Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 24, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 24, 2017

On February 24, 1803, the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall decided the case of Marbury v. Madison, enunciating the principle of judicial review under which the Court has authority to review Congressional action and hold them unconstitutional.

In writing the decision, John Marshall argued that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not law and therefore are non-binding to the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. If two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, the court bears responsibility for deciding which law applies in any given case.

Union troops under General George Thomas attacked Confederates led by General Joseph Johnston near Dalton, Georgia on February 24, 1864.

Casualties were light. Thomas suffered fewer than 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, while Johnston lost around 140 troops. The Union generals did learn a valuable lesson, however; a direct attack against Rocky Face Ridge was foolish. Three months later, Sherman, in command after Grant was promoted to commander of all forces, sent part of his army further south to another gap that was undefended by the Confederates. The intelligence garnered from the Battle of Dalton helped pave the way for a Union victory that summer.

The first prisoners of war were moved to Andersonville on February 24, 1864.

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 25, 1870, Hiram Rhoades Revels (R-Missippi) was sworn in as the first African-American Congressman in history.

In 1867, the first Reconstruction Act was passed by a Republican-dominated U.S. Congress, dividing the South into five military districts and granting suffrage to all male citizens, regardless of race. A politically mobilized African American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican party to power, which in turn brought about radical changes across the South. By 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks in large part to the support of African American voters.

On January 20, 1870, Hiram R. Revels was elected by the Mississippi legislature to fill the Senate seat once held by Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy. On February 25, two days after Mississippi was granted representation in Congress for the first time since it seceded in 1861, Revels was sworn in.

On February 25, 1876, the first Georgia state law against abortion was passed.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

The Atlanta Journal was first published on February 24, 1883.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

On February 24, 1988, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, that the First Amendment protects publishers against claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress where the plaintiff is a public figure being parodied by the publication.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

On February 25, 1999, Johnny Isakson was sworn into Congress from the Sixth District, a seat vacated by the resignation of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – Legislative Day 24

7:30 AM HOUSE MILITARY AFFAIRS WORK GRP-CANCELLED 406 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE SPECIAL RULES 515 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE ECON DEV & TOURISM 341 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

9:30 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 24) CHAMBER

11:30 AM SENATE HEALTH & HS – Sub 125 CAP

11:30 AM HOUSE HEALTH & HS 606 CLOB

11:30 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

12:00 PM Reeves Sub Jud’y Non-Civil 403 CAP

12:00 PM Fleming Jud’y Civil 132 CAP

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

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

1:00 PM House Education Innovation and Workforce Dev Sub 506 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT – CANCELED 310 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 160 – “Back the Badge Act of 2017” (Substitute) (PUB SAF-7th)
SB 154 – Assault and Battery; public safety officer while engaged in his or her official duties; provide for the offenses of aggravated assault and aggravated battery (Substitute) (PUB SAF-13th)
SB 155 – Local Law Enforcement Officer Compensation Commission; create (Substitute) (PUB SAF-13th)
SB 169 – Specialty License Plate; honoring law enforcement; establish (Substitute) (PUB SAF-13th)
SB 109 – “Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact” (“REPLICA”); provide for the enactment (PUB SAF-27th)
SB 8 – “Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act”; health insurance; provide consumer protections; definitions (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)
SB 96 – Health; pronouncement of death by registered professional nurses; nursing homes and hospice care; authorize; county medical examiner’s duties after notice of suspicious death; make a conforming change (H&HS-1st)

 

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HB 148 – Educating Children of Military Families Act; enact (Ed-Glanton-75th)
HB 157 – Medical advertising; certain certifying organizations; revise certain criteria (Substitute)(H&HS-Kelley-16th)
HB 203 – Breach of restrictive covenants; provide accrual periods of rights of action; provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Strickland-111th)
HB 241 – Cove’s Law; enact (H&HS-Hawkins-27th)
HB 312 – Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia; Board of Trustees; include a qualified Roth contribution program in compensation plans (Ret-Maxwell-17th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 136 – Drivers’ licenses; demarcation of a valid driver’s license, permit, or identification card; provide (Substitute)(MotV-Carter-175th)
HB 159 – Domestic relations; adoption; substantially revise general provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Reeves-34th)

Structured Rule
HB 199 – Income tax credit; interactive entertainment companies; change certain provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Rhodes-120th)
HB 237 – Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation; receive private donations for grants to public schools; provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Coleman-97th)
HB 283 – Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code and Internal Revenue Code of 1986; revise definitions (Substitute)(W&M-Knight-130th)

Governor Nathan Deal signaled opposition to renewed efforts to pass religious liberty legislation in the Georgia legislature.

Gov. Nathan Deal was unequivocal in his opposition to a revived “religious liberty” measure on Thursday, signaling he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

“I didn’t want there to be any confusion about where I stand on the RFRA bill: I have no desire or appetite to entertain that legislation,” Deal said.

“Our state is doing exceptionally well and we’ve seen rather disastrous consequences from other states who have made a departure on that issue,” he said. “I see no reason or justification for us to do anything further.”

State Sen. Josh McKoon, one of the most outspoken advocates for the legislation, said Republican lawmakers owe it to their constituents to vote on the measure.

“Almost every Republican legislator I know of with a contested election last year campaigned on religious freedom legislation,” McKoon said. “Can anyone credibly say if a Democratic governor was threatening a veto of SB 233 that there would be any hesitation among Republican legislators moving forward? Of course not.”

House Bill 329 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would lower the state’s highest income tax rate.

A new report said the first step, House Bill 329, would save Georgians about $154 million a year, with three-quarters of that savings going to those earning more than $97,000 a year.

The state’s calculations put the savings at a much more modest $78 million over four years.

The House Ways and Means Committee Thursday approved House Bill 329, which would replace the current graduated state income tax structure with a flat rate of 5.4 percent.

The top rate is currently 6 percent, while the lowest is 1 percent.

Wesley Tharpe, the Georgia [Budget and Policy] institute’s research director, said under the bill, some single low-income Georgians would wind up paying higher income taxes, while low-income families would wind up paying less.

But Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, the bill’s sponsor, said if approved, it would not mean a huge windfall or tax increase for many Georgians.

“Pretty much for most taxpayers, it doesn’t make a big difference,” Powell said. “Some people may gain $30, some people pay $20.”

House Bill 155 by Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) attempts to do for the Georgia music industry what tax credits did for the film industry.

If the bill is signed into law, it will provide Georgia’s music industry with tax cuts and incentives similar to the ones the film industry receives, a movement that has turned the state into the “Hollywood of the South.” The proposed incentives, according to music industry estimates, would bring $9 million in net revenue and spur $2.2 billion of economic activity in the state within five years.

“The music industry is losing its market share in Georgia, and you look at Nashville’s numbers and they keep going up and up,” said Mala Sharma, the legislative affairs chairwoman for Georgia Music Partners, a local advocacy group of musicians, educators and industry professionals seeking to expand Georgia’s music industry footprint. “They have the infrastructure and support and we’re having to play catchup. It’s almost the reverse of what we’re doing with film, taking it from California; Nashville is taking music from us.”

There are three primary components to the Georgia Music Investment Act:

  • A 20 percent tax credit for live tour origination (musical or theatrical tours that would rehearse and/or audition in Georgia).
  • A 20 percent tax credit for recording music that will be released for public consumption.
  • A 20 percent tax credit for recording of music that will be synchronized into a film, TV show or video game (projects that already received a tax credit from the film industry would not be eligible).

Each type of tax credit under the legislation would require a minimum spending level to be eligible.

Senate Resolution 293 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) would recognize “Kumbaya” as a Georgia song of national cultural significance.

Robert Winslow Gordon, who would eventually work for the Library of Congress, had traveled in the 1920’s to the islands, living for awhile in the coastal town of Darien. While he was there, local residents gave him permission to record their singing of spiritual folk songs including one called “Come By Here.”

House Bill 163 by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) would require Georgia drivers to use hands-free technology if using cell phones.

Its sponsor, state Rep. Betty Price, R-Roswell, told the committee distracted driving is a serious problem in the United States.

“We are talkers and texters in this country, and it’s getting us into some large trouble,” Price told the committee.

The bill passed [the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee] unanimously. But similar bills have fail in the General Assembly in the past.

Noteworthy in the bill: if you remove your seat belt to reach for your cell phone, you’re in violation. Also, if you’re lawfully parked, you can yak it up to your heart’s content.

Senate Bill 88 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) passed the State Senate on a 50-2 vote yesterday.

It will be harder to open a methadone clinic in Georgia if lawmakers approve a measure seeking to beef up the state’s applications process.

“You just can’t show up and sign the dotted line and build your facility,” Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who sponsored the bill, said in an interview Thursday. “You’ve got to prove there’s a need for it in that community.”

Mullis’ proposal limits the number of clinics in an area, allowing only four in a region. The state would be carved up into 49 regions. Existing clinics would be grandfathered in.

Some legislators, though, have expressed concern that the measure might limit access to treatment for those who need it. Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, for one, previously questioned why the state would want to do that.

“We believe we have some who are not here for the right reasons,” Mullis replied at the time.

“This eliminates the bad guys and makes sure the good guys are permitted to put facilities where it’s needed in this state. So it gets rid of the riffraff,” he said.

Fulton County Commissioners will partially fund a transit study, with federal funds to pay the rest.

Columbus City Council is considering an ordinance that would eliminate smoking in more public venues.

“Our primary mission is to work with our community as we move toward a smoke-free environment — particularly at work sites and public places,” said Perry Alexander, co-chair of the organization.

Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson and downtown business owner Buddy Nelms were among those who spoke in favor of such an ordinance. In a video, featuring The Loft, one of Nelms’ businesses, employees talked about how a smoke-free workplace created a healthier environment and better quality of life for the people who work there.

Nelms told council that he decided to make his business smoke-free after a customer told him he would never come back because of the smoke. He said sales slumped when he first started the ban, but soon turned around.

“What we found is we had a resurgence and it grew bigger and better,” Nelms said of his business. “… The smoker is not the enemy. They’re really good human beings and a lot are my good friends. It’s the smoke that’s the problem.”

Houston County Commissioners voted to join a lawsuit against phone companies over 911 fees.

The commissioners on Tuesday agreed to engage with The Barnes Law Group, which is suing 55 phone companies on behalf of 40 counties in the state, including Macon-Bibb. The law firm, led by former Gov. Roy Barnes, alleges that the phone companies are underbilling fees that are supposed to be charged to phone customers to fund 911 services.

“We have felt like for a long time in this county that we have been shorted on the 911 fees from the various providers,” [Commission Chairman Tommy] Stalnaker said. “We are not unlike many other counties throughout the state that feel the same way.”

Hancock County Board of Education members are on the hot seat.

The Georgia Board of Education has called a hearing that could lead to the removal of the Hancock County school board members.

Mike Royal, the chairman of the state board, said the state has been working with Hancock County schools to resolve governance issues that officials reviewers have raised.

But the state board has now drawn a line: a May 4 hearing on whether they will recommend that Gov. Nathan Deal dismiss all five members of the Hancock County school board for cause.

“We feel like we need to have a public hearing on the state of the governance of the district,” Royal said Thursday, just after his board made the decision.

The hearing was triggered by poor reviews for Hancock County school governance from AdvancED, a school accreditation agency. It has put the system on probationary status, the last step before losing accreditation.


Georgia Ports Authority
notched another record with the highest performance ever for the month of January.

In a month that’s usually slower than most, the Georgia Ports Authority continued to move forward on all cylinders in January, recording double-digit growth across all business sectors, including a 26-percent increase in total tonnage.

Calling port unrivaled in both customer service and its connectivity into the country’s heartland, GPA executive director Griff Lynch credited supply chain efficiencies for the record 3 million tons of cargo moved in January, up 623,504 tons compared to the same month a year ago.

“With on-terminal efficiencies bolstered by interstates within minutes of the port and the fastest westward rail transit in the South Atlantic region, Garden City Terminal provides more reliable, more cost-effective freight movement,” he said.

Campaigns & Elections

In advance of the Democratic National Committee meeting in Atlanta tomorrow, word filtered out the Democrats’ Central Committee will invest significantly in the Special Election for the 6th Congressional District.

Mitt Romney won Price’s House district, which spans the affluent and highly educated suburbs north of Atlanta, with 61 percent in 2012. Donald Trump pulled just 48 percent in November, running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton. That was one of the biggest swings of any congressional district in the country.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is paying to put nine staffers on the ground and transferring money to the Georgia Democratic Party. In a lower-turnout contest, this field program will identify and register voters who have never been targeted in previous elections.

Price never won reelection with less than 62 percent of the vote, but this is the kind of district that Democrats will need to find a way to flip if they are going to seize the House majority in November 2018.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is the leading leftist candidate in the race to replace Republican Tom Price.

“This is the first chance in the country for us to make a statement about what we stand for,” said Ossoff, speaking in a Jewish temple in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta. “It’s the first chance in the country we have to make a statement that America can be strong and prosperous and secure without sacrificing our core values.”

To many Democrats, Ossoff’s candidacy – which has attracted the attention of liberal activists nationwide – is the first chance to show that Republicans are paying a price for Donald Trump’s presidency.

It will be the country’s first federal election since Trump took office.

“We all saw how close, how shockingly close, the result of the presidential election was,” Ossoff said.

“Republicans should be not complacent at all, especially in the age of Trump,” said Chip Lake, a Republican strategist in Georgia and former Price aide. “We don’t know what the age of Trump looks like yet, from an electoral perspective.”

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been under pressure from progressive activists to help Ossoff’s candidacy, said the committee has taken the open-seat race “extremely seriously.”

But she also acknowledged it’s not an easy place for Democrats to win.

“The presidential swing between 2012 and 2016 combined with very obvious grassroots energy are reason for optimism, but of course this is a tough district and hasn’t been in Democratic hands in recent history,” said Meredith Kelly, DCCC spokeswoman.

Cobb County is holding elections on March 21, 2017, with early voting beginning Monday.

A special election is being held in all Cobb precincts for a Special Local Option Sales Tax for education purposes. In Marietta Ward Six, there is a Marietta School Board race.

Advanced voting begins Feb. 27. Registered Cobb County voters can go to any advanced voting location. Please note that hours vary by location.

Any voter may apply for a vote-by-mail ballot instead of voting in-person.

Applications are available at CobbElections.org. For more information, call 770-528-2581.

Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves said he will run for Mayor of Atlanta this year.

He plans to file paperwork to begin fundraising on Friday.

Despite his relatively late entry into the race, Eaves said he had been thinking about running for some time, and was “enthusiastically putting my hat in the ring for consideration.”

“I felt the city needed someone of my caliber,” he said. “The city of Atlanta deserves transparency, and I want to set the tone.”

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