Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2017

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May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2017

Georgia and American History

Savannah received news of the battle at Lexington on May 10, 1775, leading to a raid of British gunpowder for the colonial effort. On the same day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Second Continental Congress met.

On May 10, 1863, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died a week after being shot at by his own troops.

He died, as he had wished, on the Sabbath, May 10, 1863, with these last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

On May 10, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.

On May 10, 1869, a ceremonial “Golden Spike” was driven in Promontory, Utah, symbolizing completion of a transcontinental railroad line joining the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.

The first observance of Mother’s Day was May 10, 1908 at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 10, 2006, Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, a Republican, pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering, beginning a streak of Republican State School Supers to leave office under a cloud.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This morning at 10 AM, Governor Nathan Deal will give an update on the status of construction at the I-85 bridge collapse.

Yesterday, Governor Deal signed what I count to be 56 bills into law. He also issued Veto statements vetoing nine bills.

Gov. Deal signed three pieces criminal justice reform legislation at the Department of Community Supervision Reentry Summit in Macon yesterday.

SB 174, SB 175 and SB 176 are based on recommendations from the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform and build upon Deal’s previous criminal justice reform initiatives.

“This most recent legislative package is another meaningful step forward in making Georgia a safer, more prosperous place to call home,” Deal said. “The unprecedented criminal justice reforms we’ve implemented since 2009 have already had a remarkable and positive impact, with overall prison commitments down 15.4 percent through the end of 2016. The bills I signed today will build upon our previous successes to strengthen the accountability court system, continue to reduce recidivism rates and provide juvenile court judges with additional tools to help young offenders. I’d like to thank the sponsors of this legislation, as well as the entire General Assembly, for their continued commitment to these reforms. When we discuss the statutes, statistics and successes, we are ultimately considering the reclaiming of lives, the overcoming of past mistakes and the repairing of families and relationships in Georgia’s communities.”

Legislation signed [yesterday] includes:
SB 174 ensures the sustained success of Georgia’s accountability courts and enhances the state’s probation system so that resources are focused at the front-end of terms when chances of recidivism are highest. It also implements reforms to ensure appropriate victim and prosecutorial input in the parole process.

SB 175 aims to reduce juvenile delinquency and protect public safety when a juvenile is deemed incompetent to proceed in the judicial process. It also creates new parental accountability orders, tools for juvenile court judges to encourage increased parental involvement, which numerous studies show reduces the likelihood of delinquent conduct.

SB 176 includes provisions to require that individuals are notified by mail prior to the issue of a bench warrant for failure to appear for a non-serious traffic offense. It also clarifies terms regarding Habitual Violator driving permits.

Deal vetoed House Bill 359, dealing with adoption.

The bill would have allowed parents to transfer the power of attorney for their children to family members or outside agencies.

In his veto statement, Deal worried the measure would “create a parallel and unchecked system to our Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS)” and would put children at risk.

He encouraged lawmakers to return to the issue–and to review the state’s other adoption laws–next year.

The governor also vetoed a bill establishing a new agency to manage 911 fees from emergency calls, questioning whether the agency would have enough oversight.

However, Deal said he’d create a separate agency by executive order aimed at improving Georgia’s public safety communications network.

Self-driving cars could hit the Georgia roads after Gov. Deal signed Senate Bill 219.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Monday making self-driving cars that have the proper insurance and registration legal on Georgia roads.

Harry Lightsey, General Motor’s executive director of public policy on emerging technologies, said GM already has 50 cars it’s testing in three cities: San Francisco, Scottsdale, Ariz. and Detroit.

“By adopting this legislation, the state of Georgia has put itself in the running and at the forefront as a possibility I think for us or for any other company that wants to develop and deploy self-driving technology,” Lightsey said.

GM has nearly 1,100 employees at its IT innovation center in Roswell. Lightsey said some of them are focused on analyzing data collected by its self-driving fleet.

Senate Bill 16 was signed by Gov. Deal, expanding eligible conditions for use of medical cannabis oil.

The new qualifying conditions include autism, AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients must register with the state to be eligible and have a doctor’s permission.

Many of the additions restrict use to patients who are in severe or end-stage condition. The new law also allows people in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, to legally possess the oil that’s low in THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues, Speaker David Ralston, and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle for their support in getting this bill to Governor Deal’s desk,” Peake said. “My hope is that in 2018 we can fill the gaping hole that still remains, and provide legal access to medical cannabis oil here in our state with a safe, lab tested product produced within our own borders. The job will not be finished until we accomplish this task.”

The Valdosta Daily Times looks at which parts of their local college campus will be open for campus carry by permit-holders.

Guns will remain banned from the following parts of campus: student housing; fraternity and sorority houses; any preschool or childcare space; any “room or space” where high school students take classes through dual enrollment; buildings or property used for athletic events; faculty, staff and administrative offices; and places where disciplinary proceedings are held.

The caveats included in the two-page bill signed by Gov. Nathan Deal into law last week seem straightforward on the surface but become more vague and messy when digging deeper.

The law does not include detailed explanations or guidelines on how the legislation should be interpreted or enforced. That responsibility is now in the hands of the University System of Georgia, the network of 28 public colleges and universities that includes VSU, University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Also, only people with weapons carry licenses will be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus and a person has to be 21 or older to apply for the license. That age restriction automatically disqualifies a large part of the student body from carrying guns.

From there, the questions abound, particularly with the restrictions involving faculty, high school students and athletic events.

Bibb County Public Schools Superintendent Curtis Jones received a contract extension through 2021.

COSCO Development will be the largest container ship to call on East coast ports, and is headed for Savannah.

Katie Deal, daughter of Gov. Nathan and First Lady Sandra Deal, stars in “Today, Tomorrow and Forever — A Tribute to Patsy Cline” on May 13 at Sautee Nacoochee.

Piedmont Healthcare and Columbus Regional are in discussions over a “strategic affiliation.”

A letter of intent was executed Monday, initiating an exclusive negotiation period between the two organizations that expires on Sept. 30, Columbus Regional Health President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Hill said.

The partnership would include Columbus Regional’s two hospitals — Midtown Medical Center and Northside Medical Center — as well as its John B. Amos Cancer Center, MyCare Urgent Care Centers and multiple physician practices.

A deal would have to be approved by the Piedmont and Columbus Regional boards of directors, as well as the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. The goal is to have a deal finalized by the end of the year, Hill said.

When asked to define “strategic affiliation,” Hill said it was a merger.

“If we reach a definitive agreement with Piedmont, we will merge into the Piedmont organization,” Hill said. “There is a Piedmont Healthcare board and we expect there will be Columbus participation on that board. Our board, locally, will stay intact and there will be some participation from Piedmont on our board.”

2017 and 2018 Elections

Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick meet in the Special Runoff Election for Senate District 32 on Tuesday, May 16th.

One area of agreement is that there are too many elections.

“The community, they are not happy that they have had to go to the polls five times,” said Triebsch, a lawyer. “They are not happy about that.”

Kirkpatrick would like to see a legislative fix, calling it wasteful.

“So we had a SPLOST vote that was the only thing on the ballot in March, then we had a special election in April, now we’ve got a runoff in May, then we’ve got a runoff in June,” she said. “My understanding is that every time we open the polls, it’s $300,000. So there’s got to be a way to avoid wasting that money. … I think it’s led not only to wasting money but also to voter fatigue and a lot of other problems.”

“Our office and Cobb elections officials always follow the letter of the law, and Georgia statutory law establishes these dates. However, there will be more flexibility in the future following the signage of House Bill 42 by Governor Deal,” said Candice Broce, [Secretary of State Brian] Kemp’s press secretary.

Under House Bill 42, which Deal signed earlier this year, they will be able to hold special election runoffs for local or state offices at the same time as a runoff for a federal election.

Matt Reeves has formally announced for the state Senate seat held by Sen. David Shafer, who is running for Lieutenant Governor.

“I am running for public office to provide this community with the next generation of conservative leadership at the State Capitol,” Reeves said in a statement. “I’m not a career politician. I am a family man, community leader, and a committed conservative who will fight to implement serious reforms guided by our conservative principles to create a more prosperous future for every citizen of this district and our state.”

Reeves pledged to be an advocate for taxpayers, homeowners and small business owners in the Senate.

“I will fight to cut the state income tax on families and businesses, cap government spending and focus tax dollars on essentials that promote private sector job growth like law enforcement, local schools, and workforce-oriented transportation and mobility improvements,” he said.

“Finally, I will support longtime efforts by leaders in North Fulton to re-create Milton County and work to promote the traditional American family by making Georgia a national leader in adoption and foster care.”

Reeves’ campaign said he has already received support from state Reps. Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, and Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, as well as Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette and Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason.

Two Democrats filed paperwork to run for State School Superintendent in 2018, against incumbent Republican Richard Woods.

Otha Thornton, the immediate past president of the National PTA; and Sid Chapman, current president of the Georgia Association of Educators, registered with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, which is required to raise election funds — Chapman on Friday and Thornton in late March.

“I’m exploring the possibility,” said Chapman, who has been on leave from his job as a high school social studies teacher in Clayton County while he’s been leading GAE the past few years. He lobbied the parent group, the National Education Association, to put millions of dollars into last year’s successful campaign to defeat the Opportunity School District referendum, which would have endowed the governor with unprecedented power over “chronically failing” schools.

Thornton, a defense contractor at Fort Stewart, also spoke publicly against the OSD. Like Chapman, he said he plans to run as a Democrat.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will take a pass on running for statewide office in 2018.

“I plan to finish strong as the two-term mayor of the great city of Columbus, Georgia,” Tomlinson said in a prepared statement. “We have important work to finish to achieve our vision for Columbus as we head into our bicentennial. Being a good steward of this amazing city has always been my primary objective. While in the batter’s box, I keep my eye on the ball, not on the stands.”

One of the reasons Tomlinson, cited for not running was her current duties as chairwoman of Sweet Briar College in central Virginia, which Tomlinson and other alumnae fought to save in from closure in 2015.

“Resurrecting Sweet Briar College has been nothing short of a miracle. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to see that storied institution return to its previous vibrancy and to continue its important mission of educating the next generation of women leaders. The next two years are critical to completing its transition and I need to be there to help see it through,” Tomlinson said in the prepared statement.

“Serving in public office was not a life I envisioned for myself, but it has been exhilarating and rewarding,” she said. “Good government is important and good leaders are essential. I would not rule out serving in another public capacity, but that will be after my term as mayor has concluded.”

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