Georgia’s Public Service Commissioner reacts to EPA pollution re – WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Proposed pollution control regulations announced by the Obama Administration today would impact Georgia more than many other states.

Those expected new regulations played a role in Georgia Power’s decision to shut down coal-fired power production at Plant Mitchell in Dougherty County. Nearly 25 people will lose their jobs. Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols says the proposal goes too far and puts pressure on Georgia and other states to build other types of power plants.

“That means labor is going to be expensive and everyone is trying to do something at the same time,” said Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols. “It drives up the price. I just wish that we had more time and I wish that the percentage numbers that he gave were a lot less.”

Echols says we could see a slight increase in utility rates because of the rules. Both Plant Mitchell and Plant Branch at Lake Sinclair are expected to close in 2015.

via Georgia’s Public Service Commissioner reacts to EPA pollution re – WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports.

Statewide reaction split on EPA carbon proposal | savannahnow.com

[The result of new federal carbon emission rules,] according to members of the Public Service Commission will be a definite hike in electricity rates, which will cost jobs from customers that won’t be able to afford new hires and from manufacturers that locate their factories overseas where rates are cheaper.

“This will raise electricity prices. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it,” said Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton, noting that in the last two rate hikes, half of the added expense was due to environmental regulations. “… I will be the one, and my fellow commissioners, stuck handing out the bill to pay for all of this.”

The proposal would require Georgia and other states to draft a plan for rolling back emissions to 30 percent lower than they were in 2005. But the country has already achieved a 12 percent reduction since then, in part because new technology has made it cheaper to burn cleaner natural gas to generate power.

In anticipation of these tougher standards coming, Georgia Power won the commission’s approval to close 15 of its older, coal-burning generation plants. Some others will be converted to natural gas.

As recently as 2011, 62 percent of Georgia Power’s generation came from coal, but it dropped to just 35 percent last year.

That’s why Gov. Nathan Deal remains hopeful the ultimate economic impact will be slight.

“I am told, however, that since the utilities in Georgia have been very proactive, that they have probably already taken many of the steps that these new regulations may in fact require. So, we are hopeful that is the case. And if it is, it should have minimal impact,” he said.

Commissioner Stan Wise is less hopeful. He warns that the eventual increase in the price of natural gas will force up Georgia electric rates.

via Statewide reaction split on EPA carbon proposal | savannahnow.com.

Obamas carbon-reduction rule loved and loathed in Georgia | savannahnow.com

Georgia Power sees the rule as overstepping EPA’s authority.

“EPA’s proposed emission guidelines appear to be based on reduction measures that extend well beyond Clean Air Act requirements and infringe upon states’ authority to determine the best approach for their own generating sources,” said spokesman John Kraft.

The company plans to submit detailed comments to EPA after it reviews the rule, Kraft said.

Around the nation and the Peach State, environmental groups applauded the proposed rule.

“This announcement is exactly what we’ve been waiting for,” said Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia. “This is America’s chance to lead and our best chance to give our children a legacy we can be proud of.”

Calling Georgia “ground zero for carbon pollution that causes climate disruption,” Seth Gunning of the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club said the rule will be good not only for the climate, but for the economy as well.

“Generally it’s going to spur Georgia to move into the 21st century energy economy,” he said. “It will keep the air clean for our kids and the climate stable, and it will fuel the economy for decades to come.”

The Georgia Public Service Commission, the elected body that regulates Georgia Power, was less enthusiastic.

“The Obama administration continues its war on coal with the issuance of carbon dioxide rules for existing coal plants,” Commisioner Stan Wise noted in a written statement. “These overreaching rules trump state authority, put energy users at risk to future price swings, ignores the investments and progress Georgians have made to improve the environment and are a backdoor attempt to force federal renewable energy mandates.”

Commisioner Tim Echols agreed.

“President Obama is using a federal agency to implement climate plans and new regulation — without congressional approval,” Echols said. “His plans to curb carbon dioxide output and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will ironically have a disproportionate impact on red states like Georgia that use a lot of coal, and I am trying hard to believe it is just a coincidence.”

via Obamas carbon-reduction rule loved and loathed in Georgia | savannahnow.com.

New EPA regs hit GA plant called | 11Alive.com

But [Sierra Club activist Colleen] Kiernan says Georgia Power has already made impressive strides toward cleaner power.

“Since 2005 Georgia has already reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 22% at our power plants. So we’re already well on the way. And you can tell our air is cleaner,” Kiernan said. “We have far fewer smog alert days than we used to in the early 2000s.

But coal is cheap, plentiful and produced in the US. Nine of Georgia Power’s plants are coal-fired, producing 35 percent of the state’s power. But Georgia Power is shutting down most or all of three of its coal plants in the next year.

“The mix is changing. With the retirements of a number of coal units, our percentages will shrink in terms of coal. But coal remains a vital source,” said John Kraft, spokesman for Georgia Power.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise said Monday evening that the PSC has cut air pollution from power plants “close to 90 percent” since 1990, and the dirty emissions continue to decrease. The cost of meeting an accelerated deadline of 2030, he said, will be expensive for Georgia electric customers.

“We’re expanding solar, we’re buying some wind, we’re doing the right things. But to go ahead and say, ‘You’re going to do this in the next 15 or 20 years’ really puts a real onus on the state. It’s the federal government directing how we’re going to dispatch [power] generation, so it’s going to cost more money…. If you have to cut emissions by 2030, there’s going to be significant, new costs. This is despite the fact that we’ve already made great headway in the last few years. Significant movement in that area. Leave us alone. We’ll take care of this business….. I am confident that we’ll continue to get these things done, and not do it with the rate shock that’s associated with some of these rules that come out of a Washington bureaucracy.”

via New EPA regs hit GA plant called “America’s dirtiest”.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 3, 2014

Marsha

Marsha is a female Golden Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society in Albany, Georgia.

Marsha2

Lenny
Lenny is a young male Schnoodle, a Schnauzer/Poodle mix, who weighs 12 pounds.

He is crate trained and just about housebroken. We would say 90% there – he could use a good schedule for a while longer and when he visits new places, he forgets to give signals. So just some patience and a good schedule and he will be good to go in no time! He is still a little bit of a puppy and needs to be reminded what are dog toys and what is okay to chew on. He isn’t destructive – just curious!

Lenny is a playful little guy and really likes to play with other dogs. He is a great balance of playful and laid back. He likes to play fetch or run around carrying toys, but he has also mastered the art of snuggling and loves that too!

He is happy to be friends with anyone and everything! He only needs a few short walks a day, and maybe some play time with toys. But he doesn’t require a lot of exercise.

Lenny is just an all-around low maintenance and wonderful dog – a great balance of cuteness, playfulness, and happiness. Lenny is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

Lenny2
Edward

Edward is a young male Whippet with a striking brindle coat. Edward is a great dog that gets along with dogs, cats and kids. Very smart boy that trains easily. Knows basic commands. Edward is available for adoption from ACT Animal Rescue of Valdosta/Lowndes in Naylor, GA.

Some truly beautiful and well-behaved dogs at Barrow County Animal Shelter are pleading for their lives today – unless they are spoken for with paperwork by 4 PM today, they will be euthanized tomorrow morning.

Brook Lane Bear

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 3, 2014

On June 3, 1941, Georgia voters ratified a Constitutional Amendment extending the term of office for Governor and the other Constitutional Officers from two years to four. Governor Eugene Talmadge campaigned for the Amendment, hoping to serve a four-year term after the two-year term he currently held, but was defeated in the 1942 Democratic Primary by Ellis Arnall. Remember this phrase: legislation almost always has unintended consequences.

On June 3, 1942, Curtis Mayfield was born in Chicago, Illinois and would later live in Atlanta, dying in Roswell in 1999.

On the morning of June 3, 1962, a plane carrying 106 Georgians crashed on take-off from Orly near Paris, the deadliest crash in aviation to that date.

On June 3, 1980, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter had amassed enough delegates to assure his nomination in the Democratic Primary for President.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the Tiananman Square Massacre in Beijing, China. Pro-democracy protests had begun on April 15, 1989 and on May 20, martial law was declared. The People’s Liberation Army began taking the square back on the evening of June 3d.

Yesterday, President Ellen Sirleaf of Liberia visited Albany, Georgia, where her son, James Sirleaf is the ER director of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. President Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize; Dr. Sirleaf received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta

37 Weeks, a project by the Atlanta History Center and Georgia Public Broadcasting continues documenting Sherman’s campaign in Georgia with Week 8.

Georgia News

The 2014 Peachtree Road Race will also host the American 10k National Championships for men and women. Because it will be the national championship this year, the race is not inviting elite runners from other countries. The last female to win was Joan Nesbit in 1995, and Ed Eyestone was the last American male to win, in 1991.

New EPA regulations on carbon emissions from power plants will hit Georgia harder than many other states, but the Peach state’s main power producer has taken steps in recent years in anticipation of stricter carbon rules to reduce the role of coal-fired generation.

But [Sierra Club activist Colleen] Kiernan says Georgia Power has already made impressive strides toward cleaner power.

“Since 2005 Georgia has already reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 22% at our power plants. So we’re already well on the way. And you can tell our air is cleaner,” Kiernan said. “We have far fewer smog alert days than we used to in the early 2000s.

But coal is cheap, plentiful and produced in the US. Nine of Georgia Power’s plants are coal-fired, producing 35 percent of the state’s power. But Georgia Power is shutting down most or all of three of its coal plants in the next year.

“The mix is changing. With the retirements of a number of coal units, our percentages will shrink in terms of coal. But coal remains a vital source,” said John Kraft, spokesman for Georgia Power.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise said Monday evening that the PSC has cut air pollution from power plants “close to 90 percent” since 1990, and the dirty emissions continue to decrease. The cost of meeting an accelerated deadline of 2030, he said, will be expensive for Georgia electric customers.

“We’re expanding solar, we’re buying some wind, we’re doing the right things. But to go ahead and say, ‘You’re going to do this in the next 15 or 20 years’ really puts a real onus on the state. It’s the federal government directing how we’re going to dispatch [power] generation, so it’s going to cost more money…. If you have to cut emissions by 2030, there’s going to be significant, new costs. This is despite the fact that we’ve already made great headway in the last few years. Significant movement in that area. Leave us alone. We’ll take care of this business….. I am confident that we’ll continue to get these things done, and not do it with the rate shock that’s associated with some of these rules that come out of a Washington bureaucracy.”

Georgia Power questions whether the EPA’s new rules have overstepped its authority.

Georgia Power sees the rule as overstepping EPA’s authority.
“EPA’s proposed emission guidelines appear to be based on reduction measures that extend well beyond Clean Air Act requirements and infringe upon states’ authority to determine the best approach for their own generating sources,” said spokesman John Kraft.
The company plans to submit detailed comments to EPA after it reviews the rule, Kraft said.

The Georgia Public Service Commission, the elected body that regulates Georgia Power, was less enthusiastic.

“The Obama administration continues its war on coal with the issuance of carbon dioxide rules for existing coal plants,” Commisioner Stan Wise noted in a written statement. “These overreaching rules trump state authority, put energy users at risk to future price swings, ignores the investments and progress Georgians have made to improve the environment and are a backdoor attempt to force federal renewable energy mandates.”

Commisioner Tim Echols agreed.

“President Obama is using a federal agency to implement climate plans and new regulation — without congressional approval,” Echols said. “His plans to curb carbon dioxide output and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will ironically have a disproportionate impact on red states like Georgia that use a lot of coal, and I am trying hard to believe it is just a coincidence.”

Public Service Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton, a conservative Republican, said the new rules will raise the cost of electricity in Georgia.

“This will raise electricity prices. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it,” said Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton, noting that in the last two rate hikes, half of the added expense was due to environmental regulations. “… I will be the one, and my fellow commissioners, stuck handing out the bill to pay for all of this.”

Gov. Nathan Deal remains hopeful the ultimate economic impact will be slight.

“I am told, however, that since the utilities in Georgia have been very proactive, that they have probably already taken many of the steps that these new regulations may in fact require. So, we are hopeful that is the case. And if it is, it should have minimal impact,” he said.

One bright spot for Georgia in the new EPA regulations is that we are well on the way to bringing two more nuclear power plants online at Plant Vogtle. The Municipal Energy Authority of Georgia recently received approval for a financial restructuring to facilitate subsidized financing of its share of the new reactors. In April it was announced that Georgia Power and Oglethorpe customers will not pay a fee for federal loan guarantees that reduce the cost of financing their share of the plants.

Competing for federal largesse

Dalton, Georgia and eleven other areas will split $1.3 in government cheese federal stimulus funding, with Georgia’s share slated to create 2,623 jobs in ten years.

The Obama administration targeted the Dalton region as one of the dozen spots that will split $1.3 billion and get special attention from 11 federal agencies and a network of state and local partners, from Georgia Tech to trade groups, to produce 2,623 new jobs in 10 years.

“The initial focus would be on the local floor-covering industry”, said Lloyd Frasier, executive director of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, “but it expands beyond that to support a culture of advanced manufacturing in the region.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said the competition between communities for the grants and extra agency assistance is at the center of the administration’s job-creation strategy.

“Innovative programs like (this) encourage American communities to work together to craft strong, clear, strategic plans to attract manufacturing investment and jobs to transform themselves into globally competitive commercial hubs,” she said.

Let’s run some quick numbers on that. Assume for the sake of argument that Georgia gets roughly 1/12 of the money or $1 billion. Dividing that by ten years yields $100 million per year to create 2,623 jobs, or roughly $38,000 per job per year. Would it not be cheaper to simply pay 2,623 current welfare recipients $38k per year and remove them from the welfare rolls?

Contrast that federal waste largesse with the approach by Governor Nathan Deal and other Republicans:

Gov. Nathan Deal, for example, has made jobs the center of his re-election campaign, trumpeting the designation of a small, trade magazine of Georgia as the No. 1 state to locate a business because its low taxes and giveaways. He has signed legislation to remove the tax factories paid on energy, to create a venture-capital fund with taxpayer dollars and to let developers of giant tourist attractions keep one-quarter of the sales taxes they generate.

His fellow Republicans in the legislature want to go further by reducing or eliminating the state income tax. They argue that companies paying the highest wages gravitate to states like Florida, Texas and Tennessee which rely on other taxes instead of the income tax.

Georgia isn’t abandoning traditional incentives, but it is getting smarter about them, according to state Rep. Ron Stephens, chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

Stephens, a Savannah Republican, has sponsored or cosponsored nearly every legislative incentive proposal since the GOP took control of government.

Stephens describes as a good incentive the sales-tax exemption on replacement parts for aircraft owned by nonresidents. It helped companies like Gulfstream Aerospace decide to put high-paying repair jobs in Georgia.

Other incentives have drawn business for the state’s ports and attracted movie making, he said. As a result, Savannah is the fastest-growing port in the country, and Georgia is now the No. 3 place for movies, bringing more than $3 billion to the state economy.

And speaking of Governor Deal and job creation, he announced this week more than 1,100 new jobs being brought to Clayton County.

“Georgia has become a global hub for communications services,” said Deal. “With the help of our top 10-ranked talent pool, this industry has grown to include nearly 300 Georgia-based companies. Our competitive business climate and dynamic cluster of companies will continue to support innovative call center firms such as Chime Solutions.”

It’s all about turnout

Marcus Howard of the Savannah Morning News has a piece this morning on what turnout will mean to Jason Carter’s campaign for Governor.

Georgia may be dominated by Republicans in virtually every top political office, but Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter of Decatur believes 200,000 previously uncounted votes will be crucial to winning back the governor’s mansion.

The prevailing theory among political analysts is that as red as the Peach State is today, it’s ripe for Democratic victories in the next two to three election cycles, when demographics changes favoring the party will make it a true swing state.

Carter isn’t buying it.

The numbers he and his campaign staff have been crunching offer the gubernatorial candidate, who two weeks ago secured the Democratic nomination, hope he can defeat Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.

In 2012, President Barack Obama garnered more than 1.7 million or 45.5 percent of votes. Carter said he will likely need to capture 1.3 million of those votes to win the off-year election.

However, last month’s primary turnout of just under 20 percent doesn’t bode well for Democrats. Carter received 304,243 votes to the Republicans’ 596,218 votes, of which Deal captured 72.2 percent. And nearly 60,000 more Republicans than Democrats participated in early voting.

Carter’s campaign believes upward of 600,000 Democrats who aren’t registered to vote are in the state. Registering and getting just 200,000 of them to vote in November, campaign officials calculate, will give them the win.

When I read “200,000 previously uncounted votes,” it sounded to me like he means that votes actually cast by Georgians were somehow thrown away by conniving Republicans. What it actualy meant was “200,000 uncast ballots,” meaning mythical votes that were never cast by mythical voters who are not registered.

But the Democrats have something we don’t.

[The Carter campaign is] hoping to piggy back on the advance get-out-the-vote algorithms used by the 2012 Obama re-election campaign, which was as data driven as any before it.

Karl Douglass, Carter’s Yale-educated political director, promises to have the most robust set of data about Democrats the state has seen. The campaign, he said, has already hired a “super data-based” manager and plans to keep supporters engaged throughout the election.

“We’ve got to get voter turnout higher than it was in the last mid-term, but we think we can get it higher naturally. The question is can we get it high enough with Democratic turnout?” said Douglass, who was a 2008 Obama campaign regional political director.

“We’re going to engineer that in a lot of ways coordinating with campaign offices. We’re going to have people on the ground working, doing data collection and door-to-door, starting much sooner rather than later.”
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, says Carter will need not just Democratic support but independent voters this year.

“It’s a midterm election year and could be a tough one for Democrats nationally,” he said in an email. “If it was a presidential year then maybe he could rely more on Democratic voters. But considering the hurdles a Democratic candidate in Georgia faces this year, he’s doing quite well.”

Whether Jason Carter’s race is a national priority or not, Michelle Nunn’s Senate campaign is a hot property and will certainly benefit from the Democratic establishment’s advances in technology and voter turnout tools.

1st Brigade soldiers focus on counterinsurgency, major combat operations at Fort Stewart | savannahnow.com

With their M4 carbines raised to their eyes, more than a dozen U.S. soldiers exited the convoy of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and slowly advanced toward the three-story cement structure.

Once inside, the infantrymen carefully moved to the second floor, clearing room after room in their search for enemy fighters.

Suddenly, a series of gunshots rang out.

The short bursts echoed through the building as the soldiers exchanged fire with an insurgent.

For the troops with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, the short-lived firefight was just the first obstacle as they practiced assaulting an urban village to search for a high-valued enemy target during training May 20.

Throughout the assault exercise, soldiers with 2-7 Infantry continued through several buildings — mock businesses, homes and government posts — in the Colmar Urban Training Center on western Fort Stewart, interacting with civilians and enemy fighters as they searched the village for their target.

The exercise was just one of dozens the battalion has been executing for the last four weeks as part of 1st Brigade’s Radier Focus exercise that brigade officials said is helping to prepare the unit for another month-long training regimen the unit will undergo in August at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Since returning from a nine-month combat rotation in Afghanistan last summer, 1st Brigade soldiers have undergone training at the individual and small unit levels. Raider Focus, said Maj. Adam Cannon, the brigade’s operations officer, allows the soldiers to put their training together at the battalion level.

via 1st Brigade soldiers focus on counterinsurgency, major combat operations at Fort Stewart | savannahnow.com.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 2, 2014

Benjamin Franklin became Georgia’s agent in England on June 1, 1768, making him also Georgia’s first lobbyist.

On June 2, 1774, Britain’s Parliament passed the Quartering Act, the last of the Coercive Acts, meant to punish the American colonies and reassert British control. Eventually, the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution would prohibit the forcible quartering of soldiers in private homes.

On June 1, 1775, Georgia patriots sent a care package to their brethren in Massachusetts comprising 63 barrels of rice and £122 after the battles at Lexington and Concord.

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding forces west of the Mississippi, surrendered on June 2, 1865, and this date is generally considered the end of the Civil War.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2, 1953.

On June 2, 1962, Georgia-born Ray Charles hit #1 on the charts with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

On May 31, 1971, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appeared on the cover of Time magazine as part of a story on changing Southern politics.

Carter Time 1971

How much do you want to bet that either Jason Carter, Michelle Nunn, or both will be on the cover of Time before the end of 2014?

On June 2, 1976, a Lou Harris poll showed Jimmy Carter leading nationally for the Democratic nomination for President.

CNN launched on June 2, 1980. From the video below of CNN’s first broadcast, it is obvious they weren’t using teleprompters that day.

This Day in Georgia History launched on June 2, 1997.

Five Lessons about Georgia Politics

Last week, I gave two presentations on Georgia politics, one to a private group, the second to the Hall County Republican Women. Some of these are pro-tips, some are observations, some are applicable outside Georgia or outside politics, and one is simply a fact about November’s elections. I started by talking about dogs to illustrate my first point.

First, be known for something other than politics. If you are known within your church, community, or larger organization for something other than politics, it allows you to build common ground with others and enhances your moral authority. Example one of this is GaPundit.com, where I have become known primarily to many people as someone who advocates and works for dog rescue, responsible pet ownership, and adoption. On Friday, I got two separate emails from readers who said, “I subscribed to read about the dogs, but have started reading the politics.”

Another excellent example of this Ron Johnson, Second Vice Chair of the Georgia Republican Party, and the GAGOP Veterans Committee. They recently raised funds to purchase a custom sports wheelchair for a disabled veteran and gave it to him so he can play tennis.

GAGOP Veterans

Not only was this a great thing to do, a gift that can change this veteran’s life, but it will make the GAGOP Veterans Committee a powerful voice among our military community and enhance our reputation. It’s one thing to talk to a group and say Republicans care about veterans, and here’s what we have to say about the VA scandal. It’s much more powerful to walk in as a recognized supporter of veterans who puts their money behind their principles. If you choose to follow this tip, find an area of genuine interest and put your shoulder to the wheel.

Another way we can put this into operation is by supporting the GAGOP Community Service Commission’s competition among county party organizations to raise the most money for the Bowen Story Fund.

The Bowen Story Fund will be dedicated to enhancing the lives of other pediatric cancer families by providing help, care and support during emergency hospitalizations and long-term stays. The fund will be used to offer meals, gas cards, and temporary lodging assistance to families who are receiving treatment more than 50 miles away from their home, primarily concentrating on families at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The competition runs through June 15, 2014, and it’s easy to be part of the efforts to support families fighting pediatric cancer.

Participating county parties will be placed into one of four categories based on county population (under 80,000, 80,000-200,000, 200,001-300,000, over 300,000). The winning county party in each category will receive recognition from the State Party.  The individual winner in each category will receive two tickets to the Fall Victory Dinner and the private reception beforehand, photos with elected officials and special recognition both in the dinner program and at the dinner.

The gift cards should be in the amounts of $10-$25 and from vendors in the area of Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta.  Examples include restaurants like Chili’s, McDonalds, Zaxby’s, Subway, etc; drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS; grocery stores, including Publix and Kroger; big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Target; and gas stations including Shell, RaceTrac and Quick Trip.

For more information, contact Michael McNeely, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and Chairman of the Community Service Committee, [email protected]

Second, in Georgia, the GOP Civil War is not between the Tea Party and the Establishment so much as between “Liberty Republicans” and “regular Republicans.” It’s not necessary that it take the tone of a “war” and we all benefit if the discussion is civil. I personally agree with the libertarian movement within our party on a number of issues, but many times, what could be a fun political discussion becomes a conflict. There are those within the Liberty movement whom I know, like, and trust, and with whom a civil conversation can be had.

The party belongs to all of us, and we need to be more welcoming to those who don’t have years in the trenches. That doesn’t mean they should expect to be elevated quickly to positions of responsibility, but that we should let new members take on small jobs, and as they prove themselves, give them more.

State Representatives Scot Turner, John Pezold, and Michael Caldwell can, I think, be fairly described as having small-l libertarian philosophical leanings. Where they differ is that their willingness to be reasonable and socialize as members of the party makes them effective voices for their philosophy. Seek out those with differing opinions of what it means to be conservative and find those who can make a meaningful contribution. It wasn’t so long ago that the Christian Conservatives who now dominate much of the political conversation in Georgia Republican politics were the newcomers who weren’t welcomed.

Third, there are two main ways to lose a Republican Primary reelection for an incumbent. One way to lose is to do something illegal, morally wrong, or something that is very unpopoular regardless of its rightness. Senator Don Balfour’s failure to make a runoff in his Senate race along with the losses by State Rep. Charles Gregory and State Rep. Sam Moore are primarily this type of shortcoming.

The other way  is to not care enough about campaigning, which can give voters the impression you don’t care enough about representing them. I suspect the loss by State Rep. Willie Talton to newcomer Heath Clark can be ascribed to this. Certainly Talton’s campaign fundraising gives the impression of a lackadaisical approach to his reelection. Senator Jack Murphy’s apparent indecisiveness the week of qualifying could make some wonder if he has the fire to campaign and to represent the voters of his districts; I suspect we’ll learn more about that in his runoff.

If an incumbent’s lack of drive to win reelection means that he has come to understand that other things are more important to him than holding office, it can be the beginning of a new and better life.

Fourth, this year’s voter turnout is a problem and we need to consider whether to keep the current election schedule. The date change came about by a federal court first requiring a date change to allow sufficient time between the federal primary and runoff to allow ballots to be sent to overseas voters at least 45 days before the runoff, but some within the GAGOP thought moving the Primary to May would enhance the ability of mainstream Republicans to vote when it’s convenient for them.

But a significant drop in voter turnout does not signal success. As a party it means our candidates are competing for a narrower cross-section of voters, and that fewer Georgians will be invested in the success of our candidates in November. I hope the state party and the powers that be under the Gold Dome will give careful consideration to primary dates going forward.

Fifth, November ballots will have two amendments to the Georgia Constitution on them for all voters. The first, I call the Shafer Amendment, after its author and primary sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem. Senate Resolution 415 places on the ballot the following question:

( ) YES
( ) NO

 

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”

It’s a simple amendment that prevents the legislature from increasing the state income tax rate unless a majority of voters agree in a statewide referendum to reverse the Amendment.

The Shafer Amendment passed the Senate with a two-thirds majority, with Democratic Minority Leader Steve Henson opposing it and Senator (now Democratic Gubernatorial nominee) Jason Carter fleeing the chamber so as not to have to go on record.

In the House, the bill was carried by State Rep. Matt Ramsey, Republican Whip, and garnered unanimous support for Republicans; House Speaker David Ralston cast a rare floor vote in favor of the bill to provide the two-thirds majority required for passage of an Amendment. Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill.

Not only does this Amendment put the GAGOP on the record as supporting limited taxes and limited government, it also puts the Democratic Party on the record supporting the ability of legislators to raise taxes and puts Democratic nominee for Governor Jason Carter on the record as unwilling to vote on issues that a majority of Georgians favor.

It also enhances Georgia’s competitive position for new job creation. While some other states have lower income tax rates, even zero, Georgia’s current low rate is locked in by the State Constitution and cannot be easily raised. This will make Georgia even more competitive for new jobs.

The second amendment on November’s ballot, by State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), allows the imposition of a surcharge on fines for reckless driving to be imposed and paid to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission.

The Commission was created by a 1998 Constitutional Amendment that received 73% support among voters statewide and currently receives funding from a surcharge on fines for DUI. As DUI fines and collections have waned, so has funding for Georgians who suffered brain and/or spinal injuries. From the Commission’s website:

Georgians with traumatic brain and spinal injuries deserve lives of independence and inclusion, lives rich with vision and possibilities. Trust Fund awards assist individuals with injuries in reaching these goals. (For more information on Trust Fund awards, see How the Trust Fund Fills the Gaps.)

Collected revenue is distributed in the form of grants to eligible individuals for the post-acute care and rehabilitation of Georgians that have been injured and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI). Eligible Georgians fill out either a paper or electronic application for funding to the Commission.

Fulton GOP launches new website

FultonGOPLaunch

“Fulton is the epicenter for Keeping Georgia Red,” said Roger Bonds, Chairman of the Fulton GOP. “As such, we must use every tool in our arsenal, including a strong web presence, to connect with voters and communicate our strong message of greater opportunity and freedom, less intrusive and more effective government, and personal responsibility. As people grow tired of incompetent County government and failed Obama policies, we’re here to serve voters with an alternative. Furthermore, re-electing Governor Deal and winning the open U.S. Senate seat will increasingly hinge on strong Republican turnout in North Fulton”

The launch will serve as a catalyst for efforts to reach more voters in Fulton, conduct voter registration, and operate a robust get-out-the-vote effort. The stronger online presence will also enable the Fulton GOP to recruit more members and volunteers, gain more contributions, and better serve its membership with improved services.

“Our goal is to be a click away from those who want to know more about the Republican Party in Fulton County or join our team. President Obama and his team in Georgia are targeting Fulton, and we are ready to take the fight for our values and future to the voters. Fulton County deserves better, and this website is one of many important steps toward victory in November.” Bonds said.

The new site will maintain the same address as the previous, www.FultonGOP.org. Event information and registration, voter resources, and opportunities to join, contribute, and volunteer are available.

Online fundraising and campaign coordination is an area in which Republicans need to catch up to the Democrats. Let’s hope the #FultonGOPLaunch moves the ball down the field for the good guys.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 2, 2014

Tag207

Tag 207 is a small male Terrier mix who is available from Columbus Animal Control in Columbus, Ga.

Haley2v2

Haley is a young, female Collie mix who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society in Worth County, Sylvester, GA.

Haley2

Little Haley is a baby female Lab/Shepherd mix who loves playing with her stuffed toy and belly rubs. She is available for adoption from Albany Humane Society Albany, GA.

Haley1

Brook

Brook is a 3-5 year old hound dog mix female who is on the euthanasia list for Wednesday and is desperately hoping to be adopted or fostered from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga. She is very sweet, gets along with other dogs, and loves children.

Bear

Bear is 6-years old and described as a Boxer mix, though I think he’s heavily Lab-influenced, who is on the euthanasia list for Wednesday and is desperately hoping to be adopted or fostered from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga. Bear was surrendered by his owner, so he’s lived in a home and loves people. The volunteers say he sweet and at a recent adoption event, he kept trying to follow people who visited with him, he’s so loving.

Lane

Lane is a 3-5 year old female Hound mix who is on the euthanasia list for Wednesday and is desperately hoping to be adopted or fostered from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga. Lane gets along well with other dogs and with children.

LaneBrook

Lane and Brook get along very well together and I wonder if they aren’t sisters. They’d make a great pair, and they’re the age where they have many years ahead of them, but should be past the puppy problems. Here’s a video of Lane and Brook.

Adopt a Dog With a Southern Drawl – NYTimes.com

IF I could be reincarnated as anyone, I’d pick my dog, Landon. He leads a charmed life. Most mornings he gets scrambled eggs for breakfast, which he prefers to hard-boiled. Every afternoon, he takes a long run. Landon sleeps with my husband and me — he’s a 60-pound retriever mix, but seems to expand to five times that size in our bed. In summer, we take him on vacation to Maine, where he frolics on the beach. Not that he cares, but his picture has appeared in the online edition of Vogue.

Landon’s cushy existence belies a precarious beginning. Three years ago, at 8 weeks old, he was hours from being euthanized in an animal control facility in Tennessee. Someone — we’ll probably never know who — saved him, his six littermates and their mother, and brought them to Bideawee, a Manhattan shelter. We adopted Landon a few days later.

In the last decade, hundreds of thousands of dogs have been transported north from overcrowded facilities in the rural South. Much of the infrastructure for getting them from one state to another was put in place in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina left more than 250,000 pets stranded.

An estimated three to four million cats and dogs are euthanized in American shelters each year. People don’t love their pets any more or less because they live in one geographic region or another. But kill rates spike in high poverty areas with limited access to affordable veterinary services for spaying and neutering. In the rural South, unsterilized dogs are often allowed to roam outdoors. Many counties have weak or unenforced leash laws. Shelters in such areas are overrun, with kill rates ranging from 50 to 95 percent. Even where adoptions are encouraged, low population density makes them rare.

Many of the dogs that are routinely euthanized in Southern states — healthy Labs, hounds, shepherds and others, including puppies of various breeds — are in high demand in the Northeast, where low-cost spay and neuter services are the norm, kill rates are down, and there are exponentially more potential adopters. In 2011, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started its animal relocation and transport program, which connects overcrowded shelters with those in regions where space is available.

via Adopt a Dog With a Southern Drawl – NYTimes.com.