Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 26, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 26, 2018

On January 28, 1733, Georgia’s first colonists celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their safe arrival in Savannah and Chief Tomochichi’s granting them permission to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.

On January 27, 1785, a charter was approved by the Georgia legislature for the first publicly-supported state university in America.

The Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting on January 26, 1846 at Talbotton, Georgia.

John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.

On January 27, 1941, Delta Air Lines announced it would move its headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia. It was an interesting case of public-money-fueled economic development.

In 1940, the city of Atlanta and Delta had signed an agreement whereby the city agreed to contribute $50,000 for construction of a new hanger and office building for Delta if it would move its headquarters to Atlanta. In turn, Delta agreed to pay the remaining construction costs and then assume a 20-year lease for the new facilities. On Jan. 16, 1941, Delta had secured a $500,000 loan from Atlanta’s Trust Company of Georgia, thus allowing it to make a public announcement of the move.

On January 28, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed a joint resolution of the Georgia House and Senate amending the Georgia Constitution to make the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia a constitutional board and reduce the power of the Governor over the Regents.

The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.

On January 27, 1965, the Shelby GT 350 was unveiled.

Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” was released on January 27, 1965, seven weeks after his death.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.

Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.

On January 26, 2001 a new state flag, first designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander, passed out of committee in the General Assembly by a 4-3 vote and would be voted on later that week. Click here to view the floor debate from 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, the General Assembly adopted Senate Resolution 631, which lays out the schedule for the remainder of the legislative session with Sine Die scheduled for no later than midnight on Thursday, March 29, 2018. Crossover Day is February 28, 2018.

Monday, January 29, 2018 Legislative Day 11
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 Legislative Day 12
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Legislative Day 13
Thursday, February 1, 2018 Legislative Day 14
Monday, February 5, 2018 Legislative Day 15
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 Legislative Day 16
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 Legislative Day 17
Thursday, February 8, 2018 Legislative Day 18
Monday, February 12, 2018 Legislative Day 19
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 Legislative Day 20
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Legislative Day 21
Thursday, February 15, 2018 Legislative Day 22
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 Legislative Day 23
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Legislative Day 24
Thursday, February 22, 2018 Legislative Day 25
Friday, February 23, 2018 Legislative Day 26
Monday, February 26, 2018 Legislative Day 27
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 Legislative Day 28
Thursday, March 1, 2018 Legislative Day 29
Monday, March 5, 2018 Legislative Day 30
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Legislative Day 31
Thursday, March 8, 2018 Committee Work Day
Friday, March 9, 2018 Legislative Day 32
Monday, March 12, 2018 Legislative Day 33
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 Legislative Day 34
Thursday, March 15, 2018 Legislative Day 35
Monday, March 19, 2018 Legislative Day 36
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 Legislative Day 37
Thursday, March 22, 2018 Committee Work Day
Friday, March 23, 2018 Legislative Day 38
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 Legislative Day 39 “Rat Stomp Day”
Thursday, March 29, 2018 Legislative Day 40 “Sine Die”

The AJC has a little squib on why the specification of “no later than midnight” is important.

When the clock strikes midnight on March 29, the Georgia General Assembly will have to be finished with its work for the year.

The state Senate and House approved an resolution Thursday that adjourns the 2018 legislative session no later than midnight on its 40th business day, restoring a tradition that was broken in 2015.

During the past three legislative sessions, there wasn’t as much urgency to pass bills before midnight. Lawmakers continued their work into the morning.

The return of the midnight deadline could restore the drama that has at times gone missing in recent years.

Federal tax reform legislation could lead to a windfall in additional state revenue because of ties between federal deductions and the state income tax.

That’s largely because the federal tax law touted by President Donald Trump and Congress limited or eliminated some of the deductions Georgians have used when figuring their state taxes in the past and made it far more likely that ratepayers will use the standard federal deduction, rather than lowering their state taxable income using itemized deductions.

So while many Georgians may pay less in federal taxes, they will wind up with bigger state tax bills.

State leaders across the country are trying to figure out what to do with the extra money: spend it on state programs or cut taxes. Georgia is likely to do neither, at least initially.

“There is a significant assumption that there is going to be a big windfall for Georgia, particularly in 2o20 and moving forward,” [Gov. Deal's Chief of Staff Chris] Riley said. “It’s hard to get real concrete data on how this is going to play out.”

Deal won’t make plans to spend the windfall by putting it in the state budget, in large part because he doesn’t know how big it will be.

“The last thing we want to do is have a special session in the fall and raise taxes or cut the budget,” Riley said. “Georgia prides itself in the fact that we are not one of the 29 states this year that had to go back in and cut its budget, nor are we one of the 22 states that had to raise taxes to have a balanced budget.”

[Speaker David] Ralston’s spokesman, Kaleb McMichen, said: “Speaker Ralston was briefed on the estimate, and his initial reaction is to agree with the governor that a cautious approach to the projections is best. He will continue to review the information and consult with his leadership team … as the budget process moves forward.”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) spoke about concentrating on expanding rural broadband at an event hosted by the AJC.

“Broadband is really foundational to so many of the things we’re talking about, whether it’s health care, telemedicine, education or business,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said during the Politically Georgia discussion sponsored by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You’re going to see a number of approaches out there, so what ultimately is approved this year remains to be seen.”

About 16 percent of Georgians lack access to high-speed internet service.

Ralston said internet service could be extended to rural areas by making it easier for internet companies to use power poles.

He downplayed other proposals to build out internet. He said an idea by Sen. Steve Gooch, R- Dahlonega, to run fiber optic cables along Georgia’s interstate system would be expensive.

He didn’t discuss the concept of charging a telecommunications tax to subsidize construction of internet lines in the country. Legislators on the House Rural Development Council had suggested the state could raise money by taxing satellite TV, internet phones and possibly internet streaming services.

Georgia Conservation groups are preparing a push for House Bill 332 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) which would fund state conservation efforts.

The measure, House Bill 332, struggled to gain traction during last year’s legislative session. But conservationists are marshaling forces this year in hopes the plan can land on the November ballot. They released a poll Friday suggesting a broad majority of voters back the idea.

“This is an investment in an economic engine that’s really important to the state of Georgia,” said Robert Ramsay, the head of the Georgia Conservancy. “And we have that opportunity because Georgia’s been so blessed with natural resources.”

The legislation would dedicate 75 percent of the existing state sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to a conservation fund to buy new parkland, protect water and wildlife, and improve existing green space.

The fund would be overseen by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and financed from existing taxes for equipment purchased for camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports. The annual amount would be calculated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and it would not include any tax dollars from sales of boats, motor homes and four-wheelers.

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition say that a private poll shows eight of ten voters would support the measure.

Eight in 10 Georgians agree that a portion of the existing state sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment should be constitutionally dedicated to land conservation according to a recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition. The coalition is comprised of the state’s leading conservation organizations.

“Georgians understand the important role that land and natural resources play in their quality of life, from clean drinking water to places for children and families to be outside,” said Robert Ramsay, president of the Georgia Conservancy. “We are excited about this proposed solution that would have a generational impact on land conservation without raising or creating any new taxes.”

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (HB332) would dedicate 75% of the existing state sales and use tax on outdoor recreation equipment to the protection of the state’s land, water and wildlife. Funds generated could be used to protect lands critical to water quality, maintain and improve access to parks, and address the conservation program defined in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan. The shift from appropriated to annually dedicated funding would also allow the state to attract more private and philanthropic investment.

“Georgia’s outdoor economy, which includes hunters and anglers as well as those who simply enjoy the outdoors, has an annual economic impact of $27 billion and supports nearly 240,000 direct jobs. We believe this proposal will not only protect this significant industry sector, but allow it to grow. With dedicated funding, the state could better protect not only the habitats of game and non-game wildlife, but also the beaches, rivers, and lakes that outdoor enthusiasts enjoy ,” added Mike Worley, president and CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

The Georgia constitution requires the dedication of any taxes for a particular purpose to be approved by the voters. If passed by the required two-thirds of the General Assembly, the measure would be on the ballot in November 2018.

“Our state has benefitted from a legacy of leaders willing to invest in our land and natural resources. We are hopeful that the General Assembly will agree with their constituents who overwhelmingly support this proposal that this is a viable approach to preserve our state’s natural beauty, ensure access to land and greenspace for both rural and urban communities, and protect critical resources including our water supply,” concluded Thomas Farmer, executive director of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition.

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition is comprised of The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and the Trust for Public Land. For more information, visit www.georgiaoutdoorstewardship.org.

Cobb County School Board members voted unanimously to issue $40 million in tax anticipation notes against SPLOST proceeds.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said because construction costs increase an average of 4 to 5 percent each year, short-term loans allow the district to lock in bids for SPLOST projects at lower prices, saving the district money in the long term.

The practice was something the district did regularly ahead of the recession, he said, and he plans to ask board members to approve a similar agreement at the beginning of 2019 to secure funding for next year’s SPLOST projects.

Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley announced he will seek reelection this year.

“My goal is to see that all parties involved in any type of litigation are treated fairly and equally. I strive to ensure that all parties coming before the court are permitted to be fully heard so that one never feels that they have not been afforded a full and fair opportunity to present their case,” Bagley said. “At the conclusion of every case, I want to be comfortable that I have arrived at the right decision which complies with the law and is just and fair.”

The election will be held on May 22, the same day as primary elections in the state.

Bagley has served as a judge in the county for more than 20 years and was appointed as State Court Judge by Gov. Zell Miller in 1997. He became Chief Superior Court Judge in 2003.

In 2004, he founded the county’s drug court and continues to run the court’s accountability program. The program is made up of felony drug offenders and includes “extensive treatment and rehabilitation including a strict drug testing regimen.”

“Since the first graduation in 2005, 328 persons have graduated from the drug court, the majority of which have gone on to live successful and sober lives,” Bagley said.

Two candidates announced they will run for Columbus City Council this year.

Regina “Reggie” Richards Liparoto, a longtime Columbus resident who worked as a local broadcaster for many decades, is running for the Columbus Council District 9 seat.

The Rev. Gregory Blue, founder of Columbus-based Body of Christ Church International, is running for the District 1 position.

The two candidates are among the latest in a growing list of potential candidates for the May 22 election.

The mayor’s seat and all odd number council district seats are up for grabs.

Hall County commissioners Kathy Cooper and Scott Gibbs announced they will run for reelection this year.

Cooper represents South Hall and Gibbs North Hall. The commissioners announced their intentions at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday.

Their two seats are the only ones up for election this year. Both said they feel like they’ve accomplished much in their time on the commission and have more to do before stepping down.

Cooper was first elected to the commission in 2014, and Gibbs has been a commissioner since 2011.

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