Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 3, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 3, 2014

Happy birthday today to my father and to Herschel Walker. Also turning over the year-o-meter today is Tone Loc. So this is happening:

Those two songs were a significant part of the soundtrack to my senior year in high school. Also this:

On March 3, 1820, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise.

In February 1819, Representative James Tallmadge of New York introduced a bill that would admit Missouri into the Union as a state where slavery was prohibited. At the time, there were 11 free states and 10 slave states. Southern congressmen feared that the entrance of Missouri as a free state would upset the balance of power between North and South, as the North far outdistanced the South in population, and thus, U.S. representatives. Opponents to the bill also questioned the congressional precedent of prohibiting the expansion of slavery into a territory where slave status was favored.

Even after Alabama was granted statehood in December 1819 with no prohibition on its practice of slavery, Congress remained deadlocked on the issue of Missouri. Finally, a compromise was reached. On March 3, 1820, Congress passed a bill granting Missouri statehood as a slave state under the condition that slavery was to be forever prohibited in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36th parallel, which runs approximately along the southern border of Missouri. In addition, Maine, formerly part of Massachusetts, was admitted as a free state, thus preserving the balance between Northern and Southern senators.

The Missouri Compromise, although criticized by many on both sides of the slavery debate, succeeded in keeping the Union together for more than 30 years.

On March 3, 1845, Congress overrode a Presidential veto for the first time.

On March 3, 1874, Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation permitting persons or companies to lease Georgia prisoners for terms from one to five years, with the Governor setting the rates.

The act required the humane treatment of convicts and limited them to a ten-hour work day, with Sunday off. Equally important, leases had to free the state from all costs associated with prisoner maintenance. Once all state convicts were leased, the law provided that all state penitentiary officers and employees be discharged.

Just think of how much progress Georgia has made with privatizing the justice system — now, instead of leasing convicts, we have private probation companies overseeing released prisoners.

“We believe that private probation services provide an effective solution to deal with individuals who willfully violate the laws of the State of Georgia at no cost to the law abiding residents of Georgia,” Danna Philmon, president of the industry-group the Private Probation Association of Georgia, said in an email to NBC News. She said she has not seen the report and could not comment directly on its findings.

Eighty-six private probation companies monitor between 250,000 and 300,000 probationers each year, according to Georgia’s County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council, or CMPAC, which regulates the industry in the state. Companies are not required to report how much they collect in supervision fees. Human Rights Watch estimated the industry took in about $40 million a year in Georgia alone.

Despite the legal challenges, companies are looking to broaden their authority in Georgia. An industry-backed bill pending before the state Legislature would give judges the authority to extend, or “toll,” probation sentences for those who do not comply with the terms. This would allow companies to request that a judge reinstate supervision, along with fees, even if the original term of probation had run out. Sentinel and the courts in Augusta had routinely done that before the court there ruled it illegal. Sentinel has lobbied extensively for the bill.

Once a county privatizes its collections or probation, it can be difficult for it go back.

On March 1, 1875, Governor James M. Smith signed legislation making cruelty to animals a misdemeanor. We hope that Governor Deal will be presented soon with legislation that changes the penalties for animal cruelty.

Georgia’s animal cruelty law passed in 2010, but some prosecutors believe lawmakers added so many amendments, it actually weakened it from the original version.

State Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, is sponsoring the new version and said it not only cleans up and clarifies the existing law, it also expands it so that torturing an animal, even if that animal does not die, is considered a felony.

“The majority of animal abuse cases are neglect cases, cases where animals are being starved or ingrown collars or just basically no shelter,” said [former Cobb County prosecutor Claudine] Wilkins.

Wilkins said this law clarifies what is and is not a neglect case.

Golick’s bill passed the Georgia House of Representatives and is now in the Senate.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Today is a rare occurrence in Georgia – Crossover Day in the state legislature is today, the same day that qualifying for the 2014 Primary Elections begins. God help us all.


The only committee meeting currently scheduled for the Senate today is Rules, which will meet upon adjournment in room 450 of the Capitol. Given that today is Crossover Day, a supplemental Rules calendar is anticipated.


SB 358 Missing Children Information Center; provide missing child reports for foster
children (As Introduced) (Substitute) (H&HS-56th)

SB 391 Health; provide that each medical facility make a good faith application;
TRICARE network (As Introduced) (Substitute) (H&HS-9th)

SR 941 Congress; urge to grow United States economy; increase the number of visas;
permit Korean citizens possessing skills in a specialty occupation (As
Introduced) (RULES-48th)

SB 382 Theft; provide for the crime of retail theft; penalties (As Introduced) (Substitute) (JUDYNC-53rd)

SB 268 Physician Assistants; authorize a physician to delegate a physician assistant the
authority to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances (As Introduced)
(Substitute) (H&HS-52nd)

SB 276 State Government; provide that Georgia shall be a “Purple Heart State” (As
Introduced) (VM&HS-15th)

SB 281 State Employees; require a high deductible health care plan with health savings
account; offered as an option (As Introduced) (I&L-32nd)

SR 981 Violence Against Health Care Workers; create joint study committee (As
Introduced) (H&HS-45th)

SB 304 Continuing Care Providers and Facilities; provide for continuing care at home;
define certain terms (As Introduced) (Substitute) (I&L-23rd)

SB 326 Private Colleges and Universities Authority; authorize the authority to meet by
teleconference and other methods permitted by law (As Introduced) (H ED-

SB 98 “Federal Abortion Mandate Opt-out Act” (As Introduced) (Substitute) (I&L-32nd)

SB 333 Natural Resources Dept.; establish that persons are not aggrieved by listings on the hazardous site inventory (As Introduced) (NR&E-20th)

SB 293 Ad Valorem Tax; revise a definition; provide certain information to be given to
taxpayers upon request (As Introduced) (Substitute) (FIN-40th)

SB 353 Development Authorities; change a definition; revision of public purpose;
changes to general powers (As Introduced) (Substitute) (ECD-21st)

SB 354 “Georgia Civil Practice Act”; governing discovery general provisions;
electronically stored information (As Introduced) (Substitute) (JUDY-46th)

SR 1027 SPLOST Reform Joint Study Committee; create (As Introduced) (FIN-21st)

SB 381 “Georgia First Informer Broadcasters Act”; provide planning for first informer broadcasters; definitions (As Introduced) (VM&HS-21st)

SB 361 Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council; create (As Introduced) (NR&E-1st)

SB 392 Motor Vehicles; provide additional definition; acceptance of applications for registration; not in compliance with federal emission standards (As Introduced)(TRANS-51st)

SR 747 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012; encourage the repeal or amendment (As Introduced) (I&L-3rd)

SR 920 Thomas Watson Cullars Memorial Highway; Lincoln County; dedicate (As Introduced) (TRANS-24th)

SR 937 Albert Sidney “Sid” Newton Memorial Highway; Jenkins County; dedicate (As Introduced) (Substitute) (TRANS-23rd)

SB 406 Administrative Services, Department of; contracting with companies having business operations in Sudan; provisions (As Introduced) (Substitute) (JUDY- 29th)

SR 896 Georgia Legacy Program; create Joint Study Committee (As Introduced (NR&E-20th)

SB 214 Lottery for Education; allow winner of lottery prize to remain anonymous; 25 percent of prize to Lottery for Education Account (As Introduced) (Substitute) (H ED-29th)

SB 384 “America’s Founding Philosophy and Principle Act”; require a course of study (As Introduced) (Substitute) (ED&Y-40th)

SR 783 Ad Valorem Taxes; prohibit the levy of state ad valorem taxes -CA (As Introduced) (FIN-31st)

SB 383 Coroners; items of value of the deceased shall not be converted to the coroner/medical examiner’s personal use (As Introduced) (JUDYNC-22nd)

SB 274 Capitol Arts Standards Commission; designation of areas within capitol museum; Georgia Capitol Agricultural History Museum areas (As Introduced)(Substitute) (H ED-34th)

SB 318 Alcoholic Beverages; allow for local authorization/regulation of sale for consumption on the premises on Sundays; celebration of St. Patrick’s Day (As Introduced) (Floor amend 1)(RI&U-2nd)


8:30 AM – 10:00 AM RULES 341 CAP


Open Rule
HB 833 Urban Redevelopment Law; include blighted areas (GAff-Jones-62nd)

Modified Open Rule
HB 690 Local government; county may petition any municipality within county to annex unincorporated islands; provide (Substitute)(GAff-Rogers-29th)

HB 742 Coweta Judicial Circuit; superior courts; provide for seventh judge (Substitute (Judy-Nix-69th)

HB 750 Banking and finance; exemption to mortgage loan originator licensing requirements for employees of certain nonprofit corporations; provide (Substitute)(B&B-Frye-118th)

HB 854 Condominiums; amount permissable as a special assessment fee; change (Judy-Dollar-45th)

HB 940 Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit and Oconee Judicial Circuit; election of additional judges; change date (Substitute)(Judy-Willard-51st)

HB 960 Local government; provide for use of surface transportation projects in urban redevelopment areas; provisions (Trans-Roberts-155th)

HB 1042 Auctioneers; relative to auctioneers and auction business; change certain provisions (Substitute)(RegI-Dempsey-13th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 295 Ad valorem taxation; provide comprehensive revision of provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Battles-15th)(AM# 34 0632ER)

HB 460 Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; no person under a sentence of confinement shall be eligible for membership; provide (Ret-Weldon-3rd)

HB 701 Child Support Recovery Act; child support and enforcement of orders; enact provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Barr-103rd)

HB 702 State government; placement of monument on capitol grounds; provide (Substitute)(SProp-Morris-156th)

HB 720 Courts; collection of a fee to defray costs for using electronic citations; provide (Substitute)(JudyNC-Lumsden-12th)

HB 935 Retirement and pensions; disclosure of public records shall include local retirement systems; provide exemption (Ret-Benton-31st)

HB 1010 Local government; immunity of municipal corporations; revise provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Fleming-121st)

HR 1183 General Assembly; additional penalties or fees for reckless driving and
provide allocation of fees to Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund; impose – CA (JudyNC-Tanner-9th)

Structured Rule
HB 900 State sales and use tax; consumable supplies used in manufacturing; include

Sarah Fay Campbell writes about Crossover Day in the (Newnan) Times-Herald.

any controversial proposals — including one allowing limited access to medical marijuana and one prohibiting the governor from expanding access to Medicaid — are expected to be debated on the floor of the Ga. House of Representatives Monday.

The 30th day of the legislative session will likely go late into the night. Monday is Crossover Day. On this day, a bill has to pass the House or Senate to have a chance of becoming law during this session.

“The most controversial bills always hit on day 30,” said State Rep. David Stover, R-Palmetto.

The House Rules Committee decides which bills will be sent to the House for consideration, and the Speaker of the House then decides what bills to “call.”

The Rules Committee has set a short, basic calendar, but will meet Monday to add more bills, and will likely meet several times throughout the day.

The calendar was drafted Wednesday. The House however, wasn’t in session Thursday or Friday, but committees were meeting regarding bills not final on Wednesday.

One of the most controversial bills likely to be debated Monday is House Bill 885, known as “Haleigh’s Hope Act.”

It would allow limited use of cannabis-derived oil, which is low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but high in cannibidiol, which has been used to reduce seizures in children in other states, notably Colorado.

The bill passed out of the House Health and Human Services. One setback of the bill was locating a source for the cannabis oil. Bill sponsor Allen Peake, R-Macon, added a provision allowing medical schools to grow, produce, and prescribe the product.

Here’s where I am on House Bill 885, “Haleigh’s Hope Act.” I am reminded of the words of my savior in Matthew 16:26:

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Every elected official should ask himself or herself every day if they are doing what they know to be right, or if the fear of political consequences and their attachment to their elected position hold them back.

All I can ask of any legislator today is that they look into their heart, ask God or whatever higher power they recognize for widom, discernment, and the strength to do His will. Then press the button they are led to. I cannot judge who is right or wrong, much less who is righteous, but I believe I would be led to press the green button.

Jeanne Bonner, of Georgia Public Broadcasting, also writes about Crossover Day.

Day 30 of Georgia’s 40-day legislative session is called Crossover Day because any bill that passes one chamber by this point in the session automatically crosses over to the other chamber for consideration.

The state Senate has put 30 bills on its debate calendar for Monday and the state House has chosen 17 measures to kick off debate. The Senate will most likely not add any other bills to its roster, but the House will almost certainly have what are called supplemental calendars. That means periodically throughout the day, the committee that sets the House’s agenda will meet to add more bills to the list.

Some of the session’s most controversial measures-–including a bill that would allow guns in churches and bars–won’t show up on the floor of either chamber Monday because they’ve already passed over.

But in the case of the Senate, at least one lightning rod of a bill will likely tie up that chamber for hours. And that’s a measure that would nix coverage of abortion under any state or federal healthcare plan sold in Georgia.

“That one’s likely to take us a few hours to get through,” said Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, who sets the Senate calendar as chairman of that chamber’s Rules committee.

“It’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight,” said Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat.

Mullis said another bill that could require a few hours of debate is a measure that would grant anonymity to winners of the Georgia Lottery under certain conditions.

Other hot-button bills will likely show up on the House floor last-minute. In fact, some Capitol observers say lawmakers in the House have set an easy agenda to get things started but, by mid-day or mid-evening, may roll out measures that have opposition.

“They deliberately made this [first] calendar vanilla because they’re going to put the controversial bills on the supplemental calendars,” said Neill Herring, a longtime lobbyist and Capitol observer.


Campaigns and Election; Rumors and Innuendos

Over the weekend, two other websites reported that Senator Jack Murphy (R-Forsyth) would not run for reelection. Last Tuesday, I had spoken to Sen. Murphy and asked if he was running; he told me he was. I noted that on Twitter.

Murphy Not Retiring Toddmr

I also emailed Sen. Murphy and asked him about the other website’s statement. He wrote me back:

“I am still looking at options, at the present time I am planning on running, and have a week to qualify. ”

Make of it what you will.

Lauren W. McDonald, III, son of Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald announced that he is also running for Murphy’s seat in the Senate.

McDonald most recently served as county coroner for 12 years and as a county firefighter for 25 years. He is an avid supporter of the youth sports community and spends his evenings and weekends coaching.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support from the community over the past decade,” McDonald said. “This community has given me so much.”

McDonald will campaign against incumbent Jack Murphy and Michael Williams, who announced his candidacy earlier in the year.

The McDonald & Son Funeral Home owner employs 17 people at his business, and said he understands what it means to sign the front of paychecks, not just the back.

Bringing high-paying, quality jobs to Georgia and Forsyth County will be his top priority. Forsyth is an attracter for businesses, he said, because the community has a large tax base with a low tax burden, in addition to a quality school system.

Last night, I saw Aaron Gould Sheinin of the AJC tweet that Senator Tim Golden is not running for reelection:

Tim Golden No Reelection

Sheinin wrote later that he had received a release from Sen. Golden and a statement from Lt. Governor Casey Cagle on the issue.

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