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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 12, 2014

On March 12, 1739, James Oglethorpe, recognized as the Founder of Georgia, wrote the Georgia Trustees, urging them to continue the ban on slavery in the new colony.

Juliette Gordon Low held the first meeting of the Girl Guides, which would later be renamed the Girl Scouts, in her home in Savannah, Georgia on March 12, 1912.

Gianni Agnelli was born on March 12, 1921 in Turin, Italy, and would come to be the wealthiest man in Italy, head and principal shareholder of Fiat, and recognized as an Italian Senator for Life in 1991. Among those who follow fashion, Agnelli has long been recognized as an archetype of the Italian approach to menswear.

His style was about more than clothes—it was an attitude, a philosophical response to absurdity. Watching him could tell you how to live, how to behave. In Italy, they call it sprezzatura, making the difficult look easy. Americans are gonzo, a spirit personified by Hunter S. Thompson, who defined it as a man who learns to fly by falling out of a plane. Agnelli might look gonzo—especially on nights when he showed up in boots and an ill-fitting tie—but was, in fact, sprezzatura; he knew how to fly all along. “When he was not perfectly dressed, it was contrived,” says Taki Theodoracopulos, the writer, columnist, socialite and son of a Greek shipping tycoon. Taki is one of the few surviving members of Agnelli’s social circle. “The tie askew, the unbuttoned shirt—nothing was an accident. Or, to put it another way, it was meant to be an accident, which made it even more stylish.”

Clarence Thomas, originally from Pin Point, Georgia, was sworn in to the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on March 12, 1990.

R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves slugger Dale Murphy.

Under the Gold Dome Today


8:00 AM FINANCE – Subcommittee- CANCELLED 125 CAP


HB 702: State government; placement of monument on Capitol grounds; provide (SI&P – 56th) (Morris – 156th)

HB 763: Georgia Military College; legislative intent language regarding certain postsecondary study beyond second year level; revise (H Ed – 25th) (Epps – 144th)

HB 904: Natural resources, Dept. of; persons not aggrieved by listings on hazardous site inventory that occur after a certain date; establish (NR&E – 20th) (McCall – 33rd)

HB 933: Sales and use tax; regarding sale or use of certain property used in maintenance or repair of certain aircraft; remove sunset exemption (FIN – 54th) (Atwood – 179th)

HB 958: Revenue and taxation; state income tax credit for qualified entertainment production companies; change certain provisions (FIN – 8th) (Nimmer – 178th)

HB 1080: State government; Capitol grounds; provide for placement of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (SI&P – 44th) (Smyre – 135th)

Two bills will be interesting on the floor of the Senate today. HB 702 would place a monument on the State Capitol grounds with the Ten Commandments, the Preamble to the state Constitution, and Preamble to the United States Constitution. Be prepared to recite the Ten Commandments, in order, if you sponsored this bill. You will be awarded 2 points for each Commandment in correct order and one point for each Commandment correctly stated but out of order. Two points will deducted for each omission.

House Bill 1080 concerns placing a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Capitol Grounds. Esthetically, my favorite monument to Dr. King is the large steel sheet with a cutout of Dr. King speaking called “Homage to King,” that is located at the corner of Boulevard and Freedom Parkway.

In the Health & Human Services Committee today at 2:00 PM in CAP-450, the Medical Cannabis bill, HB 885 will be heard. I predict that it will pass out of the Committee by Substitute.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 397, Ava’s Law, which passed the Senate unanimously, has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee and has not yet been scheduled to be heard in Committee. Where is the weeping and gnashing of teeth from WSB and the rest of the liberal media? Maybe it’s only fun for them to try to help children when they get to trash Republican legislators.



9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP
9:00 AM JUDICIARY (CIVIL) Jacobs Subcommittee(two) 406 CLOB
3:00 PM Welch Subcommittee of Juvenile Justice 406 CLOB
3:30 PM Atwood Subcommittee of Juvenile Justice 406 CLOB


Open Rule

SR 746 State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias; express support (HumR-Cooper-43rd) Unterman-45th

SR 828 Joint Study Committee on Emergency Relocation of Abused Adults; create (HumR-Benton-31st) Unterman-45th

Modified Open Rule

HR 1601 House Georgia-Based Film and Post-Production Study Committee; create (Substitute)(ED&T-Stephens-164th)

SB 235 Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; change the definition of the term “firefighter”; creditable service (Ret-Weldon-3rd) Albers-56th

Modified Structured Rule

SB 299 Natural Resources; provide flexibility for establishing watershed protection standards (NR&E-Tanner-9th) Gooch-51st

SR 868 Public Property; granting of restrictive and nonexclusive easements for operation/maintenance of facilities, utilities 12 counties (SProp-Dunahoo-30th) Albers-56th

SR 941 Congress; urge to grow United States economy; increase the number of visas; permit Korean citizens possessing skills in a specialty occupation (ED&T-Wilkinson-52nd) Shafer-48th



No Common Ground on Common Core?

Today at noon, Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick) will hold a Press Conference to discuss SB 167, which he authored and presented in the state Senate.

“I have communicated with committee members, Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia and American Principles in Action (APIA) that I cannot support this House substitute circulated out on Monday and Tuesday because it does nothing to stop our State from continuing its involvement in the national standards movement,” stated Sen. Ligon. “I will discuss my reasons for withdrawing support during the press conference and will provide the opportunity for these and other organizations to share their views about the new substitute language.”

Martha Dalton with WABE has more on Senate Bill 167:

Ligon and the bill’s other supporters said the standards are a federal intrusion. The Common Core standards were developed by a consortium of states. However, they were tied to federal Race to the Top grant money, which some conservatives saw as a federal overreach.

But Barge was just one of the bill’s critics. Teachers, superintendents, businesses, and military members bombarded the committee with support for the Common Core.

The amended version of the bill [to which Ligon objects] still establishes a review council. But it relaxes some other restrictions on developing standards, adopting assessments, and collecting and using student data.

In a press release Tuesday, Ligon said he can’t support the bill because “it does nothing to stop our State from continuing its involvement in the national standards movement.”

Cotton Colton at the Times-Georgian in Carrollton, writes about what local educators say the bill would do to their system.

A decision on a controversial Senate bill that may be held Wednesday could put a local school system in a curriculum “purgatory,” its superintendent said Monday.

Carrollton City Schools superintendent Dr. Kent Edwards said the city system and its board of education is “very supportive” of the national set of standards, which has drawn opposition from tea party activists, who call the curriculum a federal intrusion into state control of public education.

But rather than the abrupt pulling of the state out of the standards, the legislation authored by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) would put into the law the review Gov. Nathan Deal ordered of Common Core last summer.

“And how long would that process take?” Edwards said. “That could place us in a bind on what we will be teaching our students next school year. We have to be strategic in finding the right targets and teaching up to them, and this will put us in a kind of purgatory.”

“Our teachers have changed curricula several times in the past six years based on state decisions,” [Carroll County Schools superintendent Scott] Cowart said. “We just hope this legislation won’t put a strain on our teachers, forcing them to become familiar with yet another set of standards.”

Meanwhile, conservatives blasted the Common Core standards:

Angela Bean, a researcher and member of The Madison Forum, submitted, “My analysis finds that neither of these bills will stop data collection or the sharing of personally identifiable student information with other government agencies or “education institutions” doing business within our state.”

[Educational Freedom Coalition] spokesman, Rob Cunningham, added, “We believe local school control and parent-teacher freedoms will never be possible as long as any copyrights to our school’s standards, curricula, or testing methods are owned by organizations outside of the United States.” He added, “I ask every politician in Georgia, two simple questions: “Who wrote, and who owns the global copyrights to the Common Core Standards?” Cunningham concluded his remarks with, “The inability or unwillingness of supporters of SB167 and HB897 to answer these fundamental questions should be revealing — and infuriate every Georgian. We believe that if either of these bills pass, parents might think they can contact their local school board officials with Common Core concerns. But local school boards will not have the authority to change these copyrighted standards or tests.”

No Campus Carry for You

Campus Carry provisions in this year’s gun bill, HB 875, have been stripped out.

The original proposal approved by House lawmakers is now being considered by the Senate. It would have made carrying a gun on campus a civil violation punishable by a maximum $100 fine rather than a crime. University and college officials in Georgia have strongly opposed weakening prohibitions on weapons, including a failed plan last year that would have let students with a state-issued license to carry to bring their weapons onto campus.

Powell said trying to overcome opposition from the University System of Georgia would have been difficult.

“They are a fourth branch of government,” he said. “They carry an enormous amount of influence.”

The changes reflect delicate gun politics for Republican lawmakers in Georgia. GOP politicians in the House of Representatives have been more hawkish about expanding the places where people can legally carry guns, though their GOP colleagues in the state Senate have historically been more cautious. Republicans in the Senate have a strong incentive to avoid voting against firearms legislation since it alienates gun-rights supporters in the GOP.

Instead of voting against gun bills, Republican senators have typically rewritten more sweeping firearms legislation from the House so it would ultimately make few or no major changes.

But Powell’s move increases the pressure on the Senate. He put much of his original plan into a different bill already approved by his Senate colleagues. He’s trying to force an up-or-down vote on the gun bill, making it tougher for his opponents in the Senate to rewrite it in committee.

“There’s no running and no hiding anymore,” Powell said.

Senate Bill 98 voted out of House Committee


Campaigns and Elections

Dave Catanese with U.S. News & World Reports writes that changes to the Republican National Committee rules made in 2012 to protect the Romney campaign from a runaway nomination process may lead to a brokered convention in 2016.

[A] third overlooked change … could potentially have the biggest, most dramatic effect on the 2016 primary fight and some RNC members believe it could render irrelevant the concerted, well-laid efforts to shorten the nomination contest.

Officially, it’s Rule 40 in the RNC handbook and it states that any candidate for president “shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states” before their name is presented for nomination at the national convention.

In a scenario with a commanding front-runner, this doesn’t seem like a high threshold to cross. But with the absence of an heir apparent standard-bearer and the most wide open nomination battle in decades looming, some RNC members think Rule 40 could crack open the door to the possibility of a convention floor fight. The theory: If no one candidate has secured eight states, it invites a free-for-all without a reason to get out. Conversely, if multiple candidates garner eight victories and accrue hundreds of delegates, each could claim a right to soldier on.  For instance, it isn’t inconceivable to think that Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., could dominate the Northeast, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. performing well in the South and Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc,, racking up victories in the Midwest.

A delegate driven process would force candidates to devote significant time to a smaller group of party elites around the entire country rather than spending a disproportionate amount of time in a handful of early key states that receive the bulk of the media attention.

If that sounds undemocratic, [RNC member from North Dakota, Curly] Haugland flips the argument and argues that the real modern day party bosses are the high-charging consultants and large dollar donors who power campaigns through an avalanche of television ads.

Having to chase delegates on a convention floor would suck the money out of the process and replace it with a market of ideas, placing poorly funded candidates on equal footing with the well-financed titans.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 12, 2014


Italian Greyhounds are the Ferrari of dogs. Zeus is a laid-back Italian Greyhound who gets along with the other dogs and cats in his current foster home. He is available for adoption from the Italian Greyhound Club Rescue GA in Ball Ground, GA.

CarouselCarousel is a female dog, thought to be an Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua mix, and about two years old. She is available for adoption from the Carroll County Animal Shelter in Carrollton, Georgia.


Jo is an Italian Greyhound mix, about 20 pounds and a little over two years of age. Jo is a very sweet and loving girl. She is crate trained and walks well on a leash. She loves playing with other dogs and is good with children. For more information or an adoption application, please call 678-361-7304 or email [email protected] Jo is available for adoption from Posey Shelter Pet Promoters Inc in Cedartown, GA.

Dem poll: Nunn leads most GOP challengers | TheHill

Democrat Michelle Nunn leads most of her GOP Senate challengers, according to a new poll conducted for the liberal group Better Georgia.

The race is potentially Democrats’ best pick-up opportunity in a year where they’re defending a number of seats. The poll indicates some worrisome signs for Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-Ga.) double-digit primary lead. Establishment Republicans believe that nominating the controversial Broun would all but guarantee a win for Nunn in the general election.

Nunn and Broun are tied at 38 percent in the automated poll, conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, and she holds small leads against three other GOP opponents. The poll was first obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Nunn leads Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) by 42 percent to 40 percent, with a 44 percent to 41 percent lead over Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and a 43 percent to 39 percent lead over former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R).

The primary numbers present more worries for the establishment GOP. Broun leads the field with 27 percent support, followed by Gingrey at 14 percent, Kingston at 13 percent, businessman David Perdue at 12 percent and Handel at 9 percent.

It’s unclear why PPP didn’t include results for a matchup between Perdue and Nunn.

Partisan polls should always be taken with a grain of salt, and PPP’s sample in this poll may skew slightly Democratic — Mitt Romney won Georgia by an 8-point margin in 2012 but just 49 percent of voters in the survey said they voted for Romney, with 43 percent saying they backed President Obama. But the results indicate a tight race in Georgia, a key Senate battleground. There were also just 23 percent of voters undecided in the GOP primary sample, which seems a bit low since the race is still months away.

via Dem poll: Nunn leads most GOP challengers | TheHill.

Radical Ideas Emerge in Race for Ga. Senate Seat

The race to fill the seat being vacated by two-term GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss has veered right of right, prompting fear in some Republicans that the party risks losing in the general election, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The five leading candidates – U.S. Reps. Paul Broun, Jack Kingston, and Phil Gingrey; former Dollar General Corp. Chief Executive David Perdue; and former Secretary of State Karen Handel – are campaigning on some radical principles.

Several are calling to eliminate federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Education. Broun, who said he directly challenges “the constitutional legitimacy of today’s federal government,” additionally would like to see the United States pull out of the United Nations and boot them from the country altogether.

In 2012, Broun, a doctor who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, characterized evolution and the Big Bang Theory as “lies straight from the pit of hell.”

“As your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that,” Broun said during a sports banquet at a Hartwell, Ga. Baptist church, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Broun’s spokeswoman later explained that “Dr. Broun was speaking off the record to a large church group about his personal beliefs regarding religious issues.”

National Republican strategist and fundraiser Eric Tanenblatt told the Journal that candidates need to be forward thinking, even when campaigning in a primary.

“The candidates need to be very careful about what they say and how they conduct themselves during this primary, because once the primary is over, you have a very different general electorate,” he said.

via Radical Ideas Emerge in Race for Ga. Senate Seat.

Don’t Make ‘Religious Freedom’ a Pawn in the Culture Wars |

Gay marriage and religious freedom can co-exist, but recent bills at the state level have plotted the wrong course.

Recently the state legislatures of Arizona and Kansas, seeking largely to protect the rights of religious objectors to gay marriage, have considered expansions of their states’ definitions of religious liberty. Both bills failed. The Kansas bill passed the House but not the Senate, and the Arizona bill was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer. But as other states – reportedly including Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee – now consider similar legislation, it’s important to examine the core principles at stake.

In recent years something interesting has been happening in the U.S.: As gay unions have been recognized, so have the rights of religious objectors.

For example, when New York’s legislature recognized gay marriage in 2011, the law also insulated religious organizations that object to gay marriage (or any marriage) from both private lawsuits and government penalties. In Maine, a successful ballot initiative in 2012 permits gay marriage, but also permits organizations to refuse to host weddings to which they object on religious grounds, without facing a threat to their tax-exempt status. Similar protections for religious and religiously-affiliated organizations have accompanied legislative victories for gay marriage in other states.

Were any of these results perfect, from the perspective of either marriage equality advocates or advocates for religious freedom? Of course not. Did they achieve real gains for both sides? Yes.

This recent American dynamic of expanded gay rights in tandem with stronger guarantees of religious liberty offers important lessons. First, it reminds us that no right is absolute. Even a fundamental right exists only in relation to, and often in tension with, other important rights.

Second, it shows us that in politics, as in much of life, the best outcomes tend to be the results of negotiated compromise, in which each sides gives as well as gets. Declarations can be a good starting point, but ultimately there must be a conversation.

Third, it shows us that, even in this hyper-partisan era, very diverse groups of Americans can actually find creative ways to live together.

via Don’t Make ‘Religious Freedom’ a Pawn in the Culture Wars |

TIME Interview: Georgia Senate Candidate Michelle Nunn |

In this week’s print edition of TIME, I have a story about Michelle Nunn, who is running to take retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ Senate seat in Georgia. Nunn is one of five women that Democrats are pinning their hopes on to win the South—not exactly a Democratic stronghold since the Civil Rights era. She has name recognition—her father Sam Nunn is a much beloved former Senator—and bipartisan bonafides thanks to her work as CEO of the Point of Light Foundation, a charity near and dear to another political patriarch, George H. W. Bush.

A couple weeks ago, I spent a day following Nunn across Georgia. At an Austin’s Steakhouse in Valdosta, Ga., Nunn sat down with me to talk moderation in a time of hyper-partisanship, the challenges of running as a mother of young children and whether she’d rather have Barack or Michelle Obama stump for her.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q. What do you make of the debt ceiling shenanigans of the past two years?

We cannot fool around with defaulting. It’s part of what’s created the uncertainty that we know, at least economically, the threats of shutting down, the threats of default. Business needs certainty in order to invest and it’s important that our leaders act responsibly around this issue.

Q. What did you make of the House Republican’s last attempt to tie debt ceiling to restoring the sequester cuts to veteran pensions?

What I would say is we need to, as much possible, ask our leaders to act without brinksmanship or gamesmanship around these issues. Everybody knows that we can’t afford to default and we should focus on that issue. We also should restore the pensions. But I think that we need more maturity in our leadership and more focus on the national interests versus the political interests.

via TIME Interview: Georgia Senate Candidate Michelle Nunn |

Young Republicans favor same-sex marriage | Pew Research Center

Young people continue to be the strongest proponents of same-sex marriage. And as public support for same-sex marriage continues to grow, the gap between young and old is nowhere more striking than within the Republican coalition.

Today, 61% of Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 favor same-sex marriage while just 35% oppose it. By contrast, just 27% of Republicans ages 50 and older favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

This generation gap among Republicans comes against a backdrop of rapidly changing public opinion overall on the issue. More than half the public (54%) now favors allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry, a record high in Pew Research surveys, in keeping with findings from other recent polls. Democrats and Republicans remain on opposite sides of the issue, with 69% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents favoring same-sex marriage compared with 39% Republicans and Republican leaners.

Young Republicans’ views on gay familiesOn this issue, young Republicans’ views are more in line with Democrats. And while support for gay marriage is higher among younger Democrats and Democratic leaners than older Democrats, even Democrats 65 and older favor same-sex marriage by a margin of about two-to-one.

via Young Republicans favor same-sex marriage | Pew Research Center.

U.S. House: Passes Ukraine Resolution – Chairman Royce Measure Condemns Russian Action, Calls for Sanctions

Your International Desk:


U.S. House Passes Ukraine Resolution – Chairman Royce Measure Condemns Russian Action, Calls for Sanctions

Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded House passage of H. Res. 499, which condemns the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by Russian forces and calls for Russian sanctions.  The resolution,introduced by Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), unanimously passedthe House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

Passage of today’s resolution follows a Committee hearing last week, which examined the recent events in Ukraine.  To view archived video from the hearing or testimony from officials at the State Department, Treasury or USAID, click HERE.

In support of H. Res. 499, Chairman Royce said:  “H. Res. 499 is a very important declaration of support for the people of Ukraine during this crisis, condemning in clear and unmistakable terms Russia’s unprovoked aggression. Continue reading