Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 27, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 27, 2015

On February 27, 1922, the United States Supreme Court released an unanimous decision holding that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is constitutional. The case, Leser v. Garnett, arose because of a challenge seeking to strike women’s names from the voter rolls in Maryland and asserting:

  • The power to amend the Constitution did not cover this amendment, due to its character.
  • Several states that had ratified the amendment had constitutions that prohibited women from voting, rendering them unable to ratify an amendment to the contrary.
  • The ratifications of Tennessee and West Virginia were invalid, because they were adopted without following the rules of legislative procedure in place in those states.

It might as well have asserted that sleeping on the couch for the rest of the plantiffs’ lives would be cold and uncomfortable.

On February 27, 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted in Fulton County Superior Court of murdering two adult males. Atlanta Police later said he was guilty of at least 23 of 29 child murders between 1979 and 1981. Williams was never indicted or tried on the allegations of child murder and maintains his innocence.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Both House and Senate are in recess today.

9:00am – 10:00am Senate Appropriations Criminal Justice Sub – 310 clob
9:00am – 11:00am Senate Appropriations Sub – Community Health – 341 clob
10:00am – 12:00pm Senate Appropriations Sub – Judicial – 450 cap
10:30am – 11:30am Senate Appropriations Human Dev Sub – 341 cap
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Appropriations Sub – General Gov’t – 450 cap
2:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Appropriations Sub – Higher Education – 341 cap

Senate Bill 88 by State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) passed yesterday by a 43-8 vote and will allow employers to use prepaid debit cards as a payroll option for employees.

“This just clarifies the law and gives employers an option if they so choose” to load pay onto a card, said state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, ahead of the Senate vote Thursday.

Credit card companies including Visa and MasterCard already run payroll card services. The employer loads the card with the employee’s pay, and the card is accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted and at ATMs. Under Jones’ bill, employers choose the card and hand out paperwork documenting all the fees and rules. Employees can then choose to opt out. “They have to provide the employee the parameters of the card, … and they have to give them an opt-out one pager,” he said.

Fees at check-cashing stores can be “astronomical,” Jones said. Debit cards, he said, could be a cheaper option for people who do not have a bank account.

About 5.4 percent of employed people nationwide had no bank account, according to a 2013 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. survey. The figure was 7.5 percent for Georgia.

The Georgia House of Representatives passed a $44.6 billion state budget for FY 2016 . From the Gainesville Times:

A $44.6 billion 2016 fiscal year state budget approved Thursday by the Georgia House would close previous cuts to public education spending, slash funding for low-interest student loans and ask local school districts to make $103 million more in employer contributions to keep state insurance coverage for some part-time school employees.

The last item goes against Gov. Nathan Deal’s recommendation to eliminate state insurance coverage altogether for the part-time school workers, such as school bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

Deal’s budget staff expects tax revenue to grow more than 4 percent during the next fiscal year starting July 1. About $21.7 billion of the total proposed budget comes from Georgia’s revenues. The rest is mostly federal money.

The budget also includes funding for new or expanded education programs at the state’s prisons, aimed at helping inmates earn a degree or develop technical skills while serving time.

House lawmakers also gave judges on the Supreme and Appeals courts a $12,000 salary boost and maintained a $23 million bond for a parking deck near the new Atlanta Falcons stadium in downtown Atlanta.

Deal’s request to fund 278 new caseworkers to investigate complaints of abused or neglected children and 11 caseworkers to investigate elder abuse remains in the plan.

The House also made cuts to a low interest student loan program that Deal wanted to increase.

The House plan also offers less funding for new staff at the state’s ethics commission. Tasked with enforcing campaign and ethics laws, auditors said the commission failed to consider a single complaint for a year and a half.

House leadership left much of Deal’s recommended budget untouched, including adding $280 million back to public school spending. The total remains about $500 million short of what the state’s funding formula recommends.

You’ll see two figures mentioned as the total for the state budget – as the Gainesville Times notes, the larger figure used includes federal money spent through the state budget process, while the smaller number is generally only state money.

Dave Williams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle brings more on the budget.

The biggest disagreement between the House version of the budget and the governor’s proposals was over Deal’s recommendation to do away with state health coverage for school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and other part-time school employees. The House budget includes an increase of $102.8 million to cover the costs of continuing coverage for those workers, an expense local school systems would have to absorb.

“We feel there’s a vital role these individuals play in transporting and caring for our students,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn.

The House also added $500,000 to the budget to help defend Georgia in the long-running legal battle over water allocation with Florida and Alabama. Lawyers representing Georgia currently are preparing the state’s defense to a lawsuit filed by the state of Florida in an attempt to force Georgia to reduce water withdrawals from the Chattahoochee River system to 1992 levels.

Another $105,000 added to the House budget would help the state Public Service Commission conduct oversight of the nuclear expansion at Georgia Power’s Co.’s Plant Vogtle. Also, for the first time, lawmakers want to kick in a second $105,000 appropriation for PSC oversight of the expansion of solar projects in Georgia.

Fulfilling a pledge House leaders made in introducing a comprehensive transportation funding bill last month, the budget also includes $100 million in bonds dedicated specifically to transit projects.

The Business Chronicle also notes that two tax incentive programs appear headed for renewal.

A committee of the state House of Representatives Thursday approved bills extending Georgia’s angel investors tax credit for five years and renewing an income tax credit for the video gaming industry for three years.

The General Assembly created the angel investors tax credit in 2010 in an effort to attract more venture capital from high-net-worth individuals who typically invest in technology start-ups. Since the law took effect in 2011, 225 qualified businesses have registered with the Georgia Department of Revenue to receive angel investment.

“This is working as intended,” Rep. Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe, the bill’s chief sponsor, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s the bridge between ‘friends-and-family’ money and ongoing venture capital funding.”

The tax credit that goes to video gaming companies that locate inside Georgia is part of a broader credit for the entertainment industry – including film and TV production – the legislature created in 2008. The video gaming credit is due to expire this year unless lawmakers renew it.

“Over 70 companies in Georgia make these games,” said Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, one of the bill’s cosponsors. “I believe it’s the future of the industry.”

The Georgia Senate passed SB 139 by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) which prohibits local governments from banning plastic bags at retail stores.

Five Republicans joined Democrats in opposition, but the vote of 32-19 sent Senate Bill 139 to the House for consideration where a similar bill was introduced by the chairman of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee.

The sponsor of the Senate measure, Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, said he wanted to prevent a patchwork of different local rules to complicate business for grocery chains and others with multiple locations.

“We talk about being business friendly in our state, and we talk about making sure that we provide the right regulations for the businesses in our state and making sure that our businesses have level playing fields and that our businesses in our state have some sense of certainty in regards to regulation in our state,” he said. “This is one of those pieces of legislation.”

“At the end of the day, I think we can all understand Tybee Island’s interest in protecting their unique gem. It’s a gem for all of us,” said Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta. “But I cannot understand the state’s interest in protecting plastic bags.”

Former Georgia Senate Majority Leaders Charles Walker has written a memoir titled, From Peanuts to Power: The Road to Wealth, Success, and Happiness. His author bio does not mention that he served time in federal prison.

William Temple, whom many will recognize from his colonial garb and large Gadsden flag, will lead a walk-out at CPAC today to protest Jeb Bush being not conservative enough for his taste.

Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia will honor Georgia Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) with the Jonathan M. Daniels Humanitarian Award on March 11, 2015.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash announced a series of Town Hall meetings.

Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash announced at this week’s commission meeting that the first of four town hall meetings will be held March 10 at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, 2020 Clean Water Drive in Buford.

Each meeting will begin at 6:15 p.m. with a meet and greet with department representatives. Attendees can then address the commissioners at 7 p.m.

The other meetings will be held on the following dates:

• March 26 at the Dacula Park Activity Building, 2735 Old Auburn Ave.
• April 23 at the Pinckneyville Park Community Recreation Center, 4650 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Berkeley Lake.
• May 12 at the Hudgens Center for the Arts, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Building 300, in Duluth.

Grassroots activists against Common Core will hear from Tanya Ditty and others on Saturday from 10 AM to 3:30 PM at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church in Norcross.

Gwinnett County Board of Education member Louise Radloff disagrees with House Bill 100, which will change the age for children to begin public schools.

Radloff’s concern lies with young students in schools in her district of the central and southern part of Gwinnett that are already behind their peers academically. Radloff pointed to schools like Berkmar Middle, Sweetwater Middle and the Meadowcreek cluster that have high Hispanic and poverty populations.

“Everything I have learned indicates these children, particularly Latino kids, start school three percent behind, and it really frightens me because if I had the funds, I would like to start them much earlier,” Radloff said.

Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, filed the bill, and among the co-sponsors was Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, chairman of the House Education committee.

Coleman said the idea for the bill came after a statewide listening tour where a majority of teachers and superintendents supported the effort. HB 100 would move the cutoff date for enrollment eligibility from Sept. 1 to Aug. 1, and because it wouldn’t go into effect for two years, it wouldn’t affect students currently registered or in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten. It would affect 2-year-olds who would enter pre-K in the 2016-17 school year.

The new Forsyth County Courthouse in Cumming is on-time and under-budget to open March 16, with a ribbon-cutting on March 12, 2015.

The Bibb County Board of Education voted 6-1 to hire Curtis L. Jones as the system’s new Superintendent.

The High Museum of Art will run an exhibition of Coca-Cola bottles titled “The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100″.

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