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Sen. Steve Gooch: The State of Our State

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Steve Gooch

Steve Gooch

The State of Our State

Governor Deal made it clear during his annual “State of the State” address that Georgia’s economy continues to grow in the aftermath of the worst economic collapse of the 21st century.  Thousands of jobs are consistently being created every month, home values are on the rise, and Georgia remains the number one state in the nation to do business. Georgia’s Constitutional requirement that our state operates on a balanced budget remains one of the most—if not THE most—important factor to our economic recovery.

While the recession forced lawmakers to make very difficult budgetary decisions and spending cuts, after years of responsible budgeting on the state level, Georgia’s economic landscape is showing improvement.  The increase in state funds from $20.8 billion in FY 2015 to $21.7 billion in FY 2016 is proof of a growing economy and allows our state to reinvest in the areas hurt most by the recession.

Georgia’s education programs continue to see the benefits of an improving economy. Governor Deal’s FY 2016 budget recommendations include $239 billion to fund enrollment growth and training for over 1.72 million K – 12 students and 121,000 teachers and administrators. An additional $280 million has been included to increase instructional days and properly compensate our best educators.Continue Reading..


Senate Majority Caucus: Announces 2015 Agenda

Renee and Cowsert

Your Georgia Desk

From The Senate Majority  Caucus

Senate Majority Caucus Announces 2015 Agenda

Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R – Athens), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and members of the Senate Majority Caucus will hold a press conference today to announce the Senate Majority Caucus 2015 Legislative Agenda. The press conference will convene in room 203 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, immediately upon adjournment of the Rules Committee.

The Republican agenda for the 2015 Session of the Georgia General Assembly will focus on the following five issues:

  1. Helping young children with autism
  2. Providing opportunities and breaking down bureaucratic barriers for high school students ready to take college-level courses
  3. Continuing and expanding the protection of our children
  4. Pushing economic development and job creation
  5. Ensuring that the founding principles of our constitutional republic are taught to our students so that they are equipped for self-government and able to maintain their heritage of freedom.

“If you take a look at the bills we are considering most pressing, it should be obvious that the Majority Caucus is focused squarely on the education, health and protection of Georgia’s children,” Sen. Cowsert said. “At the same time, we will work to ensure Georgia remains the best place in the U.S. for business, thereby continuing to push every viable job creation mechanism for the benefit of Georgians across the state.”

Cowsert said this session’s main education bill is a bi-partisan initiative spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle that provides options and breaks down bureaucratic barriers for high school students who are ready to enroll in college level courses. Senate Bill 2 would enable a high school student to enroll in a college or university upon successful completion of a college entrance exam. When they complete a degree or certificate program, their college level courses would satisfy high school graduation requirements. Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) will carry the bill with Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims (D – Dawson) and Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens) as co-sponsors.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 26, 2015

Georgia History

The Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting on January 26, 1846 at Talbotton, Georgia.

John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.

On January 26, 2001 a new state flag, first designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander, passed out of committee in the General Assembly by a 4-3 vote and would be voted on later that week. Click here to view the floor debate from 2001.

Georgia Politics

The list of aspirants for two DeKalb County judicial seats – one in State Court, one in Superior court — has been whittled from 72 to 25, and interviews by the Judicial Nominations Committee are expected to begin this week. Notable among the 25:

State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven)

Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis

State Senator Ronald Ramsey, Sr. (D-Lithonia)

Former DeKalb County State Court Judge Tony DelCampo

Bob Dallas, who served as Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under Gov. Sonny Perdue

The Fulton County Daily Report ran an interview with DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson, who discusses her views on accountability courts, the learning curve for a new judge, and diversity on the bench.

The Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit is often the example pointed to by groups who say there should be more diversity among judicial appointees—and those who defend the Deal administration’s recent picks. That’s because the State and Superior courts are among the most diverse in Georgia.

DeKalb County Superior Court has four black female judges, two white female judges, two white male judges, and two black male judges. The circuit also included the state’s first Latino (Tony DelCampo) and Asian-American (Alvin Wong) state court judges. (Delcampo left the State Court bench in 2011 but has applied for reappointment.)

Jackson said she believes diversity on the bench is important. When the makeup of judges reflects the population, there is inherently more trust in the judicial system, she said.

“But that can mean any number of things,” she said. Race. Gender. Socioeconomic status. Even life experience.

Jackson bristles at the suggestion that diversity is a second-tier consideration and not a primary qualification for being a judge.

“I hear people say, ‘I don’t know if we should sacrifice the quality of a candidate to make sure the bench is diverse.’ The very nature of being a diverse candidate is in and of itself a qualification,” she said. “There is a unique experience that comes along with being a woman or an Asian-American or an African-American or a white American.”

As a DeKalb County resident, I would argue that diversity on the bench might be improved with a Jewish member of the bench. After all, Atlanta is home to one of the nation’s largest Jewish communities and DeKalb hosts a number of congregations and a large number of the state’s Jewish citizens. As a constituent and former consultant to State Rep. Jacobs, if anyone asked my opinion, I’d say he would be a great fit for the bench, though I haven’t spoken to him about the current vacancies and haven’t been his consultant for more than a year.

As a bonus, it would open at least one special election, potentially creating a Christmas (or Hanukkah, if you will) in March or June for folks like me.Continue Reading..


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for January 26, 2015

Buddy Hound

Buddy is a young male Hound/Shepherd mix who is exactly what his name implies – a great buddy! He LOVES people. Buddy has been in a wonderful foster home, and has been introduced to several other dogs and did beautifully with all of them. He chases squirrels and cats outdoors, but interestingly he virtually ignored the cat in a home where he spent a recent weekend.

He’s been working on his leash walking skills, and is making good progress. He does get excited when he sees another animal! Buddy has a lot of energy and needs regular exercise – at least two walks/runs a day.

Buddy’s people skills are excellent – he goes to work with his foster mom nearly everyday and has become the official greeter at her office! It’s been a wonderful socialization opportunity for him.

Buddy will be a wonderful companion. We feel a home without small children is best simply due to his size and exuberance, but an experienced owner with children would be considered. Buddy is available for adoption from Two Tailz K9 ResQ in Roswell, GA.


Doug is a typically playful lab pup who loves nothing more than his ball. He has high energy who would be best placed with an active family. He gets along with most dogs but can be protective of his ball. Otherwise he plays well with four legged friends when no ball is involved. Doug does great with adults and kids! He also has plenty of character and goofiness as most labs are! he is a bundle of fun and provides plenty of laughter. Doug is available for adoption from Two Tailz K9 ResQ Roswell,GA.


Zachary is an adult male Labrador/Terrier mix, the sweetest boy you could ever find. He loves attention and gets along with everyone! His favorite activity is prancing around with a toy in his mouth seeking your attention. After being in flux for several years he has found a loving foster home but desperately needs a permanent home. If you are looking for a sweet, low maintenance loving boy Zach is the dog for you! Please call David Butler @404-597-7948. Zachary is available for adoption from Second Chance Animal Rescue & Adoptions in Roswell,GA.


Brookhaven lawmakers make initial cut for two open seats on DeKalb County Bench | The Brookhaven Post | Brookhaven, GA

I will note that in addition to State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) and Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis, State Senator Ronald S. Ramsey (D-Lithonia) and former DeKalb State Court Judge Tony DelCampo made the cut on this round.

DeKalb County, GA, January, 23, 2015 – by Trey Benton – Attorney and State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-80) and Brookhaven Mayor J Max Davis, also an attorney, are among 25 nominees who made the initial cut from a list of 72 to fill two vacant spots on the DeKalb County Bench.

via Brookhaven lawmakers make initial cut for two open seats on DeKalb County Bench | The Brookhaven Post | Brookhaven, GA.


‘Downtown DeKalb’ area to be proposed by county CEO |

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May on Thursday plans to propose moving central county offices from Decatur to Memorial Drive, creating the foundation for a “Downtown DeKalb” district of government, commercial and residential development.

The idea will be a centerpiece of May’s State of the County address that he’s delivering to the business community and the public.

May envisions the relocation as a way to help revitalize the Memorial Drive corridor, which stretches through the heart of the county from Stone Mountain to Atlanta.

The relocation would put DeKalb’s government closer to the middle of the 700,000-person county, making it more accessible to those who live in the mostly residential southern half of the county.

via ‘Downtown DeKalb’ area to be proposed by county CEO |


AT&T Georgia sues Atlanta, MARTA over Streetcar costs |

AT&T Georgia is suing Atlanta and MARTA for millions of dollars it says it’s owed for relocating utilities to make way for the city’s new Streetcar.

In a lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court last month, the telecommunications company said it spent $5.8 million when it was ordered to relocate its equipment, such as cables, wires and conduits, ahead of streetcar construction. AT&T also said in the filing it’s concerned about future costs because of the potential for streetcar expansion.

The city and MARTA have so far refused to pay, according to the filing, because they believe that Atlanta has “the inherent authority” to force AT&T to move its equipment.

via AT&T Georgia sues Atlanta, MARTA over Streetcar costs |


Flowery Branch City Council OKs sales tax agreement with Hall County

Flowery Branch City Council members have approved an intergovernmental agreement with Hall County for participation in an upcoming sales tax referendum.

The city stands to garner up to $4.27 million in an upcoming special purpose local option sales tax, with a countywide vote on SPLOST VII set for March 17.

If approved, collections on the five-year tax will begin July 1.

While approved by council members, concern was expressed that the agreement omits the creation of a citizens’ oversight committee, as originally promised.

via Flowery Branch City Council OKs sales tax agreement with Hall County.


Georgia lawmakers plan another look at no-knock warrants |

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers may be ready to put new limits on the use of “no-knock” warrants after an infant was severely burned by a flash grenade during an overnight police raid last May in north Georgia.

A bill introduced this month with bipartisan sponsors requires that “no-knock” warrants be carried out between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. unless a judge specifically OKs an overnight search. It also requires more oversight and written training policies within police agencies.

Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner, a former sheriff’s deputy who worked in law enforcement for 18 years, said he already was discussing limits on the warrants when the toddler’s case became national news. Under his bill, law enforcement agencies also would have to report their warrants to the state. Tanner said that will indicate whether the tactic is being overused as opponents have argued.

“The attention always is drawn to the bad situations, but we have hundreds of search warrants conducted in Georgia and there’s never a problem with them,” Tanner said. “We’re just trying to tighten the process and put some speed bumps in the pathway.”

Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said his organization’s members are fine with that. The proposal adds accountability for law enforcement and judges signing off on the warrants, he said.

via Georgia lawmakers plan another look at no-knock warrants |


Lawmakers tour local sex trafficking hot spots |

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The metro Atlanta area is considered one of the nation’s top locations for sex trafficking.

Local lawmakers want to stop that, and Channel 2’s Richard Elliot rode along with them as they learned about the problem.

Lawmakers boarded a bus with a former dancer as she explained how the business works.

via Lawmakers tour local sex trafficking hot spots |