On February 8, 1751, the first session of the Georgia Provincial Parliament adjourned, having convened on January 15, 1751.
On February 8, 1955, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the General Assembly calling on Congress to require racial segregation in the military.
On February 8, 1981, R.E.M. held their first recording session at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, recording “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” as well as others.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Under the Gold Dome
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE SCHEDULE
8:00 AM HOUSE NATL RES & ENVT 606 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY – CANCELLED 415 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 HEALTH & HUMAN SVCS 450 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB
1:00 PM House Ed Sub Acad Acht 606 CLOB
1:30 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 506 CLOB
2:00 PM SENATE SPECIAL JUDY MEZZ 1
2:00 PM SENATE REG IND & UTILITIES – CANCELED 450 CAP 2:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE – CANCELED 125 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE JUDY (CIVIL) 132 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE APPROPS HUMAN RES 341 CAP
2:30 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOVT OPS – CANCELED 307 CLOB
3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 307 CLOB
3:00 PM SENATE GOVT OVERSIGHT – CANCELED 125 CAP
4:00 PM SENATE JUDY Sub B 307 CLOB
SENATE RULES CALENDAR
SB 197 Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia; chairperson of the board of trustees; provision; change (Substitute) (RET-8th)
SB 328 Income Tax; expiration of certain income tax credits; provide (FIN-56th)
SB 338 Administrative Procedure; agency rule making; modify requirements (Substitute) (JUDY-3rd)
HOUSE RULES CALENDAR
Modified Open Rule
HB 538 Fulton County; Board of Education; pension and retirement pay to teachers and employees; create system (Ret-Willard-51st)
HB 655 Quality Basic Education Act; post sign containing telephone number to receive reports of child abuse; require every public school (Ed-Williams-145th)
HB 699 Firefighter certification; military firefighter training may be accepted as required basic training; provide (PS&HS-Belton-112th)
Modified Structured Rule
HB 618 – Skidaway Island, City of; incorporate (Substitute) (GAff-Petrea-166th)
The State Senate passed two healthcare bills intended to fight the opioid abuse epidemic. From a press release by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s office.
Today, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle led the Georgia Senate to overwhelmingly approve two landmark legislative initiatives that will improve access to affordable, quality health care and combat the opioid crisis across our state. These measures mark a significant victory in Georgia’s fight to enact conservative health care reform.
“Today, the Senate took strong action on two major legislative initiatives that will save countless lives and provide much needed relief for families struggling to keep up with the rapidly rising costs of health care,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “Cutting the overgrown bureaucracy to eliminate barriers to care will improve the quality of life for Georgians statewide, while placing a clear priority on our rural communities struggling most.”
Senate Bill 352, sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman, will combat the addiction crisis with patient-centered insurance reforms, enhanced education and prevention efforts for students, and increased access to community-based addiction treatment and recovery programs.
“Senate Bill 352 is for the hundreds of thousands of people who currently suffer from addiction and the families who have endured the pain of watching a loved one suffer,” said Senator Renee Unterman. “Every step of the way, Lt. Governor Cagle has listened to the advocates and been our greatest champion in moving these solutions forward.”
Senate Bill 357, The HEALTH Act sponsored by Senator Dean Burke, establishes Georgia’s Health Coordination and Innovation Council and the Health System Innovation Center. By streamlining the functions of our health care system and breaking down silos between state agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector – the State of Georgia will become a national leader in patient-centered health reform. These common-sense reforms will enable our state to cut back needless bureaucracy, while modernizing and improving every dimension of Georgia’s health care system.
Senator Dean Burke, a physician and rural hospital administrator with more than 30 years of experience, added: “Today, the Senate advanced real solutions that will move the needle for rural Georgia. It’s both humbling and encouraging to see such broad support across our state for our efforts. And although this legislation marks just the beginning of reforming how we deliver health care, it is absolutely vital to our rural communities.”
SB 352 and SB 357 have received broad support from dozens of organizations representing thousands of Georgians, including the Davis Direction Foundation, Emory University, the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, the Georgia Association of Health Plans, the Georgia Health Care Association, the Georgia Hospital Association, the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, the Georgia Prevention Project, the Georgia Public Health Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, Mercer University, and Stratus Healthcare.
“SB 357 provides an opportunity for Georgia’s best minds in health care, academia and the private sector to partner with government leaders to face the challenges ahead,” said Tony Marshall, President and CEO of Georgia Health Care Association. “Lt. Governor Cagle has always taken a thoughtful approach to improving health outcomes for Georgians, and this latest effort will have a truly transformative impact on rural Georgia,” said Tony Marshall, President and CEO of Georgia Health Care Association.
Jim Langford, Chair of the Substance Abuse Research Alliance (SARA) and Executive Director of Georgia Prevention Project, praised Senator Unterman and Lt. Governor Cagle for their leadership in addressing the opioid crisis, saying: “Lt. Governor Cagle and Senator Unterman have advanced a bold set of innovative and effective policies that will turn the tide on Georgia’s addiction crisis and save countless lives. SARA and Georgia Prevention Project are proud to have participated in these efforts – and we could not be more supportive of this legislation.”
A key state senator said Wednesday that she expects Georgia’s fight against the opioid epidemic to draw funding from the Legislature through the budget process.
The legislation, sponsored by Unterman, also has language about a possible Medicaid waiver related to opioid abuse cases.
“Our numbers are going up,’’ Unterman told reporters. She added that she would like to see real-time mapping of suspected overdoses, so law enforcement can react quickly and possibly prevent deaths.
Senate Bill 352 also aims to crack down on unscrupulous patient ”brokers,” enhance education and prevention efforts for students, and increase access to treatment and recovery programs.
Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), who sponsored Senate Bill 357 and is a physician, said this effort to improve the workings of the health care system “is absolutely vital to our rural communities.”
The Senate also approved a bill by 50-3 vote that would require a segment of private employers to offer coverage for autism for children up to 12 years old. The current minimum age requirement for coverage is 6.
Neil Campbell, the executive director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, said her organization supports the legislation because it is bringing attention to the issue of addiction. Still, she said, she hopes the Legislature finds a way to put some money in the budget to combat substance abuse.
“We think any bill should go further and provide some funding for the people on the ground,” Campbell said, adding that only 1 in 10 people who need treatment is able to get help. “What other preventable, treatable chronic health condition do you know of where people can’t get services?” she said.
Gov. Nathan Deal believes the long-term benefit of removing a 4 percent sales tax on jet fuel is well worth the temporary cost.
The governor is lobbying for House Bill 821 partly because it will help the state’s corporate giants better compete by making new routes more cost-effective for airlines, driving the launch of more nonstop international flights.
“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,” Mr. Deal said in a statement Feb. 6.
In a statement, Delta lauded the new bill, saying the governor understands well the role of the airport as a catalyst for $58 billion in regional economic impact:
“Of the 21 states that are home to large hub airports in the U.S., Georgia imposes the fourth highest state tax on jet fuel. The governor’s proposal to exempt sales tax on jet fuel will level the playing field with other states, position Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for continued growth and benefit companies throughout the state whose businesses depend on global air service, all of which will keep Georgia competitive for the years ahead.”
Deal told reporters Tuesday that he wanted HB 821 approved, but once more definitive numbers became available, he would consider a separate measure to cut taxes in an effort to pare the windfall.
House members have so far been extremely receptive to the idea of re-creating a sales tax exemption on jet fuel, something that was done away with in 2015 when Delta Air Lines officials got on the wrong side of lawmakers.
Clayton County officials said it would cost local governments about $18 million a year.
State Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, said that name is offensive and he wants Georgia to urge the federal government to make a change to the sliver of water that runs along the edge of Skidaway Island State Park.
A panel on Wednesday unanimously approved Senate Resolution 685, which would have state officials urge the United States Board of Geographic Names to change the name of the creek. The board is tasked with maintaining uniform usage of geographic names across the country.
“Many members of the local community think the name Runaway Negro Creek is culturally insensitive, and they would like the creek changed to Freedom Creek, to describe the movement of enslaved people in search of freedom,” Jackson said.
House Resolution 1041 by State Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) and an identical Senate Resolution 706 by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) oppose seismic testing and offshore drilling off the Georgia coast. From the Brunswick News:
A proposal announced by the Trump administration opened nearly the entire coast of the United States to offshore drilling. Soon after it began getting scaled back after a surprise public announcement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Florida Gov. Rick Scott that Florida’s entire coast would not be included.
Other states began trying to cut similar deals, with Southern Republicans taking an active role. In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal has yet to commit one way or another, and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said he is open to drilling, “as long as it is environmentally sound.” U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, previously was open to all manner of energy exploration and development, but spoke in a more measured way about the topic in a statement in January.
“We must find a positive relationship between increasing our energy independence and protecting our beautiful coasts, marine life and industries,” Carter said. “If that’s not possible or if it’s not going to benefit our area, I’m not afraid to walk away and make a similar agreement.”
State Senate District 48 candidate Matt Reeves (R) announced his campaign has been endorsed by incumbent Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) and Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker.
Herb Cranford, Jr. was sworn in as the new District Attorney for the Coweta Circuit, according to the Times-Herald.
The City of Gainesville will allow digital billboards after reaching an agreement with a company that threatened to sue, according to the Gainesville Times.
Alpharetta will likely hold a Special Election for Mayor May 22, 2018 after the incumbent announced he will resign February 21st to run for Secretary of State, according to NorthFulton.com.
Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker released a letter on additional transit funding, according to NorthFulton.com.
“My reservations are grounded in the lack of data showing that BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and ART (Arterial Rapid Transit) will provide a commensurate return on investment in traffic congestion relief…Without any ability to scale back the tax increase in the event we learn that the transit path we adopt turns out to be the wrong strategy, we would be faced with a costly mistake that is not easily corrected,” the statement reads.
The mayor said he thinks the city should be open to new modes of transportation without relying too heavily on MARTA as a substitute. He said he also disapproves of another tax increase based on a lack of investors.
“In addition to my main concern about a lack of a return on investment, we have yet to fully appreciate the impact autonomous vehicles may have on daily transportation patterns, or the fact that yet again Fulton County (along with DeKalb County and Clayton County) is asked to fund transit for metro Atlanta without any investment from other metro Atlanta residents and businesses,” the mayor said.
The Lowndes County Board of Education is considering a proposal to expand Valdosta High School, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority voted to move forward on a development project with Georgia Beer Company, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
The Georgia Department of Labor will close the Cedartown Career Center effective February 15th, according to The Polk County Standard Journal.
Jim Looney resigned his seat on Jasper City Council to take the job of interim City Manager, according to FetchYourNews.com.