Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 8, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 8, 2015

Lyman Hall, one of three Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor on January 8, 1783.

On January 8, 2007, R.E.M. was announced as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you go to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next year, I highly recommend visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’ll recognize the guitars played by some of your favorites, see Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche, and read the hand-written lyrics to some of the best-known songs.

On January 8, 2014, Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were announced as incoming members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Columbus, Georgia native Frank Thomas, a long-time Chicago White Sox outfielder.

Earlier this week it was announced that Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz will join Glavine and Maddux in the HOF. Smoltz is the first pitcher inducted who had Tommy John elbow surgery.

Georgia Politics

Senator David Perdue has launched a new Twitter account and a new Facebook page to help you keep up on his latest.

Senator Perdue used his father’s Bible for his swearing-in. Clearly winning the Bible contest, Congressman Barry Loudermilk used four different Bibles for his swearing-in.

Rep. Loudermilk took the oath of office with four bibles that each represented a member of his family, including his wife Desiree, daughter Christiana, and sons Travis and Michael.

It is not known if Rep. Jody Hice used an original stone tablet for his ceremony.

Sen. Perdue started his Senate career making good on a campaign pledge he made to introduce term limit legislation.

Yet another Special Election will be held, this one for the Augusta Commission District 7 seat vacated by Donnie Smith’s resignation. Qualifying opens Monday, January 12 and closes Wednesday, January 14 at noon.

On March 17, 2015, voters in the City of Atlanta will cast ballots on raising $250 million for infrastructure expenses.

Governor Nathan Deal announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for December 2014 were up 9 percent over December 2013.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) says that ensuring all current gas tax monies are dedicated to transportation as is Constitutionally-mandated, should be step number one in any discussion of additional money for transportation infrastructure.

Out of the 7 percent sales tax generally levied on gas in Georgia, 4 percent goes to the state and 3 percent to local governments. From the 4 percent, 3 percent goes to the Georgia Department of Transportation, but “the fourth penny has been going to the general fund,” Gooch said.

“My No. 1 goal this year is to find that fourth penny and get it out of the budget,” he said. “We need to move it back to where it belongs and that’s with the DOT.”

Gooch said he had heard about the “fourth penny” and “never thought much about it until the last two years, when we’ve been (discussing) how to restore some funding for DOT.

“The (state) Constitution clearly says that all taxes derived from the sale of motor fuel has to be put on transportation … so I think that, before we answer anything from anybody else, we have to go there first.”

“I think this (issue) is going to require a whole lot of debate and discussion among the House and Senate (members) and the governor to decide where and when we bite the bullet,” Gooch said.

Newly-elected State House member-to-be Heath Clark (R-Warner Robins) is planning to introduce a campus carry bill this year.

He plans to push legislation of his own, including a bill to allow college students with a firearms license to carry guns on campus.

Clark said, “I grew up in a military town (Warner Robins). We can ask young men and women to go away to a desert and give them a gun to defend our freedoms, but when they come back here to our classrooms, were gonna tell them they have to be defenseless.”

He believes he’s ready for the controversy that could stir, saying, “It’s something I promised during the campaign.”

You can also count Clark in for the Medical Cannabis bill that will be introduced by State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

The father of three says he supports legalizing a form of medical marijuana called Cannabis oil.

He said, “I don’t think there’s a parent out there that wouldn’t do whatever it takes to get treatment for their kids.”

Speaking of medical cannabis, Peake’s bill will be significantly expanded from earlier efforts in two ways. The first is that unlike last year’s version, it includes a workable means for ensuring availability of the medicine.

The path to access medical marijuana in Georgia would be similar the paths in other states, Peake said.

“You as a citizen would go to an approved physician … get a written recommendation,” then go to the Department of Public Health to get a card, Peake said. “Then you would be eligible to go to the retail center.”

At the retail center, “you’re not going to see plants … you’re going to see a bunch of vials of oil,” he said.

That’s because House Bill 1 loosens only the law for liquid medicine derived from therapeutic varieties of cannabis grown in a handful of licensed greenhouses.

There would be no whole plants and no growing marijuana at home.

The law would fix the compounds in each batch of medicine, checked for safety by independent labs. The medicine must be relatively low in THC, the chemical that causes a high.

Adult medicine would be capped at 5 percent THC with a minimum 1-to-1 ratio of cannabidiol to THC, according to Peake’s bill. Also called CBD, cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis that provides seizure relief to some people and that partially counteracts THC.

Childrens’ medicine would top out at 3 percent THC, according to Peake’s draft.

Several companies already are sniffing around the Peach State for medical marijuana opportunities. The bill will propose only about 10 licenses for the work of growing, manufacturing and retailing medical cannabis.

Peake’s 2.0 version of the bill also expands the diagnoses for which the oil would be available, and under some conditions, would allow it for adults.

The draft bill now being finalized covers cancers that cause severe pain, nausea or wasting; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; AIDS; Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS; multiple sclerosis; seizure disorders characteristic of epilepsy; Crohn’s disease and mitochondrial diseases, said Peake, R-Macon.

There are even more under consideration, including post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, Tourette’s syndrome and terminal illnesses, Peake said.

The bill also would create a medical board to advise the Legislature on cannabis policy.

Peake is trying to hit what he called a “sweet spot” between maximizing relief for people who have specific debilitating illnesses while locking the door against anything that could propel Georgia toward recreational marijuana use.

Some Brookhaven City Council members will be among the first in Georgia to receive training in combating human sex trafficking under a new program.

The training is part of the city’s “Not Buying It” pledge, developed by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families Statewide Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Task Force, and is designed to educate about the dangers of child sex trafficking.

The training scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 14 and 15 will be attended by Mayor J. Max Davis, Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams, Councilman Joe Gebbia, Councilman Bates Mattison, Councilman John Park and various city employees.

Governor Nathan Deal has proclaimed January 2015 as “Human Sex Trafficking Awareness Month” in Georgia.

Human Sex Trafficking Awareness Month 2015

Georgia Republican Party Convention News

Ron Johnson announced last month that he will not run for re-election as Second Vice Chair of the Georgia Republican Party. Thanks to Ron for his service to our country as a Marine, and his service to the Georgia Republican Party.

Current GAGOP Assistant Secretary Debbie McCord quickly announced that she would run for that position and this morning I received an email that Michael Johnson, former Savannah Area Young Republicans Chair will also seek the Second Vice-Chair.

Education

I am disappointed that Georgia Perimeter College will merge with Georgia State and suspect that tuition will be raised, as GPC tuition is currently a third the cost of Georgia State. I’ve been accepted to Georgia Perimeter more than twenty years after graduating from the number one university in Georgia. I’m considering a graduate program that is math-intensive and would like to take Calculus again. Plus, it’s required for admission to the program I’m looking at. I didn’t take Calculus in college because I had taken it in high school, but I’ve contacted my high school who told me that my records are not available and they can’t even determine whether I graduated or not.

Lora Scarlet Hawk writes at CharterConfidential.com that school choice, like Uber, represents disruptions in the status quo.

Like Uber, school choice has optimized self-determination. No longer are students (or passengers) forced to take only one path, but they are given the ability of autonomy. Like the market for rides, there is competitiveness among schools and implicitly a constant reinvention, should the method of instruction not fit their students’ needs. This means of self-determination speaks to me of a new-wave Industrial Age that like its predecessor is market driven, and bold.

Disruptive technology has always been seen as avant-garde and often has been perceived as meant for risk-loving entrepreneurs only. Nevertheless, I think it is more that the market side of things offers no real alibi to failing schools—either you educate kids successfully, or you do not. If a charter school does not offer value to a student, the family may choose another school. The supply and demand of this educational market intrigues me and seems to be improving the educational marketplace as a whole. However, certainly one could not expect it to be welcomed by all.

Why should parents in this age of constant innovation not welcome more options for their children? Like Uber riders, school choice advocates set the tone, price, and course of their education. Again, like Uber, if they find their choice to be ill fitting, they can review the school and opt for another. Ultimately in both cases, the individual, not the provider, is in the proverbial driver’s seat. For any attentive parent this should be a dream come true. Now the question in both the Uber model and school choice model becomes not “Who is going to take me?” but, “Who is going to stop me?”

While Hawk takes a libertarian approach to school choice, Floridian Jon East writes a Liberal case for school choice.

Those of us who fought to desegregate schools also had to come to terms with the jarring contradiction, uncovered primarily through No Child Left Behind Act data, that the efforts in far too many cases produced no improvement in the achievement gap between races.

In the modern world of public education, even families from more affluent neighborhoods with high-performing public schools are taking advantage of new learning alternatives such as magnets and International Baccalaureate programs. It seems almost criminal that the children who need help the most – those challenged by poverty – tend to have the fewest options.

So I now work for a nonprofit that helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which serves 69,000 students this year whose average household is only 5 percent above poverty. The 1,500 participating private schools run the gamut – from high-end preparatory institutions that accept a handful of students each year as a community service to dirt-poor religious schools for whom helping underprivileged children is their calling. In turn, the students who choose the scholarship are poor, mostly black or Hispanic and were struggling academically in the public schools they left behind.

For liberals like me, these are precisely the kinds of families who deserve our helping hand – whether that be with food and nourishment, medical care, legal aid or different education options.

Note: where it says, “for liberals like me,” that’s a quote, not my words.

State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) has pre-filed legislation for a Constitutional Amendment that would allow a larger number of independent school districts, in case some enterprising new city should decide to try its hand at running a school system.

New DeKalb County School Board member Stan Jester has issued a challenge to his fellow Board members – put up or shut up.

Stan Jester refused the school system’s demand and disputed its legal interpretation that he had to be fingerprinted and undergo a background check to obtain an identification badge.

In doing so, he blistered the school board chairman, Dr. Melvin Johnson, in an email and criticized WSB-TV for what he called inaccurate reporting Sunday.

On the surface, the story of his refusal appeared vexing to parents. But through his website and emails, Jester made his case that he was not endangering children, but challenging a bureaucracy.

“Let’s get the facts straight,” Jester wrote Monday morning. “I completed a background check before Christmas, sent the report to the board chair and posted it on my website.”

Jester added that all the board members and administrators should place their background checks online for all to see.

His objection was to the interpretation of board policy. It is common practice for board members to be fingerprinted by the DeKalb system’s police department. That group then runs the background check.

Jester’s reading of board policy and state law contends the rationale of board members being system employees is incorrect. He points out that the board oversees the school system so it is a conflict of interest for it to investigate him.

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