Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2018

John and Charles Wesley arrived at Tybee Roads, at the mouth of the Savannah River on February 5, 1736, along with James Oglethorpe and 254 other colonists.

On February 5, 1777, Georgia’s first Constitution was adopted in Savannah, creating the first eight counties. Happy birthday to Wilkes, Richmond, Burke, Effingham, Chatham, Liberty, Glynn, and Camden counties.

The 1777 Constitution was progressive for the time, outlawing primogeniture and entail, English common law doctrines that controlled inheritance of land.

Primogeniture ensured that the eldest son in a family inherited the largest portion of his father’s property upon the father’s death. The practice of entail, guaranteeing that a landed estate remain in the hands of only one male heir, was frequently practiced in conjunction with primogeniture. (Virginia abolished entail in 1776, but permitted primogeniture to persist until 1785.)

Georgians restructured inheritance laws in Article LI of the state’s constitution by abolishing entail in all forms and proclaiming that any person who died without a will would have his or her estate divided equally among their children; the widow shall have a child’s share, or her dower at her option.

The Southern Pacific Railroad completed its “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California on February 5, 1883, giving the SP a dominant position in transcontinental railroading.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his “court packing” plan on February 5, 1937. After the United States Supreme Court found some of his “New Deal” legislation unconstitutional, Roosevelt’s proposal would have encouraged the retirement of justices older than 70 and for those who did not retire, appoint an assistant Justice with full voting rights on decisions by the Court.

On February 5, 1945, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation abolishing the poll tax, making Georgia the first Southern state to do so.

Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war.

In 1937, the U.S. Supreme court upheld Georgia’s poll tax as constitutional. But in 1942, Georgia voters chose Ellis Arnall for governor and the progressive Arnall ushered in a wave of reforms, including abolishing Georgia’s poll tax.

Nigel Tufnel, of the band Spinal Tap, was born on February 5, 1948.

On February 5, 1974, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” by Barry White reached #1 on the charts.

Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” began a 92-week run on the best-seller charts on February 5, 1983. Rock on.

Bill Kirby, writing in the Augusta Chronicle, looks back to 1964, when Carl Sanders was Governor.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

GEORGIA FLU DEATHS have hit 51, according to Georgia Health News, via the Savannah Morning News on February 3d.

Georgia now has 51 confirmed flu-related deaths, up from 37 on Wednesday and 25 just a week ago.

The state Department of Public Health also reported Friday that there were 120 hospitalizations due to influenza infection in the eight-county metro Atlanta region during the week of Jan. 21 through Jan. 27.

Nationally, the CDC reported an additional 16 flu deaths among children, bringing the U.S. total to 53.

“We have not hit our peak yet, unfortunately,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said, according to CNN. “Really, the bottom line is, there is still likely many more weeks to go.”

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Other steps you can take to prevent the spread of the flu — frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water. (If water is not available, alcohol-based gels are the next best thing.) Wipe down hard surfaces including grocery carts, and avoid being around people who are sick.

If you are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue that is then discarded. Also, don’t go to work, and don’t have your children go to school, when sick.

My plea if you’re sick, please stay away from the capitol, and if you must go there, please stay away from me.

Under the Gold Dome

The Senate convenes at 10 AM today, while the House goes in at 1 PM.


8:00 AM SENATE APPROP – Fiscal MGMT & Genl Govt Sub 341 CAP





1:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Trans sub 341 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Judicial sub 125 CAP

1:00 PM Sub House Judiciary (Non-Civil) 406 CLOB – Upon Adjournment

2:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Insurance sub 341 CAP



3:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Econ Dev sub 341 CAP


4:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Crim Just sub 341 CAP


The State Senate and House came to the first cross-Capitol showdown of the year over adoption legislation that started last year in the House. From the Valdosta Daily Times:

The House overwhelmingly approved a compromise adoption bill, possibly breaking through a legislative standoff that at times veered into debates on religious liberty and claims of “baby buying.”

But the Senate wants more time to review the measure, which is the first major piece of legislation that lawmakers have taken up so far this legislative session. The bill is intended to speed up and simplify the adoption process in Georgia.

Most notably, lawmakers still seem to be at odds on whether adoptive parents should be allowed to pay for a birth mother’s living expenses when adopting through an attorney, as opposed to a child-placement agency.

House Speaker David Ralston, who has called the bill a priority for this session, said he was disappointed by the Senate’s decision not to vote on the compromise Thursday. The measure sailed through the House earlier in the day with a 168-to-0 vote.

Senate Bill 17, the current “Brunch Bill” has fans among local restaurant owners, according to the Gainesville Times.

Two local restaurants believe the bill would help their businesses as Sunday brunch becomes ever-bigger business in Gainesville.

Tina Roberts, owner of 2 Dog on Spring Street, said that her brunch service gets slammed at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays because of the restriction.

Moving alcohol sales earlier wouldn’t just help  boost sales, but it would spread out the influx of people who are looking for a mimosa or a bloody mary with their egg hash.

Avocados General Manager Jim Montgomery also thinks the time change would be good for Sunday business.

“It would be a boon if it did pass,” he said of the Brunch Bill.

House Bill 61, which would require more online retailers to collect and remit sales tax is likely to pass, according to the bill’s Senate sponsor. From the Rome News-Tribune:

“It looks pretty positive at this point,” said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.

Hufstetler is the Senate sponsor of HB 61 and chairman of the finance commit-tee that recommended approval of the legislation last week. It has already passed the House, 157 to 11, and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.

“Currently, retailers need a physical presence in the state to be liable. With this, they’ve just got to have an economic nexus of $250,000 in sales,” Hufstetler said. “Amazon is already voluntarily paying it.”

Companies that conduct 200 or more sales in a year also are covered, even if the dollar-amount is lower.

Some legislators are balking at the idea of the state keeping a potential windfall from federal tax reform. From the AJC:

“Any windfall should be returned to Georgia taxpayers as quickly as possible,” said state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, said, “I’m committed to comprehensive tax reform that will — at a minimum — return every surplus dollar collected back to Georgia taxpayers.”

If the administration’s estimates are correct, Georgians would pay an additional $153 million in state income taxes this fiscal year, which ends June 30. That figure jumps to $758 million in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

That’s largely because the federal tax law 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.

Republican candidate Clay Tippins ran a 60-second tv ad during the Super Bowls in markets outside Atlanta, according to the AJC.

With the $250,000 ad buy, Tippins becomes the first candidate for governor to launch television ads this election cycle. The ad [aired] Sunday in the Albany, Columbus and Macon media markets and debut Monday in the more expensive Atlanta market.

The spot was produced by Fred Davis, the Hollywood adsmith with a long history of making waves in Georgia political races.

Four Republican candidates for Secretary of State spoke to the University of Georgia College Republicans. From the Red and Black:

The candidates were Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, State Rep. Buzz Brockway, State Sen. Josh McKoon, State Rep. Brad Raffensperger.

They discussed issues including election security, voter fraud and business climate.

All four candidates stated their support for Georgia’s Voter ID laws as means of preventing election fraud and discussed absentee ballots as a potential threat of fraud.

Former State Senator and current Smyrna City Council member Doug Stoner (D) announced he will run for the Public Service Commission seat being vacated by Republican Stan Wise. From the AJC:

The governor has said he will likely tap Tricia Pridemore, a conservative activist and the former head of the state’s workforce agency, for the spot.

Two Democrats have already announced challenges to Chuck Eaton, the only other incumbent on the five-member PSC whose term expires in 2018: Former state Rep. John Noel and business executive Lindy Miller.

Stoner plans to highlight his vote in the Senate that would have limited utilities from collecting fees for projects that extend beyond their initial completion date. He was also a co-sponsor of a state tax credit for renewable energy.

Judge Ray Van Pelt, Jr., had a strong showing of support as he begins his reelection campaign, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

Van Pelt, a 22-year veteran on the bench, held a political fundraiser in Ringgold on Tuesday. The event was hosted by a committee that included two state senators, four state representatives, three sheriffs, 10 county commissioners and five mayors.

[H]e asked for the endorsement of state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga. Mullis told the Times Free Press that Van Pelt is conservative, fair and doesn’t waste money.

“It is crucial that citizens have someone with experience, competence, and [who] does not legislate from the bench,” he said in a statement. “Judge Van Pelt is precisely that someone.”

Mullis and Van Pelt worked the phones, calling elected officials to join a “host committee” for Tuesday’s fundraiser at Worley’s Outback, a frequent stop for Republican fundraising in North Georgia. Van Pelt said donors gave about $27,000, and his overall war chest is at about $50,000.

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit consists of Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties.

Columbus Democrats spoke about their opposition the “Official English” bill in the General Assembly.

Gwinnett County Commissioner John Heard announced he will run for reelection, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Heard, who said he is looking forward to a “vigorous campaign,” has served as the commissioner for District 4, which stretches from Buford through Lawrenceville for eight years. Prior to that, he served three terms in the Georgia House of Representatives.

“I am proud of the record,” Head said in a statement. “This year alone we will add 65 new police officers, improve our award-winning parks, make common sense zoning decisions to protect our neighborhoods, help lower insurance rates by bolstering our fire department, add emergency services and keep Gwinnett business friendly by keeping taxes low.”

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black attended a rural prosperity summit at the White House, according to the Calhoun Times.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black joined other members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) at the White House for the White House Conference on Rural Prosperity where Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and other administration officials addressed the important opportunities for the federal government and states to work together to advance Rural America.

During the conference, Secretary Perdue and Commissioner Gottlieb signed a formal agreement to bolster coordination and collaboration between the two agencies on a number of issues including Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation and the Coordinated Framework for Biotechnology.

“Thanks to the commitment by USDA and FDA food safety cooperation is at an all-time high,” said Commissioner Black. “We are confident that the enhanced collaboration between the two agencies will result in common sense implementation of FSMA.”

Dalton City Council is considering adding a stormwater management fee to utility bills.

The first Right Whales of the season have been spotted off Georgia’s coast. From the Brunswick News:

“There was an adult female spotted that has had calved before — or has had a calf before — and so we’re hoping that she’s pregnant and we’ll have a calf in the upcoming days or weeks,” said Clay George, who heads up the state Department of Natural Resources’ right whale efforts. “There was another whale seen with her that was large and appeared to be an adult or a juvenile, but it was not a calf that was born this year. So, we are hoping that perhaps it was also an adult female and may be pregnant also.”

There is more than a little amount of worry among whale researchers and experts that the world could be watching the extinction of right whales, considering births are not keeping up with deaths — especially with human-influenced mortality from whales becoming entangled in heavy fishing gear used for lobsters and snow crabs further north.

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