Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2018

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that April tax revenues were up compared to April 2017.

Georgia’s net tax collections for April totaled $2.31 billion, for an increase of $48.7 million, or 2.2 percent, compared to last year when net tax collections totaled nearly $2.26 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled $18.97 billion, for an increase of roughly $909.3 million, or 5 percent, compared to April 2017, when net tax revenues totaled $18.06 billion.

Governor Deal also announced that tourism had a record-breaking economic impact on Georgia last year.

[T]he state’s tourism industry generated a record-breaking $63.1 billion in economic impact in 2017, for an increase of 3.8 percent over last year, according to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics.

“The tourism industry contributes significantly to the growth and prosperity of Georgia’s economy,” said Deal. “During National Travel and Tourism Week, we’re celebrating the continued success of this vital industry and the more than 460,000 jobs created by tourist expenditures. Last year, a record number of visitors traveled to Georgia to explore our mountains, coastline, thriving cities and small towns. The continued growth of the tourism industry provides meaningful employment opportunities for families, strengthens our local communities and reaffirms our status as a world-class tourism destination.”

In 2017, visitor spending in Georgia generated more than $3.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. According to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, Georgia’s total tourism demand is 39 percent higher than its pre-recession level in 2008.

Senate Bill 407, reforming bail procedures for misdemeanors, was signed into law yesterday.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] signed SB 407, criminal justice legislation that reforms misdemeanor bail practices, providing increased flexibility and transparency in this area. SB 407 also provides judges with more opportunities to utilize community service and educational advancement as alternatives to fines or as a condition of probation. The legislation is based on recommendations from the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform and builds upon Deal’s previous criminal justice reform initiatives.

“In the past eight years, Georgia has become the standard-bearer for many pressing areas of our time, but perhaps none more so than criminal justice reform,” said Deal. “For the better part of a decade, we have implemented new reform measures, expanded initiatives of prior years and adjusted our policies where needed to create a criminal justice system that is more efficient and more equitable.

“This legislation focuses on misdemeanor bail reform, which will make Georgia a safer place to call home for all of its citizens by recognizing that mercy and accountability are not mutually exclusive. The revisions within SB 407 require judges to consider the financial circumstances of an accused individual when determining bail, thereby furthering our efforts to incarcerate only the most serious and violent offenders, rather than individuals who simply cannot afford the costs of bail. By also giving judges additional opportunities to assign community service and educational advancement, we are truly rehabilitating non-violent offenders, not hardening them, and further diverting them from dark and dangerous paths.”

“I’d like to thank the members of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform for their eight years of hard work in providing these recommendations, the members of the General Assembly for their overwhelming bipartisan support for this cause, and the sponsors of this legislation, Sen. Brian Strickland and Rep. Chuck Efstration, for their steadfast leadership on these issues. I also appreciate the efforts of the agencies tasked with implementing these reforms, the many law enforcement and public safety officers who have effectuated these initiatives, and the judges throughout our state who have readily adopted the sentencing improvements we have made.”

From the Dalton Daily Citizen:

The change provides an alternative for people charged misdemeanor crimes who cannot afford a cash bond or the services of a bail bondsman. Some cities, such as Atlanta, had started to address the issue on their own.

“Bail was being set at a nominal amount, but even a nominal amount was beyond their capability of being able to pay,” Gov. Nathan Deal said at a signing ceremony held Monday.

“So, unfortunately, the system did not allow for many options,” Deal added. “And some of these individuals sat in jail cells for a very long period of time.”

The new law, which passed during the most recent legislative session, requires judges to consider a person’s financial means when determining bail, and it allows for community service, job training or a GED program to be ordered as a condition of probation. And it lets law enforcement officers issue citations for minor offenses instead of making an arrest.

Deal was overcome with emotion several times while talking about the impact of his initiatives, which he said he has seen firsthand at accountability court graduations.

“They’ve said, ‘Thank you for saving my life,’” Deal said to reporters, referring to those who have been diverted from prison to drug courts or one of the other accountability court programs. “And they mean it. That’s the important thing — they mean it.”

Gov. Deal also signed a raft of legislation yesterday. You can click here for a list of everything signed or vetoed this year.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle campaigned for Governor in Dalton on Friday, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

“I’m not the guy who was supposed to grow up to be the lieutenant governor of the state, or the next governor of the state, but that’s what’s possible in Georgia, right?” Cagle said. “No matter where you come from, no matter your circumstances, you can end up exactly where you want to. That is what this country and what this state is all about.”

Cagle touted energy tax cuts on manufacturers, tax incentives for the movie industry, economic and job growth, a rising gross domestic product and the creation of career academies as successes of his past eight years in office. He noted that he has been in office during a time of crisis following the economic recession.

“By virtue of working with two governors, I know how to work through complex public policy issues, but I also know how to deal with economic development opportunities that exist within our state,” Cagle said. “When I was in business for all these years, 32 years now, I had a simple theory. I wanted to go out to find somebody who had done it before and could do it again, and we’re in that position, obviously, to be able to continue this momentum as a state to grow.”

“We’ve sold, really, a false narrative, to our kids, to say that every educational system needs to be designed to send every kid off to get a liberal arts, four-year degree. And there’s nothing wrong with a liberal arts, four-year degree, but … about 75,000 open jobs that are available right now within the state, 25 percent need a four-year degree. Seventy-five percent of those jobs need an industry certification or a two-year degree from our technical college,” said Cagle.

The Macon Telegraph notes that 11 counties are voting on a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in the primary election.

In 2012, there was a larger contingent of vocal opposition to the T-SPLOST than against this year’s referendum. Five years ago, leaders of the NAACP and the Citizens Against T-SPLOST, a group led by former Houston County Commission Chairman Ned Sanders, played a role in the tax’s downfall.

The tax is expected to bring in about $637 million over a 10-year period throughout a region that includes Houston, Macon-Bibb, Monroe, Jones, Crawford, Putnam, Twiggs, Peach, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Pulaski counties.

The Telegraph also asked candidates for State House whether they will support an Other Local Option Sales Tax vote for Macon-Bibb County.

Houston County has detained more people ICE detainers than all the neighboring counties combined, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Since 2009, when the Houston County Sheriff’s Office began participating in a federal program that routinely checks the fingerprints of jail inmates against ICE’s database, ICE has requested the sheriff’s office hold at least 668 people on suspected immigration violations, according to ICE’s own data available through November 2017. In more recent months, ICE has requested the detention of dozens more people arrested in Houston County, according to jail inventories reviewed by student reporters from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

The sheriff’s office has routinely complied with the requests — voluntarily, and at local taxpayers’ expense — holding inmates in county jail for sometimes days until ICE agents can come take them away. While many other jurisdictions also honor such requests, known as “ICE detainers,” the number of people detained in Houston County is far higher than anywhere else in Middle Georgia.

That may be due in part to demographic factors, but some immigrants and their advocates contend that the Houston County Sheriff’s Office’s actions on immigration enforcement go beyond mere cooperation with federal authorities and instead rise to the level of active collaboration, including alleged racial profiling.

In Middle Georgia, Houston County is not alone in its practice of routinely honoring ICE detainers on people who have already been arrested for something else. Reporters interviewed sheriffs or their subordinates in Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs counties — all said they hold inmates for ICE at their jails too.

And yet, Houston County has held more people for ICE in recent years than all of those counties combined. Macon-Bibb County, despite having nearly the same population size as Houston, held only 173 people in the period in which Houston held 668, according to ICE data.

Savannah is consider ride-sharing apps as a way to provide transportation for some local citizens, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In addition to trying to lure drivers to the city’s garages with lower rates, the city is also looking at providing additional transportation options that take advantage of today’s technologies as part of the overall parking plan.

City staff will next evaluate the proposals from Via Mobility, Downtowner, and Chatham Area Transit, before deciding whether to present a contract to the Savannah City Council for consideration.

Details of the proposals are not made public until after the evaluation process, but the services are meant to further encourage residents and workers to use alternative forms of transportation due to increases in parking rates and enforcement hours, according to the request for proposals issued by the city.

Both Downtowner and Via provide transportation services that are summoned using a smart-phone app, similar to Uber and Lyft, although the rides are often shared with others heading in the same direction.

Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Isles Association of Realtors are hosting a forum for local candidates on Thursday, according to The Brunswick News.

Columbia County Commission candidate Lee Mun faces a court judgment for $3.2 million against three companies he owns, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The judgment, entered in U.S. District Court in March 2017, found in favor of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local No. 150 Pension Fund and five fund trustees and against three companies owned by Lee Muns, one of three Republican candidates for the District 4 seat on the Columbia County Commission. Muns’ now-shuttered Beech Island companies were ordered to pay the fund more than $3.2 million plus interest. The judgment has not been satisfied.

In a series of lawsuits, fund trustees argued that Muns’ companies were liable for “accelerated withdrawal liability” after they stopped making contributions to the union pension fund.

Muns said in a recent interview the companies – Muns Group Inc., Muns Mechanical Inc. and C&M Equipment Leasing Inc. – kept contributions current until they withdrew from the union labor contract. Muns said other companies were able to close and escape liability, while his firms were singled out and deemed responsible for the fund’s remaining future liability, which was underfunded due to mismanagement.

“At no time did I ever not pay anything that was required on any employee’s behalf,” he said.

McDonough City Council is considering a rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to the Albany Herald.


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