Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 21, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 21, 2016

Lieutenant William T. Sherman was ordered to Georgia for the first time in his military career on January 21, 1844.

United States Senator and former Georgia House Speaker and Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. died on January 21, 1971.

On January 21, 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned draft resistors from the Vietnam War era and urged Americans to conserve energy.

On January 21, 1978, the Bee Gees Saturday Night Live album hit #1 on the sales charts, where it would stay for 24 weeks.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

GRTL March 20162

Georgia Right to Life will hold its annual Georgia March for Life tomorrow, beginning at 11 AM in Liberty Plaza across the street from the Capitol. Click here for more information.

House Committee Meetings




2:00 PM Ways & Means Sub on Income Tax 133 CAP

2:30 PM Judiciary Civil Fleming Sub 132 CAP

Senate Committee Meetings

8:00 AM APPROPRIATIONS – Subcommittees schedule 341 CAP, 406 CLOB, 506 CLOB, 606 CLOB



Like Heisenberg with a heart, State Rep. Allen Peake spoke on the record with the AJC’s Political Insider Jim Galloway about the issues surrounding procurement of medical cannabis oil for parents in Georgia.

Last spring, when Gov. Nathan Deal signed Haleigh’s Hope Act into law, you might have assumed that Georgia’s fight over the use of cannabis oil to treat seizures and other conditions was over.

The new law gives limited protection to those who use or administer the substance. But possession of marijuana in any form remains a violation of federal law, as does transporting it across state lines – and into Georgia.

To address this last point, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, has introduced House Bill 722. The measure would expand the number of diseases and conditions for which cannabis oil could be prescribed, which alone has inflamed prosecuting attorneys.

“Listen, I made a commitment to these families when I got involved, that I was willing to do whatever it took to make sure they had access to a product from a reputable manufacturer. I’ve made good on that promise. If it involved civil disobedience, it’s been absolutely worth it,” Peake said. He paused to consider his next thought, then continued.

“I got a text this morning from the mother of a young child who I delivered product to,” he said.

“We’re on the record,” I reminded him. Peake didn’t miss a beat.

“And the heartfelt thanks from this mother, the difference in this child – the increase in cognitive ability, the reduction in seizures, has been worth every bit of risk that I’ve taken,” he said.

This isn’t grand jury material. Peake offered no dates, times, or names. But what he described could be considered a felony in the eyes of federal, even local prosecutors.

Speaking of marijuana, a group of legislators led by Sen. Harold Jones (D-Augusta) wants to remove the felony status for possession.

Jones said a felony drug conviction also ends welfare benefits, the HOPE scholarship, professional licenses, the right to vote and eligibility to serve on juries.

“What this bill does do is bring people out of economic and social prison,” said Jones, a former city prosecutor.

Black Caucus Chairwo­man Dee Dawkins-Haigler, D-Lithonia, is sponsoring a similar bill in the House.

“African-Americans have received disproportionate convictions as it relates to marijuana possession,” she said. “We have to be honest, have a genuine conversation about disproportionate sentencing.”

The bill’s critics include the chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Com­mit­tee, Rep. Sharon Cooper.

“To not have a criminal offense for any amount of marijuana is just ludicrous because if you’re possessing a huge amount of marijuana, then you’re distributing it and getting other people addicted to it,” the Marietta Republican said.

Greg Bluestein writes about reactions to the First Amendment Defense Act by Sen. Greg Kirk.

State Sen. Greg Kirk will hold a press conference later Thursday introducing his legislation that aims to protect some employees who object to gay marriage. But leaked versions of the bill have already provoked the ire of gay rights groups and others.

The legislation blocks the government from taking any discriminatory action against anyone who acts “in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

Kirk has said he designed his legislation to be more “palatable” to the business community than the religious liberty proposals that have divided the Legislature the last two years. But he’s clearly got some convincing to do.

He may have convinced several of his colleagues, as Senator Renee Unterman tweeted a photo yesterday of herself with Senator Kirk and Sen. P.K. Martin, saying “Gwinnettians signing First Amendment Defense Act.”

Unterman Kirk FADA

Senator Fran Millar (R-Fighting 40th) has introduced two bills addressing property tax valuation.

One bill, Senate Bill 259, would create a homestead exemption for the taxes for state, county, municipal or school purposes. The exemptions would not apply to additional land added to the homestead, or improvements, made to it, after Jan. 1. Another member of Gwinnett’s legislative delegation, Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, is a co-sponsor on the bill.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 258 would prevent county boards of equalization from increasing the assessed value of a piece of property from being increased after the board of tax assessors during an appeals hearing on the value. The boards would be allowed to reduce the value, however.

Mayoral appointments in Macon-Bibb County may be revisited this year to address what may be an imbalance with the Mayor having considerably more power to appoint than is common in other jurisdictions.

The Macon [Judicial] Circuit Public Defender Supervisory Committee has advanced two nominees for interviews to be the next public defender.

The Mayor and City Council in Centerville have endorsed the Houston County E-SPLOST on the March 1 ballot.

The Atlanta Regional Commission says that current trends will make Gwinnett County the state’s most populous by 2040, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The projection was part of ARC board Chairman Kerry Armstrong’s State of the Region Address, which he delivered to the Gwinnett Chamber at the 1818 Club in Duluth on Wednesday. The county is currently estimated to have about 860,000 residents and that number is expected to continue growing and surpass the 1 million people mark in the future.

“Gwinnett plays a pivotal role in everything this region does,” said Armstrong, whose ARC board district includes part of Gwinnett.

The board chairman said the region had the fourth largest job growth in the nation in the past year, with nearly 80,000 jobs created. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has been dropping, and is now around 5.2 percent.

“Job growth means more people coming here, and according to our estimates, the region added 60,000 people in the last year, the largest growth since 2008,” Armstrong said.

Although Armstrong was looking out as far as 2040 when he talked about population growth, the ARC estimates the point where Gwinnett surpasses Fulton as the region’s most populous county could come as early as a 2025-2030 window.

U.S. Army Capt. Robert “Bobby” Goolsby received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained when his Huey was shot down in Vietnam in 1971, presented by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. A Westmoreland staffer who was himself a marine helicopter pilot helped their constituent deal with the military bureaucracy that delayed the award nearly 45 years.

Congessman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) held a Town Hall in Savannah to hear from constituents.

Carter said he was proud to have voted for a long-term highway bill that focuses on improving infrastructure and said he fully intends to keep fighting the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Next week, he said, he’ll be there when the House votes on whether to override President Obama’s veto of a Republican-led bill repealing the very act that bears the president’s name.

“I don’t know how it will stand up,” Carter said. “We’ll see. But we’re going to have that vote.”

Carter said his office conducted 15 telephone town hall meetings last year. Staffers call First District constituents, ask if they’d like to stay on the line, and give them an opportunity to listen and ask questions. In December, Carter said, about 11,000 people took part in a call.

Carter also outlined his “must-pass legislation” for 2016. Some issues he considers key are repealing Obamacare, supporting the Second Amendment and taking action on the Islamic State.

“We have got to have a plan on how we’re going to defeat ISIS,” he said. “These people are out to defeat us.”


Yesterday, in a Press Conference at the State Capitol, State Senator Mike Crane announced he will run for the Third Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

Crane Surrounded Front

“The message is we are tired of vending machine politics.” Crane said. “You put in enough money, you push a button and you get what you want. That ends today.”

“Some people around this Capitol were counting on conservatives in this district dividing themselves and cancelling each other out. They don’t get it. We are about advancing the ideas of the conservative movement.” Said State Senator Josh McKoon.

In his endorsement of Senator Crane, Senator Josh McKoon stated “We need a champion for small government, lower taxes, and less regulation; someone who will be a champion of life and religious liberty. Mike Crane is that champion!”

Check the website for full details of the Press Conference.

Yesterday, I watched a video that Erick Erickson had posted that appears to have been done by a Super PAC supporting Ted Cruz.

At 13:45 in, a photo that I took last year, when Cruz spoke at Rock Springs Church in Milner, GA appears.

Ted Cruz Faith in Action

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