Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 22, 2014

Medical Marijuana moving up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gold Dome Today

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


Legislative Calendar

Senate Rules – TBA, 450 CAP

10:00 AM Floor Session

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

2:00 pm

Senate Health & Human Services Committee

Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, 450 CAP

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

3:00 pm

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

Kingston Collection

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

Kingston Corn logo

And Ball One:

Kingston Baseball logoSm


Open Judicial seats in Gwinnett, Cobb

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

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


Probation Lifted for DeKalb Public Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.

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

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

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

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

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

JesterGradRatesPerPupilSpendingMap copy

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 21, 2014

Legislative Calendar for January 21, 2014

Blue highlighted committee names are linked to the meeting agenda.

TBD
Senate Rules Committee- TO BE ANNOUNCED – 450 CAP

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Events Calendar


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

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

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

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GA GOP Foundation: Breakfast with Governor Nathan Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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Buckhead YR: Meeting with Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens

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

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

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Gwinnett Teen Republicans: Meeting

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

Gwinnett Teen Republicans Meeting

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Georgia Right to Life: The Georgia March For Life

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

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

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

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

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

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Rep. Rob Woodall: Veterans Assistance Open House

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

Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce: Annual Meeting

January 23, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Northside Hospital – Cherokee Conference Center, 1130 Bluffs Parkway Canton , GA 30114
+ Google Map

Join us as we celebrate our 2013 accomplishments, welcome our 2014 Board of Directors, present our Volunteer of the Year & First Citizen! No refunds. Priority seating given to reserved tables as secured.

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2014 State of DeKalb County Business Lunch

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

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

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

January 23, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
City Club of Buckhead, 3343 Peachtree Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30326
+ Google Map

Join the Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford of the United Kingdom for a discussion on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Learn how you can prepare to take advantage of the business opportunities presented by TTIP upon its implementation. Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford will lead the discussion and will be joined by business executives who are currently conducting business in the UK and the US. They will share details on the business landscape in the UK, how it might change…

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

January 23, 2014 from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Winchesters Wood Fire Grille, 110 Mountain Vista Blvd. Canton, GA 30115
+ Google Map

Meet and Greet Georgia Governor Candidate David Pennington. In addition, meet  Senate and Congressional  candidate spouses, Mrs. Nikkin Broun and Mrs. Danelle Mroinski.

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Rep. Rob Woodall: Gwinnett Town Hall Meeting

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

Congressman Rob Woodall Gwinnett Town Hall Meeting

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Georgia Tea Party: Meeting with Kelly McCutchen on Tax Reform

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

+ Google Map

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

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Bibb County GOP: Meeting with David Perdue

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

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

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Georgia Municipal Association: Mayors’ Day

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

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

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Columbia County GOP: Breakfast with Rep. Barry Fleming

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

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

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Cobb Chamber of Commerce: Annual Dinner

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

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

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11th Annual Taste of Dunwoody

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

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

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

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

+ Google Map

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

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Georgia Municipal Association: U.S. Senate Candidates Forum

January 27, 2014 from 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM
Hilton – Atlanta, 255 Courtland St NE Atlanta , GA 30303
+ Google Map

U.S. Senate Candidates forum will be held at 9:15 a.m., following the breakfast.

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

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

+ Google Map

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

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro-tip for legislators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Deal’s State of the State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator David Shafer released a statement:

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

Today under the Gold Dome

Capitol Dome inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Bernard announces for House District 80

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

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

Kelly Marlow seeks reversal

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

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

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

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

Rep. Allen West to speak in Cobb County

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

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

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

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

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

Your Events Calendar


Cobb YR: Happy Hour

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

Old Vinings Inn,

3011 Paces Mill Road Atlanta , GA 30339 United States

+ Google Map

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

Find out more »


Georgia Tea Party: Meeting with David Wellons on Obamacare

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

Unnamed Venue, 900 Roswell St Marietta , GA 30060

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

Find out more »


Rep. Rob Woodall: Telephone Town Hall

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

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


DeKalb County GOP: Breakfast – Spotlight DeKalb Judicial System

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

Georgia History, Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 8, 2014

On January 8, 1783, Lyman Hall, a Georgia signer of the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor.

Wedgwood Lyman Hall

Lyman Hall appears on one piece of a two-piece set by Wedgwood celebrating the Bicentennial of American Independence. In 1918, Hall County was named after Lyman Hall, and in 1848, a Signers Monument was built in Augusta, where the remains of Hall and fellow signer George Walton were interred.

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington gave his first State of the Union address to Congress in New York City. Click here to read Washington’s first State of the Union.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.

The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.

There was reason to hope that the pacific measures adopted with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians would have relieved the inhabitants of our southern and western frontiers from their depredations, but you will perceive from the information contained in the papers which I shall direct to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the Commonwealth of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union, and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.

The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures by all proper means will not, I trust, need recommendation; but I can not forbear intimating to you the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home, and of facilitating the intercourse between the distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads.

The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.

On January 8, 1821, representatives of the United States and the Creek Indians signed a treaty in which the Creeks ceded the territory from the Flint to the Ocmulgee Rivers, marking the expansion of Georgia beyond the Ocmulgee.

On January 8, 1831, John Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola, was born in Knoxville, Ga.

On January 8, 2007, R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in a class that included Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Patti Smith, and the Ronettes. Five days later, they performed at the induction ceremony.

 

DeKalbGOPSaturdayElection Results

We will have runoff elections for State House Districts 2 and 22 after no candidates garnered the required 50% plus one vote last night.


House District 2

Neal Florence (R)  964 votes (34.31%)
Steve Tarvin (R) 1072 votes (38.15%)
Doug Woodruff (R) 774 votes (27.54%)


House District 22

Meagan Biello (R) 576 votes (23.67%)
Nate Cochran (R) 359 votes (14.76%)
Jeff Duncan (R) 574 votes (23.59%)
Sam Moore (R) 924 votes (37.98%)


Looking at his public statements, supporters, and contributors, it appears to me that Sam Moore is supported by a number of members of the burgeoning Liberty wing of the Republican Party. Make of it what you will.

The runoff elections between the top two vote getters in each race will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.


Greg’s List – an Internet Radio Brogram

Yesterday, I was on Greg’s List Live, an internet radio show with Greg Williams, who writes the Greg’s List blog about Georgia politics. I still don’t understand how the internet works over a radio, but I wanted to share a couple of things we discussed. Here are a couple of my predictions:

1. Expect political grandstanding by candidates for higher office. This includes Ed Lindsey, who is now supporting HB 707, anti-Obamacare legislation while Ed runs for Congress from the 11th District, and Jason Carter, running on spending more of your money in various ways as a Democrat for Governor.

2. The session won’t be super-short. Every year people predict a short session, and this year is like that but more so. I’d guess the third week of March will see Sine Die.

3. The overwhelming theme will be “gimme some money,” as state employees, teacher’s group, and anyone else who receives a paycheck from the state sees rising revenues as a ticket to a raise. Many of our state employees have seen no raises for as long as seven years, while the cost of insurance has gone up, and this year the state benefits health plan actual benefits declined dramatically like something off of Healthcare.gov. The folks most likely to benefit from rising revenues are those with a political constituency beyond their own members. In Georgia, and I suspect most other states, this means teachers.

GAGOP Senate Debates

A great question Greg raised is what are the qualifications to be onstage at the GAGOP Senate debates – will all announced candidates be given a seat at the table, or will there be some measure of viability – financial or otherwise – used to winnow the field.

The problem is that an eight (or more) candidate debate will hardly be compelling watching, because it reduces the number of rounds and questions that can be asked, and by the time the last candidates answers, the audience will likely have forgotten the original question. On the other hand, it can be hard to say today who will be viable in May, and the State Party should’t be playing favorites.

I suggest we adopt the “Survivor” model, where each candidate is voted on by GAGOP members after the debate, and the lowest vote-getter is eliminated from the next debate. At 50 cents per call if we use the phone number voting method, it’d also be a great way to transfer money from the candidates’ backers to the state GOP. Obviously, the last debate will be ThunderDome style.


Gary Gerrard brings the TV to CD10

Gary Gerrard has announced that he will be the first on television with an ad running on Cable television. It’s above. That’s Mike Hassinger in the voiceover and on-screen with Gerrard.

Yesterday, Stuart Rothenberg wrote on his blog at Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call about early television advertising and whether it’s effective in Congressional races. His take: not so much.

By mid-December, more than $17.5 million had been spent on TV ads in just four Senate contests: in North Carolina ($8.3 million), Kentucky ($3.5 million), Arkansas ($3.4 million) and Louisiana ($2.3 million), according to a recent piece by Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

The numbers are interesting and newsworthy. But it’s important to understand the dirty little secret of early TV ads: At the end of the day, most of the ads, and most of the money spent on them, won’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the November results.

Strategists who advocate or justify TV ads 10 or 12 months before Election Day will tell you that it is important to get up on the air to “introduce” an opponent before he or she can introduce himself (Arkansas) or to dissuade a potential opponent from running (Kentucky). And in a few rare cases, that may work. But most of the time it doesn’t, especially if both sides have plenty of money.

It certainly is true that given the suffocating nature of the final weeks of a campaign, when every candidate for every office seems to be buying up whatever air time is still available, many strategists believe that the value of late advertising is dropping. And if late ads are ineffective, the idea of early TV ads sounds more appealing.

“Late ads don’t do much anymore, in part because there are so many ads, so the odds of getting through with a message are better early than late,” one pollster argued.

One difference between Gerrard’s race and the scenario by Rothenberg is that Gerrard’s contest is over after the Republican Primary and likely Runoff Election, so we’re not really 10-12 months out for him. More like 5 months and change from the first round of voting, so his conclusions don’t necessarily hold for this race.

Is Gerrard’s early television drop brilliant strategery or bad political consulting? Only time and election results will tell, but in what appears from the 2013 year-end and early 2014 special elections to be a very low-turnout electorate, it’s more important than ever for campaigns and strategists to Think Different(ly).


Another take on the upcoming Session

Winston Jones has written an outstanding piece in the (Carrollton) Times-Georgian getting local legislators’ takes on the upcoming Session. This time of year, it’s easy to find out what the Governor or Speaker think will be priorities, but not always to find out what’s important in other parts of the state or among more “rank-and-file” members of the legislature.

“Since the only constitutionally mandated requirement is that we pass a balanced budget, I expect the budget to be front and center,” said Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, who represents a portion of Carroll County.

State revenues are expected to be up this year, said Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, but population has also increased, meaning that the budget situation is “revenue neutral.”

“New growth in business across the state, as we were selected as the best state in which to do business, will help, but we still have some areas of the budget where we won’t be able to allocate what we’d like,” Dugan said. “There’s some uncertainties from Obamacare that we’ll have to consider this year as well.”

Dugan said there’s been numerous individual projections on how much will be spent on medical cost, but until the system is up and running, nobody knows what the increases will total.

Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, who represents a portion of Carroll County, also feels the budget will be at the top of the priorities.

“I haven’t seen the final numbers, but it’s going to be a pretty tight budget,” Crane said. “The cost increases have outpaced the revenue growth again, which will make for some challenging decisions.”

“Other significant topics I expect are education, health care and continued work on gun legislation that stalled on the last day of the 2013 session,” Nix said.

Nix said that while he hasn’t pre-filed any legislation, he has been engaged in listening sessions on education.

“I anticipate co-sponsoring legislation to address some of the issues we’ve heard around the state,” he said, “primarily to allow local school systems greater flexibility and more options as to how their systems can operate.”

“The General Assembly does have to pass a budget and a supplemental budget,” said Randy Evans, an attorney and political columnist. “After that, look for Republican leaders to rock and roll with a General Assembly session moving along as quickly as possible, with an early adjournment to leave plenty to time for campaigning, fundraising and re-election efforts.”

Blake Aued, writing for Flagpole magazine, brings us an Athens-centric view of the session.

“We don’t have, from all indications, a very aggressive agenda this session,” says Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead has said he’ll push for raises for faculty and staff, who haven’t had one in five years.

State Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) wants the state to use extra tax revenue to give teachers a raise. Or buy him another phone.

“Public school teachers haven’t had raises in forever,” says state Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens). “University folks haven’t had raises in forever. Hopefully, we’ll see we need to invest in that instead of big corporate tax breaks because we have extra money.”

Under Chancellor Hank Huckaby, a new era of austerity is coming for Georgia colleges and universities. With stagnant lottery revenue and declining state support, Huckaby has warned that the higher education system will have to do more with less, and the days of big building projects are all but over.

Guns: A bill that could allow people with concealed-carry permits to take their guns into churches and bars and on college campuses is still alive.

Transportation: Local officials in Athens-Clarke County and other cities want to hold referenda on sales tax hikes to fund transportation, similar to the failed T-SPLOST referendum in 2012 but on a county rather than regional level. In ACC, the money would go toward improving Athens Transit bus service and road projects.

But after watching their brainchild go down in flames a year-and-a-half ago, Republicans aren’t inclined to even give voters the option of taxing themselves. “No new taxes,” Cowsert says.

The Reporter Newspapers bring us the view from Buckhead:

Legislators representing Fulton County said the shorter legislative calendar means they will be working on a tight schedule. What that will mean for some high profile legislation, like bills calling for referendums to create new DeKalb County cities, isn’t clear, the legislators say.

State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said he has been working on legislation reforming the state’s forfeiture laws and discovery of electronic records in civil cases that he’d like to get passed this year before the session wraps.

“We want to get everybody out of session as quickly as possible because it means we’ll be qualifying somewhere around March 15 to meet the deadlines,” Willard said. “I expect we’ll probably be out of session by March 20.”

State Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, has part of Sandy Springs in his district. He said he thinks an election year is an ideal time to pass controversial legislation, like bills allowing for referendums on new cities.

“I’ve always been in favor of introducing and passing great legislation, no matter when it is,” Hill said. “The best time to pass really good bills is during an election year. If it’s not good in election year, in my view it’s not good.”

Hill said he’d like to pass legislation establishing charity care clinics and privatizing some of PeachCare, a service providing affordable health insurance to low-income children. He said new bills might be difficult to pass this year.

District 6 Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna), who represents a portion of Buckhead, said he plans to work on passage of legislation to streamline the process to create public-private partnerships for state projects. “This is about delivering mission-critical facilities,” he said.

Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R- Sandy Springs ) said he intended to work on economic development. “Georgia was named this past fall as the best place to do business,” he said. “I’ve been on the economic development and tourism committee from the time it was formed 11 years ago. … I see us trying to build on that connection. The companies we bring in, it brings jobs, it brings revenue.”

From the Dalton Daily Citizen, a Northwest Georgia take:

“The message that I’m hearing from everyone I talk to is ‘Let’s go ahead and get the people’s work done,’” said state Rep. Bruce Broadrick, R-Dalton. “Getting the work done early gives people confidence and predictability about where we are going.”

“My expectation is that everything will be moved to May 20,” said state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton. “But until the ball starts rolling I can’t say for sure. I do think we will make that decision early. We will get that done quickly so that it isn’t an open question and so that people thinking about qualifying know when that will take place.”

“The amended budget will be more limited than usual,” said state Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta. “It will be just those things that have to be adjusted, such as changes in school enrollment or increased Medicaid costs.”

A dispatch from the Rockdale News:

Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-Locust Grove, a floor leader and chairman of the ethics commission, said a bill to change state and local elections is likely to be introduced the first day of the legislative session, Jan. 13.

Assuming the bill becomes law, any Georgian planning to run for federal, state or local office will need to qualify to run for office much earlier as well, between March 3 and March 7 (independent candidates must qualify before June 27 to participate in the general election).

Jeffares said Republican leaders are aiming to end the session March 16, a month or two before the session normally wraps up.

“The Republican caucus is meeting Monday to talk about all the things we need to do and to do it all quick,” he said Thursday.

Jeffares said he didn’t think the faster session would really affect business, because the General Assembly is in the second year of a two-year cycle and many bills are already pending from 2013. Jeffares said the first couple weeks of session generally start off slower, so the shortened session might prompt people to get up to full speed from day one.

In addition, any legislators trying to get a bill passed in 2014 can pre-file their bill before the session starts to give it a better chance of being heard early, he said.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) brings his voters’ priorities in The Citizen:

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said the big chore as always will be to shore up the state’s budget expenses between the year-end supplemental budget and the coming fiscal year’s budget. But looming shortly in the distance is the prospect of politicking, specifically a much earlier qualification deadline in March to run for office.

Because of that deadline, Ramsey is predicting a fairly quick session that is hopefully not drawn out as many legislators are anxious to handle qualifying and segue into campaign mode, which is verboten during the session.

“I think the interest this year is having a very efficient session and to try and not get bogged down too much and hopefully get out in March sometime,” Ramsey said Monday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 7, 2014

On January 7, 1789, Georgia voters cast their first ballots for President of the United States of America. Georgia’s electors met the next month in Augusta and cast Georgia’s electoral votes for George Washington.

On January 7, 1795, Governor George Matthews signed legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly, that described itself thusly,

An Act supplementary to an Act entitled ‘An Act for appropriating a part of the unlocated territory of this state for the payment of the late state troops, and for other purposes therein mentioned, declaring the right of this State to the unappropriated territory thereof, for the protection and support of the frontiers of this State, and for other purposes.’

This was one of the first major economic development undertakings by the state government and would come to be known as the Great Yazoo Land Fraud. The bill, passed under the pressure of intense lobbying, was such an abomination that the next year’s General Assembly revoked the Act and ordered all copies of the legislation burned, igniting a tradition that continues to this day.

Wedgwood Yazoo

In 1933, the Transylvania Club of Sandersville, Georgia commissioned a set of commemorative plates by Wedgwood; Mr. C.D. Shelnutt, Mr. C.F. Irwin, and Mr. B.J. Tarbutton paid the required deposit to begin production of the plates. In 1974, then-Governor Jimmy Carter signed a resolution of the General Assembly naming the plates the official historical plates of Georgia, and they continue to be offered for sale in pink or blue.

People who had purchased land under the Act sued to prevent the state’s overturning its own conveyances, and the United States Supreme Court for the first time invalidated a state law as unconstitutional, in a case styled Fletcher v. Peck (1810).

On January 7, 1961, Hamilton E. Holmes drove from Atlanta to Athens to enroll in the University of Georgia, beginning the desegregatation of the institution.

On January 7, 1972, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., having previously turned down appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, was sworn in as an Associate Justice, along with William Rehnquist, who would be elevated to Chief Justice by President Ronald Reagan. Powell earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington & Lee University and its School of Law.

On January 7, 1997, Georgia’s Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the first Republican reelected in 68 years; he would resign his Congressional seat less than a year later.

On January 7, 1998, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky signed an affidavit denying she’d had an affair with President Bill Clinton.

On January 7, 1999, the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began. Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist presided and Georgia Congressman Bob Barr was one of thirteen house “managers,” responsible for prosecuting the case in the Senate.

Voting today

The polls will be open today from 7 AM to 7 PM for Special Elections in Georgia State House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield) and District 22 (Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton Counties.

If you live in one of those counties and have questions about whether you’re eligible to vote tomorrow and where, please login to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You may also check with your county Board of Elections. Continue reading

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 6, 2014

Polls open for the 2014 Georgia Republican Primary Election in 134 days. Polls open tomorrow at 7 AM for Special Elections in Georgia State House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield) and District 22 (Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton Counties.

If you live in one of those counties and have questions about whether you’re eligible to vote tomorrow and where, please login to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You may also check with your county Board of Elections.


State House District 2 candidates

Neal Florence (R)  Facebook | raised $58k, spent $27k

Steve Tarvin (R)  Facebook | no reports filed

Doug Woodruff (R)  Facebook | raised $22k, spent $12k


State House District 22 candidates

Meagan Biello (R)  Facebook | raised $5k, spent $3k

Nate Cochran (R)  Facebook | no report filed

Jeff Duncan (R)  Facebook | raised $16k, spent $12k

Sam Moore (R)  Facebook | raised $18k, spent $11k

Note: all totals above are from the 15-days before report, though some have since filed a December 31 report. Reports were checked on Monday, January 6, 2014 between 9 and 9:30 AM.

History

On January 5, 2001, Congress certified George W. Bush as winner of the 2000 Presidential election.

On January 6, 1785, Samuel Elbert was elected Governor of Georgia by the General Assembly and later served as Sheriff of Chatham County.

On January 6, 1961, United States District Court Judge William Bootle ordered the University of Georgia to enroll Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, ending the segregation of UGA.

Events


 Glynn GOP: US Senate Candidate Forum with Rep. Jack Kingston

January 6, 2014 from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Christian Renewal Church, 4265 Norwich St Ext (aka Hwy 341) Brunswick , GA 31520

Jack Kingston, US House Representative for Dist 1 and US Senate Candidate for GA, is appearing in the fourth of our US Senate candidate forums We are expecting a large crowd so come early to get your seat and to spend time talking with Rep Kingston before the program begins. Short candidate speech followed by questions posed by our panel Please bring a friend, neighbor, spouse – or even a stranger – who is interested in learning more about candidates…

Find out more »

January 7, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Red Lobster, 700 Shorter Ave SW Rome, GA 30165+ Google Map

The Floyd County Republican Women meeting  - guest speaker will be Sam Olens, GA Attorney General. Please come and bring a friend.

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January 7, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub,

705 Town Boulevard, Brookhaven , GA 30319 United States

+ Google Map

Please join Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, Brookhaven Mayor J Max Davis, Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson and Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis at a campaign fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Jacobs. With Ron Paul inspired primary opposition set to formally announce after the start of the legislative session, we need your help now. Olde Blind Dog is located in Town Brookhaven, off of Peachtree Road just south of Oglethorpe University.

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January 7, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
The Georgian Club, 100 Galleria Parkway Atlanta , GA 30339

You are Invited to a Reception For Senator Judson Hill, Vice Chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, Chairman Senate Finance Committee. Suggested Contribution $250    Contributions may be made payable to Friends of Judson Hill, 3102 Raines Court, Marietta, GA 30062. In lieu of your appearance, please consider making an online contribution at www.judsonhill.com

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January 7, 2014 from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Pinetree Country Club , 3400 McCollum Parkway, Kennesaw, GA 30144
January 7, 2014 from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Gilmer county Court House, 1 Broad S Ellijay, GA 30540

The Gilmer County Republican Party with David Pennington, candidate for Georgia Governor. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend this very important meeting.

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January 7, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Henry County Public Safety Complex Community Room, 116 Zack Hinton Pkwy McDonough, GA 30253

The monthly meeting of the Henry County GOP with  DAVID PERDUE Candidate for U.S. Senate and NANCY JESTER  Candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent

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January 7, 2014 from 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
FX

Justified

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January 8, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Johnny Harris Banquet Hall,

1651 E. Victory Drive Savannah, GA 31404 United States

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PROGRAM: Forum of Candidates for 1st District Congressional Seat Candidates: Buddy Carter, Darwin Carter, Jeff Chapman, Bob Johnson, John McCallum and Earl Martin. PERMANENT RESERVATION LIST: If you are on permanent list and you fail to show or notify otherwise, you are responsible for paying for lunch. You will be removed from the permanent list after two infractions. You must cancel by Monday before the luncheon. Please RSVP: Reservations to: Rebecca Rhinehart (398-0111) [email protected] Reservation’s by Noon, Monday, January 6,…

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January 9, 2014 from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Green Ginger Restaurant, 200 Market Place Connector Peachtree City , GA 30269

The Greater Fayette Republican Women’s Club will hold their installation of officers for 2014-2015 on Thursday, January 9th. The officers to be installed are President Alberta Lucas,  Vice President Mary Kay Rudd,  Secretary Becky Steely, and  Treasurer Debby Dickinson.  For more information, please contact Debby Dickinson, 404-376-4132 [email protected]

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January 9, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Columbus Convention and Trade Center, 801 Front Avenue Columbus , GA 31901

For 168 years the Chamber has been working for you in the Greater Columbus region. Join us for our Annual Meeting as we celebrate the successes of 2013.  A review of 2013 and a preview of 2014 will be presented. There is no cost to attend this event. Reservations on-line only by January 6, 2014.

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January 9, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
The Capital Grille, 255 E. Paces Ferry Road Atlanta , GA 30305+ Google Map

You are invited to support Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer at this fundraising reception for his re-election campaign. Authorized by the David Shafer Senate Committee. Kindly RSVP to Denise Deal at 678.617.1625.

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January 9, 2014 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
VFW, 725 Hwy 27 Cataula, GA 31804
Meet and Greet at 6:00 pm and Meeting at 6:30 pm.  Meals, Snacks, and Beverages available.
January 9, 2014 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Be My Guest: Catering and Events,

4216 Washington Rd Evans, GA 30809 United States

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Our speaker, Dr. Linda Tucciarone, is the Executive Director of Heritage Academy in Augusta, Georgia. She will discuss Georgia’s GOAL Scholarship program, school choice as well as the mission and success of Heritage Academy in providing quality education for students who would normally be in poorly performing schools. Social/Dinner is 6-7 pm. Meeeting is 7-8pm. $12 buffet style dinner per person.

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January 9, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Six Feet Under – Grant Park, 437 Memorial Drive S.E. Atlanta , GA 30312
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Happy New Year!  We enjoyed our break after the Holiday Party and look forward to catching up with everyone at our January Happy Hour. With the venue just down the street from the Georgia Capitol, we hope that interns and staffers (and any interested legislators) can drop by as well.

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January 9, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Charlton County Public Library,

1291 Indian Trail Folkston , GA 31537 United States

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Charlton County GOP We will hold our first meeting of 2014 this Thursday, January 9th at 7pm in the Meeting Room of the Charlton County Public Library.

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January 9, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Mt. Pleasant UMC,

55 Hwy 229 Social Circle , GA 30035 United States

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Our January meeting. Featured speakers will include U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel and Mike Collins for Congress, candidate for the 10th Congressional District.

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January 11, 2014 from 8:15 AM – 9:15 AM
Cobb GOP HQ, 799 Roswell St Marietta, GA 30060
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Cobb GOP January Pancake Breakfast with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson

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January 11, 2014 9:00 AM @ 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
VFW, 1011 Corder Road. Warner Robins, GA 30188
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Houston County Republican Party welcomes to its January meeting Phil Gingrey, Republican candidate for Senate and Congressman representing Georgia’s 11th District

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January 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Golden Corral, 605 Bullsboro Drive Newnan , GA 30265
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Please join us for the monthly Coweta GOP breakfast meeting. This month’s speakers will be U.S. Senate candidates Karen Handel and David Perdue. This will be your opportunity to meet the candidates in person and ask them questions about their vision for Georgia and America. We encourage everyone to come early and have breakfast. We look forward to seeing you Saturday!

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Cherokee County GOP: Meeting with Rep. Phil Gingrey & Allan Levine

January 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Winchester’s Woodfire Grill,

110 Mountain Vista Blvd Canton, 30115

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Congressman Phil Gingrey and Allan Levine will be joining us to talk about their respective campaigns for US Senate and US Congress. We look forward to a productive and exciting 2014 with you!

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January 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Kingwood Resort,

401 Country Club Drive Clayton, 30525

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Guest Speaker: Sen. John Wilkinson

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January 11, 2014 from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
DeKalb GOP HQ,

1532 Dunwoody Village Court Dunwoody , GA 30338 United States

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Join us as we invite the candidates for the State School Superintendent to present their insights and vision for education in Georgia. Contact : Linda Kelley Smith, Chairman, Dekalb GOP [email protected] 404-422-5462

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January 11, 2014 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Fayette GOP HQ,

174 GLYNN ST N Fayetteville, GA 30214 United States

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Fayette County Teens Republicans have planned out their winter season projects and are ready to roll.  Chairman Tylan Jones, VC Matt Stordy, Secretary Arik Li and Treasurer Jack Fredrikson are the newly elected Executive Board and ask you to attend the first meeting. Teens are very welcomed from the ages of 14-18 years of age and have the desire to learn of the political process especially with an upcoming active 2014 campaign year.  Becoming a leader and learning lifelong skills…

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January 12, 2014

Happy Birthday – Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

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January 12, 2014 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Georgia Railroad Depot,

65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E. Atlanta , GA 30334 United States

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The “Wild Hog Supper,” a Georgia tradition dating to 1962, marks the opening of the legislative session each year. In recent years, the Atlanta Community Food Bank has collected non-perishable food items donated by attendees. Please join our Honorary Host Committee Governor Nathan Deal, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Chairman John Wilkinson, Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, Chairman Tom McCall, House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, and the Executive Directors of Georgia’s 7 Regional Food Banks as we celebrate the…

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January 12, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Atlanta Dayanut Institute, 5065 High Point Rd Atlanta , GA 30342

“Israel Alone?” A Lecture with Michael Medved How Israel can continue to flourish in an increasingly hostile world

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January 13, 2014 12:00 AM
Georgia State Capitol, 206 Washington St SW Atlanta, 30334

First Day of Session – 2013 Georgia General Assembly

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January 13, 2014 from 7:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Georgia State Capitol,

206 Washington St SW Atlanta, GA 30334 United States

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On Monday, Jan. 13, SGA, in partnership with the Office of Government and Community Relations, will host its annual Georgia Tech Day at the Capitol and is inviting all students to join. At this event, students will learn more about what happens under the gold dome and can thank state leaders for their commitment to higher education. Students who attend will have the opportunity to: – Interact with representatives – Take a tour of the Capitol, receiving a special…

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January 13, 2014 6:45 PM @ 6:45 PM – 8:45 PM
Gainesville Civic Center,

830 Green Street, NE Gainesville, GA 30501 United States

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Register for Free Event Today! Invite A Friend! Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia in partnership with American Principles Project is excited to announce the upcoming Confronting the Common Core education event in Gainesville, Georgia. Come hear a panel discussion that exposes the threat of the Common Core to Georgia’s educational sovereignty. Be ready to be educated, equipped and empowered to stop the Common Core! Walk away with the tools you will need to help Georgia reverse course and return…

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January 13, 2014 7:00 PM @ 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Mimi’s Restaurant,

4880 Mall of Georgia Blvd Buford, GA 30549 United States

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The January meeting of the GGRW will be on Monday, the 13th at Mimi’s Restaurant in Buford near Mall of GA. The featured speaker will be Mark Rountree, noted political consultant and campaign advisor for some of the most prominent Georgians.  Since this is an election year. and Georgia will be electing a new Senator and several Congressmen, Mark will discuss “winning in 2014” a strategy for Republicans. All are invited to attend what will surely be a topical and interesting meeting.…

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January 13, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Congressman Rob Woodall Telephone Town Hall Please join me for a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on January 13th. Dial-in: 877-229-8493 Password: 17849

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 23, 2013 – The “Dixie Chicken Edition”

Gwinnett29761

29761 (male, top), 29762 (male, second), and 29763 (female, third) are white Lab mix puppies who are available for adoption beginning Friday from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

It’s a crisis situation at many animal shelters across the state as new dogs, puppies, cats and kittens are brought it. If you’ve been considering adopting or fostering, today is the day.

Gwinnett29762

Gwinnett29763

Gwinnett2965529655 is a black, middle-aged Lab mix. Just old enough to start mellowing, but with his best years ahead, if someone will rescue or foster him. He’s available today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

MurraySixPuppies

 

The six puppies above were found outside, alone, in the freezing cold this week. They are at the Murray County Animal Shelter and need immediate foster or rescue, or they will be euthanized on Friday in the pre-dawn hours.

MurrayThreeBoxerPuppiesThese three boxer-mix puppies are bouncy fun, and are also in need of immediate foster or rescue from Murray County Animal Shelter.

Shane Wilson lost a leg in a motorcycle crash five years ago, and more recently, he lost his service dog, Lucy, when she jumped out of the bed of his pickup truck. Lesson one: dogs don’t belong in pickup truck beds when underway. Some folks found her roadside near a Cracker Barrel and returned her. Lesson two: always keep dog treats handy.

The friends were getting breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Commerce when they saw Lucy. They walked down the exit ramp to get to her.

“We pulled out the treats and she just let me put the leash around her neck,” Davis said.

When Scoggins called him to say that she found Lucy, he was leery because he has had so many false hopes over the past six days.

Wilson told Scoggins to hold a dog treat up and say “Lucy, speak.” She did and Lucy barked. “I heard her bark and I said I’m on the way and I kind of hung up on her,” Wilson said.

“He was so happy, he was hysterical,” Davis said. “He immediately knew and said ‘stay right there, I’m coming’.”

The Exchange Club of Albany will hold its first AKC Southern Heritage Hunt & Show, which is open to all coonhounds and their owners, after a national coonhound event held in Albany for twenty-five years, was moved to Mississippi.

Both the dog show and hunt are “world qualifying,” AKC officials state, with winners cleared to move forward to the World Hunt Championship or 2013 World Show.

While secondary to the main attractions, there will be an aspect to the show, Brown said, that was not included for the UKC events: Malaysian Semara chickens. According to Brown, the birds are small — less than 19 ounces — colorful and they “kind of strut” when they walk.

Here’s your morning music treat.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

The Special Election runoff in Senate District 11 in the lower-left hand corner of Georgia is taking a turn for the nasty. Jim Galloway notes that abortion has become an issue in the contest:

Over the long weekend, Georgia Right to Life dipped into the race with an email that included this:

“Dr. Dean Burke has not been endorsed by the Georgia Right to Life PAC or the National Right to Life Committee PAC. The NRLC PAC does not make state endorsements and its state affiliate – GRTL PAC – has only endorsed Mr. Keown. Any claims to the contrary are false.”

Political consultant Mark Rountree, working for Burke, says there’s no substantive difference between the two candidates on the issue of abortion. Local conversation, he says, has focused more on the $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. Burke has pledged support for that limit, Rountree said, while Keown has not.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet, anonymous cowards are suggesting that Burke is an abortionist and appear willing to lie to make the hit stick. It now appears to be the case that in Georgia Republican politics, an OB/GYN will always be labeled an abortionist whether it’s true or not. Just ask Dr. Carla Roberts.

Republican Scot Turner, who came in first with more than 48% of votes cast in the Special Election for House District 21, met political consultant Brian Laurens in a debate, and Turner claims victory.

“I feel confident that the voters in HD 21 saw a clear difference between the two candidates for this race tonight. As candidates, we have a very important obligation to present our values, understanding, and plans to fix what is broken in state government. I provided a message to the voters assembled with the clear choice to reform our ethics laws, implement economically-friendly tax reforms, and return the legislature to the citizens of Georgia with term limits. Those who participated in this public debate responded with overwhelming support, and I’m humbled by those responses.

“The serious issues facing our state and county all revolve around a cornerstone issue: fixing our broken government. On the one hand, my opponent gave his view of government, which maintains the status quo. I gave voters a vision for the future; a future where government serves the people and not special interests.”

Incidentally, today is Scot Turner’s birthday. You can wish him a happy one by donating online to his campaign, as long as you are a Georgia resident or business and not a lobbyist or PAC.

Another way of wishing him a happy birthday, if you live in House District 21, is to go vote early today in the February 5th runoff. As of yesterday morning, only 28 early votes had been cast.

“It’s extremely slow,” [Election Supervisor Janet] Munda added. “It looks like we may hit five percent this time.”

Munda was referring to the projection she originally predicted for the Jan. 8 special election for both the House and the Georgia Senate District 21 seats. The county ended up seeing a 10 percent turnout for that election.

Voters in the run-off will choose between Republican candidates Scot Turner and Brian Laurens, who came in first and second respectively in the January special election for the house seat.

Early voting started last Wednesday and will continue Monday through Friday through Feb. 1.

Voters who reside in the district, which encompasses Holly Springs, portions of BridgeMill, south Canton and parts of southeast Cherokee, can cast ballots between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Albert L. Stone Elections Building at 400 East Main Street in Canton.

No voting will be held on Monday Feb. 4, and voters in the district will cast their ballots at 11 precincts in the district on Feb. 5.

The Bainbridge City Council seat vacated by Dean Burke in order to run for Senate District 11 in the Special Election Runoff on February 5th will remain vacant until November 5th, when it is filled along with two other council seats and the office of Mayor in the Bainbridge general election.

Former State Rep. Sean Jerguson led in campaign contributions in his campaign for Georgia Senate District 21, which opponent Brandon Beach won.

Governor Nathan Deal presented his budget to the Joint Budget Hearing yesterday.

Three percent cuts across the board, and slightly more funding for the state pre-K program, the HOPE scholarship, and juvenile justice reform.

He also continued his push to renew a hospital tax aimed at shoring up the state Medicaid program.

“I think it is critical,” said Deal. “We cannot afford to have a $700 million hole in our Medicaid budget,” said Deal.

Otherwise, the governor’s budget projects 4.8 percent revenue growth in 2014. That’s compared to the 3.9 growth seen this year.

If the revenue projection holds true, Georgia in 2014 would be back to where it was at its 2007 peak, before the recession.

House Appropriations Chair Terry England said the numbers are reason for cautious optimism, but warned the state isn’t out of the woods yet.

“The problem with that is we’re a larger state than we were in 2007 so there’s more people needing more services and resources, so even though you have that growth, the demand is still greater than it was in 2007.”

Accordingly, the 2014 budget includes increased funding for education and healthcare, but most would be used to simply keep up with population growth.

Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill said ultimately the final budget won’t veer too far from the governor’s recommendations.

“In years where you’re spending a lot of new money, there might be more needs and more wants than there are dollars, but we have such a lean budget to begin with, I don’t know what we’d have to fight over.”

Here’s the TL;DR version:

“We have reduced per capita spending of state dollars for our citizens,” [Deal] said. “Using 2012 dollars, we are spending money at a rate of 17 percent less than we did a decade ago. And we now have 9,000 fewer state employees than we did five years ago.”

The Georgia State Fiscal Economist also presented predictions.

Georgia’s economy should see slow but steady growth over the next few years as the job and housing markets continue to improve, the state’s main economist told lawmakers Tuesday.

Heaghney said that tax collections — an indication of the state of the economy — will be up 3.9 percent the rest of fiscal 2013, which ends June 30. The economy will pick up during the second half of the year and revenue should increase 4.9 percent next fiscal year, allowing the state to add about $550 million in spending, he said.

Heaghney told legislators that the state’s job growth is outpacing the national growth rate, and that “housing appears to have turned the corner, both nationally and in Georgia.”

Georgia is seeing an increase in information technology, business services, manufacturing and transportation jobs.

“We’d expect growth to pick up in the middle of 2013 and then accelerate the rest of the year,” he said. “In 2014, we should see much more rapid growth than we’ve seen prior to this year.”

Higher taxes, a sluggish global economy and the federal debt crisis will continue to weigh on the economy, he said, dampening consumer spending and adding uncertainty to the equation.

“This all creates an environment where there is still a lot of economic uncertainty,” Heaghney said. “We try to plan for that, but there are a lot of different ways the economy could move.

Part of the $19.8 billion dollar budget will be $4.3 million for the State Archives.

Supporters are pushing for an additional $1.5 million to expand public access to the state’s important and historical records dating to at least 1733, saying the additional money would reopen the archives from two to five days a week.

Gov. Deal’s budget will also allocate funds to implement criminal justice reforms from the last Session, and possible changes to juvenile justice this year.

He’s asking for $11 million for so-called accountability courts that offer an alternative for drug abusers, the mentally ill and others.

He also wants $4 million for a regional detention center for young offenders and a new youth development campus.

Today’s budget hearings will include the Departments of Correction, Juvenile Justice, Transportation, Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Labor and Economic Development. The agenda for the Joint Budget Hearings is available by clicking here. This link should have live video of the Hearings later today.

Retailers in the three regions that approved the T-SPLOST should start collecting the extra penny sales tax.

A local clothing boutique visited Friday by NBC 26 is still ringing up its merchandise the old fashioned way.

“We write up all the tickets by hand and then we add up the totals and the tax with a calculator,” Alex, a sales associate told NBC 26. She said the store is still charging seven percent sales tax.

“I didn’t know about it until you came in,” another associate said. “I didn’t know it was in effect starting January first. So, I haven’t started using it yet.”

We asked the Georgia Department of Revenue how it informed retailers in regions where the T-SPLOST passed.

“In December, we emailed an informational bulletin concerning T-SPLOST, concerning the TSPLOST going into effect to all businesses that e-file as well as other businesses who have signed up for that specific mailing list,” said Jud Seymour, communications director for the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Seymour said if stores missed the instructional email, they could’ve looked up the information online on the Georgia Department of Revenue’s website.

On December 27, 2012, my oath of office was administered by our Probate Judge (Keith Wood), with the final sentence stating, “. . . and that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”

Therefore, I will fully exercise the power of the Office of Sheriff to protect and defend the Constitutional rights of the citizens of Cherokee County. My position is best stated by fellow Sheriff Tim Muller of Linn County, Oregon in his letter to the President. “We are Americans. We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.”

Along with Sheriff Muller, other sheriffs throughout the country (including Georgia) and I, will not enforce any laws or regulations that negate the constitutional rights of the citizens of Cherokee County.

Nor shall those laws and regulations be enforced by me or by my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Cherokee County, Georgia.

Commissioner Allen insinuated that some school board members may have benefited personally from deals with outside companies.“The investigation should examine any companies or firms […] doing any business with the BOE [Board of Education] where funds might have been used to directly or indirectly unlawfully benefit certain members of the BOE,” Allen read from prepared remarks.He declined to offer any evidence that would lead federal prosecutors to investigate such a question.“These allegations,” Allen said without specifying or attributing any allegations directly, “must be investigated immediately by a federal authority, as the facts show a possible misuse of federal funds, not to mention state and local money as well.”

The Marietta Daily Journal profiles Jennifer Rippner of Acworth, a member of the new State Charter School Commission.

Georgia Power’s evacuation plan for people living near Plant Vogtle was reviewed by federal regulators.

A study has found that Plant Vogtle’s emergency evacuation plan for people within 10 miles of the nuclear site is adequate. But the study says traffic control points and better highway infrastructure would improve it.

The updated analysis was filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and was posted on the agency’s website last week.

Depending on the weather, time of day and other factors, Southern Nuclear’s consultants’ models found evacuations could take between 90 and 205 minutes.

At the Cobb County Commission meeting last night, a citizen was led out in handcuffs because he preferred to speak anonymously about backyard chickens.

During the first of two public hearings on a proposal to allow chickens on property under 2 acres in size, speakers on both sides of the issue provided emotional appeals to the board.

Banks Wise, 25, of Mableton, said he had planned to attend the board meeting just to listen to what others had to say about various code proposals, including the one on chickens.

But then he stepped up to the lectern to address the commissioners during the public comment period, and board chairman Tim Lee asked him to recite his name.

Wise declined. Lee asked several more times for him to give his name before the police officers escorted him out of the board room, handcuffed him and took him to a lobby elevator.

“The gentlemen was not following the rules of the commission,” Lee said. “I asked him multiple times. He did not, so the officers removed him.”

Wise said two things prompted him to speak to commissioners. One was a comment by a previous public speaker opposed to a code change for chickens. That speaker, Ron Sifen of Vinings, argued that homeowners had certain expectations with the zoning laws in place when they bought their homes. To allow chickens in their neighborhood was, therefore, wrong.

Wise said he wanted to argue that just because a law is on the books, it doesn’t make it constitutional.

“I’m saying that being able to have a chicken was always right. There was just at some point a very bad law,” Wise said.

Another point that bothered him was that Lee demanded that each speaker give his or her name.

Anonymous political speech is a revered tradition among those of us who love America; perhaps Mr. Lee should take a remedial class in the First Amendment.

Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has also raised the issue that requiring businesses to use the IMAGE immigration verification program may be too unwieldy.

A documentary on urban chicken keepers, called “Mad City Chickens” will be shown in Rome, Georgia, at the Rome Area History Museum at 305 Broad Street on Saturday at 4, 7 and 9 PM.

McHaggee said the film is relevant locally, with the Rome City Commission currently wrestling with the issue of allowing chickens inside the city limits.

“We hope that this film will illustrate some of the issues our city has been discussing,” the couple said in a joint press release. “Furthermore, we hope that this film brings people together for a fun evening of entertainment and camaraderie.”

A supporter of small families owning livestock, McHaggee said she usually gets eggs from Morning Glory Farm in Cedartown and is concerned with the state of some of the breeds of chicken that need space to thrive.

“That’s part of the reason I feel so strongly about this,” she said. “There are some of the American Heritage breeds that are in trouble of becoming extinct.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 22, 2013

Gerald Jones Volkswagen-Audi in Augusta, Georgia has partnered with L.E.A.S.H. Rescue and will become a drop-off point for donations of dog food, toys and other materials, as well as holding adoption events. In honor of the partnership, today’s dogs are both from L.E.A.S.H. rescue.

LEASH_Caine

 

Caine, above, is one of five dogs who came in together and he will be available for adoption soon after he is neutered. His brother, Abel, (below),will also need a home soon, and they are available separately or together. For more information, visit L.E.A.S.H. on Facebook or email them. If you’re not in the Augusta area, you can donate online.

LEASH_Abel

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Georgia Right to Life will hold “Together for Life 2013” at the steps of the State Capitol today, beginning at 11:30 AM. Former State Rep. Doug McKillip will deliver the keynote address, and the group will walk silently as a memorial.

The Georgia General Assembly will hold Joint Budget Hearings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Room 341 of the State Capitol and convenes again on Monday, January 28th, 2013.

The agenda for the Joint Budget Hearings is available by clicking here.

Governor Deal is expected to address today’s joint budget hearing at 10:30 AM. Also addressing today’s hearing will be state fiscal economist Kenneth Heaghney, the Department of Education, the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Department of Early Care and Learning, the Student Finance Commission and the Secretary of State’s Office.

Wednesday’s budget hearing will include the Departments of Correction, Juvenile Justice, Transportation, Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Labor and Economic Development.

On Thursday, the joint committees will hear the Departments of Human Services, Community Health, Public Health, Revenue and the Office of Planning and Budget.

Former State Senator Chip Rogers will be paid $150,000 per year at his new job at Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Former state Sen. Chip Rogers will start his new job Tuesday earning a lofty $150,000 – making him the seventh executive at Georgia Public Broadcasting earning six-figures annually, despite a rather pedestrian title: Executive producer, community jobs program.

The position, like others at GPB, is paid solely through state taxpayers’ money. But it is more than Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle each make in their public jobs.

And it is more than what some of Rogers’ new colleagues made in the last fiscal year, including GBP’s vice president for radio and its chief information officer.

What are the odds of Rogers providing color commentary if horse racing is passed in the legislature?

The State Auditor reports that most Georgia tax breaks go to individual citizens rather than large companies.

Tax collections so far this fiscal year are coming in below the projected rate, prompting Deal to order all state agencies – except K-12 education – to trim 3 percent from their spending. At the same time, costs for Medicaid are more than $300 million over budget already this year, not counting a nearly $700 million hole that would be left in the budget if the hospital tax isn’t extended.

Legislative budget writers started requiring governors in recent years to submit a document called the Tax Expenditure Report that estimates how much each tax break leaves in the private economy and out of the government’s use.

“Although not direct government expenditures, tax expenditures represent an allocation of government resources in the form of taxes that could have been collected (and appropriated) if not for their preferential tax treatment,” State Auditor Greg Griffin wrote in his letter delivering the report.

The largest tax breaks is the so-called personal exemption from individual income taxes representing $1 billion. Exemptions for retirement income, $697 million, Social Security, $140 million, and credit for taxes paid to other states, $185 million, are also among the largest ways private Georgians keep from forking more over to the government.

Exemptions from the sales tax also benefit individuals, including $509 million on food, $423 million for prescriptions, $171 million on lottery tickets and $8 million on school lunches. The sales-tax holidays that temporarily exempt school supplies save another $41 million.

Some business tax breaks are due to expire this year. A break on seed, fertilizer and farm chemicals that ended Jan. 1 totaled $150 in the last fiscal year. The exemption of certain machinery used in the manufacturing of consumer items expired the same time and amounted to $175 million last year.

One due to expire in June is the sales tax exemption for airplane engine-repair parts worth $7 million last year. It’s being pushed by companies like Gulfstream Aerospace which argues jobs would be lost if airplane customers took their business to states that don’t charge the tax.

The City of Atlanta will ask the legislature for a number of changes to existing law in order to help it with budget issues.

The city of Atlanta’s legislative wish-list for the 2013 General Assembly includes changes in state law that would allow the city to increase taxes on alcohol, sell condemned and blighted property to private parties, designate sales tax revenue disbursements by tenths of a cent rather than a full penny, and charge the public school system for the cost of running school board elections.

One proposal — such as slicing penny sales taxes into smaller increments of one-tenth of a percent, which could go to different purposes — is similar to those pushed this year by Cobb County.

A sales tax levied in Atlanta at a tenth of a percentage point could generate about $11 million or $12 million in revenue per year.

Yolanda Adrean, who represents northwest Atlanta on the City Council, said the proposal would provide municipalities with much-needed flexibility.

“If a penny of tax could be split between more than one priority, it could allow the city to move on some very crucial needs,” Adrean said. “I’m not suggesting that we add a penny of sales tax. In a time where there’s a great deal of sensitivity to how much you’re taxed and where that money goes, this gets everyone focused. There are lots of pressing needs that are not getting funded.”

As for the similar fractional-tax measure for Cobb County,

State Rep. John Carson (R-Northeast Cobb) told Around Town on Thursday that he would introduce a bill, possibly as soon as this week, that would pave the way for such special local option sales taxes, also known as “fractional SPLOSTs.” The tax would be charged increments of a twentieth of 1 percent, if passed. At present the sales tax can only levied in increments of 1 percent, although receipts from that 1 percent are often divided among several jurisdictions.

In theory, they also would prevent situations in which a governing body, knowing that a full penny SPLOST would raise X amount of dollars, proceeds to inflate its SPLOST-project list in order to match the expected revenues.

The concept has the backing of Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee.

Carson’s bill would apply statewide and allow counties and cities to charge less than a full 1 percent sales tax. A similar bill is soon to be introduced in the state Senate, said Sen. Judson Hill (R-East Cobb).

Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-West Cobb) told Around Town the Cobb School District has approached him in the past about introducing legislation for partial-penny SPLOSTs.

If approved by the Legislature, voters would then have to approve a constitutional amendment before the tax could be levied on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis.

“I have told them I feel like you can accomplish the same thing by doing a SPLOST for a specified number of months based on what your true need is and make a promise to the voters that you won’t go back to them for five years for another tax,” Tippins said. “So if you need to collect 60 cents on the dollar, you could collect it for three years and promise not to go back for five.”

“Now obviously the action of that board would not be legally binding on a subsequent board, but whoever wanted to go back and change that would be facing political suicide, so in actuality you could bind the board so if anybody on the school board says ‘We want to do a partial penny,’ we can accomplish the same thing without a constitutional amendment.”

Separately, Senator Tippins told the MDJ that he voted for the Hospital Bed Tax because it was the “lesser of two evils.”

Tippins said the alternative to levying the tax is forgoing federal matching funds and paying for Medicaid services through the state budget.

“So you’d be taking another $700 million out of existing state funding, and that would come from other agencies,” Tippins said. “You’re going to be hitting education very, very strongly, and all the other good services that the state provides. The reality is that money would have to come from somewhere because the state in their agreement to access the federal stimulus money cannot change the delivery pattern for Medicaid until 2014, so we’re locked in under the same eligibility and also under the same payment program.”

Fulton County’s next budget may include furloughs for lawyers and less funding for libraries.

Fulton’s countywide property tax rate has declined over the last decade, and most residents won’t see an increase this year. Under the proposed budget, residents of unincorporated South Fulton would see a 19 percent property tax increase to pay for police, fire and other municipal services. That would cost the owner of a $200,000 an extra $100 a year.

Fulton County would trim spending in its general fund – which pays for countywide services like courts, libraries and elections – 2 percent this year under the proposed $569.4 million budget.

Among other things, proposed cuts would lead to reduced library hours and spending for various social service programs. At a public hearing earlier this month, more than 60 people – many of them senior citizens – urged commissioners to restore funding for various programs.

DeKalb County will likely raise property taxes, its favorite method of balancing its budget.

As a result of declining property tax revenue and the incorporation of the city of Brookhaven, commissioners will have to consider spending cuts or a potential property tax rate increase proposed by DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis. The 1.9 percent millage rate increase would cost almost $49 dollars more a year for owners of a $200,000 home.

In December, Ellis proposed a more than $562 million dollar budget. In addition to a potential millage rate increase, the budget calls for a three percent cost of living adjustment for DeKalb County’s lowest paid workers, 25 additional police officers and maintaining $30 million dollars in reserve funding. Commissioners will have until the end of February to adopt the budget.

After serving two four-year terms on the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Jack Winter, who also is a former Chairman of the Fulton County GOP, will rotate off the Board. Governor Nathan Deal named Richard Hyde, whose investigations have led to a number of JQC actions and judicial resignations, as Winter’s replacement.

The Fulton County Republican Party named Mary Norwood as its appointee to the Fulton Board of Elections.

The President of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, supports the resolution by Senator Barry Loudermilk expressing regret at the state’s history of slavery.

Georgia Carry is challenging local regulations on the carrying of guns via handwritten letters.

Handwritten letters, dated Jan. 18, from James Camp of Temple, a GeorgiaCarry.org founder and recent state Senate candidate, were hand-delivered to Carrollton Mayor Wayne Garner and Carroll County Commission Chairman Marty Smith.

In the letter to Garner, Camp challenges a city ordinance prohibiting firearms on the GreenBelt trail and another which says firearms cannot be carried by parade participants.

The letter to Smith challenges a county ordinance which says the commission chairman, in times of local disasters or emergencies, can suspend the sale, distribution, dispensing or transportation of firearms, alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustible products and can close businesses which sell them.

Sure enough, after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about inconsistencies in the list of banned vanity tags, two lawyers are suing on First Amendment grounds after their client’s choices, which included GAYPWR, were rejected. Surely a Miata would convey  that message clearly enough.

Georgia Republican Convention Cycle 2013

Rachel Little has released a list of endorsements in her bid for Chair of the Gwinnett County Republican Party that includes Congressman Rep. Austin Scott, State Rep. Tom Kirby, the GOP chairs of Muscogee, Rockdale, Newton, Bibb and Barrow counties, and former Gwinnett GOP chair Chuck Efstration.

Joseph Brannan, who was recently elected Chairman of the Second District Georgia Republican Party, will run for election to a full term.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 17, 2012

E
MurrayBlackLab

This ten-month old black-and-brindle lab mix will be euthanized at 1 AM Friday if no one steps up to foster or rescue him. Volunteers with the Murray County Animal Shelter says that while he has sad eyes, he’s a happy, calm, and gentle dog who will make a great pet. Transportation is available for this guy or any other dog at Murray County. The $115 adoption fee covers the cost for vetting, shots, heartworm check, and neutering. If you’re interested in fostering, the Shelter has several rescues it works with to facilitate foster homes. Email Lisa Hester or call 770-441-0329 if you can help.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

The National Republican Congressional Committee will continue to play Elmer Fudd to Georgia Democratic Congressman John Barrow’s Bugs Bunny, announcing yet again that they’re hunting wabbits targeting Barrow. Occasional Georgia resident Rob Simms, recently named Political Director for the NRCC, may have a better chance of catching the wascal beating Barrow.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has subpoenaed five Fulton County Elections Board officials to appear before a State Elections Board investigation into mishaps in last year’s voting and requested production of documents.

He says he had no choice.“I felt like we were not getting the type of cooperation we needed in getting documents that we needed to be ready for the hearing.”

Josh McKoon GaPundit Ethics Video

Senator Josh McKoon took a few minutes to discuss the Senate Rules, specifically the limitation on who can file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee and what voters who feel shut out from filing a complaint can do. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Congratulations to Judge Carla Wong McMillian on her appointment by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge McMillian, who served on the Fayette County State Court, is the first Asian-American judge on the state’s appellate court.

On Wednesday, January 23d, members of the state judiciary will be presenting their budget requests to the General Assembly.

The House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee will meet Friday, January 18th from 9:30 to 11 AM in Room 132 of the Capitol.

When the Georgia Senate convenes today for the Fourth Legislative Day, the first and only bill on the calendar will be Senate Bill 24, which delegates to the Department of Community Health the power to levy the so-called hospital bed tax.

Gov. Nathan Deal urged the quick passage of a Medicaid funding plan that would spare legislators from raising taxes and instead allow a state agency to fill the gaping hole in Georgia’s budget.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston on Wednesday also endorsed the governor’s plan to extend the 2-year-old funding mechanism, known as the “bed tax,” despite criticism from conservatives who oppose tax increases. The plan is expected to reach a Senate vote Thursday, and House lawmakers could debate it later this month.

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal presented his legislative agenda to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues Breakfast.

We have had one of the best years of economic development in quite some time. A few notable companies that have chosen Georgia include Baxter, General Motors, and Caterpillar, along with numerous others. We did this with your help, with both the private and the public sector doing their parts!

As governor, my goal is to see Georgia become the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business. I have made that clear from the beginning, because I believe that is the best path to economic growth and the quickest way to get Georgians into jobs.  And we are not all that far off from reaching our target: For two years in a row, we have ranked in the top five for business climate by Site Selection Magazine, and we ranked No. 3 for doing business in 2012 by Area Development Magazine. But we certainly still have some hurdles that we must overcome before we get there.

This morning I will focus my remarks on one of the highest hurdles facing state government, that of healthcare.

Right now, the federal government pays a little under 66 cents for every dollar of Medicaid expenditure, leaving the state with the remaining 34 cents per dollar, which in 2012 amounted to $2.5B as the state share.
For the past three years, hospitals have been contributing their part to help generate funds to pay for medical costs of the Medicaid program. Every dollar they have given has essentially resulted in two additional dollars from the federal government that in part can be used to increase Medicaid payments to the hospitals. But the time has come to determine whether they will continue their contribution through the provider fee. I have been informed that 10 to 14 hospitals will be faced with possible closure if the provider fee does not continue. These are hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid patients.
I propose giving the Department of Community Health board authority over the hospital provider fee, with the stipulation that reauthorization be required every four years by legislation.
Of course, these fees are not new. In fact, we are one of 47 states that have either a nursing home or hospital provider fee—or both. It makes sense to me that, in Georgia, given the similarity of these two fees, we should house the authority and management of both of them under one roof for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Sometimes it feels like when we have nearly conquered all of our hurdles, the federal government begins to place even more hurdles in our path.
Georgians who have already received a paycheck this January have no doubt noticed that their payroll taxes went up and their take-home salary went down. This is the cost of entitlements. If you think your taxes went up a lot this month, just wait till we have to pay for “free health care.” Free never cost so much.

Governor Deal also mentioned that he has “a tweeter account” as the staffer in charge of social media cringed in the back.

Deal said he will work to ensure that state agencies are cooperating with and fully performing background checks for gun permits as required under federal law.

Best line of the day goes to Georgia Speaker David Ralston, who referred to the Senate’s new gift cap as “more of a sun visor than a cap.”

Speaker Ralston responded to the Senate’s opening bid on ethics reform by repeating that he favors a complete ban.

Ralston says House lawmakers plan to propose a permanent change regarding lobbyist gifts in the near future. Ralston plans to introduce legislation that would include a complete ban on items given by lobbyists.

One of the largest criticisms of the new Senate rule is that there are a number of exceptions. For instance, the law allows lobbyists to give multiple gifts that are $100 or less. It also allows for lobbyists to pay for travel and a number of other expenses related to Senators’ official duties.

Jim Galloway suggests that in exchange for ethics reform today, legislators may seek a pay raise tomorrow when the economy improves.

We need to start paying a decent salary to these 236 lawmakers sent to Atlanta each year.

The idea was considered and ultimately discarded by the alliance of conservatives, liberals and civic-minded pushing this year’s $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers.

Newly-minted State Senator Mike Dugan would like to see term limits for state legislators.

Dugan said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he hopes to introduce term limits in the General Assembly. He hopes to work toward this goal in 2013.

“What I’d like is a maximum of 10 years, which is five terms,” Dugan said. “The longest a person can be president is 10 years.

He can assume two years of a predecessor’s term and run for two terms on his own. My thought process is this can’t be more complicated than being president. If we limit that position then I think we can limit these others. There are also term limits on the Georgia governor.”

If 10 years are served, Dugan feels it should be required that a legislator sit out two terms, or four years, before running again.

“The common refrain is that we do have term limits — they are called voters,” said Dugan. “The way campaign contributions are set up now it’s really not that way. The other side is, if you have 10 years to get something done, instead of worrying about getting reelected in perpetuity you will actually make the tough decisions.”

Senator Mike Crane apparently is seeking instead to limit his own effectiveness among his colleagues.

State Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, started the 2013 Georgia General Assembly session off with a bang when he became the most vocal opponent of a set of rules that would restore much of the power that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was stripped of two years ago.

“This may be the end of my political aspirations, but I will never stop fighting for liberty,” Crane said on the Senate floor.

On Tuesday, the second day of the session, Crane reiterated his position.

Crane addressed his colleagues and told them he would bring up the matter each of the remaining 38 days in the legislative session.

“Do you think freedom is at the helm of this body?” he asked.

After Crane’s comments, Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, expressed exasperation with his fellow sophomore. Both were elected in special elections to complete terms of men Gov. Nathan Deal appointed to state jobs.

“I think we need to decide if we’re more interested in getting things done or in making a point,” he said, noting that the rule empowering Cagle had already been voted on and was settled.

Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, stood up to add, “I just wanted to say ‘amen’ to what Sen. Wilkinson for what he said.”

State Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D-Lithonia) was elected Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

“They don’t think that anybody is going to buy into it this year,” said Kay Godwin, a Republican activist from south Georgia. “It’s not the right time, but it’s the right thing to do. We’ve mentioned to everybody that this is the direction that we want to go in. The legislators all agree with us. And the tea party.”

If you get what you pay for, then Georgians should have no reason to complain. They’ve been paying for an army of fry cooks and dishwashers.

The problem is that lawmakers themselves are loathe to raise the pay issue. “I’m not going to vote for an increase in legislative pay when I have school teachers in every district that I represent who are being furloughed,” said state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, the Capitol’s most aggressive proponent of a $100 cap on gifts for lawmakers.

No, livable wages for state lawmakers would have to be an issue taken up by a fellow with plenty of clout and little to lose. A governor in his second term, for instance.

Big wins by the Atlanta Falcons would likely help them make the case for taxpayer funding of a new stadium, according to Governor Deal.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin will serve as a Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

House Republicans may begin moving forward on the project of trimming the footprint of Fulton County government, as GOPers now constitute a majority on the Fulton County delegation after redistricting.

Passing legislation that would allow north Fulton to break away to form a new Milton County remains impractical, mainly because the idea’s most powerful advocate, House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, has never been able to assemble enough votes.

More doable this year: a reconfiguration of the County Commission that would give north Fulton more input into the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax funds and services for nearly 1 million people.

The Legislature could also beef up the powers of the commission chairman and protect the county manager from being fired without cause, changes that could lessen the circus atmosphere of public meetings.

Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said such structural changes won’t end the push for secession.

“Maybe lessen the steam,” he said. “Trying to get Milton County has several hurdles that nobody’s figured out how to get around. So in the meantime, let’s make what we have work better.”

The City of Buchanan will put Sunday Sales on the March 19th ballot.

The investigation into possible corruption in DeKalb County is now focussing on six companies that made millions from the County, while CEO Burrell Ellis’s former campaign manager Kevin Ross has also been the target of a seach warrant.

Gwinnett County Chair Charlotte Nash made fighting corruption and restoring the county government’s reputation cornerstones of her State of the County address.

“I am appalled to hear Gwinnett County and corruption mentioned together,” said Nash, who joined the board after a special grand jury’s land investigation led to the public disgrace of two commissioners but faced the issue again when a commissioner pleaded guilty in a federal bribery probe last year. “Wrongdoing by leaders hurts the community, breaks the public trust and embarrasses all of those who call Gwinnett home.”

Nash pointed to changes in the county’s ethics and land purchase laws during her time in office, but said commissioners will keep working to restore trust with citizens.

“We know that we’ll have to work hard to overcome this, and we’ve taken steps to do just that,” she said. “Ultimately, it will be our behavior over time that will help us regain the community’s trust.”

This year, she said, the board will continue to try to restore public trust by hosting town hall meetings. Plus, commissioners approved a new lead investigator for the district attorney’s office, added specifically to root out corruption among public officials. She also noted the new non-profit entity created to keep public dollars separate and transparent in the Partnerhips Gwinnett economic development initiative.

An historic reduction in crime statistics in Savannah may be the result of cooked books rather than better enforcement, according to some Aldermen.

Alderman Tony Thomas, saying he had at least six constituent complaints to support his claim, leveled that allegation during Tuesday’s annual City Council retreat.

“I do not think the picture is as rosy as has been painted,” Thomas said. “We need to paint a real picture of what’s going on in this community.”

Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson said he has received similar complaints about officers trying to dissuade citizens from filing reports or complaints about officers who are slow to respond.

“They are under tremendous pressure to bring statistics down,” Johnson said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 13, 2012

This beautiful, blue-eyed, white husky-mix is described as sweet and is available from the Murray County Animal Shelter in Chatsworth. Without a rescue or adoption, he will be euthanized on Friday in the pre-dawn hours.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

The United States Supreme Court will hear a challenge to parts of the Voting Rights Act that affect states that had a history of vote discrimination when the act was passed; this includes Georgia.

The challenge to Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was launched two years ago, and the court added it to its docket just days after an energized minority electorate played a critical role in the reelection of President Obama, the nation’s first African American president.

The justices said they would decide whether Congress exceeded its authority in 2006 when it reauthorized a requirement that states and localities with a history of discrimination, most of them in the South, receive federal approval before making any changes to their voting laws.

Three years ago, the court expressed concern about subjecting some states to stricter standards than others using a formula developed decades ago. But the justices sidestepped the constitutional question and found a narrow way to decide that case.

Georgia State House Republicans re-elected their leadership team yesterday, with Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, Majority Whip Ed Lindsey, Vice Chair Matt Ramsey, and Secretary Allen Peake unopposed and Caucus Chair Donna Sheldon beating back an intramural challenge from Rep. Delvis Dutton.

The Democratic Caucus reelected everyone but Rep. Brian Thomas, who was beaten by Rep. Virgil Fludd.

Later this week, Georgia Senate Republicans will gather at Little Ocmulgee State Park for a group hug caucus meeting. Pro-tip to anyone attending: do not accept any offers of an “after dark swamp tour.” Continue reading