

HR 304 – Georgia’s technical schools, colleges and universities; expand gerontology and dementia education and training; encourage (As Passed House) (H ED-1st) Cooper-43rd

House Rules Calendar

Modified Open Rule

HR – 640 Joint Study Committee on Health, Education, and School-Based Health Centers; create (Substitute)(H&HS-Broadrick-4th)

HR – 641 Joint Study Committee on Children’s Mental Health; create (Substitute)(H&HS-Dempsey-13th)

SB 119 – “Water Professionals Appreciation Day”; designate the first Monday in May of each year in Georgia (NR&E-Smith-70th) Jeffares-17th

SR 26 – Joint House and Senate Coastal Greenway Study Committee; create (ED&T-Stephens-164th) Ligon, Jr.-3rd

Modified Structured Rule

SB 100 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic; provide for applicability with current federal reg. in the safe operations of motor carriers and commercial motor vehicles (Substitute)(MotV-Greene-151st) Harper-7th(Rules Committee Substitute LC 39 1057S)

SB 101 – Soil Erosion and Sedimentation; provide for buffer against coastal marshlands within which certain land-disturbing activities are prohibited (NR&E-Stephens-164th) Watson-1st (AM 40 0138)

SB 194 – Pharmacists and Pharmacies; certain provisions shall not apply; facility engaged solely in the distribution of dialysate, drugs; patients with end stage renal disease (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Jeffares-17th

SB 195 – Bonds and Recognizances; increase fees allowed for continuing education programs (Substitute)(JudyNC-Harrell-106th) Williams-27th

Yesterday

House Bill 393, the bill that would allow Tesla Motors to own up to five dealerships in Georgia and sell their cars to buyers, passed the Senate on a vote of 48-44.

Medical Marijuana

The Georgia House voted to agree to the Senate version of House Bill 1, which allows the medical use of oil derived from marijuana for eight conditions, for adults or children, with a doctor’s prescription. Pictured below are the bill’s primary sponsor, State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), with Janea Cox and Haleigh Cox, for whom the bill was named.

Victory Lap 2

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle,

The state House of Representatives passed the medical marijuana bill 160-1, ending two years of struggle to exempt from prosecution Georgians in possession of cannabidiol.

The bill began last year as an effort to help children with seizure disorders. After it died on the final day of the 2014 legislative session, 17 families moved from Georgia to Colorado so their children could get access to the drug.

“House Bill 1 brings them all home,” Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, the bill’s chief sponsor, said shortly before Wednesday’s vote. “House Bill 1 provides relief from pain and hope for a lot of citizens in our state.”

Channel 46 from Macon also covered the bill’s passage.

The Forsyth family who inspired the state’s medical marijuana bill is finally coming home.

There was a standing ovation inside the House of Representative’s chambers for Janea Cox and her five-year-old daughter Haleigh as a dream more than a year in the making came true.

“It takes a huge weight off our shoulders, that we don’t have to stay in Colorado for another year to wait for legislation to pass,” Cox said.

Cox was there as House lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the Senate’s revised version of House Bill 1. She cried and hugged Rep. Allen Peake as the results from the vote came back 160 to 1. The medical marijuana measure will help her come back to Georgia and reunite with her husband she left in Forsyth.

“He gets to be with us, we get to be a family, and we get to come home,” she said.

The mother reached out to Peake last year as a final effort to get help for Haleigh.

“To be able to see her now, where she smiles at me and makes eye contact and says mama…we know she’s in there. We just have to dig her out from the seizure meds,” Cox said.

Of course, this is a great day for the Georgians who will find relief and it provides hope for those whose conditions are not covered by this law but who see promise in CBD-oil treatment. It is my sincere hope that Georgia’s citizens will see this as proof that one person can make meaningful changes in Georgia through the legislative process with the support of their elected representative. This is truly a feat of the legislature coming together to reflect the changing facts and feelings of their constituents.

Autism coverage

Not so much with Autism, whose sufferers got tied up in last year’s medical marijuana legislation. Yesterday, House Insurance Committee Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) took to the well to say, “Senate Bill 1 will not pass…. I’m telling the children over there to put up or shut up,” clearly referring to the Senate as children.

Senate Bill 1 would require small business healthcare plans to pay for some types of Autism treatment.

Rumor is the Senate Rules Committee had been blocking legislation authored by members of the House Insurance Committee to pressure Smith to allow SB1 out of Committee.

Smith did offer a way forward, stating that he will introduce legislation for a fractional sales tax of 2/10 of a percent to fund Austism treatment for Georgia children. My fear is that someone else is already planning to grab 8/10 of a percent to make it an even penny.

Transportation Tax

Senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen) took to the well yesterday to attempt to pass a measure that would restrict the ability of Senators appointed to a conference committee on HB 170, the Transportation Tax Bill, to agree to any compromise that did not remove the sales tax exemption on jet fuel that primarily benefits an airline headquartered in Atlanta. House conferees are Transportation Committee Chair Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla), State Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming) and Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), while the Senate contingent comprises President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth), Transportation Chair Tommie Williams (R-Lyons), and Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega).

Opportunity School District

Governor Deal’s plan to put on the 2016 ballot a Constitutional Amendment creating an “Opportunity School District” that could take over consistently failing schools from local board control narrowly passed the House with the requisite Constitutional supermajority. Senate Resolution 287, which authorizes the statewide referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution garnered 121 “Yea” votes, reaching the 2/3 majority required to place an Amendment on the ballot.

Senate Bill 133, the companion “enabling legislation” that governs how an Opportunity School District will operate if the Amendment is passed by voters required only a majority and passed the House by a 108-53 margin.

From Maggie Lee, writing for the Macon Telegraph,

Its superintendent would report directly to the governor and have broad powers to choose schools for the program, select goals for each school and decide on the principal.

That principal and the Opportunity School District would make decisions about staff, curriculum and school finances.

The superintendent also could waive certain state school rules, but nothing relating to safety or civil rights.

Any failing charter school would get a new board named by the superintendent.

Critics such as state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, voted against it. He said it’s a bad idea to put so much power in the hands of an appointed person who may not know an area’s particular problems and strengths.

“I think that Bibb County is a shining example of a dysfunctional board (of education) that became functional because they started to reason with one another, and no strong arm of the state government had to come in,” he said.

House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, asked his colleagues to join him in a “yes” vote to create the Opportunity School District.

“When a school chronically remains in failing status … all of us have failed the children of Georgia attending that school,” O’Neal said.

The targeted schools are ones that have spent at least three years at the bottom of a state Department of Education scorecard on student achievement and progress.

Cityhood Bills Advance…Shakily

The Georgia Senate yesterday passed cityhood bills for Levitas Del Boco LaVista Hills and Tucker with changes to the border between the two prospective municipalities. Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) carried the bills and spearheaded the changes over the strenuous objection of Sen. Elena Parent (D-Druid Hills). Those changes to lines carefully negotiated in the House also carry the realistic possibility of the whole thing imploding.

The highlight of the entire day came when Sen. Millar was in the well and a colleague of his rose to ask, regarding the importance of naming cities, whether Millar, “ever considered calling the entire area the Greater Mother Tucker area.” I’d offer ClusterTuck as an alternative description.

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