Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 19, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 19, 2018

James Madison, drafter of the Constitution and fourth President of the United States, was born on March 16, 1751.

On March 17, 1762, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York City by Irish serving in the British army; the date commemorates the death of St. Patrick in 461. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah, Georgia was held in 1813.

On March 18, 1766, the British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, which required American colonists to purchase a stamp for every legal or printed document they obtained.  Revenue would be used to support the British army in America.

The Stamp Act led Patrick Henry to denounce King George III, the British Monarch at the time of the passage of the Stamp Act and the ensuing Revolutionary War; Henry’s later “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech to the Virginia Assembly at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, listed by Time magazine as one of the top ten speeches of all time. Henry later opposed adoption of the Constitution, arguing it was incomplete without a Bill of Rights; after the Bill of Rights was adopted, Henry was satisfied.

The United States Military Academy was established at West Point, New York on March 16, 1802.

On February 19, 1807, Aaron Burr was arrested in the Mississippi Territory, in what is now Alabama. Burr had served as Vice President during the first term of President Thomas Jefferson, leaving the administration after the 1804 election; later Jefferson issued a warrant accusing Burr of treason.

On March 16, 1861, delegates in Savannah unanimously ratified the Confederate Constitution and voted to have a new state constitution drafted.

On March 17, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed legislation granting African-Americans the same rights as whites for contracts, suits, inheritance, property, and punishments for violation of the law.

On March 19, 1916, the first American military air combat mission began in support of an incursion into Mexico under President Woodrow Wilson.

On March 17, 1933, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed a joint resolution of the state legislature to place a plaque on the wall of the Georgia Capitol commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the founding of Georgia.

On March 18, 1939, the State of Georgia ratified the Bill of Rights, which were proposed 150 years earlier in 1789. Georgia initially declined to ratify the Bill of Rights arguing that the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were unnecessary. Governor E.D. Rivers signed the joint resolution six days later, but under federal court decisions the ratification is marked as of the date the second house of the state legislature adopts the legislation (assuming a bi-cameral state legislature).

On March 18, 1942, the United States government, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, created the War Relocation Authority to “Take all people of Japanese descent into custody, surround them with troops, prevent them from buying land, and return them to their former homes at the close of the war.” More than 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of them citizens of the United States were moved from the west coast into concentration camps in the western United States.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed entirely of Japanese Americans, many of whose families were interned at the camps, became the most-decorated unit of World War II, with members being awarded 4,667 medals, awards, and citations, including 1 Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 560 Silver Stars; eventually 21 members of the 442nd would be awarded the Medal of Honor. The late United States Senator Daniel Inouye, a member of the 442nd from 1941 to 1947, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton for actions during WWII. First elected to the United States Senate in 1962, Inouye became President Pro Tem in 2010.

On March 17, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation creating a commission to revise the 1877 Constitution of Georgia.

On March 18, 1947, Herman Talmadge surrendered the Governor’s office, ending the “Three Governors Affair.” Earlier this year, the General Assembly honored the late Governor Melvin Thompson, who was elected the first Lieutenant Governor of Georgia and became Governor at the conclusion of the Three Governors Affair.

On March 19, 1947, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Thompson v. Talmadge on the “Three Governors Affair.” The Court held that the Georgia General Assembly lacked authority to elect Herman Talmadge as Governor, and that because of the death of Eugene Talmadge before he took office, no successor to Gov. Ellis Arnall was in place until the newly-elected Lt. Governor Melvin Johnson was sworn in and became Governor, succeeding Arnall.

On March 18, 1955, the Georgia Educators Association endorsed “equal but separate” schools for the races.

On March 18, 1961, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Gray v. Sanders, which arose from Georgia. Three politically-important results come from the case.

First, the Court held that state regulation of the Democratic Primary made the primary election a state action, not merely that of a private organization; thus, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies.

Second, the Equal Protection Clause requires that every vote be given equal weight in electing officials, often stated as the “one person, one vote” rule. In Georgia at that time, each County had between two and six “county unit votes”. As a result,

“One unit vote in Echols County represented 938 residents, whereas one unit vote in Fulton County represented 92,721 residents. Thus, one resident in Echols County had an influence in the nomination of candidates equivalent to 99 residents of Fulton County.”

Third, because the County Unit System gave the votes of some Georgians greater weight than that of others, it violated the Equal Protection Clause. The “one person, one vote” rule is one benchmark of redistricting.

On March 16, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Illinois Democratic Primary. His spiritual successor President Barack Obama, from Illinois, would visit Carter’s home state of Georgia on March 16, 2012.

On March 18, 1976, Governor George Busbee signed legislation recognizing the following official state symbols:

Staurolite – Official Mineral of Georgia
Shark’s Tooth – Official Fossil of Georgia
Clear Quartz – Official Gem of Georgia
Purple Quartz (Amethyst) – Official Gem of Georgia

On March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush announced the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in order to depose Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and eliminate the country’s ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.

March 19, 2014 was “Bo Callaway Day” in Georgia and flags flew at half-staff in honor of the late Georgia Congressman and former Secretary of the Army.

“Few individuals throughout our history can match the legacy that Bo Callaway left on Georgia politics,” Deal said. “Bo blazed a trail that led to the dramatic growth of the Georgia GOP, which went from virtually nonexistent when he ran for governor to holding every statewide elected office today. Bo stood up for what he believed in even when the odds and the political system were stacked against him. Georgians are all the better for it. Sandra and I send our deepest sympathies to the Callaway family.”

March 19, 2014 was also the first time I wrote about the lack of an “Official State Dog of Georgia.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the 36th Legislative Day of the 2018 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.












2:00 PM HOUSE Kelley Sub Judy (Civil) 132 CAP





3:00 PM HOUSE Rsrce Mgmt Sub Natl Res & Envt 403 CAP



HR 279 – Single Parent Day; March 21; designate each year (RULES-42nd) Stovall-74th
HB 381 – Abandoned Mobile Home Act; enact (Substitute) (JUDY-18th) Corbett-174th
HB 732 – Crimes and offenses; trafficking an individual for sexual servitude; provisions (JUDY-45th) Silcox-52nd
HB 792 – Waste management; sunset date for certain solid waste surcharges and hazardous waste fees; extend (Substitute) (NR&E-20th) Rogers-10th
HB 793 – Sales and use tax; certain aquarium construction; provide exemption (FIN-14th) LaRiccia-169th
HB 820 – Revenue and taxation; procedure for counties following a rejection of a tax digest; establish (Substitute) (FIN-40th) Beskin-54th
HB 852 – Quality Basic Education Act; student’s continued enrollment in a public school under certain circumstances; provide (ED&Y-40th) Smith-41st
HB 856 – Board of Public Safety; add commissioner of community supervision (PUB SAF-7th) Deffenbaugh-1st
HB 897 – Georgia Power of Attorney Act; revise (JUDY-18th) Efstration-104th
HB 876 – Buildings and housing; counties and municipalities proscribing the use of wood in the construction of certain buildings when state minimum standard codes are met; prohibit (AG&CA-50th) Corbett-174th


Modified Open Rule
HR 1036 – State of Georgia; fund public awareness campaign in support of computer science education; urge (Ed-Kendrick-93rd)
HR 1107 – Economic Development, Department of; construct the emerging commercial space industry in Georgia; urge (ED&T-Spencer-180th)
HR 1414 – House Study Committee on School Security; create (SRules-Jasperse-11th)
HR 1471 – House Study Committee on the Revitalization of the Atlanta State Farmers Market; create (A&CA-Stovall-74th)
SB 342 – Licensing of Motor Vehicles; owner with valid license plate without the required revalidation decal to retain custody of vehicle under certain conditions; permit (Substitute)(MotV-Barr-103rd) Harbin-16th
SB 353 – Boilers and Pressure Vessels; violations concerning the regulation; civil enforcement and penalty authority in the Safety Fire Commissioner; establish (Substitute)(Ins-Howard-124th) Anderson-24th
SB 370 – Medical Assistance; commissioner of human services waives the first $25,000 of any estate; provide (H&HS-Hawkins-27th) Wilkinson-50th
SB 377 – State Workforce Development Board; transfer to Technical College System of Georgia; duties and obligations; revise (I&L-Rhodes-120th) Strickland-17th
SB 444 – Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Advisory Council; create (HumR-Lumsden-12th) Unterman-45th
SR 821 – Cyber Security And Information Technology Innovation Corridor; recognize Augusta; Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor; recognize Savannah (ED&T-Stephens-164th) Martin-9th

Modified Structured Rule
SB 301 “Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”; enact (Judy-Fleming-121st) Kennedy-18th
SB 331 – Georgia Lottery for Education Act; winner of lottery prize to remain anonymous under certain conditions; allow (Substitute) (HEd-Stephens-164th) Henson-41st
SB 336 – Georgia Bureau of Investigation; general provisions; subpoena issued for production of electronic communication; not provide notice to the subscriber (Substitute)(JudyNC-Welch-110th) Unterman-45th
SB 355 – Nuclear Generating Plant; recovery of the costs of financing the construction; provisions; change (EU&T-Welch-110th) Hufstetler-52nd

Structured Rule
SB 458 Ad Valorem Taxation; conditions; family owned farmed entities; discontinue a qualifying use of bona fide conservation use property; provide (Substitute)(W&M-Knight-130th) Wilkinson-50th
(Rules Committee Substitute LC 37 2654ERS)

Vice President Mike Pence attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah this weekend.

Pence arrived at City Hall in a black Chevy Suburban about 10:20 a.m. before greeting the crowd spread across the far side of Bay Street about an hour later from the balcony. Joined by his wife, Karen, and mother, Nancy, as well as Mayor Eddie DeLoach and his wife, Cynthia, Pence waved down to the parade participants for another 30 minutes before coming out to a cheering crowd.

There was a mixture of cheers, as well as chanting of “USA,” in addition to calls of “Savannah’s So Gay” from some rainbow-adorned protesters in the mostly green-clad crowd. Some held signs with messages such as “Love is love” and “Erin go home brah.”

Others such as Pooler residents Michael and Chanda Mashburn, along with their 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, said Pence’s visit made the parade extra special this year after watching it for at least a decade.

“It’s not every day you can see the vice president,” Samantha said. “It’s kind of a big deal to me.”

Surrounded by Secret Service agents scanning the crowd, Pence walked with his family up Bull Street, along with the mayor and city officials, stopping every so often to go to the side and shake hands with some of the parade-goers.

Georgia’s Congressional delegation is urging the location of a new Future Commands of the US Army in Atlanta, according to WMAZ.

According to a release from the office of Congressman Drew Ferguson, a member of the delegation, the army intends to focus on six modernization efforts to “improve its performance to better combat modern-day threats.”

According to Ferguson’s office, the new headquarters would also focus on how the Army “researches, develops and procures new equipment.”

With a requirement that the new command must have access to academia and business expertise, the delegation drafted a letter to U.S. Secretary of Army Mark Esper saying Georgia – and Atlanta – should be a strong contender.

“The Georgia delegation applauds your efforts in modernizing the U.S. Army and improving the acquisition process to give our soldiers the needed equipment to fight, and overwhelmingly win, in combat,” the letter states.

The letter includes the printed signatures of both of Georgia’s U.S. senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue as well as a bipartisan list of House representatives including Buddy Carter (R-Ga), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Karen Handel (R-Ga.), Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Rick Allen (R-Ga.), David Scott (D-Ga.) and Tom Graves (R-Ga.).

House Bill 769 passed the Senate last week, after being part of the recommendations of the House Rural Development Council, according to the Post-Searchlight.

Targeted to rural Georgia, this legislation creates Georgia’s Rural Health System Innovation Center, provides for locally-focused technical assistance and training programs, improves remote pharmacy services, recommends streamlining billing and medical payment systems, and includes delivery system reforms. Importantly, the package also lifts the value of Georgia’s rural hospital tax credit to 100%, strengthening this lifeline to provide greater support to financially distressed health care providers.

“Rural residents have seen their hospitals close and doctors leave town for too long,” said Rep. Rick Jasperse. “House Bill 769 will help us reverse that trend and give rural communities more tools to deploy creative health care solutions like micro-hospitals. I am grateful to my colleagues on the House Rural Development Council for their input and support throughout this process.”

Senate Bill 357, The HEALTH Act sponsored by Sen. Dean Burke, creates Georgia’s Health Coordination and Innovation Council. The Council – a statewide coordinating platform – will empower our state to adopt innovative and market-oriented reforms, cut through the bureaucracy and silos of government, eliminate waste and duplication, and improve health outcomes for Georgia families. By advancing reform through a strategic plan that is built for long-term success, with all of the state’s partners at the table, the Council will help lead the way to a better quality and higher functioning health care system.

Part of HB 769 includes allowing “micro-hospitals” under limited circumstances, according to WABE.

Since 2012, at least six rural hospitals have closed in the state.

When a rural hospital closes, the bill would allow a hospital from a neighboring county to purchase the building to turn it into a “micro-hospital.” The “micro-hospital” would have two to seven beds and 24/7 emergency care.

“I don’t anticipate there being 30 micro-hospitals in five years, but there might be five or six that gives rural citizens in those counties access they otherwise would lose,” said state Sen. Dean Burke, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“HB 769 nibbles around the edges of the rural healthcare crisis,” [Georgians for Healthy Future Executive Director Laura] Colbert said. “It leaves this really big gap in the middle that can really only be solved by infusing more dollars into the healthcare system, and that comes through health insurance.”

State Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee writes about the FY2019 budget in The Barrow News-Journal.

Last Friday, when the House overwhelmingly passed the FY2019 Appropriations Act, we began seeing the fruit of our efforts. All total, the state in the fiscal year starting July 1 will spend about $44 million for new or expanded rural programs.

While the FY2019 budget’s focus on rural Georgia is greatly needed, the single largest area of spending (55.9 percent) in the upcoming fiscal year continues to be on education. In addition to funding schools, we are investing $361.7 million into the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) to support 117,957 retired and 218,193 active TRS members. We also will provide two Advanced Placement exams for low-income students, and will fund the new Chief Turnaround Program for Georgia’s low-performing schools.

Health care costs also are a significant portion of the FY2019 budget. In addition to new funding for behavioral health services to autistic children under the age of 21 and money for the Marcus Autism Center to treat children with the greatest needs, we plan to appropriate $2 million to the Georgia Department of Public Health for addressing Georgia’s high maternal mortality rate.

We also are implementing recommendations of the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, such as adding respite homes, grants to expand services to students in 100 more schools and telemedicine equipment and services.

All total, we have projected $26 billion in state revenues and expenditures during FY 2019.

House Resolution 1363 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) urges Congress to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug so that research on its medicinal use may be performed. From the AJC:

The House voted 158-5 on Thursday to pass a resolution asking Congress to take action so that marijuana can be studied, either by reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug or by passing a separate law.

Marijuana is currently considered a Schedule I drug with with no accepted medical use, according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Congress needs to “get off their duffs and act,” said Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, during a speech in the House.

“I’m really tired off us not being able to know if marijuana oil really works,” Cooper said. “Which diseases does it work with, which ones does it not work with if it’s effective.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams has come under renewed scrutiny after her personal financial disclosure statement was filed, according to the AJC.

The documents show Abrams, a former House minority leader, has a net worth of about $110,000 that includes a recent $150,000 advance for an upcoming book on leadership.

The campaign said in a statement that Abrams deferred her tax payments in 2015 and 2016 because she was helping to pay her family’s expenses and that she is on a payment plan with the IRS for the $54,000 she owes.

Abrams has highlighted the string of small businesses she’s started in her race to succeed a term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal. She’s also come under scrutiny for drawing a $177,000 salary in 2014 for her role as a part-time chief executive for the voter-registration project she started.

Most of the roughly $520,000 in assets she reported, though, were tied up in her Atlanta townhouse and her book advance. She had about $11,000 in cash and bank accounts.

Former United States Senator Max Cleland (D) endorsed Carolyn Bordeaux in her quixotic campaign against Republican Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“I am honored to endorse the candidacy of Carolyn Bourdeaux for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District,” Cleland said in a statement released by Bourdeaux’s campaign. “Her work to improve health care for millions of Georgians and her efforts to help the average Georgian through the Great Recession has been impressive to me.

“I’m sure it will be impressive to the citizens of the 7th Congressional District so much so that they will want to send her to Washington. To represent them. She has my full support.”

The profile of the race for this congressional seat rose last year after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named it one of its 2018 election targets. That puts a spotlight on who is donating to campaigns and who is endorsing which candidate.

Republican Clay Tippins won a straw poll for Governor at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum, according to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Clay Tippins, a business executive and consultant and a Navy SEAL, was the clear favorite of the more than 100 people who attended the RJC’s job-interview forum for the top five Republicans in the race: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, state Sen. Michael Williams, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and Tippins.

In the voting that followed, Tippins was the first choice of 42 percent and the second choice of 26 percent. Hill was the first choice of 26 percent and the second choice of 30 percent.

Williams did worst as a first choice, getting 9 percent, but was second-best as a second choice with 27 percent.

In Athens, two newly-seated Superior Court judges have drawn challengers, according to the Daily Report.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Allison Mauldin qualified last week to run against Western Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Eric Wayne Norris.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Norris to the job in 2016, filling a newly-created fourth position on the court. Norris also presides over a treatment and accountability court. This will be the first election season for Norris, a former part-time magistrate judge with a private practice.

Athens attorney Lisa Lott qualified to run against Western Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Regina Quick.

Deal appointed Quick to the court in 2017, replacing Judge David Sweat upon his retirement. Quick had served the district as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and had a private practice for 22 years. She presides over a new parental accountability court, which helps people—mostly fathers—catch up on child support payments while offering help for other problems.

A forum for Gwinnett County judicial candidates will be held March 29, 2018 from 6:30 to 9 PM at the  Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office has added Narcan and additional training to combat opioid overdoses, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Deaths in Georgia reached 8.8 per 100,000 in 2016, and Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard said the office’s main goal is to stay ahead of the national epidemic. The decision came after a recent incident in which Burke County deputies were the first to arrive at a call about a suspicious person, possibly suffering from an overdose.

“So far that has not been a major problem in our county, but we just want to be ahead of the curve as much as possible,” Blanchard said.

The two-hour training, a partnership funded by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, , is on the rising epidemic and possible effects it could have on those working in the field. .

“As law enforcement officers we can start noticing the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and can self-administer (Narcan) hoping to save lives,” Blanchard said.

Glynn County officials are considering a toll for the F.J. Torras Causeway connecting St Simons Island to the mainland, according to The Brunswick News.

A meeting between current county commissioners and Georgia Department of Transportation employees may lead to the booth’s resurrection, however. A Torras Causeway tollbooth is on the agenda for an upcoming joint meeting between the county and Brunswick City Commission.

“After the meeting with the state and GDOT, it appears that’s something that folks might believe is a decent idea, so I thought we should at least start talking about it,” Commissioner Allen Booker said Friday.

Commission Chairman Bill Brunson, who was also at the meeting with GDOT, said it was a possibility, but the proceeds would have to be used for infrastructure needs.

“We would have to create a local toll authority, and that would be permissible, but we didn’t get into the specifics of who would build (the toll booth),” Booker said.

Cartersville will see a new public automotive museum, according to the Daily Tribune News.

Known for bringing cowboys and dinosaurs to Cartersville, Georgia Museums Inc. is preparing to broaden its reach with the Savoy Automobile Museum. Presently in the design phase, the future venue will join the nonprofit’s three existing entities: the Bartow History Museum and Smithsonian affiliates – Booth Western Art Museum and Tellus Science Museum.

“As a program of a public charity, one of the main focuses of the museum will be to educate the public on the history of automobiles,” said Macra Adair, executive director of the Savoy Automobile Museum. “The museum will have a permanent collection of automobiles; however the majority of the automobiles on display will be part of curated exhibits.

“The museum will rely on private collectors to loan automobiles to the museum. It is anticipated that the curated exhibits will change every three to four months. The current estimate is that the museum will display approximately 40 cars at any one time.”

As plans begin to materialize, the museum will benefit greatly if House Bill 793 – expected to reach the Senate floor by the final day of the 2018 Georgia legislative session March 29 – is passed.

According to the proposed legislation, the “qualifying organization … may obtain the benefit of this exemption from state sales and use tax by filing a claim for refund of tax paid on qualifying items” from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. Tax exempt items would include “all tangible personal property that will remain at the museum after completion of construction and all tangible personal property that becomes incorporated into the real property structures of the museum.”

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