The blog.


‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Expected Back In 2016 Ga. Legislature | WABE 90.1 FM

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act effort is far from over in Georgia.

Columbus Republican Sen. Josh McKoon is vowing to bring back the potentially controversial legislation next year during the 2016 General Assembly.

McKoon’s bill passed the Senate, but stalled in the House during this year’s session of the legislature.

I think what we need to do is stick to the federal language,” McKoon said during the interview on “A Closer Look.”

via ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Expected Back In 2016 Ga. Legislature | WABE 90.1 FM.


Wait times for licenses decline as Georgia schools Driver Services managers |

ATLANTA | Wait times to get driver’s licenses have shrunk each of the past 13 months, according to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, and executives said Monday that further improvements are likely to result from a system-wide training program.

Called DDS University, the 2-year-old program focuses initially on front-line, customer-service managers to help them be better at communications and supervision. So far, 17 of the 20 people who signed up for the two initial classes have completed them. And another 90 managers are eligible.

Driver Services Commissioner Rob Mikell said the reason he wanted to start the courses is because there was no formalized training for advancement.

“Over the years, in a lot of cases, if you managed a field office, it was kind of like, ‘Hey, you’ve done a great job issuing driver’s licenses, and the manager position is open. Tomorrow morning, you need to unlock the door. Here are the keys,’” he said. “We feel like we’ve moved a long way since then.”

Since an entry-level job at DDS only requires a high school diploma or GED, some workers who have risen to management posts have little or no advanced training. So Mikell assigned Reggie Smith, the department’s training coordinator, to develop some courses.

Smith tapped Georgia Piedmont Technical College to design the curriculum and provide on-site instructors for the two, 10-hour courses on business writing and time management. Working with the college kept the costs to just $62 per student or even less for online courses.

via Wait times for licenses decline as Georgia schools Driver Services managers |


The Marietta Daily Journal – Georgia Rep Ehrhart responds to critics calling for his ouster

POWDER SPRINGS — Twice this month prominent voices have called

for state Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) to be voted out of office.

Ehrhart comes up for re-election in 2016, and Maria Saporta, editor of The Saporta Report, wrote Sunday he should be booted from office because he was disrespectful to Delta CEO Richard Anderson.

Kennesaw Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh also called for voters to oust Ehrhart two weeks ago after comments he made on the House floor about local control.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Georgia Rep Ehrhart responds to critics calling for his ouster “She’s kind of like the editorial page of the AJC. Every time they criticize me, all of my constituents in west Cobb who are conservative say, ‘He’s doing it right,’” Ehrhart said. “With respect to being disrespectful, Richard Anderson reached out to me a couple weeks ago, and we had dinner. We’re friends,” Ehrhart said. “He and I had a cordial dinner. There’s no animosity between Richard Anderson and I. That’s Maria Saporta trying to stir things up.”

Ehrhart said he’s received hundreds of emails from constituents in support of his decision “and not one against.”

“My constituency — I listen to them. I’ve listened to them for many, many years, and I’ve voted their conservative policy, and they seem to like that. I can’t be responsible for big government liberals like Ms. Welsh and Ms. Saporta not liking those types of conservative policies,” Ehrhart said.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Georgia Rep Ehrhart responds to critics calling for his ouster.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 14, 2015

The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves David Justice and Greg Madden, who were both born on this date in 1966.

Athens Political Events this week

Two excellent political events are being held in Athens this week that you might wish to attend.

Join The Arch Conservative today at 6 PM in Room 348 of the Miller Learning Center on the UGA campus as author and journalist Charles C.W. Cooke addresses the rights Americans are guaranteed through the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

RSVP to the Arch Conservative’s Facebook event here: Charles C. W. Cooke Event Page

Cooke is a staff writer at National Review, where he covers American exceptionalism, British liberty, gun rights, and free speech. His work has been published in The New York Times and the Washington Times and is regularly featured on Fox News.


Tomorrow night, April 15, 2015, the University of Georgia College Republicans will host Herman Cain and his radio show from 6-8 PM in Room 101 of the Miller Learning Center on the UGA campus.

UGACRs CainContinue Reading..


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 14, 2015


Naomi is a pretty white and red female hound/beagle mix with sad eyes. She is a shy but sweet girl that enjoys affection and people. She will take some time to warm up to you, but once you have her trust, she will give you her heart.

She had been abandoned after giving birth to about 8 puppies. A couple pups had already died, and the people who found her could not take care of her and the remaining 6 puppies, so all of them came to us. An adopter should be experienced with dogs and willing to spend time with Naomi at our Pet Center, bonding with her, before she could leave for a new home.

Naomi is available for adoption from CSRA Humane Society in Augusta, Ga.


Halle is an adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is shy since she wasn’t handled as a puppy. She needs a patient, loving home with experienced dog people who understand her limitations and can be patient as she develops.

Halle is available for adoption from CSRA Humane Society in Augusta, Ga.


Gracie is a sweet adult female Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix female who needs a trusting, loving home. She gets along well with other dogs and loves to go for walks. She was surrendered by her owner who had her from age 3 months. No knowledge if she is good with cats. Please consider giving Gracie her forever home!

Gracie is available for adoption from CSRA Humane Society in Augusta, Ga.


Georgia families risk fines in resupplying medical marijuana |

ATLANTA — Patients who have to go out of state to get cannabis oil say they will face risks and hurdles even after medical marijuana becomes legal in Georgia on Thursday.

Gov. Nathan Deal will sign a law that makes it legal to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil in Georgia. But patients who need the oil still have to go out of state to get it, because it remains illegal to produce at home.

That means families have to travel out-of-state to get the oil, and it is unclear whether the federal government will tolerate that.

The U.S. Justice Department has said it will not stand in the way of states that want to legalize marijuana as long as there are effective controls in place. However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law and in every state between Georgia and Colorado.

That, according to Rep. Allen Peake, means families that have to drive or fly to Colorado could risk penalties if the marijuana extract is found by a federal officer or airport security, or a law enforcement official from a state where marijuana is illegal.

Peake, a Macon Republican who sponsored the original legislation, said two Colorado companies have agreed to ship cannabis oil, with no more than 0.3 percent content of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient. But the lawmaker contends the THC level is not high enough to help many patients. Georgia’s new law allows up to 5 percent THC.

via Georgia families risk fines in resupplying medical marijuana |


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 13, 2015


Emma is a beautiful young female brindle lab/hound mix. She has taken up a great space in her foster home and they absolutely love having her around!

She is both housebroken and crate trained. She will go right into her crate at night and sleep peacefully without a peep!

Emma absolutely loves to run around outside and chase squirrels! Or just run around! She isn’t hyper but she just really enjoys the exercise and fun. She is super fast too! She listens very well and we think she would be an awesome dog to do agility or training with! She is a big fan of her special treats and peanut butter – but really, who isn’t?

Emma does great meeting new people but is hesitant around children. We think her previous family did not do a good job of introducing her to them and they make her nervous. While she is amazingly sweet, she would be happiest in a home with no kids, or older kids. She is also a bit afraid of trucks – especially big ones. But she settles down well if you are petting her and even settles in well once she is in the car. She will just need some more time knowing that they aren’t scary and that lots of time they take you to fun places like pet stores and dog parks!

Emma is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.


Watson is a young, tiny Miniature Pinscher mix with some serious ears on him! He is a min pin/Chihuahua mix that weighs about 10 pounds right now…he will top out around 12 or 13 we think.

He is crate trained and will really let you know when he’s ready to be out of there! He is still working on housebreaking. His animal control paperwork indicated that his previous owners trained him to use puppy pads…it is hard for a dog like that to be retrained to go outside, but he’s working on it!

Watson absolutely loves other dogs and will make sure to say hi to every dog he sees! He loves to run around the backyard and explore with them. He would be a great dog to take to the dog parks and is sure to make friends with the dogs and people alike! We have not seen him around cats but it’s possible he would want to play with them – he’s just a happy guy who assumes everyone else is too.

Watson wiggles with excitement when he sees people and has met a few kids as well. He was a little more watchful of the kids than adults so we don’t think he has spent much time with them. He was happy to take treats from them, but mostly just kept his distance. He was never ugly – just watchful. He might do best in a home with dog savvy kids so they can give him some space until he knows them better.

Watson really likes to run around his back yard and stretch his legs, so if he doesn’t live in a house with a fence, he will need some walks each day. He would be a great candidate for training and agility classes! He is basically Tigger in dog form! He loves to be in the middle of everything so it is important that his family wants him in their business!

Watson’s one playful pup! He loves his foster siblings and he loves his toys – especially when the two things are combined! He’s always ready to play and explore so we suspect he’ll prefer an active family to take him out and about and to play with him at any opportunity. He’s a spunky little guy ready for big things.

Watson is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.


Bernard is a very special boy, an adult male Whippet and Dalmatian mix. He was a foster with Helping Paws Rescue back in 2007-08 and it took a while to find the right home for him because he’s a bit on the shy side. The perfect family came along and adopted him and they were so happy together for the next 6 years. But then, they had a baby join their little family and Bernard, being a nervous guy by nature, was very uncomfortable with the change. They tried for many months trying to make things work, but unfortunately, Bernard was not happy with the turn of events and just couldn’t adjust. So, they brought him back to us to find him a home where he could be happy and comfortable again. It broke their hearts, but they knew it was best for Bernard. Here’s what they had to say about him:

“Bernard is an amazing boy who is loyal, loving and very easy once he settles in. Anyone would be blessed to have him join their family, preferably someone who has consistency in their routine. I would go into an endless rant about how amazing he is but for those willing to break through his shyness, the reward is well worth it. Please help find him a home, he deserves nothing but the best.”

So, now Bernard needs a new home! We believe he’s between 7 and 8 years old, although he still looks like a puppy. His shy nature is still there, so he’s looking for a home where he can be comfortable and relaxed with no young children to make him nervous. Once he loves and trusts you, he REALLY loves you and will want to be by your side forever. He’s still a happy, active guy and would love to go for hikes in the woods or around the neighborhood. If you are interested in making this sweet boy a part of your family, just give us a call to set up a time to meet him!
Bernard is available for adoption from Helping Paws Rescue in Bogart, GA. No word on whether he brings his own box to sleep in.



Meet Leslie – a young female Whippet and Terrier mix! This girl was surrendered by her owner to Athens Animal Control back in February. I can’t possibly imagine why, though, because this girl is a ball of fun! She’s just over a year old and much smaller than her pictures make her out to be (she only weighs about 22 lbs.). We are guessing she is a whippet/terrier mix, so she has lots of energy and loves to play! She is also a very smart girl who responds very well to mental and physical stimulation.

Leslie’s favorite things are balls, bones, and toys. She is working on playing fetch and trading toys for treats. Leslie LOVES other dogs and is always very excited to meet them. She almost immediately tries to play with them! She is also great around cats, though she can sometimes intimidate them by trying to chase them or play with them.

Leslie loves people and really wants to be loved on, but can sometimes be a little wary of people approaching her. We are working hard on her ability to trust new people and she has been doing really well! Once she meets new people, she immediately warms up to them and wants to give them kisses.She also has many tricks up her sleeve, such as sit, down, shake, “say please”, and “stick ‘em up!”. Leslie learns very quickly and is very food-motivated and therefore, easy to train! She will be starting a 6 week training class, where she will be learning even more fun tricks!!Leslie is such a sweet girl and would fit in well almost anywhere. She has lots of energy so she would need a home that could exercise her adequately, both physically and mentally. She also needs some structure and boundaries in her life to keep her a happy girl! She has infinite amounts of love for anyone who earns her trust and is so easy to fall in love with! Come see her today!!

Leslie is available for adoption from Helping Paws Rescue in Bogart, GA.



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

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

On April 12, 1861, Confederates in Charleston, SC opened fire on Federal-held Fort Sumter opening the Civil War.

During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincolnissued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

“The General” Locomotive was hijacked at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia on April 12, 1862, leading to “The Great Locomotive Chase.” The locomotive is now housed in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12, 1961, Russian Commienaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to go to outer space and the first to orbit earth.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963; while there he would write his famed, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The Braves played their first home game in Atlanta on April 12, 1966.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

The Space Shuttle Columbia became the first reusable orbital vehicle when it launched on April 12, 1981.

The Vidalia Sweet Onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable when Gov. Joe Frank Harris signed legislation designating it such on April 11, 1990.

Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

The Augusta Chronicle wrote a great “day in the life” piece in 1967 about Jack Nicklaus’s attempt to take a third straight green jacket.

It is almost like a 1960s-era TV sitcom, with golf-playing Jack trying to get ready for the big tournament while wife Barbara and kids tag along. The family even drops him off at the Augusta National Clubhouse for his round.

To me, one of the funniest parts is of the then-27-year-old Golden Bear enjoying his breakfast of Masters champions, described as “an attack on half of a melon, ‘lots of bacon,’ … two eggs and some rye toast.”

Georgia Politics in 2016

The AJC’s Political Insider mentions that we already have at least three open State House seats in the 2015-16 election cycle.

• Tyrone Brooks (D) resigned from his House District 55 seat before pleading guilty to federal charges. His son, Tyrone Brooks, Jr. has a campaign committee registered. It will be a special election, likely to be held June 16, 2015, subject to Gov. Nathan Deal calling for the election.

Margaret Kaiser (D) will not run for reelection to House District 59 in order to run for Mayor of Atlanta in 2017. Atlanta lawyer David Dreyer tweeted that he will run for her seat, and has already garnered some major Democratic support from former State Rep. Stephanie Benfield and McKenna Long partner Jeremy Berry.

LaDawn Jones (D-62) announced during the legislative session that she will not run for reelection in 2016.

Shawn Allen will run for the House District 99 seat that is currently held by State Rep. Hugh Floyd (D). We haven’t heard anything about Rep. Floyd’s plans.

Legislative Review

Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-Cobb), who chairs the Senate Education Committee says this year’s legislative session was a good one for education.

“I thought it was a good year in terms of what was passed and also in term of what wasn’t passed,” Tippins said.

He cited bills that expand the opportunities for dual enrollment and put a formal end to the Georgia High School Graduation Test, and the possible creation of a statewide school district for chronically failing schools as positive results of this year’s legislative session.

The biggest education-related bill to pass, Senate Bill 133, seeks to enact Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan for an “Opportunity School District,” which would give the state the authority to take over 20 schools deemed to be failing if they score below a 60 on the College and Career Performance Index three years in a row, according to the governor’s office.

“I voted in favor of the bill because we have students who are sitting in schools that are failing them, and we owe it to those students to try another way to turn those schools around,” Evans said.

Tippins, a former chair of the Cobb school board, was a cosponsor of the bill and said he believes in the sanctity of local school boards.

“They have a constitutional authority, and the mandate … to oversee and manage local school systems is vested solely in the local boards of education,” Tippins said. “But when you look at chronically failing schools, those schools for many, many years have never been performing as they should. The parents of those children don’t understand why someone doesn’t do something.”

He said the bill lays out an evaluation process to assess the chronically failing schools.

“Before the Opportunity School District would ever move into a school, they would do an on-site diagnostic study and come to a determination on why the school is failing,” Tippins said. “Then have a mandatory meeting with the principal, the superintendent and the board of education as to what their findings are and what they believe the solutions to be.”

Continue Reading..


Lawmakers make P-card abuse a felony |

Reacting to allegations of spending abuses by DeKalb County commissioners, the state Legislature made it easier to bring felony charges against Georgia elected officials who misuse taxpayer-funded charge cards.

The legislation empowers county prosecutors to pursue charges against officials who buy personal items with their purchasing cards, known as P-cards, which are debit cards that draw funds from local government budgets. Previously, state law required charges to be brought in the jurisdiction where improper purchases took place, making it difficult to prosecute alleged misspending that occurred across county lines or out of state.

State lawmakers passed the measure, which had previously stalled because of concerns that it was overly broad, less than an hour before the midnight conclusion of this year’s legislative session April 2.

House Bill 192 also requires county commissions, city councils and school boards that use P-cards to vote on rules and transaction limits. The bill is pending before Gov. Nathan Deal.

“It’s a game-changer for us,” said DeKalb District Attorney Robert James, who supported the legislation. “There are several cases I haven’t been able to get involved in because of jurisdictional issues.”

via Lawmakers make P-card abuse a felony |


Nathan Deal hints support for legalizing fireworks sales in Georgia | Political Insider blog

Most of this legislative session’s most significant bills already have Gov. Nathan Deal’s stamp of approval. But the governor is hinting he may also support a proposal that has sparked years of debate under the Gold Dome.

Georgia lawmakers gave final approval last month to a measure that would legalize the sale of consumer fireworks in Georgia. House Bill 110 would let Georgians buy bottle rockets, Roman candles and other launchers in Georgia.

Supporters pit as an economic development argument that will spark the economy, since every state bordering Georgia except North Carolina already allows their citizens to buy fireworks. Opponents, including firefighters and healthcare groups, have fought the proposal by pointing to tragic cases of maimed children and damaged property.

Deal said he is weighing the safety concerns. But he suggested the proposal is less explosive than it once was.

“By and large, I think we acknowledge that citizens of Georgia are buying fireworks in adjoining states,” he said Tuesday. “And the issue of safety is simply a question of whether or not somebody can afford to cross the state line and buy fireworks.”

via Nathan Deal hints support for legalizing fireworks sales in Georgia | Political Insider blog.