Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 5, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 5, 2017

On October 5, 1864, the Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought in Bartow County, Georgia.

The first televised Presidential address from the White House was broadcast on October 5, 1947.

The Georgia Supreme Court outlawed use of the electric chair as “cruel and unusual punishment” on October 5, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal earlier this week named a new Executive Counsel.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] announced the departure of David Werner, executive counsel to the governor. Beginning Nov. 1, Werner will become the director of state and local government relations for Delta Air Lines.

“Werner has been an instrumental member of my administration since the 2010 campaign and I’m grateful for his service to our state,” said Deal. “During his tenure, Werner has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the well-being of our citizens and his efforts as executive counsel have helped to advance the interests of many Georgians. His knowledge and experience have been assets to the State of Georgia and I wish him the best as he transitions to the private sector.”

Deal tapped Carey Miller, deputy executive counsel and public safety policy advisor, as Werner’s replacement. Miller will assume this position on Oct. 15.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and eight of his Georgia Republican colleagues voted to ban most late-term abortions.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed 237-189, largely along party lines. Republicans control 240 seats in the House, and Democrats hold 194.

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Collins referred to his own experience as a father being told that he and his wife should abort the pregnancy of their now-25-year-old daughter, Jordan, who was diagnosed with a form of spina bifida while still in the womb.

The timeframe of the ban is based on research that shows children begin to feel pain at 20 weeks, or about five months, into the pregnancy.

“When modern medicine leads doctors to administer anesthesia to children at 20 weeks’ gestation, basic integrity gives us no way to ignore their personhood,” Collins said in an announcement after the bill cleared the House. “Science leaves us no room to justify their slaughter, and our Founding Fathers leave us no path to disregard their right to life.”

Both of Georgia’s senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, are co-sponsors of the Senate bill and have supported similar bills in the past. The most recent vote was taken 2016.

“We have a moral obligation to protect unborn life, and it is unconscionable that federal law currently permits unborn babies to feel such unimaginable pain,” Perdue said in 2016. “It is likewise reprehensible that we would even have to require doctors to save every newborn’s life.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has a 2018 campaign issue teed up by the federal voting rights lawsuit filed this week.

The suit was filed by the National Redistricting Foundation against Kemp, in his role as the state’s top elections official, in U.S. District Court Tuesday.

In a statement released by Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign, the secretary of state pointed to past battles his office had with the U.S. Department of Justice while Barack Obama was president. Holder was Obama’s first attorney general.

“I took on the Obama Justice Department twice — and won — to implement our common sense Voter ID and citizenship check laws,” Kemp said in a statement released by his gubernatorial campaign. “I’m ready to fight for hardworking Georgians again as Eric Holder and his team of liberal lawyers attempt to turn Georgia ‘blue’ through the court system.”

The suit targets redistricting done in 2015 for Chandler’s district, as well as the district represented by state Rep. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, arguing they were redrawn by Republican lawmakers to dilute African-American voting strength and keep Chandler and Strickland in office.

Kemp’s department also recently opened a field office in Cartersville.

Clermont business owners want state legislators to step-in as they fight for alcohol sales.

A political battle that’s been brewing in Clermont for years is coming to a head as prominent business owners are lobbying state leaders to help them with the town council’s unwillingness to allow a referendum that would let voters decide whether beer and wine can be sold within city limits.

Business owners wanted to have the issue placed on the ballot of the Nov. 7 municipal elections, but with election day a month away, it’s too late for that to happen.

Chris Nonnemaker — owner of Papa’s Pizza To Go, 6483 Cleveland Highway, and Mark Kirves, whose wife Valerie operates nearby Iron Accents — are so fed up with what they perceive as an affront to their rights as property owners that they want to de-annex their businesses from Clermont.

Kirves and Nonnemaker said they have petitioned state Rep. Lee Hawkins and Sen. Butch Miller, both Republicans from Gainesville, to file legislation that would allow them to exit Clermont and be under Hall County jurisdiction, which allows alcohol sales

Rome City Council candidates spoke to the Floyd County Republican Women about their campaigns for three open seats.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital spoke about their results from the state rural hospital tax credit program.

The tax credit program, known as the Georgia HEART Program, that went into effect in January is meant to benefit the state’s rural hospitals by giving taxpayers who direct their tax dollars to hospitals that meet a certain criteria a 90 percent credit. An update heard on the program by the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Board of Directors on Wednesday included a push for taxpayers to contribute to the program.

Among this year’s 49 eligible hospitals are Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Phoebe Worth Medical Center and Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center. Brian Church, chief financial officer for the health system, said the latest numbers on the Georgia HEART donations were $64,777 for Phoebe Sumter, $41,421 for Phoebe Worth and $3,719 for Southwest Georgia Regional.

The program — anticipated to expand to about 60 hospitals in 2018 — is expected to provide $60 million in tax credits annually, with individual hospitals being able to receive up to $4 million.

“(The current Phoebe hospital figures) are well below the $4 million they could receive,” Church said.

The deadline to contribute to the tax credit program for this year is Nov. 1. More information can be found at https://dch.georgia.gov/rural-hospital-tax-credit.

[Phoebe Putney chief financial officer Brian] Church segued to address funding sources, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Disproportionate Share Hospital, or DSH, and the “cliff” for federally-qualified health centers, all of which were facing major monetary gaps in recent days when windows expired due to inaction from legislators to close those gaps.

The CHIP lapse impacts a portion of families supported by Medicaid, and DSH provides compensation for indigent care. The DSH gap alone reflects a $2 million loss for Phoebe.

“There is nothing predictable in Washington,” Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick said. “If anything is clear, it is that it is (difficult) to get a majority on anything.”

Chatham County Commissioners are considering proposals to provide healthcare at the county jail.

As amended midway through the day Wednesday, the agenda for the commission’s Friday meeting indicates commissioners will have to determine whether to extend their current contract with Atlanta-based CorrectHealth, approve a new contract with the company, or end it and hire a new provider by emergency procurement. The Chatham County Manager’s office is not making a recommendation one way or the other, and the county did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the matter.

For his part, Sheriff John Wilcher said Wednesday he is satisfied with the work CorrectHealth has done at the jail since the company came on board last August, but he will not intervene in the negotiations between the company and the county. The contract was being developed before he was elected sheriff in a special election last April, Wilcher said, and is between the county and CorrectHealth.

If nothing is done, however, documents indicate the current contract with CorrectHealth will expire Oct. 17, leaving more than 1,000 inmates without a critical and constitutionally mandated service.

Dalton candidates for City Council, Board of Education, and State House will meet voters in a series of public forums.

On Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Dalton City Hall, the Daily Citizen-News, the Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA) and the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area will host a forum for candidates for the City Council, the Dalton Board of Education and the special election for state House of Representatives District 4, which covers most of the city of Dalton as well as four surrounding precincts. Bruce Broadrick stepped down as representative recently, citing health concerns.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. at City Hall, the Daily Citizen-News and the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area will host a forum for candidates for House District 4.

On Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Mack Gaston Community Center, CLILA, the Concerned Citizens of Dalton, the Concerned Clergy, the Dalton-Whitfield NAACP and the Woman’s Community Club will host a forum for candidates for the Dalton Board of Education and the City Council.

The League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area will hold its annual political picnic on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center. While not a formal forum, candidates will have the opportunity to give a brief presentation and to meet members of the public.

Cobb County Juvenile Court’s Gang Suppression Program said through a spokesperson that gang activity is rising.

“We’re seeing gang activity pick up, and it’s not just in this district, it’s in the whole entire county,” she said, speaking at a town hall meeting held by Commissioner Lisa Cupid Tuesday night. “We’re seeing a lot of kids coming in from Fulton County. They’re coming into our county and they’re trying to recruit. We’re a thriving county, so they’re going to come where they’re going to find other people.”

District Attorney Vic Reynolds said gangs are present in every high school in the county, and their activities contribute to other types of crime.

“We know that gang activity is prevalent in Cobb County, and that it is a major factor in every type of crime, including violent crimes, drug distribution and theft,” Reynolds said. “As an example, in many car break-ins, also known as entering autos, thieves are specifically looking for firearms, and those investigations often reveal gang connections.”

Grantville Sign Police are cracking down on campaign signs in rights-of-way.

The signs were removed on Friday, Sept. 29, according to Mayor Doug Jewell, because the signs were not in compliance with city code of ordinances, which says that signs should be at least 10 feet away from the right-of-way of line of any street or highway to which it orients.

Sandra Luttrell, Dee Berry and Alan Wacaser are running for the Post 4 seat currently held by Leonard Gomez, who did not qualify for re-election. Barham Lundy, a former member of the Grantville City Council, is challenging Post 3 Councilman Mark King.

Jewell said city workers were instructed to pick up the signs. He recalled his time of campaigning in 2014.

“I had several of my signs removed,” Jewell said. “Like these candidates, I felt they were in the right spot. Evidently they did not comply, and they picked them up, and I came to city hall and picked them up.”

The city elections will be held Nov. 7. Also on the ballot will be the extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Coweta County.

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