Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for February 12, 2013

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Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for February 12, 2013

MilledgevilleAbby

MilledgevilleAbbyCompAbby is a Shepherd/Black Mouth Cur mix who is about seven months old and is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville, Georgia. She is an active dog ,and she loves going out on walks! She’s a very easy-going girl and is a little more reserved than her sister, Gabby. Abby is extremely loving and will sit patiently at your feet while she waits for you to give her some love.

Her sister Gabby, below, is also available for adoption. Gabby is a dog who will need a fenced yard and lots of playing time with her new family! She has lots of energy and would make a perfect companion for a runner.

GabbyCompThe Black Mouth Cur is an actual breed of dog with a long history in Georgia, known around these parts (meaning my house) as a Roxboro Hound.

Milledgeville ThelmaThelma is a five month old Boxer and American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville. She has with lots of energy and is a confident girl who adores people. Shelter volunteers are trying to socialize her more with other dogs at the moment.

“Jackson” is a seven-year old Pointer mix who has a very pleasant disposition and is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter. He embodies “man’s best friend” as he seems to be a great companion dog. He was turned in at the shelter on 2/7/13. They said they had found him 2 weeks previous but could never locate his owner. He is microchipped, but unfortunately the chip isn’t registered and the Humane Society that implanted the chip was unable to trace the owner. So, he’s looking for a new home since his mandatory hold has expired and no owner has come to claim him.

WaltonJacksonComp“Jackson” is always at the front of his kennel wagging his nub when people approach. He seems an all around friendly guy with people. With other dogs, he was a bit disinterested, but didn’t show a hint of aggression. He doesn’t jump up on people and does very well on the leash. He does sit, though it took a bit of repeating the command.

We’re estimating his age at about 7 years, but he is in wonderful condition. His coat and skin all look great. His teeth are wonderful with no tartar. Someone must have cared for him as he is already neutered. He tested negative for heartworms on 2/11/13 and was vaccinated (distemper/parvo) and dewormed (pyrantel). He weighs a healthy 52 pounds.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Eleven years ago today, David Shafer was first elected to the State Senate, beating out three other candidates in a race for a seat that previously had been held by Senator Billy Ray, who resigned to accept an appointment by then-Governor Roy Barnes to the Gwinnett County Superior Court.Senator Dean Burke Sworn In 02112013Yesterday, Dr. Dean Burke was sworn into the Georgia Senate as the new Senator from the 11th District in the lower-left hand corner of the state. Administering the oath of office for Dr. Burke was Judge Billy Ray of the Georgia Court of Appeals, who was appointed to that court by Governor Nathan Deal.

The current legislative session began about three weeks ago. Burke, who will succeed Thomas County’s John Bulloch, who resigned from his seat in December, said he hopes to get up to speed quickly under the Capitol’s gold dome.

“I’ve been told the legislature has only passed two bills so far, so I think they’re just really geting started,” Burke said. “There’s a lot of information to digest, but everyone is being super helpful.”

The photo above is part of a small photoset from yesterday’s Session of the General Assembly.

Today, Scot Turner will be sworn in to the State House of Representatives at 9 AM.

One thing I’m often asked about by politicians is how they can make better use of social media in their campaigns, and once successful, in holding public office. Rachel Dodsworth, who actually knows these things, has written “5 Ways Politicians Should Use Social Media for Grassroots Mobilization,” to help answer that question. It’s a helpful primer for candidates for public or party office, as well as party and grassroots activists. Put it on your reading list.

Your supporters deserve consistent communications through social media year around.

Take Mitt Romney for example. He only updated his Twitter once on election day and once the day after election. He rapidly lost social media connections at the rate of roughly 500 people per hour the week after the election.

Speaking of the internet, Andre Walker is earning his fifteen seconds of fame, not just for his discussion with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus about bringing more African-Americans into the fold, but for his criticism of Earnest “Coach” Smith’s bill to outlaw obscene Photoshop fakery without the subject’s consent. I warn you, you can’t unsee these horrifying images [NSFW].

Rep. Smith is not amused.

It’s clear that we need to do something,” he said.

Smith said Monday that he learned last week that someone had digitally pasted his head on the body of a nude man, but he doesn’t know who did it.

“I could not venture to give you an answer,” he said.

The bill received no action last year, but Smith hopes this year will be different, perhaps because the picture targeting him illustrates how vulnerable all politicians are.

So far, he has heard no objections from free-speech advocates defending the Constitution’s First Amendment.

“No one has a right to make fun of anyone. You have a right to speak, but no one has a right to disparage another person. It’s not a First Amendment right,” he said.

Also not amused, the First Amendment.

Senate Meeting Calendar

9:00 AM EDUCATION & YOUTH SUBCOMMITTEE- academic sup. 310 clob
12:00 PM RULES *UPON ADJ.* 450 CAP
1:00 PM PUBLIC SAFETY 450 CAP
1:30 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE 125 CAP
1:30 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – HIGHER EDUCATION SUBCOMMITTEE 310 CLOB
1:30 PM EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB
2:00 PM DOT BOARD ELECTION – 9TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SENATE CHAMBER
2:00 PM STATE INSTITUTIONS & PROPERTY MEZZ 1
3:00 PM DOT BOARD ELECTION – 14TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SENATE CHAMBER
3:00 PM REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 307 CLOB
3:00 PM STATE & LOCAL GOV. 125 CAP
3:30 PM TRANSPORTATION SUBCOMMITTEE- Roads Bridges 318 clob
4:00 PM DOT BOARD ELECTION – 10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SENATE CHAMBER
4:30 PM HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

House Meeting Calendar

TBD Floor Session (LD16) HOUSE CHAMBER (10:00am)
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM Powell Subcommittee (One) of Judiciary Civil 132 CAP
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM RULES 341 CAP
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Environmental Quality Subcommittee of Natural Resources 406 CLOB
1:30 PM – 2:00 PM Public Safety & Homeland Security Subcommittee 415 CLOB
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Admin/Licensing Subcommittee of Insurance 606 CLOB
2:00 PM – 4:30 PM Appropriation Health Subcommittee 515 CLOB
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Utilities Subcommittee of Enery, Utilities & Telecommunications 403 CAP
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDUCATION 506 CLOB
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Resource Subcommittee of Natural Resources 406 CLOB
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM PUBLIC SAFETY & HOMELAND SECURITY 415 CLOB
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM GAME, FISH & PARKS 403 CAP
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM HUMAN RELATIONS & AGING 415 CLOB
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM Academic Achievement Subcommittee of Education 506 CLOB

Click here for today’s Senate Rules Calendar.

Here is the House Rules Calendar for today.

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that state tax collections for January are up 10.4% over the previous year.

Senator Renee Unterman SB65

The Senate passed SB 65 by Renee Unterman (R-Buford), which would allow licensed counselors to have someone committed to a mental hospital for up to 72 hours if they appear to pose a threat.

Unterman said Senate Bill 65 particularly lets rural communities help patients with mental health issues without delaying or hindering critical care. “In South Georgia, there are not enough professional and not enough community-based services,” said Unterman, the bill’s sponsor. “We have more people out there in need who are not getting services.”

Georgia doctors, psychologists, clinical social workers and other medical professionals already have the ability to involuntarily commit for examination patients who they deem to be at risk of hurting themselves or another person.

Another round of intra-Fulton squabbling kicks off with House Resolutions 275-279, a raft of bills to eventually allow the recreation of Milton County out of North Fulton.

A proposed resolution announced Monday by Georgia Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, speaker pro tempore of the state House of Representatives, calls for the formation of Milton County out of the portion of Fulton County from Sandy Springs north.

Jones and other North Fulton Republicans already are pushing a package of bills aimed at lowering property taxes in Fulton County and converting newly hired county workers to at-will employees.

Opponents have accused Republicans of backing those bills because they haven’t been able to get the Milton County legislation through the General Assembly.

But Jones said the two efforts go hand in hand.

“We are committed to a more accountable county government that satisfactorily performs only the services that are necessary and no more,” she said. “I believe significant reform of Fulton County this year and a continued push to re-create Milton County will deliver it.”

House Bill 264 by State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-City of Brookhaven) will lift temporarily the 50/50 spending requirement and change the structure of the MARTA Board. Dennis O’Hayer of WABE has a long-form audio discussion with Jacobs about his bill.

House Bill 117 by State Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) would protect employees from being required to turn over social media passwords.

“Too often the privacy rights of Georgians are unnecessarily being violated by employers,” said Rep. Scott. “I hope this bill will stop employers from accessing such personal information, and help further protect our constituents.”

Senate Bill 141, the “Patient Injury Bill” will either save the patient care system in our state or collapse all Constitutional rights in America, depending on whom you ask. Bill sponsor Brandon Beach says, via Senate Press Release:

“This act encompasses taking better care of our patients and saving taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Beach.  “The current malpractice system has proven inefficient for patients and even doctors whom are forced to practice defensive medical practices in fear of litigation.   The Patient Relief Act will not only lessen the burden of taxpayer dollars, but also regain patients trust in the medical system.”

Under the proposal, the current adversarial tort system would be entirely scrapped and when a patient is harmed by a physician, he or she would file a claim for review by an independent panel of medical experts. If the panel deems “avoidable harm” occurred, the claim would be forwarded to a Compensation Board to award compensation.

In support of the bill, Wayne W. Oliver, Executive Director of Patients for Fair Compensation released the following statement: “Senator Beach is doing patients and taxpayers a real service by proposing this legislation.  The Patient Injury Act would not only eliminate defensive medicine but give more injured patients an opportunity to be compensated for their injury. That would be a win for patients, doctors and all Georgians.”

As you might expect, Trial Lawyers have a different viewpoint, calling it an “Unconstitutional Assault on Patients’ Rights.”

Legislation was introduced in the Georgia State Senate on Friday that seeks to dismantle Georgia patients’ constitutional guarantee of the right to a trial by jury. Senate Bill 141, also known as the ‘Patient Injury Act,’ would strip Georgians of their ability to seek justice in the courtroom, and instead replace our time-tested judicial system with a bureaucratic government agency, one that would be manned by biased healthcare providers sitting in judgment of their colleagues.

“Senate Bill 141 is an unconstitutional assault on Georgia’s patients,” remarked Georgia Trial Lawyers Association President Jay Sadd. “Our Constitution guarantees the inviolate right to hold one’s wrongdoers accountable before a jury of peers, and this legislation obliterates that promise.”

But what does it actually do? The Fulton Daily Report’s ATLawBlog might be a relatively-unbiased source:

The measure calls for doing away with the adversarial tort system and replacing it with a process by which a harmed patient could file a claim for review by an independent panel of medical experts, according to Patients for Fair Compensation. If “avoidable harm” occurred, the claim would be forwarded to a compensation board for an award.

Walter Jones writes about the measure:

Medical malpractice in Georgia would be handled more like worker’s compensation under legislation introduced Friday in the Senate.

Senate Bill 141 by Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, would create a system in which patients take complaints of doctor or hospital mistakes to a panel of physicians for hearings rather than filing lawsuits in court. If the panel concludes compensation is warranted, it pays out of a fund all providers pay into, like the no-fault system that covers on-the-job injuries.

The change aims to simplify the system and reduce liability-insurance premiums for healthcare providers and eventually hold down health-insurance costs for employers once physicians stop ordering unneeded tests as part of their “defensive medicine.”

This promises to be one of the bigger fights of the year, with millions of dollars at stake and large numbers of lobbyists deployed. I’ll be covering this extensively.

House Bill 284 would outline some procedures for public schools to address concussions in sports.

The Richmond County Board of Elections struck 24 voters from the rolls after determining they did not live where they were registered to vote.

After January’s meeting, the board had a list of more than 30 people it intended to challenge because their addresses of record appeared to be vacant lots or businesses. Letters were sent asking each voter to present evidence they lived at a valid address or appear before the board to provide an explanation.

Most of these voters were discovered through an investigation by The Augusta Chronicle, which shared its findings with [Elections Executive Director Lynn] Bailey, who also found others registered at vacant lots and businesses.

It’s a good thing we have ultra-liberal Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Jay Bookman to tell us that there’s no such thing as voter fraud, or I’d be worried about what’s been going on in Augusta.

Senate 2014

Congressman Tom Price (R-Springfield Roswell) will not announce his decision whether to run for the Senate in 2014 until at least May.

“The election of Georgia’s next senator is 21 months away and there is plenty of time for campaigning. To announce a decision prior to the completion of the work on the debt ceiling and critical fiscal policy in May 2013, would be distracting and unwise. At that time, Betty and I will then be prepared to come to a decision on my candidacy for the U.S. Senate as Georgia’s conservative voice.”

Georgia’s largest ethanol plant, Southwest Georgia Ethanol in Camilla, is among those idled by a shortage of corn.

Though idle since October, President Murray Campbell says they expect to restart production sooner than plants in the Midwest.   “We know we are going to restart in July. We’ve been booking corn with local farmers since late fall and early winter.”

When the plant starts back up, Campbell says it could impact the price of gas but not necessarily. “I don’t know if our particular restart will decrease the price of gasoline significantly but it will be cheaper for customers that we have, they’ll be buying ethanol cheaper than having to buy it from an outside area.”

As someone said to me about the recent trend in moving power production away from coal and toward natural gas, “nothing will change the price and how long the supply will last like utility-scale adoption.” It appears the same dynamic is at work in the corn market. Funny how economics works.

Ends and Pieces

The Perspicacious Conservative tells about how politics in the City of Atlanta means firefighters can’t have candy.

Yesterday I joined the Atlanta Young Republicans in a community outreach of delivering candy to fire stations for Valentine’s Day and as an expression of gratitude for all their hard work. We divided up in teams, mostly ladies, to divide and conquer the 41 stations across the City of Atlanta.

When we arrived at a station, our schpeel went a little like this:
“Hi my name is ________ and this is my friend _______ and we’re from the Atlanta Young Republicans. We just came out today to share our appreciation and deliver this bucket of Valentine’s Day candy. We are really grateful for all that you do.”

That was, until, we were turned away because of political affiliation. Apparently one of the chiefs was concerned about accepting candy from a Republican group because they did not want to appear partisan. This prompted an email to a supervisor that resulted in a city-wide candy delivery shut down.

So the YRs got back in their white panel van to distribute candy elsewhere.

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