Early voting for the primary runoff cranks up on Monday | Elections | Macon.com

Believe it or not, early voting begins Monday for Georgia’s July 22 primary runoff.

Across the midstate, there are key congressional, state and local contests still up for grabs. Winners from the runoff move on to the Nov. 4 general election, unless they have no opposition.

Among the most closely watched races is the one to replace U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Rep. Jack Kingston and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue are squaring off in that runoff.

In Bibb County, you can vote at the Board of Elections office at 2445 Pio Nono Ave. from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

In Houston County, early voting will be at the Board of Elections office at 801 Main St. in Perry from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Early voting will expand to two additional locations beginning July 14: at Central Georgia Tech on Cohen Walker Drive and at Houston Mall, 233 N. Houston Road.

The early voting period runs through Friday, July 18.

Because Georgia holds an “open” primary, those who voted May 20 were able to pick their choice of ballots, regardless of political affiliation. That won’t be the case for the July 22 runoff. You’ll have to stick with the party ballot you chose for the main primary last month.

If you didn’t vote in the primary, you can still vote in the runoff — and you can select the party ballot of your choice.

via Early voting for the primary runoff cranks up on Monday | Elections | Macon.com.

Conservative challenges | The Augusta Chronicle

By their own reckoning, conservatives have just a few months to get their act together; many believe if the Senate remains in Democrat hands, the country’s future is in serious peril.

If they truly believe that, conservatives need to mobilize, and now. They need to back promising candidates, even those whom they have reservations about. They need to vote. They need to be heard in the media – and turn away from those outlets that disrespect their views.

They need to find more telegenic spokesmen. They need to change how they communicate the tenets of conservatism. They need to relentlessly point out liberalism’s failures, especially in minority communities. They need to reach out to minorities and expand the conservative base.

And they need to completely repackage conservatism. Stop the dour preaching and start pointing out all the ways America will be better if it rediscovers the principles that built it. It’s a positive, triumphant message.

via Conservative challenges | The Augusta Chronicle.

Faith offers valuable connection for Southern Democrats | The Augusta Chronicle

ATLANTA — Jason Carter, former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, stepped into the pulpit of South Columbus United Methodist Church for a Palm Sunday sermon and offered a message of Christian responsibility to the poor, with his phone in hand.

 

“How many of you have the Bible (app) on your phone? I bet all of you do,” Carter said to laughs from the crowd. Worshippers listened as the Democrat running for Georgia governor read from his phone a New Testament verse about the importance of “things that are not seen.”

 

The technology has changed in the four decades since Jimmy Carter spoke openly about his religious beliefs while campaigning, first for Georgia governor and then president. But the broader message of a shared faith remains the same.

“For Democrats who are disadvantaged politically in the region, it’s one way for them to at least attempt to neutralize the impact or the advantage that religiosity has for the Republican Party,” said Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor. “If you have a Democrat who can make credible claims of faith that might actually help to undermine support for the Republican candidate at least on the issue of, ‘Does this person share my values?’”

Regardless of party affiliation, the South has the highest concentration of people who identify themselves as religious. Gallup polling last year found that the most religious states in the country were in the South. Among those, 52 percent in Georgia said they were very religious, while 49 percent in Kentucky reported the same.

A Gallup survey earlier this year found that Southern Democrats are much more likely to say religion is an important part of their daily life – about 74 percent, compared with 57 percent of Democrats from outside the South.

via Faith offers valuable connection for Southern Democrats | The Augusta Chronicle.

New Report Calls Savannah River Third Most Toxic In America | GPB.org

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A new report ranks the Savannah River third in the country for the amount of toxic discharge released into its water.

More than 5 million pounds of waste were discharged into the river in 2010, according to the report from Environment Georgia.

Tonya Bonitatibus of Savannah Riverkeeper says officials have been working on a pollution reduction plan for several years. But she says little has changed in the meantime.

“What we’ve got on this river is we’ve still got a large amount of pollution going in, we’ve got permits that expired five, six years ago, and it’s the status quo.”

via New Report Calls Savannah River Third Most Toxic In America.

New law requires safety course for young boaters | Local & State | Macon.com

Beginning July 1, Georgia law will require all people born after Jan. 1, 1998, to complete the course before operating any motorized vessel on state waters. The regulation does not apply on private lakes and ponds.

Boaters also need to realize they must lower the throttle to idle within 100 feet of any vessel which is moored, anchored or adrift outside normal traffic channels. The same is true when traveling near a dock, pier, piling, bridge or person in the water.

Personal watercraft operators also must not jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet.

Young boaters will need to learn all these rules to pass the required course, which is offered in the classroom through local DNR offices and online at www.goboat georgia.com.

via New law requires safety course for young boaters | Local & State | Macon.com.

Laws on guns, Medicaid expansion set for Tuesday | savannahnow.com

ATLANTA — During the most recent legislative session, state lawmakers proposed 615 pieces of legislation. Of those, 305 bills passed with Gov. Nathan Deal signing the vast majority of them into law. Some became law upon the governor’s signature, while a large number take effect on Tuesday, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Here is a summary of some of the major bills set to take effect:

 

Gun bill

The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, expands where licensed carriers can take their weapons and includes varying rules affecting bars, churches, schools and government buildings. Under House Bill 60, licensed carries can bring their guns into government buildings that don’t have metal detectors or security guards screening visitors. School districts are now able, if they so choose, to allow some employees to carry a firearm on school grounds under certain conditions. Lawmakers removed any mention of bars from this section of law, which means guns are permitted unless a bar owner posts a sign saying otherwise. For places of worship, the assumption is still that guns aren’t allowed but lawmakers gave religious leaders the ability to say they are OK.

Medicaid expansion

House Bill 990 limits the governor’s ability to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law, something the governor has already said he doesn’t want to do. The legislation forbids state government from changing the income eligibility rules and thereby enabling more people to join the program without legislative approval.

Criminal justice

Senate Bill 365 represents the third installment of criminal justice reform since Deal took office. Under the law, corrections officials are required to establish a program so inmates can complete treatment plans and vocational training while in prison to help prepare them to re-enter society. Meanwhile, House Bill 749 creates a criminal offense of cargo theft with sentences varying based on the value of the stolen goods and House Bill 838 establishes a criminal offense for those convicted of transmitting explicit or nude photos or video of an adult with the purpose of harassment or to cause financial loss. House Bill 845 seeks to crackdown on websites that post photos of people under arrest and charge for such photos to be removed. The law requires those requesting such arrest booking photos to submit a statement affirming the photo will not be used in a publication or on a website that requires payment to remove or delete the photo.

via Laws on guns, Medicaid expansion set for Tuesday | savannahnow.com.

Laws on guns, Medicaid expansion set for Tuesday | savannahnow.com

ATLANTA — During the most recent legislative session, state lawmakers proposed 615 pieces of legislation. Of those, 305 bills passed with Gov. Nathan Deal signing the vast majority of them into law. Some became law upon the governor’s signature, while a large number take effect on Tuesday, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Here is a summary of some of the major bills set to take effect:

Gun bill

The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, expands where licensed carriers can take their weapons and includes varying rules affecting bars, churches, schools and government buildings. Under House Bill 60, licensed carries can bring their guns into government buildings that don’t have metal detectors or security guards screening visitors. School districts are now able, if they so choose, to allow some employees to carry a firearm on school grounds under certain conditions. Lawmakers removed any mention of bars from this section of law, which means guns are permitted unless a bar owner posts a sign saying otherwise. For places of worship, the assumption is still that guns aren’t allowed but lawmakers gave religious leaders the ability to say they are OK.

Medicaid expansion

House Bill 990 limits the governor’s ability to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law, something the governor has already said he doesn’t want to do. The legislation forbids state government from changing the income eligibility rules and thereby enabling more people to join the program without legislative approval.

via Laws on guns, Medicaid expansion set for Tuesday | savannahnow.com.

Chatham County commissioners approve 2015 budget with no tax hike | savannahnow.com

Chatham County Commissioners voted unanimously Friday in favor of a balanced $475.5 million budget, which includes a $165.6 million general fund budget that pays for maintenance and operational costs.

Initially, a general fund budget of $164.8 million had been proposed. But some county departments requested additional money that was granted by staff, totaling $831,905.

Finance Director Amy Davis said the county’s increased tax digest allowed for more “wiggle room” to grant some of the requests.

There was little discussion about the vote from commissioners, a far cry from last year when an unpopular tax hike was approved. A third and final millage rate public hearing drew only two funding requests from outside organizations.

The 2015 general fund budget is 0.5 percent larger than the amended 2014 general fund.

There will not be a property tax increase this year.

via Chatham County commissioners approve 2015 budget with no tax hike | savannahnow.com.

Contractor chips away at history on Ga. courthouse | savannahnow.com

DARIEN, Ga. — Clay Davis has been chipping away at history on the McIntosh County Courthouse.

Davis is removing some of the stucco coating with its imbedded shells to resemble tabby to expose the original finish or, he says, as near as he can get to it.

With the outer stucco removed, Davis, the owner of Pride Works Construction, found several layers of paint and beneath that an overlay with a grid etched into it to resemble big masonry block, perhaps sandstone. In cracks through that, however, brick shows.

“I don’t know exactly when this tabby was put on,” Davis said. “They came in and tabbied over what was a beautiful facade.”

via Contractor chips away at history on Ga. courthouse | savannahnow.com.

Faith offers valuable connection for Southern Democrats | The Augusta Chronicle

ATLANTA — Jason Carter, former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, stepped into the pulpit of South Columbus United Methodist Church for a Palm Sunday sermon and offered a message of Christian responsibility to the poor, with his phone in hand.

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter (left), who recently preached a sermon for Palm Sunday, sits with his grandparents Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter.

“How many of you have the Bible (app) on your phone? I bet all of you do,” Carter said to laughs from the crowd. Worshippers listened as the Democrat running for Georgia governor read from his phone a New Testament verse about the importance of “things that are not seen.”

The technology has changed in the four decades since Jimmy Carter spoke openly about his religious beliefs while campaigning, first for Georgia governor and then president. But the broader message of a shared faith remains the same.

Religion offers a powerful connection with many in the South, considered the most religious part of the country. Some Democrats hoping to reverse Republican gains in Georgia and elsewhere are finding their faith can be a valuable way to reach voters. Religion can be a very personal matter, and candidates vary in how much they talk about their faith.

via Faith offers valuable connection for Southern Democrats | The Augusta Chronicle.

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