Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2018

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May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2018

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday signed the FY2019 state budget.

Gov. Nathan Deal held budget signing ceremonies in Atlanta, Acworth, Blue Ridge, Statesboro and Tifton for next year’s $26 billion state budget. HB 684, the FY 2019 budget, continues Deal’s efforts to invest in Georgia’s citizens and its economy through education and transportation initiatives.

“For five years in a row, Georgia has maintained the distinction as the No. 1 state in which to do business in large part due to the multitude of resources available to businesses seeking to relocate or expand operations,” said Deal. “An educated and skilled workforce and a transportation system conducive to free and efficient movement of its people and products remain top priorities for those in our business community.

“To that end, the FY 2019 budget will maintain Georgia’s position as a national leader in conservative fiscal management while further solidifying our commitment to providing all children with greater access to quality education and continuing our efforts to build an infrastructure system that supports our growing population. By fully funding K-12 education and investing heavily in our roads, bridges, transit and ports, we are laying a strong foundation for the short-term and long-term success of our state and local communities. I commend the General Assembly for working with me once again to balance the budget while addressing the issues that matter most to Georgia’s citizens.”

The FY 2019 budget is based on an increase in general fund revenues of 4.1 percent over Amended FY 2018, reflecting Georgia’s strong economic growth and the benefits of state and federal tax reform. The fiscal year begins July 1.

HB 684 includes more than $510 million in new funding for K-12 education, including approximately $115 million for enrollment growth, training and experience, and $167 million to fully fund the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula. This additional $167 million will ensure the state is fully doing its financial part to address the concerns of educators who have cited a lack of funding as a barrier to achieving success in the classroom. Full funding for QBE will provide a stronger foundation for lawmakers and stakeholders to reform this outdated formula to accommodate the needs of today’s students and 21st-century classrooms. The FY 2019 budget further supports current and retired teachers by adding $365 million for the Teachers Retirement System to ensure teachers’ pensions maintain solid financial footing.

The FY 2019 budget also includes an additional $31.6 million in motor fuel funds to maintain and expand Georgia’s highway system. This brings the total annual spending on roads and bridges from $673.8 million in AFY 2011 to $1.8 billion in FY 2019, providing more than $1 billion in additional investment in transportation infrastructure annually as a result of HB 170. The budget also includes $100 million in bonds to repair, replace and renovate Georgia’s bridge network, marking the fourth year in a row of such an investment. In meeting the demands of a 21st-century economy and workforce, and in keeping with the General Assembly’s passage of HB 930, the budget also includes $100 million to support local transit systems statewide. This additional funding will create more cohesive governance and planning for transit systems in the metro Atlanta area, while also providing employers with greater mobility to connect with a growing workforce.

Additional FY 2019 budget highlights include:

  • $30.8 million for the QBE Equalization program to assist low-wealth school systems
  • $54.3 million for the University System of Georgia for resident instruction
  • $26.7 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program
  • $3 million to promote educational opportunities available at the state’s technical colleges
  • $21.4 million for behavioral health services recommended by the Commission on Children’s Mental Health
  • $38.9 million for child welfare services
  • $240.9 million for Medicaid programs
  • $11.8 million for community-based Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities services
  • $6 million for additional Behavioral Health Crisis Centers
  • $6.9 million for crisis services for children under 21 diagnosed as autistic
  • $35 million in bond funds for the Savannah Harbor deepening project
  • $12.5 million in bonds for improvements to state-owned rail systems

Included in the budget is funding for a new University of North Georgia campus in Blue Ridge.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Speaker of the House David Ralston visited Fannin County today, Wednesday, May 2, to join in announcing the 2019 state budget that includes $5.5 million to build a stand alone University of North Georgia campus in Blue Ridge.

Governor Deal also signed the distracted driving bill, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s distracted driving bill into law Wednesday flanked by family members of Georgia Southern University nursing students who were killed in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 16 in 2015.

House Bill 673 is designed to toughen laws about people using cell phones and other mobile devices while driving starting July 1. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, but it was carried in the Senate by Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville.

“I am honored to sign this Hands-Free legislation here in this community, the home of Georgia Southern,” Deal said. “It’s aim is to decrease distracted driving by prohibiting the use of wireless telecommunication devices while on any public roads on our state.

“Even more so, it’s aim is to prevent the types of tragic and avoidable deaths that occurred on that stretch of I-16 on that horrible day in April of 2015.”

From the Macon Telegraph:

Ten members of the Vance and Forsee families were joining a caravan of other families hurt by distracted drivers.

They boarded a bus chartered by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to travel down Interstates 75 and 16 to Statesboro to watch Gov. Nathan Deal sign Georgia’s new hands-free law prohibiting drivers from physically holding or supporting a wireless communications device, computer, GPS receiver, personal digital assistant, tablet or other wireless device.

Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said he’s been waiting years for this anti-distracted driving bill which follows the anti-texting law passed in 2010.

“Hopefully it will result in people doing the right thing and putting that phone down while they’re in the car,” Blackwood said. “The bottom line is it will save lives, and in a year from now we’ll be able to look at that and say, ‘Yes it worked.’”

Former Congressman Tom Price is revisiting his comments about the Obamacare individual mandate.

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price today walked back comments about how Republican efforts to undo Obamacare’s individual mandate would increase costs for people who remain insured, saying that his remarks were reported out of context.

“Repealing the individual mandate was exactly the right thing to do. Forcing Americans to buy something they don’t want undermines individual liberty as well as free markets,” Price said in a statement through the Job Creators Network, a pro-business group for which he is a health care fellow. “The only fair and effective way to bring down healthcare costs is to allow markets to create more choices for consumers and small businesses.”

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay of the execution of Robert Earl Butts, Jr., which was scheduled for Thursday, according to AccessWDUN.

Robert Earl Butts Jr. was scheduled to die Thursday evening at the state prison in Jackson. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday evening issued a stay of up to 90 days to further consider the case.

Board spokesman Steve Hayes said the board decided to issue a stay because of “the considerable amount of additional information” it had received in the case. He said the board will issue a decision during the stay or at the end of the 90 days. The parole board is the only authority in Georgia with the power to commute a death sentence.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it will temporarily close two campgrounds at Lake Lanier that normally stay open through the winter.

Floyd County Schools are expected to receive a $3.2 million dollar literacy grant, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero has been named new secretary-treasurer of the Council of Superior Court Judges, according to the Henry Herald.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge George Hutchinson will sit by designation on the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Supreme Court announced Judge George F. Hutchinson III will sit on its bench Monday to hear the appeal filed in the case of Ruth et al v. Cherokee Funding LLC et al. Hutchinson will be serving in Supreme Court Justice Nels S.D. Peterson’s place.

“The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on May 7 during its 2 P.M. session,” the court said in a statement. “In this case, two people are appealing a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling that the companies that advanced them money so they could bring a lawsuit did not violate laws against high interest loans.

“In addition to hearing arguments, Judge Hutchinson will participate in the Court’s decision.”

The Georgia Supreme Court uses designated judges, such as Hutchinson, whenever a justice has to recuse them self from a case.

Twenty one candidates met voters at a forum at the Valdosta City Hall Annex, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

After the candidates finished speaking, supporters and opponents of an upcoming transportation SPLOST referendum took to the podium. Mayor John Gayle spoke supporting TSPLOST, while local businessman Nolan Cox spoke in opposition.

Afterward, voters and office-seekers mingled informally around booths where candidates and volunteers offered everything from brochures to candy.

The Ledger-Enquirer asked candidates for Muscogee County School Board to grade the performance of the district superintendent.

In Tift County, candidates for county commission and board of education met voters, according to the Tifton Gazette.

Marc Urbach has withdrawn from the campaign for Governor, according to the Red & Black.

Winterville City Council will consider allowing some form of alcohol sales, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

Winterville has been dry since it was incorporated more than 110 years ago, but the town’s mayor and council plan to ask citizens in a referendum whether the sale of alcoholic drinks should be permitted.

Just what shape alcohol sales legalization might take is yet to be determined. Questions such as whether restaurants could sell liquor by the drink, or whether a convenience store can sell beer would be spelled out in ordinances passed by the council and mayor, said council member Mark Farmer.

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