The blog.

25
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 25, 2016

The British Parliament closed the Port of Boston on March 25, 1774, passing the Boston Port Act in retaliation for the destruction of $1 million worth of tea in the Boston Tea Party.

Horton Smith won the first Masters tournament on March 25, 1934.

On March 25, 1937, Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation creating the Georgia Department of Labor; in 1945, the Commissioner of Labor was upgraded from statutory office to Constitutional.

Atlanta Braves Pitcher and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Tom Glavine celebrates his 50th Birthday today.

Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia. She would come to be recognized as one of the greatest American fiction writers. O’Connor graduated from the Georgia State College for Women, now called Georgia College and State University. She returned to Milledgeville in 1951, living at the family farm, called Andalusia, until her death at age 39 in 1964.

At GCSU, the Flannery O’Connor Room is located in the GC Museum, the Flannery O’Connor Collection includes manuscripts, and the College includes a program in Flannery O’Connor Studies.

O’Connor died of Lupus, which also killed her father.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia General Assembly adjourned Sine Die last night, meaning unless Governor Deal calls a Special Session, there will be no more legislation passed this year. Our attention now turns to the bills that Gov. Deal will sign, veto, or allow to become law without his signature. For an up-to-date list of 2016 legislation signed by Gov. Deal, click here.

Last night, the Georgia Senate voted to name the Adoptable Dog as the Official State Dog of Georgia. My personal thanks to all of our legislators who voted for it, and to those who voted against it for deeply-held reasons.

From the AJC’s Janel Davis,

Earlier in the legislative session some lawmakers sought to name the English bulldog (think the University of Georgia’s Uga) as the officials mascot, but that effort failed to gain momentum.

Having passed both legislative chambers, the “adoptable dog” bill now moves to the governor’s desk to be signed.

The bill passed not in its original form, as House Bill 561, but as Senate Bill 168. After the original version was assigned to the Senate Government Oversight Committee in which it got neither a hearing nor a vote, the House amended Senate Bill 168 to insert the Official State Dog language. To his credit, Senator Burt Jones was willing to accept the changes to a bill he originally authored. Last night at about 10:30, Sen. Jones moved that the Senate accept the House changes and spoke from the well in favor of the legislation.

Sen Burt Jones Official State Dog

I anticipate Governor Deal will be willing to sign the Official State Dog legislation based on an interview I did with him in April 2015.

Legislation by State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) that would have restructured the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners and eliminated the CEO position died in the House without even a vote.

The Georgia House of Representatives declined to consider the measure on the last day of this year’s lawmaking session after hearing objections from legislators who said it was being hastily pushed through.

The legislation, Senate Bill 378, called for the CEO job to cease to exist in 2019 and be replaced by a politically weak county commission chairman. The 6,000-employee government would have been run by a county manager who would have answered to the County Commission.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, said a citizen-led charter review commission should review DeKalb’s form of government before voters are asked about whether they want to abolish the CEO role.

“It’s putting the cart well in front of the horse,” Abrams said during a House Rules Committee meeting Thursday.

Legislation to specify how law enforcement handles rape kits passed the Senate last night, but expansion of medical marijuana failed.

Georgia lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to bills setting strict timelines for testing rape kits and creating state-funded grants to pregnancy resource centers that discourage women from getting abortions.

Thursday marked the 40th and final day of the legislative session, and lawmakers worked past midnight to send bills to Gov. Nathan Deal.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate remained at odds on a medical marijuana bill and never voted on a bill expanding the number of people eligible to use a medical marijuana derivative in Georgia. Macon Republican Rep. Allen Peake wanted to allow patients diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions, to possess cannabis oil.

House members [who supported] the measure tried to force a Senate floor vote but failed.

Republican Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford has said a federal grant will fix any backlogs of rape kit testing in Georgia and declined to act on Holcomb’s proposal. Holcomb used a legislative maneuver to get a Senate floor vote late Thursday night.

Other measures sent to the governor Thursday would:

• Prevent law enforcement officers facing indictment from testifying unchallenged during grand jury proceedings or being present throughout the session.

• Allow college students who are at least 18 to carry stun guns on state campuses.

• Prevent financial institutions from refusing services to legal gun or ammunition sellers.

• Require law enforcement to obtain search warrants before flying drones over personal property but allow private citizens to use the aircraft on personal property to film wildlife.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach helped deliver Meals on Wheels food as part of the organization’s 14th Annual March for Meals.

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman delivered the State of the City address.

Macon-Bibb County continued working to open two Early Voting locations for this year’s elections.

State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, sponsor of the Official State Dog legislation talked to the Reporter Newspapers about what he’ll do now that the session is wrapped up.

Wilkinson, whose district includes parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, was first elected in November 2000. The 69-year-old said Wednesday he has accepted a position as a managing partner with Fun Academy Motion Pictures Inc., a subsidiary of Cork, Ireland-based Labyrinth Media & Publishing. He will begin the new job Friday, a day after the current legislative session ends.

Wilkinson, who will work on a consulting basis and has worked with Labyrinth previously, said the company recently opened an Atlanta office. He will complete his current term as a representative before devoting himself full-time to the new job, which will require him to travel some, meaning he could not remain as a state representative in the future without missing parts of the annual session.

He said he was proud to have “never missed a day at the General Assembly” during his tenure, including special sessions. Wilkinson also said a reason for his retirement was his health. Twelve years ago his doctors said he was a good candidate for prostate cancer, and in 2014 he diagnosed with the disease at the Stage 2 level. Even though the treatments were successful and are now complete, his doctors asked him to “take it easy.”

But starting next year Wilkinson will remain in politics on a smaller scale. Gov. Nathan Deal has named him to the Technical College System of Georgia board, where he said his experience in the Navy and working for Coca-Cola will come in handy.

“They have an effort to recruit military members,” he said. “Georgia is the fifth largest state for military personnel. They have a strong effort to recruit people of all ages but mainly young people who are coming out of the military, keeping them in the state and helping them with the technical college program.

“Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin, she and I have been colleagues for a long time. This is one of those things. They meet and have 10 board meetings a year and there’s one two-day board meeting and the rest are one day. That I can accommodate because I do want to contribute to the state.”

24
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 24, 2016

Joey DeKalb

Joey is an adult male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services. His adoption fee is reduced to $40 this month.

Joey JRT

Joey is a young male Jack Russell Terrier (Parson Russell Terrier) mix who is available for adoption from GA Jack Russell Rescue in Conyers, GA.

Joey Milledgeville

Joey is a young female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Joey. I am a young and playful hound mix. I love to play! I get along great with other dogs and I love people. I will make a great pet! Please come and get me. I don’t want to grow up in the shelter. Here is how you can give me my furever home: The standard adoption fee for a puppy or a dog is $100, which covers rabies vaccination and spay or neuter.

Joe Albany

Joe is a young male German Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Yesterday, DeKalb County Animal Services posted on Facebook the following:

Lifeline DeKalb OSD

24
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 24, 2015

Governor E.D. Rivers signed a resolution on March 24, 1939, calling for the return of “General” locomotive made famous in the Great Train Chase from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Georgia. It currently resides in The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia. The other locomotive involved in the chase, The Texas, is displayed at the Atlanta Cyclorama in Grant Park  until late last year, when it was removed for restoration and will be displayed in the Atlanta History Center beginning later this year.

Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army on March 24, 1958.

On March 24, 1970, Gov. Lester Maddox signed legislation naming the Largemouth Bass the Official State Fish.

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Georgia Politics,  Campaigns, and Elections

Today, on the 40th and final day of the 2016 Georgia General Assembly, we will likely see the legislative equivalent of a turducken – a delicacy consisting of a boneless chicken stuffed inside a boneless duck, inside a turkey.

Today, rather than working from a Rules Calendar, the Senate will operate primarily from the list of legislation tabled on Day 39.

Much of the real action will take place in conference committees, in which three legislators from each chamber meet to hammer out differences between versions of a bill. These meetings may produce a compromise bill that would then be recommended to each chamber for final passage.

Lobbyists and legislators alike may also be on the lookout for a bill that is moving, or at least still breathing, that can be repurposed for their otherwise-comatose legislation.

While many high-profile bills have already passed this session, there are still dozens of “vehicles,” or bills ready to be amended and passed on Thursday. Common targets are tax-cut bills, but almost any piece of legislation will do.

The Senate put more than 80 bills on its calendar to consider for the final two days of the session, and they got through about 30 of them Tuesday. The second-to-last bill on the schedule is House Bill 838, a controversial measure to give health insurance agents a minimum commission. The bill is being pushed by powerful House Rules Chairman John Meadows, an insurance agent. Hypothetically, putting it at the end of the calendar means it may, or may not, be brought up before the session ends. The Senate could hold it hostage for something it wants from the House or move it up and vote on it at any time.

State Representative Joe Wilkinson, author of the Adoptable Dog Bill, announced yesterday that he has withdrawn from his reelection campaign, making today his last day in the legislature.

What is left out of the political obituaries about Joe Wilkinson are several points I’d like you to know about my friend.

1. He served our nation for longer than he served in the legislature, retiring as a Captain in the United States Navy and a veteran of Desert Storm.

2. He was literally one of the first Republicans in the state, working on campaigns for Bo Callaway and Barry Goldwater.

3. He served in the White House Press Office under Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

4. As a junior member of the State House, he made a habit of personally sending birthday cards to every one of his colleagues, and nothing pleases him more than giving other people gifts.

5. The image I remember of the TV spot he ran in his first campaign for State House is of Joe and his sons raising the American flag on the flagpole in front of their house. His patriotism and love of country are part of everyday life, not just trotted out on national holidays.

I should hope his final bill to pass the Georgia General Assembly will be the Official State Dog bill, and I look forward to the signing ceremony.

Also sitting through perhaps his last session of the General Assembly will be Walter Jones of the Morris newspapers, who stayed until the end of Tuesday’s legislative session.

Plenty of bills are still under consideration or must head to a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate differences. Those have until midnight today to win agreement, and then Gov. Nathan Deal will have another 40 days to decide whether to sign them into law.

Here’s what Deal can begin pondering:

EDUCATION: A bill that requires local school boards to post annual budgets online and hold two public hearings before approval. Another bill that rewards high school students for taking tougher science, math and computer courses in calculations for HOPE Scholarship eligibility.

HEALTH CARE: Requires a professional license for advising mothers how to nurse babies known as lactation consultants. House bill 920 would protect passive investors in nursing homes from lawsuit. Also, House bill 1058 allows women to refuse HIV testing during pregnancy screening and ends the government’s requirement to develop brochures about HIV testing.

Also among the measures getting final passage from the General Assembly is a constitutional amendment, House Resolution 1113, that the governor doesn’t sign. The constitutional changes go before voters this fall.

Voters will decide on replacing the Judicial Qualifications Commission that enforces proper behavior by judges. A new commission would have different members and would act in secret.

Among the things we’ll watch for today:

Senate action on a new version of Rep. Allen Peake’s legislation to expand the list of conditions for which medical cannabis can legally be prescribed.

Limits on hours during which fireworks can be set off during non-holiday times.

A pending agreement between the House and the Senate is still expected to be approved before the chambers gavel out for the year at midnight. House Bill 727 would, among other changes, set new limits on how late in the evening Georgians could ignite fireworks during the holidays, set new restrictions where fireworks could be set off and give local authorities more control over regulating fireworks in their communities.

The born-again MARTA funding bill, which would allow North and South Fulton to tax themselves for transportation infrastructure.

The three-part House bill, if it gets through the Senate, would let the city of Atlanta ask voters this fall to raise the MARTA sales tax by up to a half-penny to pay to expand MARTA service. Transit projects funded through the referendum would have to be built inside the city limits.

The second part of the legislation would let Fulton County ask voters in areas of the county outside Atlanta to approve a sales tax of up to three-quarters of a penny. The revenue from the Fulton tax would go toward transportation improvements, including roads and bridges, drawn from a project list put together by Fulton’s mayors and the county commission.

A third component of the bill would let the city of Atlanta schedule a second referendum for voters inside the city limits. In this case, they would be asked to authorize an additional half-penny on top of the MARTA tax to finance transportation improvements inside Atlanta.

Unlike the original Senate bill, the House version does not include DeKalb County and, thus, would preclude for now MARTA’s plans to extend rail service north to Alpharetta and east to Stonecrest Mall, as well as a proposed light rail line serving the Clifton Corridor, which lies in both the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County.

“We probably will ask the Atlanta City Council to approve Clifton Corridor as a project assuming DeKalb approves it in the future,” MARTA board Chairman Robbie Ashe said.

Midstate Starbucks enthusiasts may have an additional reason to celebrate as a Macon outlet could become the second local Starbucks Evenings, which would serve beer and wine.

The United States House of Representatives in Washington passed legislation to upgrade Ocmulgee National Monument to a national historic park and expand its borders.

23
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 23, 2016

Claudia

Claudia is a female Australian Shepherd and Shiba Inu mix puppy who is available for adoption from Praying For Paws Inc in McDonough, GA.

PhoebeHenry

Phoebe is an tiny little Yorkshire Terrier mix adult female who is available for adoption from Henry County Humane Society in McDonough, GA.

PaigeHenry

Phoebe is a tiny little Yorkshire Terrier mix adult female who is available for adoption from Henry County Humane Society in McDonough, GA. This next picture leads me to believe that Phoebe and Paige are best friends, sisters, or maybe mother and daughter.

Paige Phoebe

Juliet

Juliet is a young female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Henry County Humane Society in McDonough, GA.

Cosmo

Cosmo is a young male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Henry County Humane Society in McDonough, GA.

23
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 23, 2016

Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Convention in Richmond on March 23, 1775, stating,  “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

On March 23, 1861, the Georgia Secession Convention adopted a new state Constitution to be submitted to a referendum of the voters on the first Tuesday in July and then adjourned.

On March 23, 1972, in the case of Gooding v. Wilson, the United States Supreme Court held that a Georgia statute, OCGA § 26-6303, which provided: “Any person who shall, without provocation, use to or of another, and in his presence . . . opprobrious words or abusive language, tending to cause a breach of the peace . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,” was unconstitutionally vague and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution

On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan called for the development of an anti-missile system that would come to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislation

Legislators, employees, lobbyists and activists are likely all sleeping in today after a marathon Day 39 of the General Assembly yesterday.

Yesterday, the General Assembly passed the FY2017 budget, which comes in at $23.7 billion dollars, and sent it to the Governor.

Georgia lawmakers on Tuesday approved a $23.7 billion budget plan that gives raises to thousands of state employees and provides state retirees with a one-time bonus. It also encourages local school boards to raise teacher pay while narrowing previous cuts to public schools.

The spending plan for the financial year starting July 1 now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal. Deal can accept, revise or reject it. Lawmakers agreed with almost all of Deal’s top priorities, including $300 million intended to help school districts end furloughs and lengthen school years after cuts during the recession.

That would mean public school districts would receive about $166 million less than what they are promised under state funding formulas, the smallest gap since cuts began in financial year 2009, according to the Department of Education.

Senators voted 53 to 1 in favor. Sen. Jack Hill, a Reidsville Republican who chairs the chamber’s budget committee, called the proposal “a very conservative budget.”

“It’s a year that we’re really trying to catch up as it pertains to people and providers,” Hill said.

Deal proposed a 3 percent salary increase for employees, with higher amounts for positions seeing high turnover. Lawmakers later added 9 percent increases for public health nurses.

Budget negotiators also added 6 percent salary increases for law enforcement at state agencies, including Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents and state troopers. Deal’s initial budget proposal didn’t include those positions, but lawmakers said the governor decided they couldn’t wait another year.

Medical marijuana legislation may have a chance of final passage on Thursday, as State Rep. Allen Peake (Macon) grafted some of his bill’s language onto a Senate measure.

The House and Senate both need to approve the measure that would add patients who have seven new diagnoses, including autism and post-traumatic stress disorder, to the list of those who can join the state’s medical cannabis registry.

Patients who join the registry can possess up to 20 ounces of a fluid made from specially-bred cannabis.

Supporters, such as bill author state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, say medical cannabis could provide relief to thousands of suffering Georgians.

Gov. Deal may have sent a message that he’s open to a version that’s more narrowly-tailored than Peake’s initial effort.

State Sen. Butch Miller, the governor’s floor leader, said late Tuesday that Deal is “neutral, at worst, on the bill” which is now pending in the Senate.

“The governor’s office has expressed, from day one, a strong reluctance to growing and manufacturing marijuana in Georgia, but he’s always been sensitive to the needs of the families,” said Miller. “If it makes it to the finish line, I’m confident he’ll sign it into law.”

“I feel confident that if the Senate passes the bill as is, and I desperately hope they will, that Gov. Deal will sign the bill,” said Peake. “The lives of hundreds more hurting Georgians will get a little better. And we will have passed a good law.”

A one-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain for pipeline construction has been passed by both chambers and heads to the Governor’s desk.

Expansion of the Georgia Supreme Court’s membership to add additional justices has passed, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia’s Supreme Court would grow to nine justices under a bill headed to Deal’s desk. The proposal, backed by Deal, would allow the Re­pub­lican governor to make a lasting impact on the court. Georgia’s constitution already permits up to nine justices, but state law provides for seven. Under the bill, Deal would appoint justices to fill the new high court seats.

Sen. Mike Crane, a Re­pub­lican from New­nan, unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to make the new justices elected rather than appointed.

“We should not grant to the administration the ability to pack a court for partisan reasons,” Crane said.

The measure also removes some types of court cases from the Supreme Court’s responsibilities, following a recommendation made by a panel Deal appointed last year.

The delicate snowflakes of the Emory University student body were so threatened by pro-Trump graffiti written in chalk on campus that they went to Mom and Dad University officials to whine complain.

On Monday, an enthusiast at Emory University reportedly wrote “Trump 2016” in chalk many, many times on the campus. Let us repeat the essentials: Trump. And in chalk.

[]James Wagner, president of Emory University, sent out this email on “unexpected chalkings.”

Yesterday I received a visit from 40 to 50 student protesters upset by the unexpected chalkings on campus sidewalks and some buildings yesterday morning, in this case referencing Donald Trump. The students shared with me their concern that these messages were meant to intimidate rather than merely to advocate for a particular candidate, having appeared outside of the context of a Georgia election or campus campaign activity. During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.

The Emory Wheel has more.

an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad. Peraza opened the door to the Administration Building and students moved forward towards the door, shouting “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school,” she added.

One student asked if Emory would send out a  University-wide email to “decry the support for this fascist, racist candidate” to which Wagner replied, “No, we will not.”

“[Faculty] are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it,” said one student, who went on to say that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community and focus on these issues [related to having safe spaces on campus].”

Rules

In elections, knowing the rules is vital. It’s not enough to have been told something is true, you should investigate yourself and find out what the law, rule, or regulation really says.

In Troup County, a member of the local elections board was photographed with a candidate holding a sign indicating his support for that candidate, leading to the question of whether it’s permissible for an elections board member to publicly support a candidate.

It’s raised a few eyebrows, but is it illegal? The short answer, according to State Elections Board member David Worley of Peachtree City, is no.

“Generally speaking, members of boards of elections are appointed and chosen by their respective political parties, and it’s not at all unusual to participate in supporting candidates,” said Worley, who has served since 2004 as the Democratic Party of Georgia’s representative on the State Elections Board.

The photograph was posted March 6 on the campaign Facebook page of Lewis Davis, a Republican running for Troup County Board of Commissioners’ District 3. In the photo, which Davis said was taken at a campaign fundraiser Feb. 25, Davis is standing next to Jason Creel, a Troup County Republican Party appointee to the county’s Board of Elections and Registration. Creel, along with a woman, is holding a sign that says “I stand with Lewis.”

Marc Hershovitz, an Atlanta attorney who specializes in election and campaign law, said the photograph might not have been the best idea, but Creel was within his First Amendment rights to support Davis, as long as it’s not in his capacity as an elections board member.

“He wasn’t conducting duties of that office,” Hershovitz told the Daily News by phone. “He wasn’t holding the sign while sitting in the board meeting, he was doing it outside. That’s the argument that it’s permissible.”

On the flip side, Hershovitz said people might see the photograph and have their suspicions.

“The common sense is this is where you go above the letter of the law,” Hershovitz said. “You say, I’m not supposed to do this, and I’m always a member of the board of elections, whether I’m in a meeting or not, and I shouldn’t engage in political activity on behalf of a candidate.”

Georgia law does bar election board members from supporting candidates “while conducting the duty’s of such person’s office,” but it doesn’t outright prohibit them from supporting candidates or making financial contributions.

Candice Broce, a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections, said local county attorneys should help advise election board members on what is and isn’t proper conduct.

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of “Word of Mouth” analysis regarding the delegate selection process, primarily relating to the Republican National Convention. Here’s my quick analysis of a couple key points.

To understand how Georgia delegates are bound to a candidate and what effect delegate binding has at the National Convention, you need to consult three primary sources:

1. Rules of the Republican National Committee

2. Georgia Code

3. Rules of the Georgia Republican Party

In the RNC Rules, the relevant section is Rule 14, which provides,

(b) Order of Precedence.

Delegates at large and their alternate delegates and delegates from Congressional districts and their alternate delegates to the national convention shall be elected, selected, allocated, or bound in the following manner:

(1) In accordance with any applicable Republican Party rules of a state, insofar as the same are not inconsistent with these rules; or

(2) To the extent not provided for in the applicable Republican Party rules of a state, in accordance with any applicable laws of a state, insofar as the same are not inconsistent with these rules; or

(3) By a combination of the methods set forth in paragraphs (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this rule; or

(4) To the extent not provided by state law or party rules, as set forth in paragraph (e) of this rule.

So, delegates and alternates are bound to vote for a candidate by the Republican Party rules of the state from which they are elected.

So we turn to the Georgia Republican Party Rules, specifically Rule 7, which reads:

The Georgia delegation to the Republican National Convention shall be bound through the first ballot on a proportional basis as described above, except as otherwise provided by O.C.G.A. §21-2-197.

So if you go to the Republican National Convention as a delegate bound to Donald Trump, you must vote for Trump on the first ballot. After the first ballot, you may vote for whomever you wish, providing that your chosen nominee has been placed in nomination. Where the GAGOP rules state, “except as otherwise provided by O.C.G.A. §21-2-197,” sends us to the Georgia Code to see what that means.

Georgia Code §21-2-197 reads,

“Any delegate to a national convention whose presidential candidate withdraws after being entitled to delegate votes pursuant to this article shall be an unpledged delegate to the national convention.”

And this is where the distinction between a candidate withdrawing from their Presidential campaign and “suspending” their campaign comes into play. After the March 1, Primary, Georgia allocated her 76 delegates as follows:

Trump, 43 Delegates
Rubio, 17 Delegates
Cruz, 17 Delegates

At this point, two facts become clear: under Georgia rules, if no candidate for President hits the magic 1237 delegates on the first ballot, all of our delegates are then free to vote their conscience, providing at least one other candidate has been nominated. We have read repeatedly that a candidate must “win” at least eight states to be nominated at the 2016 GOP Convention in Cleveland, but that’s not actually true. Rule 40(b) reads,

(b) Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these rules or any rule of the House of Representatives, to demonstrate the support required of this paragraph a certificate evidencing the affirmative written support of the required number of permanently seated delegates from each of the eight (8) or more states shall have been submitted to the secretary of the convention not later than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business

So, you don’t actually need to have “won” a state for it to count toward the required eight states. If enough candidates in a state become unbound, according to their own state party rules, they can give their written support to a candidate who did not win the majority of votes in their state, thus counting toward that candidate’s eight state requirement. I don’t see anything in the Rules of the National Convention that would prevent unbound delegates from giving their written support to a candidate after the first ballot, which means that nominations could be added as the voting progresses and more delegates become unbound.

But it’s not certain that the eight-state requirement will be in effect in Cleveland. Republican lawyer Ben Ginsburg told Politico.com that the eight-state rule isn’t actually a rule of the convention yet, it’s a temporary rule that can be changed once the Rules Committee for the Republican National Convention convenes.

“In fact, that’s not a rule,” former RNC lawyer Ben Ginsberg — the party’s preeminent election law expert — told MSNBC early Wednesday morning. “That’s part of what’s called the temporary rules. Each convention has to pass for itself the number of states that put a candidate’s name in nomination.”

In 2012, revisions to Rule 40 raised the required number of states from five to eight, but no number is in effect for the Cleveland convention, according to Ginsberg. “The 2016 convention and its rules committee has to make that decision,” he said. “So there is no eight-state rule in effect right now for the next convention.”

“The 2016 convention can make that number one, eight, 18, 28 or 58, if it wishes,” he added.

Curly Haugland, an RNC committeeman and member of the convention’s rules committee from North Dakota, clarified to POLITICO that rules 26 through 42 stood for the 2012 convention but are only temporary until the rules committee and order of business reports are adopted at the 2016 convention.

“Rules aren’t fixed until the convention,” explained Haugland, who sat on the rules committee with Ginsberg at the 2012 convention in Tampa, Florida. “Rule 40 will likely be amended, but it’s a temporary rule. It’s not nonexistent.”

And from WashingtonExaminer.com,

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus confirmed Ginsberg’s assessment on Sunday during a television interview. “There will always be a perception problem if people continue to miss — to not explain the process properly. So, the 2012 rules committee writes the rules for the 2012 convention. The 2016 rules committee writes the rules for the 2016 convention,” he told CNN.

[M]any political observers have long assumed that Rule 40(b), approved four years ago by the convention rules committee that met just prior to the convention, was a permanent fixture of the RNC rulebook.

This has led to erroneous reporting that only Trump has satisfied requirements for having his name placed in nomination at Cleveland, while Cruz and Kasich still have not. The misunderstanding stems from perplexity about the rules process.

Every four years, a rules committee comprised of elected convention delegates (about two from each state and territory delegation) meets during the week just prior to the convention to determine the regulations that will govern the convention. Every convention rules committee approves a rules package that includes regulations that determine eligibility for candidates to have their names placed in nomination on the convention floor.

If the Rules Committee for the 2016 Republican National Convention adopts different rules than are currently on the books as temporary rules, that will not constitue “rewriting” the rules, it will be “writing” the rules.

The scenario in which no candidate reaches 1237 delegates on the first ballot is why the unbinding of rules becomes important, which in turn makes it important who actually got elected as delegates this past weekend in County Conventions. From WABE,

Candidates who won delegates in Georgia’s presidential primary don’t get to choose the people representing them at the convention.

That means, for example, that Georgia delegates sent to the national convention to vote for Donald Trump as the Republican nominee may actually prefer a different candidate. And those delegates could work against the interest of Trump in different ways at the convention, said Putnam.

First of all, they are only required to support Trump for the nomination on the first ballot at the convention. After that, if no single candidate wins a majority, the delegates are free to vote for whomever they like.

From the Wall Street Journal,

Though front-runner Donald Trump carried Georgia’s Coweta County by 12 percentage points three weeks ago, it was Cruz supporters who dominated an early stage of the arcane process of choosing the people who will serve as delegates at the Republican National Convention.

The goal: If Mr. Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot—freeing most delegates from voting for the candidate who won their state’s primary or caucus—Cruz supporters would dominate the convention, paving the way for the Texas senator to win the nomination on a later vote.

Mr. Cruz’s presidential hopes increasingly rest on a convention scenario not seen since 1948, when New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey won the GOP nomination on the third ballot. To succeed, he is relying on organizers like Brant Frost, a 25-year-old mortgage broker in Georgia who began volunteering for his campaign last July.

Mr. Frost estimates that Cruz supporters will make up 90% of Coweta County’s delegates at Georgia’s coming state and district gatherings, from which delegates to the national convention will be chosen. “We’re trying to get Cruz supporters there so when delegates can vote for whoever they want, they will vote for Ted,’’ Mr. Frost said.

“A lot of Trump supporters are new,” and so didn’t know they had to be at Georgia precinct meetings a month ago, said Phoebe Hobbs, a Trump backer attending a GOP convention Saturday in Cobb County, northeast of Atlanta. “There’s a reason they are upset [with the political system]. They don’t know how the party is run.”

After his primary victory, Mr. Trump sent his top Georgia organizer to Florida, an indication his campaign didn’t put a premium on the post-primary delegate-selection process.

Roger Stone weighed in on other ways supporters of candidates other than Trump could effect the Convention process.

Though these “Trump” delegates will be bound by national and state rules to support Trump through the first ballot at the convention, they are free to vote against Trump’s interests on the adoption of Rules and the seating of delegates. It’s entirely plausible that a state could seat delegates pledged to support Donald Trump who have open affiliations with other candidates…The power brokers short-term game is clear: Stall Trump just short of the magic number of delegates needed to be nominated on the first ballot with the knowledge that many delegates bound on the first ballot by Trump primary and caucus victories are ringers who would be unbound on a second ballot.

22
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 22, 2016

Today’s featured dogs are from Canine Cellmates, a program in the Fulton County Jail to help jailed inmates learn a marketable skill while saving shelter animals.

In simple terms, this program changes lives – both canine and human, by offering them a second chance at life. Both groups have faced isolation and rejection by the outside world, but when they come together, they often give each other a new found sense of hope, as they become the rescuer for one another.

Naaman

Naaman is a 2.5 year old, 70-pound adult male Labrador Retriever and Black Mouth Cur mix who is available for adoption from Canine Cellmates in Atlanta, GA.

NAAMAN graduated in cycle 4 (2014) and became a Canine CellMates celebrity by almost becoming an international Search and Rescue Dog. Well, he has been out of the lime light for a little bit now and has been enjoying life as a canine companion in his wonderful foster home. He is loving doing all of the things that “regular” dogs do – going on long hikes, sleeping on the couch and being loved on.

The best person or family for him would be an active one. Naaman’s perfect owner would be someone who is dog savvy and comfortable with large, physical dogs. This person would be someone who enjoys being physically active. A runner would be ideal, as Naaman loves to run, and according to a CCM volunteer, is the PERECT running partner, staying focused on the running as his job, and ignoring everything around him. He would be a great companion to take hunting, camping, or hiking. He enjoys things like dock diving and agility. He is a very smart boy, so he will need stimulation – both mentally and physically.

Cellie Mack

Mack is a 3-year old adult male Mastiff and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from Canine Cellmates in Atlanta, GA.

With a heart as big as his head, this goofy looking boy will cuddle his way into your lap. Stud muffin extraordinaire, Mack is a surprisingly athletic and energetic boy when outdoors, but calm and quiet indoors. Handsome, funny, and exuding manliness, this pup excels in the bonding department and just wants to please. When is he not turning heads, pleasing, or cuddling, Mack loves playing fetch … and clicker training.

Canine CellMates dogs are trained in items similar to the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. They learn basic obedience and commands such as sit, down, stay, etc.

Cellie Jack

Jack is a one-year old male Plott Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Canine Cellmates in Atlanta, GA.

He’s an athletic, fun-loving young boy who just can’t wait to play with you. Sweet, gentle yet bouncy, he is a star in the training room and favorite playmate of our handlers. Well versed in soccer, fetch, and tug, this boy is learning and expanding his repertoire every day. While energetic, he is quiet and gentle during play. Not only is this boy smart and fun, but he is also quite the looker when the sun hits his handsome reverse brindle stripes. Playful, happy, and loving this is a fantastic dog for any home. Come claim this dashing pup before the Sarge scoops him up!

I first heard of this type of program when Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway started Operation Second Chance, or Jail Dogs, at the Gwinnett County Jail. He recently announced that Jail Dogs will double its program size, serving more dogs and more inmates.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is expanding the Operation Second Chance program, doubling the size of the popular initiative to take in rescue dogs to be housed with inmates.

The program began in 2010 in an effort to reduce euthanasia rates in the county and was a partnership between Sheriff Butch Conway and Dennis Kronenfeld, founder of Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. The dogs live with non-violent inmates who care for and train the dogs until they are adopted.

The Jail Dogs program, which has rescued more than 300 dogs, is now adding another unit in the jail, the sheriff’s office announced this week.

The longtime sheriff, who is seeking re-election in November and faces opposition from fellow Republican and retired deputy Keith Van Nus, is a well-known animal enthusiast.

The catalyst for expanding the program, which is reportedly funded without tax money, was feedback from Gwinnett residents. Each grand jury is charged with inspecting the jail and their reports have praised the program since it began, many of them suggesting that the program be expanded, the sheriff’s office said.

Click here to learn more about Jail Dogs, check out some of their current adoptable dogs, and donate to help keep it running at no cost to taxpayers.

22
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 22, 2016

King George III approved of the passage of the Stamp Act legislation on March 22, 1765 designed to pay for some of the costs the UK incurred in protecting the colonies, but it would lead to the movement that culminated in the American Revolution. No word on where the Myrmidons were on this.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act on March 22, 1933, allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages, and later that year, the federal Prohibition was ended.

The first Masters golf tournament began on March 22, 1934 in Augusta, Georgia.

The state prohibition on all alcoholic beverages ended on March 22, 1935 with Governor Eugene Talmadge’s signature of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.

The United States Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment on March 22, 1972; it would fail to garner enough state ratifications.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Today marks the penultimate legislative day of the 2016 Session of the Georgia General Assembly. At 8:45 AM, a Budget Conference Committee will meet in Room 450 of the Capitol and at 9 AM, the House Rules Committee will meet in Room 341.

The Senate Rules Calendar has 86 bills on it today, while the House Rules Calendar holds some 80 bills.

Speaker David Ralston has no plans to change campus carry legislation that passed earlier this session, despite indications from Gov. Deal that changes might be required to gain his signature.

Ralston says Deal didn’t share his concerns about weapons being brought into day cares, disciplinary hearings or office space until the bill had passed. Ralston says he expects Deal to sign the measure.

Deal hasn’t committed to signing the bill or vetoing it.

We’ve heard plenty from students at Georgia colleges about the Campus Carry legislation, but here’s a question – how do employees feel about the bill. Emory University, while not affected by the bill because it’s a private institution, has 14,724 students, and 13,375 employees. I’d be interested in some coverage of how employees at the public colleges think campus carry will affect them.

The Macon Telegraph writes about a possible unintended consequence of the campus carry legislation that might affect a local airport.

State law currently allows firearms to be carried as far as security checkpoints at all Georgia airports, but the pending campus-carry bill may lift a restriction on another area at the Macon Downtown Airport.

Middle Georgia State University leases space there.

“We’re waiting to see what happens with the campus carry law currently being discussed at the state level, but based on the existing law, individuals are not allowed to carry weapons on the portion of airport property in the possession of/used by the university,” Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore said in an email. “Attorney General Sam Olens indicated license holders cannot carry a weapon on school property in 2014. However, if the new campus carry bill passes, that would likely change.”

Five members of the Georgia House held a press conference to cry wolf criticize religious liberty legislation passed by both chambers.

Rep. Park Cannon (D – Atlanta), Rep. Karla Drenner (D – Avondale Estates) and Rep. Keisha Waites (D – Atlanta) were joined by Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D – Lithonia) and Rep. Taylor Bennett (D – Brookhaven) to speak out against the bill.

“Perhaps we are no longer a fortress of Jim Crow institutionalism, but we continue to regress by passing sweeping discriminatory measures like HB 757,” Cannon told reporters. “I am sure that the state of Georgia is better than this.”

Yesterday, after I noted the National Felony Football League’s sanctimony warning to Georgia lawmakers that religious liberty legislation might scuttle the Peach State’s bid for Super Bowl 2018, a reader asked if Florida and Louisiana, the other states bidding for the Super Bowl, have religious liberty legislation. The answer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is yes, Florida and Louisiana both have state versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Also, there’s a federal version. I look forward to watching the 2018 Super Bowl live from Havana, where religious freedom is not as highly regarded.

Some Georgia legislators don’t physically press the button every time they vote, occasionally relying on a seat-neighbor to do their bidding, according to 11Alive.

Lawmakers cast votes for themselves – and they can vote again on behalf of their colleagues who aren’t there.

“It keeps you from running across the width of the House chamber,” said Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), a 26 year veteran of the House, who defends the practice and says it’s justifiable. And in many instances, a member voting will also casually reach toward the desk of the absent lawmaker next to them – and push their voting button as well.  We saw it countless times during the 2016 legislative session, and lawmakers don’t deny doing it.

Whenever that has happened, Powell says he has always signaled his vote to his seat-mate when the vote is cast on his behalf — typically with a thumb raised or lowered.

“If you’re all the way across the (legislative chamber), you may not get there in time to vote or finish a conversation ,” Powell said.  “So if you raise your hand and your seat mate is watching, and you give ‘em an up or down sign, that seat mate will vote your machine for you.”

Asked if it’s “reasonable for the public to expect their state representatives to cast their own votes,” Powell answered:  “We are casting our own vote.”

In House District 159, former Marine Daniel Almond is challenging State Rep. Jon Burns (R-Newington), who serves as House Majority Leader.

“As I’ve watched our liberties continue to be eroded and the size and scope of government at all levels continue to expand, I began to consider running for public office myself,” Almond said.

He said he noticed “a lot of cronyism and improper influence” at the state capitol.

“I’m looking forward to standing firm against cronyism and corruption and fighting for the ideas of personal freedom and limited government as called for in all of our founding documents,” he said.

Jeffrey Sosebee, a prospective candidate for Hall County Sheriff, failed to submit fingerprints with his qualification and the time period for doing so has passed, so the Hall County Elections Board will take up the issue of his ability to run in the May 24 Primary.

“One of those qualifications is to be fingerprinted at the direction of the judge of the (Hall County) Probate Court, who will then conduct a search of local, state and national fingerprint files for the purpose of disclosing any criminal record involving a potential candidate,” Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee (no relation) wrote in a recent letter informing Sosebee of a challenge to his candidacy. “This requirement must be completed within three days following the close of the qualification period.”

The candidate qualifying period ended March 11.

Sosebee had his fingerprints taken with the Gainesville Police Department instead, a potential administrative error that could cost him a chance to run to be the top elected law enforcement officer in Hall County.

In a Facebook post March 18, Sosebee acknowledged the controversy, dismissed his critics and implied he had nothing to hide.

“Well, we encountered another day of opposing forces,” he wrote. “The complaint … is only technical, but we will go through the process. Being Sheriff is about finding appropriate solutions to issues following protocols, but common sense, as well. Fingerprints are now the issue. You can’t change them or mess them up. My prints are available and on record.”

Peach State Presidential Politics

Janet Hooks of the Wall Street Journal visited Georgia this past weekend to look at the delegate and alternate selection process that will results in Georgia sending 76 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.

MORELAND, Ga.—Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign has been operating an under-the-radar effort to prepare for a contested Republican convention this summer, and those moves appear to be bearing fruit in places such as this Atlanta exurb.

Though front-runner Donald Trump carried Georgia’s Coweta County by 12 percentage points three weeks ago, it was Cruz supporters who dominated an early stage of the arcane process of choosing the people who will serve as delegates at the Republican National Convention.

It is at events like the Coweta County Republican Convention last weekend where Mr. Cruz must prevail to have any reasonable chance of wresting the GOP nomination away from Mr. Trump. “We started preparing to get our folks to the convention in 2015,” said Scott Johnson, a top Cruz organizer in Georgia.

Mr. Cruz’s presidential hopes increasingly rest on a convention scenario not seen since 1948, when New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey won the GOP nomination on the third ballot. To succeed, he is relying on organizers like Brant Frost, a 25-year-old mortgage broker in Georgia who began volunteering for his campaign last July.

Mr. Frost estimates that Cruz supporters will make up 90% of Coweta County’s delegates at Georgia’s coming state and district gatherings, from which delegates to the national convention will be chosen. “We’re trying to get Cruz supporters there so when delegates can vote for whoever they want, they will vote for Ted,’’ Mr. Frost said.

Marshall McCart at The Piedmont Chronicles, wrote about Newton County’s Republican Convention.

For starters, it was the best-attended county convention I’d ever been to. We saw 74 qualified delegates and 11 guests for a total of 85 attendees. And unlike former years, there was no tension or exclusionary tactics, it was all very warm and welcoming. There was a little bit of unhappiness on both ends of the party as former establishment members felt like they weren’t give enough delegate and alternate slots, while some of the former outsiders felt like the party was being foolish for giving spots to those who “slit our throats the last several times around.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was asked and did indeed serve as Chair of the nominating committee for this convention. Old friend Aaron Brooks also served on that committee with a few other folks. As we discussed, to have both of the fringes unhappy led us to believe that things were handled in the right manner. It’s never perfect in this process, but I truly felt it went well.

A major emphasis for the Nominating Committee, and this was reinforced when the Assembled Body accepted all of our slates, was this – giving delegate slots to as many new folks as we could and giving fair and proportional representation to supporters of all candidates and the various modes of thought that makes up the big tent of the Grand Old Party.

When it was all said and done, 19 delegates had been sent to the 4th Congressional District; 10 to the 10th, and 22 to the State Convention in Augusta in June.

21
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 21, 2016

Ace

Ace is an adult male Black Lab and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA. He is funny and energetic and gets along with other dogs. Even with his short legs he can jump high to get your attention.

Goldie Valdosta

Goldie is a 4-month old female Labrador Retriever and Bloodhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Lowndes County Animal Services in Valdosta, GA.

Goldie is a bundle of fun and love!!! She enjoys running in the play yard and is learning to bring the ball back to you after you throw it!!! Goldie will need to be your one and only- she wants all of your love! Already spayed and house broken, so she can move into her new home quite quickly. Goldie is a cutie!

Foxy Lady Valdosta

Foxy Lady is a 4-month old female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Lowndes County Animal Services in Valdosta, GA.

Inmates at the Burruss Correctional Center in Forsyth, Georgia can now work with dogs, learning a career while helping train guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired.

Convicted of vehicular homicide in 2010, 33-year-old William Davis wasn’t expecting to take interest in a new career field during his decade-long sentence in the state Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth.

“I didn’t ever think I’d be hanging out with a dog in prison,” said Davis, who is one of nine inmates currently in the prison’s “Vision Program.” That program gives inmates the opportunity to raise guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired while also taking virtual classes for a veterinary helper certificate from Central Georgia Technical College.

Though Davis is new to the program, which has been around about seven years, he said he’s always been a dog lover. Now that he’s been taught to train dogs, Davis said he has thought about pursuing a career in a canine-related field, such as kennel owner or personal trainer when he is released in 2020.

The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, a nonprofit based in New York, provides dogs, a trainer, dog food and supplies to the prison. The inmates teach the dogs verbal commands, obedience and social skills for about a year and a half before the dogs are taken back to New York for formal training prior to being matched with a recipient.

The dogs are with the inmates about 15 hours each day for five days a week, said Cathy Pittman, who oversees the program at the prison. An inmate’s eligibility to participate in the program depends on criminal history, academic level and behavior, Pittman said. On the weekends, the dogs are cared for by a handful of volunteers in Middle Georgia.

While there’s only seven dogs currently at the prison, Pittman said there could be more if more volunteers were willing to help raise one of the puppies on weekends.

21
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 21, 2016

Lyman Hall was elected to the Continental Congress on March 21, 1775 from St. John’s Parish; the next year he would sign the Declaration of Independence as a representative from Georgia.

On March 21, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation establishing the Eastern Standard Time Zone as the only Time Zone in Georgia. Prior to that, Georgia observed two different time zones.

On March 21, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 3000 protesters in a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

On March 21, 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Georgia Governor and United States Senator Herman Talmadge died on March 21, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia General Assembly has two final working days in the 2016 Session. Tomorrow will be Day 39, with the 40th and final legislative day on Thursday.

Among the legislation still to be finalized in the legislature, according to the Gainesville Times,

Lawmakers still must pass a final state budget for the financial year starting July 1.

Approving a budget is the only constitutionally required measure that must be passed before the close of the session, and negotiations are expected to include debate over a spending plan that would increase salaries for thousands of state employees and teachers and give state retirees a one-time boost.

Both chambers have voiced support for Deal’s recommendation to allocate $300 million to local school districts. These funds are intended to end furloughs and lengthen school years after cuts during the recession.

A constitutional amendment setting English as the “official” language of Georgia has failed to make it out of House committee. Sponsoring Sen. Josh McKoon said the hope was to get a floor vote in the House after receiving 39 votes in the Senate. The legislation needs two-thirds support to pass the House.

A bill to set a flat state income tax rate of 5.4 percent requires House agreement to become law. The Senate has passed the measure. Critics argue that the adjustment in tax rates would only serve to help those in higher tax brackets. The decrease would lower the state’s maximum income tax rate down from 6 percent.

Deal and his staff have remained wary of any tax cut proposal, concerned about harming the state’s bond rating and ability to borrow money. Deal also has made it a priority to build up the state’s “rainy day” fund before his final term in office ends.

 

After last week’s suprise withdrawal by State Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold), which left DeWayne Hill as the only candidate for State House District 3, the Catoosa County Republican Party is asking the Georgia GOP to reopen candidate qualifying to allow others to run for the seat.

Delegates to the Catoosa County Republican Party Convention voted Saturday to ask state Rep. Tom Weldon to formally withdraw from the race, assuming that is still his plan. If Weldon does so, the Catoosa GOP will also ask Georgia’s Republican to reopen qualifying for Weldon’s seat in the May 24 primary election.

Weldon, R-Ringgold, submitted paperwork to run for re-election March 7. Dewayne Hill, a former Catoosa County commission, qualified to challenge him on March 11 — the last day to register to run.

On Thursday, Weldon told the Times Free Press he is going to bow out, leaving Hill with no competition.

Some Catoosa Republicans don’t like the idea of Hill running unopposed. Local party chairwoman Denise Burns said Saturday the field would be more crowded if people knew Weldon, an eight-year incumbent, was not going to run.

“Tom Weldon had a great deal of respect,” she said. “People generally viewed him as a valuable and competent representative. Based on that reputation, to challenge an incumbent is a very daunting task. Lots of people would have considered running for this seat [if they knew it was open].”

The county leadership will ask the state’s Republican leadership to send a certified letter to Weldon, asking him to formally withdraw at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office within three days — if Weldon still plans to exit.

Assuming his decision holds, the county GOP will [ask] the state party to re-open the qualifying period for Weldon’s seat. That’s allowable if a candidate dies or the incumbent withdraws.

An arrest on two charges of aggravated assault can certainly derail a campaign for local office still. From the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight,

Ryan Shirley announced today that he will suspend his campaign for Decatur County Tax Commissioner.

“The goal of my campaign to be Decatur County’s next Tax Commissioner was always to better the community where I was born and raised and currently raise my children,” Shirley said in a released statement. “My desire is to try to leave Bainbridge a better place so my children will want to raise their families here.”

Shirley cited his recent arrest on two counts of Aggravated Assault as a factor in his decision to suspend the campaign.

“Unfortunately, I have been presented with a legal issue that must be taken very seriously,” Shirley continued. “I quickly realized that I do not have the ability to fight for the future and well-being of my family and successfully complete a campaign for Decatur County Tax Commissioner. For this reason, I have decided to suspend my campaign. While I can assure everyone that I will be exonerated of these charges, my energies will be divided while I continue the legal process. I cannot in good faith, ask for public support when I realize I cannot be completely focused on my campaign.”

The National Football League has decided that taking millions of dollars of tax money from Georgia isn’t enough – they want to dictate whether Gov. Deal signs religious liberty legislation or vetoes it. From Fox News,

The NFL came out against a proposed religious exemptions bill in Georgia Friday, saying the deal could have an effect on the Super Bowl selection process for 2019 and 2020.

Atlanta is one of the finalists for the next two league title games to be awarded, along with New Orleans, Miami and Tampa. The city is considered a clear favorite because of its new retractable-roof stadium that is set to open next year. However, the religious exemptions bill could change all of that.

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

This week, lawmakers also approved the elimination of $10 million in state sales taxes on Super Bowl tickets if Atlanta lands the game.

The city had hosted the game two times, in 1994 and 2000.

Seriously, does anybody remember the last time Georgia hosted the Super Bowl? Speaking of “tolerance,” among the things the NFL has been accused of tolerating: domestic violence by players.

Secured entrances and video cameras are among the expenditures driving new school spending, according to the Macon Telegraph.

As Middle Georgia school systems identify projects for their districts, usually through sales tax initiatives, safety and security measures are often a priority.

Bibb and Houston counties are eyeing camera systems, intrusion alarms and other measures, and all that came after Peach County decided to build an entirely new high school partially in response to security concerns.

“The safety and security of our students is always our first priority,” said Mike Kemp, Bibb County’s assistant superintendent for technology services.

Kemp’s department is overseeing the installation of camera systems in classrooms, which started with Ballard-Hudson Middle School. While the cameras have other functions, they’ll work with pre-existing surveillance systems in the hallways and building exteriors to further tighten up the facilities.

Baldwin County is among those beefing up school security with E-SPLOST proceeds.

Local school officials are moving forward on critical need projects that were contingent upon the passage of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) extension.

With voters’ approval in last November’s election, the current 1 percent sales tax for education will be extended for an additional five years.

The extension for the school system is for a $37.5 million collection cap or five years, whichever comes first.

In an effort to better protect Baldwin County’s students, teachers and staff, the local public school district is preparing to implement major upgrades to school security by utilizing the 1-cent sales tax funds.

During a board retreat at Central Georgia Technical College, Baldwin County school board members, district personnel, and administration met with representatives from the architecture and engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood (GMC) to discuss plans for additional security features at each school facility.

Improvement suggestions made by Bell for Baldwin’s public schools and the board of education building were more secure vestibules, magnetic strip recognition entry devices, buzzer controlled locked doors and additional security cameras, among other features.

Peach State Presidential Politics

If you thought the awarding of delegates from Georgia to the Republican National Convention was finished, you might be surprised that this weekend’s Georgia Republican Party County Conventions continued the selection process. From the AJC Political Insider,

The most interesting portion of the [Cobb County Convention] was an information session with Randy Evans, a Republican National Committee member from Georgia – who elaborated on a post he sent us yesterday, on what’s likely to happen in Cleveland. And what’s not.

On his existing trajectory, Evans said, billionaire Donald Trump is likely to enter Cleveland 75 or 100 short of the 1,237 needed for outright nomination.

However, should the current three-man GOP race whittle itself down to two candidates, Evans said, things change. Most of the remaining states that award delegates proportionally have an “escape” clause. If a single candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, then the awarding of delegates shifts from proportional to winner-take-all.

“It’s ‘way more likely than not that we end up with a presumptive nominee. It’s not that I know some inside secret. It’s that I know how the process that I designed actually works,” Evans said.

Another issue the RNC is likely to take up at its April meeting is the status of delegates belonging to candidates who have suspended their campaigns. “There’s a genuine debate on the rules committee, as to how a suspended candidacy or a terminated or withdrawn candidacy operates to release their delegates.

Randy Evans also made an appearance on FoxBusiness, discussing the convention and how delegate binding works.

And the Wall Street Journal discusses what happens to bound delegates whose candidates have withdrawn from the campaign.

WSJ Delegates Candidate Withdrawn

The number-crunchers at FiveThirtyEight.com note that higher Republican Presidential Primary turnout and lower Democratic turnout won’t necessarily impact the November General Election.

[H]istory suggests that there is no relationship between primary turnout and the general election outcome. You can see this on the most basic level by looking at raw turnout in years in which both parties had competitive primaries. There have been six of those years in the modern era: 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008.

As first written up by PolitiFact, the party that had higher turnout in the primary won the national popular vote three times and lost three times. If you look at the Electoral College, the party that had the higher turnout in the primary won four times. That can hardly be described as predictive.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that Republican turnout is higher than Democratic turnout this year. Hillary Clinton is a commanding front-runner on the Democratic side, while the front-runner on the Republican side has earned only one-third of the vote and less than half the delegates allocated so far. Voters are turning out for the more competitive contest.

My impression from the DeKalb County Republican Convention was that there were not a whole lot of new people participating – maybe a handful of newbies – though that might reflect very low turnout for the DeKalb Convention. It appeared that attendance was down significantly from prior years, and that many of the Ron Paul/Liberty members were not in attendance – meaning those who came in 2012 or 2014 because of that movement, not those who were already embedded in the County party. But I did see this on a delegate:

Trumpie

18
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 18, 2016

Cobb St Pitties Day

Cobb County Animal Shelter is celebrating “St. Pittie’s Day” with reduced adoption fees for all Pit Bull-type dogs. We’ve chosen some of their beauties who caught our eye.

Candy Spice

Candy and Spice are adorable girls. They are playful and well behaved with cute faces. They were both brought to the shelter as strays on 1/9/2016 and they are smaller than they appear in their pictures. They are both about 2 years old and Candy is 61 lbs and Spice is 48 lbs. Candy and Spice are both current on their vaccines, heartworm tested negative and they will be spayed and microchipped, when adopted. They are sharing run 59 and Candy’s ID is 581576 and Spice’s ID is 581575. Candy is Tri-colored and Spice is Tan and White. Their run number could change, so please make a note of their ID numbers and ask for assistance if you don’t find them in run 59.

When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.

These beautiful pets and many others need a forever, loving home and are available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter.1060 Al Bishop Drive Marietta, Georgia 30008, call (770) 499-4136 for more information. Our Shelter hours for Adoptions are: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., CLOSED Mondays and Holidays.

Here’s a video of Candy and Spice along with another friend. See how playful they are!

Spice

Here is Spice’s individual listing.

Candy

Here is Candy’s individual listing.

Cadillac

Look at that smile!

Cadillac is about 3 years old and 56 lbs – an American Pit Bull Terrier male who is sweet, calm, and handsome fella. He is quiet in his run at the shelter and he knows sit and stay.

Cadillac was brought to the shelter as a stray on 12/13/2015. He is current on his vaccines, neutered (12/20/2015), and will be microchipped when adopted. Sadly he has tested positive for heartworms, but with treatment should be good as new in no time. Please speak with your veterinarian for treatment options. Cadillac’s ID at the shelter is 581049 and he is in run 119. His run number could change, so please make a note of his ID number and ask for assistance if you don’t find him in run 857.

Asym Greer

Asym Greer is a year-old, 60-pound American Staffordshire Terrier mix male who was brought to the shelter by his previous owners on 3/15/16. He is very well behaved and will sit, stay and lay down when asked. Asym Greer is a playful boy who just really enjoys life and he wants to share that positivity and fun with you! He is current on his vaccines and upon adoption will be neutered, heartworm tested and micro chipped. Asym Greer’s ID # is 582819 and he can be found in cage 76. Come meet him today!

Fannie

Fannie is a 5-year old, 25-pound Beagle mix girl who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter.

Her former family taught her to have nice manners and she will sit and stay when she is told. She looks as if she may have had babies in the past but will not have any more. She will be spayed, tested for heart worms and micro-chipped when adopted. She is waiting to meet her new furever friend in cage 301 in the small dog room. Her ID# is 582683.

When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.