The blog.

1
Mar

Early decision possible on who pays for nuclear overruns | www.ajc.com

Uncertainty has loomed for years over whether Georgia Power customers will be stuck paying for big cost overruns on the the nuclear expansion under way at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.

The issue wasn’t expected to be settled until after the first of two new reactors is online, now slated to be in mid 2019.

But a move Friday by Georgia Power could push the state’s elected Public Service Commission to act now, rather than letting the matter lie until years in the future when the PSC might have a different makeup.

And by getting approval now for what is ultimately at least $1.4 billion in higher costs, the company might avoid having to halt its collection of the project’s financing costs for anything beyond the original cost estimate. Georgia Power customers already are paying Vogtle’s financing expenses in their monthly power bills.

PSC Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton said he’s trying to understand the ramifications of what the company is asking for in its Friday filing.

But he said he thinks the company’s moves “would be a step in the direction of gaining recovery for those extra costs sooner rather than later.”

via Early decision possible on who pays for nuclear overruns | www.ajc.com.

1
Mar

Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk buck leaders, help sink short-term homeland security bill | Political Insider blog

WASHINGTON – With the clock ticking toward a midnight funding stoppage for the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. House failed to pass a three-week funding bill Friday, with Georgia Republicans Barry Loudermilk and Jody Hice objecting.

Loudermilk, of Cassville, and Hice, of Monroe, were among 52 Republicans who voted against a three-week bill to keep the department open. House leaders are now discussing an attempt to push through a one-week bill before the midnight shutdown, but it’s unclear if that would swing any votes.

The final vote was 203-224, as almost all House Democrats lined up against the short-term bill, insisting the House swallow the Senate-passed “clean” funding bill through September. House Republicans had tied DHS funding to blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration actions that could remove the threat of deportation for up to 5 million people now here illegally, setting up this showdown months ago.

But Democrats remained united against it. After the vote, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said “we are at the precipice. We should do this now” rather than postpone things a week or three. In Democrats’ view, Republicans sooner or later will have to fund the department without immigration preconditions, especially since Senate Republicans have already caved.

via Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk buck leaders, help sink short-term homeland security bill | Political Insider blog.

1
Mar

Ethics watchdogs unhappy with latest cutbacks | The Watchdog blog

Gov. Nathan Deal proposed a huge bolstering of the state ethics commission, but House leaders have cut back his ambitious plans and government watchdogs aren’t happy about it.

Under Deal’s budget proposal, the long dysfunctional agency, which enforces the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws, would get four new attorneys and four investigators to resolve complaints more quickly and eliminate backlogs. Most of the complaints are filed against state and local politicians and lobbyists.

The House didn’t go along with the governor’s proposal, cutting the expansion in half. The chamber backed giving the agency two more lawyers and two auditors, cutting Deal’s proposal by $400,000. Still, it is more than the commission has now.

William Perry of Georgia Common Cause criticized the cuts, noting that House Speaker David Ralston had agreed with Deal that a funding increase was needed. He called the House’s move “a signal that the leadership in our state has no real interest in fixing a problem that has cost taxpayers more than $8 million and counting. Repeated underfunding of the agency has left it a mess and, without the proper resources, it can’t be fully cleaned up.”

Perry said a performance audit of the agency last fall concluded that a lack of independent funding was among the commission’s biggest problems.

via Ethics watchdogs unhappy with latest cutbacks | The Watchdog blog.

1
Mar

‘Right to try’ drugs mean ‘right to hope’ for some | www.myajc.com

The bill would allow a doctor to petition a drug company on behalf of a dying patient with any illness to use a drug that has passed only through the first of three phases of testing required for FDA approval.

So-called “right to try” bills are sweeping the country, with bills similar to Georgia’s being sponsored in 26 states. Five states — Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Michigan — passed similar laws in their 2014 legislative sessions.

Critics of the bills fear they are based on emotion rather than medicine and that they flout FDA protocol that protects people from purveyors of snake oil.

Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, who brought the Georgia bill before the House Health and Human Services Committee, said he recognized that access to a drug does not mean healing from a drug.

via ‘Right to try’ drugs mean ‘right to hope’ for some | www.myajc.com.

27
Feb

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 27, 2015

Jackson
Hi! My name is Jackson. I am a bull terrier mix but I am a miniature bull terrier. I’m little and sweet. I have a lot of energy because I am a little boy, but I love everyone and I get along well with other dogs. Jackson is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville, GA.

Cheryl

Hi humans! My name is Cheryl, a young female Spaniel mix. I am named for my favorite vet who took good care of me until I got to the shelter. Now I am ready to go home with you. I am very sweet and I get along very well with other dogs. I’m told that I walk very well on a leash too. I am a good girl. Cheryl is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville, GA.

Sylvia

Hi I’m Sylvia! I am a female chihuahua mix and I am ready to go home with you and be your next best pal. I have great ears! In fact, they should have named me Yoda! I am a sweet girl and I need a forever home. Sylvia is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville, GA.

27
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 27, 2015

On February 27, 1922, the United States Supreme Court released an unanimous decision holding that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is constitutional. The case, Leser v. Garnett, arose because of a challenge seeking to strike women’s names from the voter rolls in Maryland and asserting:

  • The power to amend the Constitution did not cover this amendment, due to its character.
  • Several states that had ratified the amendment had constitutions that prohibited women from voting, rendering them unable to ratify an amendment to the contrary.
  • The ratifications of Tennessee and West Virginia were invalid, because they were adopted without following the rules of legislative procedure in place in those states.

It might as well have asserted that sleeping on the couch for the rest of the plantiffs’ lives would be cold and uncomfortable.

On February 27, 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted in Fulton County Superior Court of murdering two adult males. Atlanta Police later said he was guilty of at least 23 of 29 child murders between 1979 and 1981. Williams was never indicted or tried on the allegations of child murder and maintains his innocence.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Both House and Senate are in recess today.

9:00am – 10:00am Senate Appropriations Criminal Justice Sub – 310 clob
9:00am – 11:00am Senate Appropriations Sub – Community Health – 341 clob
10:00am – 12:00pm Senate Appropriations Sub – Judicial – 450 cap
10:30am – 11:30am Senate Appropriations Human Dev Sub – 341 cap
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Appropriations Sub – General Gov’t – 450 cap
2:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Appropriations Sub – Higher Education – 341 cap

Senate Bill 88 by State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) passed yesterday by a 43-8 vote and will allow employers to use prepaid debit cards as a payroll option for employees.

“This just clarifies the law and gives employers an option if they so choose” to load pay onto a card, said state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, ahead of the Senate vote Thursday.

Credit card companies including Visa and MasterCard already run payroll card services. The employer loads the card with the employee’s pay, and the card is accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted and at ATMs. Under Jones’ bill, employers choose the card and hand out paperwork documenting all the fees and rules. Employees can then choose to opt out. “They have to provide the employee the parameters of the card, … and they have to give them an opt-out one pager,” he said.

Fees at check-cashing stores can be “astronomical,” Jones said. Debit cards, he said, could be a cheaper option for people who do not have a bank account.

About 5.4 percent of employed people nationwide had no bank account, according to a 2013 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. survey. The figure was 7.5 percent for Georgia.

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26
Feb

VIDEO – Rep. Buddy Carter: Presses for Obamacare Misstep Answers

Your Washington – GA 1 – Desk

From Congressman Buddy Carter 

Rep. Carter Presses for Obamacare Misstep Answers

- Today, Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-01) pressed for answers about serious recent Obamacare missteps, including the announcement last week from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that they had sent out 800,000 incorrect forms that Americans who used Healthcare.gov will need to file their taxes. During questioning, Carter raised serious concerns of the continued failures, “my daddy used to tell me ‘son that’s why pencils have erasers,’ I hope y’all have invested in an eraser factory because you’re going to need a bunch.”

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26
Feb

Rep. Tom Graves: Joins Ga. House Republicans in Opposition to Obama Administration’s Ammo Ban Effort

Your Washington – GA 14 – Desk

From Congressman Tom Graves

Tom Graves 2

Rep. Tom Graves Joins Ga. House Republicans in Opposition to Obama Administration’s Ammo Ban Effort

 Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) joined his fellow Georgia House Republicans in opposition to the Obama administration’s new effort to effectively ban common ammunition for America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15. To accomplish this ban, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives proposed a new “framework” that expands the “armor-piercing” ammunition ban to include 7N6 rifle ammunition, which is commonly used by sportsmen.

Voicing their opposition to the administration’s ammo-ban effort, Rep. Graves joined his Georgia House Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Todd Jones, the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, demanding answers for this political and arbitrary proposal.

Rep. Graves and his colleagues wrote in the letter, “To us, the framework appears to be nothing but a brazen attempt to bypass Congress and the American people to enact President Obama’s gun control agenda…While we share your commitment to protecting law enforcement officers from ammunition designed and wielded to cause them harm, we are not willing to allow your agency to circumvent the legislative process by unilaterally banning ammunition primarily suitable for sporting purposes.”

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26
Feb

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: Applauds New Army National Guard Cyber Protection Station in Georgia

Your Washington – GA 3 – Desk

From Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

Lynn

Westmoreland Applauds New Army National Guard Cyber Protection Station in Georgia

On February 25, 2015, Army National Guard officials at the National Guard Bureau have announced that Georgia has been selected for one of the new 10 Army National Guard cyber protection stations. Georgia is already home to the U.S. Army’s Cyber Command Headquarters, located at Fort Gordon in Augusta, and this selection solidifies the state as a strong contributor to the United States’ cyber and intelligence efforts.Congressman Westmoreland applauds the Army National Guard’s decision.

“I would like to formally welcome the Army National Guard’s new cyber protection team to Georgia,” stated Westmoreland. “It is an honor to have our state selected for the cyber protection station, and it will be a great addition to the crucial cyber and national security work this state produces. The National Guard Bureau’s development of the cyber protection teams is a significant step towards improving state and federal cyber defense programs and capabilities, and will help grow the manpower needed to combat the new threat of cyberterrorism our nation faces every day. I look forward to working with and supporting the efforts of the National Guard Bureau on cyber issues to protect the citizens of our nation.”

Each of the 10 cyber stations will be staffed by specially trained National Guard citizen-soldiers to be qualified as Army Cyber Soldiers. The selection process was a highly competitive process; including the review of 45 states, territories and the District of Columbia, and the careful evaluation of 32 nomination packets.

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26
Feb

Sen. David Perdue: The Internet Should Not Be Over Regulated By Unelected Federal Bureaucrats

Your Washington Desk

From Senator David Perdue

David Perdue Country2

Senator David Perdue: The Internet Should Not Be Over Regulated By Unelected Federal Bureaucrats

U.S. Senator David Perdue released a statement on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Internet regulations. The Internet is now reclassified from an information service to a telecommunications service. The FCC will now be able to exert more authority over Internet access. The regulations also include wireless access.

“The Internet should not be over regulated by unelected federal bureaucrats,” said Senator Perdue. “We deserve a more open Internet – not one that’s controlled and mandated by Washington. In fact, any policy coming out of Washington should promote our free enterprise system, innovation, and more competition. The FCC’s latest Internet regulation plan falls short of these marks.

“The FCC also left lawmakers in the dark throughout this entire process. The FCC’s lack of transparency is another example of why Georgians are furious with Washington.

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