Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 4, 2015

4
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 4, 2015

On March 4, 1762, legislation was passed by the Georgia General Assembly requiring church attendance on Sundays.

On March 3, 1779, British troops met Continental militia from North Carolina and a combination of Georgia militia and Continentals under Samuel Elbert in Screven County, Georgia at the Battle of Brier Creek. In 2013, key geographic features were identified to better determine the exact location of the battle and some period military artifacts were found. Currently, a group of descendants of Brier Creek soldiers is actively trying to persuade the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Board to conserve the area in which the Battle of Brier Creek took place. If you’re interested in Georgia’s revolutionary history, the Descendants of Brier Creek page on Facebook is a treasure trove.

The rout of Americans by the British at Brier Creek was a considerable setback that changed the momentum in the Brits’ favor and gave them control over Georgia, which they would retain for three years.

On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States.

In his inaugural address, Lincoln promised not to interfere with the institution of slavery where it existed, and pledged to suspend the activities of the federal government temporarily in areas of hostility. However, he also took a firm stance against secession and the seizure of federal property. The government, insisted Lincoln, would “hold, occupy, and possess” its property and collect its taxes. He closed his remarks with an eloquent reminder of the nation’s common heritage:

“In your hand, my fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it… We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Also on March 4, 1861, the Confederate Congress adopted a first national flag.

Confederate 1st National Flag 1

This flag is depicted with varying numbers of stars – originally adopted with seven stars, by December 1861, a version with thirteen stars was flying.

Confederate 1st National Flag 2

Below is the current Georgia flag.

Georgia Current State Flag

Under the Gold Dome

7:30am – 8:30am House Appropriations Committee – 341 CAP
8:00am – 9:00am House Insurance Committee – 606 clob
8:00am – 9:00am House Env’tal Quality Sub Nat’l Resources – 415 clob
8:00am – 9:00am House Governmental Affairs Commmittee – 406 clob
8:30am – 9:00am House Economic Development & Tourism – 506 clob
9:00am – 10:00am House Rules Committee – 341 cap
12:00pm – 1:00pm Senate Rules Committee Upon Adjournment – 450 cap
1:00pm – 2:00pm House Tags & Title Sub Motor Vehicles – 406 clob
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Insurance & Labor Committee – 125 cap
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Education & Youth Committee – 307 clob
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Public Safety Committee – 310 clob
1:00pm – 2:00pm House Interstate Cooperation Committee – 415 clob
1:30pm – 3:30pm House Judiciary Non Civil Committee – 132 cap
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Retirement Committee – 515 clob
2:00pm – 3:00pm Senate HHS Healthcare Delivery Sub – 328 clob
2:00pm – 3:00pm Senate Finance Committee – mezz 1
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Academic Innovations Sub of Education – 606 clob
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Budget & Fiscal oversight Committee – 506 clob
2:00pm – 3:00pm House State Properties Committee – 403 cap
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Code Revision Committee – 415 cap
2:30pm – 3:30pm Senate Heath & Hunan Services Pharmacology – 123 cap
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate State Institutions & Property – 125 cap
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Judiciary Non Civil Committee – 307 clob
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Banks & Banking Committee – 341 cap
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Transportation Committee – 450 cap
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs – 310 clob
3:00pm – 5:00pm House Fleming Sub of Judiciary Civil – 403 cap
3:00pm – 5:00pm House Transportation Committee – 406 clob
3:00pm – 5:00pm House Juvenile Justice Committee – 415 clob
3:00pm – 5:00pm House Education Committee – 606 clob
3:00pm – 5:00pm House Health & Human Services Committee – 506 clob
4:00pm – 5:00pm Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities – 310 clob
4:00pm – 5:00pm House Human Relations & Aging Committee – 515 clob
4:00pm – 5:00pm Senate State & Local Gov’t Operations – mezz 1

 

Senate Rules Calendar for March 4, 2014, Legislative Day 26

SB 131 – Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities; provide for certification; policies and procedures (H&HS-30th)

HB 292 – Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code; define terms; incorporate certain provisions of federal law into Georgia law (Substitute) (FIN-32nd) Knight-130th

SB 112 – Wildlife; general hunting provisions; prohibit the removal, transportation; game animal or game bird carcasses (NR&E-7th)

SB 114 – Advanced Practice Registered Nurses; number of advanced practice registered nurses a delegating physician enter a protocol agreement; provisions (H&HS-52nd)

SB 119 – “Water Professionals Appreciation Day”; designate the first Monday in May of each year in Georgia (NR&E-17th)

SB 135 – Clerks of Superior Courts; provide for protection and disclosure of records held; procedure for disclosure (JUDY-54th)

Legislative Action

The House yesterday passed House Bill 71 by State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) to require more disclosure from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Before the vote, Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, urged House members to support his bill.

“Send a message that the days of operating behind closed doors and behind a veil of secrecy is over in Georgia,” said Tanner.

Under the bill, the board would have to publish how its members vote and an explanation of any rulings. It also would require the board notify victims and their families prior to restoring any rights to offenders.

The House also passed House Bill 190 by State Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), which creates explicit insurance requirements for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

The first of a slew of bills that would regulate popular car hailing services such as Uber has passed the Georgia House, and several more are under discussion.

Officials of the high-tech car service, which requires apps to be used both by drivers and passengers, say they aren’t happy with the measure.

Rep. Rick Golick says his bill that passed Tuesday “provides for reasonable insurance coverage requirements from the time the driver’s ‘app’ is on through the time that the passenger is dropped off.”

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett says Golick’s bill and others “would create a very difficult landscape for us to operate in Georgia” because of insurance requirements.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 89 by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), which would encourage local boards of education to purchase digital class materials, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Senate Bill 89 is not a mandate, although its sponsor, state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, originally wrote it that way. Instead, the bill now says local school boards over the next five years “are strongly encouraged” to purchase digital instructional materials and provide students with laptops, tablets or other wireless devices to read it on. It also encourages the state school board to help pay for that effort, although makes no guarantee of funding.

That led some Democrats to point out the effect of state budget cuts on local systems, as well as the struggle of some parts of the state to emerge from the recession.

I would also note that digital materials may help some students who have issues like visual impairment, not to mention lessening the load of those backpacks.

Former State Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker (D-Federal Prison Augusta) might think he still has a political future, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Walker said, he wants to contribute to the community in a positive way. He does not, however, plan to run for public office “at this time.” But if he ever did it wouldn’t be for a local or state office, he said.

“I don’t know what the future holds politically, but I know one thing for sure, I’m not interested in being on the county commission or being the mayor,” he said. “I’m not interested in going back to Atlanta. So the only thing I would ever look at would be something congressionally, which I could do now if I wanted to. I don’t have to be pardoned.”

In the meantime, he said he thinks he can have an impact working behind the scenes.

“I can be a counselor,” he said. “I can confer with elected officials and community organizations. I can be sort of a point of reference. I can help the younger guys find their way in the political life. I have a little advice for them.”

We believe in repentance and redemption and sincerely wish the best to Mr. Walker, though, with all politicians who spend time behind bars, we think they should show evidence of their change of heart before running for office again.

DeKalb County

Dick Williams writes in The Dunwoody Crier about how Nancy Jester is moving the ball down the field as the lone Republican on the DeKalb County Commission.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester of Dunwoody got her way and more Monday when the county’s interim chief executive, Lee May, announced he would remove the entire board of the DeKalb Development Authority.

Jester had called Friday for the removal of Vaughn Irons, the board chair, after it was reported that Irons had received $1.5 million in country contracts to re-hab homes. WSB-TV first reported the story and the peculiar ethics commission statement allowing it. The then-chair of the ethics commission suggested his signature had been forged.

Irons is also the developer of a proposed casino-style development in south DeKalb that first received commission approval but since has been rescinded.

After demanding that Irons resign, Jester asked for a further review by the commission of all current and outstanding financial transactions by the development authority.

“Additionally,” she said, “I call on the CEO and the Board of Commissioners to explore all legal options to invalidate any and all contracts related to the reported $1.5 million taxpayer dollars related to any and all possibly forged county documents up to and including suing any company, entity, or individual to recoup these taxpayer dollars.”

She also asked for an FBI investigation.

Dan Whisenhunt at Decaturish.com writes to ask whether all the corruption in DeKalb County strengthens the arguments for new cities.

Decaturish.com asked the cityhood groups whether the latest news strengthens their case as legislators prepare to consider their bills.

[Allen Venet, with LaVista Hills Yes] avoided passing judgment on Irons at this point, but said DeKalb’s dysfunction does make the cityhood argument more compelling.

“Because I believe that Vaughn has denied any wrongdoing, and has not been charged with a crime, it is not appropriate for us to focus on this particular matter,” he said. “But, we absolutely believe that the seemingly unending series of scandals, charges, trials, guilty pleas and convictions involving DeKalb County government officials bolsters the case for cityhood. Cities are not perfect, and no government can be totally free of wrong doing, but city governments are more accountable and more manageable. On the first day of its existence, the City of LaVista Hills will have in place the auditing and ethics provisions which DeKalb County government has spent years debating without implementing – because too many county officials want to protect the status quo.”

DeKalb Strong, a group opposed to the current cityhood process – which Venet himself has described as a “hot mess” – argues that new government doesn’t automatically mean better government. The group says that the creation of Dunwoody in 2008, and Brookhaven in 2012, hasn’t changed DeKalb’s trajectory.

“DeKalb County is in dire need of reform, which is one of DeKalb’s Strong’s major causes,” DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook said. “Unfortunately, cityhood in DeKalb has failed to provide any positive change. In the years since cities began forming, corruption has gotten worse, not better. Fixing county problems requires all of us to come together as a community, not to fragment. Creating new cities does little about corruption, it just adds more seats to the trough.”

Decaturish also puts the tally of cityhood movements in DeKalb at four with a possible fifth new city we’d never heard of.

The DeKalb Champion has confirmed that someone has purchased a legal ad this week advertising a bill for a proposed City of Winship. The bill’s sponsor is unknown. No map is available.

The new cities currently under consideration are Tucker, LaVista Hills, Greenhaven and Stonecrest. A city of Winship could be a wildcard that adds further confusion to an already muddled process. In addition to those cities, there are also annexation plans under consideration for Decatur, Avondale Estates and the city of Atlanta.

Bill to allow creation of cities of LaVista Hills, Tucker, and South Fulton were passed out of the yesterday.

Both the Tucker and LaVista Hills bills, House Bill 515 and House Bill 520, were introduced Monday and appear to be moving rapidly toward a full House vote before getting consideration by the Senate.

The South Fulton measure, House Bill 514, also moved forward without any opposition. Similar legislation, Senate Bill 140, will be considered by the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.

 

Snellville, SMH

Snellville has yet another distraction, as City Clerk Phyllis Richardson has filed a federal complaint alleging racial discrimination, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Richardson claims in documents obtained by the Daily Post that she has been mistreated by the city manager, members of the city council and other officials, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The alleged incidents, mostly in verbal interactions and emails, date back to January 2014, when Mayor Kelly Kautz hired Richardson against the council’s wishes.

Richardson’s attorney, Harry Daniels, said the complaint had been received by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission reviews such reports and decides whether to take action in court.

The complaint, which is the latest political point of contention in troubled city, points out that the members of the council and City Manager Butch Sanders are white, as is Melisa Arnold, whom Richardson replaced. The mayor, who is also white, is named only as a witness to the alleged mistreatment

Members of the council, the mayor and Sanders said they hadn’t heard of the complaint Tuesday afternoon. They were leery of commenting on the allegations specifically without time to take them in.

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