Cell towers bill clears General Assembly – Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Georgia Senate gave final passage Tuesday to compromise legislation making it easier for wireless companies to get permits to build cellphone towers.

The bill, which passed 48-1, limits fees local governments can charge wireless companies to review applications for new towers or modifications of existing towers.

It also gives cities and counties no more than 150 days after
receiving an application to either issue or deny a permit.

The companies began pushing for the bill last year, complaining that long waits for cellphone tower permits were preventing the industry from keeping pace with the rapidly growing demand for service.

After the legislation failed to make it through the General Assembly last spring, industry representatives met with lobbyists for cities and counties to work out a compromise that all of the parties could support.

In a key change from last year’s bill, the companies agreed to drop a provision that would have allowed permits to be approved automatically if the 150-day “shot clock” expired without a decision on an application.

via Cell towers bill clears General Assembly – Atlanta Business Chronicle.

UPDATE: Kyle Hubbard to challenge Lumsden for Ga. House seat – Rome News-Tribune: Local

A Republican has challenged incumbent state Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, for his seat on the General Assembly.

M. Kyle Hubbard, of Rome, qualified Tuesday for the District 12 seat. No Democrats have qualified for a local state House of Representatives seat. State Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Christian Coomer, R-Cassville, face no opposition.

The primary election is May 20. The general election is Nov. 4.

Two candidates qualified Monday for the Floyd County Commission seat being vacated by longtime Commissioner John Mayes.

via UPDATE: Kyle Hubbard to challenge Lumsden for Ga. House seat – Rome News-Tribune: Local.

Expert: Georgia Can’t Do Much More To Stop Affordable Care Act

MACON, Ga.  —  Georgia’s state House passed a bill late Monday designed to push back against the federal Affordable Care Act. It now goes to the state Senate.

The legislation would prevent state government from helping in the implementation and enforcement of the law also known as “Obamacare.”

It’s a politically charged proposal, but the practical effect would be highly limited, said Chris Tsavatewa, chair of the Health Services Administration program at Middle Georgia State College.

In part, that’s because Georgia is already not cooperating on the most important components of the ACA that depend on state action, he said.

“Georgia opted out of the opportunity to expand Medicaid, and has take on the position that the opportunity to expand the insurance marketplace through an exchange was not something they were interested in participating in at all,” Tsavatewa said.

via Expert: Georgia Can’t Do Much More To Stop Affordable Care Act.

VIDEO – Winston Churchill: Iron Curtain Speech 5 March, 1946

On this day in 1946, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his Iron Curtain speech warning of the dangers of communism.

On 5 March 1946 Churchill was no longer the UK’s prime minister but he still enjoyed a giant reputation around the world..

President Harry Truman himself traveled 1,000 miles to Fulton, Missouri, to hear Churchill give a speech after receiving an honorary degree at Westminster College there.

It would become one of the most famous speeches of the century.

VP Joe Biden visits Atlanta for Nunn fundraiser | www.wsbtv.com

ATLANTA — Vice President Joe Biden’s midterm election fundraising tour made a stop in Atlanta, where he attended a private fundraising event for U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn on Tuesday.

Nunn, a Democrat, is running for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring, and Democrats see Nunn as one of their best chances to pick up a GOP seat.

Biden is campaigning and raising money around the country for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections. Many of his stops are in states such as Georgia, where President Barack Obama is unpopular among white voters. For Nunn to win, she’ll have to get support from white voters who supported Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012.

via VP Joe Biden visits Atlanta for Nunn fundraiser | www.wsbtv.com.

Deal: Ga. will start harbor deepening on its own | www.wsbtv.com

SAVANNAH, Ga. — From Capitol Hill to the governor’s office, Georgia officials sounded both stunned and defiant Tuesday after the Obama administration’s new budget failed to recommend funding to start the $652 million deepening of Savannah’s busy shipping channel — a project Vice President Joe Biden pledged just six months ago would get done “come hell or high water.”

Gov. Nathan Deal vowed to jumpstart the expansion of the river channel cargo ships use to reach the Port of Savannah without financial help from Washington, using $231 million the state already has set aside for its share of the project. Deal seized on Biden’s much-quoted “hell or high water” comment to retort: “It’s more accurate to say the administration is going to put us through the former to get to the latter.”

Like other East Coast ports, Savannah is scrambling to deepen its harbor to make room for supersized cargo ships expected to begin arriving after the Panama Canal finishes a major expansion as early as next year. Georgia officials are pushing hard to get construction started this year and were looking to President Barack Obama to seek significant funding for the project after the president touted the need for deeper water at U.S. ports during public appearances last year.

But the president’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal released Tuesday contained just $1.52 million for the Savannah harbor, and that small amount was designated for preconstruction engineering and design. Even Georgia Republicans who are typically critical of Obama said they were shocked given the administration’s public endorsements of the project as won that would boost U.S. jobs.

“I can’t imagine what’s going on with the administration except for some kind of politics,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican. “The president can talk something to death while jobs are sitting in the wings waiting to take place.”

via Deal: Ga. will start harbor deepening on its own | www.wsbtv.com.

Military Members Lend Support to Common Core | WABE 90.1 FM

A group of retired military members gathered at the State Capitol Tuesday to show support for the Common Core education standards. Georgia has invested plenty of time and money in the standards’ implementation. But a bill that cleared the state Senate puts Georgia’s future participation in the Common Core in question.

Major General Ronald Johnson said children of service men and women attend between six and nine different schools during their elementary years. He says before 45 states agreed to adopt the Common Core, that was a hardship for children in military families.

via Military Members Lend Support to Common Core | WABE 90.1 FM.

Bill would help development authorities – Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Georgia Senate passed legislation Monday to remove some of the legal requirements governing bond validation hearings that have been used to block development projects from moving forward.

The bill, which passed 35-13, would remove a requirement that either the attorney general or a district attorney be present at hearings to validate bonds development authorities are seeking to sell to finance building projects.

That legal hurdle has been used as the basis for lawsuits challenging bond validations in cases across Georgia, said Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, the bill’s chief sponsor.

via Bill would help development authorities – Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Kingston Slams Obama Administration’s Hypocrisy on Savannah Harbor Expansion Project

Congressman ‘shocked and bewildered’ by Presidents failure to support project after touting it on the campaign trail

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) released the following statement following the Obama Administration’s failure to fund construction of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in its budget request:

“I am shocked and bewildered at the Obama Administration’s continued stonewalling of this vital project for our economy. To tout this project on the campaign trail, talk about it on the Tonight Show, and then to hide behind the bureaucracy when it’s time for action is hypocrisy beyond the pale.” Continue reading

“Hello, Doctor Midnight”

March 5, 1977, Walter Cronkite is in the White House’s Oval Office sitting in a wing-backed chair in front of a coffee table and in front of the fireplace. He is broadcasting live on the CBS Radio Network. Cronkite was not alone. President Carter was there, too. It was his office, after all.

And there was a phone. Who was on the other end of the line? The American Public. The program’s premise was simple: the President of the United States would answer questions propounded by the public. At the same time the broadcast was historic. There was no email. No twitter. No whitehouse.gov. Connecting the President directly with citizens was an extraordinary concept.

For the next two hours, Cronkite wrangled calls while President Carter answered a variety of questions. Variety is an understatement. Carter fielded questions regarding foreign policy, oil companies, taxes, and even questions regarding his son Chip living in the Whitehouse. Some callers were fans of Carter, others were not. Some callers identified themselves as Republicans who supported the President. One caller was eleven years old.

Despite the wide array of callers, no one managed to truly stump Carter. When speaking to a woman who’s father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Carter said “Why don’t you let me have someone call you Monday, if you don’t mind. It wouldn’t help much if I called you, because I’m not a medical doctor and I’m not familiar with it. Would that suit you okay?” A caller challenging Carter over drug enforcement and the origin of heroin seemed to bother Cronkite more than the President. His answers were honest, the President admitted he wasn’t aware of certain pieces of legislation.

Regardless of Carter’s policy positions and his answers to questions, “Ask President Carter” was a truly historic broadcast. Never before had the President been accessible via telephone on a live radio broadcast. And the questions presented to the President weren’t confined to one or two issues that he had been prepared to handle. One can argue that the American people were also fascinated with the concept of calling and speaking directly to Carter; nine million people called into the broadcast trying to reach him. The President seemed to enjoy the broadcast as well, remarking: “[t]he questions that come in from people all over the country are the kind that you would never get in a press conference. The news people would never raise them, like the Ottawa Indian question. And I think it’s very good for me to understand directly from the American people what they are concerned about and questions that have never been asked of me and reported through the news media.”

Of course, “Ask President Carter” also spawned a great Saturday Night Live parody. On March 12, 1977, Bill Murray played the role of Cronkite and Dan Aykroyd played the role of the President. Aykroyd’s Carter answered questions regarding a mail-sorting machine, talked a young man into “mellowing out” while on an acid trip, and dealt with the infamous “Doctor Midnight.”

A transcript of “Ask President Carter” can be found here. Or you can watch SNL’s rendition here.