Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 24, 2014

The Library of Congress was founded on April 24, 18000 and is the largest library in the world today.

Jack Kingston was born on April 24, 1955. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1984 and served four terms and in 1992 was elected to the United States Congress.

“Georgia On My Mind” became the official state song on April 24, 1979, when Governor George Busbee signed legislation designating it.

IBM introduced the Personal Computer Model 5150 on April 24, 1981, though some authorities date the introduction to April 12. It sported an Intel 8088 processor at 4.77 Mhz, a whopping 16k of RAM, which was expandable to 256k, and a clicky keyboard. The initial price tag was $1565, equivalent to more than $4000 today.

Gov. Deal signs legislation

Governor Nathan Deal continues to sign legislation for the next several days. Click here for a comprehensive list of bills he has signed so far this year.

Yesterday, Gov. Deal signed House Bill 60, often referred to simply as “the gun bill.”

“We as Georgians believe in the right of people to defend themselves, therefore we believe in the Second Amendment….  Thomas Jefferson told the world, in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. He believed in the right to bear arms. He said, and I quote, ‘”The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.’”

That Jefferson quote appears to be spurious, though the sentiment is accurate.

The bill has received coverage nationally. CNN wrote,

House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 — which opponents have nicknamed the “guns everywhere bill” — specifies where Georgia residents can carry weapons. Included are provisions that allow residents who have concealed carry permits to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of airports.

GeorgiaCarry, which lobbied for the bill, calls it “meaningful pro-gun legislation,” despite it being watered down from the group’s perspective. Still, the group has lauded the legislation, which will go into effect July 1. Americans for Responsible Solutions opposed the bill, calling it “extremism in action.”

Calling it “a great day to reaffirm our liberties,” Deal said the law allows residents to protect their families and expands the list of places where they can legally carry firearms, while allowing certain property owners, namely churches and bars, to make judgments on whether they want worshippers and patrons carrying guns.

“The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of our minds,” Deal said while touting his NRA endorsement for governor and “A” rating during his 17 years in Congress.

The governor said the law “will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License.

Americans for Responsible Solutions opposed the original bill that GeorgiaCarry pushed for, and while the group is pleased that the version Deal signed Wednesday doesn’t allow guns on college campuses or in churches, except in certain cases, it feels the legislation “takes Georgia out of the mainstream.”

“Among its many extreme provisions, it allows guns in TSA lines at the country’s busiest airport, forces community school boards into bitter, divisive debates about whether they should allow guns in their children’s classrooms, and broadens the conceal carry eligibility to people who have previously committed crimes with guns,” said Pia Carusone, the group’s senior adviser.

Time magazine called it “radical.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Wednesday radical new gun legislation that will allow licensed owners to carry firearms into more public places than at any time in the past century, including government buildings, bars, and a wide variety of public places.

The law, called the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” allows churches to “opt-in” to permit weapons, school districts to appoint staff carrying firearms, and requires bars to opt out if they wish to ban firearms, NBC reports. Gun owners caught at airport security checkpoints can pick up their weapons and leave with no criminal penalty.

Critics have called the new legislation the “Guns Everywhere Bill,” and gun control groups including Americans for Responsible Solutions and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have strongly criticized the bill, as has the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Frank Rotondo. “Police officers do not want more people carrying guns on the street,” said Rotondo, “particularly police officers in inner city areas.”

Predictably, FoxNews took a different tone.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday signed legislation significantly expanding gun rights in the state.

The bill, described by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm as “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history,” expands the scope of public places where licensed owners are allowed to carry firearms.

Associated Press had the money quote:

House Speaker David Ralston offered a thinly veiled critique of those who might oppose the bill while describing the people of his district.

“This is the apple capital of Georgia. And, yes, it’s a community where we cling to our religion and our guns,” Ralston said, drawing big applause in referencing a past comment made by President Barack Obama.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, here’s a link to the Senate Research Office report on the bill.

The Washington Post has a good rundown on what HB 60 actually does.

One aspect of the bill is that it now allows the use of suppressors for hunting, a change lauded by the American Silencer Association and a local manufacturer.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says the bill will present some challenges for local law enforcement.

Nunn 2014 a roadmap for Hilary 2016?

Yesterday, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage.com that a Michelle Nunn victory in Georgia changes the electoral map dramatically for 2016 in two important ways. That is behind the paywall, but I have republished it on GaPundit.com for free. Following is an excerpt.

ElectoralCollege2012

The Deep South states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were solid red in 2008 and 2012, but Democratic progress in Georgia could remake the electoral college map in 2016. Forty-eight electoral votes are in play in those states, but Georgia’s 16 makes it the biggest target, especially if Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp gets his wish of an “SEC Presidential Primary.”

ElectoralCollege2008

A Michelle Nunn victory this November means that even in less-promising circumstances than 2016, demographic changes will have moved Georgia into the purple category. And it would give the eventual Democratic nominee a much-needed Peach State ally.

Beyond that, however, it changes the dynamic in the Democratic Presidential nomination race by allowing Hilary Clinton to argue that a woman can put in play states otherwise considered at least likely Republican.

Campaigns and Elections

I generally don’t comment on polling done by InsiderAdvantage, because I work on their website, but an article at zpolitics requires a rebuttal with better information rather than hand-picked polls chosen to undermine IA’s reputation. Here’s what zpolitics wrote:

The race for the Republican nomination to fill retiring Saxby Chambliss’s U.S. Senate seat has besieged Georgians with a myriad of polls.

But how accurate are these polls and how much credibility should they command?

In seeking answers to these questions, we looked back  to the last time there was a wide open, statewide GOP Primary in Georgia: the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems implausible that then-Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine led the race for the majority of the primary. But that’s precisely what happened. In fact, Oxendine set the pace until late summer, or at least according to the polling at the time:

  • On May 30th, Insider Advantage had Oxendine in the lead at 23%, with Deal in second at 15%, followed by Karen Handel at 14%.
  • On July 5th – just two weeks out from election day – Insider Advantage again had Oxendine in the lead, tied with Karen Handel at 18%. Deal was a distant 3rd at 12%.

As we all know, Oxendine failed miserably, finishing a distant 4th on Election Day, with Karen Handel and Nathan Deal heading into a runoff.

So what can we learn from these polling blunders? We’re just four weeks away from Election Day and, if we attempt to foretell the primary victor based upon surveys produced by some of Georgia’s pollsters, there’s a chance we may all end up with egg on our faces on May 21st.

To be fair, it was an InsiderAdvantage poll that first showed Karen Handel moving into a statistical dead heat with Oxendine. Here’s what my predecessor Dick Pettys wrote on July 5, 2010:

A new InsiderAdvantage poll conducted this week for WSB-TV shows the Republican gubernatorial race in Georgia is now neck-and-neck between Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, for months the unquestioned king of the polling hill in this campaign, and former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

For the next two weeks, four polls showed the lead swapping between Oxendine and Handel, and only beginning July 13, 2010 did polls settle on Handel in first place. IA’s last poll of the Primary showed Handel and Deal in first and second.

As it turns out, a more accurate measure than any single was the RealClearPolitics.com average. That’s why, rather than relying on any single poll, I prefer to use a weighted average I call the GaPundit Polling Index.

While we’re discussing zpolitics, I was on with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant earlier this week, discussing the Senate race.

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In the Senate race, Congressman Phil Gingrey has a new television ad up:

From the press release:

The ad features the story of Patti Saylor, who turned to Rep. Gingrey for help when seeking answers from the Department of Defense that she – and the Saylor family – deserved after her son, U.S. Army Sergeant Paul Saylor, was tragically killed while on duty serving in Iraq.

In the First Congressional District race, Dr. Bob Johnson has his first ad up.

Rick W. Allen dropped his first ad in the 12th Congressional District race to meet incumbent Democratic Congressman John Barrow in November.

Governor Nathan Deal is asking for campaign volunteers to help at the campaign headquarters on Saturday.

Tractor Pull in 12th Congressional District?

Yesterday, we received competing announcements. State Rep. Delvis Dutton announced the “Farmers for Delvis Coalition,” in his campaign for 12th District GOP nomination.

Kyle Durrence, a Reidsville pecan farmer, said, “I’m enthusiastically supporting Delvis because he understands the importance of farming not only for South Georgia, but for the entire country. The agriculture community has no better friend than Delvis Dutton –  he’s one of us.” Delvis has been a strong advocate for the agriculture community while in Atlanta and will continue to look out for the best interests of Georgia farmers.

Meanwhile Rick Allen announced the Chair of “Farmers for Rick,”

Rick Allen Announces H.G. Yeomans as Farmers For Rick Coalition Chair.

Yeomans, of Swainsboro, endorsed Rick by saying, “I support Rick Allen because he understands the importance of a strong farming and agricultural economy. I believe Rick Allen’s conservative ideas will help lead our country back to the principles we believe in.”

At the risk of invoking the spectre of Lee Anderson, I can say there’s only one way to settle the battle of the “Farmers for” groups: tractor pull.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2014

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

Lucius D. Clay was born on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Lawrenceville’s Mountain View High School held a second prom to allow a student who was in the hospital for the original prom to attend.

A dual enrollment student, Abbie Williamson was on her way to afternoon classes at Georgia Gwinnett College, but instead was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

The collision left Williamson with a broken pelvis in two places, which has since healed, and a diffuse axonal injury, a type of traumatic brain injury. In the beginning, her prognosis was questionable. When she walked for the first time in six weeks, her mother, Mary Beth, called it a joyous day and a time to celebrate.

The next time to celebrate was Friday when about 80 people from the Mountain View community, Williamson family friends and Shepherd staff attended a prom specifically for Williamson to make up for the prom she missed.

“I thought it was a great idea because Abbie’s missed so much of the activites at school and she’s been so involved,” Mary Beth said. “This would be a nice way to re-introduce her back to her friends, because she’s doing so well and we’re so grateful to the whole Mountain View – Lawrenceville community. The prom is just a part of what the whole community has done in standing behind us and supporting Abbie.”

Eight weeks after her family didn’t know if she’d be able to talk, walk or laugh, she participated in a daddy-daughter dance at the prom. An Atlanta disc jockey, “Johnny D,” donated his services, and a tapas bar restaurant provided catered food for the event.

Georgia Politics

A new poll was released yesterday, not on a political race, but the “State of the State” Poll by Georgia College and State University’s Department of Government and Sociology in Milledgeville. It’s kind of a Rorschach test for readers of surveys.

The Savannah Morning News story on the poll highlighted support for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The majority of Georgians, according to the poll, support the deepening of the Savannah Port (56 percent) and oppose public funding for professional stadiums (76 percent).

“Key highlights from respondents include that Georgians are optimistic about the direction of the state,” said Costas Spirou, Georgia College professor and chair of the Department of Government and Sociology. “We also found that jobs, education and health care are the three most important issues facing the state.”

Other sources mentioned opposition to Obamacare and support for education spending.

Most Georgians would be willing to pay higher taxes to improve education, but don’t want to spend public money on a new stadium for a pro sports team.

The Peach State generally opposes President Obama’s health-care law — although most blacks and Hispanics support “Obamacare” and most whites oppose it.

And nearly 60 percent of Georgians disagree with the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid under the health care law.

Cameron McWhirter, writing for the Wall Street Journal noted this from the Political section of the survey results:

The GOP dominates Georgia politics, but a new poll may give its leaders reason to worry.

When asked which party they trusted most to lead the state in the next four years, 40.2% chose the Democratic Party while 36.9% chose the GOP. More than 15% chose other parties and 7.6% didn’t give an answer.

“You could read that as a response to a party that has been dominating and maybe we are getting close to shifting,” said Costas Spirou, who is chairman of the college’s Department of Government and Sociology.

About 51% of whites polled said they trusted the Republican Party, and only 24.6% of whites trusted the Democratic Party. But 77.9% of blacks supported the Democrats, and only 9.3% of blacks backed the GOP. Hispanic voters, a fast-growing part of the Georgia electorate, were split, with 30.4% backing the GOP and 29.9% backing the Democratic Party. Almost 40% of Hispanics polled supported third parties.

Even though the Democratic Party polled well, individual Democratic candidates still have hurdles, according to the poll. The poll did not ask about individual political races but it did ask about perceptions of some leading politicians. For example, 8.2% of those polled listed gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter as the most trusted Democrat, while 16.7% declared Gov. Nathan Deal, the incumbent, the most trusted Republican.

The survey of 500 adults between Feb. 5 and Feb. 18 has a 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

We’ll be discussing the poll and its results at length in coming days. But for now, here’s your glimmer of hope for Republicans, if only we don’t squander it.

Glimmer of hope

While the GOP is likely to hang onto to everything this year on the strength of white voting in a non-Presidential year, here’s a glimpse at the reality going forward, courtesy of the Washington Post.

The math isn’t complicated.  Winning 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and six percent of the African American vote -- as Romney did in 2012 — makes it hard to win a majority of the overall vote when those groups represent 10 percent and 13 percent of the electorate, respectively. If Hispanics grow to 20 percent of the electorate by 2024 or 2028 and the Republican presidential nominee performs roughly equivalent to Romney’s 2012 showing, it will be impossible — or damn close to impossible — for that GOP nominee to win a national majority.

The concentration of young minority population in the Southwest and South means that states like Texas and Arizona as well as Georgia and South Carolina — all of which have been conservative redoubts at the presidential level for decades could be in real jeopardy for the party in the medium and long term.

Republicans have a demographic problem. And it is going to get way, way worse unless they find a way to improve their numbers among Hispanics.

The problem, in my opinion, with GOP outreach to Hispanic voters is that we tend to treat them the way we treat touring Europe – to make ourselves understood, we simply speak more loudly. Perhaps we should begin listening more, talking less.

Georgia Senate 2014 really about 2016

This morning, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage.com that a Michelle Nunn win this year has a far greater impact than one Senate seat or even partisan control of the United States Senate. It could show a path for Hilary Clinton as the Democratic nominee and eventual winner of the Presidency in 2016. Read it and panic.  If you’re not an InsiderAdvantage subscriber, I’ll be posting the entire article on GaPundit.com in a day or two.

But consider this also in the light of what I just wrote: Atlanta has been asked by the Democratic National Committee to prepare a bid for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. If Georgia’s in play for the next Presidential election, our electoral math gets tougher. We’ll watch that process as sort of a canary in the coal mine.

That said, the New York Times prognistication machines predicts a 73% chance of Georgia electing a Republican to the Senate this year.

Sean Sullivan, writing in the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog calls the Georgia Senate race a “SuperPAC arms race.” As what could be considered a political campaign arms merchant, I like the sound of that.

The Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia has caught the attention of super PACs — but not the usual heavy hitters that typically muscle into primaries with tea party-vs.-establishment battle lines. Instead, obscurer cousins like Ending Spending Action Fund and Citizens for a Working America have populated the air space. In a crowded race most watchers predict will head to a top-two runoff on May 20, that dynamic is mostly good news for Republicans hoping to nominate an electable contender. It’s especially good news for businessman David Perdue, who has not taken any blows on the air from a third-party group yet.

If the election were held today, most observers feel that Perdue and Kingston would be best-positioned to make an all-but-certain runoff. If no candidate receives a majority of the May 20 vote — and no candidate is polling anywhere near 50 percent right now — the top two would face off in July.

If the runoff ends up being Kingston vs. Perdue, Republicans with an eye on the majority will be breathing a little easier.

Campaigns on Facebook

PenningtonSignReaders

What do you do when you send me a campaign photo and I don’t include it in the morning news email? Stephanie Coop from Valdosta got it right: rather than criticizing what was an honest oversight, she addressed it with a sense of humor and a photo of the world’s largest Chihuahua with a yardsign.

Personally, I support Governor Nathan Deal and intend to vote for him as many times as I can. But, I also support Georgians who care enough about our government to get off the couch and go get involved in the political process.

ChihuahuaPennington

Jason Lovett Campaign

And the most interesting campaign photo award for today goes to Jason Lovett, a Republican candidate for State House District 130, currently held by incumbent Republican David Knight. That’s a funny looking dog.

Brookhaven gets more interesting

Last night, City Council member Jim Eyre resigned his seat effective immediately during a meeting of the Brookhaven City Council.

Open seat! Special Election!

On news that Brookhaven’s 30319 is the fastest-growing zip code in Metro Atlanta, the City Council becomes more important as it is clear that the planning and zoning horizon is getting closer. While the diversity (especially among restaurants) of the Buford Highway corridor is a great asset to the City, dilapidated apartments lining the roadside are likely candidates for upgrade or redevelopment as inspections begin actually happening. How much the Brookhaven of 2024 will look like the Brookhaven of 2014 will likely be determined in planning meetings and city council.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 9, 2014

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Campaigns & Elections

It’s not really a campaign, but Governor Deal makes a cameo in the new “Chop Arm Strong” video.

State Senator Buddy Carter has a second ad out in his Congressional bid, again touting his credentials as a pharmacist.

Since at least 2009, Gallup polling has shown pharmacists to be one of the most-trusted pharmacists by survey respondents, and Gallup’s December 2013 ratings showed pharmacists ranked second for honesty and ethical standards. Also unsurprising, Gallup found the two lowest ranked professions are car salesmen and Members of Congress.

Phil Gingrey’s television debut this cycle hasn’t exactly gone as planned.

(Hat tip to Georgia Tipsheet for capturing the video above)

What was expected to be a soft opener for more than $700k in media time bought by the Gingrey campaign turned into a SuperPAC slap and the resulting recriminations. From Daniel Malloy of the AJC:

Ending Spending PAC has been on the air in Georgia hitting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, but the group does not limit its antipathy to Democrats: It’s now attacking Rep. Phil Gingrey.

The group, funded by Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, has bought $1.3 million in ad time between now and the May 20 primary. We assumed this was all to bash Nunn, but that is not the case.

The Ending Spending ad comes as Gingrey — sitting on more $2 million at the beginning of the year — announces he’s back up on the air with his ad pledging to repeal Obamacare or go home after one term. He’s bought time through primary day.

Gingrey’s campaign responded swiftly, issuing a statement from Campaign Manager Patrick Sebastian:

“This attack on Rep. Gingrey is a clear indication his establishment opponents see he’s on-the-move, and is the most viable conservative in the race.

“The attacks on conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey from this special interest group are straight out of Barack Obama’s liberal playbook. Georgians will not let these Chicago-style tactics on leaders who have proven records in cutting spending, protecting our military and veterans, and fighting Obamacare stop them from supporting conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey.”

Later yesterday an email to supporters sounded this note:

Their motivation is a clear indication that his establishment opponents see he’s moving up in the polls, and is the most viable Constitutional conservative in the race for U.S. Senate.

Twice named most conservative member of Congress, the establishment will stop at nothing to elect a moderate to the U.S. Senate.

They know Phil has fought to reduce the debt, cut the deficit, cap spending, balance the budget, and — throughout his time in D.C. — has returned more than $1.4 million of his personal office’s funds to the U.S. Treasury.

Most importantly, they know Phil will never waver on our conservative values.

Here’s the ad that Gingrey put at least part of his $725k ad buy behind.

New Polling Index for Governor’s Race

Yesterday, we got our hands on a new poll in the Governor’s race between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter, this one by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and sponsored by ultra-lefties MoveOn.org. Hat tip to Greg Bluestein for bringing it to our attention and providing the documents.

If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Jason Carter or Nathan Deal?

Jason Carter …………………………………………… 43%
Nathan Deal ……………………………………………. 42%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 15%

If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.

Democrat ……………………………………………….. 35%
Republican ……………………………………………… 36%
Independent / Other …………………………………. 29%

We have re-calculated the Polling Index for this race. Below is a chart of the three-poll index and tables that also include a four-poll version.

3-poll index Governor 04082014

Deal v Carter
 
 
 
 
 
 
JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril 1April 8
Nathan Deal4745384342
Jason Carter3842413943
NetDeal +9Deal +3Carter +3Deal +4Carter +1

Here’s the weighted average for the last three polls:

3-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
Change
 
 
 
Deal42.642.5-.1
Carter38.739.7+1

And the weighted average for the last four polls:

4-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
Change
 
 
 
Deal43.642.4-1.2
Carter38.538.6+0.1

The weighted average or index looks backwards at the most recent 3 or 4 polls and computes an average that account for the sample size. An 800 sample survey will have more effect on the final number than a 400 sample survey.

This naturally reduces the appearance of volatility and, we think, accounts for differences in pollsters’ methods.

Will Keystone XL open a rift on the left?

Michelle Nunn, the presumed Democratic nominee for United States Senate has endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline. WIll this open a rift within the Democratic Party?

“I have a lot of friends who have different perspectives on Keystone,” Nunn said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We need to continue to focus on green energy and finding sustainable sources of energy, but I do believe we should move forward with Keystone.”
Keystone XL remains a contentious issue on Capitol Hill as Republicans crank up pressure on President Obama to sign it. Nunn would be among the ranks of other oil and gas-friendly Democrats, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), who support the pipeline.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 8, 2014

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote yesterday about what Aaron meant to baseball and America.

As the last major league player who was a part of the Negro leagues, he was one of the game’s most prominent bridges to integration. For 23 years on the field, this humble native of Mobile, Ala., represented the game with unfailing grace, overcoming obstacles that most of us could not even imagine. In the years since then, Hank has remained one of the most distinguished and revered figures in American public life.

Aaron himself spoke to the Associated Press about the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Aaron’s record-breaking homer will be celebrated tonight before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener against the New York Mets.

Hate mail and threats made it impossible for him to savor the chase of Ruth’s revered record, but on Monday he said he’ll enjoy the anniversary because such old friends as former teammate Dusty Baker will return for the pregame ceremony.

Aaron, 80, said he has a greater appreciation for fans who still celebrate his career.

“It does. It means an awful lot to me,” Aaron said.

“I’m not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”

The Braves will wear an Aaron 40th anniversary patch on their uniform sleeves this season. An outfield sign at Turner Field also will mark the anniversary.

Before hitting the homer into the Braves’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall, Aaron told [Dusty] Baker what was about to happen.

“That I can remember like it was yesterday,” Baker said. “It was a cold, cold night in April. Hank told me, ‘I’m going to get this over with now.’ He knew every pitch that was coming. He had total recall of pitch sequences. He was as smart as they came.”

Aaron confirmed Baker’s tale on Monday: “I think that was right. I think I made that remark and made it to Dusty maybe three or four times. I just felt within myself that eventually before the night was over I was going to hit a home run.”

Kurt Cobain was found dead by his own hand on April 8, 1994.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

A local variation of the “no white before Easter” rule was proposed, which I can support. It holds that the wearing of white may commence in Augusta, Georgia, upon the opening of the Masters Tournament. This begins with the practice rounds, which started yesterday and continue today.

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

Fulton GOP Road to Victory Dinner

Matt Towery writes for InsiderAdvantage that the Georgia Senate race could go into overtime if Libertarian nominee Amanda Swafford pulls enough votes to deny a majority to the two major-party candidates.

The Washington Post’s The Fix considers the possibility that runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia may determine partisan control of the United States Senate.

Two states holding top Senate races this year hold runoffs if neither candidate attains 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 4: Georgia and Louisiana.

So what are the odds that runoffs in either (or both) of these states might determine who controls the Senate come 2015?

A runoff in Georgia is less likely, because Nov. 4 will feature a more standard general-election matchup between a Republican nominee, a Democratic nominee and third-party candidates. This means: 1) There needs to be a somewhat-viable third-party candidate, and 2) the race needs to be quite close.

On that first count, there is a Libertarian Party candidate  — former Flowery Branch city councilwoman Amanda Swafford  — but nobody else at this point.

The Libertarian nominee in 2008 took enough of the vote to push Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Democrat Jim Martin into a runoff, but that candidate  — Allen Buckley  — was more well-known than Swafford. And, of course, Democrats had a favorable national environment that allowed them to compete in a red state like Georgia.

In 2014, Democrats likely need Republicans to nominate a candidate with liabilities. National Republicans worry that Rep. Paul Broun or Rep. Phil Gingrey might open the door to a competitive race, but right now, there’s a crowded GOP primary featuring five viable candidates.

So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the odds of the Georgia Senate race going to a runoff are about 10 percent.

A fly in the ointment for Democrats may be their complicated relationship with senior voters.

Democrats are facing a senior problem that could get even worse this year.

The party has traditionally had trouble with older voters, losing the group aged 65 and older by 21 points in 2010 — when Republicans picked up 63 seats — and by 12 points in the 2012 presidential race.

Seniors are the GOP’s most reliable voting bloc in midterm years, turning out in higher numbers than Democratic base voters. A recent Gallup poll showed seniors have become even more Republican over the last two decades; in 2013, 48 percent considered themselves Republican.

In 2008, the last year for which exit polls are available for Georgia, seniors (65+) gave an eight-point advantage to Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama with a 54-46 margin, but Republican Saxby Chambliss only eked out a 49-46 margin over Democrat Jim Martin to head to overtime, where Chambliss took a 57-43 margin among seniors in the runoff.

The Senate Republican leadership in Washington is already preparing lists of committee chairs and agendas in preparation for the possible GOP takeover.

In interviews with The Hill, the senators promised to work closely with House Republicans to break the legislative gridlock that has defined Congress since 2011.

They are also vowing to step up oversight of the Obama administration dramatically and battle the president’s use of administrative power.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that if elected majority leader, he would give Republican committee chairmen more power to legislate.

If Republicans capture the majority, the incoming chairmen must be elected by the Republican members of each committee and ratified by a vote of the Senate GOP conference. Senate Republicans have almost always followed seniority, however.

Jim Galloway, in the AJC’s Political Insider has a chart that shows committed spending so far on the Georgia Senate race.

The screaming headline is that more than $5 million has already been spent by the candidates and outside forces ahead of the May 20 primary.

Look a little closer, though, and you’ll find some other interesting tidbits. One is that Ending Spending, the conservative Super PAC going after Democrat Michelle Nunn is spending a lot more than the $150,000 initially reported. Ending Spending confirmed the $1.3 million buy and said it will pay for more than just that one anti-Nunn ad, but the group would not provide further details.

Not surprisingly, Rep. Jack Kingston ($1.98 million bought) and businessman David Perdue, ($1.35 million bought) who have some of the biggest hauls, also have the biggest buys. And Democrat Michelle Nunn, facing little-known challengers in her party’s primary, seems to be conserving her campaign cash with the exception of a few strategic TV buys.

Rep. Phil Gingrey is focusing his ad spending on his home base of Atlanta with an ad buy of $725,000 in the metro market, while Kingston and Perdue are spreading their buys around the state.

Republican John McCallum has released the second television spot in his campaign for the First Congressional District.

After a Fulton County jury awarded former Georgia State Ethics Commission Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Executive Director Stacey Kalbermann $700k in her whistleblower lawsuits, Gov. Deal has proposed ethics reform for the next session of the legislature.

He proposes that the three branches of government – judicial, executive and legislative – each appoint four members to a commission. The 12 members would select a chair, and they would not be allowed to hear any cases involving their branch. Said Deal:

“It is very clear we have had an ineffective commission in terms of being able to deal with cases appropriately and in the fashion they have been dealt with. We have seen for example in the case involving me. … It appears that the staff spent almost a year focusing exclusively on my campaign.

The governor said this more “comprehensive” commission would not infringe on legislative ethics committees or the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which probes judicial branch issues.

“It is important to remember that this commission now and under any new configuration only deals with issues relating not to taxpayer funds but to private campaign funds that have been raised by candidates,” he said.

 

Deal reported $3.9 million cash on hand headed into the Primary elections to $1.6 for Democratic challenger Jason Carter.

Deal campaign spokeswoman Jen Talaber said 100 percent of their contributions came from within Georgia and criticized the Carter campaign for promoting a fundraiser before the session ended. By law, legislators and statewide officials are prohibited from raising money during the session, which began Jan. 13 and ended March 20.

“We followed the rules about not lining up fundraisers during session. Carter for Governor had no such concerns,” Talaber said. “Our cash-on-hand advantage allows the governor to dedicate this month to reviewing and signing bills that will benefit the people of Georgia and keep us the number one place to do business.”

Carter campaign spokesman Bryan Thomas dismissed the criticism, noting the fundraiser was for the Democratic Party of Georgia and that Deal had attended a fundraiser during the session for the Republican Governors Association.

“These numbers show that Jason has all the momentum in this race,” Thomas said. “Our campaign has seen an outpouring of grassroots support from people who are tired of the governor’s scandals and are looking for real leadership.”

 

Democratic primary voters will see four non-binding referendum questions on their May 20 ballots. From Walter Jones with Morris News:

Monday, the Secretary of State’s Office released the list of non-binding questions that will appear on Democratic ballots. The Democratic Party of Georgia submitted them during last month’s candidate qualifying period, but the Republican Party did not offer any, according to Jared Thomas, the agency’s spokesman.

Here are the questions that will appear on Democratic ballots. Voters can choose which primary they want to participate in, or can request a non-partisan ballot just to vote for the judicial candidates.

1. Should Georgia raise the state minimum wage above the current $5.15 an hour?

2. Should Georgians’ federal tax dollars be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent-care burden on our hospitals?

3. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission, not tied to the governor’s office, legislature or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials?

4. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?

W.M. “Dick” Dickey, Jr., who served in the State House in the early 1970s and on Macon City Council from 1991 to 2003, has died.

“He was a great guy who was really good to me,” said Dickey’s nephew, state Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella. “He gave me good advice when I got elected and told me I’d have to do a lot of lifting those first few years … and that it’s all about relationships up there” in Atlanta.

Dickey was born in Crawford County on March 15, 1933, the younger son of Wilmer M. and Gladys Neel Dickey. His brother, Bob Dickey, followed their father in the peach business. But Dick Dickey preferred banking and politics. He worked for nearly 40 years in the banking sector and carved out a place for himself in the Republican Party when there were few other Georgia politicians carrying the GOP banner.

In 1972, Dickey beat Jack Chiles for a seat in the state House, but he didn’t seek re-election because at the time, he was busy helping run Macon Bank and Trust Co. Dickey was the bank’s first president.

Dickey sought a House seat again in 1976 but lost to Democrat Frank Horne.

During the rest of the decade and throughout the 1980s, Dickey remained a devoted member of the Bibb County Republican Party. But it wasn’t until 1991 that he was elected to a City Council seat.

“He prided himself in being a Republican,” said longtime City Councilman Ed DeFore, who now serves on the Macon-Bibb County Commission. “He worked closely with independents and Democrats on the City Council, but he really loved his party.”

Yesterday, in advance of the Georgia Republican Party’s Spring Fling featuring Republican former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, a fundraiser for Shannon’s OK Senate bid was hosted by Senator David Shafer, President Pro Tem of the Georgia Senate at the Commerce Club. Shafer wrote:

T.W. got his start in politics working for Congressman J.C. Watts. He won election in his own right to the Oklahoma House of Representatives and then was elected Speaker fo the House. He has stepped down from that office to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

If T.W. wins this election, he will instantly be a national leader in our party.

To learn more about T.W. Shannon or to contribute to his Senate campaign, please visit his website, TWShannon.com.

Political Events Calendar


GA GOP: GA 12 District Debate – Laurens County

April 8, 2014, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Parkway Guesthouse, 1127 Hillcrest Pkwy, Dublin, GA 31021

This is the second of four debates for candidates vying for the Republican Party nomination for the 12th Congressional District.  Rick Allen, Delvis Dutton, John Stone, Diane Vann and Eugene Yu will square off in an hour long debate to show primary voters who is the strongest candidate to defeat incumbent Democrat John Barrow.

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Muscogee County GOP April meeting
April 8, 2014, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Ben’s Chop House, 300 Sidney Simons Blvd., Suite 14, Columbus, GA 31909

+ Google Map

Expected speakers include – two Candidates for State School Superintendent, Mary Kay Bacallao and Nancy Jester – Nikki Broun on behalf of Paul Broun, Candidate for United States Senate – and State Senator Josh McKoon. Please join us Tuesday evening, April 8 starting at 6:00 PM! Come out and support your local party and let’s show a warm Columbus welcome to these Candidates who are running for State and National Office. Our sincere apologies go out to Mr. Dean Gemberling of…


Whitfield County GOP: Local Candidate Forum

April 8, 2014 7:00 PM @ 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Mack Gaston Community Center, 218 Fredrick Street, Dalton , GA 30721

Please join the Whitfield County Republican Party, as we host a forum for ALL “contested” Republican Primary candidates for consideration of the Voters of Whitfield County! On May 20th, the Republican Voters of Whitfield County will go to the polls to decide among many good and qualified candidates, as to who shall represent the ideals and principles of Republican Voters in November’s General Election. Please make plans to join us on April 8th to hear directly from these Republican Primary…

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The Georgia Conservative Summit

April 11, 2014, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
GA State Capitol, 206 Washington Street, S.W., Atlanta, 30334

Real people. Real Leaders. Real Answers. Come and hear and exchange with business and government experts that can and do impact your every day lives. Click Link To Register

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ACCG: 100th Annual Conference

April 12, 2014
Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, 1 International Dr, Savannah , GA 31421

ACCG Annual Conference – County Buyers Mart Exhibitor Information Join ACCG, Georgia’s county association, as we celebrate our centennial anniversary at the 2014 Annual Conference.  In addition to traditional conference activities, such as continuing education sessions and the Buyers Mart, the conference will include many special events to commemorate this historic milestone. The new conference location at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center offers expanded opportunities for vendors to showcase their products and services.  ACCG looks forward to having…

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Coweta County GOP: Meeting with Niki Broun, Mike Buck, & Oleg Ivutin

April 12, 2014, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Golden Corral, 605 Bullsboro Drive, Newnan, GA 30265

Please join us for the monthly Coweta GOP breakfast meeting. This month’s speakers will be Niki Broun, State School Superintendent candidate Mike Buck and Cobb GOP Leader Oleg Ivutin. We encourage everyone to come early and have breakfast. We look forward to seeing you Saturday!

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GA GOP District 10: Congressional Debate

April 12, 2014, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Jasper County High School, 14477 Ga Highway 11 N, Monticello, GA 31064

David Perdue Senate: Alpharetta Meet & Greet

April 12, 2014, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
das Gallery, 2225 Old Milton Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30009

I hope you will join me and my campaign as we meet with voters in Alpharetta to discuss the important issues facing our state and nation today. I hope to see you there

Find out more »


Tea Party Patriot Alliance: Tax Day Rally

April 14, 2014, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Forsyth County Courthouse, 100 Courthouse Square, Cumming, GA 30040
Tax Day Rally  LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD !  SPEAKERS: U.S. Representative Tom Price     Gubernatorial Candidate David Pennington     Former State Representative Tom Knox      U.S. Senate Candidate Derrick Grayson  BRING SIGNS, VOICES AND MAKE A STATEMENT! For information, CONTACT TRILBY LEECH 770 886 1616 www.fcteapartypatriotalliance.orgFind out more »

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 20, 2014

March 20, 1854 saw a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin that is generally considered the founding of the Republican Party.

[F]ormer members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

The Georgia State Capitol was completed on March 20, 1889.

On March 20, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation authorizing a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution and make the Public Service Commission a Constitutional agency.

On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson notified Alabama Governor George Wallace that Alabama National Guard troops would be called up to maintain order during a third march from Selma to Montgomery. Within five months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress.

On March 20, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation designating the Brown Thrasher the official state bird, and the Bobwhite Quail the official state game bird.

On March 20, 1982, this song was #1 on the Billboard charts:

Happy birthday to Georgia-born actress Holly Hunter (1958) and film director/actor Spike Lee (1957).

Today Under the Gold Dome

Today is the 40th and final Legislative Day of the 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly and any legislation must be passed by midnight.

TABLED LEGISLATION IN THE GEORGIA SENATE

The following legislation is eligible for consideration today in the Georgia State Senate.

SR 973 Senate Child Protection Study Committee; create (H&HS-38th) (Floor Amendment)

HB 3: Evidence; professional forestry; Department of Public Health; AIDS; provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-29th) Willard-51st

HB 251: Tobacco; sale of alternative nicotine products or components to minors; prohibit (H&HS-11th) Powell-32nd

HB 264: MARTA Act of 1965; extensively revise (Substitute) (TRANS-21st) Jacobs-80th

HB 265: Mass transportation; suspension of restrictions on the use of annual proceeds from sales and use taxes by public transit authorities; repeal provisions (Substitute) (TRANS-21st) Jacobs-80th

HB 346 Fulton County; appointment of tax commissioner; provide (SLGO-56th) Geisinger-48th

HB 405 Elementary and secondary education; members of governing boards of nonprofit organizations which are charter petitioners and charter schools to participate in governance training; require (Substitute) (ED&Y-12th) Mayo-84th (Floor Amendment)

HB 438 Court-referred alternative dispute resolution programs; legal costs; increase maximum amount of additional cost (JUDY-13th) Powell-171st

HB 460 Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; no person under a sentence of confinement shall be eligible for membership; provide (RET-29th) Weldon-3rd

HB 511 State employees’ health insurance plan; pilot program to provide coverage for bariatric surgical procedures for treatment and management of obesity; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Dempsey-13th (Floor Amendment 1) (Floor Amendment 2)

HB 580 Superior Court Clerk’s Retirement Fund; provide spousal survivor’s benefit (RET-29th) Weldon-3rd

HB 601 Judges of the Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia; define certain terms; provisions (RET-12th) Maxwell-17th

HB 610 Insurance; licensing and regulation of public adjusters; provide (Substitute) (I&L-25th) Williamson-115th

HB 670 Trade names; require registration with the clerk of superior court; provisions (JUDY-49th) Fleming-121st (Floor Amendment)

HB 697 HOPE; revise amount of grants; equal student’s cost of tuition (Substitute) (H ED-54th) Evans-42nd

HB 704 South Fulton, City of; incorporate; provide charter (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-35th) Bruce-61st

HB 714 Labor; determination of eligibility for unemployment benefits of certain people performing certain services; provide changes (Substitute) (I&L-40th) Hamilton-24th (Floor Amendment 1) (Floor Amendment 2) (Floor Amendment 3)

HB 749 Crimes and offenses; crime of cargo theft; provide (JUDYNC-6th) Duncan-26th

HB 753 Motor vehicles and traffic; federal regulatory requirements; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-7th) Powell-32nd (Floor Amendment)

HB 755 Ad valorem tax; revised definition of forest land fair market value; provisions (FIN-32nd) Powell-171st ENGROSSED

HB 757 Ad valorem tax; use of certain property for collection and conversion of solar energy shall not constitute breach of conservation use covenants; provide (FIN-6th) Powell-171st ENGROSSED

HB 761 Public Retirement Systems Standards Law; definition of annual required contribution; change references (RET-54th) Riley-50th

HB 772 Public assistance; drug testing for applicants for food stamps; require (Substitute) (H&HS-9th) Morris-156th ENGROSSED

HB 773 Crimes and offenses; discharging a gun or pistol near public highway or street; change provisions (Substitute) (JUDYNC-20th) Dickey-140th

HB 778 Food service establishments; certain nonprofit charitable entities from regulation; exempt (AG&CA-50th) Pezold-133rd

HB 783 Game and fish; provisions relating to rules and regulations used to establish criminal violations; update (NR&E-7th) Hitchens-161st

HB 816 Sales and use tax; change a certain definition (FIN-46th) Williamson-115th ENGROSSED

HB 819 Revenue and taxation; tax executions; modify certain provisions (Substitute) (FIN-56th) Martin-49th ENGROSSED

HB 820 Condominium associations; standing to participate in litigation under certain circumstances; clarify provisions (JUDY-17th) Powell-171st

HB 826 Crimes and offenses; carrying weapons within certain school safety zones and at school functions; change provisions (ED&Y-37th) Setzler-35th

HB 828 Insurance; solicitation, release, or sale of automobile accident information; prohibit (Substitute) (I&L-6th) Mabra-63rd

HB 829 Certified process servers; change sunset and legislative review provisions (JUDY-23rd) Willard-51st

HB 833 Urban Redevelopment Law; include blighted areas (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-46th) Jones-62nd

HB 834 Bonded debt; population Act provision relating to dates of bond elections; repeal (SLGO(G)-45th) Clark-101st

HB 842 Appeal and error; payment of costs and indigency affidavits; clarify provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-13th) Willard-51st

HB 877 Motor vehicles; local authorities ability to regulate use of personal transportation vehicles on roadways and designated paths and lanes; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-51st) Roberts-155th

HB 885 Medical cannabis; continuing research into benefits to treat certain conditions; provisions (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Peake-141st

HB 891 Elections; period for advance voting prior to municipal primary or election; change (Substitute) (ETHICS-29th) Fleming-121st ENGROSSED

HB 897 Elementary and secondary education; update and clarify provisions; repeal obsolete provisions (Substitute) (ED&Y-37th) Dudgeon-25th (Floor Amendment 1)(Floor Amendment 2)(Floor Amendment 3)

HB 900 State sales and use tax; consumable supplies used in manufacturing; include (FIN-32nd) Harrell-106th ENGROSSED

HB 913 Community Health, Board of; persons having certain conflicts of interest from serving on board; prohibit (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Kelley-16th

HB 914 Social services; school personnel required to report child abuse shall be notified by child protective agency upon receipt of report and completion of investigation; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Wilkerson-38th

HB 920 Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act; enact (I&L-29th) Teasley-37th (Floor Amendment)

HB 930 General Assembly; adopt standards and instructions for Article V convention delegates; provisions (RULES-46th) Barr-103rd

HB 947 Labor and industrial relations; payment of wages by credit to prepaid debit card; provisions (I&L-25th) Clark-98th (Floor Amendment)

HB 954 Ad valorem tax; property; change definition of fair market value (Substitute) (FIN-9th) Harrell-106th ENGROSSED

HB 960 Local government; provide for use of surface transportation projects in urban redevelopment areas; provisions (Substitute) (TRANS-51st) Roberts-155th

HB 966 Pharmacies; licensed health practitioners prescribe opioid antagonists to certain individuals and entities pursuant to a protocol; provisions (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Cooper-43rd

HB 1000 Revenue and taxation; setoff debt collection against state income tax refunds for debts owed to political subdivisions and courts; provisions (Substitute) (FIN-6th) Fleming-121st ENGROSSED

HB 1009 State sales and use tax; applicability of exemption to local sales and use tax cap for a county that levied a tax for purposes of a metropolitan area system of public transportation; extend date (TRANS-51st) Glanton-75th ENGROSSED

HB 1027- State government; certain processes and procedures affecting unemployment insurance; change (I&L-14th) Strickland-111th (Floor Amendment 1) (Floor Amendment 2)
HB 1078 Courts; juries and grand juries; provisions (Substitute) (JUDYNC-3rd) Kelley-16th

I Agree with Jay Bookman

And I’m sure he’s every bit as horrified as I am.

Yesterday, the Cook Political Report changed their rating of the Georgia Senate race from Lean Republican to Toss-Up. Note it was not Charlie Cook’s assessment, but that of Jennifer Duffy, but here’s what they say:

Michelle Nunn is proving to be perhaps the best Democratic challenger of the cycle. Republicans, meanwhile, are mired in a crowded primary that seems destined to produce a run off. As a result, Republicans won’t have a nominee until late July. Moreover, this may be the one race where the threat of nominating a candidate who is generally unelectable in a statewide general election is very real.

And what Jay Bookman had to say about it:

Personally, I’d leave it in the Lean Republican category. Given Georgia’s situation, “a candidate who is generally unelectable in a statewide general election” is a very small subset inhabited by just one person in that race, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. And maybe I’m giving Georgia Republicans too much credit, but I’ve been saying for a long time now that I just don’t think Broun is capable of winning the GOP nomination.

I’m also not sure what Cook is drawing upon to reach his conclusion about Nunn “proving to be perhaps the best Democratic challenger of the cycle.” Her fundraising has been impressive, but she hasn’t exactly kept a high profile and seems to be using her time in relative anonymity to hone the fine art of saying little.

I fielded a call from a reporter whose phone number starts with 202 about this issue, and have fielded a number of such calls recently. Here’s what I told her:

1. This “Georgia Republicans could nominate someone too conservative to win in the General Election” is something I am hearing exclusively from people with 202 area code phone numbers, not from people on the ground in Georgia.

2. Georgia Republicans have four candidates who have won elections at the Congressional or statewide level and a former Fortune 500 CEO. The Democrats have another community organizer who won’t even venture outside her protection zone. Reporters from the largest newspaper in the state can’t talk to her, she’s blowing off a Democratic group’s candidate forum tonight to raise money outside the public and media eyes, and they’re clearly afraid to let her out in public lest she might actually tell someone something of substance.

3. The Cook Report change comes on the heels of breaking news of… absolutely nothing. There has been no material change in the race, no gaffes by a Republican, no new campaign disclosures, no advertising by the Democratic candidate, and absolutely nothing of a magnitude that would change any sober assessment of the race.

The Cook Report change reflects one thing and one thing only: Washington Democratic political insiders talking to Washington media insiders, and those Washington media insiders talking to each other.

Sure the Democrats are doing better at that for the time being, as they have coalesced around one candidate and Republican haven’t.

Finally, here’s my assessment of the Nunn campaign so far: if your campaign is only interested in speaking to Washington political elites, Washington media insiders, and people who can pony up $500 per plate for a fundraiser, and you show zero interest in talking to the real Georgians you claim to want to represent, that focus will be noticed by Georgians and they will understand whose bidding you will do if elected.

The Final Countdown

Here’s some of what the AJC’s Kyle Wingfield will be watching today:

  • The Senate last night somewhat watered down the remaining gun bill, HB 60, ostensibly setting up a conference-committee fight with the House. According to polling I keep hearing about from Republicans nervous about the bill, GOP lawmakers are pressing forward with this measure despite significant opposition from Georgians, especially female voters. If they are going to pass it, the opt-in provision for churches strikes me as the best way forward. As an elder at my church, I would almost always prefer to have the choice to make a change, rather than to have a change forced upon us that requires an action on our part if we disagree with it. That’s more in keeping with the spirit of local control and private property rights.
  • As of last night, the latest I had heard about the so-called foster care privatization bill — it’s really more of a measure to establish more public-private partnerships in a host of child welfare services, but that’s a lot more to say (or type) — was that there may be a deal between the House and Senate to go the route of the three-year, limited-scale pilot program model.
  • The last bill sought by business groups (not including industry- or even company-specific tax breaks) probably joined the rest of their bills in the legislative graveyard last night. The so-called e-discovery bill, which would have regulated requests of electronic documents in legal proceedings, got more “yes” votes than “noes” but didn’t garner a majority. It appears to be dead for the session.
  • The Haleigh’s Hope Act, better known as the medical marijuana bill, was to be stripped down drastically so that it would decriminalize possession of cannabis oil for parents whose children suffer from extreme seizures, and do little more.

Aaron Gould Sheinin and a colleague at the AJC write:

Among the biggest is House Bill 60, which would be one of the broadest expansions of gun rights in the state’s recent history. The Senate made changes and sent the bill back to the House just before midnight Tuesday, seemingly aiming to provoke a conference committee in which three members from each chamber would try to negotiate a final compromise.

“Is this not an example of the upper chamber leading?” asked Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton, R-Macon. “Not name-calling … but working together” to make the bill better?

The only public agreement the chambers have come to on the bill has been to nix the House’s efforts to allow guns on the state’s college campuses. The House has also softened its stance on forcing local authorities to allow weapons into “nonsecure” government buildings, although the Senate is pushing for more local control on the issue.

Jon Gillooly at the Marietta Daily Journal writes about the gun bill:

HB 60, which the Senate voted to approve Tuesday, would grant churches the right to decide whether they want people carrying guns on church property. Under current law, guns are prohibited in churches, even if the church leaders are OK with congregants toting guns in the sanctuary.

 

Bar owners already have the right to allow gun carriers in bars with the consent of the property owner. HB 60 would lift that restriction and allow customers to carry guns in bars whether the property owners agree or not.

 

The bill also allows school boards to designate staff members other than police officers to carry guns in K-12 schools.

 

State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna), who voted for the bill, described the section concerning schools.

 

“It says, ‘Hey, if you don’t have the resources to pay somebody 60 to 80 grand a year to protect your schools then y’all can delegate members of your team that have a legal permit to carry while they are conducting their school duties in an effort to be the first line of defense if there is a nut job that wants to come and shoot our school children and not have to wait the 5 minutes or 10 minutes for the local SWAT team to get there,’” Hill said. “There’s somebody there that can react.”

 

Another change the bill would make concerns people who mistakenly bring a gun to the airport.

 

Under HB 60, [such a person] would not [go] to jail, Hill said.

 

“He would get reprimanded there, but when he’s shown to have his legal permit he would be able to leave to go back to his car to put it in his car,” Hill said. “In other words, the system worked, we caught you, we know you didn’t have malicious intent, or at least we didn’t think you did, you’re a law-abiding citizen and you have a legal permit to carry the weapon, but obviously we’re not going to let you carry this on the plane in a carry-on bag, but we’re also not going to throw you in jail, so it just adds a little common sense to the program and it’s a good measure.”

 

The House now has the option to approve the bill, at which point it heads to Gov. Deal for his signature or it could go to a conference committee where three senators and three House members would hammer out a consensus bill.

 

Snellville Still Crazy After All These Years

If cities had walkon music, this is what I would choose for Snellville.

Mayor Kelly Kautz gets something different that turns the crazy up to 11.

The Court of Appeals should have ordered those songs played when the litigants entered for the lawsuit between Mayor Kelly Kautz and the Snellville City Council. There may be more courtroom opportunities ahead.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz does not have the power to fire the city’s attorney. The decision confirmed a local judgment passed down 12 months and several contentious scandals ago.

 

In a split 4-3 decision, the state appeals court agreed with Gwinnett County Judge Timothy Hamil, who reversed Kautz’s termination of city attorney Tony Powell during a March 19, 2013, hearing. Kautz has contended that because the city’s charter grants her the authority to appoint a city attorney, it also affords her the sole ability to fire one.

The court disagreed, saying Snellville’s charter gives the city council any governmental powers not expressly granted.

 

“… (There) is no gap in the allocation of power in the charter from which an implied power could arise” for the mayor, Wednesday’s ruling said.

 

Three dissenting judges, though, sided with Kautz. They argued that the court’s majority decision created a “stalemate scenario” in which the city council could essentially nullify any power the mayor has to appoint an attorney.

 

Since Kautz was elected in 2010, Powell has been hired, let go and rehired twice. The ongoing city attorney fiasco is just one of several that Snellville’s government has embroiled itself in over the same time period.

 

Kautz is currently suing the city council, city manager Butch Sanders and city clerk Melisa Arnold. The suit, filed in January, includes temporary restraining orders and permanent injunctions against all seven and alleges that, among other things, they conducted illegal meetings and used her signature on city documents.

Talk about ten pounds of crazy in a five pound sack.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 30, 2014

Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.

On January 30, 1788, the Georgia legislature passed a resolution calling for a state Constitutional Convention in Augusta to adopt a state Constitution that conformed to the new Constitution of the United States.

On January 30, 1862, the United States launced its first ironclad warship, USS Monitor.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. In 1942, Roosevelt ordered Japanese-Americans on the west coast of the United States into concentration camps, leaving German and Italian Americans free.

On January 30, 1935, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. protested segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse. If you’re stuck at home, maybe you’d like to take a moment to read one of the best essays I’ve ever seen on the true impact that Rev. King had.

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated.

1920 Georgia Flag

On January 30, 1956, six members of the Georgia State House of Representatives introduced House Bill 98 to replace the red and white stripes on Georgia’s flag (above) with a Confederate battle flag (below). That same day, a bomb was thrown at the Birmingham, AL home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1956 Georgia Flag

January 30, 1972 is remembered as Bloody Sunday in commemoration of the shooting of 26 civilians by British troops in Northern Ireland.

On January 30, 2001, the Georgia State Senate passed a house bill changing the state flag from the 1956 version to one that aggregated the State Seal and five former state flags, pictured below.

2001GeorgiaFlag

#AtlantaSnow aka #Clusterflake

Twitter Snow Jam2

That is the best graphic depiction of what happened in Atlanta on Tuesday. If I knew who originally posted the graphic, I would credit them.

Two points I’d like to make from this. First, this shows how a graphic can convey information better than words in some cases; if Facebook and other social media are part of your business, political campaign, or activism, understand the power of graphics and do more of them and fewer words. Second, this indicates to me that the problem was not that we didn’t have enough equipment, salt, sand, etc., but that the fast-pace dumping of hundreds of thousands of commuters onto the Atlanta roads.

From the whole mess and the blamestorming that are following, here are two truths about Atlanta that I have been reminded of.

1. Our weakness is our reliance on government. This is true across the United States, but demonstrated nowhere more memorably than Atlanta’s road beginning Tuesday afternoon.

2. Our strength is our community and the willingness of our friends, family, neighbors, churches, business owners, and ourselves to lend a hand to someone in need without having to be told, asked or paid to do so.

Going forward in Georgia government, let us pray that these lessons don’t get forgotten yet again.

Governor Deal writes “Six things you need to know” about recovery efforts.

1. Please stay off the roads. We are still in a State of Emergency and we need to keep the roads as clear as possible. This is for your safety and the safety of others.

2. School children across the Metro-Atlanta area are safe and in good hands. Georgia State Patrol Troopers have been assigned to assist schools where children needed to spend the night. I’d like to thank teachers, parents, school faculty, and all those involved for their hard work and dedication to our children’s safety.

3. Yesterday, I instructed the National Guard to send military Humvees to our interstates to assist school buses and get food and water to stranded residents. All school buses and children have been responded to and are safe. Stranded citizens have access to emergency services throughout the Metro-Atlanta area. We are still in the process of clearing roads and assisting those in need. Again, please stay off the roads so we can continue this process.

Speaker Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle issued a joint statement and suspended legislative business today.

Availability of propane is becoming an issue for poultry farmers in this weather. From GrowingGeorgia.com, your best resource for learning about Georgia’s largest industry.

“We have been monitoring the situation for the past two weeks,” said Mike Giles, the president of the Georgia Poultry Federation. So far, members have been able to find the propane they need, but they have felt the pinch of the shortage, he said.

Facing a shortage of fuel across much of the country, the National Propane Gas Association successfully lobbied the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow more free transport of fuel for the Southern, Midwestern and Eastern regions. The rare order applies to eight Southern states including Georgia, 10 Midwest states and 14 Eastern states. A total of 30 states so far have individually issued Hours of Service relief.

The National Propane Gas Association also is working with officials within the pipeline, rail, and truck transport industries and asking for propane shipments to be prioritized within their industry.

Farming groups and state governments have done what they can to support the propane industry in its efforts to get fuel to the producers who need it.

“The National Chicken Council (NCC) which represents companies that produce, process, and market over 95 percent of the chicken in the United States is working with the appropriate federal agencies, organizations, and stakeholders to help alleviate the spot shortages being experienced with the very tight supply of propane in at least 31 states, many of which have important production of chicken,” said Mike Brown, the president of the National Chicken Council.

On Monday, Governor Deal issued an executive order to prohibit price-gouging in propane sales.

With inclement weather headed toward Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal today in coordination with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black signed an executive order prohibiting price gouging for propane. Georgia’s continued period of cold weather has increased the demand for propane, causing a substantial prices increase in recent days.

“Our families, farmers and small business are worried about getting the heat they need during times of frigid weather,” Deal said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about price gouging, and we aim to prevent that.”

“Due to the much colder than normal weather this winter, we have seen a higher demand for propane gas resulting in shortages and escalating prices in Georgia and across the nation,” said Black. “Livestock and poultry farmers, along with food processors, depend on propane to continue business. We are doing everything possible to work with the propane suppliers and agribusinesses to meet the challenges we are currently facing.”

InsiderAdvantage last night warned of the spectre of fuel shortages in Metro Atlanta following #AtlantaSnow.

Already many gasoline outlets are dry after a rush on fuel Tuesday afternoon, and gridlocked roads are preventing tanker trucks from replenishing them.

Worse, the demand is likely to pick up in a big way over the next two or three days, as motorists reclaim their cars on the sides of roads and try again to drive them home.

 GaPunditPro now available in the AppStore

GaPunditPro Power Tool

We have submitted for App Store approval Version 1.01, which fixes a bug that prevents one-click calling to legislators from the Legislative Directory. We’re not sure how long the App Store process will take for approval of a simple fix, but we’ll let you know and it should update automatically for those of you who are already using it.

Please send us feature requests, and let us know what we can do to make GaPunditPro better.

U.S. House passes Farm Bill, sends to Senate

The United States House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill and sent it to the Senate. From the New York Times:

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs, setting the stage for final passage of a new five-year farm bill that has been stalled for more than two years.

Negotiators from the House and Senate spent several weeks working out their differences on issues in the legislation, including cuts to food stamps, income caps on farm subsidies and a price support program for dairy farmers. The bill is expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 251 to 166. The Senate is expected to take up the bill later this week.

Compared with earlier, more contentious votes on the farm bill, Wednesday’s vote was largely bipartisan. Many Democrats who had opposed it because of cuts to the food stamp program supported it on Wednesday. A number of Republicans, including many who wanted deeper cuts to the food stamps, also voted for passage.

The House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the majority leader, Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, had endorsed the bill and urged Republicans to support it, even though they said they would have liked to see more changes.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) praised the Farm Bill’s passage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og7lUMDUw1Q

Campaigns & Elections

Public Policy Polling continues to release curious polling results. The biggest issue I have with their polling is in how they weight the responses to arrive at a sample that reflects what they think Georgia’s electorate will look like in 2014.

The biggest red flag to me is that they consistently show party identification as being evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Except when they don’t. Now they’ve released two polls within the past week that directly contradict each other on the partisan makeup of Georgia’s electorate.

I’ve written about this at length, but here’s the big question. Why did a different PPP Poll last week show Republican with a 43-38 lead over Democrats in party identification, while this poll shows an even split at 38-38?

I think there’s a 3-8 point lead in the electorate for self-identified Republicans over Democrats, and last week PPP agreed: this week they think it’s evenly split. From Jim Galloway’s Political Insider blog at the AJC.

WASHINGTON — Democrat Michelle Nunn is neck-and-neck with four top-tier Republican U.S. Senate candidates in hypothetical matchups by Public Policy Polling.

The full results of the poll commissioned by liberal group Americans United for Change are here and put Nunn in the lead, but around the 3.9 percent margin for error. She leads Rep. Paul Broun, 42-41, Rep. Phil Gingrey, 45-41, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, 44-40, and Rep. Jack Kingston, 44-42.

The results are a small bump for Nunn from what PPP found in August, when Nunn was either tied or slightly ahead of the GOP field. The automated poll of 640 Georgians recorded an even split of Republicans and Democrats at 38 percent each, with 24 percent classifying themselves as Independent or other. Notably, the sample was 53 percent female.

Partisan Democrats respond that PPP was shown to be one of the most accurate pollsters in 2012. I note that those rankings were based on the last polls before the 2012 General Election, when pollsters knew they would be judged against the final results.

Others note that the predictive ability of polling six months or more out from a general election is suspect at best. So why bother? I would say that these early polls are by-and-large designed to demonstrate that the Democratic candidates have a shot at winning in November and are commissioned solely to produce polling results that can be used in fundraising for those Democratic candidates and allied organizations.

Damningly, polling super-analyst Nate Silver has called out PPP for making decisions that appear to reflect their partisanship over the results they got.

VERY bad and unscientific practice for @ppppolls to suppress a polling result they didn’t believe/didn’t like.

 

I’m especially skeptical when a pollster puts its finger on the scale in a way that matches its partisan views.

We’ll be discussing this some more after we aggregate some polling data.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

How do you know Vernon Jones is serious about running for Sheriff? Cowboy boots and hat. And this pull-quote from his new website.

“To all law breakers and potential law breakers, you have until sundown on May 20, 2014 to get out of DeKalb County!”

-Vernon Jones

State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) responded:

Jacobs Twitter Vernon

Republican Rick Allen, running for Congress against incumbent Democrat John Barrow, has received the endorsement of the family of late Congressman Charlie Norwood.

The family of Congressman Charlie Norwood today endorsed Rick Allen to follow in the late Congressman’s footsteps in the race for Georgia’s 12th-District seat. The endorsement includes Rep. Norwood’s widow, Gloria, and his sons, Charles III and Carlton.

“One of a Congressman’s most-important responsibilities is to help folks in his district to navigate the confounding maze of government agencies. In many important cases, our Congressman is the last source of help for citizens in crisis. As government regulation continues to grow, it is critical that we elect a Congressman who will fight for his constituents in the daily affairs of the district. (Military benefits, Social Security matters, relations with the Department of Agriculture, etc.)”

“Rick will fight for what is right when his constituent is meeting difficulty with our government. His decades of business success prove that he has the heart and determination to do what ‘needs doin’. If the Norwood family were at odds with a governmental agency, we’d want Rick beside us in the foxhole. And, we know he would be.”

In Augusta, we have a campaign announcement and a pre-announcement. Former Solicitor General Harold V. Jones will run for the State Senate District 22 seat that Senator Hardie Davis is vacating in order to run for Mayor of Augusta.

Jones became Augusta’s first black solicitor general when he was elected in November 2004 with more than 59 percent of the votes. He ran unopposed in 2008, but resigned the next year to compete with Davis for the Senate seat, left open at the resignation of Ed Tarver, now a U.S. attorney.

Two other attempts – an unsuccessful House run in 2002 and a 2012 loss to Marion Williams to represent Super District 9 on the Augusta Commission – left the Augusta lawyer undaunted.

Besides Johnson, Augusta real estate agent Elmyria Chivers is running for the Senate seat.

With no announced Republican candidates, the election likely will be decided in the general primary May 20, when Augusta also will pick a mayor and vote on the latest sales tax referendum.

And recently-ousted Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell is said to be preparing a bid for Mayor.

Former Augusta City Ad­min­istrator Fred Russell is running for mayor, his campaign chairman, Duncan Johnson, said Tuesday.

“He is running,” Johnson said. “His announcement will be coming shortly.”

A former Richmond, Va., po­lice chief, Russell joined Augusta’s government in 2002 as a deputy city administrator. He was promoted to administrator in 2004 and held the job for nearly 10 years.

On Dec. 9, the Augusta Com­mission, citing a need to move in “a different direction,” voted 9-0 to fire him and begin a nationwide search for his replacement.

Also seeking the mayor’s post are Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason; state Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta; entrepreneur Helen Blocker-Adams; and businessman Charles Cum­mings.

#SOTU part two

Congressman Phil Gingrey responds specifically to President Obama’s stated willingness to use Executive Orders to bypass Congress.

Congressman Jack Kingston

“While the President attempts to shift from the core issues that cripple our economy and threaten our security, we must bring attention to the solutions for these problems passed by the House but awaiting action in the Senate,” said Kingston. “With millions of Americans working only part time or out of the work force entirely, we cannot afford to wait.  There are a number of projects we can begin now that will create jobs and strengthen our economy, namely the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“We need the kind of growth that comes from stopping overregulation and supporting opportunities in the private sector.  Instead of increasing the cost of health care, we need to encourage companies to hire full time employees instead of more part-time workers,”

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

It might not seem like it but Groundhog Day is actually next week. This week, President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address to Congress.  Unfortunately, it was just a lot more of the same old, same old.

At a time when more than 60 percent of Americans think the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 70 percent are dissatisfied with the economy, President Obama took this opportunity to continue to promote his same “no jobs” economy: more federal spending, more federal bureaucracy, and higher taxes.  As it’s been for the first five years of his presidency, this is nothing more than a recipe for economic disaster.

This president has shown time and again that he has little respect for the American people and no respect for the US Constitution.  Tonight’s speech was just one more example of his disdain.

Americans for Prosperity Georgia

President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address resembled a man speaking to himself more than anyone else in the room, a desperate effort to convince himself of his own relevance at a time when his approval ratings are in the toilet. 51% disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president while 43% approve. 63% of Americans have some/no confidence in Obama to make the right decisions for the country’s future and 49% say Obama is not honest or trustworthy. Despite President Obama’s soaring rhetoric, this is his fifth State of the Union Address; Americans have heard these promises before. It is time for the President to take ownership of his record and be held accountable for the results.

The President said he is leading by example on raising the minimum wage for all future federal contractors through executive privilege and called on private sector businesses to do the same. This ignores the reality that businesses forced to artificially raise their minimum wage must factor in the rising business costs and often must lay off low level workers. These are the very workers that, in theory, would benefit from the living wage increase.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 22, 2014

Medical Marijuana moving up

Medicinal use of marijuana is finding some supporters I would at one time (last week) have considered highly unlikely. From WSB-TV,

Channel 2 Action News has learned state lawmakers supporting medical marijuana could have a bill ready to go as early as this week that would make medical marijuana legal in Georgia.

Channel 2′s Lori Geary began reporting the issue weeks ago and talked to an unlikely co-sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Micah Gravley, a Republican from Paulding County.

He says when he was first asked about the issue he flat out refused, telling supporters of the issue he’s a conservative, Christian Republican.

Then he says the parents of 10-year-old Caden Clark reached out to him, “I have had a 180-degree change because I’ve seen how it can impact these kids and how it can impact these families who are now separated because one’s here in Georgia, the other one’s in Colorado.”

Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal said he’s not taking a stance on the issue but said, “I think there’s a strong case being presented by some of the families in some serious situations involving their children.”

till, the Christian Coalition remains firmly against any state law on medical marijuana.

The president of the group, Jerry [Luquire], told Geary that marijuana, in any form, is considered a Class 1 substance by the federal government, one of the most dangerous drugs. He says federal law trumps state law. He accuses the lawmakers supporting the bill of a conspiracy to break federal law.

Winston Jones at the (Carrollton) Times-Georgian spoke to their local legislators.

Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said Monday that he’s not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, as in Colorado, and he also is against a sweeping medical marijuana law. However, he did indicate he is open to looking at derivatives that might be medically useful.

“From what I understand, with the oil, the intoxicants have been removed,” Dugan said. “I’m willing to listen to that. I want some medical professionals to come forward and tell me what benefits it would have, and I’ll make a determination from that.”

He said states that have passed medical marijuana bills have suffered widespread abuse, and he feels Georgia doesn’t need that.

Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, said so far, he’s seen only anecdotal evidence from personal stories, and he’s looking forward to hearing medical presentations.

“If the stories prove true, and we see remarkable results with certain candidates, this sounds like one more tool in the doctor’s cache of things that could relieve untold suffering for many,” Crane said. “There’s more discussions to be had, and I think we’re going to see that. It’s something I’m very concerned about, but very cautious. As we move forward, I’m going to take extreme caution on this issue.”

Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said he wonders if there’s any other drugs that can do the same thing as the medical marijuana.

“If the answer is ‘no,’ then I’m willing to listen to the debate,” Nix said. “I would want it to be something in a pill or oil form, and legislation that would have a narrow scope of what was allowed. I won’t support legislation if it looks like people want to use it to get their foot in the door to support recreational marijuana. That’s my concern.”

Nix said if the drug works for children with seizures, maybe that’s the only thing for which it should be prescribed.

“I’m not heartless,” he said. “If that’s the only thing that will help these children, let’s figure out a way to do it, but let’s not use it as that door opener to fully legalize marijuana.”

Peachtree NORML and Georgia NORML, both pro-marijuana legalization groups, released a poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on several ways of loosening Georgia’s marijuana laws. Here are some quotes from the release:

A new statewide poll shows that 62% of Georgia voters endorse eliminating criminal penalties for possession by adults of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Further, more than half of all Georgia voters now support regulating the legal consumption and retail sale of marijuana for those age 21 and over.

In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.

Fifty -seven percent of voters supported legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. State
lawmakers have indicated interest in studying this legal option.

Here’s a question that will specifically interest some politicians.

Q5 If a candidate supported marijuana law reform, would that make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate in the next election, or would it not make a difference?

More likely……………29%
Less likely……………34%
Wouldn’t make a difference……………29%
Not sure…………….8%

A couple of things to note. First, if that question on reelecting a candidate who supports changing marijuana laws is accurate, it doesn’t tell the story most incumbents are likely interested in – the effect of a vote on their party’s primary voters. There are likely differences between Republicans and Democrats, and geographic differences between, say, a Metro Atlanta suburban or in-town district, and a strongly conservative rural district.

The second point I’d like to make, and one that has implications for polling beyond the issue of marijuana is that in this poll, Public Policy Polling found the partisan self-identification as follows:

Q8 If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.
Democrat……………37%
Republican………….43%
Independent/Other……20%

I think that a 6-point lead for self-identified Republicans over Democrats is about correct. But that’s at odds with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that showed Democrats with a slight lead in party identification. A poll by InsiderAdvantage, where I have a part-time job sweeping floors and editing their website, put the differential at Republican +3 points.

A poll by PPP conducted in August showed Republicans +1, which I raised as an issue that caused me to question their head-to-head ballot questions that showed Michelle Nunn ahead of or tied with all of the major GOP candidates for United States Senate.

An October poll by PPP that showed Jason Carter at 40% versus Governor Deal at 44% also reflected an electorate evenly split between self-identified Democrats and Republicans - a scenario I refer to as “dreamland for Democrats.”

Part of what a pollster does, and what a discerning consumer of polling should do is to not place all your faith in any given poll, but to add the results of each poll into the mix as part of the context. And then compare that with your experiences in Georgia politics.

In 2010, competitive statewide race results ranged from Republican +9.3 to Republican +12.8, with Governor Deal beating Democratic former Governor Roy Barnes by 10 points. [In this instance I am discounting the 2010 races for U.S. Senate, SOS, Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor Commissioner, which were GOP blowouts.]

In 2012, Mitt Romney outpolled President Obama by nearly eight points and Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton beat Democrat Steve Oppenheimer by just under nine points.

So I feel safe in the following prediction: in 2014, the Republican electoral advantage in closely-contested statewide election will be in the range of Republican +6 to Republican +10. That’s after campaigning, but for now, any poll I see that doesn’t show a lead in GOP self-identification in the +3 to +6 range warrants a look at the crosstabs to see what’s going on.

Gold Dome Today

Today will be Georgia Right to Life’s “March for Life” at the Georgia State Capitol from 11:15 AM to 2 PM. Speakers will include Governor Nathan Deal, keynote speaker Pam Stenzel, and special guest speaker Dr. Robert White! Note that GRTL has directions for parking on their website too. Georgia Right to Life PAC has endorsed Meagan Biello in the runoff election for State Representative in House District 22, making her the only endorsed candidate in that race.


Legislative Calendar

Senate Rules – TBA, 450 CAP

10:00 AM Floor Session

1:00 pm
Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 307 CLOB
Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 310 CLOB
House Appropriations
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm or upon adjournment, 341 CAP
House Rules Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm-3pm, 341 CAP

2:00 pm

Senate Health & Human Services Committee

Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, 450 CAP

Senate Transportation Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, MEZZ

3:00 pm

Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee
Wed, January 22, 3pm – 4pm, 307 CLOB

Kingston Collection

Since we mentioned the Limited Edition “Cotton Boll” logo t-shirt we saw from one of Jack Kingston’s past Congressional campaigns, we have been sent photos of some other Limited Edition Kingston swag. Here is the “Children of the Corn” logo.

Kingston Corn logo

And Ball One:

Kingston Baseball logoSm


Open Judicial seats in Gwinnett, Cobb

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Michael Clark has announced that he will retire February 28, 2014 to join a law firm. As his term is not expiring, Governor Nathan Deal will appoint a successor. If history is any pattern, the leading candidates to be named are either incumbent state legislators, or lower court judges, which open up an additional seat for appointment or election.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge James Bodiford also announced he will retire at the end of his term this year. The election to replace him is likely to be held May 20, 2014.


Probation Lifted for DeKalb Public Schools

The accreditation for DeKalb County Public Schools, previously placed on probation by SACS, has been upgraded to a status of “accredited warned.”

“The threat of the loss of accreditation is no longer imminent,” said Mark Elgart, whose agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, precipitated a crisis in December 2012 that led to the governor’s intervention. SACS placed DeKalb on probation and threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the school board and superintendent failed to address management concerns.

Gov. Nathan Deal replaced six of the nine school board members, just after the old board replaced the superintendent. DeKalb’s new leadership has made remarkable progress addressing the issues, Elgart said, but he said the work is far from done and that the elections May 20 for the nonpartisan school board are a major concern.

“The election is critical,” said Elgart, who is the president and chief executive officer of SACS’ parent company AdvancED. The agency’s opinions about accreditation influence a school district’s reputation, and by extension its graduates’ chances for college admissions and scholarships. That, in turn, affects the local economy, since public education is a key factor businesses consider when choosing where to locate.

“This community needs to pay close attention to whom they elect,” Elgart said. “Politics is one of the reasons the system got itself to this point.”

The school board fiasco has already become a launching pad for one deposed member, Nancy Jester, who is now seeking the state superintendent’s job. And the upcoming school board elections, which could feature comeback bids by one or more of the ousted board members, may inject another dose of politics.

 

Nancy Jester, Republican candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent, released a statement:

I am pleased to hear the DeKalb school system’s accreditation status has been upgraded from “probation” to “warned”.

I worked diligently to shine light on the poor fiscal management of DeKalb.  Some of my work was even cited in the SACS report from 2012.

Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.

Academic achievement and growth in many schools is unacceptable.  DeKalb’s graduation rate, at 58.9%, is far too low.

Of the 25 high schools in DeKalb, 8 have graduation rates below 50%, while only 4 have rates above 75%.  All four of these schools are specialty or magnet schools.

I appreciate that SACS finally recognized that DeKalb needed some sort of intervention.

The entire episode exposes the structural weaknesses in our state’s accountability model.  While SACS can provide a useful and supplemental service via their third party accreditation products, Georgia must not continue to abdicate it’s role in holding districts accountable for their results and financial management.

Jester also released in the last several days a map that shows per-pupil spending and graduation rates in Georgia and neighboring states. It’s worth taking a moment to look at.

JesterGradRatesPerPupilSpendingMap copy

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 21, 2014

Legislative Calendar for January 21, 2014

Blue highlighted committee names are linked to the meeting agenda.

TBD
Senate Rules Committee- TO BE ANNOUNCED – 450 CAP

1:00pm – 2:00pm
House Juvenile Justice Committee – 506 CLOB
Senate Science & Technology Committee – 307 CLOB

2:00pm – 3:00pm
Senate Public Safety Committee – MEZZ
House Education Committee – 506 CLOB
House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee – 406 CLOB
House Resource Sub of Natural Resources & Environment Committee – 606 CLOB
Senate Education & Youth Committee – 307 CLOB

2:00pm – 4:00pm
House Judiciary Civil Committee – 132 CAP

3:00pm – 4:00pm
Senate Judiciary Committee – 307 CLOB

4:00pm – 5:00pm
Senate Ethics Committee – 125 CAP
Senate GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT – CANCELLED
Senate RETIREMENT – CANCELLED

 

 

Events Calendar


World Trade Center of Atlanta: Taste of United Kingdom (Featuring Beers From the UK )

January 21, 2014 from 5:30 – 8:00 PM
City Club of Buckhead, 3343 Peachtree Rd NE Atlanta , 30326+ Google Map

Following the World Affairs Council’s seminar on Transatlantic Innovation & Sustainability, the World Trade Center of Atlanta will host a “Taste of the UK” featuring beers from the UK and heavy hors d’oeuvres inspired by UK cuisine. The British Consul General, Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford will be our honored guest. Here, you will also learn more of our upcoming EU Series and our kick-off event on business opportunities from the impending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Join us for this very unique…

Find out more »


GA GOP Foundation: Breakfast with Governor Nathan Deal

January 21, 2014 from 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Marietta Country Club, 1400 Marietta Country Club Drive Kennesaw, GA 30152+ Google Map

Tuesday, January 21, 2014    Foundation Matters & Issues Marietta Breakfast   Special Guest Governor Nathan Deal

Find out more »


World Affairs Council of Atlanta: TRANSATLANTIC INNOVATION & SUSTAINABILITY – The Power of Collaboration

January 21, 2014 form 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Metro Atlanta Chamber, 235 Andrew Young International Blvd NW Atlanta , GA 30303
+ Google Map

TRANSATLANTIC  INNOVATION & SUSTAINABILITY  - The Power of Collaboration In today’s business environment, innovation through  collaboration - both between university research institutions and business, and between businesses globally – is seen as a major source of competitive advantage. This forward-looking seminar will contribute to new thinking about government and private sector strategies to foster and strengthen EU-US collaboration and help drive future economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. KEYNOTE SPEAKER JOHN F. BROCK Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Coca-Cola Enterprises

Find out more »


Buckhead YR: Meeting with Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens

January 21, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Taco Mac, 573 Main Street Atlanta, GA 30324
+ Google Map

Join the Buckhead Young Republicans as we welcome Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens. Hudgens has been instrumental in fighting the draconian Obamacare regulations as Georgia residents have seen more than 400,000 insurance policies cancelled, a number that grows every day. We will also have US Senate candidate Art Gardner for U.S. Senate 2014

Find out more »


Gwinnett Teen Republicans: Meeting

January 21, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Gwinnett GOP HQ, 46 South Clayton St Lawrenceville, 30045+ Google Map

Gwinnett Teen Republicans Meeting

Find out more »


Georgia Right to Life: The Georgia March For Life

January 22, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Georgia State Capitol, 206 Washington St SW Atlanta, GA 30334 United States+ Google Map

Georgia Right to Life is proud to announce that our annual Together For Life memorial walk is being refocused and relaunched in 2014 as the Georgia March For Life! Mark your calendars for January 22, 2014 and join us at the State Capitol steps in Atlanta from 11:30am-2:00pm with keynote speaker Pam Stenzel and special guest speaker Dr. Robert White! At the Georgia March For Life, we will have music and prayer (starting at 11:30am), hear from the leading pro-life voices in Georgia…

Find out more »


Atlanta YR: Meeting with Rep. Jack Kingston & Rep. Lynne Riley

January 22, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Five Seasons Brewing – Westside, 1000 Marietta Street Atlanta , GA 30318 United States+ Google Map

As we enter a new year, both Congress and Georgia’s General Assembly are kicking off new sessions. We are fortunate to have Congressman Jack Kingston, who is running for U.S. Senate, and Ga. Rep. Lynne Riley, who is Gov. Deal’s floor leader.

Find out more »


Rep. Rob Woodall: Veterans Assistance Open House

January 23, 2014 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Dr Lawrenceville , GA 30046
+ Google Map

Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce: Annual Meeting

January 23, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Northside Hospital – Cherokee Conference Center, 1130 Bluffs Parkway Canton , GA 30114
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Join us as we celebrate our 2013 accomplishments, welcome our 2014 Board of Directors, present our Volunteer of the Year & First Citizen! No refunds. Priority seating given to reserved tables as secured.

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2014 State of DeKalb County Business Lunch

January 23, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Emory Conference Center Lullwater Ballroom, 1615 Clifton Road Atlanta , 30322+ Google Map

2014 State of DeKalb County Business Lunch with Interim CEO Lee May

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World Trade Center Atlanta: Luncheon with the British Consul General on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

January 23, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
City Club of Buckhead, 3343 Peachtree Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30326
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Join the Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford of the United Kingdom for a discussion on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Learn how you can prepare to take advantage of the business opportunities presented by TTIP upon its implementation. Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford will lead the discussion and will be joined by business executives who are currently conducting business in the UK and the US. They will share details on the business landscape in the UK, how it might change…

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Republican Women of Cherokee County: Meet and Greet with David Pennington

January 23, 2014 from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Winchesters Wood Fire Grille, 110 Mountain Vista Blvd. Canton, GA 30115
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Meet and Greet Georgia Governor Candidate David Pennington. In addition, meet  Senate and Congressional  candidate spouses, Mrs. Nikkin Broun and Mrs. Danelle Mroinski.

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Rep. Rob Woodall: Gwinnett Town Hall Meeting

January 23, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue Suwanee, GA 30024 United States+ Google Map

Congressman Rob Woodall Gwinnett Town Hall Meeting

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Georgia Tea Party: Meeting with Kelly McCutchen on Tax Reform

January 23, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
900 Roswell St Marietta, GA 30060

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Our speaker on Thursday, January 23 will be Kelly McCutchen of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.  Mr McCutchen will speak on Tax Reform in Georgia.

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Bibb County GOP: Meeting with David Perdue

January 23, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
2720 Riverside Drive Macon, GA 31204+ Google Map

David Perdue will be our guest speaker and we will begin organizing for upcoming elections!!! Invite a friend and join us in our Keeping Georgia Red campaign!

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Georgia Municipal Association: Mayors’ Day

January 24, 2014
Hilton – Atlanta, 255 Courtland St NE Atlanta , GA 30303+ Google Map

Mayors’ Day Features U.S. Senate Candidates Forum Register online. Download paper registration and training/conference schedule (PDF, 1.46MB). City officials will have the opportunity to hear directly from candidates seeking to replace Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate during GMA’s 2014 Mayors’ Day. Since Chambliss has decided not to seek reelection a number of individuals have already announced their intention to run for the seat. On Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, GMA will hold a U.S. Senate Candidates Forum. Candidates from both the Republican and…

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Columbia County GOP: Breakfast with Rep. Barry Fleming

January 25, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
The Garlic Clove Italian Eatery, 4523 Washington Road Evans , GA 30809 United States+ Google Map

Join the Columbia County Republican Party for our monthly breakfast meeting. We will have two speakers this month: State Representative Barry Fleming and Nancy Gay from the Columbia County Board of Elections. Breakfast is $8 Doors open at 8:45 Meeting begins at 9:00 No RSVP necessary

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Cobb Chamber of Commerce: Annual Dinner

January 25, 2014 from 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Cobb Galleria Centre, Two Galleria Parkway Atlanta, 30339+ Google Map

Cobb Chamber of Commerce: Annual Dinner Event Description: This black-tie dinner affair celebrates the many accomplishments of 2013 and sets the standard for a successful 2014! Attended by nearly 1,000 of Cobb County’s finest, this gala serves as an opportunity to honor those that have made significant contributions to enhance our quality of life, make Cobb a better place to live, improve our education, medical and public service communities. Tickets: $165 per individual ticket; $1,500 per Table of 10. For…

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11th Annual Taste of Dunwoody

January 25, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford Dunwoody Rd Dunwoody , GA 30346+ Google Map

11th Annual Taste of Dunwoody Be a part of our annual Taste of Dunwoody and enjoy an evening of food and fun benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Featuring delicious fare from more than 25 Atlanta restaurants, a silent auction, a cash bar and live music performed by Yacht Rock Revue, the Taste of Dunwoody is always a sell-out event! With “spot on renditions” Yacht Rock Revue is possibly the best tribute to 70s light rock and always promise a good time. We…

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Republican Jewish Coalition of Atlanta: A Job Interview With The Candidates for Georgia U.S. Senate

January 26, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Hammond Glen Senior Community Center,
335 Hammond Drive Atlanta , GA 30328 United States

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The RJC Atlanta Chapter invites you to A Job Interview with the Candidates for Georgia U.S. Senate with invited guests: Congressman Jack Kingston, Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, Congressman Phil Gingrey, Former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, David Perdue, and Congressman Paul Broun. During this job interview, the Republican Candidates campaigning to be next U.S. Senator from Georgia will one at a time make their case for why they are uniquely qualified for the job. Following each…

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Georgia Municipal Association: U.S. Senate Candidates Forum

January 27, 2014 from 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM
Hilton – Atlanta, 255 Courtland St NE Atlanta , GA 30303
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U.S. Senate Candidates forum will be held at 9:15 a.m., following the breakfast.

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Sen. Judson Hill & Rep. John Carson: Town Hall Meeting

January 27, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Mountain View Regional Library,
3320 Sandy Plains Rd. Marietta , 30066

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Town Hall Meeting with Sen. Judson Hill and Rep. John Carson

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 16, 2014

On January 15, 1751, a Provincial Assembly convened in Savannah, after the Georgia Trustees called for a popular election. Among the issues discussed was whether Georgia should be annexed into South Carolina. This marked the first elected representative government in Georgia.

On January 15, 1796, Jared Irwin was inaugurated Governor of Georgia for his first term. Irwin repealed the Yazoo Act. Irwin County, the city of Irwinville, and the town of Irwinton are named after Governor Irwin. He previously served in the State House and the convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1787. After his first term in office, Irwin served as President of the State Senate and became Governor again in 1806 when Gov. John Milledge resigned. After completing that term, he was elected to another full term as Governor.

January 15, 1870 saw the first appearance of the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic party in a Harper’s Weekly illustration by Thomas Nast.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the pleasure of working at the State Capitol several years ago with a lady who had known King as a youngster, as a fellow member of “Daddy” King’s church and schoolmate. Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama helped the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

On January 15, 1963, Carl Sanders was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia. In 1970. Sanders ran again for Governor, losing to Jimmy Carter.

On January 16, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages.

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.

Last night on Facebook, a friend asked why the Georgia legislature is addressing the scheduling of party primary elections. Here’s what he said:

Question. Why is the state supervising and funding party primaries?
Parties are private organizations. Let ‘em run (and pay for) their own primaries.

That’s a legitimate question. Here’s why.

After Reconstruction, whites in some Southern states attempted to retain exclusive power and deny black citizens the right to vote. One of the tools they used was “white primary” elections. After Supreme Court decisions striking down state-administered white primaries, some states then tried privatizing the primary elections as a way of continuing to disenfranchise black voters. An initial Supreme Court allowed this, reasoning that private parties were free to determine eligibility of voters.

In 1944, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute allowing “private” party primaries on the basis that it amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination, as the state had delegated the responsibility of administering elections to the Democratic Party.

On July 4, 1944, Primus King, a registered voter, tried to cast a ballot at the Muscogee County Courthouse in the Democratic Primary and was turned away. A federal district court found for King in his lawsuit, ruling that denying him the right to vote was unconstitutional.

The United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the district court decision in an opinion written by Judge Samuel Hale Sibley, a Georgia native and alumnus of UGA and the UGA School of Law. Thurgood Marshall, later an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was one of the lawyers representing Primus King.

So, that’s why the state administers party primary elections in Georgia.

Pro-tip for legislators

Take down the donation button or page on your website for the duration of the Session. From Fox 5 Atlanta:

[O]n the second day of this year’s session, FOX 5 found a number of lawmakers potentially soliciting donations.

FOX 5′s Chris Shaw found both Democrats and Republicans in both the state House and Senate accepting donations when law says they cannot. Most said it was simply an oversight, some took measures to pull donation pages from their websites while FOX 5 cameras rolled.

Here’s what to do if you inadvertently left your donation button or page active. The news account quoted above is not entirely correct about accepting contributions during session. Section 21-5-35 of the Act formerly known as the Ethics in Government Act states:

§21-5-35. Acceptance of contributions or pledges during legislative sessions

(a) No member of the General Assembly or that member’s campaign committee or public officer elected state wide or campaign committee of such public officer shall seek or accept a contribution or a pledge of a contribution to the member, the member’s campaign committee, or public officer elected state wide, or campaign committee of such public officer during a legislative session.

(b)Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply to:

(1) The receipt of a contribution which is returned with reasonable promptness to the donor or the donor’s agent;
(2) The receipt and acceptance during a legislative session of a contribution consisting of proceeds from a dinner, luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event held prior to the legislative session;
(3) The receipt of a contribution by a political party consisting of the proceeds from a dinner,luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event in which a member of the General Assembly or a public officer elected state wide participates; or<
(4) A judicial officer elected state wide, a candidate for a judicial office elected state wide, or a campaign committee of such judicial officer or candidate

That said, if you receive a contribution during the session, your best bet is to return it immediately, and document the check you sent.

Governor Deal’s State of the State

The Senate Press Office brings you a nearly-three minute “Senate in a Minute,” featuring Governor Deal’s State of the State.

Click here for the full text of the State of the State address.

Here are some of the best quotes from the State of the State 2014:

1.My basic focus has been on creating private-sector jobs for Georgians. With your help and the involvement of our business community, we have done some great things. We have implemented real tax reform, such as eliminating sales tax on energy for manufacturing; we have essentially removed the marriage tax penalty on working Georgia couples; and we have abolished the annual birthday tax on vehicles. And each of these are part of a mosaic that led Site Selection Magazine to declare Georgia to be the number one state in the nation in which to do business.

2. the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable and is costing our state $327 million dollars this year. You should be aware that, even without expanding, currently Medicaid and PeachCare cost every Georgian through federal and state taxes nearly $1,000 each year. Expansion would add 620,000 people to our taxpayer funded health plan, costing us even more. Now, the executive branch in Washington is trying to do what the courts deemed unconstitutional for Congress to do, but we will not allow ourselves to be coerced into expansion. Be assured, I am prepared to fight any intrusion into our rights as a state.

3. According to the federal department of labor, in the three years since I became governor, there have been approximately 217,000 new jobs added in our state, and major job announcements are almost a weekly occurrence. As a result, our state unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 5 years!

4. I have included $35M for the deepening of the Port of Savannah. If approved, we will have $266M, which will represent Georgia’s share of this important project.

5. For students who pursued those areas, we have paid 100 percent of their tuition through the HOPE Grant. This year I am asking you to expand that to an additional 4 areas of training—welding, health care technology, diesel mechanics and information technology.

In order to fill the needs of a growing economy, we need more of our citizens to acquire education and skills beyond high school. To encourage this, I am asking you to create a new Zell Miller HOPE Grant for students in our technical college system. This grant will cover 100 percent of tuition for those who maintain a 3.5 grade point average.

6.[D]uring my administration, funding for education has increased by over $930M. That does not include capital spending for education, which represents 76% of our entire state bond package. $239M of this year’s capital investments went to the Department of Education for use on K-12 programs. Since FY 2012, nearly 50 cents of every dollar of new revenues has been dedicated to education. In the budget I am sending you for FY 2015 almost 82 percent of new revenue receipts are dedicated to education, with 68 percent of those new revenues going to k-12 alone.

As these numbers indicate, we will spend almost $8 billion in next year’s budget on k-12 education. My proposal represents the largest single year increase in k-12 funding in 7 years. That’s an addition of $547M….

7. I have included $44.8M in the budgets to better connect every classroom in Georgia, including those in rural areas, to the internet and digital resources students need to thrive. It is my goal that every child in any classroom in our state will have access to the best instruction possible, and this can be done by expanding the availability of our on-line learning.

8. This year, we intend to roll out our third leg of our criminal justice reforms, the one that will sustain our previous efforts.  If an offender has been equipped to enter the workforce upon release, that person will stand a greater chance of avoiding relapse.  If our reentry and reform efforts reduce our recidivism rate by 25 percent, we would see around 1,400 fewer crimes each year, with at least 1,100 fewer victims!  This is a goal we should be able to achieve or exceed.

These Criminal Justice reforms will allow non-violent offenders to break their addictions, reclaim their lives and keep taxpayers from spending $18,000 per inmate for each year they are in prison. These reforms will also increase the safety of our society.

9. [T]oday, more Georgians have jobs than at any other time since October 2008. We are getting people in our state back to work at a faster rate than the national average. For those 217,000 or so Georgians who now have jobs, they know what the sting of the frozen economy feels like. They lived through it. But for them, the freeze has ended.

This is what we’ve done in three years … imagine what we will do in the next five.

And since Georgia has now been recognized as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business, we can rightfully expect many more jobs to come our way.

Here’s an audio clip that we’ve converted to a YouTube clip, so that it can be viewed on an iPhone or other mobile devices when you receive our morning email. It’s a bit of work to do it, but we’re interested in whether you think it’s useful.

Senator David Shafer released a statement:

“I applaud Governor Deal on his third State of the State Address. Georgia has a come long way in the last three years, with 217,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in new private system. The Governor’s low tax policies are exactly what we need to keep attracting new business. I look forward to hearing from the Governor again next year and three years to follow.”

Today under the Gold Dome

Capitol Dome inside

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM    Appropriations Higher Education    606 CLOB

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Joint Appropriations Education    341 CAP

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Joint Appropriations Public Safety    506 CLOB

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Projected) Floor Session

12:30 PM – 5:30 PM    Joint Appropriations Economic Development and General Government    307 CLOB

12:30 PM – 4:00 PM    Joint Appropriations Health and Human Services    341 CAP

12:30 PM – 3:00 PM    Joint Appropriations Public Safety    506 CLOB

Catherine Bernard announces for House District 80

Catherine Bernard, who has recently changed her residence and, after the lesson from Keith Gross a couple years ago, her car tags, to DeKalb County, where she will challenge incumbent Republican State Representative Mike Jacobs.

CatherineBernard AnnouncesHer website can be found at VoteCatherine.com. It’s worth noting that yesterday was apparently her birthday. She can thank Rep. Jacobs for his vote to repeal the Birthday Tax, which meant that she didn’t have to pay ad valorem tax to renew her car tag yesterday.

Kelly Marlow seeks reversal

Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow appealed a $3600 fine levied by the Board of which she is a member for raising concerns with the agency that accredits public schools in Georgia.

“What Ms. Marlow did is send a letter to AdvancEd in which she made several, pretty serious allegations against the board chair and the board, and never did she address those concerns to the Board of Education,” Roach said.
Marlow said she was sanctioned for the “act of sending a letter,” and if the sanction is upheld, “the effect would be chilling.”
“It will send a message that the voice of the minority does not matter,” she said. “It’s not OK for a member, who is in the minority, to speak up when they see something wrong. To not be able to say, ‘I smell smoke, I think there may be a fire.’”
Roach said the “matter of free speech in this context is quite complicated.”

Here’s a general rule regarding free speech: if someone says the issue of free speech is “complicated,” they’re almost always trying to use government to stop it.

The First Amendment statement that Congress [later extended to most levels of government] “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is no more complicated than the Second Amendment’s statement that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Rep. Allen West to speak in Cobb County

Former Congressman (and retired Lt. Colonel) Allen West will deliver the keynote address at the Cobb County Republican Party’s President’s Day Dinner on February 17, 2014 at the Renaissance Waverly. Save the date if you’re interested in going, and be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as they’re available, as the event is likely to sell out.

This is the third announcement on what appears to be an Allen West tour of Georgia. Does he have a book out or about to be released? Why, yes, he does. In April, Allen West’s book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom will be released.

The Lee County Republican Party is holding a Lincoln Day Dinner on February 27, 2014, with proceeds benefiting the Bridging the Gap Foundation. The featured speaker will be LTC Allen West, who served in Congress from Florida.

Bridging The Gap of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization created to assist veterans with their transition home.  Many of the veterans we serve suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Combat Stress and are homeless. We utilize a mentorship program to enable veterans to function as productive members of our society by addressing their housing, job placement, and health needs.

We’re still awaiting details on the location of the Muscogee County Republican Party event on February 28, 2014.

Your Events Calendar


Cobb YR: Happy Hour

January 16, 2014 7:00 PM @ 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Old Vinings Inn,

3011 Paces Mill Road Atlanta , GA 30339 United States

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Old Vinings Inn was built in the 1880s and served as the village post office. Over the years, the building was purchased and renovated, used as an apartment building, a general store, a filling-station with a family residence upstairs. This unique setting is full of warmth and of history. Today’s Old Vinings Inn is inviting and sophisticated while preserving its rich history — the perfect setting for an evening out.

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Georgia Tea Party: Meeting with David Wellons on Obamacare

January 16, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Unnamed Venue, 900 Roswell St Marietta , GA 30060

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David Wellons, a 25-year veteran of the health care industry, will speak on “Obamacare and what we can do about it.”

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Rep. Rob Woodall: Telephone Town Hall

January 16, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Congressman Rob Woodall Telephone Town Hall Please join me for a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on January 16th. Dail-in: 877-229-8493 Password: 17849


DeKalb County GOP: Breakfast – Spotlight DeKalb Judicial System

January 18, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
The Golden Corral, 2136 Lawrenceville Hwy Decatur, GA 30033

Brian Kemp certifies election results in HD 2 and 22

via Press Release dated January 14, 2014

Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp today certified the results for January 7, 2014 Special Election for State House District 22. The certified results of state and federal races can be found on the Secretary of State’s website: http://sos.georgia.gov/elections.

In certifying the results, Secretary of State Brian Kemp affirmed that all counties have provided to the state the total votes tabulated for each candidate. Further, Secretary of State Kemp affirms that the returns are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county.

Additionally, with the certification, the time period for a candidate for state office to request a recount begins. Candidates must submit requests within 2 business days from certification per O.C.G.A § 21-2-495. Certification does not preclude the state from continuing any current investigations related to the General Election or from pursuing any future allegations that may arise from the election.

Being that a recount request has been submitted in District 22, pursuant to O.C.G.A. 21-2-495 (c), the Secretary of State has directed the county election superintendents in the 22nd House District to conduct a recount of all votes cast for State Representative during the January 7, 2014 election. The superintendents have been directed to immediately order such recount and complete the recount no later than noon on Wednesday, January 15, 2014.

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting secure, accessible and fair elections, the registration of corporations, the oversight and regulation of securities and the administration of professional license holders.