Category: Georgia Politics

7
Feb

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

On February 7, 1733, the first Georgia colonists had been here a week and they finished building a hand-operated crane to move heavy supplies and livestock from their boats to the top of the forty-foot high bluff where they were building a settlement.

In December 2016, the Port of Savannah moved 292,172 twenty-foot equivalent units of freight.

The newest cranes at the Port of Savannah, delivered in December 2016, are 295 feet high and each weighs 1,388 tons and measures 433 feet wide.

On February 7, 1990, the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union agreed to a proposal by Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev that is should give up its political monopoly.

The response from the United States was surprise and cautious optimism. One State Department official commented that, “The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It’s mind-boggling.” Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger indicated that he was “personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot.” President George Bush was more circumspect, merely congratulating President Gorbachev for his “restraint and finesse.”

Ironically, the fact that the Communist Party was willing to accept political challenges to its authority indicated how desperately it was trying to maintain its weakening power over the country. The measures were little help, however–President Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1991.

Men who are married or in a relationship: this is your seven day warning to make plans for Valentine’s Day before it is too late. You are welcome.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gainesville lawyer and former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell was sworn in as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State.

Bell will be working in public affairs, making sure foreign policy that is led by President Donald Trump and executed by Secretary Rex Tillerson is clear and accurate to citizens, Bell said. He will work with maybe two or three other Special Assistants specifically in public affairs. Bell is also back on as a government employee Monday for the first time since he was on Hall County Commission.

“I haven’t actually been in government since I was on the Hall County Commission, but I can say that I learned a lot of lessons there – how to make government work, understanding that government closest to the people is the most important and we’re going to make sure that what ever we do is clearly and effectively communicated to the people on the ground, who actually have to carry out the policy,” said Bell. “That’s a valuable lesson I learned in Gainesville and I look forward to expounding on that knowledge here in Washington D.C.”

Bell was appointed by President Trump for the position. ““It’s an incredible opportunity to be appointed by a president in any role but this one in particular is something I’m very excited about,” Bell told AccessWDUN. “Being able to work closely with the new administration to continue to build out the state department with the people who are going to make sure that foreign policy is communicated effectively around the world with clarity and I’m excited about being a part of that team.”

Legislative Committee Meetings

8:00 AM SENATE APPROP 341 CAP

8:00 AM Reeves Sub House Jud’y Non-Civil 403 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROP EDUCATION 606 CLOB

8:30 AM SENATE URBAN AFFAIRS – CANCELED 125 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

12:00 PM SENATE RULES – Upon adjournment 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE INS & LABOR – CANCELED 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Ways & Means Ad Valorem Sub 133 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE INTRAGOV’TAL COORD 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE ECON DEV’T & TOURISM MEZZ 1

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HS 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE GAMES,FISH,AND PARKS 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Ways & Means Sales Tax Sub 133 CAP

2:30 PM Kelly Sub of House Jud’y (Civil) Comm 132 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE MILITARY AFFAIRS WORK GRP 515 CLOB

2:30 PM HOUSE APPROP HEALTH 341 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION – CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM Setzler Sub of House Jud’y Non-Civil 506 CLOB

3:30 PM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y Group A Sub 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR LEGISLATIVE DAY 13

SB 4 – “Enhancing Mental Health Treatment in Georgia Act”; Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force; establish (Substitute) (H&HS-Unterman, 45th)

SB 14 – State Income Taxes; rural hospitals income tax credit; clarify the amount of an exemption for certain entities under the contributions (Substitute) (FIN-Burke, 11th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR LEGISLATIVE DAY 13

Modified Open Rule
HB 14 – Courts; sheriff to collect and deposit certain fees; provide (Judy-Jones-167th)
HB 88 – Superior courts; qualifications for judges; revise (Substitute) (Judy-Fleming-121st)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 146 – Fire departments; purchase and maintain certain insurance coverage for firefighters; require (Substitute)(Ins-Gravley-67th)(AM 25 1388)

The state “little” budget and hospital provider fee bills are both on track for likely passage this week, according to Dave Williams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s $24.3 billion mid-year budget request will go before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, having already cleared the House of Representatives. The House made few changes to the governor’s recommendations, and the Senate is likely to follow suit.

The mid-year budget, which covers state spending through June 30, represents a 2.5 percent increase over the fiscal 2017 budget the legislature adopted last spring, or $606.2 million.

While the Senate deals with the mid-year budget, the House likely will act on legislation renewing the “bed” tax on Georgia hospitals for another three years. The General Assembly first levied the tax in 2010 to shore up the Medicaid program, then renewed it three years later.

The tax would raise $311 million a year in state revenue, which would be used to draw down another $600 million in federal funds.

After a day off on Monday, the legislature will pick up with Day 13 of the 40-day session on Tuesday.

Surprise Medical Billing will take center stage today in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting at 2 PM. From the AJC:Continue Reading..

6
Feb

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

Georgia and American History

The House of Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body, held its second meeting after statehood on February 6, 1788 in Savannah.

On February 6, 1952, Governor Herman Talmadge signed resolutions of the General Assembly that included:

A resolution calling on Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and instead allow a maximum rate of 25 percent on any federal income, transfer, gift, or inheritance tax.

A resolution urging U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell to run for the presidency.

On February 6, 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of  the Georgia General Assembly, asking their support for House Resolution 1185, which introduced the idea of “interposition,” in which the State of Georgia would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 and 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decisions “null and void” in Georgia. That day Griffin also signed a raft of legislation for his “massive resistance” agenda against integration of state schools.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. In 1980, Reagan would be elected President of the United States, beating incumbent Jimmy Carter. When he was born, his father said, “he looks like a fat little Dutchman.  But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.”

On February 6, 1985, Reagan gave the State of the Union. During the speech he announced what would be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

Reagan began his foreign policy comments with the dramatic pronouncement that, “Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God’s children.” America’s “mission” was to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.” More specifically, Reagan declared that, “We must stand by our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He concluded, “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

With these words, the Reagan administration laid the foundation for its program of military assistance to “freedom fighters.”

Throwback Thursday comes early this week, thanks to Florida Deputies, who arrested a Georgia man for running moonshine.

Alachua County deputies said they arrested a man who was heading south with a load of moonshine in the trunk of his car.

Deputies said Joe Edwards III, Georgia, was headed south on Interstate 75 when the Domestic Highway Enforcement Task Force investigators pulled him over.

Upon searching Edwards’ Kia, they found 24 gallons of moonshine called ‘white lightning’ in the trunk, hidden in water bottle boxes.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Committee Meetings

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HUMAN RESOURCES 403 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE Ways &a Means Sub Tax Reform 133 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HEALTH 341 CAP

State Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) aims to do for the music industry what Georgia did for the film industry.

“As a huge music fan, I want to see the music industry in the state of Georgia thrive the way that the film industry has,” said state Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, author of House Bill 155, a bill that proposes tax credits for some music industry spending in Georgia.

Carter’s bill aims to boost the number of records, tours and, ultimately, jobs that come from the music industry in Georgia. The bill offers tax credits of up to 25 percent of qualified spending in the state. The bill has the support of state House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

State Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) and State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta)  have each introduced legislation to increase the cap on tax credits for donors to private school scholarships.

“The program’s $58 million cap has been exceeded on the first day of applications for the past three years, and this year it was more than double. To the parents who have contributed to this program: we have heard you loud and clear. You absolutely want more school choice for Georgia’s kids,” said state Rep. John Carson in a written statement about his House Bill 217. His bill would raise the tax credit in steps to reach $180 million in 2022.

State Rep. Sam Teasley, in his similar House Bill 236, would raise the cap to $150 million and subsequently build in automatic increases.

But the program they are trying to expand is the subject of a lawsuit. Lawyers for a group of taxpayers told the state Supreme Court in January that the tax credits are unconstitutional because they’re essentially tax money being spent on religious institutions, in this case religious private schools.

The opioid addiction and overdose crisis is addressed in at least three pieces of legislation this year.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, is sponsoring a bill that expands the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which aims to prevent doctor hopping and weed out physicians who are overprescribing. The bill also makes permanent an emergency order issued by Gov. Nathan Deal last year that legalized over-the-counter sale of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Two other bills address the rising rate of fentanyl abuse.

The synthetic opioid is relatively easy to manufacture and can have various chemical structures. Lawmakers want to add new language to existing laws to help law enforcement and prosecutors keep up with the various versions of fentanyl.

Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, introduced a bill that would regulate the 70 methadone clinics already operating in the state. According to federal records, Georgia has more of these clinics than any other state in the south including neighboring Florida, which has twice the population.

State Senator Renee Unterman introduced Senate Bill 118, which would change the age limit from six years of age to 21 for patients receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorder under insurance plans.

Senate Bill 118 will be introduced next week but still faces an uphill battle at the Capitol, where insurance and business advocates have long opposed expanding mandates they say can be costly. Unterman, however, said she is ready to battle, noting that Gov. Nathan Deal over the past few years has also backed broader coverage.

The Senate push comes two years after the chamber won a compromise with passage of the state’s original mandate requiring private insurers to cover autism services for children up to the age of 6. Advocates are scheduled later this month to hold their annual “Autism Day” to lobby at the state Capitol.

Proposals to increase access to dental care by broadening the scope of practice for dental hygienists is moving forward in both legislative chambers.

Dentists are scarce here, as they are all over rural Georgia, and current state law says hygienists can only practice with a dentist in the same building.

[Turner County dentist Michael] Dent said freeing up hygienists to clean teeth without direct supervision would help solve that problem.

This year, state lawmakers are considering two measures to make that possible. One bill is sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

“It’s so simple, and it sounds so logical that you would not have to have a dentist in a brick and mortar building to be able to deliver care to people who desperately need care,” Unterman said when introducing the legislation in December.

This year, the Georgia Dental Association supports [HB 154 by State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta)] that would free up hygienists.

It would block private practice, but it’s a bit more specific when it comes to safety and privacy requirements. Capaldo said he’s hopeful the measure will pass.

Georgia Democrats seek to tap angst over the Trump Administration for political purposes.

State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, started a “Georgia Resists” website through her caucus devoted to challenging Trump at every turn. It has attracted more than 2,800 subscribers and 260 volunteers since launching hours before the president was sworn in.

At meetings across the state, Abrams has promoted what she calls “relentless incrementalism.”

“We have to know that every year is an election year, and we are always campaigning,” Abrams said. “There are 160 municipal elections this year, and they are a chance to stand up and show who we are. That’s how Republicans took this state. They started with city council races, with soil and water conservation posts most of you skipped.”

The size and scope of the movement has stunned even longtime Democratic activists who have seen the ebb and flow of movements such as the Moral Monday protests. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, who has been in elected office for 25 years, has “never in my long political career seen this kind of energy.”

“People keep saying that Trump is a new form of president,” said Oliver, whose inbox is full of messages from voters who want to get involved. “Well, people are responding in a new form now, too.”

Georgia’s WIN List, a pro-Democratic political action committee geared toward electing more women in public office, has seen a more than 50 percent increase in the number of attendees at the “house parties” it holds after each election.

New Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins sat for an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

Baldwin County deputy coroner Ken Garland made his Super Bowl debut in an ad for Synovus.

Grantville municipal elections are moving from even-years to odd-years after state legislation consolidate local election dates.

The Moultrie-Colquitt Public Library is seeking state funds for a renovation.

The Moultrie-Colquitt County Public Library is No. 2 on a list of recommended projects the Georgia Public Library Service sends to state legislators, according to library Director Holly Phillips. The legislators will now decide which projects on that list will get funded as part of the state budget.

“Our representatives have been really supportive and really excited about this project,” Phillips said. “Even some people who don’t represent us are talking it up.”

In addition to Reps. Sam Watson of Moultrie and Jay Powell of Camilla, who each represent part of Colquitt County, Phillips praised Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville, who represented part of the county until the redistricting following the 2010 census.

The Friends of the Library has begun an advocacy project, urging local residents to contact influential legislators on the House Higher Education Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee, the two panels with the most impact on which projects get funded. Powell and Houston both serve on the Appropriations Committee — as does Rep. Ed Rynders of Albany, who also represented a portion of the county prior to the most recent redistricting.

Angie Patteson, president of the Friends of the Library, said she’s asking everyone she’s contacted about the issue to reach out to legislators by Feb. 8. First, no one can say when the decision will be made, so a quick deadline helps ensure people don’t wait too late; and second, having several calls and emails within a short time period will make an impact on the legislators, she said.

Richmond County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Greg Meagher died on the job after being exposed to liquid nitrogen.

The Gainesville Times writes that cash remittances to Mexico are declining.

Carrillo’s 2 at 503 Atlanta Highway also runs a money transfer service where many of her customers come to pay their utility bills, buy money orders and wire money back to their loved ones in Mexico.

In 2016, a record $27 billion was sent home to Mexico by migrants living abroad, according to a recent Central Bank report. The Bank said almost all the money was sent to Mexico by electronic transfers, and the remittances surpass the $15.6 billion Mexico earns from oil exports and $17.5 billion in tourism income.

Carrillo said she’s also noticed a slowdown in money transfers, and the transfers being made are for lesser amounts than what she’s accustomed to seeing.

Vanesa Zabala, a cashier at Mexico Transfers, a money wiring service at Westside Plaza, 425 Atlanta Highway, said foot traffic at the business has slowed down to a trickle.

“It started slowing down after Trump was elected,” Zabala said. “Now we’re seeing 10 to 15 customers a day when we used to see triple that amount.”

Gainesville city officials held a retreat to plan their priorities for 2017.

Dale Holland was appointed by the Democratic Party to serve on the Dawson County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

The Hall-Dawson CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program is opening its training program to train volunteers to represent minors.

3
Feb

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

On February 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.

On February 3, 1887, Congress adopted the Electoral Count Act to clarify how Congress was to count electoral votes.

Electoral vote counting is the oldest activity of the national government and among the oldest questions of constitutional law. It was Congress’s first task when a quorum appeared in the nation’s new legislature on April 6, 1789. It has happened every four years since then. Yet, electoral vote counting remains one of the least understood aspects of our constitutional order.

The Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA) lies at the heart of this confusion. In enacting the ECA, Congress drew on lessons learned from its twenty-five previous electoral counts; it sorted through innumerable proposals floated before and after the disastrous presidential election of 1876; and it thrashed out the ECA’s specific provisions over fourteen years of sustained debate. Still, the law invites misinterpretation. The ECA is turgid and repetitious. Its central provisions seem contradictory. Many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long. Proponents of the law admitted it was “not perfect.” Contemporary commentators were less charitable. John Burgess, a leading political scientist in the late nineteenth century, pronounced the law unwise, incomplete, premised on contradictory principles, and expressed in language that was “very confused, almost unintelligible.” At least he thought the law was constitutional; others did not.

Over the nearly 120 years since the ECA’s adoption, the criticisms faded, only to be renewed whenever there was a close presidential election. Our ability to misunderstand the ECA has grown over time. During the 2000 presidential election dispute, politicians, lawyers, commentators, and Supreme Court justices seemed prone to misstate or misinterpret the provisions of the law, even those provisions which were clear to the generation that wrote them. The Supreme Court, for example, mistakenly believed that the Supreme Court of Florida’s erroneous construction of its election code would deny Florida’s electors the ECA’s “safe harbor” protection; Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s hasty submission of his state’s Certificate of Ascertainment was untimely under the Act; and Democratic members of Congress framed their objections to accepting Florida’s electoral vote on the wrong grounds. Even Al Gore, the presidential candidate contesting the election’s outcome, misread the federal deadline for seating Florida’s electors.

Only the United States Congress could so obfuscate a matter as seemingly simple as counting that its Act remained undecipherable for more than one hundred years.

The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Delaware on February 3, 1913, giving the Amendment the requisite Constitutional supermajority of three-fourths of the states. The text of the Amendment reads, in its entirety,

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

President Woodrow Wilson died on February 3, 1924 in Washington, DC. Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia (pronounced Stan-ton) and spent most of his youth to age 14 in Augusta, Georgia. Wilson started practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia in 1882, leaving the next year to pursue a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. His wife, Ellen Louise Axson, was from Savannah, and they married in Rome, Ga in 1885.

On February 3, 1959, a chartered Beechcraft Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed near Mason City, Iowa, killing all aboard.

Jimi Hendrix recorded Purple Haze on this date in 1967.

A new exhibition at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA explores the historic role of African-Americans in the development of railroading.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal Falcons Jersey

Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed February 3, 2017 as “Falcons Friday” ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl LI  between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. The governor encouraged state employees and all Georgians to show their support by dressing in their favorite Falcons attire tomorrow. Read the proclamation, also attached, below:Continue Reading..

2
Feb

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

The first recorded reference to Groundhog Day was in 1841; the first Punxsutawney observance was in 1870.

The first recorded reference to Groundhog Day was in 1841; the first Punxsutawney observance was in 1870.

Atlanta City Council met for the first time on February 2, 1848.

On February 2, 1870, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

On February 2, 1932, Al Capone was sent to federal prison in Atlanta.

On February 2, 1988, the Georgia Senate ratified the 22d Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that pay raises for Members of Congress shall not go into effect until the next term.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The United States Senate Finance Committee overcame a Democratic boycott to send the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services to a vote of the full Senate.

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee pushed President Donald Trump’s pick for health secretary through to the full Senate on Wednesday, bypassing Democrats who were boycotting the vote for the second day in a row.

GOP members of the committee suspended its rules – which typically require at least one member of both parties to be present for such a vote – to advance Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency would be responsible for overseeing the implementation of a Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

The committee advanced Price’s nomination by a vote of 14-0.

“As Congress navigates the minefields of tax reform, health care reform and other vitally important matters, we need willing and competent partners to lead these crucial executive branch departments,” [Senator Orrin Hatch] said. “I believe these two nominees can and will provide the necessary leadership that will allow us to be successful in these many endeavors, and I look forward to their nominations being considered by the full Senate.”

A new Adjournment Resolution passed yesterday targets Sine Die, the final day of the state legislative session, for March 30, 2017.

Legislative Meeting Schedule – Day Twelve

8:00 AM SENATE HEALTH & HS – Healthcare Delivery Sub 450 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROP EDUCATION-CANCELLED 341 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE NAT’L RES & ENV’T 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

12:00 PM HOUSE INTRAGOV’TAL COORD 403 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE REG INDU & UTIL – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE & TECH 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HEALTH 341 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY (CIVIL) 132 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORATION 310 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORATION 506 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY – CANCELED 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 85 – Malt Beverages; provide for limited sale at retail by manufacturers (Substitute) (RI&U-17th)

SB 70 – Hospital Medicaid Financing Program; sunset provision; extend (FIN-49th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

HB 58 – Motor vehicles; reference date to federal regulations regarding the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles and carriers; update (MotV-Rogers-10th)

Georgia Politics

Senate Bill 85, which would expand craft brewers’ ability to sell their product, will be voted on in the Senate today.

“I am thrilled,” [State Rep. Michael] Caldwell said Tuesday morning. “It looks like we’re finally making some real steps forward toward craft beer freedom in Georgia this year.”

“The early indicators are that it has support on all sides,” he said, adding that the legislation represents a compromise between brewers and wholesalers in the state. “Georgia remains the only state in the union where wholesalers control every drop of beer.”

[Reformation Brewery CEO Spencer] Nix called the legislation “a great victory for Georgia beer.”

“We’ve been working toward this for years and the prospect of us being able to sell beer is beginning to set off a lot of dreams and visions in our heads,” he said. “We’ve been fighting for it for so long. It’s fun to be able to dream about what we can do now.”

Nix said the legislation, if signed into law, would be good for brewers and consumers alike.

“It’s going to be a lot less confusing because right now, it’s a game we’re having to play,” he said. “You buy a tour and get some samples.”

“That’s the beauty,” Caldwell said. “You’re not buying a tour anymore. You can actually show up and buy the beer.”

Senate Bill 70, renewing the hospital provider fee will be on the floor for a vote today by the full Senate.

“It’s a critical piece of the state budget. It’s one that reluctantly, in some ways, (we) support as a health system — WellStar loses in the neighborhood of $10 million annually through the provider fee,” Brandon Reese, executive director of government relations for WellStar Health System, told Cobb lawmakers at their legislative delegation meeting Wednesday. “But it’s sort of the best ‘bad idea’ to come up with as a collective body, us and you guys, to fill that budget hole.”

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb, said that he expected the legislation to earn Senate approval because the revenue from the bed tax is used to obtain federal funding necessary for the state to balance its budget.

“It has been passed twice, and I look for it to be passed again. It’s the most desirable of things that you don’t want to have to do. Because it accesses federal funds that are part of one of the largest expenditures in our state budget, you almost have to do that,” Tippins said. “We put $300-plus million in it and get a total of about $900 million. If you didn’t pass it, you’d have to be figuring out how to fill a $600 million void — that’s just the long and short of it.”

House Bill 51 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart would require colleges to report allegations of felonies to local law enforcement, but some advocates oppose the requirement.

A bill that would limit the ability of Georgia’s public colleges to investigate and punish those accused of rape on campus cleared a key House panel Wednesday by unanimous voice vote.

Two women who say they were sexually assaulted spoke against the measure at the state Capitol arguing it would discourage victims from coming forward.

“This bill will not protect the victims or the accused,” said Grace Starling, who is now in law school. “This is not right. We are scared of this legislation.”

That AJC story could use some additional fact reporting – the bill number and the name of the Committee (House Higher Education) are missing from it. Also, saying as a student, “We are scared of this legislation,” might not be the most effective way to address Rep. Ehrhart.

The Georgia House Medical Cannabis Working Group voted to move forward with HB 65, legislation by State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) to expand the availability of medical cannabis.

“I think we’ve seen over two years of the (medical cannabis registry) law being in place that the sky hasn’t fallen and that now would be a proper time to allow additional citizens to benefit from medical cannabis oil,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, just after the state House Medical Cannabis Working Group heard public testimony about his House Bill 65.

The bill would for the first time open the state’s medical cannabis registry to patients who have AIDS or HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder or Tourette’s syndrome. Georgians who have a medical cannabis registry card can posses a liquid made from cannabis.

The bill would also open the registry to people earlier in the course of treatment for some diagnoses. Right now, the registry is open to people who have a “severe” or “end-stage” diagnosis of cancer; Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; and sickle cell disease. Peake’s bill cuts the words “severe” and “end-stage.”

Georgians including veterans, parents and grandchildren testified about how they say medical cannabis helps them or their family members.

Cobb County legislators are asking for a meeting with County officials and Braves management to discuss the new stadium.

“I think we will have a meeting and probably try to find a date that Chairman Mike Boyce and Mike Plant (president, development for the Braves) can come and discuss where they are on the Braves traffic plan to keep the delegation informed as to what they may expect when ball season gets started,” said state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb. “I think the delegation will probably be asked questions about it, people will comment, and at least we will have had more exposure than not after the meeting.”

Tippins was selected by his peers Wednesday to serve as chairman of the legislative delegation in a midday meeting held in the Coverdell Office Building across from the Capitol. He succeeds state Rep. John Carson, R-northeast Cobb, who had suggested to Tippins that the county legislators meet with Boyce and Plant.

“Our objective is to have a good working relationship with both gentlemen,” Carson said. “I know Mike Boyce, and I look forward to getting to know him even better. I know he’s going to do a great job. We just want to have a working relationship and a line of communication … and I have a lot of faith in Mike Plant and the job he’s doing for the Braves.”

State Rep. David Stover (R-Newnan) is taking incoming fire from local leaders over allegations that he’s missed votes in the State House.

Rep. David Stover has missed the first four votes in the House of Representatives this legislative session, plus the formal swearing-in ceremony on the session’s first day, leading to some concern.

At least one local civic leader has been critical of the Palmetto Republican, whose office says he has been away from the capitol because of demands his occupation.

Stover asked the clerk of the House to submit a request to be excused from the votes, a formality that doesn’t require legislators to list a reason for their absences. House Speaker David Ralston granted the excuses along with those requested by other lawmakers, but Ralston’s office said at the time the speaker didn’t know where Stover was.

Stover did not respond to multiple requests by email and to his cellphone for a comment for this news story.

He reportedly also did not respond to messages left by some colleagues and by the president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. The group’s CEO, Candace Boothby, blamed Stover for leaving his constituents essentially unrepresented during the missed votes.

Georgia sheriffs are expressing concern over a pay gap between state-employed law enforcement officers and locally-employed after a 20 percent raise for state LEOs.

The raises, the governor said, were the result of watching some of the state’s best-trained officers leave for higher pay at other agencies or for local police departments.

However, many of Georgia’s sheriffs claim they are witnessing the same talent migration on the local level.

Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager says he has seen several deputies leave for jobs at the state and federal level after the county has spent a considerable sum to train and certify them to serve and protect locally.

“I talk to sheriffs in smaller counties whose jail officers make $9 an hour and deputies make $10.50. Frankly, I don’t see how they’re making it,” Yeager said. “Sure, public service work may not pay the best, but these people have passion for it, and we need to find ways to ensure better pay so we don’t lose them.”

“The bigger areas who have the budget and resources, they are able to address the issue of losing personnel to state and federal agencies,” said Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. “But for those other areas where you have the $10- and $11-an hour employees, it’s a phenomenally sad occurance to see.”

Following Deal’s announcement last year, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association adopted a “local law enforcement compensation reform” effort to continue the conversation about pay and resources for officers who aren’t employed by the state.

A United States Court of Appeals upheld the district court ruling lowering the number of signatures required for third-party Presidential candidates to earn a spot on the Georgia ballot.

The one-sentence ruling, by a unanimous three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, adopted the “well-reasoned opinion” issued in March by U.S. District Judge Richard Story in Atlanta. Story had significantly lowered the number of signatures required for so-called “third-party” candidates to petition to get on Georgia’s presidential ballot — from tens of thousands to 7,500.

“I think it’s a great decision,” said Laughlin McDonald, the director-emeritus of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project. “The state put up no evidence whatsoever as to voter confusion or ballot overcrowding.”

A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in response to the ruling, said, “We respectfully disagree with the decision, and we are currently reviewing our options for appeal.” If the state appealed, it would likely ask the entire 11-member 11th Circuit court to review the decision.

Roswell businessman Kurt Wilson has declared his candidacy for the Sixth Congressional District.

Kurt Wilson’s campaign, Kurt for Congress, has issued a Term Limit Pledge and invited all candidates in the likely Special Election to represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to sign on too.

The Term Limit Pledge Wilson brings forward limits a congressman’s service to 8-years, agrees to forgo the pension afforded Members of Congress, bans compensated lobbyist activity after serving and demands advocacy for a Constitutional Amendment tackling the term limit issue.

“Until we eliminate the career being elected to Congress represents and restore pure servanthood to Congress, tackling the onerous Federal Bureaucracy cannot take place,” says Wilson.

In response to broad support for a Constitutional Amendment restructuring the terms of Senators and Representatives and imposing term limits, candidate
Kurt Wilson is taking the lead to cause real change in Washington, DC. Unpopular among the political elite, term limits are a fundamental first step in rebuilding a servant based, responsive government. In October, Rasmussen Reports’ national telephone survey finds that 74% of Likely U.S. Voters favor establishing term limits for all members of Congress.

The pledge has been sent to each of the announced candidates seeking to replace Congressman Tom Price in a Special Election when he is confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Included in the pledge are the following stipulations:

  • I will serve no more than 8-years in the United States House of Representatives;
  • I will forgo the Lifetime Pension afforded to Members of Congress;
  • I nor any member of my immediate family will engage, for compensation, in activities described as “lobbying” of Congress or its Members for the rest of our/their natural lives; and,
  • I will advocate for a Constitutional Amendment restructuring the Terms for Representatives and Senators and imposing Term Limits on the same.

An Assistant City Attorney in Dunwoody resigned after allegations that he made inflammatory statements on Facebook.

Judge Jason Deal of the Superior Court for the Northeastern District was honored for outstanding judicial service by his peers at the annual meeting of the Council of Superior Court Judges of Georgia.

The United States Army’s 518th Tactical Installation Networking Company returned to Georgia after 9 months in the Middle East.

1
Feb

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

The United States Supreme Court held its first session in New York City, Chief Justice John Jay presiding, on February 1, 1790.

On February 1, 1861, Texas seceded from the Union.

On February 1, 1871, Jefferson Franklin Long of Macon, Georgia became the first black Member of Congress to speak on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Long was born into slavery and taught himself to read and write. Long was a prominent member of the Republican Party, speaking on its behalf in Georgia and other Southern states. He helped elect 37 African-American members to the 1867 Georgia Constitutional Convention and 32 members of the state legislature; Long continued after his term in Congress as a delegate to Republican National Conventions through 1880. In 1880, Long’s support of Governor Alfred Colquitt showed that African-Americans could be an electoral force in Georgia politics.

On February 1, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Selma, Alabama, where he was arrested.

Richard M. Nixon announced his candidacy for President of the United States on Feburary 1, 1968.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Day 11 Committee Meetings

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROP GEN’L GOV’T 506 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROP ED 515 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE AG & CONSUMER AFF 403 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 11) HOUSE CHAMBER

11:30 AM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

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

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

1:00 PM< HOUSE APPROP ECON DEV 341 CAP

1:00 PM House Ways & Means Sub Public Fin & Policy 133 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE MILITARY AFFAIRS WORK GRP 415 CLOB

1:30 PM Fleming Sub House Judicary (Civil) 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE – CANCELED 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS DEV 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE BANKS & BANKING 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT-CANCELED 515 CLOB

2:30 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS – Pharmacology Sub 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FIN INST – CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE AG & CONSUMER AFF 450 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOV’TAL OPS – CANCELED MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE MEDICAL CANNABIS WORK GRP 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROP PUB SAFETY 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY & LABOR 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER ED 403 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL RULES 515 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY – Sub A 307 CLOB

4:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HIGHER ED 403 CAP

 

Craft beer legislation could be ready for a Senate floor vote as early as Thursday.Continue Reading..

31
Jan

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

On January 31, 1733, six boats carried Georgia’s first colonists to Trench’s Island, now called Hilton Head Island, where they spent the night before continuing on to land in Georgia at Yamacraw Bluff on February 1, 1733.

On January 31, 1865, Robert E. Lee began service as Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate armies.

On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery.

General William Tecumseh Sherman visited Kimball Opera House in Atlanta on January 31, 1879, which was then serving as State Capitol, fifteen years after burning the city.

On January 31, 1893, the trademark for “Coca-Cola” was filed.

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker was suspended on January 31, 2000 for remarks made to ESPN.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sen. Josh McKoon announced yesterday he will not run for reelection. More below.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens announced a Catastrophe Claims Village in South Georgia for tornado victims.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens will host a Catastrophe Claims Village in Albany, on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and Wednesday, Feb. 1, according to a statement from the Georgia Department of Insurance. The purpose of the event will be to assist area residents with their insurance questions and claims resulting from severe weather and tornadoes.

“Thousands of South Georgia residents have suffered tremendous losses from the violent weather this month, and my office is here to help them on the road to recovery,” Hudgens said. “I encourage all residents who have insurance questions or need help filing a claim to visit our Claims Village.”

The Catastrophe Claims Village will operate in the parking lot of the Albany Civic Center, located at 100 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. Hudgens’ Consumer Services staff along with representatives from many of the major insurance companies are scheduled to be in attendance. Insurers interested in participating can contact Glenn Allen at [email protected]

Residents who cannot attend the Catastrophe Claims Village can call the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Hotline at 1-800-656-2298.

President Donald Trump told former Georgia United States Attorney Sally Yates, “You’re fired,” as acting Attorney General.Continue Reading..

30
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 30, 2017

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

On January 30, 1935, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. protested segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse.

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

1920 Georgia Flag

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

1956 Georgia Flag

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

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

2001GeorgiaFlag

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Committee Meeting Schedule

8:00 AM SENATE FINANCE – Public Policy &Fin. Sub 122 CAP

1:00 PM SEN HIGHER ED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SEN REGULATED IND & UTIL 310 CLOB

1:00 PM Judiciary (Civil) Fleming Subcommittee 132 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE JUDY NON-CIV FULL 406 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

2:00 PM SENATE ED & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SEN APPROP – Higher Ed Sub 341 CAP

2:00 PM SEN APPROP – Econ Dev’t Sub 310 CLOB

2:00 PM House Regs Sub on Regulated Ind 403 CAP

3:00 PM SEN GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

3:00 PM SEN RETIREMENT 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 450 CAP

3:00 PM SEN APPROP – Judy Sub 341 CAP

3:00 PM SEN APPROP – Transportation Sub 307 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

3:00 PM House Judy (Civil) Kelley Sub 132 CAP

3:00 PM DEFENSE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS 415 CLOB

3:30 PM JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE HIGHER ED 506 CLOB

4:00 PM SEN REAPP’T & REDIST 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SEN INTERSTATE COOP 125 CAP

4:00 PM SEN APPROP – Human Dev, Behavioral Health & Dev’tal Disabilities, Public Health Sub 341 CAP

4:00 PM SEN APPROP – Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee 307 CLOB

Senate Bill 70 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) appears poised for quick action today. Senate Bill 70 renews the Hospital Provider Fee that receives a roughly 2:1 match of federal dollars.

The Senate Finance Committee’s Public Policy & Finance Subcommittee had SB 70 on it’s agenda for 8 AM today. Then at 2 PM, the full Senate Finance Committee meets and the agenda lists SB 70.

Governor Deal, in his State of the State address, urged the legislature to reauthorize the provider fee “expeditiously.”

Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, DC-based lobbying group, opposes reauthorization of the provider fee.

Hunting and fishing license fees may be going up if legislators consider a departmental recommendation.

“Georgia’s resident licenses are some of the cheapest in the nation, and certainly in the Southeast, and we have not increased those in 24 years,” said Wes Robinson, director of public and government affairs for the Department of Natural Resources, at a budget hearing earlier this month.

He did not give details about where the department wants to see prices set, but he said the they will propose bringing licenses “in line” with the regional average.

Raising more state money in license fees would draw more federal matching dollars. With the money, Robinson said the department would like to increase the number of game wardens, among other things.

Senator Renee Unterman has introduced legislation to address the issue of “surprise emergency room bills.”

A surprise bill can be the result of “balance billing.” This occurs when the patient is pursued for the balance after his or her health insurer pays its share to the medical provider. The problem is that the balance often turns out to be much more than the patient anticipated.

Two state lawmakers have introduced separate bills in the General Assembly to prevent these surprise bills. Other states, including Florida, recently have passed legislation to address the problem.

Physician groups, insurers and consumer advocates in Georgia all say they want to solve the problem – taking the patient out of the middle of the current tug-of-war. These situations currently confound and upset many consumers receiving medical care, leading to unpaid bills and harsh collection practices.

Physician groups and insurance groups are at the opposite ends of the billing equation, says state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who introduced legislation on surprise billing last year and is updating it this year. “It’s a very, very complicated issue.”

“The main goal is to take the patient out of the conflict between providers and insurance companies,” says Unterman, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Both her proposal and a House bill on the issue call for greater transparency about which doctors are in an insurer’s network, and an estimated cost of the procedure.

Democratic state legislators are proposing an expansion of voter registration and removal of the ID requirement for voting.

Democratic State Sen. Vincent Fort introduced a bill to allow voters to both register and cast a ballot on Election Day. Last year, the deadline to register to vote was more than a month before the presidential election. The bill would increase voter turnout and widen democracy, Fort said.

Fort also introduced legislation essentially repealing the requirement for voters to show photo ID at a polling place. Georgia was one of the first states to implement a voter ID law in 2008. Proponents of the law say it helps to eliminate widespread fraud, but multiple studies have shown that there is no evidence of such fraud in the U.S. Those groups also contend that the ID requirement disproportionately targets people of color and the elderly.

A proposal from Rep. Roger Bruce would allow voters to cast a ballot at any precinct in their home county. Additionally, a bill sponsored by Rep. David Dreyer would require polling places to be located within 25 miles of every voter in a county.

Sen. Lester Jackson introduced a bill to expand the window for early voting. The bill adds an additional Saturday to the current schedule, which Democrats say would make it easier to vote for people who work or can’t otherwise get to a polling place during weekdays.

DeKalb County Commissioners voted to support development by Integral Group at the old GM plant site in Doraville.

DeKalb County is putting $180 million into public infrastructure at the old General Motors plant site in Doraville.

The county’s seven commissioners unanimously approved the investment and created a Tax Allocation District (TAD) that will freeze taxes on the project for 30 years.

The BOC vote means that the $60 million mixed-use development proposed that had been stalled can finally proceed. The project near Spaghetti Junction at the intersection of I-285 and I-85 in Doraville, now called Assembly, is expected to generate 500 jobs in the near future, and possibly 8,000 eventually.

It is also expected to attract $1.5 billion in private investment and increase daily MARTA ridership by 30,000.

Marie Willsey joined the field of candidates in a March 21 special election for Roswell City Council.

Polk County Board of Education members voted against paying for an election to pass another Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST).

Rural Georgia Rises Up

Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph writes about the focus on rural Georgia in this year’s legislative session.

Lawmakers are talking about the problems that plague some of Georgia’s smaller communities. Main Street businesses that have closed. Financially struggling hospitals. Poor internet connections. Schools that don’t offer all the classes that will help students get into the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech. Young people moving to cities and never coming back.

Now there’s a move afoot in the state House to try and look at all these things comprehensively.

So far it doesn’t have a formal name, but House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, is calling it the rural development initiative. He mentioned it in a speech in front of Georgia mayors on Monday.

The needs of rural Georgia are starting to get more attention. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce recently announced its own rural development plans and said it would open an office in Tifton.

Powell foresees the need for some kind of investment to jump-start a turnaround in rural Georgia. But he does not want a scattershot approach that just works on one problem.

“That’s why it has to be a coordinated plan, because if all you do is attract doctors, then you are going to have to subsidize them from now until kingdom come,” [State Rep. Jay] Powell said. “But if you’re doing jobs and doctors and education and transportation, then at some point in time you develop a self-sustaining community.”

Charlie Hayslett writes about one of the issues that defines rural Georgia – lack of population density and lower incomes – by comparing most of South Georgia to Gwinnett County.

Compare all 56 counties of interior South Georgia to Gwinnett County alone.

Gwinnett County’s 2013 population was estimated at 859,304 – just under three-fourths of the 1.16 million people living in our 56-county South Georgia region.

But despite that population disadvantage, Gwinnett County:

  • Generates more income and contributes more in taxes than all 56 counties of South Georgia combined. According to IRS data, Gwinnett County’s total income for 2013 was $21.2 billion versus $17.4 billion for South Georgia.  Similarly, Gwinnett County taxpayers paid $2.5 billion in federal taxes while South Georgia taxpayers contributed $1.7 billion.
  • Is substantially healthier than South Georgia. Using premature death rates as a proxy for health status, Gwinnett County is about twice as healthy as South Georgia.  The 2015 YPLL 75 rate for the 56-county South Georgia region was 9,823.3; for Gwinnett County, it was 5,163.2 (with YPLL 75 rates, the lower the number, the better).   In this category, South Georgia has actually gained a little ground over the past 20 years.  It’s improved about 5.4 percent over that period while Gwinnett County has been essentially flat.  But South Georgia’s numbers in this category are abysmal while Gwinnett County’s are pretty close to optimal, especially for a county as large and diverse as it is.  For 2015, Gwinnett County’s YPLL 75 rate was the fifth best in the state, and it has consistently been in the top tier of counties in this category.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) has an radically ambitious proposal to reshape health care delivery and assist rural Georgia communities.

The first part of Duncan’s plan would move Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan, which manages about $8 billion in state insurance policies, from the Department of Community Health the the Department of Administrative Services – and require the agency to hire a chief data officer skilled in predictive modeling and other tools of the trade to run the program.

The second part seems likely to grab more attention.  That department would be authorized to create as many as 100 federally qualified health centers – nonprofit centers that provide healthcare to low-income patients regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay – and then give families covered by the state health insurance plan incentives to use the centers.

Each new center – there are already about 200 in Georgia – would be required to handle mental illnesses and opioid addictions, and the department would be encouraged to create a co-op for all the centers to buy their medical equipment and other supplies in bulk.

Duncan doesn’t have the backing of the governor or other top GOP leaders yet, nor does he have a fiscal note. But he estimates the measure could cost as much as $25 million if all 100 centers are opened. He said cost-savings in the long run from consolidating  expenses, cheaper pharmaceutical costs and leveraging federal aid would be worth the short-term funding.

Monroe County voters will cast ballots on March 21, 2017 in a non-binding referendum on whether to increase property taxes to keep their local hospital open.

The hospital is six million dollars in debt. Administration has tried everything to keep the facility open. Last summer, Navicent Health partnered with the hospital to help.

The hospital doesn’t have the funds to keeping serving the area. So administration and commissioners came up with options.

The first option, “Basically, closing the hospital systematically within three to six months,” said Evans. Option two would, “keep the hospital open, and it would require ten million dollars.”

These options are being left to residents to vote on March 21st. Option two would require an increase in resident’s taxes.

“It will only increase average tax payer’s house, $100,000 dollar house,” explained Evans. “Their taxes will go up approximately thirty dollars a year.”

Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) and other doctors spoke about rural health care access.

“When it comes to the state of Georgia, there are two states, the urban part of the state and the rural part of the state,” said Charles Ruis, health director in the Southwest Health District. “What we want to do is have equity. To have the kind of healthcare that we all need and all desire. We live differently currently in the rural part of the state than the folks in the urban part of the state. Life is different.”

Ruis displayed a map that illustrated the poverty rate in Georgia, with an almost clear line being drawn from Columbus to Augusta. Almost every county below that line, with the exception of coastal counties, were considered in poverty. Counties around Atlanta had very little poverty.

The causes of death between Decatur County residents and Georgia residents at large are fairly similar. Both have their leading cause of death listed as heart disease and cancer, which are also the second (and third) biggest cause of death in the U.S. Ruis, however, said that doesn’t reveal the whole picture.

The death rate from behavioral health and other mental health problems in Decatur County is almost twice the rate in the state of Georgia. The death rate of diabetes in Decatur County is also twice the rate as that in Georgia.

Sen. Dean Burke, Chief of Staff at Memorial Hospital, argued that the community would need to work together to improve healthcare in the Decatur County.

“Our community needs the hospital. Our region needs our hospital,” Burke said. “We don’t communicate, and certainly not well. For us to improve the healthcare outcomes of our individual citizens, we are going to have to work together. Quit having duplication of services, missing services and gaps because somebody thought somebody else was doing it. This to me is the kickoff of the ability for our county and city to take responsibility.”

 

27
Jan

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

On January 28, 1733, Georgia’s first colonists celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their safe arrival in Savannah and Chief Tomochichi’s granting them permission to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.

On January 27, 1785, a charter was approved by the Georgia legislature for the first publicly-supported state university in America.

On January 29, 1779, British forces captured Augusta, Georgia.

On January 29, 1892, the Coca Cola Company was incorporated in Georgia in Fulton County Superior Court.

On January 27, 1941, Delta Air Lines announced it would move its headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia. It was an interesting case of public-money-fueled economic development.

In 1940, the city of Atlanta and Delta had signed an agreement whereby the city agreed to contribute $50,000 for construction of a new hanger and office building for Delta if it would move its headquarters to Atlanta. In turn, Delta agreed to pay the remaining construction costs and then assume a 20-year lease for the new facilities. On Jan. 16, 1941, Delta had secured a $500,000 loan from Atlanta’s Trust Company of Georgia, thus allowing it to make a public announcement of the move.

On January 28, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed a joint resolution of the Georgia House and Senate amending the Georgia Constitution to make the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia a constitutional board and reduce the power of the Governor over the Regents.

The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.

On January 29, 1955, Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation granting the power to take land needed for the Stone Mountain Park through condemnation if negotiations to buy it fell through.

On January 27, 1965, the Shelby GT 350 was unveiled.

Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” was released on January 27, 1965, seven weeks after his death.

On January 29, 1977, Congressman Andrew Young resigned his seat to accept the nomination by President Carter as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.

Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.

On January 29, 1998, a bomb exploded in a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing a police officer. Eric Rudolph would later admit to setting that bomb, along with the Centennial Park bombing in 1996, and the bombing of a Sandy Springs abortion clinic and an Atlanta bar in 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that FEMA will assist individuals in six counties hit by tornadoes.

Gov. Deal Nathan Deal today received notice from the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that six counties impacted by the severe weather on January 21 and 22 have been approved for individual assistance. Deal has also requested individual assistance for the remaining 10 counties under the state of emergency.

The six counties include:

  • Berrien
  • Cook
  • Crisp
  • Dougherty
  • Turner
  • Wilcox

“I’m tremendously grateful for the immediate assistance and attention President Trump has given Georgia’s requests for federal aid, as well as his concern for our citizens,” said Deal.

“I’d also like to thank President Trump for sending the acting director of FEMA to view firsthand the horrific effects of this natural disaster. FEMA, along with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, is working to expedite financial assessments in the remaining counties impacted by the storms.”

“Following my conversations with President Trump and FEMA, I’m confident that public assistance for all 16 counties will be approved expeditiously. This approval is critical to the state as well as local communities.”

For more information on damage assessments, contact Catherine Howden at [email protected].

Continue Reading..

26
Jan

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

The Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting on January 26, 1846 at Talbotton, Georgia.

John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.

On January 26, 2001 a new state flag, first designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander, passed out of committee in the General Assembly by a 4-3 vote and would be voted on later that week. Click here to view the floor debate from 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Committee Meetings

8:00 AM HOUSE NAT’L RES & ENV’T 606 CLOB

10:00 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 8) HOUSE CHAMBER

1:00 PM SEN REGULATED IND & UTIL – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SEN PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM House Judy (Civ) Fleming Sub 132 CAP

2:00 PM SEN SCIENCE & TECH 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM MOTOR VEHICLES 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 606 CLOB

3:00 PM SEN FINANCE – Pub Policy & Fin Sub 123 CAP

3:00 PM SEN TRANSPORTATION – CANCELED 125 CAP

4:00 PM SEN JUDICIARY – CANCELED 307 CLOB

Governor Nathan Deal and local legislators surveyed tornado damage in South Georgia yesterday.Continue Reading..

25
Jan

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

Emory Window 628

On January 25, 1915, a charter was issued in DeKalb County Superior Court to Emory University.

On January 25, 1943, Georgia Gov. Ellis Arnall signed legislation eliminating the governor as an ex officio member of the State Board of Education, State Board of Regents, Department of Public Safety, and State Housing Authority, as part of a proposal to reduce the Governor’s power over education.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal will visit parts of South Georgia that were recently hit by tornados. Joining him will be local legislators and state emergency response leaders. The trip will include an aerial tour of Albany and driving tour of Cook County.

Albany-area first responders have been working constantly in the aftermath of two different tornado-strikes within weeks.Continue Reading..