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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections of May 10, 2017

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that the collapsed section of I-85 in both directions will reopen by rush hour on Monday, May 15th.

The new opening date is nearly two weeks earlier than GDOT’s most recent commitment of Memorial Day weekend, and five weeks ahead of the original projected opening date of June 15.

“While this situation has been a tremendous challenge, the response from the people of Georgia has been nothing less than remarkable,” said Deal. “It is extraordinary that in just six weeks, this critical piece of infrastructure is nearly ready to reopen for motorist use following the fire and bridge collapse. I am grateful to President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for providing the financial assistance necessary to complete the bridge on an expedited timeframe. I’d also like to thank Commissioner Russell McMurry for his leadership throughout this project, as well as the leadership of MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority for leading the charge in providing alternative commute options. Most importantly, I thank the motoring public for their patience and the Atlanta business community for its flexibility. In Georgia, we get things done, and we have risen to the occasion for I-85 to be completed as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Today, I will celebrate that re-opening by eating lunch at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, one of a number of businesses that was hurt by the I-85 collapse.

Georgia tourism set a new record in 2016, according to state economic development officials.

State officials touted Georgia’s estimated tourism haul for 2016 in an announcement on Tuesday. Including direct, indirect and “induced” economic benefits, the state saw $61 billion in economic activity from its visitor industry last year. That’s a record for the state and up from $58.9 billion in 2015, according to Emily Murray, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Georgia’s tourism economy is growing faster than the rest of the United States — 3.5 percent to the nation’s 2.1 percent, according to Pat Wilson, the state’s economic development commissioner. The demand for Georgia tourism is 34 percent higher than its pre-recession market in 2008.

New voters registering in the Sixth Congressional District after a federal judge re-opened registration, have caused a backlog in the system.

Local counties under order to reopen voter registration in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District face a backlog of tens of thousands of applications and have already begun working overtime to process them all in time for the June 20 runoff election.

Still, despite concerns that a federal judge’s order would back them into a corner, no problems have been reported so far as the counties themselves appear to have hit the ground running.

“Everything has been going very smoothly,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official.

All three counties that have areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — had contingency plans in place in anticipation of Thursday’s ruling. The first of tens of thousands of backlogged registration applications have already begun to be processed, although officials said it is impossible to know how many of them involve residents in each county who actually reside in the district itself.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall takes the gavel today as chief judge for the Southern District of Georgia.

During a ceremony Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood will hand over the duties of the chief judgeship to Hall. It will be the first time a chief judge has been sworn in at the 101-year-old U.S. District Courthouse in Augusta.

As chief judge, Hall will take on the administrative and operational duties for the Southern District, which is composed of 43 counties with six federal courthouses. Hall will be responsible for personnel, budgets and the local rules of the court. He also will serve as the contact for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Courts Administrative Office, he said.

Hall practiced law in the Augusta area for 26 years before being selected by President George W. Bush to serve as a federal judge. He was sworn into office on May 1, 2008. He will serve as the chief judge for the next seven years.

Marietta may soon term-limit the Mayor and City Council, according to the MDJ.

Marietta mayors and council members may soon have term limits of three four-year terms if an amendment to the city charter proposed by Mayor Steve Tumlin is approved.

“Georgia code is always broad enough to find an argument, and I think we have an argument,” Tumlin said after the May 10 meeting during which the plan was discussed. “We have a constitutional right to home rule … There’s enough in the code to do it.”

The plan would begin in 2018 with a clean slate for everyone, so current leaders would not reach their term limits until 2030.

Savannah City Council is considering a plan to reduce poverty by requiring city contractors to hire locally.

The program presented to the Savannah City Council on April 27 would establish employment agreements with contractors to hire qualified Savannah residents for city projects when they have vacancies for a job.

In addition to keeping local dollars in the city and reducing the city’s poverty rate, the program could help Savannah obtain a skilled workforce and make the city more competitive, said Taffanye Young, Community and Economic Development Bureau chief.

The program would apply to construction contracts of $250,000 or more and service contracts, such as food preparation, security, and maintenance, of $100,000 or more.

Savannah is also considering subsidizing ride-share services for some seniors.

Lowndes County Board of Education voted against putting a referendum on the ballot to term-limit members.

Henry County Board of Education members are considering live-streaming meetings.

Cave Spring City Council member Michael Phillips resigned his office.

Phillips’ four-year term runs through 2019 and the City Council decided to fill the seat by appointment. Letters of interest will be accepted at City Hall through June 6.

The terms for Posts 3 and 4 end this year, along with Post 5. Those seats — held by Councilmembers Nellie McCain, Charles Jackson and Mike Ragland — will be on the city’s regular election ballot in November.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 10, 2017


Karter is a young male Plott Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Kenny is a young male Plott Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Kiera is a young male Plott Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 10, 2017


Brutus is a male Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society in Worth County, in Sylvester, GA.


Marcie is a female Hound & American Bulldog mix puppy who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society in Worth County, in Sylvester, GA.


Poseidon is a young male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society in Worth County, in Sylvester, GA.


Zeus is a young male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society in Worth County, in Sylvester, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2017

Georgia and American History

Savannah received news of the battle at Lexington on May 10, 1775, leading to a raid of British gunpowder for the colonial effort. On the same day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Second Continental Congress met.

On May 10, 1863, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died a week after being shot at by his own troops.

He died, as he had wished, on the Sabbath, May 10, 1863, with these last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

On May 10, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.

On May 10, 1869, a ceremonial “Golden Spike” was driven in Promontory, Utah, symbolizing completion of a transcontinental railroad line joining the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.

The first observance of Mother’s Day was May 10, 1908 at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 10, 2006, Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, a Republican, pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering, beginning a streak of Republican State School Supers to leave office under a cloud.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This morning at 10 AM, Governor Nathan Deal will give an update on the status of construction at the I-85 bridge collapse.

Yesterday, Governor Deal signed what I count to be 56 bills into law. He also issued Veto statements vetoing nine bills.

Gov. Deal signed three pieces criminal justice reform legislation at the Department of Community Supervision Reentry Summit in Macon yesterday.

SB 174, SB 175 and SB 176 are based on recommendations from the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform and build upon Deal’s previous criminal justice reform initiatives.

“This most recent legislative package is another meaningful step forward in making Georgia a safer, more prosperous place to call home,” Deal said. “The unprecedented criminal justice reforms we’ve implemented since 2009 have already had a remarkable and positive impact, with overall prison commitments down 15.4 percent through the end of 2016. The bills I signed today will build upon our previous successes to strengthen the accountability court system, continue to reduce recidivism rates and provide juvenile court judges with additional tools to help young offenders. I’d like to thank the sponsors of this legislation, as well as the entire General Assembly, for their continued commitment to these reforms. When we discuss the statutes, statistics and successes, we are ultimately considering the reclaiming of lives, the overcoming of past mistakes and the repairing of families and relationships in Georgia’s communities.”

Legislation signed [yesterday] includes:
SB 174 ensures the sustained success of Georgia’s accountability courts and enhances the state’s probation system so that resources are focused at the front-end of terms when chances of recidivism are highest. It also implements reforms to ensure appropriate victim and prosecutorial input in the parole process.

SB 175 aims to reduce juvenile delinquency and protect public safety when a juvenile is deemed incompetent to proceed in the judicial process. It also creates new parental accountability orders, tools for juvenile court judges to encourage increased parental involvement, which numerous studies show reduces the likelihood of delinquent conduct.

SB 176 includes provisions to require that individuals are notified by mail prior to the issue of a bench warrant for failure to appear for a non-serious traffic offense. It also clarifies terms regarding Habitual Violator driving permits.

Deal vetoed House Bill 359, dealing with adoption.

The bill would have allowed parents to transfer the power of attorney for their children to family members or outside agencies.

In his veto statement, Deal worried the measure would “create a parallel and unchecked system to our Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS)” and would put children at risk.

He encouraged lawmakers to return to the issue–and to review the state’s other adoption laws–next year.

The governor also vetoed a bill establishing a new agency to manage 911 fees from emergency calls, questioning whether the agency would have enough oversight.

However, Deal said he’d create a separate agency by executive order aimed at improving Georgia’s public safety communications network.

Self-driving cars could hit the Georgia roads after Gov. Deal signed Senate Bill 219.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Monday making self-driving cars that have the proper insurance and registration legal on Georgia roads.

Harry Lightsey, General Motor’s executive director of public policy on emerging technologies, said GM already has 50 cars it’s testing in three cities: San Francisco, Scottsdale, Ariz. and Detroit.

“By adopting this legislation, the state of Georgia has put itself in the running and at the forefront as a possibility I think for us or for any other company that wants to develop and deploy self-driving technology,” Lightsey said.

GM has nearly 1,100 employees at its IT innovation center in Roswell. Lightsey said some of them are focused on analyzing data collected by its self-driving fleet.

Senate Bill 16 was signed by Gov. Deal, expanding eligible conditions for use of medical cannabis oil.

The new qualifying conditions include autism, AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients must register with the state to be eligible and have a doctor’s permission.

Many of the additions restrict use to patients who are in severe or end-stage condition. The new law also allows people in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, to legally possess the oil that’s low in THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues, Speaker David Ralston, and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle for their support in getting this bill to Governor Deal’s desk,” Peake said. “My hope is that in 2018 we can fill the gaping hole that still remains, and provide legal access to medical cannabis oil here in our state with a safe, lab tested product produced within our own borders. The job will not be finished until we accomplish this task.”

The Valdosta Daily Times looks at which parts of their local college campus will be open for campus carry by permit-holders.

Guns will remain banned from the following parts of campus: student housing; fraternity and sorority houses; any preschool or childcare space; any “room or space” where high school students take classes through dual enrollment; buildings or property used for athletic events; faculty, staff and administrative offices; and places where disciplinary proceedings are held.

The caveats included in the two-page bill signed by Gov. Nathan Deal into law last week seem straightforward on the surface but become more vague and messy when digging deeper.

The law does not include detailed explanations or guidelines on how the legislation should be interpreted or enforced. That responsibility is now in the hands of the University System of Georgia, the network of 28 public colleges and universities that includes VSU, University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Also, only people with weapons carry licenses will be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus and a person has to be 21 or older to apply for the license. That age restriction automatically disqualifies a large part of the student body from carrying guns.

From there, the questions abound, particularly with the restrictions involving faculty, high school students and athletic events.

Bibb County Public Schools Superintendent Curtis Jones received a contract extension through 2021.

COSCO Development will be the largest container ship to call on East coast ports, and is headed for Savannah.

Katie Deal, daughter of Gov. Nathan and First Lady Sandra Deal, stars in “Today, Tomorrow and Forever — A Tribute to Patsy Cline” on May 13 at Sautee Nacoochee.

Piedmont Healthcare and Columbus Regional are in discussions over a “strategic affiliation.”

A letter of intent was executed Monday, initiating an exclusive negotiation period between the two organizations that expires on Sept. 30, Columbus Regional Health President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Hill said.

The partnership would include Columbus Regional’s two hospitals — Midtown Medical Center and Northside Medical Center — as well as its John B. Amos Cancer Center, MyCare Urgent Care Centers and multiple physician practices.

A deal would have to be approved by the Piedmont and Columbus Regional boards of directors, as well as the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. The goal is to have a deal finalized by the end of the year, Hill said.

When asked to define “strategic affiliation,” Hill said it was a merger.

“If we reach a definitive agreement with Piedmont, we will merge into the Piedmont organization,” Hill said. “There is a Piedmont Healthcare board and we expect there will be Columbus participation on that board. Our board, locally, will stay intact and there will be some participation from Piedmont on our board.”

2017 and 2018 Elections

Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick meet in the Special Runoff Election for Senate District 32 on Tuesday, May 16th.

One area of agreement is that there are too many elections.

“The community, they are not happy that they have had to go to the polls five times,” said Triebsch, a lawyer. “They are not happy about that.”

Kirkpatrick would like to see a legislative fix, calling it wasteful.

“So we had a SPLOST vote that was the only thing on the ballot in March, then we had a special election in April, now we’ve got a runoff in May, then we’ve got a runoff in June,” she said. “My understanding is that every time we open the polls, it’s $300,000. So there’s got to be a way to avoid wasting that money. … I think it’s led not only to wasting money but also to voter fatigue and a lot of other problems.”

“Our office and Cobb elections officials always follow the letter of the law, and Georgia statutory law establishes these dates. However, there will be more flexibility in the future following the signage of House Bill 42 by Governor Deal,” said Candice Broce, [Secretary of State Brian] Kemp’s press secretary.

Under House Bill 42, which Deal signed earlier this year, they will be able to hold special election runoffs for local or state offices at the same time as a runoff for a federal election.

Matt Reeves has formally announced for the state Senate seat held by Sen. David Shafer, who is running for Lieutenant Governor.

“I am running for public office to provide this community with the next generation of conservative leadership at the State Capitol,” Reeves said in a statement. “I’m not a career politician. I am a family man, community leader, and a committed conservative who will fight to implement serious reforms guided by our conservative principles to create a more prosperous future for every citizen of this district and our state.”

Reeves pledged to be an advocate for taxpayers, homeowners and small business owners in the Senate.

“I will fight to cut the state income tax on families and businesses, cap government spending and focus tax dollars on essentials that promote private sector job growth like law enforcement, local schools, and workforce-oriented transportation and mobility improvements,” he said.

“Finally, I will support longtime efforts by leaders in North Fulton to re-create Milton County and work to promote the traditional American family by making Georgia a national leader in adoption and foster care.”

Reeves’ campaign said he has already received support from state Reps. Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, and Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, as well as Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette and Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason.

Two Democrats filed paperwork to run for State School Superintendent in 2018, against incumbent Republican Richard Woods.

Otha Thornton, the immediate past president of the National PTA; and Sid Chapman, current president of the Georgia Association of Educators, registered with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, which is required to raise election funds — Chapman on Friday and Thornton in late March.

“I’m exploring the possibility,” said Chapman, who has been on leave from his job as a high school social studies teacher in Clayton County while he’s been leading GAE the past few years. He lobbied the parent group, the National Education Association, to put millions of dollars into last year’s successful campaign to defeat the Opportunity School District referendum, which would have endowed the governor with unprecedented power over “chronically failing” schools.

Thornton, a defense contractor at Fort Stewart, also spoke publicly against the OSD. Like Chapman, he said he plans to run as a Democrat.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will take a pass on running for statewide office in 2018.

“I plan to finish strong as the two-term mayor of the great city of Columbus, Georgia,” Tomlinson said in a prepared statement. “We have important work to finish to achieve our vision for Columbus as we head into our bicentennial. Being a good steward of this amazing city has always been my primary objective. While in the batter’s box, I keep my eye on the ball, not on the stands.”

One of the reasons Tomlinson, cited for not running was her current duties as chairwoman of Sweet Briar College in central Virginia, which Tomlinson and other alumnae fought to save in from closure in 2015.

“Resurrecting Sweet Briar College has been nothing short of a miracle. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to see that storied institution return to its previous vibrancy and to continue its important mission of educating the next generation of women leaders. The next two years are critical to completing its transition and I need to be there to help see it through,” Tomlinson said in the prepared statement.

“Serving in public office was not a life I envisioned for myself, but it has been exhilarating and rewarding,” she said. “Good government is important and good leaders are essential. I would not rule out serving in another public capacity, but that will be after my term as mayor has concluded.”


Adoptable (Official) Dogs for May 9, 2017


Nimbus is a male Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.

Ricardo is a male Beagle & English Pointer mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.


Duke is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2017

Georgia and American History

On May 9, 1862, a Union general, David Hunter, ordered the freedom of all slaves held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, but President Lincoln issued a counter-order.

In Georgia on May 9, 1864, Union troops under General Sherman took Snake Creek Gap. In Atlanta, a notice was published,

“ATTENTION MILITIA! All persons between the ages of 16 and 60, not in the service of the Confederate States, in the second ward, are hereby notified to be and appear at the City Hall today, at 2 o’clock P.M., for the purpose of being armed and equipped for local defense. Herein fail not under penalty.”

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 9, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary opened hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

On May 9, 1977, the Grateful Dead played at Buffalo War Memorial Auditorium.

On May 9, 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation recognizing the Green Tree Frog at the official state amphibian.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) will campaign in Georgia’s Sixth District for Republican Karen Handel.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will headline an event in Georgia with Republican Karen Handel on May 15, making him the latest high-profile GOP leader to stump with the 6th Congressional District candidate.

Ryan campaign spokesman Zack Roday said the speaker is “proud to stand with Karen Handel, a strong conservative leader who will be a fighter for Georgians.”

Ryan and his allies have poured millions into the race. He’s raised record sums for the House GOP’s campaign arm, which has spent more than $6.2 million on the race. And the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC endorsed by Ryan — has laid out an additional $5 million on the contest.

Also, Ryan’s [Washington, DC] Handel fundraiser took in $150,000, and he’s signed four emails that have netted an additional $50,000 for her campaign.

The visit will come in the middle of the fight in Congress over an Obamacare repeal.

Governor Nathan Deal left more legislation to the closing days for signature or veto this year as part of a strategy.

The governor has waited a bit longer than in past years to sign off on the crush of legislation awaiting his approval, but top aide Chris Riley said the delay was part of a new strategy from the governor’s office.

Riley said the decision to wait until just before the deadline to sign many of them came from Julia Ayers, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs. He said it was a “great tactic for 2017” because it spared proposals that might meet his veto pen on Tuesday – the deadline to sign or veto proposals – of additional attention and pressure.

“This late date for bill signings with the governor has certainly kept members a little curious, I am sure,” said Riley. “But more importantly it’s what it has accomplished on the other side of the argument: The bills that may not make it have not been singled out with a spotlight for additional pressure from the authors and the stakeholders.”

More than 50 measures are set to be signed Monday at ceremonies in Deal’s office.

According to the Governor’s Office website, Deal signed 57 bills yesterday, but Channel 2 news says he signed nearly 100.

Senate Bill 85, allowing beer brewers and distilleries to sell directly to consumers was signed by Gov. Deal.

“Our state leaders have been committed to ensuring Georgia remains a great state in which to brew beer and that local economies benefit from the industry’s steady growth,” Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to have worked alongside our brewer partners and retailers in supporting the bill and look forward to the positive impact the new law will have on the industry.”

The most noticeable change for local booze aficionados may be how breweries and distilleries offer drinks for on-site consumption. No longer will they be forced to offer paid tours of their facilities that come with limited samples of their beverages. State Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah, previously called this process “a shell game.”

Senate Bill 180 by state Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) was signed by Gov. Deal and increases the tax credit for donations to certain rural hospitals.

Senate Bill 180 increases from 70 percent to 90 percent the value of the credit taxpayers can earn from contributions to qualifying rural hospitals.

Lawmakers originally passed the 70 percent measure last year, but backers said a bigger incentive was needed because so few people had agreed to donate.

Alan Kent, president and CEO of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, applauded the move, as did other supporters including the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

“This is a chance for people to step up individually and for corporations to step in as business leaders and be able to make a difference in their very own communities,” Kent said.

State Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) lauded Gov. Deal’s signature of House Bill 87.

“House Bill 87 saves business owners time, resources and hassle and I am grateful for Governor Deal signing this into law today,” said Raffensperger.

“This legislation will now provide business owners the flexibility to do up to 3 year corporate registration renewals with the Secretary of State Office instead of only an annual process.”

A Spaceport in Camden County may be ready to launch after Gov. Deal signed legislation easing the way.

“Commercial spaceflight is the next great space race. It is a $320 billion industry that offers tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. By signing this legislation today, Gov. Deal is sending a message to the global space industry that we are open for business,” said Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden Project lead Steve Howard.

Howard said that after the general assembly passed HB 1, companies began contacting his office expressing interest in launching from Spaceport Camden.

“HB 1 put Georgia on the radar of the industry and Gov. Deal’s signature only reinforces to those companies that Georgia wants their business,” Howard said.

“The signing of HB 1 not only represents the huge strides taken in developing space flight legislation, but also demonstrates the viability of Spaceport Camden to support Vector’s goal of conducting hundreds of launches a year,” said Jim Cantrell, co-founder and CEO of Vector. “Vector is honored to make Camden County one of our homes for upcoming rocket launches, including our first sub-orbital test there this summer, making ours the first rocket launch out of this historic location, ever.”

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle,

Deal said the spaceport bill will help enhance Georgia’s reputation as the nation’s No.-1 state in which to do business. Georgia has won that designation four years in a row from Site Selection magazine.

“For the last four years, numerous companies have found that Georgia is the best state in the nation to do business,” the governor said. “We look forward to Spaceport Camden becoming the best place in the nation to launch a rocket.”

Camden officials expect regulatory review of the project to continue through this year and hope Spaceport Camden will secure an operational license from the Federal Aviation Administration by next year.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about legislation signed and some still waiting for signature and veto.

Senate Bill 201 would require some large employers to let their employees use sick leave to care for immediate family members, and the debate over the measure divided Republicans, with some criticizing what they saw as a new mandate.

And Senate Bill 160, known as the “Back the Badge” bill, stiffens penalties against people who assault law enforcement officers. That measure earned widespread legislative approval after a provision that targeted protesters was removed.

[S]till pending on Deal’s desk is Senate Bill 16, which would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment under Georgia’s growing medical marijuana program, which now has 1,700 patients and more than 350 physicians.

State Rep. Allen Peake, the Macon Republican who is the godfather of the program, said he has “every expectation that (the governor) will sign the bill” on Tuesday. That would let patients suffering from severe forms of autism, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome have access to cannabis oil. Patients in hospice programs, no matter their diagnosis, would also be allowed to access the oil.

United States Senator David Perdue met with supporters of Georgia’s military bases, according to the Macon Telegraph.

 Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said he appreciated having all of the base communities represented in one room.

“The consensus is that every single one of our bases is strong,” he said. “The performances are very competitive with the bases they compete with inside their service, but we recognize with the debt crisis and all of the problems we have with funding the military that we can’t take anything for granted.”

One topic discussed was the formation of a military commission that would meet regularly to address issues among bases across the state.

Perdue said all of the state’s military bases combined have a $23 billion economic impact, with Robins being the largest.

Although many still advocate for a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Perdue doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon.

“I don’t think BRAC is in our immediate future but we have to assume that sooner or later all of these bases will come under some sort of rationalization,” he said.

Effingham County Commissioners declined to renew the contract of County Administrator Toss Allen.

The Gainesville Department of Water Resources is waiting for federal approval to begin upgrades for a dam on Lake Knickerbocker.

Georgia’s peach crop could be the worst in decades, according to USDA scientists.

“The closest comparison we have right now is, looking back at the historical records has to go back all the way to the 1930s,” says research horticulturist Tom Beckman, making it what they say is one of the worst peach seasons in about a hundred years.

“We have never been so short. Hardly any of the commercial material that’s out at grower’s orchards was designed to deal with chill this low. We’ve never seen trees this low on chill before. I haven’t, in my entire career, seen trees in some cases receive less than half the chill that they normally expect,” says Beckman.

They say the poor production is due to not enough cold temperatures in the winter and an unexpected freeze in the Spring.

“We have fruit. In fact, we’ll probably have fruit throughout the season, but it’s going to be a lot less than what we could consider normal. I’d say it will be well under a half a crop,” explains Beckman.

He says the peach shortage will affect how much you will pay at the grocery store.

“The prices will be a little higher. You will probably see fewer loss leaders. There will be peaches, more California peaches probably than regional, but there will be peaches,” says Beckman.

2018 Elections

Bee Nguyen joins the race for House District 89 to succeed State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is considering running for Governor.

State Senator Burt Jones will not run for higher office in 2018, instead running for reelection.

Jones, R-Jackson, issued this statement:

“The past few months have been filled with speculation as my name has been circulating as a potential candidate for higher office. This has been a very exciting time as I have been humbled and honored by all the calls, texts and messages of support to run for higher office. After much deliberation and discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek higher office and will continue to work hard to serve the citizens of Senate District 25.”

“My family and I looked at all of the options on the table and I came to the conclusion that I enjoy what I am doing on the state level as a public servant for Senate District 25. While serving in this capacity, I am able to remain active in my growing business and daily family life and activities. It is truly a pleasure to serve on your behalf and I look forward to continuing to serve you as long as you allow me to do so and I have your support. I look forward to growing my skills and leadership as your state senator.”

“During my short time serving in the senate, I have the honor of being appointed as a Chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and currently the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. I will continue to seek new opportunities to serve as a leader in the senate while being a proponent of what is best for Senate District 25.”

“While now is not the right time for me to seek higher office, I will continue to work hard and look forward to future opportunities. I am grateful for your continued support and overwhelming encouragement. It remains an honor to serve the citizens of Senate District 25 and all Georgians as a member of the Georgia State Senate.”

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution,

State Sen. Burt Jones is not running for lieutenant governor or any other higher office, and he’s endorsing his Republican colleague David Shafer’s bid for the state’s No. 2 job.

Jones said in an interview that he’s staying out of the governor’s race for the time being but would support Shafer, who he said has done a “terrific” job reaching out to grassroots Republicans.

His decision means that Shafer has dodged another bullet in his bid for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s job. Although there were weeks of rumbling from other Senate Republicans that they might challenge Shafer, none have yet emerged.

That means his main GOP opponent remains state Rep. Geoff Duncan, the former pro baseball player who announced in April. Cagle, of course, is running for governor.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has more on David Shafer’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Shafer announced to supporters on Friday that he was entering the race to seek the No. 2 position in state government. It came days after Cagle announced — in unincorporated Duluth — that he plans to run for governor next year after spending three terms as the lieutenant governor.

“I have spent the five weeks since the Legislative Session ended on the telephone and in meetings, talking with and listening to nearly 1,200 of my fellow Georgians, old friends and new,” Shafer said in his announcement on one of his Facebook pages. “The response has been heart-warming. I have filed paperwork to begin running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.”

The lieutenant governor’s race is wide open with Cagle seeking a higher office, and Shafer is not the only person who has already made moves to try and become only the second Republican in Georgia history to be elected as lieutenant governor. State Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, has filed also paperwork to run for the seat.

If Shafer wins the seat, it will represent a promotion in state government, but also within the Senate since the lieutenant governor serves as the president of that chamber. Meanwhile, the president pro tem serves as second-in-command of the Senate, filling in whenever the lieutenant governor is unavailable.

Gwinnett County attorney Matt Reeves announced at Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast that he will run for Shafer’s seat in the state Senate.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2017

Georgia and American History

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign Senate Bill 206 by Sen. P.K. Martin, IV, today at the State Capitol.

Gov. Nathan Deal will sign legislation designed to help families like the Knights into law Monday. It will require insurance companies cover the costs of buying hearing aids for children who suffer from hearing impairments.

The bill, which was sponsored by state Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, guarantees up to $6,000 coverage for a pair of hearing aids for kids, until they turn 18. Martin worked with the advocacy group Let Georgia Hear on it.

“The difference for a family who’s on a plan that is affected by this is immediate,” Martin said. “They’re gonna go from either they just can’t afford the hearing aids or they’re struggling to provide the hearing aids to now having coverage for that.”

[Kimmone] Knight said, “It’s definitely a step in the right direction in terms of minimizing out of pocket costs, especially for those families that may have young children like ourselves. There’s so many expenses to begin with, with having a child, and adding something like that on top of it — it’s good to know the insurance companies will be working with families to ensure they have what they need at the time when it’s most crucial.”

Several bills remain on Governor Deal’s desk ahead of tomorrow’s deadline to sign or veto.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Backers of Georgia’s small program allowing the use of medical cannabis oil hope Deal will sign off on an expansion of the program.

Lawmakers approved a compromise bill that would add six new diagnoses to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis oil, including autism, AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. Many of the additions restrict use to patients who are in severe or end-stage condition.

SELF-DRIVING CARS: Another measure allows self-driving vehicles in Georgia. Supporters said car and technology companies, insurance providers and injury attorneys signed off on the proposal and warned that Georgia would be left behind as other states pass similar legislation.

The proposal requires drivers of the vehicles to have a higher amount of insurance coverage than what is required for traditional vehicles until the end of 2019.

BEER SALES: Deal’s also still mulling a change to Georgia law on beer sales at breweries. Lawmakers compromised after several years of fights between craft brewers and wholesalers that act as a middleman for brewers and retailers.

The Sixth Congressional District Special Election has become the most-expensive election for Congress ever.

Candidates and outside groups have aired or reserved more than $29.7 million worth of TV ads in the race to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Congress, which will break a five-year-old record for House spending — highlighting the outsize importance a sliver of the Atlanta suburbs has taken on in national politics.

Cash is flowing in at such saturation levels that Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign had the money for everything from Korean radio ads to free Lyft rides for voters on primary day. The Atlanta NBC station has even bumped reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show” from their regular slot in order to extend its local newscasts and make more room for political ads.

The cost of the race between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is going to shatter the previous recorded high of $29.6 million — set in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 2012 by former GOP Rep. Allen West, former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The $29.7 million total in Georgia, compiled by a source tracking media spending in the district, includes only money spent on TV ads.

“It’s entirely possible that by the time the books are closed on this race, there will be over $40 million spent in the special and in the runoff,” said Chip Lake, a Republican strategist who works in Georgia. “I’m at a loss for words.”

“It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which 2018 will not be the election that shatters midterm spending record as well because we still have Donald Trump as president,” said Lake, the Georgia Republican consultant. “And he’s proven to be an activating force for both Democrats and Republicans.”

For TV stations, it’s like drinking from a fire hose.

The tidal wave of spending led a local television broadcaster, WXIA, to temporarily add a 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station. Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” repeats will have to look elsewhere for the next few weeks.

It helps explain why reporters at WXIA showed up at a meeting last week and were informed about a temporary 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station, WATL, that will end after the June 20 runoff is over. They were told the current newscast commercial inventory was too tight.

“I have to give (WXIA) credit — they’re being honest about it,” said Bobby Kahn, a former Democratic operative whose media-buying firm works with Ossoff’s campaign. “I’m never surprised at a television station’s efforts to maximize their political revenue.”

The tight timing of a nightly newscast also adds another wrinkle. Michael Castengera, a TV consultant who teaches at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, said stations try to space out ads to avoid airing them back-to-back. That means a typical 30-minute newscast can fit 16 to 18 30-second ads, he said.

And they have to strike a balancing act between serving longtime advertisers who provide a steady stream of revenue and the spike in political ads from campaigns who can generally buy their airtime at cheaper rates.

Atlanta mayoral candidates would normally be the main campaign story at this point in an election year, but they’re still in the bullpen getting warmed up.

The race for Atlanta mayor has been overshadowed lately by the news of the day — including a massive fire that destroyed the I-85 bridge — but candidates haven’t stopped campaigning.

With seven months to go to election day in November, the nine serious candidates hoping to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed are walking in parades, speaking at forums and using social media to engage voters.

Nine Georgia Congressman signed a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on poultry regulations by the Department of Agriculture.

Representatives Doug Collins (Ga-9), Austin Scott (Ga-8), Rick Allen (GA-12), Buddy Carter (GA-1), Tom Graves (GA-14), Jody Hice (GA-10), David Scott (GA-13), Rob Woodall (GA-7), Drew Ferguson (GA-3), and Barry Loudermilk (GA-11) all signed a letter Friday, with the requests to rescind or withdraw three poultry regulations.

The regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 20, 2016, “in spite of repeated signals from Congress that they exceeded the scope of the 2008 Farm Bill and strayed wildly from Congressional intent,” the letter said. They also commended the USDA for taking preliminary action on February 6 and extending public comment on the interim final rule.

Also in the letter, a study by FarmEcon LLC indicated the regulations would cost the chicken industry $1.03 billion dollars over five years in reduced efficiency, high costs for feeding and housing and increased administrative expenses.

In the letter the lawmakers request that after the public comment period is complete, the two proposed rules will be withdrawn and the interim final rule will be rescinded.

Macon-Bibb Commissioner Joe Allen has suggested local elected officials and appointees take voluntary drug tests.

Commissioner Joe Allen plans to introduce a resolution asking for elected and public officials to submit to voluntary drug tests and release the results to residents. The veteran politician said it would be a way to hold those in leadership positions accountable.

But several commissioners said they have concerns about some of the people who would be asked to volunteer for the tests, especially those whom commissioners appoint to various unpaid boards.

The resolution would cover Macon-Bibb County commissioners, other elected officials and appointed positions such as county and assistant county managers, and other department heads. People appointed to various boards, such as the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission, would also be asked to participate.

The resolution says it would cover illegal controlled substances. The measure is expected to be on the agenda for Tuesday’s commission committee meetings.

Cobb County Commissioners are considering a plan to offer valet parking on the Marietta Square.

Coweta County Third District Commissioner Bob Blackburn  and First District Commissioner Paul Poole both hosted Town Hall meetings for constituents last week.

The next town hall meeting will be Monday, May 22 with 4th District Commissioner Rodney Brooks. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Central Community Center, 65 Literary Lane, Newnan.

Gainesville High School students heard from the founder of Generation Inspiration at this year’s first session.

One highlight this year is a diplomacy program simulating a refugee crisis, said Ashley Bell, a GHS alumnus who has risen through government and politics to become a special assistant to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“You’ll be split into groups and educated on the roles in each situation, and you’ll be given a simulated program on how to end the crisis,” said Bell.

“What I hope you get out of this is an understanding that the world and these programs are difficult. There’s never really a right answer, but … you’ll get to understand how to advocate a position, a chance to fight for your argument and how the world works together to solve problems.”

Bell, who founded Generation Inspiration 12 years ago, said the experience might motivate some students to serve the country in some way.

“When you can convince your peers that you know what has to happen next for you to get to where you want to go, and this is a request for resources to do it, then we’ll help you do it,” Bell said. “We’ll help you get there.”

Whitfield County Commission Chair Lynn Laughter hopes to end surprise billing by the local ambulance service.

Basically, someone calls for an ambulance and is transported to Hamilton Medical Center. They later find that what their insurance has reimbursed Hamilton Emergency Medical Services only covered part of the bill and Hamilton has billed them for the balance.

She says that is one topic she has been pressing Hamilton on as the two sides have been renegotiating Hamilton’s contract to provide emergency medical services for Whitfield County.

“I’m happy to say that Hamilton has agreed to start negotiations with insurance companies to try to reach and agreement so that ambulance services would be an in-network service where insurance would cover the ride and the patient would not have to pay any balance,” she said.

Hamilton EMS Director Scott Radeker says there’s a reason for that.

“The insurance company pays only for what it thinks the service to that patient is worth,” he said. “It doesn’t take into account the equipment and manpower we have to maintain to respond to a call in minutes 24 hours a day. It doesn’t take into account the cost to us of patients we transport who don’t have insurance or lie to us about their names. What people are paying for is the cost of picking up that phone and within nine minutes in the city or 15 minutes in the county you have a paramedic there.”


Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal said he might run for Sheriff in 2020, but didn’t say where.

“Mayor no, I would never run for mayor,” he told 11Alive News on Friday.

Photojournalist Bruce Mason was apologetic about the question his Director of Digital Content (that’s me) insisted he ask.

But then, the bombshell: “In 2020, I plan on running for Sheriff.”

He could run for Sheriff in Henry County, where he is a resident. The incumbent there is up for reelection in 2020. He could run in Florida where he also has residency. He also could move somewhere between now and 2020, and establish new residency.

“This is not about politics. This is about bringing people closer together,” Shaq said. “You know, when I was coming up, people love and respected the police, the deputies. And, I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community I serve.”

Shaq says he’s perfect for the job, because he can relate to everyone. “I can put on a suit and have a conversation with Bill Gates. I can go in the hood and talk to the homies, and talk to the children.”

DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann made news of his own for completely different reasons.

The DeKalb County sheriff was arrested overnight by the Atlanta Police Department on misdemeanor obstruction and public indecency charges, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was arrested after he was stopped in Piedmont Park for allegedly breaking the law, police say.

Mann, an attorney who has worked in the Sheriff’s Office since 2001, was originally elected in a July 2014 special election against Vernon Jones. Mann was chief deputy under former Sheriff Thomas Brown and took over as sheriff earlier in 2014 after Brown resigned to run for Congress.

Mann overcame four Democratic opponents in the May primary election before facing Dennis in the general election.

Prior to Brown, every sheriff elected to a full term in DeKalb since 1965 had faced criminal charges.

GAGOP Chairman’s Race

Cobb County Republican Party hosted a debate among the candidates for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

Over 100 Republicans packed into Cobb GOP Headquarters on Roswell Street on Saturday for the party’s monthly breakfast, but they weren’t there for the scrambled eggs or grits.

DeKalb attorney Alex Johnson, Republican activist John Watson of west Cobb, current Georgia GOP vice-chair Michael McNeely and Mike Welsh, chair of the Augusta-based 12th District GOP, all want to become the state GOP’s next chairman.

Whoever is elected to lead the state party June 3 will have to deal with the party’s financial problems. The state GOP is in debt, the candidates said, and they each presented their plans to get out of it.

Welsh told the crowd he has a fundraising plan that will reach out to conservatives across the state rather than just those in the metro area.

Johnson agreed it is important to expand the tent, but said the party needs to undergo fundamental changes to earn the trust of potential donors.

McNeely, who lives in Villa Rica and hopes to be the first leader of the Georgia GOP who is a minority, said the solution will involve better budgeting and better messaging.

Watson touted his experience as fundraiser and finance director for Republican candidates going back to Bob Barr in 1994.

“Georgia Republican party chairman is the fundraiser-in-chief, period,” he said. “The reality is I uniquely stand before you as the only person who has been a professional fundraiser throughout my career, raising resources for men and women across this state to the tune of $25 million. To do so, we will have an integrated finance plan and make certain we are looking at men and women that can contribute from $5 up to $250,000, creating a regimented business plan, marketing plan and having the dedication, on a daily basis… to make certain we are raising the resources.”

Gwinnett Republican Women will host a debate with the four candidates for State Chairman tonight at 7 PM at the Gwinnett GOP Headquarters in Gwinnett Place Mall.

“It may be your last chance to see the candidates locally before the convention … Be there by 7 p.m. to get a good seat,” Gwinnett Republican Women President Linda Williams said of this week’s forum in an announcement on Facebook.

The candidates for the state chairman’s position are Alex Johnson, Michael McNeely, John Watson and Michael Welsh.

The Hall County Republican Party will also host a debate.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 8, 2017


Rowan is a male Dachshund and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Iris is a female Dachshund and Whippet mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Tom is an adult male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 5, 2017

Tippy Bulloch

Tippy is a male Jack Russell Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.


Bell Bulloch

Bell is a female Jack Russell Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.



Roscoe is a young male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 5, 2017

Georgia and American History

On May 6, 1789, the Constitutional Convention in Augusta, Georgia adopted a new Georgia Constitution.

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis spoke in Savannah, Georgia on May 6, 1866.

Davis … defend[ed] the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers.

Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”

On May 5, 1886, Jefferson Davis attended a public reception at Savannah, Georgia’s City Hall.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on May 5, 1904.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running the mile.

For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility. The world record for a mile was 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds, set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945. Despite, or perhaps because of, the psychological mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, several runners in the early 1950s dedicated themselves to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone.

At 6 p.m., the starting gun was fired. In a carefully planned race, Bannister was aided by Chris Brasher, a former Cambridge runner who acted as a pacemaker. For the first half-mile, Brasher led the field, with Bannister close behind, and then another runner took up the lead and reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 3 minutes 0.4 seconds, with Bannister at 3 minutes 0.7 seconds. Bannister took the lead with about 350 yards to go and passed an unofficial timekeeper at the 1,500-meter mark in 3 minutes 43 seconds, thus equaling the world’s record for that distance. Thereafter, Bannister threw in all his reserves and broke the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. As soon as the first part of his score was announced–”three minutes…”–the crowd erupted in pandemonium.

A “sub-four” is still a notable time, but top international runners now routinely accomplish the feat. Because a mile is not a metric measurement, it is not a regular track event nor featured in the Olympics. It continues, however, to be run by many top runners as a glamour event.

Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight that reached an altitude of 115 miles, during which he experienced about five minutes of ‘weightlessness.’ He was launched in the 2,000-lb. capsule Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The flight traveled 302 miles at a speed relative to the ground of 4,500 mph. The mission was named Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 6, 1984, Spinal Tap played a “comeback show” at CBGB’s in New York.

On May 6, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta was the most dangerous city in America.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has issued a public safety alert:

In the first four months of this year, 17 people died in Georgia after taking two types of manufactured drugs now banned. That was the same number of deaths in all of 2016.

The Georgia General Assembly recently outlawed U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl and Gov. Nathan Deal signed the law and enacted the restrictions April 17.

“Because furanyl fentanyl and U-47700 are lethal at very low doses, law enforcement and the public should use caution when handling these drugs,” the news release stated.

After a narcotics seizure in Metro Atlanta, 8 kilograms of a mixture of the two drugs was found to be so dangerous and complex that the GBI issued a statewide officer safety alert.

Governor Nathan Deal signed 28 bills into law yesterday.

Gov. Deal signed House Bill 280 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), the so-called “Campus Carry” bill. From the Press Release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 280, which permits weapons carry license holders to carry firearms in specific and limited areas on college campuses.

This legislation addressed major concerns voiced by the governor last year regarding HB 859, which permitted a weapons carry license holder to carry a concealed weapon into certain areas of a college campus that had previously been prohibited. HB 859 failed, however, to address Deal’s concerns regarding the prohibition of firearms in “sensitive places,” including campus preschools, disciplinary hearings, or faculty and administrative offices. As a result, the legislation was vetoed.This year, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed HB 280, which maintains the same restrictions present in HB 859. It also addresses the areas of campus over which Deal previously raised concerns, along with additional areas of college campuses where weapons would not be permitted.

“It is altogether appropriate that weapons not be allowed in sensitive areas on college campuses, and I appreciate the thoughtful consideration given by the General Assembly in expanding these excluded areas within a college campus in this year’s bill,” said Deal. “While HB 280 addresses the rights and restrictions relating to weapons carry license holders on a college campus, it in effect may have greater significance for students who are going to or coming from a campus. Unfortunately, in parts of the state, the path to higher education travels through dangerous territory.

“At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed. In recent years, we’ve witnessed college students fall victim to violent attacks in or while traveling to libraries and academic buildings, and while traveling to and from their homes to class.

“As this legislation is more narrowly tailored as to exclude areas on a college campus, I’ve signed HB 280.”

The signing statement is available under “Related Files” below.

HB 280 prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon by anyone, including weapons carry license holders, on the following areas of a college campus:

  • Buildings or property used for athletic sporting events;
  • Student housing, including but not limited to dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses;
  • Any preschool or childcare space;
  • Any room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school;
  • Any room or space used for classes in which high school students are enrolled through a dual enrollment program, including, but not limited to, classes related to the “Move on When Ready Act”;
  • Any faculty, staff, or administrative offices; and,
  • Rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.

Gov. Deal signed House Bill 146, by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Paulding) which requires fire departments to provide insurance covering firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”

Joined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”

Gov. Deal also spoke at the groundbreaking of a new headquarters for Jackson Healthcare in Alpharetta.

Gov. Nathan Deal and a host of civic and business leaders broke ground this morning on a $100 million expansion of the headquarters of Jackson Healthcare, a healthcare staffing company that intends to add 1,400 employees over the next five years.

This project is portrayed as the largest expansion of corporate headquarters planned in north Fulton County. As such, Jackson Healthcare is part of a corporate footprint that makes the Perimeter submarket one of the major corporate destinations in the region.

“Jackson Healthcare is a powerhouse job creator for our region,” state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), president and CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “This project is going to continue to make North Fulton a destination to live and work.”

Deal’s office also released tax revenue numbers for April showing a 9.1 percent increase over April 2016.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for April totaled $2.26 billion, for an increase of $187.9 million, or 9.1 percent, compared to April 2016. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $18.06 billion, for an increase of nearly $718.8 million, or 4.1 percent, over last year when net tax revenues totaled $17.34 billion.

House Bill 742, which incorporated various provisions of federal law to change the deadline for Corporate Income Tax filing, increased April tax revenue collections across multiple Corporate Tax categories. As a result, Corporate Income Tax payments had a significant impact on the overall April net tax collection increase.

United States District Court Judge Timothy Batten has ordered the re-opening of voter registration for the June 20th Special Runoff Election in the Sixth Congressional District.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten made the ruling as part of a broader lawsuit by a Washington-based advocacy group, which last month accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote.

Voter registration shut down March 20 ahead of the deciding runoff June 20 for the 6th District election, which is being held in the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta.

Batten, however, ordered registration immediately reopened until May 21.

A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the office will seek to comply with the order.

Kemp’s office, which oversees elections in Georgia, has called the suit a political effort by liberal groups to attack him as a Republican officeholder.

The office has also noted that the law has been in place since Democrat Cathy Cox was secretary of state more than a decade ago.

A Columbus commission considering replacing the government center is exploring financing it through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools selected Ann Levett at the next Superintendent.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office dropped charges against former Brunswick Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Amanda Williams.

Williams was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury nearly two years ago on charges of making false statements during an investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. The charges were related to comments the Fulton district attorney’s office claimed were made during a conversation about a drug court sentence she handed out in 2011.

Williams resigned from the bench in 2012 after she was accused of failing to remove herself from cases in which her lawyer family members were involved, showing favoritism from the bench, acting with “tyrannical partiality” and giving drug court participants unlawful indefinite sentences.

Glynn County Commissioners sent a tree ordinance that would apply only to St Simons Island back to committee.

Carol Burrell, CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System was named “Most Respected Business Leader” by Georgia Trend.

“Carol has the immense responsibility of overseeing the entirety of our growing health system, which now includes more than 8,000 employees working in three hospitals and dozens of outpatient locations across a region made up of more than one million people,” [NGHS Board of Trustees Chairman RK] Whitehead said. “And she does it with an amazing mix of intelligence, trust and grace.”

Under Burrell’s leadership, NGHS opened Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton, the first net-new hospital in 20 years, according to a press release. NGHS was also named one of Metro Atlanta’s Top Workplaces by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and one of Atlanta’s Top 25 Employers by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

2018 Elections

Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) has filed paperwork to begin raising funds for the 2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign.

Shafer Committee

Sachin Varghese, an Atlanta attorney, has raised more than $65,000 in the race to succeed State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is exploring a gubernatorial campaign.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from friends, neighbors and local leaders,” Varghese said. “I believe my service to our community as a civil rights attorney, as well as my commitment to running a strong grassroots effort, have energized our supporters.”

Varghese represented the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, and others, working with Congressman John Lewis, Rep. Abrams, and State Senator Elena Parent to challenge Republican gerrymandering in 2011.

“I was Chairman of the Black Caucus when Sachin represented us, and I witnessed firsthand his commitment to fighting injustice,” said Sen. Emanuel Jones. “He will be a passionate and able advocate for DeKalb residents at the Capitol, and that is why I wholeheartedly support him should Leader Abrams offer herself for higher office.”