Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 21, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 21, 2017

The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885.

Happy Birthday to Congressman John Lewis, who was born on this date in 1940 in Pike County Alabama. In 1963, Lewis became President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, based in Atlanta. In 1981, Lewis was elected to an at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to Congress, defeating Julian Bond in the Democratic Primary.

On February 21, 1958, Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation creating the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to oversee construction and operation of a Confederate memorial and public park at the site.

On February 21, 1998, Julian Bond was selected as Chairman of the NAACP. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but the House initially refused to seat him due to his opposition to the war in Vietnam. The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled against the House and Bond was sworn in on January 9, 1967, serving there until his election to the Georgia State Senate. In 1986, Bond left the Senate to run for Congress.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – LEGISLATIVE DAY 21

8:00 AM SENATE APPROPS – Fiscal Mgmt & Gen’l Gov’t Sub 341 CAP

8:30 AM SENATE HEALTH & HS – Scope of Practice Sub 310 CLOB

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 21) CHAMBER

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

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE AND LABOR – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE MILITARY AFFAIRS WORKING GROUP 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE BUDGET AND FISCAL AFFAIRS OVERSIGHT 506 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y (NON-CIVIL) 515 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE Driver’s Safety and Services Sub 403 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Professions-Boards-Commissions Sub Regulated Ind 606 CLOB

1:00 PM Education Sub Early Learning & K-12 415 CLOB

1:20 PM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 403 CAP

1:30 PM SENATE FINANCE – Income Tax Sub 123 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE – Tax Reform Sub 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE ECON DEV AND TOURISM MEZZ

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH AND HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y (CIVIL) 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Sub A Public Safety &HS 605 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HS 606 CLOB

2:00 PM Elections Sub Gov’tal Affairs 505 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION – CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Setzler Sub Jud’y Non-Civil 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Env’tal Qualtity Sub Natural Res & Env’t 515 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Energy Sub Energy, Utilities, and Telecom 403 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE HUMAN RELATIONS AND AGING 415 CLOB

3:15 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES, AND TELECOM 403 CAP

3:30 PM SENATE FINANCE – Finance & Public Policy 125 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Community Health Sub 341 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY – Sub A 307 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 50 – “Direct Primary Care Act”; definitions; provide direct primary care agreements are not insurance (Substitute) (I&L-6th)

SB 71 – Bankruptcy; list of property that is exempt; add assets in health savings accounts and medical savings accounts (JUDY-23rd)

SB 106 – Pain Management Clinics; health care professionals who must be on-site; revise a provision (H&HS-13th)

SB 125 – Physician Assistants; authority to prescribe hydrocodone compound products; authorize a physician to delegate to a physician (H&HS-17th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

HB 174 – Insurance; insurer’s medium of payment of policy or contractual obligations; expand (Substitute)(Ins-Lumsden-12th)

HB 206 – The Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights; certain audits conducted by the Department of Community Health; remove exception; provisions (H&HS-Kelley-16th)

HB 210 – Health; certain specimen collection stations and blood banks are not considered clinical laboratories; provide (H&HS-Lott-122nd)

HB 257 – Local government authorities; register with Department of Community Affairs; require (Substitute)(GAff-Tankersley-160th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 250 – Foster homes; employee with satisfactory fingerprint records check in past 24 months exempt from additional background check; provide (JuvJ-Ballinger-23rd)

HB 254 – Emanuel County; Board of Education; provide nonpartisan elections for members (IGC-Parrish-158th)

LEGISLATION

Competing approaches to medical cannabis will meet in the Georgia General Assembly as each chamber prepares its own legislation.

A committee in the Georgia House is set to meet this week to weed out the good, the bad, and the ugly in HB65. The bill would add PTSD, HIV, AIDS, chronic pain, and autism as qualifying conditions to access medical cannabis oil.

State Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus) is working on a similar bill in the senate. Kirk says the senate is taking a more conservative stance on the issue of medicinal marijuana in any form. The senate’s version would add solely autism to the list of current qualifying conditions. Another point of compromise centers around lowering the legal concentration of cannabis, or THC oil, from 5% to 3%. Kirk underscored how experimental this piece of legislation would be.

“There’s not a whole lot of scientific evidence behind this,” Sen. Kirk said. “So we’ve reached out and gotten ahead of the FDA and others. And we don’t have a lot of scientific data to back up what we’re doing. That’s what makes this bill so difficult, and that’s why we’re taking such a cautious approach on the senate side.”

House Bill 65 by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) will be heard today in the House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee at 1 PM.

House Bill 65 … expands the list of qualifying conditions for access to medical cannabis oil.

The proposal would add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, AIDS, HIV, chronic pain, and autism to the list of qualifying conditions.

House Bill 73 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) would offer tax credits to spur redevelopment of small towns in Georgia.

“The rural bill targets downtown areas that are suffering from difficult economic times,” said state Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, the author of House Bill 73.

The measure offers state tax credits for three steps of investing in a qualifying area: for buying real estate, for rehabbing it and for employing people there.

“You don’t get to take any of these tax credits until you have two full-time employees” or equivalent part-time employees, Houston said on the House floor recently.

Many Middle Georgia cities would meet the first criterion in the bill to be a “revitalization zone:” the population must be less than 15,000 people.

But the place must also have a concentration of commercial buildings that are at least 50 years old, among other rules. And the local government must also prove “economic distress.” That’s something the state will determine based on poverty rate, downtown vacancies or blight.

Casino interests roll the dice in Senate Regulated Industries this week.

The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee is expected to decide on Thursday whether to move an “enabling” bill accompanying the constitutional amendment to the Senate Rules Committee, which then would determine whether to send it to the floor for a vote.

The enabling bill contains the details of how casino gambling would work in Georgia. The legislation would limit the initial presence of casinos to two “destination resorts,” a primary facility in metro Atlanta that would require an investment of at least $2 billion and a smaller project outside of the metro region but in an urban area with a population greater than 180,000.

To ensure a high-quality mixed-use development, the bill would require at least 60 percent of the resort’s income to be derived from non-gambling sources, including shops, restaurants, a hotel and a performance venue.

If the statewide referendum passes, any city or county interested in hosting a casino resort would have to hold a local referendum before the project could become reality.

House Bill 364 by Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) would reduce taxes on hotels and motels in Muscogee County.

A Columbus state representative with family ties to the hospitality industry is a co-sponsor of a bill in the House that would eliminate the $5 per room hotel/motel fee charged in Georgia.

Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, along with 15 cosponsors including Rep. John Pezold, R-Columbus, filed House Bill 364 last week that would repeal the $5 per night hotel fee that was passed with a statewide transportation bill in 2015.

Pezold, who is the son of Valley Hospitality owner Jack Pezold, said one of the reasons he signed onto the legislation is because Columbus has the highest room occupancy tax in the nation, nearly 23 percent per night.

“Georgia is the only state in the country that charges a flat dollar fee per night for a hotel room,” Pezold said on Monday. “That alone jacks the rates up.”

House Bill 434 would allow local governments to turn over properties taken through eminent domain more quickly when seeking to eradicate blight.

Right now, local governments are required to hold onto property for 20 years for public use, if it was acquired using eminent domain. House Bill 434 would allow a local government to immediately sell property it has acquired for blight eradication purposes.

There is a process the city would have to go through before acquiring and selling the property, however.

First, the government will have to petition Superior Court to determine the property is blighted and then the city would have to petition the court to condemn the property. Both court processes would require notices to interested parties and hearings. Any property acquired under the process must retain the same land use that was last applicable to the blighted property before the condemnation for a period of five years.

he Savannah City Council included the change as one of the city’s legislative priorities in December after staff said state law has made neighborhood revitalization efforts difficult since more stringent restrictions were enacted about 11 years ago.

Democratic National Committee members will convene in Atlanta this weekend to elect a new DNC Chair.

After suffering major losses in last year’s presidential and congressional elections, the party will elect a new chair on Saturday at the conclusion of its three-day winter meeting at downtown’s Westin Peachtree Plaza.

This week’s meeting begins on Thursday, Feb. 23, with council and committee meetings. On Friday, the party’s numerous caucuses will meet, with officer elections beginning at 10 am on Saturday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) writes in the Gwinnett Daily Post about the future of Obamacare in a Republican Congress.

I am asking you to join me and the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare and go back to the drawing board — together. What does going back to the drawing board mean? Greg Walden, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care, says it means, “mak(ing) sure that people with pre-existing conditions continue to get covered.” I agree. New Health and Human Services Secretary and former U.S. Rep. Tom Price says it means not “pulling the rug out from under anybody.” I agree. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it means “there will be a stable transition period, and once repeal is passed we will turn to replacement policies that cost less and work better than what we have now.” I agree.

It won’t be easy, but Congress will work to breathe life back into local health care markets, particularly in that one-third of America’s counties that have only a single insurance company remaining in the Obamacare exchange. Congress is committed to repealing the failed vision of “government knows best” and replacing it with the proven model of “family knows best.”

That means fewer federal mandates and more individual choices. Some Americans are asking for better access to Health Savings Accounts for their families. We can do that. Others are asking for the flexibility of tax credits to enable them to afford the plan of their choice that will provide the most value. We can do that. Other Americans believe state-based risk pools will be the best solution for their needs. We can do that. All of these ideas have been developed. They exist in state legislatures across the country, and they are already in Obamacare alternatives in the U.S. House like the American Health Care Reform Act, the Empowering Patients First Act, the Health Care Freedom Act and the House Better Way proposal.

With a new President, we now have a real opportunity to turn these ideas into tangible solutions for American families. It won’t happen overnight, but we can restore choice and opportunity to the marketplace. It won’t happen overnight, but we can bring back the opportunity to choose a plan based on your family’s needs rather than Uncle Sam’s. It won’t happen overnight, but we can free those American families trapped in the current “death spiral” of rising costs and shrinking choices in a government-run system, and we can put patients back in control.

Lula, Georgia adopted a liquor by the drink ordinance that will require at least 51% of sales come from food.

Coweta County Commissioners will consider outsourcing residential inspections.

Republican candidate David Abroms will ante up $250k of his own money toward his campaign for the 6th Congressional District, according to the AJC.

“I achieved financial success, and it taught me a lot about working together and what I can do when I put my heart and soul into something,” said Abroms. “It’s not always about fighting or one-upping your opponent. I think you can stick by your principles and still have a meaningful discussion.”

In a solidly-Republican district that only supported Trump by a whisker in November, Abroms said he’d be willing to defy Trump. He doesn’t back his now-sidelined immigration ban, and he said he would vote to “secure the border” while stopping short of endorsing Trump’s plan for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I’m running for the people of the Sixth District. Trump is not going to be my boss and neither is Speaker Ryan,” he said. “I don’t have to be doing this. I’m 33 years old and I’ve been extremely blessed. But I’m doing this for the right reasons. I’m not worried about political backlash for standing up for my beliefs.”

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