Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2017

On November 28, 1777, Congress appointed John Adams as commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane.

The Grand Ole Opry began live radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that Georgia will invest $35 million for the expansion of the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta.

The second facility will serve as an incubator hub for technology startups as well as a training space for the state’s cybersecurity initiatives and workforce development programs.

“Earlier this year, I announced $58 million for the creation of a world-class cybersecurity center in Augusta,” said Deal. “Given Georgia’s growing status as a technology and innovation hub, this additional investment will further cement our reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley of the South.’ When complete, the center will house a cyber range, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s new cybercrime unit and an incubator for startup cybersecurity companies.

“The protection of Georgia’s citizens, businesses and institutions within the digital realm remains a paramount concern, and the demand for cybersecurity talent continues to exceed supply. This facility will encourage world-class collaboration between industry leaders, startup companies, academic institutions and government in the field of cybersecurity, and provide space for private sector entities to leverage the center’s strategic resources.

“Cybersecurity technology is changing at a disruptive speed and today, that rate of change is likely the slowest it will be in our lifetime. This visionary approach to cybersecurity underscores our commitment to encouraging innovation and developing a deep talent pool ready to establish Georgia as the safest state in the nation for today’s leaders in technology.”

Construction of the 165,000-square-foot facility will begin immediately. Upon completion, the space will allow technology companies to establish fellowships, internships and co-op program opportunities for students and employees. It will also serve as a training facility for information security professionals employed by state and local governments.

The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) is overseeing construction and operation of the cybersecurity center facilities. GTA partners include the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, the Georgia National Guard, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the City of Augusta, the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, local school systems and private corporations.

The first phase of the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center is scheduled to open on July 10, 2018, and the second building is planned for completion in December 2018.

Governor Deal will speak at Wednesday’s dedication of Memorial Park Funeral Home Braselton.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and local legislators will speak at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast on December 14th at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Beginning at 7:30 a.m., local residents will get the opportunity to ask questions of Cagle and six other state legislators: Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville; Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa; Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville; Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville; Rep. Emory Dunahoo Jr., R-Gillsville; and Rep. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville.

“The Greater Hall Chamber always has 100 percent participation from the Hall County delegation at this event,” said chamber President Kit Dunlap. “Our legislators remain interested in hearing what the citizens of this community have to say, and the attendees want to hear what the legislators have to say.”

Dunlap said the slate of issues on the breakfast’s agenda include transportation, water, taxes, jobs, education, health care and workforce development.

Dickey Farms in Musella has planted strawberries in addition to their famous peaches.

Dickey Farms, which has been growing peaches in Middle Georgia for more than 120 years, will have a new fruit available next spring.

More than 22,000 strawberry plants have been planted on about 1 1/2 acres at the Musella farm, said Robert “Lee” Dickey IV.

“We expect strawberries to begin ripening in late March, early April depending on the weather,” he said. “Strawberries will be available for U-pick and will be available pre-picked in our market. … We planted three varieties with Camerosa being the largest.”

Robert Dickey, Lee’s father, said the strawberries were planted this summer beside the peach packing house.

Robert Dickey also represents the 140th State House District.

The Port of Savannah took delivery of four new neo-Panamax container cranes this week.

Four Neo-Panamax cranes sailed into the Port of Savannah last week with a 50- by 100-foot American flag across the side.

“To see these massive new cranes arrive flying the stars and stripes makes us proud to be part of an operation that provides jobs and opportunity for so many,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.

Once commissioned, the new cranes will bring Savannah’s fleet to 30. Six additional cranes will arrive in 2020. When all are commissioned, the upgrade will allow the nation’s largest single container facility to move nearly 1,300 containers per hour.

“These new cranes will prepare us for the next wave of growth for Georgia and the nation,” [Chief Operating Officer Ed] McCarthy said. “Today’s 15 percent increase in our crane fleet will help GPA stay ahead of the growth curve. Nearly two-thirds of the ships serving the Port of Savannah are Neo-Panamax vessels, and we expect the shipping lines to continue their shift toward larger vessels.”

The Muscogee County School Board approved a new “zero tolerance” policy for racial slurs.

Muscogee County School Board members engaged in 50 more minutes of debate during their monthly meeting Monday night before approving a “zero tolerance” policy against racial slurs.

The nine-member board’s vote was 7-1-1. Laurie McRae of District 5 voted no. Cathy Williams of District 7 abstained. Voting yes were chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1, vice chairwoman and county-wide representative Kia Chambers, John Thomas of District 2, Vanessa Jackson of District 3, Naomi Buckner of District 4, Mark Cantrell of District 6 and Frank Myers of District 8.

District 2 representative John Thomas made the proposal in the wake of the Muscogee County School District announcing Sept. 29 that the Reese Road Leadership Academy teacher who admitted to using the N-word on Sept. 1 had been suspended for two days without pay, reassigned to an undisclosed non-classroom position, issued a letter of reprimand that was placed in her personnel file, and required her to attend “cultural competency” training.

MCSD has said its investigation found that the teacher used “a racial slur in an attempt to explain to a group of elementary school students that this same word should not be tolerated.”

Do you see the irony in that last sentence?

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is hosting an event in Dalton on Wednesday.

Kemp, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, will be at the Dalton Distillery, 109 E. Morris St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Kemp also called on the legislature to pass a “clean” adoption bill without religious liberty language.

Republican Brian Kemp waded into a prickly political battle on Monday when he called on lawmakers to pass a measure to modernize Georgia’s adoption laws without a controversial “religious liberty” provision and pledged to quickly sign it into law if elected governor.

That’s likely a moot point, since Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston have said that a “clean” version of the adoption measure is a top priority for next year’s session.

But it could put the secretary of state at odds with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a rival candidate for governor who led the Senate in a feud with the House over the provision.

“Efforts are already underway in the State House to update outdated laws that create red tape and frustration,” [Kemp] said. “As governor, I will refuse to play politics on this incredibly important and timely issue. Instead, I will urge lawmakers to pass a clean version of Rep. Bert Reeves’ bill and I will sign it immediately.”

Eligibility for the Hope Career Grant will be expanded to training programs for the construction industry.

“There is a shortage of highly skilled workers to fill vacancies in construction, manufacturing and health care,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “Expanding (the Career Grant) to include construction trades can prepare people for a rewarding career and meet the talent needs for the construction industry.”

Funded by the Georgia lottery, the Career Grant currently provides free tuition to students working toward a certificate or diploma in 12 fields: certified engineer assistant, commercial truck driving, computer programming, computer technology, diesel equipment technology, early childhood care and education, health science, industrial maintenance, movie production set design, practical nursing, precision manufacturing, and welding and joining technology.

Funded by the Georgia lottery, the Career Grant currently provides free tuition to students working toward a certificate or diploma in 12 fields: certified engineer assistant, commercial truck driving, computer programming, computer technology, diesel equipment technology, early childhood care and education, health science, industrial maintenance, movie production set design, practical nursing, precision manufacturing, and welding and joining technology.

Albany Commission Ward 2 runoff election early voting is slow so far.

Staff in the Elections Office said a handful of voters showed up to vote for the top two candidates vying for the Ward II commission seat.

Staff mailed off 90 absentee ballots last Wednesday which is 60 more than voted in the general election.

“We want them to get them back as soon as possible especially those individuals who aren’t able to come out to the polls. We think this is a good tool for them to cast their ballot as well,” said Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson.

State Senate District 39 runoff candidate Linda Pritchett is the subject of a qualification challenge.

Linda Pritchett is one of two Democrats vying for the seat vacated by former Sen. Vincent Fort’s unsuccessful run for Atlanta mayor. Pritchett, a paralegal, faces off against Nikema Williams, who works for Planned Parenthood, for the long district that stretches from Buckhead to South Fulton.

Erin Glynn, an East Point attorney, sent a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office on Sunday challenging Pritchett’s candidacy, saying the candidate did not include information about a 2006 guilty plea to felony larceny in her declaration of candidacy.

Pritchett said the accusation Glynn made was false and she said she never plead guilty to a larceny charge.

The House Rural Economic Development Council is wrapping up its meeting schedule and preparing a report back to the legislature.

The group, co-chaired by Republican Reps. Terry England of Auburn and Jay Powell of Camilla, is slated to focus on jobs during a two-day session in Warm Springs this week. They’ll meet Dec. 13 in Milledgeville to approve a report with recommendations for action during the 2018 General Assembly.

“There will be a number of different bills, because there are so many different things that affect our communities regarding their ability to attract prospective employers,” [State Rep. Eddie] Lumsden said.

Lumsden said it became clear there are differences between rural South Georgia counties and those in the north, such as Chattooga County. In most of North Georgia, people are no more than 30 or 40 minutes away from a medical facility, while those in the south could have to drive for hours.

“It takes about 42,000 people to support a hospital, and many counties in rural South Georgia have only about 6,000 or 7,000,” he said.

“The state can help identify the issues and provide some resources and encouragement — but there are some problems the Legislature can’t solve,” he said. “There has to be a strong desire on the part of local communities to do what needs to be done.”

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Homelessness met yesterday in the Capitol and is preparing recommendations for the coming legislative session.

The study committee released nine recommendations that it says will improve access to mental and behavioral health services, and in turn keep people off the streets.

“There’s (potential for) quite a few pieces of legislation revolving around mental health and substance abuse — and I think that’s a direct correlation with homelessness,” said state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, the chairwoman of the committee.

“It is a very complicated issue, but just because it’s complicated, you shouldn’t push it aside, because eventually it’s going to bubble up,” Unterman said.

Unterman said though it can be difficult to get additional money for new or existing programs, she believes the study group has helped elevate the issue.

“A lot of time this issue is considered a dirty part of society,” she said. “No one wants to think about either living in the streets, living in extended stay, all the kids in schools that don’t have a home to go home (to) at night. … Even if I can’t solve the issue, I can bring the issue to the forefront.”

The Georgia Senate Study Committee to Georgians’ Barriers to Access to Healthcare is recommending expanding the scope of practice for some Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to help address provider shortages in rural areas.

A Senate study committee Monday recommended the state allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) broader medical authority if they work in rural, underserved counties.

Under current state law, nurse practitioners and other advanced nurses in Georgia can prescribe medications only under a collaborative agreement with a physician.

The study committee’s recommendations would allow these nurses to prescribe independently, as well as order MRIs and CT scans independently, in rural counties.

Among the panel’s other recommendations is an expansion of a tax incentive program to allow physician assistants and APRNs to serve as preceptors and receive a tax credit for such service. The recommendations also included expansion of the Centering Pregnancy program and of telemedicine.

Unterman, who’s also chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said Monday before the unanimous committee vote, “This is a very, very complicated issue.’’

“There will be legislation coming out of this committee,” she said.

Ashley Blackmon, an APRN, said the proposal, if enacted into law by the Georgia General Assembly, would help recruit these nurses to practice in rural communities. “It will get folks out there,’’ she said.


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