Medical marijuana bill fails | State Legislature |

“For these families, their reality is … a child who is going to have one hundred seizures tomorrow,” said Peake, R-Macon, author of House Bill 885, which would have decriminalized possession of a liquid medicine derived from cannabis that’s used to treat pediatric seizures.

With just more than two hours remaining in this year’s session, Peake had pinned his hopes on a maneuver that unhitched his bill from an unrelated issue of requiring insurance companies to cover pediatric autism treatment.

Earlier, the autism bill was linked with his medical marijuana effort.

But in the last hour of this year’s session, the Senate failed to take up the medical marijuana issue for a final vote.

via Medical marijuana bill fails | State Legislature |

The Marietta Daily Journal – Fractional fracture It s back to drawing board for Lee and his split penny plan

The General Assembly’s failure to pass the main request from the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and county Chairman Tim Lee this year has thrown a wrench in Lee’s plan to bring a special purpose local option sales tax referendum to voters this November.

Lee said he was relying on passage of state Rep. John Carson’s House Bill 153, which would allow counties and cities to collect a sales tax of less than 1 cent per dollar spent.

Had that passed, Lee planned to ask voters for a fractional SPLOST this fall.

“It would have been better to have a fractional penny available to me, but since that’s not going to work I’ve got to go with the full penny and try to work around it, so it makes it a little more harder, but we’ll get it done,” Lee said.

A six-year SPLOST is projected to collect about $750 million. Of that sum, 74 percent — or $555 million — would go to county projects and 26 percent — or $195 million — would go to Cobb’s six cities.

The House passed Carson’s bill on March 3, sending it to the Senate, which changed it to allow for multiple SPLOSTs at the same time, provided they add up to no more than 1 percent at any given time.

Carson objected to the Senate’s revision and a standoff occurred between the two chambers.

Lee said he will speak with lawmakers before deciding whether to pursue the fractional SPLOST legislation in the future.

Commenting on the opposition, Lee said, “I think some of the cities in the rural areas and some of the counties in the rural areas where their SPLOSTs don’t raise as much money, they have difficulties doing any significant major capital projects with less than a penny, and that the stress might be too strong from their constituent base to do less than a penny in order to get done any significant projects, so I think that is the biggest reason.”

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) said Carson’s original bill was called up for a Senate vote about five minutes before midnight, but it never received a vote before the session ended for the year.

Senate leadership was advised earlier in the evening by opponents of the bill that they intended a filibuster to run the clock out, Hill said.

Who were the opponents?

“I think some out of Gwinnett as well as the vast majority of the Democrats,” Hill said.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Fractional fracture It s back to drawing board for Lee and his split penny plan.

The Marietta Daily Journal – Jobless rate climbs up to 6 4 percent in Cobb County

ATLANTA — Finding a job in Cobb County got more difficult in January as seasonal retail workers rejoined the job market or bowed out of the work force all together.

That trend caused the county’s unemployment rate to rise to 6.4 percent, from 6.1 percent in December. But the rate of joblessness is still lower than in January 2013, when it stood at 7.9 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate increased to 7.2 percent in January, up four-tenths of a percentage point from 6.8 percent in December. The rate was 8.8 percent in January a year ago.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Jobless rate climbs up to 6 4 percent in Cobb County.

Poll: GOP establishment strikes back in Georgia Senate race | TheHill

Businessman David Perdue (R) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are starting to build leads in a crowded Georgia Senate primary, according to a new poll.

Perdue has 29 percent support, and Kingston has 19 percent support in the automated poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for NBC’s Atlanta affiliate.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has 12 percent support, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is at 11 percent and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) has 10 percent support, according to the survey.

Perdue and Kingston are viewed as more solid general election candidates than Gingrey and Broun by establishment Republicans, who would be relieved to see both make a primary runoff.

The top two vote-winners will advance to a July runoff election, unless someone can win an outright majority in the May primary, which is an unlikely scenario.

Establishment Republicans have expressed serious worries about having either Gingrey or Broun as the nominee against former charity executive Michelle Nunn (D).

The poll suggests that Perdue’s and Kingston’s cash advantages over their opponents are starting to boost their campaigns ahead of the May 20 primary. The two have already been up regularly with TV ads, while the other candidates have had to save their smaller campaign funds for later in the race. When those candidates start spending what they have, the race might look a bit different.

via Poll: GOP establishment strikes back in Georgia Senate race | TheHill.

Charlie Cook is getting more bullish on a Republican Senate in 2015

There is some good news for Democrats in Cook’s new ratings. Georgia moved from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-up.” It’s one of Democrats’ only two realistic pickup opportunities this cycle, along with Kentucky. Mississippi moved from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican.” The state is still a very good bet to stay in GOP hands, but if nominated, Sen. Thad Cochran’s GOP primary challenger Chris McDaniel might pose problems for his party in the general election against former congressman Travis Childers (D). Finally, Senate seats in Hawaii and Massachusetts look safer for Democrats.

With the new moves, eight Democratic seats now fall into Cook Report’s “Toss-up,” “Lean Republican” or “Likely Republican” categories: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota. Just two GOP seats fall into the corresponding Democratic categories: Georgia and Kentucky.

Republicans need to net six seats for the majority. In addition to the eight ripest opportunities above, they also stand chances of picking up Colorado and New Hampshire — chances that did not exit before Gardner and Brown entered the mix. There’s also Iowa, a Democratic seat worth watching, even as the Republican field has struggled and Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley (D) has done well so far.

The overarching reason Republicans should be optimistic is that they have more paths to the majority than at any point this cycle so far.

via Charlie Cook is getting more bullish on a Republican Senate in 2015.

Ga. Senate Candidate Veers Left of Crowded GOP Field on Wall Street Reform – ABC News

With the Georgia Senate primary for the seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss roughly two months away, the crowded field of Republican contenders are tripping over each other in an effort to differentiate themselves.

Most observers expect the primary to push candidates to the right on issues as they try to solidify support among the party’s conservative base.

But at least one candidate has taken a different route.

On the campaign trail, Georgia businessman David Perdue, who was CEO of Dollar General and whose cousin Sonny Perdue was Governor of Georgia, is talking about — of all things — working with Democrats.

At a candidate forum earlier this year, Perdue declared that he doesn’t intend to repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, something most conservatives have repudiated, if he’s elected to the Senate.

“I’m not going to go up there and tell you I’m going to repeal Dodd-Frank,” Perdue at the Coweta Republican Party’s breakfast in January, according to a YouTube video posted by the organizers. “I will tell you I’m going to fight to amend it. And to do that, I think I can find some Democratic senators who will join in with logic and be led into a reasonable solution.”

“That’s the only way out of this box frankly,” he added.

At this point in the primary, the three GOP lawmakers who are also running, Rep. Paul Broun, Rep. Jack Kingston and Rep. Phil Gingrey, are on the right on just about every issue.

If anything, they have each tried to emphasize their anti-establishment bona-fides and their commitment to halting a Democratic agenda in Washington.

Unlike Perdue, all three of them have vowed to repeal Dodd-Frank, which has been on the books for nearly four years.

The repealing Dodd-Frank position is not only popular among conservatives — but it was also endorsed by nearly every GOP Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

For the candidates in the GOP race who are not already in Congress, like Perdue and Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, running against gridlock in Washington is an easy way to seem above the fray.

“The problem with the Republican [Party]…says [sic] well wait a minute if you talk to anyone on the other side that means you’re giving up your principles,” Perdue continued at that same forum.

via Ga. Senate Candidate Veers Left of Crowded GOP Field on Wall Street Reform – ABC News.

GOP Senate Hopes Won’t Be Defined Until Summer – US News

Republican primaries in North Carolina and Georgia are most likely headed to runoff scenarios in July. In Iowa, if no GOPer in the five-candidate field reaches a 35 percent threshold on June 3, a state convention of delegates will choose the nominee two weeks later. And in Alaska, another priority pickup opportunity for the GOP, there won’t be a standard-bearer chosen until late August.

Casting a shadow over GOP hopes this year are ghosts of primaries past from 2010 and 2012. Candidates like then-Rep. Todd Akin in Missouri, Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware all snagged upset victories in messy, late-summer primaries but went on to lose the general election.

While there appear to be fewer anti-establishment threats in Republican Senate primaries this year, it would only take a surprise outcome in one or two to reshape the narrative of the playing field. Republicans need to convert six seats to gain Senate control, leaving them little room for error.

Georgia represents Republicans’ biggest fear of the cycle. The nomination of the rigidly ideological Reps. Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey would provide Democrats with reams of opposition research to assist their presumptive nominee, Michelle Nunn.

The threshold to avoid the July 22 runoff in the Peach State is 50 percent, a number none of the five major candidates is expected to reach. A SurveyUSA poll taken this week found wealthy former Fortune 500 CEO David Perdue vaulting into the lead with 29 percent support, a result of his early broadcast advertising campaign.

But “the real fight is to be in the runoff,” says Todd Rehm, author of the Georgia Pundit blog.

If Broun scraps his way into the final two, he shouldn’t be underestimated.

“His supporters would crawl over broken glass in order to vote for the guy,” Rehm says.

Additionally, Republicans expect Democrats to meddle in the primary, propping up Broun or Gingrey with a menacing advertising campaign, much like they did in 2012 with Akin.

via GOP Senate Hopes Won’t Be Defined Until Summer – US News.

HUFFPOLLSTER: Poll Finds A New Leader In Georgia GOP Senate Battle

Both voter preferences and polls can be highly volatile for open primary elections – Primary pre-election polls don’t come with that warning label, but they probably should. Open primaries typically feature a big slate of initially obscure candidates, and voters are not locked into their preferences by the party affiliation the way they are in general elections. Their preferences can shift rapidly as the campaign progresses.

Meanwhile, primary elections typically produce low turnouts. In Georgia, the votes cast in the last two competitive statewide GOP primaries in 2010 and 2004 produced turnouts of just 11 percent of eligible adults (or 14 to 18 percent of all active registered voters). The tools that many public pollsters use to select “likely voters” — self-reported intent to vote or past participation — typically overstate the size of the likely electorate. Some use official lists of registered voters and past voting history to get a more accurate sample, but those techniques can impose other tradeoffs. Ultimately, seemingly obscure variation in the methods pollsters use to get to the likely electorate can make for big differences in the results. [Turnout via Georgia Sec. of State, ElectProject]

SurveyUSA result could indicate a Perdue surge, or could be an outlier -

So the advertising may be helping Perdue, or SurveyUSA may be capturing the likely electorate differently that than the other pollsters. We will know more as others track the race in the coming weeks.

via HUFFPOLLSTER: Poll Finds A New Leader In Georgia GOP Senate Battle.

Poll: Front-runners emerge in high profile Ga. primaries

ATLANTA — With two months to go until the 2014 Georgia primary, some clear front-runners have emerged in some high-profile contests, but other lower-profile races remain a free-for-all, according to SurveyUSA poll conducted for 11Alive.

In the Republican primary for Governor, incumbent Nathan Deal overwhelms two nominal challengers: Deal 65%, David Pennington.11%, John Barge 7%. Some 17% said they were undecided.

In a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate being vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, David Perdue tops six challengers: Perdue at 29%, Jack Kingston at 19%, with Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, and Karen Handel effectively tied for 3rd place. A runoff is likely, according to the poll.

In the Republican primary for School Superintendent, nine candidates battle for name recognition and voter share of mind, with any outcome possible. 45% are undecided. The top five candidates have between 7% and 10% support levels. A runoff is certain. The sitting Superintendent, John Barge, is running for Governor.

In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator, Michelle Nunn decisively defeats three opponents, Nunn 48%, Todd Robinson 14%, Steen Miles at 11% and Rod Radulovacki at 5%. Nunn is likely to reach the 50% needed to avoid a July 22 runoff.

via Poll: Front-runners emerge in high profile Ga. primaries.

Georgia Is Ground Zero For GOP Civil War – The Daily Beast

At the Rotary Club in LaGrange, Georgia, Rep. Jack Kingston answered every question, shook every hand he was offered with a “thanks, man,” or a “yes, sir,” and stooped quickly to pick up a business card that had fallen from a woman’s purse.

In his pursuit of the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Saxby Chambliss, Kingston left his audience with the impression that he is friendly, reasonable, and entirely competent. But in a GOP primary packed with Tea Party pleasers, pro-life crusaders, gun lovers, and a millionaire whose cousin is a former governor, being friendly, reasonable and entirely competent may be Jack Kingston’s biggest problem.

“I think he was pretty much right on it,” said Danny Graddy, a Republican and financial planner from Pine Mountain, Ga., who got what he was looking for in Kingston’s Rotary speech, which focused on preserving America’s military, supporting agriculture in the state, balancing the federal budget and ending the gridlock in Washington. “But being right on it and getting elected are two different things.”

“Whoever we nominate, they have to make sure that they are appealing to a broad base,” said Eric Tanenblatt, a top adviser to former Gov. Sonny Purdue, the late Sen. Paul Coverdell and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

“The Republican primary electorate is very different from the electorate you’ll see in the general election. If all you are going to do is try to appeal to the most conservative elements of the Republican primary electorate, it’s going to make it very difficult for you to move to the center to win independent voters.”

via Georgia Is Ground Zero For GOP Civil War – The Daily Beast.