Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 1, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 1, 2018

Georgia’s first colonists landed at Yamacraw Bluff on February 1, 1733.

The United States Supreme Court held its first session in New York City, Chief Justice John Jay presiding, on February 1, 1790.

On February 1, 1861, Texas seceded from the Union.

On February 1, 1871, Jefferson Franklin Long of Macon, Georgia became the first black Member of Congress to speak on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Long was born into slavery and taught himself to read and write. Long was a prominent member of the Republican Party, speaking on its behalf in Georgia and other Southern states. He helped elect 37 African-American members to the 1867 Georgia Constitutional Convention and 32 members of the state legislature; Long continued after his term in Congress as a delegate to Republican National Conventions through 1880. In 1880, Long’s support of Governor Alfred Colquitt showed that African-Americans could be an electoral force in Georgia politics.

On February 1, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Selma, Alabama, where he was arrested.

Richard M. Nixon announced his candidacy for President of the United States on Feburary 1, 1968.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flu deaths in Georgia number 37, including the first pediatric death.

The deaths, up from the 25 total reported Friday, include a child who was between ages 12 and 18, Public Health officials said Wednesday. That case is the first confirmed pediatric flu death this season in Georgia.

The overall flu death toll may approach the 58 that the state recorded in 2009, said Cherie Drenzek, state epidemiologist. “It looks like we’re approaching our peak’’ in terms of flu activity, she said, but added that it’s likely that there are several more weeks of flu ahead.

“We’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations in metro Atlanta,’’ she said.

Emergency departments across Georgia have reported an unusually high number of patients, many of whom have the flu. Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital has added a temporary mobile ER to handle its patient overflow.

The flu is a serious problem, “but is not a disease that people should panic about,’’ said Dr. Patrick O’Neal, the state’s Public Health commissioner.  He said the number of pediatric cases has not been as high as in previous years.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was the designated survivor in last night’s State of the Union by President Trump.

Perdue was this year’s “designated survivor,” the chosen official who skips the president’s speech to ensure the continuity of government in the case of a catastrophe that wipes out the president, the vice president and the rest of the nation’s leaders who will be in attendance.

The White House announced just before Tuesday’s speech that Perdue would skip the State of the Union address in the House chamber at the Capitol and instead spend the evening in a secure and undisclosed location.

According to the Senate Historical Office, the practice dates to at least the early 1960s “and perhaps much earlier.”

Under the Gold Dome Today

Senate and House convene at 10 AM today.

8:00 AM HOUSE NATL RES & ENVT 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

Upon Adjournment SENATE RULES 450 CAP

1:00 PM HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE DMVS Sub Motor Veh 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE 125 CAP

2:00 PM REG IND & UTILITIES – CANCELED 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOVT OPERATIONS 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE JUDY (CIVIL) 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 606 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 307 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE GOVT OVERSIGHT – CANCELED 125 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUDY 307 CLOB

Today, the State House is expected to pass the “Little Budget,” which trues-up current fiscal year spending. The mid-year budget update is expected to add $306 million to state expenditures.

The midyear plan House leaders approved includes $118 million more to pay for rising school enrollment and charter school grants. Colleges would receive an additional $12 million.

Tens of millions of more dollars would go to pay health services for Georgia’s poor and disabled.

he plan includes $25 million to extend runways at airports outside of Atlanta, $10 million for beach renourishment to deal with damage done by recent hurricanes, $15.5 million for new school buses, and $15 million to help pay for a jump in children in the state’s foster care system because of the opioid crisis.

The House added $408,000 to fix a change lawmakers made last year in Advanced Placement funding. Legislators decided then to pay for a high school AP exam for students in “STEM” subjects, such as science and math.

Senate Bill 17 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) would allow earlier alcohol sales on Sundays and passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

This latest iteration of the Brunch Bill would allow restaurants to serve alcohol and retail stores to sell beer and wine on Sundays beginning at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m. The new bill was introduced by Republican state senator Renee Unterman of Buford. She has referred to it as her “mimosa mandate”.

Senate Bill 17 must pass both the state House and Senate before putting the final decision to allow Sunday morning booze sales in the hands of Georgia voters. The last brunch bill (HB 535) to go to the Georgia General Assembly was in 2016. It quickly passed the House but was stopped by the Senate Rules Committee. The bill died before hitting the floor of the Senate.

Last year, SB 17 failed to make the cut on the state legislature’s ‘Crossover Day’. The day marks the deadline in the legislative calendar in which lawmakers can pass a bill and move it forward to the other chamber.

House Bill 769 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) would enact several recommendations of the State House Rural Development Council. From Jill Nolin in the Dalton Daily Citizen.

 Small-town hospital officials would have to undergo training and hospitals would be empowered to swoop in and take over nearby shuttered facilities under a new proposal introduced under the Gold Dome this week.

But the proposal is also notable for what it doesn’t include: a move to tackle the state’s controversial certificate-of-need program, which limits the number of health care services allowed in any given area.

The council had recommended mostly throwing out the restriction for urban areas but keeping the protection in place for rural facilities.

“You’ve got to be practical,” Jasperse said in an interview Wednesday. “What can we really accomplish to move the ball forward just a little bit?”

Jasperse will still have to sell his colleagues on the concept of a “micro”-hospital, though.

The concept centers around scaled-down facilities with between two to seven beds that would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Only counties with 50,000 or fewer people could have one.

There is already one such hospital in Ellijay, which closed as a full-service facility in 2016 and then reopened last year on a smaller scale but with an emergency room.

So it’s already possible, even without a change to state law. Jasperse said his bill would just make it easier for more to open. The change would also speed up the process.

House Bill 61, an internet sales tax proposal advanced in the State House.

The Georgia Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed House Bill 61, which would require online retailers who make at least $250,000 or 200 sales a year in Georgia to either collect and remit to the state sales taxes on purchases or send “tax due” notices each year to customers who spend at least $500 on their site.

The same bill easily passed the Georgia House last year and now could be up for final passage in the Senate.

Its passage could mean an extra $500 million to $600 million a year in sales tax collections for the state and local governments. The bill’s sponsor, House Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, said the taxes are already owed, but many online retailers haven’t collected them. Mega-retailer Amazon is among the exceptions, agreeing to start collecting Georgia taxes several years ago.

Google subsidiary Waymo announced it will begin testing autonomous vehicles in Georgia, according to State Rep. Trey Kelley, writing in The Polk County Standard Journal.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Google, announced they were going to begin testing autonomous vehicles in Georgia. Last year I authored the most comprehensive legislation to be passed at the state level regarding autonomous vehicles. This legislation will save lives, make our transportation dollars go farther, and lead to reduced insurance rates for drivers in Georgia. The legislation I was able to pass last year is a major reason Waymo has decided to bring this business to our state.

Seven Georgia members of Congress were on a chartered train that hit a garbage truck. This is not a metaphor.

The Associated Press has confirmed that Reps. Rick Allen, Buddy Carter, Drew Ferguson, Karen Handel, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk and Austin Scott were all on the chartered train when it hit a garbage truck Wednesday morning in central Virginia. The state’s other three GOP congressmen were not on board, nor were Sens. Johnny Isakson or David Perdue.

The White House says one person was killed and one person seriously injured due to the collision.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there are no serious injuries among members of Congress or congressional staff.

The Center on Media Crime and Justice at John Jay College looks at how Accountability courts lowered Georgia’s prison polulation.

When Republican Gov. Nathan Deal took office in January 2011, Georgia’s prison population was still growing; the corrections budget had already reached $1 billion per year. “I was told that as Governor, I should be prepared to build two new adult prisons because our prison population would grow by another 5,000 during my first term,” recalls Deal, a former prosecutor.

Much of this work has been driven by something known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. The idea behind justice reinvestment is simple: to encourage administrative and legislative changes at the state level that will result in significant cost savings in terms of reduced spending on corrections. These savings can then be “reinvested” in community-based rehabilitative programs.

“The fact that we were ultimately able to [institute change] in Georgia, a state that has legislative and executive branches run by Republicans, makes for a pretty interesting conversation about the soundness of smart-on- crime policy reform initiatives,” notes Georgia Supreme Court Justice Michael P. Boggs. In 2012, Boggs was appointed by Gov. Deal to serve as co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Council, a group charged with finding problems to solve within the criminal justice system that might yield to bipartisan consensus. The first problem the council chose to tackle was drug crime.

Justice Boggs had witnessed the potential of alternatives to incarceration firsthand, having once presided over a felony-level drug court in Georgia. Even those without a personal connection were won over when they reviewed the research literature, which credited adult drug courts with appreciable reductions in both recidivism and drug use. Several studies documented even larger effects for higher risk individuals and users of more serious drugs (for example, heroin and cocaine).

“We’ve not only expanded the number of accountability courts but we’ve enlarged the scope,” explains Boggs. “We are now increasing the number of veterans’ courts, family dependency courts, DUI courts, mental health courts, and of course adult felony drug courts.” Georgia’s accountability courts now have the capacity to serve upwards of 3,500 participants each year…

It’s a big article worth reading in its entirety.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was the busiest airport in the world for the 20th consecutive year.

An industry group, Airports Council International, needs to confirm the airport’s numbers. But, they show 103,902,992 passengers flew through Hartsfield-Jackson last year. That’s down slightly from 2016 but still more than any other airport.

Atlanta also leads in takeoffs and landings with almost 879,560 last year.

A pecan silo in Valdosta exploded.

Workers reported buildings shook just before 1 p.m. when the silo exploded outside the offices of South Georgia Pecan in Valdosta, a city of about 56,000 people near the Georgia-Florida state line. No injuries were reported, said Valdosta Fire Capt. James Clinkscales.

Windows shattered in a clothing shop, jewelry store and other businesses in downtown Valdosta, the Valdosta Daily Times reported. Twisted metal littered a parking lot behind a state building near the pecan company, and the paper reported a car was damaged by the debris. Streets around the site were barricaded as firefighters and other first responders converted on the scene.

“I’m just glad it was what it was and not what it could have been,” said Kim Stephenson, a Valdosta building owner who added damage could have been much worse.

Navicent Health in Macon CEO Dr. Ninfa Saunders was named to the Beckers Hospital Review list of 30 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know.

Daryl Morton announced he will run for reelection to the Bibb County Board of Education At-Large Post 7 he has served in since 2014.

Georgia State Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) filed a resolution denouncing the National Football League’s rejection of an ad.

State Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, filed a resolution denouncing the NFL Wednesday after the league rejected a Super Bowl ad from a veterans group that addressed the controversy surrounding players kneeling during the National Anthem.

In a statement released by the Senate, Shafer called the NFL’s refusal to run AMVETS’ ad censorship. The ad featured a military honor guard holding the American flag with the text #PleaseStand across the top of the screen. The NFL said the ad was rejected because it made a political statement.

Shafer, who is running for lieutenant governor, wasn’t buying it and so he filed Senate Resolution 673.

“I was skeptical when NFL officials tried to justify the organized disrespect for our flag by citing free speech,” Shafer said. “But their shabby treatment of AMVETS exposes the hypocrisy of that excuse. When America’s veterans try to exercise their free speech, the NFL has no problem telling them to sit down and shut up.”

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department returned $400k in cash seized in a January traffic stop that did not result in an arrest.

Following a thorough investigation, the money could not be related to any criminal activity, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said Wednesday.

Not being able to provide a sufficient reason for having the large sum of cash, the money was seized on suspicion of being involved in criminal activity, Paulk said.

After the investigation could find no criminal activity associated with the man or his money, a cashier’s check for $400,000 was given to the man several days after the incident, the sheriff said.

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