Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 6, 2014

6
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 6, 2014

On March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court published its opinion in Sanford v. Dred Scott.

the Court held that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court,and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an African American slave who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7–2 decision written by Chief JusticeRoger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott’s request and in doing so, ruled an Act of Congress in this case—the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30′ north—to be unconstitutional for the second time in its history.

The decision would prove to be an indirect catalyst for the American Civil War and was functionally superseded by the post-war Reconstruction Amendments. It is now widely regarded as the worst decision ever made by the Supreme Court.

Under the Gold Dome today

SENATE MEETING CALENDAR

TBD RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP
1:00 PM EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB
1:00 PM PUBLIC SAFETY 125 CAP
1:00 PM INSURANCE & LABOR MEZZ
1:00 PM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 310 CLOB
2:00 PM BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 310 CLOB
2:00 PM NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT 450 CAP
3:00 PM HIGHER EDUCATION 125 CAP
3:00 PM VETERANS, MILITARY & HOMELAND SECURITY – CANCELLED
3:00 PM JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL 310 CLOB
4:00 PM FINANCE MEZZ
4:00 PM JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 824 Banking and finance; term “interest” does not include certain fees agreed upon by financial institution and depositor in written agreement between parties; clarify (As Passed House) (Substitute) (B&FI-23rd) Smith-134th

HB 744 General appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (As Passed House) (APPROP-4th) Ralston-7th

HOUSE MEETING CALENDAR

10 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 33) HOUSE
8:00 AM NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT 606 CLOB
9:30 AM RULES 341 CAP
1:00 PM GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HUMAN RELATIONS & AGING 515 CLOB
2:00 PM INSURANCE 415 CLOB
2:00 PM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM 341 CAP
2:00 PM JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP
2:00 PM TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB
2:00 PM BUDGET & FISCAL AFFAIRS 406 CLOB
3:00 PM WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB
3:00 PM BANKS & BANKING 341 CAP
4:00 PM Jacobs Subcommittee of Judicicary Civil 132 CAP

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HR 1280 United States Congress; support successful negotiation of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between United States and European Union; encourage (ED&T-Caldwell-20th)

SB 209 Electronic Transactions; provide that no entity shall be prohibited from making self-help documents; not a substitute for advice of a professional (Substitute)(A&CA-Quick-117th) Wilkinson-50th

SB 301 Public School Facilities; disallow prohibitions on wood construction in public schools if in compliance with state minimum standard codes (SProp-Cheokas-138th) Millar-40th

Modified Structured Rule
SR 736 United States Constitution Article V; apply for a convention of the states (Judy-Brockway-102nd) Staton-18th

Dead Bills

Dave Williams has a list of high profile bills that died as a results of not passing either chamber before Crossover Day.

Barring an 11th-hour resurrection….

• Senate Bill 141 – It became clear during the first two weeks of the session that the Senate Health and Human Services Committee was not going to vote on legislation scrapping the jury-based system for awarding compensation to victims of medical malpractice and replacing it with a new model based on workers’ compensation.

• House Bill 874 – Legislation allowing residential or commercial property owners in Georgia to contract directly with solar energy installers to finance the installation of solar panels failed to get out of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee.

• House Bill 907 – A bill requiring technology-enabled ride-sharing services in Georgia to comply with the same licensing and insurance mandates that apply to taxicabs and limousines cleared the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee but failed to reach the floor for a vote.

Read the first sentence of that quote again, “Barring an 11th-hour resurrection.” Some bills can be zombies brought back to life by transplanting their guts into a living bill, regardless of whether the author of the living bill is willing.

Walter Jones, writing for Morris News, also had a list of dead bills:

Proposals making solar panels more affordable, raw milk available for human consumption, English the official language and hedgehogs legal pets are among the hundreds of bills that failed to make Monday’s Crossover Day deadline, effectively killing them.

By the midnight deadline, legislators had introduced 1,528 bills since the two-year term of the General Assembly began in January, 2013. Last year, just 353 became law, meaning the vast majority of bills never do.

Only two bills have been defeated in the full House or Senate this year. The rest stalled somewhere along the process of committee consideration.

House Bill 1: would have added procedures to protect property owners when law enforcement seeks to seize vehicles, cash and other items as tools in the illegal sale of drugs

HB 390: voted down twice in the House, it would have allowed cities to increase their sales tax for transit systems

HB 1023 and Senate Bill 377: sought to preserve companies’ religious preferences by allowing them to deny service to potential customers with different beliefs or lifestyles

SR 1031: would have let voters decide to amend the state constitution to make English the state’s official language

Tesla to Supercharge Highways

One of several news outlets whose online access or paper subscriptions I pay for is the Atlanta Business Chronicle, in my opinion one of the state’s best. Two stories from their recent coverage highlight the issue of Tesla Motors being able to sell more cars directly to consumers than they currently are. Legislation to up the number of cars sold direct to Georgians is stalled in the House.

Urvaksh Karkaria, who owns a Model S, writes about his trip to Miami in the electric car and the one thing that was missing was the drama of “range anxiety” that plagues owners of some electric vehicles.

On Wednesday, I drove 750 miles from Atlanta to Miami. I paid zero dollars in gas.

Electric cars offer twin benefits of being easy on the environment and the pocket book. Yet, they come with a massive trade off — driving range.

Most electric vehicles putter out of juice in under 100 miles. Charging empty automobile batteries can take forever. That means you’re limited to grocery store runs and daily commutes.

Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors realized it cannot solve just the range problem. Its Model S luxury sedan, equipped with the largest battery configuration, delivers an EPA-rated 265 miles.

Tesla is working on battery technology to extend driving range and recently announced plans for a $5 billion, 10 million square foot battery “gigafactory.” But, that is a hard problem to crack and certainly not a short-term fix.

So, Tesla is tackling the range problem another way. It’s building a network of high-speed chargers around the country for its customers. Imagine, General Motors combined with Shell.

The willingness to develop a network of charging stations, which helps prospective buyers see the potential of electric vehicles is one reason why Tesla might not be suited to Georgia’s current system of retail auto sales that generally prohibits manufacturer-owned dealers. This is not an issue with gas/diesel or hybrid cars, but I can’t imagine any local dealerships being willing to support the build-out of recharging stations outside their specific geographic areas.

Tesla is also considering adding “Supercharger” stations that cut the recharge time to Atlantic Station.

Tesla is building a cross-country network of the chargers — an ingenious way of extending the Model S’ 265-mile driving range. Last week, I made a 750-mile road trip from Atlanta-to-Miami with the help of three Superchargers along I-95.

Tesla is expected to put six Superchargers at Atlantic Station, a source familiar with the project said Tuesday afternoon. Tesla did not return calls.

The Superchargers would turn Atlantic Station into a destination for Tesla owners, who are typically wealthy and tech savvy.

Metro Atlanta is a growth market for Palo Alto,-based Tesla. The automaker is said to have sold nearly 500 of its sedans (that, fully loaded, top $120,000) from its Atlanta service center.

What mall wouldn’t want to become a magnet for high-net worth individuals? But there’s also another economic development aspect to the issue. Arizona is one of several western states competing for a Tesla battery factory that could bring $5 billion in investment and 6500 jobs. One would think that a company actually being able to its vehicles would be a major issue in where a company locates a multi-billion dollar plant.

Right now, Arizona consumers cannot directly buy a Tesla car here in the state. They can go and test drive one of CEO Elon Musk’s high-priced, high-powered cars at a showroom at Scottsdale Fashion Square. But they have to order it online and have it delivered from California because of existing Arizona laws prohibiting manufacturer-owned dealerships. Personnel at the Tesla showroom in Scottsdale also cannot discuss pricing with potential customers under Arizona law.

Tesla wants to change that law in Arizona, Texas and other states with pro-dealership statutes.

A bill was introduced this year by Rep. John Kavanaugh, R-Fountain Hills, to allow manufacturer-owned dealerships but it has stalled in the Legislature after opposition from traditional car dealers.

“The auto dealers came out in force,” said Jimmy Hamilton, a lobbyist for Tesla at the Arizona Capitol.

Tesla could also benefit from proposed and existing state breaks offered to Apple Inc.’s new plant in Mesa.

Gov. Jan Brewer and business groups support a new bill that would eliminate taxes on energy used by manufacturers. There also is a measure to allow companies located in Foreign Trade Zones to write-off their equipment faster. FTZ companies such as Intel already pay a lower 5 percent property tax rate. Most businesses pay a 19.5 percent. Apple’s plant at Mesa’s Eastmark development is slated to be in a FTZ and will pay the 5 percent rate.

Arizona’s bid for Tesla will likely include a 5 percent property tax rate.

State lawmakers are also considering another new bill that would give income tax breaks for companies whose manufacturing facilities are powered by solar and renewable sources. Both the Apple and Tesla plants are to be powered by adjacent renewable sources.

The availability of renewable electricity sources is also an issue in this plant location, as is rail access. While Tesla is looking for western locations for this plant, Georgia and Tennessee are both home to large automotive manufacturing facilities, with suppliers, rail access, and infrastructure to support them.

Will Tennessee get a hand up for both sales of high-dollar electric vehicles and possible future expansion of manufacturing when Tesla opens a dealership in Brentwood, Tennessee?

Georgia Chamber doesn’t like proposed limits on nonprofit speech

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has joined groups like the Faith and Freedom Coalition in opposing new limits on the political speech of certain nonprofit organizations.

The proposal would limit political activities to 5 to 15 percent of groups’ overall efforts. It’s been criticized by the left and right. The proposal was first floated in November. “This proposed guidance is a first critical step toward creating clear-cut definitions of political activity by tax-exempt social welfare organizations,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur.

But in a Feb. 27 letter to the Internal Revenue Service, Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber, says the chamber’s policy advocacy could be affected by the proposed cap.

“Incredibly, the proposed regulation could even threaten our ability to publicly encourage incumbents to take action on things such as pending legislation if an election were near,” Clark wrote in his letter. “This is a critically important function of chambers of commerce that is undoubtedly consistent with our tax-exempt purpose. The proposed regulation’s attempt to say otherwise is inconsistent with statute and longstanding practice and a violation of the Constitution under established judicial precedents.”

Port funding another rift for Nunn, Carter

Jim Galloway and his colleagues write that the omission of significant funding in President Obama’s budget proposal may create a wedge between the democratic candidates for Governor and U.S. Senate and the President:

The news that the White House wouldn’t fund the dredging of the Savannah port — the state’s biggest economic development priority — complicated Carter’s official debut. Flanked by former Ambassador Andrew Young and businessman Michael Coles, the Atlanta Democrat said he was “disappointed” the port project won’t move forward. Said Carter:

“But the way I look at it is you have a governor who has played Washington politics at every opportunity, and tried to put a stick in the eye of the administration. And that type of attitude doesn’t help us move forward as a state.”

Carter said a more straightforward bipartisan approach help save the project, though he said he’s confident that U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and other GOP leaders are giving White House officials the hard press. When asked specifically whether the “stick in the eye” approach may have turned off White House officials, Carter had this to say:

“We have seen consistently over the last three years the governor putting Washington politics first and solving problems in Georgia second. And that clearly contributed to what happened. Absolutely.”

[Nunn] called on President Barack Obama to move on the deepening. And in answer to U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s question, yes, she she says she raised the topic with Joe Biden:

“During my visit with the Vice President, I talked to him about the importance of the Port of Savannah expansion project and shared my disappointment that the administration was not allowing the project to move forward.  It’s the latest example of how Washington isn’t working. Everyone across the political spectrum agrees this is critical for job creation and our long-term economic growth.

“But at the last hour, government bureaucracy in Washington and red tape have stalled the project from getting off the ground. That’s the kind of inefficiency and obstructionism that we need to get rid of in Washington.  The President should immediately allow the Corps of Engineers to move forward with the deepening of the port, and if not, Congress should pass a law to start the project.”

I wonder if that isn’t exactly what Nunn and Carter want: another way to distance themselves from an administration that is increasingly unpopular with Georgians.

GA GOP: US SENATE DEBATE IN MACON

March 8, 2014, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Anderson Conference Center,

5171 Eisenhower Pkwy, Macon, GA 31206 United States

+ Google Map

GEORGIA REPUBLICANS TO HOST US SENATE DEBATE IN MACON WHAT: The Georgia Republican Party, in conjunction with local GOP organizations, will host their fourth U.S. Senate candidate debate in Macon at the Anderson Conference Center. WHO:  Candidates vying to fill the seat of retiring United States Senator Saxby Chambliss will participate in a structured debate moderated by radio talk show host Martha Zoller. CONTACT:  Adam Pipkin, Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party, 404.257.5559or adam@gagop.org

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