On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.
On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.
On January 6, 1921, Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.
Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
House Committee Meetings Today
1:00 PM JOINT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM, 606 CLOB
2:00 PM REGULATED INDUSTRIES, 506 CLOB
Senate Committee Meeting Today
1:00 PM Joint Economic Development and Tourism, 606 CLOB
Here’s the Session Calendar for the first three weeks.
Tuesday, January 12, Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, January 13, Legislative Day 3
Thursday, January 14, Legislative Day 4
Friday, January 15, Legislative Day 5
Wednesday, January 20, Legislative Day 6
Thursday, January 21, Legislative Day 7
Friday, January 22, Legislative Day 8
Monday, January 25, Legislative Day 9
Tuesday, January 26, Legislative Day 10
Wednesday, January 27, Legislative Day 11
Thursday, January 28, Legislative Day 12
Monday, February 1, Legislative Day 13
The Gainesville Times notes that’s an aggressive schedule.
House and Senate leaders hope to adjourn for the year by March 24, letting members return to their districts early and focus on re-election campaigns. Georgia’s campaign finance law prevents lawmakers from raising or accepting campaign donations during the session, motivation to wrap up the year quickly.
House and Senate members approved a schedule Monday for the General Assembly’s first 13 working days.
Lawmakers meet for 40 working days each year, starting on the second Monday in January. Days that the House and Senate don’t meet don’t count toward that total, but budget and other committee hearings can be held on those days.
Georgia’s General Assembly operates on a biennial schedule, meaning all bills approved by one chamber but not voted on by the other before the 2015 session ended remain alive. Lawmakers also can introduce new proposals.
Jim Galloway of the AJC Political Insider teases a re-write to the state’s legacy three-tier system for alcohol sales that should be introduced today, and yesterday noted that State Rep. Allen Peake has at least 90 signatures for his medical marijuana expansion bill, pretty well assuring its passage in the House.
Georgia Public Broadcasting has coverage of House Speaker David Ralston’s press conference last week.
On the questions surrounding legalizing casino gambling in the state:
“There’s a couple of questions that are involved in that discussion. One is the policy question of do we want to change what we allow in terms of our constitutional prohibition on gambling to allow casinos and/or horse racing. That’s not an easy question, but it’s a simple question, because it’s the black and white question. Then the really complex question becomes: ‘How do you implement a decision to expand?’ Then you have questions of: ‘How many licences do you issue?’ ‘What would the tax rate be?’ ‘What would the regulatory scheme be?’ So, there’s some really detailed things involved there that are going to have to be sorted out.”
On whether he supports Rep. Allen Peake’s bill that would allow for medical marijuana cultivation in Georgia:
“At least my expectation–I think that of most people around here–was when we passed HB 1 last year that there would have to be a next step, and so I think this bill is that next step. I’m not a doctor, and I’m not a medical professional, so I don’t know all the conditions that should be listed on there. I probably have had a half dozen suggested to me since we left here last year from people in my district, friends, people as I traveled around the state. Some of them are unbelievable in terms of the suggested conditions we should add. My view is that at some point we’re going to need to let those decisions be made by medical professionals, and I’m fine doing that. I’m fine putting in a provision in a cultivation bill that will allow the conditions to be determined not by the General Assembly but by medical professionals who have the expertise to do that.”
On funding rural hospitals in Georgia:
“It’s a challenge. I have a hospital in my district that’s barely hanging on, and unfortunately that’s a fairly common situation in rural Georgia. We’re looking at different things that hopefully we can use. One of the reasons I hope a member of my party is elected president in November is I hope we can look at some block granting some of the Medicaid money through the waiver process to help in that area. I know the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a study over the next few months to look at some specific solutions. I mean, it’s a real problem, a very real problem that I see everyday and one that troubles me very much. We’ve got to find a way to deal with that.”
Meanwhile WABE spoke to Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams.
Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly paused yesterday to honor the memories of five Georgia Southern nursing students.
State Rep. Bruce Williamson’s office will assist veterans with obtaining state benefits through the Georgia Department of Veterans Services.
“The process for obtaining benefits has become a burden to so many veterans,” said Rep. Williamson. “I hope that by offering this assistance, we can not only ease the process for our veterans, but also expedite things so that they may fully enjoy the benefits they have so rightfully earned.”
The Conyers Veteran Services office, located at 983 Taylor Street, provides services to Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties and serves more than 23,000 veterans in the area. In 2014, the Conyers office paid more than $91,000,000 on direct VA monetary payments with approximately $30,000,000 paid to the more than 6500 veterans in Walton County.
For more information on receiving veteran’s assistance through the Conyers Veteran Services Office, please contact Rep. Williamson’s office at 404-656-5024.
Today at 6:30, Orchard Senior Living Center will host a Meet-and-Greet for Frank Auman, who is running for Mayor of Tucker in the March 1, 2016 election at 2060 Idlewood Rd in Tucker.
One week from today, on January 19, 2016, voters will go to the polls in the first election of 2016, a Special Election in House District 58 for part of Fulton County. Three Democrats are running, Park Cannon, Ralph Long, and Kwame Thompson.
Sarah Fay Campbell of the (Newnan) Times-Herald takes a look at why Lynn Westmoreland’s decision against running for reelection will have a dramatic impact on Georgia politics.
“Something like this comes along only once in a generation or once in half a generation,” said Dr. Charles Bullock, professor of political science at the University of Georgia.
“I would anticipate some state legislators, maybe some county officials, and perhaps some well-to-do private individuals who will say ‘this is my shot,’” Bullock said.
“Once an incumbent is in office, they’re awfully hard to dislodge,” said Bullock. Typically, more than 90 percent of the time, incumbents are reelected. “Whoever wins may be there for 25 years.”
Often when there is an open seat, many holding current political office will give up their incumbency in state politics to head to Washington D.C. – even though only one candidate can win.
“I think a number of legislators, after a few years, come to think – this has been fun but I have to either do it full time or I have to get out.” And there aren’t many opportunities in state politics to go full time, Bullock said. Instead, you have to go to Washington.
Chuck Williams of the (Columbus) Ledger-Enquirer takes a look at the case for Sen. Josh McKoon running for Westmoreland’s seat.
As the Georgia General Assembly session started Monday, McKoon is one of the most high-profile members. He vows to continue his three-year fight for the state to adopt controversial religious liberty legislation that is favored by many in the right wing of the state Republican party. He is leading a group that has taken a stand against legislation that would allow for sales tax breaks to attract the NFL’s Super Bowl to Atlanta’s new domed stadium. As he has since he got to the General Assembly, he is pushing ethics reform, this time aimed at lawmakers who help pass legislation then resign and take positions within state government.
Another reason he is considering it is he would likely have a fighting chance to win. The smart money would bet that the person who replaces Westmoreland will come out of the Georgia General Assembly. That is where Westmoreland came from 10 years ago and where McKoon has been the last five years. There are 12 state representatives and six state senators who represent a piece of the Georgia Third. The most formidable of those would likely be Sen. Mike Crane, a Newnan Republican. Crane comes from the same part of the district that launched Westmoreland.
But the voting power in the district rests in Coweta, Fayette and Carroll counties. And McKoon’s district and his residence are on the southern fringe of the district.
Whoever seeks the office is going to have to make a decision quickly. Qualifying is March 7-11, when the General Assembly will likely still be in session. The Republican primary is May 24.
The (Carrollton) Times-Georgian notes that we wrote earlier that Sen. Mike Crane is likely to jump in, and also speculates that Matt Brass, who serves as Chief of Staff to Westmoreland is a potential candidate. Brass previously ran in the 2011 Senate Special Election that Crane won in a runoff, and might also take a look at that race.
In my opinion, the number one thing holding back incumbent legislators from announcing for Westmoreland’s seat is the specter of “some millionaire out there we haven’t heard of.” Call it the David Perdue effect, or the Trump effect.
With the cold weather suggesting that hell has frozen over, the Coweta County Democratic Party thinks they may have a chance to take the Republican-safe Third Congressional District seat themselves.
Cynthia Bennett, Coweta County Democratic Party chair, said this is an opportunity for a Democrat to take the chair.
“Historically, incumbency in the U.S. has assured re-election,” said Bennett. “The influence of incumbency is powerful. The Coweta County Democrats welcome the opportunity to meet candidates who might not have sought office. This opens the door for other service-minded citizens to take office.”
“This is an opportunity for Democrats to take advantage of having a seat in Congress,” said Commissioner Alphonso Smith. “In reality, we have enough people to do it, we’re just not active. We need voter activity clinics to help people understand how important their vote is at the local level. Politics is local and you can control it. I fully support my party.”
Ernest Thomas Jr will run for Richmond County Clerk of Courts, as incumbent Elaine Johnson is retiring.
The Greatest Threat to Georgia?
This isn’t being discussed as part of the legislative session yet, but Senator Bruce Thompson (R-Cartersville) says that Georgia is in the midst of a heroin epidemic.
Heroin is one of the cheapest and most dangerous drugs on the street and kills hundreds of Georgians every year.
It’s so bad, a state senator is calling it an epidemic.
Last year, 85 people overdosed on heroin in Cherokee County alone. State Senator Bruce Thompson represents that area and said it’s an epidemic statewide.
“The problem is when you get to heroin, that’s the end, and so legislatively I think we have a responsibility to take a good look at this from a mental health standpoint and say what is it we can do for society to help with this,” said Thompson.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18-25 in the past decade.
“One of the big dangers is that a person can think that they can tolerate a certain amount of heroin and what they buy is too much and it kills them,” Former state medical examiner Dr. Kris Sperry said.
Forty-five percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers – like oxycodone.
Cherokee County is holding a town hall meeting on the issue on January 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
That Town Hall meeting tonight is at Canton First United Methodist Church, 930 Lower Scott Mill Road, Canton, GA 30115.
Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader noted on Facebook that in the last 5 years, Gwinnett County has seen a 1200% rise in heroin deaths.
On February 25, 2016, CrossPointe Church in Duluth is holding a Pastors’ Event to spread awareness of the heroin problem, and resources available to church leaders and congregations.