Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 30, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 30, 2018

On March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, suggesting that a greater role for women be considered in the fight for Independence and establishment of the United States.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

In perhaps the most fitting historical tidbit ever, the United States House of Representatives first met on April 1, 1789 in New York City. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House. Georgia’s first Members of Congress were James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and George Mathews.

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted after sufficient number of the states ratified it.

With the adoption of the 15th Amendment in 1870, a politically mobilized African-American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican Party to power, which brought about radical changes across the South. By late 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks to the support of African-American voters.

In the same year, Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, became the first African American ever to sit in Congress. Although African-American Republicans never obtained political office in proportion to their overwhelming electoral majority, Revels and a dozen other African-American men served in Congress during Reconstruction, more than 600 served in state legislatures, and many more held local offices. However, in the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, stripping Southern African Americans of the right to vote. It would be nearly a century before the nation would again attempt to establish equal rights for African Americans in the South.

Robert E. Lee arrived in Augusta on March 30, 1870. On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The iconic vote was cast in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the town’s charter.  Gary Sullivan of the News Tribune stated, “Exercising his right to vote in a local election on March 31, 1870.  Peterson became the first black man in the United States to cast a ballot.  The amendment had been ratified on February 3, 1870, and within just two months the Fifteenth Amendment was put to use.

An interview with Peterson showed who encouraged him to vote, “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen’s privilege.”  Peterson also revealed his vote in this election, “As I advanced to the polls one man offered me a ticket bearing the words “revised charter” and another one marked, “no charter.” I thought I would not vote to give up our charter after holding it so long: so I chose a revised charter ballot.”

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel led a group of government officials and press to the top of the Eiffel Tower by foot. It would open to the public nine days later.

On March 30, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation authorizing non-profit Electric Membership Corporations to electrify rural Georgia.

On March 30, 1945, President F.D. Roosevelt arrived for his final visit to Warm Spring, Georgia.

On March 31, 1976, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution proposing a new Constitution of Georgia, which would be placed on the ballot for voter referendum on November 2, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the keynote speech at the May 10th graduation ceremony for Ogeechee Technical College.

OTC President Lori Durden announced that Deal, the 82nd governor of Georgia, will address graduates, faculty, staff and guests at the 7 p.m. ceremony.

“Gov. Deal is a great advocate for education and has been a true supporter of technical education and Ogeechee Tech,” Durden said. “His influence on education in Georgia will be evident for many years as our citizens reap the benefits produced by his visionary policies. We are honored to have him address our graduates.”

Governor Deal’s HOPE Career Grant, which offers tuition assistance for students in high-demand careers, has not only helped students but benefits industries that have workforce needs, strengthening Georgia’s economy.

“The HOPE Career Grant has become a game changer in Georgia,” Durden said. “Students receive in-demand skills at no cost to them and companies are able to fill critical openings. It’s truly a win-win situation.”

The Georgia General Assembly passed the Fiscal Year 2019 budget yesterday. From the Associated Press:

The Georgia House passed a budget for fiscal year 2019 that fully funds the state’s K-12 education formula after over a decade of cutbacks.

The $26 billion-dollar budget will go to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk, where he is expected to quickly sign it into law. The measure passed the Senate on Tuesday.

The proposal, buoyed by a $195 million increase in the governor’s tax revenue estimate, includes an additional $167 million for K-12 education and allows lawmakers to fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula.

The new budget also includes $100 million in borrowing for transit projects, $360 million toward the teacher retirement pension system and about $16 million in funding for school safety in the wake of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Distracted driving legislation was passed, according to the Associated Press.

Pending the governor’s signature, Georgia will soon become the 16th state in the U.S. to enact a hands-free driving law.

The House gave final passage Thursday night to a proposal that would prevent drivers from holding their cellphones while behind the wheel.

House Bill 332 by State Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act, passed and is headed to Gov. Deal’s desk. From a press release:

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (HB 332) and companion legislation calling for a referendum on the general election ballot (HR 238) received final passage from both the State House and State Senate on Thursday, March 29. If signed by the Governor, Georgians will have the opportunity to vote to dedicate a portion of the existing state sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to the conservation of land, water and wildlife.

“This is a historic victory for land conservation in our state. We want to commend the members of the legislature not only for their overwhelming support of this measure, but also for their clear commitment to the protection of our state’s natural resources,” commented Robert Ramsay, president of The Georgia Conservancy and legislative chair of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition. “This legislation has the potential to have a generational impact on communities throughout our state as a reliable, dedicated source of funding will give our leaders the flexibility needed to address both short term needs and long-range goals.”

If signed by the Governor and passed by voters in November, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would provide for the dedication of up to 80% of the existing sales and use tax on outdoor sporting goods as classified by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), with an initial dedicated amount of approximately $20 million annually. The legislation would sunset after ten years, with the option to be renewed.

Funding dedicated through the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would be used to maintain and improve access to wildlife management areas, protect lands critical to clean water, and acquire and improve parks and trails. Only projects approved by the Department of Natural Resources and consistent with the state’s established goals for conservation would be eligible for funding.

“Georgia’s growing outdoor recreation industry relies upon access to land and water, as do other key sectors such as tourism and agriculture. Georgians understand this connection between our natural resources, our economy, and their quality of life – and we are hopeful that, should Governor Deal sign this legislation, that will be reflected by their vote later this year,” concluded Thomas Farmer, executive director of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition.

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition is comprised of The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and the Trust for Public Land.

Maggie Lee writes for The Saporta Report on the final transit bill that passed the legislature last night.

The bill that everybody calls “the transit bill” puts 13 metro counties at one table under the name of the “Atlanta-region Transit Link,” where they will coordinate their transit plans.

For building projects in the transit plan, counties would be allowed to ask their voters for a sales tax of up to a penny. Counties could set up as much or as little transit as their voters want and the plan envisions.

And counties that take part in The ATL and its transit plan will be eligible to ask for state money for their projects. The first tranche of that long-awaited cash is in the form of bonds in the state budget for the year that begins in July.

That budget calls for $100 million in bonds for transit statewide. But the decision on how exactly to divvy up that money will come a little later.

The counties are Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale.

Congressman Rob Woodall and his Republican primary opponent, met in a voter forum at the Forsyth County Republican Party, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Congressman Austin Scott (R- Tifton) visited Valdosta Middle School.

Scott, who represents Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District, said he was visiting the school to show support for the stock market challenge, where students manage a hypothetical $100,000 and invest in real stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

“I think it’s wonderful that we’re teaching these young men and women real-world knowledge that they need to have for investing in the future,” Scott said.

The VMS students are from Sharon Breeden’s eighth-grade class and are Capital Hill Challenge participants. As part of the Capital Hill Challenge, members of Congress are matched with students, teachers and schools who compete in the game, according to the stock market game website.

The Brunswick News corrects some misunderstanding about President Trump’s new lawyer, Andrew Ekonomou.

Confusion among some out-of-state media outlets led to reports Ekonomou is a Brunswick attorney or an assistant district attorney with the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, but those reports are not accurate.

Ekonomou has been in private practice in Atlanta, and brought on to the prosecutorial team in the Brunswick circuit for specific, high-profile matters in the past.

“Our office contracts with Andrew Ekonomou to handle post-conviction appeals and to assist in the trials of major felonies in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit,” District Attorney Jackie Johnson said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “Mr. Ekonomou is an experienced prosecutor in both the state and federal courts, and has successfully represented our office as a special prosecutor in a number of matters before the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.”

Statesboro City Council District 5 drew three candidates for a special election on May 22d.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis led a ceremony honoring Vietnam Veterans.

The Valdosta Peachtree chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws will hold its first meeting on Sunday, which happens to be April 1st.

Currently, marijuana cannot be cultivated in the state, which can cause issues for people who are able to legally buy THC for medicinal purposes, she said. Because it is not cultivated in the state, some residents have to travel across state lines with marijuana or THC, which is a federal crime.

“I should be able to grow my medicine in my back yard just like I grow tomatoes,” [chapter President Nikki DeWitt] said. “The government shouldn’t have a black-and-white say if this person is sick enough and this person isn’t, so they don’t qualify.”

Phillip Stewart was sworn-in as Mayor of Blythe, Georgia.

Zac Brown Distillery has opened in Lumpkin, Georgia.

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