Category: Georgia Politics

8
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 8, 2017

March 8, 1862 saw the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, VA, take ninety-eight hits from Union warships without sinking. Virginia sank USS Cumberland after ramming it, blew up USS Congress, and ran USS Minnesota aground. It was the worst day in US Naval history at that time.

On March 8, 1946, a conference convened on Wilmington Island, near Savannah, that would lead to the creation of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly called the World Bank.

On March 8, 1946, a special train arrived at Savannah’s Union Station from Washington, holding nearly 300 delegates, government officials, technical experts and reporters from 35 nations. Thousands of Savannahians watched as a 100-car motorcade rolled along flag-bedecked streets to the General Oglethorpe Hotel on Wilmington Island.

Treasury Secretary Fred M. Vinson headed the American delegation; the British were led by John Maynard Keynes, “the father of modern macroeconomics.”

The stakes were enormous.

Two years earlier, as World War II neared its murderous end, the winning Allies pondered the nature of the postwar global economy. The United States was emerging as the leader of the free world, largely supplanting the British Empire, gravely weakened by the war.

The IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (better known as the World Bank) were born at a July 1944 conference in Bretton Woods, N.H., where 44 countries established rules for the global monetary system.

The IMF was intended to promote international economic cooperation and secure global financial stability, providing countries with short-term loans. The World Bank would offer long-term loans to assist developing countries in building dams, roads and other physical capital.

The Bretton Woods agreements were ratified internationally by December 1945. Vinson, seeking a site for the new organizations’ inaugural meetings, sent Treasury agents around the country. “They made some fine reports on Savannah,” he later told the Morning News. He had never visited the city.

On March 8, 1982, President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “an evil empire” for the second time, in an address to the National Association of Evangelicals.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The newest ad in the Sixth Congressional District comes from Republican Bob Gray.

End Citizens United, a liberal national organization, said it raised $250k to support Democrat John Ossoff in the 6th District.

End Citizens United (ECU) announced that 25,000 donors have given an average contribution of $10 to Ossoff’s campaign.

Ossoff is one of 18 candidates seeking to replace Tom Price, now the secretary of the U.S. Department of health and Human Services, running in a special election to represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

“The corporate special interests and Washington insiders who believe this seat belongs to them are having a rude awakening,” said ECU Executive Director Tiffany Muller. “They’re panicked because Georgia families want to end the rigged system in Washington and the grassroots are mobilizing to elect a reformer.”

“ECU’s members will continue to stand with Ossoff to help him fend off the corporate spending that’s already flooding into the race to attack him.”

Last week, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Washington superPAC, launched a $1.1 million ad buy attacking Ossoff.

The election is quickly becoming a proxy battle among moneyed Washington, DC interests, in which the interests of 6th District voters are subsumed.

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

9:30 AM HOUSE ECON DEV & TOURISM Madision County, GA

9:30 AM House Setzler Sub Jud’y Non Civil 132 CAP

10:00 AM SENATE FINANCE – Sales Tax Sub 122 CAP

10:00 AM House Sub 2A of Public Safety 406 CLOB

10:00 AM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 506 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE NAT’L RESOURCES & ENV’T – CANCELED 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE BUDGET AND FISCAL OVERSIGHT 506 CLOB

1:55 PM SENATE FINANCE – Public Policy & Finance Sub 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE 125 CAP

2:00 PM House Regulations Sub Regulated Ind 415 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS 606 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING – CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE SLGO – CANCELED MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL RULES 515 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER ED – CANCELLED 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y – Sub B 307 CLOB

The Most Interesting Committee Meeting today will be the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee, which will be taking a guided tour of Madison County, Georgia, departing the State Capitol at 9:30 AM.

The Most Interesting Committee Meeting title for yesterday goes to the House Health and Human Services Committee, which heard testimony on House Resolution 447 by Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram).

Governor Nathan Deal is in talks with Campus Carry proponents over legislation that passed the State House.

The Republican said this week that he is meeting with supporters on the legislation, House Bill 280, though he did not elaborate on what he said were his ongoing “concerns” with the measure.

“We’re receptive to continuing to talk with them, and hopefully they’re receptive to making some additional changes,” he said. “Perhaps. But whether they do or don’t, that’s their decision.”

“I do anticipate the Senate will take up the measure,” [Lt. Governor Casey] Cagle said, adding that he was mindful of Deal’s veto last year. “I look forward to working with the governor’s office to see if there’s a compromise there.”

“It’s the God-given right that people have to not be a victim in the state of Georgia,” said Ballinger, a Canton Republican who described herself as a victims’ advocate. “States that have enacted campus carry measures have become safer. And we just want to afford that protection to all Georgians.”

Speaker David Ralston is looking for creative solutions to issues for rural Georgia.

“I want this council to look at the big picture and recommend legislative actions that can empower our rural areas,” said House Speaker David Ralston, explaining House Resolution 389 to a House committee on Tuesday.

The legislation would create the House Rural Development Council, a group of 15 lawmakers to be appointed by Ralston.

“We lost a hospital in Ellijay just last spring, one of several rural hospitals to close in Georgia in recent years,” Ralston said. “However, this Friday afternoon I’m going back home to reopen a new emergency room facility as part of a new ‘micro hospital’ with fewer than 10 patent beds in that town. This is the kind of creative approach to addressing issues in rural Georgia that I want this council to explore.”

Problems in rural communities can include population loss, lack of doctors or hospitals, poor infrastructure, slow or nonexistent internet connections, less educational opportunity, job scarcity and overall lack of growth. Ralston brought to the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee a study from Georgia State University that shows most rural counties had fewer jobs in 2014 than in 2007.

“I am not interested in government creating jobs,” said Ralston. “Rather, I want to create an environment in which private enterprise can create jobs in rural Georgia.”

State School Superintendent Richard Woods says that school turnarounds proposed under House Bill 338 should be under his guidance.

Georgia’s elected school superintendent argues that he should be in the middle of any major school turnaround effort as lawmakers consider a bill that focuses on struggling schools.

House Bill 338 by Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville …. creates the position of “Chief Turnaround Officer,” overseeing state intervention in the lowest-performing schools.

Tanner chose to have the officer report to the state Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor, rather than to the state superintendent, who is elected. Asked why at a hearing of the Senate Education and Youth Committee Monday, Tanner said it’s because the board sets policy for the state Department of Education.

“So the real power base is with that state board,” he said.

But the superintendent is in charge of the education department and its staff of roughly 600. They have deep experience and direct access to funding. Richard Woods, the superintendent, said the turnaround chief would be better off reporting to him.

“Having this individual fully incorporated with the structure of DOE is very imperative,” Woods said.

The AJC also looks at groups supporting and opposing the legislation.

Neither the Gwinnett County Commission nor the Ethics Board it created has the power to remove a member of the Commission, according to an attorney for the County.

“It’s important to note that the ordinance restricts the board’s ability to remove one of its members from office because it says ‘as provided for by Georgia law,’” County Attorney Bill Linkous told the commission. “In this instance, the Board of Commissioners does not have the power under Georgia law to remove one of its sitting members from the Board of Commissioners.”

“The Georgia Constitution does not give the power to remove an elected official to the BOC,” county spokesman Joe Sorenson said, citing Article IX, Section 2, Subsection C, Sub-subsection No. 1 of the state Constitution. “Further, the legislature did not give the BOC the power to remove an elected official in the enabling legislation.”

Initially, Linkous only told the commission it could not remove Hunter from office, but he elaborated more on what he felt state law prevented them from doing after he was questioned by Commissioner John Heard about it.

“In the event the ethics panel comes back and makes a recommendation to the board for a temporary suspension, would that be within — would state law dictate on that?” Heard said.

Linkous responded: “Yes, it would. State law does not grant to the Board of Commissioners the ability to suspend one of its members from office.”

Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs says the Hall County municipality has a role to play in area transit plans.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert cast the deciding vote on a controversial local ordinance.

The 5-4 vote came after Commissioner Mallory Jones questioned the gender identity portion of the measure, which he said opposed traditional values.

The resolution was a call of support for the March on Macon that will be held Saturday. The rally is to support state Senate bill 119 that would ban employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The rally is also to show favor for expanding anti-discrimination language in the county code, according to the resolution.

Jones said his concerns were about the impact of someone using a public bathroom that was different from the gender on their birth certificates.

“This impacts our children, our teenagers, our mothers, our grandmothers in a negative, compromising way,” Jones said.

The Cobb County school system will unveil the latest demographic predictions, including nearly 2000 additional students expected in south Cobb schools in coming years.

Cobb County transportation officials said toll lanes will increase in the future.

First Lady Sandra Deal read to first grade students at St. Anne School in Columbus.

Floyd County schools will recoup $112k of $4 million stolen in a spending scandal.

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/news/local/article137061298.html#storylink=cpy
7
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 7, 2017

On March 7, 1861, delegates to the Georgia Secession Convention reconvened in Savannah to adopt a new state Constitution. A resolution offering to host the Confederate Capitol did not pass.

On March 7, 1965, a group of marchers led by Martin Luther King, Jr., met Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

“I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick… I thought I saw death.”

—John Lewis, SNCC leader

As a student of Southern politics at Emory, we were immersed in reading about the Civil Rights Movement and its effect on Southern politics, and American politics. But it was not until years later that I saw the PBS series called “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1956-1985.” It’s chilling to see American citizens turned away by armed police from attempts to register to vote.

John Lewis, now the United States Congressman from the Fifth District was in the front row wearing a light-colored overcoat and backpack.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COMMITTEE SCHEDULE

8:00 AM SENATE FINANCE – Finance & Public Policy 328 CLOB

10:00 AM House Fleming Sub Jud’y Civil 132 CAP

10:00 AM House Resource Mgmt Sub Nat’l Res 606 CLOB

11:00 AM HOUSE ECONOMIC DEV & TOURISM 341 CAP

12:00 PM House Env’tal Quality Sub Nat’l Res – CANCELED 606 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR – CANCELED 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE ECON DEVE & TOURISM 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS – CANCELED 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH AND HS 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE Ind & Labor Sub 506 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE GAME, FISH, & PARKS 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

3:00 PM House Special Sub on Transportation 515 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y – Sub A 307 CLOB

Several pieces of ethics legislation in the Georgia General Assembly failed to pass one chamber in time to be considered by the other chamber in this year.

“I would refer to the bills as mostly dead. So they could revived at a later time,” said Sen. Josh McKoon, sponsor of several mostly-dead ethics bills.

They include:

- SB 22, a bill to disclose campaign contributions from government contractors

- SB 23, a bill to restrict lawmakers on powerful conference committees from getting state jobs afterward

- SR 24, a bill to curb unrecorded voice votes in the state senate

- SR 36, a bill to give the state ethics commission a fixed percentage of the state budget.

“They’re worried all kinds of amendments will come in to make government better,” said William Perry, founder of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs.  “So when their fear is openness and transparency, they’re trying to make it the least transparent they can.”

Continue Reading..

6
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 6, 2017

On March 5, 1735, James Oglethorpe presented a budget to the trustees of Georgia and proposed seeking an appropriation from Parliament, thus beginning the addiction of the Georgia government to Other People’s Money.

On March 4, 1762, legislation was passed by the Georgia General Assembly requiring church attendance on Sundays.

The first Session of the United States Congress was held on March 4, 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City. Congress would not have a quorum for another month.

On March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court published its opinion in Sanford v. Dred Scott.

the Court held that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court,and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an African American slave who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7–2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott’s request and in doing so, ruled an Act of Congress in this case—the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30′ north—to be unconstitutional for the second time in its history.

The decision would prove to be an indirect catalyst for the American Civil War and was functionally superseded by the post-war Reconstruction Amendments. It is now widely regarded as the worst decision ever made by the Supreme Court.

One member of the Court that decided Dred Scott was Associate Justice James M Wayne, who was born in Savannah and served in Congress from Georgia from 1829 to 1835.

On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States.

In his inaugural address, Lincoln promised not to interfere with the institution of slavery where it existed, and pledged to suspend the activities of the federal government temporarily in areas of hostility. However, he also took a firm stance against secession and the seizure of federal property. The government, insisted Lincoln, would “hold, occupy, and possess” its property and collect its taxes. He closed his remarks with an eloquent reminder of the nation’s common heritage:

“In your hand, my fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it… We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Also on March 4, 1861, the Confederate Congress adopted a first national flag.

Confederate 1st National Flag 1

This flag is depicted with varying numbers of stars – originally adopted with seven stars, by December 1861, a version with thirteen stars was flying.

Confederate 1st National Flag 2

On March 5, 1869, the United States Congress refused to seat Georgia’s elected members of the House and Senate.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis were married on March 4, 1952 in Los Angeles, California.

On March 5, 1977, President Jimmy Carter held the first “Dial-A-President” radio broadcast in which he fielded questions from radio listeners.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

UNDER THE GOLD DOME – COMMITTEE SCHEDULE

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER ED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTIL 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

12:30 PM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE SESSION (LD 29) HOUSE CHAMBER

3:00 PM HOUSE MEDICAL CANNABIS WORK GRP 403 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR – LEGISLATIVE DAY 29

HB 127 – Insurance; nonprofit medical and hospital service corporations; revise provisions (I&L-16th) Smith-134th

HB 176 – Agriculture, Department of; enter into agreements with the federal government to enforce provisions of certain federal laws; authorize (AG&CA-20th) McCall-33rd

HB 303 – State Commission on Family Violence; terms and qualifications of members; change provisions (SJUDY-42nd) Ballinger-23rd

Former State Representative Burke Day died at home this weekend.Continue Reading..

3
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 3, 2017

On March 3, 1779, the British Army met America forces in Screven County, Georgia.

On March 3, 1779, 238 years ago [] , the first major battle of the British Army’s push into the American South took place at Brier Creek at the old road between Savannah and Augusta. According to Battle and President of the Brier Creek Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Craig Wildi, the American loss resulted in the deaths of at least 200 patriots.

Studies done by Battle in conjunction with other professional organizations have uncovered evidence that some of Georgia’s soldiers who lost their lives in the fight for independence may still lie in graves at the battle site.

“This was the 16th bloodiest of all battle sites throughout the Revolutionary War,” Battle said. “We found so many artifacts under our original permit, Georgia DNR (Department of natural Resources) shut the study down.”

The land around the battle site is public, managed by Georgia DNR as part of the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area. The wildlife management area is about 15,000 acres. Battle and Wildi said they want 500-600 acres set aside to fully study the site, but said DNR hasn’t been willing to dedicate more than about five acres for site preservation and management.

Last year, the Sons of the American Revolution held a commemorative event to place flags in honor of those who died at the battlefield. Because the event was hosted by a non-profit organization, Wildi said Georgia DNR waived the requirements for certain liability insurance policies and other fees for group events. This year, he said they are requiring the group to pay for those requirements; payments the small non-profit says it can’t afford.

During the surveys for and original push for the Palmetto Pipeline, bulldozers and other equipment were brought onto the site to widen roads across it inside the wildlife management area. The proposed pipeline map originally had the right of way slated to cross the battlefield. While both said they were relieved the pipeline was stopped, they say other challenges remain in saving the site.

On March 3, 1820, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise.

In February 1819, Representative James Tallmadge of New York introduced a bill that would admit Missouri into the Union as a state where slavery was prohibited. At the time, there were 11 free states and 10 slave states. Southern congressmen feared that the entrance of Missouri as a free state would upset the balance of power between North and South, as the North far outdistanced the South in population, and thus, U.S. representatives. Opponents to the bill also questioned the congressional precedent of prohibiting the expansion of slavery into a territory where slave status was favored.

Even after Alabama was granted statehood in December 1819 with no prohibition on its practice of slavery, Congress remained deadlocked on the issue of Missouri. Finally, a compromise was reached. On March 3, 1820, Congress passed a bill granting Missouri statehood as a slave state under the condition that slavery was to be forever prohibited in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36th parallel, which runs approximately along the southern border of Missouri. In addition, Maine, formerly part of Massachusetts, was admitted as a free state, thus preserving the balance between Northern and Southern senators.

The Missouri Compromise, although criticized by many on both sides of the slavery debate, succeeded in keeping the Union together for more than 30 years.

On March 3, 1845, Congress overrode a Presidential veto for the first time.

On March 3, 1874, Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation permitting persons or companies to lease Georgia prisoners for terms from one to five years, with the Governor setting the rates.

The act required the humane treatment of convicts and limited them to a ten-hour work day, with Sunday off. Equally important, leases had to free the state from all costs associated with prisoner maintenance. Once all state convicts were leased, the law provided that all state penitentiary officers and employees be discharged.

Just think of how much progress Georgia has made with privatizing the justice system — now, instead of leasing convicts, we have private probation companies overseeing released prisoners.

And if you think the legislature has been crazy this year, three years ago, Crossover Day and the first day of candidate Qualifying both occurred on March 3d. Today, we only have Crossover Day to contend with.

It must have been my fat fingers hitting the wrong key, but several readers wrote in to correct me that the groundbreaking for Buford Dam was on March 2, 1950, not 1850. As a sign of my repentance, here is a fascinating story about the groundbreaking by Harris Blackwood, then writing for The Gainesville Times, but currently serving as Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The AJC also compiled a great collection of photos from the groundbreaking in 1950.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Crossover Day in the Georgia legislature: the last day on which lobbyists can secure enough progress to justify a contract renewal legislation can be passed in one chamber and be eligible for consideration in the other. Traditionally the 30th day of the session, this year’s Crossover occurs on Legislative Day 28. The change was designed to give each chamber a little extra time to consider legislation that originated on the other side of the Capitol.

The season of Lent calls us to repent of our sins and leads us to a joyous celebration of the triumph of Christ over the grave. Today, some folks in Atlanta will be speaking of economic development and working to dig casino gambling out of the shallow grave in which it was earlier this week interred. From Jim Galloway at the AJC:Continue Reading..

2
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 2, 2017

On March 2, 1807, the Congress passed legislation outlawing the importation of slaves from Africa or anywhere outside the United States.

On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico.

Texas Flag 1836-39

The United States Congress passed the first Reconstruction Act on March 2, 1867.

On March 2, 1874, Gov. Smith signed legislation allowing anyone fined for a criminal conviction to arrange for a third party to pay the fine in exchange for the convict’s labor.

On March 2, 1950, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the beginning of construction of Buford Dam, which would create Lake Lanier.

President Lyndon B. Johnson attended ceremonies at Lockheed in Marietta for the first C-5A aircraft to come off the assembly line on March 2, 1968. President Johnson’s remarks can be read here.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:00 AM HOUSE NAT’L RESOURCES & ENVT 606 CLOB

10:00 AM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY 403 CAP

11:00 AM House Kelley Sub Jud’y Civil 132 CAP

1:15 PM SENATE RULES 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER ED 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

4:00 PM House Industry and Labor Sub 506 CLOB

5:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR 506 CLOB

The General Assembly has no session today, convening on Friday, March 3, 2017 for Legislative Day 28, which is Crossover Day.

The Georgia State House passed House Bill 338 by Rep. Kevin Tanner yesterday to provide assistance to failing school systems.Continue Reading..

1
Mar

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

On March 1, 1778, the Georgia legislature confiscated property owned by 117 people after labeling them traitors.

The Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781.

The nation was guided by the Articles of Confederation until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.

The critical distinction between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution —the primacy of the states under the Articles—is best understood by comparing the following lines.

The Articles of Confederation begin:

“To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States”

By contrast, the Constitution begins:

“We the People of the United States do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

On March 1, 1875, Governor James Smith signed legislation making cruelty to animals a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $50.

Paul Broun, Sr. was born on March 1, 1916, in Shellman, Georgia, and served 38 years in the Georgia legislature.

Broun was first elected to the state senate in 1962 in a historic election that took place after the federal courts struck down Georgia’s long-established county unit election system. Broun was one of several new senators elected in a class that included Jimmy Carter, the future president of the United States; Leroy Johnson, the first black legislator elected in Georgia since Reconstruction; and politicians like Hugh Gillis, Culver Kidd, and Bobby Rowan, who would have a lasting impact on legislative politics.

Broun was elected to nineteen consecutive terms in the senate, where he served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee.

Dorothy Felton was born on March 1, 1929, and served as the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia legislature.

Dorothy Felton was the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly and eventually became the longest-serving Republican and the longest-serving woman of either party in the state legislature. She also worked for more than a quarter of a century for the right of the Sandy Springs community of Fulton County to incorporate as a municipality, a goal that was not achieved until four years after she retired from elective office.

Felton was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974 from a district in Sandy Springs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – Legislative Day 27
COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 403 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 27) CHAMBER

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE NAT’L RES & ENV’T – CANCELED 450 CAP

1:00 PM Senate Finance – Sales Tax Sub 125 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE GOV’TAL AFFAIRS 406 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH – CANCELED 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE Kelley Sub Jud’y Civil 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INST 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOV’T OPS MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER ED 403 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION – CANCELLED 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE REAPPORTIONMENT 506 CLOB

3:30 PM SENATE FINANCE – Income Tax Sub 123 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

The House and Senate will each concentrate today (Day 27) and Friday (Day 28) on passing their own bills out in order to meet the Crossover Day deadline (28) by which a bill must pass at least one chamber in order to be eligible for final passage this year.Continue Reading..

28
Feb

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

On February 28, 1784, John Wesley executed a document titled “The Rev. John Wesley’s Declaration and Establishment of the Conference of the People called Methodists.”

On February 28, 1827, the first American railroad organized to transport people and freight commercially, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was chartered. At the time, Baltimore was the second largest city in the nation.

On February 28, 1854, 30 anti-slavery opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would repeal the 1820 Missouri Compromise, met in Ripon, Wisconsin and called for the creation of the Republican Party.

On February 28, 1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph company was incorporated, though some accounts say March 3d.

On February 28, 1991, the First Gulf War ended, as President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire and that Kuwait was liberated.

Veterans of the 24th Infantry Division yesterday commemorated the 26th Anniversary of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Sixteen soldiers from the now-inactivated 24th ID, which was based at Fort Stewart from 1974-1996, were among the American troops killed in the war. On Monday, during the annual remembrance ceremony, the names of two fallen 5th Engineer Battalion soldiers who supported the 24th ID during the war were added to the base of the memorial.

[Retired U.S. Army Maj. Dan] Ashcraft encouraged those at the ceremony to reach out to other veterans if possible and encourage healing.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the names of the fallen soldiers were read aloud and a floral wreath was placed at the base of the memorial.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In addition to early voting now underway in Cobb County, voters in Coweta County also started advance voting yesterday on their Special Purpose Local Option Sales for Education (E-SPLOST).

The ESPLOST is a 1 percent sales tax that is applied to all goods – including food – purchased inside Coweta County. The Coweta County School System has had an ESPLOST for many years, and the current 1 percent tax, ESPLOST IV, expires at the end of June.

The school system’s ESPLOST is one of three local sales taxes currently being collected. Coweta County has a SPLOST, which is divided among the county and its municipalities, and the Local Option Sales Tax, which is also divided among the county and its municipalities and is used for general government operations. The remainder of the 7 percent sales tax that Cowetans pay is state taxes.

The proposed new ESPLOST will last for five years, if approved, and can raise no more than $134 million.

Under state law, ESPLOST revenue can only be used for capital projects. That includes construction projects as well as purchases of items that are expected to last several years, such as school buses. The sales tax money cannot be used for things such as teacher salaries, school operations or utility bills.

Voters in Thomasville will decide a referendum on Sunday sales of alcohol.

The Tuesday, March 21, ballot will contain two questions: Sunday alcohol sales by the package and sales by the drink.

Frank Scoggins, Thomas County elections supervisor, said a voter may cast a ballot for one of the questions or both. If only one vote is cast, the ballot will not be rejected.

“It’s for City of Thomasville precincts only,” Scoggins said about the election, adding that the city has 10,750 registered voters.

Early voting continues until Friday, March 17.

Early ballots are cast at the elections office at the Thomas County Judicial Center, 325 N. Madison St. Photo identification is required to vote.

Early voting hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – LEGISLATIVE DAY 26

8:00 AM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 307 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 26) CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – CANCELED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 515 CLOB

1:00 PM House Environmental Quality Sub Nat’l Res 403 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 415 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE ECON DEV & TOURISM 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM House Sub A Public Safety & Homeland Sec’y 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HS 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y CIVIL 132 CAP

2:00 PM House Local Gov’t Sub of Gov’tal Affairs 514 CLOB

2:00 PM House Transportation Subc Resolutions 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

2:00 PM House Resource Mgmt Sub Nat’l Res 403 CAP

2:30 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – Law Enf & Emerg Mgmt 123 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 515 CLOB

3:00 PM House State Gov’t Admin Sub Gov’tal Affairs 514 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 5 – Lottery for Education; net proceeds transferred to the state treasury for credit to the Lottery for Education Account; establish the percentage (Substitute) (H ED-46th)

SB 166 – “Nurse Licensure Compact”; Georgia Board of Nursing exercise certain powers with respect to compact; authorize (H&HS-45th)

SB 168 – Child Abuse; permitted to access child abuse records by department, or county, or other state or local agency; extend; Central Child Abuse Registry; permit access (H&HS-49th)

SB 103 – “The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act”; pharmacy benefits managers; Commissioner of Insurance to promulgate certain rules and regulations; authorize (Substitute) (I&L-53rd)

SB 130 – Right To An Attorney; waiver of the right to counsel; provisions; clarify (Substitute) (JUDY-19th)

SB 183 – State Road and Tollway Authority; definition; powers of the authority; provide (TRANS-21st)

SB 202 – Medical Assistance; increase in the personal needs allowance to be deducted from a nursing home resident’s income; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-33rd)

SR 104 – State Ad Valorem Taxes; prohibit levy -CA (FIN-31st)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HB 87 – Corporations, partnerships, and associations; multiple-year registrations for certain types of business organizations; provide (SBD-Raffensperger-50th)

HB 234 – Motor vehicles; drivers stop at crosswalks with user activated rectangular rapid-flash beacons; require (PS&HS-Frye-118th)

HB 322 – Military; war veterans; change definition (D&VA-Hitchens-161st)

HB 382 – Georgia Commission on Women; place under Department of Public Health administration (SP&CA-Pruett-149th)

HB 422 – Veterans Service, Department of; nonprofit corporation as a public foundation; authorize incorporation (D&VA-Hitchens-161st)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 71 – Insurance; consumer protections regarding health insurance; provisions (Substitute)(Ins-Smith-134th) (AM 34 0750)

HB 260 – Special license plates; Georgia Electric Membership Corporation; establish (Substitute)(MotV-Powell-32nd)

HB 276 – The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act; enact (Substitute)(Ins-Knight-130th)

HB 287 – Special license plates; honoring service members killed in action; provide at no cost to eligible family members (MotV-Kirby-114th)

HB 319 – Habeas corpus; maximum amount counties may be reimbursed for certain costs; increase (Judy-Werkheiser-157th)

HB 323 – Code Revision Commission; revise, modernize, correct errors or omissions of said Code (Substitute)(Judy-Caldwell-131st)

Structured Rule
HB 204 – Ad valorem tax; property tax bills shall not include nontax related fees or assessments; provide (Substitute)(W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 217 – Income tax credit; certain scholarship organizations; increase amount of the aggregate cap on contributions (Substitute)(W&M-Carson-46th)


 Trump Up

Trump Pence Capitol

A pro-Trump rally was held yesterday in Liberty Plaza across from the Georgia State Capitol. From the AJC:

Pushing back against the explosive protests targeting Donald Trump’s administration, supporters of the president launched a wave of counter-demonstrations showing the Republican their support.

One of the largest yet was staged on Monday outside the Georgia statehouse, where more than 250 people gathered for the “Spirit of America” rally to wave Trump campaign signs and patriotic flags and listen to more than a dozen speakers praise his policies.

They burst into chants of “four more years.” They sang “God Bless America” – twice. And they heard from a barrage of candidates who hope to tap into the president’s popularity among frustrated voters as they seek to run for higher office.

“These folks think they know what’s best for us. They think they’re the masters of the universe,” said state Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican with an eye on a statewide bid. “But in America, the people still get a say. The revolution, the earthquake on Nov. 8 is just the first step.”

Abu Zahed of Doraville shouldered a billowing Trump flag, telling everyone he could why he supported the president.

“The anti-Trump protesters are crazy,” he said. “All he wants is to get us jobs and fight terrorism. How can you disagree with that?”

University of North Georgia Professors discussed the opening days of President Trump’s Administration.

“I think moving forward, a problem that’s already hampering him and probably will in the future is a personality quirk,” [Associate Professor Glen] Smith said. “He’s got a thin skin, and I don’t think I’m going out on the limb by saying that … He doesn’t seem to take criticism and overreacts to that. I think that’s something he’ll have to correct over time or it’s going to keep bringing up problems for him.”

Professor Douglas Young, who also teaches political science at the Gainesville campus, observed that Trump is governing much more conservatively than he and others thought he would based on his rhetoric during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“He was arguably the least conservative of all the (GOP) candidates,” Young said. “He was the most critical of free trade, he was the most populist, but I think so far, he has thrilled most conservatives.”

The American Conservative Union has given better than 90 percent approval to Trump’s Cabinet selections, according to Young.

Brittany Ivey from Toccoa, Georgia will attend the State of the Union with Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).

A Toccoa woman who says she and her family have struggled financially since the Affordable Care Act was implemented will attend President Donald Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

Prior to the ACA, Ivey had received her family’s insurance through her employer, working part-time.  Increased premiums drove the family into the individual market, where a mid-level plan cost 65 percent of her gross monthly income, according to Collins’ office.

“One of the things that was not contemplated, I think, by the previous administration was the impact on the folks who got the insurance through their work and the incredible price increases that came through the mandates,” Collins said.

“My husband and I have been punished for working hard, driven to the edge of financial disaster as we paid thousands and thousands of dollars in premiums for a federal plan that our doctors rejected. Even though we’re healthy, this law has crippled our family,” Ivey said.

Georgia and other states could bear a greater burden for healthcare financing, according to the National Governors’ Conference.

The nation’s governors left Washington Monday aware they are going to be asked to pick up more of the burden of health care costs for their poorest residents but not knowing where they will get the money to do so.

That was the sober message delivered by Republican congressional leaders and President Trump during three days of discussion over what will replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, when and if it is repealed.

Several governors said they were shocked when health care consultants told them during a closed briefing Saturday that an idea under consideration by House Republicans would result in cuts to states and an increase in the uninsured.

House Republicans are considering capping federal Medicaid payments to the states and reducing it in those states participating in Medicaid expansion to low-income adults making a third more than the federal poverty level.

Legislative & Local Issues

The Associated Press looks at the legislature’s Hell Week, in which legislation must pass at least one chamber by this Friday in order to pass both houses this year.

OPIOID CRISIS

A drug used to reverse opioid overdoses called naloxone will be available over-the-counter under a bill approved by the Georgia Senate.

Senators on Monday unanimously approved the bill, which will codify an emergency order put in place by Gov. Nathan Deal last year.

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said the change will allow loved ones of an addicted person to be ready for the worst-case scenario.

The House voted Monday to add fentanyl to state laws on penalties for possessing, manufacturing, delivering or selling certain drugs. Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, said the change would give law enforcement another tool against people selling fentanyl.

Synthetic fentanyl is more potent than other prescription opioids or heroin. The Centers for Disease Control says roughly 9,500 people fatally overdosed on synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, nationwide in 2015.

In a separate House committee, representatives approved a measure to expand the prescription drug-monitoring program, which aims to prevent doctor hopping and weed out physicians who are over prescribing opioids.

NAME CHANGES FOR VICTIMS

Victims of domestic violence could change their names privately under a bill approved by the Georgia House.

House members voted unanimously Monday in support of the proposal from Ballinger. The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence has also supported the change.

Casino gambling legislation is dead for the session in the state Senate.

Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, said he does not have the votes to get Senate Bill 79 out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

“I am not discouraged,” Beach said. “I will double down and plan to crisscross the state starting in April” to build support for the bill in 2018.

He eventually pared that down to no more than two “destination resort” casinos with proceeds from a 20 percent tax going to a host of interests, from HOPE scholarships, to needs-based college grants, rural trauma care and rural hospitals, to broadband Internet infrastructure to law enforcement raises.

In the end, no matter how he tried to divvy up the spoils, Beach could not pull the support he needed to get it out of committee.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, who opposed the legislation, said Friday that bringing casino gambling to Georgia would end up doing more harm than good.

“I don’t really have a huge moral problem with it,” he said. “If people want to throw their money away, that’s their business. My issues are more economic.”

He said he witnessed the effects casino gambling has on surrounding communities first hand during a trip to Biloxi two years ago.

“The entire town is decimated,” he said

Beware zombies: legislation declared dead midway through the Session can still stagger to life later on.

House Bill 51 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) advanced yesterday as the House Committee on Appropriations voted to recommend passage. From the AJC:

The House Appropriations Committee approved the so-called campus rape bill 35-10 as students opposing it looked on in a packed meeting room at the state Capitol. At least one national group representing sexual assault victims said the Georgia bill was the first of its kind to advance.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, said the measure would shield the rights of college students accused of sexual assault while also protecting the privacy of victims.

“House Bill 51 is about due process, safety on our campuses … and rights of the accused,” the Republican from Powder Springs said.

The proposed bill says colleges and universities must report to law enforcement any allegations of sexual assault. But the bill also says college officials cannot identify the victim without her consent and she cannot be forced to cooperate with law enforcement.

It says the university cannot conduct its own investigation until law enforcement is finished because of the risk that a probe by college officials “would destroy evidence,” Ehrhart said.

Many victims of sexual assault never report the crime to law enforcement but instead have the school investigate and punish the offender. The option is appealing to victims because the burden of proof is lower and privacy protections greater. Schools may suspend or expel a student if they are found responsible.

House Bill 65 by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) passed out of the House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee and heads to Rules Committee. From the AJC,

House Bill 65, sponsored by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would double the list of illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome.

Additionally, the bill would let people who have registration cards from other states that similarly allow possession of certain low-THC cannabis oil to also possess the oil here.

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed the bill on a 7-3 vote, after making tweaks that would require annual reporting by doctors who oversee medical marijuana patients. The committee also removed post-traumatic stress disorder from the proposed list of newly eligible diseases.

To have a clear path of becoming law, the bill must win passage from the House by Friday, which has been designated as Crossover Day for this legislative session. While parliamentary maneuvering can keep a bill alive past Crossover Day, making it from one side of the Capitol to the other by the end of that day makes final passage much more likely.

Companion bills in the General Assembly could set up a new governing body to take over from the Georgia High School Association, according to the AJC.

The General Assembly is pushing two bills that would set up an alternative to the 109-year-old governing body for school athletics, the Georgia High School Association, and its 56-member board.

“I don’t think any of them know what they’re job is,” complained one of the most powerful legislators in Georgia, Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun. The chairman of the House Rules Committee said he gets more complaints about the GHSA — from schools, from referees, from coaches and from parents — than about everything else put together, “and basically I’m sick of it.”

So he introduced House Bill 415, which quickly passed through that chamber’s education committee Monday. Next stop, Meadow’s Rules Committee that  could send the bill to the House floor for a vote.

Senate Bill 203, which is identical, is working its way through the other chamber, in a vice-like squeeze that leaves GHSA little room to maneuver.

The bills call on the state board of education to designate a new nonprofit as a state agency governing high school athletics. It would be open to both public and private schools and would have a governing board about a quarter the size of the GHSA board.

House Bill 280 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) was given a “Do Pass” recommendation by the House Public Safety Committee yesterday.

House Bill 280, which would allow anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry firearms on public college and university campuses, with the exception of inside dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and buildings used for athletic events. The bill also would require guns to be concealed and only those who hold a permit would be allowed to carry the weapons.

“This bill is about changing the dynamic” to provide the “basic, essential right of self-preservation” said state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, the bill’s sponsor.

House Bill 436 by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) passed out of a subcommittee of House Judiciary.

State Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, said that the point of his House Bill 436 is to speed an end to the costly, yearslong border dispute. His bill would take all tax revenue from the disputed area around Bass Pro Shops and set it aside in escrow until the dispute is settled. It would also force the losing side to pay the winners’ legal bills after this coming July.

The bill has its critics, such as Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Mallory Jones. He’s written to Dickey, asking the lawmaker to withdraw the proposal.

“Your bill, if passed, would have a devastating effect on Macon-Bibb’s ability to provide critical services to our citizens of Macon-Bibb County,” Jones wrote to Dickey. “We are already facing a potential $5 million deficit, and to tie up these tax dollars would cause a crisis in Macon-Bibb County.”

Newcomer with war chest gives Democrats hope in Georgia’s 6th District,” reads the AJC headline, but you’ve read this story before when it was about Michelle Nunn having a chance of beating David Perdue or when it said Jason Carter had a chance of beating Gov. Nathan Deal.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) is accepting internship applications.

Applications for the internships must be submitted by March 31, according to a news release from the Augusta congressman’s office. Internships will be broken into two sessions, with the first beginning May 15 and ending June 23. The second session will begin June 26 and end Aug. 4.

“Interning in a congressional office offers a unique opportunity to gain insight into the legislative process and how a congressional office operates,” Allen said in the release. “Interns play an integral part in carrying out the functions of our day-to-day operations. We practice a bottom-up approach to empower others to be the best that they can be and gain experience that will help them in the future.”

Gwinnett County residents will have a chance to learn about the county’s transportation plan in a round of public meetings.

Coweta County residents who won an Open Meetings Act lawsuit spoke to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Former Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts will run for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission.

27
Feb

Trump Supporters at the Georgia State Capitol

Trump Capitol 3

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27
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 27, 2017

On February 27, 1922, the United States Supreme Court released an unanimous decision holding that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is constitutional. The case, Leser v. Garnett, arose because of a challenge seeking to strike women’s names from the voter rolls in Maryland and asserting:

  • The power to amend the Constitution did not cover this amendment, due to its character.
  • Several states that had ratified the amendment had constitutions that prohibited women from voting, rendering them unable to ratify an amendment to the contrary.
  • The ratifications of Tennessee and West Virginia were invalid, because they were adopted without following the rules of legislative procedure in place in those states.

It might as well have asserted that sleeping on the couch for the rest of the plantiffs’ lives would be cold and uncomfortable.

On February 27, 1962, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy were tried in Albany for charges stemming from a demonstration on the steps of City Hall.

On February 27, 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted in Fulton County Superior Court of murdering two adult males. Atlanta Police later said he was guilty of at least 23 of 29 child murders between 1979 and 1981. Williams was never indicted or tried on the allegations of child murder and maintains his innocence.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – Legislative Day 25

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:00 AM SENATE RETIREMENT 310 CLOB

8:00 AM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

9:30 AM House Transportation Sub State Hwys 515 CLOB

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 25) CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOV’TAL OPS 123 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE SPECIAL JUD’Y 125 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTIL 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER ED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SEC’Y 606 CLOB

1:00 PM House Resource Management 403 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE HUMAN RELATIONS AND AGING 515 CLOB

1:30 PM HOUSE JUD’Y NON CIVIL 406 CLOB

1:30 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING 415 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

2:00 PM House Kelley Sub JUD’Y Civil 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE FULL APPROP 341 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE INTRAGOV’TAL COORD 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE INTERSTATE COOP 123 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Transportation Sub 341 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES, AND TELECOM 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE NAT’L RES & ENV’T 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE REAPPORTIONMENT & REDISTRICTING 307 CLOB

5:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 201 – Labor and Industrial Relations; employees to use sick leave for the care of immediate family members; allow (Substitute) (I&L-49th)

SB 133 – Corporate Net Worth Tax; less than a certain amount; make such tax inapplicable to corporations (FIN-20th)

SB 121 – “Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., Act” (H&HS-49th)

SB 156 – Sales and Use Taxes; equalized homestead option sales and use taxes; provide certain restrictions (Committee amend AM 28 1546) (FIN-40th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Structured Rule

HB 116 – Juvenile Code; provide superior court with exclusive original jurisdiction for cases involving aggravated assault; provisions (Substitute) (JudyNC-Reeves-34th)

HB 124 – Public assistance; fraud; revisions (Substitute)(JudyNC-Clark-98th)

HB 213 – Crimes and offenses; sale, manufacture, delivery, or possession of fentanyl within the prohibition of trafficking certain drugs; include (Substitute)(JudyNC-Golick-40th)

HB 279 – Domestic relations; name change requested by victim of family violence; provide separate process (Judy-Ballinger-23rd)

HB 293 – Evidence; procedure relating to child’s testimony of sexual contact or physical abuse; provide effective date (JudyNC-Silcox-52nd)

HB 308 – Domestic relations; child support; enact provisions recommended by Georgia Child Support Commission (Substitute)(Judy-Beskin-54th)

HB 343 – Criminal procedure; certain outdated terminology; replace (Substitute)(JudyNC-Hilton-95th)

HB 360 – Prescription drugs; expedited partner therapy for patients with venereal diseases; provisions (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd)

HB 405 – Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; establish state-wide system to facilitate the transport and distribution of essentials in commerce during a state of emergency; require (Substitute)(PS&HS-Hitchens-161st)

HB 427 – Physicians and Health Care Practitioners for Rural Areas Assistance Act; enact (Substitute)(H&HS-Newton-123rd)

Structured Rule

HB 264 – Georgia World Congress Center Authority; revenue bond capacity; increase (W&M-Efstration-104th)

HB 265 – Income tax; credit for establishing or relocating quality jobs; revise provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Efstration-104th)

HB 301 – Income tax; certain physicians; delete deduction to create new credit; provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Lott- 122nd)


Advance voting begins today in Cobb County, where all voters can cast ballots in the March 21, 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) Election and Marietta Ward 6 voters will cast ballots for City Council.

Absentee and Advance Voting For Poll Workers

Eight candidates qualified for the April 18, 2017 Special Election to succeed Sen Judson Hill in Senate District 32.

Five Republican candidates – Hamilton Beck, Matt Campbell, Roy Daniels, Kay Kirkpatrick, and Gus Makris – qualified for the race. Three Democratic candidates – Christine Triebsch, Exton Howard, and Bob Wiskind – also qualified for the race.

March 20, 2017 is the last day to register to vote for all persons who are not currently registered to vote and who desire to vote in the special election. Advance in-person voting will begin on Monday, March 27, 2017. On Election Day, the polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. A run-off election, if needed, will be held on May 16, 2017.

The Marietta Daily Journal notes that doctors in the race outnumber lawyers.

District 32 residents are about 20 percent more likely to be “health diagnosing and treating practitioners” than other Georgians, according to data from statisticalatlas.com and the U.S. census.

That might help explain why three of the eight candidates hoping to take the district’s state senate seat from former State Sen. Judson Hill on the April 18 special election are physicians.

Democrat Bob Wiskind is a pediatrician who practices at Peachtree Parks Pediatrics in Atlanta. Republican Kay Kirkpatrick is an orthopedic surgeon from east Cobb and former president of Resurgens Orthopedics, and Republican Royden “Roy” Daniels is a physician specializing in neuroradiology, imaging of the head, neck and spine.

The race will also include two attorneys, Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Gus Makris, both of east Cobb.

The bunch is rounded out by a television director, Democrat Exton Howard; a consultant, Republican Hamilton Matthew Beck and a railroad conductor, Republican Matt Campbell.

Here’s a great story about that time President Trump went to a restaurant without the press.

8:17 PM: Without any announcement or indication, President Trump enters the hotel lobby which bears his name, flanked on all sides by the Secret Service. Shock and astonishment fill the guests in the room. The woman next to me screams “Is it him? It’s really him! Oh my God! This is like a dream!” Trump is rushed by fans in the lobby as he makes his way to the steakhouse. Secret Service makes a barrier for him, and the President waves and shakes hands on his way. The young crew are the first in line. Also waiting in line as the President arrives is Nigel Farage.

The entire restaurant is now on its feet, cheering and applauding. Trump makes his way upstairs, waving and stopping for a few selfies.

One woman shouts at him “Donald, it’s my birthday!” Trump stops and says “Happy birthday,” as he hugs the elated woman. “How about a birthday present? Let’s take a photo,” he says to her, afterward telling the woman she looks very young and has great skin.

8:25 PM: The President gets up and walks across the restaurant to his Secretary of State’s table. The President kisses Tillerson’s wife Renda, and he and Tillerson make small talk. They laugh and speak jovially for a few minutes as dinner guests who had been sitting next to Tillerson look on in stunned amazement. Another woman tells Trump it’s her birthday and gets a selfie. The woman tells me emotionally afterward that she had no idea Trump would be here. She booked the birthday dinner a month ago and said meeting Trump here was, “like meeting Walt Disney in Disneyland.”

Indiana and Idaho have joined Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in complaining about unauthorized scans of their database systems by the Department of Homeland Security.

Over 10,000 individual hits on Indiana’s systems originated from a handful of DHS IP addresses, according to the Indiana Information Sharing and Analysis Center. According to a January IN-ISAC report, those same IP addresses were associated with of the scan of Georgia’s election systems in the fall of 2016 and early 2017. The report was provided to FCW, GCN’s sister site, on Feb. 23 by the Indiana Secretary of State’s office.

The IN-ISAC report said its assessment of traffic to and from its systems between Nov. 15, 2016, and Jan. 24, 2017, found “with a high degree of certainty” that the unauthorized scans originated at DHS IP addresses. It said it confirmed the IP addresses were owned by DHS through a “WhoIS” search.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston says a panel will look at issues related to rural Georgia.

This past week Ralston unveiled a new initiative to address the geographic gap. It’ll be chaired by Reps. Jay Powell and Terry England — the House’s point men on taxes and spending, respectively — and tasked with making recommendations this year and next.

“I want them to go to these communities … to ask people, what can we do?” Ralston said. Some possibilities: new or tweaked tax incentives, maybe to attract doctors and other professionals to rural towns, and better access to technical colleges, a big part of Georgia’s job-creation efforts.

As for rural health care, Ralston, who hails from north Georgia, cited an example from his district. “In Ellijay, we had the hospital closure there late last spring,” he said. “But it’s coming back now, as what I have called a micro-hospital. Because you know, every small town doesn’t need a 30-, 40-, 50-bed hospital if you can have eight or 10 beds, and an emergency room. But I think health care, and having access to that, is vital to jobs.”

Here, he offered a clarification: “I’m not looking for government to create one job here. This is not about government creating jobs … but it can create an environment for the private sector to grow jobs, and let’s let that mean something for the entire state.”

Sand dunes could lose some protections under legislation in the Georgia legislature.

House Bill 271, cosponsored by State Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, seeks to better define the area at the beach where the state can regulate development under the Shore Protection Act. Petrea introduced the amendment that redefines a sand dune before the bill was passed out of the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee Thursday.

“Sand dunes means mounds of sand deposited along a coastline by wind, tidal or wave action or by a beach nourishment or dune construction project permitted under this part, which mounds are often covered with sparse, pioneer vegetation such as sea oats and beach morning glory. Mounds of sand covered with a planted and maintained lawn or landscaping shall not be considered sand dunes. Mounds of sand that are stabilized by indigenous vegetative cover shall also not be considered sand dunes,” the definition states.

Environmental groups are pushing back against the new definition, saying it creates a loophole any property owner could garden themselves right through.

“With this language, almost any type of vegetation would remove a dune from the sand sharing system and make it developable,” said Megan Desrosiers, executive director of One Hundred Miles.

“Noncitizen” driver’s licenses proposed in the General Assembly are causing concerns.

Georgia driver’s licenses for immigrants with permission to be in the U.S. would be stamped with the word “noncitizen” under legislation introduced this year that’s being watched closely by immigration advocates.

Rep. Alan Powell, a Republican from Hartwell, is sponsoring a bill that is facing opposition from critics who say it is unnecessary. Enactment would make Georgia one of the first – if not the first – state to use a “noncitizen” label on licenses.

Powell recently told members of a subcommittee considering the bill that the state’s existing “limited-term” label on certain licenses is vague.

“If you are authorized to have a driver’s license, then it needs to state that this is for driving purposes only and it doesn’t signify that you’re a citizen,” Powell said. “I’m going to stick to my beliefs here because I think it’s a public safety matter.”

Spaceport legislation has drawn kudos from a company in the industry.

The chief executive officer at Vector Space Systems has sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal congratulating him on the General Assembly’s recent votes in support of the Georgia Space Flight Act.

“We recognize that this is a major milestone in Camden County’s efforts to establish a commercial spaceport in Georgia,” James Cantrell wrote in his letter to the governor.

“Vector fully appreciates the opportunities and benefits that such a non-federal range can offer to launch providers like us whose long term goal is to provide dedicated delivery services tailored to the needs of the emerging small satellite market,” he said.

Senate Bill 206 by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) will be heard in the Senate Insurance & Labor Committee today.

A bill backed by state Sen. P.K. Martin to help children have access to hearing aids will get a hearing on Monday and Martin’s office said residents who want to testify are welcome to attend.

Martin, R-Lawrenceville, worked with the organization, Let Georgia Hear, to craft Senate Bill 206. If passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, the bill would make mandate health care plans cover hearing aids for deaf and hearing impaired children.

“I am proud to partner with ‘Let Georgia Hear’ and sponsor this legislation that will directly benefit children across Georgia with hearing impairments to ensure they have the coverage needed to obtain hearing aids,” Martin said in a statement. “I want to ensure every child in this state has every opportunity to grow and thrive. This legislation will go along way in that goal for many children.”

There are 20 states that have passed similar legislation, according to a joint statement by Martin and Let Georgia Hear co-founder Kelly Jenkins. The pair said getting hearing aids is expensive — it can cost $6,000 for a pair that will only last up to five years — but they also said the devices are important in a child’s early years to ensure they develop properly.

Senate Bill 221 revising Optometrists’ scope of practice passed out of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

The latest furor about medical practice has erupted over legislation to allow optometrists — who examine the eye, test vision and prescribe corrective treatment but are not physicians — to administer drug injections into patients’ eyelids. Ophthalmologists, who are physicians specializing in the eye, are furiously opposed to this, as is the Medical Association of Georgia, a leading physician organization.

Senate Bill 221, though, was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.

John Whitlow, a LaGrange optometrist, told the Senate panel that 15 other states allow optometrists to do these injections.

“We would like to be able to treat patients to the best of our ability,’’ Whitlow said. The injection, he said, “is not going into the globe of the eye.’’

But Dr. Brian Kim, a Dalton ophthalmologist, said complications from an injection can lead to problems that require surgery.

Under the Senate bill that was approved, optometrists must train for 30 hours on the technique under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.

Senator Hunter Hill spoke about his Senate Bill 68 in the Senate Education & Youth Committee.

“SB 68 serves the purpose of opening up the opportunity for students, regardless of income level, to earn a robust, quality education,” said Sen. Hill. “For too long, parents have been left with no choice as to what school their child could attend simply because of financial limitations. SB 68 opens up the door for real choice and would be a much needed change to our state’s education system.”

Senate Bill 68, also known as the “Individual Student Education Account Act” would establish an individual student education savings account meant to improve access to quality education by providing parents a financial mechanism to choose the school that is right for their child.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) toured the Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon.

“Every time I am out here I just say, ‘Wow!’ I don’t mind telling you, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. We have a lot going on out here,” said the Republican from Augusta.

He called cyber battlefields the new frontier in warfare and said the mission at Fort Gordon and in Augusta is very important. Allen spent about three hours with cyber warfare experts learning detailed information about their missions. He said briefings about the current operations, future operations, and connections to the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center were intensive and largely classified.

“We can be the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. We have that opportunity and we have that on an education level. We can set the stage for this part of the country as far as education,” Allen said.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sent a nastygram to the consulting firm that employs Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter.

Reed sent a letter to Hunter’s bosses at United Consulting that contained a veiled threat to stop doing business with the company if it didn’t do something about Hunter. In addition to his remark about Lewis, Hunter called Democrats “Demonrats” and “Libtards” and ridiculed U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, among other things, on social media.

“As you may also know, the City of Atlanta is a client of United consulting,” Reed wrote in the letter. “As mayor, I am writing personally to let you know that the City of Atlanta finds Mr. Hunter’s toxic remark to be insulting, reprehensible and unacceptable to this administration.

“Please let me know by close of business Monday, February 27 how you plan to resolve this matter.”

Hall County Commission will address some side effects of increased activity in the film industry.

[W]hile most residents have been accommodating, a handful of complaints have come in, according to assistant county manager Marty Nix. In response, he is writing an ordinance that would curb liberties film crews have in Hall.

“This ordinance will be a reflection … that (complaints) haven’t fallen on deaf ears,” said Katie Crumley, county public information officer.

The ordinance would restrict production companies from “unreasonably disturbing the peace,” Nix said.
It would allow residents and the county to oversee what impact film crews have and ensure safety.

24
Feb

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

On February 24, 1803, the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall decided the case of Marbury v. Madison, enunciating the principle of judicial review under which the Court has authority to review Congressional action and hold them unconstitutional.

In writing the decision, John Marshall argued that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not law and therefore are non-binding to the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. If two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, the court bears responsibility for deciding which law applies in any given case.

Union troops under General George Thomas attacked Confederates led by General Joseph Johnston near Dalton, Georgia on February 24, 1864.

Casualties were light. Thomas suffered fewer than 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, while Johnston lost around 140 troops. The Union generals did learn a valuable lesson, however; a direct attack against Rocky Face Ridge was foolish. Three months later, Sherman, in command after Grant was promoted to commander of all forces, sent part of his army further south to another gap that was undefended by the Confederates. The intelligence garnered from the Battle of Dalton helped pave the way for a Union victory that summer.

The first prisoners of war were moved to Andersonville on February 24, 1864.

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 25, 1870, Hiram Rhoades Revels (R-Missippi) was sworn in as the first African-American Congressman in history.

In 1867, the first Reconstruction Act was passed by a Republican-dominated U.S. Congress, dividing the South into five military districts and granting suffrage to all male citizens, regardless of race. A politically mobilized African American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican party to power, which in turn brought about radical changes across the South. By 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks in large part to the support of African American voters.

On January 20, 1870, Hiram R. Revels was elected by the Mississippi legislature to fill the Senate seat once held by Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy. On February 25, two days after Mississippi was granted representation in Congress for the first time since it seceded in 1861, Revels was sworn in.

On February 25, 1876, the first Georgia state law against abortion was passed.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

The Atlanta Journal was first published on February 24, 1883.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

On February 24, 1988, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, that the First Amendment protects publishers against claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress where the plaintiff is a public figure being parodied by the publication.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

On February 25, 1999, Johnny Isakson was sworn into Congress from the Sixth District, a seat vacated by the resignation of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – Legislative Day 24

7:30 AM HOUSE MILITARY AFFAIRS WORK GRP-CANCELLED 406 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE SPECIAL RULES 515 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE ECON DEV & TOURISM 341 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

9:30 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 24) CHAMBER

11:30 AM SENATE HEALTH & HS – Sub 125 CAP

11:30 AM HOUSE HEALTH & HS 606 CLOB

11:30 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

12:00 PM Reeves Sub Jud’y Non-Civil 403 CAP

12:00 PM Fleming Jud’y Civil 132 CAP

12:00 PM SENATE RULES- Upon Adj’t 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

1:00 PM House Education Innovation and Workforce Dev Sub 506 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT – CANCELED 310 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 160 – “Back the Badge Act of 2017” (Substitute) (PUB SAF-7th)
SB 154 – Assault and Battery; public safety officer while engaged in his or her official duties; provide for the offenses of aggravated assault and aggravated battery (Substitute) (PUB SAF-13th)
SB 155 – Local Law Enforcement Officer Compensation Commission; create (Substitute) (PUB SAF-13th)
SB 169 – Specialty License Plate; honoring law enforcement; establish (Substitute) (PUB SAF-13th)
SB 109 – “Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact” (“REPLICA”); provide for the enactment (PUB SAF-27th)
SB 8 – “Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act”; health insurance; provide consumer protections; definitions (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)
SB 96 – Health; pronouncement of death by registered professional nurses; nursing homes and hospice care; authorize; county medical examiner’s duties after notice of suspicious death; make a conforming change (H&HS-1st)

 

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HB 148 – Educating Children of Military Families Act; enact (Ed-Glanton-75th)
HB 157 – Medical advertising; certain certifying organizations; revise certain criteria (Substitute)(H&HS-Kelley-16th)
HB 203 – Breach of restrictive covenants; provide accrual periods of rights of action; provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Strickland-111th)
HB 241 – Cove’s Law; enact (H&HS-Hawkins-27th)
HB 312 – Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia; Board of Trustees; include a qualified Roth contribution program in compensation plans (Ret-Maxwell-17th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 136 – Drivers’ licenses; demarcation of a valid driver’s license, permit, or identification card; provide (Substitute)(MotV-Carter-175th)
HB 159 – Domestic relations; adoption; substantially revise general provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Reeves-34th)

Structured Rule
HB 199 – Income tax credit; interactive entertainment companies; change certain provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Rhodes-120th)
HB 237 – Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation; receive private donations for grants to public schools; provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Coleman-97th)
HB 283 – Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code and Internal Revenue Code of 1986; revise definitions (Substitute)(W&M-Knight-130th)

Governor Nathan Deal signaled opposition to renewed efforts to pass religious liberty legislation in the Georgia legislature.

Gov. Nathan Deal was unequivocal in his opposition to a revived “religious liberty” measure on Thursday, signaling he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

“I didn’t want there to be any confusion about where I stand on the RFRA bill: I have no desire or appetite to entertain that legislation,” Deal said.

“Our state is doing exceptionally well and we’ve seen rather disastrous consequences from other states who have made a departure on that issue,” he said. “I see no reason or justification for us to do anything further.”

State Sen. Josh McKoon, one of the most outspoken advocates for the legislation, said Republican lawmakers owe it to their constituents to vote on the measure.

“Almost every Republican legislator I know of with a contested election last year campaigned on religious freedom legislation,” McKoon said. “Can anyone credibly say if a Democratic governor was threatening a veto of SB 233 that there would be any hesitation among Republican legislators moving forward? Of course not.”

House Bill 329 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would lower the state’s highest income tax rate.

A new report said the first step, House Bill 329, would save Georgians about $154 million a year, with three-quarters of that savings going to those earning more than $97,000 a year.

The state’s calculations put the savings at a much more modest $78 million over four years.

The House Ways and Means Committee Thursday approved House Bill 329, which would replace the current graduated state income tax structure with a flat rate of 5.4 percent.

The top rate is currently 6 percent, while the lowest is 1 percent.

Wesley Tharpe, the Georgia [Budget and Policy] institute’s research director, said under the bill, some single low-income Georgians would wind up paying higher income taxes, while low-income families would wind up paying less.

But Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, the bill’s sponsor, said if approved, it would not mean a huge windfall or tax increase for many Georgians.

“Pretty much for most taxpayers, it doesn’t make a big difference,” Powell said. “Some people may gain $30, some people pay $20.”

House Bill 155 by Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) attempts to do for the Georgia music industry what tax credits did for the film industry.

If the bill is signed into law, it will provide Georgia’s music industry with tax cuts and incentives similar to the ones the film industry receives, a movement that has turned the state into the “Hollywood of the South.” The proposed incentives, according to music industry estimates, would bring $9 million in net revenue and spur $2.2 billion of economic activity in the state within five years.

“The music industry is losing its market share in Georgia, and you look at Nashville’s numbers and they keep going up and up,” said Mala Sharma, the legislative affairs chairwoman for Georgia Music Partners, a local advocacy group of musicians, educators and industry professionals seeking to expand Georgia’s music industry footprint. “They have the infrastructure and support and we’re having to play catchup. It’s almost the reverse of what we’re doing with film, taking it from California; Nashville is taking music from us.”

There are three primary components to the Georgia Music Investment Act:

  • A 20 percent tax credit for live tour origination (musical or theatrical tours that would rehearse and/or audition in Georgia).
  • A 20 percent tax credit for recording music that will be released for public consumption.
  • A 20 percent tax credit for recording of music that will be synchronized into a film, TV show or video game (projects that already received a tax credit from the film industry would not be eligible).

Each type of tax credit under the legislation would require a minimum spending level to be eligible.

Senate Resolution 293 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) would recognize “Kumbaya” as a Georgia song of national cultural significance.

Robert Winslow Gordon, who would eventually work for the Library of Congress, had traveled in the 1920’s to the islands, living for awhile in the coastal town of Darien. While he was there, local residents gave him permission to record their singing of spiritual folk songs including one called “Come By Here.”

House Bill 163 by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) would require Georgia drivers to use hands-free technology if using cell phones.

Its sponsor, state Rep. Betty Price, R-Roswell, told the committee distracted driving is a serious problem in the United States.

“We are talkers and texters in this country, and it’s getting us into some large trouble,” Price told the committee.

The bill passed [the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee] unanimously. But similar bills have fail in the General Assembly in the past.

Noteworthy in the bill: if you remove your seat belt to reach for your cell phone, you’re in violation. Also, if you’re lawfully parked, you can yak it up to your heart’s content.

Senate Bill 88 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) passed the State Senate on a 50-2 vote yesterday.

It will be harder to open a methadone clinic in Georgia if lawmakers approve a measure seeking to beef up the state’s applications process.

“You just can’t show up and sign the dotted line and build your facility,” Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who sponsored the bill, said in an interview Thursday. “You’ve got to prove there’s a need for it in that community.”

Mullis’ proposal limits the number of clinics in an area, allowing only four in a region. The state would be carved up into 49 regions. Existing clinics would be grandfathered in.

Some legislators, though, have expressed concern that the measure might limit access to treatment for those who need it. Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, for one, previously questioned why the state would want to do that.

“We believe we have some who are not here for the right reasons,” Mullis replied at the time.

“This eliminates the bad guys and makes sure the good guys are permitted to put facilities where it’s needed in this state. So it gets rid of the riffraff,” he said.

Fulton County Commissioners will partially fund a transit study, with federal funds to pay the rest.

Columbus City Council is considering an ordinance that would eliminate smoking in more public venues.

“Our primary mission is to work with our community as we move toward a smoke-free environment — particularly at work sites and public places,” said Perry Alexander, co-chair of the organization.

Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson and downtown business owner Buddy Nelms were among those who spoke in favor of such an ordinance. In a video, featuring The Loft, one of Nelms’ businesses, employees talked about how a smoke-free workplace created a healthier environment and better quality of life for the people who work there.

Nelms told council that he decided to make his business smoke-free after a customer told him he would never come back because of the smoke. He said sales slumped when he first started the ban, but soon turned around.

“What we found is we had a resurgence and it grew bigger and better,” Nelms said of his business. “… The smoker is not the enemy. They’re really good human beings and a lot are my good friends. It’s the smoke that’s the problem.”

Houston County Commissioners voted to join a lawsuit against phone companies over 911 fees.

The commissioners on Tuesday agreed to engage with The Barnes Law Group, which is suing 55 phone companies on behalf of 40 counties in the state, including Macon-Bibb. The law firm, led by former Gov. Roy Barnes, alleges that the phone companies are underbilling fees that are supposed to be charged to phone customers to fund 911 services.

“We have felt like for a long time in this county that we have been shorted on the 911 fees from the various providers,” [Commission Chairman Tommy] Stalnaker said. “We are not unlike many other counties throughout the state that feel the same way.”

Hancock County Board of Education members are on the hot seat.

The Georgia Board of Education has called a hearing that could lead to the removal of the Hancock County school board members.

Mike Royal, the chairman of the state board, said the state has been working with Hancock County schools to resolve governance issues that officials reviewers have raised.

But the state board has now drawn a line: a May 4 hearing on whether they will recommend that Gov. Nathan Deal dismiss all five members of the Hancock County school board for cause.

“We feel like we need to have a public hearing on the state of the governance of the district,” Royal said Thursday, just after his board made the decision.

The hearing was triggered by poor reviews for Hancock County school governance from AdvancED, a school accreditation agency. It has put the system on probationary status, the last step before losing accreditation.


Georgia Ports Authority
notched another record with the highest performance ever for the month of January.

In a month that’s usually slower than most, the Georgia Ports Authority continued to move forward on all cylinders in January, recording double-digit growth across all business sectors, including a 26-percent increase in total tonnage.

Calling port unrivaled in both customer service and its connectivity into the country’s heartland, GPA executive director Griff Lynch credited supply chain efficiencies for the record 3 million tons of cargo moved in January, up 623,504 tons compared to the same month a year ago.

“With on-terminal efficiencies bolstered by interstates within minutes of the port and the fastest westward rail transit in the South Atlantic region, Garden City Terminal provides more reliable, more cost-effective freight movement,” he said.

Campaigns & Elections

In advance of the Democratic National Committee meeting in Atlanta tomorrow, word filtered out the Democrats’ Central Committee will invest significantly in the Special Election for the 6th Congressional District.

Mitt Romney won Price’s House district, which spans the affluent and highly educated suburbs north of Atlanta, with 61 percent in 2012. Donald Trump pulled just 48 percent in November, running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton. That was one of the biggest swings of any congressional district in the country.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is paying to put nine staffers on the ground and transferring money to the Georgia Democratic Party. In a lower-turnout contest, this field program will identify and register voters who have never been targeted in previous elections.

Price never won reelection with less than 62 percent of the vote, but this is the kind of district that Democrats will need to find a way to flip if they are going to seize the House majority in November 2018.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is the leading leftist candidate in the race to replace Republican Tom Price.

“This is the first chance in the country for us to make a statement about what we stand for,” said Ossoff, speaking in a Jewish temple in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta. “It’s the first chance in the country we have to make a statement that America can be strong and prosperous and secure without sacrificing our core values.”

To many Democrats, Ossoff’s candidacy – which has attracted the attention of liberal activists nationwide – is the first chance to show that Republicans are paying a price for Donald Trump’s presidency.

It will be the country’s first federal election since Trump took office.

“We all saw how close, how shockingly close, the result of the presidential election was,” Ossoff said.

“Republicans should be not complacent at all, especially in the age of Trump,” said Chip Lake, a Republican strategist in Georgia and former Price aide. “We don’t know what the age of Trump looks like yet, from an electoral perspective.”

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been under pressure from progressive activists to help Ossoff’s candidacy, said the committee has taken the open-seat race “extremely seriously.”

But she also acknowledged it’s not an easy place for Democrats to win.

“The presidential swing between 2012 and 2016 combined with very obvious grassroots energy are reason for optimism, but of course this is a tough district and hasn’t been in Democratic hands in recent history,” said Meredith Kelly, DCCC spokeswoman.

Cobb County is holding elections on March 21, 2017, with early voting beginning Monday.

A special election is being held in all Cobb precincts for a Special Local Option Sales Tax for education purposes. In Marietta Ward Six, there is a Marietta School Board race.

Advanced voting begins Feb. 27. Registered Cobb County voters can go to any advanced voting location. Please note that hours vary by location.

Any voter may apply for a vote-by-mail ballot instead of voting in-person.

Applications are available at CobbElections.org. For more information, call 770-528-2581.

Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves said he will run for Mayor of Atlanta this year.

He plans to file paperwork to begin fundraising on Friday.

Despite his relatively late entry into the race, Eaves said he had been thinking about running for some time, and was “enthusiastically putting my hat in the ring for consideration.”

“I felt the city needed someone of my caliber,” he said. “The city of Atlanta deserves transparency, and I want to set the tone.”