Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 9, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 9, 2016

On February 9, 1825, the United States House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as President of the United States, despite his having received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. Congress voted for the President after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the 1824 election.

The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House.

Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected. Clay and Adams were both members of a loose coalition in Congress that by 1828 became known as the National Republicans, while Jackson’s supporters were later organized into the Democratic Party.

Alexander Stephens was elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861.

On February 9, 1926, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to prohibit teaching evolution in the Atlanta Public Schools.

On February 9, 1964, the Beatles debuted in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

On Friday, February 12, 2016, the Georgia Archives in Morrow will display’s Georgia’s copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Royal Charter that created the colony in commemoration of Georgia’s founding on February 12, 1733.

On Jan. 18, 1777, the Continental Congress met in Baltimore, Md., and ordered that copies of the Declaration of Independence be printed and sent to each of the 13 states. The states were directed to make the Declaration a part of their official records. Georgia’s copy was officially entered into the records on March 2, 1777.

Today, the Declaration is protected with Georgia’s other “birth documents,” which are the Royal Charter that created the colony in 1733 and Georgia’s 1788 ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the document that made Georgia a state. All are kept in a high-security vault where a constant temperature and humidity are maintained to ensure their long-term survival.

The Georgia Archives has limited public viewing of its copy of the Declaration in order to mitigate the fading, deterioration and other damage caused by frequent exhibits.

The Georgia Archives is at 5800 Jonesboro Road in Morrow. For more information, visit or call 678-364-3710.

Under the Gold Dome

Senate Committee Meetings


1:00 PM Ethics 307 CLOB

1:00 PM Government Oversight 125 CAP

2:00 PM Retirement 310 CLOB

2:00 PM Judiciary 307 CLOB

2:00 PM State and Local Gov’t Ops 125 CAP

3:00 PM Banking and Finance 310 CLOB

4:00 PM Judiciary Non-Civil 307 CLOB

House Committee Meetings

8:00 AM Approp Econ Dev Sub 606 CLOB

8:00 AM Approp Gen’l Gov’t Sub 403 CAP

9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP



1:30 PM W&M Tax Reform Sub 133 CAP


2:00 PM Health Human Svcs 606 CLOB

2:00 PM W&M Sales Tax Sub 133 CAP


2:00 PM Ins Admin/Licensing Sub 515 CLOB

3:00 PM Pub Safety Homeland Sec 406 CLOB

3:00 PM Local Government Sub 515 CLOB

3:00 PM HB 872 Sub 403 CAP

3:30 PM Approp Gen’l Gov’t Sub 415 CLOB

4:00 PM Elections Sub 515 CLOB

Senate Rules Calendar

SB 255 – Garnishment Proceedings; modernize, reorganize, and provide constitutional protections (As Introduced) (Substitute) (JUDY-23rd)

SB 307 – Public Roads; provide for definitions relative to advertising (As Introduced) (Substitute) (TRANS-21st)

HB 742 – Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code; define terms; incorporate certain provisions of federal law into Georgia law (As Passed House)(FIN-32nd) Knight-130th

House Rules Calendar

Modified Open Rule

HB 483 State symbols; shoal bass as official state native riverine sport fish; designate (GF&P-Buckner-137th)

HB 697 Unsolicited merchandise; solicitors to receive from consumers affirmative assent to continued receipt of certain merchandise following a free trial before charging; require (Substitute)(A&CA-Kirby-114th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 739 Elementary and secondary education; process for state approved instructional materials and content is optional; provide (Substitute)(Ed-Tanner-9th)

HB 765 Social services; board member appointments may include certain retired individuals; provide (GAff-Powell-171st)

HB 866 Insurance; multiple employer self-insured health plans; exempt from premium taxes (Ins-Blackmon-146th)

HB 870 Quality Basic Education Act; high schools that receive state funding cannot participate in an athletic association which prohibits religious expression on clothing of student athletes; provide (Ed-Strickland-111th)

Legislation & Local Issues

Renee 34side

Yesterday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 278 by Sen. Renee Unterman, increasing penalties for people found guilty of the crimes of pimping and pandering. From the AJC’s Janel Davis,

[S]econd and subsequent convictions for the crime would be a felony and carry a punishment of between one and ten years in jail for victims 16 and older. For convictions involving victims younger than 16, the penalty would be ten to 30 years in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.

The bill, approved 53-0 by the Senate, takes the work Georgia has done combating child sex trafficking a step forward, said Unterman, R-Buford.

Today, the House will consider HB 870 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough), which addresses the issue of high school athletes with religious expressions on their uniforms. From Neighbor Newspapers,

In the state Legislature, Henry County delegate District 111 State Rep. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, said he wants to “prohibit discrimination” by the Georgia High School Association.

A bill … proposes to use the purse strings of the Georgia Department of Education to vacate the association’s membership.

If passed, all schools receiving funding through the Quality Basic Education Act of 1984 – basically, all public schools in Georgia – will have to resign from the association

Strickland said he wrote the piece of legislation because Community Christian School and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in Stockbridge, which are in his district, “use the same cross country track but are not allowed to even have practice meets together” due to association rules.

“I was approached about the inability of our local private schools to play scrimmage matches this past fall and agreed to help,” he said.

[A]nother provision bars schools that receive state funds from participating “in athletic associations that prohibit religious expression on the clothing of student athletes.”

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) continues to try to move forward with legislation to expand the diseases for which cannabidiol oil is prescribale and to enable in-state cultivation and processing, according to Maggie Lee with the Macon Telegraph.

Peake’s House Bill 722 would allow the state to license up to six medical cannabis cultivators. Each license holder could grow the plant and manufacture liquid or pill treatments for Georgians who have any of 17 diagnoses.

Peake, R-Macon, said the point of his bill is to get the compounds into the hands of seriously ill Georgians.

But after two hours of being examined by a panel packed with lawyers, Peake said there are parts of his bill that he will need to work on in the coming days.

Members of the committee who were hearing the bill poked holes in its language. Among other things, they suggested that the diagnosis of “intractable pain” might be open to abuse and that patients might cause legal problems for employers who want to comply with the state’s drug-free workplace program.

Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk said the bill is hard to swallow. The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association opposes cultivation in the state.

“We already have a number of guidelines that are used for prescription drugs and controlling that. However we see that doctors and patients abuse that daily, and we deal with it every day on the street. … To only add something else to that issue is a grave concern,” Sisk said.

13WMAZ in Macon has more on Sheriffs’ objections to in-state cultivation.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese went with some members of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association to speak in opposition of the bill. He says his biggest concern is how law enforcement would regulate it.

Deese says their counterparts in Colorado call it a “nightmare.”

“When we were convinced there was some medical use for sick children, naturally, we want the medicine to be used for the people that need help,” he explains. “But last year, that bill was increased by adding other illnesses, and this year it’s migrated into more illnesses, and now into grow houses.”

Peake, however, says those concerns are unwarranted and the legislation will not lead to recreational use.

“I believe there is a little bit of overreaction as far as the security concerns given the limited number of facilities that will be growing medical marijuana in our state,” says Peake.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners could increase their pay to as much as $45,000 per year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The consensus was reached to increase the salaries, which could go up to as much as $45,000 per district commissioner, during a short, informal work session on Monday morning. The increase would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2017, after this year’s elections for three commission seats has been held, and would only affect the four district commission seats.

Chairman Charlotte Nash proposed the increase, but emphatically told her colleagues that she did not want her own position’s salary increased. The chairman’s salary of about $50,000 has not been changed in decades, and Nash said she felt it was inappropriate for her to accept a raise when she is also on the county’s retirement rolls.

“Since I’m already drawing a retirement check, it did not feel right to me to accept a raise,” Nash said. “That’s just my stance on it … I don’t want the district commissioners to be held up from getting an increase because of me, though.”

The commission is set to vote on the increase at its 2 p.m. business meeting on March 1. Whether the commissioners actually adopt a $45,000 salary for themselves remains to be seen, because they left the door open to possibly adopt a lower rate.

The Augusta Commission is set to renew a controversial contract with private probation provider Sentinel Offender Services, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The private contract costs the local government nothing up front, but it gives the for-profit company exclusive access to Augusta probationers, to whom it charges monitoring fees and leases monitoring equipment, such as a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet that costs offenders $11 per day.

The company has been named in more than a dozen civil rights lawsuits across the state. On Monday, the Geor­gia Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a Glynn County man jailed on a warrant obtained by Sentinel months after his probation sentence had expired.

As they did in 2014, Au­gusta commissioners heeded the elected judges’ opinion on keeping Sentinel.

“Most of the judges are for it, and who are we going to turn it over to?” Mayor Pro Tem Grady Smith said. “Who ought to know better about it than anybody? Not me, that’s for sure.”

Campaigns & Elections

Holly Veal announced she is running for Henry County District Attorney. Also running is McDonough attorney Matthew McCord.

Yesterday, I went to Tucker Recreation Center, where early voting is underway. At shortly after noon, 45 ballots had been cast, and there was no wait. Here’s the Republican sample ballot: you may note that several candidates who dropped out of the race still appear on the ballot.

Sample Ballot Georgia Early Voting 2016

As of the most recent Secretary of State’s absentee voting files, here are the DeKalb County votes so far

Total: 1540
In-Person: 325
Electronic: 146
Mailed: 1069

By Political Party
Democrat:  972
Republican:  558
None:  4
Non-Partisan:  6

And Gwinnett County, which has 5% higher turnout so far than DeKalb.

Total: 1617
In-Person: 180
Electronic: 77
Mailed: 1343

By Political Party
Democrat:  434
Republican:  1142
None:  34
Non-Partisan: 7

I should note that a Mailed ballot does not mean it has been returned yet, just that it has been issued.

The Marco Rubio campaign held a press conference with Congressman Austin Scott at the Georgia State Capitol yesterday.

Austin Scott Marco Rubio Press Conference

Senator P.K. Martin also spoke to the press conference.

PK Martin Rubio Country

As did Rep. Buzz Brockway.

Buzz Rubio2

The Rubio campaign also released an updated list of Georgia endorsements.

The list is headed by Republican U.S. Reps. Lynn Westmoreland of Grantville and Austin Scott of Tifton.

The list of Rubio’s endorsements was broken down into early supporters including Georgia Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, and state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, majority whip in the Georgia House of Representatives. Among those listed as “new” supporters were state House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, and veteran Georgia Reps. Tom Rice of Norcross and Chuck Martin of Alpharetta.

Scott, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Rubio has been a strong advocate for the U.S. military. He criticized GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for voting repeatedly against military appropriations bills before the Armed Services panel.

“It was Sen. Rubio who helped get the money back … after President Obama cut the military,” Scott said.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC has more on the Rubio endorsements.

Among Rubio’s newest supporters are state Sen. Rick Jeffares and longtime state Reps. Howard Maxwell and Gerald Greene. Also on the list were a handful of prosecutors, including Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.

“Marco Rubio has the strength to restore our military might, destroy ISIS, protect Israel, and secure our homeland,” said Reynolds in a statement. “I’m excited to join his effort to build a New American Century.”

They join a growing core of supporters that also include Rep. Austin Scott, Rubio’s Georgia chair, and state Reps. Geoff Duncan, Michael Caldwell, Chuck Efstration, Buzz Brockway, Trey Kelley and Bert Reeves.

Here’s the full list of Rubio’s latest pickups:

Marco Rubio’s Georgia Leadership Team:

State Representative Gerald Greene, Cuthbert
Cobb County DA Vic Reynolds
Cherokee County DA Shannon Wallace
Paulding County DA Dick Donovan
Douglas County Assistant DA Ryan Leonard
Senator Rick Jeffares; Chairman of Senate Regulated Industries
Representative Howard Maxwell; Chairman of House Regulated Industries
Mayor Teresa Philyaw, Hiram
Councilman Brandon Hembree, Sugar Hill

It was a well-timed event, garnering broadcast news time in Atlanta on the day that in-person early voting for the March 1 Presidential Preference Primary kicked off, though I’m not certain in a post-David Perdue world how helpful a headline like “Georgia GOP establishment rallies around Rubio” really is.


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