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

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

Georgia and American History

The House of Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body, held its second meeting after statehood on February 6, 1788 in Savannah.

On February 6, 1952, Governor Herman Talmadge signed resolutions of the General Assembly that included:

A resolution calling on Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and instead allow a maximum rate of 25 percent on any federal income, transfer, gift, or inheritance tax.

A resolution urging U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell to run for the presidency.

On February 6, 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of  the Georgia General Assembly, asking their support for House Resolution 1185, which introduced the idea of “interposition,” in which the State of Georgia would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 and 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decisions “null and void” in Georgia. That day Griffin also signed a raft of legislation for his “massive resistance” agenda against integration of state schools.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. In 1980, Reagan would be elected President of the United States, beating incumbent Jimmy Carter. When he was born, his father said, “he looks like a fat little Dutchman.  But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.”

On February 6, 1985, Reagan gave the State of the Union. During the speech he announced what would be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

Reagan began his foreign policy comments with the dramatic pronouncement that, “Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God’s children.” America’s “mission” was to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.” More specifically, Reagan declared that, “We must stand by our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He concluded, “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

With these words, the Reagan administration laid the foundation for its program of military assistance to “freedom fighters.”

Throwback Thursday comes early this week, thanks to Florida Deputies, who arrested a Georgia man for running moonshine.

Alachua County deputies said they arrested a man who was heading south with a load of moonshine in the trunk of his car.

Deputies said Joe Edwards III, Georgia, was headed south on Interstate 75 when the Domestic Highway Enforcement Task Force investigators pulled him over.

Upon searching Edwards’ Kia, they found 24 gallons of moonshine called ‘white lightning’ in the trunk, hidden in water bottle boxes.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Committee Meetings

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HUMAN RESOURCES 403 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE Ways &a Means Sub Tax Reform 133 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HEALTH 341 CAP

State Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) aims to do for the music industry what Georgia did for the film industry.

“As a huge music fan, I want to see the music industry in the state of Georgia thrive the way that the film industry has,” said state Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, author of House Bill 155, a bill that proposes tax credits for some music industry spending in Georgia.

Carter’s bill aims to boost the number of records, tours and, ultimately, jobs that come from the music industry in Georgia. The bill offers tax credits of up to 25 percent of qualified spending in the state. The bill has the support of state House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

State Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) and State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta)  have each introduced legislation to increase the cap on tax credits for donors to private school scholarships.

“The program’s $58 million cap has been exceeded on the first day of applications for the past three years, and this year it was more than double. To the parents who have contributed to this program: we have heard you loud and clear. You absolutely want more school choice for Georgia’s kids,” said state Rep. John Carson in a written statement about his House Bill 217. His bill would raise the tax credit in steps to reach $180 million in 2022.

State Rep. Sam Teasley, in his similar House Bill 236, would raise the cap to $150 million and subsequently build in automatic increases.

But the program they are trying to expand is the subject of a lawsuit. Lawyers for a group of taxpayers told the state Supreme Court in January that the tax credits are unconstitutional because they’re essentially tax money being spent on religious institutions, in this case religious private schools.

The opioid addiction and overdose crisis is addressed in at least three pieces of legislation this year.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, is sponsoring a bill that expands the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which aims to prevent doctor hopping and weed out physicians who are overprescribing. The bill also makes permanent an emergency order issued by Gov. Nathan Deal last year that legalized over-the-counter sale of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Two other bills address the rising rate of fentanyl abuse.

The synthetic opioid is relatively easy to manufacture and can have various chemical structures. Lawmakers want to add new language to existing laws to help law enforcement and prosecutors keep up with the various versions of fentanyl.

Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, introduced a bill that would regulate the 70 methadone clinics already operating in the state. According to federal records, Georgia has more of these clinics than any other state in the south including neighboring Florida, which has twice the population.

State Senator Renee Unterman introduced Senate Bill 118, which would change the age limit from six years of age to 21 for patients receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorder under insurance plans.

Senate Bill 118 will be introduced next week but still faces an uphill battle at the Capitol, where insurance and business advocates have long opposed expanding mandates they say can be costly. Unterman, however, said she is ready to battle, noting that Gov. Nathan Deal over the past few years has also backed broader coverage.

The Senate push comes two years after the chamber won a compromise with passage of the state’s original mandate requiring private insurers to cover autism services for children up to the age of 6. Advocates are scheduled later this month to hold their annual “Autism Day” to lobby at the state Capitol.

Proposals to increase access to dental care by broadening the scope of practice for dental hygienists is moving forward in both legislative chambers.

Dentists are scarce here, as they are all over rural Georgia, and current state law says hygienists can only practice with a dentist in the same building.

[Turner County dentist Michael] Dent said freeing up hygienists to clean teeth without direct supervision would help solve that problem.

This year, state lawmakers are considering two measures to make that possible. One bill is sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

“It’s so simple, and it sounds so logical that you would not have to have a dentist in a brick and mortar building to be able to deliver care to people who desperately need care,” Unterman said when introducing the legislation in December.

This year, the Georgia Dental Association supports [HB 154 by State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta)] that would free up hygienists.

It would block private practice, but it’s a bit more specific when it comes to safety and privacy requirements. Capaldo said he’s hopeful the measure will pass.

Georgia Democrats seek to tap angst over the Trump Administration for political purposes.

State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, started a “Georgia Resists” website through her caucus devoted to challenging Trump at every turn. It has attracted more than 2,800 subscribers and 260 volunteers since launching hours before the president was sworn in.

At meetings across the state, Abrams has promoted what she calls “relentless incrementalism.”

“We have to know that every year is an election year, and we are always campaigning,” Abrams said. “There are 160 municipal elections this year, and they are a chance to stand up and show who we are. That’s how Republicans took this state. They started with city council races, with soil and water conservation posts most of you skipped.”

The size and scope of the movement has stunned even longtime Democratic activists who have seen the ebb and flow of movements such as the Moral Monday protests. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, who has been in elected office for 25 years, has “never in my long political career seen this kind of energy.”

“People keep saying that Trump is a new form of president,” said Oliver, whose inbox is full of messages from voters who want to get involved. “Well, people are responding in a new form now, too.”

Georgia’s WIN List, a pro-Democratic political action committee geared toward electing more women in public office, has seen a more than 50 percent increase in the number of attendees at the “house parties” it holds after each election.

New Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins sat for an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

Baldwin County deputy coroner Ken Garland made his Super Bowl debut in an ad for Synovus.

Grantville municipal elections are moving from even-years to odd-years after state legislation consolidate local election dates.

The Moultrie-Colquitt Public Library is seeking state funds for a renovation.

The Moultrie-Colquitt County Public Library is No. 2 on a list of recommended projects the Georgia Public Library Service sends to state legislators, according to library Director Holly Phillips. The legislators will now decide which projects on that list will get funded as part of the state budget.

“Our representatives have been really supportive and really excited about this project,” Phillips said. “Even some people who don’t represent us are talking it up.”

In addition to Reps. Sam Watson of Moultrie and Jay Powell of Camilla, who each represent part of Colquitt County, Phillips praised Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville, who represented part of the county until the redistricting following the 2010 census.

The Friends of the Library has begun an advocacy project, urging local residents to contact influential legislators on the House Higher Education Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee, the two panels with the most impact on which projects get funded. Powell and Houston both serve on the Appropriations Committee — as does Rep. Ed Rynders of Albany, who also represented a portion of the county prior to the most recent redistricting.

Angie Patteson, president of the Friends of the Library, said she’s asking everyone she’s contacted about the issue to reach out to legislators by Feb. 8. First, no one can say when the decision will be made, so a quick deadline helps ensure people don’t wait too late; and second, having several calls and emails within a short time period will make an impact on the legislators, she said.

Richmond County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Greg Meagher died on the job after being exposed to liquid nitrogen.

The Gainesville Times writes that cash remittances to Mexico are declining.

Carrillo’s 2 at 503 Atlanta Highway also runs a money transfer service where many of her customers come to pay their utility bills, buy money orders and wire money back to their loved ones in Mexico.

In 2016, a record $27 billion was sent home to Mexico by migrants living abroad, according to a recent Central Bank report. The Bank said almost all the money was sent to Mexico by electronic transfers, and the remittances surpass the $15.6 billion Mexico earns from oil exports and $17.5 billion in tourism income.

Carrillo said she’s also noticed a slowdown in money transfers, and the transfers being made are for lesser amounts than what she’s accustomed to seeing.

Vanesa Zabala, a cashier at Mexico Transfers, a money wiring service at Westside Plaza, 425 Atlanta Highway, said foot traffic at the business has slowed down to a trickle.

“It started slowing down after Trump was elected,” Zabala said. “Now we’re seeing 10 to 15 customers a day when we used to see triple that amount.”

Gainesville city officials held a retreat to plan their priorities for 2017.

Dale Holland was appointed by the Democratic Party to serve on the Dawson County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

The Hall-Dawson CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program is opening its training program to train volunteers to represent minors.

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