The blog.

16
Feb

Busy week in the state House – Valdosta Daily Times: Local News

A number of bills easily passed the state House this past week, including three related to education Thursday.

The first of these bills, House Bill 91, would eliminate the Georgia High School Graduation Test as a requirement for graduation. The bill passed easily, 172-0, with three not voting and five excused.

Eight minutes later, the House passed HB 52, which involves custody fights between parents. The court ruling over the case would determine when a parenting plan would be submitted.

That passed 174-0, with one not voting and five excused.

Six minutes later, HB 65 was passed with a 170-1 vote.

via Busy week in the state House – Valdosta Daily Times: Local News.

16
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 16, 2015

On February 16, 1948, the United States Air Force renamed Robins Air Field to Robins Air Force Base. Robins AFB and the City of Warner Robins are named for Air Force General Augustine Warner Robins.

On February 14, 1958, Governor Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the Georgia legislature censuring President Dwight D. Eisenhower for ordering in the 101st Airborne Division and federalizing National Guard troops in Little Rock, Arkansas after Gov. Orval Faubus used the Guard to resist integration.

Fidel Castro was sworn-in as Prime Minister of Cuba on February 16, 1959.

On February 16, 1968, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representative Rankin Fite placed the first 911 call from Haleyville City Hall to Congressman Tom Bevill at the Haleyville police station.

Under the Gold Dome

The Georgia General Assembly is in adjournment today and will convene tomorrow for Legislative Day 16. Capitol Hill in Atlanta is closed today by Executive Order of Governor Deal, as are state offices in 15 counties in North Georgia.

The common refrain I’ve noted among critics of Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan for an Opportunity School District is that in many areas, intractable poverty underlies persistently “failing” schools. From an article from the Macon Telegraph responding to Gov. Deal’s proposal.

The main problem, [Tim Callahan, a spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators] said, is students who are so dramatically affected by poverty that they have “a raft of needs.”

Low-performing schools generally have many students who come from low-income families, Callahan said. And poor students often struggle academically, he said, because of recurring problems stemming from their quality of life — from health issues to their home environment.

“None of those struggles are going to be addressed by simply changing out the administrative structure of their school. The problem is a little more difficult, a little more expensive and a little more complicated that the governor and his folks would have us believe,” Callahan said.

“The governor speaks to three consistent years of schools failing. There’s a direct correlation to poverty,” added Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, Bibb County’s interim school superintendent.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes of apparently differing approaches to the Opportunity School District bill taken by the Senate and House Democratic caucuses.

Senate Democrats are waging open warfare on the proposal, which would give the state new powers to take over perennially failing schools. The chamber’s top Democratic leaders have loudly criticized the plan as an overreach and said more funding, and not new governance, is needed. They plan to issue a counter-proposal this week, and their caucus is trying to close ranks.

You probably won’t see the same tactics playing out in the House. Stacey Abrams, the chamber’s minority leader, is scheduled to attend Deal’s fact-finding trip to Louisiana later this month. She won’t take a firm stance on the measure, but said on GPB’s “Political Rewind” show that she’s got several burning questions.

The strategic divide between the chambers is a perennial concern for Democrats, whose leaders often don’t work in concert on major issues.

Democratic support is essential because Deal’s proposal is a constitutional amendment, requiring two-thirds approval by both chambers before it lands on the ballot in 2016. The GOP holds a commanding edge in the House and a supermajority in the Senate, but Deal will need to pick off Democrats in both chambers to make up for Republicans who bolt.

On Friday’s Political Rewind radio show on GPB, we heard from both House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, and Liz Flowers, who is a spokesperson for the Senate Democrats. You can click here to listen to the entire show.

2016 Presidential Race

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will appear at a fundraiser in Buckhead at 5 PM today. As of last night, the reception is still being held.

RandPaul Atlanta February 16v2

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp continues to get press coverage for his SEC Primary idea, this time from Fox News.

For the most part, the South has been an afterthought in the presidential nominating process. Primaries in this region have either taken place after the nominee has pretty much been established, or as part of a Super Tuesday that includes more significant states in areas far from Dixie.

“We weren’t having a voice in the process,” Kemp told Fox News. “I felt like a way to fix that would be to build this coalition in the South to really entice the candidates to come here and campaign and to give us a voice.”

The ‘coalition’ Kemp talks about is his neighbors in the Deep South: Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. His plan is to bring them all together for a Southern Super Tuesday on March 1, 2016.

Kemp needed only to give the word to set March 1 as Georgia’s primary. He has the sort of power many secretaries of state would envy. Tennessee passed a bill back in 2011 to set the first Tuesday in March as primary day, so the Volunteer State also is on board. And Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi are all moving legislation to join the drive for what Kemp has dubbed the “SEC Primary,” after the NCAA’s powerful Southeastern Conference.

SEC members Texas and Florida are already set for March 1primaries, though it’s expected both will move later in the month to take advantage of winner-take-all rules.

Kemp believes that a moderate candidate (read Chris Christie or Jeb Bush) could gain instant credibility with conservatives across the country by winning in the South. But some Republicans fear that a bloc of southern states all voting on the same day could help propel a candidate considered too far to the right to be elected nationwide.

Merle Black sees a distinct possibility for that to happen. “It could well be that some of the candidates – especially the more conservative candidates — could get a boost if they’re able to persuade voters in these Republican primaries that they are really viable presidential material,” he told Fox News.

Campaigns and Elections

Will McKeen FR

Will McKeen is a friend of mine and a fine candidate for Meriwether County Commission in the March 17th Special Election. I hope you’ll join me and other supporters at his fundraiser on Wednesday.

On Thursday, William is holding a Meet & Greet at the Court Square Cafe in Greenville, GA from Noon to 2 PM.

Hall County residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against SPLOST VII on March 17, 2015.

In Dawson County, March 17th will see elections on an E-LOST (Local Option Sales Tax for Education) and to fill a vacancy on Dawsonville City Council.

A special election will be held March 17th in the City of Ephesus, Georgia on March 17th, with early voting beginning February 23d.

Muscogee County will hold an E-SPLOST vote on March 17, 2015; the last day to register to vote in order to be eligible for the E-SPLOST election is tomorrow, March 17, 2015.

Talbot County will hold a referendum on package sales of beer, wine, and liquor on March 17, 2015.

Whitfield County will hold an election on a SPLOST for public safety funding on March 17, 2015.

Early voting starts February 23, 2015 in a City of Atlanta Bond Referendum to be held on March 17, 2015.

College Park will hold elections on a Freeport Tax Exemption, and for one City Council race on March 17, 2015.

The City of Carrollton is holding a Special Election on a Carrollton City Schools Bond Referendum on March 17, 2015.

Avondale Estates will elect a new Mayor on March 17, 2015. I’d vote for Paul Brown if I lived there. I may be biased as he’s a client, but you can check out his answers to a series of questions on Decaturish.com.

Sonny Pittman, Hap Harris and Sean Frantom are candidates for Augusta Commission District 7 in a March 17, 2015 Special Election.

16
Feb

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 16, 2015

Black Lab Barrow

“Blue” is a young male Lab mix who has lived peacefully with other dogs and children. His adoption fee and vetting are being paid and he’s ready to go home – all he needs is a forever family. Blue is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga.

Trooper

Trooper is an adult male Boxer, described by shelter volunteers as very sweet. Trooper is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga.

Nitro

Nitro is a 10 month old, 46-pound Hound dog, very friendly and available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga. Hounds are fine and beautiful dogs with great temperaments – if you’re looking for someone to run with, this might be the one for you.

15
Feb

Gov. Nathan Deal: Declares Emergency for North Georgia Counties

Your Georgia – Winter Weather – Desk

From Governor Nathan Deal

Georgia Seal

Deal declares emergency for North Georgia counties

Governor’s move opens up state resources for disaster preparedness in areas expecting ice

Acting on a recommendation from the state’s Emergency Operations Command, Gov. Nathan Deal this evening signed an executive order to declare a state of emergency for disaster preparedness for the 15 North Georgia counties under a winter storm warning and will ask state workers in affected areas who are not involved in emergency response to work from home.

“I am issuing this order out of an abundance of caution, so the state can make all preparations necessary to quickly and efficiently address any potential winter weather problems,” said Deal. “We will monitor the weather throughout the night and allocate state resources as needed should ice formation creep further south into the metro area.”

Deal has declared emergencies for Catoosa, Dade, Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union, Walker, White and Whitfield counties. The governor’s order notes that in these counties forecasts call for ice accumulation and moderately high wind gusts that could bring down tree limbs.

“I remain hopeful that the low pressure system will move northward, thus allowing warmer temperatures into our state,” Deal said. “With forecasts showing temperatures hovering around the freezing point, however, we have to work on the assumption that we’ll face icy conditions.”

Continue Reading..

13
Feb

GGC Day at the capitol launches 10th anniversary celebration | Gwinnett Daily Post

Gov. Sonny Perdue called it a “model for our university system” and a celebration in August, 2006 featured a ribbon-cutting, speeches from dignitaries and 107 students.

A fact Georgia Gwinnett College officials still boast was also repeated then: GGC is the state university system’s first new four-year college in 100 years. While the college experienced crowded classrooms in its early days, and in recent years a parking transition that irritated some students, it now counts about 10,800 students. Within two years, GGC plans to cap its enrollment at 13,000.

The school is the ninth-largest and fastest-growing institution in the state.

The school celebrated its achievements and growth on Thursday during an anniversary event under the Gold Dome. Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, and members of the Gwinnett Senate delegation, and Representative Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, along with the Gwinnett House delegation presented resolutions honoring Georgia Gwinnett College to GGC President Stas Preczewski.

via GGC Day at the capitol launches 10th anniversary celebration | Gwinnett Daily Post.

13
Feb

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 13, 2015

Candy Walton

Candy is a 2-month old Terrier mix, possibly a wirehaird Jack Russell Terrier who was dumped in someone’s yard in a crate. She is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA.

Onyx Walton

Onyx is a 1-year old Black Lab mix who was found stray and has such a great personality the shelter uses her to test other dogs friendliness. She is available for adoption beginning Monday from Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA.

Tracy Walton

Tracy is a friendly young 6-8 month old female Chocolate Lab who will available for adoption beginning Monday from Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA.

Dolly Walton

Dolly is a sweet 40-pound Cocker Spaniel mix who was found stray and is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA. She looks like a miniature Golden Retriever.

13
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 13, 2015

On February 13, 1941, Gov. Eugene Talmadge signed legislation that proposed a Constitutional Amendment changing the 2-year terms for Governor and other statewide Constitutional Officers to 4-year.

On February 13, 1956, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed legislation adopting a new state flag incorporating the Confederate battle flag.

On February 13, 2007, United States Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-Augusta) died at home.

Without question, the biggest news yesterday was that The Breakfast Club will play on the large screen again for its 30th anniversary on March 26 and March 31, 2015.

Under the Gold Dome

Renee 34side

Yesterday, the Georgia Senate passed Sen. Renee Unterman’s Senate Resolution 7 by a 53-3 margin and Senate Bill 8 by a 52-3 vote. The difference in the Yea votes was because Senator David Shafer presided over the second vote, and the presiding officer traditionally does not vote.Continue Reading..

13
Feb

VIDEO – Senate in a Minute: Day 15 with Sen. Mike Crane

Your Georgia Desk

From The Senate Press Office and Senator Mike Crane

Senate in a Minute: Day 15

Continue Reading..

12
Feb

Senators Isakson, Perdue: Support Ashton Carter for Secretary of Defense

Your Washington Desk

From Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue

senate

Senators Isakson, Perdue Support Ashton Carter for Secretary of Defense

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) today voted to confirm Dr. Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense. Carter was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 10, 2015, and was confirmed today by the full Senate in a 93-5 vote.

“America faces many diverse and complex challenges to our national security – from the serious threat posed by the Islamic State to the crisis in Ukraine to the security risks from Boko Haram – and we need a strong Secretary of Defense now more than ever,” said Senator Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “The next Secretary of Defense must honestly assess the military’s needs in order to successfully fulfill its mission to degrade and defeat ISIS. I am encouraged that Dr. Carter has shown independent judgment and a willingness not to be a rubber stamp for the White House as we continue our mission to combat terrorists around the globe. Additionally, I expect Dr. Carter to instill a culture of accountability at the Department of Defense that ensures our national security remains a top priority and guarantees our servicemen and women are prepared to successfully carry out their missions. At a time when we cannot afford to let Iran gain access to nuclear weapons or allow the further destabilization of Eastern Europe, it is imperative for us to ensure that the U.S. military remains the world’s premier fighting force.”

“In these challenging times, we need a Secretary of Defense who understands the importance of fiscal responsibility, while protecting our national security,” Senator Perdue said. “As Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Dr. Carter successfully implemented new technologies and resources needed to maintain our military readiness, while applying appropriate oversight to help save the Defense Department billions of dollars. Dr. Carter also understands that we cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weapon capabilities, and that the threat of terrorism is still very real. I am confident that Dr. Carter will continue to propel the Pentagon to work more efficiently and effectively, while protecting our long-term national security interests at home and around the world.”

12
Feb

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: On US Embassy Evacuation in Yemen

Your Washington – GA 3 – Desk

From Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

Lynn

 

Westmoreland on US Embassy Evacuation in Yemen

On Wednesday, the United States Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen was evacuated due to escalating Houthis violence in the region that was deemed unsafe for embassy personnel.  Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement.

“The evacuation of the U..S Embassy in Yemen shows that the Iranian-backed Houthis regime is aggressively and dangerously spreading throughout the Middle East,” stated Westmoreland. “The Houthis coup is a direct threat to the counterterrorism efforts of the US and potentially to our national security. Just this past September, President Obama was touting Yemen as one of his foreign policy success stories – showing the need for President Obama to get a tighter grasp on his foreign policy plans as the unrest in the Middle East evolves. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat terrorism in the Arabian Peninsula, and in addition, remain focused on eliminating ISIS.”

Continue Reading..