Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 26, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 26, 2018

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome

Legislative Day 27 begins at 10 AM when both chambers convene.



8:00 AM House Judy (Non-Civil) Sub 406 CLOB

8:00 AM House Ways & Means Sub Pub Fin 606 CLOB



9:00 AM HOUSE JUDY (Non-Civil) 406 CLOB









“Everything but Senate Bill 418.”


Modified Open Rule

HB 392 – Move on When Ready Act; students taking dual credit courses at certain eligible postsecondary institutions; allow funding (Substitute) (HEd-Fleming-121st)

HB 703 – Governor’s Office of Public Safety Support; create (Substitute) (PS&HS-Hitchens-161st)

HB 760 – Insurance; certain policies, definitions, and property insurance; revise (Ins-Lumsden-12th)

HB 890 – Crimes and offenses; make it unlawful to use an emergency exit after having shoplifted (JudyNC-Fleming-121st)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 121 – Trusts; minor or unborn beneficiaries; change provisions (Substitute) (Judy-Efstration-104th)

HB 493 – Open and public meetings; agency minutes and online videos; require public commentary be included (Substitute)(GAff-Stovall-74th) (AM 28 1612)

HB 721 – Motor vehicles; criteria by which the Department of Driver Services shall authorize licensed driver training schools to administer on-the-road driving skills testing; revise (Substitute)(MotV-Powell-32nd)(AM 39 0213)

HB 761 – Motor vehicles; filing of certificates of title by dealers; provide (MotV-Ridley-6th)

HB 866 – Commerce and trade; charging fee for placing a security freeze on a consumer’s account; prohibit consumer credit reporting agencies (B&B-Turner-21st)

HB 886 – Sales and use tax; exemption for agricultural machinery and equipment; provisions (Substitute)(A&CA-Watson-172nd)

HB 898 – Motor vehicles; fleet vehicles and fleet vehicle registration plans; revise provisions (MotV-Powell-32nd)

HB 906 – Public records; public disclosure of personal information of certain foster parents; exclude (JuvJ-Dempsey-13th)

HB 909 – Health; designation of perinatal facilities; provisions (H&HS-Silcox-52nd)

HR 1090 – Jeff Davis County; Crisp County; change of use of certain property; authorize (SProp-Watson-172nd)

HR 1103 – Property; conveyance of certain state owned real property; authorize (SProp-Greene-151st)

HR 1104 – Property; granting of non-exclusive easements; authorize (SProp-Greene-151st)

Structured Rule

HB 871 – Sales and use tax; 50 percent of the sales price of manufactured homes; create exemption (Substitute)(W&M-LaRiccia-169th)

State Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) announced he will not run for reelection this year. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to represent the citizens in my district under the Gold Dome all of these years,” Coleman said. “Being a state representative for the last 26 years has allowed me to work alongside some incredible Georgians and create education policies for the good of our state’s students and educators.

“I am sincerely grateful to have been able to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives for so many years, and I will greatly miss serving in this honorable role.”

Coleman joined the legislature in 1992 after a long stint as an educator in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Over the past 26 years, he built up considerable ties with state leaders, prompting Gov. Nathan Deal to attend Coleman’s last re-election announcement in January 2016.

Coleman is the latest in a string of Gwinnett legislative delegation members — all Republicans — who have opted to not seek re-election to their current seats this year. Two of the others, Sen. David Shafer and Rep. Buzz Brockway, are running for higher office, and Rep. David Casas has opted to step away from elected office to focus on his family and other pursuits.

Delta‘s move over the weekend to end commercial ties with the National Rifle Association could impact legislative action on a tax break for jet fuel sales, according to the AJC.

Delta’s decision to sever marketing ties with the National Rifle Association sparked outrage from Georgia conservatives, complicating the Atlanta-based airline’s push to restore a lucrative fuel tax break it lost years ago.

Delta quickly tried to stanch the fallout. The airline’s top lobbyist in Georgia, David Werner, tried to temper concerns from restive Republicans and tweeted that the company’s announcement “merely confirmed its neutral status” in a politically charged debate.

Indeed, a weekend news release from Delta stated: “Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings. Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”

[Lieutenant Governor Casey] Cagle, who heads the Senate and is the GOP front-runner for governor, condemned the corporate giants that cut ties with the NRA over the weekend but didn’t say whether he supports the tax break for Delta.

“If corporate America wants to make a positive difference on gun violence, it should donate a portion of its profits to mental health treatments and school safety initiatives,” Cagle said.

Senate Bill 407,  which refoms the state’s bail procedures, could help keep more police officers on the street, according to Nick Watson of the Gainesville Times.

One section of the bill asks the Judicial Council of Georgia to create a misdemeanor citation form. The form gives the accused person information on their charges, as well as when and where to appear for court.

Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said he is in favor of using more citations, particularly with nonviolent misdemeanor crimes that may involve an offender younger than 21.

The bill would enable the department’s officers to “spend more time focused on major criminal offenders and less procedural time with non-violent misdemeanor offenders,” the sheriff said.

“Bottom line, this will mean more officers out patrolling the streets,” Couch said.

Couch said the bill would reduce “the instances of jail serving as a de facto debtors’ prison by allowing officials to take all of an offender’s circumstances into consideration.”

Transit governance bills in both chambers head toward Crossover Day, the date by which legislation must pass one chamber to be eligible for consideration by the other chamber. From the Associated Press.

The House and Senate Transportation Committees on Thursday both advanced similar proposals that would establish a regional transit authority, called the ATL, aimed at improving metro Atlanta’s commuting infrastructure.

The sponsor of the House bill, chairman of the House Transportation Committee Kevin Tanner, a Dawsonville Republican, said the House and Senate transit groups have been in consultation, but substantial differences remain between the two chambers’ bills.

Under both plans, existing providers — including MARTA — would maintain some operational autonomy, but the entire system would be rebranded ATL by 2023.

The Rome News-Tribune looks at the rush of legislation ahead of Crossover Day, scheduled for Wednesday.

Local lawmakers will be scrambling to get their legislation passed to the other chamber by midnight Wednesday, the Crossover Day deadline after which the bills are no longer considered.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, also has a piece of legislation that requires fast work. His Senate Bill 471, submitted last week, would require prescriptions for Schedule II or Schedule III drugs to be electronically transmitted to pharmacies.

Hufstetler also will be shepherding two bills through Senate floor votes.

His SB 359 addresses so-called “surprise” medical bills patients can receive from out-of-network providers.

Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, both have bills slated for House votes today.

Senate Bill 315 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) targets cyber crime, according to the Associated Press via the Savannah Morning News.

Supporters of a bill making its way through the state Legislature say it’s designed to give law enforcement the ability to prosecute “online snoopers” — hackers who break into a computer system but don’t disrupt or steal data. The legislation came in response to a recent data breach at a Georgia university in which unauthorized cybersecurity experts noticed the vulnerability of Georgia’s voting records.

But opponents say the legislation is so sweeping it could allow prosecutors to go after people who violate their user agreements or use a work computer for personal reasons. They also argue the bill will criminalize the “gray hats” of the cybersecurity world who use their hacking talents to find network weaknesses so they can be fixed, even if they never received permission to probe.

“This bill is not intended in any way, shape or form to criminalize legitimate behavior,” said Republican Attorney General Chris Carr, whose office helped craft the measure.

“Our district attorneys with their limited time and resources are not going to spend any time trying to prosecute a roommate using the Netflix password,” Carr said.

Senate Bill 375 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) would protect adoption agencies declining placements due to sincerely held religious beliefs. From The Brunswick News:

“Other states have failed to provide legal assurance that these agencies would not be in breach of contract or find themselves subject to unnecessary suits,” Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said while presenting Senate Bill 375. “In our hearings, we had an agency that operates in Georgia — they came and they said if they had the assurance provided with this bill, that they would then feel that they were safe, that they were capable of contracting with the state. And they could provide up to 50 homes a year to children in our foster care system.”

“Think about that — over 10 years, 500 children given the opportunity for a good life. Opportunities that statistics and studies show that those who are in the system for the long term will not have. This bill does not in any way prevent anyone from adopting, it does not prevent any agency — faith-based, secular — from participating and placing children in loving homes.”

The bill had 23 co-sponsors joining Ligon, so passage of the bill was virtually assured once it went up for a floor vote. However, several senators rose in opposition to the bill, and debate will continue as SB 375 moves on to the House.

Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, said his personal opinions have shifted over the years and that he is supportive of same-sex adoptive couples, as it would mean a child would have two loving parents, as opposed to spending further time in the foster care system. Still, he voiced his strong support for the legislation.

The Augusta Chronicle looks at legislative proposals by local representatives.

[S]tate Rep. Jodi Lott, R-Evans, who with Wilder’s and industry assistance is the sponsor of House Bill 835, which allows the issuance of $10 special event tobacco permits to licensed dealers.

The bill passed the state House on Thursday and is headed for the Senate, where Wilder said Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, will try to ensure it passes.

Advance voting in the Special Election for Lula City Council opens today ahead of the March 20 election day.

Fort Benning celebrated its 100th Anniversary, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Called Columbus Salutes the Centennial, the free event featured living history performances, rock climbing , military displays and other equipment to recognize the post that was established as Camp Benning in 1918 to train soldiers during World War I. An estimated 5,000 people were expected during the day for the celebration.

Visitors were taken back to the 1900s with volunteers Ernie Stewart and his wife, Linda, dressed in period clothing. Ernie Stewart of Griffin, Ga., was wearing an Army uniform and had a table filled with the Krag–Jorgensen .30-caliber rifle, a knife, canteen and other items used by an infantry soldier.

“It’s a period between the Spanish-American War and World War I,” he said . “The Army was taking baby steps to becoming a modern Army.”

Some visitors gathered at the Global War on Terrorism exhibit where Battalion Chief Michael Maiz of the New York Fire Department was sought out to sign t-shirts. Maiz was on duty during the 9/11 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center.

Candidates for local offices in Decatur County will qualify for this year’s elections beginning next Monday.

Katie Daniel Harding announced she will run for Alpharetta City Council in the special election.

Former President George W. Bush writes in The Wall Street Journal about how meeting the Rev. Billy Graham changed his life.

Billy Graham was, with C.S. Lewis, one of the 20th century’s most influential figures in evangelicalism. I never had the honor of meeting Lewis, but I did know Billy, who died last week at 99. He changed my life.

I first met him on my grandmother’s porch in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1985. In her 80s, she was frail but sharp. They sat together and Billy held her hand while talking about the Bible. Later she described it as one of the most peaceful days of her life.

God’s work within me began in earnest with Billy’s outreach. His care and his teachings were the real beginning of my faith walk—and the start of the end of my drinking. I couldn’t have given up alcohol on my own. But in 1986, at 40, I finally found the strength to quit. That strength came from love I had felt from my earliest days and from faith I didn’t fully discover until my later years.

Those of us who were blessed to know Billy Graham benefited from his deep convictions and personal example, his wisdom and humility, his grace and purity of heart. We knew that his life was a gift from the Almighty. And I rejoice that he is now in the company of God, whom he loved so much and served so well.

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