The blog.

19
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 19, 2021

Robyn Animal Rescue Foundation Milledgeville

Robyn is a young female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Robyn is a very friendly 2-year old girl with a big heart. She loves to play with other dogs and be loved on.

Teddy Animal Rescue Foundation Milledgeville

Teddy is a young male Akita mix who is available for adoption from the Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Teddy is a young cute and goofy boy! He needs someone who is willing to spend the time or expenses to train him. He is a very loving boy, but plays very rough and needs basic training. He has lots of energy, and would love to live with someone who can give him the exercise and play time he loves.

Bear Animal Rescue Foundation Milledgeville

Bear is a senior male Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from the Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Bear is an 8-9 year old handsome and kind gentleman. He came from a neglectful situation, but he is still so loving. He wants to be everyone’s friend. Bear weighs 80 pounds and is house trained. He is a mature and smart boy, and he’s ready for a couch to nap on, a bed to sleep on, and an owner to spoil him! He deserves to live the rest of his life inside a home with a loving family. Bear is super well housebroken! He is finishing his treatment for heartworms.

19
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 19, 2021

Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807 at his family home, Stratford Hall, Virginia.

Delegates to the Secession Convention in Milledgeville voted 208-89 in favor of seceding from the United States on January 19, 1861.

On January 19, 1871, Savannah, Georgia became the first city to recognize Robert E. Lee’s Birthday as a public holiday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says that reports of the GOP’s demise are greatly exaggerated.Continue Reading..

15
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 15, 2021

Daisy Charles Smithgall Humane

Daisy is a young female Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Charles Smithgall Humane Society and Adoption Center in Sautee Nacoochee, GA.

Buddy and Dixie Charles Smithgall Humane

Buddy (male, Labrador Retriever mix, 62 pounds) and Dixie (female, Dachshund and Beagle mix, 25 pounds) are available for adoption from the Charles Smithgall Humane Society and Adoption Center in Sautee Nacoochee, GA.

Dixie and her mate Buddy are bonded and will be adopted together. Dixie is a Beagle/Dachshund mix. She’s four years old and weighs just 25 lbs. She is incredibly sweet and gentle. Well-mannered, most likely house-trained. She is calm, quiet, walks well on a leash and welcomes any attention. Dixie is affectionate and friendly. She seems dog friendly, and we’ll test with cats for potential adopters.

Buddy is a retriever mix. He’s seven years old and weighs 62 lbs. Like his best mate, he’s also amazing. He’s calm, quiet, well-mannered, obedient, walks well on a leash, friendly, affectionate and so gentle. He’s most likely house-trained. We expect he’s dog friendly and we’ll test with cats for potential adopters.

We can’t say enough good things about Dixie and Buddy. Whoever had them before must have loved them a lot. These two do everything together and are very companionable. They are incredibly well-behaved and we can tell they just long to be in the quiet and safety of a home. These super sweet doggos, have no business in a shelter. We hope we can find them their forever home soon. They were dropped-off at a high-kill shelter when their family situation changed recently. We rescued them just as soon as we could.

 

15
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 15, 2021

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

An elected Provincial Assembly first convened in Georgia on January 15, 1751. The Assembly did not have the power to tax or spend money, but was to advise the Trustees.

On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.

The state of New Connecticut declared its independence of both Britain and New York on January 15, 1777. In June of that year they would decide on the name Vermont. Vermont would be considered part of New York for a number of years, finally being admitted as the 14th state in 1791.

On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Virginia General Assembly.

The donkey was first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party on January 15, 1870 by cartoonist Thomas Nash.

democrat-donkey-cartoon

L.Q.C. Lamar, born near Eatonton, Georgia, was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on January 18, 1888.

On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify the Amendment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

https://youtu.be/KJ6qpFpIFkY

At 4:30 PM on January 16, 1991, the Persian Gulf War began as air attacks against Iraq launched from US and British aircraft carriers, beginning Operation Desert Storm.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

https://youtu.be/IfbQN5d3qhg

From GPB News:

“There is no doubt that this virus has impacted all of us beyond what we could ever have imagined,” Kemp said in Thursday’s hour-long address. “Too many families are now missing loved ones — a heartbreaking, devastating loss that I know many Georgians are still grieving today.”

“Yes, we still have challenges ahead: a virus to beat, an economy to rebuild and restore,” he said. “But my fellow Georgians, the state of the state is resilient, and we will endure.”

On a practical level, Kemp said lawmakers need to move on and avoid trying to “assign blame, settle old scores and relive and relitigate 2020,” referring to months that saw many Republicans baselessly attack the state’s election integrity and falsely claim widespread voter fraud cost President Donald Trump’s reelection.

On the economy front, Georgia’s unemployment rate of 5.7% is below the national average, companies have continued to invest into more communities — especially in rural Georgia — and that there would be no budget cuts or tax increases for the next year.

In another surprising note, Kemp said that the state did not actually have to tap into its revenue shortfall reserve “rainy day” fund to cover the cost of state government.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

The proposed changes to the 2021 state budget featured no new cuts to state agencies or widespread layoffs of state employees. School districts would receive more than $1 billion during the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years to offset previous spending cuts.

Rural Georgia residents and entrepreneurs would get a boost from targeted initiatives to support businesses and expand broadband internet access — a continued priority for Kemp.

Combating rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths remains a goal in 2021.

“We will win this fight against COVID-19. …In Georgia, our people are the foundation. Despite incredible loss and unprecedented challenges. Georgia is still standing,” Kemp said. “Our house, built on a sure foundation, survived the storm. This state, while battered, is not broken; a better brighter future is right around the corner.”

The governor credited the CARES Act, conservative state budgeting and the “measured reopening” of Georgia’s economy for staving off additional cuts and keeping the state’s rainy day fund strong. No new taxes would be required. Georgia, Kemp said, finds itself in a position that other states should “envy.”

“Our careful planning and measured approach was rewarded in spades,” Kemp said. “Other states are looking at further cuts to employees and essential services. For aid, they’re now forced to turn to a dysfunctional and distracted Washington D.C.”

Kemp also announced his intention to modify the state’s citizen’s arrest statute following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020, saying Arbery was a “victim of a vigilante-style of violence that has no place in our state.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News:

In a 65-minute State of the State address to a joint session of the state House and Senate, Kemp proposed expanding a tax credit the General Assembly passed last year for Georgia businesses that make personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and gowns to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

“We cannot waste time in bidding wars with other states or foreign adversaries,” the governor said. “No one nation should hold a monopoly on life-saving medicines and medical supplies, and we should bring these critical industries and the jobs that come with them back to America and here to Georgia.”

Along with restoring more than $1.2 billion to Georgia’s public schools to offset massive spending cuts on education the legislature imposed last year, Kemp called for a one-time $1,000 supplement to help Georgia teachers and other school employees reopen schools safely.

“Many of the economic, medical, and other challenges that are facing rural Georgia cannot be fixed with a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach,” Kemp said. “These issues are best addressed through targeted, innovative, public-private solutions that meet the needs of specific communities not just today or tomorrow, but five, 10, or 25 years down the road.”

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

Kemp announced that he wants to use $240 million in federal coronavirus relief, mostly controlled by the state Board of Education, to pay a one-time supplement of $1,000 for every teacher and school employee. Kemp has promised to increase teacher pay by $5,000 during his first term, of which he’s already delivered $3,000.

Kemp has been on the defensive in recent days over the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, with widespread frustration at a lack of availability after Kemp expanded eligibility to anyone 65 or older and a vaccination rate that federal figures rate as the second worst among states. And Democrats have vowed to make him pay on his overall approach to the pandemic, with Georgia recording the third-highest rate of confirmed infections over the last week.

The governor sought to make inroads on other issues that he’s frequently criticized on. He’s seeking money for a partial Medicaid expansion, which could help shield him from Democratic attacks seeking a fuller rollout of health insurance.

“I know that many in this room and those watching are worn out, tired and burdened. It’s a new year, but it all feels the same. There is no doubt that this new normal isn’t really normal and, frankly, it’s not clear when things will return to business as usual,” Kemp said. “But my fellow Georgians, we have the opportunity and responsibility to make strategic decisions now that will impact generations to come.”

Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Lee Anderson (R- ) and others would split the Augusta Judicial Circuit, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Columbia Judicial Circuit would come into existence as soon as July 1 under a bill filed Wednesday by two state senators.

Senate Bill 9, filed by area lawmakers at the request of Columbia County, would create the new single-county Superior Court system. It removes Columbia County from the three-county Augusta Judicial Circuit, which would be left with Richmond and Burke counties.

Filed by state Sens. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, and Max Burns, R-Sylvania, the bill creates the new position of Columbia Circuit district attorney, to be appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve through Dec. 31, 2022.

In the bill, the three judges who live in Columbia County – identified as James Blanchard, Sheryl Jolly and Wade Padgett – would become the new circuit’s judges, and the longest-serving one the chief judge.

Joe Biden nominated Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for Democratic National Committee Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Protection, according to 11Alive.

“I’m honored and humbled to be endorsed by @JoeBiden for Vice Chair of the @DNC,” Bottoms tweeted Thursday evening. “I’m ready to build on our party’s progress to make a better future for all Americans.”

“This group of individuals represent the very best of the Democratic Party,” President-elect Joe Biden said in the statement about the list of nominees. “Their stories and long histories of activism and work reflects our party’s values and the diversity that make us so strong. As our country faces multiple crises from systemic racism to the COVID-19 pandemic, working families in America need and deserve real leadership.”

“We need to elect Democrats across our country and up and down the ballot. To do that is going to take tireless leadership, committed to strengthening Democratic infrastructure across our states,” he added. “These leaders are battle-tested and ready for this immense task. I know they will get the job done.”

Initial unemployment claims are rising, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

First-time unemployment claims in Georgia increased by 5,581 last week to 37,039, reflecting a national trend, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

As a result, the state agency paid out more than $223 million to jobless Georgians last week, as benefit checks authorized by a second COVID-19 relief package Congress passed during the holidays continued uninterrupted.

However, the agency is continuing to work on implementing changes to the system required by the new stimulus package. That work has to be completed before those eligible for the 11 weeks of extended payments can receive all of their benefits.

“Our … teams are working around the clock to implement the new guidelines that include complex requirements and programming,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said.

Former State Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) was named President of North Georgia Technical College, effective February 1, 2021, according to AccessWDUN.

The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) approved Commissioner Greg Dozier’s appointment of Wilkinson on Thursday in Atlanta.

“Senator Wilkinson has spent his professional life advancing and advocating for CTAE [Career, Technical and Agricultural Education] here in Georgia,” said Dozier in a statement released by North Georgia Tech. “He is one of Georgia’s leading CTAE experts and we are excited for him to lead North Georgia Technical College as we serve the needs of business and industry in the region and across the state. I know he will continue the lasting legacy left by Dr. Mark Ivester by providing opportunity for every student that comes through the college’s doors.”

“I am truly honored to be chosen to lead North Georgia Technical College,” said Wilkinson. “Technical education is near and dear to my heart as I have seen how it transforms the lives of students. It is my goal to continue in the footsteps left by Dr. Mark Ivester by providing business and industry with a skilled workforce and by helping more students realize their full potential through postsecondary education.”

The Glynn County Board of Elections is looking at their space needs going forward, according to The Brunswick News.

“We’re trying to tee up a space argument not only for the main office and the staff, we’re tapped out … but what are we going to do for (the early voting location on) St. Simons,” said Patricia Featherstone, one of the Glynn County Republican Party’s appointees to the board.

County commission chairman Wayne Neal said the county government is peripherally aware of the need for more space in the board’s office. The county is currently planning an overhaul of Glynn County Juvenile Court facilities in the same building, he said, but the board will be part of that overhaul process and may benefit from reallocation of space.

An early voting location on St. Simons Island is also likely to be an issue in the future. High turnout during recent elections is already pushing the capacity of the voting polling place at Glynn County Fire Station No. 2. Early voting polls must, by law, be located in a government-owned building, which leaves few other options, said Assistant Elections and Registration Supervisor Christina Redden.

Clarke County public schools expect to receive $21 million in federal coronavirus relief funding, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Georgia is moving to accept $2 billion in additional federal coronavirus relief for K-12 schools.

That will include $1.7 billion that will be given to school districts based on their proportion of students from low-income families and $189 million that the state Board of Education will control and can be used on things like internet service for students.

Hall County Commissioners approved upgrades to the county government building, according to AccessWDUN.

Augusta Commissioner Dennis Williams announced he will run for Mayor, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Mayor Hardie Davis’ second consecutive term ends at the end of next year and Augusta’s Consolidation Act limits candidates from serving more than two in a row.

With the state moving nonpartisan elections to May, the election for mayor — and four city commission seats — is just 15th months away.

Augusta has a so-called weak mayor form of government. Final authority on most things, including the city budget, hiring and firing rests with the 10-member commission. The mayor serves as the face of the organization, makes certain appointments and can break a 5-5 commission tie.

Last week Davis suggested the city consider a panel and Augusta legislative delegation to examine changing the structure of the consolidated government, which was formed in 1996. Changes could include increasing the authority of the mayor or administrator or increasing commissioner salaries.

14
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 14, 2021

ChipEvelyns Place Rescue Gainesville GA

Chip is a young male Feist and Whippet mix puppy who is available for adoption from Evelyns Place Rescue in Gainesville GA.

Chip is a sweet boy who loves to cuddle, chase balls and go for long walks.

Bo Evelyns Place Rescue Gainesville GA

Bo is a young male Hound & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Evelyns Place Rescue in Gainesville GA.

Bo was being given away on Facebook. His family was moving and he could not go. He is house trained, good with kids and other dogs. He loves toys and food and cuddles. This sweet boy needs a yard to run and play in and a family of his very own.

Nash Evelyns Place Rescue Gainesville GA

Nash is a young male American Bully & Pit Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Evelyns Place Rescue in Gainesville GA.

Nash was abandoned at a hone in the middle of summer. No air, food, or water. Animal control picked him up where he was adopted. However the new owners dumped him at Christmas and that’s where we stepped in. He’s now with a wonderful Foster. He’s good with other dogs, loves people, loves car rides. He does not react to you touching his ears, feet, toys or food. He does not like loud noises and tends to cower if he thinks he is in trouble. This boy needs a home with a fenced yard, lots of toys and a family who will love him and help him know he will never be abandoned or mistreated again.

14
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 14, 2021

Representatives of three cities in Connecticut adopted the “Fundamental Orders,” the first written Constitution in an American colony and one of the first founding document to cite the authority of “the free consent of the people.”

On January 14, 1733, James Oglethorpe and the rest of the first colonists departed Charles Town harbor for what would become Savannah, and the State of Georgia.

The Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War on January 14, 1784. The Treaty was negotiated by John Adams, who would later serve as President, and the delegates voting to ratify it included future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.

On January 14, 1835, James M. Wayne took the oath of office as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A Savannah native, Wayne had previously served in the Georgia House of Represestatives, as Mayor of Savannah, on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and in Congress. His sister was the great-grandmother of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and his home is now known as the Juliette Gordon Low house. When Georgia seceded from the Union, Wayne remained on the Supreme Court.

On January 14, 1860, the Committee of Thirty-Three introduced a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow slavery in the areas it then existed.

Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was one of eleven African-American Georgians elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965. After his election, on January 10, 1966, the State House voted 184-12 not to seat him because of his publicly-stated opposition to the Vietnam War. After his federal lawsuit was rejected by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ordered Bond seated.

True story: Julian Bond was the first Georgia State Senator I ever met, when I was in ninth grade and visited the state Capitol.

On January 14, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring Japanese-Americans, including American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry, as well as Italians and Germans to register with the federal Department of Justice. The next month, Roosevelt would have Japanese-Americans interned in concentration camps in the western United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

The House and Senate Convene today for Legislative Day 4 of the 2021 Session.

Governor Brian Kemp delivered the State of the State Address this morning. You can watch it on GPB or Facebook.

From the AJC:

For the first time since taking office, however, Kemp didn’t propose a state-funded pay raise for educators when he released his budget proposal. However, the governor said the state would use federal CARES Act money to provide school systems with one-time, $1,000 per teacher and employee supplements that districts could use for bonuses.

The governor’s spending plan for the rest of fiscal 2021, which ends June 30, and fiscal 2022, would backfill more than 60% of what lawmakers cut from basic k-12 school funding in this year’s budget and tack on $573 million in funding next year.

Kemp’s $27.2 billion budget for the upcoming year includes a big increase in basic funding for the University System of Georgia as well, and it would borrow about $400 million for construction and upgrade projects on k-12 school, university and college campuses.

The plan also includes about $70 million to help struggling rural communities, including almost half for a grant program to help them get high-speed internet service this year and next.

Besides education, one of the big drivers of the budget increase next year is health care, with Medicaid — the program that covers the poor and disabled — slated for a $329 million increase. That’s in part because recipients who put off medical treatment and appointments during the pandemic are expected to see their doctors more in 2022.

Kemp’s proposal also includes $76 million for his program to increase health care availability for thousands of low-income Georgians.

Governor Kemp yesterday requested a Major Disaster Declaration for the Georgia Republican Party Tropical Storm Zeta damages, according to AccessWDUN.

The request was based on preliminary damage assessments totaling more than $22 million. The disaster declaration approved by President Donald Trump makes public assistance available for 21 counties in Georgia.

“The declaration will provide resources to help offset the costs of Tropical Storm Zeta,” said Chris Stallings, GEMA/HS Director. “It will be a great help to the communities recovering from this event.”

Public Assistance is available to state and local government entities and qualified not-for-profit organizations in Banks, Carroll, Cherokee, Dawson, Douglas, Fannin, Forsyth, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Lumpkin, Paulding, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White Counties. It will provide financial aid for debris removal and repairs to roads, bridges and power infrastructure for up to 75 percent of the cost for the project.

Gwinnett County Public Schools will go all-online next week, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The switch is set to only last from Jan. 19 until Jan. 22. The district had begun the spring semester with both in-person and digital learning on Jan. 7, despite calls from three of its five school board members to do a digital-only start that would have lasted through this weekend.

“As students returned to in-person and digital instruction this semester, we acknowledged the need to monitor the impact the rising COVID numbers within our community might have on our schools,” Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said in a statement. “The reality is that our school system — like our community and the state — is feeling the results of the holidays and winter break.”

“We are experiencing higher numbers of cases, suspected cases, and close contacts among our in-person students and staff. The move to 100% digital learning for the coming week will allow us to effectively serve students while also doing what is best for our students and staff given the current situation.”

Hall County and Gainesville City schools are working to transition back to in-person learning, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County Schools will return to an in-person hybrid school schedule beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, after the school system reported stabilizing COVID-19 numbers and “significantly” decreased student cases, said Superintendent WIll Schofield.

Students who have selected online learning only will continue with their online schooling. The school week will begin Tuesday, Jan. 19, as Monday, Jan. 18, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a school holiday.

The decision to return to an in-person hybrid model will be in effect through Jan. 22, and another update on the district’s plans for future school days, based on the latest COVID-19 data and spread in the community, will come on Jan. 21, the superintendent said.

In Gainesville, Superintendent Jeremy Williams announced a portion of his district’s students will also return to school on Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being credited for a downturn in crime in Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The crime rate for the City of Valdosta fell by more than a fifth in 2020 and the police chief says the pandemic had a lot to do with it.

According to the Valdosta Police Department’s internal statistics, crime is down more than 20% for Part One crimes, including violent and property crimes, according to a statement from the city.

Property crimes are usually crimes of opportunity — for example, incidents where an individual sees valuables, such as a phone or purse, left inside cars.

In 2020, burglaries were down by more than 70 cases compared to 2019 numbers.

U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) announced she will introduce articles of impeachment against Joe Biden once he takes office, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Greene announced on Twitter that on Jan. 21 she will introduce articles of impeachment to remove President-elect Joe Biden from office for “abuse of power.”

Biden is to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

“I would like to announce on behalf of the American people we have to make sure that our leaders are held accountable,” Greene said during an appearance on Newsmax. “We cannot have a president of the United States that is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments.”

Georgia’s two new United States Senators are likely to be sworn in around January 20th, according to the AJC.

Once the state certifies the results of the Jan. 6 election, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock can take the oath of office in Washington.

That should happen around the same time as the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Their election pushed the number of Democrats in the Senate to 50; with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris having a tie-breaking votes that pushed the party in the majority. Once Warnock and Ossoff are sworn in, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer will become the majority leader.

The Senate’s first order of business is likely to be the impeachment trial where Trump faces a charge of “incitement of insurrection” tied to the violent and deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The House voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday.

President Trump signed legislation upgrading the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site to the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, according to the AJC.

Columbia County Democrats gained ground during the runoff elections, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Democrats showed strength in Columbia County in last week’s U.S. Senate runoffs, with support up 40% since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Statewide Senate winners Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff carried six of Columbia County’s 49 precincts, all located around the Grovetown area. The increase parallels massive growth at Fort Gordon, of which rapidly-growing Grovetown is the nearest residential area.

The Democratic vote share in Columbia County has grown since 18,887 voters or 29.4% cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It was true in the November general election, when 26,236 or 36.3% voted for president-elect Joe Biden and remained so last week.

While turnout dropped from 75% in the general to 66% in the runoffs, Democrats had a slightly higher percentage of votes – 36.7% (26,497 votes) for Ossoff and 36.8% (26,545) for Warnock – in the runoffs.

Denise Mitchell was named Deputy Tax Commissioner for Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

13
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 13, 2021

Treasure Pup and Cat Co

Treasure is a 6-7 year old, 70-pound male Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Pup & Cat Co. in Winder, GA.

Treasure is like a big, snuggly teddy bear! Treasure has been in boarding waiting on someone to love him for 5 years! He plays outside every day, but 5 years is way too long. Treasure absolutely loves playing chase and fetch with tennis balls, soccer balls, footballs, etc, going on hikes, playing with the volunteers’ kids, and relaxing in the sunshine. He is so well behaved that he’s toured museums and several historic sights that don’t even allow dogs!

Treasure has a high prey drive which means that he wants to chase small creatures like squirrels, cats, and little dogs…so no cats or small dogs in his future family, please

Treasure really enjoys snuggles, chicken nuggets, car rides, walks, and playing catch with anyone who will throw the ball. Again and again and again.

Benny Pup and Cat Co

Benny is a 5-year old male Foxhound mix who is available for adoption from Pup & Cat Co. in Winder, GA.

Benny has a bad foot from a car accident in his earlier life. Benny is an indoor dog, he will bark if left outside. He is crate trained, but prefers to sleep on his doggie bed at night. He is completely housebroken and never has accidents. He is able to wait long periods of time before needing to go out. He likes going on walks and can fetch. He is most content to lay in the sun (inside) like a huge cat and nuzzle you. He doesn’t bark unless someone comes in the the yard, to the front door, or if he sees other animals. He is not cat friendly, but does fine with most dogs.

Lily Pup and Cat Co

Lily is a 1-year old, 450-pound female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Pup & Cat Co. in Winder, GA.

Lily is house and crate trained and does good with most other dogs, as she has a dominant personality, and all kids. She does have a good amount of energy so will need a good walk or play session in the fenced in yard to wear her out. Lily is a typical hound mix so you will hear some howling but she takes correction well. She loves to snuggle with her people when she is not playing with a toy, preferably with a squeaker! Is this lovable girl the next addition to your family?

13
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2021

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

January 13, 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A Forsyth County billboard calls Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “Treasonist RINOs,” according to CBS46.

A big, bright billboard refers to Kemp and Raffensperger as traitors and treasonist RINOs who should be locked up.

CBS46 contacted the billboard company, Revelation, to find out who’s behind the message, but they never responded.

CBS46 reached out to the Governor and Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office told me they have no comment. The governor’s office also declined comment.

We also spoke with Patrick Bell, Chairman of the Republican Party in Forsyth County, and he does not know who took out the ad. He did say the party is frustrated with the Governor and Secretary of State, but that they do not agree with the message on the billboard.

Today is Legislative Day Three in the 2021 Georgia General Assembly. The current adjournment resolution is HR 10, and has the legislature in session tomorrow for Day Four and reconvening Monday, January 26th for Day Five.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) will self-quarantine after a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to the AJC.

The session opened Monday. On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mike Dugan said he tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating at home.

Meanwhile, House Speaker David Ralston said nearly half of his chamber did not take the coronavirus test as required on Monday.

Ralston chastised a whopping 41% of his 180 members for skipping the test as the chamber convened Tuesday. All Georgia General Assembly members are required to be tested twice a week, and Monday was the first required test.

Dugan’s results came early Tuesday after taking the required COVID-19 test. He said he was also tested Thursday, and those results were negative.

“My symptoms are minor and I plan to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and isolate at home until the virus passes,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

He said he was tested Monday before experiencing any symptoms.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) announced Senate Committee Chairs, according to a Press Release.

Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and the Senate Committee on Assignments announced new standing committee chairs for the first session of the 156th Georgia General Assembly.

“These committee chairs are uniquely qualified to develop real and lasting solutions aimed at building a better Georgia,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “The Senate will continue to prioritize diligent committee work and sound public policy, and I look forward to working closely with each one of our chairs, and their committee members, as we work to enact policies that advance both the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

The following members were named to chair standing committees:
Sen. Larry Walker (R – 20) will serve as chair of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R – 19) will serve as chair of the Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Matt Brass (R – 28) will serve as chair of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – 14) will serve as chair of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
Sen. Chuck Payne (R – 54) will serve as chair of the Education and Youth Committee.
Sen. Max Burns (R – 23) will serve as chair of the Ethics Committee.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – 52) will serve as chair of the Finance Committee.
Sen. Marty Harbin (R – 16) will serve as chair of the Government Oversight Committee.
Sen. Ben Watson (R – 1) will serve as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – 37) will serve as chair of the Higher Education Committee.
Sen. Dean Burke (R – 11) will serve as chair of the Insurance and Labor Committee.
Sen. Donzella James (D – 35) will serve as chair of the Interstate Cooperation Committee.
Sen. Brian Strickland (R – 17) will serve as chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Tyler Harper (R – 7) will serve as chair of the Natural Resources and the Environment Committee.
Sen. John Albers (R – 56) will serve as chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – 18) will serve as chair of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.
Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – 46) will serve as chair of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
Sen. Randy Robertson (R – 29) will serve as chair of the Retirement Committee.
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – 53) will serve as chair of the Rules Committee.
Sen. Greg Dolezal (R – 27) will serve as chair of the Science and Technology Committee.
Sen. Jennifer Jordan (D – 6) will serve as chair of the Special Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Lee Anderson (R – 24) will serve as chair of the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee.
Sen. Ed Harbison (D – 15) will serve as chair of the State Institutions and Property Committee.
Sen. Frank Ginn (R – 47) will serve as chair of the Transportation Committee.
Sen. Lester Jackson (D – 2) will serve as chair of the Urban Affairs Committee.
Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – 32) will serve as chair of the Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee.

Notably absent from the list of Committee Chairs are Senators Brandon Beach and Burt Jones.

From the Rome News Tribune:

While senators typically keep their committee assignments unless they request a change — Hufstetler sought and was given a seat on the Rules Committee this year — there were a few shake-ups.

Two of the members who launched the most vocal attacks on Georgia’s election security this winter lost their chairs.

Sens. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, and Burt Jones, R-Jackson, were among the four who clamored for a special session to investigate President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Sens. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, and Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, also continued the push after being rebuffed by Gov. Brian Kemp and Duncan.

The senators held special committee hearings in early December that featured Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani presenting testimony that had been rejected — or omitted from lawsuits he filed — in courts around the country.

Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, was named chair of the Labor Committee. He previously served as vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.

Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, is the new chair of the Transportation Committee. He had chaired the Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

That seat went to Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, who had chaired the Veterans Committee last session. Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, got that assignment going forward.

Kirkpatrick’s Ethics Committee gavel went to Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania., This is Burns’ first year in the State Senate but he is a former U.S. Representative who served in Congress from 2003 to 2005.

From the Gainesville Times:

The House Committee on Assignments should complete its work this week and announce committee assignments toward the end of the week, House spokeswoman Betsy Theroux said Monday, Jan. 11.

From the AJC:

When the bloodletting was over, state Sens. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, Matt Brass of Newnan and Burt Jones of Jackson were sapped of their political influence on the second day of the winter session.

Duncan stripped Beach of his chairmanship of the Transportation Committee, while Jones will no longer lead the Insurance and Labor Committee. Neither will serve as even a rank-and-file member on the two panels they once led.

And though state Sen. Matt Brass of Newnan will still be a committee chairman this term, he was shelved to a lesser posting. Instead of serving as chairman of the committee that is set to redraw the political map later this year, he’ll oversee a banking committee.

And state Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming will oversee the Science and Technology Committee — the same lower-profile panel that Renee Unterman was shunted to in 2019.

Some insiders call it a “smack down,” others say they got the “McKoon treatment” in honor of former state Sen. Josh McKoon, who lost his Judiciary Committee post after peeving the powers-that-be.

But there’s also a benefit for the outcasts. They are no longer tethered to party leadership and are freer to buck Duncan and other top GOP figures.

Traffic fatalities in Georgia were up significantly for 2020, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Preliminary numbers for 2020 show 1,615 traffic fatalities across the state, which is the highest total since 1,641 fatalities in 2007. Roger Hayes, service director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Law Enforcement Service Director, expects the number for 2020 to continue to increase as the agency confirms more fatalities.

He said a variety of factors have contributed to the increase.

“Some of those reasons are less law enforcement officers on the road. Many agencies told their officers straight out, ‘do not make traffic stops’,” Hayes said. “I’ve had many agencies, many officers send me pictures, screenshots of a radar or a lidar throughout the year that the offender was driving over 100 miles an hour.”

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley will retire July 1, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Columbia County Public Schools have a short list of three candidates for the next superintendent, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Glynn County Commissioners released a tentative project list for a proposed 2021 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County and Brunswick commissioners are mostly in agreement on putting the tax on a referendum in March.

The tax would raise an estimated $68.5 million over a three-year period with Glynn County, the city, Jekyll Island Authority and Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission benefitting from the proceeds. Under the proposed split, the county would get $37.5 million; the city, $13.23 million; JWSC, $15 million; and the JIA, $2.75 million.

Glynn County Commission Chairman Wayne Neal said the county will have to drop some projects to get within its budget.

The Glynn County Board of Education approved some spending and will issue bonds under the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) passed by voters in November, according to The Brunswick News.

Local voters approved Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) IV in November, and the 1 percent sale tax is now being collected. The school board approved the ESPLOST resolution as a potential first step for collecting bonds.

“All that does is allow me to go to the board of elections to let them know that we may go to the Superior Court for a bond validation,” said school board attorney Andrew Lakin. “I have six months from the time that the election was certified in November, which would put me to the end of April to file in Superior Court if you direct me to go out for bonds in the marketplace.”

Scott Spence, superintendent of Glynn County Schools, said he does not intend to go out for bonds, but this resolution is a precautionary measure in case that step is needed.

The school board also unanimously approved using around $179,000 to buy carts for the 6,891 new Chromebooks that were purchased after a board vote in December to make technology more accessible to local students.

Braselton Town Council voted to create a downtown open container district, according to AccessWDUN.

The Braselton Town Council approved the amendment to the Braselton Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance at Monday evening’s voting session. This amendment creates an open container district in downtown Braselton.

In a Thursday afternoon Town Council Work Session, Braselton Town Manager and Clerk Jennifer Scott said businesses participating in the open container district would need to sell clear cups that meet the town’s requirements.

“The purpose of the cup is really two-fold, you know, one, it’s obviously to easily identify if someone brought something from home … but it also educates the public that if they see that cup … they know it’s ok,” said Town Attorney Gregory Jay.

While citizens would be able to drink alcohol outside in the downtown district from approved cups, businesses can still prohibit people from bringing food or drink into their business, according to Jay.

On top of this, each establishment in the district that wants to participate in the open container district would need at least one staff member that has participated in the ServSafe alcohol training program.

12
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 12, 2021

Eddie CSRA Humane

Eddie is a senior male Beagle & Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the CSRA Humane Society, Inc. in Augusta, GA.

April CSRA Humane

April is a senior female Labrador Retriever & Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the CSRA Humane Society, Inc. in Augusta, GA.

Ducky Southern Souls Rescue Harlem GA

Ducky is a three-year old male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Southern Souls Rescue in Harlem, GA.

12
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2021

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

On January 12, 1872, Benjamin Conley stepped down as Governor of Georgia, the first Republican to hold the office and the last until January 13, 2003, when Sonny Perdue was sworn in.

He joined the Republican Party and became president of the state Senate after the Civil War. That was the office he held in October 1871 when Gov. Rufus Bullock, also an Augusta Republican, left the state under pressure from state Democrats. According to the Georgia Constitution, Conley became governor, holding the job until a replacement could be elected and take office two months later.

On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Welcome to the 2022 Election Cycle. Stacey Abrams has been on television last week and this week. What is the GAGOP doing to prevent a repeat of the Runoff Election Fiasco of 2021?

https://youtu.be/nj-6loGEq9E

Governor Brian Kemp swore in Shawn Ellen LaGrua as a Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Albany Herald.

Shawn Ellen LaGrua was officially sworn in to serve as justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, beginning Jan. 19. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed the Fulton County Superior Court judge to the state’s highest court on Dec. 1, 2020 to the seat vacated by Justice Keith R. Blackwell, who retired in November.

The governor swore her in at his office in the state Capitol. Chief Justice Harold D. Melton was among those in attendance.

LaGrua has served on the Fulton County Superior Court since 2010. Prior to becoming a judge, she was inspector general for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. She also served as solicitor general for DeKalb County and was a prosecutor in the Atlanta, Stone Mountain, and Tallapoosa judicial circuits. In May 2020, Chief Justice Melton appointed LaGrua to chair the Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, which was created to assist courts in conducting remote proceedings and prepare for the eventual restoration of in-person proceedings.

I believe that will open a seat on the Fulton County Superior Court for Gov. Kemp to fill by appointment. Perhaps he’ll appoint someone to the seat who is already serving in office and gain another appointment.

Governor Kemp also yesterday signed Executive Order 01.11.21.01, renewing the state of emergency relating to unlawful assemblage through February 8, 2021.

Gov. Kemp said he plans to run for reelection next year, according to the AJC.

Kemp said he was planning to run for a second term in 2022, a formal announcement that would likely come later this year. He said he was confident he would defeat a GOP primary challenger, but pointed to the Democratic upset victories in the runoffs as an example of the dangers of dividing the party.

He talked in detail about the strategy behind his selection of Loeffler, a wealthy financial executive, to the open seat – and how a formidable challenge from fellow Republican Doug Collins, a former four-term congressman backed by Trump, scrambled the campaign calculations by forcing Loeffler further to the party’s right flank.

He talked in detail about the strategy behind his selection of Loeffler, a wealthy financial executive, to the open seat – and how a formidable challenge from fellow Republican Doug Collins, a former four-term congressman backed by Trump, scrambled the campaign calculations by forcing Loeffler further to the party’s right flank.

“I plan on running in 2022. I’m not worried about any kind of primary fight. We’ll be victorious. I personally think it’s unnecessary. … I hope at the end of the day people come our way, but if they don’t, we’ll get them back after a potential primary.

“I think when people really start thinking about this and realize what’s at stake here, we’ve seen what a divisive primary does to our chances of winning. You see what we’ve got now in the Senate with (Raphael) Warnock and (Jon) Ossoff. And if you’re a Republican you’re not happy about that …

“Look, that’s not something I can control. What I can control is making sure we have a good session and continuing to do what we tell people we’re going to do. And if we get a primary we’ve got to deal with, we’ll deal with it.”

From the Statesboro Herald:

In a state long dominated by Republicans, Democrats won Georgia’s electoral votes for president in November and two U.S. Senate seats in runoff elections Tuesday, defeating Kemp’s hand-picked Senate appointee. President Donald Trump, furious at Kemp for resisting efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss, vowed to oppose the governor’s reelection next year.

“Gov. Kemp, you’re next. See you in 2022,” the Democratic Governors Association tweeted Wednesday as the upset victories of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Georgia Senate races came to light.

“Brian Kemp is the governor of the Titanic,” said Debbie Dooley, president of the Atlanta tea party and a Republican activist. “His governorship hit a big iceberg and it’s going down.”

Dooley said she and other Trump supporters are recruiting candidates to challenge Kemp and other Republican officials deemed disloyal to Trump. Among them: Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who repeatedly refused to back baseless claims that Trump won the election, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who rejected the president’s pleas to “find” more Trump votes in a recorded phone call that became public.

While Trump and others have named Collins as a potential GOP challenger for Kemp, the former congressman could also run for the Senate seat that Loeffler lost. Warnock will be back on the ballot in 2022 after finishing the final year of Isakson’s term.

Among Democrats, Abrams is being closely watched to see if she will make a second run for governor after losing to Kemp by fewer than 55,000 votes in 2018. She spent the past two years working to register new voters and advocating for expanded access to the ballot in a state that Republicans have controlled for roughly two decades. Abrams has been credited with paving the way for the Democrats’ victories in November and on Tuesday.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Warren Davis will allow the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to subpoena records related to the 2018 Gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to the AJC.

A superior court judge ruled a voting registration group founded by Stacey Abrams should turn over bank records to state ethics investigators who say it advocated for her election as governor in 2018 without registering as a campaign committee or filing disclosures showing how much it raised or spent.

The New Georgia Project is no longer Abrams’ organization, but it is one of several targeted by David Emadi, executive secretary of the state ethics commission, who is looking into whether groups were part of an effort to help the Democratic nominee win the governor’s race in 2018.

Under Georgia law, organizations that collect and spend money to promote candidates and issues are required to register committees with the state and file regular reports disclosing what they raised and spent. They are also not allowed to coordinate their efforts with a candidate.

The ethics commission alleges the New Georgia Project and the New Georgia Project Action Fund solicited contributions and made expenditures to promote several candidates and causes in 2018, including Abrams.

“These expenditures included, but were not limited to, canvassing activities, literature expressly advocating for the election of candidates, and operating field offices where these electioneering activities were coordinated,” according to evidence cited in Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Warren Davis’ order.

Emadi revealed that investigators intend to present evidence the Abrams campaign accepted donations from four groups that exceeded maximum contribution limits for a statewide campaign. Abrams’ attorney has denied the claim, and her campaign manager said the commission has failed to prove any wrongdoing.

The Georgia General Assembly gaveled in for the 2021 Session yesterday. From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

Eleven new senators and 20 new House members took the oath of office, as the two chambers – still controlled by Republicans following the November elections – elected their leaders for the next two years.

The House overwhelmingly re-elected Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, to head that chamber for the next two years. In his acceptance speech, he condemned last week’s violet assault on the U.S. Capitol building by supporters of President Trump that killed five people, including a Capitol police officer.

“Last week was a dark day in the history of our nation … to see American citizens storming our revered Capitol,” Ralston said. “There is no possible justification for this loss of life, bloodshed and damage. America is better than this.”

Proposals to change Georgia election laws, including tighter voter ID requirements and limits on who can cast mail-in ballots, look to feature prominently in this year’s session after President-elect Biden became the first Democrat to carry Georgia since 1992 and Democrats flipped the state’s two Republican-held U.S. Senate seats last week.

“Our elections must be free, fair, free from fraud, secure and accessible,” Ralston said. “We must always tell our citizens the truth.”

Meanwhile, House members re-elected Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, speaker pro tempore, the chamber’s No.-2 leadership position. Like Ralston, she has served in House leadership since 2010.

Governor Kemp discussed his legislative priorities with the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp strongly endorsed adding photo ID requirements for absentee ballots on Monday at the start of a legislative session that’s sure to be shaped by a debate over voting laws after epic turnout helped Democrats flip Georgia in the race for president and sweep the Senate runoffs.

In an interview, the Republican said he is “reserving judgment” on a series of proposals that seek to end at-will absentee voting, ban ballot drop boxes and restrict state officials or outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications.

“It’s a simple way to make sure that type of voting is further secured, and it’s a good first place to start,” Kemp said, adding: “It’s completely reasonable in this day and time, and in light of what’s going on, it would give all voters peace of mind and wouldn’t be restrictive.”

The governor also hinted he could back a push to repeal or adapt the state’s citizen’s arrest law, a more than 150-year-old statute that has come under intense scrutiny after the 2020 death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot and killed near Brunswick after three white men followed him.

Kemp said he has the same stance on a renewed push to allow sports betting and other gambling that he struck after taking office: He opposes legalized casino gambling but wouldn’t stand in the way of a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to allow casinos in Georgia.

And he said lawmakers stand ready to quickly pass an amended budget to keep the state government funded in case an outbreak of the coronavirus forces the General Assembly to quickly adjourn — an ever-present risk hanging over the start of the session.

“We’ve got to focus on our priorities. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” he said. “My focus is going to be on lives and livelihoods. Now we cannot get distracted from that.”

U.S. Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Gwinnett) signed on as a co-sponsor of Articles of Impeachment against President Trump, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline introduced the articles, which includes the charge of “Incitement of Insurrection,” on Monday. If the House votes to pass the Articles of Impeachment, it will make Trump the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

“The outgoing President of the United States has incited an insurrection and attempted to overthrow the results of a free and fair election,” Bourdeaux said. “If these actions do not qualify as impeachable offenses in the eyes of my colleagues, then I don’t know what would.”

“At such a fragile moment for our country, where the very foundation of our democracy is at stake, political party must come second to doing what is right. I am cosponsoring articles of impeachment to uphold the Oath of Office I took eight days ago to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I urge my colleagues to join me.”

Click here to read the current Articles of Impeachment the House is expected to vote on Wednesday.

Click here for a transcript of President Trump’s speech that is the subject of the Articles of Impeachment.

Click here for the New York Times discussion of why they think Trump incited violence.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mariah Parker is considering a run against Republican Congressman Jody Hice, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“I have been considering it for a while,” she said, citing issues like extension of rural broadband and a need for the Democrats “to reclaim our party as the party of family values.”

“I’m excited about what we are able to accomplish at the local level, but the resources at the federal level are the kind of things I can make the necessary policies a reality,” Parker said.

Another motivation for a possible run in 2022, she said, is “Congressman Hice’s behavior over the last several months.”

While the district is heavily Republican, Parker said a candidacy would require expanding the electoral base by reaching out to people and communities that don’t currently vote.

Braselton Mayor Bill Orr announced he will not seek reelection this year, according to AccessWDUN.

Former State Rep. Alex Atwood (R-Glynn County), now serving as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, spoke to local Republicans, according to The Brunswick News.

His department is in charge of the back end of state government — human resources, vehicle and equipment management, statewide purchases and contracts, selling off surplus equipment, etc.

When the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated working from home, Atwood said administrative services helped other departments by going through the equipment surplus channels to refurbish hundreds of laptops and provide them to other departments so their employees could work from home.

With everyone working from home, the department started focusing on taking its small business development programs online, as well.

Going virtual turned out to be a great move, he said, because it opened up many seminars, courses and resources to small businesses that may not have had much access before. Putting educational material on getting government contracts online increased the number of businesses, particularly small Georgia businesses, bidding on state contracts.

Richmond County Superior Court is slowly working through a backlog of cases caused by COVID-19 measures, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With jury trials suspended once again in Georgia, closing criminal cases in Richmond County Superior Court has returned to slow motion.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Superior Court Judge and former district attorney Daniel J. Craig. With a brand new district attorney on the job, Jared Williams, it will give his office time to work out the most efficient use of time once jury trials resume, Craig said.

At the end of 2020 in Richmond County Superior Court, a total of 2,052 individual felony cases were awaiting trial, according to an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle. Nearly half of those cases have been pending a year or more.

Chatham County Republicans need to appoint a new member to the county board of elections, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“They have to be chosen from inside the party,” [County GOP Chair Don] Hodges said. “We’re accepting resumes from people who have been active in the party to consider candidates. We’ll go through a process to qualify them and then we’ll make the determination who will take the remainder of Debbie’s term.”

Rome City Commissioners elected a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem from amongst their members, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Craig McDaniel was chosen by his fellow city commissioners Monday night to serve as mayor of Rome for the coming year.

McDaniel’s name was placed into nomination by Commissioner Jamie Doss while Commissioner Sundai Stevenson nominated Commissioner Bill Collins, who held the position in 2019 and 2020.

The vote for McDaniel was 5-4 with Doss, McDaniel and Commissioners Jim Bojo, Mark Cochran and Randy Quick in support.

Stevenson was elected mayor pro-tem. Bojo was nominated for the post by Cochran, but that motion did not get a second.