Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 10, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 10, 2016

On February 11, 1733, the first military formation in Georgia was held, as male colonists assembled with their muskets.

On February 11, 1776, Georgia Royal Governor Sir James Wright escaped from house arrest in Savannah to a waiting British warship HMS Scarborough.

Burt Reynolds was born on February 11, 1936 in Lansing, Michigan, though some accounts say Waycross, Georgia. Beginning with Deliverance, filmed along the Chattooga River in North Georgia in 1972, Georgia rose to number three in the nation for film production while Reynolds’s star rose to prominence. Other Reynolds movies filmed in Georgia include The Longest Yard, Gator, Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Sharkey’s Machine.

Under the Gold Dome

Senate Committee Meetings


1:00 PM Insurance and Labor 450 CAP

2:00 PM Judiciary – CANCELED 307 CLOB

3:00 PM Transportation – CANCELED 125 CAP

3:00 PM Judiciary Non-Civil 307 CLOB

House Committee Meetings

TBD Floor Session (LD 20) House Chamber – 10:00AM

8:00 AM Approp Higher Ed Sub 506 CLOB

8:00 AM NAT’AL RES. & ENV’T 606 CLOB

8:30 AM Juvenile Justice Ballinger Sub 515 CLOB

9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM Juvenile Justice Efstration Sub 415 CLOB

1:30 PM Judiciary Non-Civil Pak Sub 505 CLOB

2:00 PM Judiciary Civil Setzler Sub 406 CLOB


Senate Rules Calendar

SB 115 – Physician Assistants; authorize a physician to delegate to physician assistant the authority to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances (H&HS – Hufstetler)

SB 158 – Consumer and Provider Protection Act; provide certain consumer and provider protections regarding health insurance (I&L – Burke)

SB 271 – Mental Health; provide reasonable standards for providing patients notice; admission to an emergency receiving facility (H&HS – Unterman)

SB 308 – Health; Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program; establish; definitions; administration and duties (H&HS – Unterman)

House Rules Calendar

Modified Open Rule

HB 193 Life Insurance Consumer Disclosure Model Act; enact (Substitute) (Ins-Rogers-29th)

HB 219 Health; swimming pools; exempt certain privately owned pools from inspection and licensing requirements (Substitute)(SP&CA-Jones-167th)

HB 821 “Military Spouses and Veterans Licensure Act”; enact (SBD-Williams-168th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 811 Banking and finance; update, modernize, and streamline numerous Code
sections; revise provisions (Substitute)(B&B-Williamson-115th)

Structured Rule

HB 769 Ad valorem tax; certain watercraft held for sale or resale; make permanent an exemption (W&M-Hawkins-27th)

HB 822 Sales and use tax; energy used in agriculture; revise definition (W&M-Coomer-14th)

HR 1198 Natural Resources, Department of; Environmental Protection Division1; review its regulations providing for the protection of underground drinking water; encourage (Substitute)(NR&E-Smith-70th)

Legislation & Local Issues

Yesterday, Franklin Graham drew a capacity crowd, filling Liberty Plaza across the street from the State Capitol. Here’s what it looked like:

Capitol Franklin Graham Panorama

I took the panorama above, the shot below is from Graham’s Facebook page.

Georgia Capitol by Franklin Graham

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) posted on Facebook during the rally,

Thousands of people made the journey from all over Georgia to attend a prayer rally led by Rev Franklin Graham. Unfortunately we could not attend due to session, but believe me, we all felt the power of prayer. If our country is ever going to turn itself around, prayer is the answer. We are grateful so many people braved the cold and chose to listen to the message of helping us to make the right decisions.

Our country was founded based upon the belief of religion. It cannot be sanitized out like taking your clothes to the cleaners and washing them clean. Our Judeo/Christian beliefs are integral to lift us out of the last eight years to return us to prosperity and the basic principals that make our nation great. Prayer was and will always be the answer. The power of prayer saved my life in the darkest hours. It will also save America. These people and many, many other Georgians who could not attend, are testament to that power.

CNN was there to cover the rally.

Evangelist Franklin Graham on Wednesday urged thousands of Christians gathered near the Georgia Capitol to make their voices heard in this year’s elections, saying the consequences of inaction are dire.

“I don’t think we’re going to make it another election cycle if we don’t get God’s voice back in the political arena,” the reverend said after speaking to an estimated 4,500 people in Atlanta on a cold, blustery afternoon.

“I want to get Christians to run for office at every level. The Christian voice needs to be heard,” he said.

Graham’s tour has a three-fold purpose: call the nation to prayer; remind people to vote part of a Christian and civic duty; and to have people look at the election year from a spiritual standpoint.

“I feel that we going to have to meet our political obligations as Christians and make our voice known if America is to be preserved with the type of Christian heritage which has given us the liberties we now enjoy,” Franklin Graham said, quoting his dad. “For unless America turns back to God, repents of its sin, and experiences a spiritual revival, we will fail as a nation.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus), asked the Senate Rules Committee to delay debate on his Senate Bill 284.

Kirk has said his bill would not allow public employees to avoid duties of their job, including clerks who issue marriage licenses. Gay-rights advocates oppose the bill, saying it sanctions discrimination.

The proposal is one of at least eight measures filed by Georgia lawmakers this year following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Senators Vincent Fort and Horacena Tate, both Atlanta Democrats, filed Senate Resolution 809 to prohibit municipal and county governments from contracting for private parking enforcement. It seems squarely aimed at ParkAtlanta, the firm that provides parking enforcement in Atlanta. Fort tweeted Stop predatory parking enforcement. Sign petition Support Sen. Resolution 809.”

Fort spoke to WABE about his legislation,

Fort said the problem with for-profit companies is they have a financial incentive to write tickets.

“You know, these guys are nothing but predators and they ought to be booted themselves, in a matter of speaking,” Fort said.

Fort has filed a bill in the state Senate to prevent cities and counties from entering into contracts with private parking management companies — just as the City of Atlanta reviews its contract with PARKAtlanta, which took over parking management more than six years ago.

If you agree with Fort’s legislation, you can sign an online petition to show your support.

I’m reminded of a song called “Lincoln Park Pirates,” about a predatory parking company. When I was a child, it was one of my favorites, along with “Puff the Magic Dragon.

Rep. Dustin Hightower (R-Carrollton) has offered legislation to refine anti-fraud measures that he says are too punitive.

Hightower wants to change a state law he describes as harmful to Georgians with disabilities.

“Look, we need to pull back some of this regulation that’s hurting people in our state,” Hightower told Channel 2’s Matt Belanger.

“There are more than 1,200 pages of regulations that we have to live under,” Whitney Fuchs with enAble of Georgia told Belanger.

Fuchs operates dozens of group homes across the state.

He calls the bill, which would give providers 30 days to fix paperwork mistakes with no penalties, a step in the right direction.

“To deflect some of the zero tolerance that’s been borne upon us by an overzealous audit process,” Fuchs said.

But he says the state should also do more to help workers interpret and follow the complex rules.

“Simply putting things on paper and saying ‘follow it, do it’ isn’t an adequate way of regulating an industry,” Fuchs said.

11Alive has more on opposition by Georgia sheriffs to in-state cultivation of marijuana to provide medicinal oil for patients allowed to have it.

“I don’t think Georgia’s ready for it,” said Sheriff Steve Wilson, Walker County Sheriff and Georgia Sheriff’s Association President.

What will we want next?”

What is next?

The unknowns, always leading back to one big elephant in the room during this discussion.

“My question is, will it be cultivation for recreational purposes?”

Medical marijuana leading to recreational marijuana is clearly the concern for Wilson and Georgia’s sheriffs.

“We’re taking baby steps toward recreational marijuana in Georgia.”

Wilson admits there may be a way to at least bring the legal cultivation of medical marijuana in Georgia to the table for discussion.

He believes it’s possible if it is grown in a university setting and is tightly and strictly controlled by the federal government.

Legislators from Bibb County are stepping back from a fight over the powers of the Macon-Bibb County Mayor and Commission.

Right now, Macon-Bibb’s mayor has sole power to fire department heads, as well as people such as the clerk of the commission, county attorney and Municipal Court judge.

But a majority of Macon-Bibb’s county commissioners think they should be able to hear appeals from any top employees that the mayor fires. They voted last year to ask Macon-Bibb’s lawmakers in Atlanta to grant them that power by changing the county’s charter.

“We feel comfortable the charter is expressive of the will of Macon-Bibb voters” who approved it in 2012, said state Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, the chair of the delegation of eight Macon-Bibb lawmakers.

A change to the charter would need the approval of five Macon-Bibb lawmakers for easiest passage through the full Legislature. But Epps said that at a meeting Monday, he and three others voted against the proposal. Four opponents is enough to block the idea.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office will hold hearings in the long-time border dispute between Monroe and Bibb Counties.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) announced he will retire after his current term.

“For the past nine years I have had the incredible honor of representing my family, friends and neighbors in the Georgia House of Representatives,” Ramsey said Wednesday. “It is with a grateful heart that I am announcing after lengthy consultation with my family, friends and business partners that I have decided not to seek reelection this year. My family has been incredibly supportive during my time in public office. However, with my children in the midst of their most formative years and my wife’s professional responsibilities increasing, the time is right to step away from public office and devote my full attention to supporting them.”

Ramsey in the Feb. 10 announcement noted the increasing work responsibilities in his law practice.

“… largely due to the unwavering support of my colleagues at work, I have managed to spend the last nine years with my professional focus divided between my law practice and my duties as an elected official,” Ramsey said. “Given the growing nature of our practice, I need to spend the years ahead with my full professional focus on our business.”

“I am not closing the door on considering future opportunities in public office, but for now I look forward to finding new and different avenues to serve the community in my private capacity,” Ramsey said.

Former Peachtree City Mayor Harold Logsdon announced that he will run for Ramsey’s seat representing House District 72.

“We need proven conservative leadership to succeed Rep. Ramsey in our state’s capital, and I’m confident my 38 years with the National Guard, 36 years with BellSouth, and full-term as Mayor of Peachtree City will enable us to achieve conservative legislative success,” said Logsdon. “Rep. Ramsey will be a tough act to follow; he’s done an exceptional job while in office. However, I believe I am up to the challenge to represent the 72nd District.”

After 38 years of service to the Guard, Logsdon retired with the rank of Colonel. He commanded at the company and battalion level, held key staff assignments as a Colonel, and graduated from the United States Army War College.

While serving in the Guard, Logsdon also pursued a career in business with BellSouth. He started as a lineman, and after 36 years with the company, he retired as an Audit Manager at the Bellsouth Corporate Headquarters.

In 2005, Logsdon was elected Mayor of Peachtree City.

“There are many issues facing Georgians, including education reform, transportation, taxes and the budget — just to name a few,” said Logsdon. “I am confident I bring the experience to face the challenges.”

Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals announced he will run for reelection to the spot he has held since 2008.

Presidential Politics

Republican candidates Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have suspended their campaigns for President in the wake of the New Hampshire Primary.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp spoke to a group from Columbia County about the SEC Primary and opportunities for Georgia voters.

“I always have been frustrated … that Georgia was not more of a player in the presidential primaries,” he said, noting that the Peach State has the fourth largest delegate count in the Republican Party.

As the remaining candidates campaign in Georgia and neighboring states, they provide the opportunity Kemp was angling for.

“You can have your voice be heard when it really matters,” he said, Tuesday in speaking to a leadership class sponsored by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce that was visiting the Capitol.

Kemp believes Georgians can win commitments to some of their own economic interests, such as the deepening of the Savannah River channel, military bases, cybersecurity and poultry.

“When they’re thinking about agriculture policy, we don’t need them only thinking about Iowa and corn,” he said. “We need them thinking about our chickens that eat all that corn.”


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