The blog.

15
Jan

First counter-proposal to gas tax plan revealed | www.ajc.com

The first proposal for changing how gasoline is taxed in Georgia will be introduced Thursday in the House.

House Bill 60, by Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, would eliminate the 4 percent sales tax on gasoline, create a lower, flatter state income tax and gradually raise the excise tax on fuel over the next eight years.

Efforts to reach Setzler late Wednesday were unsuccessful.

via First counter-proposal to gas tax plan revealed | www.ajc.com.

15
Jan

Adoptable Dogs for January 15, 2015

Dagwood

Dagwood is a male German Shepherd/Pit Bill Terrier mix, one of a litter of puppies, and is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, Ga.

McGuire

McGuire is his brother.

Woody

Woody also is part of the same litter.

Rosa

Rosa is a female Black Lab mix puppy who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Shelter.

Grady

Grady is a majestic male Black-and-Tan Coonhound, with maybe a little bit of Bloodhound in his heritage; he is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control.

15
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 15, 2015

An elected Provincial Assembly first convened in Georgia on January 15, 1751. The Assembly did not have the power to tax or spend money, but was to advise the Trustees.

The state of New Connecticut declared its independence of both Britain and New York on January 15, 1777. In June of that year they would decide on the name Vermont. Vermont would be considered part of New York for a number of years, finally being admitted as the 14th state in 1791.

The donkey was first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party on January 15, 1870 by cartoonist Thomas Nash.

democrat-donkey-cartoon

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia Politics Fact of the Day

In 2014, the only incumbent Georgia state legislators who lost their seats in the General Assembly were State Reps. Charles Gregory (R-Marietta), Sam Moore (R-Cherokee), and Willie Talton (R-Warner Robins), who all lost to GOP challengers, and Senator Steve Thompson (D-Marietta) who lost his Democratic Primary. That means that most legislators need not fear General Election voters as their only real contest is their party’s primary.

The predictable result is a highly-partisan General Assembly. This also means that any “revenue enhancements” to pass must gain the support of a large number of Republicans who will stand for re-election among GOP primary voters who have a history of punishing anything that can be construed as a tax hike.

Here’s a clip from our discussion of transportation taxes last night on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Lawmakers in which this political dynamic plays a part.

Georgia General Assembly Legislative Schedule

The House and Senate agreed yesterday on the following schedule going forward:

Today will be Legislative Day Four and there will be no Session tomorrow.

No session next week to allow for budget hearing.

Monday through Thursday, January 26-29 will see Legislative Days 5 through 8.

Monday through Wednesday, February 2-4 for Legislative Days 9 through 11.

Monday through Thursday, February 9-12 will see Legislative Days 12 through 15.

Georgia Politics – State of the State

Takeaways from the State of the State

1. Medical marijuana for children with seizure disorders, decriminalization of the high-CBD/low-THC oil, and a panel to recommend how and whether to move further;

2. “Opportunity School Districts” to take over some failing school districts;

3. Department of Community Supervision drawing from the existing Departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, and Pardons and Paroles to improve the administration of paroles and probation across existing programs that have redundancies and inefficies;

4. Georgia has a need for massive additional transportation funding.

On transportation, Gov. Deal described the consequences of failure:

“If we should choose not to maintain and improve our infrastructure, economic development would stall, companies would be unable to conduct their business efficiently, commuters would waste more time and gas sitting in traffic, and no one would be satisfied,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert said after Deal’s speech that no options have been removed from consideration, even tax increases despite being unpopular.

But his reading between the lines told him Deal isn’t laying the groundwork for a tax hike.

“I will assure you that most of my constituents are not in favor of any tax increases, and it sounded like what the governor is suggesting – and which we’ll flesh out during this legislative session – is a more efficient use of the funding that we’re doing now,” said Cowsert, R-Athens.

Despite the confusing signals, the governor is offering sufficient leadership on the issue, according to Don Grantham, the Augusta-area’s representative on the State Transportation Board.

“It’s to the point where he’s not saying, ‘This is what you should do’ and ‘This is what I think.’ He is saying, ‘The options are there for you, and I support what you do.’ His support and information is going to be very helpful for us,” Grantham said.

Re-read those quotes from Senator Cowsert in light of the fact highlighted above about most legislators facing real opposition in party primary elections and you’ll understand the challenge that faces any bill to raise more revenue from state taxpayers.

We also have more reactions, in the form of audio interviews by GaPundit.com Associate Editor Jeff Breedlove:

Rep. Allen Peake on Gov. Deal including HB 1 in the State of the State

Sen. Majority Leader Bill Cowsert on Cannabis Oil bill and Transportation

Rep. Jay Roberts, House Transportation Chair: On The State of the State Address

 

Elections & Job Openings

Three candidates qualified for the March 17 special election for Augusta Commissioner District 7.

Sean Frantom, starting his third year as development director for Ronald McDonald House Charities, joined Augusta businessmen Louis “Hap” Harris and Sonny Pittman in qualifying to seek the 21-month commission stint.

Avondale Estates has a contested special election for Mayor, as John Pomberg qualified for the race.

“I’m running for mayor for a number of reasons, because the position is available and it needs to be filled,” Pomberg said.

Pomberg joins Paul Brown, an architect who serves on the city’s Board of Appeals, in the race to replace former mayor Ed Rieker who resigned in October to pursue a university teaching job.

(If elected), my first day is to kind of keep the momentum on the annexation going and to keep people informed on that, as Mr. Giager has done so well in the few months he’s been in charge of that,” Pomberg said. “I’m also very interested to see how the redevelopment of the Fenner Dunlop property is going to shake out.”

Dr. Ricardo Azziz is expected to announce his resignation as President of Georgia Regents University in Augusta.

In the Special Election for House District 50 in Johns Creek, we received this last night regarding former Johns Creek City Council Member Kelly Stewart, who is in a runoff election:

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Contact: Lynn Doss, County Attorney, Fannin County, GA

Former Employer Warns Johns Creek Voters About Candidate for House Kelly Stewart

Candidate is “making false employment claims on her resume”

(Blue Ridge, GA)–“It has come to our attention that candidate for State House Kelly Stewart is currently and repetitively making false claims on her resume as to having been the County Administrator of Fannin County. Mrs. Stewart never held the role of County Administrator in our county, and her claim is patently untrue,” said Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss Wednesday.

“Fannin County has never in its history had a County Administrator form of government.   Stewart was an administrative assistant (a secretary) in the office of the Board of Commissioners, “said Doss Wednesday.

“Kelly Mull Stewart’s pattern of deceit was major contributing factor as to why she was terminated by the County in 1999,” said former Commissioner Yvonne McNelley, who served as a Fannin County Commissioner at the time.  Apparently, this pattern continues.

Stewart’s use of the job title, which she apparently has used for many years both to gain employment and to embellish her political resume in political campaigns, can be seen here:

http://www.countylinemagazine.net/0414/files/inc/4d2e03ad8b.pdf

and here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20130313083813/http://www.johnscreekga.gov/about/council/post5

Stewart also used the title of County Administrator on her official biography found on the City of Johns Creek website.

“We ended Stewart’s employment because of this issue as well as the fact that she had a pattern of abusing taxpayer dollars, including using taxpayer funds to make purchases that were clearly personal in nature,” said Commissioner McNelley.

“We investigated Kelly Stewart’s abuse of taxpayer dollars and found that she had made multiple unauthorized expenditures for personal items included self-help videos, unauthorized expensive meals, and gift purchases,” said Commissioner McNelley.

“Voters in Johns Creek can make their own decision. However, Mrs. Stewart may not make false claims or embellish her resume about her employment here, nor the reasons for her dismissal, without our setting the record straight,” said McNelley. “The actions of Stewart ultimately contributed to an election recall and defeat of then-Chairman Cline Bowers.”

14
Jan

AUDIO – Rep. Jay Roberts: On The State of the State Address

Your Georgia Desk

The State of the State Address 

Your Ga Pundit correspondent spoke with House Transportation Chair Representative Jay Roberts on his reaction to Governor Nathan Deal’s State of the State Address and transportation:

 

14
Jan

AUDIO – Rep. Allen Peake: On Gov. Nathan Deal Including HB 1 In State of the State Address

Your Georgia Desk

The State of the State Address 

Your Ga Pundit correspondent spoke with Representative Allen Peake on his reaction to Governor Nathan Deal’s inclusion of HB1 in the State of the State Address 

14
Jan

VIDEO – Senate Press Office: Senate in a Minute Day Three – State of the State

Your Georgia Desk

From The Senate Press Office

Day Three –  Senate in a Minute: State of the State

14
Jan

AUDIO – Senate majority Leader Bill Cowsert: On The State of the State Address

Your Georgia Desk

The State of the State Address 

Your Ga Pundit correspondent spoke with Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert about his perspective of the State of the State Address from Governor Nathan Deal:

 

14
Jan

Gov. Nathan Deal: State of the State Address – Great Challenges Require Great Cooperation

Your Georgia Desk

From Governor Nathan Deal

Deal state

Great Challenges Require Great Cooperation

Deal proposes plan to rescue failing schools, new transportation plan

Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, constitutional officers, members of the judiciary, members of the consular corps,  my fellow Georgians:

Today marks the fifth year that I have reported to you, the people’s representatives, on the state of our state. This is our annual checkup exam on the body politic, where we measure our vitals, celebrate areas of great health and seek cures for what ails us. In each succeeding year, we’ve seen the green shoots of our economy grow a little taller. Each year, we’ve seen more Georgians return to work or get their first job. Each year, we’ve seen hundreds of more businesses open or relocate here. Each year, steady revenue growth has allowed us to slowly mend the ravages wrought by the Great Recession. Now, our economy is seeing positive growth with thousands of new jobs added every month. We’re seeing the tell-tale signs of cranes and bulldozers humming on newly cleared land. We’re seeing home values recover and Georgia families rebuild their savings. And Georgia has been named the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business by several major rating agencies and has repeated that designation by one of them already. In short, I’m here to report to you today that the state of our state is strong, and getting stronger every day.

But for every milestone we reach, for every victory we attain, for every improvement we achieve, new challenges await. Certainly, there are those who focus only on the negative, zeroed in on areas where we should do better. They downplay any progress as “not good enough.” To them I say: Celebrating our progress puts our challenges in perspective and reminds us that together we can achieve greatness. Our shortcomings don’t go unacknowledged. They’re simply what we’re going to address next.

When focused only on the negative, the job before us can seem overwhelming. These feelings are not new to our generation. Atop President Kennedy’s desk sat a fisherman’s prayer: “Oh, God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” When confronting the challenges of 10 million people – challenges that can appear insurmountable – it’s easy to feel that the tools we’ve been given aren’t up to the task.

When it comes to our constituents’ needs in education, health care, transportation and public safety, the sea seems so great and our boat so small. We may have 10 million challenges, but we also have 10 million oars.

In the turbulent waters of recession and recovery, we have rowed steadily forward. The synchronized beat of unified oars has reset the rhythm of our economy. Georgians have spoken clearly that the conservative principles, which have guided our decisions, the very ones that have brought us out of the recession, must continue to guide our future growth. These include keeping our government small, prioritizing and balancing our budget, and emphasizing a strong business climate.Continue Reading..

14
Jan

RNC: Announces July 2016 Convention Dates

Your Washington Desk

From The Republican National Committee 

Republican-National-Committee

RNC Announces July 2016 Convention Dates

The Republican National Committee has selected July 18-21 as the official dates for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I’m pleased to announce the 2016 Republican National Convention will kick off on July 18,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.  “A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee.  The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day.

“We’re excited to continue working with our partners in Cleveland and we look forward to showcasing everything the city has to offer to our delegates and the world in 2016.”

Continue Reading..

14
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 14, 2015

Representatives of three cities in Connecticut adopted the “Fundamental Orders,” the first written Constitution in an American colony and one of the first founding document to cite the authority of “the free consent of the people.”

On January 14, 1733, James Oglethorpe and the rest of the first colonists departed Charles Town harbor for what would become Savannah, and the State of Georgia.

The Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War on January 14, 1784. The Treaty was negotiated by John Adams, who would later serve as President, and the delegates voting to ratify it included future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.

On January 14, 1835, James M. Wayne took the oath of office as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A Savannah native, Wayne had previously served in the Georgia House of Represestatives, as Mayor of Savannah, on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and in Congress. His sister was the great-grandmother of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and his home is now known as the Juliette Gordon Low house. When Georgia seceded from the Union, Wayne remained on the Supreme Court.

On January 14, 1860, the Committee of Thirty-Three introduced a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow slavery in the areas it then existed.

Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was one of eleven African-American Georgians elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965. After his election, on January 10, 1966, the State House voted 184-12 not to seat him because of his publicly-stated opposition to the Vietnam War. After his federal lawsuit was rejected by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ordered Bond seated.

True story: Julian Bond was the first Georgia State Senator I ever met, when I was in ninth grade and visited the state Capitol.

On January 14, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring Japanese-Americans, including American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry, as well as Italians and Germans to register with the federal Department of Justice. The next month, Roosevelt would have Japanese-Americans, including my grandfather, Joe Yamamoto, interned in concentration camps in the western United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Avondale Estates will hold a Special Election for Mayor on March 17, 2015 following the resignation of former Mayor Ed Rieker. The next Mayor will serve the balance of the term, which ends December 31, with an election to a full term to be held in November. Architect Paul Brown was the first candidate to qualify and more candidates may qualify between now and Friday. From Decaturish.com,

We’re a very small city and with the development of the multi-use project and the issue of annexation, it’s going to change the perception of our city,” Brown said. “It will certainly set a standard.”

Brown said if he is elected he will work to enhance the city’s quality of life.

“My first priority is learning what the city’s priorities are as far as what the residents are concerned about, and adding to the quality of life,” he said.

Rieker, the dynamic and sometimes controversial former mayor, resigned in October with about one year left on his term to take a university teaching job. The former mayor is credited with bringing development into city’s downtown, but his style of leadership also brought him into conflict with some longtime residents wary of change.

Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager will not run for Mayor, retaining his Council seat instead. Disclaimer: I’m working for Paul Brown’s campaign.

Johns Creek will hold Special Elections in November to fill the remaining terms of former City Council Members Brad Raffensperger and Kelly Stewart, who are in a runoff election for the House District 50 seat vacated by former State Rep. Lynne Riley. With Council Districts 2,4, and 6 up in the regular rotation, that will mean that four of six Council seats will be up in November.

State of the State

Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the State of the State address today at 11 AM. The speech will be carried live online by Georgia Public Broadcasting or you may watch it tonight at 7 PM on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Click here to find your local GPB TV station.

gpblawmakers_logo740x106

At 7:30 PM, I’ll be on GPB with Bill Nigut, Democratic consultant Liz Flowers, Leo Smith of the Georgia Republican Party, and Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Kardashian Constitution. The show will also be live online at 7:30 PM today.

I’ll be at the State of the State and will be tweeting from my personal account @toddmr and you can also check-out the @gapundit account.

Continue Reading..