Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 1, 2017

August 1 was a big day for Benjamin Mays – he was born on August 1, 1895 and became President of Morehouse College on August 1, 1936.

PT-109, commanded by LTJG John F. Kennedy was sunk on August 1, 1943.

On August 1, 1982, Hank Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced the creation of the Georgia Defense Exchange, an interactive business development platform designed to assist Georgia businesses in finding new opportunities in Department of Defense (DOD) contracting.

“From the Bell Bomber Plant during WWII to the NSA and U.S. Army Cyber Command in Augusta today, Georgia enterprises enjoy a storied history of fulfilling contracts for national defense,” said Deal. “Last year alone, defense contracts executed in Georgia were valued at $6.4 billion. These contracts provide significant opportunities for Georgia businesses and drive new development in local communities across the state. The GDX platform will allow us to equip companies with the tools they need to be competitive in acquiring DOD contracts while ensuring that this long-standing tradition continues in Georgia.”

“We pride ourselves on maintaining the best business environment in the nation, and providing top-notch resources for our citizens,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Commissioner Pat Wilson. “GDX levels the playing field, giving small businesses in Georgia the chance to know about and respond to the many defense contracting opportunities that are available. I am confident that all Georgia companies will benefit tremendously from GDX, and that our state will increase its competitive advantage in this sector.”

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office performed maintenance on the Georgia voter registration file, pruning it of over 500,000 registrants. From Kemp’s office:Continue Reading..


Bob Barr endorses David Shafer for Georgia Lt. Gov.

Bob Barr

Former U.S. Attorney and Congressman Bob Barr issued the following statement in endorsing David Shafer for LG in 2018.

“David Shafer has a proven track record of advancing conservative ideals.  He wrote the state’s zero based budgeting law.  He authored the constitutional amendment capping the state income tax.  He is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment and the only candidate for Lieutenant Governor rated A+ by the National Rifle Association.  I judge politicians based on their accomplishments, not their promises.  David Shafer is the clear choice for Lieutenant Governor and I am proud to endorse him.”

Senator Shafer expressed his appreciation for Barr’s endorsement:

“I am grateful to Congressman Bob Barr for his endorsement and support.”

Bob Barr is one of three Georgians to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 31, 2017

On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned a Major General in the Continental Army, serving without pay.

The cornerstone for the first United States Mint was laid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1792, becoming the first building constructed by the federal government under the Constitution.

Former President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded President Lincoln upon his assassination and oversaw much of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, died of a stroke in Tennessee on July 31, 1875.

On July 31, 1906, a bill to create place a Constitutional Amendment on the November election for voters to decide whether to create an intermediate-level Georgia Court of Appeals was approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

On July 31, 1962, the one-millionth immigrant was welcomed into Israel.

Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, won his 300th career game on July 31, 1990. During eight innings, Ryan threw 146 pitches, while today, many pitchers are pulled at around the 100-pitch count.

“In the old days throwing that many pitches was a normal game,” said Nolan Ryan, who tossed a record seven no-hitters and is the all-time leader in strikeouts, fifth in innings pitched.

Ryan, currently the Rangers’ team president, is an outspoken detractor of the recent trend toward monitoring pitch counts. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Ryan expressed his belief that today’s pitchers are “pampered” and that there is no reason why today’s pitchers cannot pitch as much as he and his colleagues did back in the day. As a result, Ryan is pushing his team’s pitchers to throw deeper into games and extend their arms further, emphasizing conditioning over what some would call coddling.

As Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux told SI: “This generation of players has become a creature of the pitch count. Their ceiling has been lowered. It’s up to us to jack it back up.”

Although I think that time he whipped Robin Ventura should count as a win.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Lynne Linder, wife of former Congressman John Linder, died, and the Congressman wrote a stunning obituary.

We met in Deer River, Minnesota on a beautiful Sunday evening 19,767 days ago. My brother Bill and I played in a county league baseball game that afternoon and strolled over to Gram’s Kozy Korner for a milk shake.

A blue Buick convertible pulled up with a beautiful young lady driving. She asked for directions to Cedarwild Resort. We gave her directions and I asked her why she was in town. She said she was staying with her girl friend whose parents owned Cedarwild. She had bleached her friend’s hair that afternoon and it turned blue. She was sent to town to get some brown dye to repair the damage.

After she drove off I looked at my brother and said, “Let’s go meet the girl with the blue hair.”

It’s a fantastic remembrance of their more than 54 years together.

Nick Ayers was sworn in on Friday as Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence.

Nick Ayers Pence Tweet

From CNN:

Though it seemingly wasn’t coordinated, both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence saw two new chiefs of staff join the White House ranks on Friday.

Nick Ayers, a longtime adviser to Pence, was sworn into office on Friday, as his wife and three children looked on. Pence’s office announced Ayers’ new role in June. He takes over the reigns from Josh Pitcock — both men are considered to be in the vice president’s inner circle.

From the AJC:

Ayers, 34, had worked for Pence for three years and was his chief political strategist when Trump chose the Indiana governor as his running mate. From his office in suburban Atlanta he also helped lead America First Policies, a super PAC supporting the White House.

The promotion meant that he won’t be joining the crowded field running for Georgia governor. Ayers had long been floated as a possible contender for the job, and several influential allies of President Donald Trump’s in Georgia had encouraged him to run.

Ayers got his start in politics as a protégé of Sonny Perdue, and he managed Perdue’s successful re-election campaign for governor in 2006. He was head of the Republican Governors Association for four years and was a contender to lead the Republican National Committee.

Senator Johnny Isakson did a Q&A with the Marietta Daily Journal.

What is next for health care? Is Obamacare the law of the land, or is there still a chance for repeal?

“The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. As said by the majority leader and the minority leader Thursday night or Friday morning, neither party did anything to fix it. We’ve still got some things that need to be done. We’ve got to come together, Republicans and Democrats and deal with the issues that are making insurance so expensive. I think we will, and I think we’ll eventually get it done.”

Will you make an endorsement for the Georgia Governor’s race?

“No. I’ve got my own race to run. Let them run theirs.”

The Georgia Ports Authority has ordered six new ship-to-shore cranes to add to its capacity to work larger post-Panamax ships.

The cranes will be delivered in the first half of 2020 as Georgia’s ports anticipate more growth after a record year for container volume.

Larger vessels and additional container services coupled with a positive economic forecast meant the Georgia Ports Authority handled 3.85 million TEUs for the fiscal year ending in June –  6.7 % more TEUs compared to the previous year, or 242,221 additional TEUs.

The Konecranes STS cranes currently on order have a lifting capacity of 66 tons, an outreach of 61 meters, and a lifting height of 46 meters above the dock.

Griff Lynch, GPA Executive Director, said: “By 2020, we will have 18 Neopanamax cranes and the ability to work three 14,000-TEU vessels at a single terminal simultaneously.

“Our volume growth continues to outpace forecasted demand. Shipping lines are moving 13,000- and 14,000-TEU vessels into service on the East Coast more quickly than anticipated, and concentrating their deliveries at efficient gateway ports like Savannah.

“This new crane purchase, along with the four already on order, will enable GPA to increase crane capacity by nearly 40%.”

The Port of Savannah currently operates 146 Konecranes RTG cranes and 26 Konecranes STS cranes, with four more under delivery in 2018. The new six units will add the total number of Konecranes STS cranes in the terminal to 36.

Peaches are a tiny part of Georgia’s agricultural production, but retain an out-sized role in our culture.

In May growers predicted an 80 percent crop loss, and now they are lamenting one of the worst years in living memory.

Where would we be without any Georgia peaches at all? One response, surprisingly, is a shrug. Georgia peaches account for only 0.38 percent of the state’s agricultural economy, and the state produces only between 3 and 5 percent of the national peach crop.

But this is not a simple matter of costs and profits. Georgia peaches are a product of history. And as [Kennesaw State Professor Thomas Okie has] documented, their story tells us much about agriculture, the environment, politics and labor in the American South.

The Georgia House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding meets on Wednesday at MARTA’s headquarters.

The group also includes officials for transit systems around the state, residents and other officials who work on transportation issues.

House leaders, including Speaker David Ralston, backed creation of the group. Its members are charged with studying how transit systems around the state can work together and what role the state should play, including any funding.

Advocates hope the effort leads to a state commitment for mass transit options.

 The League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area is planning to gather signatures for a petition to dissolve the municipal school system.

Officials with the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area made plans last week to begin gathering signatures for a petition to place a referendum on the May 2018 general primary ballot that would call for the city school system to give up its charter.

“We will need 25 percent of the registered voters in the last city election,” said League board member Jevin Jensen. “That’s roughly 3,000 voters.”

Under Georgia law, if the League gathers enough signatures the Dalton City Council would have to put the measure on the ballot.

Georgia law says “only qualified voters residing within the municipality or district for six months prior to the election shall vote” on the measure.

“It’s the city’s school system,” Jensen said. “If the city drops the charter for the school system, the county is legally obligated to take over.”

League President Helen Crawford said the group has supported consolidation of the two school systems for almost 20 years.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) says that electric members cooperatives (EMCs) could play a role in extending broadband internet in rural areas.

Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, said he doesn’t expect everyone under the Gold Dome to be quite so enthused by a plan to turn loose cooperatives to offer broadband. Gooch said he expects existing providers, in particular, to push back on the proposal.

“It’s going to be a fight,” Gooch said in a recent interview. “I don’t think it’s going to be easy. But again, nothing down there ever is. With anything this important, there’s going to be people who are against it because of self-motives and financial reasons.

“And I’m fine with that. I love to debate, and in fact, I challenge all the providers to come in and get involved and help us perfect the bill,” he added.

Gooch pitched a measure earlier this year that would grant the state’s 41 not-for-profit electric membership corporations, which serve about 2 million customers, the authority to offer broadband service in some of the state’s most sparsely populated places.

His measure stalled but remains alive for next year when lawmakers return.

“They already have the customers, the equipment, the manpower. They have the poles already in place,” he said of the EMCs.

When asked, two major providers in rural Georgia – Windstream and AT&T – expressed reservations about Gooch’s proposal.

Spotty broadband is an underlying issue for other hurdles in rural communities, such as economic development and access to quality education and health care. It was the first matter taken up this summer by the House Rural Development Council, which is expected to propose legislative fixes.

Industry representatives have told lawmakers that the meager return on investment, due in part to fewer available customers and often low participation rates, makes it tough to justify the investment in these low-density, rural areas.

State Senator Renee Unterman will serve on two study committees ahead of the 2018 legislative session.

[Lieutenant Governor Casey] Cagle appointed the senator from Buford to serve as the chairwoman for the Senate Study Committee on Homelessness and to serve as a member of the Senate Stroke Trauma Study Committee.

Three members of the Gwinnett legislative delegation will sit on a joint study committee that will look at issues affecting stream buffers in Georgia.

Ralston has picked state Reps. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, and Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, as two of his five legislator appointments to the committee. The Senate appointees to the committee include another Gwinnett delegation member, Sen. Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain.

[Speaker David] Ralston appointed state Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, to serve on the [Joint Study Committee on Transparency & Open Access in Government] while Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle appointed Sen. Fran Millar, R-Atlanta, and Gwinnett Medical Center’s Patty Lavely. The group will look at policies that deal with state agencies sharing data and how information technology can be used to increase the transparency of public data.

Gainesville and Hall County law enforcement agencies are reporting problems with recruiting and retaining enough officers.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed the fiscal year 2018 budget May 1, which included $55.2 million to provide a 20 percent salary increase for state law enforcement.

Starting salary for a Georgia State Patrol trooper upon graduation is now $46,422, a $10,312 pay increase.

At the Gainesville Police Department, starting pay is $35,543; deputies with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office can expect $37,658.

Gainesville Police Chief Carol Martin said the department was already seeing a slowdown of certified applicants even before the pay increase was announced.

“I think it has brought to light the situation not only in the state of Georgia but nationwide — the shortage of police officers and the applicants,” she said. “It can be blamed on many factors: pay, benefits, the national spotlight and the economy. When the economy’s better, our applicants go down.”

Sheriff Gerald Couch said he has lost at least one employee to Georgia State Patrol recently, as he and other law enforcement leaders struggle with hiring and retention.

“The more seasoned officers — eight to 10 or 12 years — they get to that point and they go, ‘I need a better retirement.’ And they may go to another agency, whereas the newer officers will leave for a variety of reasons,” Couch said.

A small number of Columbus residents marched to protest efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Property owners in Muscogee County and Columbus are being hit hard by rising property tax assessments.

To grasp the impact of Muscogee County’s recent countywide property tax reassessment, just consider the case of Jason Hilton.

As the owner of rental properties throughout east and south Columbus, the local businessman saw significant increases in his assessments this year, mostly in Beallwood where the county’s appraisals of his shotgun houses jumped from $20,000 to $220,000, he said. His estimated taxes are $3,300 for each house that he rents for $450 per month.

Hilton has already filed 190 appeals with the Muscogee County Tax Assessors Office. He also has put city officials on notice.

“I’ve been emailing back and forth with my city councilor, Gary Allen,” he said in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer. “I did tell him if something isn’t resolved fairly quickly we will be notifying our approximately 400 tenants of what’s going on, if they haven’t already heard.

“We will be letting them know that their rents will be going up approximately 50 percent,” he said. “We will also put in the letter to tenants the contact info of their city councilor and mayor, along with the Tax Assessor’s Office, so that their voices can be heard.”

Hilton is not the only property owner frustrated in the wake of the recent reassessment of the county’s nearly 70,000 parcels, which spiked some assessments by as much as 1,000 percent. The project was conducted in conjunction with the Tax Assessor’s Office’s conversion to new software.

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at “who knew what and when” on rising Muscogee County property tax assessments.

property owners are in an uproar over exorbitant tax assessment increases, which have some elected officials pointing fingers over who knew what and when.

At a July 25 Columbus Council meeting, Councilors Garrett, Thomas and Davis chided the Tax Assessors Office for not notifying council sooner about the dramatic tax increases. A few days earlier, Thomas had told a group of Midland property owners that she didn’t become aware until receiving her tax bill at the end of June. She made similar comments at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Just to clarify, I think what Councilor Thomas was talking about was that council should’ve been notified before assessments went out that jacked up people’s prices 1,000 percent,” said Garrett, backing her up. “… I think the whole issue is that council was not approached with how much these assessments went up.

“… We should have caught this on the front end,” he said. “This should have been caught before this ever happened.”

Georgia bat populations are being impacted by white nose syndrome, an imported affliction.

State Department of Natural Resources wildlife scientists first confirmed white-nose in Georgia in February 2013. Since then the fungus has been found in numerous north Georgia bat caves, with mortality rates of 90 percent and higher, according to DNR’s annual report on the disease.

In a Rabun County tunnel where more than 5,000 bats hibernated in 2013, a DNR monitoring team found only about 500 in 2015, and about half that number in 2016. This year, they found just 152 tri-colored bats.

A Gilmer County mine once inhabited by more than 500 bats had just seven on March 1; a 99 percent decline since 2013. DNR monitors found 57 tri-colored bats and 13 gray bats in a Dade County cave March 8, which is a 96 percent decline from the more than 1,700 there in 2012.

DNR expanded its monitoring this year to several south Georgia caves, but found no evidence that white-nose had made it that far south.

“Last year we were seeing 50 percent declines in bat numbers at some sites, compared to the year before. This winter we didn’t see those drastic declines,” Morris said “It seems like we’re getting to a point where we might not be seeing such major changes. But it’s also because we have fewer bats.”

Chatham County Commission Chair Al Scott says local officials are working to protect residents as the merger of Chatham and Savannah police forces is dissolved.

Chatham Superior Court Clerk Tammie Mosley and her colleagues in the State, Probate, Recorder’s, and Magistrate courts are transitioning to an electronic filing system.

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials disputes statements by some municipalities claiming to be in compliance with Spanish-language requirements.

The Department of Justice informed Gwinnett County officials in December that they had to comply with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires communities that have large numbers of voters who speak the same non-English language to provide election information in that language. That requirement includes the cities as well.

The immediate question is whether the cities, whose elections this fall will be the first held in the county since that requirement was announced, and the county are doing enough so far to be in compliance with the law. City officials say they are, but the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and LatinoJustice PRLDEF have concerns.

GALEO Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez singled out Auburn, Berkeley Lake, Braselton, Loganville and Lilburn as places the organization has particular concerns about, although he raised concerns about other cities as well.

“As recently as (July 18), their websites, which contain valuable information on upcoming municipal elections this year, were in English only and they were failing to provide the same information online in Spanish,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Some municipalities fail to even offer voter registration forms in Spanish.”

Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, will take over for Westinghouse as primary constuction contractor on two new reactors at Plant Vogtle.

Previously, Westinghouse, the developer of the AP1000 nuclear technology being used by the new units, served as the primary contractor with oversight and responsibility for all construction activities. Under the new service agreement, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy on July 27, Southern Nuclear (the Southern Company subsidiary which operates the existing units at Plant Vogtle) will oversee construction activities at the site.

“We are already in the midst of a seamless transition for the thousands of workers across the site, allowing us to sustain the progress we are making every day on both units,” said Mark Rauckhorst, executive vice president for the Vogtle 3 and 4 project. “We remain focused on safety and quality as we complete this transition.”

Georgia Power also continues work with the project’s Co-owners (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities) to complete a full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis of the project. Once complete, Georgia Power will work with the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine the best path forward for customers.

State Rep. Scot Turner (R-Cherokee) wants you to read this article about civil asset forfeiture and a Georgia gun store. After reading that article, you can attend a forum on civil asset forfeiture reform sponsored by the Cherokee County Young Republicans, tonight at 7 PM at Marlow’s Tavern, 881 Ridgewalk Pkwy Suite 108, Woodstock, Georgia 30188.

Camden County will host a test-launch where the proposed spaceport would be built.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a permit for Vector Space Systems to conduct a low- altitude launch on Thursday of a full-scale prototype of the company’s Vector-R launch vehicle.

The rocket will be launched from the site of a proposed spaceport, the same location in Camden County where NASA tested solid-fuel rocket engines in the 1960s.

No target altitude has been announced, but Simpson said the rocket will travel at least several thousand feet high. The trajectory will take the rocket straight up and straight down, so there are no concerns about safety to surrounding areas.

“Everything stays within the confines of the launch area,” said County Administrator Steve Howard.


Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) will host a “Women for Cagle” event on August 14, 2017 at the Buford Community Center. Click here to R.s.v.p.

Women for Casey Cagle

Watkinsville Mayor Charles Ivie announced he will not seek election to a fourth term in November.

Ivie, who had planned to seek a fourth term, learned this month of a health condition that needs medical attention.

“I am told I’ll be hospitalized for about a week and after that I’ll have eight to 10 weeks in recovery,” he said. “I don’t need to be trying to run a campaign at the same time I’m trying to recover.”

The election for mayor takes place in November; qualifying for the race begins in late August.

Sandy Springs City Council District 2 member Ken Dishman also announced he will not run for reelection.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 28, 2017


Boss is a 3-year old mixed breed male dog who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.


Blessings is a three-year old female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.


Paco is a three-year old male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.

Coweta County is waiving adoption fees for some dogs and cats who have been longtime residents at the shelter.

The shelter is overcrowded, and in an effort to help that problem, Coweta County Animal Control is offering free adoption of animals that have been at the shelter for over 120 days.

Dogs and cats that have been at the shelter between 90 and 120 days may be adopted for half of the standard adoption fee.

As of last week, there were over 30 dogs that had been at the shelter at least 90 days, according to Tom Corker, Coweta communications manager.

Though there aren’t any cats who have been there more than 60 days, “We have such an abundance of cats, we have chosen to reduce the adoption fee by half,” said Warden Bill McKenzie, director of Coweta Animal Control.

All animals adopted from Coweta County Animal Control are spayed or neutered, vet-checked and microchipped, and have at least their first round of shots.

The standard adoption fee at animal control is $70 for cats and $126 for dogs.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 28, 2017

July 30th could be celebrated as the birthday of democracy in America, as the Virginia House of Burgesses became the first legislative body in the New World on July 30, 1619.

 Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

On July 28, 1868, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified and was now part of the Constitution. The first section of the 14th Amendment often forms the basis for litigation and reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Georgia initially rejected the 14th Amendment in 1866, later ratifying it on July 21, 1868 as a condition for readmission.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his eighth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on July 29, 1927.

On July 30, 1931, Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. signed legislation merging Milton and Fulton Counties if voters in each county approved a referendum. Fulton had earlier merged with Campbell County, to the south.

Congress passed legislation establishing the National Aeronautic and Space Admininistration (NASA) on July 29, 1958.

Actor Laurence Fishburn was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare, for seniors, and Medicaid for some low-income people on July 30, 1965.

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” became their first #1 hit on July 29, 1967.

On July 28, 1978, Animal House was released, instantly becoming one of the greatest films of all time. In case you’ve never seen the film, there is a tiny little bit of adult language in the following clip.

Carl Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the long jump at the Atlanta Olympics on July 29, 1996.

On July 28, 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating “The General” locomotive, which was stolen in 1862 during the Great Locomotive Chase. Today, The General may be viewed at The Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved the project list for the county portion of a projected $950 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

The county is set to receive $748.2 million of the $950 million expected to be raised by the SPLOST, but officials plan conservatively in case revenues come up short. That means they are budgeting for receiving $673.4 million to be on the safe side.

“This is a well-thought-out list of projects that addresses some of our more pressing needs in a way that is fair to everyone in the County,” Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash said in a statement. “I commend the members of the selection committees and their dedication toward making Gwinnett County a great place to live and do business.

“These projects improve everyone’s quality of life, and without the SPLOST, they would be difficult to impossible to accomplish without borrowing money.”

The majority of the county’s portion of the SPLOST — 65 percent of it to be exact — will be spent on transportation related projects that were split up into Tier 1 and Tier 2 lists. That equates to about $437.7 million for transportation-related projects.

Sugar Hill Mayor Steve Edwards says his name shouldn’t have been on the list of endorsements released by Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign for Governor.

Kemp’s campaign listed Edwards’ name last week among a long list of endorsements it said it had received from mayors and city councilmen from around Georgia. That was because the campaign was under the impression that it had his support after Edwards and Kemp ran into each other last month.

The Sugar Hill mayor disputed that claim this week, however, saying he hasn’t decided who he will endorse in next year’s governor’s race. Kemp is one of four Republicans seeking the post.

“I met Mr. Kemp in late June for the first time in Savannah while at a local government conference,” Edwards told the Daily Post in an email. “Although I will support a Republican candidate, I have not had a chance to officially endorse any candidate yet.”

Gainesville is considering rewriting its alcohol ordinance.

Gainesville’s liquor laws could be getting an update to allow downtown diners to carry alcohol outdoors and lift restrictions on breweries.

The city is considering changing its alcohol code to track with state law.

“State law changed this past year addressing breweries and brewpubs so that they can sell the product they make on-site and also allow people to … take it home with them,” City Manager Bryan Lackey told the Gainesville City Council during its Thursday work session.

The Bartow County Board of Education voted 3-2 to tentatively adopt a 19.2 mills property tax millage rate.

At a called meeting before the regular monthly meeting, the board voted 3-2, with members Derek Keeney and Fred Kittle opposed, to approve Superintendent Dr. John Harper’s recommendation to tentatively keep the millage rate at 19.2 mills rather than lowering it to the rollback rate of 18.713 mills.

Harper said the school system couldn’t afford to adopt the rollback rate with all the budget increases being passed on to it by the state, namely in the Teacher Retirement System and classified insurance costs.

In 2015, the school district was responsible for contributing 13.15 percent to TRS, he said. For fiscal year 2016, the rate increased to 14.27 percent, costing the system $9,852,745. For FY 2018, the rate jumped again to 16.81 percent, a cost of $11.5 million.

Keeney said by not rolling back the millage rate, the board is asking the county’s property owners to give it an additional estimated $1.6 million next year.

“For the majority of us, most of us sitting in this room, the additional tax burden isn’t that significant for us,” he said. “We won’t even notice the money moving out of our pocket. However, we’ve got many of our students and their families and our neighbors that would be significantly impacted by this tax burden. They’re having to make hard decisions today. So those most in need of relief from the government entity will be those most impacted.”

Dr. Tom Smiley was appointed Chair of the Hall County Board of Elections.

Smiley’s appointment was approved 4-1 with District 4 Commissioner Jeff Stowe being the only opposition. Stowe said while he respected Smiley, he felt that commissioners should have taken more time to examine his appointment.

“Tom’s a personal friend of mine. I’ve known him a long time. I think he’s an upstanding person,” Stowe said. “My only reason for voting against Tom would be just to table it and explore what other options are out there.”

Stowe’s comment came after two audience members, including one member of the Board of Elections, Kimberly Copeland, said they felt Smiley’s public stances on political issues made him unable to be non-partisan. Smiley is the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church and is a regular co-host of WDUN’s “Morning Talk.”

The Augusta Historic Preservation Commission denied a permit to demolish an historic church.

Tybee Island Public Safety Committee members want to discourage fireworks on the island.

The widespread use of consumer fireworks during the recent July 4 holiday has ignited an effort on the part of Tybee Island officials to get restrictions in place before the next big celebration rolls around.

During a discussion of the issue Thursday, members of Tybee’s public safety committee said they’re looking at every avenue available in an ordinance proposed to ramp up restrictions after the consumer use of fireworks during this year’s holiday far exceeded anything the city has seen in the past.

City Manager Shawn Gillen said the public’s use of the explosives on Tybee’s beaches before the island’s official fireworks show caused concerns about public safety. In addition, Tybee Island Councilwoman Wanda Doyle, the chair of the public safety committee, said many of the people who were shooting fireworks off across the island did so well past the time limits imposed on their use by Georgia law.

“It was enough to make me uncomfortable,” Gillen said. “A crowded beach, drinking and explosives —it’s not a good mix.”

A crowded beach, drinking, and explosives sounds like the beginning of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Or maybe a short story.

Savannah Under Construction is a new webpage designed to help the public keep track of public construction projects.

The goal of the Savannah Under Construction website is to increase the city’s transparency and accountability with the public, said Management Services Coordinator Daphanie Williams.

“This is definitely a collaborative effort among city employees,” Williams said. “I’m happy to say that our IT staff designed the website in house so there was no external costs to the city.”

Click here to check out the interactive map.

Hancock County public schools will be removed from the “under review” list by SACS, the regional school accrediting agency.

County Officials Gone Wild

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter wants to drag out the embarrassing headlines about his ethics charges appeal the decision of his fellow commissioners.

A specially empanelled ethics board recommended the Board of Commissioners issue a written reprimand against Hunter because of controversial comments he made on Facebook, including calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” and referring to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “Libtards.” Hunter’s fellow commissioners agreed and issued the reprimand last month.

Hunter’s attorney, Dwight Thomas, is appealing Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner’s decision to throw out his legal challenge to the constitutionality of the county’s ethics ordinance and ethics board. He wants to take the case to the Georgia Supreme Court, according to a notice of appeal.

In her ruling last month, Conner said she was throwing out Hunter’s legal challenge because she did not see the ethics board, or the ethics ordinance that created it, as violating the state’s constitution.

DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of prohibited activity.

Mann, accused of exposing himself to a stranger who turned out to be a cop and then fleeing, was initially booked with charges of indecency and obstruction May 6. Under a deal reached with prosecutors Thursday, the indecency charge was dropped. Mann instead pleaded guilty to prohibited conduct that night in Piedmont Park, as well as the original obstruction count.

He was ordered to pay $2,000 in fines and perform 80 hours of community service, which he already completed this month by volunteering for Hosea Feed the Hungry. He was also banished from all city of Atlanta parks for six months.

Mann’s guilty plea won’t have an immediate effect on his job as the county’s top law enforcement officer. Since he was re-elected to a four-year term in November, the sheriff will retain his position unless his license is revoked or voters petition to recall him from office.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for July 27, 2017

On July 27, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved the first impeachment article against President Richard M. Nixon.

The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charge[d] President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.

The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.

The majority included three conservative Southern Democrats and three conservative Republicans.

A bomb exploded at a free concert in Centennial Park in Atlanta on July 27, 1996.

Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted.

Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime. However, evidence against him was dubious at best, and in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.

Former Georgia Governor Zell Miller took the oath of office as United States Senator on July 27, 2000. Miller would go on to win a special election for the remainder of the term in November 2000.

On July 27, 2014, former Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with former White Sox player Frank Thomas, who was born in Columbus, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election

Congressman Buddy Carter sent Yankees non-southerners to their online dictionaries yesterday.

[MSNBC] Anchor Ali Velshi had asked the Pooler Republican about what he made of President Donald Trump calling out Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Twitter this morning for voting against opening Senate debate on health care. That’s when Carter responded with something about knots needing to be snatched from specific places, a phrase yours truly had to look up on the interwebs. (To save you some time on Google , it means to smack someone as an act retribution.)

Here’s Carter’s full response:

“I think it’s perfectly fair. Let me tell you, somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass. I’m telling you, it has gotten to the point where, how can you say ‘I voted for this last year, but I’m not going to vote for it this year?’ This is extremely frustrating for those of us who have put so much into this effort.”

I’ve generally heard that idiom as “yank a knot in their tail.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp‘s office hasn’t yet shared voter data with President Trump’s panel.

Georgia has still not released public voter data to President Donald Trump’s national commission on election integrity, with officials saying they have not heard back from the panel over a requirement that it pay a standard $250 fee for the information.

Under state law, some — but not all — of the information requested by Trump’s voter fraud panel is already publicly available, but the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office requires a $250 payment to collect the information and burn it to a data disc. Officials in the office said they are treating the panel’s request no different than a typical public records request, and are requiring payment of the fee before the state will process the information.

State law allows information such as voter names, addresses, race and gender, among other data points, to be included on the list. Georgia will not share information considered private under state law such as registered voters’ driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers. Since the ballot is secret, there are no records that show who a person voted for in any election.

Kemp spoke about his campaign for Governor in Columbia County.

Kemp, an Athens native, spoke to a small crowd gathered at a meeting room in the library to hear him speak about business, infrastructure and voter ID laws.

“I’ve got a record of fighting and not just fighting, but winning, on the issues that I simply told everyone that I would do,” Kemp said. “I’m truly making government smaller and more efficient. I won’t belabor all we’ve done in the secretary of state’s office to do that, but I’m going to take that same record into the governor’s office.”

Kemp held the short rally at the library before a speaking engagement with the CSRA Republican Women’s Club. And Kemp said it was the first of many trips to the county since announcing his candidacy. But while his platform is focused heavily on Georgia’s rural towns, he said he believes his goals are important for the more-populous Augusta area.

“If people in rural areas are doing better and have more money in their pocket, they’re going to be coming to the CSRA to go to the ball game, go to the movie theater, whatever it is that may not be in their local community,” Kemp said. “I think that helps build the whole state’s economy.”

After the meetings, Kemp returned to Atlanta but said he plans to return to the area several times before the 2018 election.

“This is a huge block of votes,” Kemp said. “I’ve got a lot of friends here, as you can see by the crowd today. There are a lot of great things here going on and I want to be a governor that helps continue to foster that environment.”

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and LatinoJustice are threatening litigation if local governments don’t provide voting information in Spanish.

Two Latino advocacy groups sent letters last week to Gwinnett County and several cities therein, alleging varying levels of noncompliance with a new mandate to provide Spanish-language voting materials to their constituents — and threatening litigation if they don’t change things quickly.

Gwinnett’s new Census Bureau designation, which falls under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act, requires jurisdictions to provide bilingual ballot access if more than 5 percent or 10,000 citizens of voting age are members of a single language minority and have difficulty speaking English. Providing “ballot access” involves offering everything from online election information to voter registration forms.

Gwinnett — the only Georgia county included on the designation list released last year — is home to an estimated 171,000 Latinos, according to the latest census estimates. A recent study released by GALEO estimated that Gwinnett County had more than 44,000 registered Latino voters last November, a number that accounted for 18 percent of Georgia’s total Latino electorate.

In a press release about his organization’s letters, GALEO executive director Jerry Gonzalez said he was worried specifically about the Gwinnett cities of Auburn, Berkeley Lake, Braselton, Loganville and Lilburn complying with the new mandates.

“As recently as [July 18], their websites, which contain valuable information on upcoming municipal elections this year, were in English only and they were failing to provide the same information online in Spanish,” Gonzalez wrote. “Some municipalities fail to even offer voter registration forms in Spanish.”

Augusta was recognized as the “Mid-Market of the Year” by Southern Business & Development magazine.

The South’s leading economic development magazine has named Augusta its “Mid-Market of the Year” to recognize the area’s strong uptick in attracting businesses and jobs.

The new issue of Southern Business & Development, out today, cites the Augusta area’s “banner year” with expanded and new manufacturing, service projects and military-related projects.

“It shows our project managers we work with and all the site-selection consultants we’re in touch with that, A, we have a good track record with economic development, and B, we’re continuing to do that,” said Walter Sprouse, executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.

“Mid-market” is defined as an area with a population between 250,000 and 749,999 people.

Floyd County’s tax digest includes $6.8 million worth of real estate that is exempt from property taxes.

Columbus city council members have been told the tax digest will be 6-7% higher due to reassessments.

City councilors were notified of the potential boost to the property tax digest in a May 25 email sent by Teasha Johnson, assistant to City Manager Isaiah Hugley, according to documents provided by the mayor’s office.

“We have just received the preliminary digest projections from the Chief Tax Assessor, Betty Middleton,” the notice reads. “… The preliminary projections indicate the digest may increase by 6%. However, we cannot come in over any projection, and accordingly will be projecting as much as a 7% increase in the digest to be advertised for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on May 30th.”

But with many property owners appealing their assessments, city officials say they’ll have to wait until the process is over before they know for sure how much they’ll collect in property taxes. The appeal deadline is Aug. 14.

“These are just preliminary projections and are subject to change as the digest is finalized for submission to the State,” according to the email. “Of course, this increase is due to the growth of the total digest, not from any tax rate increase to individual homeowners with homestead exemptions unless they have made alterations to their property.

Marietta City Council voted to keep the property tax millage rate the same as last year.

Marietta’s leaders opted to maintain the city’s millage rate at 5.617 mills Wednesday, but because of rising property values, that could mean higher taxes for residents.

The value of assessed property in the city rose by $250 million since 2016, which translates to a 7.24 percent tax increase.

Critics, including former Gov. Roy Barnes, have accused governments that maintain millage rates of performing “backdoor tax increases.”

Georgia employers are now required to allow employees to use paid sick days to care for family members.

“You can call this is a feel-good bill if you want to because it don’t do a whole lot,” Rep. Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, said from the House floor in March. “But if it’s a feel-good bill, I’m going to press green and I’m going to feel good about it.”

Shaw, who is also an employer, said the proposal was simply the right thing to do. But others saw it as massive government overreach.

“What’s next? Are we going to start writing vacation policies, attendance policies for businesses?” said Rep. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville.

The change doesn’t force employers to offer paid sick days, but for those who do, they now have to let employees use that time to care for their child, spouse, parent, grandchild, grandparent or any dependent claimed on their most recent tax return.

There are a few exceptions. The law only applies to employers with at least 25 people on their payroll, and it exempts companies that offer an employee stock ownership plan. It also only covers five days of earned sick leave per year.


State House Rural Development Council members heard about rural hospitals facing financial problems.

Eighty percent of rural hospital income comes from the government, Lewis said, and they’re still barely making it.

As the U.S. Senate debates health care, state lawmakers are trying to figure out what they can do.

Oklahoma and Texas used something called a Medicaid waiver to get more federal health care dollars through the ACA.

A waiver in Georgia could boost rural hospitals, and get more people health care coverage, Magers said.

Republican state Rep. Jay Powell, co-chair of the House Rural Development Council, said Georgia should replicate what’s worked in other states.

“The health care issue,  it’s probably overwhelming as anything we’ve heard about,” Powell said. “There’s no point in reinventing the wheel.”

For at least a year, the state’s top politicians have talked about a Medicaid waiver, Powell brought it up again at the Bainbridge meeting, saying Georgia just can’t sit and wait for Congress to act on health care.

“They don’t know what they want to do,” he said. “We can’t wait for them. I mean hopefully they’ll do something that makes sense, but if we wait for them we’re going to lose another eight hospitals so we can’t wait for them.”

Republican lawmakers have said their former colleague, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, would support a Medicaid waiver for Georgia.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, the only Obamacare provider to offer insurance in all 159 counties, joined 36 other BCBS companies in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association signing a letter to the United States Senate.

Wednesday, they took part in a message to the Senate on the dangers of repealing the Obamacare individual mandate.

The mandate says that every person must have health care insurance. It’s one of the core tenets of the Affordable Care Act. And repealing it is one of the core tenets of Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare.

Blue Cross laid out the business case for the mandate in its message:

“If there is no longer a requirement for everyone to purchase coverage, it is critical that any legislation include strong incentives for people to obtain health insurance and keep it year-round. A system that allows people to purchase coverage only when they need it drives up costs for everyone.”

“Immediate funding for the cost-sharing reduction program also is essential to help those individuals most in need with their out-of-pocket costs, so they can access medical services. And dedicated funds must be provided to help pay for the care of those with significant medical conditions.”


Republican Hunter Hill spoke to the Gainesville Times about his campaign for Governor.

In his run for governor, he argues that state leaders have missed the mark in recent years by allowing the state budget to grow without increasing transportation spending. The state now spends about 5 percent of its budget on transportation, he said.

Hill is pitching a limited-government perspective that relies on civil society — ministries, the business community, families and nonprofits — to build a social safety net.

“The expanse of government has created a false sense of security that the government is going to do something for them,” Hill said. “And it’s failed in the last 50 years on delivering on that promise.”

To promote that worldview, the state senator hopes to pull back state funding for social welfare programs, cut spending and taxes, and push more money into constitutionally mandated functions of state government.

“I believe we can get to 10 percent without raising taxes in my first term by reprioritization and spending less on areas where I believe families and nonprofits and ministries are better equipped to deal with the brokenness in our society as opposed to government,” Hill said. “I’m looking at food stamps, I’m looking at welfare, I’m looking at Medicaid. I’m looking at any area where the government is intending to try to make somebody’s life better, really, because the government doesn’t deliver results in those areas.”

“We all want to help people, and I do too, but the government has failed in its promise to deliver results for these folks by giving them money for nothing.”

“You have people who philosophically believe that government should do more and provide more, and then you have people like me who recognize that’s an empty promise,” Hill said. “… I think a more limited government approach would actually bring our communities together because we would have to depend on one another when something bad happens to a family member or a neighbor instead of looking to the government. I think the size and scope of government is what’s created this divisiveness.”

Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams has a new book deal.

The state representative, D-Atlanta, is scheduled to release the Inspirational Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change in spring 2018 through Henry Holt and Co., according to the Associated Press.

According to Holt, her book will combine her life story with “real-world, how-to advice” for women and minorities “who must grapple with the implications of race, class, gender and otherness.”

Abrams is vying to make history as the country’s first Black woman governor. She is calling her book “Lean In for the rest of us.”

“This is a book about how potent and compelling being the minority can be and how it can transform your destiny when properly harnessed,” she said in a statement.

Democrat Steve Jarvis announced he will run for Congress in the First District, against incumbent Republican Buddy Carter.

Claiming a return to the First District’s old persona as the home of conservative Democrats like Bo Ginn and Lindsay Thomas, Jarvis’s approach seems downright nostalgic in this era when conservative Democrats, especially in the South, are a nearly extinct species.

Jarvis thinks his extensive military record as a U.S. Army combat infantry veteran of the Iraq War will help him gain traction in a district which has a heavy military presence.
Where do you stand on the current debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act?

President Trump said for seven years Republicans have been wanting to repeal and replace, but that was easy to say when they knew they had a president that wouldn’t sign it.

Now they have a president in office waiting with pen in hand. Why hasn’t anything been done? Because it doesn’t benefit them.

But what would you like to see? Obamacare kept, fixed, done away with?

I would like to see a health care program where the buyer has more say. Health care is broken and it needs to be fixed. It needs to be affordable and accessible. Right now it’s not either. People should be able to have a policy that works for them. But frankly this is probably going to be taken care of before I take office.

Qualifying for Johns Creek elections for Mayor and City Council will be held August 21-23 for November elections.

The City of Johns Creek will hold qualifying for the upcoming Nov. 7 General Election for the City Council seats of Post 1, Post 3, Post 5 and the Mayoral seat.

Qualifying will be held Monday, Aug. 21 Tuesday, Aug. 22, and Wednesday, Aug. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (GA Election Code 21-2-132).

Qualifying will be held in the City Clerk’s Office at Johns Creek City Hall, 12000 Findley Road, Suite 400, Johns Creek, GA 30097.

The qualifying fee is $450 for each Council seat and $750 for the Mayoral seat, which is 3 percent of the total gross salary for the preceding year.

LaFayette city council and Mayoral candidates will also qualify August 21-23.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 26, 2017

On July 26, 1775, the United States Postal Service was created by the Second Continental Congress, may God have mercy on their souls. Benjamin Franklin served as the first Postmaster.

On July 26, 2015, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first pitcher inducted who had undergone Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

Smoltz won the 1996 Cy Young award and reached the playoffs 14 times with Atlanta. The Braves won five pennants and the 1995 World Series with Smoltz on the roster. He’s the first pitcher to win more than 200 games and save at least 150 games. He’s also the first player inducted with Tommy John surgery on his resume.

Smoltz understood his debt to John.

“I’m a miracle. I’m a medical miracle,” Smoltz said. “I never took one day for granted.”

Smoltz also heaped praise on former manager Bobby Cox and teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were inducted a year ago, and delivered a message to parents of the players of tomorrow as the number of Tommy John surgeries continues to escalate.

“Understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 or 15 years old,” Smoltz said to warm applause. “Baseball is not a year-round sport. They’re competing too hard, too early. That’s why we’re having these problems.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Senator Johnny Isakson (R) and Senator David Perdue (R) both voted to move the debate over repealing Obamacare to the floor of the Senate.

Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, Georgia’s two GOP senators, provided two much-needed votes for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had worked furiously over the last several days to secure the required GOP votes to kick off debate on repealing Obamacare. The final vote of the full Senate was 51-50 after Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie.

Senator Isakson released a statement:

“Repealing the failing Obamacare law that has driven up costs and eliminated choice for many Georgia families is a commitment of mine because hardworking Georgia families deserve better,” said Isakson. “Today’s vote allows my Senate colleagues and me to participate openly in debate on just how we plan to help families and address this failed law. I will be actively engaged in debate and will carefully review the final bill to ensure we do the right thing for Georgians and all Americans.”

Senator Perdue released the following statement:

“Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight and soon the very people who need help the most will lose their insurance. In Georgia, 96 of 159 counties only have one health care provider leaving consumers with no choice. Premiums have risen more than 105% because of Obamacare making healthcare unaffordable for so many Georgians who need it most. To make matters worse, just a few weeks ago, the only provider in those 96 counties announced it will be increasing premiums 41% next year. Due to the flaws of Obamacare, more than 300,000 Georgians today do not have access to the insurance they were promised.

“This failed system isn’t going to fix itself, and I am glad the Senate has started a full debate on ways to improve health care. For weeks, Democrats have refused to work with us on bipartisan solutions and today not one of them voted to help fix the damage they did to our health care system. The Senate’s action this week is designed to increase competition, lower prices, and expand choices. Now that debate has begun, it is my hope Democrats decide to put aside their political self-interests and work with us to improve health care for Georgians and all Americans.”

The City of Columbus is asking for state help in addressing soaring property tax assessments.

Columbus Council approved a motion Tuesday to seek guidance from state officials about what council can do to address tax assessments that have jumped by as much as 1,000 percent.

Councilors made the decision with an unanimous vote after nearly three hours of intense discussion over the issue. Councilor Glenn Davis made the motion despite legal counsel from City Attorney Clifton Fay, who told councilors that they had very limited authority in the tax assessment process.

Councilor Walker Garrett was the first to bring up the question of council’s authority. He said drastic increases in property assessments should have been caught ahead of time and taxpayers are angry.

“… I’m more interested in how we fix this than what the status is of tax appeals, and what are our legal options as far as getting this basically sent back to the Department of Revenue or possibly keeping things at 2016 levels,” he said. “People are furious. … They’re mad at us and we need to figure out a way to fix this at this point.”

Garrett, along with Thomas, said councilors should have been notified of the significant tax increases before notices went out June 30.

Houston County’s tax digest exceeded $4 billion for the first time since 2013.

The digest, formulated by the Tax Assessors Office, compiles the value of all taxable property in the county. It includes real estate, vehicles, mobile homes and heavy equipment.

The net digest, which takes out the deductions property owners are allowed and is used to set the millage rate, was $3.77 billion, which is about $50 million more than last year.

That results in $437,634 more in additional tax revenue for the county, which is a 1.18-percent increase from 2016. It’s the first time the county has seen revenue growth from property taxes in four years. Although it’s far from the increases the county saw in its booming years, Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker liked it.

That’s after the county commission on Tuesday set the millage rate at 9.935 mills, which is down from the 9.95 mills that it has been. The decrease is an adjustment for a $56,000 increase in revenue the county would have seen due to property revaluations if the tax rate had remained the same.

Stalnaker explained that state law requires the county to roll back any increase related to revaluation, or either hold three public hearings announcing it as a tax increase. He said the board was not inclined to hold three public hearings to get $56,000.

Richmond County has not yet set a property tax millage rate.

The commission was at one point scheduled to set the tentative millage rate Tuesday but did not make the decision. The millage rate is applied against property tax values to determine an owner’s tax bill.

Commissioners have said they do not expect to raise the millage rate, and are running out of time to hold the required public hearings to do so. But the lack of growth means they’re unlikely to lower it, either.

Hall County is looking at how to regulate unlicensed short term rentals.

Complaints spurring the latest look into short-term rentals of residential property are coming from the North Hall neighborhoods of Cherokee Forest and Northlake Road off Cleveland Highway.

They surfaced during the Hall County Board of Commissioners’ Monday work session, when Commissioner Scott Gibbs relayed the complaints from his district of college fraternity-style gatherings at residences that had been rented out online, or vacation rentals by owner.

“I don’t see the benefit of the VRBO, I’m going to just tell you, because it opens our neighborhoods up for problems,” Gibbs said.

Short-term rentals through websites like VRBO and Airbnb have become common in Hall County — especially along Lake Lanier, where relatively limited commercial space along the lake itself has put a premium on beds for rent.

Susan Rector, director of the Hall County Business License Department, agreed on Monday that the county needs “a little more regulation” on vacation rentals.

“We need to be a little more specific about the number of people who can be in the home in (a) … single-family residence,” Rector said.

Along with zoning, the county requires homeowners who rent out their property to register with the county, get a business license and pay excise taxes regardless of their zone. The current rules were approved in 2010.

Almost everyone ignores these requirements.

The county has only nine licensed vacation rental locations, according to Rector. There are dozens and dozens of properties listed on VRBO and Airbnb.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll undoubtedly say it again: look for an “Airbnb bill” to address this issue in next year’s Georgia General Assembly.

Cobb County Commissioners rejected a proposed property tax hike.

Cobb commissioners Tuesday voted to keep the millage rate the same, departing from Chairman Mike Boyce’s original proposal to increase property taxes amid the county’s highest-ever tax digest.

Under the approved measure, the county-assessed millage rate will remain at 9.85 mills, with the county expected to use $4 million in economic development contingency funds in this year’s budget, with another $4 million slated for the 2018 budget, according to Commissioner Bob Ott, who made the proposal.

The vote was 3-2, with Boyce and Commissioner Lisa Cupid opposed.

The board voted down Boyce’s proposal, which was only supported by Cupid. The chairman said the higher millage had been needed due to commissioners’ decision earlier this year to fund a portion of the 2008 parks bonds, and to pay for the county’s 2017 budget, which ends on Sept. 30.

Marietta City Council will likely adopt property tax rates at its meeting today.

The council is scheduled to adopt the final tax rates for both the city government and Marietta City Schools at the meeting. The city plans to set its rate at 5.617 mills and will set Marietta City Schools’ rate, which was already approved by the Marietta school board, at 17.97.

Despite the rate staying steady, the total value of assessed property in Marietta increased by nearly $250 million since 2016, so property owners may see higher tax bills this year.

Keeping the same property tax millage rate, means an effective property tax hike of 7.24 percent for the city and 7.51 percent for the schools.

Tyler Perry will receive a tax abatement in Cobb County for his airplanes.

The Development Authority of Cobb County voted unanimously Monday morning to adopt a $35.3 million bond resolution allowing Tyler Perry Studios to refinance its private, 70-passenger Lineage jet.

Perry’s attorneys said he will house the aircraft at a county-owned hangar along with his 14-seat Gulfstream G-5 and an 8-seater Embraer Phenom 100.

In an attempt to keep the company’s identity a secret, Development Authority members referred to the bond and abatement request as “Project Meatloaf” before finally revealing Perry’s identity at their meeting Monday.

The tax abatement approved by the Development Authority gradually brings the jet onto the tax rolls over ten years, but despite the percentage of taxes owed on the jet increasing annually, both governing bodies will collect less money each year as the plane’s value depreciates.

Clark Hungerford, the Development Authority’s chairman, said housing the planes locally could spur additional film production around the county, possibly even prompting other corporations to follow suit and bring their commercial jets to Cobb’s airport.

“This state is significantly impacted by the film industry,” Geter said. “Atlanta is a hot-bed for the movie industry — Cobb just wants to be part of that.”

The abatement schedule now moves to the Cobb County Board of Tax Assessor’s for approval, Geter said. If approved, the Development Authority will seek to have the bonds validated in Cobb County Superior Court. Geter said he hopes to close on the process sometime in September.

The Mayor and City Council of Newnan will consider adopting the rollback property tax millage rate.

“The opportunity presented itself to send a message to our citizens that Newnan wants to ease the burden faced by so many of our taxpayers as we make every effort to maintain a high and consistent level of services,” [Public Information Officer Gina] Snider said.

“The city continues to show our taxpayers that we are good stewards of tax dollars. The city has seen a millage rate decrease from 4.5 to 4.05 over the last decade.”

Grantville City Council failed to pass the first recommendation for the property tax millage rate.

The motion to set the tentative millage rate at 6.25 mills for 2017 died from the lack of a second at Monday night’s meeting, which would have been an increase of 1.234 mills. With the measure failing, the city must revert to its rollback rate 5.016. Under state law, the rollback rate is configured to bring in the same amount of money as last year.

Last year’s millage rate was 5.25 mills, but the 5.016 rate takes increases in property values into account. A mill is one dollar of tax for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

City Manager Al Grieshaber said the proposed increase would “restore the city to fiscal year 2012 and compensates partially for increased costs of materials, supplies and labors, while providing employee benefits.”

Councilwoman Ruby Hines said she did not feel at peace to vote in favor of the increase.

Valdosta City Council member Sandra Tooley will seek re-election in November.

Two other council seats will be up for grabs this November: Robert Yost’s District 6 seat and Alvin Payton Jr.’s District 4 seat.

Yost has already said he will not run for re-election, ending his 16 years on the council. Payton has not made an official announcement on the topic.

Brookhaven City Council Member Joe Gebbia announced he will seek re-election.

Gebbia’s first election victory awarded him a seat on City Council for a two-year term. In 2013, he was re-elected to a full four-year term after running unopposed.

During his time in office, Gebbia has led the creation of Keep Brookhaven Beautiful, the annexation efforts to bring Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Executive Park into Brookhaven, and played a leadership role in development of the Peachtree Creek Greenway.

Gebbia explains if re-elected, he will continue to provide a business style approach to Brookhaven. “I’ve worked hard to successfully address the three P’s – Police, Parks and Pot Holes, and to lower property taxes while creating and approving balanced and sound budgets,” he said in the release. “We have accomplished a great deal since the inception of cityhood.”

Over the next 4 years Gebbia says he hopes to “continue to be a part of the process of making Brookhaven one of the most desirable cities in the region by working on: 1) the redevelopment of Buford Highway, 2) the building and completion of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, 3) the building of a new and permanent City Hall.”

Andrea Gordy resigned from the Varnell City Council after her residency was challenged.

Andrea Gordy resigned from the council on Tuesday just hours before a meeting of the council.

Gordy sent a two-sentence letter of resignation to Mayor Anthony Hulsey and pointed to her upcoming marriage and “recent changes in the plans of my new family” as reasons she stepped down. The resignation came hours after she sent an email to City Manager Mike Brown, citing threats she had received and safety concerns after she was one of three council members to vote in favor of dissolving the Varnell Police Department, a vote that was later vetoed by Hulsey.

Her resignation is the second on the council in the last month. Sheldon Fowler resigned from the council on June 28 after criminal charges were brought against him for a domestic disturbance at his home on June 13.

Mama Louise of the H&H Restaurant in Macon will receive the Harriet Tubman Act of Courage Award.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a water discharge permit for a new turpentine plant in Effingham County.

The Georgia Ports Authority set a new record for container moves in FY 2017.

In fiscal 2017, which ended June 30, the port handled an all-time high of 3.85 million TEUs – or 20-foot equivalent container units – marking an increase of nearly a quarter-million TEUs over FY2016.

While year-over-year growth in box numbers came in at a very respectable 6.7-percent, it was the second half of FY2017 that provided an indication of things to come.

Beginning in May with the arrival of the 13,000-plus TEU container ship, the COSCO Development, Garden City Terminal’s numbers have soared.

In the last half of FY2017 alone, the Port of Savannah handled nearly 2 million TEUs, for a growth rate of 11.6 percent over the same period last year.

“We could not have achieved this record-breaking year without the hard work and outstanding dedication of our employees,” GPA executive director Griff Lynch told his board Monday.

Columbus City Council voted to give $1000 bonuses to full-time employees.

Georgia Democrats

State Rep. Bob Trammell, Jr. (D-Luthersville) was elected as the Democratic Leader in the Georgia State House, succeeding Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta).

Trammell said his decision to run for the leadership of the Georgia House Democratic caucus was prompted by the vacancies in leadership positions.

“I ran because I want to work collaboratively to benefit Georgians and better serve our district,” said Trammell.

The House minority leader is relatively new to the caucus. He was elected to represent District 132, which covers parts of Meriwether, Troup and Coweta counties, in January 2015. Yet last November in the regular caucus election for the current term, his colleagues made him vice chairman.

Trammell said he believes in his party’s ability to make improvements “to provide Georgians with a better way of life.” He said the touchstone of the Democratic caucus is reflected in Robert F. Kennedy’s 1966 Day of Affirmation Address:

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice. He sends forth a tiny ripple of hope…”

From the AJC Political Insider:

Trammell won on the second round, beating state Rep. Carolyn Hugley of Columbus and Winfred Dukes of Albany. Dukes was ousted on the first round, gaining only nine votes.

Gwinnett County Democrats will hold their first “Democracy Day.”

The political party is planning to celebrate its first Democracy Day, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 5. The day will be part caravan and part cookout as local Democrats look to shake things up and get their message out.

“This is a day for high visibility, nerve rattling and loads of fun,” party officials said in an announcement. “First we will get in our cars and roll all over the city in a convoy, making noise and making our presence felt.”

Participants will first gather at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, at 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville, to line up for their convoy, with a traffic cop leading them.

They will then head out into the city at 9:45 a.m., and after driving around for a little bit, they will end up at Rhodes Jordan Park, at 100 E. Crogan St., in Lawrenceville, by 11 a.m. for festivities at the park’s Pavilion No. 3.

The Democratic Party of Georgia appears to have fully bought in to the idea of resisting President Trump. Or something. A recent email from the DPG identified the sender as “DPG Resistance.” No doubt they’re knitting themselves hats.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 25, 2017

The All-Star Game was held in Atlanta on July 25, 1972, with the National League winning 4-3 in ten innings.

On July 25, 1974, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of United States v. Nixon that executive privilege did not allow the White House to refuse to turn over audio recordings that had been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Secretary of State Brian Kemp‘s office sent more than 380,000 notices to voters who submitted a National Change of Address form but did not change their voter registration address.

The action in many ways is routine, while also an important part of the elections process. It ensures an accurate and current voter registration list, a central goal for every state in the nation and required under federal law.

Every other year, Georgia uses information received from the U.S. Postal Service and compares the list of people who submitted a change of address form (often called a National Change of Address or NCOA notice) with the state’s overall list of registered voters.

It then creates a list of voters in each county of those who haven’t updated their registration record to reflect a new address. It also pre-prints mailers such as the one received by Gordon. The county then pays for postage and sends those mailers to people on the list asking them to confirm their address or where they live now.

Voters who receive them are told they have 30 days to respond, either to confirm their address or to indicate their new one, and risk being moved to the state’s “inactive” registration list if they don’t. What the mailers don’t say is that so-called “inactive” voters are still legally registered to vote in Georgia, have full access to the ballot and can vote as usual.

Some advocates have decried the process as a calculated attempt to weed voters out of the process. But election officials say they have absolutely no intent of doing that and are following the law.

“It’s not a purge,” DeKalb Elections Director Maxine Daniels said.

“Accurate voter rolls are critical to election security,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office. “We have a statutory obligation to keep the rolls up to date, and regular list maintenance works to preserve the integrity of our electoral system.”

Cobb County Commissioners will vote tonight on raising the property tax millage rate.

Today’s 7 p.m. commission meeting will include the third and final public hearing on the tax proposal prior to commissioners’ vote on it. The public hearing comes after Boyce held four town halls in recent weeks to explain his proposal. The most recent two held were Monday night at the North Cobb Senior Center and Saturday morning’s meeting at the Thompson Community Center in Mableton, at which Commissioner Lisa Cupid was in attendance.

“There’s a lot of frustration on people’s (property) assessments going up, and also seeing the millage rate go up, and I think people are still frustrated about the Braves stadium, and that that wasn’t the panacea to keep everybody’s taxes the same or to lower them,” Cupid said Monday. “People are just frustrated, and I think that’s coupled with people still wanting to see more for their money, so there are some statements of support on us raising the millage, but more of a desire to see that return (on investment).”

Boyce’s tax proposal is not a done deal, as commissioners have been split on the measure. While Commissioner Bob Weatherford said he is in support of the proposal, Commissioner Bob Ott says he would vote against the millage proposal as it currently stands as he believes the commission’s support of the parks bond does not justify the millage increase.

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell previously said she continues to ask the board to consider “a reasonable compromise” by lowering the general fund millage back to its 2010 rate of 6.82 mills, which would amount to a slight tax decrease of 0.07 mills.

Cupid, however, would not commit to a “yes” or “no” Monday afternoon.

Cobb Commissioners are also expected to vote on a “blight tax.”

The Thomas County Commission is considering lowering property tax rates for the fourth year in a row.

Decatur County in Southwest Georgia will receive the rollout of new broadband internet from AT&T.

Hall County Board of Education members approved a policy that will allow the district’s safety and security assistant to carry a gun on school grounds.

The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association named Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese Sheriff of the Year.

Last year, Terry Deese faced the most challenging and heartbreaking 12 months of his nearly 35 years with the Peach County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s really bittersweet,” Deese said of receiving the distinction. “I’ve grown up in the sheriff’s office, so it’s really an honor for my fellow sheriffs to vote for me to receive that award.

“The reason for winning that award is still kind of rough.”

On Nov. 6, Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron were fatally wounded in an encounter with Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr. outside his home.

“Sheriff Deese was at the forefront of the tragic event, directing the men and women, relaying important information, giving a handshake and a hug there, dealing with media questions,” wrote Peach County prosecutor Cindy Adams in her nomination letter. “And through it all, he was delivering a sense of strength and calm to all those around him.

“Everyone focused on their jobs because their leader led.”

The Sierra Club announced it will sue Georgia Power over coal ash retention ponds.

A Georgia Power plan to clean up toxic coal ash at 11 coal-burning power plants around the state, including sites in Chatham and Effingham counties, isn’t good enough, the Sierra Club says.

Georgia Power’s dewatering activities are already resulting in unauthorized and toxic point source discharges to Georgia state waters,” said Stephen Stetson, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Georgia. “The company’s plan to dewater the rest of its coal ash impoundments will inevitably cause more violations.”

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal at power plants. Coal ash gained nationwide attention after enormous spills from ponds in Tennessee in 2008 and North Carolina in 2014 polluted nearby waterways.

“Georgia Power is in full compliance with all environmental regulations, which are enforced by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and we will vigorously defend against any allegation to the contrary,” Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said in response to the notice. “Throughout our ash pond closure process, we are going above and beyond regulatory requirements to protect Georgia’s water quality.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s Commission on the New Government Center and Judicial Building surveyed citizens online about whether the old government building should be retained.

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry may receive a 40% raise from $250k to $350k per year.

2018 Elections

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) endorsed David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz announced his endorsement of Shafer to supporters on social media and in an email Monday. The 2016 presidential candidate praised the Duluth-based state senator for his commitment to Republican ideals and for how he’s done so far in the race, including leading the Republican field in fundraising and winning GOP straw polls.

“David is an unapologetic conservative and has a strong record of fighting for greater opportunity and more prosperity for all of Georgia from his time serving in the state senate,” Cruz said. “He has also demonstrated his support among Georgia grassroots Republicans in this race by convincingly winning the straw poll conducted at the Georgia Republican Convention.

“I urge all Georgia Republicans to join me today in supporting David’s campaign to be your next lieutenant governor.”

“I am grateful to Ted Cruz for this endorsement,” Shafer said. “Hundreds of Cruz supporters from virtually every part of Georgia have responded to his endorsement by volunteering to help the campaign.”

Cruz also had an organized team of backers in Gwinnett in late 2015 and during the primary season last year.

“Ted Cruz has a strong grass roots following in Georgia and his endorsement gives Shafer an army of volunteers,” said state Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville.

Shane T. Hazel is running for Congress in the 7th District, challenging incumbent Republican Rob Woodall in the GOP Primary. From his campaign website:

Shane is a United States Marine Corps Veteran, he lives in Cumming with his wife Meredith, and their three children; Jackson 6, Henry 4 & Sawyer 3.

“The Oath I swore to uphold the Constitution is something I take seriously. Democrats and establishment Republicans, a.k.a. ‘The Swamp,’ have turned a blind eye to the values and principles you and I hold dear. It’s important that we return back to the proper role of government; protecting and defending Life, Liberty & Property, that’s our foundation.”

Repeal, not replace. No legislation in recent memory defies the principles of the free-market more than Obamacare. Not only does it violate the United States Constutution, it has wreaked havoc upon Georgia families and Georgia businesses through skyrocketing premiums. The most efficient path to lower-cost, and high-quality healthcare is to open the industry to free-market forces. Insurance should be available across state lines, and healthcare providers should be able to focus on the patient/doctor relationship instead of over regulation.

Taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated. Taxes should be reduced or eliminated, starting with repealing the income tax and abolishing the IRS, replacing them with a simpler, flatter & fairer tax system. High taxes and huge bureaucracies like the IRS stifle innovation, prevent saving, destroy production, and discourage investment. Every Georgian is entitled to the fruits of their labor.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp visited Augusta to campaign.

Republicans from around the area gathered at the Columbia County Library to hear what the Athens native had to say about business, infrastructure and voter I.D. laws.

“I’ve got a record of fighting, and not just fighting but winning, on the issues that I simply told everyone that I would do,” Kemp said . “I’m truly making government smaller and more efficient. I won’t belabor all we’ve done in the Secretary of State’s office to do that, but I’m going to take that same record into the governor’s office.”

“If people in rural areas are doing better and have more money in their pocket, they’re going to be coming to the CSRA to go to the ball game, go to the movie theater, whatever it is that may not be in their local community,” Kemp said.” I think that helps build the whole state’s economy.”

He followed up his rally at the Columbia County Library with an appearance at a CSRA Republican Women’s meeting at the Jones Creek clubhouse before returning to Atlanta. He plans to return to the area several times before the 2018 election.

“This is a huge block of votes,” Kemp said. “I’ve got a lot of friends here as you can see by the crowd today. There are a lot of great things here going on and I want to be a governor that helps continue to foster that environment.”

Francys Johnson resigned as President of the Georgia NAACP and is exploring a run for Congress in the 12th District.

Johnson, 38, a civil rights attorney and pastor from Statesboro, has been rumored as a possible challenger to Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) in the 2018 midterms.

“Our nation is in crisis. This moment calls for every head, heart and hand to engage the work of ensuring that all the promises of our democracy are fulfilled,” Johnson said. “The upcoming election in 16 months carries consequences unlike any other midterm in our lifetime. This election will either reinforce and sustain the path we’re on — or change it. I promise no one will work harder to turn this momentum for change into a reality.”

Although Johnson hasn’t confirmed that he is running for Congress, NAACP rules require officers to step down to run for public office.


Senator Ted Cruz endorses David Shafer for Lt. Governor

From an email I just received:

I’m proud to endorse David Shafer to be Georgia’s next Lieutenant Governor.

David Shafer has a record of fighting for greater opportunity and more prosperity for all of Georgia from his time serving in the state senate – experience that he’d like to take and use as your Lieutenant Governor.

Importantly, David has also demonstrated his support among Georgia grassroots Republicans in this race by convincingly winning the straw poll conducted at the Georgia Republican Convention.

Shafer Cruz

Can I count on you to join me in standing with David today? There are three actions you can take, right now, that will make a huge impact in this campaign:

  1. Like David on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
  2. Sign up to receive updates from David’s campaign here.
  3. Show your support for David’s campaign publicly on Facebook and Twitter.

I urge all Georgia Republicans to join me today in supporting David’s campaign to be your next Lieutenant Governor.

For Liberty,

Ted Cruz Sig

Ted Cruz



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 24, 2017

The United States Postal Service was established by Congress on July 26, 1775. I mailed them a birthday card on Friday; they’ll probably receive it next week.

On July 24, 1778, Georgia ratified the Articles of Confederation.

Georgia’s John Walton was present on July 9, 1778, and signed the document then. Georgia’s other two delegates – Edward Telfair and Edward Langworthy – did not sign until July 24, 1778, which is the date most often used for Georgia’s ratification of the Articles.

An interesting sidenote is that John Walton‘s brother, George Walton, signed the Declaration of Independence on Georgia’s behalf.

On July 24, 1919, the Georgia General Assembly rejected ratification of the 19th Amendment, which extends the right of voting to women.

At 12:51 EDT, we mark the safe return from the moon of Apollo 11.

On July 25, 1974, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of United States v. Nixon that executive privilege did not allow the White House to refuse to turn over audio recordings that had been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

The number one song in America on July 24, 1982 was “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor, from the Rocky III soundtrack.

On July 24, 2000, former Georgia Governor Zell Miller was appointed to the United States Senate to serve in the seat vacated on the death of Senator Paul Coverdell.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal is among the nation’s most popular governors, according to a series of polls by Morning Consult.

Deal ranked No. 10 in a new ranking of the nation’s 50 governors. The Morning Consult Governor Approval rankings polled more than 85,000 registered voters across America to evaluate the job performance of their governors.

The polling ran from from January through March.

According to the rankings, 63 percent of Georgians approved of the job Deal is doing, while 25 percent disapproved.

First Lady Sandra Deal traveled to Columbus for a meeting of the Georgia Literacy Commission.Continue Reading..