The blog.

26
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 25, 2024

An annual dog parade on St Simons Island raised money for No Kill Glynn, according to The Brunswick News.

No Kill Glynn County is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that works to reduce euthanasia of cats and dogs by finding them foster homes prior to them being placed permanently.

Sunday’s parade, with the theme “Viva Paws Vegas” drew about 100 people and their dogs to the neighborhood. While there, dogs walked the red carpet and performed tricks before marching in a parade around the block. Prizes were awarded for best costume, best trick and best in show.

Chandra Kendall, a volunteer with No Kill Glynn County, said the afternoon was a success.

“We had a total of 43 four-legged participants, with a lot of talent, barking and laughs from their handlers,” she said, adding that the event raised around $6,200.

To learn more about No Kill Glynn and make an online donation, please visit their website by clicking here.

A different event happening tomorrow is Georgia Animal Rescue Day. Note any familiar faces in this pic?

Tuna is a young male Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Services in Brunswick, GA.

Rudolph is a young male American Bulldog mix puppy who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Services in Brunswick, GA.

Bon Jovi is a young male Plott Hound & Australian Cattle Dog / Blue Heeler mix who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Services in Brunswick, GA.

26
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 26, 2024

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

Colquitt County celebrated its 168th birthday yesterday, according to WALB.

The county was created on Feb. 25, 1856, as an act of the Georgia General Assembly, according to the city.

In honor of this occasion, the city of Moultrie posted five fun facts about the county:

• Colquitt County was named after Senator Walter Terry Colquitt.
• The county was carved from what was Thomas and Lowndes Counties, which were originally Irwin County.
• The county has the most attractive courthouse in Georgia. The courthouse is possibly the most stunning in the United States, according to the city of Moultrie.
• Colquitt County is Georgia’s 115th county. There are a total of 159 counties in all of Georgia.
• Colquitt County spans a total of 556.6 square miles.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting in the March 12, 2024 Presidential Preference Primary is ongoing, with the following results as of the latest SOS file:

Early In-person: 108,986

Republican In-Person: 68,992

Democratic In-Person: 39,890

Non-Partisan In-Person: 103

Undesignated In-Person: 1

Absentee by mail: 29,080

Republican by mail: 14,952

Democratic by mail: 13,780

Non-Partisan by mail: 209

Undesignated Party by mail: 139

Gwinnett County:

Republican: 4,323

Democratic: 3,085

Non-partisan: 6

Early voting has begun for a Special Election to Oakwood City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

Early voting is now underway for a special election for the Post 4 seat on the Oakwood City Council following the passing of late Councilman Dwight Wood in September 2023.

The election is set for March 12, the same day as Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary, and seeks to fill the remainder of Dwight Wood’s term.

Both candidates, Volley Collins and Rhonda Wood, have personal family ties to the Oakwood City Council.

Legendary convenience store chain Wawa is breaking ground on several Georgia locations, according to WSAV.

Wawa will hold ground-breaking ceremonies in Brunswick and Jesup on March 7 with company executives, local officials and VIP customers.

Plans are also in place to expand to Pooler and Hinesville, though further details will be announced in the coming months.

Wawa owns over 1,000 stores in six states and Washington, D.C., offering food, fuel and convenience services.

From WTOC:

The convenience store Wawa is officially coming to Georgia for the first time.

The popular chain started in Pennsylvania and has since grown up and down the east coast.

To this day, I can’t see a packet of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets without picking them up to take home to Mrs. GaPundit, who grew up in the land of Wawa.

The suspect charged in the death of AU student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus was previously arrested for being in the country illegally and released, according to WRDW.

[Jose Antonio] Ibarra faces malice and felony murder charges among multiple other counts in the killing of Laken Hope Riley, who was found dead on the UGA campus Thursday.

Ibarra, a citizen of Venezuela, was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Sept. 8, 2022, after unlawfully entering the U.S. near El Paso, according to Williams.

“He was paroled and released for further processing,” Williams said.

Then on Sept. 14, 2023, Ibarra was arrested by the New York City Police Department and “charged with acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation. He was released by the NYPD before a detainer could be issued,” Williams said.

Ibarra was arrested Friday in connection to the death of Laken Riley. Authorities said his brother, Diego Ibarra, was also arrested and charged with possessing a fake green card.

A UGA spokesperson said Diego Ibarra used a fake green card to get hired for a temporary position as a dishwasher in Bolton Dining Hall in February, but was soon fired after he “failed to submit further documentation required to keep the job” and was never paid by the university.

After his arrest Friday, ICE lodged a detainer on Jose Ibarra, Williams said.

On Saturday, February 24, Governor Brian Kemp posted a letter to “X” addressed to President Joe Biden, calling for his administration to be more transparent with illegal border crossings after the death of an Augusta University nursing student on the University of Georgia campus.

In Gov. Kemp’s letter, he says, “These tragedies are not unique to Georgia. While we will continue to support Texas with National Guard resources as we have since 2019, federal action to secure the border is the only way to wholistically address this ongoing crisis and ensure Laken Riley’s horrible fate is not replicated across the country.”

Republican state legislators are expected to draft new immigration legislation in response to the killing, according to the AJC.

Senior Republicans are considering several still-evolving proposals, such as more stringent requirements that local governments cooperate with federal immigration authorities and stiffer penalties for illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.

House Speaker Jon Burns, Senate President Pro Tem John Kennedy and other legislative leaders have indicated they will back new immigration-related measures in response to Riley’s killing. They’ll face a tight deadline with just weeks to go in the 2024 legislative session.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who will address an Athens business group early Monday, is said to be receptive to state-level immigration measures.

He has ratcheted up calls for President Joe Biden to shut down the U.S. border with Mexico and take other steps to deter uncontrolled migration. Earlier this month, he outlined plans to deploy more Georgia National Guard troops to Texas to patrol the border.

“Every state is a border state. We are beyond frustrated,” Kemp told Fox News on Sunday, adding: “This is a federal issue. This is an issue that the president can take action on.”

“If Republicans truly cared about border issues, they’d have passed recent bipartisan immigration reform instead of pandering to Trump,” said state Sen. Nikki Merritt, D-Gwinnett. “The hypocrisy is unreal.”

[Republican Insurance Commissioner John] King, a native of Mexico, urged lawmakers to ban illegal immigrants charged with violent crimes from receiving bond “under any circumstances.” He also said legislators should block illegal immigrants who are convicted of a crime from being eligible for parole or early release.

“This is a logical, long overdue step that will keep criminal aliens behind bars where they belong and save lives,” King wrote in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed. “The time to act is now, before another tragedy strikes another family, and we must get it done.”

Others advocate for new restrictions on so-called “sanctuary” cities. Georgia law has banned cities and counties from adopting a “sanctuary policy” for nearly 15 years. But some local governments, including Athens-Clarke County, have limited their cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Athens-Clarke authorities say they check the criminal history of detainees to hold anyone with outstanding warrants but don’t keep undocumented immigrants jailed if they have no criminal history.

Under House Resolution 978, this weeks legislative schedule is:

Monday, February 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 26
Tuesday, February 27 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 27
Wednesday, February 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . committee work day
Thursday, February 29. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Crossover) convene for legislative day 28

Under the Gold Dome – Legislative Day 26

TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE Insurance P&C Sub – 406 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE JUDICIARY – 132 CAP
8:00 AM JOINT APPROP CONF COMMITTEE – 403 CAP
8:00 AM Senate Conf Committee: HB 915 – 403 CAP
8:30 AM HOUSE Reg Ind Occup / Profl Lic Sub – 506 CLOB
8:30 AM AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFF – 606 CLOB
8:30 AM Senate Econ Dev & Tourism – 450 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP
9:00 AM Senate Retirement – 307 CLOB
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD26) – House Chamber
11:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 26) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE Education Curriculum Sub – 506 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION – 406 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS – 606 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE BUDGET & FISCAL AFF OVERSIGHT – 506 CLOB
1:00 PM Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Transportation – Mezz 1 CAP
1:30 PM Hong Sub of Judiciary Non-Civil – 132 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED IND – 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH – 403 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION – 515 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE  Nat Res & Envt Envtal Quality Sub – 415 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Government Oversight – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Health & Human Services – 450 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS – 406 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE Insurance Life & Health Sub – 415 CLOB
3:00 PM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP
3:30 PM HOUSE JUDY NON-CIV UPON ADJ HONG SUB – 132 CAP
4:00 PM HOUSE INTERSTATE COOPERATION – 403 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Judiciary Committee – 307 CLOB

House Bill 161 by State Rep. Michelle Au (R-Johns Creek) would hold parents responsible if their kids access guns without supervision, according to WSAV.Continue Reading..

23
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 23, 2024

Felicity is a young, 29-pound female Labrador Retriever & Pit Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Look at this cutie pie! This cute, quiet little girl is named Felicity. She came to the shelter on 2/13 because she was on a grand adventure and got lost along the way. She is just as sweet as she can be! Felicity is a tad shy but she is playful once she gets to go outside. She needs to continue that playful personality with a family that is active and adventurous. If you have a big backyard, that would make her day everyday! She would like to have that second chance to have a family once again and not stay in a shelter for too long. She is smart little baby as she can sit when asked and she may know more. She would love if you would take the time to teach her what she doesn’t know. Can you help her find her way to her forever home? She would like that so much. Nice bed, lots of toys to play with, good meals and lots of love and attention from you. If you can help her make her dream come true, then she is your girl!

Felicity is current on vaccines. will be spayed, heart worm tested and micro chipped upon her adoption. Come see this little doll and get to know her one on one. She could be the one you have been searching for all this time. She will be waiting for you in Run 300 and her ID is 653643. Felicity is just a year old and weighs 29lbs of pure love!

Icarus is a 5-year old, 10 pound male Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Meet this sweet little boy we are calling Icarus. Icarus was on a grand adventure to see what the world could offer him and was discovered all alone and kindly was brought to the shelter on 2/13. Sadly, no one has come to reclaim this precious baby. Icarus is 5 years old and weighs just 10lbs. Icarus is very, very sweet and just wants to be held as much as possible. He loves it so much! He is very quiet in his run, never making a sound. He is frightened because of his new environment. He really needs your help in getting out of the shelter so he can thrive into a loving, quieter home. He would be the perfect couch potato to snuggle with. He is a awesome little boy with a lot of gas left in his tank and he is more than willing to share the rest of his life with you. Its what he deserves!! Can you provide him with everything that he needs and more? He needs you now more than ever. Icarus is a smart little guy as he knows how to sit when asked and he may know more. What he wants is for you to be patient with him and guide him for the rest of his life. Love this little boy unconditionally.

Icarus is current on vaccines, neutered, micro chipped and heart worm tested upon his adoption. Come visit this young man and get to know him better. He certainly would love to get to know you in return. He will be waiting for him guardian angel to come save him in Run T5 and his ID is 653642.

Montgomery is a 10-month old, 50-pound male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Please say hello to the handsome little guy we are calling Montgomery. Montgomery really wanted to explore the world and see what it had to offer but it was cut short and he was brought safely to the shelter on 2/6. Montgomery is 10 months old and weighs 50lbs. He is very sweet and cute. He pretty sad, scared and confused right now and you can see it in his eyes. He cries in his kennel for attention and someone to love. A volunteer is making him feel so loved and wanted by spending time with this precious baby. He is appreciating the affection and he is coming out of his shell. He is very sweet and cute as a button. All he wants is a home and a family where he can grow up the right way and not in a loud shelter.

Puppies are a lot of work and commitment and you need to be absolutely sure that you can be there for him always and everyday. Not when it is convenient for your schedule. He is a smart cookie as he knows simple commands such as sit when asked and he may know more. Montgomery is an awesome baby doll and deserves a home who will take the time to make him feel so special and the best thing in their family. Can you please help him get out of the shelter so he can blossom into the confident young lad we already knows he is? He wants to happy with you and we want that for him too. Please come see him soon and he what he is all about. He is probably the missing piece to your life. He certainly has been patiently waiting for you. He is still a baby who needs a second chance to grow up to be the most awesome pup we already know that he is. Please consider making Montgomery apart of your family forever. He will be forever grateful. He walks well on a leash so he would make a great addition to an active family who will be willing to walk him often and take him on grand adventures.

Montgomery is current on vaccines, will be neutered and micro chipped upon his adoption. He will be tested for heart worms also upon adoption. Please come see Montgomery in Run 16 and fall in love with him. You won’t regret it. Montgomery’s ID is 653488.

23
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 23, 2024

The British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act on February 22, 1766.

Georgia’s first Governor Archibald Bulloch died mysteriously on February 22, 1777.

[Bulloch] became a leader in the state’s Liberty Party and was elected to the Commons House of Assembly in 1768, to the post of speaker of the Georgia Royal Assembly in 1772 and finally to the Continental Congress in 1775.

On June 20, 1776, Bulloch was elected the first president and commander in chief of Georgia’s temporary government, posts he held until February 5, 1777, when Georgia adopted its state constitution. Just over three weeks later, on February 22, 1777, Georgia faced a British invasion, and the state’s new government granted Bulloch executive power to head off the British forces. A few hours later, Bulloch was dead. The cause of his death remains unknown but unsubstantiated rumors of his poisoning persist.

[H]e is also known as the great-great-grandfather of America’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.

On February 24, 1803, the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall decided the case of Marbury v. Madison, enunciating the principle of judicial review under which the Court has authority to review Congressional action and hold them unconstitutional.

In writing the decision, John Marshall argued that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not law and therefore are non-binding to the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. If two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, the court bears responsibility for deciding which law applies in any given case.

President elect Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, DC on February 23, 1861.

The United States Congress passed the Legal Tender Act on February 25, 1862, allowing the government to pay its bills with paper money it printed.

Union troops under General George Thomas attacked Confederates led by General Joseph Johnston near Dalton, Georgia on February 24, 1864.

Casualties were light. Thomas suffered fewer than 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, while Johnston lost around 140 troops. The Union generals did learn a valuable lesson, however; a direct attack against Rocky Face Ridge was foolish. Three months later, Sherman, in command after Grant was promoted to commander of all forces, sent part of his army further south to another gap that was undefended by the Confederates. The intelligence garnered from the Battle of Dalton helped pave the way for a Union victory that summer.

The first prisoners of war were moved to Andersonville on February 24, 1864.

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 25, 1870, Hiram Rhoades Revels (R-Missippi) was sworn in as the first African-American Congressman in history.

In 1867, the first Reconstruction Act was passed by a Republican-dominated U.S. Congress, dividing the South into five military districts and granting suffrage to all male citizens, regardless of race. A politically mobilized African American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican party to power, which in turn brought about radical changes across the South. By 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks in large part to the support of African American voters.

On January 20, 1870, Hiram R. Revels was elected by the Mississippi legislature to fill the Senate seat once held by Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy. On February 25, two days after Mississippi was granted representation in Congress for the first time since it seceded in 1861, Revels was sworn in.

On February 25, 1876, the first Georgia state law against abortion was passed.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

The Atlanta Journal was first published on February 24, 1883.

The Cyclorama painting of the Battle of Atlanta went on display on Edgewood Avenue on February 22, 1892.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raising

On February 23, 1945, United States Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the Pacific island Iwo Jima.

This first flag-raising was photographed by Marine photographer Sgt. Louis R. Lowery. On Lowery’s way down Mt. Suribachi, he ran into AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and two other Marine photographers, PFC Bob Campbell and PFC Bill Genaust, who was shooting movies, informing them that the flag-raising they were looking for had already occurred, but encouraging them to check out the view from the top of the hill. The three men continued up the volcano.

Once atop Mt. Suribachi, Rosenthal attempted but was unable to find the soldiers involved in the first flag-raising, deciding instead to photograph the second flag-raising, which featured a much bigger and more photogenic Stars and Stripes. Lowery’s film was sent back to military headquarters for processing via ordinary army post–and took a month to arrive. Rosenthal’s film was sent by seaplane to Guam, and sent from there via radio-photo to the United States. The photograph so impressed President Roosevelt that he ordered the men pictured in it to return home for a publicity tour. Rosenthal later won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo, but for years was forced to deny erroneous reports that he personally staged the second flag-raising and attempted to pass it off as the original.

Although the famous photograph has long led people to believe that the flag-raising was a turning point in the fight for Iwo Jima, vicious fighting to control the island actually continued for 31 more days.

Today, the first and second flags flown atop Mt. Suribachi are held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.

On February 23, 1954, the first children in the U.S. were inoculated against polio using a vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

On February 22, 1976, a series of U.S. Postage stamps commemorating the Bicentennial was issued, featuring the state flags.

GeorgiaFlagStamp1976white

On February 24, 1988, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, that the First Amendment protects publishers against claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress where the plaintiff is a public figure being parodied by the publication.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

On February 25, 1999, Johnny Isakson was sworn into Congress from the Sixth District, a seat vacated by the resignation of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Tybee Island has a Black History Trail, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In the 12,000-square-mile stretch of coastal North Carolina to Florida that is the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor lies pieces of Gullah history within the Tybee Island Black History Trail.

The trail, which has 13 stops, documents the arrival of enslaved Africans at Lazaretto Creek Quarantine through the Jim Crow era to the journey to present day Tybee Island. Launching virtually last year, the trail was a collaborative effort between Tybee MLK, the Tybee Historical Society and Georgia Southern University.

It’s a fascinating story, well worth reading in its entirety if you’re interested in Georgia history.

Savannah City Council voted to place an historical marker commemorating the first St. Patrick’s Day parade, according to WTOC.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says this marker is just a small way to honor an event that’s been a crucial part of this city’s history for the past two centuries.

The street marker will be placed on Montgomery Street, just outside of the City of Savannah’s Robbie Robinson Parking Garage.

As we get closer to the 200th anniversary, Mayor Van Johnson says it’s only right that we recognize the importance of this day.

“We want to be able to mark it for future generations that we were here for the bicentennial observance of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade and how it’s grown, and now it’s become a worldwide phenomenon. People come from all over the world to Savannah. And so, we just want to mark the specialness of this moment here in this time in Savannah, Georgia,” said Mayor Van Johnson, City of Savannah.

Mayor Johnson also says that Savannah is a city that’s built on a strong history, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade being a huge part of that each year, which is why he says it’s especially important to have something in the city marking that recognition.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

WSAV reviews early voting procedures.Continue Reading..

21
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 21, 2024

Gale is a young female Shepherd & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the City of Nashville GA Animal Shelter in Nashville, GA.

Cider, Gale, and Polar are the last of the Winter Litter ready to go to their forever home. These babies are social with everyone, sweet, and VERY snuggly! They have had worming, first set of shots, and microchips done, all they are missing is YOU.

Beethoven is a young male mixed breed (large) dog who is available for adoption from the City of Nashville GA Animal Shelter in Nashville, GA.

Beethoven is available to the right home or rescue. This boy is a very special guy that needs some TLC. He’s been on his own for a long time and is terrified of people. Because of this he is easy to shut down and just freeze up. He has a ton of potential to be a very sweet, happy boy but needs the time and patience to get there. When our ACO gets to the shelter he is happy to see her and say hello but if she gets close to his cage he jumps into the box and hides. He lets himself get pet but he shakes and cowers the whole time If you’re the person he needs, reach out!

Max is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the City of Nashville GA Animal Shelter in Nashville, GA.

Haaaave you met Max?! This is the bestest boy. He’s great on leash, good with other pups, has been fine with kids, not so good with cats. He knows a lot of basic commands and is happy to show them off!

21
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 21, 2024

The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885.

John Lewis, was born on February 21, 1940 in Pike County Alabama. In 1963, Lewis became President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, based in Atlanta. In 1981, Lewis was elected to an at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to Congress, defeating Julian Bond in the Democratic Primary.

On February 21, 1958, Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation creating the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to oversee construction and operation of a Confederate memorial and public park at the site.

On February 21, 1998, Julian Bond was selected as Chairman of the NAACP. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but the House initially refused to seat him due to his opposition to the war in Vietnam. The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled against the House and Bond was sworn in on January 9, 1967, serving there until his election to the Georgia State Senate. In 1986, Bond left the Senate to run for Congress.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

TBD Senate Rules Committee: Upon Adj – Senate Chamber
8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE – 606 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE – 406 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE W&M Sub Income Tax – 403 CAP
8:00 AM Cancelled- Senate Natural Res & Envt – 450 CAP
8:15 AM HOUSE W&M Sub Ad Valorem – 403 CAP
8:30 AM HOUSE W&M Sub Sales Tax – 403 CAP
8:45 AM HOUSE W&M Sub Pub Fin & Policy – 403 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE GAME, FISH AND PARKS – 403 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD24) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 24) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM UPON ADJ- HOUSE PUB SAFETY – 506 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION – 606 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING – 406 CLOB
1:00 PM Senate Public Safety – 450 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE Judy Non-Civil Hong Sub – 132 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE STATE PROPERTIES – 406 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE Natl Res & Envt Res Mgmt Sub– 415 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Higher Education – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Insurance & Labor – Mezz 1 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE SMALL BUS DEV – 403 CAP
3:00 PM CANCELED – HOUSE IND & LABOR – 506 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE GOVTAL AFFAIRS – 606 CLOB
3:00 PM Senate Health & Human Services – 450 CAP3:00 PM Senate Government Oversight – 307 CLOB
4:00 PM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP
5:00 PM Senate Education & Youth – 450 CAP
6:00 PM Senate Judiciary – 307 CLOB

Boaters are seeking changes to House Bill 1172, which attempts to clarify access rights to Georgia rivers, according to The Brunswick News.

Representatives from Georgia River Network, Georgia Canoeing Association, American Whitewater and American Canoe Association are asking the House Judiciary Committee to amend HB 1172 so that it includes all navigable streams regardless of how narrow or small.

Access to state rivers and streams has become an issue in some areas of the state during the past several decades. Some property owners have closed access to streams that had traditionally been used by boaters, and the courts have sided with them by using the state’s definition of “navigable” streams enacted in 1863 when steamboats and timber rafts regularly navigated Georgia’s rivers.

“You can look long and hard and never find any boats loaded with freight on any of the state’s rivers today,” said Rena Ann Peck, executive director of Georgia River Network. “You will find dozens of canoe and kayak outfitters doing business on these streams.

“You’ll also find recreational boaters in everything from small motorized john boats to tiny kayaks. That definition of navigability shouldn’t play a role in defining where the public has the right to boat in the 21st century.”

The bill was generated by the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources which heard testimony at four public hearings last fall following the passage of SB 115 during the 2023 legislative session. SB 115 codified Georgians’ right to boat, fish and hunt on the state’s navigable streams.

“Legislators should act to strengthen this bill by protecting Georgians’ freedom to float all of the state’s streams that support recreational boating,” Peck said.

State Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, said he is still studying the issue.

“I’m still reviewing the bill,” Townsend said. “If it’s not public property already, I would have a difficult time supporting the bill.

“I need to thoroughly read the bill before I decide how to vote once it reaches the House floor.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the midyear budget revision, according to the AJC.

Georgia Senate leaders on Tuesday largely followed the lead of Gov. Brian Kemp and the House, backing a midyear budget that adds $5 billion in spending, including money for a new medical school at the University of Georgia, roads, rural airports, local water and sewer projects, and rural economic development programs.

The Senate Appropriations Committee backed most of the spending hikes Kemp proposed in January, despite the fact that state tax collections have been slow for much of the past year and are not projected to improve anytime soon.

But with $16 billion in “rainy day” and undesignated reserves, Kemp and lawmakers see the midyear budget — which runs through June 30 — as a chance to allocate money for big construction and infrastructure projects that will both better prepare the state for the future and put more Georgians to work.

“This year’s midyear budget is different than most,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia. “We’ve held our cash close, and it’s served us well.”

The state spent about $26.6 billion — excluding federal funding — in fiscal 2020, the last budget plan approved before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Last year, it was more than $32 billion, and the midyear plan would spend $37.5 billion for fiscal 2024. Of that, $2 billion would come out of “undesignated” reserves.

The Senate panel backed adding $11 million to Kemp’s emergency fund, some of which could go to pay for his recent decision to send more National Guard troops to the southern border to curb illegal crossings.

The full Senate is expected to pass the measure Thursday. Then leaders of both chambers will work to come to an agreement on the plan.

House Bill 987 by State Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) would lower the minimum property tax rate required for county Boards of Education to qualify for state funding, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

Property tax rates could drop in some Georgia school districts under a House plan that would let districts with low property wealth continue to qualify for state aid even if they decrease property tax rates.

The House voted 161-12 on Tuesday for House Bill 987, sending it to the Senate for more debate.

The measure would let districts drop their minimum property tax rate to 10 mills, from the current 14 mills, and still be able to qualify for state equalization funds.

“This bill has the potential to lower property taxes for thousands of Georgia citizens across the state,” said Rep. John Corbett, a Republican from Lake Park.

It’s one in a series of measures that Georgia lawmakers are considering this year to reduce property tax bills. The House also wants to increase the statewide homestead tax exemption, which would cut property tax bills for homeowners in some counties. The Senate, by contrast, is seeking to limit the future increase in homeowner property values, as assessed for tax purposes. Senators believe that move, in turn, could decrease future increases in property tax bills.

Some school districts in recent years have told constituents they can’t decrease tax rates, despite rising property tax values, because they would become ineligible for millions in equalization money.

The equalization program began in 1987 with a minimal tax rate required and the state spending $84 million. But with the cost of the program rising and state tax revenues stagnant, lawmakers rewrote the program to require districts to tax property at 14 mills or greater to participate, beginning in 2019.

That requirement is clashing with another goal of Republican lawmakers, that districts hold total tax receipts level by lowering tax rates when property values rise.

“There are school systems throughout the state, even though they are able to go lower, who are remaining at the required rate of 14 mills because they don’t want to put their equalization at risk,” said Rep. Chas Cannon, the Moultrie Republican sponsoring the bill. “In doing so, they’re passing on sometimes significant property tax increases to their citizens year after year.”

Statistics show overall property tax collections rose 41% from 2018 to 2022 in Georgia. During that same period, total assessed value of property statewide rose by nearly 39%. Those Georgia Department of Revenue figures represent not only existing property but also new buildings. So they don’t clearly state how much valuations rose on existing property.

Senate Bill 365 by State Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Forsyth County) would require school libraries to inform parents when students check out books, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

A proposal that would require school libraries to notify parents of every book their child checks out was advanced by Georgia senators Tuesday, while a proposal to subject school librarians to criminal charges for distributing material containing obscenity waits in the wings.

Opponents say it’s a campaign of censorship meant to block children’s freedom to learn, while scaring teachers and librarians into silence for fear of losing their jobs or worse.

Georgia senators are also considering bills to force all public and school libraries in the state to cut ties with the American Library Association and to restrict school libraries’ ability to hold or acquire any works that depict sexual intercourse or sexual arousal. Neither measure has advanced out of committee ahead of a deadline next week for bills to pass out of their originating chamber.

The state Senate Education and Youth Committee voted 5-4 Tuesday to advance Senate Bill 365 to the full Senate for more debate. The proposal would let parents choose to receive an email any time their child obtains library material.

Sen. Greg Dolezal, the Republican from Cumming sponsoring the bill, said the Forsyth County school district, which has seen years of public fighting over what books students should be able to access, is already sending the emails. Other supporters said it was important to make sure to guarantee the rights of parents to raise their children as they want.

“I can’t understand the resistance of allowing parents to know what their children are seeing, doing and participating in while they’re at school, especially in a public school system,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican.

Opponents said it’s important for students to be able to explore their interests and that the bill could violate students’ First Amendment rights.

The proposal to make school librarians subject to criminal penalties if they violate state obscenity laws, Senate Bill 154, is even more controversial. Current law exempts public librarians, as well as those who work for public schools, colleges and universities, from penalties for distributing material that meets Georgia’s legal definition of “harmful to minors.”

Dolezal argues that school librarians should be subject to such penalties, although he offered an amendment Tuesday that makes librarians subject to penalties only if they “knowingly” give out such material. He argues that Georgia shouldn’t have a double standard where teachers can be prosecuted for obscenity while librarians down the hall cannot. He said his real aim is to drive any such material out of school libraries.

House Bill 1180 by State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) would revise the criteria for the state’s Film Tax Credit, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

House Bill 1180, which a House Ways and Means subcommittee approved unanimously, would require film production companies to meet at least four of 10 criteria to qualify for an additional 10% income tax credit on top of the 20% base credit the General Assembly enacted in 2008.

The film tax credit generated $8.55 billion in economic impact in fiscal 2022, according to a study released late last year. At the same time, the credit costs Georgia taxpayers about $1 billion a year in lost tax revenue, making it the most expensive tax incentive on the books in the Peach State.

As introduced earlier this month, the bill listed nine criteria to qualify for the higher tax credit, including requirements that at least half of the crew and vendors working on a film in Georgia be Georgia residents.

A 10th criterion added to the list would allow filmmakers to qualify for the tax credit if they use Georgia-based music productions in their films.

“It’s important to show our support for Georgia musicians and hopefully get them into films … on a more regular basis,” said Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, the bill’s chief sponsor.

Jill Helton of Pigmental Studios, which has a 117-acre film studio under development in St. Marys, said a provision in the bill capping the total amount of sales or transfers of credits within a calendar year at 2.5% of the governor’s revenue estimate for that year would make it nearly impossible for the growing number of independent filmmakers to operate in Georgia.

But Carpenter said a change in the original version of the bill that would restore the amount a production company would have to spend on a single production to qualify for the tax credit to $500,000 would benefit smaller film productions, including independent films. The original measure had proposed doubling that threshold to $1 million.

Subcommittee Chairman Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe, said the impact of the proposed changes to the film tax credit wouldn’t affect film producers immediately because the legislation wouldn’t take effect until 2026.

The bill now moves to the full House Ways and Means Committee.

State Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) announced she will not run for reelection, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Longtime state Rep. Penny Houston announced Tuesday that she will not seek reelection this year.Houston, R-Nashville, has served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 26 years under seven House speakers. She told her House colleagues she wants to spend more time with her family.

“I hope I’ve been a voice for the people of rural Georgia and a voice for people who don’t have a voice,” Houston said.

Houston said she plans to contribute to her community in different ways now that she’s leaving the General Assembly. Specifically, she said she will advocate for improved dental care in rural Georgia.

Houston’s House District 170 includes Berrien County and portions of Cook and Tift counties.

Macon-Bibb County’s early voting location may hinder handicapped voters, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Monday’s early voters at the new Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections found out just how far it is to walk to the office from the Macon Mall parking lot — about 175 yards from the nearest handicapped space.

Benches are now in place for people to rest along the corridor, but it’s still a long walk.

“Especially for someone with a walker,” said Mike Barron, who will guide voters as they enter from the Mercer University Drive side entrance.

At last week’s Board of Elections meeting, at-large member Mike Kaplan repeated accessibility concerns that were first raised about a year ago. “There are no handicapped accessible doors,” Kaplan said. “We need some more handicapped spaces in front of our building.”

Elections Supervisor Tom Gillon recommends anyone with mobility challenges should consider voting at the Elaine Lucas Senior Center at Carolyn Crayton Park near downtown or Theron Ussery Park off Wimbish Road.

“As far as convenience of a short walk there, their walks are much shorter,” Gillon said. “And so, we always like to see people here at the office, but we certainly understand if they want to go to one of the other places for their own convenience.” Handicapped spaces are a very short walk from the senior center entrance.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division will hold a hearing on the impact of new wells to be drilled for the Hyundai plant, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A public meeting the Georgia EPD will hold at Southeast Bulloch High School beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, is expected to reveal the agency’s prediction of groundwater impacts and details of proposed special conditions for approving four wells to supply the Hyundai Motor Group’s Metaplant America.

Both Bryan and Bulloch have a proposed role in supplying water to the site, and the counties submitted permit applications to the state Environmental Protection Division last fall for a total of four wells. All four would be drilled in southern Bulloch County near the county line, since Bulloch is in a “green zone” for withdrawing water from the Floridan aquifer, while Bryan County is in the inland-coastal counties “yellow zone” for groundwater permit restrictions.

Bulloch County submitted an application to the EPD Watershed Protection Branch for two wells, asking for up to 3.125 million gallons a day on an annual average. Bryan County has submitted an application to EPD for two Floridan aquifer wells that also would be sited in Bulloch County, asking for up to 3.5 mgd on an annual average.

Gwinnett County Commissioners voted to adopt a 2045 Unified Plan, according to AccessWDUN.

Gwinnett County officials said the unified plan sets a vision for the county over the next two decades.

The plan was developed over 11 months by Gwinnett Planning and Development which used stakeholder and community feedback as a catalyst for its recommendations, tackling key issues related to land use, economic development, housing, transportation, sustainable infrastructure and community resources.

“As Gwinnett continues to experience significant population growth, the adopted 2045 Unified Plan embraces innovative ways to maximize land use and guide future development,” Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson said. “Through thoughtful planning and strategic implementation, this blueprint charts a course for sustainable growth but also lays the groundwork for a vibrant and connected future.”

Gwinnett officials said the plan serves as a roadmap for the county which offers tangible steps to accommodate the county’s projected population growth of nearly half a million residents by 2045.

A study by Valdosta State University shows that consolidation of Columbia County and its municipalities is financially feasible, according to WJBF.

Several communities in Columbia County could soon become one. A recent feasibility study by Valdosta State University states the consolidation and incorporation of Columbia County could be in everyone’s best financial interest.

“Because Columbia County is so fiscally strong now, this just adds to it,” said County Manager Scott Johnson. “They did determine there were some revenue streams that Columbia County currently is not tapping into, and we don’t have the opportunity as an unincorporated county to tap into them.”

“They determined that we could essentially, potentially get over eight million dollars in additional revenue if we were a city,” Johnson said. “If we created this city, it would become the sixth largest city in Georgia overnight.”

Unincorporated areas like Evans, Appling, Martinez, Winfield and Leah would become one city. Harlem and Grovetown would still be their own cities with their own local governments.

One concern brought up by Harlem and Grovetown leaders is their ability to expand.

“Geographically they couldn’t grow, but what the report did show us, the city of Harlem and the city of Grovetown have a significant amount of undeveloped land in their cities,” Johnson said. “So they can continue to grow the undeveloped land within their cities.”

As the proposal potentially moves it’s way through different levels of government before reaching the ballots next year, Johnson said there will be many opportunities for residents to give feedback and ask questions about it.

LaGrange City Council voted to hold a Special Election for Mayor, according to WTVM.

The LaGrange City Council held a meeting on Feb. 20 to discuss holding a special election to replace the late Mayor Willie Edmondson, who will be honored on Feb. 21.

City leaders say in order to have the election in three months, the city had to meet tomorrow’s state deadline to get the mayor’s race on the ballot during the May primary.

The council voted 3 to 2 to hold the special election on May 21.

Councilmen Leon Childs and Quay Boddie voted “no” while Councilmen Mark Mitchell, Tom Gore and Nathan Gaskin voted “yes.”

After the vote, Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Arrington resigned and announced he will run for the mayor’s seat. November would be the next time for a special election, which is when Arrington among others prefer to wait.

The Council voted and elected Quay Boddie as Mayor Pro-Tem.

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson delivered the State of the City address, according to WTVM.

Columbus officials and stakeholders gathered at the Cunningham Center at Columbus State University to hear the mayor outline the city’s growth in 2023, and the vision and priorities in the year ahead.

“I think we’ve got a lot of momentum, a lot of energy in Columbus right now, but we still have some things we got to work on,” he said.

This was the overarching theme Tuesday, Feb. 20 for Mayor Skip Henderson’s State of the City Address.

During his address he mentioned advancements in economic development like minor League Baseball coming to Golden Park, and plans to further develop the area around it.

Republican Sandy Donatucci announced she will run for House District 125, currently held by Democratic State Rep. Farooq Mughal, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Donatucci announced on Monday that she will run on the Republican ticket for the House District 105 seat currently held by Rep. Farooq Mughal, D-Dacula. Qualifying for this year’s legislative races is set to take place at the beginning of March during the state’s candidate qualifying week for federal, state and local offices.

“I am excited to announce my campaign for State House,” Donatucci said in an announcement. “I love our community and am proud to call it home for the last 23 years. I am running for State House because I am deeply committed to keeping this the best place to raise a family. That is why we desperately need new leadership that represents our district, will stand up for our families and put them first over politics and self-serving agendas.

“Serving our community on the Planning Commission, I have a proven record of being a voice for my neighbors in District 105 and putting their interests first in zoning decisions. I am ready to take that same citizen-first, common-sense approach to the State House to stand up for our families because there is too much at stake and not enough action to solve real problems facing our families.”

This is not the first time that Donatucci, who has been active in the Gwinnett County Republican Party, has run for the House District 105 seat. She ran for the seat two years ago as a replacement candidate for the GOP after it was determined the party’s original candidate for the seat did not live in the district — after the primary election for the seat had already been held.

Shana V. White announced she will join the field in the race to succeed Board of Education member Mary Kay Murphy, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Shana V. White is one of six candidates running for the open Gwinnett County Board of Education District 3 seat to replace retiring board member Mary Kay Murphy. White has been on the campaign trail for months, but recently formally announced her bid for the seat.
“I am both excited and proud to announce my candidacy for the District 3 Gwinnett County School Board,” White said in an announcement. “As a third-generation public school educator and advocate for equity in public education, I feel deeply committed to serving and want to support the success and well-being of teachers, students, and the community through our schools.”

In addition to White, other candidates running for the District 3 seat include Yanin Cortes, Domonique Cooper, Kirk Buis, Demetrius Nelson and Steven Gasper. Qualifying for the seat will be held in early March and the nonpartisan race will appear on the May 21 general election primary ballot.

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Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 20, 2024

Rafa is an adult male Beagle and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Burke County Animal Services in Waynesboro GA.

Suzy is a young female Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Burke County Animal Services in Waynesboro GA.

Lil is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Burke County Animal Services in Waynesboro GA.

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Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 20, 2024

On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, creating the United States Postal Service.

The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail.

On February 20, 1970, Georgia ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. The Amendment states:

Section 1. The right of the 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.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Seriously. 1970. Luckily ratification occurred when Tennessee approved adoption of the Amendment on April 18, 1920.

Interestingly, the only case in which the United States Supreme Court has addressed the Nineteenth Amendment arose in Georgia. Breedlove v. Suttles was a suit brought in Fulton County Superior Court concerning the poll tax. Here’s an excerpt:

The tax being upon persons, women may be exempted on the basis of special considerations to which they are naturally entitled. In view of burdens necessarily borne by them for the preservation of the race, the state reasonably may exempt them from poll taxes.

The laws of Georgia declare the husband to be the head of the family and the wife to be subject to him. To subject her to the levy would be to add to his burden. Moreover, Georgia poll taxes are laid to raise money for educational purposes, and it is the father’s duty to provide for education of the children. Discrimination in favor of all women being permissible, appellant may not complain because the tax is laid only upon some or object to registration of women without payment of taxes for previous years.

Privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.

It is fanciful to suggest that the Georgia law is a mere disguise under which to deny or abridge the right of men to vote on account of their sex. The challenged enactment is not repugnant to the Nineteenth Amendment.

Bless their hearts.

On February 20, 1974, Reg Murphy, an editor for The Atlanta Constitution was kidnapped and held until managing editor G. James Minter delivered $700,000 in ransom. I’m not sure if they’d pay 700 cents to get any employee back nowadays.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has written a book about Georgia Founder James Oglethorpe and his opposition to slavery in the colony, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.

Thurmond, a history aficionado and the only Black member of a Georgia delegation visiting the founder’s tomb outside London, knew Oglethorpe had tried unsuccessfully to keep slaves out of the colony. Historians widely agreed he was concerned for the safety and self-sufficiency of white settlers rather than the suffering of enslaved Africans.

Could Georgia’s white founding father possibly have been an ally to Black people in an era when the British Empire was forcing thousands into bondage?

“It was stunning,” Thurmond recalled. “Initially, I was consumed by disbelief. I didn’t believe it was true.”

Thurmond would grapple with questions raised by that visit for the next 27 years, compelled to take a closer look at Oglethorpe. Now he has written a provocatively titled book: “James Oglethorpe, Father Of Georgia — A Founder’s Journey From Slave Trader to Abolitionist.”

Published this month by the University of Georgia Press, Thurmond’s book makes a case that Oglethorpe evolved to revile slavery and, unlike most white Europeans of his time, saw the humanity in enslaved Africans. And while Oglethorpe’s efforts to prohibit slavery in Georgia ultimately failed, Thurmond argues he left a lasting — and largely uncredited — legacy by influencing early English abolitionists.

“He is shining a spotlight on the part of Oglethorpe’s life that most people have kind of thought was just periphery,” said Stan Deaton, senior historian for the Georgia Historical Society. “I think he’s thought deeply about this. And let’s be honest, there have not been many African-Americans who have written about colonial Georgia and particularly about Oglethorpe.”

Though this is Thurmond’s third book about Georgia history, he’s no academic. The son of a sharecropper and great-grandson of a Georgia slave, Thurmond became an attorney and has served for decades in state and local government. His 1998 election as state labor commissioner made Thurmond the first Black candidate to win statewide office in Georgia without first being appointed. He is now the elected CEO of DeKalb County, which includes portions of Atlanta.

In its early years, Georgia stood alone as Britain’s only American colony in which slavery was illegal. The ban came as the population of enslaved Africans in colonial America was nearing 150,000. Black captives were being sold in New York and Boston, and they already outnumbered white settlers in South Carolina.

Oglethorpe used slave labor to help build homes, streets and public squares in Savannah, the colony’s first city. Escaped slaves captured in Oglethorpe’s Georgia were returned to slaveholders. Some colonists angered by the slave ban made unproven accusations that Oglethorpe had a South Carolina plantation worked by slaves.

Thurmond’s book openly embraces such evidence that Oglethorpe’s history with slavery was at times contradictory and unflattering. That makes his case for Oglethorpe’s evolution even stronger, said James F. Brooks, a University of Georgia history professor who wrote the book’s foreward.

“He founded slave-free Georgia in 1733 and, 100 years later, England abolishes slavery,” followed by the U.S. in 1865, Thurmond said. “He was a man far beyond his time.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Polls are open for Early Voting in Person for the March 12, 2024 Presidential Preference Primary, according to WTOC.

Voters in Chatham County and across Georgia are deciding which candidates they want to see on the November ballot.

Chatham County elections officials describe a slow turnout on the first day of early in-person voting.

The people who did come out say they wanted to be among the first to cast their ballots.

Georgia is an open primary state meaning voters can choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot.

Statewide, officials report no lines at voting centers and say more than 20,000 absentee ballots have already been mailed out to voters who have requested them.

Early in-person voting ends March 8.

Election Day is March 12.

From 13WMAZ:

In Georgia, primary voting is open — meaning you can request either a Democratic or Republican ballot.

Also, under a new provision in Georgia law, workers can take two hours of paid leave to go vote — though it must be arranged with your employer and cleared.

February 19: First day of early voting
February 24: First mandatory Saturday early voting
February 25: First optional Sunday early voting day
March 1: Last day to request absentee ballot for primaries (Remember, if you vote absentee, there is no “deadline” for when you have to mail it in — rather, the deadline applies to when it needs to arrive: You have to make sure you send it in early enough that it arrives by the times polls close on Election Day.)
March 2: Second mandatory Saturday early voting day
March 3: Second optional Sunday early voting day
March 8: Final day of early voting

From AccessWDUN:

City of Oakwood voters will also vote to fill the Post 4 City Council seat, which was left vacant after the Sept. 2023 passing of late Councilman Dwight Wood. Voters will have the option of voting for Rhonda Wood or Volley Collins in that race.

Hall County will hold early voting at seven locations on weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Monday until March 1. Extended hours will also be provided March 4 – 8 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.  Saturday voting will be held Feb. 24 and March 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In nearby Forsyth County, voting will take place from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays through March 8. Saturday voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 24 and March 2. Additionally, early voting will take place Feb. 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Information on early voting in other area counties can be accessed by calling their respective election offices.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Although former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is currently the only GOP candidate contesting the frontrunner, former president Donald Trump, nine other candidates who have suspended their campaigns will still be on the ballot. The Democratic Party ballot will include two candidates’ names other than the frontrunner, President Joe Biden.

Over 100 people cast a ballot in the primary Monday, according to Floyd County Elections Supervisor Akyn Beck.

A majority of incumbents have gone on the record saying they’re running for reelection this cycle, with the exception of Floyd County Commissioner Wright Bagby and Clerk of Court Barbara Penson.

Under the Gold Dome Today

TBD Senate Rules: Upon ADJ –  450 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS – 406 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES – 606 CLOB
8:00 AM Senate Appropriations – 341 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD23) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 23) – Senate Chamber
10:30 AM Senate Conf. Comm. : HB 514 – 450 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE Education Sub Policy – 515 CLOB
1:00 PM UPON ADJ- HOUSE JUDICIARY CIVIL – 132 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE Govtal Aff State & Local Sub – 415 CLOB
1:00 PM Senate Children & Families – 307 CLOB
1:00 PM Senate Banking & Financial Inst – 450 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE W&M Sub Income Tax – 403 CAP
1:45 PM UPON ADJ INCOME TAX – HOUSE W&M Sub Ad Val – 403 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT – 406 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH – 506 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC HEALTH – 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE Education Sub Curriculum – 515 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE Govtal Affairs Elections Sub – 415 CLOB
2:00 PM UPON ADJ OF AD VAL- HOUSE W&M Sub Sales Tax – 403 CAP
2:00 PM Senate Reg. Ind.: Hemp Reg Sub– Mezz 1 CAP
2:30 PM UPON ADJ SALES TAX- HOUSE W&M Sub Pub Fin & Policy – 403 CAP
2:30 PM Senate Education & Youth – 307 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES & TELECOM – 403 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE Judy Non-Civil Leverett Sub – 132 CAP
4:00 PM UPON ADJ OF LEVERETT SUB – HOUSE JUDY NON-CIVIL – 132 CAP
4:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETERANS AFF – 506 CLOB
4:00 PM Senate Education & Youth: Sub – 307 CLOB
4:00 PM Senate Reg. Ind. & Utilities – 450 CAP
5:00 PM Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs – Mezz 1 CAP
5:00 PM Senate Science & Technology – 310 CLOB
6:00 PM Senate Transportation – 450 CAP

Governor Brian Kemp announced appointments to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Columbia Judicial Circuit Superior Court, and Solicitors General for Effingham County and Coweta County, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp [on Monday] announced the appointment of two judges and two solicitors general across the state. The governor has appointed J. Wade Padgett to the Court of Appeals vacancy created by the removal of Court of Appeals Judge Christian Coomer on August 16, 2023. Judge Padgett’s appointment to the Court of Appeals creates a vacancy in the Columbia Judicial Circuit that will be filled by the appointment of J. Grady Blanchard. Governor Kemp has also appointed Spencer Tyson as the Solicitor General of Effingham County and Amy Godfrey as the Solicitor General of Coweta County.

J. Wade Padgett has served as Superior Court Judge in both the Augusta Judicial Circuit, and in the newly-created Columbia Judicial Circuit. Prior to his 2009 appointment to the Augusta Circuit Superior Court bench, he served as Chief Magistrate Judge of Columbia County and maintained a solo law practice, J. Wade Padgett, P.C. He is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Augusta Bar Association, and serves as chair of new judge training for the Council of Superior Court Judges. Active in his community, Judge Padgett is the creator and presenter of Teenage Years 101, an educational program for teens and parents. Judge Padgett holds a J.D. from Georgia State College of Law and a B.A. in History from the University of Georgia. He and his wife have two children and attend Wesley United Methodist Church.

J. Grady Blanchard currently serves as Chief Judge for the Municipal Courts of Waynesboro and Louisville and is a solo practitioner with the Blanchard Law Firm. He previously served as an Associate Judge for the Magistrate Court of Columbia County and an Associate Judge for the Municipal Courts of Grovetown, Wrens, and Stapleton. Judge Blanchard is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the Augusta Bar Association, and the Council of Municipal Court Judges. He holds a J.D. from John Marshall Law School and a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Augusta State University. He and his wife have one child and attend Abilene Baptist Church.

Spencer Tyson is an associate attorney at Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh and Hodgin, LLC in Statesboro, Georgia. He previously worked as an assistant district attorney for the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit and as a law clerk for the district attorney in the Towaliga Judicial Circuit. He is a member of the Bulloch County Bar Association and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Tyson received his J.D. from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University and his B.A. in Political Science from Mercer University. He is an avid golfer and outdoorsman.

Amy Godfrey has served as acting solicitor of the Coweta County Solicitor General’s Office since January of 2024. She previously served as Chief Assistant Solicitor, a position she has held since January of 2012, and as an assistant solicitor. Before joining the Coweta County Solicitor General’s Office, she served as Town Solicitor for the Tyrone Municipal Court and as an associate attorney in the Law Office of Daniel M. King. Godfrey is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and Newnan-Coweta Bar Association, having served as past president of the latter. She holds a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law and a B.S. from Charleston Southern University. Godfrey and her husband, Isaac, have two children and attend Crossroads Church.

 

House Bill 1152 by State Rep. Beth Camp (R-Concord), called The Georgia Homegrown Solar Act of 2024, would allow some sales of solar power by entities other than Georgia Power, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Under House Bill 1152, customers could subscribe with community solar providers for projects producing no more than six megawatts of power. Because the measure calls for the amount of credit on bills community solar customers would receive to be determined by the state Public Service Commission (PSC), it would be limited to Georgia Power customers since the state’s other utilities are not regulated by the PSC.

“Community solar” projects are smaller than utility-scale solar projects but larger than rooftop solar panels installed by individual property owners. Community solar allows residential and business property owners who might not be able to afford rooftop solar to participate in solar energy development.

Georgia ranks among the top 10 states for utility-scale projects but in the bottom 10 for smaller “distributed generation” projects, Bryan Jacob, solar program director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, told members of a House subcommittee Monday.

Elizabeth Van Holt, new markets director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access, said her organization has invested $10 billion to build seven gigawatts of community solar projects in 20 states.

“It’s a pro-jobs, pro-development bill,” she said of House Bill 1152. “It’s an opportunity for ratepayers to lower their bills.”

Van Holt said passage of the bill would mean Georgia wouldn’t have to import one-sixth of its energy from other states.
But representatives of Georgia Power, who spoke out against the bill, said there is no energy supply shortage in Georgia that needs to be addressed.

“The market for solar right now in Georgia right now is really vibrant,” said Wilson Mallard, the Atlanta-based utility’s director of renewable development. “There’s no shortage of opportunity for solar developers.”

Mallard also argued the legislation would result in a shifting of costs that would hurt Georgia Power’s bottom line. Customers participating in the community solar program would pay a third-party solar provider rather than Georgia Power, he said.

“We remain responsible for the reliability of the grid,” Mallard said. “But now, we’re going to short our collection of costs. That’s absolutely going to create a cost shift.”

House Bill 993 by State Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) would create a new crime of “grooming a minor for indecent purposes,” according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

House Bill 993 was introduced during the ongoing legislative session on Jan. 23. A House committee favorably reported HB 993 on Feb. 16, with substitutions.

All six sponsors of the bill — which includes District 6 state Rep. Jason Ridley, of Chatsworth — are Republican lawmakers.

The initial bill text defined “grooming” as “actions or behaviors used by an adult to establish an emotional connection with a minor to gain such minor’s trust for the eventual objective of sexual abuse, manipulation or exploitation.”

The original iteration of the bill listed online and in-person contacts as such actions and behaviors.

“A person over the age of 18 and no less than 48 months older than the alleged victim commits the offense of grooming when such person through a pattern of activity knowingly and intentionally performs an act in person or through a third party or uses an electronic device, a computer, social media or text messages to persuade, induce, entice or coerce a minor to engage in a sexual offense (or) trafficking of persons for sexual servitude,” the text reads.

If the bill becomes law, individuals convicted of the offense would be charged with a felony subject to a sentence of one to five years in prison.

House Bill 1260 by State Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), called the Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act, would create a state listing of legal nicotine vaping products to guide retailers, according to WALB.

The Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act would require the Georgia Agricultural Commissioner to make a list of what nicotine vape products can be sold in stores and penalize stores if they’re caught selling something not on the list.

Right now, there is no regulatory state body enforcing what is being sold in Georgia stores.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Houston Gaines, showed Atlanta News First a vape purchased in Milton last week. The “Lost Mary” vape was banned by the FDA because of flavors marketed to children.

“You want to make sure what you’re getting has been tested and approved. THC-laced and fentanyl-laced vapes have killed young people,” said Gaines.

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 42 cases of vaping-associated illness in Georgia, including six deaths.

The bill would require stores would get two unannounced compliance checks every year. If a business owner is caught trying to sell a product not on the list, they could face fines or have their license suspended.

Governor Brian Kemp endorsed fellow Republican former Columbia County Commissioner Gary Richardson in the Special Runoff Election for State House District 125, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp formally endorsed former Columbia County Commissioner Gary Richardson over social media influencer C.J. Pearson in the March 12 runoff for an open House seat.

The Republican-on-Republican faceoff for the solidly conservative Augusta-based seat has fast become a test of Kemp’s political machine against Pearson’s Trump-aligned MAGA brand.

The Special Runoff Election is on the March 12, 2024 ballot.

Four candidates have announced for the March 12, 2024 Special Election for House District 139, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The April 9 election will determine who will succeed Richard Smith as the representative of Georgia House District 139, which covers parts of Muscogee and Harris counties.

District 139 voters will decide Smith’s successor among these candidates, who paid the $400 qualifying fee and submitted the required documents to the Georgia Secretary of State Office by Friday’s deadline:

Sean Knox, Republican, president of Knox Pest Control in Columbus.

Robert Mallard, independent, founding member and associate broker with Inheritance Realty Group in Columbus until November. Now, co-founder and beekeeper with Foundation Honey Company in Columbus.

Donald Moeller, Republican, oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Columbus.

Carmen Rice (not related to this reporter), Republican, human resources professional in Columbus, first female Muscogee County GOP chair.

Because this is a special election to fill a vacated seat, no primary election precedes it. So any district resident could have qualified for the ballot, regardless of party affiliation, but no Democrat qualified to run for this seat, which is in a predominantly Republican area.

The winner of the April 9 special election immediately becomes the Georgia House District 139 representative and fills the remaining portion of Smith’s two-year term, which expires at the end of this year.

Early voting for this election will start March 18.

That’s when the mailing of absentee ballots can start, but voters can submit to their local elections office a request for an absentee mail-in ballot now. The last day to submit such a request for this election is March 29.

Absentee mail-in ballots must be received by the local elections office by 7 p.m., April 9, to be counted in this election.

March 18 also is this election’s date for advance in-person voting to start. The dates are March 18-23, March 25-30 and April 1-5.

Daycare costs have risen dramatically in Georgia, according to 13WMAZ.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows Georgia joins nearly three dozen other states where childcare is now more expensive than some college tuitions. According to their numbers, parents in the peach state spend an average of $8,530 dollars a year on childcare per child. That comes out to more than $700 per month. The Economic Policy Institute says it now costs $1,324 a year more for daycare in Georgia than the average in-state tuition for a four-year public college.

Georgia does offer help with childcare costs for low-income families through the Childcare and Parent Services, or CAPS, Program. There are limits, though. For example, a family of three would need a household income below $40,000 for initial eligibility.

A Bank of America Institute report says the rising costs are mostly affecting middle- and upper-income with many dipping into their savings at a faster rate.

Georgia State Parks are highlighting their work to make recreation more accessible, according to the Albany Herald.

With the recent addition of the use of All-Terrain Wheelchairs at 11 state parks and a wildlife center last year, Georgia’s State Parks also provide a number of additional offerings to make it easier for those with disabilities to get outdoors and reconnect with nature and history, explore nature trails, go fishing and attend adaptive hunts.

All-Terrain Adventure: Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites are breaking barriers with their commitment to inclusivity. They offer all-terrain wheelchairs, ensuring that everyone, regardless of mobility challenges, can explore the stunning landscapes and trails. These specially designed wheelchairs provide access to rugged terrains, allowing qualifying park visitors the ability to experience a sense of freedom that can be difficult to have in an everyday wheelchair. See GaStateParks.org/Accessibility/TrackChairs.

Comfortable Accommodations: The parks also boast ADA cabins, designed with accessibility in mind. These cabins are equipped with features to make the stay comfortable and enjoyable for individuals with disabilities. Visitors can experience the charm of staying overnight in the heart of nature without any compromise on accessibility.

Trails for All: Georgia’s State Parks pride themselves on their network of accessible trails that cater to various abilities. Whether an avid hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, these trails provide an inclusive experience for all visitors. The trails are meticulously maintained to ensure a smooth journey, allowing everyone to explore the beauty of Georgia’s landscapes. Many parks provide paved and hard-surface trail options for those who prefer to stay in their own wheelchairs. Guests can enjoy waterfalls, wetlands and the serenity of Georgia’s natural beauty all from these accessible trails. Guests can find a list of options by visiting GaStateParks.org/Hiking.

Paddle Into Accessibility: For water enthusiasts, Hard Labor Creek State Park and Jack Hill State Park now offer an ADA kayak launch that is designed and placed to provide safe, easy, stable access to and from the water, providing an opportunity for individuals with varying abilities to experience the thrill of kayaking. This initiative was accomplished thanks to an avid paddler and state park lover who was unable to launch his kayak at the park. After working with the team to secure a grant, accessible launches were added to open up new avenues for adventure, allowing everyone to connect with nature while enjoying the tranquility of Georgia’s waterways. An ADA kayak launch is also being added at Vogel State Park in 2024.

19
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 19, 2024

Marley is a young female Jack Russell Terrier & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Waycross Animal Services in Waycross, GA.

Sweet little Marley plays with everybody. she loves to play and got for walks and visit all the fur friends. She is full of energy. She is still young so still working on the house training but she does good with indoor kennels.

Luna is a 55-pound female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Waycross Animal Services in Waycross, GA.

Large Breed (55 lbs) Loves everyone, but unsure of Cats, So far excellent with other dogs. Currently Not Spayed but will be before leaving the Shelter

Coco is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Waycross Animal Services in Waycross, GA.

CoCo is very playful still has some puppy in her. She is very Sweet and Loving but easily excited. Loves being outside. CoCo is currently not Spayed but will be before leaving the shelter.
19
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 19, 2023

On February 19, 1807, Aaron Burr was arrested in the Mississippi Territory, in what is now Alabama. Burr had served as Vice President during the first term of President Thomas Jefferson, leaving the administration after the 1804 election; later Jefferson issued a warrant accusing Burr of treason.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the military to remove from military areas any people whose exclusion was “necessary or desirable.” By June 1942, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans had been interned in concentration camps in the western United States. On the same day, the United States War Department announced that a new bomber plant would be built in Marietta, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is underway in the March 3, 2024 Presidential Preference Primary election, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia has a presidential preference primary March 12 with three candidates on the Democratic ballot and 11 candidates on the Republican ballot. And the opportunity for in-person early voting begins Monday.

As mandated by current Georgia election law, there will be three weeks for early voting, including two Saturdays. In Bulloch County, the one place to vote early in-person will be the elections office in the County Annex, 113 North Main St., Suite 201, Statesboro. Hours for advance voting will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, Feb. 19-March 8, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, March 2.

Yes, on the Republican side, many of the best-known candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, pharmaceutical company founder Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, have dropped out of the race, at least to the extent of suspending their campaigns.

But the Republican ballot in Georgia’s presidential preference primary still includes all of these candidates: Ryan L. Binkley, Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Perry Johnson, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, David Stuckenberg and Donald J. Trump.

The latest guidance that Bulloch County Election Supervisor Shontay Jones received from the Elections Division at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office on Feb. 7, was that none of those candidates had officially withdrawn, she said Thursday. So, for now, she won’t even be putting up those signs at voting places that often inform voters of candidates who have withdrawn but whose names are still on the ballot.

On the Democratic ballot, the three candidates are Joseph R. Biden Jr. (incumbent), Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson. Philips, U.S. representative from Minnesota’s 3rd congressional district, has served as CEO of his family’s Phillips Distilling Company, based in Minneapolis, and owned some other companies. Williamson, author of self-help books and former spiritual leader of the Church of Today, a Unity Church in Warren, Michigan, also ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, but eventually endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders.

To vote in the presidential preference primary, voters must choose either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party ballot. But Georgia does not have party registration for voters. So choosing a party in the presidential primary will not bind a voter to choose th  same party in any other election, not even Georgia’s May 21 general  primary and nonpartisan general election, Jones confirmed.

The May 21 primary will be for county offices, state legislative seats and U.S.  House seats and also includes a general election for nonpartisan positions such as judgeships and school  board seats. It is entirely separate from the March 12 presidential primary.

If voters aren’t already registered, it’s too late to register to vote in the March 12 presidential primary, since the registration deadline was Feb. 12. However, there’s still time to register to vote or update your registration address or name for the May 21 general primary and nonpartisan general election. That deadline is April 22.

From WSAV:

Whether you prefer to vote early, by mail, or in-person, there is a lot you need to know about when and where to vote. Here are the basics about early voting in Georgia:

1. Early voting begins today through March 8th.

2. March 1st is the deadline for presidential primary absentee ballot requests.

3. March 12th is presidential primary election day

4. March 15th is the deadline for provisional voters to correct missing documents, address missing signatures or incorrect I-d information on their ballots.

5. November 5 is the date for the nationwide general presidential election.

Remember, Georgia employers are now required to give employees two hours of leave to vote early, or on election day.

From the AJC:

Most Georgia voters have cast their votes in advance of election day in recent elections, with 58% voting in person at early voting locations during the 2022 midterms. About 6% of voters returned absentee ballots, and the remaining 36% showed up on election day.

This is the first presidential election under Georgia’s overhaul of voting laws after the 2020 race.

No-excuse absentee voting and ballot drop boxes are still available, but they’re more limited than four years ago.

Absentee ballot applications must include a handwritten signature on a request form, which can be submitted by email to county election offices. Absentee applications require a driver’s license number or another form of ID, and they are due by March 1. Completed ballots must be received by election offices before polls close on March 12.

Drop boxes are restricted to inside areas of early voting locations, and they’re only available during in-person voting hours. The number of drop boxes is capped at one for every 100,000 active registered voters.

Georgia’s voting law, Senate Bill 202, also mandates a second Saturday of early voting in counties that didn’t already provide it, allows residents to file unlimited challenges to other voters’ eligibility, and bans handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.

WALB has more information for local voters.

Under the Gold Dome Today

1:30 PM  HOUSE Regulated Ind. Sub Alcohol & Tobacco – 606 CLOB

2:00 PM  HOUSE REGULATED IND – 606 CLOB

3:00 PM  HOUSE Energy, Util & Telecom Sub Energy – 341 CAP

Georgia State legislators whose districts overlap with the 12th Congressional District elected Statesboro lawyer Daniel B. Snipes to the Georgia Department of Transportation Board, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The 12th Congressional District encompasses counties in east central and east southern Georgia, Bulloch, Burke, Candler, Columbia, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glasscock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, Lincoln, McDuffie, Montgomery, Richmond, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Warren, Washington, Wheeler, and Wilkes counties.

The 14-member State Transportation Board determines policy and governs the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Each member is elected by a caucus of Georgia General Assembly members from their specific congressional district. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms.

Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. With nearly 4,000 employees, the DOT is involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike and pedestrian programs.

House Bill 1172 by State Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by a single vote, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

House Bill 1172, which cleared the House Judiciary Committee Thursday by just one vote, is a follow-up to legislation the General Assembly passed on the last day of last year’s session.

Last year’s bill was introduced following a lawsuit a property owner along the Upper Flint River filed seeking to ban public fishing along his stretch of the river.

After Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill and it became law last July, some waterfront property owners expressed concerns that the measure included language codifying Georgia citizens’ right to use the state’s waterways under the “public trust doctrine.”

The new bill struck the reference to the public trust doctrine while maintaining the purpose of last year’s legislation, House Majority Whip James Burchett, R-Waycross, House Bill 1172’s chief sponsor, told committee members before Thursday’s vote.

“By common law, the citizens of this state have the inherent right of use for passage for hunting and fishing on navigable streams,” he said.

Burchett emphasized that the bill only applies to navigable streams.

But the measure’s opponents argued the current definition of “navigable streams” in state law dates back to the 19th century, a time when Georgia’s waterways were used to transport freight.

Joe Cook, coordinator of the Georgia River Network’s Paddle Georgia program, said that definition leaves out many streams across the state that are capable of floating a boat.

“Vast numbers of Georgia streams will fall under the category of non-navigable,” he said. “Many of our trips take place on rivers and streams that may not be deemed navigable. … There is a right of passage on all these streams that are not navigable.”

Suzanne Welander, author of a Georgia canoeing and kayaking guide book, said recreational paddling is a fast-growing activity in Georgia that generated $1.1 billion in revenue in 2022 and is responsible for 238,000 jobs.

“I’m concerned future generations might lose this ability to have those experiences,” she said.

Carol Reiser, past president of the Georgia Canoeing Association, said lawmakers in North Carolina and South Carolina have passed fishing rights legislation that guarantees public access to any river and stream that can float a boat, as long as the boaters don’t get out of the water and enter private property. She suggested recreational canoeists in Georgia would welcome a similar approach.

“We pass through,” Reiser said. “We don’t get out and party on people’s property.”

Senate Bill 443 by State Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) attempts to address the issue of un-permitted public events on Tybee Island, according to WSAV.

The measure was passed by the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 47 to 1.

SB 443 targets unpermitted events like Orange Crush on Tybee Island and would hold organizers financially accountable.

“It is common sense that promoters should work with municipalities to get legal permits to host events,” stated Rep. Jesse Petrea, a sponsor of the bill. “If we are successful in passing this legislation to give cities this tool, any promoters of unpermitted events need to understand that they are on the hook to pay for expenses incurred by that unpermitted event.”

“We are thankful that our legislators understand how unfair it is for promoters of unpermitted, mass gatherings to reap all the profits while forcing local taxpayers to pick up the tab for trash, property damages, public safety services and more,” stated [Tybee Island interim city manager] Michelle Owens. “We look forward to having an effective new tool to hold these promoters financially accountable.”

House Bill 1138 by State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) would require the state’s “Invest Georgia Fund” to include demographic representation as an investment criterion, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The fund is a state-backed long-term investment program designed to help grow venture capital and private equity investment funds in the state. The Invest Georgia Fund’s ultimate goal is to help Georgia entrepreneurs grow new companies and create of new jobs.

“The Invest Georgia Fund is not a venture fund,” Kendrick told the Georgia House of Representatives Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Tuesday. “It is a fund to funds, meaning we give money to it and then it invests in venture funds, and then the venture funds invest in Georgia portfolio companies.”

State law has already established 17 criteria that are used for determining where state funds are invested. Kendrick’s bill, House Bill 1138, would add an 18th criteria to state one of the fund’s objectives would be to “promote and reflect the demographic makeup of Georgia.”

“The Invest Georgia Fund Program serves as a beacon of opportunity for growth and mentorship for Georgia’s venture capital and private equity investment funds,” Kendrick said in a statement. “This legislation would extend the opportunity to foster long-term success by encouraging the opportunity for investment to the entire demographic makeup of Georgia.

“I am proud to support this legislation and the Invest Georgia Fund as it paves the way for the creation of high-paying jobs that drive our states economic success.”

The Forsyth County Board of Elections released information on local candidates qualifying for the May 21, 2024 General Election, according to AccessWDUN.

In Forsyth County, potential candidates who would like to see their name on the ballot in one of the county’s local elections will have the opportunity to qualify between March 4 and March 8 at the Forsyth County Voter Registrations & Elections Office in Cumming.

Candidates who plan to run in the nonpartisan election in May, as well as those who plan to run as an independent in November, must qualify with the elections office.

Republican and Democratic candidates will qualify with representatives from the county’s respective parties. Qualification fees will be paid to the organization with whom the candidate is running.

Bulloch County Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Riggs Jones, who was appointed to the seat, announced she will seek a full term in office, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Judge Karen Riggs Jones, Bulloch County chief magistrate by appointment since last fall, has announced as a candidate for a full four-year elected term as chief magistrate judge in the May 21 nonpartisan general election and general primary.

State and county candidates must complete paperwork and pay fees during the March 4-8 qualifying period to make their candidacies official, but several would-be local candidates have now announced their intentions. Unlike partisan races, which will appear on their parties’ May 21 primary ballots and send nominees forward to the November election, any contests for nonpartisan offices – such as the magistrate’s office and other judgeships – will be decided either May 21 or in a possible June 18 runoff.

Jones, who has more than 35 years of experience in the Magistrate Court office, including previous roles as deputy clerk, chief clerk and deputy magistrate judge, was appointed and sworn in as chief magistrate judge by Chief Superior Court Judge F. Gates Peed upon the Sept. 30, 2023, retirement of previous Chief Magistrate June Bradley Braswell.

Lowndes County Commission Chair Bill Slaughter announced he is running for reelection, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Slaughter has held the seat since 2013. During his last three terms, he said, he worked to improve Lowndes County by improving roadways, revitalizing public spaces for community use, and creating more local jobs.

If Slaughter is re-elected for a fourth term he plans to focus on the continuation of the Transportation Improvement Act. The TIA is a regional 1% sales tax that Slaughter said helps improve traffic flow around Lowndes County by paving dirt roads as well as widening roads in high traffic areas.

“With us being the economic hub of south Georgia, it just made sense to share this one penny tax through a regional concept so that the roads, the bridges, that infrastructure can be improved and be beneficial to Lowndes County and folks coming into our community,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter hopes to work with the county Board of Commissioners to make improvements on ordinances so they can better serve all the residents of Lowndes County. Some of the ordinances Slaughter wants to improve have not been updated for 20 years or more.

“It’s time to update a lot of those ordinances…We started working on that this past year, and certainly there will be a lot more ordinances to come that we will need to look at,” said Slaughter. “We have ordinances we want to improve in animal control, and some of our noise ordinances.”

Columbus federal prosecutor Amy Helmick was appointed United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

She’s currently an assistant U.S. attorney and branch chief for the district’s Columbus division.

On July 1, she takes the seat vacated by retiring Judge Stephen Hyles. He has held the position since 2010, through two eight-year appointments

Magistrate court holds first-appearance hearings in federal cases, including misdemeanors on government land such as Fort Moore.

The district’s U.S. court judges, four sitting and three senior, unanimously chose Helmick for the job.

From WRBL:

Helmick’s eight-year term starts on July 1 of this year.

According to Middle District Judge Clay Land, “Amy Helmick is uniquely qualified to be our district’s next Magistrate Judge. She has a keen intellect, broad relevant experience, and the proper judicial temperament.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said he will run for reelection in 2025, according to the AJC.

Dickens has confirmed he will be launching a reelection bid in 2025. The first-term mayor said his current gig is the job he’s wanted since age 16, and a position he doesn’t want to forfeit anytime soon.

Dickens’ remarks came during a sweeping interview with the AJC which touched on topics like his role in the Biden-Harris reelection campaign, the city’s response to the training center referendum effort, affordable housing projects on the horizon and his efforts to reduce violent crime.

“Georgia is a battleground state so I’ll be making sure that across Georgia they know that I’m on that team,” Dickens said. The mayor noted that he expects numerous visits from Biden and Harris to Atlanta.

The vice president has made two trips to Georgia this year already, including a stop in the capital city for a discussion with voting rights advocates. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden also traveled to Atlanta this month to spotlight women’s health initiatives.

Former Richmond County Commissioner Sammie Sias had his prison sentence reduced from 36 months to 30, according to WJBF.

A necropsy of the dead Right Whale found off the coast of Tybee Island revealed the whale died of traumatic brain injury caused by a ship collision, according to WTOC.

The right whale is one of the most endangered large whale species with only around 360 alive today. In most cases, right whales are killed by getting caught up in fishing nets or boat crashes, since they stay near the surface, according to NOAA.

The boat captain who helped bring the whale calf to shore said he frequently sees the whales during this migration season. He and his crew go slow around the water to avoid hurting them, and he says casual boaters should do the same.

“Use caution not to hurt them, they don’t fear a whole lot of things because of their size, so they’re not just going to run away because they hear a noisy boat,” Jim Givens said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed expanding speed limits for boats during Right Whale migration season. Last August, Georgia 1st District U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter, proposed a bill to block that plan.

In a statement to WTOC, Rep. Carter said,

“It’s disheartening that a young female North Atlantic right whale calf has died. While the cause of death is not certain, we must protect this endangered species from extinction. Fortunately, there are promising new technologies to track the whales, which will help preserve and protect Georgia’s state marine mammal without killing our commercial boating and fishing industries.”