Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 30, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 30, 2016

On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.

On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Congressman Tom Price was announced as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In choosing Representative Tom Price of Georgia to be his health secretary, President-elect Donald J. Trump has signaled an undiminished determination to repeal President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a health law that would be far less comprehensive.

And Mr. Trump is handing Republicans and their base voters what they have clamored for since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 — a powerful force to reverse course.

Mr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Atlanta’s affluent northern suburbs, was one of the first lawmakers to draft a full replacement for the Affordable Care Act. His proposal would take health care in a fundamentally different direction, away from mandated coverage and care and toward a free-market approach, with fewer consumer protections and more freedoms for doctors.

“The president-elect has made it very clear: He wants the Congress, when they convene in early January, to take up the task of repealing and replacing Obamacare first,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Tuesday on Fox News. He described Mr. Price as “someone who literally, for the last half a dozen years, has been in the forefront of efforts, not only to repeal Obamacare, but put forward common sense, free-market solutions that will lower the cost of health insurance, without growing the size of government.”

Mr. Trump said Tuesday that he had chosen Seema Verma, a health policy expert in Indiana, to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Working in state government and then as president of a consulting company, she helped Indiana expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, with conservative policies that emphasized “personal responsibility.”

Ms. Verma worked closely with Mr. Pence, the Indiana governor, who honored her this year with a Sagamore of the Wabash award, for Hoosiers who have made outstanding contributions to the state. She has won praise from health care providers and state legislators of both parties in Indiana, and has provided technical assistance to Medicaid officials in other states.

In his campaign manifesto, Mr. Trump said Congress should give each state a lump sum of federal money — a block grant — for Medicaid, the program for lower-income people. Regardless of whether they can achieve that goal, Mr. Price and Ms. Verma would almost surely make it easier for states to obtain Medicaid waivers, the vehicle for a wide range of state innovations and experiments, which could include new eligibility rules and cost-sharing requirements.

Senator Johnny Isakson praised Trump’s choice of Price for HHS.

“Tom Price is a true leader in Congress and an exceptional choice to head up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With his background as a practicing physician, Tom will bring real world experience and a single-minded focus on the needs of patients to this vital role. I fully support his nomination and am confident that he will put the department back to work for the American people.”

“Tom doesn’t just talk about replacing Obamacare — he’s put years of thought and hard work into developing a plan that can actually make health care more affordable and accessible. By nominating Tom to fill this post, President-elect Trump is signaling his commitment to repealing Obamacare. With Tom at the helm, we can begin implementing free-market principles that will increase choice and lower the cost of health care for families and businesses.”

“I congratulate my good friend and a great Georgian, Tom Price.”

Senator David Perdue also had kind words for Price’s appointment.

“Tom is a fellow Georgian who understands that we need to stop Washington’s takeover of our health care system. As a doctor, he is seen as a leading voice on health care policy and has a common-sense plan to replace Obamacare that will lower costs and put patients in charge of their health care choices. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Tom, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will do a fantastic job improving our nation’s health care system and the lives of all Americans.”

Dr. Louis Sullivan was the last Georgian to serve in a presidential cabinet, having served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993. At least he served more recently than any of the reader submissions. Sullivan was also the last physician appointed to head HHS.

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), also a physician, had a few words to share about her husband’s appointment.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at what will happen once Price is confirmed.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will have 10 days after the confirmation to issue a call for a special election to fill the vacant seat in Congress.

Price’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate cannot take place before Trump takes office on Jan. 20, according to Janine Eveler, director of Cobb Elections and Registration.

Deal will also set the date of the special election and any required runoffs, and Georgia’s Secretary of State will set candidate qualifying dates, which are required to be a minimum of 2½ days.

The date of the special election will most likely be about 60 days after Deal calls for the special election, and, because it is a federal office, the voting ballot must be ready to issue to absentee voters at least 45 days before the election date, Eveler said.

Yesterday, I bungled the likely earliest possible date for a Special Election in the Sixth District, which is March 21, 2017

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will visit Trump Tower today, according to the AJC Political Insider.

We hear former Gov. Sonny Perdue will be making the trek to New York today amid speculation that he’s on Trump’s short list for secretary of agriculture.

“Sonny’s background in business, his medical background, his executive background as a governor make him an ideal choice,” David Perdue said in an interview Tuesday. “In fact, I think he may be the best choice I know in America to be in that ag position if he gets considered.”

A member of Trump’s agriculture advisory board, Sonny Perdue helped craft Georgia agriculture policy in the 1990s as a Democratic state senator from Houston County before switching to the GOP in the early 2000s to challenge Gov. Roy Barnes.

Other contenders for the post reportedly include Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas. Perdue’s one-time campaign manager, Nick Ayers, is a top aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and a central player in Trump’s transition team.

Politico looks at the question of who might succeed Price as House Budget Committee Chair.

More than 700 Muscogee County voters cast ballots in the runoff election for Sheriff.

On the first day of early voting Monday for the Dec. 6 Muscogee County Sheriff’s runoff, 712 people cast ballots, averaging almost 80 voters an hour.

For a single election held over the holidays, that’s a “pretty decent” kickoff to a week of early voting, said elections director Nancy Boren.

Early voting continues 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday in the community room on the ground floor of the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library. Voters must enter through the building’s rear because the front entrance is locked for security reasons.

Candidates for Senate District 54 met in a forum for voters.

Researcher Conda Goodson, former Whitfield County Republican Party chairman Chuck Payne, former Whitfield County Board of Commissioners member Debby Peppers, financial representative Shell Underwood and contractor Billy Vinyard took questions from the media and the audience during a forum hosted by The Daily Citizen and the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area.

The Dec. 13 election is to fill the term that begins Jan. 1 that originally belonged to state Sen. Charlie Bethel of Dalton. Bethel, a Republican, was re-elected to a fourth term earlier this month but the day after the election Gov. Nathan Deal named him to the Georgia Court of Appeals. He will take the bench on Jan. 1.

The special election is nonpartisan, but the candidates had the opportunity to list a party affiliation on the ballot. Goodson, Payne, Underwood and Vinyard listed the Republican Party while Peppers qualified as nonpartisan.

Tuesday night, four of the five candidates said they support the Fair Tax, which would replace the state income tax with a sales tax. Peppers was the exception, saying Whitfield County residents already pay 7 percent sales tax and that raising the state income tax rate to replace the revenue generated by the income tax could push that rate much higher.

“The sales tax is a regressive tax. It hits those who are poorest the hardest, unlike an income tax,” she said.

Payne said he envisions a system in which the elderly would be given a card that might exempt them from the sales tax, while Goodson said she would exempt “necessities, such as food and prescriptions.”

I did a little research using the Individual Voter Lookup on to see what an independent candidate’s voting record might look like. It turns out Ms. Peppers voted in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary this year to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders instead of voting for any of the Republican candidate.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge Trip Self, due to take a seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals, found three vehicles had been stolen from his driveway.

The United States Army Cyber Command broke ground for a new headquarters at Fort Gordon.

“Today marks a major leap forward on the road to achieving greater readiness, resilience and strength for Army cyber operations,” Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army, said at the ceremony. “More importantly, today represents a turning point in our nation’s and our Army’s ability to project power in cyberspace.”

In 2009, the Department of Defense declared cyberspace a new domain of warfare after growing concerns about cybersecurity and an increase in cyber threats. The Army decided in late 2013 to build new cyber command headquarters alongside National Security Agency-Georgia’s facilities at Fort Gordon.

It will be four years before the $180 million, state-of-the-art facility is complete, but Army and local officials are already excited about the opportunities that will result. Nakasone said the benefits from the facility are endless, not only for the nation’s security but for people living in the Augusta area.

Maj. Gen. John Morrison Jr., commanding general of the U.S. Army Center of Excellence said he anticipates seeing the region and fort continuing to benefit over the next decade from the Army’s investments and growth at Fort Gordon that will “enhance the CSRA as a desirable place to work, live and raise a family.”

Georgia Department of Transportation will hold two meetings to gather input on widening I-85 from Gwinnett County north.

The meetings will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 6 at Mill Creek High School, and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Braselton Community Room in downtown Braselton.

The proposed project would widen and reconstruct about 12.7 miles of I-85 from north of I-985 to just north of Ga. Route 211; and then widen and reconstruct about 11.3 miles of I-85 from just north of Ga. Route 211 to just north of U.S. 129.

The typical section will be expanded from two lanes to three lanes in each direction. The existing grassed median along the 6.4-mile section of I-85 from Hamilton Mill Road/CR 134 to Ga. Route 211 will be replaced with a median barrier and nine foot to 12-foot inside shoulders.

The Chatham Area Transit Board of Directors has narrowed its search for a new CEO to two candidates.

Heather Feldman was named Executive Director for the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

Governor Nathan Deal is accepting nominations for the City of South Fulton and the City of Stonecrest five-member commissions.

“We are looking for community members to help shape the formation of the City of South Fulton and the City of Stonecrest,” said Deal. “As we continue to work with the General Assembly to form these commissions, we seek the assistance and leadership of individuals in these areas to help guide residents and facilitate the new cityhood process.”

Under this legislation, the governor will create a five-member commission consisting of a chairman and four others who reside in each council district within the city.

The interim representatives shall cease to serve as of the time the members of the first governing authority take office. The function of the interim representatives shall be to facilitate the provision of municipal services and facilities, the collection of taxes and fees, and the negotiation of intergovernmental agreements in preparation of the establishment of the new municipality. The interim representatives shall not have the ability to enter into any binding agreements, to expend public funds, or to incur any liability on behalf of the new municipality. Any person who is serving as or has served as an interim representative shall be ineligible to qualify for election as a member of the initial governing authority of the new municipality.

First Lady Sandra Deal read to students at Riverside Primary School in Mableton.

An avid reader, Deal has made it her mission as first lady to promote literacy across the state. She has read to students in all of Georgia’s 159 counties and 181 school districts.

“My goal is to encourage them to love to learn to read, and I think by hearing good reading, and seeing how much they can learn from stories, they’ll want to learn to read for themselves,” Deal said.

Dan Hayes resigned as Mayor of Tallulah Falls, citing personal reasons.

Forsyth County Commissioners issued a moratorium on applications to replace billboards with digital boards.

Woodstock City Council voted unanimously to seek jurisdiction over traffic on I-575 within municipal limits.

Woodstock Police officers can now write a ticket on I-575, but the court cases and revenue are transferred to the Cherokee County State Court in Canton.

If jurisdiction were to be given to Woodstock, officers could report to court in Woodstock instead of taking time away from their normal duties to report to the Canton court.

In 2013, the Woodstock City Council had a unanimous vote on the resolution, but it was not passed by the delegation. Since 2013, the council has not been unanimous.

Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said in the last 12 months officers have responded to about 2,400 incidents on I-575, including accidents, roadway obstructions, stranded motorists and other issues.

Officers have written 279 citations on the interstate in the last 12 months, and with the average fine in the Woodstock Municipal Court, the amount of revenues from those fines is estimated to be about $37,107, according to Moss.

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