Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2016

New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights on November 20, 1789.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the water lawsuit between Georgia and Florida on January 8, 2018.

Georgia lawyers hope to use the showdown to convince the high court to confirm a major legal victory in February. That’s when a special master appointed by the Supreme Court urged the justices to reject Florida’s call for strict new water consumption limits.

The nine justices could approve or reject Lancaster’s recommendation regarding the “equitable distribution” of water or direct him to re-examine the case. Congress could also weigh in — lawmakers from Georgia, Florida and neighboring Alabama have all tangled to have their say in recent years — and other lawsuits are possible.

Gov. Nathan Deal has shifted more than $30 million in the state budget so far to pay for this particular legal battle with Florida, and his administration signaled it was ready to spend more to win the fight.

President Trump added Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant to his short list for a future nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

Trump said he would consider Georgia Justice Britt Grant for a position on the nation’s highest court should a new vacancy occur, adding the jurist to a pool of roughly two-dozen other potential appointees.

The president also added Atlanta-based federal court Judge Kevin Newsom to the list. The former Alabama attorney was recently confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Grant joins colleague Keith Blackwell on Trump’s list of conservative jurists. The former Cobb County prosecutor and state Court of Appeals judge was named by Trump last year in the weeks leading up to the election.

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile spoke in Atlanta this weekend.

Brazile told the AJC she didn’t know Keisha Lance Bottoms or Mary Norwood, the two women vying in Atlanta’s Dec. 5 mayoral runoff, but that she’d “sent a check” to Democrat Bottoms’ campaign.

“I clearly would prefer the Democrat to win,” Brazile said. “But Atlanta, which has already elected a female mayor years ago, will once again have another female mayor.”

She later told the crowd she’d made a donation to Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign.

Dennis Brown has taken the oath of office as the new Forsyth County District 2 Commissioner.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation warned that suicides among minors are rising.

Youth suicides in Georgia have been spiking in recent years, causing alarm among officials at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and prompting a summit at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville on Friday night.

The GBI hosted the event with state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, as an honored guest. The summit was designed to highlight the issue and prompt the Gwinnett community to try and address it. Similar summits are expected to be held around the state.

But, it was the statistical numbers that GBI Child Fatality Review Unit Special Agent in Charge Trebor Randle said people should find alarming: 38 Georgians between the ages of 5 and 17 have committed suicide this year.

Last year, the total was 48. In 2015, it was 51. The numbers from 2012, 2013 and 2014 fluctuated between 32, 36 and 30 respectively.

“Suicide deaths in Georgia has reached an all-time high from what we’ve been seeing,” Randle said of the five-year data.

Georgia Senate Committee meetings will be live-streamed.

Beginning the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Georgians who are interested in watching state senators at work can live-stream committee meetings being held in the statehouse.

Members of the Georgia Senate on Friday held a mock committee meeting led by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, to test out the new wiring and equipment.

“The work of the General Assembly should be transparent to everyone without having to take off work or drive to Atlanta,” Shafer said. “Legislators do a better job when they’re being watched, and the people of Georgia ought to be able to see the laws that impact them being made.”

Three committee rooms in the Capitol and two more in the adjacent Coverdell Legislative Office Building have been wired for video and sound. Events held in the Senate Press Conference Room also will be live-streamed.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) has an announced opponent for his 2018 reelection.

[Jen] Slipakoff, who has never run for office before, explained why she decided to challenge Ehrhart, who was elected 30 years ago in 1988.

“He’s been on my radar for a bit. I’ve seen some of the bills that he has put forth, and I’m not happy with several of them,” she said. “I’m not happy with his methodology and some of the forms of intimidation that he likes to use, particularly where I have a lot of concern surrounding some of his threats that he makes to our public universities and the universities that receive public funding in terms of taking away their funding — most recently Georgia Tech, where they had indicated they planned to be a sanctuary school and the funding was cut for their library. He’s threatened Kennesaw State funding after they hosted the Art AIDS in America art show. I went to that exhibit. I thought it was an impactful — certainly controversial — but also very impactful, and I certainly learned something. And it pushed me to think. And it was beautiful and it was haunting, and I was disappointed to see that it also became sort of a catalyst for threatening Kennesaw State’s funding. I don’t think that that’s the role of our state Legislature. He’s a legislator, not a Board of Regents member, and I was very concerned about that tactic of intimidation.”

“Representing the views of the vast majority of your constituents is not intimidation,” Ehrhart said. “Radical leftists like Slipakoff want to intimidate everyone like her heroes in (Barack) Obama’s administration did when actually threatening funding of university units who did not adopt the hateful radical Democrat agenda. My job is to hold universities accountable who spend taxpayer money.”

State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) also has drawn opposition for next year.

[Democrat] Lucy McBath is running for House District 37 held by state Rep. Sam Teasley, R-Marietta.

Another [Democratic] candidate, Luisa Wakeman of east Cobb, said she is running for House District 43 held by state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb.

[Democrat] Erick Allen, who lost to state Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, in 2016, by a margin of 46.5 percent to 53.5 percent, announced he would be challenging Golick again.

Cobb Democrats were particularly enthusiastic about voters sending two Democrats into the runoff for the seat formerly held by former state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna: attorney Jen Jordan and dentist Jaha Howard.

“No longer in Cobb County can they put up candidates that are not of good quality and expect to win,” said Michael Owens, chair of the Cobb Democratic Committee. “From this day forward, Cobb County Dems will be a force in this county. Our candidates will be strong.”

Warner Robins voters will head to the polls for a December 5th runoff for City Council between Daron Lee and Eric Langston.

The population of Warner Robins is about 75,000, and on Dec. 5, it could be that fewer than 5,000 voters decide an election for an at-large City Council post.

Just 17 percent of registered voters turned out for the Nov. 7 general election, which featured a hotly contested three-way mayoral race and two City Council contests. The city has 39,126 registered voters, and only 6,797 people voted in the general election.

Savannah City Council is considering holding a referendum for a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

The Savannah City Council recently voiced support for holding another transportation sales tax referendum, five years after voters rejected a previous effort to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for roads, bridges and bicycle paths in Chatham County.

The mayor and aldermen directed staff on Oct. 26 to send a letter to Chatham County expressing their interest in pursuing another Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The Chatham County Commission must call a formal meeting and invite all of Chatham’s municipalities to start the process before a referendum can be held. The city council decided to encourage the county to move forward in response to a letter the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia recently sent to the state’s counties to gauge their interest in TSPLOST.

Legislation passed since the 2012 referendum now allows for single-county TSPLOSTS of up to 1 percent on sales, rather than requiring the tax be raised and spent in multi-county regions. That change could increase the likelihood of a second referendum passing since many local voters were opposed to funds raised in Chatham going toward projects in other counties, said City Attorney Brooks Stillwell.

The City of Rome and Floyd County are asking state legislators to consider reforms to sales tax collections.

[Floyd] County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace noted that expected bumps haven’t materialized from big events such as the recent air show and tournaments at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.

“We didn’t have a sales tax holiday this year, and our collections were down that month,” Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter added.

The problem is threefold, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia: internet sales, sales tax exemptions and the state Revenue Department’s sole control over the distribution.

Two bills that passed the House and are awaiting Senate action would require out-of-state vendors to collect tax on the items they sell in Georgia, and require the DOR to provide more specific information to local governments.

Joel Wiggins of the Georgia Municipal Association said local brick-and-mortar businesses also are losing sales to online retailers that are not collecting sales tax.

“It’s a question of marketplace fairness,” Wiggins said, adding that “It is a shame that someone who won’t put a building up in Georgia, we give them a 7-percent break on taxes.”

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