Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 9, 2017

9
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 9, 2017

On March 9, 1862, CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, a Union ironclad, fought to a draw in the Chesapeake Bay.

On March 9, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed two pieces of legislation dealing with African-Americans, one recognized their marriages, the other legitimized children born to African-American couples prior to the act and required parents to maintain their children in the same way white were required.

Bobby Fischer, the Eleventh World Champion of Chess, was born on March 9, 1943 and is considered by many the greatest player of all time.

Governor Ellis Arnall signed two important pieces of legislation on March 9, 1945. The first created the Georgia Ports Authority, with its first project being the expansion of the Port of Savannah. The second authorized the placement of a referendum to adopt a new state Constitution (in the form of a single Amendment to the Constitution of 1877) on the ballot in a Special Election to be held August 7, 1945.

On March 9, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation setting the Georgia minimum wage at $1.25 per hour.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The latest entry in the Sixth Congressional District air war: Republican Judson Hill.


COMMITTEE MEETINGS – LEGISLATIVE DAY 30

8:00 AM HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION(LD 30) HOUSE CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM MILITARY AFFAIRS WORK GRP 415 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING 406 CLOB

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

2:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE & TECH 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y CIVIL 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

2:00 PM House Life & Health Sub of Insurance 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION – CANCELED 606 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 146 – Fire departments; purchase and maintain certain insurance coverage for firefighters; require (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-56th) Gravley-67th

HB 283 – Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code and Internal Revenue Code of 1986; revise definitions (FIN-27th) Knight-130th

SR 195 – US Congress; call a convention; set a limit on number of terms; US House of Representatives and US Senate; request (RULES-52nd)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

HR 170 – State agencies; work toward increasing research, clinical care, and medical education for myalgic encephalomyelitis; urge (H&HS-Cooper-43rd)

HR 281 – Water trails in Georgia; proliferation and use; recognize and encourage (NR&E-Frye-118th)

HR 361 – United States Congress; enactment of a Regulation Freedom Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; encourage (EU&T-Parsons-44th)

SB 69 – Packaging, Labeling and Registration of Organic Products and Certifying Entities; registration requirement; eliminate (A&CA-Williams-119th) Wilkinson-50th

SB 78 – Adulteration and Misbranding of Food; Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a variance to certain rules and regulations; authorize (A&CA-LaRiccia-169th) Anderson-24th


Governor Nathan Deal earlier this week released February revenue numbers.

Georgia’s net tax collections for February totaled approximately $1.17 billion, for a decrease of $70 million, or -5.6 percent, compared to February 2016. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $14.23 billion, for an increase of $498.4 million, or 3.6 percent, over last year, when net tax revenues totaled $13.73 billion.

The net decrease in individual income tax revenue as compared to February 2016 is largely due to the increase in refunds already released this year.

Speaker David Ralston took questions at the Atlanta Press Club yesterday, including about healthcare and rural Georgia.

“I am concerned that there is the potential in the [GOP federal healthcare] proposal to hurt those states that chose to exercise what I think is the prudent route of not expanding Medicaid,” Ralston told the Atlanta Press Club. “I’m a little concerned by that, but I don’t have enough details yet to address that specific question.”

Changes to federal health care policy could have major implications for Georgia.

“From a budget standpoint, we’ll be keeping a very close eye” on Congress, Ralston said.

“This fact is inescapable,” he said. “Rural Georgia has not seen the positive results of growth and faces challenges, very real challenges, to its future. We have talked about this for too long. It is time now to make a priority of rural economic development in Georgia.”

The House Rural Development Council will travel across the state to “give this the attention it deserves and needs.”

Ralston would not answer whether he’s considering a run for Governor in 2018.

The speaker on Wednesday, however, said he does not believe it appropriate to discuss such  matters while the 40-day legislative session is ongoing.

“Over the coming months, Georgians are going to start thinking about, talking about, what they’re looking for in the next governor,” he said. “I think they’ll be looking for someone who has a vision, such as a Zell Miller with the HOPE scholarship or Nathan Deal with economic development and criminal justice reform.”

As speaker, Ralston said, “sometimes though you bruise a few egos. and i get that. I get that the last speaker that went to the governor office was 85 years ago. And I think there’s some reason for that, probably.”

Andy Miller of Georgia Health News looks at potential Georgia effects of the GOP healthcare plan.

A spokeswoman Tuesday said Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, is reviewing the GOP congressional plan “and engaging with federal and state officials to assess its impact on Georgia.”

Tom Price, a Georgia physician and former congressman who is the new secretary of Health and Human Services, told reporters that the intent of the Republican plan is to contain the cost of premiums, spark insurance competition and offer “patient-centered” solutions.

The legislation would preserve two of the most popular features of the 2010 health care law, letting young adults stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and forbidding insurers to deny coverage or charge more to people with pre-existing health conditions.

People who let their insurance coverage lapse, though, would face a significant penalty. Insurers could increase their premiums by 30 percent.

Under the GOP plan, states would receive a set amount from the federal government for each person eligible for the program, under a “block grant.”

“With less federal money, costs would shift to the state,” Harker said. “As a result, Georgia would have to raise new revenue or have to make cuts to eligibility, benefits or reimbursement rates.

The new plan includes money for the states, such as Georgia, that have not expanded their Medicaid programs. It would provide $10 billion over 5 years to these “non-expansion” states for safety-net funding.

It’s unclear whether Georgia would be better off financially by accepting the safety-net money or by going through with expansion, which would remain an option for the time being.

Miller separately looked at health legislation that passed the General Assembly ahead of Crossover Day.

The surest bet on health-related legislation this year has already happened. The Legislature overwhelmingly approved the renewal of the hospital “provider fee,’’ a mechanism that draws an extra $600 million in federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program. And Gov. Nathan Deal has already signed the measure, a priority of his, into law.

Among the surprises early on was a quick compromise on the proposal to allow dental hygienists to practice in safety-net settings, school clinics and nursing homes without a dentist being present. The deal on House Bill 154, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Marietta Republican, avoided the conflict that erupted in last year’s General Assembly.

When it came to surprises, the problem of “surprise” medical billing got intense interest under the Gold Dome this year.

A Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, passed that chamber, while a House version, which takes a different approach to the problem, failed to make it through.

A major bill to fight Georgia’s opioid epidemic passed the Senate. It would codify Gov. Deal’s executive order allowing the sale of naloxone, an antidote for drug overdoses, without a prescription, and would more closely track the prescribing of opioid medications.

And a second proposal, also approved by the Senate, would put more state oversight on the opioid treatment centers that have proliferated, especially in North Georgia. The centers offer medical-assisted treatment and counseling to help treat patients with addictions to heroin and other opioids.

Hancock County agreed to restore voters stricken from the rolls as part of settling a lawsuit.

Election officials in Georgia’s sparsely populated, overwhelmingly black Hancock County agreed Wednesday to restore voting rights to dozens of African-American registered voters they disenfranchised ahead of a racially divided local election.

About three-quarters of the people they removed from the voting rolls – nearly all of them black – still live in the voting district and will be restored to the county’s registered voter list under the settlement.

“We want to make sure that a purge program like the one that played out in the fall of 2015 never happens again,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which sued the county in federal court.

The lawsuit said board members and people close to them challenged the status of 187 people as a slate of white candidates sought to unseat black incumbents in Sparta, the county seat. It said the board deemed ineligible more than 5 percent of the city’s 988 registered voters, and “nearly all of those voters” are black.

The settlement lays out a process for handling voter registration challenges. Hancock County officials admit no wrongdoing, but do acknowledge “the supremacy of federal law where it conflicts with state law.” It broadly prohibits local election officials from denying “equal opportunity” to vote based on race, and requires “clear and convincing evidence” before ruling a voter ineligible.

The Savannah International Trade and Convention Center Board voted to support legislation converting it into a state authority.

House Bill 125 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) would offer a sales tax break on repairs to high-end boats in order to attempt to create a yacht-retrofit industry in the state.

“Georgia is poised to become a significant force in the yacht repair and refit industry currently dominated by Florida,” said Rob Demere, president and CEO of the Colonial Group Inc., a multigenerational Savannah business that has grown to be one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.

“We have a facility — Savannah Yacht Center — that’s second to none on the East Coast,” he said. “Coupled with Savannah’s charm as a destination, it should be a slam-dunk.

“But we can’t attract any of this lucrative business unless we level the regulatory playing field with Florida, which limits sales tax to the first $1 million of a refit or repair, effectively capping it at $60,000.”

House Bill 125 specifies that a boat owner would get a sales tax break on parts, engines and other equipment for a refit or repair, but only after the first $500,000 is spent.

Sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens, it passed the House with no problem and now goes to the full Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson.

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