Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 17, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 17, 2017

On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.

On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.

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Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863; he delivered an 87-word speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On November 19, 1864, as Sherman marched toward Savannah, the Georgia delegation to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, sent a message to the state,

“Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.

The first issue of National Review magazine was published on November 19, 1955.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

President Ronald Reagan met for the first time with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on November 19, 1985.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democratic state legislators prefiled legislation to allow local governments to remove confederate monuments.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, pre-filed house Bill 650 while state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, pre-filed Senate Bill 302. State law prohibits the defacing, removal or concealing of monuments to the Confederate States of America, including the carving on Stone Mountain.

If either bill passes, local governments or the “public entity” that owns monuments at Stone Mountain and other places around the state would have the authority to remove those monuments.

“Citizens in the city of Decatur and DeKalb County have voiced their opinions and asked me to introduce legislation to allow local governments to decide to remove or modify monuments that are located in public spaces,” Oliver said in a statement. “This legislation would simply return this decision making authority to Georgia’s cities and counties and provide more local control.”

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) also introduced her annual anti-gun bill, this year targeting bump stocks.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, filed the bill Wednesday, the first day lawmakers could present legislation to be considered when the Legislature returns in January.

“There is no justification for this kind of device being easily sold and easily implemented to make a weapon more dangerous,” she said.

Passing such legislation will be a tall order. At least one state senator and the lieutenant governor [Casey Cagle] said they oppose state-level restrictions on the devices.

A State House Study Committee heard testimony that the incidence of Hepatitis C is rising amid the opioid epidemic.

For the first time in history, Georgia’s level of hepatitis C infection has surpassed 14,000 victims in one year, the state epidemiologist on Thursday told a study committee in the Georgia House of Representatives. And the likely main culprit, she said, was heroin needles.

Health officials can’t interview every patient whose case is reported. But among those who are, the most common risk factor is the hepatitis C victim also reporting intravenous drug use: More than 70 percent report having done it at some time in the past, and more than 60 percent report having done it within the past six months.

“It leads us to believe that the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemics are related to hepatitis C as well,” said the epidemiologist, Dr. Cherie Drenzek.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper, the committee’s chairwoman, pressed on the issue of treatment, which she noted was wildly expensive compared with most Georgians’ household incomes, at a cost approaching $20,000 or more.

“When we say ‘referring to treatment,’ ” Cooper said, “it would seem that for many people and drug users that would be a big huge barrier.”

The House Study Committee on Georgians’ Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care has now finished meeting and is tasked by law with considering whether to recommend legislation. Over the course of its meetings it has discussed infectious diseases such as the flu, asthma and HIV, as well as the opioid epidemic and mental health services. Any recommendations are to be issued by Dec. 1.

Former Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) writes about the federal response to the opioid crisis.

Following months of uncertainty, President Trump late last month made good on his promise to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. After much talk about fighting the devastating and deadly impact of these highly addictive drugs, the administration is now taking action.

The president is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for a declaration of a public health emergency under the Public Health Service Act. This action allows medical personnel to be deployed to the hardest hit areas, and empowers HHS to ease any regulations that could get in the way.

But such declarations were designed to deal with infectious diseases, not addiction and substance abuse disorders. There is also no clear way for paying for it. At present, the .

That realization begs the question of how this emergency declaration will address the years of treatment and recovery support that many with opioid addiction will need. One thing remains certain — this epidemic will not follow the dictates of government declarations.

This country cannot afford to let Congress’s failure to pass health care reform derail the fight against opioid addiction. Nor can it afford to pat itself on the back by making dramatic, but ultimately toothless, declarations that opioid addiction is a serious problem and one that needs more resources but they are not forthcoming.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) wielded the gavel on the Speaker’s rostrum upon passage of the House Tax Reform plan.

The Gainesville Republican has not only been a supporter of his party’s tax reform proposal — which has attracted mixed reviews as experts debate whether the complicated proposal cuts or raises taxes and spending in the long term — Collins gaveled in the vote that passed the bill Thursday. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

Collins praised the bill in an announcement Thursday, saying that “middle-class Americans and job creators deserve relief from burdensome taxes and the opportunity to pursue more of their ambitions on their terms.”

The tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, delivers those changes to voters, Collins argues.

But while the GOP and Democrats continue to debate tax reform in the Senate, Collins told The Times this week that he hopes another of his bills will get some more attention in the House.

The Redemption Act is Collins’ attempt to get Georgia-style criminal justice reform on the federal books. The bill focuses on evaluation, training and education of nonviolent offenders, including dealing with drug addiction, to make adjusting to society easier when sentences are concluded.

Among other things, it allows offenders to finish their sentences in lower-security prisons and halfway houses if they complete their program.

But on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed some skepticism about pre-release programs like the Redemption Act.

During a hearing largely focused on investigations of Russia, Sessions and Collins discussed the Georgia Republican’s bill.

Attorney General Chris Carr‘s office will hear public comment on the sale of Savannah’s Memorial University Medical Center to for-profit Hospital Corporation of America.

The hearing will provide a detailed look at the proposed sale of all assets of Memorial Health Inc. to Hospital Corporation of America Healthcare Inc. through Savannah Health Services, its wholly owned subsidiary, and the continuation of its core services for area residents.

If approved, the deal would mean the sale of nonprofit Memorial to HCA’s subsidiary possibly as soon as year’s end.

The public hearing is part of the state attorney general’s office review of the Sept. 22 filing and the required 90-day review period before that office can either approve or reject the proposal.

The transaction would need to meet certain regulatory requirements and receive a favorable approval from the Attorney General’s office before it can be completed. Once completed, the hospital and its outpatient clinics and facilities will become full members of HCA’s South Atlantic Division.

A key piece of the proposal will be whether charitable assets are placed at unreasonable risk if the transaction is financed in part by the seller and whether any disposition proceeds will be used for appropriate charitable health care purposes.

Memorial’s 2016 financial report showed a loss of almost $44 million, with total revenues of $581 million – a significant increase from the previous year’s $22.5 million loss, but one that officials had warned of for several years. Memorial, the region’s safety net hospital, is a two-state health care organization serving a 35-county area in Georgia and South Carolina. It includes a 612-bed academic medical center, Memorial primary and specialty care physician networks, a medical education program, business and industry services and NurseOne, a 24-hour call center.

Navicent Health and Houston Medical Center are in discussions that could lead to a partnership.

Navicent Health and Houston Healthcare officials are exploring a potential partnership that could be groundbreaking for the region.

Details of how the two medical care companies join forces will be worked out over the next few months, but officials say it will be a “strategic combination” and not a merger.

Based in Macon-Bibb County, Navicent Health is the region’s largest operator of medical facilities. The company has expanded its scope over the last year with the acquisition of the hospital in Baldwin County and taking over management of the Monroe County hospital.

Houston Healthcare includes two acute care medical facilities with a total of 282 beds in Perry and Warner Robins.

The goal is to create a new health system that improves the level of services and keeps “health care being local without our patients having to go somewhere else for care,” Navicent President and CEO Ninfa Saunders said Thursday. “Having a high performance organization that is supported by a group of employees that are vibrant and energized because we are doing exactly what we started out to do. … The synergy between the two organization will get us to a better place.”

“We do feel pursuing this agreement … will allow us to improve the access of quality of care and value for our communities, for our employees, for our patients and physicians,” said Charles Briscoe, the chief operating officer and vice president of Houston Healthcare.

The Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority moved forward toward issuance of $556 million in bonds.

University Hospital in Augusta approved the purchase of automated pharmacy systems.

The board of University, which traces its history to City Hospital founded in 1818, approved $4.4. million on Thursday to purchase three automated pharmacy systems that employ robot arm technology developed for automotive company Tesla to pick up and compile drugs. The hospital will recover the purchase price within four years through savings on drugs and personnel, said Teresa Buschbacher, vice president of University Heart & Vascular Institute.

A new automated IV Station, for instance, will allow University to create its own IV solutions and pre-filled syringes it was buying from a vendor for about $1.2 million a year, and “will be a solution we control on-site,” she said. Another for cancer drugs will be more efficient, cost effective and help shield clinicians from potentially harmful exposures, Buschbacher said. The systems will free up nurses from having to get the drugs together from machines themselves, which can take up about a quarter of their shifts, she said.

“They’ll be able to spend more time at the bedside with their patients,” Bushbacher said. It will also cut down on the personnel needed in the pharmacy, who were doing many of these things by hand, and remove the possibility of human error, said Marie Jackson, director of the pharmacy.

The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta reached a construction milestone with placement of the highest steel beams in the new structure.

For weeks before the topping-out, project partners and the local community were invited to sign the final beam for posterity. The beam features more than 150 signatures. A crane raised an American flag and a Georgia state flag at the building site Thursday, both of which were flown over the State Capitol on Oct. 1, the first day of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

“With the signing and the placement of this beam, Augusta takes a step forward as the potential cybersecurity capital of the nation and soon to be the world,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said. “Our skyline and our community have forever changed by the addition of this state-of-the-art facility.”

The education and training center will prepare professionals to protect the nation from cybersecurity threats. The center is aligned with Augusta University’s Cyber Institute and AU’s recently launched School of Computer and Cyber Sciences. The center will anchor AU’s Riverfront Campus.

The center also will house an incubator for start-up cybersecurity companies and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s new cybercrime unit.

The center also is partnered with Augusta Technical College.

“You’re not just building a building here in Augusta,” AU President Dr. Brooks Keel said. “You’re building the future. You’re building the future of how this region of the country prepares itself for the cyber tsunami that’s coming.”

ISO Georgia Peanut Commission candidates: I won’t feel like I’ve experienced the full-spectrum of the political profession in Georgia until I manage a campaign for Georgia Peanut Commission. From the Albany Herald,

Nomination meetings to fill two positions on the five-member Georgia Peanut Commission will be conducted during simultaneous grower meetings at 10 a.m. Dec. 14.

The commission’s Board of Directors consists of five Georgia peanut farmers who are elected from single-member districts. Representatives for Districts 1 and 3 will be determined at the meetings, which will be conducted by the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation.

Any producer living in the district may be nominated or make nominations at the meeting. Incumbents are eligible for renomination. If more than one person is nominated, an election will be conducted by mail ballot. Commission by-laws state that a person must receive a majority of the votes cast for a position in order to be elected to the commission board.

Seven candidates have applied with the Judicial Nominating Commission for a new Superior Court judgeship for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which comprises Hall and Dawson counties.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 138 this year, creating the fifth seat. State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said the circuit qualified for a fifth judge due to the caseloads.

The commission will next submit a short list to Deal of up to five people deemed qualified for the position.

The governor’s appointment will have a term running from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020. After that, a nonpartisan election is held in 2020 for a four-year term.

An Atlanta City Council election might be headed for extra innings, at least in court if not at the ballot box.

At first, the Atlanta City Council race between Courtney English and incumbent Michael Julian Bond was headed to a recount.

But late Thursday, the outcome was still unclear: Bond claimed victory while English dropped his recount request and contended instead that a runoff election is required.

An incredibly close race is to blame for the confusion.

Results indicate Bond received 49.97 percent of the vote and English 49.52 percent. There were 422 write-in votes, or 0.51 percent.

Bond said the Atlanta election superintendent told him he had won. He said write-in votes don’t count if they aren’t cast for an eligible write-in candidate and there are no certified write-in candidates seeking the at-large council post 1.

“I believe this all stems from Fulton County. When they published the certified results they mistakenly included the write-in calculation and that should not have happened,” Bond said.

Richard Barron, the director of registration and elections in Fulton County, said when he first certified Fulton’s results, he did not realize that neither of the two candidates had reached the 50 percent mark.

He certified the results with write-ins. But with only two people in the race, he said perhaps he should have left them out.

“My guess is, it’s going to end up in court,” Barron said. “I’ve never had to worry about write-ins in a two-person race skewing results.”

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