The blog.


Sen. Bill Heath: Almost Halfway Home

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Bill Heath 

Bill Heath

Almost Halfway Home

This week’s newsletter is going to be more about the bills that passed the Senate this week. Last week, “the pace had picked up,” and the Senate is now moving bills through with some speed; passing 8 Senate Bills and agreeing to minor changes in the Senate’s version of the amended budget.

Here’s a brief summary of the bills that will now pass over to the House for their consideration:

Senate Bill 18 establishes policies for the Technical College System of Georgia to grant academic college-level credit for learning from military service, prior work experience or self-study.

Senate Bill 62 removes limitations on probate courts so that they now have jurisdiction over all fish and game violations. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division has historically filed these offenses with probate courts.

Senate Bill 58, called the “Georgia Leadership and Service Admission Act,” will allow every member of the Georgia General Assembly, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to recommend a student who meets HOPE Scholarship requirements to a college in the Board of Regents system if that student agrees to participate in Reserve Officer’s Training Corps while enrolled in college.

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Sen. Michael Williams: Updates from the Capitol

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Michael Williams

MIchael Williams

Updates from the Capitol

Bouts of snow flurries and ice came and went this week, but that didn’t stop the Senate from staying on track and completing Legislative Days 16 through 19. We are right on track and moving quickly. This week we passed several important bills that will impact people all over our great state.

College educations are becoming more and more vital as young people enter the work force, but as they become more expensive, young adults are going straight into the workforce and returning to school later in life. This is one reason the Senate came together and unanimously passed SB 18, a bill that will allow the Technical College System of Georgia to accept prior work experience and skills learned through military service for academic credit. The brave men and women who serve and protect our country deserve to be credited for the knowledge and leadership skills they acquired from their service.

In addition to helping those who have already served in the United States Military, we passed SB 58, a bill that will support the dreams of high school students who wish to obtain military training while earning a college degree. SB 58 will allow each member of the General Assembly, along with the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor to designate one high school senior each year who will receive a written letter of recommendation to use for admission to an ROTC program at any institution in the University System of Georgia. This opportunity will provide exceptional students with proven leadership abilities to become involved in a program that will teach them skills they cannot gain from a traditional college program.

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McLaughlin Poll: most Americans support Natanyahu addressing Congress

From the polling memo:

A nationwide survey of 2016 likely general election voters conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for Secure America Now finds that Americans overwhelmingly support Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of Congress to address any Iran nuclear deal before the negotiating deadline in late March. Furthermore, 4 out of 5 voters believe Congress should have to approve any deal made by the Obama Administration with regards to Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“Republican House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3rd. President Obama and some Democrats think it should be cancelled because it is 2 weeks before an Israeli election. Israeli Prime Minister wants to speak to the American Congress to try to stop a deal that would give Iran a nuclear weapon. These negotiations are set to conclude 3 weeks after the Prime Minister’s speech. Knowing all of this is true, do you support or oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking to Congress on March 3rd?”

Support 59%
Strongly 36%
Somewhat 24%

Oppose 23%
Somewhat 11%
Strongly 11%

Don’t Know 18%


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 20, 2015

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The My Furry Valentine Adoption Special by DeKalb County Animal Services means $14 adoption fees for all dogs and cats older than six months – with full vetting included, that’s quite a deal.

Jester Dekalb

Jester is a 15-month old male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services. Jester needs a playmate! This happy boy LOVES to play and can’t wait to have a family who will teach him some games and give him some toys of his very own! He is only about 1 year old and has plenty more years of fun ahead of him.

Monty DeKalb

Monty is a sweet 2-year old male Flat-Coated Retriever mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.


Spike is a 3-year old male Terrier mix with the happiest smile I’ve ever seen on a dog. his big cutie is full of love! Spike is a super sweetie who will sit on a dime! His big, goofy smile reflects his personality perfectly. He has already mastered the sit command (no treats required!) and would love for you to teach him more fun things. This cutie loves to be near humans and greets you with a vigorously wagging tail whenever you are around. You have to come meet Spike! Spike is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Kermit Gwinnett

This guy, who looks like maybe a Lab mix, needs help today or he’ll be euthanized – he is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Senior Dolly

This sweet senior hound named Abby needs a loving home as soon as possible – available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

If you need any additional reason to thank our military members (we don’t), 80 soldiers from Fort Benning will work on a community service project today at the Columbus Animal Care and Control Center.

Starting at 8 a.m., the soldiers, from Alpha Company of the Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, will help paint the facility, clean up the walking trail between the center and Cooper Creek Park and spruce up the front of the building.

They will also help pass out flyers in several neighborhoods notifying people about the center’s upcoming rabies clinic and its community cat program and help exercise some resident animals at Cooper Creek.

For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Delgesso or Division Manager Drale Short at 706-653-4512.

Likewise, the Augusta Fire Department, who saved three dogs from a burning shed.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for February 20, 2014

On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, creating the United States Postal Service.

The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail.

On February 20, 1970, Georgia ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.The Amendment states:

Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Seriously. 1970. Luckily ratification occurred when Tennessee approved adoption of the Amendment on April 18, 1920.

Interestingly, the only case in which the United States Supreme Court has addressed the Nineteenth Amendment arose in Georgia. Breedlove v. Suttles was a suit brought in Fulton County Superior Court concerning the poll tax. Here’s an excerpt:

The tax being upon persons, women may be exempted on the basis of special considerations to which they are naturally entitled. In view of burdens necessarily borne by them for the preservation of the race, the state reasonably may exempt them from poll taxes.

The laws of Georgia declare the husband to be the head of the family and the wife to be subject to him. To subject her to the levy would be to add to his burden. Moreover, Georgia poll taxes are laid to raise money for educational purposes, and it is the father’s duty to provide for education of the children. Discrimination in favor of all women being permissible, appellant may not complain because the tax is laid only upon some or object to registration of women without payment of taxes for previous years.

Privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.

It is fanciful to suggest that the Georgia law is a mere disguise under which to deny or abridge the right of men to vote on account of their sex. The challenged enactment is not repugnant to the Nineteenth Amendment.

Bless their hearts.

On February 20, 1974, Reg Murphy, an editor for The Atlanta Constitution was kidnapped and held until managing editor G. James Minter delivered $700,000 in ransom. I’m not sure if they’d pay 700 cents to get any employee back nowadays.

Senator Perdue’s Desk

An historically-minded reader asked me earlier in the year to find out about the desk that Senator David Perdue uses in the United States Senate Chamber. It’s pretty fascinating for those of us interested in Georgia politics.

The desks currently used in the Senate Chamber were first ordered in 1819 to replace earlier furniture that was destroyed during the War of 1812. Since the early 20th Century, a tradition has been followed of the occupant of each desk carving his or her name into the bottom of the desk drawer. Here’s what the inside of Senator Perdue’s desk looks like:

David Perdue Senate Desk

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Dems: End tax credits to fix failing schools |

Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they are exploring the possibility of ending some popular tax credits in order to fund a grant program designed to improve failing schools aimed to counter a school takeover proposal championed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The governor, meanwhile, said he was considering whether to exempt charter schools from his proposal to put the state’s worst schools in a special statewide “Opportunity District.” That move is meant to placate critics who said the focus of the initiative should be on more traditional public schools.

Senate Democrats view their plan as a better alternative to Deal’s proposal, which they see as a government overreach that gives the governor’s office too much power over local education programs. Their initiative, Senate Bill 124, would create “community schools” with access to health clinics, counselors and after-school tutors.

“We believe a program to address failing schools must be much more focused,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson.

via Dems: End tax credits to fix failing schools |


Top judges make case to lawmakers for big pay raises |

A key House budget panel has slowed legislation to give the state’s top jurists big pay increases after raising concerns that Superior Court judges in some parts of Georgia are already making $185,000-$200,000 a year.

The raises proposed for them could make them among the highest paid trial judges in the country, according to national salary surveys.

Judges from the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Superior Courts, along with district attorneys and public defenders, told a House budget panel Wednesday that they all backed legislation to give them $12,000-a-year raises.

The raise package, sponsored by a bipartisan group of leading House lawyer-legislators, would cost the state about $6.2 million a year. The measure, House Bill 279, would raise the salary of Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges by 7.1 percent and the base state pay of Superior Court judges by just under 10 percent.

via Top judges make case to lawmakers for big pay raises |


Gallup: Georgia’s a top 10 state for weekly church attendance |

Georgia is in the top 10 states for weekly church attendance, according to a new Gallup poll, though it trails Deep South compatriots such as Alabama, Tennessee and both Carolinas.

Thirty-nine percent of Georgia respondents attended church weekly, according to Gallup’s daily tracking from January-December 2014.

“These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews throughout 2014 with 177,030 U.S. adults, and reflect those who say ‘at least once a week’ when asked, ‘How often do you attend church, synagogue or mosque — at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never?’” Frank Newport wrote.

But Georgians also reported a 25 percent “next week/monthly” church attendence — one of the highest in the nation, ahead of many of the states that top it in the weekly rate. Thirty-four percent of Georgians reported seldom or never attending church.

via Gallup: Georgia’s a top 10 state for weekly church attendance |


RCBOE voices concerns over new ‘failing’ school legislation | The Augusta Chronicle

Richmond County School Superintendent Angela Pringle and school board members voiced concern for Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s new “school opportunity zone” legislation Tuesday, with some saying it could “punish disadvantaged students.”

The legislation, unveiled last week, calls for a statewide “district” of “consistently failing schools” scoring under 60 on the Department of Education’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index for three consecutive years. The state of Georgia could assume complete operation of a designated “failing” school, partner with local school districts to run it, convert it to a charter school or close it.

State officials would also have the authority to change curriculums and fire school employees.

Around 141 schools across the state could be affected, 21 of them are located in Richmond County.

via RCBOE voices concerns over new ‘failing’ school legislation | The Augusta Chronicle.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 19, 2015

On February 19, 1953, Governor Herman Talmadge signed legislation creating the Georgia State Literature Commission to investigate and refer for prosecution anyone selling obscene materials. Last year, the Washington Post wrote about the State Literature Commission.

Georgia created the nation’s first censorship board.

The vote was unanimous. The Georgia State Assembly approved House Bill 247 on Feb. 19, 1953, with no dissent, establishing the Georgia Literature Commission. Despite being born into controversy, it lived on for 20 years surviving legal and legislative challenges until the administration of then-Gov. Jimmy Carter defanged it, setting off its slow death.

After years of support, then-Gov. Jimmy Carter cut the commission’s annual appropriation by about 20 percent in 1971, while simultaneously fighting a public battle against pornography. His administration then implemented zero-based budgeting, in which each governmental organization had to justify itself, which had become increasingly hard to do for the commission.

On February 19, 2014, Elana Meyers (now Elana Meyers Taylor) won the Silver Medal in bobsled in the Sochi Olympics. Last week, Meyers Taylor won the overall World Cup for women’s bobsledding. This tremendous athlete is from Douglasville, Georgia and her father Eddie Meyers was a standout running back at the Naval Academy who served six years in the Navy and signed with the Atlanta Falcons after his service.

The Breakfast Club

If you find yourself hungry one month from today and you’re unwilling to wait in the McDonald’s drive-thru as they try to make change for a $1000 bill, you can head over to the Capital City Club Downtown for breakfast with Jeb Bush.

Jeb Invite

If you’re looking for an assessment of how the potential 2016 Presidential campaigns are doing, here it is:Continue Reading..