Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 28, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 28, 2018

On February 28, 1784, John Wesley executed a document titled “The Rev. John Wesley’s Declaration and Establishment of the Conference of the People called Methodists.”

On February 28, 1827, the first American railroad organized to transport people and freight commercially, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was chartered. At the time, Baltimore was the second largest city in the nation.

On February 28, 1854, 30 anti-slavery opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would repeal the 1820 Missouri Compromise, met in Ripon, Wisconsin and called for the creation of the Republican Party.

On February 28, 1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph company was incorporated, though some accounts say March 3d.

On February 28, 1991, the First Gulf War ended, as President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire and that Kuwait was liberated.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The United States Senate confirmed Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Lisa Branch to a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. From the AJC:

Senators voted 73-23 to seat Branch on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the 12-judge panel one step below the Supreme Court that has jurisdiction over Georgia, Alabama and Florida. All dissenting votes came from Democrats.

The Trump administration tapped the Fulton County native in September to replace Judge Frank Hull, a Clinton appointee who announced her semi-retirement from the court. The 11th District in recent years has ruled on hot-button issues such as voting rights and the death penalty.

The Senate has plans in the days ahead to debate and vote on the nomination of one of Branch’s colleagues on the Georgia Court of Appeals, Tripp Self, to fill an opening on the U.S. District Court in Macon.

Business Insider calls Sen. David Perdue “Trump’s favorite senator.”

“As a business guy, we have a point in commonality,” Perdue said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “Number one, all we want is results. He’s not an ideologue. He has not been up here in the Washington bubble for all these years, fighting these partisan wars. He just wants to get results. I just want to get results.”

“[Perdue] was one of the guys out there in 2016 who never threw him under the bus and was never ashamed when a lot of politicians were calculating about how they would handle the Trump problem,” a person close to the White House told Business Insider. “When you combine a similar interest in golf with the similar background, with the disdain of Washington, and then the loyalty, I think [the relationship] pretty much explains itself.”

Perdue maintains that his relationship with Trump is less personal and more professional, although golf does come into play.

“The president told me that he thought Sen. Purdue was ‘a great golfer,’” Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy told Business Insider. “In Trump-speak that is one of the highest accolades you can get!”

Trump’s desire to work with Perdue extends to all hours of the day. The president often calls the Georgia senator to strategize or spitball ideas about policy at strange times such as 5:30 in the morning, 12:30 at night, or even in the middle of the day if the president spots him on television.

Governor Nathan Deal ordered flags flown at half-staff on state buildings and grounds on Friday, February 2, 2018, in memory of Rev. Billy Graham.

Legislative Day 28 (Crossover Day) kicks off at 10 AM, when both chambers convene.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE 403 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

Lunch Recess SENATE RULES 450 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION AND YOUTH 450 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 451 – State Soil and Water Conservation Commission; formulate certain rules and regulations in consultation with Environmental Protection Division of the Dept. Of Natural Resources; remove authority (Substitute) (AG&CA-20th)

SB 401 – Individual Graduation Plans; guidance in career oriented aptitudes and career interests; provide (Substitute) (ED&Y-37th)

SB 463 – Electric Motor Vehicles; exception for certain manufacturers; restrictions on the ownership, operation, and control of motor vehicle dealerships; provide (Substitute) (ED&T-30th)

SB 359 – “Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act” (Substitute) (H&HS-52nd)

SB 336 – Georgia Bureau of Investigation; general provisions; subpoena issued for production of electronic communication; not provide notice to the subscriber (Substitute) (JUDY-45th)

SB 418 – Selling and Trade Practices; banning the sales of goods, products, or items regulated; sold at properly zoned retail establishments; prohibit county, municipal and consolidated governments (AG&CA-50th)

SB 39 – Pimping and Pandering; increase the penalty provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-45th)

SB 460 – “Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Act of 1965”; adoption of a logo and brand to include the term “ATL” by such Authority by certain date; provide (Substitute) (TRANS-21st)

SB 232 – “Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act”; enact (Substitute) (RI&U-51st)

SB 318 – Mental Health; involuntary evaluation and treatment based on consultation with paramedic; execution of a physician’s certificate for emergency examination; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-33rd)

SB 450 – Unlawful Enticement of Game; hunting in vicinity of feed or bait; remove definitions (NR&E-54th)

SB 436 – Probate Courts; general provisions; change and modernize (JUDY-17th)

SB 411 – Georgia Commission on African American History and Culture; create (UAff-2nd)

SB 461 – Barbers and Cosmetologists; provisions; change (Substitute) (JUDY-23rd)

SB 386 – Sales and Use Taxes; exception to the ceiling on local sales and use taxes; transit special purpose local option sales and use tax; provide; Atlanta- region Transit Link “ATL” Commission; create (Substitute) (TRANS-21st)

SB 425 – Professional Land Surveyors; provisions; change (Substitute) (RI&U-51st)

SB 414 – Charitable Solicitations; local governing authorities to issue written notices for failure to clean and maintain collection receptacles; allow (SLGO(G)-37th)

SB 403 – Primaries and Elections; uniform election equipment in this state; provide (Substitute) (ETHICS-14th)

SB 396 – Telephone System For Physically Impaired; state-wide dual party relay service and audible universal information access service; change provisions (RI&U-48th)

SB 457 – School Safety Plans; conduct drills on the execution of school safety plans based on guidance from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; require (ED&Y-38th)

SB 382 – Optometrists guidance and consultation by the Department of Public Health; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-9th)

SB 431 – Liability Not Limited; effect of an owner of land charging an admission price or fee; provisions; clarify (JUDY-19th)

SB 404 – Public Water Systems; charging or assessing a separate fee for standby water service for fire sprinkler system connections; prohibit county, municipal and other public water systems (Substitute) (NR&E-28th)

SB 391 – State Road and Tollway Authority; requirements relating to identification and regulation of motor vehicles; exempt transit service buses, motor vehicles, and rapid rail systems (TRANS-21st)

SB 236 – Driving Under the Influence; county department of family and children services be notified; endangering; require (Substitute) (JUDY-35th)

SB 430 – Elections; compensation of various local government officials; modify (SLGO(G)-28th)

SB 358 – Counties/Municipal Corporations; establishment of banking improvement zones; agreement for deposit of public funds; provide (Substitute) (B&FI-33rd)

SB 444 – Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Advisory Council; create (H&HS-45th)

SB 420 – Health; health clubs have at least one functional automated external defibrillator on site at such facility; require (Substitute) (H&HS-33rd)

SB 426 – “Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development (BILD) Act” (Substitute) (RI&U-51st)

SB 335 – Trafficking of Persons for Labor; offense of trafficking an individual for sexual servitude; expand (JUDY-45th)

SB 349 – Notaries Public; identification of persons evidenced satisfactorily by a valid Veterans Health Identification Card; provide (SJUDY-2nd)

SB 264 – Board of Commissioners for Rockdale County; membership; reconstitute (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-17th)

SB 385 – Solid Waste Disposal Facilities; surcharge imposed by host local governments; change (Substitute) (NR&E-25th)

SB 437 – Resuscitate; parental requirement for consent; revise (Substitute) (H&HS-54th)

SB 453 – Local Government; limit the distance between the new municipal corporations and existing municipal corporations; requirements for active municipalities; modify (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-19th)

SB 351 – Nurses; advanced nursing practice; provisions; revise (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SR 537 – State Property; unauthorized vehicular traffic; provide closure (Substitute) (SI&P-21st)

SB 354 – Technical College System of Georgia; classify certain active duty service members as in-state for tuition purposes; require (Substitute) (H ED-2nd)

SR 681 – U.S. Congress; propose the Parental Rights Amendment to the states for ratification; encourage (RULES-16th)

SB 435 – School Buses; civil monetary penalties regarding violations of the duties of a driver; enforcement; revise (Substitute) (PUB SAF-21st)

SB 228 – Motor Vehicles; criminal offense and minimum fines for improper operation of an authorized emergency or law enforcement vehicle; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-29th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Open Rule

HB 759 – Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program; prior school year requirement; revise (Ed-Turner-21st)

Modified Open Rule

HB 489 – Local government; use Georgia Procurement Registry in addition to official legal organ to advertise certain bid opportunities; provide (Substitute)(GAff-McCall-33rd)

HB 754 – Insurance; division of a domestic insurer into two or more resulting domestic insurers; provisions (Substitute)(Ins-Shaw-176th)

HB 775 – Professions and businesses; real estate management companies; provisions (Substitute)(RegI Powell 32nd)

HB 956
 – Georgia Veterinary Practice Act; enact (Substitute) (A&CA-Pirkle-155th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 410 – Condominiums; certain fees imposed on purchasers; provide for limits (Substitute)(Judy-Powell-32nd)

HB 696 – Sales and use tax; certain computer equipment sold or leased to certain entities for use in high-technology data centers; create exemption (Substitute)(W&M-Kelley-16th)(AM 43 0075)

HB 781 – Sales and use tax; comprehensive revision of tax for educational purposes; provisions (Substitute)(Ed-Tanner-9th)

HB 791 – State government; limited waiver of the state’s sovereign immunity for declaratory or injunctive relief under certain circumstance; provide (Substitute)(Judy-Efstration-104th)

HB 808 – Courts; term of court in certain counties in the Waycross Circuit; change (Judy-Nimmer-178th)

HB 831 – Georgia’s Employment First Act; enact (Substitute)(I&L-Rogers-10th)

HB 844 – Georgia Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons; revise provisions (Substitute)(Ed-Houston-170th)

HB 930 – Georgia Regional Transportation Authority; creation of certain community improvement districts; provisions (Substitute)(Trans-Tanner-9th)

HB 938 – Insurance; limited credit insurance agency license; provide (Substitute) (Ins-Taylor-173rd)

HB 940 – Driver Services, Department of; mark and return surrendered licenses and personal identification cards; allow (MotV-Cauble-111th)

HB 951 – Education; establish Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation; provisions (Substitute)(SBD-Shaw-176th)

HB 973 – Ethics in government; lobbyists shall acknowledge and agree to abide by sexual harassment policy of General Assembly; provisions (Substitute)(Rules-Jones-47th)

HB 986 – Waycross Judicial Circuit; judges of superior courts; increase supplements (Judy-Nimmer-178th)

HR 992 – Local sales and use tax; use for educational purposes of a school system; authorize – CA (Substitute)(Ed-Tanner-9th)

SB 2 – “The FAST Act – Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency – Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed” (Substitute)(SBD-Pezold-133rd) Dugan-30th

Structured Rule

HB 811 – Revenue, Department of; authorized to share tax information that assists in the identification of noncompliant taxpayers; provide (Substitute) (W&M-Powell-171st)

Georgia Senate Republicans’ effort to remove a jet fuel gas tax from House tax reform legislation made The New York Times.

The lieutenant governor in Georgia threatened on Monday to kill a proposed lucrative tax cut for Delta Air Lines after the company eliminated a discount fare program for the National Rifle Association over the weekend.

Other Republicans in the State Legislature also on Monday pulled back their support for the bill, which would grant a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel, primarily benefiting Delta. Among the new critics was the House speaker, David Ralston, who said on Monday that he was disappointed with Delta and wished it had announced the decision before the House approved the tax bill on Thursday.

From WSB-TV:

State Sen.Jeff Mullis said he and other Senate Republicans are siding with the lieutenant governor over Delta’s decision to end discounts for NRA members.

“The lieutenant governor represents the extreme majority of the Senate and how they believe that bill should be,” he said.

“We’d like to move forward on our tax cut for the people of Georgia and we’d like for Delta to capitulate and agree with our side of this,” he said.

From WABE:

Delta was set to save millions from the bill eliminating the state tax on jet fuel. Still, if the legislative effort fails, [Emory University Economist Tom] Smith said Delta won’t be any worse off than it was before.

“But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other companies that are looking at these actions and saying wait a minute,” Smith said.

The move by the state legislature breaks with a Georgia tradition of setting politics aside to attract business, according to University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

“It’s become an unofficial requirement that our governor will be the foremost person trying to convince outside interests to invest in the state,” he said.

From GANT News:

“This could absolutely give Amazon pause,” said Neeraj Arora, a marketing professor at the Wisconsin School of Business. “The company has taken a stance on social issues in the past.”

Some experts believe the Republicans’ move is political posturing without any real threat of policy change. Still, they say it’s cause for concern that a high-ranking government official is willing to attack a company over canceling an NRA travel discount program.

“Georgia has really hurt their Amazon bids in recent weeks,” said Nathan Jensen, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

House Bill 999 by State Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) aims to prevent mentally-ill people from buying guns and passed the House Judiciary Committee, according to the AJC.

The bill, introduced Thursday, would lift a state mandate on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that requires officials to purge the records from the National Information Crime Center database of people unwillingly committed for mental health treatment after five years. Federal law includes a lifetime ban.

“All other states have already removed this five-year roll-off period,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville.

GBI Director Vernon Keenan told the House Judiciary Committee that the bureau has rescinded the names of 2,014 people who were involuntarily hospitalized for mental health or abuse treatment since 2013. In that time, Georgia has added about 10,000 new names to the list.

“This will put us in conformity with what is required at the federal level and put us in conformity with the rest of the states,” Keenan said.

State Rep. Micah Gravely, R-Douglasville, also took issue with the bill lacking a mechanism for previously institutionalized Georgians to regain their gun rights. He was the only panel member to vote against it.

Former Republican Congresman Mac Collins has endorsed State Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) for Lieutenant Governor, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“David Shafer has served with distinction in the Georgia Senate,” Collins said in a statement. “His conservative approach to Georgia’s legislative business has led his fellow members to elect him President Pro Temp of the Senate. David Shafer has the experience of leadership needed to serve Georgia well as the next Lieutenant Governor and I am glad to endorse him.”

Collins joins long list of high profile endorsements for Shafer, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, philanthropist Bernie Marcus, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, state Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and former U.S. Reps. John Linder, Bob Barr, Ben Blackburn and Fletcher Thompson.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp campaigned in Newnan and sat down with the Newnan Times-Herald.

“We have not been hacked,” said Kemp, who is running for governor as a Republican. He said the computers that handle Georgia’s elections are not connected to the internet, and therefore not easily hacked. “The conspiracy theorists out there are off-base.”

He gave Coweta County as an example, saying someone would have to break into the elections office and – with a degree of expertise – dismantle machinery to access any elections data.

“That is not logical for that to happen,” he said. “I was never worried about our voting system being hacked. It’s not on the internet.”

“After hiring three chief information officers and trying to restructure our IT department, I finally realized I’m never going to be able to hire someone at a government salary to restructure our IT department like we needed to,” he said.

“I went out and hired a private consulting firm,” he said. The company completely reworked the Secretary of State’s office computer system and acted as head of the office’s IT program for six months.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Lowndes Middle School earlier this week, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Woods helped make Blessing Bags, which are part of [eighth-grade student Nealy] Hiers’ community project. Hiers is a member of the state superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, a group of seventh through twelfth graders from across the state who discuss decisions affecting students throughout Georgia.

Hiers came up with the idea of the Blessing Bags after meeting with LMS Principal Bill Haskin and Lowndes Superintendent Wes Taylor. The bags contain hygiene items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, soap and more.

Hiers said he identified the need after noticing some students were being picked on because of a lack of hygiene. He said bullying not only affected those students’ self-esteem but also their ability to learn.

“They can’t really learn when they’re being picked on,” Hiers said.

DeKalb County Commissioners voted to raise their pay and that of the County CEO, according to the AJC.

Commissioners’ salaries will increase from a base of $40,530 to $64,637 a year starting on Jan. 1. CEO Mike Thurmond will also get 3-percent raise from $162,120 to $166,209. From now on, anytime DeKalb superior court judges get a raise, the CEO and commissioners will, too.

The measure approved by commissioners will pay them 35 percent of what superior court judges make. That detail was not included in the legal notice that ran for three weeks ahead of Tuesday’s vote, which only gave a cumulative figure for the impact of the raises.

Commissioner Nancy Jester was the only one to vote against the measure.

Alpharetta called special elections for Mayor and two City Council seat on May 22, 2018.

Four South Georgia counties will participate in South Georgia Loves Moody Week to support Moody Air Force Base.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap found that a gun buyback program by Savannah Alderman Van Johnson did not involve criminal activity.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis delivered the State of the City address yesterday, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“As a city, we’re on a roll. The state of our city is strong, and that’s what we want to talk about this evening, Augusta strong,” Davis said, thanking his family, the Augusta Commission, department heads, his staff, law enforcement and others for their efforts.

Davis cited the city’s growth, including the arrival of $100 million in government investment with the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training and associated private development.

“We are quickly becoming an economy of innovation and technology,” he said.

Hall County School Superintendent Will Schofield presented the system’s security review at Monday’s meeting of the Hall County Board of Education.

Floyd County Commissioners discussed how to address the opioid epidemic, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“It’s a multi-faceted problem,” said Dr. Bob Williams, who headed the detoxification program at the now-closed Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital. “Identifying (abusers) is easy. What we’re going to do about it is the question.”

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, introduced legislation last week that would require doctors to transmit opioid prescriptions electronically to pharmacies — eliminating paper prescriptions. Hufstetler said it’s too late for a hearing on the bill this year, but he wanted to start a debate.

“There’s a decent amount of opposition, especially as it relates to problems in rural communities,” he said. “But I have some ideas on what we can do to fix that. I just wanted to put it out there now to start discussion off-session.”

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