Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 20, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 20, 2018

On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, creating the United States Postal Service.

The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail.

On February 20, 1970, Georgia ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.The Amendment states:

Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Seriously. 1970. Luckily ratification occurred when Tennessee approved adoption of the Amendment on April 18, 1920.

Interestingly, the only case in which the United States Supreme Court has addressed the Nineteenth Amendment arose in Georgia. Breedlove v. Suttles was a suit brought in Fulton County Superior Court concerning the poll tax. Here’s an excerpt:

The tax being upon persons, women may be exempted on the basis of special considerations to which they are naturally entitled. In view of burdens necessarily borne by them for the preservation of the race, the state reasonably may exempt them from poll taxes.

The laws of Georgia declare the husband to be the head of the family and the wife to be subject to him. To subject her to the levy would be to add to his burden. Moreover, Georgia poll taxes are laid to raise money for educational purposes, and it is the father’s duty to provide for education of the children. Discrimination in favor of all women being permissible, appellant may not complain because the tax is laid only upon some or object to registration of women without payment of taxes for previous years.

Privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.

It is fanciful to suggest that the Georgia law is a mere disguise under which to deny or abridge the right of men to vote on account of their sex. The challenged enactment is not repugnant to the Nineteenth Amendment.

Bless their hearts.

On February 20, 1974, Reg Murphy, an editor for The Atlanta Constitution was kidnapped and held until managing editor G. James Minter delivered $700,000 in ransom. I’m not sure if they’d pay 700 cents to get any employee back nowadays.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Speaker Ralston and others will hold a press conference today in the North Wing of the State Capitol at Noon to discuss changes to tax code legislation.

From the Rome News-Tribune:

[Senator Chuck] Hufstetler chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which will get the legislation before it is brought to the floor for a vote. His House counterpart, Rep. Jay Powell of Camilla, also will be present in a show of solidarity, along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker Dennis Ralston.

“There’s still a process to go through, but when you’ve got the House, the Senate and the governor on board, it’s pretty much a done deal,” Hufstetler said Monday.

Legislative Day 23 begins at 10 AM today, when both chambers convene.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Upon Adjournment SENATE RULES 450 CAP

8:00 AM SENATE JUDY 125 CAP

8:00 AM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 450 CAP

8:00 AM House Envtal Quality Sub Natl Res 606 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE ECON DEV 406 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE ECON DEV – CANCELED 125 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Telecom Sub of Energy, Util & Telecom 515 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 506 CLOB

1:00 PM House Life & Health Sub Insurance 606 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE NATL RES & ENVT 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT – CANCELED MEZZ 1

2:00 PM HOUSE JUDY (CIVIL) 132

2:00 PM House Transportation Sub Transit 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SVCS 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

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

2:15 PM House Ways & Means Income Tax Sub 133 CAP

2:30 PM House Natl Res Resource Mgmt Sub 230 CAP

2:30 PM House Ways & Means Public Finance and Policy 133 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE HIGHER ED 307 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE REGULATED IND 450 CAP

3:00 PM House Setzler Sub Judy (Non-Civil) 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE MEDICAL CANNABIS WORKING GROUP 406 CLOB

3:30 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 341 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE BANKING AND FIN INST MEZZ 1

4:00 PM SENATE STATE INST AND PROPERTY 450 CAP

4:00 PM House Fleming Sub Judy (Civil) 132 CAP

4:00 PM HOUSE MARTOC – Time Change 415 CLOB

4:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

NOTICE OF MOTION TO RECONSIDER:
SB 262 – Stockbridge, City of; corporate boundaries of the city; revise (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-17th)
SB 263 – City of Eagles Landing; incorporate; charter; provide (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-17th)

SB 330 – “Green Agricultural Education Act”; three-component model; provide (Substitute) (AG&CA-50th)
SB 184 – Integrated Population Health Data Project; establish; governing board and provide for its membership and terms; create (Substitute) (APPROP-52nd)
SB 356 – Georgia Commission on the Holocaust; membership; change (Substitute) (UAff-32nd)
SB 301 – “Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”; enact (Substitute) (JUDY-18th)
SB 371 – Taxes; furnishing of sales and use tax information to municipalities and counties; change provisions (FIN-24th)
SB 381 – Surplus Line Insurance; nonadmitted insurer domiciled in this state will be deemed a domestic surplus lines insurer if certain criteria are met; provide (Substitute) (I&L-14th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HB 670 – Georgia State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision; number of legislative branch representatives; revise (JuvJ-Powell-32nd)
HR 1076 – Federal government; provide port funding; urge (ED&T-Hitchens-161st)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 717 – Motor vehicles; applicability of certain consumer protection laws to autonomous vehicles; provide (Substitute)(Trans-Kelley-16th)
HB 780 – Banking and finance; changes to provisions applicable to financial institutions; provide (Substitute)(B&B-Williamson-115th)

Structured Rule
HB 327 – Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; change manner for determining fair market value (Substitute)(W&M-Blackmon-146th)
HB 693 – Solid waste management; authorization to enforce collection of taxes, fees, or assessments; repeal provisions (W&M-Harrell-106th)
HB 816 – Revenue, Department of; mandatory fingerprinting and criminal record checks for certain individuals; provide (W&M-Gravley-67th)

 

United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue introduced the world’s largest carrot producer to South Georgia yesterday.

Grimmway Farms has “chosen a great community,” said Perdue, a former Georgia governor and member of President Donald J. Trump’s cabinet. “I think you’ve already experienced that. Some of the challenges you have in California, you’ll find those get smoothed out very, very quickly in a way.

“And, these people, the mayor, commissions, the council, every local elected official from the commissioner of agriculture on down to the legislature ought to bend over backward to make sure you all have an opportunity to not only survive, but to thrive and grow your business.”

Grimmway Farms held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday that will bring in four permanent jobs and 50 seasonal jobs to the Cook County area. Grimmway Farms is the largest grower, producer and shipper of carrots in the world, according to company officials.

 

DeKalb County paid out $1.1 million dollars to former CEO Burrell Ellis for his defense against corruption charges, according to the AJC.

A jury found Ellis guilty of attempted extortion and perjury in 2015, but the Georgia Supreme Court later ruled that he didn’t receive a fair trial. Ellis had already spent eight months in prison when DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston announced last February that she would not retry the case.

That put taxpayers on the hook for footing Ellis’ legal defense bill. Georgia law allows government officials to have their costs reimbursed if they are found not guilty or charges are dropped.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills backed away from his comparison of Governor Deal to Lucifer, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“While I make no apologies, I regret using a reference to Lucifer,” Sills said in a telephone interview. “Perhaps that was poor language.”

Sills said he didn’t intend to compare the governor to Lucifer.

“The sentence reads: That nobody has done more for criminals than Lucifer and the demons combined. That’s not really a comparison. That’s an example, and hell, I’ll admit using the devil and his demons as an example (to the governor). I regret that,” Sills said.

Citizens for Georgia’s Future has spent $1.2 million in advertising in support of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for Governor. From the AJC:

Citizens for Georgia’s Future said the $1.2 million ad buy will launch the two ads in the Atlanta, Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah TV markets. Cagle’s gubernatorial campaign earlier said it shelled out $4.4 million to air six weeks worth of ads ahead of the May primary.

The first ad, “21st Century,” focuses on Cagle’s College and Career Academies initiative. The second, “Stop,” centers on his pledge to crackdown on illegal immigration. Both end with the same image of Cagle at a microphone as a narrator exhorts voters to reach out to the candidate.

The group is set up as a 501(c)4 rather than a super PAC, which means it doesn’t have to disclose its donors. The group’s spokesman is Dan McLagan, a former senior aide to Sonny Perdue and a veteran GOP political operative known for his bruising political style and pithy one-liners.

Former State Rep. Stacey Evans campaigned for the Democratic nomination for Governor in Bainbridge. From The Post-Searchlight:

Growing up in Ringgold, Georgia, Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Evans knows the struggles rural areas face. For this reason, Evans took it upon herself to visit several rural Georgia towns, including Bainbridge Thursday afternoon.

During her visit, Evans spent time in the downtown square and was struck by the potential for growth Bainbridge has. She said she enjoyed seeing the mix of old and new businesses and believes the state should focus on small businesses. She knows these businesses are the backbone of the economy and in many communities as well. She wants to reduce the taxes on small businesses and additionally provide access to the capital necessary to grow.

Many have seen the Metro Atlanta commuter rail system, but Evans wants to develop a rail system that would connect towns such as Columbus, Macon, Albany, Savannah and Atlanta together. The pros of this would allow residents to broaden their pool of potential jobs.

Evans also wants to invest in keeping a strong health care system. She said she thinks it is a tragedy Medicaid hasn’t expanded in Georgia. As a lawyer, Evans spent years exposing the waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars in the healthcare system and intends to continue that work as Governor. She claims if the state works to cut waste and fraud from the system, healthcare costs will come down and be more affordable to all.

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling on what is required for a conviction of criminal trespass, according to the Albany Herald.

With Monday’s unanimous opinion, written by Presiding Justice Harold D. Melton, the high court has reversed a decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which ruled that a bail recovery agent who broke into a woman’s home to arrest a man could not be convicted of criminal trespass without “express notice” that his entry was forbidden.

The high court disagreed, concluding that the woman’s locked door to her residence “provided reasonable and sufficiently explicit notice” that the bondsman was prohibited from entering.

Although giving a person express notice through spoken or written words – such as a verbal command or a “Do Not Trespass” sign – can be sufficiently explicit and reasonable under the statute, “that does not mean that spoken and written words are the only means by which reasonable notice could be given to a would-be trespasser that would explicitly notify that person that his or her entry is prohibited,” the opinion says. “Indeed, a locked door to a home generally sends a sufficiently explicit message that entry is forbidden to a possible trespasser who encounters that locked door.”

Erstwhile Gubernatorial candidate Marc Alan Urbach campaigned in Coweta County, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

House Bill 381 by Reps. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) and Darrel Ealum (R-Albany) addresses a problem of abandoned mobile homes on private property, according to WALB.

State Representative Darrel Ealum of Albany and John Corbett of Valdosta are working to create legislation that would make it easier for landowners to get rid of those abandoned homes.

“It’s a perfect example, the door torn off, it’s absolutely unlivable, it needs to go to the dump,” explained Ealum, as he pointed out that there are hundreds of dilapidated mobile homes that are becoming a nuisance in South Georgia communities.

It would give local municipalities the authority to appoint an agent to determine the condition of a mobile home and how to dispose of the property. Then develop a process for a landowner to remove mobile homes where tenants have abandoned them for more than 90 days without notice.

Last week, the house passed the Abandoned Mobile Home Act unanimously.

Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne spoke about House Bill 327 with the Rome News-Tribune.

“For the most part, we’re fine with that bill,” said Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne, who is president of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials.

“It corrects some issues with trade-ins — what we call a gaming of the system,” he added. “Essentially, a trade-in value can be anything you want it to be … and that reduces the ad valorem tax. Part of the bill makes the trade-in more of a state book value.”

Another provision sets definitive percentages for the way the state and counties divvy up the taxes.

Floyd County Board of Education members will discuss school safety, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell will take a new job in Atlanta, according to AccessWDUN.com.

Starting Tuesday, Feb. 20, Bell will be the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration based in Atlanta. He will be responsible for overseeing SBA operations in eight states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Bell, who is a former Hall County Commissioner, began his work in national politics in August 2016 when he became a Senior Strategist for the Republican National Committee. In the administration of President Donald Trump, Bell was a Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and most recently, the Associate Director of the Peace Corps.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis may face two challengers this year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

A solo cruise to re-election became a likely three-way race over the last few days, as former commissioner Corey Johnson and political newcomer Gould Hagler revealed they will likely oppose Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis on the May 22 ballot.

“When I first found out that Hardie was unopposed, I assumed that somebody else was going to run against him,” Hagler said. “If nobody was going to step up, sometimes you’ve got to do it.”

A former state senator and representative, Davis won a first term as mayor in 2014 with 75 percent of the Augusta vote.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan is considering a SPLOST referendum.

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