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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 6, 2015

On April 6, 1776, the United States Congress opened American ports to all countries not under British rule.

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.

On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.

When ABC News used my photo without crediting me

Abc used my photo

They’ve since revised the video to use another photo, but only after I called them on it.

Tick tock

Earlier in the Session, the Senate changed its rules to require that conference committee reports be placed on the desks of Senators at least two hours before being eligible for a vote. From Tom Crawford’s Georgia Report,

The rule will apply to conference committee reports that are drafted by House-Senate committees that negotiate the final version of a bill.

From the 36th day to the 40th and final day of the session, those reports will have to be placed on senators’ desks at least two hours before the Senate votes on them. That will give senators twice as much time – the old rule required a one-hour wait – to read the final version of a bill before they make a decision on whether to pass it or not.

The new rule addresses a complaint raised by legislators like Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) and Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) that bills were being rammed through the Senate during the chaos of a session’s closing days without lawmakers having enough time to read and study them.

Continue Reading..


That time ABC News opened a segment with my photo

and they forgot to license it from me. Oops.

World News Videos | US News Videos

Abc used my photo



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 3, 2015

Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on this date in 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.

On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used. Thus, I hope to someday see the Jolly Roger flying at Tea Party rallies alongside the Gadsden flag.

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell.

On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”

“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Sine Die

David Clark Captain America

State Rep. David Clark (R-Gwinnett) won the annual Sine Die Men’s Fashion Show, with former Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) coming in a strong second in green-and-white seersucker.

Sine Die Senator George Hooks

Governor Deal Signs Bills

So far this year, Gov. Deal has signed 15 bills, including House Bill 575, which abolished Payne City, Georgia.

To follow bill signings, you can click here for the official list.

Dead or Alive

After a little drama, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act died, but Gov. Deal spoke about how the effort might eventually move forward, from Greg Bluestein at the AJC.

Deal said hewing to the federal language would ensure none of the unintended consequences that critics say could arise, such as a legal loophole that could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians. Supporters, meanwhile, describe it as a much-needed safeguard to protect people from government intrusion.

“As close as a state can stay to the original federal language, the safer you are,” said Deal, who voted for the federal legislation while a member of Congress in the 1990s. “It has been interpreted in the courts, so by having that model you narrow some of the arguments about what it does or does not do.”

He called the anti-discrimination clause “the most important” addition.

“And that is a delicate thing to do,” he said. “There’s been so much hyperbole. It’s hard to identify what can you say without saying too much, what can you say without saying too little, and what will people read into either version.”

Another benefit from the bill’s failure, Deal said, is a year’s distance from the uproar over similar bills in Arkansas and Indiana, which led to threats of boycotts, travel bans and international criticism.

“We all understand that this is a difficult issue,” said Deal, “and I hope that if and when it comes to my desk in the future it will not have the same kind of divisiveness associated in those two states.”

Kathleen Foody of the Associated Press has more on the future of RFRA.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, the measure’s sponsor, said he plans to focus on summer conventions for the statewide Republican party and in Georgia’s congressional districts.

That could further expose a rift in Georgia’s GOP over the issue.

Eric Tanenblatt, the state chair of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000 and a major Republican fundraiser, said both sides should negotiate when passions subside following the session.

“We need to be cognizant of the fact that there’s a changing demographic in this state,” he said. “That means there are going to be people in the party that perhaps have different views than others. If the Republican Party wants to be a big tent, they’re going to have to find a place for people with differing views.”

McKoon also appeared on CNN discussing the religious liberty bill.


Senate Bill 127 passed without speech restrictions



Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 4, 2015

These three sisters are urgent at Monroe County Animal Shelter and will be euthanized on Tuesday, April 7th unless saved. I can’t think of a sweeter Easter miracle that any person could perform than to spend the holiday with their new best friend whom they saved.


Millie (above and below) is a 9 month old (born July 2014) female boxer mix. Her Mama is a full blooded papered fawn boxer, father unknown. Millie is more outgoing than her sisters and being on a leash quickly stopped challenging her. Millie loves attention and belly rubs, likes to play with other dogs, and seemed to get along with our shelter cat. She does like to play hide and seek while chewing on chew toys and bones. Millie is available at Monroe County Animal Control 157 L Cary Bittick Dr. Forsyth, GA 31029 478-994-7976.

Millie has a fundrazr set up to help pay for her vet expenses if a rescue group saves her. Donate here to help Millie.



Ellie is a 9 month old (born in July 2014) female boxer mix. Her Mama is a full blooded papered fawn boxer, daddy unknown. Ellie is quiet shy and was scared of the large camera Susan was holding. We could only get this one photo of her. Ellie is very sweet and needs a family to pet her, love her, comfort her, and teach her how to be a part of a family. Ellie is available at Monroe County Animal Control 157 L Cary Bittick Dr Forsyth, GA 31029 478-994-7976.

Ellie has a fundrazr set up to help pay for her vet expenses if a rescue group saves her. Donate here to help Ellie.


Lily is a 9 month old (born July 2014) female boxer mix. Her mama is a full blooded papered fawn boxer daddy unknown. Lily quickly learned how to handle being on a leash, is still a little on the shy side of life but friendly, and is in desperate need of a loving family to teach her to be part of a family. Lily is sweet and likes to be petted, gets along with other dogs, and didn’t seem to notice that our shelter cat walked right by her. Lily is available at Monroe County Animal Control 157 L Cary Bittick Dr Forsyth, GA 31029 478-994-7976.

Lily has a fundrazr set up to help pay for her vet expenses if a rescue group saves her. Donate here to help Lily.


Suit of the Day Hallway Edition, Senator George Hooks, retired

Sine Die Senator George Hooks


Suit of the Day: State Rep. David Clark

David Clark Captain America


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 2, 2015

Lady Bird

Lady Bird is young female Boxer/American Bulldog with a beautiful tiger-striped brindle coat – a real must see and still puppy-like. She is a beautiful, strong, energetic pup that will probably do well in a household with older children and adults. Great companion for active adults and / or older children. Lady Bird interacts well with some dogs but not cats. She is in need of basic obedience training; due to her size and strength would not recommend home with young children. Very loving dog and one that will develop strong loyalties to her forever family.

Lady Bird is available for adoption from Homeward Bound Pet Rescue Inc. in Ellijay, GA.


Noops is a young male Redtick Coonhound who was found wandering alone and malnourished on a mountain.

He was skittish at first but could not stand to pass up a meal of which he had been obviously deprived for a long time. He went along easily to the car and slept soundly safely as he probably had not out in the woods for so long having to be constantly vigilant of his surroundings. No collar and an old embedded collar wound to his neck which was healed, this poor skinny guy had HW.

He is so loving and gentle. At the vets office, he gladly gave his paw so a new vet tech could practice getting blood. He is so easy going. He has now been neutered and has under gone months of HW treatment and is completely heartworm free and healthy. OK, so what are his bad points? He’s a pet and does not hunt and he’s a digger. He behaves in the house and wants a family to call his own. He is only 2-3 years old and a really gem of a fellow. Please inquire about him. Photo #3 is the bad shape we found him in. He loves people and is so personable.When he gets out to run, he stays close on the property and comes back to his kennel. But if you’re outside, he’ll be sure to run up for an ear rub. He is such a love and a wonderful family pet.

Noops is available for adoption from Homeward Bound Pet Rescue Inc. in Ellijay, GA.


Tripp is an adult male Black Labrador Retriever mix. If you are looking for a loyal, attentive, protective, companion, Tripp is your man.

Tripp starts off shy but warms up quickly to adults, dogs, cats, and kids. He is already house trained so he’s move in ready for a single person or a big family. You supply the home and Tripp will supply the love and laughter.

Tripp is available for adoption from Homeward Bound Pet Rescue Inc. in Ellijay, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 2, 2015

On April 2, 1513, Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, claiming it for the Spanish crown. Today he is best-known in Georgia for giving his name to be mispronounced daily on a sketchy street in Atlanta. It is not known if he was wearing jean shorts, or if those were developed later. Georgians began mispronouncing his name immediately.

On April 2, 1917, Jeanette Rankin took office as the first woman elected to Congress, representing Montana.

Born on a ranch near Missoula, Montana Territory, in 1880, Rankin was a social worker in the states of Montana and Washington before joining the women’s suffrage movement in 1910. Working with various suffrage groups, she campaigned for the women’s vote on a national level and in 1914 was instrumental in the passage of suffrage legislation in Montana. Two years later, she successfully ran for Congress in Montana on a progressive Republican platform calling for total women’s suffrage, legislation protecting children, and U.S. neutrality in the European war. Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany.

On April 2, 1985, Governor Joe Frank Harris signed legislation recognizing the Right Whale as the official state marine mammal. Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tested a drone aircraft for use in conducting surveys of the aquatic population off the East Coast.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary could use it in a variety of ways, including sea turtle and right whale counts, he said. It could even give managers a better idea of how many boats are out in the sanctuary.

“It’s much cheaper than putting an aircraft or a boat out,” Sedberry said.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Senate Bill 127 is an abomination

At some point between the House passage of Senate Bill 127, and the issuance of a new version of the legislation by the House Rules Committee, the bill grew from seven sections to 21 sections – a tripling of the language in the bill.

Here’s what Virginia Galloway of the Faith & Freedom Coalition (and formerly Americans for Prosperity – Georgia) says about the new version of the bill:

Snuck in at the end of the bill is a provision that redefines communication for groups like ours, NRA, AFP, Tea Parties, etc. which would make us report our donors. The paperwork alone will put small groups out of commission – groups made for folks like you, who can’t hire your own lobbyist.This is a Nancy Pelosi-type bill, now in the GA Legislature.

It has passed both chambers in different forms, so it will go to conference tomorrow. We need to stop this now! Please take action on Thursday morning and share on FB now! Please post any questions below. The part of the bill I’m referring to is in Section 19, to save you non-essential reading.

Continue Reading..


Deal: Bill paves the road ahead

Gov. Nathan Deal said today that the landmark transportation bill passed last night will give Georgia dedicated resources to maintain the state’s roads and bridges.


“Georgia’s legislators demonstrated leadership, foresight and courage last night as they took the tough but much needed steps to pay for our ever-growing transportation needs,” Deal said. “We faced obligations that could no longer be ignored, and current resources were simply not enough to preserve the infrastructure we need to get to work, to safely take children to school on buses and to keep the lifeblood of our economy pumping.


“Our state budget is able to meet our top priorities because we have a laser focus on creating and keeping good jobs in Georgia. Transportation is a huge point of concern for businesses that we court to Georgia, and addressing those needs is one of many tough tasks we must perform to rev up our jobs engine. In addition, this is simply a safety and quality-of-life issue for Georgians, who rightly want less time stuck in traffic and more time at home with their families.


“Unlike health care and education, there aren’t entitlement mandates that transportation spending keep up with the population growth in our state. The gasoline tax has long paid for our roads; it’s the most fair fee that you can create because those who use the roads are the ones who pay for them. But our gas tax has stayed the same since the early 1970s. Over that period of time, with inflation and the significant increase in fuel efficiency, drivers are paying significantly less per mile traveled. We not only lacked the resources for new transportation projects, but had also reached the point where we couldn’t afford to maintain the roads and bridges we already have.


“The benefits of these new projects will appear in full view. Georgians will soon see the road crews and the orange cones and smell the hot asphalt as it’s poured. That’s the short term. In the long term, they’ll drive on better roads and bridges, giving us not only a better ride but also peace of mind.


“I look forward to signing this legislation into law and seeing the Department of Transportation provide an excellent service to the people of this state.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2015

GaPundit Pro App Store 2015

In perhaps the most fitting historical tidbit ever, the United States House of Representatives first met on April 1, 1789 in New York City. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House. Georgia’s first Members of Congress were James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and George Mathews.

On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

Happy Birthday to Phil Niekro, who turns 76 today. Niekro pitched for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves for twenty years, earning five trips to the All-Star Game, five gold gloves, led the league in wins twice, and came in second in balloting for the Cy Young award in 1969. In 1997, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ron Daniels has written up his thoughts on similarities between the fight today over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, and the 2001 fight over the Georgia state flag.

Then came along Roy. Governor Barnes, with the support of business interests, used every bit of political power he had and pushed a new flag design through the legislature in January 2001. The result was a cluttered design and very upset constituents.

Like the flag, RFRA seems to be drawing certain lines in the sand. Big business is afraid that it’s passage will drive businesses, jobs, and even science fiction conventions away from the Peach State. Progressives believe it will completely legalize discrimination and infringe on people’s right and liberties.

On the other side of the issue, RFRA’s supporters claim their intent is to preserve religious liberty and protect individual’s rights. Commentators are accusing Republicans of stabbing conservatives in the back. Religious leaders are upset and taking aim at anyone in their path.

RFRA is the first truly divisive issue to come through the legislature since my generation could vote. Will RFRA have the lasting impact that changing the flag had?

Governor Deal “My thinking has evolved” on medical marijuana

This is the second of what will be five clips from my interview with Governor Deal on Monday.

Sine Comatose

Sine die (sign-ee dye) is a Latin phrase used to denote the last day of a General Assembly session. As the Presiding officer of each chamber closes the year’s session, he declares that the chamber is adjourned sine die, meaning without specifying a day for the next meeting. It’s also used as a verb, as in, “we expect to sine die on Thursday around midnight.” Well, this year, Sine hasn’t died yet, but he’s not looking too good. Sine comatose is the Latin phrase used to describe how legislators, staff, reporters, lobbyists, and hangers-on feel and look today. It’s not dead, but it’s in the waiting room.

Capitol Sine Comatose Night

Transportation Tax Passed

For policy nerds, the Senate Democratic Caucus summary of the final Transportation Finance Act Conference Committee Report is as good a summary as I’ve seen.

Here are some of the highlights. Or lowlights, depending on your perspective.

•   26 cents per gallon excise tax on motor fuel
•  29 cents per gallon excise tax on diesel
•  Elimination of the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit
•  Currently, the excise tax has an escalator clause tied to the consumer price index, which sunsets in 2018 unless renewed
•  Electric vehicle tag fee of $200 per year and $300 per year for commercial
•  Extra fees for heavier trucks
•  $5 per night hotel/motel tax
•  Most counties not in a region that passed T-SPLOST would have the ability to levy a SPLOST for transportation

Not mentioned in the Senate Dems’ summary is a requirement for more transparency from the Georgia Department of Transportation. According to Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), who co-chaired last year’s Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Finance,

“We also put some accountability language in there. We’re asking the [Department of Transportation] to come over to the State House and Senate Transportation Committees every year and actually get their statewide transportation plan approved by the Transportation Committees. That’s never been done before, so there’s going to be more accountability, there’s going to be more transparency, more input from the General Assembly, not project specific, but more or less overall ‘what are you doing with the money, how are you spending it, and how do we prioritize it so that we get the biggest bang for the buck.’”

Senator Gooch said that the bill gets the state over the billion dollar goal that has been consistently mentioned as a benchmark by Gov. Deal if you add in $200 million for bonds that will be authorized.

An interesting twist in the hotel/motel tax portion of the bill is that it is required to be appropriated for transportation and the bill provides for the immediate repeal of the hotel/motel tax if the money is not dedicated for transportation. This is a way of sidestepping the general principle that an act of the General Assembly cannot bind the actions of future General Assemblies.

With that, I’m going to wrap up this abbreviated version of the morning news. I’m tired and brain-dead. We’ll have more analysis as we finish the Session, followed by a post-mortem next week.

Many folks will be disappointed by what some are saying is the largest tax increase passed by the General Assembly, but here’s my suggestion. We’ve got more than a year before elections, so there’s no rush to judge our elected legislators. I’d ask that after the session you call or email your State Representative or Senator and ask them about their vote. Or seek them out at your local county party meeting, GOP convention, Kiwanis or Rotary, and listen to what they say.

This was a hard vote for many who felt caught between a truly pressing need for repair and maintenance of roads and bridges, and their personal opposition for raising taxes. Casting difficult votes is part of the price of being in the General Assembly, and no member of either body takes that lightly.

So ask your legislators, listen to their responses, and ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I convinced that a pressing need exists for more money for transportation maintenance and repair?

2. What alternative can I come up with that’s more specific than simply saying to cut costs elsewhere?

If you decide you’re unconvinced by whatever your legislator says, by all means, criticize them, run against them, and/or support someone else for their seat. But I think we all owe it to them to hear them out.

Huckabee Waffles on Hashbrowns

Last night, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee spoke at a fundraiser in Dunwoody for Rainbow Omega, a Christian charity devoted to helping adults with developmental disabilities. DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester asked him about his interview earlier this year with GaPundit.

Huckabee said he loves the hash brown scattered smothered and covered but to stay healthy one must makes hard choices so waffles bacon and eggs stay but tomatoes replace the hashbrowns on his plate now. One sure sign of an impending campaign for higher office is the candidate going on a diet. Make of it what you will.






Steve Gooch HB 170 CCR 1280px