Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 8, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 8, 2017

The first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence arrived in Savannah on August 8, 1776 and was read publicly for the first time on August 10, 1776.

On August 8, 1863, General Robert E. Lee offered his resignation in a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, following the Battle of Gettysburg.

On August 8, 1925, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation outlawing the brazen act of dancing publicly on Sunday.

On August 8, 1929, Georgia Governor Lamartine Hardman signed legislation placing on the ballot for Fulton and Campbell County voters a merger of the two.

The old Campbell County Courthouse still stands in Fairburn, Georgia.

Campbell County Courthouse Fairburn GA 3

Historic Campbell County Courthouse in Fairburn, GA.

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were nominated for President and Vice President by the Republican National Convention on August 8, 1968.

On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned, effective at noon the next day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov. Nathan Deal announced that July tax collections increased more than seven percent.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for July totaled nearly $1.72 billion, for an increase of $113.4 million, or 7.1 percent, compared to last year when net tax collections totaled roughly $1.61 billion. Gross tax revenue receipts for the month totaled $2.27 billion, for an increase of $112.5 million, or 5.2 percent, compared to July 2016.

The changes within the following tax categories contributed to the overall net tax revenue increase in July:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for the month totaled $861.5 million, up from nearly $780.7 million in July 2016, for an increase of roughly $80.9 million, or 10.4 percent.

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections deposited during the month increased by $46.7 million, or 5.1 percent, compared to July 2016.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for July totaled nearly $19.4 million, for an increase of $13 million, or 205.6 percent, compared to last year when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled $6.3 million.

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections for July decreased by nearly $0.1 million, or -0.1 percent, compared to last year when Motor Fuel Tax revenues totaled $146.1 million.

Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees: Tag and Title Fee collections for July increased by $7.4 million, or 28.4 percent, compared to July 2016. Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections for the month totaled $81.5 million, for a decrease of $10 million, or -11 percent, compared to last year.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will hold a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the Gainesville Public Safety Building, 701 Queen City Parkway in Gainesville.

For security reasons, no bags or signs will be allowed into the courtroom where the town hall is taking place, according to the announcement.

Congressman Buddy Carter has scheduled nine Town Hall meetings in his coastal Georgia district.

The Pooler pharmacist is planning on leading nine events between Tuesday and Thursday in his coastal district, including town halls in Jesup, Brunswick and Savannah.

According to the tracking website Town Hall Project, he’s in rarefied air. Only two other Georgia House members have planned in-person town halls during the August recess: Democratic Rep. David Scott will hold an Aug. 19 event in Jonesboro and Republican Rep. Doug Collins will host a Wednesday evening town hall in Gainesville.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office has also said he plans to hold an in-person town hall meeting, while other lawmakers – including newly-elected Rep. Karen Handel of Roswell – have said they will organize telephone town halls.

Carter was the only of Georgia’s 10 Republican House members and two U.S. senators to hold a town hall meeting in February amid a wave of national protests that have rocked GOP events since Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Former Governor Roy Barnes addressed the Cartersville/Bartow County Chamber of Commerce.

“In my lifetime, we have seen the booming of this entire region,” he said. “Bartow is growing at a much faster rate than Cobb because Cobb is about developed out. Bartow has been growing by 30 to 37 percent every 10 years and will continue to do so. That is true of the entire Atlanta region.“What I want to discuss with you today is actually a question. ‘What do we need to do to continue this growth without destroying this quality of life that we all treasure?’”

He said three requirements are essential to Georgia’s continued growth.

“The first is transportation,” he said. “We must have adequate transportation to make sure this region grows and does not suffocate. When I was governor, I proposed a highway extension running from I-85 across to I-75 on what was called the ‘Northern Arc,’ which then swung further west across I-20 to south of Newnan where it would connect with the Fall Line Freeway, so truckers could entirely bypass Atlanta.”

Barnes said the second requirement is education.

“We have made great strides in education, but we have only scratched the surface,” he said. “Just like we need infrastructure and capital for infrastructure, we also need intellectual capital. There is a gap between the jobs created by industries and the skills of the workers necessary to fill those jobs. We should be panicked about that, but we seem to not be concerned.”

The third requirement, Barnes said, is leadership.

“I am disgusted with leadership to a large extent,” Barnes said. “Local level leadership is far superior to what we see on a state and national level. The local leaders have to actually solve problems —  make sure the garbage gets picked up, that the water is there when you turn on the spigot and you can flush the commode and nothing comes back — but on the state and particularly the national level, and I’m talking about both Democrats and Republicans, the purpose of elected leaders is to actually solve problems and to accomplish that you have to talk to each other.

Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it will not offer insurance plans for metro Atlanta residents on the federal exchange.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia said it will not offer insurance plans on the Obamacare exchange in any of metro Atlanta’s counties next year.

The move comes as the company is still waiting on whether the Trump administration will continue federal cost sharing subsidies that help provide coverage for low-income families.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georiga said in a statement that continued uncertainty on the federal level makes it difficult to offer plans on the marketplace exchange statewide.

The company did agree to offer plans in 85 mostly rural counties that would be left with no insurance plan.

But the company is expanding its offerings in some non-metro areas.

State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens’ office reported that BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia agreed to offer coverage in the state insurance exchange in 2018, but only for 85 counties that would have had no other health coverage companies.

Blue Cross is the sole health plan offering exchange coverage this year in all of Georgia’s 159 counties. If Blue Cross had pulled out, the commissioner’s office said it would have devastated Georgia’s market.

“You would have had thousands of people in that 85 county area that would have either had to change jobs, or go without coverage, or move.  Really that would have been their options if they wanted health insurance,” said Florence.

 

Gainesville Board of Education members heard options for setting the property tax millage rate.

Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Williams began, “what we want to do tonight is bring these three numbers to you; then over the next couple of weeks take this document and go back and look, and if you’ve got requests…communicate that to me and we’ll be sure to get some information for you so at our next meeting we can set a tentative millage rate.”

Williams explained that leaving the current rate of 6.85-mils in place would constitute a tax increase by definition, and would require three public hearings and the prerequisite advertising in the newspaper to announce each of those hearings as set forth under Georgia law.

Only by rolling back the rate to 6.453-mils would a revenue-neutral situation occur and eliminate the need for the public hearings.  That option would, however, create a projected budget shortfall of $2.4-million.

Should board members decide to use a rate higher than 6.453-mils when they reconvene August 21st, dates for the required trio of public hearings will be set at that time.

The Fayette County Board of Education is considering adopting a property tax millage rate lower than the current rate but above the full rollback rate.

The Fayette County Board of Education plans to raise the property tax millage rate 9.16 percent above the rollback rate, which will require three public hearings before the rate is decided on Aug. 21.

The board wants a rate of 19.500 mills, a 0.250 mill decrease from last year. The rollback rate is what would produce the same amount of revenue at the current millage rate if no property reassessments had occurred, but the board’s new budget requires a higher millage than what the rollback rate would have provided. The approximately $10 million budget increase is due mostly to cost-of-living raises, higher retirement plan contributions and health insurance premiums.

Millage hearings will be held at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 and at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 21, all at 210 Stonewall Ave. in Fayetteville.

Suwanee City Council will maintain the property tax millage rate at last year’s level.

Suwanee has proposed a millage rate of 4.93 mills, the same rate used in the proposed FY 2018 budget and the same rate used by the city over the past four years.

Because the proposed rate is anticipated to generate a 4.96 percent increase in property tax revenue, the city will hold three public hearings to discuss the tax increase at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10 and at noon and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at City Hall, 320 Town Center Avenue. The millage rate will be adopted during the city council meeting following the final public hearing Aug. 22.

Property owners will see a slight increase due to rising property values.

Dalton City Council voted to place a $50 million bond issue on the ballot.

The City Council voted 3-1 (Gary Crews voted against) to place a referendum on the Nov. 7 municipal election ballot that asks:

“Shall the City of Dalton, Georgia, issue general obligation bonds in the principal amount of up to $50,650,000 for the purposes of providing funds to (i) acquire land for school purposes, acquire, construct, install and equip a new secondary school building and facilities, acquire new technology, to be used at educational and administrative facilities, including, but not limited to, classroom technology infrastructure, computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices for students and staff, servers, wiring, wireless antennas, displays and other technology upgrades with necessary hardware, software and programs, acquire school equipment, including, but not limited to, safety and security equipment, and acquire any other property, both real and personal, necessary or desirable therefor(e), for Dalton Public Schools; (ii) capitalize interest on the bonds; and (iii) pay all expenses incident to accomplishing the foregoing?”

Jevin Jensen noted the school system could pay as much as 5.5 percent interest on the bonds. Over the 30-year life of the bonds, the principal and interest that would be paid at that rate is $103 million.

“At 3.5 percent, that would be $82 million,” he said.

Members of the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area asked council members to delay voting on the measure. The League plans to try to circulate a petition that would place a referendum on the May 2018 general primary ballot asking Dalton voters to dissolve the school system.

University of Georgia School of Law is creating a Veterans Legal Services Clinic to provide services to military veterans.

As described on the UGA website, the clinic “will provide veterans in Georgia with legal assistance they might not otherwise have access to or be able to afford, with particular regard to denied or deferred claims before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It also includes an educational scholarship component … [it] will be staffed by law students who will work directly with veterans and their dependents to ensure access to benefits and services, especially for those with mental or physical disabilities resulting from their time in the military.”

This clinic will not only offer legal assistance and advice for veterans; it will also provide $5,000 matching scholarships each year for two veterans studying at the UGA law school.

And the benefit, Butler added, isn’t limited to veterans.

“Another attraction is the opportunity to train law students,” he said. “The University of Georgia law school’s clinical programs are among the best in the country. You take these young law students in their formative years and get them involved in helping people, it affects what they will do as lawyers.”

The Augusta Planning Commission amended its code to allow small brewers and distillers in business areas.

The amendments create new categories of “nano-“ and “pico-“ breweries and distilleries, smaller than traditional microbreweries and distilleries, which will be allowed with a special permit in business zones.

Postponed several times, the amendments appear just in time for state law changes going in effect Sept. 1 that will allow small brewers and distillers to sell packaged beer and liquor over the counter, in limited amounts.

The approval drew contrasting reviews from Augusta’s two existing microbreweries, which were required to open in an industrial zone a few blocks from downtown because the current planning code considers brewing and distilling as an industrial operation, regardless of the amount of beverage being made.

The city’s discussion had touched on creating a “brewery district” around the Fifth Street area where the two breweries are located, planning and development manager Brendon Cunningham said, although Sloan said she wasn’t “all that enthusiastic” about having more brewer neighbors in the area.

The amendments define a nanobrewery as making up to 3,000 barrels of beer per year, the equivalent of 992,000 12-ounce bottles. A picobrewery can make up to 500 barrels, or about 27,556 six-packs.

Neither definition includes a food component. Brewpubs, which are already allowed, can make up to 10,000 barrels per year but must make half their money from food sales.

Warner Robins City Council members argued over whether to hire a city administrator.

A simmering debate about whether to hire a city administrator boiled over at the Warner Robins City Council meeting Monday, including allegations of secret meetings.

The discussion began in pre-council when Councilman Keith Lauritsen suggested that the council state its plans for a city administrator so that those running for mayor will know what the job will entail. Council members Mike Davis and Clifford Holmes disagreed and the discussion soon became heated.

The discussion became especially heated when Mayor Randy Toms said he wanted all future meetings on the subject to be in the open. Shaheen and Holmes both took offense, saying they took that as an accusation.

“There was one meeting that I absolutely believe was illegal,” Toms said.

Holmes said he did go to a meeting and when he got there he saw there were three other council members, and he implied that he did not go in. He also said City Attorney Jim Elliott was there.

[City Council member Chuck] Shaheen has said he would run for mayor if the council approved a city administrator. But he said in the meeting that he is running for mayor “whether it is full or part time.”

Part of Georgia’s seashore may be designated as a place of international importance for shorebirds.

A group of public and private organizations — including two federal agencies but not the state Department of Natural Resources — submitted the nomination to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network to have Georgia’s barrier islands and marshlands designated a “landscape of hemispheric importance for shorebirds.”

The network is a long-standing conservation strategy for celebrating and protecting shorebirds over a wide geographic range in North and South America. Currently, there are 95 sites in North America meeting its criteria, supporting shorebirds in all three stages of habitat need: nesting, migration and non-nesting. The Altamaha River Delta was dedicated as a Coastal Georgia site of regional importance by the WHSRN (pronounced whiss-ern) Council in 1999.

The network invited the Georgia Shorebird Alliance to apply to broaden the designation and encompass more of the coast. A decision on the application is expected next month.

If approved, the designation would highlight the coast’s importance, a plus for eco-tourism as well as researchers looking for grant funding.

“It really is a way to showcase the Georgia coast,” said Alice Miller Keyes, vice president for conservation at One Hundred Miles, which organized the application process. “It can be a real draw for the growing ecotourism and for Georgia as a birding destination.”

The City of South Fulton is considering designating election day as an official holiday.

A proposal last month offered Election Day as a holiday mandatory for the city and “encouraged” for other Georgia elected bodies and for South Fulton businesses.

Sponsoring it was City Councilman khalid kamau, who said in the proposed resolution that Election Day is already a holiday in Puerto Rico during presidential races, leading to high turnouts at the polls.

kamau also said the holiday can create a culture of voting and political education.

City council arguments against it included misalignment with the Fulton County School System calendar, causing parents among city employees to seek child care or take time off when students are out of school Oct. 9.

Mayor William “Bill” Edwards said there was insufficient information available to make a sound decision.

“I don’t think we went into depth enough,” he said. “We need to have a committee to study this further.”

The Board of Regents will consider a request by Georgia Tech for a campus at Lockheed in Marietta.

The state Board of Regents is scheduled Tuesday to consider a $63 million proposal by Georgia Tech to buy land to expand its research space in Cobb County and give it flexibility for future development.

Tech wants a lease revenue bond package to acquire and renovate 32 acres in Marietta owned by Lockheed Martin, according to the board’s agenda. The buildings that Tech plans to purchase are on the aerospace giant’s south campus along Atlanta Road.

“This ownership structure will allow flexibility for future development, such as opportunities for industry partnerships and investment. Over the long term, development of the entire 52-acre campus is expected to accelerate (Georgia Tech’s) research growth in national security, homeland defense, and commercial advanced technology initiatives,” an explanation on the board’s agenda read.

2017 Elections

Powder Springs will hold qualifying for three city council seats.

Powder Springs will hold a general election Nov. 7 to elect three City Council members from Wards 1, 2 and 3.

Qualifying will be held between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Aug. 23-25 (closed 1 -2 p.m. for lunch) in the second floor conference room, Powder Springs City Hall, 4484 Marietta St., Powder Springs.

The qualifying fee for each council candidate will be $360 payable by cash, check or money order made out to the City of Powder Springs.

Brookhaven will elect two City Council members in November.

The qualifying fee for Council District 2 (two) and District 4 (four) is $360.00 which is 3% of the total gross salary of the preceding year (Georgia Election Code 21-2-131 (a) (1) (A). Each candidate shall file a notice of candidacy in the office of the City Clerk of Brookhaven and must meet the qualifications of the Charter and Code of the City of Brookhaven, as well as all applicable state and constitutional laws.

The date of the Municipal Election for the Offices of Councilmember of Council Districts 2 (two) and 4 (four) is Tuesday, November 7, 2017. In the event no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, a Run Off Election shall be held Tuesday, December 5, 2017, between the candidates receiving the two highest number of votes. DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections will conduct the November 2017 Election and if any Run-Off Election.

Each candidate shall file a notice of candidacy in the office of the City Clerk of Brookhaven between Wednesday, August 23, 2017 and Friday, August 25, 2017, between the hours of 8:30 am and 12:30 pm, and 1:30 pm and 4:30pm.

Sandy Springs will host two contested city council elections.

Jody Reichel this week formally declared her candidacy for the Sandy Springs City Council District 4 seat held by Gabriel Sterling, who previously said he is running for Fulton County Commission chairman.

Reichel said Sandy Springs has been fortunate to have elected officials and other community leaders “who have worked hard to make our city an extremely desirable place to lay down roots, raise our families and be involved with our community.”

“There are, however, many important issues that need a strong advocate and much work that needs to be done in order for Sandy Springs to reach its potential,” she said, adding that’s the reason why she’s running for the City Council.

If elected, Reichel said she will focus her time and energy on issues such as traffic challenges, smart business growth and working on efforts to make Sandy Springs a more pedestrian friendly community. She also notes she’ll regularly listen to the viewpoints of others to continue the city’s reputation as a great place to live.

Another resident, Steve Soteres, on Thursday also revealed his plans to run for the District 2 seat held by Ken Dishman, who will not be seeking re-election.

Mayor Rusty Paul and Council members Andy Bauman, Chris Burnett, Tibby DeJulio and John Paulson are all seeking re-election.

The city’s general election is slated for Nov. 7, and the office of mayor as well as the six City Council seats are up for grabs. Qualifying for the elections will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 through Thursday, Aug. 24 and from 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 25. The qualifying fees for mayor is $1,000 and $540 for the city council seats.

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