Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for July 27, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for July 27, 2017

On July 27, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved the first impeachment article against President Richard M. Nixon.

The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charge[d] President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.

The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.

The majority included three conservative Southern Democrats and three conservative Republicans.

A bomb exploded at a free concert in Centennial Park in Atlanta on July 27, 1996.

Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted.

Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime. However, evidence against him was dubious at best, and in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.

Former Georgia Governor Zell Miller took the oath of office as United States Senator on July 27, 2000. Miller would go on to win a special election for the remainder of the term in November 2000.

On July 27, 2014, former Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with former White Sox player Frank Thomas, who was born in Columbus, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election

Congressman Buddy Carter sent Yankees non-southerners to their online dictionaries yesterday.

[MSNBC] Anchor Ali Velshi had asked the Pooler Republican about what he made of President Donald Trump calling out Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Twitter this morning for voting against opening Senate debate on health care. That’s when Carter responded with something about knots needing to be snatched from specific places, a phrase yours truly had to look up on the interwebs. (To save you some time on Google , it means to smack someone as an act retribution.)

Here’s Carter’s full response:

“I think it’s perfectly fair. Let me tell you, somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass. I’m telling you, it has gotten to the point where, how can you say ‘I voted for this last year, but I’m not going to vote for it this year?’ This is extremely frustrating for those of us who have put so much into this effort.”

I’ve generally heard that idiom as “yank a knot in their tail.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp‘s office hasn’t yet shared voter data with President Trump’s panel.

Georgia has still not released public voter data to President Donald Trump’s national commission on election integrity, with officials saying they have not heard back from the panel over a requirement that it pay a standard $250 fee for the information.

Under state law, some — but not all — of the information requested by Trump’s voter fraud panel is already publicly available, but the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office requires a $250 payment to collect the information and burn it to a data disc. Officials in the office said they are treating the panel’s request no different than a typical public records request, and are requiring payment of the fee before the state will process the information.

State law allows information such as voter names, addresses, race and gender, among other data points, to be included on the list. Georgia will not share information considered private under state law such as registered voters’ driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers. Since the ballot is secret, there are no records that show who a person voted for in any election.

Kemp spoke about his campaign for Governor in Columbia County.

Kemp, an Athens native, spoke to a small crowd gathered at a meeting room in the library to hear him speak about business, infrastructure and voter ID laws.

“I’ve got a record of fighting and not just fighting, but winning, on the issues that I simply told everyone that I would do,” Kemp said. “I’m truly making government smaller and more efficient. I won’t belabor all we’ve done in the secretary of state’s office to do that, but I’m going to take that same record into the governor’s office.”

Kemp held the short rally at the library before a speaking engagement with the CSRA Republican Women’s Club. And Kemp said it was the first of many trips to the county since announcing his candidacy. But while his platform is focused heavily on Georgia’s rural towns, he said he believes his goals are important for the more-populous Augusta area.

“If people in rural areas are doing better and have more money in their pocket, they’re going to be coming to the CSRA to go to the ball game, go to the movie theater, whatever it is that may not be in their local community,” Kemp said. “I think that helps build the whole state’s economy.”

After the meetings, Kemp returned to Atlanta but said he plans to return to the area several times before the 2018 election.

“This is a huge block of votes,” Kemp said. “I’ve got a lot of friends here, as you can see by the crowd today. There are a lot of great things here going on and I want to be a governor that helps continue to foster that environment.”

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and LatinoJustice are threatening litigation if local governments don’t provide voting information in Spanish.

Two Latino advocacy groups sent letters last week to Gwinnett County and several cities therein, alleging varying levels of noncompliance with a new mandate to provide Spanish-language voting materials to their constituents — and threatening litigation if they don’t change things quickly.

Gwinnett’s new Census Bureau designation, which falls under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act, requires jurisdictions to provide bilingual ballot access if more than 5 percent or 10,000 citizens of voting age are members of a single language minority and have difficulty speaking English. Providing “ballot access” involves offering everything from online election information to voter registration forms.

Gwinnett — the only Georgia county included on the designation list released last year — is home to an estimated 171,000 Latinos, according to the latest census estimates. A recent study released by GALEO estimated that Gwinnett County had more than 44,000 registered Latino voters last November, a number that accounted for 18 percent of Georgia’s total Latino electorate.

In a press release about his organization’s letters, GALEO executive director Jerry Gonzalez said he was worried specifically about the Gwinnett cities of Auburn, Berkeley Lake, Braselton, Loganville and Lilburn complying with the new mandates.

“As recently as [July 18], their websites, which contain valuable information on upcoming municipal elections this year, were in English only and they were failing to provide the same information online in Spanish,” Gonzalez wrote. “Some municipalities fail to even offer voter registration forms in Spanish.”

Augusta was recognized as the “Mid-Market of the Year” by Southern Business & Development magazine.

The South’s leading economic development magazine has named Augusta its “Mid-Market of the Year” to recognize the area’s strong uptick in attracting businesses and jobs.

The new issue of Southern Business & Development, out today, cites the Augusta area’s “banner year” with expanded and new manufacturing, service projects and military-related projects.

“It shows our project managers we work with and all the site-selection consultants we’re in touch with that, A, we have a good track record with economic development, and B, we’re continuing to do that,” said Walter Sprouse, executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.

“Mid-market” is defined as an area with a population between 250,000 and 749,999 people.

Floyd County’s tax digest includes $6.8 million worth of real estate that is exempt from property taxes.

Columbus city council members have been told the tax digest will be 6-7% higher due to reassessments.

City councilors were notified of the potential boost to the property tax digest in a May 25 email sent by Teasha Johnson, assistant to City Manager Isaiah Hugley, according to documents provided by the mayor’s office.

“We have just received the preliminary digest projections from the Chief Tax Assessor, Betty Middleton,” the notice reads. “… The preliminary projections indicate the digest may increase by 6%. However, we cannot come in over any projection, and accordingly will be projecting as much as a 7% increase in the digest to be advertised for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on May 30th.”

But with many property owners appealing their assessments, city officials say they’ll have to wait until the process is over before they know for sure how much they’ll collect in property taxes. The appeal deadline is Aug. 14.

“These are just preliminary projections and are subject to change as the digest is finalized for submission to the State,” according to the email. “Of course, this increase is due to the growth of the total digest, not from any tax rate increase to individual homeowners with homestead exemptions unless they have made alterations to their property.

Marietta City Council voted to keep the property tax millage rate the same as last year.

Marietta’s leaders opted to maintain the city’s millage rate at 5.617 mills Wednesday, but because of rising property values, that could mean higher taxes for residents.

The value of assessed property in the city rose by $250 million since 2016, which translates to a 7.24 percent tax increase.

Critics, including former Gov. Roy Barnes, have accused governments that maintain millage rates of performing “backdoor tax increases.”

Georgia employers are now required to allow employees to use paid sick days to care for family members.

“You can call this is a feel-good bill if you want to because it don’t do a whole lot,” Rep. Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, said from the House floor in March. “But if it’s a feel-good bill, I’m going to press green and I’m going to feel good about it.”

Shaw, who is also an employer, said the proposal was simply the right thing to do. But others saw it as massive government overreach.

“What’s next? Are we going to start writing vacation policies, attendance policies for businesses?” said Rep. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville.

The change doesn’t force employers to offer paid sick days, but for those who do, they now have to let employees use that time to care for their child, spouse, parent, grandchild, grandparent or any dependent claimed on their most recent tax return.

There are a few exceptions. The law only applies to employers with at least 25 people on their payroll, and it exempts companies that offer an employee stock ownership plan. It also only covers five days of earned sick leave per year.

Healthcare

State House Rural Development Council members heard about rural hospitals facing financial problems.

Eighty percent of rural hospital income comes from the government, Lewis said, and they’re still barely making it.

As the U.S. Senate debates health care, state lawmakers are trying to figure out what they can do.

Oklahoma and Texas used something called a Medicaid waiver to get more federal health care dollars through the ACA.

A waiver in Georgia could boost rural hospitals, and get more people health care coverage, Magers said.

Republican state Rep. Jay Powell, co-chair of the House Rural Development Council, said Georgia should replicate what’s worked in other states.

“The health care issue,  it’s probably overwhelming as anything we’ve heard about,” Powell said. “There’s no point in reinventing the wheel.”

For at least a year, the state’s top politicians have talked about a Medicaid waiver, Powell brought it up again at the Bainbridge meeting, saying Georgia just can’t sit and wait for Congress to act on health care.

“They don’t know what they want to do,” he said. “We can’t wait for them. I mean hopefully they’ll do something that makes sense, but if we wait for them we’re going to lose another eight hospitals so we can’t wait for them.”

Republican lawmakers have said their former colleague, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, would support a Medicaid waiver for Georgia.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, the only Obamacare provider to offer insurance in all 159 counties, joined 36 other BCBS companies in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association signing a letter to the United States Senate.

Wednesday, they took part in a message to the Senate on the dangers of repealing the Obamacare individual mandate.

The mandate says that every person must have health care insurance. It’s one of the core tenets of the Affordable Care Act. And repealing it is one of the core tenets of Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare.

Blue Cross laid out the business case for the mandate in its message:

“If there is no longer a requirement for everyone to purchase coverage, it is critical that any legislation include strong incentives for people to obtain health insurance and keep it year-round. A system that allows people to purchase coverage only when they need it drives up costs for everyone.”

“Immediate funding for the cost-sharing reduction program also is essential to help those individuals most in need with their out-of-pocket costs, so they can access medical services. And dedicated funds must be provided to help pay for the care of those with significant medical conditions.”

Elections

Republican Hunter Hill spoke to the Gainesville Times about his campaign for Governor.

In his run for governor, he argues that state leaders have missed the mark in recent years by allowing the state budget to grow without increasing transportation spending. The state now spends about 5 percent of its budget on transportation, he said.

Hill is pitching a limited-government perspective that relies on civil society — ministries, the business community, families and nonprofits — to build a social safety net.

“The expanse of government has created a false sense of security that the government is going to do something for them,” Hill said. “And it’s failed in the last 50 years on delivering on that promise.”

To promote that worldview, the state senator hopes to pull back state funding for social welfare programs, cut spending and taxes, and push more money into constitutionally mandated functions of state government.

“I believe we can get to 10 percent without raising taxes in my first term by reprioritization and spending less on areas where I believe families and nonprofits and ministries are better equipped to deal with the brokenness in our society as opposed to government,” Hill said. “I’m looking at food stamps, I’m looking at welfare, I’m looking at Medicaid. I’m looking at any area where the government is intending to try to make somebody’s life better, really, because the government doesn’t deliver results in those areas.”

“We all want to help people, and I do too, but the government has failed in its promise to deliver results for these folks by giving them money for nothing.”

“You have people who philosophically believe that government should do more and provide more, and then you have people like me who recognize that’s an empty promise,” Hill said. “… I think a more limited government approach would actually bring our communities together because we would have to depend on one another when something bad happens to a family member or a neighbor instead of looking to the government. I think the size and scope of government is what’s created this divisiveness.”

Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams has a new book deal.

The state representative, D-Atlanta, is scheduled to release the Inspirational Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change in spring 2018 through Henry Holt and Co., according to the Associated Press.

According to Holt, her book will combine her life story with “real-world, how-to advice” for women and minorities “who must grapple with the implications of race, class, gender and otherness.”

Abrams is vying to make history as the country’s first Black woman governor. She is calling her book “Lean In for the rest of us.”

“This is a book about how potent and compelling being the minority can be and how it can transform your destiny when properly harnessed,” she said in a statement.

Democrat Steve Jarvis announced he will run for Congress in the First District, against incumbent Republican Buddy Carter.

Claiming a return to the First District’s old persona as the home of conservative Democrats like Bo Ginn and Lindsay Thomas, Jarvis’s approach seems downright nostalgic in this era when conservative Democrats, especially in the South, are a nearly extinct species.

Jarvis thinks his extensive military record as a U.S. Army combat infantry veteran of the Iraq War will help him gain traction in a district which has a heavy military presence.
Where do you stand on the current debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act?

President Trump said for seven years Republicans have been wanting to repeal and replace, but that was easy to say when they knew they had a president that wouldn’t sign it.

Now they have a president in office waiting with pen in hand. Why hasn’t anything been done? Because it doesn’t benefit them.

But what would you like to see? Obamacare kept, fixed, done away with?

I would like to see a health care program where the buyer has more say. Health care is broken and it needs to be fixed. It needs to be affordable and accessible. Right now it’s not either. People should be able to have a policy that works for them. But frankly this is probably going to be taken care of before I take office.

Qualifying for Johns Creek elections for Mayor and City Council will be held August 21-23 for November elections.

The City of Johns Creek will hold qualifying for the upcoming Nov. 7 General Election for the City Council seats of Post 1, Post 3, Post 5 and the Mayoral seat.

Qualifying will be held Monday, Aug. 21 Tuesday, Aug. 22, and Wednesday, Aug. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (GA Election Code 21-2-132).

Qualifying will be held in the City Clerk’s Office at Johns Creek City Hall, 12000 Findley Road, Suite 400, Johns Creek, GA 30097.

The qualifying fee is $450 for each Council seat and $750 for the Mayoral seat, which is 3 percent of the total gross salary for the preceding year.

LaFayette city council and Mayoral candidates will also qualify August 21-23.

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