Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2017

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books. On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed former state Senator JaNice Van Ness to the Department of Family and Childrens’ Service Board.

Van Ness is the founder and CEO of Peachtree Academy. She is a former member of the Georgia State Senate and served on the Education and Youth, Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, State Institutions and Property and MARTOC committees. Van Ness is a graduate of the Regional Leadership Institute and previously sat on the board of directors for the United Way of Greater Atlanta. She earned an associate degree from Oxford College of Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Auburn University. She and her husband, Ken, have three children and reside in Conyers.

Gov. Deal also presented Midway-based Elan Technology with the Georgia Innovator of the Year award at the second annual Georgia Automotive Awards.

“Elan has helped develop and evaluate glasses for the next generation of oxygen sensors in automobiles. This improvement increased engine response time when transferring needed information to the emissions control system, allowing engines to effectively react and reduce emissions,” the nomination read.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson credits Elan and the other honorees for playing a large role in attracting multi-million dollar investments to the state from around the world.

“Georgia has become a global hub for many industries, and the continued growth from one of our most important sectors, automotive, shows no sign of slowing down,” Wilson said.

“While Georgia has worked hard to cultivate the nation’s top business environment and provide the resources and workforce this industry needs to thrive, it would be nothing without the commitment from automotive companies and their many suppliers who continue to discover the unrelenting benefits of doing business in Georgia.”

Speaking of Georgia’s growing automotive industry, my favorite story of the week comes from LaShaunda Jordan with The Valdosta Daily Times. Ms. Jordan’s story tells how Georgia’s Technical Colleges helped attract manufacturing jobs with programs to train welders and electricians. It features a young family whose lives were improved through technical/voacational training, a Florida company that decided to re-locate in Georgia, and custom high-performance Ford Mustangs. In many ways, it’s the story of how Georgia focused on developing manufacturing and is a success story on all counts. Click here to read it. You won’t be sorry.

The Georgia Senate Health Care Reform Task Force meets this morning in Rome to discuss primary and prevantative care and mental health.

“The other areas of focus are on mental health and integrating mental health care in with primary care,” said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler.

Hufstetler is one of the seven state senators appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to come up with a sustainable model for the state’s system in light of changes at the federal level. They’ve been meeting around the state since this summer and a final report is expected before the end of the year.

“We believe that the biggest savings and the most improvement in health will be focusing on preventative health care — instead of treating symptoms and disease after the fact — and we’ll be hearing about innovative ways to do that,” Hufstetler said.

The session starts at 10 a.m. in the Spruill Ballroom of the Krannert Center at the college off Martha Berry Highway. It’s slated to last into the afternoon and is open to the public.

Hufstetler said the task force also hopes to hear of viable ways to address opioid abuse and addiction with monitoring and treatment.

Funding, he said, is key.

“We’ll also be proposing waivers with the federal government to help bring better mental health, drug treatment and preventative care treatment to the uninsured and under-insured population of Georgia,” Hufstetler said.

Piedmont Healthcare will partner with Columbus Regional Health.

The deal, announced Thursday, would bring Atlanta-based Piedmont’s hospital total to 10. Columbus Regional Health operates two hospitals in the city: Midtown Medical and Northside Medical.

The announcement comes just a month after Piedmont finalized its acquisition of Rockdale Medical Center, about 25 miles east of Atlanta. That hospital — in Conyers, the seat of Rockdale County — was purchased from LifePoint Health.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) says a shortage of addiction treatment programs is part of Georgia’s opioid crisis.

To fight the opioid crisis in Georgia, the state must consider bringing in federal dollars by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to State Sen. Renee Unterman.

She said the growing number of drug addicts in Georgia need help.

“Right now, if you’re a young man and you are 18 to 35 years old and you’ve already run your family off, you have no money, you have no job and you’re addicted, there’s absolutely no place to go for addiction services,” she said.

In Georgia, Sen. Unterman said she will make the opioid crisis a priority as part of her legislative agenda when lawmakers meet again in January. She said flexibility with Medicaid expansion dollars is what she is hoping for from Congress.

Sen. Unterman and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle addressed President Trump’s declaration of a national public health emergency for the opiod abuse crisis.

On Friday, State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle pledged to support President Donald Trump’s declaration that the opioid epidemic is a nationwide public health emergency.

The opioid issue is one that Unterman in particular has been highlighting and targeting in recent months with local and state criminal justice and law enforcement officials, including Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader. They have held summits and press conference to bring attention the issue.

Now comes Trump’s declaration, which means his administration will mobilize resources to address the issue. Unterman, who is the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman, and Cagle pledged to take legislative steps in 2018 to supports that effort in Georgia.

“Throughout this year, I have worked closely with Lt. Governor Cagle to develop a comprehensive set of solutions that will allow our state to jump to the forefront of taking on addiction, the opioid crisis, and strengthening behavioral health services,” Unterman said.

“In the coming weeks, we will come forward with legislation ready on day 1 in January to continue our fight against this epidemic.”

David Shafer’s kickoff for his Lieutenant Governor campaign was a smashing success.

State Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer’s campaign said about 550 people attended the official kickoff for his bid to be Georgia’s next leiutenant governor at the Atlanta Colliseum in Duluth last weekend.

The campaign said Snellville-based former state Rep. Melvin Everson gave the invocation while Rock 100.5 FM’s “Southside” Steve Rickman emceed the event. County commissioner Jace Brooks, state Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, state Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners and Public Service Commissioners Stan Wise, Bubba McDonald and Chuck Eaton were among the attendees, according to the campaign.

Attorney Matt Reeves, who is running as a Republican to replace Shafer in the state Senate, also spoke at the event.

Smyrna is the promised land for the Lobbyist-Industrial Complex.

If you live in Smyrna, you have three lobbyists representing you as council members on the City Council.

Council members Derek Norton, Ron Fennel and Doug Stoner are registered as lobbyists with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly the State Ethics Commission. Travis Lindley, a candidate for the city’s open Ward 3 seat is registered as well.

Though no other Cobb cities have a registered lobbyist currently serving on city council, other nearby municipalities do. Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul is a lobbyist, as is Councilman Brandon Hembree of Sugar Hill.

Fennel and Stoner did not respond to interview requests, but Norton and Lindley both said their careers will not get in the way of doing their jobs as council members.

Early voting in Coweta County continues this week.

All Cowetans get to decide on whether or not to extend the 1 percent SPLOST, which goes to fund various capital projects, from roads to buildings to parks and patrol vehicles, in the county and its cities. The current SPLOST expires Dec. 31, 2018.

There are also city elections in Grantville, Senoia, Sharpsburg and Turin. There are city elections in Palmetto and Chattahoochee Hills as well, though those are not handled through Coweta’s elections office.

The Georgia Department of Community Health continues to monitor federal legislation for an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Georgia’s Peach Care.

The federal funding was provided through fiscal year 2017, which expired Sept. 30.

The Georgia Department of Community Health said this week it is “closely monitoring the program budget to determine when and what action the state will need to take.”

“DCH remains optimistic that Congress will reauthorize the program prior to any detrimental impacts to Georgians,” press secretary Fiona Roberts said.

Georgia and other states still have some money left over from previous years that can be used until a federal plan is potentially reached. According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Georgia had $147.1 million unspent that would be available in fiscal year 2018 and was projected to receive another $56.6 million after funds were redistributed.

The commission estimated Georgia would exhaust its funding in April.

DCH said more than 131,000 children were covered by the program in fiscal year 2017.

“I just cannot fathom Congress not covering the children’s health care program. Moving them all into Medicaid just creates more hardship for each state,” said state Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.

Rep. Doug Collins said the House bill would extend the CHIP program for five years.

“I’m pleased that the legislation put forward by House Republicans charts a more cost effective — and therefore sustainable — path forward for serving some of Georgia’s most vulnerable populations,” Collins said in a statement.

Latino voters may flex their muscles in Gainesville city elections.

The race for the Gainesville City Council Ward 4 seat again looms as a litmus test for the strength of Latino voters in a city where they are 41.3 percent of the population.

Adding interest to the outcome is the participation of Maria Del Rosario Palacios, who is hoping to become the first Hispanic elected to Gainesville City Council. She’s banking on succeeding where other Hispanics before her have failed by turning out the Latino vote in large enough numbers to upend incumbent George Wangemann, who has been on City Council for 30 years.

Businessman and former downtown Gainesville restaurateur Albert Reeves is also contesting the seat.

Wangemann is taking nothing for granted. Last week, he visited a stretch of Atlanta Highway where more than 90 percent of the businesses are owned by Latinos.

“If you look at the Gainesville school system, I think 65 to 70 percent of the students are Hispanics,” Wangemann said. “Years ago, the Hispanics were not what I would call a significant force like they are today. It’s different today, so you do have to get to know the people, and you have to work with them and be out there in their parts of the community.”

Interstate 75 construction near Macon may have unearthed Georgia’s first brewery.

There on a steep embankment between a blighted cemetery and Interstate 75, a deep, dark hole leads to a cave that is the site of what was likely Georgia’s first brewery.

The nearly 200-year-old beer cave is no secret to longtime residents in Macon’s Pleasant Hill neighborhood.

However, it was an unexpected discovery for Georgia Department of Transportation contract workers, which first saw it in September as they were cutting back trees to widen the interstate.

Back in the late 1830s, the 50 feet deep cave was used to age ale and German lagers crafted by Russell & Peters’ Brewery.

Immigrants Jacob Russell, of Bavaria, and Julius Peters, of Germany, started brewing beer, distilling liquor and fermenting wine before the Civil War and continued during it, according to a 1938 Telegraph article.

The Gordon County Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee hosted a forum for local candidates.

Only five candidates fielded questions from moderator Jesse Vaughn, of Vaughn & Clements, LLC. The candidates who participated in the forum include: Calhoun City Council Post 3 incumbent councilman Matt Barton and challenger George Crowley; Calhoun City Council Post 4 candidates Ed Moyer and Alvin Long (candidate Ray Denmon did not participate); and Town of Resaca Council Post 3 candidate Randy Barron (candidates Mitch Reed and Michael Austin did not participate.

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