Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2018

On January 14, 1639, representatives of three cities in Connecticut adopted the “Fundamental Orders,” the first written Constitution in an American colony and one of the first founding document to cite the authority of “the free consent of the people.”

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah. On January 14, 1733, James Oglethorpe and the rest of the first colonists departed Charles Town harbor for what would become Savannah, and the State of Georgia.

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

The Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War on January 14, 1784. The Treaty was negotiated by John Adams, who would later serve as President, and the delegates voting to ratify it included future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.

On January 14, 1835, James M. Wayne took the oath of office as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A Savannah native, Wayne had previously served in the Georgia House of Representatives, as Mayor of Savannah, on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and in Congress. His sister was the great-grandmother of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and his home is now known as the Juliette Gordon Low house. When Georgia seceded from the Union, Wayne remained on the Supreme Court.

On January 14, 1860, the Committee of Thirty-Three introduced a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow slavery in the areas it then existed.

On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.

Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was one of eleven African-American Georgians elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965. After his election, on January 10, 1966, the State House voted 184-12 not to seat him because of his publicly-stated opposition to the Vietnam War. After his federal lawsuit was rejected by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ordered Bond seated.

True story: Julian Bond was the first Georgia State Senator I ever met, when I was in ninth grade and visited the state Capitol.

On January 14, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring Japanese-Americans, including American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry, as well as Italians and Germans to register with the federal Department of Justice. The next month, Roosevelt would have Japanese-Americans interned in concentration camps in the western United States.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

January 13, 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Click here for the full text of Gov. Deal’s address. A couple of excerpts:

This marks the eighth and final time that I come before you to report on the state of our state. In preparing to do so, I thought back on all the challenges we have faced over the better part of this past decade and all the successes we have achieved together. I considered the plans we have set into motion that will carry us well into the next decade and beyond.

I looked back on where we started in 2011, when only 111 of the 236 legislators here today were serving in this General Assembly, and was very pleased to see just how far we have come. And now, as we embark on a year of transition and set our gaze to what the future will hold, I am reminded of a parable of sorts passed down from the times of ancient Israel – one that each new generation and many different civilizations have adopted over the centuries.

As the story goes, there was once an older man who went out one day and planted a tree in his yard. A neighbor passing by saw what he was doing, stopped, shook his head, began to laugh, and said, “Old man, you are a fool. What good will it do you to plant a tree now that you are so old? You will not live long enough to be able to sit under the shade of that tree or enjoy its fruit.”

The old man rose from his knees, looked at his neighbor and replied, “I am not planting this tree for me. I am planting it for those who come after me. Some day, they will come here during the heat of the day and be cooled by the shade of this tree. When I was a small child, I could eat fruit because those who came before me had planted trees. Am I not required to do the same for the next generation?”

Seven years ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate stood at 10.4 percent. Since then, we have created roughly 675,000 new, private sector jobs and our unemployment rate is at its lowest level in over 10 years at just 4.3 percent. And on top of it all, we have been named the No. 1 state in which to do business for the fifth consecutive year.

Just this past fiscal year alone, the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce team helped to generate $6.33 billion in investment.

That outstanding growth is a result of 377 expansions and locations that cover every region of the state. Many people think that economic development projects are only happening in the Metro Atlanta region, but in fact, 80 percent of fiscal year 2017 locations took place outside the Metro Atlanta region. Our dedication is to the whole state, and the results of our top-ranked Department of Economic Development bear that out.

Today, I can say with great authority that the State of our State is not just strong, it is exceptional!

I close with the words from my first Inaugural Address in 2011:

“Let us refocus State Government on its core responsibilities and relieve our taxpayers of the burden of unnecessary programs. Let us be frugal and wise. Let us restore the confidence of our citizens in a government that is limited and efficient.  Together, let us make Georgia the brightest star in the constellation of these United States.”

As we stand beneath the trees and orchards of opportunity we have planted and look up to the heavens, we see that the light of our star now shines brightest of all, and that light will endure and not fade away…

From Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph:

The draft $26 billion budget his office published just afterward, too, was more about spending on programs that Georgia has already set up, rather than new items.

His draft budget for next year is about $1 billion more than the budget for the year that ends in June. But that difference is pretty much due to higher growth-mandated spending, the sorts of expenses that rise because a population goes up, like K-12 spending .

“There’s not a lot of discretionary funds in there,” said Chris Riley, Deal’s chief of staff. One of the biggest costs will be a new $361.7 million to shore up the pension fund for teachers. Those jumps in payments won’t go away in future budget years.

“As long as we require this rich of a program with our retirement system, we will always be required to shore it up, to infuse it with money,” said Riley.

The state will also spend a new $255.9 million to fund Medicaid growth and to offset the loss of federal funds and funds from a civil court settlement with a hospital company.

From Jill Nolin for the Dalton Daily Citizen:

Nearly $23 million is proposed for children’s mental health, with a big chunk of it going toward crisis services. About $1.1 million will go toward suicide prevention.

Nearly $800,000 is planned for children’s opioid prevention and intervention. Elsewhere, $5 million was added to continue to grow the state’s accountability courts, which offers those struggling with addiction a chance to avoid prison.

Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, indicated the governor may be open to adding more funding. The governor’s office would continue to work with both chambers to identify “best practices” for combating the crisis, he said.

“We don’t necessarily have the best answer there and so, therefore, we want to work with the General Assembly in terms of that,” Riley said during a budget briefing with reporters. “So at this point you won’t see a large chunk of money there.”

From James Salzer of the AJC:

Because of the December [Federal] tax plan, Deal doesn’t know for sure how much revenue the state will collect to fund his budget because federal changes could mean Georgia will take in less money.

Because Congress has not approved a long-term renewal of the federally funded health insurance program for children, and still might cut Medicaid and other public health programs, the state doesn’t know whether it will be receiving hundreds of millions of dollars less in federal funding.

And then there’s the possibility, at some point, that Amazon will pick Atlanta as a finalist to be home to the company’s second headquarters, and the state will suddenly have to come up with a pricey incentive package.

So Deal and lawmakers start the 2018 session less certain than in most years about where the state will stand financially come spring.

“It will be very fluid,” predicted Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff.

Riley said the Deal administration hopes to have some kind of idea fairly soon about how much less money the state of Georgia would take in because of the federal tax law, which will cut taxes for millions of individuals and businesses.

Deal and lawmakers may try to adjust the state tax code so that the federal law doesn’t have a big impact on Georgia finances.

From the Rome News-Tribune:

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said he was struck by the emphasis Deal put on “planting seeds” to benefit the next generation.

“He was being reflective, putting into perspective some of the things he put into effect,” Lumsden said. “And he gave homage to his wife (Sandra Deal) and the services she performed for Georgia.”

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services. She said they expect to expand some early intervention services, which she touted as the most effective way to combat larger problems — such as suicides, crime and homelessness — that can accompany mental illness in adults.

“We’ll know more after the budget hearings next week what we can possibly add … but I’m very grateful there was such a strong emphasis on his part,” Dempsey said.

She and Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, also praised Deal’s spotlight on the Technical College System of Georgia and the economic opportunities it’s creating.

From Andy Miller at Georgia Health News:

[A]bsent from the governor’s framework is money to bolster rural health care, a big legislative focus over the past year.

A group of influential lawmakers,  the House Rural Development Council, introduced in December a series of proposals to boost health care in rural Georgia. They included requiring nursing homes to have telemedicine capability, and allowing expanded responsibility for health care providers who are not physicians. The council also made recommendations to improve broadband Internet access

Another council proposal on health care was to develop a demonstration “waiver’’ program to explore extending medical coverage to more Georgians who currently have none. And the group backed a bold revamp of the state’s certificate of need (CON) laws, which govern where health care facilities can be built and what services they can offer.

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) said Thursday that she is concerned about the potential for a CON reform to put safety-net hospitals at a disadvantage.

If CON changes allow other facilities to “cherry-pick’’ privately insured patients, “then you’re creating a critical imbalance,’’ Unterman, a nurse with a longtime interest in health care policy, said at an event sponsored by the consumer group Georgians for a Healthy Future.

[U]nlike the previous year, there was no money allocated to reduce the number of people on waiting lists for home- and community-based services. More than 12,000 Georgians are on these lists.

“We are disappointed that the budget proposal does not include additional funding for older adults,” said Vicki Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging. “We will work with committees in the Georgia House and Senate to try to get additional funding included in the final budget.”

 Gov. Deal has also raised concerns over a federal proposal to allow offshore drilling in the Atlantic.

The governor’s office said in a statement Wednesday that Deal has “some concerns with opening up Georgia’s pristine coastlines which he will convey to the congressional delegation.”

The U.S. Interior Department announced the changes last week, opening up more than 90 percent of the country’s outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration and development beginning in 2019. That includes Georgia’s roughly 100 miles of coastline.

Dozens of Atlantic coastal communities, including Brunswick, Savannah and St. Marys, have signed resolutions in past years opposing exploration due to environmental, tourism and fishing concerns.

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman, whose beachside town was ravaged by storms last year, joined the chorus of local officials who urged Deal to appeal to Trump’s White House for an exemption.

Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who lives on Sea Island, said energy independence is of prime concern to him but that officials need to make sure the returns for drilling in the Atlantic are worth the expense.

“The question is, is there anything out there? We don’t really know that yet,” he said Thursday, “and eventually we’re going to have to know that, in my opinion.”

From The Brunswick News:

Leading Georgia Republicans, typically allied with administration policy, opened up the possibility of trying to pull the Peach State from the proposal as well, or at the very least working out an independent deal with the Interior Department.

“We are reviewing the details of the administration’s latest proposal,” Amanda Maddox, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, said Wednesday. “Sen. Isakson supports American energy independence and is open to potential drilling off the Georgia coast as long as it is environmentally sound. He also wants to make sure all stakeholders, including Gov. (Nathan) Deal, industry, tourism and economic development, are properly consulted and any concerns are appropriately addressed.”

Jen Talaber Ryan, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for communications, said the governor had yet to develop a firm position.

“The governor has some concerns regarding opening up Georgia’s pristine coast and will communicate those concerns with our congressional delegation,” Ryan said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, who represents Glynn County, said in a statement that if he feels the plan will not be satisfactory, he is willing to craft a Florida-style deal with the federal government.

“At this time, I believe it makes sense to simply see what resources are available off the coasts of the United States,” Carter said. “If sufficient resources are found that will help lower energy costs and move America closer to energy independence, we then need to ensure any actions do not harm our beautiful coastline.”

Deal addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s version of the House adoption bill:

A Georgia Senate committee passed a bill this week to make the adoption process in Georgia faster and easier – and without a controversial “religious liberty” provision that Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston considered toxic.

But as [the AJC] noted yesterday, the version passed out of the committee was infused with the contents of a House measure that which the governor vetoed last year. And Deal said after his State of the State address that the changes may be too bitter of a pill to swallow.

“We’re going to continue to work with them on that,” he said. “With regard to the basic adoption bill itself, it’s far from meeting my definition of clean.”

Deal added: “We have to be certain that the amendments they added do not put us back in the situation where we don’t have unnecessary impediments or delays of preventing children that need homes from being able to have them.”

The United States Senate voted 92-0 to confirm Michael Brown as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia.

“Michael Brown is a great lawyer, federal prosecutor and outstanding citizen of our state whose experience will serve him well on the federal bench,”  Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, said in a news release Thursday, applauding Brown’s confirmation. “I gave him my highest recommendation at his confirmation hearing, and I applaud him and the Senate on his confirmation.”

Isakson told the Senate before the vote that the courts need Brown’s life experience as a business litigator both with Alston & Bird and King & Spalding.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called him one of the great lawyers in the United States of America,” Isakson said.

Former United States Congressman Doug Barnard, Jr.(D-Augusta) has died.

A successful banker, Barnard became the first U.S. Congressman from Augusta in 72 years when he beat south Augusta politician Mike Padgett for the post in 1977. Barnard served eight terms before stepping down in 1993.

In a 2007 interview, Barnard said rescuing Georgia water projects from cutbacks being made by President Jimmy Carter was one of his crowning achievements. In 1990 he secured $15 million in federal funds to extend St. Sebastian Way, and a banking bill he introduced changed the industry when it finally passed in 1999, he said.

Barnard was a lifelong friend of former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, who died in 2014. Doug Barnard Jr. Parkway was named for him in 1994. Another honor was the Doug Barnard Olympic Coin bill that passed in 1996.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young said Barnard offered “great wisdom” when he sought the mayor’s office and remembered him fondly.

“He was a great asset to this community, a true statesman,” Young said. “He cared deeply about our city and the people who lived here.”

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis announced that the city will file suit against opioid manufacturers.

Mayor Hardie Davis announced Thursday that Augusta has filed suit against five of the largest manufacturers of opioids and the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors, saying the firms “failed in their legal obligation to notify the Drug Enforcement Administration of suspicious orders, even as the number of pills flowing into our county rose and rose.”

The suit is not yet filed, said Burton LeBlanc, attorney with Dallas-based Baron and Budd, the lead of 10 law firms including Augusta-based Enoch Tarver retained by the Augusta Commission on Tuesday in the case. Once it’s drafted, the attorneys plan to file the suit in federal district court in Augusta, LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc, whose firm is representing nearly 185 cities and counties around the U.S., said Augusta’s suit will likely target opioid manufacturer Perdue Pharma along with distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, which account for 85 percent of the drug distribution market.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics showing opioid prescribing rates in Augusta are above the national average of 66.5 per 100 people. In 2016, the rate was 86.8 prescriptions per 100 people in Augusta while in neighboring Columbia County, the 2016 rate was 81 prescriptions per 100 people.

Damages Augusta will seek may cover the added cost of law enforcement, medical care and treatment for addiction, emergency medical care for overdoses and other expenses resulting from opioid abuse, LeBlanc said.

Monique Walker announced she will run for a seat on Richmond County State Court.

Walker, the daughter of former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker, is seeking the judgeship held by Robert “Bo” Hunter in the May 22 nonpartisan election.

The campaign is Walker’s second run for state court. In 2016 she lost a three-way contest to complete the term of John Flythe, who resigned to run for judge of superior court.

Rey Martinez was sworn in as the first Hispanic Mayor of Loganville.

Martinez, who was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents, became the first Hispanic mayor of a city in either Gwinnett or Walton counties — Loganville straddles the line between both. He is also believed to be the first Hispanic mayor of any city in Georgia.

“I have to pinch myself,” Martinez said. “Who would have thought 10 years ago, five years ago, even a year ago that I would be standing here — a young man who came to the States at the age of 8 with English as my second language?”

Loganville’s history-making night was a big draw. Not only were several residents in attendance, but several mayors, city council members and county officials from Gwinnett and Walton counties, state Rep. Tom Kirby, former state legislator Melvin Everson, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp were in attendance.

Martinez is a retired member of the U.S. Navy who has lived in Loganville for 10 years and served on the City Council from 2011-17. He was the city’s vice mayor in 2015, and served as chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee from 2012-17, and chairman of its Public Works Committee from 2011-12.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to serve on the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity in 2015, and he served as the head of Hispanics for Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter is threatening a $5 million dollar lawsuit against the county.

Nearly a year after Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter sparked controversy by calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook, a document has emerged showing that his lawyer threatened to file a $5 million lawsuit against other commissioners for sanctioning him over the remarks.

Attorney Dwight Thomas sent the Ante Litem Notice to county attorneys in November, informing them that Hunter would be filing a federal lawsuit over the written reprimand county commissioners leveled against the District III commissioner last June. Hunter’s lawyer said the reprimand caused ongoing and permanent economic and non-economic damage to Hunter.

“Free speech and political expression under the Georgia and Federal Constitution is a clearly established right,” Thomas wrote in the notice. “My client intends to bring an action for damages against the Gwinnett County commission, individually and officially, for violation and continued violation of his constitution rights pursuant to the first, fifth, sixth, eighth and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution and state law claims per the Georgia Constitution and the laws of Georgia.”

The notice sent to county officials said Hunter would seek a settlement for damages of “not less than” $5 million. Although the notice was dated Nov. 13, no lawsuit could be found in the online federal court case system.

Attorney Ken Jarrard, who sent the county’s response to Thomas notice denied Hunter had any basis for a lawsuit over the reprimand, and asserted the commissioner was not retaliated against for his actions.

Jarrard said the Board of Commissioners also had free speech protections under the First Amendment, which allowed it to issue the reprimand.

Chatham County broke ground on construction of a new Memorial Stadium.

Cobb County Commission Chair Mike Boyce will deliver the State of the County address on January 22.

Joe Hunt announced he will run for Congress in the 10th District as a Republican, against incumbent Rep. Jody Hice.

As the current Vice President of Franchise Relations, Hunt is responsible for improving the quality of relationships between the corporate entity of Zaxby’s Franchising, LLC, and its individual franchise operators.

Earlier this year, Hunt announced that he would run as a Republican Candidate for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District in the upcoming election for the U.S. House of Representatives, against the incumbent, Jody Hice.

“I’m running because I feel there are people on both sides of our political system who hold radical views and have hijacked both parties in Washington,” Hunt said. “However, I believe that most Americans, like our neighbors here in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, are reasonable people who share a mix of social and political views, and simply want to see both parties act.”

“I’m running because my family and I deserve more sensible, more logical, and more practical representation in Washington, and so do my fellow residents in Georgia,” Hunt said. “The citizens are the ones who lose when policy becomes about winning rather than helping. I plan to use my experience building and nurturing relationships to promote and fight for solutions that benefit the greater good. I want to be the voice that introduces new, sensible ideas that move the country forward and promote fiscal responsibility and social accountability.”

The City of Hampton has suspended official social media posting until a policy is adopted to govern social media use.

Social media pages for the city of Hampton have been suspended pending the approval of a city social media policy.

Interim City Manager Derrick Austin said during Tuesday’s meeting the decision came after a recent lawsuit threat against the Henry County Police Department for its alleged misuse of Facebook.

The letter indicated the HCPD had blocked more than 220 people and demanded that the HCPD restore posting privileges of each of the people that the offices “wrongfully blocked and have restored the commenting privileges to all of those whom government officials unlawfully blocked.”

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