Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2018

10
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2018

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American professional major league baseball player when the Brooklyn Dodgers bought his contract.

Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) visited the Columbus headquarters of TSYS this week, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

U.S. Speaker of the House and Rep. Paul Ryan made a fairly clandestine visit to the headquarters of TSYS in Columbus on Monday.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, had abruptly canceled a previously scheduled stop at the campus of credit-card processor TSYS in November. The company confirmed Monday the visit had finally taken place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., but little else in the way of details was disclosed.

“I don’t know who all he met with when he was here,” TSYS spokesman Cyle Mims said. “I wasn’t in the room. I was given a heads up when he was coming and how long he would be here, but I didn’t know the rest of the agenda. I’m sure he met with (TSYS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Troy Woods), but I don’t know if it was individually or if he met with a group.”

Security for the visit by Ryan, who was accompanied by U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia’s 3rd District, wasn’t off the charts, Mims said. The politicians had a security team with them, while the Columbus Police Department provided an escort for the drive from the Columbus Airport.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Waites has asked for the resignations of all members of her cabinet, according to the AJC.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told all of her Cabinet members on Monday to hand in their resignations by the end of the day.

The group includes about 35 top city officials. Once she’s made further assessments, Bottoms said in a statement, she’ll determine which resignations to accept. The statement did not provide a time-frame for the assessment.

Bottoms kept many of the same officials who served under former Mayor Kasim Reed after she was sworn in, telling them they could hold on to their jobs for at least three months while she got to know them.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) spoke at the meeting of an opioid task force convened by Attorney General Chris Carr, according to the Valdosta Times.

Sen. Renee Unterman and Rep. Sharon Cooper – who both chair their respective chamber’s health and human services committee – each publicly expressed disappointment after opioid-related bills stalled during the just-ended legislative session.

“You would think it would just fly through,” Unterman, R-Buford, said of her bill Monday while speaking to members of an opioid task force formed last year by Attorney General Chris Carr.

“It would just breeze on through, because you’ve got mothers and constituents hollering at these senators and these representatives. But it didn’t,” she said. “But I will say that the money we put into the budget is just as important as any law that we can create, that this is a foundation.”

Lawmakers did agree to increase funding for opioid-related programs, such as new recovery centers and a program that helps new mothers overcome addiction while caring for a newborn with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

 State Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) has a significant cash advantage over his Democratic opponent, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Republican incumbent Chuck Hufstetler is facing a challenge for the state Senate District 52 seat from Democrat Evan Ross. The district covers all of Floyd and parts of Bartow, Chattooga and Gordon counties.

Ross reported $6,466 cash on hand as of March 31 in the campaign finance report due last week to the State Ethics Commission. Contributions and expenses over $100 must be itemized in the reports.

Hufstetler, who’s in his third two-year term, reported $138,390 in his campaign account.

The state House District 13 covers central Floyd County, including all of the city of Rome. Republican incumbent Katie Dempsey will go up against Democratic challenger John Burnette II in November.

Dempsey, finishing her sixth two-year term, reported $23,409 cash on hand, with no contributions during this session of the Legislature. Burnette had no contributions or expenses to report through March 31.

Spending in Gubernatorial campaigns is ramping up as primary day approaches, according to the Gainesville Times.

Five Republicans and two Democrats have raised more than $22 million in their primary runs, which end at the May 22 primary election. The pace of fundraising dipped slightly during the latest session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle leads the field of both Republicans and Democrats in fundraising with $6.79 million raised in total. He’s followed by Secretary of State Brian Kemp ($2.9 million raised) and former state Sen. Hunter Hill ($2.7 million raised), both also Republicans.

Former tech executive Clay Tippins continues, a Republican, to catch up with the rest of the pack in fundraising, raising a total of $2.54 million and having $1.6 million on hand.

On the Democratic side, Stacey Abrams has raised $3.28 million to Stacey Evans’ $2.62 million, but as with previous reports, Abrams is burning through cash at a much faster rate.

Republican State Senator William Ligon (Brunswick) has drawn a Democratic opponent for the November general election, according to the Brunswick Times.

[Democrat Gerald] Dagen, like the Democrats in the House districts, faces an upward battle electorally. No Democrat filed to challenge Ligon in the last three elections, and the last time Ligon faced general election opposition, he won by 42 percentage points in 2010.

Dagen said one of the reasons he decided to get in the race is that the people of District 3 need “someone who will put the people above party politics and extreme agendas. We have faced the same problems for far too long, and I think a new representative with new ideas and a fresh perspective can help.”

Meanwhile, Ligon noted among his accomplishments in the General Assembly in the past session, generating technical college and library funding, along with work secured for the Noyes Cut.

“This year, we obtained $17 million in bonds to construct the new technical college campus in Camden County,” Ligon said. “I obtained $2 million for the public library’s redesign in Glynn County. I have worked to consistently secure funding of $100,000 each year for the past several years to develop the Coastal Greenway.

“By using this money as seed money for competitive grants, we have been able to leverage it into about $2 million a year for development of the Greenway. I obtained funding for the feasibility study for the closure of Noyes Cut. Once Noyes Cut is closed, this will greatly improve the river and marsh habitat and fisheries bordering Glynn and Camden counties.

Republican candidates for Secretary of State met in a debate in Marietta last night, according to the AJC.

All four Republican candidates for Georgia secretary of state said Monday they want to replace the state’s electronic voting machines with a system that creates a paper record for verification.

The Republican candidates debated Monday at Lassiter High School in Marietta. They’re competing in the May 22 Republican primary election, with the winner advancing to the Nov. 6 general election against Democratic and Libertarian candidates.

Two candidates, Sen. Josh McKoon and Rep. Buzz Brockway, said the state should evaluate which voting system is best. They didn’t commit to any specific election technology during the debate hosted by the Georgia Republican Party’s 6th District.

Two other candidates, former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Island and Rep. Brad Raffensperger, said they prefer touchscreen machines that print voters’ choices before recording them.

“We need a paper trail as part of whatever system we migrate to that can be independently audited and verified,” said McKoon, R-Columbus.

A lawsuit asks a judge to force a May election for a Macon-Bibb County Commission seat vacant until November, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The suit, filed by Bibb County school board member Daryl Morton, names the County Commission and the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections as defendants. It comes on the heels of the election board’s vote Friday to hold the special election for the commission’s District 1 seat in November instead of during the May 22 general primary.

But the lawsuit filed Monday in Bibb County Superior Court contends that it is the duty of the commission and election board to hold the special election within 60 days of Friday’s election board meeting.

The commission seat became vacant in March when Commissioner Gary Bechtel stepped down to run for state representative.

The suit says it’s unfair for the residents of the north Macon district not to have a commissioner until November. Unless the election is held in May, those residents will be forced to deal with “taxation without representation,” the complaint said.

Lowndes County Commissioners are considering joining the national lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, according to the Valdosta Times.

During the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners work session Monday morning, the board heard from Haynes Studstill, an attorney with the Studtill Firm. Her firm — along with Conley, Griggs and Partin — is interested in representing the county in a class action lawsuit to recoup funds from opioid manufactures.

Studstill said joining the suit would be at no cost to the county. If the class action is successful, the law firm would be paid from the settlement, but if they lose, there would be no charge, she said.

She said she is confident the case will not make it to court and that the county would receive settlement money for damages caused by harmful advertising to doctors from opioid manufactures.

University of Georgia researchers have shown that legal marijuana can lead to decreased opioid prescriptions, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

UGA researchers studying Medicare records found that states that had legalized marijuana dispensaries saw a 14.4 percent drop in the use of prescription opioids among Medicare Part D patients between 2010 and 2015. States that allowed only home cultivation saw a reduction of about 7 percent.

“Physicians cannot prescribe cannabis; it is still a Schedule I drug,” said study co-author David Bradford in a news release. “We’re not observing that prescriptions for cannabis go up and prescriptions for opioids go down. We’re just observing what changes when medical cannabis laws are enacted, and we see big reductions in opiate use.”

In earlier research examining Medicare Part D records, the Bradfords also saw a decline in the use of other drugs prescribed for conditions in which marijuana can be an alternative treatment, such as nausea, depression, sleep disorders and spasticity.

If all states legalized medical marijuana, Medicare could save about $468 million annually, they concluded in that earlier study.

Sumter County District Attorney Plez Hardin was found in his truck dead of a gunshot wound, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Whitfield County Republican Party will host local candidates tonight at its headquarters.

Port Wentworth City Council members are having an ethics violations party, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Council members Bill Herrin and Linda Smith and Port Wentworth resident Brenda Boulware filed the complaints against council members Thomas Barbee, Shari Dyal, Paul Fox and Debbie Johnson.

In the joint complaint filed by Herrin and Smith, and in Boulware’s complaint, the parties cite a Feb. 22 council vote as being in violation of the city ethics ordinance.

The complaints state that the four council members violated the ethics ordinance when they failed to disclose how much they had received from developer Fred Williams in campaign donations before the vote as recommended by the city attorney and by waiving final plat requirements for Williams.

Residents of Little Cumberland Island are upset over plans for launching rockets at the Camden Spaceport, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Last month the Federal Aviation Administration released a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Spaceport Camden that calls Little Cumberland’s full and part-time residents “authorized persons” who may remain on the island during the dozen annual planned rocket launches from the launch pad about five miles away.

Dick Parker, for one, doesn’t want to be authorized to stay on the idyllic island, accessible only by boat, as rockets fly overhead. He wants to be protected from a rocket failure and a potential loss of property rights just like any other member of the public.

Little Cumberland property owners like Parker fear their property will be within a “land hazard area,” where federal regulations say no members of the public are allowed during a launch. Designating residents and campers at Cumberland Island National Seashore as “authorized” doesn’t actually decrease their risk of being injured by flaming debris should a rocket launch fail, and it sounds to some owners like a taking of their property rights. It’s an issue they’ve raised repeatedly in the past, including at a committee hearing of the Georgia General Assembly last year.

“Launches from the launch site would be generally to the east, resulting in launch closure and hazard areas that could include portions of Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island,” the document states. Closures could last up to 12 hours on each launch day and up to three hours in a smaller area that does not include the islands for each test and rehearsal. All told, launches, tests and rehearsals are estimated to take place up to 36 times a year.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is working to protect diamondback terrapins, whose nesting season in coastal Georgia begins next month.

Robert “Bob” Roth withdrew his candidacy for the Muscogee County Board of Education District 6, leaving the contest between incumbent Mark Cantrell and challenger Eddie Obleton, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Gwinnett County Board of Elections is holding two events this week to hire poll workers, according to AccessWDUN.

The Rome News-Tribune looks at business connections between the upper-left-hand corner of the state and the Georgia Ports.

A report done by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia attributes more than 439,200 jobs statewide to the Georgia ports at Savannah and Brunswick. The ports support more than 25,800 jobs in the Northwest corner of the state, including 3,450 in Floyd County.

More than 5,600 jobs in Whitfield County and its massive floor covering industry are included in the report while Bartow County has more than 4,200 jobs tracked back to the ports and logistics support. Gordon County has 2,200-plus jobs that are rooted in the ports.

Many of Rome and Floyd County’s international companies are heavy users of the port at Savannah, Hodge said — mentioning Pirelli and Suzuki in particular. He also said the Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center in Shannon also moves a lot of freight to and from the port.

Roy said the flooring industry in Northwest Georgia drove the location for the Murray County [inland container] port which is expected to be able to move as many as 50,000 containers a year.

Comments ( 0 )