Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 10, 2015

10
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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 10, 2015

On February 10, 1787, the Georgia House of Assembly named William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houstoun, and Nathaniel Pendleton to the Constitutional Convention called to revise the Articles of Confederation at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

On February 10, 1861, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi received word that he was chosen as President of the Confederate States of America.

On February 10, 1972, David Bowie made his first appearance as Ziggy Stardust.

Under the Gold Dome Today

9:00am – 10:00am House Rules – 341 CAP
12:00pm – 1:00pm Senate Rules Upon Adj – 450 Capitol
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Interstate Coop – 123 CAP
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Science & Tech – 310 CLOB
1:00pm – 3:00pm House Approp Economic Dev – 606 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Insurance P&C Sub – 514 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Approp Health Sub – 341 CAP
2:00pm – 3:00pm Senate Urban Affairs – 328 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Judiciary Civil – 132 CAP
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Ways & Means Income Tax – 133 CAP
2:00pm – 3:00pm Senate Higher Education – 307 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Approp Public Safety – 415 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Approp Education Sub – 515 CLOB
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Natural Resources – 450 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Veterans – 125 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Game, Fish & Parks – 403 Capitol
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Ways & Means Sales Tax Sub – 133 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Science & Technology – 506 CLOB
4:00pm – 5:00pm Senate Economic Development – Senate Mezz 1
4:00pm – 5:00pm House Education Acad. Support – 415 CLOB
4:00pm – 5:00pm House Ways & Means Ad Valorem – 133 CAP
4:00pm – 5:00pm House Public Safety – 406 CLOB
4:00pm – 5:00pm Senate Judiciary – 307 CLOB

Senate Rules Calendar for Today

SB 3 - ‘Supporting and Strengthening Families Act’; power of attorney from parent to another person; care of minor child; provide for (As Introduced) (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SB 5 - Georgia Ports Authority; provide for powers; acceptance of loans/grants from United States upon certain terms and conditions (As Introduced) (Substitute) (ED&T-46th)

House Transportation Subcommittee

Yesterday, a House Transportation Subcommittee heard about changes to the Transportation Bill. I caught up with State Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) who told me about a couple of the changes.

Kathleen Foody of the Associated Press wrote about the Subcommittee Meeting:

The original proposal allowed cities and counties to approve up to 3 cents per gallon each in excise taxes, plus up to an additional 3 cents each by referendum. That has now been dropped from the package.

Instead, sponsoring Rep. Jay Roberts said local boards [I think that means counties] can vote to add up to 6 cents per gallon in excise taxes on top of the state’s planned 29.2 cents per gallon. Municipal officials would have to agree to spend the money on specific transportation needs, with their share determined by a formula already in use by the Georgia Department of Transportation, Roberts, an Ocilla Republican, said.

Roberts said the changes will “hopefully” close the gap for some local government agencies but acknowledged there may be cities or counties receiving less under the proposal.

“I think that everybody is going to have some skin in this game before it’s over with,” Roberts told reporters.

The changes unveiled Monday before a House subcommittee also would eliminate the state’s generous $5,000 tax credit on electric vehicles. Roberts said that would generate about $45 million to be put toward a bond package.

The bill passed out of Subcommittee and will head to the full House Transportation Committee.

Americans for Prosperity GA has weighed in on the Transportation Bill, finding it lacking in that it allows gas tax funds to be used for other forms of transportation infrastructure.

On behalf of our 64,000 activists around the state, we have concerns about the net tax increase, harmful double-taxation, and excessive borrowing included in the current plan. Before asking for an additional dime from taxpayers or further mortgaging our state’s future, lawmakers should put an end to the wasteful spending, over-regulation, and corporate welfare that are costing Georgia taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

AFP-GA believes that transportation infrastructure is best funded primarily by user fees. To that end, we do not believe motorists should be forced to subsidize other modes of transportation, and that taxes paid at the pump should be used exclusively to build and repair the roads and bridges they drive.

The Senate Judicary Committee passed out Senator Renee Unterman’s Senate Bill 8 and Senate Resolution 7 with a single dissenting vote in each case. From Kristina Torres at the AJC:

Proposals to combat Georgia’s child sex trafficking problem passed out of a Senate committee Monday after a victim testified publicly for the first time about her plight and received support from religious, law enforcement and child advocates.

“I am a survivor,” said Rachel, who has inspired lawmakers to nickname their legislation the “Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Act.” Now in college, she says she was 17 when a sex trafficker befriended her on social media and then deceived her.

“I was afraid to breathe, I was afraid to rest, I was afraid to trust, I was afraid to be seen, I was afraid to dream,” said Rachel, who declined to give her last name and current age. “I hid in my own skin. Today, I see myself in a new light.”

That turnaround, Rachel said, came as a result of extensive counseling and support services — the very kind the legislation aims to provide statewide.

The proposal would establish a new Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund, which would get money through new $2,500 fines on convicted traffickers and an annual $5,000 fee on adult entertainment establishments. The money would then pay for physical and mental health care, housing, education, job training, child care, legal help and other services for victims.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan testified that the GBI supports the two bills, and that “the number one need in fighting sex trafficking is services for victims.” Keenan noted that the GBI first brought up the fact that convicted sex traffickers are not currently required to register as sex offenders, which the bill would change.

House Bill 100 by Rep. Tom Dickson would change the minimum age at which younger children can be enrolled in public schools.

Under the amended House Bill 100, students cannot enroll if they haven’t turned age 5 by Aug. 1 in 2017 and by July 1 in 2018 and later. Current law permits enrollment if a child has reached that age by Sept. 1.

The proposal, by former school superintendent Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, is based on teacher frustrations with students who aren’t ready for school.

But parents who testified at the hearing called it a mistake.

“Is the real problem that kindergarten has become too rigorous, or is the cutoff date the problem?” asked Natalie Ferreri of Atlanta. “Is the real problem that lots of folks hold back their children for athletic reasons, redshirting, or is the cutoff date the problem? Is the real problem that we don’t have a pre-k program available to all, including the disadvantaged throughout our state without a lottery, or is the problem the cutoff date?”

Greg Williams of GregsListLive takes a look at legislation that would have the effect of making Uber and Lyft just two more taxi companies, but with iPhone apps.

The purpose of the bill is to PRESERVE existing “certificates of public necessity and convenience and medallion systems for taxicabs and to restrict the future use thereof…”

Preserving the sordid status quo is the true aim of this bill. The archaic Taxi Medallion “system” is the precise reason why companies like Uber and Lyft manifested in the first place. The Medallion system creates an Oligopoly, controlled by the Taxicab Cartels who do everything they can to restrict competition through legislation and local graft. Creating distractions and manipulative misdirections, the bill categorizes Uber and Lyft as “Transportation Referral Services”, which means they would be required by the bill to obtain Medallions from all applicable jurisdictions. Medallions are expensive and difficult to obtain, preserving the current system preserves the Taxicab Monopoly on transportation in Georgia.

State Senator Josh McKoon voiced his displeasure on a Facebook post: “I am very disturbed that legislation has recently been introduced in the General Assembly to stifle ride sharing technology like Uber and Lyft in Georgia. Conservatives should want to make sure regulation allows free and open competition. If companies develop better ways to deliver services, we should not punish them by changing the legal environment to run them out of our state!”, said Mckoon.

Governor Nathan Deal announced that state revenues were up 3 percent in January 2015 against the same month in 2014. Deal also announced that 2014 was the fifth consecutive year in which international trade to and from Georgia set a new record.

[Georgia] experienced a record increase in both exports and imports for the fifth consecutive year, with a 4.9 percent increase in exports and 11.5 percent increase in imports over last fiscal year’s numbers.

“With our strong and diverse international presence, Georgia is able to successfully support companies in reaching new markets,” said Deal. “Another record-breaking year in international trade indicates that businesses in our state are growing year-over-year. When combined with the ever-increasing value of Georgia’s exports and imports, I am confident that we will continue the trend of more record-breaking international trade in the future.”

Politics

I’m not saying you’re a crook if you run against Sen. Josh McKoon, but the last guy who did is alleged to be quite the con man.

A Georgia man went from state Senate candidate to suspected con man, and now he faces charges of theft and racketeering.

The public face of Brian Roslund was impressive for a first-time political candidate. The self-described railroad executive and history buff had pictures snapped with former President Jimmy Carter, as well as civil rights leader John Lewis.

“You expect someone like that to have morals, but turns out this guy is full-on con man,” said Robert McKinnon of Valdosta. McKinnon’s company made campaign signs for Roslund. According to state campaign records, Roslund claimed he paid McKinnon $325 for the signs.

McKinnon says Roslund still owes him. Roslund sent McKinnon two checks from two accounts. State records show both accounts turned out to be closed. Then Roslund sent a screen shot that was supposed to prove he’d paid via PayPal.

McKinnon’s loss is small compared to others. Georgia Bureau of Investigation records show Roslund sent a political consultant five checks totaling $8,713.91. The checks all bounced. The consultant never got a dime from Roslund.

Byfield found discrepancies on the campaign finance records, including people who Roslund claimed had donated to his campaign. Some told Channel 2 Action News they didn’t know Roslund, much less donate money to him.

And it gets much, much worse. Check out the full story.

This is a good move – some DeKalb County elected officials are giving back purchasing cards – essentially a taxpayer-backed debit card – or refusing them in the first place.

“The reason I turned it in is that some have misused the privilege,” said Commissioner Jeff Rader, who said he used his card properly. “DeKalb doesn’t have accountability methods in place to police them.”

[L]egislation under consideration by state lawmakers would require local elected officials to submit expense reports with receipts and then get reimbursed instead of using P-cards. House Bill 192 is pending in committee.

“The proper way of doing it is with a reimbursable expense that’s scrutinized,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell. “We need transparency and honesty in government.”

Commissioner Nancy Jester said she wasn’t given a P-card after she was elected to replace Boyer in December.

“When you have so very little financial controls and reporting obligations, you get in trouble, and that’s what happened here,” Jester said. “Given the lack of credibility the government has right now, I certainly don’t need one. I won’t take one, and I think that’s a good plan for all elected officials.”

Political Wisdom from Jack Kingston

Political junkies like me will enjoy this – there’s a lot of wisdom and some great stories in these clips from former Congressman Jack Kingston.

 

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