Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 8, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 8, 2017

On February 8, 1751, the first session of the Georgia Provincial Parliament adjourned, having convened on January 15, 1751.

On February 8, 1955, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the General Assembly calling on Congress to require racial segregation in the military.

On February 8, 1956, the Georgia State House adopted a resolution purporting to hold the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education null and void.

On February 8, 1981, R.E.M. held their first recording session at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, recording “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” as well as others.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced the appointment of Paige Reese Whitaker as Superior Court Judge for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.

Gov. Deal also unveiled the latest video in the “Real Teachers, Real Voices” campaign.

This initiative, which highlights exceptional educators around the state, stems from feedback from Deal’s Teacher Advisory Committee. “Why I Teach” features Eric Crouch, an educator at Double Churches Elementary in Columbus and the 2016 Georgia Milken Educator.

“School is such an amazing place. It is a place where children from all different walks of life come together to try and find common solutions to the challenges we will face tomorrow … teaching is very rewarding and fulfilling.

“It wasn’t until later in my life that I found my purpose. When I got to college I had a professor who showed me the true art and beauty of teaching, and it was then that I knew what teaching could be for me. It was there that I found my hope and my inspiration, and I wanted to give that same hope and inspiration to my students. That is why I became a teacher.”

The Ledger-Enquirer has more on the teacher featured in the video.

In November, Crouch was honored as the only Georgian among the 35 U.S. educators to receive a 2016 Milken Educator Award. The awards are nicknamed the “Oscars of Teaching.”

Crouch, who serves on Gov. Nathan Deal’s Teacher Advisory Committee, was among the 10 semifinalists for the Muscogee County School District’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Award.

In January 2015, Crouch was among the five teachers featured on North America’s largest billboard, displayed in New York City’s Times Square, in the advertisement for DonorsChoose.org, a website that helps teachers raise money for educational projects. Crouch’s fundraising enabled his classroom to receive items totaling at least $20,000, such as 20 iPads, 20 iPods, a 3D printer and hundreds of books.

Committee Meetings for Legislative Day 14

8:00 AM House Energy Sub of Energy, Util, and Telecom 515 CLOB

8:30 AM URBAN AFFAIRS 125 CAP

9:00 AM House RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM House FLOOR SESSION (LD 14) CHAMBER

12:00 PM SENATE RULES – Upon Adj’t 450 CAP

1:00 PM INSURANCE & LABOR – CANCELED MEZZ 1

1:00 PM NATURAL RES & ENV’T – CANCELED 450 CAP

1:00 PM House Fleming Sub House Jud’y (Civil) 403 CAP

1:00 PM House GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS 406 CLOB

1:00 PM House Ways & Means Sub Public Finance & Prop 133 CAP

1:30 PM House APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY 415 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE – CANCELED 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM House SMALL BUSINESS 606 CLOB

2:00 PM House STATE PLANNING 515 CLOB

2:00 PM House STATE PROPERTIES 403 CAP

2:00 PM House BANKS AND BANKING 341 CAP

2:30 PM House Ways & Means Income Tax Sub 133 CAP

2:30 PM House APPROPRIATIONS FULL 341 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFF 450 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INST 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOV’T OPS MEZZ 1

3:00 PM House MEDICAL CANNABIS WORK GRP 406 CLOB

3:00 PM House INDUSTRY & LABOR 506 CLOB

3:30 PM House HIGHER EDUCATION 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y Group B Sub 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 69 – Packaging, Labeling and Registration of Organic Products and Certifying Entities; registration requirement; eliminate (AG&CA-50th)

SB 78 – Adulteration and Misbranding of Food; Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a variance to certain rules and regulations; authorize (AG&CA-24th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HB 39 –Real estate professionals; disciplinary actions and sanctions; change certain provisions (RegI-Powell-32nd)
HB 74 – Insurance; life risk-based capital trend test to comply with accreditation standards; change (Ins-Taylor-173rd)
HB 92 – Insurance; automobile or motorcycle policies; expand definition of policy (Ins-Carson-46th)
HB 127 – Insurance; nonprofit medical and hospital service corporations; revise provisions (Ins-Smith-134th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 76 – Superior courts; change certain requirements and certifications for certain maps, plats, and plans for filing with clerk; provisions (Judy-Jasperse-11th)

Autism would be included among conditions eligible for medical cannabis under legislation passed out of the Senate HHS Committee yesterday.

Senate Bill 16 is the first of several bills dealing with the law’s expansion to move this year, although medical marijuana advocates oppose the bill because it would also roll back the maximum THC level in the cannabis oil now allowed here.

THC is the component in the drug that makes people high. The law allows the possession of cannabis oil with up to 5 percent THC. The legislation would reduce that maximum to 3 percent. Parents of children who take oil with the higher percentage have testified that it has helped alleviate debilitating conditions and should not be lowered.

House Bill 65, is expected to be moved forward Wednesday by the newly formed House Medical Cannabis Working Group, which is led by the law’s architect, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

HB 65 would expand the list of illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include Alzheimer’s disease, autism, HIV/AIDS, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.

The State House Appropriations Health subcommittee recommended passage of Senate Bill 70, which would extend the hospital provider fee that brings more than $600 million in federal funding annually through 2020.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other top Republicans have called the extension a priority for the session.

Changes to federal healthcare laws may cause further problems for rural hospitals.

Rural areas could be deeply affected by changes that President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are considering to the Affordable Care Act, said speakers at the National Rural Health Association’s annual conference on Tuesday.

For instance, more people in rural areas got coverage by the Obama administration’s expansion of Medicaid than in cities, said Bruce Bowden, a National Association of Counties health care lobbyist.

Also raising concern among rural health care providers is House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to cut costs by expanding Medicare Advantage.

That program, which funnels Medicare funds to private insurers, does not pay hospitals as much as traditional Medicare, said Jason Barb, partner of BKD, an accounting and consulting firm that works with rural hospitals.

Eighty rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and another 673 are considered vulnerable, according to the Rural Health Association.

Republicans in Congress said at the conference that repealing the Affordable Care Act is a chance to fix the problems.

“Increasing choice and competition is the key to lowering cost and increasing access to care,” said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Firefighters with cancer may be getting a boost under legislation that passed the State House.

A renewed effort to change that is gaining traction under the Gold Dome. A measure that would require local governments to provide insurance benefits to firefighters with certain cancers easily cleared the House on Tuesday.

It must still, however, be approved by the Senate and Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed a different version of the proposal last year.

The new proposal offers aid through insurance, although the sponsor, Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, has also revamped last year’s failed proposal.

Attorney General Chris Carr is filling his campaign coffers with the help of Georgia power brokers in advance of a 2018 election after his appointment to the position.

Attorney General Chris Carr raised nearly $250,000 in the two months since he was appointed the state’s top attorney with the help of corporate powers, establishment Republicans and at least one potential adversary.

One of the first donations he received was a $1,000 check from Sen. Johnny Isakson, his mentor and former boss.

Georgia Power and its executives pumped nearly $10,000 into his campaign, and the Alston & Bird law firm, the Altria tobacco and food giant and several leaders of the Georgia Wholesale Co. beer distributor each maxed out with $6,600 campaign contributions.

So did former state Rep. BJ Pak, an ex-federal prosecutor who was considering a campaign for Attorney General before Carr’s appointment. He shifted $6,600 from a legislative campaign account to Carr, and several attorneys in his law firm ponied up as well.

Atlanta Mayoral candidates not named Vincent Fort posted stout fundraising totals for the election later this year.

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell’s campaign said he raised $1.26 million in his quest to replace Reed while former Atlanta COO Peter Aman said early Wednesday that he has raised $1.039 million since announcing his candidacy in early 2016.

Cathy Woolard, a former Atlanta City Council President, reported raising nearly $600,000 during the filing period that ended Jan. 31. while City Councilwoman Mary Norwood reported raising $400,000 in the first 100 days of her campaign from more than 1,000 donors.

State Sen. Vincent Fort released his fund-raising numbers on Tuesday, raising a reported $250,000, aided greatly by the backing of his candidacy by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Josh McKoon’s Senate seat is drawing some interest from potential 2018 candidates.

Qualifying, set for March 5-9, 2018, is still more than a year away. The primary is scheduled for May 22, 2018, and the General Election is in November 2018.

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley, LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, state Rep. John Pezold, Columbus attorney Mark Post, Columbus attorney Ted Morgan and former congressional aide Theresa Garcia Robertson were the names most mentioned. All of them are Republicans.

Thornton, a first-term LaGrange mayor and local attorney, is up for re-election in November.

“This wasn’t on my radar,” Thornton said Monday of the Senate race. “But now I am thinking about it. I would call this an unexpected wrinkle.”

In the May 2016 Republican primary, the vote totals showed that Troup County holds a lot of influence in the four-county district that includes southern Troup, northern Muscogee, Harris and Meriwether counties.

McKoon was unopposed in the primary, but 10,429 votes were still cast for the incumbent state senator. Of that total, 3,624 came from Troup County, 3,241 from Muscogee, 2,371 from Harris and 1,193 from Meriwether.

“I have no plans to run for Senate District 29,” said Pezold, a north Columbus McDonald’s franchise owner who currently represents a House District that sits in the heart of the soon-to-be vacant Senate district.

The AJC looks at the large number of candidates to be elected Mayor and City Council in the new City of Stonecrest.

Gainesville City Council renamed Touchdown Drive to Deshaun Watson Way.

Tybee Island City Council continues to debate a partial alcohol ban.

The City Council on Thursday is set to hold the second and final reading of an ordinance that would prohibit residents and visitors from drinking beer, wine and liquor on the island’s beaches and beach side parking lots from March until the first Saturday in May. The council narrowly approved the ordinance at its first reading last month, with the six members split down the middle and Mayor Jason Buelterman casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the alcohol restrictions.

If it comes down to it again this week, the mayor indicated Tuesday he’s still willing to break the tie in favor of the ordinance. After discussing the impact similar measures have had with officials in the resort communities of Panama City Beach, Fla., and Gulf Shores, Ala., Buelterman said he thinks it would improve safety on the island during spring break and the unsanctioned beach party known as Orange Crush.

Macon-Bibb County will not change garbage billing to annual billing on property tax bills.

Former Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph plead guilty to filing false campaign reports.

Ralph, who served on the Board of Commissioners from 2004-12, received 24 months of probation and 100 hours of community service under the First Offender Act.

“As elected officials, we have a duty to be stewards of the Rule of Law and ensure our offices operate with the utmost transparency,” [Attorney General Chris] Carr said. “Mr. Ralph knowingly violated the Ethics in Government Act, and for that, he must face the consequences.”

Ralph is accused of filing numerous false reports between 2011 and 2012. Over that time, Ralph received approximately $142,000 in campaign contributions; however, he is charged with only reported contributions of approximately $37,000.

South Georgia Conservatives will rally to  Make America Great Again on February 25th from 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM at the Fairgrounds in Waycross ,GA.

Dalton City Board of Education members say that closed-door sessions were protected by an exemption from the state’s Open Meetings law.

Dalton City Council members need more information before deciding whether to support passage of the March 21 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST).

“A lot of my constituents tell me they are sort of on the fence,” said council member Denise Wood. “They don’t want to see their property taxes go up, and they think the sales tax is a fairer way to fund these things. But it’s still going to be coming out of someone’s pocket.”

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