The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 21, 2016


Bluebelle is a 4-month old female Wire Haired Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Bluebelle is a typical pup who loves to play and frolic and is good with other dogs and children.


Hildy is a 4-month old female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Hildy is a sweet pup who loves to play and needs a home to call her own.


Ebi is a 4-month old Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA. Ebi is good with dogs, cats, and children.


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

On November 21, 1620 (November 11 under the calendar used then), the first governing document of the English colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Mayflower Compact, was signed by most of the male passengers of the Mayflower.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

The Georgia Trustees outlawed rum in the colony on November 21, 1733 after James Oglethorpe wrote them that it was responsible for sickness and death in Georgia. Two-hundred eighty-three years later, Richland Rum is being distilled with Georgia-grown sugar cane in Richland, Georgia.

North Carolina ratified the Constitution on November 21, 1789, becoming the twelfth state to do so.

On November 21, 1860 Governor Joseph Brown called a Secession Convention following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.

November 21, 1922 was the first day of Rebecca Latimer Fulton’s service in the United States Senate from Georgia as the first woman to serve in that chamber.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Some fireworks sale tax money will fund trauma care at Georgia hospitals after passage of Amendment Four.

[Medical Center Navicent Health's Trauma Director Dr. Dennis Ashley] says they see about 2,800 trauma patients a year. “The only funding that trauma centers receive now from the state is through the super-speeder law which generates about $21 million a year,” said Ashley.

Ashley says that money is spread among 30 trauma centers in Georgia. That’s why he says the passing of Amendment 4 is so important. “If you look at all the things you need, all the personnel you have to have it’s about $6 million a year for a level 1 trauma center. That’s before you see the first patient. We receive about $1 million a year to support trauma center funding. You can see it doesn’t go a long way,” said Ashley.

The amendment says 55% of the existent 5% excise tax will be funneled to trauma care. 40% to Georgia firefighter standards and 5% local public safety.

The American College of Surgeons recently verified the Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon. as a Level I Trauma Center.

Cobb County election officials have certified the results in the November 8 General Election.

During the 2016 elections, Cobb experienced record early voting. According to Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler, the votes cast were almost evenly split between early voting and Election Day polls.

“Exactly 4,200 voters — less than 1 percent — more people voted at the polls than early voting,” Eveler said. “On Election Day, there were lines in the morning at most polls but after mid-morning, they reported just a steady stream of voters and no real back-ups. Some polls experienced an evening rush, but only three polls reported more than a 30-minute line at closing time.”

“There were 1,627 provisional ballots cast, and of those, 801 were counted,” Eveler said. “All provisional voters are notified after the election of the status of their ballot.”

The cost of the election in Cobb County remains untallied.

The cost of the 2016 general election will not be determined until all its bills are paid, but the previous two have cost more than $1 million each.

The final cost of the Nov. 8 election will not be discovered for about two more months after all the poll workers’ invoices and service fees are processed, according to Cobb Board of Elections Director Janine Eveler.

The 2012 general election cost Cobb more than $1.1 million while the 2008 presidential election cost more than $1.5 million. In 2004, the county paid more than $874,000 to hold the general election.

Cobb County Commission Chair-elect Mike Boyce spoke to a Republican group about preparing to take the helm.

Boyce told the 30 or so in attendance that his efforts ahead of taking office in January have included sitting down with business leaders and attending and speaking to Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, among other groups. Among the issues he highlighted with Republican Assembly members was the county’s pay study. Created by the Archer Company, a consulting firm, the study presented to the Cobb Board of Commissioners earlier this year contended that many county employees were making less than what their counterparts were making in other municipalities.

“I’ve said this on many occasions — (the employees) have been very patient, they have earned this pay raise, but I want to be sure that we all look at the pay study and see if we can’t come up with some other alternatives other than what Archer did to find a way to implement this without a tax raise, because I made it very clear in my campaign that the only exception I’m going to consider for a tax raise in 2017 is the parks bond,” Boyce said. “That’s because that bond is long overdue.”

“It’s the will of the people,” Boyce said, “and if you think that my campaign was a delayed referendum of two years, you can imagine what the people feel having waited eight years now for this bond. They wanted it, we’re going to pay for it, and if I’ve got to raise the millage rate to do it, then so be it. But nothing else is on the table for a tax increase.”

“What part of the T-SPLOST and the BRT being turned down don’t we understand? The people have spoken,” Boyce said, referencing both Cobb voters’ 2012 rejection of the proposed $8.5 billion tax increase for transportation known as T-SPLOST, and a proposed $494 million bus rapid transit line connecting Kennesaw State University with Midtown Atlanta, which saw more opposition than support from those offering input during a public comment period offered by the county last year.

“They don’t want (regional transit) here because we haven’t articulated an argument that if we give them the money, it floats all boats,” Boyce said. “That’s the problem we have — it isn’t that people are against regional transportation, we haven’t shown that their tax dollars aren’t going to benefit the few.”

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) was recognized by the District Attorneys’ Association of Georgia for his work on criminal justice legislation.

“Rep. Efstration is one of the hardest working members of the Georgia General Assembly,” Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council Executive Director Chuck Spahos said in a statement. “His tireless efforts during his relatively short time at the Capitol have proven invaluable.”

The organization particularly praised his work on the Criminal Justice Reform Act and a law that made it possible to charge people with human trafficking if they sexually exploit people with development disabilities.

“Gwinnett County is very proud of Efstration,” Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said in a statement. “He is a consensus builder who has proven both his leadership abilities and willingness to work across party lines to pass legislation that best serves the citizens of Georgia.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell dismissed a lawsuit challenging the appointment of Sam Olens as President of Kennesaw State University.

“The Georgia Constitution expressly preserves the state’s sovereign immunity and makes clear that it ‘can only be waived by an Act of the General Assembly which specifically provides that sovereign immunity is waived and the extent of such waiver,’” Campbell said in his ruling.

Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise has been elected Chairman by his colleagues on the PSC.

State Senator John F. Kennedy (R-Macon) has joined the Senate Republican Caucus leadership.

As chairman of the GOP caucus, he’ll have a bigger role in Senate party business such as setting policy goals and recruiting and electing Republican senators.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to get to serve the folks in the 18th district and I look forward to being able to do that even more effectively in the position as caucus chair and I’m looking forward to serving in the Senate and making sure we keep the state headed in the right direction,” Kennedy said.

His election gives Middle Georgia a seat at the Senate leadership table. The other party officers, as well as Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, are all from north of Interstate 20.

State Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) will serve as Secretary of the Senate Republican Caucus for the 2017-18 terms of the general assembly.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve our caucus as secretary for another biennial term,” said Sen. Wilkinson. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the leadership team and the Senate to promote positive legislation designed to safeguard Georgia’s reputation as a great state to live, work and play.”

Wilkinson is currently the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  He is also the Vice-Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee, and a member of the Appropriations, Assignments,  and Natural Resources committees.

Democratic State legislators will seek legislation for greater oversight of police.

A group of Georgia lawmakers say they are going to propose bills next year to require police body cameras statewide, increase reporting and training requirements for law enforcement officers and other policing measures.

“This hearing today is to address excessive force by law enforcement and to receive input,” said state Rep. Sandra Scott, D-Rex, opening a state Capitol hearing where she and other Democrats asked the public what they would like to see in policing bills.

Scott said she and her allies plan to repeat some bills they’ve filed over the past few years: banning no-knock warrants, mandating police body cameras and requiring that out-of-town district attorneys handle cases involving police officers accused of wrongdoing.

Scott said her group of lawmakers will be looking for partners on the other side of the aisle. She said she’s hopeful she and her allies may have some common ground with a task force Republican Gov. Nathan Deal appointed this year to overhaul police training.

Alyssa Davis, a planner with the Gwinnett Place CID is the sole finalist for Executive Director of the new Sugarloaf CID.

Savannah-Chatham Public School Board approved a petition to open the Susie King Taylor Community School.

Susie King Taylor could open as early as next school year if the charter school petition is approved by the Georgia Department of Education.

Once approved by the state, Susie King Taylor would receive a share of the Savannah-Chatham Public School System’s funding to serve about 180 kindergarten through fourth-grade students in the first year. Fifth and sixth grades will be added in year two. Organizers will continue to add grade levels each year until the school includes ninth grade. They hope to eventually expand the school to include grades 10, 11 and 12.

The school was named after the first African American to teach openly in a school for Georgia’s formerly enslaved.

Helen, Georgia City Commission approved the purchase of a new fire truck and other firefighting equipment.

Laura Cochesne of the University of Georgia has been named a Rhodes Scholar.

University spokeswoman Stephanie Schupska said Courchesne plans to attend the University of Oxford in 2017 to pursue master’s degrees in social anthropology and politics research.

“I am fascinated with what influences non-violent populations to begin endorsing and engaging in violence, the strength of social bonds within violent organizations, how resources shape organizational structure, and the types of relationships non-state armed groups form with civilians,” Courchesne said. “There is an unseen human aspect to war and conflict that I aim to discover.”

James C. Pavur, an Atlanta native who attends Georgetown University was also named a Rhodes Scholar.

Brooks Coleman Middle School in Duluth won the first Innovation Fund Tiny Grant to deploy drones.

“The Innovation Fund Tiny Grant unites education leaders and students in order to provide Georgia’s students with the ability to engage in today’s most innovative academic areas,” said Deal. “Providing Georgia’s students with opportunities for growth and success is essential to ensuring our children reach new heights in educational achievement. Congratulations to Coleman Middle School on this award and we look forward to seeing the impact each Tiny Grant will have on the futures of its recipients.”

Programs and projects funded by Tiny Grants must align with one of three of the following priority areas: applied learning with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education, development and replication of blended learning school models, and birth-to-age-eight language and literacy development. The grants will provide eligible organizations between $1,000 and $10,000 to implement small-scale pilot programs that directly impact students.

Working alongside the National Park Service and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, students at Coleman Middle School will study various aspects of the river including invasive species, temperature, pH balance and hazardous materials. This STEAM-focused project has the potential to impact both student achievement and the local environment and will provide students with a real-world, hands-on experience.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke sees Trump’s election as a potential boost to Chattanooga-Atlanta rail service dreams.

Berke said in a statement last week that Congress is talking about taking up a major infrastructure bill next year. Trump proposed spending $1 trillion on the campaign trail.

“As they move forward, we will work with Georgia on identifying potential opportunities if they are funded,” Berke said.

Dave Crockett, a former Chattanooga city councilman and a long time fast-train proponent, said that Trump’s interest is “our golden opportunity.”

“We have a president who is bold thinking,” he said. “This is one of his agenda items.”

Emory Healthcare is developing a mixed-use campus in the City of Brookhaven and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is expanding on the other side of North Druid Hills.

Emory University would develop a mixed-use campus on 70 acres at the south side of North Druid Hills in Executive Park with 2.3 million square feet of new development.

The massive project would include up new office space, residential development, retail space, and a hotel, according to master plans filed with the city of Brookhaven.

On the north side of North Druid Hills, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has filed plans with Brookhaven for an eight-story medical office building and 1,000-space parking deck. But sources familiar with the project say Children’s would expand in coming years to develop a health-care campus along North Druid that could be as large as what Emory is developing.

The combined developments could ultimately create a new health-care hub for Atlanta, similar to “Pill Hill” at Interstate 285 and Georgia 400.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 18, 2016


Maggie is a female Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Hi! I’m Maggie. I am just a baby. I am sweet and cuddly. Please don’t make me grow up in the shelter.


Luke is a male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Luke and I am a lab mix puppy. I am just a baby and I am so sweet. I really need to have a furever home so I don’t have to grow up in the shelter.


Daisy is an adult female Coonhound who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Hello! My name is Daisy. I am a Coonhound and I am a very pretty girl! I am very friendly and could be a good hunting dog for you or a loving family pet!

Mrs. GaPundit calls our coonhound a “Couch hound.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2016

New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights on November 20, 1789.

Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863; he delivered an 87-word speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On November 19, 1864, as Sherman marched toward Savannah, the Georgia delegation to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, sent a message to the state,

“Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

The first issue of National Review magazine was published on November 19, 1955.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

President Ronald Reagan met for the first time with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on November 19, 1985.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is asking liberals people upset about the Presidential election results to leave Georgia’s electors alone.

On December 19, 2016, Georgia’s 16 Republican Presidential Electors will convene under the Gold Dome to cast votes for the next President and Vice-President of the United States. In light of recent reports, Secretary of State Brian Kemp strongly urges Georgians and others to refrain from using threatening or disparaging language to manipulate electors.

“The Presidential election is over but, unfortunately, the vitriol remains,” stated Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “Our office has received numerous reports of individuals hurling insults and threats at Georgia’s electors because they are unsettled with America’s choice for President of the United States. This is absolutely unacceptable and those participating in or encouraging these efforts should stop. The electoral process in America has worked, and everyone – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others – should respect the will of Georgia’s voters and the Electors who represent them.”

Kemp also issued a press release noting that five candidates – four Republicans and an Independent – qualified for the Senate District 54 Special Election to succeed Charlie Bethel, who was appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

“As shown through his work in the General Assembly, I am confident my friend and colleague, Charlie Bethel, will serve Georgians well on the bench,” stated Secretary Kemp. “This appointment by Governor Deal is a testament to Bethel’s integrity and dedication to public service.”

Qualifying closed at 2 p.m. [Thursday]. Four Republican candidates – Conda Goodson, Charles “Chuck” Payne, Michelle “Shell” Underwood, and William Vinyard – qualified for the seat. Debby Peppers also qualified as a nonpartisan candidate. Senate District 54 covers Gordon, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties.

To take part in this contest, eligible Georgia citizens must have registered or already be registered to vote on or before Tuesday, November 15, 2016. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. A run-off election, if needed, will be held on January 10, 2017.

The Dalton Daily Citizen has more details on the election.

The 54th District includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

Early voting begins on Nov. 28. Eligible Georgians must have registered or already be registered to vote on or before Nov. 15 to vote in the special election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13. A runoff election, if needed, will be on Jan. 10, 2017.

The League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area and The Daily Citizen will host a candidates forum for the District 54 seat on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at Dalton City Hall. The public is invited. For more information, call Jackie Renfroe at (706) 278-8166 or Virgelia Meek at (706) 226-6774.

Governor Nathan Deal has upgraded the response to drought across Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal approved a Level 2 Drought Response designation for more than 50 counties. Faced with worsening drought conditions in about three-fourths of the state, 52 counties have been raised to Level 2 Drought Response and an additional 58 counties have been designated as Level 1.

“During this prolonged period of severe drought in Georgia, we are bolstering the state’s drought response in more than 100 counties,” Deal said. “I would like to remind Georgians that there are specific guidelines and prohibitions to follow during a Level 1 and Level 2 Drought Response. We urge these communities to act accordingly, use good judgment and avoid outdoor burning and watering while we continue to work with the EPD and pray for rain across the state.”

This week marks the 24th week of continuous severe drought in northwest Georgia, the 22nd week for the Atlanta metro area, the 21st week in northeastern parts of the state and the 15th week in central Georgia.

“Today’s declaration is driven by an extended period of little or no rain and increasing dryness in the impacted areas,” said EPD Director Richard Dunn. “What’s more, there is little hope for relief as weather forecasters expect an unusually warm, dry winter across most of the state.”

Prohibited outdoor water uses include:
·    Washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks.
·    Water for ornamental purposes, such as fountains.
·    The use of fire hydrants, except for firefighting and public safety.
·    Non-commercial washing of vehicles.
·    Non-commercial pressure washing.
·    Fundraising car washes.

Those counties assigned a Level 2 Drought Response are: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Athens-Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Harris, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Lamar, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Murray, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Union, Upson, Walker, Walton, White and Whitfield.

The additional counties assigned a Level 1 Drought Response are: Baker, Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Columbia, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Elbert, Franklin, Glascock, Greene, Hancock, Hart, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Laurens, Lee, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Marion, McDuffie, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Oglethorpe, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Quitman, Rabun, Randolph, Richmond, Schley, Seminole, Stephens, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taliaferro, Taylor, Terrell, Towns, Twiggs, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wilkes and Wilkinson.

The Valdosta Daily Times writes that outdoor watering is restricted but not banned.

The order restricts outdoor watering to an odd-even schedule. Even-numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m., while odd-numbered addresses may water on Thursday and Sunday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.

State Senator Jesse Stone was recognized as a “Champion of Georgia’s Cities” by the Georgia Municipal Association.

State legislators who most actively support GMA’s initiatives and goals are given this award at the end of every two-year legislative term.

“It is an honor to be recognized as ‘A Champion of Georgia Cities’ by the Georgia Municipal Association,” said Sen. Stone. “I want to thank GMA for all the work they do to improve communities all across the state.”

“Sen. Stone has always been accessible; he listens and is responsive to the needs of his district and truly cares for the well-being of his constituents,” said GMA Director of Governmental Relations Tom Gehl. “His efforts have resulted in a more sustainable and economically efficient state.”

Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit and consulting services to its 520 member cities.

State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) has withdrawn House Bill 3, which was referred to as a “burqa ban.”

“After further consideration, I have decided to not pursue HB 3 in the upcoming 2017 legislative session due to the visceral reaction it has created.

“While this bill does not contain language that specifically targets any group, I am mindful of the perception that it has created. My objective was to address radical elements that could pose a threat to public safety. However, further consideration dictates that other solutions will need to be considered.  In conclusion, anti-masking statutes have been upheld as constitutional (State v Miller, 1990), and HB 3 would withstand legal scrutiny, but not political scrutiny.”

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) had earlier delivered a stinging rebuke against HB 3, via the AJC Political Insider.

Shafer’s assessment of Spencer’s proposal:

“The government has no business preventing Muslim women from wearing face scarves in public.  Too many people on both sides of the religious freedom debate only want to protect freedom when it comes to their own beliefs.

“Freedom is a meaningless concept if it does not apply to all beliefs, even the ones, especially the ones, you do not share.”

Shafer is the first Republican leader in the Legislature to speak out publicly on the matter.

The AJC Insider also pitches Geoff Duncan as a potential statewide candidate.

The Cumming Republican appears likely to run for lieutenant governor if Casey Cagle makes a play for the open governor’s seat, a prospect few Capitol insiders are betting against. But he also didn’t rule out a run for any of the other statewide posts open in 2018.

“We continue to receive encouragement from around the state to consider running for a statewide office in 2018,” said Duncan. “My wife and I have begun the process of looking into a decision of that magnitude but are in no rush to make a decision.”

He adds: “One clear message we continue to hear from the voters across Georgia is they are no longer looking to just elect the next person in line for a leadership role, they expect much more.”

His proposal to require all bar bouncers to be 21 or older – dubbed Michael’s Law after the death last year of an 18-year-old bar staffer – passed last year with little opposition.

He also backed legislation that allows residents or corporations to get a state tax credit for donating money to a rural hospital, a measure pitched as a way to help struggling rural facilities. It passed despite criticism from some Democrats, although top lawmakers are worried some of the funds could be siphoned to consultants.

In the upcoming legislative session, Duncan said he is aiming to overhaul the state’s complicated title tax, which requires newcomers moving to the state to pay a one-time 7 percent sales tax on their car’s value. That measure replaced the state’s annual “birthday tax” for cars purchased after 2013.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) has pre-filed the first Senate bill of the year, Senate Bill 8, called the “Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act.”

State Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) retained the lead in House District 105 after a recount.

Results from the recount showed the only change in the results was that Chandler, R-Grayson, received one more absentee vote that had somehow not been counted the first time. That means she received 12,411 votes while the number of votes for her Democratic opponent, Donna McLeod, remained unchanged at 12,189 votes.

Chandler’s margin of victory was 222 votes, or 50.38 percent to 49.48 percent.

“I commend the elections board for their very diligent work and hard work on this, and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to serve all of the people in District 105,” said Chandler, who did not attend the recount.

“It’s been a long, tough election and now I’m looking forward to getting on with the business of working on some legislation that I want to get done in the General Assembly,” Chandler said.

Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph writes about the current state of politics in Georgia.

“It is essential, I think, that we unite now as a caucus,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said to the state House Republicans who gathered for officer elections Monday. “The other side is the enemy, it’s not our people. They, I think, have gotten a little emboldened.”

The “emboldened” other side he was talking about are Georgia Democrats.

Republican Donald Trump carried Georgia’s presidential vote, but Democrats have spent the meantime crowing about previously red places that voted blue, including Hillary Clinton’s wins in suburban Atlanta’s Cobb and Gwinnett counties. Those came with relatively little spending from her campaign.

“If you looked at the counties we flipped, it’s because we had diverse candidates running, and we were not only talking to those who normally vote in elections, but particularly in House races, we reached out to communities and candidates that were not the norm,” said House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.

“What saved Trump in Georgia is he wrapped up rural areas,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

He said the blue votes in Cobb and Gwinnett were one of the most interesting “tea leaves” of the election.

“I doubt that it has many ramifications for Georgia,” said Bullock. For any fundamental change in Georgia politics, he’s looking toward the 2020s, when many expect the state to be bluer.

Congressman Tom Graves says Republicans have big plans for the next session of Congress.

Graves said having a Republican president for the first time since 2009 puts Congressional Republicans in position to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare; and enact a plan to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens on small business owners.

He said “right out of the gate” Americans will see “a Republican jobs plan that is going to be really incredible.”

The “heart” of the plan will be tax cuts “for the small business owners, the job creators and their employees” that will “reduce the tax and regulatory burden that is stifling our economy right now,” Graves said.

“That’s where I think our initial focus should be, and will be right out of the gate with President-Elect Trump, in addition to repealing Obamacare and addressing our national security issues,” he said.

Columbia County unveiled an economic development plan that aims to leverage investments in the Army Cyber Command facility at Fort Gordon.

The five business sectors with the most potential to “build wealth” in the county were listed as: cybersecurity/government contracting; high-value professional services; innovative manufacturing; entrepreneurial/retail development and health services.

Given the growth of Fort Gordon’s expanding cybersecurity missions, and that the industry’s average annual wage is $115,000 and boasts a 10-year growth rate exceeding 20 percent, focusing on cyber-related contractors, businesses and entrepreneurs is a no-brainer, Garner said.

“We were just wowed by the activity that has occurred there,” Garner said of Fort Gordon, which on Nov. 29 is having a ground breaking ceremony for the Army Cyber Command facility. “We’ve done a lot of work at military installations, but this is really a shining star in the various commands, and I’m not sure if everyone understands that. It’s a huge, huge asset in the community.”

Though Fort Gordon is located in Richmond County, about 70 percent of its off-post population live in Columbia County, according to installation estimates.

State education legislation may come to the forefront of the 2017 legislative session after voters rejected the Governor’s gambit for the Opportunity School District.

The governor’s Education Reform Commission, chaired by former University of Georgia President Charles Knapp, submitted its recommendations a year ago, but rather than trying to develop and push through new laws in 2016, Deal elected to come back in 2017 to “provide ample time to vet the full report,” he said in January as the state legislature’s annual session began.

Legislation affecting how teachers are evaluated and paid, how school systems are funded, school choice and more are likely to be introduced this time, Angela Palm, director of policy and legislative services for the Georgia School Board Association, told a committee of the Clarke County Board of Education this week.

Much of the talk was about a proposed new funding formula to replace the 30-year-old “Quality Based Education” model when Palm met with the board’s legislative affairs committee Tuesday.

Cobb County homeowners on lots smaller than 2 acres may be able to raise chickens after the County Commission granted a couple’s request for a zoning variance.

In favor were Commissioners Lisa Cupid, Bob Ott and Bob Weatherford. Opposed were Commission Chairman Tim Lee and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell.

For one year, Michael C. and Christina Disser were granted a land use permit for their four hens on Mitchell Road – used for egg production and education for their homeschooling family.

Georgia Healthcare

Congressman Tom Price (R-6) spoke to reporters about moving forward on ObamaCare repeal.

Price, who is being floated as a possible Health and Human Services Secretary in the next administration, said that he expects Republican in the House to move on Medicare reforms “six to eight months” into the Trump administration.

Privatization of Medicare has been a central feature of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s budget proposal for years, and the House GOP has voted in favor of it multiple times. Ryan himself said last week that Medicare would be on the table in the new Congress, signaling it could be taken up early in the new year. Price’s comments suggest privatization won’t be part of the first round of legislative initiatives rolled out by the Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress.

Price also noted that Republicans are eyeing using a tactic known as budget reconciliation to make the change. That process allows Republicans to pass bills with a simple majority in the U.S. Senate.

When asked by TPM about timing for changes to Medicare, Price said “I think that is probably in the second phase of reconciliation, which would have to be in the FY 18 budget resolution in the first 6-8 months.”

Price is scheduled to be in-studio for GPB’s “Political Rewind” this afternoon, beginning at 3 PM on your local GPB radio station or you can listen online.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center announced it will implement a residency program beginning in 2019.

Known as GME, or Graduate Medical Education, NGHS President and CEO Carol Burrell explained to members of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce at their monthly meeting exactly what GME is.

“GME starts after a person finishes medical school,” Burrell said.  “So when they come to us they will actually be in effect physicians, looking to then fulfill their residency for a period of four-plus years.”

“Residencies are essentially hands-on training in a number of specialties,” she added.

Six areas of specialty will be initially offered according to Dr. Sam Johnson, Chief Medical Officer for NGMC: internal medicine, family medicine, general surgery, OB/GYN, psychiatry and emergency medicine.

Tim Evans, Vice President of Economic Development for the GHCC said the projected fiscal impact to the area will be considerable.

“In September…we reached out to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government (at the University of Georgia) to help us quantify the economic impact of the NGMC Graduate Medical Education program.” Evans said.

“The initial year (2019) the program could see as many as 33 residents…those positions would bring with them an estimated labor income of over $10-million,” Evans said.  “That is a significant boost to our local economy.”

Evans added, “By the fifth year (2024) the GME could grow to 170 residents.”

Availability of residency programs has been identified as a weakness that could lead to a shortage of physicians in Georgia.

The U.S. could face a shortage of 95,000 physicians in the next ten years, according to a recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The association also predicts Georgia could have the fewest number of doctors per capita by the year 2020 if it doesn’t expand its medical education programs.

In 2014, a Georgia House committee studied the shortage. To fix it, the committee decided the state should increase its number of residency slots and offer loan forgiveness for medical students.

The residency shortage is more acute in rural areas of Georgia, which already suffer shortages of medical professionals.

“Even if they all wanted to stay in Georgia, we didn’t have enough slots for that,” [associate dean for graduate medical education (GME) at the Medical College of Georgia Shelley] Nuss said. “If you want a return on investment with med students, you’ve got to keep them in-state and doing their residency in Georgia.”

Another problem, according to Nuss, is that two-thirds of Georgia’s residency slots are in urban areas, leaving fewer opportunities to expose residents to the state’s rural health care needs.

Creating more residency slots — which are funded largely by Medicare, the state, medical schools, and hospitals — isn’t easy. Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, is the largest public source of revenue, helping to cover the roughly $150,000 a year AAMC estimates that it costs to train each resident. However, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 caps the number of residencies Medicare can fund. That leaves hospitals and states to pick up the slack.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 17, 2016


Snoopy is a young male Labrador Retriever & Basset Hound Mix puppy who is available for adoption from Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Decatur, GA.

This sweetheart of a pup found himself in quite the bind in a GA shelter when he was picked up as a stray with a horrible embedded collar! He was in dangerous shape when Animal Control got him. Lucky for Snoopy, he was scooped up by Pibbles & More Animal Rescue and has been nursed back to health in a wonderful foster home. Snoopy is a great pup—he is housebroken and crate-trained; he is a dream on a leash; knows some basic commands; plays really well with other dogs; and has never met a stranger.

Snoopy is 5-6 months old and this little low-rider is just about the perfect size. He has short legs for his long body so we think he might be a Bassador! Fully grown, we expect him to hit around 40 lbs. You just have to meet this kid—he will sweep you off your feet!


Gracie is a young female Pit Bull Terrier & Hound Mix puppy who is available for adoption from Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Decatur, GA.

Darling little Gracie had a rough start to life but she seems to be doing a-okay these days. Born on October 6th, 2016, Gracie’s first day in the world was spent on a cold GA shelter floor. Regardless, she has been an absolute delight and has grown into quite the roly poly puppy!

Gracie is available for pre-adoption as she is currently too young to be vetted.


Sully is a young female Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Decatur, GA.

You must meet Sully!

This little girl is as charming as they come! She had a rough road at first when she and her littermates contracted parvo. She lost her sister but the rest of the litter pulled through! Sully loves to play with other dogs and is a big time snuggler. She is good on a leash and GREAT with kids.

This doll is 7 months old and fully house trained and crate trained. She is long and lanky and has the most velvety coat.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 17, 2016

On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.

On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.

Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.

Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Trump Transition team will ask current lobbyists seeking administration jobs to terminate their activities and all appointees will be asked to pledge not to work as lobbyists for five years after leaving the administration.

Any ban on lobbying, however, depends on how it is written and enforced. A common practice in Washington is for key power players not to register as a lobbyist, but instead work as a consultant or adviser — allowing them to take their experience and contacts to make hundreds of thousands of dollars on K Street.

Two top Republicans working with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team told reporters in a phone call Wednesday evening that they’re taking steps toward one of Trump’s campaign promises — to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

Trump communications director Jason Miller and Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer announced anyone being vetted for a high post in the administration must provide a termination of lobbying form if they are a registered lobbyist.

“Not only will people will not be able to registered state or federal lobbyists, but when they leave government, they will be banned from being a registered lobbyist for five years,” Spicer said.

Fortune looks at the question of whether lobbyists can be part of a government reform designed to “drain the swamp.”

The most realistic reformers are those who know how the system works, and therefore how it can be changed.

If fundamental change is the goal, who better to effect it than those who know the system best? When lobbyists move from the private sector to the government, they do not necessarily bring with them the desire to advance the interests they championed in their previous roles.

Corporations have understood this principle for years. When they hire lawyers, they often hire those who have most effectively opposed their interests in the past, either as government lawyers working for agencies that regulate them or attorneys working for competitors. Lawyers are professionals who can be counted on to advance the interests of their clients, and they will use the same skills that allowed them to stymie a corporate interest in the past to now advance that interest in the service of their new employer.

Franklin Roosevelt had an astute understanding of the transformation that can overcome someone in the private sector when they are recruited to work in the public sector. Committed to imposing a new regulatory system on Wall Street that would better protect the average American, Roosevelt chose Joseph P. Kennedy (JFK’s father) to head the newly created Securities and Exchange Commission. Progressive reformers howled in protest, given Kennedy’s history of stock market manipulations, but Roosevelt simply replied, “Set a thief to catch a thief.” Roosevelt was right—Kennedy became a champion of the small investor, insisting on greater honesty and transparency in stock market practices.

I’d also note that most large scale building demolitions require architects as advisors.

Click here to see the full Transition Team Ethics Code.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is reportedly a candidate for Secretary of Energy, leading the department he forgot he wanted to abolish.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is reportedly being considered for a Cabinet position as President-elect Donald Trump‘s transition team seeks to solidify its list of candidates.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Perry is now being evaluated for a potential job as Energy Secretary.

During a presidential debate in 2011, Perry forgot the Energy Department as he tried to list the three agencies that he pledged to eliminate as president.

“It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: commerce, education, and the uh … what’s the third one, there? Let’s see… The third one. I can’t,” he said, adding “Oops.”

Congressman Tom Price (R-6) spent about an hour at Trump Tower yesterday, though he’s not talking about what he did there.

Price left Trump Tower roughly an hour after he arrived, according to the press pool.

He didn’t respond to reporters’ questions about whether he spoke to Trump or if he’s interested in joining the administration, and it’s been crickets from Price’s press shop about why he was there.

Back in Georgia, possible successors for Price’s 6th District congressional seat are already lining up. State Sens. John Albers and Brandon Beach are options, as is state Rep. Chuck Martin, former secretary of state Karen Handel and state Rep. Betty Price, the wife of the current congressman.

Price was also noted in a list of six members of Congress whom Donald Trump trusted back in June.

Whether at the helm of HHS or not, Price will be at the center of Republican efforts to address campaign promises about repealing Obamacare.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are growing confident that they can begin to repeal Obamacare once President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, along with a pledge to replace it later.

Republicans say repeal efforts will start in January. They are considering whether to swiftly repeal the biggest pieces of the law through a complex budget process called reconciliation that Democrats cannot block. If they go that route, Republicans would likely pass the repeal — but delay the effective date for a year or two until a replacement could theoretically be enacted. That would shield the GOP from an immediate backlash from taking away insurance. They are even considering passing the bill through Congress in early January so that Trump could have it on his desk within minutes of swearing the oath of office.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees have informally signed off on a plan to do both a 2017 and 2018 budget early in the Trump administration. That would give the GOP two opportunities to enact legislation that doesn’t allow a filibuster. (The House Budget chairman, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, is being considered for HHS secretary.)

At the same time, they expect the Trump administration to use its executive powers to immediately start to peel apart other pieces of the law. The Senate Republican Policy Committee on Wednesday circulated a document that said regulatory relief would come “on Day One” from the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“Most of those 20 million [who gained coverage under Obamacare] got bronze policies with a great big deductible and not much insurance, so I don’t know that there’s going to be a big backlash,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). “There are some minefields out there but we can deal with them.”


Taking a step back to that list of potential candidates in Price’s Sixth District, we’d note that would accelerate the exit of a number of senators and jumble committee chairmanships. Sen. Charlie Bethel, who has been appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals vacated the Chairmanship of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. If the dominoes fall the way suggested, the Chairs of Economic Development and Tourism (Beach) and State and Local Governmental Operations (Albers) would also become vacant.

Speaking of Judge Bethel, qualifying for his former Senate seat closed yesterday with no new qualifiers and three candidates for the December 13th election.

Georgia Republican electors have been receiving hundreds of emails asking them to cast their electoral votes for someone other than Donald Trump. From the AJC:

Petitions are circulating urging them to withhold their vote for the president-elect and back Hillary Clinton or another candidate instead. Leaflets handed out at anti-Trump protests include their names, addresses and contact information. Their phone lines and in-boxes are jammed with pleas to defy Trump.

Georgia’s 16 GOP electors are all but guaranteed to vote for Trump — each of the dozen reached by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week said they would support him — and their ranks are filled with the stalwart party activists who spend much of their free time fighting for Republican causes.

“I’m getting deluged,” said Michael McNeely, an elector who is also vice chairman of the Georgia GOP. “But for all the efforts of those sending those out, there’s no wavering at all. I’m fully supporting Donald Trump, and I’m not concerned any of us will flip.”

Some of the messaging borders on harassment. Linda Herren, a Republican national committeewoman said she’s starting to get irritated by the constant phone calls, texts and emails wanting her to be a “faithless elector” and cast her ballot for Clinton.

“Especially the phone call that came in at 6 a.m. yesterday,” she said.

Bobbie Frantz, a longtime DeKalb County GOP volunteer tapped as an elector, sounded a similar note. She said she received 177 emails through Tuesday morning — and probably an additional 30 while she was at lunch — all urging her to change her vote.

“They are trying to get us to vote for Hillary — or for anybody but Trump,” Frantz said. “But the people have spoken. Donald Trump is our president-elect. And I’ll be voting for what the people of Georgia want — Donald Trump.”

Georgia’s ports have a large economic impact as far inland as Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Port of Savannah and the autoport at Brunswick may be far enough away from Gwinnett County that they would seem like they have no local impact, but there are 25,144 people who would say otherwise.

That’s the number of full- and part-time jobs that Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griffith Lynch said exist in Gwinnett County because of the authority and the cargo that passes through the state’s ports and heads inland.

“(The Georgia Ports Authority) is not an asset that belongs to Savannah or Brunswick,” Lynch said. “It belongs to the entire state of Georgia.”

Gwinnett county Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said a Georgia Tech study shows Gwinnett will see the second largest inland impact from the Port of Savannah’s expansion behind Fulton County. She said Interstate 85 and Georgia Highway 316 are major freight corridors in the state.

“A lot of people don’t think of us as being a large distribution area, actually imports and exports, both directions, but it’s a huge deal for Gwinnett County,” she said. “Of course, it’s going to have an impact for the state as a whole, but we’re going to see concentrated impacts here in Gwinnett.”

The head of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce will visit Germany looking for prospective deals to bring jobs to northwest Georgia.

Much of the visit would be focused on the automotive sector to see if Hodge can generate any additional business for several automotive suppliers in the Rome area. It will also entail the recruitment of new suppliers, which could be related to VW in Tennessee, BMW in South Carolina or Mercedes- Benz in Alabama.

“Additionally we are working with various German-based prospective employers and we are going to participate in a German-contact program. A series of appointments have been scheduled, so we are following through on those opportunities,” Hodge said.

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) won a National Book Award.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, shared the prize for young people’s literature for a graphic novel about his civil rights activism.

No speaker moved the crowd more than Lewis, who collaborated with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell on a trilogy of illustrated works titled “March.” Cited Wednesday for the finale, “March: Book Three,” the 76-year-old Lewis became tearful as he remembered a librarian in his native Alabama who refused to let him borrow books because of his skin color. He then remembered an elementary school teacher who told him “Read, my child, read!”

“And I tried to read everything,” he said.

Happy birthday to the United States Army’s Third Infantry Division, “The Rock of the Marne,” which calls Georgia home.

That history was on display Tuesday evening during the Twilight Tattoo ceremony at Fort Stewart, where the 3rd ID Band sounded off to soldiers re-enacting each era of the division’s history in combat. One by one, soldiers walked across Cottrell Field dressed in uniforms from both world wars, the Vietnam, Korean and cold wars, Desert Storm and the War on Terror.

All told, the 3rd ID has suffered more than 35,000 wartime casualties and more than 50 of its soldiers have been awarded the Medal of Honor. In the past 13 years alone, more than 460 names representing soldiers killed in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have been added to Warriors Walk.

“The 3rd Infantry Division is celebrating 99 years of doing our part to keep America free, to keep this the greatest country in he world,” Maj. Gen. Jim Rainey, the 3rd ID’s commander, said at the ceremony. “I promise you that is not going to change any time in the future.”

A University of Georgia Environmental Engineering professor writes in the Athens Banner-Herald that the United States should lead the world in low-carbon and no-carbon energy production.

A key U.S. policy response to this global issue is EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which proposes to reduce power plant emissions by displacing coal with natural gas (which the power sector already is doing) and providing financial incentives for zero-carbon, intermittent solar and wind to the exclusion of zero-carbon, baseload nuclear.

However, this preference for solar and wind, which can’t substitute for nuclear, won’t prevent the scheduled closure of nuclear plants nor incentivize the development of additional nuclear capacity to sustain CO2 reductions over the long-term

This is where the United States should provide global leadership, through development of advanced zero-carbon and low-carbon technologies for deployment in the United States and abroad. Nuclear power and highly efficient combined-cycle natural gas plants offer near-term alternatives to coal in developing economies, whereas carbon capture and storage is needed for long-term management of CO2 in regions where fossil fuel consumption continues unabated. This would accommodate the necessary baseload for aggressive development of renewable energy, which by itself cannot scale up to meet the economic needs of billions.

U.S. industry is up to this challenge, but it needs a sensible investment climate in countries where financial risk is high, regulatory frameworks are complex, and governments are inefficient and often corrupt. To this end, U.S. policy should include high-level diplomatic strategies abroad and corporate tax reform in this country to stimulate investment in regions where advanced technologies are most needed and the business climate is perilous.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Water Coalition opposes more nuclear power in Georgia.

Georgia Power Co.’s studying whether to build a nuclear power plant on the Chattahoochee River in South Georgia drew harsh criticism in the Georgia Water Coalition’s sixth annual “Dirty Dozen” report released Wednesday.

The report says such a facility would further burden the river at the heart of the 26-year-old water wars between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

There are no simple answers in energy policy, which is part of what makes it such a fascinating topic.

Doug Collins states his vision for how the Republican Party should lead, on the occasion of his election to House leadership.

“As the blue wall crumbled, it reminded everyone that support for conservative principles is deep and wide,” Collins said in a news release. “Together, we will show the American people that ours is the party of compassion, freedom and fairness. Now, Republicans have a mandate to make room for hope and opportunity for all Americans, and it’s my honor to share in that responsibility.”

State legislators told the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce that job growth will remain a priority in 2017.

Republican State Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah 166) praised the state’s ranking of the number one place to do business – an honor the state has held since 2013 – as well as the accumulation of a $2 billion rainy day fund.

“… We now have a $2 billion rainy-day fund to prepare us for whatever the next strike is, maybe another recession, who knows, we’ve got to be responsible and we are pro-business, right to work conservative fiscal state and I’m very proud of that.” Petrea said.

Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah 164) said going forward it would be a learning process in terms of what to do in order to keep Georgia the number one place to do business.

“How do you improve on that? Do we add more incentives or consider the ones we’ve already got and throw some out, I’m just not sure,” he said.

State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) has dropped legislation for the 2017 session to ban the wearing of veils in driver’s license photos.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said the proposed legislation, House Bill 3, is the result of a recent conversation with constituents at a lecture on religious freedom.

“I was asked if people can wear a mask when getting a driver’s license,” he said Wednesday in a phone interview.

While he doesn’t know of anyone being issued a Georgia driver’s license wearing the traditional female Muslim garments, Spencer said there are no laws specifically prohibiting someone from demanding such a photo. He said a woman in another state demanded to wear a veil for her driver’s license photo. He wants to make sure the state doesn’t experience a similar issue.

“Our law just says a color photo is required on a driver’s license,” he said. “What is the point of a color photo identification if you can’t identify the person? Right now, Georgia law is unclear.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 16, 2016


Dawn is an adult female Foxhound & Coonhound Mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA Dalton, GA.

Dawn is a wonderful, friendly and super sweet girl. She is great with other dogs and loves her shelter buddies. She is a very well mannered girl. She weighs 38 pounds and is one and a half years old. Dawn is a Foxhound mix. Go to to apply for her.


Luci is an adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA Dalton, GA.

Luci is a beautiful labrador/hound blend. Luci’s mother was the finest of registered labradors that had a teenage fling with a handsome hound. Luci was the result and she is the total package!

This girl is the perfect adoption age. At two years old she is past the puppy chewing and is ready to settle down with her family. She is housebroken, knows commands and walks nicely on a leash.

Luci was raised with the finer things and life and came to us because her owner can no longer care for her. She doesn’t understand why she is with us and really needs to go to a wonderful home. Apply for Luci at or come visit her on Saturday at the shelter at 1703 Cleveland Highway.


Honey is a young female Rat Terrier & Chihuahua Mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA Dalton, GA.

Honey is close to a year old and weighs 16 pounds. She is leashed trained and house broken. She is great with other dogs and does well in public places. She is a super sweet girl and would be a great companion.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 16, 2016

The Georgia Trustees visited the first group of settlers on November 16, 1732, the day before they were scheduled to depart England for the New World.

On November 16, 1737, the Georgia Trustees learned that England’s King George II would send 300 soldiers, along with 150 wives and 130 children to the settlement in Georgia.

On November 16, 1864, Sherman left Atlanta in smoking ruins.

A 2010 Wired article argues that Sherman’s rampage through Georgia and the Carolinas changed modern warfare.

Vengeance aside, the real objective of Sherman’s march was to cut the Confederacy in two, cripple Southern industrial capacity, destroy the railroad system and compel an early Confederate surrender. It was also intended to break Southern morale — in Sherman’s words, to “make Georgia howl.”

Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood — as few of his contemporaries seemed to — that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.

It was no longer a question of independent armies meeting on remote battlefields to settle the issue. Civilians, who helped produce the means for waging modern war, would no longer be considered innocent noncombatants. Hitting the enemy where he ate and breaking him psychologically were just as important to victory as vanquishing his armies in the field.

Sherman grasped this and, though he wasn’t the first military proponent of total war, he was the first modern commander to deliberately strike at the enemy’s infrastructure. The scorched-earth tactics were effective. The fragile Southern economy collapsed, and a once-stout rebel army was irretrievably broken.

Meanwhile, the marshals of Europe watched Sherman’s progress with fascination. And they learned.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Smoke-induced breathing problems are sending more folks, yours truly among them, to seek medical care.

State health officials said Monday that significant increases in the number of emergency room visits for asthma occurred in the Dalton, Gainesville, Jasper and metro Atlanta areas last week, at a time when smoke from wildfires drifted over those areas.

Piedmont Healthcare told GHN on Monday that its hospital in Jasper, Piedmont Mountainside, said the average number of patients seen in its emergency department with respiratory issues (per day) increased by 8 percent from September to October. But then those visits jumped by more than 50 percent in the first 14 days of November, Piedmont officials said.

Paige Tolbert, chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, said Monday that its research has found that in the past, “on days when we have higher biomass burning, or wildfires, we do see increases in ER visits for respiratory outcomes.”

These conditions include bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. “It’s really a public health burden,’’ she said.

Qualifying continues today for the December 13, 2016 Special Election in Senate District 54 which includes Gordon, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties. Qualifying papers will be accepted until 5 PM tomorrow and again tomorrow from 8 AM to 2 PM. Three candidates have qualified already:

Chuck Payne, Republican, website:

Conda Lowery Goodson, Republican, website:

Debby Peppers, Non-partisan

The Dalton Daily Citizen has more on the Special Election:

Conda Lowery Goodson, former Whitfield County Republican Party chairman Chuck Payne and former Whitfield County commissioner Debby Peppers qualified in Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office in Atlanta.

[Senator Bethel] did not face opposition in the general election and defeated Goodson with 75 percent of the vote in the May Republican primary.

Early voting will begin on Nov. 28.

The League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area and The Daily Citizen will host a candidates forum for the individuals seeking the District 54 seat on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at Dalton City Hall. The public is invited. For more information, call Jackie Renfroe at (706) 278-8166 or Virgelia Meek at (706) 226-6774.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) was elected yesterday to the House leadership team, winning the position of Vice Chair of the House Conference over Texas Congressman Bill Flores.

Collins, who will succeed Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, said he ran to help expand the conference’s messaging and to ensure that members in both red and swing districts can communicate conservative ideas in a way that will resonate with their constituents.

“What we’re looking for is communication between our members — how they go to the floor, how we actually take the debate and the argument to the Democrats on the floor,” he said.

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr is in a runoff to retain his job.

As incumbent Sheriff John Darr defends his position against challenger Donna Tompkins, he will also have to defend against some extra firepower. Two key endorsements could give Darr some difficulty.

“I think the voters spoke loud and clear,” Tompkins said.

[On election day] 20% of Muscogee County voters selected Republican Mark LaJoye. 33% voted for Darr, an Independent. Tompkins took home 46% of the vote. Since no candidate garnered 50% plus one vote, the top two vote earners, in this case Tompkins and Darr, will compete in a runoff election December 6. Tompkins will have the support and endorsements from LaJoye and Robert Smith, a former candidate who was one of four candidates disqualified in March.

“We’ve shared a lot of the same vision all throughout the campaign,” LaJoye said.

December’s runoff will determine if Darr gets a third term or if change is coming to the sheriff’s office. Darr believes Tompkins’ endorsements won’t make a difference in the way he runs his campaign.

“It doesn’t impact me either way,” Darr said. “My job is to continue for the next three weeks to work as hard as I can, get out here and touch as many people in this community.”

Darr says despite the triple-headed challenge, he likes his chances in a runoff.

“Hopefully people will recognize the things we’re doing out here within the sheriff’s office and in the community making a difference,” Darr said.

Henry County Commission candidates June Wood and Carlotta Harrell are headed to a December 6 runoff.

Henry County’s final Nov. 8 General Election results on Monday have confirmed that the Henry County Board of Commissioner chair race will head to the Dec. 6 runoff.

Republican June Wood received just 97 votes more than Democrat Carlotta Harrell.

“I give God all the glory for all the people who have volunteered for this campaign,” said Wood. “As an outsider to politics, I’m humbled and appreciative of the support.”

Both candidates secured just under the 50 percent of votes required to win. Wood received 47,255 votes, or 49.39 percent, while Harrell received 49.28 percent.

The incoming Trump-Pence administration is looking to hire 4000 or more into policy positions.

Mr. Trump, who until now had no experience in the federal government, is under immense pressure to find 4,100 qualified people to lead it.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump chose as his chief of staff Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is a good friend of Mr. Pence and of Paul Ryan, the House speaker, and who has good relations with Congress.

The Partnership for Public Service, an advocacy group for effective government that has analyzed generations of good and bad transitions, and its Center for Presidential Transition have been working with Mr. Trump’s team. The transition team has hired some experienced transition leaders from the George W. Bush and Romney teams that the center recommended.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition team, is removing lobbyists from the effort.

Lobbyists are being purged from official roles in President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, sources told Fox News late Tuesday.

The move to get rid of lobbyists in key roles was one of the first decisions made by Vice President-elect Mike Pence in his role overseeing the construction of a Trump administration.

One source said the decision to remove the lobbyists “makes good on [Trump's] vision of how he wants his government constructed.”

A short time later a tweet appeared on Trump’s account: “Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”

Maybe they’ll institute an Apprentice-style tryout for finalists for senior positions.

Congressman Tom Price is being seriously considered for Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to

Rep. Tom Price is being considered for Donald Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services, two sources tell POLITICO.

“Tom Price has been loyal to Donald Trump from the outset and his knowledge of health care is second to none,” said a Republican source on the Hill close to the Trump campaign. “Him being in contention for HHS secretary makes perfect sense.”

The Georgia Republican, who chairs the House Budget Committee, was an early Trump supporter. He and several other House committee chairmen endorsed Trump in May. Price also campaigned with Trump at an Obamacare repeal rally a week before the election.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon, has been one of the GOP’s top voices on Obamacare repeal and other health care issues. He was one of the first Republicans to introduce an alternative to Obamacare when Democrats were debating health care reform in 2009 and 2010.

Randy Evans is being mentioned as a new Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The current front runners of the fledgling race: Matt Pinnell – the national party’s current liaison to state parties, David Bossie – an RNC member and served as Trump’s deputy campaign manager, Georgia RNC Committeeman Randy Evans, and Ronna Romney McDaniel – chair of the Michigan Republican Party and niece of Mitt Romney.

I have no doubt that Randy Evans would be a great RNC Chair, and that his ascent would bring an RNC meeting to Atlanta. But here’s a twist. Former DNC Chair and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is seeking the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

Both Randy Evans and Howard Dean work at the Dentons mega law firm, and it might present an uncomfortable situation to have both major party chairs at the same law firm. It would certainly play into the narratives spun by conspiracy theorists.

State Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) has been elected as the new State House Majority Whip.

“I am honored to have been voted by my colleagues to serve as House majority whip. I am thrilled to immediately get to work making sure our state stays on a path to greater prosperity and our majority caucus effectively represents the interests and values of our constituents,” Coomer said.

“Due to the steady hand of leadership we have enjoyed in the state House, we are already ahead of our neighboring states in our recovery. When the engine of the U.S. economy begins rolling once more, Georgia will be catapulted into even greater heights.”

As majority whip, Coomer will be responsible for monitoring legislation as it moves through both chambers of the General Assembly and helping the members of the Majority Caucus to better understand the details of bills and resolutions.

State Rep. Stacey Evans joined the Democratic house leadership, as she was elected Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Cobb County’s flip to Hillary Clinton continues to cause politicos to flap their gums wring their hands. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University and chair of the political science and international affairs department, said he was surprised by Clinton winning Cobb.

“We are accustomed to thinking of Cobb County as sort of Republican central in Georgia,” Swint said. “It’s been a very important county for Republican candidates running statewide to run up the vote in Cobb County. So yeah, it was surprising to see that Clinton actually carried Cobb.”

“You can’t deny that the nature of the two candidates in this campaign changed some voting calculations on the part of some Cobb County residents. They ordinarily would have voted for a more traditional Republican, say Marco Rubio. They weren’t comfortable voting for Donald Trump,” Swint said.

“A lot of those Rubio voters were not going to vote for Donald Trump, at least a significant percentage of them probably didn’t vote in that race — they may have skipped that part and gone to other races — or they just didn’t vote at all,” Swint said.

From the AJC:

Cobb hadn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential race since Georgia’s own Jimmy Carter swept the county in 1976 — and even he was defeated in Cobb four years later. It was the launching pad for the political careers of Newt Gingrich, Sam Olens and Johnny Isakson. And it’s long been one of the most reliable sources in Georgia for GOP cash, votes and volunteers.

Cobb GOP Chairwoman Rose Wing and other local party leaders cast it as a one-off, driven by Trump’s high unfavorable ratings, crude comments about women and a history of tepid support in the county, where his anti-establishment campaign didn’t play as well in a bastion of the state’s GOP establishment.

“As our Republican leaders implement common-sense, conservative solutions to get our nation back on track, we look forward to running on that record in four years,” said Cobb GOP Vice Chairman Justin Tomczak, who pointed to down-ticket wins in the county.

Republican state Sen. Hunter Hill held on to his seat despite getting shellacked in the Cobb part of his district. State Rep. Rich Golick’s 19-point win over a Democrat two years ago melted to a 6-point win over the same opponent this year. And state Rep. Sam Teasley’s margin of victory shrank from 25 points to 14 in the past two years.

“We need to be reaching out not only to the people who traditionally agree with us, but also those not inclined to support Republicans,” said Teasley of Marietta. “I don’t think Republicans have to compromise what they believe in to show we are concerned with the issues that they are concerned about.”

Stonecrest and South Fulton will form city governments after voters approved referenda last week.

About four years ago, DeKalb County resident Jason Lary noticed a trend:

“Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Peachtree Corners. Every city that branched off flourished. Flourished. And without raising taxes,” said Lary.

So in 2012, Lary, chairman of the Stonecrest YES Committee, launched a campaign with his neighbors to form the city of Stonecrest.

Stonecrest will be the fourth new city to form in DeKalb County in last decade, following Tucker, Brookhaven and Dunwoody.

Columbus City Council will ask the General Assembly for the opportunity to hold a referendum to bring casino gambling to the city.

By a 7-2 vote with Councilors Glenn Davis and Mike Baker opposed and Councilor Mimi Woodson absent, council approved asking the local legislative delegation to “introduce and/or support legislation to authorize a referendum to allow Georgia citizens to vote as to whether they want to allow casino gaming in Georgia for the purpose of Hope Scholarship funding.”

Council’s discussion followed five leaders in the black community who supported including the suggestion on the legislative agenda.

Local entrepreneur Robert Wright Jr. said Monday that he would like to see a $200-million casino go up in south Columbus. He and several other leaders came to Council on Tuesday to ask councilors to include the request on its legislative agenda.

Addressing councilors during the Public Agenda portion of the meeting, Wright was joined by attorneys Teddy Reese, Stacey Jackson and Katonga Wright, who is Wright’s niece, and Rev. Ralph Huling, pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Davis, one of two lone opposing votes, said he supports people’s right to vote on issues, but he said the councilors have not had a chance to adequately educate themselves on the issue.

“I think it’s premature to vote on this now,” Davis said.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s department received a grant from the USDOJ for housing illegal aliens who are accused of crimes.

County commissioners agreed to accept a $118,091 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, through its State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. The money will be split between the Sheriff’s Office and corrections department, who applied for the grant jointly.

It’s not a new thing. Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Boyd said the agencies jointly apply for the grant each year. It’s not a request from the federal government to house the undocumented residents either. It’s just the federal government paying the county back for assistance that’s been provided, according to Boyd.

“What this grant does is it reimburses local agencies a percentage of the cost of housing undocumented criminal aliens in the jail and at corrections,” he said.

Macon-Bibb County Commission voted to turn over parking management to the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority.

Chatham County voter turnout reached an all-time high of 73.1 percent last week with 113,551 ballots cast.

The Augusta Commission approved a nearly $790 million FY2017 budget that includes a cut of more than $700,000 from EMS services.


Brandon Phillips on South Georgia Support for Donald J. Trump

brandon-philips-headshotDonald Trump did a lot of things people didn’t expect last Tuesday. For starters, he won. Just as important, however, he did so with a path as non-traditional as his candidacy. For example, not too many pundits would have predicted Trump would outperform Mitt Romney with black and Hispanic voters, but that’s exactly what NBC News exit polls showed.

Among the Georgia pundit crowd, the big talk is Trump not carrying the traditional Republican stronghold of Cobb County, or it’s sister county, the demographically changing Gwinnett County. I can understand why Republicans are quick to fixate on this. Cobb County, after all, helped to send Georgia’s first Republican to the U.S. Senate for the first time since Reconstruction in Mack Mattingly during the Regan Revolution of 1980. It delivered 70 percent of its 99,000 votes in a race Mattingly carried statewide by only 27,000. Republicans have been on a roll ever since thanks to suburban counties like Cobb.

So how can Trump lose Cobb County, underperform in other traditional Republican suburbs, and still carry Georgia by a comfortable 231,000 vote margin? Simple. Rural Georgia showed up to vote overwhelmingly for Trump.

In South Georgia, for instance, Trump outperformed Senator David Perdue’s 2014 General Election margins in 46 counties, sometimes by as much at 9 points. He carried several rural counties with over 80 percent. With that kind of margin and breadth of support, even the small counties start to add up.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 15, 2016


Sassy is a small, young, 10-pound female Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Little Orphan Animals in Stockbridge, GA.

She has done well with other dogs and children; no experience with cats. She is housebroken (uses puppy pads but can easily be trained to go outdoors–supervised, of course).


Jewel is a young adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Praying For Paws Inc in McDonough, GA.


Molley is an adult female German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from K9 Angels (small dog rescue) in Stockbridge, GA.

Molley is a 9 year old very sweet German Shepherd……she is such a perfect girl. Molley deserves a loving family where she is well care for. The owners had to give her up due to health problems but almost killed her with treats so Molley is trying to lose some weight. She is house trained and great with other dogs. Please consider Molley for your family. For more information, contact Corinne at 770 957 1115.