Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 7, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 7, 2018

On February 7, 1733, the first Georgia colonists had been here a week and they finished building a hand-operated crane to move heavy supplies and livestock from their boats to the top of the forty-foot high bluff where they were building a settlement.

On February 7, 1980, Pink Floyd opened “The Wall” tour in Los Angeles.

On February 7, 1990, the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union agreed to a proposal by Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev that is should give up its political monopoly.

The response from the United States was surprise and cautious optimism. One State Department official commented that, “The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It’s mind-boggling.” Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger indicated that he was “personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot.” President George Bush was more circumspect, merely congratulating President Gorbachev for his “restraint and finesse.”

Ironically, the fact that the Communist Party was willing to accept political challenges to its authority indicated how desperately it was trying to maintain its weakening power over the country. The measures were little help, however–President Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal outlined changes to the Georgia tax code he will ask the legislature to make after the federal tax reform act.

“I’ve listened to Lt. Gov. Cagle, Speaker Ralston and members of the General Assembly regarding changes to Georgia’s tax code,” said Deal. “In light of those discussions, I am proposing adjustments to HB 821, which updates the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).”

“I’m moving ahead with IRC legislation for 2017, which provides tax relief for Georgians by conforming to federal tax regulations. It will also help our state be more competitive by eliminating the sales tax on jet fuel, which will encourage airlines to fly additional direct flights from Georgia to destinations around the globe. Georgia and our businesses are global competitors, we need direct air travel to provide our companies with immediate access worldwide. By removing the sales tax on jet fuel, we can level the playing field for our airports and airlines to compete.”

“The sooner this legislation is passed, the sooner Georgians will be able to file their returns and receive their refunds. Separately, I’ve asked the Office of Planning and Budget to work with the Fiscal Research Center to assess different components of the federal tax bill and their potential impacts if applied at the state level. Once that analysis is available, I’ll provide further information and parameters to House and Senate leadership for their consideration.”

Today is Legislative Day 17 of the 2018 Session of the Georgia General Assembly. House and Senate convene at 10 AM.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEEETINGS

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

Upon Adjournment SENATE RULES 450 CAP

12:30 PM HOUSE APPROP HEALTH 341 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY MEZZ

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETS AFFAIRS-CANCELED 606 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE TRANS 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE URBAN AFFAIRS 125 CAP

2:00 PM House Kelley Sub Judy (Civil) 132 CAP

2:00 PM Sub B Public Safety 502 CLOB

2:00 PM House Admin/Licensing Sub Ins 415 CLOB

2:00 PM House Ways & Means Income Tax Sub 133 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HUMAN RELATIONS & AGING 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE APPROP HUM RES 341 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ

3:00 PM SENATE ED & YOUTH 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE Ed Sub Academic Support 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROP GENL GOVT 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER ED 403 CAP

3:00 PM House Ways & Means Sub Public Finance 133 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Fleming Sub Judy (Civil) 132 CAP

3:00 PM House Sub A Public Safety 505 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDY 307 CLOB

4:00 PM House Econ Dev & Tourism Sub: Films & Ent 341 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 118 – Autism; age limit for coverage for autism spectrum disorders for an individual covered under a policy or contract; change (Substitute)(I&L-45th)

SB 352 – Health; general provisions; patient brokering; prohibit; Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery; establish; fraudulent insurance act; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SB 357 – Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia; create (Substitute)(H&HS-11th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Open Rule

HB 571 – Magistrates Retirement Fund; member in arrears for dues payments for 90 days shall be suspended; provisions (Ret-Watson-172nd)

HB 777 – Historic Chattahoochee Compact; repeal (IntC-Greene-151st)

Modified Open Rule

HB 700 – Georgia Student Finance Authority; service cancelable educational loans; include graduate degree programs (HEd-Belton-112th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 626 – Sharon Springs, City of; incorporate (Substitute)(GAff-Jones-25th)

HB 728 – Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation; repeal an uncodified sunset provision (W&M-Coleman-97th)

Structured Rule

HB 756 – Sales and use tax; annual reporting requirements regarding projects using SPLOST funds; revise (W&M-Hilton-95th)

House Speaker David Ralston won the Miller award from the Miller Institute, both of which are named for former Governor Zell Miller according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 Ralston seemed touched by the award, which was bestowed by the Miller Institute Foundation in honor of the former governor and senator who, like Ralston, hails from the mountains of north Georgia.

Ralston confessed he never once voted for the Democrat – and had to be “taken to the woodshed” to back Miller’s legislation when he was lieutenant governor – but that he developed a deep respect for Miller that crossed the partisan gulf.

Senate Bill 331 by Sen. Steve Henson (D-Stone Mountain) passed the Senate, and would allow Georgia lottery winners to opt for anonymity, according to the AJC.

The state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that allows any Georgian who wins more than $250,000 in a lottery to keep their name from being disclosed. The bill’s proponents have said eight states have laws that allow winners partial or complete anonymity. The legislation now goes to the state House of Representatives.

The lawmakers who drafted Senate Bill 331 said the legislation is necessary to shield winners from people attempting scams to steal some or the entire prize.

“I think it protects our public and I think actually it may enhance the sale of lottery tickets when people know they will not be exposed and have their name put out before the public and make them the victim of a crime,” Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, told fellow lawmakers about the bill Monday.

House Bill 657 by State Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) passed out of the House Public Safety Committee, according to the AJC.

State Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, said the proposal would expand on the federal law that makes it illegal for someone to buy a gun for someone he or she knows is not legally allowed to have firearms.

Petrea said when convicted felons aren’t getting access to the guns by stealing them, they are receiving the weapons as gifts from a friend or family member.

Convicted felons are not legally allowed to possess firearms.

The House Public Safety Committee approved the measure 6-4. Opponents said they were worried about unintended consequences, such as a family member not realizing a relative had been convicted of a felony.

Senate Bill 17 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries committee yesterday, according to WSB-TV.

Georgia restaurants could soon begin selling alcohol before noon on Sundays if the so-called “Mimosa Bill” gets through the General Assembly. That bill passed a Senate committee Tuesday afternoon.

Gwinnett  State Sen. Rene Unterman is once again pushing the ‘Mimosa Bill’ through the Legislature.

She took out the part allowing liquor or convenience stores to sell before noon on Sundays and left in the part allowing restaurants to pour a couple of hours early. After all, she says, the state allows the World Congress Center to do it.

“We have a lot of restaurants that are lobbying for it, but also, a lot of people who just think that the market should be fair,” Unterman said.

The prospective new City of Eagles Landing is becoming a flashpoint for political activism in Henry County, according to the Henry Herald.

Just days before a Senate committee is expected to vote on a bill for the proposed city of Eagle’s Landing, Stockbridge officials held a press conference Monday morning in attempt to shed more light on the “devastating effects of the proposal.”

“The issue that we face is fairly simple. One group of individuals who currently reside in the Eagle’s Landing area wants to take 50 percent of established land and parcels from the city of Stockbridge for their own taking. This is straightforward and it’s absolutely wrong. There’s no other way to put it,” said Stockbridge Mayor Anthony Ford. “The proposal is like no other that we’ve ever seen before in the state of Georgia. I’m asking every citizen in the city of Stockbridge to join me in standing up against what’s illegal and unprecedented.”

Senator Emanuel Jones, a Democrat, represents all of Stockbridge and said the proposed Eagle’s Landing bills — Senate bills 262 and 263 and House bills 638 and 639— “violates every norm we have in the G.A.”

“We in the General Assembly have never ever de-annexed from one city to turn around and annex into another. In the history of this great state that action has never ever occurred. All of them have been incorporated from unincorporated areas of the county,” said Jones, adding that the bills were sponsored by two legislators who work for a law firm in the Eagle’s Landing area.

House District 175 voters may cast early ballots from 7 AM to 7 PM through Friday at the Lowndes County Board of Elections Office, 2904 N. Oak St. in Valdosta. From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Gov. Nathan Deal set the election for Tuesday, Feb. 13, after former representative Amy Carter resigned.

The election includes all of Brooks County and parts of Lowndes and Thomas counties.

There are five western precincts of Lowndes County eligible to vote in the election. More than 14,000 people live in the five precincts, and as of Saturday, Feb. 3, only about 3 percent had voted early, Lowndes Elections Supervisor Deb Cox said.

Girl Scouts from across Georgia hit the Capitol yesterday, some lobbying to name a bridge after founder Juliette Gordon Low, according to the Associate Press.

Thin Mints and Samoas were in abundance inside the Georgia Capitol as Girl Scouts urged lawmakers to replace the name of a white segregationist by naming a Savannah bridge after their organization’s founder.

The scouts spoke at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, standing beside a huge illustration of the bridge. Hundreds of scouts had signed it in support of Rep. Ron Stephens’ proposal to name the bridge in honor of Juliette Gordon Low.

The bridge has long been named for former Gov. Eugene Talmadge, but Stephens says he recently confirmed that the name was never official.

Ms. Eunice Mixon, for many years a State Capitol regular, was named 2018 Distinguished Older Georgian by the Georgia Council on Aging. From the Albany Herald:

Both chambers of the General Assembly will pass resolutions recognizing her contributions to the state and to south Georgia, and friends and family will join her for a reception in her honor at 2 p.m. in the state Capitol rotunda.

Mixon’s first official foray into state politics came in 1974 when she became Tift County campaign chair for soon-to-be Gov. George Busbee. She hosted dinner parties for large groups, either for fun or to get to know people from different parts of the state, a practice she continued for many years.

“All I had done (when Busbee contacted me) was farm and teach school,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into.”

Over the years, Mixon served on some 15 boards and commissions and volunteered for election campaigns for presidents, senators and governors. She raised more than $25,000 for Alzheimer’s by dancing the waltz — first learning the step for that particular event — and was named one of 25 women for the 21st Century by the Georgia House along with other Georgia women such as Coretta Scott King and Rosalyn Carter.

She received the inaugural Eunice L. Mixon Award created by the State Bar of Georgia and was recognized as one of the 40 most influential south Georgians. Following the death of her husband in 1998, she spent 12 years working with the General Assembly as doorkeeper.

Gwinnett County officials told Hall County that providing bilingual ballots cost $700,000 in 2016, according to the Gainesville Times.

That figure and others from Gwinnett’s experience adopting bilingual ballots in 2017 were discussed in a meeting between Gwinnett and Hall County election officials on Tuesday.

Gwinnett County was forced by the federal government to adopt Spanish-language ballots at the end of 2016. The change came because the U.S. Census Bureau determined the county met federal thresholds of Spanish-speaking, voting-age residents to require bilingual ballots.

Panelists at the University of Georgia School of Law discussed redistricting last week, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

About 51 percent of Georgia voters cast ballots for the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, in the 2016 general election, but Republicans had much larger margins in the Legislature after the election. Republicans control about two-thirds of the seats in both the state House and the state Senate, and 10 of 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives – about 71 percent.

One panelist at last week’s forum, sponsored by the law school and its Georgia Law Review journal, said today’s gerrymandering threatens fundamental values of democracy, such as one person, one vote.

“The right to vote is under grave assault, as it has been under each iteration of our nation,” said Francys Johnson, a former president of the Georgia NAACP and a candidate for Georgia’s 12th District U.S. House of Representatives.

Another panelist, lawyer Frank Strickland, disagreed with Johnson during their panel, which looked at the implications of gerrymandering specifically in Georgia.

Strickland said he does not believe gerrymandering is a threat to democracy’s fundamental values.

“You cannot remove politics from redistricting,” he said, “try as you may.”

Kennesaw set a May 22, 2018 special election for a vacant City Council Post 2 (at-large) seat. Qualifying will be held March 5 and 6, 2018 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM with lunch breaks  from Noon to 1 PM and March 7, 2018 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM in the City Hall Training Room. The qualifying fee is $360.

Qualifying is open for a March 20 Special Election for Mayor of Blythe.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter resumed his seat after recovering from a heart attack, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Hunter had announced in early January that he’d had a heart attack over the New Year’s weekend and that he was recovering at the Ronnie Green Heart Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

He participated in the Jan. 2 commission meeting, where the county’s 2018 budget was approved, by telephone, but had been absent at meetings since then.

Savannah is slowing down on creation of a whitewater rapids park and removal of the New Savannah Lock and Dam, according to the Savannah Morning News.

An effort to develop a whitewater rapids park in conjunction with the removal or modification of the New Savannah Lock and Dam was delayed by the Augusta Commission Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Sammie Sias pulled the agenda item and said he wanted to delay the expenditure up to 60 days until the commission can get more information about the status of the lock and dam. Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis said “different efforts” that have been afoot needed a seat at the table prior to the commission moving forward. Representatives of those efforts did not appear at meetings last week or Tuesday when the agenda item was discussed.

The rapids proposal is largely the work of Savannah Riverkeeper, which envisions creating a “whitewater destination” to entertain millennials as the crumbling dam is removed and a fish ladder installed to mitigate the fish kills associated with the massive Savannah Harbor expansion project downstream.

 

 

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