Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 23, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 23, 2018

On February 24, 1803, the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall decided the case of Marbury v. Madison, enunciating the principle of judicial review under which the Court has authority to review Congressional action and hold them unconstitutional.

In writing the decision, John Marshall argued that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not law and therefore are non-binding to the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. If two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, the court bears responsibility for deciding which law applies in any given case.

President elect Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, DC on February 23, 1861.

Union troops under General George Thomas attacked Confederates led by General Joseph Johnston near Dalton, Georgia on February 24, 1864.

Casualties were light. Thomas suffered fewer than 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, while Johnston lost around 140 troops. The Union generals did learn a valuable lesson, however; a direct attack against Rocky Face Ridge was foolish. Three months later, Sherman, in command after Grant was promoted to commander of all forces, sent part of his army further south to another gap that was undefended by the Confederates. The intelligence garnered from the Battle of Dalton helped pave the way for a Union victory that summer.

The first prisoners of war were moved to Andersonville on February 24, 1864.

The Atlanta Journal was first published on February 24, 1883.

On February 25, 1870, Hiram Rhoades Revels (R-Missippi) was sworn in as the first African-American Congressman in history.

In 1867, the first Reconstruction Act was passed by a Republican-dominated U.S. Congress, dividing the South into five military districts and granting suffrage to all male citizens, regardless of race. A politically mobilized African American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican party to power, which in turn brought about radical changes across the South. By 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks in large part to the support of African American voters.

On January 20, 1870, Hiram R. Revels was elected by the Mississippi legislature to fill the Senate seat once held by Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy. On February 25, two days after Mississippi was granted representation in Congress for the first time since it seceded in 1861, Revels was sworn in.

On February 25, 1876, the first Georgia state law against abortion was passed.

WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raising

On February 23, 1945, United States Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the Pacific island Iwo Jima.

This first flag-raising was photographed by Marine photographer Sgt. Louis R. Lowery. On Lowery’s way down Mt. Suribachi, he ran into AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and two other Marine photographers, PFC Bob Campbell and PFC Bill Genaust, who was shooting movies, informing them that the flag-raising they were looking for had already occurred, but encouraging them to check out the view from the top of the hill. The three men continued up the volcano.

Once atop Mt. Suribachi, Rosenthal attempted but was unable to find the soldiers involved in the first flag-raising, deciding instead to photograph the second flag-raising, which featured a much bigger and more photogenic Stars and Stripes. Lowery’s film was sent back to military headquarters for processing via ordinary army post–and took a month to arrive. Rosenthal’s film was sent by seaplane to Guam, and sent from there via radio-photo to the United States. The photograph so impressed President Roosevelt that he ordered the men pictured in it to return home for a publicity tour. Rosenthal later won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo, but for years was forced to deny erroneous reports that he personally staged the second flag-raising and attempted to pass it off as the original.

Although the famous photograph has long led people to believe that the flag-raising was a turning point in the fight for Iwo Jima, vicious fighting to control the island actually continued for 31 more days.

Today, the first and second flags flown atop Mt. Suribachi are held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.

On February 23, 1954, the first children in the U.S. were inoculated against polio using a vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

On February 24, 1988, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, that the First Amendment protects publishers against claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress where the plaintiff is a public figure being parodied by the publication.

On February 25, 1999, Johnny Isakson was sworn into Congress from the Sixth District, a seat vacated by the resignation of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Day 26 convenes at 10 AM in both chambers.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEETING SCHEDULE

8:00 AM SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS 450 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 506 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE GAME, FISH AND PARKS 403 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

UPON ADJOURNMENT SENATE RULES 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE FINANCE SUB 123 CAP

1:00 PM House Setzler Sub Judy (Non-Civil) 132 CAP

1:30 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

1:30 PM House Ways & Means Sub Public Finance 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 406 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 397 – Real and Personal Property; municipalities to hire state licensed real estate brokers to assist in sale; allow (SLGO(G)-1st)
SB 377 – State Workforce Development Board; transfer to Technical College System of Georgia; duties and obligations; revise (H ED-17th)
SB 402 – “Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act” (Substitute) (RI&U-51st)
SB 427 – Child Support in Final Verdict or Decree; court’s discretion in making a final determination of support; provisions; change (Substitute) (JUDY-18th)
SB 375 – “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act” (Substitute) (JUDY-3rd)
SB 405 – Georgia Student Finance Authority; grants for certain eligible students enrolled in an institution of the University System of Georgia; provide (Substitute) (H ED-40th)
SB 363 – Elections and Primaries; time for opening and closing of the polls; provide (Substitute) (ETHICS-28th)
SB 74 – Courts; parental notification of abortion; provide for clear and convincing evidence for waiver (JUDY-29th)
SB 373 – Judges of Superior Courts; eleventh judge of the superior courts of the Cobb Judicial Circuit; appointment of such additional judge; provide (JUDY-37th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Open Rule

HB 833 – Professions and businesses; professional land surveyors; change provisions (Substitute)(RegI-Rakestraw-19th) Modified Open Rule

Modified Open Rule

HB 809 – Motor vehicles; Georgia State Patrol motor vehicles for traffic law enforcement may be a solid color; provide (PS&HS-Hitchens-161st)

HB 825 – Death investigations; chief medical examiner to inter and disinter unidentified human remains under certain circumstances; allow (JudyNC-Williams-145th)

HB 847 – Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact; enter into an interstate compact (RegI-Chandler-105th)

HB 867 – Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council; quorum for transaction of business; revise (Substitute)(PS&HS-Hitchens-161st)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 732 – Crimes and offenses; trafficking an individual for sexual servitude; provisions (JudyNC-Silcox-52nd)

HB 784 – Specialty license plates; promote conservation of waterfowl populations and their habitats; establish (Substitute)(MotV-Dubnik-29th)

HB 790 – Council; implement (Judy-Efstration-104th)

HB 815 – Special license plates; Georgia Masonic Charities; establish (MotV-Martin-49th)

HB 818 – Insurance; health care provider shall choose the method of reimbursement by insurer; provide (Ins-Hawkins-27th)

HB 830 – Controlled substances; Schedule I and II; change certain provisions (JudyNC-Harden-148th)

Structured Rule

HB 664 – Income tax; deduction from income for contributions to savings trust accounts; revise (W&M-Teasley-37th)

HB 793 – Sales and use tax; certain aquarium construction; provide exemption (Substitute)(W&M-LaRiccia-169th)

HB 849 – Income tax; reporting of federal partnership adjustments; provisions (W&M-Peake-141st)

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines addressed the General Assembly yesterday, delivering the State of the Judiciary speech. From the Seattle Times:

Criminal justice reform has been a priority for outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal. Hines said reform measures implemented in recent years are accomplishing three goals: holding lawbreakers accountable, improving public safety and saving money.

He said the prison population and crime rate have both dropped, and there has been a 36 percent decline in youth confinement statewide.

Hines also touted the success of accountability courts — like drug courts, mental health courts and veterans courts — that have been established across the state to give a second chance to low-risk, non-violent offenders.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) announced yesterday that he will not run for reelection this year, posting:

It’s been a good run……but it’s time to exit.

Twelve years ago, I made the decision to enter the perilous political world, thinking that my life and business experience had prepared me for the next step in my life. Little did I know that the journey I was about to embark on would be the ride of a lifetime!

I’ve had my life changed by an encounter with a little four year old angel by the name of Haleigh. I’ve been privileged to witness unbelievable courage and dignity as I’ve gotten to know the parents of beautiful children with special needs. I’ve had the honor to be part of the passage of legislation consolidating Macon & Bibb County, laws protecting dementia patients from financial abuse, the creation of Georgia’s first tax court, and above all, the landmark legislation allowing the legal possession of medical cannabis oil. And I’ve also experienced the sobering reality of crushing defeats, losing caucus elections as well as suffering the sting of failed legislative initiatives.

But through it all, I’ve learned a great deal about myself, and about politics. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I have been a good elected official, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping constituents find their way in the maze of state government bureaucracy and interacting with citizens who I represent. But I’m not so sure that I have been a good politician, as the political games one must play have been frustrating and disheartening.

Twelve years is a long time, longer than I thought I would serve in the State House. I’ve always believed that an elected official should know when it’s time to leave. I’ve also committed to myself that I would not make a career of politics.

So, for all these reasons, I have decided that it is time to call it a career in politics and I have made the decision that I will not be running for re-election in 2018.

My biggest disappointment will be that we have not come to a solution on cultivation of medical cannabis in our state, but I am confident that there is a strong group of colleagues that share my passion who WILL continue this fight.

Representing the Middle Georgia area for the last 12 years has been one of the highlights of my life, and I’m so grateful that the good folks in Bibb and Monroe County have entrusted me with this responsibility. I will be forever grateful.

Thank you to all those who supported me, who challenged me, who pushed me, even those who opposed me. I’m a better man because of this experience.

The Georgia State House passed House Bill 918, supported by Gov. Deal, which will reduce Georgia state income taxes. From the Associated Press, via US News & World Reports:

The proposal, backed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, passed the House on Thursday, 134 to 36. It was immediately sent to the Senate where it’s expected to see a vote quickly, and Deal said he looked forward to signing the bill into law.

The latest proposal would cut the top income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 to 5.75 percent in 2019, with the option for legislators to further cut it to 5.5 percent in 2020. It also doubles the standard deduction for all filers.

Those changes could erase the $5.2 billion surplus expected over the next five years and go further by giving Georgians an additional $500 million in tax cuts over the same period, according to estimates from the governor’s office.

Opponents of the measure argue that there’s far too much uncertainty, evidenced by the governor’s own changing position, to make rate cuts.

From the AJC:

It also would eliminate sales taxes on jet fuel, a huge tax break for Delta Air Lines and other carriers.

“This bill will allow Georgians to keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their wallets,” said state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, a House floor leader for Deal.

The measure has been endorsed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Senate’s president, and is expected to move through that chamber quickly as well.

House Bill 961 by State Reps. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) and Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) would eliminate the CEO form of government for DeKalb County. From The Champion Newspaper:

House Bill 961, which passed the Governmental Affairs Committee, states, “the chief executive officer/county commission form of government shall not be authorized for county governing authorities in this state.”

According to the bill, it will apply to “an official elected countywide whose powers include directing the administration of county affairs and vetoing matters voted upon by the county commission and a county commission which enacts ordinances and resolutions for the governance of the county.”

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester offered her support of the bill in a Facebook post, saying

“I support Rep. Hanson’s bill for a number of reasons. DeKalb is uniquely disadvantaged by the CEO form of government. The politicization of basic county operations has left DeKalb plagued with incompetence and fraud,” Jester said. “DeKalb does not have consistent technical talent that remains regardless of political leadership changes. All around us, the operations of local government remain consistent and, generally, well run because they do not fluctuate every [four] years with the election of one person.”

From the AJC Political Insider:

Though Hanson said her bill wasn’t aimed at incumbent CEO Michael Thurmond, it would prevent him from seeking a second term in 2020. At Hanson’s side as she presented the bill was Nancy Jester, the only one of seven commissioners with whom the state lawmaker said she consulted on the measure.

Hanson acknowledged that the bill was introduced as general legislation because the Democratic-dominated DeKalb County legislative delegation had resisted past efforts and changing DeKalb’s form of government.

House Bill 930 by State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) passed out of his Transportation Committee unanimously yesterday. From the AJC:

House Bill 930 passed the House Transportation Committee by a unanimous vote. Among numerous amendments the committee approved is one that would allow Georgia’s second-largest county to join a MARTA system it has resisted joining for decades.

County voters have twice rejected proposals to join MARTA, most recently in 1990. As recently as last fall, elected officials there said a MARTA vote would be an “uphill battle.”

winnett Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said county officials have not decided to call a vote to join MARTA this year.

“The language that is in the bill provides an option that Gwinnett may or may not utilize,” Nash told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If the language survives (the legislative process), it will be up to the entire Board of Commissioners to decide how and when to proceed.”

Senate Bill 359 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) is another attempt to address surprise medical bills. From the Rome News-Tribune:

Senate Bill 359 requires hospitals to notify patients ahead of time if a scheduled procedure will involve a contract provider outside of the facility’s network.

Physicians and insurance companies also would be responsible for ensuring the charges are known up front.

“The issue is to level the playing field, so physicians and groups would rather be in-network than out-of-network,” said Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, a physician and co-sponsor of the bill.

SB 359 passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday with unanimous support and is expected to be scheduled for a full Senate vote next week.However, it’s opposed by a number of insurance groups….

From Georgia Health News:

Hustetler’s bill would set up a system that would prohibit surprise billing in emergency care situations. It would calculate payment to non-network medical providers on a percentage provided by a benchmarking database.

That’s the provision that most concerns the insurance industry. Those rates would exceed usual contract amounts and would lead to a rise in insurance premiums, Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which unanimously passed Senate Bill 359 on Thursday.

“I’m very hopeful the House and Senate can come together’’ to pass legislation on surprise bills, Hufstetler told [Georgia Health News] after the panel vote. “It will require doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to all come together.’’

The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Smith, a Columbus Republican, seeks to ensure the patient gets help making decisions through increased transparency of medical costs. Health care pricing “is like a black hole’’ for patients, he told GHN recently.

Alpharetta will hold Special Elections for Mayor and two City Council seats after the resignation by Mayor David Belle Isle sent the dominos tumbling. From Patch.com:

Belle Isle’s decision also propelled City Council members Jim Gilvin and Chris Owen to resign from their seats. Both men previously announced their plans to seek the office of mayor.

The resignations mean that Mayor Pro Tem Donald Mitchell and Council members Jason Binder, Dan Merkel and Ben Burnett are leading the North Fulton city until the special election is held to fill the vacated seats.

Robert Busbee of Statesboro announced that he will run against State Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet), according to the Statesboro Herald.

“My platform is going to be modernization and transparency,” Busbee, an attorney in private practice, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “You know, I deal with the courts and bureaucracies on a regular basis, and everything is done by hand, and there are paper files.

“We’re still in the 20th century, or the state is, while its citizens are in the 21st, and I’d like to see the state, whether it’s the Department of Education or the DOT, everybody, I want this state to leap forward into the 21st century,” Busbee said.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson writes in The Daily Beast that guns are to blame for rising murder rates in her city.

Like most cities around the country, our Columbus crime rate has been decreasing over the last many years. Since we invested in a one-penny sales tax to benefit public safety several years ago, our crime rate has fallen 39 percent. But our murder rate has gone up: Our annual murder average is 21, but we had 35 in 2017, 34 of which were the result of gun violence.

Augusta District Two Commissioner Dennis Williams announced he will run for reelection, while former Augusta Commissioner Corey Johnson will not run for Mayor.

 Twiggs County could host the state’s largest solar installation under an agreement between Georgia Power and Arizona-based Solar First, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The impact of the project “is in the hundreds of millions,” said Judy Sherling, executive director for the Development Authority of the city of Jeffersonville and Twiggs County.

The project is expected to create 300-400 jobs during construction and to generate ongoing tax revenues. The project is already in the development phase under a power purchase agreement with Georgia Power for the electricity and renewable attributes generated by the facility. Construction is expected to begin in November and to be completed in late 2019.

The power plant is expected to generate more than 450 gigawatt hours of electricity annually.

It will be the largest infrastructure project in Twiggs County.

A local Columbus business owner was caught between running for City Council and expanding his business, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Muscogee County Director of Elections and Registration Nancy Boren recently notified [Garrett] Lawrence – owner of Nonic Bar & Kitchen and the Maltitude beer and craft store – of a little-known state law prohibiting elected officials and government employees from acquiring property in a Tax Allocation District.

Lawrence’s situation highlights an unintended consequence of a TAD referendum that voters passed in 2016, say some city officials.

Not only does the law prevent elected and appointed officials, as well as government employees, from purchasing or acquiring commercial property in a TAD district approved by Columbus council. It also prohibits the purchase or acquisition of residential property, according to City Attorney Clifton Fay.

Fay said Council asked the local legislative delegation to try to get the law amended during this year’s session of the General Assembly “to require a disclosure and then a recusal from any discussion or vote on matters, as opposed to a blanket prohibition where you could not purchase property in a TAD.”

“We don’t know what’s going to be the outcome of that in the General Assembly,” he said. “But Council has asked them to make the law less onerous on folks who are seeking or are elected to public office, and even employees.”

Nine right whales have been spotted off the Georgia coast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Aerial survey teams spotted nine endangered North Atlantic right whales off Jekyll Island last week. That makes a total of 12 right whales observed off Georgia and Florida this calving season, a tiny number compared to just last decade when more than 100 individuals would be sighted in a season. And there are still no babies.

“Unfortunately, we have yet to see a right whale calf this year,” NOAA Fisheries Service posted on Facebook. “Since monitoring efforts began in the mid-to late-80’s, there has never been a calving season when zero calves were observed.”

Right whales, the Georgia state marine mammal, migrate from New England and Canada to the waters off Georgia and Florida to give birth in the winter, with the first calves typically being born in January. Already highly endangered with an estimated 450 individuals remaining, the whales had a tough year in 2017 with 17 deaths recorded, many of them related to entanglement in fishing gear. Another death was recorded off Virginia earlier this year.

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