Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 12, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 12, 2016

Today is Georgia Day, celebrating the founding of the Thirteenth Colony on February 12, 1733.

After years of planning and two months crossing the Atlantic, James Oglethorpe and 114 colonists climbed 40 feet up the bluff from the Savannah River on this day in 1733 and founded the colony of Georgia.

George II granted the Georgia trustees a charter for the colony a year earlier. The trustees’ motto was Non Sibi Sed Allis—not for self but for others. Georgia would be a philanthropic and military enterprise that would provide the “worthy” poor a new start and serve as a buffer between Spanish Florida and the English colonies.

The trustees prohibited slavery and large landholdings….

Congress enacted the first fugitive slave law, on February 12, 1793 requiring states to return runaway slaves to their owners, even if the state in which the slave was captured did not permit slavery.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

On February 12, 1867, the editor of the Milledgeville Federal Union expressed dismay at the rapidity with which Atlanta was growing and basically everything about Atlanta.

“Atlanta is certainly a fast place in every sense of the word, and our friends in Atlanta are a fast people. They live fast and they die fast. They make money fast and they spend it fast. They build houses fast, and they burn them down fast… . They have the largest public buildings, and the most of them, and they pass the most resolutions of any people, ancient or modern. To a stranger the whole city seems to be running on wheels, and all of the inhabitants continually blowing off steam.”

On February 13, 1941, Gov. Eugene Talmadge signed legislation that proposed a Constitutional Amendment changing the 2-year terms for Governor and other statewide Constitutional Officers to 4-year.

On February 13, 1956, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed legislation adopting a new state flag incorporating the Confederate battle flag.

On February 12, 1999, the United States Senate voted 55-45 against convicting impeached President Bill Clinton on a charge of perjury. Senator Paul Coverdell voted guilty and Senator Max Cleland voted not guilty. On the second charge of obstructing justice, Coverdell and 49 other Republicans voted guilty and Cleland joined 49 other senators in voting not guilty. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to convict a President, so Clinton was acquitted on both counts.

On February 13, 2007, United States Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-Augusta) died at home.

On February 14, 2012, we published the first edition of the GaPundit daily political news, featuring dogs. We originally thought that the dogs would be temporary until enough people complained about them that we felt the need to go to once a week. We were surprised that the adoptable dogs have become the signature of GaPundit’s otherwise-political offerings and our greatest success. With you help, we estimate we’ve saved about 70 dogs during the past two years, based on reports from readers. Thank you!

Two years ago, on February 12, 2014, most of Georgia state government was closed by Executive Order because of an ice storm.

On February 10, 2015, on the anniversary of the United States House of Representatives passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation proclaiming February as Black History Month.

Under the Gold Dome

Today, the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee meets from 9:30 AM to noon in Room 406 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. They are scheduled to hear testimony, but not vote on, House Bill 772 by Rep. Allen Peake (Medical Cannabis) and House Bill 941 by Chairman Rich Golick (Review of incidents involving law enforcement use of deadly force).

The State House passed the Pastor Protection Act unanimously.

Georgia lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill explicitly stating that religious officials can refuse to perform gay marriages, their first significant action on a variety of proposals creating legal exemptions for same-sex marriage opponents.

Supporters of the “Pastor Protection Act” acknowledge that religious leaders already have that protection under the U.S. Constitution, but argue it will reassure them following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year legalizing gay marriage.

The court’s decision has prompted at least eight bills that would create exemptions for opponents of the marriages in Georgia, one of more than 20 states where lawmakers have introduced such proposals.

The Georgia bill shielding religious officials moved quickly through the House with backing from the chamber’s top Republican, House Speaker David Ralston, and little resistance from gay-rights advocates and business leaders who have opposed broader bills.

“I hope that the passage … will ease the concerns that some have expressed that last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision would threaten the independence of places of worship and the actions of clergy,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, the leading LGBT rights advocacy group in the state. “I can relate to the fears of discrimination because the LGBT community is not currently protected by any nondiscrimination laws on a state or federal level.”

An old story has a veteran House member counseling a younger colleague that members of the other party aren’t the enemy, but the opposition. “The Senate is the enemy,” is both the punchline and a truism of legislative politics. Yesterday, the Georgia General Assembly illustrated this dynamic.

You can watch the story on WSB-TV.

Senate Bill 308 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and others was passed by the Senate yesterday on a party-line vote and heads to the State House. From the AJC report:

The Georgia Senate approved an effort Thursday to make state grants available to dozens of pregnancy resource centers across Georgia, something the legislation’s sponsor said was a “positive alternative” to restricting women’s access to abortions.

Senate Bill 308 would create a grant program through the state Department of Public Health that promoted pregnancy and parenting efforts at these centers. The bill would require the department to ensure none of the money was used to counsel women to get an abortion unless necessary to prevent her death. The money also could not be used to pay for an abortion or for referrals to clinics that provide abortions.

During an emotional hour-and-a-half-long debate in the chamber, the bill’s sponsor, Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said there are about 70 pregnancy resource centers statewide and that their objective is to encourage a live birth. “They do a fabulous job because they offer alternative services other than abortion,” said Unterman, who estimates that there are about 27,000 abortions each year in Georgia. The bill would require the state to track how many women seek an abortion after receiving services from the centers.

Unterman identifies as an anti-abortion advocate and has actively pushed a number of abortion bills in her 17 years at the Capitol, including helping to write a 2007 law requiring an ultrasound or sonogram be offered before an abortion is performed in Georgia.

Democrats opposed Unterman’s new proposal, saying it allowed the state to fund what state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, called “biased organizations” that may not employ doctors or anyone with medical experience that some women need to see for health reasons. State Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said she worried the centers may provide “false advertising” or “misleading information” about their services.

Senator Unterman also recently introduced Senate Bill 352 to regulate online fantasy sports contests that include an entry fee and cash prize, commonly referred to as “fantasy sports websites.” Again from Kristina Torres at the AJC.

Unterman called the legislation a “consumer protection” effort, saying an estimated 1.5 million people play daily fantasy sports in Georgia.

Notably, she wrote the bill to differentiate daily fantasy sports from gambling — something Georgia bans other than in lottery games and slot-like machines known as coin-operated amusement machines.

“This is a game of skill, that you are actually following and researching the players and teams, versus just going in and plopping down $3 for a lottery ticket and the computer generates the numbers,” Unterman said.

Peach State Presidential Endorsements

Former Georgia Republican Party Chairman Alec Poitevint has endorsed Marco Rubio for President. I questioned on Twitter last night how much an AJC headline reading “Marco Rubio picks up another establishment Georgia Republican endorsement” helps in the era of Outsider David Perdue, whose 2014 campaign Poitevint chaired, and Donald Trump.

Is Alec Poitevint “the ultimate insider in Georgia’s Republican Party,” as the AJC called him, or is he “the original ‘outsider’ in Georgia politics,” as Perdue 2014 Campaign Manager Billy Kirkland said? I’d argue that he’s both.

When I worked at the Georgia Republican Party in 1991 or 92, Alec Poitevint was chair, and he since chaired the GAGOP during much of the 2000s and managed the 2012 Republican National Convention. That last credential arguably makes him an “insider” at the national level, at least. During the 1990s, the Georgia Republican Party was an insurgent minority party made up of definitive outsiders.

Since the early 2000s, when Alec led the party to takeover state government in Georgia, roles have switched. David Shafer, who served as Executive Director of the GAGOP in those early years now sits in the office closest to the floor of the State Senate, where he serves as the chambers elected President Pro Tem.

At some level we’re arguing about the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

Speaking of outsiders and insiders, Donald Trump’s campaign has released a list of endorsers:

Today Donald J. Trump for President Inc. announced the endorsements of dozens of Georgia officials including that of his first statewide elected official, Public Service Commission Chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr.

Mr. Trump stated, “It is my great honor to receive these coveted and influential endorsements from tremendous people in the state of Georgia. I have visited many times and had great crowds and poll numbers. I look forward to being in Georgia again soon and working with each of these local leaders to Make America Great Again.”

McDonald served 20 years as a State Representative in the Georgia Legislature and also served as a commissioner in Jackson County, served on the Board of Managers of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and volunteered as a Firefighter for the city of Commerce for 35 years. He joins the campaign as a Statewide Co-Chair.

McDonald said, “Mr. Trump is a proven leader with unparalleled success. He has the capabilities to make our country stronger and better than ever before. I am proud to endorse his candidacy for President of the United States along with many other community leaders here in Georgia.”

Former State Representative Mitchell Kaye will lead the local elected officials coalition.

We’ve also got a huge list of incredible winners endorsing Trump, the biggest list of endorsers ever. You’re going to love it.


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