State Supreme Court Sides With Paulding On Airport Expansion Bond | WABE 90.1 FM

The state’s highest court Monday said a $3.6 million dollar bond to expand Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport’s taxiway is valid, the latest development in a legal battle over the airport’s expansion plans.

Paulding County last year approved the bonds to pay for a controversial airport expansion that would include commercial airline service.

Along with strong opposition from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines and the City of Atlanta, Paulding’s move prompted a suit from some county residents, who argued the bonds were unconstitutional.

In the suit, the residents raised issues of secrecy surrounding the bond validation. They also argued financing would wrongly benefit a private provider.

The court Monday dismissed those challenges, saying the validation and financing were sound.

via State Supreme Court Sides With Paulding On Airport Expansion Bond | WABE 90.1 FM.

The Marietta Daily Journal – Supreme Court allows surgical center at east Cobb WellStar

The Georgia Supreme Court gave WellStar Health System the green light on Monday to move ahead with building a new outpatient surgical center at its east Cobb health park on Roswell Road.

In a unanimous decision, the court decided against Northside Hospital, which opposed the surgical center because it covered the same area of patients as one owned by Northside.

The decision allows WellStar to finish out the $73 million health park, which covers 162,000-square-foot in east Cobb with an outpatient surgery center. The new health park will open in September, said Tyler Pearson, a spokesman for WellStar.

Northside Hospital appealed the decision all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court because it said the law that permits hospitals to apply for surgery centers was unconstitutionally vague.

In Georgia, any hospital proposing to build a new health care facility has to get a certificate of need from the Department of Community Health, said Jane Hansen, high court spokeswoman. WellStar needed one of these certificates to build the surgical center, but Northside opposed it.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Supreme Court allows surgical center at east Cobb WellStar.

Meet The Newest American Running Mate: The Rifle : It’s All Politics : NPR

This political primary season has seen an unprecedented use of guns to get votes. Republican hopefuls across the country are appearing in political ads firing guns and holding political events around firearms.

Texas state Sen. Donna Campbell won the Republican nomination in her party. In one of her ads, she’s seen firing a gun at a target as a narrator lauds her for reducing “the time it takes to obtain a concealed carry license, so more law-abiding Texans could exercise their constitutional rights to defend themselves.”

In another, candidate Matt Rosendale shoots a rifle at an imaginary government drone — though it did not help him snatch the nomination for a Montana congressional seat.

And in a now-classic ad, Will Brooke, a candidate for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District, sets up a 1-foot-thick copy of the Affordable Care Act for target practice. Then he starts blasting away.

Guns are powerful political symbols this year because the gun rights crowd is on high alert. After mass shootings in the past two years in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., they believe the Obama administration wants to come for their guns. Conservative candidates have piled on.

In Texas, GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — who ran for renomination and lost — had a poster with the phrase “Come and take it” superimposed on a rifle.

Even Wendy Davis, the liberal Democrat running for governor of Texas, had to come out and say she’s for open carry of handguns

“Candidates respond to public opinion, and when that’s one of the questions they get asked a lot — ‘Where do you stand on the Second Amendment?’ — then they’re gonna tend to get the point that not only are guns not a liability, but they actually can be a plus,” says Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

via Meet The Newest American Running Mate: The Rifle : It’s All Politics : NPR

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for July 1, 2014

Morgan

Morgan is a chubby little male mixed breed puppy, about 6 weeks old and weighing 5 pounds.

He was found alone in a park and turned in as a stray. He is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter.
Lexi

Lexi is a female mixed breed, possibly with some Chihuahua, who is ten months old and weighs twelve pounds. She is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter.
OnyxJetJasper

Onyx, Jet, and Jasper are mixed breed brothers, about three months old, weighing eight pounds each. They will be available for adoption separately beginning July 3, 2013, from Walton County Animal Shelter.

Fourth July Dogs

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 1, 2014

The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on July 1, 1776 to debate a resolution by Richard Henry Lee that the colonies declare their independence of Britain.

The first U.S. Postage stamps were issued on July 1, 1847 in New York City.

The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders charged San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War on July 1, 1898.

Coca-Cola marketed its current formula for the first time on July 1, 1916.

On July 1, 1956, a new Georgia flag bearing the state seal and a version of the Confederate Battle Flag became effective after being adopted by the Georgia General Assembly in the 1956 Session.

The current Georgia Constitution became effective on July 1, 1983 after its approval in a referendum during the November 1982 General Election.

Georgia native Clarence Thomas was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush on July 1, 1991.

#HobbyLobby

In case you were in a cave yesterday, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Click here for the 95-page opinion in all its glory or disgrace, depending on your opinion. For a plain English explanation, we go to SCOTUSblog.com:

regulations issued under the Affordable Care Act require employers to provide their female employees with health insurance that includes no-cost access to twenty different kinds of contraceptives.  The families that own Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are deeply religious and do not want to make four of those twenty kinds of birth control – IUDs and the “morning after” pill — available to their female employees because they believe that it would make them complicit in abortion.  Today the Court agreed that they don’t have to.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is a federal law that prohibits the government from imposing a substantial burden on someone’s ability to practice his religion unless that burden advances an important government interest and does so in the least restrictive way possible.  The Court started by considering and rejecting the federal government’s argument that, because they are for-profit corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga could not even rely on RFRA to challenge the mandate.  That contention, the Court observed, would require the companies to choose between two unpalatable options:  “either give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits, available to their competitors, of operating as corporations.”

Because the Court agreed with Hobby Lobby and Conestoga that the contraception mandate imposes a substantial burden on their ability to exercise their religious beliefs, RFRA then required it to assess whether the mandate furthered an important government interest and does so in the least restrictive way possible.

The Court’s opinion made clear that today’s decision was a relatively narrow one.  It does not mean, the Court clarified, that an employer can automatically avoid paying for a particular kind of insurance coverage just because it has religious objections to it.  Thus, for example, the Court explained, employers might still be required to provide coverage for vaccinations – an example that came up at oral argument – even if their religious beliefs might dictate otherwise, because of the need to prevent the spread of contagious and deadly diseases.  Nor, the Court took pains to add, does the decision provide cover for employers to rely on religion to discriminate on the basis of race.

A number of disappointed liberals took out their angst against the Twitter account of SCOTUSblog.

It turns out that there is a disconcertingly large number of angry social media users who think our Supreme Court justices are the ones at the helm of SCOTUSblog, rather than a few nerdy lawyers who are more excited about judg[]ment days at the court than most. Instead of letting all this rage go to waste, though, Tom Goldstein, publisher of SCOTUSblog, decided to hold these misguided souls accountable by sharing the confusion with the SCOTUSblog Twitter account’s followers, and adding a bit of commentary. (Brevity is the soul of trolling.)

The first reaction email we received from a Georgia politican came from Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens:

“Religious liberty is a fundamental principle upon which our nation was founded. I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding this bedrock freedom, and I am proud to have joined an amicus brief supporting Hobby Lobby before the Court.”

Congressman Jack Kingston, the leading Republican candidate for United States Senate chimed in as well:

This is yet another reason why Obamacare should be repealed – it is unworkable. I am glad the court recognized private companies should not be forced to violate their religious convictions. Religious liberty is a bedrock principle of the United States and should be defended fiercely by those elected to uphold the Constitution.”

Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, offered this analysis:

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Supreme Court held in a five-to-four decision that closely held for-profit corporations can bring claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), and that the HHS mandate violated these corporations’ rights under RFRA by requiring them to provide contraceptives which they believe end human life.  In so ruling, the Court very logically concludes that for-profit corporations can exercise religion and serve as vehicles for religious practice just like individuals and non-profit entities.

The other Supreme Court

Georgia’s Supreme Court has also issued several decisions. SCOGblog.com provides extensive coverage of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

WellStar Health System won an appeal by rival Northside Hospital.

The Georgia Supreme Court gave WellStar Health System the green light on Monday to move ahead with building a new outpatient surgical center at its east Cobb health park on Roswell Road.
In a unanimous decision, the court decided against Northside Hospital, which opposed the surgical center because it covered the same area of patients as one owned by Northside.
The decision allows WellStar to finish out the $73 million health park, which covers 162,000-square-foot in east Cobb with an outpatient surgery center. The new health park will open in September, said Tyler Pearson, a spokesman for WellStar.
Northside Hospital appealed the decision all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court because it said the law that permits hospitals to apply for surgery centers was unconstitutionally vague.

Also winning was the Paulding County government, which received a go-ahead to issue $3.6 million in bonds to finance airport expansion that may bring commercial service to Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport.

The state’s highest court Monday said a $3.6 million dollar bond to expand Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport’s taxiway is valid, the latest development in a legal battle over the airport’s expansion plans.

Paulding County last year approved the bonds to pay for a controversial airport expansion that would include commercial airline service.

Along with strong opposition from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines and the City of Atlanta, Paulding’s move prompted a suit from some county residents, who argued the bonds were unconstitutional.

In the suit, the residents raised issues of secrecy surrounding the bond validation. They also argued financing would wrongly benefit a private provider.

The court Monday dismissed those challenges, saying the validation and financing were sound.

The State Supremes rejected a claim by voters asking to remove a member of the Baker County Board of Education.

In a unanimous decision Monday, the state’s justices determined that the Superior Court judge was correct in dismissing a challenge by Nettie Lilly and Janet Anderson, who wanted Baker County School Board member Sharon Heard removed from office.

The two women, who appealed the local court’s decision to the state high court, contended that Heard did not meet residency requirements when she ran for and won the School Board post in 2012, amending the complaint to argue that Heard did not reside within the district she represented.

Heard, who offered rebuttal that she had been a resident of Baker County since early 2011, had argued that the Superior Court should dismiss the complaint because it had already been brought up by another county resident, Mendell Cowart. In that pre-election complaint, the Baker County Elections Board ruled she was eligible to run. She also moved to dismiss on the ground that the case was moot when Lilly and Anderson filed their complaint after she already was serving on the board.

The Superior Court dismissed the case on the issues and claims.

The Supreme Court found that the Elections Board acted as a court of competent jurisdiction in the case and that the appellants’ claim was the same claim Cowart had made, which was based on voter registration records that showed Heard was registered to vote in Thomas County June 2007-April 30, 2012. Cowart did not appeal the Elections Board decision.

The State Supreme Court also held that a computerized license reader could provide probably cause for a traffic stop.

At issue was whether a license plate reader can produce probable cause for a traffic stop, in this case involing a Norcross Police office on Aug. 18, 2010. Known as LPRs, the systems are cameras mounted on squad cars that capture images of passing license plates, instantly checking them against statewide databases of outstanding arrest warrants.

On the day in question, the plate for a white Chevrolet Impala returned an active warrant for Enrique Sanchez, now 26 years old, for failure to appear in court on traffic citations he’d received while driving the car. The officer stopped the car and radioed for backup.

Defense attorney Eric Crawford contended in briefs that there was no proper justification for his client being stopped in the first place.<

The majority opinion added that the trial court made the right decision to deny Rodriguez’s motion to suppress the evidence of marijuana when the case goes to trial. Rodriguez herself conceded the officer had reason to stop her car and determine whether Sanchez was in it. Only four minutes into the stop, the officer discovered the outstanding warrant on Williams.

In a partial dissent, Justices Robert Benham and Carol Hunstein wrote, in part, “with this ruling, we have given police the authority to detain persons who are lawfully operating their vehicles for being associated with persons who have outstanding warrants, for failing to make eye contact and for using air freshener in their vehicles, none of which is criminal conduct.”

The officer, “could have easily completed his investigation of the Sanchez warrant with a simple search of his computer or a call to dispatch and without exiting his vehicle.”

Searching the Department of Corrections database would have found that Sanchez was in prison and not at-large, the dissent added. That’s when the encouter should have ended.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter, who represented the state, said in briefs filed with the case that the, “use of automated license plate readers in assisting law enforcement to visually check license plates has consistently been deemed lawful for Fourth Amendment purposes,” added that there is no expectation of privacy for a license plate that is in plain view.

The Court limited the obligation of a public school teacher to report suspected sexual abuse.

Kristin Lynn May, who taught at River Ridge High School in Woodstock, was arrested in 2011 after not informing police that a student had sex with paraprofessional and wrestling coach Robert Leslie Morrow.

According to information presented in court, the student was 16 at the end of the fall 2010 semester, when she transferred from River Ridge to Roswell High School. During winter break, she began her relationship with Morrow.

In January 2011, the student attended a basketball game at River Ridge, where she told May about the relationship. May did not report the student’s claim to school administrators or the police.

The student reported Morrow to Woodstock Police in July 2011, and both Morrow and May were arrested.

May was charged with failure to report sexual abuse. She challenged the indictment, saying that because the student did not attend River Ridge when May learned about the relationship, May was under no obligation to report it to her supervisor.

“By the time May learned of the sexual abuse, (the student) was no longer her student, no longer was enrolled in the school at which May taught, and no longer was enrolled at any school in the same school system,” the opinion says. “Accordingly, May had no legal obligation to report the sexual abuse, and the trial court erred when it sustained the accusation.”

Erratum

The next meeting of the Jackson County Republican Party at which the GAGOP Veterans Committee will formally present a sports wheelchair they have purchased for a disabled veteran is being held on Satuday, July 12, 2014, not this coming Saturday.

Special guests are Lt Governor Casey Cagle, SFC Carl Morgan and SGT Charles “Buddy” Mays. The meeting will begin at 7:30am and end at 9:15am. It is held at the Jefferson Club House 302 Longview Drive, Jefferson, Georgia. Chicken/Sausage Biscuits, Coffee and Water are donated by State Reps Regina Quick and Tommy Benton.

Kingston takes military tour of Georgia

Yesterday, Jack Kingston took a press tour of Georgia, starting at Dobbins in Marietta, and moving to Warner Robins and Columbus, both homes to major military installations. At Dobbins, Kingston said he would seek a seat on the Senate Armed Service Committee.

Among his priorities, Kingston said, would be the next round of military base reductions and closings – “an issue that will always be out there.”

“Part of what we need to do is make sure we’re always looking for new missions – what else can be done on that base to expand it? What kind of military needs do they have?” Kingston said.

It came as no surprise, given that the aircraft are stationed at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, within his congressional district, but Kingston said he would be a Senate advocate for the A-10 Warthog – a ground-troop support aircraft currently on the chopping block as a cost-cutting measure.

From WMGT-TV in Macon/Warner Robins:

“I’m leaving what would be a safe re-election in the house to enter a political street brawl to earn the right to fight for change in the United States of America,” he said.
“I have devoted my congressional career to make sure that our military is well trained and well equipped. I don’t want them to ever have to fight a fair fight. I want them to go into any conflict with the outcome certain,” Kingston said.
“My seniority in the house goes with me to the United States senate,” Kingston said.

“I believe with experience and being involved with military type issues, that it’s very important to the state of Georgia and national security,” Kingston said.

“I don’t just talk about that when I’m in Warner Robins, I talk about it everywhere I go. My opponent never talks about national defense. It’s number one on my platform,” Kingston said.

From WTVM in Columbus:

He met with local leaders at the National Infantry Museum to talk about maintaining a strong national defense and fighting for Fort Benning– which is a huge economic boost for Columbus and the state of Georgia.

It’s all part of the Kingston’s American Renewal Tour.

“In terms of knowing the military and working on military policy and serving on the defense committee, and making it my number one committee assignment, I am the one who’s going to best represent Fort Benning and the surrounding area,” Kingston said.

Allmans advanced racial equality

A story from Georgia Public Broadcasting makes the case that the Allman Brothers Band helped make strides toward racial equality.

The Allman Brothers Band was one of the most influential southern rock bands of the 1970s, and their legacy has left a lasting impression on the South, where they were a force for racial integration.
So writes Galadrielle Allman in her new book “Please Be With Me: A Song For my Father, Duane Allman.” She was just 2-years-old when her guitarist father died in a motorcycle accident in 1972.

“In some ways, the Allman Brothers attaining success with a black man in the band, the fact that they were named brothers and that they all treated each other and felt deeply that they were family, really shifted the conversation,” she said.
Jaimoe Johnson, who is African American, played drums in the otherwise all-white band.
“They actually often had to sign race riders when they would play at different clubs in the South, when they had to basically admit that there was a black man in the band, and they would take responsibility for his behavior should anything happen,” Allman said.

Will Bozarth make the ballot?

Former Common Cause Executive Director Bill Bozarth turned in more than 2200 signatures toward a goal of 1776 to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for State House District 54, formerly held by Ed Lindsey.

The petitions were gathered over a six-month period and involved the efforts of more than 40 volunteers who served as petition circulators for the campaign. More than 2,200 signatures were in the package, well beyond the required number of 1,776, the official target given to the Bozarth campaign by the secretary of state’s office late in 2013.
Bozarth said his volunteer force and his core group who helped contacting voters, as well as tracking and monitoring the signature gathering process, which by law must be conducted between Jan. 9 and July 8.
“This is a very daunting process, and I now understand why few independent and third party candidates ever make it to the ballot in Georgia,” he said. “However, we have been very careful to abide by all the rules, and I am quite confident that we will soon receive the news that our signatures are more than sufficient to get us on the ballot.”

Lora Hawk, Bozarth’s campaign spokeswoman, said it could take “a few weeks” for the board to rule on Bozarth’s candidacy.

If it were me, I wouldn’t be confident that 2200 is enough signatures. My general rule of thumb is to get at least 50% more signatures than required.

Clayton commissioners to vote on MARTA | www.myajc.com

Clayton County commissioners will vote Tuesday whether to put a MARTA referendum on the ballot in November — a potentially history-making decision that could move MARTA beyond Fulton and DeKalb counties for the first time in its existence.

Most commissioners are leaning toward a yes vote, since a majority of citizens who have provided feedback support the expansion.

“I think there’s some opposition, but we still probably can get it passed,” said Commission Chairman Jeff Turner said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a unanimous vote. At a minimum it will be a 3-2 vote.”

via Clayton commissioners to vote on MARTA | www.myajc.com.

Georgia Elections: Early voting starts Monday for primary runoffs | www.ajc.com

Early voting gets underway Monday for Georgia’s July 22 primary runoff, with key congressional, state and local races still up for grabs. Here’s a reminder about how the state’s runoff system works and where you can find a place to vote. Don’t forget, winners move on to the Nov. 4 general election:

No do-overs

Because the state conducts an “open” primary, voters last month were able to pick their choice of ballots regardless of any political affiliation. Not so for the July 22 runoff. As a voter, you must stick with the party ballot you chose for the main primary May 20. (In other words, you can’t cast a Democratic ballot in the main primary and then vote in a Republican runoff.) Important: If you did not vote in the primary, you may still cast a ballot in the runoff. And you can pick the party ballot of your choice.

via Georgia Elections: Early voting starts Monday for primary runoffs | www.ajc.com.

Mayors of Atlanta and New Orleans: Uber Will Beat the Taxi Industry – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic

The car service Uber is fighting in cities all over America to end the regulatory capture enjoyed by the taxicab industry. According to the mayors of Atlanta and New Orleans, they’re going to win–but not before there’s a long, intense fight about regulations.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed put it this way:

I think they’re going to fight a 15 round fight, and I think that Uber’s going to win. And the taxicab industry is going to have to change and get more flexible.

But in the interim, they’re going to flat out fight it out, and mayors are going to be in the middle of it, because the taxicab industry is so old and staid and never had real competition, and now it’s being forced to innovate.

Uber has a real challenge. Uber has to maintain the level of quality that made Uber the brand it is today. And I think that at this point in the life cycle of that business, and that space, they haven’t had time to go out there and do 5 years and 7 years and 8 years to see, is your Uber experience the same. Because I had one the other day that was pretty close to a cab. So they’re going to have to fight that out. I know that I’m going to get a mean letter, Uber.

I love you.

via Mayors of Atlanta and New Orleans: Uber Will Beat the Taxi Industry – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic.

Georgia Regents to vote on same-sex marriage retirement benefits | www.ajc.com

The state Board of Regents will consider Monday whether to recognize same-sex marriages for participants in a University System retirement plan.

The vote, scheduled for a Monday meeting, would amend the Optional Retirement Plan to comply with federal tax rules. After a Supreme Court decision last year overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the IRS issued new rules requiring recognition same-sex marriages in some qualified retirement plans.

via Georgia Regents to vote on same-sex marriage retirement benefits | www.ajc.com.

Nathan Deal on economy: ‘There are areas we can improve’ | Political Insider blog

The rankings that put Georgia as the top state to do business are likely to play an even greater role in Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election campaign. But he said he won’t be presenting the state’s economy as a perfect package.

The governor said in an interview that two clear signs his economic policies are working are an unemployment rate that’s dropped and a rainy day fund that has swelled since he took office in 2011. But he concedes there’s a ways to go on other metrics, such as graduation rates and poverty levels.

“We know there are areas we can improve,” Deal said. “And many of the categories we rank low in are greatly accelerated by my interest in job creation. One of the best ways to eliminate poverty is to have someone in a great job.”

via Nathan Deal on economy: ‘There are areas we can improve’ | Political Insider blog.

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