The blog.

1
Mar

Jack Kingston: the Case for Ted Cruz

by Jack Kingston

Kingstons Ted Cruz

I’ve spent my adult life trying to serve the Republican Party and fighting to advance conservative principles. That’s why it irks me to hear how well Donald Trump is predicted to perform in primaries in Georgia and across many great states.

I certainly understand the widespread disdain for Washington—the system is obviously not serving the working people of America. But electing a wildcard like Donald Trump President is not the answer. The past eight years have shown us what a disaster an unknown in the White House will get us. We need a consistent conservative leader, now more than ever, who we can trust to right the course of the country.

Donald Trump is far from consistent. And, while pleasantly candid and entertaining at first glance, some of Trump’s recent comments should have all conservatives skeptical of his values and worried as I am that, as our party’s nominee, he will hand the White House to Hillary Clinton.Continue Reading..

1
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 1, 2016

Chana

Chana is a young male Retriever or Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Georgia S.P.C.A. in Suwanee, GA.

Spanky

Spanky is a young male Schnauzer mix who is available for adoption from Georgia S.P.C.A. in Suwanee, GA.

Bella

Bella is a young Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Georgia S.P.C.A. in Suwanee, GA. He’s listed on Petfinder as a male, but the name makes me wonder if this is a girl.

1
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2016

Today is the day for Georgians to go to the polls from 7 AM to 7 PM and cast our ballots for President. Click here for the Secretary of State’s MVP website if you need information on where to vote.

If you live in Tucker, I hope you’ll vote for Frank Auman for Mayor.

Frank Auman March 1 Header

We’ve seen several reports that Rockdale County voters who vote at Honey Creek Elementary School will vote today at the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Registration Office, 1400 Parker Road, Lobby B, Conyers, Ga. 30094.

There are 1,897 voters impacted by this change. The Board of Elections and Registration Office is asking that the voters of Honey Creek Precinct contact our office should they have any questions or require additional information.

All Rockdale County voters are reminded that they must vote at their assigned precinct on Election Day, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., March 1.

For further information, contact the Rockdale Board of Elections/VR Office at (770) 278-7333.

Georgia and American History

On March 1, 1778, the Georgia legislature confiscated property owned by 117 people after labeling them traitors.

The Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781.

The nation was guided by the Articles of Confederation until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.

The critical distinction between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution —the primacy of the states under the Articles—is best understood by comparing the following lines.

The Articles of Confederation begin:

“To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States”

By contrast, the Constitution begins:

“We the People of the United States do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

On March 1, 1875, Governor James Smith signed legislation making cruelty to animals a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $50.

Paul Broun, Sr. was born on March 1, 1916, in Shellman, Georgia, and served 38 years in the Georgia legislature.

Broun was first elected to the state senate in 1962 in a historic election that took place after the federal courts struck down Georgia’s long-established county unit election system. Broun was one of several new senators elected in a class that included Jimmy Carter, the future president of the United States; Leroy Johnson, the first black legislator elected in Georgia since Reconstruction; and politicians like Hugh Gillis, Culver Kidd, and Bobby Rowan, who would have a lasting impact on legislative politics.

Broun was elected to nineteen consecutive terms in the senate, where he served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee.

Dorothy Felton was born on March 1, 1929, and served as the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia legislature.

Dorothy Felton was the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly and eventually became the longest-serving Republican and the longest-serving woman of either party in the state legislature. She also worked for more than a quarter of a century for the right of the Sandy Springs community of Fulton County to incorporate as a municipality, a goal that was not achieved until four years after she retired from elective office.

Felton was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974 from a district in Sandy Springs.

Under the Gold Dome

The General Assembly is in recess today after a frantic Crossover Day, the 30th legislative day by which bills must pass one chamber in order to be eligible for consideration by the other.

The Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill to add several conditions to the list eligible for medical cannabis oil, but without approving in-state cultivation and production.

The House voted 152-8 on the measure, which expands the list of conditions that would qualify a person to legally possess an oil derived from cannabis plants from eight to 15. Among the new conditions are post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS and autism.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Allen Peake’s original bill called for setting up a regulatory structure to grow marijuana in state, but the cultivation language was stripped out of the proposal by a House committee vetting the bill before making it to a full floor vote.

Speaking on the floor before the vote, Peake, a Macon Republican, said, “I’d be remiss in presenting this bill if I didn’t express some tinge of disappointment, and mostly in myself.”

“When any of us author a piece of legislation, it is our job to make a compelling enough argument to each other, to leadership and the governor as to why our bill is needed,” Peake said. “Clearly, I didn’t make a strong enough case for the need for a regulated infrastructure for cultivation of medical cannabis in our state.”

Legislation that would have allowed voters the opportunity to legalize casino gambling did not pass the State House.

After postponing a floor vote Fri­day, House Speaker David Ralston said he would not call a bill legalizing casinos and an accompanying constitutional amendment for a vote Monday.

Ralston said that as he talked with people about the measure, “the faith community felt they had not been heard,” and he added, “I want them to know they have been heard.”

The proposal would have allowed up to four casinos in Geor­gia, with two in the metro Atlanta area. It would have sent at least 90 percent of casino revenue toward education and increased the percentage of revenue that casinos would pay in taxes compared with earlier proposals.

The changes weren’t enough to convince opponents, including Gov. Na­than Deal. He reiterated Monday that he didn’t believe casinos would “enhance the climate of the state” and said he was concerned they could draw customers away from the state-run lottery that funds the scholarship program.

The Georgia Senate finished its calendar for the day without voting on two gambling-related measures, making it difficult for either to become law this year.

Legislation to regulate online fantasy sports did not pass the Senate in the wake of an opinion by Attorney General Sam Olens’s office that such websites constitute gambling and are prohibited in Georgia.

We’re looking at a letter from Wright Banks Jr., deputy attorney general for the state of Georgia to Joseph Kim, top lawyer for the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

The question Kim wanted answer is whether fantasy sports games are illegal under Georgia law. Specifically, are they games of chance or skill?

The answer is probably why Senate Bill 352, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, has been dropped to the bottom of the Senate calendar on Crossover Day.

Attorney General Sam Olens’ office, in a letter dated last Friday, says that would be illegal: Fantasy sports constitute the kind of gambling that is forbidden state law.

The Senate passed SR 756 by Sen. Judson Hill, which would place on the November ballot a Constitutional Amendment to ratchet down the top personal income tax rate over time if certain state financial benchmarks are met.

Peach State Presidential Politics

Former Congressman Jack Kingston closes the Georgia Presidential Primary with “the case for Ted Cruz.”

I’ve spent my adult life trying to serve the Republican Party and fighting to advance conservative principles. That’s why it irks me to hear how well Donald Trump is predicted to perform in primaries in Georgia and across many great states.

I certainly understand the widespread disdain for Washington—the system is obviously not serving the working people of America. But electing a wildcard like Donald Trump President is not the answer. The past eight years have shown us what a disaster an unknown in the White House will get us. We need a consistent conservative leader, now more than ever, who we can trust to right the course of the country.

We all have frustration with the status quo. But instead of gambling with the Johnny-come-lately to the cause, why not back the person we know will act in a way that will turn this country around?

Ted Cruz has done it. We’ve seen him buck the leadership in both parties to take on the causes that we all believe in, and that Donald Trump has only recently decided to take note of. Cruz defended the 2nd Amendment in front of the Supreme Court and in the US Senate. Cruz led the charge to defund Planned Parenthood when other Republicans shied away. Cruz killed the amnesty bill. Cruz stood on the Senate floor for 21 hours fighting to repeal Obamacare while other Republicans sat by and took the easy way out.

Ted Cruz is the only consistent conservative in this race. Perhaps just as importantly—because 3 in 4 Cruz supporters choose Donald Trump as their second choice, not Marco Rubio—Ted Cruz is mathematically and simply the only candidate who can defeat Donald Trump and lead our party to save our country.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton introduced Marco Rubio and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley at a rally in Buckhead.

From the Washington Times,

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio lost his voice Monday and brought in South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to help lead a rally and make his closing argument a day before Super Tuesday.

“When you work hard and you fight hard these things happen. When these things happen, you call your friends,” Mrs. Haley told a crowd of about 1,000 supporters at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel.

“If you really want to know what kind of leader you are going to get, you can always tell by how hard they work in their campaign,” Mrs. Haley said.

Mr. Rubio has been barnstorming Georgia and many of the 10 other states voting Tuesday, where he needs a strong showing to try to stay competitive and blunt front-runner Donald Trump’s momentum.

Mr. Rubio made a last-ditch appeal for support, warning that Mr. Trump was conning Republican voters and that giving him the nomination would all but guarantee Hillary Clinton is the next president.

“I don’t say this with any glee, but a vote for Donald Trump tomorrow is a vote for Hillary Clinton in November,” he said.

He said that Mr. Trump doesn’t live up to his rhetoric, including having his clothing line made in China, using illegal immigrant labor to build a hotel and leaving subcontractors in the lurch with repeated bankruptcy filings.

Mr. Rubio said that if Mr. Trump wins the GOP nomination “the Democrats the press will de[scend] on him like the hounds of hell and they will rip him apart.”

The crowd responded enthusiastically to Mrs. Haley and Mr. Rubio. And yet, their fervor was dampened by the daunting task confronting their candidate, who trails in Georgia and every other Super Tuesday state.

Donald Trump made his own closing argument in Valdosta last night. From the Valdosta Daily Times,

Thousands turned out Monday to hear Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Valdosta State University’s P.E. Complex — the night before the crucial Super Tuesday round of primaries.

Crowds chanted, “Trump, Trump, Trump,” as he entered the standing-room-only coliseum.

Trump set the tone for the evening by telling the partisan crowd, “We are winning.”

Trump also said, “I am a conservative.”

Trump’s private jet arrived at Valdosta Regional Airport at about 4 p.m., with supporters lining the road past the airport to get a glimpse of the candidate as a law-enforcement motorcade delivered him to the university.

Trump surprised the crowd with some first-person testimonials from NASCAR royalty, including drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman and Bill Elliott.

A writer from USA Today estimated the crowd size at Trump’s Valdosta rally,

Some 7,500 people packed into the 5,000-seat athletic complex at VSU, with thousands more listening outside. They chanted his name when he vowed to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. And they cheered when he promised to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Trump was the first GOP presidential candidate to visit Valdosta in more than three decades, said Brandon Phillips, director of the Georgia Trump campaign. The last time was 1980, when Ronald Reagan campaigned there.

“I think we’re going to do well in Georgia,” said Phillips, managing partner of the political consulting firm Wiregrass Strategy Group, which has an office in Tallahassee. “It’s just a matter of how well we’re going to do.”

Phillips said Trump has built a strong organization in Georgia, with field offices in four cities, Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta and Valdosta, and local campaign directors in every county.

“We’ve got a good ground game, contrary to popular belief,” he said. “We’re organizing 159 counties out of 159 counties — and we’re the only campaign to do that.”

Since we originally published this, my friend, Don Cole emailed me to let me know that Newt Gingrich campaigned in Valdosta for the Presidency in 2012.

Here’s Trump in Valdosta.

There were also reports that 30 African-American students from Valdosta State were kicked out of the event.

About 30 black students who were standing silently at the top of the bleachers at Donald Trump’s rally here Monday night were escorted out by Secret Service agents who said the presidential candidate had requested their removal before he began speaking.

The sight of the students, who were visibly upset, being led outside by law enforcement officials created a stir at a university that was a whites-only campus until 1963.

“We didn’t plan to do anything,” said a tearful Tahjila Davis, a 19-year-old mass media major, who was among the Valdosta State University students who was removed. “They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks in an email late Monday night denied that the students were shown the door “at the request of the candidate.”

Post Peach State Presidential Politics

After today, the Presidential election moves forward toward the next round of elections, while Democrats in Georgia start looking toward the General Elections in 2016 and 2018.

Kathleen Foody with the Associated Press writes about what some observers expect to learn today and how the Presidential election will move forward.

Eric Tanenblatt, a Republican consultant who hasn’t committed to a campaign following Jeb Bush’s exit, said the state tends to break down by region in GOP primaries and ensure delegates are awarded proportionally rather than all going to the popular vote winner.

He expects Ted Cruz to do well in rural parts of the state, including north Georgia, while Marco Rubio and John Kasich will battle for support in metro Atlanta and along the coast.

“I think you’re going to see that kind of division across the South, and Tuesday’s primary won’t clarify much,” Tanenblatt said.

A clear second-place victor could make a strong argument that he is the only alternative to Trump, said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University. If Rubio distances himself from Cruz, or vice versa, the winning senator will try to win over the other’s supporters, she said.

“The question then becomes whether a Cruz voter is comfortable voting for Rubio or would prefer Trump,” she added.

Hillary Clinton rallied supporters Friday at Atlanta City Hall, promising to return and help turn the state blue.

“Georgia looks like America,” said Tharon Johnson, a Democratic campaign strategist who is supporting Clinton. “We have a prominent and active African-American voting community that both candidates have spent a lot of time galvanizing. Ultimately, Hillary Clinton will win because of her long, proven history of standing up for our issues.”

Maggie Lee, writing for the Macon Telegraph, writes about Democrats’ prospective path forward.

Georgia voters elected their first Republican governor in more than a century when they put Sonny Perdue in office in 2002. Converting some of those across the aisle along the way, Republicans continued to pick up more seats in the state Legislature and more statewide offices, putting an end to Georgia’s one-party Democratic era.

And since then, Georgia Democrats have been in the wilderness as statewide offices have slipped from their hands. Black voters solidly choose the party, but African Americans make up only roughly 30 percent of all active voters in the state, just about in line with the black share of the population. White voters make up the vast majority of the rest of voters and residents, according to state records.

“Whites who call themselves moderates in Georgia tend to vote Republican,” said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta and an expert on Southern politics. Evangelical Christians are Georgia’s biggest voting bloc, he said.

On the surface, the demographics look good for Democrats. “Elements of the population that tend to be growing, tend to be Democrats,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. He ticks off a list: non-white people; single, highly educated women; and people who move to metro Atlanta from other regions.

It’s hard to say whether Democrats could win a statewide election [in 2018]. The party needs to register more voters, do a better job with voter turnout and recruit and train candidates who can appeal to a Democratic coalition that once existed, said Tharon Johnson, a Democratic political strategist in Atlanta.

29
Feb

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 29, 2016

Symba

Symba is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.

Symba was surrendered to the shelter by its previous owner. Volunteers tell staff that Symba is a very playful sweet girl.

Daisy

Daisy is an adult female Basset Hound & Labrador Retriever Mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA. Daisy was surrendered to the shelter by her previous owners.

A037910

A073910 is an adult male Flat-Coated Retriever who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.

29
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 29, 2016

On February 29, 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, arrest warrants were issued for Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, accusing the three women of witchcraft.

On February 29, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed the first Panama Canal Commission.

On February 29, 1904, Gone With the Wind received eight Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie Mcdaniel, the first African-American winner.

On February 29, 1936, a board appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt recommended constructing a dam on the Savannah River at Clarks Hill, north of Augusta.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Today is Day 30 of the Georgia General Assembly 2016 Session, called “Crossover Day.” Any bills that haven’t been passed by at least one chamber by adjournment are not eligible for passage this year. After today, each chamber will begin considering bills that originated across the rotunda in the other chamber.

SENATE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

12:00 PM RULES -TBD 450 CAP

3:00 PM HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

4:00 PM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM 310 CLOB

HOUSE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 6 – Georgia Road Safety and Driver’s License Integrity Act; provide persons who possess lawful alien status are only category of non-citizens (PUB SAF – McKoon)

SB 77 – DNA Sampling, Collection, and Analysis; provide for analysis and collection of DNA for individuals arrested and convicted of felony offenses (JUDY NC – Albers)

SB 206 – Counties and Municipal Corporations; revise provisions relating to water liens; procedures (JUDY – Ligon)

SB 304 – Criminal Records; allow for the preservation of a person’s involuntary hospitalization information received by Georgia Crime Information (PUB SAF – Parent)

SB 310 – “Transparency in Education Act”; prohibit implementation of certain grants; written analysis; grant terms are ratified by Gen. Assembly (ED&Y – Ligon)

SB 328 – Education; students who are subject to compulsory attendance shall not be assigned to alternative education program for more than two semesters (ED&Y – E. Jones)

SB 336 – Retirement; permit governing bodies of municipal corporations to enact plans by resolution in addition to ordinance (RET – Black)

SB 346 – “Environmental Policy Act”; exempt projects for construction/improvement of public roads from environmental effects reports (TRANS – Beach)

SB 352 – Selling and Other Trade Practices; provide consumer protection requirements for fantasy contest operators (RI&U – Unterman)

SB 355 – “Student/Teacher Protection Act”; enact; end punitive testing consequences; related to federal, state,and locally mandated standardized assessments (ED&Y – Ligon)

SB 357 – Education; local board education members; revise provisions relating to standards (ED&Y – M. Williams)

SB 375 – Municipal Corporations; provide certain requirements and standards for the incorporation of new municipal corporations (SLOGO – Gooch)

SB 385 – Physicians; provide for certain requirements for advertisement or publication of representation of board certification by physicians (H&HS – Judson Hill)

SB 389 – Social Services; temporary assistance for needy families; provide for exception to lifetime maximum assistance (H&HS – H. Hill)

SB 402 – Drug Abuse Treatment and Education Programs; provide for a moratorium on the issuance of new licenses to narcotic treatment programs (RI&U – Mullis)

SB 404 – Public Safety Department; off-duty use of motor vehicles by certain law enforcement officers; revise provisions (PUB SAF – Harper)

SB 409 – Education; require every public school to post a sign containing toll-free telephone number; reports of child abuse or neglect (ED&Y – VanNess)

SB 416 – GBI; establish Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center; provide fusion center for sharing and analysis of homeland security activity information (PUB SAF – Cowsert)

SB 417 – ‘Georgia Film and Television Trail Act’; create; provide definitions; purpose (ED&T – Mullis)

SR 604 – Revenue and Taxation; prohibit the levy of state ad valorem taxes –CA (FIN – Heath)

SR 756 – Appropriations Acts; provide for prioritized funding requirements; procedures, conditions, and limitations-CA (FIN – Judson Hill)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

HB 513 Pleadings and motions; procedure for claims asserted against a person or entity arising from an act which could be construed as an act in furtherance of the right of free speech or right to petition government for redress of grievances; revise provisions (Substitute)(JudyNC-Stephens-164th)

HB 889 Professions and businesses; funeral establishments and crematories; authorize certain advertisements related to crematories and cremation services (Substitute)(RegI-Kidd-145th)

HB 934 Human Services, Department of; website providing kinship caregivers with information and access to apply for public assistance benefits; provide (HumR-Kirby-114th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 12 Georgia Military Service Integrity and Preservation Act; enact (Substitute)(JudyNC-Rogers-10th)

HB 171 Laws and statutes; revise provisions relating to effect and enforcement of foreign laws; provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Hightower-68th)

HB 699 Local government; define a certain term; provisions (Substitute) (GAff-Welch-110th)

HB 727 Fireworks; certain further regulations by counties and municipal corporations; provide (Substitute)(RegI-Battles-15th)(AM 41 0156)

HB 734 “Georgia Space Flight Act”; enact (Substitute)(Judy-Spencer-180th)

HB 779 Crimes and offenses; regulate use of unmanned aircraft systems and images; provisions (Substitute)(JudyNC-Tanner-9th)

HB 825 “Protecting Military Children Act”; enact (JuvJ-Smith-125th)

HB 868 State government; Georgia State Games Commission; eliminate (SProp-Rogers-10th)

HB 976 State records management; minimum retention periods for video recordings from law enforcement devices on or inside a vehicle; provide (Substitute)(PS&HS-Hitchens-161st)

HB 1060 Crimes and offenses; carrying and possession of firearms; confirm that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed (Substitute)(PS&HS-Jasperse-11th)

HB 1066 Penal institutions; additional duties of commissioner of corrections; authorize chief of staff to issue warrants of an offender who has escaped (PS&HS-Powell-32nd)

HB 1070 Domestic relations; adoption; permit the department to use certain information in the records concerning the adopted child’s biological parents (Judy-Dempsey-13th)

Structured Rule

HB 364 Real estate transfer tax; change certain provisions (Substitute) (W&M-Knight-130th)

HB 471 Ad valorem tax; heavy-duty vehicles; add a definition of certain vehicles (Substitute)(W&M-Stephens-164th)

HB 722 Health; patient registry program for the use of medical cannabis; provide (Substitute)(JudyNC-Peake-141st)

HB 828 Income tax credit; employers who hire certain qualified parolees for fulltime jobs; create (Substitute)(W&M-Fludd-64th)

HB 935 Ad valorem tax; properties eligible for a freeport exemption; add certain fulfillment centers (Substitute)(W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 936 Income tax; wages necessary to qualify for a job tax credit; clarify certain terms (W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 937 Sales and use tax; exemption for projects of regional significance; change sunset provision (W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 990 Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; change certain definitions (Substitute)(W&M-Powell-171st)

HB 1014 Income tax; exemption for donation of real property for conservation use; extend sunset date (W&M-Powell-171st)

HB 1028 Natural Resources, Department of; Environmental Protection Division; provide notice to affected localities upon certain events relating to permitted solid or hazardous waste facilities (Substitute) (NR&E-Werkheiser-157th)

Local & Legislation

The ABLE Act is one of the bills that will cross over and be considered by the “other” chamber. From the Gainesville Times,

A bill that would protect Medicaid and allow adults with disabilities to save money passed the Georgia House of Representatives unanimously last week.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, is the lead sponsor of the bill.

“He’s just been an incredible sponsor,” Kathy Keeley, executive director of All About Developmental Disabilities, said Friday. “He’s worked really hard on it.”

“He is the expert and he has been shepherding this through all the committee hearings,” she added.

The bill now goes to the Senate, and Hawkins said Friday he would not be surprised if it passes there unanimously also.

“I’ve talked to a number of my old Senate colleagues, and I’ve talked to some of the new senators,” he said. “I have found no one who opposes the bill.”

The ABLE bill, House Bill 768, complies with recent changes in federal law. Keeley explained that federal legislation was passed two years ago and states are now passing implementation bills. She said 34 states have adopted similar legislation.

“The key thing is it protects their benefits and their health care,” Keeley said.

Without the law, she said, disabled adults could not save money and receive Medicaid and supplemental Social Security. With the law, a disabled person can save up to $14,000 a year and still keep his or her benefits.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has more on the ABLE Act, via Georgia Health News,

House Bill 768 would allow tax-exempt saving accounts for people with disabilities to help them live independently and not lose their Medicaid health insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The savings could pay for qualified expenses such as housing, transportation, education and personal support services.

Families spend much of their life savings in caring for a disabled child, Rep. Lee Hawkins, a Gainesville Republican who sponsored the bill, said on the House floor Tuesday before the vote.

The ABLE [Achieving a Better Life Experience] Act will allow people with disabilities to live independently, Hawkins said. “This is one of the greatest things we can do for these folks.’’

The bill is an offshoot of national legislation passed in Congress in 2014. Hawkins said 35 other states have passed such legislation so that people can open ABLE accounts, but none has begun operating the accounts.

Currently, these disabled individuals can only have $2,000 in assets in order to retain Medicaid and SSI.

Retaining Medicaid coverage is vital for people with disabilities, said Kathy Keeley of All About Developmental Disabilities, an advocacy group. “Individuals do everything they can in order to keep it.”

Shaw said the legislation “allows us to invest in their future,’’ Shaw said. “[Dakota] can be an employed, taxpaying citizen of Georgia. She can have a future to save for.”

“People with disabilities have been trapped in poverty,’’ Shaw said. “Without the ABLE Act, they will stay there.”

In Gwinnett County, Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader doffed her judicial robe and took to the stage at Cross Pointe Church to discuss the heroin epidemic that’s sweeping the northern suburbs.

Judge Kathy Schrader’s voice was urgent.

Her reddish hair catching harsh overhead light, she stood at the podium in a banquet hall at Cross Pointe Church off Satellite Boulevard. In the crowd sat more than 100 faith leaders, officials, drug treatment workers and people who’d lost a loved one as a drug crisis rips through the area.

The purpose of the Thursday night event, put on by Navigate Recovery Gwinnett, was to make a pitch to faith leaders around the county to be more active in knocking down the “shame” society places on addiction.

Schrader spoke bluntly about what’s going on in Gwinnett County, where more than ever people are dying, where the defendants who pass her bench always report substance abuse, and where, for $10, you can get a hit of heroin delivered to your front door.

“Church, please hear my call,” said the judge, who presides over the local drug court, shaking her head. “Please.”

Of particular concern is heroin, which is killing scores of addicts as prescription drug users transition to the cheap street alternative. In 2015, a record-breaking year for overdoses in Gwinnett, at least 22 people fell to heroin, while the extremely powerful painkiller fentanyl claimed 19 lives. Eight others died from a combination of fentanyl and heroin.

Hall County Tax Commissioner Darla Edens will seek a second term.

Eden said she has brought many improvements to the office since being elected in 2012, including better customer service and efficiency.

“While no one likes paying taxes,” she said in a news release, “our job is to make it as painless as possible with an educated staff with a helpful attitude and efficient processes.”

Eden created an information desk where a staff member greets and interviews taxpayers upon entry and a communications center to handle phone calls, emails and faxes. She also led the office during an overhaul of the tax system for motor vehicles.

“My desire to serve as tax commissioner was primarily because I believe professional standards are necessary to deliver excellent customer service,” she said in the news release. “During my first term, many interactions with taxpayers impacted changes that resulted in a more efficient and positive experience for both customers and staff. While challenging and ever changing, I have found the tax commissioner’s responsibilities to be very rewarding.”

Ten-year Navy veteran Troy Phillips will run for Hall County Commission District 4, taking on incumbent Jeff Stowe.

 

Peach State Presidential Politics

Donald J. Trump will get a two-fer today with his rally in Valdosta, Georgia – he’ll draw media attention from Georgia, where voters cast their ballots for President tomorrow, as well as from north Florida markets, where voters go to the polls two weeks from tomorrow in Florida’s winner-take-all Sunshine State primary. Click here for free tickets if any are still available.

The Trump campaign in Valdosta reported a steady stream of supporters seeking tickets, yard signs, and campaign swag over the weekend.

At Trump’s Valdosta campaign office Saturday, people were dropping in looking for campaign signs and asking how to get tickets to the event at Valdosta State University’s P.E. Complex.

“I get calls starting at 7 a.m. and get them as late as 11 p.m.,” said Barbara Schmader, manager of the North Valdosta Road office. “We’ve been very busy the whole time. The response has been unbelievable.”

Trump merchandise has been flying off the shelves, she said.

“We’re completely out of hats, and we are down to extra-large T-shirts,” she said.

Most of the merchandise is sourced locally, but the campaign yard signs are provided by Trump’s national organization, Schmader said. Saturday, the Valdosta office was down to its last six yard signs as people were stopping in looking for more.

 

The Marco Rubio campaign holds three events today:

A Savannah Meet and Greet with former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) from 8 AM to 8:30 AM at B Matthews Eatery – 325 E Bay Street Savannah, GA 31401.

A rally with Sen. Marco Rubio from 12:30 PM to 1:15 PM at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead.

An Augusta Meet and Greet with former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) from 1 PM to 2 PM at Tbonz Steakhouse – 2856 Washington Road, Augusta, GA 30909.

Here is part of Sen. Rubio’s Q&A in Kennesaw this weekend:

And his speech from Saturday:

Attendees at the Ted Cruz event in Atlanta on Saturday:

26
Feb

Buzz Brockway: Why I’m Supporting Marco Rubio

Buzz Brockway is a former Chair of the Gwinnett County Republican Party and serves in the State House of Representatives.

Rubio Medium Shot

I grew up reading National Review magazine and its founder William F. Buckley, Jr. He, along with my father, helped instill in me the conservative principles that shape my approach to politics. One of Buckley’s famous sayings was that conservatives in primary elections should “support the most conservative candidate who is electable.” In this GOP field that once numbered seventeen accomplished individuals, exactly who is this most conservative candidate who is electable?

As I examined the field, I decided Florida Senator Marco Rubio best meets the Buckley test. Pick your favorite conservative group and you will see Rubio consistently ranking as one of the Senate’s most conservative members. During his time in the U.S. Senate, Rubio introduced important conservative legislation; including legislation dealing a serious blow to Obamacare. Rubio didn’t just talk about fighting this ineffective law; he actually did something about it.Continue Reading..

26
Feb

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 25, 2016

Grover

Grover is an adult male Labrador Retriever and American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society in Moultrie, GA.

Hercules

Hercules is a medium-sized male Pit Bull Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society in Moultrie, GA.

Lilly

Lilly is a small female Pit Bull Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society in Moultrie, GA.

Janie

Janie is a female Labrador Retriver mix puppy who is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society in Moultrie, GA.

Janna

Janna, Janie’s sister, is a female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society in Moultrie, GA.

26
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 26, 2016

On February 28, 1784, John Wesley executed a document titled “The Rev. John Wesley’s Declaration and Establishment of the Conference of the People called Methodists.”

On February 28, 1827, the first American railroad organized to transport people and freight commercially, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was chartered. At the time, Baltimore was the second largest city in the nation.

On February 28, 1854, 30 anti-slavery opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would repeal the 1820 Missouri Compromise, met in Ripon, Wisconsin and called for the creation of the Republican Party.

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

On February 28, 1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph company was incorporated, though some accounts says March 3d.

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.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

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.

On February 28, 1991, the First Gulf War ended, as President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire and that Kuwait was liberated.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

Under the Gold Dome Today

SENATE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:00 AM JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

8:30 AM NAT’L RES & ENV’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM RULES – UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM INSURANCE AND LABOR – CANCELED 450 CAP

2:00 PM JUDICIARY – CANCELED – see note 307 CLOB

3:00 PM JUDICIARY NON – CIVIL 307 CLOB

3:00 PM TRANSPORTATION -CANCELED 125 CAP

4:00 PM NAT;L RES & ENV’T – CANCELED – see note 450 CAP

HOUSE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

7:30 AM Resource Management Sub 606 CLOB

8:00 AM NATURAL RESOURCES 606 CLOB

8:30 AM W&M Sales Tax Sub 133 CAP

9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM Environmental Quality Sub 133 CAP

2:00 PM SMALL BUSINESS 341 CAP

2:00 PM Resolutions Sub 506 CLOB

2:15 PM TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

2:30 PM HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:30 PM REGULATED INDUSTRIES 406 CLOB

2:30 PM JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP

3:30 PM WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB

4:00 PM ENERGY 403 CAP

4:00 PM Caldwell Sub Judiciary Civil 132 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 269 – Counties; require local governing bodies; provide certain entities with certification of compliance with Code section; condition of funding (SLOGO – Stone)

SB 274 – Budget in Certain Counties; repeal Act approved March 2, 1953 (SLOGO – Albers)

SB 327 – State Purchasing; prohibit the state from entering into certain contracts unless such contracts contain a certification; does not presently conduct a boycott of Israel (GVT OV – Judson Hill)

SB 332 – Public Order and Safety; clarify the judges and justices who are exempt; various weapon carry laws and prohibitions (JUDY NC – Kennedy)

SB 333 – NonProfit Corporations; allow for a nonprofit corporation organized in foreign jurisdiction to change its jurisdiction of organization to this state (RI&U – Kennedy)

SB 335 – Retirement; permissible investments in commingled funds and collective investment funds; revise provisions (RET – Black)

SB 345 – Corporations, Partnership, and Associations; provide for the policy of state determining property rights of religious organizations (GVT OV – H. Hill)

SB 347 – ‘Georgia Captive Insurance Company Act’; provide extensive changes; provisions (I&L – Bethel)

SB 364 – “Quality Basic Education Act”; annual teacher, principal, and assistant principal evaluations; revise provisions (ED&Y – Tippins)

SB 366 – Department of Transportation; provide for an alternative selection process (TRANS – Gooch)

SB 369 – Fireworks; revise the standard of compliance from explosion to ignition; definitions (PUB SAF – Mullis)

SB 374 – “Quality Basic Education Act”; temporary exemption; financial reporting requirements for local school systems in federally authorized pilot program (ED&Y – Tippins)

SB 378 – DeKalb County; change the composition of the governing authority (SLOGO – Millar)

SB 379 – Sales and Use Tax; provide for exemption for fire districts which have elected governing bodies and supported by ad valorem taxes (FIN – Ginn)

SB 383 – Public Roads; Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Council; provide for purpose (TRANS – Ginn)

SB 410 – State Symbols; designate the English Bulldog as the official Georgia state dog (GVT OV – Black)

SB 420 – Local Government; require referendum approval prior to the expenditure of public funds; establishment of a fixed guideway transit (TRANS – Tippins)

SR 388 – Constitution; prevent discrimination in the public funding of social services; allow religious/faith based organization to receive public aid –CA (GVT OV – Heath)

SR 675 – State of Georgia; English as official language –CA (RULES – McKoon)

SR 809 – County and Municipal Governments; prohibit from entering into contracts with private entities; parking enforcement services-CA (SLOGO – Fort)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Open Rule

HB 1084 State Soil and Water Conservation Commission; measuring farm and agriculture uses of water; eliminate certain powers and duties (App-Houston-170th)

Modified Open Rule

HB 654 Tattoo studios; post notification that certain tattoos could disqualify wearer from military service; require (Substitute)(RegI-Scott-76th)

HB 749 State government; councils to meet by teleconference or similar means; authorize (SP&CA-Werkheiser-157th)

HB 962 Human Services, Department of; creation, appointment, removal, and duties of a kinship care enforcement administrator; provide (Substitute)(JuvJ-Abrams-89th)

HB 1085 Social services; aging; transfer oversight of such services to the Department of Community Health (App-Dempsey-13th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 498 Professions and businesses; professional counseling; revise definition (Substitute)(RegI-Hawkins-27th)

HB 508 Appellate court judges; age of eligibility for certain benefits; decrease (Ret-Fleming-121st)

HB 736 Special license plates; marine habitat conservation; provide (Substitute)(MotV-Atwood-179th)(AM 39 0153)

HB 887 Courts; parental rights; prioritize placement of a child with an adult or fictive kin qualified to care for such child (Substitute) (JuvJ-Efstration-104th)

HB 926 Pharmacists and pharmacies; regulation of certain facilities and entities involved in the wholesale, manufacture, and distribution of drugs; provide (Substitute)(H&HS-Broadrick-4th)

HB 954 “Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act”; enact (Substitute)(H&HS-Efstration-104th)

HB 959 Education; K-12; update and clarify certain provisions (Substitute) (Ed-Beskin-54th)

HB 979 Crimes and offenses; assault and battery; increase the punishment committed upon hospital emergency department and medical services personnel (JudyNC-Caldwell-131st)

HB 1053 Grady County; board of education; provide that members shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis (IGC-Taylor-173rd)

Structured Rule

HB 893 Revenue and taxation; forms of payment; change certain provisions (W&M-Powell-171st)

HB 899 Commerce and trade; tobacco product manufacturers; revise and add certain definitions (Substitute)(W&M-Powell-171st)

Early Voting

Today is the last day to early vote in the March 1 Presidential Preference Primary.

Yesterday, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced that early voting has hit historic levels in the current election.

Thursday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced voters so far in this election are already breaking records.

Kemp says with the number of people they’ve seen so far, [t]hey hope to break Georgia’s general election voting record too, making it the most historic one in the state’s history.

Dozens lined up at the Whitfield County Courthouse to vote on Thursday.

“We truly fell this is one of the most important elections this country has ever had,” Larry McGlade said.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp says the number of voters in this election might just beat the historic election in 2008.

“In that 2008 election the total percentage of vote after election day was a little over 45% so we’re very excited and hopeful that Georgians will turn out and help us break that record,” Kemp said.

Kemp says as of Thursday, 5,000 more people had voted early statewide than in the 2008 primary, and there is still one day left.

Now they’re anticipating a major turnout on Super Tuesday, March 1st.

“It may change the winds of the election and that’s why it’s important for Georgians to be able to go out and let their voice be heard and help decide which direction that race goes,” he said.

A statistical analysis of Early Voting by Brian Keahl of Political Data Systems shows that Republicans have cast nearly 62% of early votes as of Wednesday, with Democrats making up about 38%.

Peach State Presidential Politics

Cruz Ga Capitol Invite 2events

Cruz to Victory Atlanta Rally

11:30 AM- 1:30 PM, Atlanta State Capitol – Liberty Plaza (Southeast side of Capitol), 206 Washington St SW, Atlanta, GA 30334. Click here for free tickets.

Cruz to Victory South Georgia Rally

3:30 to 5:30 PM Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agriculture Center, Miller-Murphy-Howard Exhibit Hall, 401 Golden Isles Pkwy, Perry, GA 31069. Click here for free tickets.

marco-rubio-family

Georgia Rally with Marco Rubio

 Mount Paran Christian School Football Stadium – 1275 Stanley Road Kennesaw, GA 30152. Click here for free tickets.

Atlanta Area Rally with Marco Rubio

Atlanta, GA, Location: TBA. Click here for free tickets.

Athens Meet & Greet with Senator Tim Scott

. Click here for free tickets.
Donald Trump Rawr

Donald J. Trump in Valdosta, GA

Monday, February 29, 2016 at 6:00 PM, Valdosta State University – 1500 North Patterson Street Valdosta, GA 31698. Click here for free tickets.

Guest Editorials: Why I’m Supporting [insert name here]

Former GAGOP Chair and current Mayor of Sandy Spring Rusty Paul wrote a guest editorial on why he supports John Kasich for President.

For those of us who follow politics closely, it’s easy to get caught up in the horserace and punditry. But I urge all Republicans to step back and remember why we have primary elections in the first place: to ensure we select the most prepared, most proven and most electable leader to represent our Party at the top of the ticket in November.

John Kasich, the conservative governor of Ohio, is that Republican candidate and he deserves the opportunity to prove himself in our political version of March Madness.

Poll after poll shows John Kasich is the Republican best positioned to defeat Hillary Clinton in November. He’s up by 11 points nationally and 17 points in the must-win swing state of Ohio. In the fight for the Republican nomination, he’s within a few points of Trump and will win his home state on March 15. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, is losing to Trump in Florida by 16 points and is tied with Hillary in the Sunshine State.

So rather than rushing to crown someone as our GOP nominee before they’ve even proven they can win a single state, we should let our democracy run its course and complete our bracket as the voters have their say.

John Kasich enters March as an underdog and that’s okay. He’s been an underdog his entire life. I’m confident the voters will ultimately put their trust in the only Republican candidate with a proven, conservative record and John Kasich will be the leader representing us at the top of the ticket in November.

State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) writes about why he supports Marco Rubio in Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Primary.

I grew up reading National Review magazine and its founder William F. Buckley, Jr. He, along with my father, helped instill in me the conservative principles that shape my approach to politics. One of Buckley’s famous sayings was that conservatives in primary elections should “support the most conservative candidate who is electable.” In this GOP field that once numbered seventeen accomplished individuals, exactly who is this most conservative candidate who is electable?

As I examined the field, I decided Florida Senator Marco Rubio best meets the Buckley test. Pick your favorite conservative group and you will see Rubio consistently ranking as one of the Senate’s most conservative members. During his time in the U.S. Senate, Rubio introduced important conservative legislation; including legislation dealing a serious blow to Obamacare. Rubio didn’t just talk about fighting this ineffective law; he actually did something about it.

As we think about who is the “most conservative candidate who is electable,” also consider this: the Democratic candidate for President has won the state of Florida four of the last five Presidential elections. For Republicans to win the Presidency, we need a candidate who can win swing states like Florida. There is no doubt Marco Rubio can win his home state and other swing states crucial to winning the November general election. Nominating a Republican who would struggle to win the general election could mean Hillary Clinton appointing as many as three Justices to the Supreme Court. It is crucial for Republicans to win this election for many reasons, not the least of which is preventing a liberal Supreme Court majority.

Marco Rubio is a mainstream conservative who can unite the Republican Party and the people of United States. Rubio will never ask you to be angry at one group of Americans so that he can score political points. With so much anger and divisiveness in our politics today, we need a leader who not only understand why people are frustrated, but will to turn that frustration into a positive plan of action to get things done. Marco Rubio has provided this type of leadership his entire career.

 

25
Feb

Rusty Paul: John Kasich Can Win March Madness & He’ll Win In November

The following is a guest editorial by Rusty Paul, former Georgia Republican Party Chairman and current Mayor of Sandy Springs.

Kasich Strong America

It’s almost March and that means it’s bracket time! But I’m not talking about basketball; I’m talking about presidential politics, of course! This primary season has been unlike any other and I’ll go out on a limb by saying no one in America picked our GOP Primary Final Four: Kasich, Trump, Cruz and Rubio.

For those of us who follow politics closely, it’s easy to get caught up in the horserace and punditry. But I urge all Republicans to step back and remember why we have primary elections in the first place: to ensure we select the most prepared, most proven and most electable leader to represent our Party at the top of the ticket in November.

John Kasich, the conservative governor of Ohio, is that Republican candidate and he deserves the opportunity to prove himself in our political version of March Madness.Continue Reading..

25
Feb

Georgia English Bulldog Rescue on legislative Dog Fight

GEBR logo600px

Ruthann Phillips

Founder and Director, Georgia English Bulldog Rescue

Dear friends of English Bulldogs,

We are writing to you after news reports of a State Senate Bill that would designate the English Bulldog as the Official State Dog of Georgia. As part of our mission to educate the public about English Bulldogs and dog rescue, we want to ensure that legislators and potential adopters understand the true state of the English Bulldog breed in Georgia.

The English Bulldog suffers from its popularity in Georgia, and individual dogs become neglected and their medical conditions worsen from owners who were not fully informed of the costs and care requirements of this unique breed.

The last thing the English Bulldog needs is to be more popular.

As an organization, we are 100% committed to the rescue and care of English Bulldogs. As Georgians, we cheer our beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs every Saturday in the fall and take pride in Uga’s representation of our breed and our state. We understand the good motivations that underlie the effort to name the English Bulldog as the official state dog of Georgia, and appreciate the efforts of the Senators who brought it forth.Continue Reading..