Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 20, 2017

20
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 20, 2017

March 20, 1854 saw a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin that is generally considered the founding of the Republican Party.

[F]ormer members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

The Georgia State Capitol was completed on March 20, 1889. Ron Daniels, the Poet Laureate of GaPundit, has written an ode to the Gold Dome:

Well I guess it was back in eighteen eighty nine,
When a couple of boys in Dahlonega went down in a mine,
And found it was slap full of gold.
Then these folks in Atlanta wanted to keep growing,
So they told the legislature the Capitol had to be going,
And so those politicos said “Good Bye Milledgeville! Our attorneys will be in touch.”
Now the Capitol had been moved before,
Savannah, Louisville, and more,
They’d even moved it down to Macon on an overloaded poultry wagon.
Atlanta sure wanted to lend the State a hand,
Giving the legislature plenty of land,
Hammers started swingin’ and, boy howdy, they sure were buildin’.
The architect of this here building was feeling bold,
Covering the building’s dome all in beautiful gold,
Leaving the gold mine empty, and leaving someone with the shaft.
Well, Governor Gordon was slap full of delight,
When his eyes did recognize that impressive sight,
On March 20, 1889, a completed Capitol building.
He grabbed the keys and a few words he spoke,
The words he uttered were no joke,
“Boys when you’re hot, you’re hot! Now thanks a lot.”

On March 20, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation authorizing a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution and make the Public Service Commission a Constitutional agency.

On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson notified Alabama Governor George Wallace that Alabama National Guard troops would be called up to maintain order during a third march from Selma to Montgomery. Within five months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress.

On March 20, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation designating the Brown Thrasher the official state bird, and the Bobwhite Quail the official state game bird.

On March 20, 1982, this song was #1 on the Billboard charts:

Happy birthday to Georgia-born actress Holly Hunter (1958) and film director/actor Spike Lee (1957).

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park set a new record for annual visitors in 2016.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

UNDER THE GOLD DOME – LEGISLATIVE DAY 36

8:00 AM SENATE RULES 450 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:30 AM JOINT APPROPRIATIONS – Conf Comm 403 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 36) HOUSE CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER ED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED IND. 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y NON-CIVIL 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY 606 CLOB

1:30 PM HOUSE REGULATED IND 506 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM FINANCE MEZZ 1

2:30 PM House Energy Sub of Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT-CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS – CANCELED 450 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS 415 CLOB

3:30 PM House Telecom Sub of Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE INS. & LABOR 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE VETERANS, MILITARY, & HOMELAND SECURITY MEZZ 1

4:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 506 CLOB

5:00 PM SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS 450 CAP


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 139 – Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions (ED&Y-28th) Belton-112th

HB 148 – Educating Children of Military Families Act; enact (ED&Y-43rd) Glanton-75th

HB 198 – Elementary and secondary education; influenza vaccine; provide information (ED&Y-50th) Dempsey-13th

HB 205 – Mining and drilling; regulate exploration and extraction of gas and oil; provisions (Substitute) (RI&U-52nd) Meadows-5th

HB 210 – Health; certain specimen collection stations and blood banks are not considered clinical laboratories; provide (H&HS-17th) Lott-122nd

HB 234 – Motor vehicles; drivers stop at crosswalks with user activated rectangular rapid-flash beacons; require (PUB SAF-50th) Frye-118th

HB 290 – Ad valorem tax; definitions related to exemption of certain agricultural equipment; revise (FIN-7th) Watson-172nd

HB 382 – Georgia Commission on Women; place under Department of Public Health administration (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Pruett-149th

HB 437 – Agricultural Education Advisory Commission; recreate (ED&Y-50th) Dickey-140th

HB 470 – Economic Development, Department of; grants to certain organizations supporting military communities; create program (ED&T-30th) Blackmon-146th

HB 243 – Minimum wage; require additional pay to employees based on schedule changes; preempt local government mandates (I&L-16th) Werkheiser-157th

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

SB 147 – Cemetery and Funeral Services; unitrust distribution method provisions; permit a cemetery to request a trustee (Substitute)(RegI-Carson-46th) Williams-27th

SB 200 – Insurance; synchronizing patients’ chronic medications; provide (Substitute)(Ins-Taylor-173rd) Hufstetler-52nd

SB 206 – “Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act” (Substitute) (Ins-Houston-170th) Martin-9th

Modified Structured Rule

SB 18 – Georgia Public Safety Training Center; any member of security police force; retain his/her weapon and badge under certain conditions (PS&HS-Lumsden-12th) Harper-7th

SB 88 – “Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act” (Substitute) (H&HS-Knight-130th) Mullis-53rd

SB 128 – Drivers’ Licenses; Department of Natural Resources; limited purposes; allow for the sharing of personal data (PS&HS-Powell-32nd) Wilkinson-50th

SB 242 – Advanced Practice Registered Nurses; delegating physician can enter into a protocol agreement at any one time for nurses; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Unterman-45th


Today is the Voter Registration Deadline for the April 18th Special Elections in the Sixth Congressional District and the 32d State Senate District.

You can check your voter registration online here.

Less than 1% of registered voters cast early ballots in Cobb County elections being held tomorrow.

Less than 1 percent of Cobb’s 444,677 registered voters cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s election for the special 1 percent sales tax for schools as of Friday morning, according to Cobb elections.

A total of 3,787 Cobb residents have cast early ballots since early voting opened on Feb. 27, according to Janine Eveler, director of Cobb elections.

Early voting ended Friday.

About 89 percent, or 3,357 votes, of the early votes so far were cast in-person while the other 430 votes were returned to Cobb elections by mail.

Voters across Georgia will go to the polls tomorrow to decide sales tax referenda.

The turnout in Tuesday’s sales tax referendum in Houston County will not draw nearly that of the presidential election four months ago, but Jimmy Autry says the stakes are equally important.

He chairs the committee that’s promoting the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST. A yes vote in the referendum would extend the 1-percent tax on retail sales for another six years.

“It’s just as important as the presidential election, but you can’t convince some people,” Autry said. “This is all local. These are things that affect you. I drive home on a Moody Road upgraded because of SPLOST.”

Jones, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Pulaski counties are also among the places deciding sales tax proposals. Additionally, voters in Monroe County are deciding whether to approve a 1 mill property tax increase to go toward keeping the Monroe County Hospital open. Peach County voters are deciding whether to approve an expansion of the tax exemption on business inventory, with the aim of spurring economic growth.

Senator Johnny Isakson is recovering from his second recent back surgery and we hope you’ll join us in praying for him and his family and staff as he recuperates.

Senator David Perdue is co-sponsoring the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017 to expand scholarships through the Department of Defense for students in cyber security-related programs.

The campaign of Republican Amy Kremer went off the rails this weekend, with her entire staff quitting and sending out a press release:

The entire campaign staff of GA 6th District Congressional candidate and former Tea Party Express CEO Amy Kremer has resigned over Kremer’s inability to raise funds and failure to pay her staff and operating bills, including campaign vendors.

Ms. Kremer had only raised $2500 through the first month despite placing 4th among Republican candidates in a recent poll.

This is yet another setback for Ms. Kremer whose previous venture, Women Vote Trump Pac, raised only $28,000 of its $30 million goal.

Then, one of her former campaign workers called the police on Kremer.

Cooper Mohr, 30, was on the campaign’s field team and was staying in Kremer’s east Cobb house with two other staffers. After he resigned from the campaign, he said Kremer changed the locks and wouldn’t let them get their belongings. Reached outside her house on Friday, he said he contacted the Cobb police for help.

“I’m not going to let them do this to us,” he said.

Former Johns Creek City Council member and current Congressional candidate Bob Gray picked up the former Kremer staffers for his campaign.

Republican Bob Gray hired the staffers who quit a rival campaign’s staff en masse after complaining she couldn’t pay their campaign bills, the latest move in an increasingly bitter race to represent a suburban Atlanta district.

Jack Melton, the former campaign manager for tea party activist Amy Kremer, said the Republican side of the April 18 special election appears to be between Gray and former Secretary of State Karen Handel – and that Gray was his pick “as the only conservative outsider in this race.”

Gray also opened his campaign headquarters on Saturday. Pretty good crowd, it looks like.

Gray HQ opening

Former State Senator Judson Hill held a Meet and Greet event this weekend with “100 Women Who Support Judson Hill. Pictured below with Shelly Hill, Rear Admiral Wendi Carpenter (USN Ret.), and DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester.

Judson Hill Event628

Kyle Wingfield writes about potential candidates for Governor in 2018.

Next year’s state elections have dominated the current year’s legislative session, never more so than this past week. The contest got off to a semi-official start when the AJC reported Secretary of State Brian Kemp will jump into the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal. Next to enter the fray, most likely, is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

After that, it’s anyone’s guess how big the field grows, and how quickly. But you can expect April to be busy.

The field won’t get as large as last year’s GOP presidential primary, or this year’s special election in the Sixth Congressional District, but it looks to be a full one. (That’s before we get to the Democratic side, a topic for another day.)

Given the foregoing array of possible candidates, not to mention the emerging scramble to replace them in the seats they now occupy, we could see dramatic turnover in the highest levels of state government. Imagine, for instance, that Cagle and Ralston not only both run for governor, but both lose. In that case, we would see a totally new group in charge of the House, the Senate and the executive branch. At a minimum, having two new faces in those three offices is very plausible.

In the near term, that probably means gridlock. Already, there’s a sense under the Gold Dome that personal ambitions, and efforts to thwart the same, are shaping the legislative process behind closed doors.

The Glynn County Republican Party passed a resolution opposing casino gambling in Georgia. Similar resolution were passed by County parties in Union, Coweta, Bartow, Paulding, and Clarke Counties, and last week in Chatham County.

Legislation & Local Issues

Today is Legislative Day 36 in the Georgia General Assembly, marking the beginning of the spring to the end of session next Thursday. Some bills will break the tape and win passage, others will be deferred until next year. Some will hit the wall, and some will stumble. Keep running through the finish line, my friends.

Kathleen Foody and Ezra Kaplan of the Associated Press looks at bills still pending before the legislature.

GUNS ON CAMPUS

The Senate could vote this week to allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses.

Senate approval would send the bill back to the House, which approved a version earlier this month on party lines. The Senate added an exemption for buildings where high school-age students attend classes at technical colleges under a state program.

2018 BUDGET

The budget-writing process has remained uncontroversial this year, with few major differences in the $49 billion proposals advanced by the House and Senate. Both chambers have agreed on 2 percent salary increases for teachers and some other state employees and a 20 percent increase for law enforcement officers with state agencies, including Georgia State Patrol.

STRUGGLING SCHOOLS

The Senate’s Education Committee plans to vote Monday afternoon on a bill giving the state more power to intervene in struggling schools.

The House has already passed a version of the bill creating a “chief turnaround officer” to work with struggling schools. The new position would be appointed by the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor, with input from the elected state superintendent and education groups.

A reader mentioned seeing figures of $49 billion and $25 billion for the 2018 Fiscal Year state budget. The larger number includes federal funds that pass through the state government, while the smaller number reflect only state dollars.

The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 201 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) and the bill passed out of House Industry and Labor by substitute.

The Georgia Senate passed SB 201 that would require employers to let workers use their sick days to take care of a child, parent, or any dependent listed on tax returns.

State Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) is sponsoring the bill in the House.

“I think what we’re doing is stating the policy of the state is to welcome companies that will give flexibility to their workers,” Strickland said.

If the company you work for doesn’t offer sick leave, this bill doesn’t do much for you. There is no mandate in Georgia requiring companies to offer sick days to their employees.

Healthcare

“Surprise medical billing,” one of the bigger healthcare issues in the legislature, will be heard in the House Insurance Committee at 8 AM today, as they take up Senate Bill 8 by Sen. Renee Unterman. House Insurance Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) proposed his own measure, HB 71, which has not passed the House.

Tom Frieden, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control, writes in the AJC about legislation to combat the opioid epidemic in Georgia.

The United States – and Georgia – is in the midst of a horrific epidemic of opiate overdose. Every day, a Georgian dies of an opiate overdose. Most of those who die are young adults. Their deaths are tragic for their families and communities, and all of us are poorer because they can no longer contribute to our society. And it could get much worse. Other states have twice Georgia’s rate of opiate overdose.

Overprescribing of opiates – which are no less addictive than heroin – has driven this devastation. Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but there has been no change in the amount of pain Americans report. Prescription opiates are a gateway drug – the great majority of those addicted to heroin got started with opioid medications. This is one reason CDC released opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain a year ago.

Reversing this epidemic won’t be simple, and won’t be quick – but the sooner we take effective action, the more lives will be saved. To their credit, Georgia’s political leaders are working to do so by improving Georgia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP).

In states with laws regulating pain clinics and requiring PDMP checks, deaths from opioids have decreased.

This past Thursday, the Senate Health Committee approved House Bill 249 that would require doctors to check our state PDMP before prescribing all opioids and all benzodiazepines. It also sensibly allows for delegates to do so, saving our doctors time.

Unfortunately, this version of the bill has too many loopholes. The Senate version of the bill had sensible exemptions, including opiates prescribed for palliation, end-of-life care, and addiction treatment. The current draft includes exemptions that would endanger public safety and result in avoidable overdoses and deaths of Georgians.

Too many Georgians have already been killed in this epidemic. A final bill in the coming days that includes only the specific and well-worded exemptions included in Senate Bill 81 is safer for patients and will save lives. Families throughout Georgia are counting on our elected officials to do the right thing and make our PDMP work for doctors and protect patients.

Recent research shows that the amount of opioids in a patient’s first prescription has a large effect on whether they are still on opioids one year later.

When patients get an initial opioid prescription that’s just a one-day supply, they have about a six-percent chance of being on opioids for a year or longer. But if that first prescription is for a three-day supply, the probability of long-term use starts inching up. With an initial five-day supply, the chance jumps to about 10 percent. With a six-day supply, the chance hits 12 percent. With 10-day’s worth, the odds of still being on opioids a year later hits roughly 20 percent.

So, with an initial 10-day opioid prescription, about one-in-five patients become long-term users. That’s according to the new study’s lead author Bradley Martin, a professor of pharmaceutical evaluation and policy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science. It’s a fast rise, Martin said to Ars. “We really didn’t expect that.”

People who got 30 days of opioid total—meaning they may have gotten multiple prescriptions or refills over time—had about a 30-percent probability of using opioids for a year. And they had a nearly 20-percent chance of being on them for three years.

The CDC estimates that 91 people die of an opioid overdose every day in the US.

11Alive looks at how the GOP’s plan for federal healthcare reform could affect rural Georgia.

In Gilmer County, Ga., where 82 percent of residents voted for Trump, 28 percent have no health insurance.

“Gilmer County suffered the loss of our hospital last spring,” said County Commissioner Travis Crouch.

The hospital was losing money from “a large increase in indigent care.”

“Folks who can’t pay or don’t have insurance — that’s, in a nutshell, what that refers to,” Crouch said. “They show up in the emergency, they’re treated. There’s no payment.”

A hospital with an emergency room, by law, cannot turn anyone away.

“Indigent care had basically buried the hospital and made it difficult to stay afloat financially,” Crouch said.

 

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