The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.
On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.
Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.
Joint Health & Human Svcs Committee – 341 State Capitol
3:00pm – 4:00pm
House Defense & Veterans Affairs – 515 Coverdell LOB
3:00pm – 4:00pm
House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee – 403 Georgia State Capitol
3:00pm – 4:00pm
Senate Judiciary Non-Civil – 307 Coverdell LOB
Of particular note is that the House Appropriations Committee, meeting at 8 AM has the FY2015 Supplemental Budget on its agenda this morning. Passage by the committee means the bill doesn’t even have to leave Room 341 of the Capitol for a Rules Committee meeting that could send it to the floor for a vote on final passage. (more…)
John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.
The Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit is often the example pointed to by groups who say there should be more diversity among judicial appointees—and those who defend the Deal administration’s recent picks. That’s because the State and Superior courts are among the most diverse in Georgia.
DeKalb County Superior Court has four black female judges, two white female judges, two white male judges, and two black male judges. The circuit also included the state’s first Latino (Tony DelCampo) and Asian-American (Alvin Wong) state court judges. (Delcampo left the State Court bench in 2011 but has applied for reappointment.)
Jackson said she believes diversity on the bench is important. When the makeup of judges reflects the population, there is inherently more trust in the judicial system, she said.
“But that can mean any number of things,” she said. Race. Gender. Socioeconomic status. Even life experience.
Jackson bristles at the suggestion that diversity is a second-tier consideration and not a primary qualification for being a judge.
“I hear people say, ‘I don’t know if we should sacrifice the quality of a candidate to make sure the bench is diverse.’ The very nature of being a diverse candidate is in and of itself a qualification,” she said. “There is a unique experience that comes along with being a woman or an Asian-American or an African-American or a white American.”
As a DeKalb County resident, I would argue that diversity on the bench might be improved with a Jewish member of the bench. After all, Atlanta is home to one of the nation’s largest Jewish communities and DeKalb hosts a number of congregations and a large number of the state’s Jewish citizens. As a constituent and former consultant to State Rep. Jacobs, if anyone asked my opinion, I’d say he would be a great fit for the bench, though I haven’t spoken to him about the current vacancies and haven’t been his consultant for more than a year.
As a bonus, it would open at least one special election, potentially creating a Christmas (or Hanukkah, if you will) in March or June for folks like me. (more…)
State economic [development] commissioner Chris Carr confirmed the team was, indeed, in the U.K. when he posted on Facebook a few minutes ago: “Back from the UK. Great trip. We’ll go anywhere and everywhere to bring jobs and investment to Georgia!”
“We ended the year with our rate dropping below seven percent for the first time since last April,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a press release. “And, this was the first time in eight years that we’ve had job growth in December.”
During the 2008 General Assembly session, lawmakers passed what was then Georgia’s largest budget ever, $21.1 billion in state funds. Later that year, the housing and construction industries collapsed, banks started failing across the country, and a meltdown in the financial markets nearly crashed the economy.
The Great Recession had begun, which blew a gaping hole in tax collections and forced Georgia to start cutting back that $21 billion budget until spending dropped to about $17 billion a year. State revenues eventually recovered as the economy came out of its tailspin, but it was a very slow process.
The budget Deal just released shows expenditures of nearly $21.8 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, which would be the first time the budget total has exceeded what legislators adopted back in the winter of 2008.
The budget plan Gov. Nathan Deal proposed Friday is predicated on the confidence, and the evidence, that Georgia’s slow recovery from the recession is finally picking up, and that tax revenues are showing and will continue to show that progress.
Be that as it may, the governor’s budget is based on a projected 4 percent tax revenue growth over the fiscal year that begins in July. Consequently, some state functions will get particular attention.
Deal’s budget would fund almost 300 more caseworkers to investigate cases of abuse and neglect.The budget also continues the process of criminal justice reform that has highlighted the past two years, when the focus has been on alternative sentencing, rehabilitation and job placement rather than just warehousing.
Speaking of education, that’s where the biggest infusion of new money in this proposed budget is targeted.
The Department of Community Health’s $13 billion budget for fiscal year 2016 would eliminate health insurance coverage for 11,500 “non-certificated’’ school personnel, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
DCH Commissioner Clyde Reese, speaking Tuesday to the joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee, cited a “fairly large deficit’’ that the state incurs for covering these school workers. He put the figure at $135 million in fiscal 2014.
“We think a lot of these people will get insurance in other ways,’’ Reese told Democratic Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), who questioned the coverage move. He added that some may qualify for subsidies in the health insurance exchange.
Of the 800 polled this week, just over 60 percent say they do not support increasing the gas tax to fund maintenance of existing roads and bridges. It showed 23 percent would support it while 16 percent were undecided.
When asked if they would support a one cent statewide sales tax to raise the money, only 32 percent said they would while 52 percent said they would oppose it and 15 percent were undecided.
The numbers get a bit closer when asked if they would support an increase in the gas tax if was offset by a reduction in the income tax rate; 35 percent said they would support while 31 percent would oppose it and nearly 33 percent were undecided.
As for mass transit, the poll shows nearly 41 percent of voters believe some of those funds should be spent on mass transit improvements while 37 percent think they should only be spent on improving roads. The other 22 percent were undecided.
So 32 percent of respondents would support an additional one cent in the statewide sales tax while 52 percent are opposed. How does that compare to 2012 when the statewide T-SPLOST was on the ballot?
If past history and current polling are any guide, the going looks rough for increased transportation taxes this year. Here’s the question that was not asked in the Landmark Communications/WSB poll, but is on the mind of every Georgia legislators under the Gold Dome. “Would you be more or less likely to vote to re-elect your state legislator if he/she voted to increase the gas tax.” A better way of doing it would be to include a battery of questions that included different forms the increase might take. Anyone want to commission a poll?
On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.
In 2014, the only incumbent Georgia state legislators who lost their seats in the General Assembly were State Reps. Charles Gregory (R-Marietta), Sam Moore (R-Cherokee), and Willie Talton (R-Warner Robins), who all lost to GOP challengers, and Senator Steve Thompson (D-Marietta) who lost his Democratic Primary. That means that most legislators need not fear General Election voters as their only real contest is their party’s primary.
The predictable result is a highly-partisan General Assembly. This also means that any “revenue enhancements” to pass must gain the support of a large number of Republicans who will stand for re-election among GOP primary voters who have a history of punishing anything that can be construed as a tax hike.
3. Department of Community Supervision drawing from the existing Departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, and Pardons and Paroles to improve the administration of paroles and probation across existing programs that have redundancies and inefficies;
4. Georgia has a need for massive additional transportation funding.
“If we should choose not to maintain and improve our infrastructure, economic development would stall, companies would be unable to conduct their business efficiently, commuters would waste more time and gas sitting in traffic, and no one would be satisfied,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert said after Deal’s speech that no options have been removed from consideration, even tax increases despite being unpopular.
But his reading between the lines told him Deal isn’t laying the groundwork for a tax hike.
“I will assure you that most of my constituents are not in favor of any tax increases, and it sounded like what the governor is suggesting – and which we’ll flesh out during this legislative session – is a more efficient use of the funding that we’re doing now,” said Cowsert, R-Athens.
Despite the confusing signals, the governor is offering sufficient leadership on the issue, according to Don Grantham, the Augusta-area’s representative on the State Transportation Board.
“It’s to the point where he’s not saying, ‘This is what you should do’ and ‘This is what I think.’ He is saying, ‘The options are there for you, and I support what you do.’ His support and information is going to be very helpful for us,” Grantham said.
Re-read those quotes from Senator Cowsert in light of the fact highlighted above about most legislators facing real opposition in party primary elections and you’ll understand the challenge that faces any bill to raise more revenue from state taxpayers.
We also have more reactions, in the form of audio interviews by GaPundit.com Associate Editor Jeff Breedlove:
Sean Frantom, starting his third year as development director for Ronald McDonald House Charities, joined Augusta businessmen Louis “Hap” Harris and Sonny Pittman in qualifying to seek the 21-month commission stint.
“I’m running for mayor for a number of reasons, because the position is available and it needs to be filled,” Pomberg said.
Pomberg joins Paul Brown, an architect who serves on the city’s Board of Appeals, in the race to replace former mayor Ed Rieker who resigned in October to pursue a university teaching job.
(If elected), my first day is to kind of keep the momentum on the annexation going and to keep people informed on that, as Mr. Giager has done so well in the few months he’s been in charge of that,” Pomberg said. “I’m also very interested to see how the redevelopment of the Fenner Dunlop property is going to shake out.”
In the Special Election for House District 50 in Johns Creek, we received this last night regarding former Johns Creek City Council Member Kelly Stewart, who is in a runoff election:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Contact: Lynn Doss, County Attorney, Fannin County, GA
Former Employer Warns Johns Creek Voters About Candidate for House Kelly Stewart
Candidate is “making false employment claims on her resume”
(Blue Ridge, GA)–“It has come to our attention that candidate for State House Kelly Stewart is currently and repetitively making false claims on her resume as to having been the County Administrator of Fannin County. Mrs. Stewart never held the role of County Administrator in our county, and her claim is patently untrue,” said Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss Wednesday.
“Fannin County has never in its history had a County Administrator form of government. Stewart was an administrative assistant (a secretary) in the office of the Board of Commissioners, “said Doss Wednesday.
“Kelly Mull Stewart’s pattern of deceit was major contributing factor as to why she was terminated by the County in 1999,” said former Commissioner Yvonne McNelley, who served as a Fannin County Commissioner at the time. Apparently, this pattern continues.
Stewart’s use of the job title, which she apparently has used for many years both to gain employment and to embellish her political resume in political campaigns, can be seen here:
Stewart also used the title of County Administrator on her official biography found on the City of Johns Creek website.
“We ended Stewart’s employment because of this issue as well as the fact that she had a pattern of abusing taxpayer dollars, including using taxpayer funds to make purchases that were clearly personal in nature,” said Commissioner McNelley.
“We investigated Kelly Stewart’s abuse of taxpayer dollars and found that she had made multiple unauthorized expenditures for personal items included self-help videos, unauthorized expensive meals, and gift purchases,” said Commissioner McNelley.
“Voters in Johns Creek can make their own decision. However, Mrs. Stewart may not make false claims or embellish her resume about her employment here, nor the reasons for her dismissal, without our setting the record straight,” said McNelley. “The actions of Stewart ultimately contributed to an election recall and defeat of then-Chairman Cline Bowers.”