Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 6, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 6, 2017

Georgia and American History

Lyman Hall, one of three Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor on January 8, 1783.

Samuel Elbert was elected Governor of Georgia for a one-year term on January 6, 1785. Elbert was an early participant in Patriot meetings at Tondee’s Tavern, a Lt. Colonel in the first group of troops raised in Georgia, and a prisoner of war, exchanged for a British General, and eventually promoted to Brigadier General reporting to Gen. George Washington. As Governor, Elbert oversaw the charter of the University of Georgia and afterward, he served briefly as Sheriff of Chatham County.

Georgia voted for George Washington for President on January 7, 1789. Technically, they elected Presidential Electors who would later meet in Augusta and cast their ballots for Washington.

On January 7, 1795, Georgia Governor George Matthews signed the Yazoo Act, passed after four land companies bribed members of the General Assembly to vote for legislation selling more than 35 million acres of land for less than 2 cents per acre.

On January 6, 1961, United States District Court Judge William Bootle ordered the University of Georgia to enroll Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, ending the segregation of UGA.

On January 6, 1988, the United States Postal Service released a stamp commemorating the bicentennial of Georgia’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788.

Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich (R) was re-elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 7, 1997. In the election for a second term, nine Republicans voted against the incumbent Speaker.

On January 8, 2014, Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were announced as incoming members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Columbus, Georgia native Frank Thomas, a long-time Chicago White Sox outfielder.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal is allowing nonessential state employees to head home early ahead of Clusterflake 2017.

With metro Atlanta bracing for up to four inches of snow, Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday ordered nonessential state employees to leave work by noon.

Metro Atlanta’s major school districts — Atlanta, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Marietta, Decatur — will close at least two hours early today.

Deal also said this morning that pretreatment of roads had begun.

“We believe we are prepared,” the governor said. “We are hopeful the storm will be a light one that will not persist very long. And we hope the weather will warm up by Sunday and that most of the ice will have melted.”

The General Assembly will gavel in on Monday morning, regardless of the weather.

Speaker David Ralston said the General Assembly will convene as planned on Monday.

“We’re required to be here Monday. I will be here. The Constitution says we have to meet on the second Monday in January and we’re going to be here and start.”

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he trusts state agencies to be prepared to handle the storm’s impacts.

“Right now, we’re moving forward but we’ll have a contingency plan if weather does become dangerous,” he said.

Many legislators are already making plans to spend the weekend near the Capitol so they can make the session opener.

In Senate District 54, where Republican Chuck Payne is running against Democrat Debby Peppers, early voting has surpassed December in both in-person and mailed ballots.

Early votes cast in December 2016

mail in person
52 1070

Early votes cast as of yesterday:

mail in person
194 1427

The candidate field for the Sixth Congressional District seat that will be vacated when Rep. Tom Price is confirmed as Secretary of HHS is filling out, but not the way anyone expected. I thought we might see 6 to 8 Republicans and one Democrat. Instead, we appear to have more announced Democrats than Republicans.

John Ossoff, a former staffer to Rep. Hank Johnson (D) announced he will run for Congress in the Sixth.

Jon Ossoff, a former Capitol Hill staffer for Rep. Hank Johnson, said he has already lined up $250,000 in financial commitments to run in the state’s 6th Congressional District, and has the support of his former boss, as well as civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.

The suburban district north of Atlanta has been strong for Republicans in the past: In 2012, Mitt Romney won it by more than 20 points. But in 2016, Trump won by just over one point, a result that has piqued the interest of House Democrats.

“We should unite behind Jon and send a clear message that Donald Trump doesn’t represent our values,” Lewis said in a statement.

The AJC Political Insider writes about the rest of the Democrats in the special election.

Ossoff joins three other Democrats: Former state Sen. Ron Slotin, former state Rep. Sally Harrell and attorney Josh McLaurin. A relative unknown in the state party, McLaurin said this week he’s raised more than $39,000 and will chip in another $6,000 to his campaign. Harrell enjoys the support of local Democrats, including state Rep. Scott Holcomb and state Sen. Elena Parent.

So that makes four announced Democrats. On the GOP side, Judson Hill has announced, Karen Handel is looking at the race, and former State Senator Dan Moody is rumored to be looking at a run. State Rep. Chuck Martin has said he’d run, but I haven’t heard anything else lately.

Yesterday included a round of fundraisers held by incumbent members of the General Assembly. At one fundraiser for Republican members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick , an announced candidate for Judson Hill’s Senate seat was sighted. A couple hours later, Gus Makris, who is also running for Hill’s Senate seat, attended a fundraiser in the next building over for Senate GOP leadership.

Speaking of fundraisers, here’s a note from Chris Joyner of the AJC:

In the last election, HCA, a hospital company which has a number of small hospitals around Georgia, gave $50,000 to Georgia Leads, a 501(c)4 group run by Gov. Nathan Deal’s former campaign manager Tom Willis, that supported Deal’s proposed state takeover plan for failing school.

What does HCA care about Deal’s opportunity school district plan? Nothing, probably. They do care about the re-authorization of the hospital “bed tax” in this coming session, a fee imposed by the state to draw down more Medicaid funding, which is redistributed to hospitals.

Along with supporting Gov. Deal’s education initiative, HCA contributed $25,000 each to the state Democratic Party and the House GOP Trust. The hospital company also sent $25,000 to Ralston’s Conservative Leadership Fund and another $10,000 to Georgia Next, a PAC run by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.

HCA topped off their giving with $2,500 contributions to top Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate, including chairmen of both of the Rules committees, who determine which bills move to a floor vote. Legislative leaders in both parties have said re-authorization of the fee is a top priority.

HCA’s strategy is not unique.

Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph spoke to mid-Georgia legislators about their priorities for the session.

Start with health care. The new GOP majority in Washington is looking to repeal at least part of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Millions of low-income Americans have gotten health insurance under Obamacare, but its critics say the system is flawed.

Federal policy and cash will impact how many Georgians show up to hospitals without insurance and how the state might help bankroll the care they will get there.

The Obamacare upheaval comes as rural hospitals are especially squeezed by problems, including a relatively high caseload of patients who can’t pay for care.

“Health care could break us,” said state Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, putting it at the top of his list of important issues that the state must address.

Republican-run Georgia has been officialy skeptical of Obamacare and did not expand Medicaid eligibility under the law, as some states have done. But until it’s clear how Washington will untangle the law, Georgia is in a bit of a wait-and-see position. One possibility is that federal funds could come in a block to each state, and each state will decide how to administer health care insurance for low-income residents.

Legislators also point out that a fee worth more than $880 million to Georgians’ health care is about to expire. Known as the “bed tax,” Georgia’s hospital provider fee is collected from hospitals. With matching federal funds, it helps pay for Medicaid.

Plenty of legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle want to extend the fee in some form, though there is a chance tax hawks might object.

State Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry, said he would like to change the provider fee formula so that it’s more favorable to smaller hospitals that are struggling.

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