Isakson Pays Tribute to Victims of Paris Terror Attack
Condemns senseless acts of violence against innocent human beings by radical Islamists
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, paid tribute to the victims of last week’s deadly terror attack in Paris, France. Earlier today, Isakson joined Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France, along with other members of the committee, at the Foreign Relations Committee room in the U.S. Capitol to sign a book of condolences on Monday.
During remarks, Isakson offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the Jan. 7, 2015, terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in France and the subsequent hostage-taking that left 17 people dead and the entire world on high alert.
“I am deeply saddened by last week’s terrorist attacks that were perpetrated against the French people,” said Isakson. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and the entire nation of France.”
He further condemned the Islamist militants who have taken responsibility for the attacks, calling on the United States to assist the French in any way possible and urging the administration to double down on our national security efforts to eliminate this terrorist network and protect our homeland from a similar attack.Continue Reading..
Deal inaugural address: ‘A new term, a new vision, a new mandate’
Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, constitutional officers, members of the consular corps, members of the judiciary, my fellow Georgians:
Today, we stand under the watchful eye of History. In a nation founded by pilgrims seeking new religious freedoms, in a state formed by an English nobleman looking to give debtors and religious refugees from the Old World a fresh start, in a city symbolized by the phoenix rising from the ashes of a civil war, and across from a new plaza where Georgians of today and tomorrow can exercise their rights to speak freely, to petition and to assemble, the hundreds of you here today represent the 10 million people across Georgia as we inaugurate a new term, a new vision, a new mandate to address the needs of our citizens.
This is an occasion not to honor me or those who come after me, but rather to celebrate the will of the people of Georgia. Inaugurations of elected officials pay homage to our democracy – to the belief that all citizens have a say in who governs them.
While we planned to have this ceremony in our new forum, Liberty Plaza-which pays tribute to our freedoms, those rights endowed by God, enshrined in our Constitution and defended by free men and women-Mother Nature had a different idea, as she did four years ago. However, if this term produces results on a magnitude of those of my first term, I gladly gather with all of you inside this beautiful Chamber.
In that plaza, which we will dedicate this Friday afternoon, we prominently display symbols of our freedoms: the Statue of Liberty and Georgia’s Liberty Bell. Soon, on Capitol grounds, we’ll add a statue of Georgia’s native son, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who helped fulfill America’s promise of freedom and equality for all. He serves as a symbol for those ideals, but history recognizes him as a man of action. Within our new plaza, the symbols of freedom will welcome the exercise of freedom. There, Georgians will engage in the marketplace of ideas. There, they will advocate or oppose government actions. There, they will assemble to express their thoughts and opinions, openly and without fear.Continue Reading..
She is a runner and has had many near misses running out and gone. She will grin for you and loves to be loved.Casey Grace is available for adoption from Catahoula Rescue Southeast in Acworth, Georgia.
In honor of Lt. Gov. Cagle’s North Georgia upbringing, we present these beautiful Treeing Walker Coonhounds, a pair of country dogs if ever there was one.
Marco and Polo came in wearing their radio tracking collars on 1/3/15, but their people didn’t track them to the shelter. The smaller one (Marco – 50 lbs.) is a little more shy than Polo, 60 lbs. Polo sounds like a typical hunting dog. They are both well behaved and will sit when asked. Marco ID 571803 & Polo ID 571805 are sharing run 17, and are about 1 1/2 years old. They are up to date on shots, neutered, heartworm tested negative and will be microchipped when adopted. Please come meet these handsome boys!
When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.
With predictions of rain this afternoon, the inauguration of Governor Nathan Deal has been moved inside the Capitol. Guests with tickets to the inaugural will be seated in various locations inside the Capitol and other nearby buildings.
Early plans included ringing Georgia’s copy of the Liberty Bell to begin the ceremony. We don’t know if that will still take place.
The Georgia House of Representatives will gavel into Session at 10 AM. All legislators should remove any donation links, buttons, or pages from their websites, as members of the General Assembly are not allowed to accept contributions once Session has begun. Both chambers should adopt a resolution scheduling at least the next legislative day of Session.
What We’re Watching this Session
The Budget – the only legislation required by the state Constitution is the yearly budget. First, we’ll also see a Supplemental Budget to “true up” last year’s budget, reconciling the revenue predictions made in the legislature and the realities of state income. Then they’ll move onto the next Fiscal Year’s “Big Budget.”
Last year seems to have seen Georgia’s economy and state revenue picking up steam. While that’s good, the austerity cuts made over the past decade have left many needs in state and local government deferred. Those deferred expenditures are coming due, from maintenance of existing roads and bridges and state buildings, to raises for many employees, it will feel like everyone in the Capitol has a hand out. More requests will likely be denied than granted.
Transportation Funding – the Chambers of Commerce have made clear that their highest funding priority is transportation infrastructure, citing a study that shows roughly 1 billion to 1.5 billion in annual spending needs. It appears that the Chambers are poised to back increased funding, with the Georgia Chamber endorsing an increase in the federal gas tax.
The Chamber supports efforts to preserve the solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Should Congress not successfully address this critical transportation funding measure, Georgia will see reduced and delayed reimbursements for needed transportation projects, putting some at risk for completion. While the federal gas tax, currently 18.4 cents per gallon, has been the traditional source of revenue, it has struggled to keep pace with expenses as vehicles have become more fuel-efficient. Both reauthorization of federal funding and an increase in the gas tax is necessary to keep our highways and transit systems efficient for transportation and commerce.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (invited), Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston will provide a preview of the 2015 legislative agenda at this year’s event. Maggie Bridges, Miss Georgia 2014, will sing the National Anthem and Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church, will lead the invocation.
If your organization has two extra tickets for the Breakfast available, we’d consider taking them off your hands.
Medical Marijuana – State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) has become the patron saint of all who suffer from illnesses that might be alleviated by medicinal cannabis. Earlier versions of his bill would have allowed the CBD-rich cannabis oils not only for children with seizures, but also to adults and expanded the diagnoses for which it would be available. Governor Nathan Deal has announced he will support a more-limited version of Peake’s bill.
Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary talked exclusively with the governor Friday about the new bill that would mean big relief to families with children who suffer from seizure disorders.
Deal told Geary he supports Peake’s efforts to offer immunity from prosecution for the families in those states who want to return home to Georgia with the medicine.
“It’s an important step. We recognize it may not be the last step,” Deal said.
In a statement from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s spokesman Ben Fry, he said, “The Lt. Governor believes that by working cooperatively the General Assembly can find a responsible solution that will provide much needed relief to the children and their families afflicted by these terrible conditions.”
A new poll from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution found that 84 percent of registered voters support the legalization of cannabis oil.
Its sponsor, State Representative Allen Peake, says after lengthy discussions with Governor Nathan Deal, the bill will no longer include a model to grow and distribute medical cannabis in the state.
“Ideally, I would have liked to see both the immunity language and the grow model in this bill but the fact that we are getting full immunity and protection from prosecution for possession for families to have access to cannabis oil is a huge win and it will allow Georgia families to come home,” Peake told 13WMAZ.
Peake says Deal was clear they needed further research into a better regulatory system before Deal would sign off on the bill.
“It’s not as fast as I would’ve liked, but we had to do something that would pass the Governor’s desk,” Peake said Saturday.
The bill includes full immunity for those who bring back medical cannabis legally obtained from other states.
Traditional car dealers are in the midst of a legal fight to push Tesla, the fledgling California electric car company, out of Georgia. Never mind that metro Atlanta is one of the hottest markets for electric vehicles in the nation.
Signs point to a parallel battle in the General Assembly. Last week, the National Automobile Dealers Association began trolling for sympathetic lawmakers. While Georgia dealers say they have “no plans” to revisit an anti-Tesla bill that failed last year, Tesla is preparing a defense. It has already hired one of the top lobbying firms in Atlanta.
Most Georgia car buyers don’t realize that their purchases are guided by state laws that presume a two-tiered system: Manufacturers sell to independent franchise owners, who sell to consumers. You can’t buy a Ford or Chevy or Nissan or Toyota directly from the manufacturer.
Tesla breaks that mold. It has no franchisees, and thus, the company maintains, Georgia’s restrictions on direct sales to consumers shouldn’t apply. The company does, however, currently observe a 150-car annual limit set by the state on “custom design” vehicles.
GADA spokesman Chip Lake says the fight isn’t over technology. “Automobile dealers are very supportive of electric vehicles. There are dealers all over the state that sell electric vehicles,” he said. “Auto dealers just believe Telsa is not complying with state law.”
That last paragraph is the real money-quote, not for the content of the statement, but for the fact that political consultant Chip Lake has been engaged to help the auto dealers protect their pocketbooks.
Healthcare Systems – This is a complex set of issues that all resolve to the question of money. Rural hospitals have been closing due to funding shortfalls. In addition, some rural communities have limited access to medical professionals, particularly when their population is highly dependent on federal programs whose reimbursement rates are in the range of 50 cents on the dollar. Certificates of Need for some new facilities require a healthcare provider to prove to the state government that their proposed service is necessary. The CON requirement may stifle some medical facilities and prevent lower cost options to some communities, but supporters say it’s necessary to protect existing healthcare facilities from competition that doesn’t have the same mandates. These issues will be tough nuts to crack, and no one expects any one-shot solution.
We’ll be discussing other issues in coming days. Stay tuned.
The National Weather Service forecasts “likely” rain for Monday, Jan. 12, with temperatures in the high 40s. Out of an abundance of caution, and with the health and safety of inaugural guests in mind, the swearing-in ceremony will be moved indoors from Liberty Plaza to the State Capitol. Gov. Nathan Deal and our constitutional officers will take the oath of office in the House Chamber.
While moving the event indoors limits seating and crowd capacity, the wellbeing and comfort of our guests is of utmost importance. With that in mind, please review the ticket information below for revised seating information.Continue Reading..
Isakson Secures Speedy Fix to Army Retirement Benefits Issue
In response to calls from Isakson, Army reverses policy that forced many officers to retire at a lower rank, lose as much as $1,000 per month in retirement benefits
Today, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, commended U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh for heeding Isakson’s call to reverse a policy that was forcing a significant number of Army officers to retire at a lower rank and lose significant retirement benefits – amounting to as much as $1,000 per month –for the rest of their lives.
“I am thrilled Secretary McHugh responded quickly to my concerns and is taking the steps necessary to rectify this situation. The men and women of our armed forces deserve to retire at the rank they have earned from their service to our nation,” said Isakson.
A significant group of Army captains and majors (former non-commissioned officers who were recruited for Officer Candidate School after September 11, 2001) were being forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank, instead of their rank as officers, as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards. In November, Isakson, along with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and a number of additional Senate colleagues, sent a letter to Sec. McHugh calling for a reversal of this policy.
In a letter this week responding to the senators’ concerns, Sec. McHugh wrote, “I heartily share your concern regarding those officers…who were informed they must retire in their previous enlisted grade. I am pleased to inform you that…I have waived the minimum requirement for those officers, allowing them to retire as officers without regard to the number of years they have in active commissioned service.” Continue Reading..
Expect expansive proposals from 2015 state legislature
On Jan. 12, the 153rd Georgia General Assembly will convene its first session. Having dominated the 2014 November general elections, Republicans will be in firm control.
Although Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue’s election in 2002 signaled a sea change in Georgia politics, it has not been until this past election cycle that Republican domination became institutional. Until then, Republicans governed with one eye on the immediate past and one eye on the next election constantly fearful that it had all been a fluke.
Certainly, when Republicans gained control following Perdue’s victory, there was quick action on tort reform with its far reaching implications. Yet, Republicans knew that the courts would nibble much of it away and they would be unable (or unwilling) to take it on again.
Since then, “Go Fish” became the legacy legislation for Perdue. Beneath the political radar, Gov. NathanDeal focused on criminal justice reform in his first term. While certainly a dramatic and important change in the way Georgia addresses criminal justice, the changes kept their distance from the kinds of hot-button issues that create division with the Republican Party or provide causes celeb res for Democrats to energize their base.
But now, with Gov. Deal’s term limited, and huge majorities in the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate, watch for Republicans to govern this year from a much firmer foothold than at any time since taking control over a decade ago. As a result, Georgia voters can expect more expansive proposals with longer-term implications than at any time since Democrats were in control.Continue Reading..