The blog.

2
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 2, 2017

Selena

Selena is an adult female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GABless this sweet houndie girl’s heart. She is such a pretty girl. All she wants is someone to love her.

Yolanda

Yolanda is a young female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA. I’m guessing from the photos that she’s Selena’s puppy.

BoomerHabersham

Boomer is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GADo you have room in your heart for this little guy? He is scared at the shelter and is hoping for someone to come and love him. He promises he will be a good boy.

2
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2017

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games.

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry announced that the seciton of I-85 that collapsed in a fire will be reopened by Memorial Day.

“It will open the minute it’s ready to open, no matter what time of day,” McMurry said following a press conference atop a stretch of the closed highway in Buckhead.

The new timeline — nearly three weeks ahead of the original June 15 projected opening — would be a tremendous relief for hundreds of thousands of commuters. Driving in parts of Atlanta has been unusually awful since March 30, when a fire destroyed a portion of I-85 near Piedmont Road in Buckhead and shuttered one of the main highways into the heart of the city.

Governor Nathan Deal went on a bill-signing spree yesterday, signing 34 bills into law.

House Bill 44, the FY 2018 budget was among them, though he sent a letter announcing his intention to disregard one section.

From the press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today held budget signing ceremonies across the state for next year’s $25 billion state budget. The legislation, HB 44, will support Georgia citizens by funding initiatives in education, human services, public safety, state infrastructure and other key areas. This budget is based on a 3.5 percent increase in general fund revenues over FY 2017, reflecting Georgia’s sustained economic growth.

“The FY 2018 budget maintains Georgia’s position as a national leader in conservative fiscal management and further strengthens our top priorities: quality education for all children, public safety in our communities, an economy that continues to generate jobs and an infrastructure system that supports a growing population,” said Deal. “With this budget, we are working to make Georgia a better place to live, work and play by investing in public safety personnel, teachers and others responsible for ensuring the safety of Georgia’s children. Georgia has enjoyed sustained economic growth and this budget lays the foundation for continued short-term and long-term success. I commend the General Assembly for working with me once again to balance the budget while addressing the issues that matter most to Georgia’s citizens.”

HB 44 invests more than $516 million in new funding for K-12 education, including allocations of more than $156.8 million for enrollment growth, training and experience, and $85.8 million for the Quality Basic Education Equalization program to assist low-wealth school systems. Also included is $160.1 million in funding to provide a 2 percent increase to the state base salary schedule for certified personnel, school bus drivers and school nurses. The budget also provides additional funding for the Teachers Retirement System to ensure teachers’ pensions maintain strong financial footing.

The FY 2018 budget also invests more than $96 million in the Department of Human Services child welfare services programs to ensure that those who care for our most vulnerable citizens have the resources necessary to provide safe, caring environments for children in need. Of this funding, $25.9 million will provide 19 percent pay increases for child protective services employees to assist the department in recruiting and retaining staff, and $31 million will provide per diem rate increases for foster parents and relatives caring for children.

The budget includes $55.2 million in addition to funding allocated in the Amended FY 2017 budget to provide a 20 percent salary increase for law enforcement personnel, as well as salary increases for criminal investigators and public safety trainers. This increase has already had a significant impact in recruiting new officers for the Department of Public Safety, as the Department has received twice as many trooper applications as usual since the increase was announced in September.

As a result of continued revenue growth from HB 170, the Georgia Department of Transportation will receive an additional infusion of $162.6 million to help maintain the state’s roads and bridges. This is in addition to the $100 million already included in this year’s capital funding package to supplement bridge repairs and improvements. To date, HB 170 has generated more than $1 billion in new funding each year to expand and maintain Georgia’s road and bridge network.

Additional FY 2018 budget highlights include:

  • $115.4 million for performance incentives for high-performing employees or for employee recruitment and retention initiatives.
  • $222.5 million to meet actuarially determined employer contributions to the Teachers Retirement System.
  • $20.8 million for autism services for children served by Medicaid and $17.9 million for primary care and OB/GYN Medicaid providers.
  • $11.8 million to annualize a provider rate increase for the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program.
  • $25.9 million for 500 additional NOW and Comprehensive waivers, bridge funding and housing vouchers.
  • $79.4 million for the University System of Georgia for resident instruction.
  • $20.5 million for the Move on When Ready program.
  • $11.3 million in bond funds for the Technical College System of Georgia to purchase world-class lab equipment.
  • $36.4 million to construct and equip a new crime lab for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Savannah.

The fiscal year begins July 1.

School teachers may not all get that promised 2 percent raise.

Some metro Atlanta district officials say the state funding tied to the promised 2 percent raise was based on a state teacher’s salary schedule that is significantly lower than theirs. So the money from the state doesn’t add up to 2 percent locally.

“The state simply pays less on their schedule and we pay more,” Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.

Most districts have yet to complete their budgets for the coming school year. But in metro Atlanta, at least three districts do not intend to give teachers 2 percent raises — Cobb, Atlanta and DeKalb.

House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, said he’d heard rumblings about some districts not giving the full pay raise.

“I am disappointed that systems are not choosing to follow the intentions of the General Assembly that teachers get a 2 percent pay raise,” England said.

Gov. Deal will give the keynote address at Valdosta State University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday.

“Graduation is a defining moment in every student’s life,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, VSU president. “We are excited that the governor of this great state will help us pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of our spring graduates and celebrate education as the foundation upon which success is built. These students have had to overcome any number of challenges to reach this point in their life’s journey.”

“It is that very perseverance that protects and nurtures Blazer Nation’s 100-plus-year-old tradition of academic, creative, athletic, research and service excellence. This weekend we celebrate not an ending but the beginning of many great things to come.”

More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students will be recognized during Valdosta State University’s 223rd commencement ceremonies Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle began the morning in Augusta this morning on a statewide campaign tour and is speaking at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA later today.

Casey Tweet Columbia County

The Gainesville Times writes that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is striking a populist tone in his campaign for Governor.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is striking a populist tone in his 2018 run for governor, touting his record as a small business owner, prioritizing rural Georgia and adopting a “Georgians first” attitude to state spending and illegal immigrants.

The seven-year secretary of state sat down with The Times on Monday to discuss these issues and others involved in his campaign to be Georgia’s third Republican governor.

“I’ve been a small business owner for 30 years,” he said. “I’ve been working with working Georgians every day, and that includes today. I think that’s one of the values that I’ve had — I’ve never lost touch with what’s going on in the real world.”

“I think people are very frustrated with it seeming like the government is always doing something for the special interests or those that are here illegally and not really helping our own citizens,” Kemp said. “When you think to our rural areas, we’ve got kids who can’t get on the internet to do their homework at night.”

Kemp’s platform includes a cap to state spending, refunds for taxpayers and the reduction of Georgia’s bureaucratic corps.

Warner Robins City Council is considering moving to hire a City Administrator.

Councilman Tim Thomas began the discussion by stating there had been a lot of talk in the community about what the council was considering and he wanted to clear it up.

He said the council is not looking at reducing the power or the salary of Mayor Randy Toms, but he said the city has grown too large not to have a city administrator. He explained that unlike a city manager form of government, which does take power away from the mayor, a city administrator form of government would provide a full-time person to assist the mayor in running the city.

“We are not reducing anybody’s powers,” he said.

Augusta Commission is considering doing away with the city personnel manual.

Augusta Planning Commission is working on a zoning ordinance to allow smaller alcohol brewers and distillers outside of industrial areas.

In the meantime, board members will tour two local microbreweries, seek public feedback and study various aspects of the proposed ordinance, such as how much alcohol a brewer or distiller can manufacture under the new special exception, Planning Director Melanie Wilson said.

The Augusta code already allowed brewpubs, where homemade beer is sold in restaurants with food, and allows breweries in industrial zones.

But new definitions under consideration include the “nano-brewery,” which would allow the retail sale of up to 3,000 barrels per year, and the “pico-brewery,” permitting the sale of up to 500 barrels.

“Everybody has been talking about microbreweries,” Wilson said. “The discussion should have been nano-breweries and pico-breweries.”

The Gainesville City Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Dr. Jeremy Williams as Superintendent, beginning July 1.

Savannah is moving forward with a “sales fee” to fund increased services in the historic district.

The 25-cent fee would be applied to sales of $10 or more to cover the costs of the Savannah Serves program that consists of uniformed ambassadors, maintenance workers and Savannah-Chatham police officers. Groceries, gas and prescription medications would be exempt from the fee, and businesses would retain 3 percent of the revenue to cover administrative costs.

The city estimates the fee will generate $2.5 million, although the amount is considered conservative since the program is new and there is no history to work from. As a result, the city will only implement the program in stages so that the costs do not exceed the revenue, said Marty Johnston, deputy assistant to the city manager. After the program has been in effect for a couple of months, the city will review the proceeds and address any concerns, Johnston said.

1
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 1, 2017

Elmo

Elmo is a male Labrador Retriever and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

Elmo is a high energy, dominant (neutered) male. He is also SUPER cute. Elmo LOVES to run, and is working on his leash manners. Elmo would do best in a home as an only pet, although we have seen him get along with certain dogs (submissive) that are smaller than him.

Elmo does well with older children. He would most definitely need an experienced dog owner as an adopter-but he’s smart and catches on to training quickly!

Mary Habersham

Mary is a female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

Mr Tibbs

Mr. Tibbs is a male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

1
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 1, 2017

In Memoriam

First Lieutenant Weston C. Lee was killed in Iraq this past weekend.

According to a Facebook post by the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Lieutenant Lee died in Iraq when an IED detonated during a patrol outside Mosul.

The post said Lee, a platoon leader, was “an extraordinary young man and officer.”

The post also said Lee has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Georgia and American History

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1863-1865)

On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

On May 1, 1971, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night was the #1 song in the nation.

On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke the major league baseball stolen base record on the same day that Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, recorded his seventh no-hitter.

The official state tartan of Georgia was designated on May 1, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump headlined a high-dollar fundraiser for Karen Handel on Friday.

At the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta, the president appeared at a Friday afternoon fundraiser for Handel that invited some of the biggest GOP donors in the state. Trump helped the former Secretary of State raise about $750,000, her campaign announced.

“I am honored to have President Trump’s support in this election,” Handel said. “Like President Trump, I too have a record of shaking things up and if elected to Congress I hope to work with him to get things done. It is time we stop the talking in Washington and start to look towards governing.”

Trump addressed 40,000 people at the NRA convention, trumpeting his accomplishments in an hour-long speech that touched on gun rights, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Sessions and, yes, the political dogfight the Republicans have found themselves in in the 6th District race.

“I’d like to congratulate Karen Handel for her incredible fight in Georgia 6,” Trump said. He added that Handel was “totally for the NRA, totally for gun rights.” He then went on to criticize the fact that Ossoff, a 30-year-old investigative filmmaker, doesn’t reside in the 6th District.He also chided the Georgia Republican Party for having 11 candidates in the April 18 special election running for one 6th District seat. He said “let’s not have” that again … “it’s too nerve-shattering.”

National Democrats have figured out why Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. Wait for it….

[N]ew information shows that Clinton had a much bigger problem with voters who had supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but backed Trump four years later.

Those Obama-Trump voters effectively accounted for more than two-thirds of the reason Clinton lost, according to Matt Canter, a senior vice president of the Democratic political firm Global Strategy Group. In his group’s analysis, about 70 percent of Clinton’s failure to reach Obama’s vote total in 2012 was because she lost these voters.

Much of the debate over how to proceed has centered on whether the party should try to win back working-class white voters — who make up most of the Obama-Trump voters — or focus instead on mobilizing its base.

Turning out the base is not good enough, the data suggest.

“This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn’t work,” Canter said. “We have to do both.”

Democrats are quick to acknowledge that even if voters switching allegiance had been Clinton’s biggest problem, in such a close election she still could have defeated Trump with better turnout. For example, she could have won if African-American turnout in Michigan and Florida matched 2012′s.

Rural Georgia, which largely backed Donald Trump for the presidency, faces major economic challenges.

Georgia State University’s Center for State and Local Finance issued a report this week that detailed a grim fiscal future for rural Georgia:

• Rural Georgia lost 6.9 percent of its jobs from 2007 to 2014; that compares to a loss of 0.3 percent in metro Atlanta, and a loss of 2.7 percent in hub cities;

• Rural Georgia has the lowest job growth relative to its population growth; jobs losses of 6.9 percent occurred during a population growth rate of 12.7 percent;

In August, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued a white paper that portrays a grim case for rural health care. According to the report:

• Four rural hospitals have closed since 2013;

• Rural hospitals are scaling back services; this sets the stage for a vicious cycle of health care shortage because physicians won’t move to places with limited hospital privileges;

• Rural patients tend to utilize emergency rooms, where care is the most costly to provide.

Duluth dedicated a patriotic statue on its Town Green, bringing in much of Georgia’s political establishment.

After years of talking about it, the sculpture — which is an adaptation of Kathy Fincher’s 9/11-themed painting of children by the same name — was unveiled to the public. It includes separate bronze sculptures of seven children painting an American flag on a pane of glass while an eighth child sings “God Bless America.”

“It shows everybody, the United States and the rest of the world, that we really think our children are special, that our children can succeed and that we want them to grow up and succeed,” Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal told the hundreds of people who gathered for the unveiling.

The unveiling was a big affair for Duluth. The first lady and her husband, Gov. Nathan Deal, joined Fincher, sculptor Martin Dawe, city leaders, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, former U.S. Rep. John Linder, former Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity director Melvin Everson, officials from the Duluth Fine Arts League and President Rodney Mims Cook Jr. for the unveiling.

Deal also praised the sculpture. The governor owns a copy of the Dream Keepers painting — his staff bought it for him as a birthday present because he was drawn to it often when it was on loan to the governor’s office — and has it hangs in his office at the state Capitol.

“It’s certainly nice to see Kathy here tonight and to see her art translated into this monument,” Deal said.

Plant Vogtle

Westinghouse, the lead contractor at Plant Voglte, declared bankruptcy a month ago, while Georgia Power and its partners have continued construction during an assessment period. The parties agreed to extend the assessment period by two weeks.

With little more than two hours until it expired, representatives from Georgia Power and Westinghouse agreed to extend the interim agreement keeping construction moving forward at the beleaugered Plant Vogtle expansion near Waynesboro.

“During this time, the parties will continue to work on finalizing a new service agreement which would, if necessary, assure that Westinghouse continues to provide design, engineering and procurement services to Southern Nuclear as a part of their assumption of control over construction management,” Georgia Power said in a press release.

Georgia Power representatives said the company will continue to fight to ensure Westinghouse honors its financial obligations. During the interim agreement, the utility company is preparing a full analysis and potential options to present to the Georgia Public Service Commission. According to PSC vice-chairman Tim Echols, those options include considerations to convert the units to natural gas generators.

Vogtle is years beyond deadline, originally scheduled to begin operations this year, and billions over budget. Individual Georgia Power ratepayers have already paid as much as $500 each to fund the expansion project. It is not yet clear how costs currently borne by Georgia Power post-bankruptcy will be passed on to consumers or how the Public Service Commission will vote to proceed once the utility company brings the future options to the table.

Georgia Power has objected to $800 million in financing for Westinghouse because the agreement collateralizes intellectual property that may be necessary to continuing work on the new Vogtle reactors.

Westinghouse filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of March and wants to borrow money to keep its other businesses healthy, while it contends with the fallout of nuclear construction projects that are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

If Westinghouse’s bankruptcy loan goes through as planned, the company’s lenders would be in position to “foreclose on the intellectual property, which could seriously disrupt or even potentially halt construction,” lawyers for Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Co., warned in a court filing.

Georgia Power’s objection to the massive bankruptcy loan is the first flexing of major creditor muscle in a chapter 11 proceeding that has serious implications for Westinghouse parent Toshiba Corp., as well as for utility operators in the southern U.S. states where Westinghouse has been building reactors.

A Georgia Public Service Commission staffer told the AJC that the Commission is not required to allow Georgia Power to pass on additional costs related to Vogtle construction to ratepayers.

Under the current process, the Company is not entitled to a higher approved cost as a condition to finishing the project. Unless the Commission affirmatively decides to cancel the project under O.C.G.A. 46-3A-6, the Company is obligated to finish it under the terms of the Prudency Review Stipulation. (The Company could still cancel the project, but it would lose the right to collect the costs from ratepayers).

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols meanwhile hand-delivered a note to Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Tim Echols, PSC Vice-chairman, hand delivered a letter last week to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, saying the opportunity to deliver a message to the federal government regarding the seriousness of Georgia’s situation couldn’t be passed up.

The possibility of federal assistance was a topic in a recent SCANA earnings teleconference, in which COO Steve Byrne outlined three avenues for federal help. According to Coyle, Byrne said assistance could be written into the pending Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill, it could be added to the comprehensive tax reform bill, or it could be introduced as an independent bill.

Echols said a number of options will be considered when Southern Company brings its analysis to the table. He said several crucial financial elements will be under consideration, including the potential cost to convert the expansion units to natural gas generators.

“I can’t speak for the other commissioners, but Georgia Power will be giving us a cost to complete the plant as well as a cost for other options including the cost to convert,” he said.

Casey Cagle Kicks Off 2018 Campaign for Governor

The Gwinnett Daily Post covered Casey Cagle’s campaign kickoff with greater depth than most.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle made his bid for governor official at the Infinite Energy Theater in Duluth on Sunday by making some big promises.

Cagle pledged to create 500,000 new jobs in four years, and to get a $100 million tax cut passed in the 2019 General Assembly session. They are big numbers, but they are also goals that the lieutenant governor asserted can be attainable.

Cagle also said he wants to bring state transportation agencies together to work on a 10-year strategic plan for Georgia’s transportation infrastructure.

He committing to having a transit needs assessment done for metro Atlanta to look at where transit expansion is needed.

After the announcement, Cagle explained the tax cuts would include a $12,000 tax exemption for families of four and indexing the personal exemption and standard deduction to inflation.

“It will serve as putting government on a diet as well to where we live within our means just like every other Georgian has to do,” Cagle said. “So we will be committed obviously to fiscal stewardship (and) protecting the Triple-A bond rating as we have over the years.”

Cagle was joined on the stage by several supporters, including some state officials who represent Gwinnett. Those officials included Sens. Renee Unterman and Fran Millar, former Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity Executive Director and former Snellville city councilman Melvin Everson and Board of Regents member Richard Tucker.

From the Gainesville Times:

“It’s time for us to be big. It’s time for us to be bold as a state. I mean, Georgia is the capital of the South,” Cagle said after his campaign launch. “And I’m going to be a governor that’s going to lead with passion, with clarity and a decisive mind.”

Cagle has the largest number of statewide elections under his belt and, as lieutenant governor, occupies the office historically used as the launch pad for gubernatorial runs — putting a target on his back among the rest of the GOP contenders.

Looking to the fight ahead, Cagle took an early stance against negative campaigning on Sunday.

“I can tell you I’m not going to be running a campaign …  that’s going to tear someone else down,” he said. “I think most people are tired of negative campaigns, and if all you’ve got is a campaign that’s going to tear others down in order to make yourself look good, you don’t have much of a campaign.”

From the AJC:

The lieutenant governor’s speech Sunday to 800 supporters at a concert-turned-rally echoed many of the same policy platforms that he rolled out in an AJC interview a few days earlier. But the tone and the style of the campaign roll-out also sent a signal about how he’ll orchestrate his bid to succeed a term-limited Nathan Deal.

“I am not going to be running a campaign that’s going to tear someone else down,” he said, adding that candidates who focus on attacks “don’t have much.”

In an interview, he said he supports the president’s agenda – but stressed his independence. And at his campaign kickoff speech, he avoided mention of  Trump. Instead, he heaped praise on another Republican: Gov. Deal.

“I’ve been able to partner with him to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business,” he said.

Kathleen Foody of the Associated Press spoke to Cagle before the campaign kickoff.

Cagle told the AP that meeting the jobs commitment will be his central focus if elected, and that he can meet the target by focusing on a combination of existing business expansions, new companies wooed away from other states and startup incubator programs at regional universities.

“I’m confident that we can do it,” Cagle said. “I’m going to be a governor who’s going to work day and night to create the environment, but also make the ask and be the state’s No. 1 champion for meeting with companies and requesting them to locate here in Georgia.”

It’s a high bar. State Department of Labor data shows Georgia has added a net total of 267,100 jobs in the last decade, accounting for the enormous job losses that followed the recession that began in 2008. In the last six years, employers added nearly 518,000 jobs to help the state dig out from a deep hole.

Cagle said he also wants to overhaul the state’s method of planning maintenance on roads and other infrastructure, increase Georgia’s high school graduation rate and lower taxes on individuals and small businesses by adjusting income tax exemptions and deductions.

A Deeper Look at Allen Peake

Ezra Kaplan of the Associated Press has a fascinating piece about State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

Once a month, a cardboard box from Colorado appears at the office of a conservative Christian lawmaker in central Georgia, filled with derivatives of marijuana, to be distributed around the state in the shadows of the law.

Operating in ways he hopes will avoid felony charges of drug trafficking, state Rep. Allen Peake is taking matters into his own hands. He’s shepherding cannabis oil to hundreds of sick people who are now allowed by the state to possess marijuana, but have no legal way of obtaining it.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to be able to help get product to these families, these citizens who have debilitating illnesses,” Peake said. He spoke with The Associated Press in his Macon office, where he runs his business, his campaign operation and his underground medical marijuana network.

Each time one of the nondescript boxes arrives, Peake makes a significant donation to a foundation in Colorado that supports research of medical cannabis. He can’t make a direct payment, because that would be illegal. But with his donations of about $100,000 a year, he and his wife are able to supply the oil to hundreds of patients across Georgia.

“I’ll never recover that money,” but the satisfaction of helping people makes it all worthwhile, he said.

Erratum: on Friday, I mistakenly attributed a Marietta City Council member’s calling a colleague lazy to Kennesaw. I apologize to the City of Kennesaw and all of her fine gun-owning citizens.

28
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 28, 2017

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boundary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis stopped in LaGrange, Georgia en route to Atlanta for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill. On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump speaks today at the NRA Convention at the World Congress Center at 12:30 PM. At 1 PM, a fundraiser featuring the President and benefiting Karen Handel’s congressional campaign begins, with the program at 2:30. Expect traffic delays in downtown all afternoon. Bigly.

Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott told the MDJ he’ll be attending the event.

“It’s exciting because any time you have the opportunity to meet the president of the United States, it’s a big deal,” Ott said. “The fact that the president is taking time out of his busy schedule to be involved in the 6th District race shows the national significance of the race.”

Governor Deal was in a bill-signing mode, yesterday, inking ten pieces of legislation from this year’s General Assembly.

HB 139 – Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 198 – Elementary and secondary education; influenza vaccine; provide information; signed April 27, 2017
HB 224 – Quality Basic Education Act; military student may attend any school in local system; provide; signed April 27, 2017
HB 237 – Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation; receive private donations for grants to public schools; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 338 – Education; system of supports and assistance for low-performing schools in the greatest need; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 37 – Education; private postsecondary institutions in Georgia shall not adopt sanctuary policies; provide; signed April 27, 2017
HB 430 – Governor’s Education Reform Commission; charter schools; implement recommendations; signed April 27, 2017
HB 437 – Agricultural Education Advisory Commission; recreate; signed April 27, 2017
SB 186 – Education; HOPE; students who earned high school diploma through dual coursework are eligible; associate degree; clarify; signed April 27, 2017
SB 211 – Student Assessments;consideration of local reading programs; research based formative assessments; summative component; provide; signed April 27, 2017

From the Governor’s press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 338, legislation sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner, which aims to improve education outcomes for Georgia’s students. This critical and bipartisan bill provides a method for identifying low-performing schools and establishes a multiyear, multifaceted turnaround plan to assist them. Deal also signed legislation addressing sanctuary policies, increased school choice opportunities for military children, testing standards, and governance and funding of charter schools.

“Georgia remains committed to improving our state’s education system by increasing student access to high-performing schools and learning environments conducive to today’s academic standards,” said Deal. “To that end, Rep. Tanner has worked tirelessly with my office, members of the General Assembly and other stakeholders on HB 338. By focusing improvement efforts and education resources on our lowest-performing schools, our most vulnerable students will have greater opportunities for success. The educational investments in this legislation will produce long-term benefits for students, families and communities by ensuring education outcome is not hindered by zip code, but rather enhanced by state support and local accountability. I want to thank Rep. Tanner, members of the General Assembly and many others who worked together for the benefit of Georgia’s current and future students.”

“It has been a true honor to work closely with Gov. Deal and his incredible team on HB 338,” said Tanner. “I believe that working to improve our state’s low-performing schools can have a greater impact on the future of our state than any other issue we could address as a General Assembly. I appreciate Gov. Deal’s leadership in this area, and I look forward to continuing to work with his staff and the State Board of Education to put this plan into real action.”

In addition to HB 338, signed legislation includes:
• HB 37, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart
• HB 139, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton
• HB 198, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey
• HB 224, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton
• HB 237, sponsored by Rep. Brooks Coleman
• HB 430, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway
• HB 437, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dickey
• SB 186, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins
• SB 211, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins

State Senator Michael Williams, determined not to be left out of any news cycle discussing possible 2018 candidates for Governor, has launched a new splash page suggesting a statewide run is imminent.

The Cumming Republican has unveiled a new website (“Williams for Georgia 2018”) that includes an attack on “career politicians pushing us further down the road to less freedom and more government!” Not that he has Cagle in mind.

Williams, a businessman who once owned a chain of Sport Clips barber shops, has hinted repeatedly he would run for governor in 2018 after Donald Trump’s victory.

His strategist, Seth Weathers, said Williams has been encouraged by people “looking for a viable candidate for governor other than the same career politicians.”

“As the first Republican elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump, a lot of that core Trump base is looking to Williams as someone who can carry that mantle at the state level,” said Weathers. “He’s leaving all options open.”

Kennesaw City Council member Andy Morris called his colleague Philip Goldstein “lazy.”

The sparring match took place during the council’s Judicial and Legislative Committee.

It’s actually an interesting debate on the role of elected city council members versus appointed board members.

 

28
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 28, 2017

Frances Greensboro

Frances is a female Basset Hound & Brittany Spaniel mix who is available for adoption from the Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

Looking for an absolute love bug to snuggle with every day? If so, Frances may be your gal! This gorgeous little lady loves nothing more than to cuddle up with someone and watch a movie or just nap. She has such a gentle, oh so sweet demeanor with people. She does have a playful streak from time to time and will engage in silly time with her canine companions. Overall, she is a laid back, quiet girl who just wants to be loved.

Devito Morgan

Devito is a male Terrier and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Morgan County in Madison, GA.

Hey there, name’s DeVito. What do you get when you cross a low riding bassett hound with a scruffy terrier? Well, I’m guessing it’s something like me! I’m smart and chill and have perfect scruff. I really like kids and toys and belly rubs.

Flower Milner

Flower is an adult (maybe senior) female Pibble and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from Southern Crescent Canine Rescue in Milner, GA.

27
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 27, 2017

German scientist Johannes Kepler dated the creation of the universe to April 27, 4977 BC(E).

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

Richard B. Russell, Sr. was born on April 27, 1861 near Marietta, Georgia. Russell served in the Georgia House of Representatives, on the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and ran for Governor, Congress, and United States Senate. His son, Richard B. Russell, Jr. served in the Georgia State House, including a stint as Speaker, as Governor of Georgia, and in the United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Ron “Big D” Daniels, the official Court Jester Legal Counsel and Poet Laureate for GaPundit.com is running for Secretary of the Georgia Bar Young Lawyers Division. Click here to vote for him today if you’re a YLD member.

House Bill 196, signed this week by Governor Deal, was titled as a bill dealing with tax exemptions for the music industry, and that’s how it started its legislative life.

The version that passed and was signed into law was gutted and became a “Christmas tree” bill carrying a number of other non-controversial tax measures, including “to revise the criteria used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of real property; to allow certain business corporations to participate in the indirect ownership of a home for the mentally disabled for financing purposes;…. to provide that certain disabled veterans shall be issued refunds of certain ad valorem taxes paid during certain periods of time when such disabled veterans receive final determinations of disability containing retroactiveperiods of eligibility.”

Consider this both a clarification without an admission of fault, and a cautionary tale about the nature of the legislative process.

Governor Deal will sign House Bill 338 today, creating a system to help “turnaround” failing school systems.

The bill is an alternative to Deal’s preferred strategy for low-performing schools: A constitutional amendment seeking to let the state take over some schools. Voters rejected that in November.

Lawmakers instead proposed a “chief turnaround officer” to work with struggling schools. Schools selected by the new official will sign contracts with the state, creating a plan to improve student performance. Deal’s signature will begin work to implement the plan, including a national search for the new position.

Deal’s office says he plans to sign nine other education bills on Thursday.

The AJC’s Get Schooled blog has information on some of the other bills the Governor will sign today.

The Special Election for the Sixth Congressional District will likely end up the most-expensive house race ever.

Right now the record is held by the 2012 election in the 18th congressional district of Florida, pitting wild-man incumbent Republican Allen West against Democrat Patrick Murphy. West, being a wild man, had a national fundraising base, and he and his allies spent close to $20 million. Murphy and his allies spent enough to push the total to a reported $29,279,964. Murphy narrowly won.

Runoff candidates Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff aren’t there yet, but are off to a blazing start in fundraising and spending after a combined $14 million was deployed for the first round.

Ossoff and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved three-quarters of a million dollars in ads almost instantly after the April 18 returns. With the Democratic candidate coming so close to a knockout, there is no reason to think his amazing fundraising will slack off significantly. And whether or not he remains highly competitive in the ad wars, his investment in field operations (costing $2 million before the first round) is impressive….

On the GOP side, it’s not Handel (who will supposedly benefit from a fundraiser headlined by Donald Trump himself) who’s burning money, but the outside GOP groups that may have actually outspent Ossoff in the first round. Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC spent a reported $3 million in the first round, and has already committed $2.5 million for ads and another cool million for field operations. You can expect the National Republican Congressional Committee (the DCCC’s counterpart), which spent $2 million the first time around, to stay engaged, along with the Ricketts family’s Ending Spending PAC, which was unique in backing Handel from the get-go. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also expected to spend some dough backing Handel.

The West-Murphy spending record might have been safe if the runoff campaign in sixth congressional district wasn’t a nine-week marathon. As it is, the money will keep rolling in like the ocean tides.

A fundraiser featuring President Donald Trump in support of Republican Karen Handel will certainly add to the spending total.

[T]he June 20 must-win runoff for Republicans has fast become a circle-the-wagons moment. Bitter rivals from Handel’s past races — including a 2010 bid for governor and a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate — have quickly endorsed her. And a raft of Washington-based super PACs have pledged their support.

That could help neutralize one of her most glaring weaknesses. She’s long struggled to keep pace with rivals in the race for campaign cash, and her last fundraising haul was about 20 times smaller than Ossoff’s unprecedented $8.3 million take.

New donors have buoyed her campaign with more than $1 million since last week’s vote, and Trump’s Atlanta fundraiser will add another tide of cash. Tickets start at $2,700 a person or $5,400 a couple. A hosting sponsorship will cost $25,000.

She’ll have reinforcements from outside groups ready to pour money and resources into what could wind up being the most expensive House race ever. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Handel on Tuesday, and the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC with ties to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — said Wednesday that it will pump an additional $3.5 million into the contest.

The Congressional Leadership Fund’s $3.5 million spend will include $2.5 million in TV ads beginning May 10 along with a door-to-door canvassing program, direct mail, and digital ads.

Democrats, meanwhile, are using the Trump-Handel fundraiser as fodder for more fundraising of their own.

“Trump’s SO scared of losing that he’s leaving work early to crush our historic momentum,” said an email solicitation sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The organization said it had created an “Emergency Response Fund to match the piles of cash Trump will rake in” for Republican Karen Handel.

Floyd County Commissioners named six members to the committee planning a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum.

The Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging held a listening session in Hall County for input into a comprehensive plan on addressing senior hunger.

Uptown Macon will loan $800k to a private business in downtown Macon.

When a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee agreed Tuesday to help NewTown Macon with revenue bond funding for a downtown business, a TV media report caused some confusion.

[NewTown President/CEO Josh] Rogers wrote in a statement posted on his group’s website that “13WMAZ inaccurately said that the County approved use of its money to provide the loan to the Downtown business, and we want to be very clear that at no time was taxpayer money allocated to this project nor to this Fund.” The station has since posted a correction on its website.

A commission committee approved an $800,000 loan to NewTown Macon for City Ventures LLC, which is the company that owns Crazy Bull, a nightclub at 473 Second St.

NewTown created its Real Estate Development Loan Fund in 2012, which consists of bond funds issued by the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority and backed by the “full faith and credit of the Macon-Bibb government,” Rogers said. The fund provides loans to help develop the downtown area and businesses downtown. If a loan is more than 40 percent of the total project cost, NewTown must notify the commission, which is what happened Tuesday.

“Even if all we ended up with is the real estate, it will be more than sufficient to cover the outstanding debt,” Rogers said.

Roswell City Admininstrator Kay Love submitted her resignation and will start a new job with the Georgia Municipal Association.

2018 Campaigns

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will conduct a tour of Georgia next week, including a stop at Nonami Plantation in Albany on Nonami Plantation in Albany on Wednesday, May 3rd.

Cagle will also speak at the Georgia Southern graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 6th.

The Lieutenant Governor is holding a free event in Gwinnett County on Sunday.

Casey Cagle Event

27
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 27, 2017

Joker

Joker is a young male Dutch Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Brianna

Brianna is a young female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.

Geo

Geo is a young male Corgi and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

Blade

Blade is a male Labrador Retriever and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA. I would guess he wears the cone of shame because he had a recent injury or was just neutered.

26
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 26, 2017

The Byron, Georgia Animal Shelter has filled up and will begin putting dogs down to free up space.

As the city of Byron has grown, so have the number of calls to animal control. Now the city’s animal shelter is at capacity and shelter personnel are working to find a solution.

“Once we have the dogs here we’ll house and feed them. We’re supposed to give it seven days,” said Byron Animal Control’s Clay Fauquier.

But for the dogs sitting in Byron’s animal shelter, their days are numbered.

“Right now people are not adopting because they’re going on vacation and they’re kids are getting out of school,” said volunteer Regina Brahvam.

So they’ve got seven days to find a new home and Fauquier–who runs the shelter–says there’s a catch to that if they don’t.

“It’s at the point now, if I get another dog in here today, which word on the street is I’m about to, I’m full and I have to find somewhere to put them.”

If you’re considering a new family dog, please think about saving one of these sweet souls. If you’re interested in fostering one of the dogs, please contact Regenia at 478-293-2066. If you’d like to adopt, please contact the shelter via Facebook, call (478) 662-4161 or visit the shelter.

Little Tan and White Byron Girl

This little tan and white female mixed breed is available for adoption from Byron Animal Shelter in Byron, GA.

Without a care in the world this girl is always happy.  Not to mention how smart she is. Within seconds of meeting her she was doing commands, sit, down and stay. She also waits tell she is let out of her kennel to go potty!

When she was taken to the vet to get her stitches, she climbed in all the laps available in the waiting room.

Black Pit Girl Byron

This two-year old female mixed breed dog is available for adoption from Byron Animal Shelter in Byron, GA.

The second she is brought out of the kennel she wonders over to you as if to say, “Whats the point, no one will love me” She sits with her head tucked into your lap hoping you will stay and pet her. Please call 478-293-2066 if you’re interested in helping save her.

Yellow Lab Girl Byron

This beautiful female Labrador Retriever mix is available for adoption from Byron Animal Shelter in Byron, GA.

With eyes like hers, how could you not want to scoop her up and take her home. This sweet girl goes right to the gate as soon as she is let out of the kennel. She knows the shelter is not the place for any dog to be.

She takes a few minutes to warm up, but it is worth sitting with her to see glimpses of her personality shine through the fear and worry of the unknown. Please help us help her.

Contact 478-293-2066 if you are interested in taking the worry off this sweet girls face and giving her a loving home.

26
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2017

On August 26, 1864, having withdrawn from trenches and fortifications outside Atlanta the previous day, U.S. General Sherman sent most of his forces westward around Atlanta and toward the south of the city.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. Ratification took place on August 18, 1920, as the Tennessee House of Representatives adopted it, but adoption became official on August 26, when United States Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Amendment. It reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

On August 26, 1939, the first televised major league baseball game aired, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds split a doubleheader in Ebbets Field.

On August 26, 1961, the 718th Engineer Light Equipment Company of Fort Valley and the 210th Signal Base Depot Company of Augusta were called up to take part in the American response to the crisis in Berlin.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for President by the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 26, 1964.

On August 26, 1965, Sonny & Cher were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘I Got You Babe’, the duo’s only UK No.1. Sonny Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term “babe,” as heard in Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’. Bono would later be elected to Congress as a Republican in 1994 and served from 1995 until his death in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will headline a fundraiser on Friday, April 28th for Karen Handel’s congressional campaign.

The fundraiser is scheduled for an Atlanta site after Trump’s keynote speech at a National Rifle Association convention at the Georgia World Congress Center, and it’s likely to bring a tide of cash for Handel’s campaign. A ticket starts at $2,700 and a host sponsorship will cost $25,000.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also supporting Handel in the Special Runoff Election.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed Tuesday it will put its muscle behind Handel ahead of a June 20 runoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District that covers northern suburbs of Atlanta.

Chamber officials didn’t say how much they’ll spend on Handel’s behalf, but the organization’s endorsement usually precedes a heavy media blitz. The race is widely viewed as a potential preview of the 2018 midterm elections.

Governor Nathan Deal signed five bills yesterday.

HB 196 – Income tax; exemption for royalties paid to musical artists; provide, signed April 25, 2017
HB 199 – Income tax credit; interactive entertainment companies; change certain provisions, signed April 25, 2017
HB 208 – Game and fish; boat registration fees and additional methods for reporting the sale of boats; revise, signed April 25, 2017
HB 265 – Income tax; credit for establishing or relocating quality jobs; revise provisions, signed April 25, 2017
HB 342 – Enterprise zones; certain urban redevelopment zones; provide designation, signed April 25, 2017

The Atlanta Business Chronicle discusses two of the bills Gov. Deal signed.

House Bill 199 will provide a 20 percent tax credit for post-production companies with at least a $250,000 payroll in Georgia. The companies must also spend at least $500,000 per tax year to qualify.

While the state has offered generous tax credits to the film industry since 2008, the post-production portion of the business has been left out until now.

The new credit for post-production work will be capped at $5 million next year, $10 million in 2019 and $15 million from 2020 through 2022. No single company can get more than 20 percent of the total statewide credit available in a given year.

House Bill 265 exempts from state and local sales taxes building materials used for renovating or expanding performance arts venues run by a nonprofit organization containing an art museum, symphonic hall and theater. While the Woodruff Arts Center is not mentioned in the legislation by name, that definition matches the center.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was sworn in yesterday as Secretary of Agriculture.

Perdue was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who also is a native of Georgia.

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks – to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Perdue said.

“Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

As ag chief, Perdue will oversee the nation’s nutrition, farm and forestry programs and will play a major role in shaping the upcoming U.S. farm bill and in U.S. ag trade negotiations. He said he plans to be guided by four principles: maximizing the ability of farmers and agribusiness to produce, create jobs and sell their goods; prioritize customer service in the USDA; ensure a safe and secure U.S. food supply, and stewardship of the land.

“As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families,” Perdue said. “I am proud to have been given this opportunity and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we continue to move the USDA and our nation forward.”

Perdue launched his official Twitter handle Tuesday: @SecretarySonny.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is not only ineligible to vote for himself because he doesn’t live in the Sixth District, he also has never voted in a runoff election.

Voting records reveal that the 30-year-old Ossoff, who has been an eligible Georgia voter for over a decade, has never voted in one of the state’s many runoff elections, according to information obtained through the Georgia secretary of state.

Ossoff’s campaign did not return a request for comment on his decision to ignore runoff elections in the past.

Dick Williams with the Dunwoody Crier, write about Ossoff’s family wealth.

At 30, courtesy of an inheritance and a wealthy family, he shows a net worth of $1.7 million. That includes a town house on Capitol Hill in Washington purchased by his family. He is a good investor, favoring Apple and Warren Buffett.

His family has a yacht and a Cessna, the latter purchased through a limited liability company using a relative’s address in New Hampshire, one of a handful of states that don’t charge sales taxes on airplane purchases. In Georgia it would have been a taxable event.

Ossoff researchers point to a family that uses multiple LLCs in many states to avoid taxes and shield personal assets.

DeKalb County is considering opening multiple early voting locations ahead of the runoff. Jon Ossoff won’t be able to vote at any of them.

The Georgia NAACP filed suit against the state, claiming a 2015 redistricting violates the Voting Rights Act.

The Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed the federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia on behalf of the state chapter of the NAACP and five residents of the affected districts. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official, also is named in the suit.

“Lawmakers firmly placed their thumb on the scale by redrawing district boundaries in ways that would preserve their incumbency and freeze the status quo in place,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “They seek to disregard the demographic changes occurring across Georgia by putting pen to paper mid-decade.”

The changes in 2015 affected more than a dozen of the House of Representatives’ 180 districts, but the lawsuit focuses on the 105th District represented by Republican Joyce Chandler in Gwinnett County and the 111th in Henry County represented by Republican Brian Strickland.

The lawsuit says the changes increased the percentage of white voters in Chandler’s district to about 53 percent in 2016 elections, compared to 48 percent. Black voters went from 32 percent to 30 percent. The suit says the changes increased the percentage of white voters in Strickland’s district to 58 percent in 2016 elections, compared to 56 percent. Black voters went from 33 percent to 31 percent.

Both Republicans were re-elected to their seats last year over black Democrats.

From CourthouseNews.com:

This is the second federal lawsuit related to voting rights violations filed in Georgia in the past week.

On April 20, five civil rights organizations filed a complaint alleging that a Georgia law requiring voters to register three months prior to participating in federal elections violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

If left in place, the statute determines who can vote in the upcoming, high-profile runoff election for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District seat.

Augusta Commissioners are set to vote on a ban of sagging pants.

Augusta commissioners remain divided on whether to ban saggy pants and a committee referred a vote to draft an ordinance to the full commission Tuesday.

“Your belt ought to be around your waist, not around your legs,” said Commissioner Marion Williams, who has pushed to outlaw wearing pants so low they expose the skin or underwear. “The belt is around their knees in most cases, and in their hand.”

General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said he’d explored ways of expanding Augusta’s indecent exposure law to include the practice, with “progressive discipline” for violators to start with community service, then a fine.

But Commissioner Bill Fennoy said he wished others such as the school system and businesses would deliver the message instead.

Critics have said a ban will increase encounters between law enforcement and young black men.