Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 29, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 29, 2016

On February 29, 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, arrest warrants were issued for Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, accusing the three women of witchcraft.

On February 29, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed the first Panama Canal Commission.

On February 29, 1904, Gone With the Wind received eight Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie Mcdaniel, the first African-American winner.

On February 29, 1936, a board appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt recommended constructing a dam on the Savannah River at Clarks Hill, north of Augusta.

Under the Gold Dome Today

Today is Day 30 of the Georgia General Assembly 2016 Session, called “Crossover Day.” Any bills that haven’t been passed by at least one chamber by adjournment are not eligible for passage this year. After today, each chamber will begin considering bills that originated across the rotunda in the other chamber.


12:00 PM RULES -TBD 450 CAP




9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP


SB 6 – Georgia Road Safety and Driver’s License Integrity Act; provide persons who possess lawful alien status are only category of non-citizens (PUB SAF – McKoon)

SB 77 – DNA Sampling, Collection, and Analysis; provide for analysis and collection of DNA for individuals arrested and convicted of felony offenses (JUDY NC – Albers)

SB 206 – Counties and Municipal Corporations; revise provisions relating to water liens; procedures (JUDY – Ligon)

SB 304 – Criminal Records; allow for the preservation of a person’s involuntary hospitalization information received by Georgia Crime Information (PUB SAF – Parent)

SB 310 – “Transparency in Education Act”; prohibit implementation of certain grants; written analysis; grant terms are ratified by Gen. Assembly (ED&Y – Ligon)

SB 328 – Education; students who are subject to compulsory attendance shall not be assigned to alternative education program for more than two semesters (ED&Y – E. Jones)

SB 336 – Retirement; permit governing bodies of municipal corporations to enact plans by resolution in addition to ordinance (RET – Black)

SB 346 – “Environmental Policy Act”; exempt projects for construction/improvement of public roads from environmental effects reports (TRANS – Beach)

SB 352 – Selling and Other Trade Practices; provide consumer protection requirements for fantasy contest operators (RI&U – Unterman)

SB 355 – “Student/Teacher Protection Act”; enact; end punitive testing consequences; related to federal, state,and locally mandated standardized assessments (ED&Y – Ligon)

SB 357 – Education; local board education members; revise provisions relating to standards (ED&Y – M. Williams)

SB 375 – Municipal Corporations; provide certain requirements and standards for the incorporation of new municipal corporations (SLOGO – Gooch)

SB 385 – Physicians; provide for certain requirements for advertisement or publication of representation of board certification by physicians (H&HS – Judson Hill)

SB 389 – Social Services; temporary assistance for needy families; provide for exception to lifetime maximum assistance (H&HS – H. Hill)

SB 402 – Drug Abuse Treatment and Education Programs; provide for a moratorium on the issuance of new licenses to narcotic treatment programs (RI&U – Mullis)

SB 404 – Public Safety Department; off-duty use of motor vehicles by certain law enforcement officers; revise provisions (PUB SAF – Harper)

SB 409 – Education; require every public school to post a sign containing toll-free telephone number; reports of child abuse or neglect (ED&Y – VanNess)

SB 416 – GBI; establish Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center; provide fusion center for sharing and analysis of homeland security activity information (PUB SAF – Cowsert)

SB 417 – ‘Georgia Film and Television Trail Act’; create; provide definitions; purpose (ED&T – Mullis)

SR 604 – Revenue and Taxation; prohibit the levy of state ad valorem taxes –CA (FIN – Heath)

SR 756 – Appropriations Acts; provide for prioritized funding requirements; procedures, conditions, and limitations-CA (FIN – Judson Hill)


Modified Open Rule

HB 513 Pleadings and motions; procedure for claims asserted against a person or entity arising from an act which could be construed as an act in furtherance of the right of free speech or right to petition government for redress of grievances; revise provisions (Substitute)(JudyNC-Stephens-164th)

HB 889 Professions and businesses; funeral establishments and crematories; authorize certain advertisements related to crematories and cremation services (Substitute)(RegI-Kidd-145th)

HB 934 Human Services, Department of; website providing kinship caregivers with information and access to apply for public assistance benefits; provide (HumR-Kirby-114th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 12 Georgia Military Service Integrity and Preservation Act; enact (Substitute)(JudyNC-Rogers-10th)

HB 171 Laws and statutes; revise provisions relating to effect and enforcement of foreign laws; provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Hightower-68th)

HB 699 Local government; define a certain term; provisions (Substitute) (GAff-Welch-110th)

HB 727 Fireworks; certain further regulations by counties and municipal corporations; provide (Substitute)(RegI-Battles-15th)(AM 41 0156)

HB 734 “Georgia Space Flight Act”; enact (Substitute)(Judy-Spencer-180th)

HB 779 Crimes and offenses; regulate use of unmanned aircraft systems and images; provisions (Substitute)(JudyNC-Tanner-9th)

HB 825 “Protecting Military Children Act”; enact (JuvJ-Smith-125th)

HB 868 State government; Georgia State Games Commission; eliminate (SProp-Rogers-10th)

HB 976 State records management; minimum retention periods for video recordings from law enforcement devices on or inside a vehicle; provide (Substitute)(PS&HS-Hitchens-161st)

HB 1060 Crimes and offenses; carrying and possession of firearms; confirm that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed (Substitute)(PS&HS-Jasperse-11th)

HB 1066 Penal institutions; additional duties of commissioner of corrections; authorize chief of staff to issue warrants of an offender who has escaped (PS&HS-Powell-32nd)

HB 1070 Domestic relations; adoption; permit the department to use certain information in the records concerning the adopted child’s biological parents (Judy-Dempsey-13th)

Structured Rule

HB 364 Real estate transfer tax; change certain provisions (Substitute) (W&M-Knight-130th)

HB 471 Ad valorem tax; heavy-duty vehicles; add a definition of certain vehicles (Substitute)(W&M-Stephens-164th)

HB 722 Health; patient registry program for the use of medical cannabis; provide (Substitute)(JudyNC-Peake-141st)

HB 828 Income tax credit; employers who hire certain qualified parolees for fulltime jobs; create (Substitute)(W&M-Fludd-64th)

HB 935 Ad valorem tax; properties eligible for a freeport exemption; add certain fulfillment centers (Substitute)(W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 936 Income tax; wages necessary to qualify for a job tax credit; clarify certain terms (W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 937 Sales and use tax; exemption for projects of regional significance; change sunset provision (W&M-Harrell-106th)

HB 990 Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; change certain definitions (Substitute)(W&M-Powell-171st)

HB 1014 Income tax; exemption for donation of real property for conservation use; extend sunset date (W&M-Powell-171st)

HB 1028 Natural Resources, Department of; Environmental Protection Division; provide notice to affected localities upon certain events relating to permitted solid or hazardous waste facilities (Substitute) (NR&E-Werkheiser-157th)

Local & Legislation

The ABLE Act is one of the bills that will cross over and be considered by the “other” chamber. From the Gainesville Times,

A bill that would protect Medicaid and allow adults with disabilities to save money passed the Georgia House of Representatives unanimously last week.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, is the lead sponsor of the bill.

“He’s just been an incredible sponsor,” Kathy Keeley, executive director of All About Developmental Disabilities, said Friday. “He’s worked really hard on it.”

“He is the expert and he has been shepherding this through all the committee hearings,” she added.

The bill now goes to the Senate, and Hawkins said Friday he would not be surprised if it passes there unanimously also.

“I’ve talked to a number of my old Senate colleagues, and I’ve talked to some of the new senators,” he said. “I have found no one who opposes the bill.”

The ABLE bill, House Bill 768, complies with recent changes in federal law. Keeley explained that federal legislation was passed two years ago and states are now passing implementation bills. She said 34 states have adopted similar legislation.

“The key thing is it protects their benefits and their health care,” Keeley said.

Without the law, she said, disabled adults could not save money and receive Medicaid and supplemental Social Security. With the law, a disabled person can save up to $14,000 a year and still keep his or her benefits.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has more on the ABLE Act, via Georgia Health News,

House Bill 768 would allow tax-exempt saving accounts for people with disabilities to help them live independently and not lose their Medicaid health insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The savings could pay for qualified expenses such as housing, transportation, education and personal support services.

Families spend much of their life savings in caring for a disabled child, Rep. Lee Hawkins, a Gainesville Republican who sponsored the bill, said on the House floor Tuesday before the vote.

The ABLE [Achieving a Better Life Experience] Act will allow people with disabilities to live independently, Hawkins said. “This is one of the greatest things we can do for these folks.’’

The bill is an offshoot of national legislation passed in Congress in 2014. Hawkins said 35 other states have passed such legislation so that people can open ABLE accounts, but none has begun operating the accounts.

Currently, these disabled individuals can only have $2,000 in assets in order to retain Medicaid and SSI.

Retaining Medicaid coverage is vital for people with disabilities, said Kathy Keeley of All About Developmental Disabilities, an advocacy group. “Individuals do everything they can in order to keep it.”

Shaw said the legislation “allows us to invest in their future,’’ Shaw said. “[Dakota] can be an employed, taxpaying citizen of Georgia. She can have a future to save for.”

“People with disabilities have been trapped in poverty,’’ Shaw said. “Without the ABLE Act, they will stay there.”

In Gwinnett County, Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader doffed her judicial robe and took to the stage at Cross Pointe Church to discuss the heroin epidemic that’s sweeping the northern suburbs.

Judge Kathy Schrader’s voice was urgent.

Her reddish hair catching harsh overhead light, she stood at the podium in a banquet hall at Cross Pointe Church off Satellite Boulevard. In the crowd sat more than 100 faith leaders, officials, drug treatment workers and people who’d lost a loved one as a drug crisis rips through the area.

The purpose of the Thursday night event, put on by Navigate Recovery Gwinnett, was to make a pitch to faith leaders around the county to be more active in knocking down the “shame” society places on addiction.

Schrader spoke bluntly about what’s going on in Gwinnett County, where more than ever people are dying, where the defendants who pass her bench always report substance abuse, and where, for $10, you can get a hit of heroin delivered to your front door.

“Church, please hear my call,” said the judge, who presides over the local drug court, shaking her head. “Please.”

Of particular concern is heroin, which is killing scores of addicts as prescription drug users transition to the cheap street alternative. In 2015, a record-breaking year for overdoses in Gwinnett, at least 22 people fell to heroin, while the extremely powerful painkiller fentanyl claimed 19 lives. Eight others died from a combination of fentanyl and heroin.

Hall County Tax Commissioner Darla Edens will seek a second term.

Eden said she has brought many improvements to the office since being elected in 2012, including better customer service and efficiency.

“While no one likes paying taxes,” she said in a news release, “our job is to make it as painless as possible with an educated staff with a helpful attitude and efficient processes.”

Eden created an information desk where a staff member greets and interviews taxpayers upon entry and a communications center to handle phone calls, emails and faxes. She also led the office during an overhaul of the tax system for motor vehicles.

“My desire to serve as tax commissioner was primarily because I believe professional standards are necessary to deliver excellent customer service,” she said in the news release. “During my first term, many interactions with taxpayers impacted changes that resulted in a more efficient and positive experience for both customers and staff. While challenging and ever changing, I have found the tax commissioner’s responsibilities to be very rewarding.”

Ten-year Navy veteran Troy Phillips will run for Hall County Commission District 4, taking on incumbent Jeff Stowe.


Peach State Presidential Politics

Donald J. Trump will get a two-fer today with his rally in Valdosta, Georgia – he’ll draw media attention from Georgia, where voters cast their ballots for President tomorrow, as well as from north Florida markets, where voters go to the polls two weeks from tomorrow in Florida’s winner-take-all Sunshine State primary. Click here for free tickets if any are still available.

The Trump campaign in Valdosta reported a steady stream of supporters seeking tickets, yard signs, and campaign swag over the weekend.

At Trump’s Valdosta campaign office Saturday, people were dropping in looking for campaign signs and asking how to get tickets to the event at Valdosta State University’s P.E. Complex.

“I get calls starting at 7 a.m. and get them as late as 11 p.m.,” said Barbara Schmader, manager of the North Valdosta Road office. “We’ve been very busy the whole time. The response has been unbelievable.”

Trump merchandise has been flying off the shelves, she said.

“We’re completely out of hats, and we are down to extra-large T-shirts,” she said.

Most of the merchandise is sourced locally, but the campaign yard signs are provided by Trump’s national organization, Schmader said. Saturday, the Valdosta office was down to its last six yard signs as people were stopping in looking for more.


The Marco Rubio campaign holds three events today:

A Savannah Meet and Greet with former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) from 8 AM to 8:30 AM at B Matthews Eatery – 325 E Bay Street Savannah, GA 31401.

A rally with Sen. Marco Rubio from 12:30 PM to 1:15 PM at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead.

An Augusta Meet and Greet with former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) from 1 PM to 2 PM at Tbonz Steakhouse – 2856 Washington Road, Augusta, GA 30909.

Here is part of Sen. Rubio’s Q&A in Kennesaw this weekend:

And his speech from Saturday:

Attendees at the Ted Cruz event in Atlanta on Saturday:

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