Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 31, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 31, 2018

July 30th could be celebrated as the birthday of democracy in America, as the Virginia House of Burgesses became the first legislative body in the New World on July 30, 1619.

 Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned a Major General in the Continental Army, serving without pay.

The cornerstone for the first United States Mint was laid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1792, becoming the first building constructed by the federal government under the Constitution.

Former President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded President Lincoln upon his assassination and oversaw much of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, died of a stroke in Tennessee on July 31, 1875.

On July 31, 1906, a bill to place a Constitutional Amendment on the November election for voters to decide whether to create an intermediate-level Georgia Court of Appeals was approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

On July 30, 1931, Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. signed legislation merging Milton and Fulton Counties if voters in each county approved a referendum. Fulton had earlier merged with Campbell County, to the south.

Actor Laurence Fishburn was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961.

On July 31, 1962, the one-millionth immigrant was welcomed into Israel.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare, for seniors, and Medicaid for some low-income people on July 30, 1965.

On July 31, 1987, “The Lost Boys” was released. From the New York Times:

“The Lost Boys” is to horror movies what “Late Night With David Letterman” is to television; it laughs at the form it embraces, adds a rock-and-roll soundtrack and, if you share its serious-satiric attitude, manages to be very funny.

Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, won his 300th career game on July 31, 1990. During eight innings, Ryan threw 146 pitches, while today, many pitchers are pulled at around the 100-pitch count.

“In the old days throwing that many pitches was a normal game,” said Nolan Ryan, who tossed a record seven no-hitters and is the all-time leader in strikeouts, fifth in innings pitched.

Ryan, currently the Rangers’ team president, is an outspoken detractor of the recent trend toward monitoring pitch counts. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Ryan expressed his belief that today’s pitchers are “pampered” and that there is no reason why today’s pitchers cannot pitch as much as he and his colleagues did back in the day. As a result, Ryan is pushing his team’s pitchers to throw deeper into games and extend their arms further, emphasizing conditioning over what some would call coddling.

As Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux told SI: “This generation of players has become a creature of the pitch count. Their ceiling has been lowered. It’s up to us to jack it back up.”

Although I think that time he whipped Robin Ventura should count as a win.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has suspended the state sales tax and use tax on jet fuel, according to a press release.

Gov. Nathan Deal today issued an executive order suspending collection of the state’s 4 percent sales and use tax on jet fuel, effective Aug. 1. In FY 2018, the state sales tax on jet fuel amounted to more than $39 million in revenue.

“Georgia imposes the fourth-highest fuel tax burden among states with major airport hubs, putting us at a daily disadvantage behind North Carolina, Texas, Florida and New York, among others. In fact, Georgia’s tax burden ranks only behind high-tax states California, Illinois and Michigan,” said Deal. “The annual economic impact of Georgia airports amounts to over $62 billion per year, and direct flights out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport support nearly $11 billion in foreign investment and 42,000 jobs across the state.

“During the past eight years, we’ve taken similar steps to boost industries and economic growth around the state. In 2012, for example, we eliminated the energy sales tax on manufacturers. As a result, in the past five years, we’ve seen manufacturing jobs grow by 12.5 percent to a total of 395,807 in 2017. Just as removal of this tax burden spurred growth in the manufacturing arena, so will removal of the jet fuel tax burden in the airline industry.

“In order to remain the No. 1 state in which to do business, attract more companies to our communities and provide more jobs for our growing population, it is crucial to maintain and preserve a pro-business climate. Providing tax relief to job creators will help us maintain our competitive advantage as a global hub for commerce now and in the future.”

Click here to read the Executive Order.

From the AJC:

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday that he was suspending collection of the state sales tax on jet fuel, keeping a promise to Delta Air Lines and other companies that the General Assembly rejected during the politically charged 2018 legislative session.

The 2019 General Assembly, which convenes in January, will decide whether to bless that decision or reinstate the tax. Deal cited the same code section to suspend the jet fuel tax that Gov. Sonny Perdue used to stop motor fuel taxes from rising at the start of the Great Recession.

The code section states, “The Governor may suspend the collection of taxes, or any part thereof, due the state until the meeting of the next General Assembly but no longer; but he shall not otherwise interfere with the collection of taxes.”

Kemp, who earlier opposed the tax break, changed his tune Monday.

“We can only have one governor at a time and I trust Governor Deal to make wise decisions that put hardworking Georgians ahead of the special interests,” Kemp said in a statement. “I support economic incentives that generate a sizable return on investment for Georgia taxpayers and create economic opportunities for communities throughout our state. Based on the information provided, the governor’s executive order aims to do both.”

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) has been released from the hospital after becoming sick on a flight, according to the AJC.

“Rep. John Lewis has been released from the hospital this evening. All tests have been completed, and doctors have given him a ‘clean bill of health.’ He thanks everyone who shared their thoughts, prayers and concerns during his stay,” according to [Lewis spokesperson] Brenda Jones.

The 78-year-old civil rights icon was on a flight from Detroit when he started feeling dizzy and sweaty, an aide said Saturday night.

The Gainesville Times looks at how Hall County will fare without residents in the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s offices.

With Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Hall has had a man in one of the state’s top-two elected offices for the past dozen years. The county has had both the lieutenant governor’s and the governor’s office locked down for the past eight years since Gov. Nathan Deal won election in 2010.

Next year, Hall County will have neither.

Hall’s Republican voters backed Cagle’s challenger, Brian Kemp, by a margin of more than 10 points in the runoff.

Spheres of influence are shifting to other centers: In the governor’s race, Kemp is from Athens, still in North Georgia but east of Gainesville on the other side of Jefferson, while Democrat Stacey Abrams hails from Atlanta after spending her childhood in Mississippi.

As Geoff Duncan and David Shafer sweat the final votes being tallied in the lieutenant governor’s race, it can only go south from here — Duncan lives in Forsyth County and Shafer in Duluth.

Hall’s last man standing in high leadership is state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, who earlier this year was elected by his caucus as president pro tempore of the Georgia Senate, second-in-command behind the lieutenant governor, who works as the president of the Senate.

Georgia Power will add 100 megawatts of solar to its generation portfolio, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Georgia Power Co. is looking to add another 100 watts of “distributed generation” solar projects to its renewable energy portfolio.

The Atlanta-based utility released a request for proposals late last week soliciting bids for solar projects ranging from 1 kilowatt to 3 kilowatts.

Unlike larger utility-scale solar projects, smaller-scale distributed generation solar typically is installed on rooftops of homes or businesses.

A Whitfield County grand jury has been tasked with naming a new member of the Board of Education, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Rodney Lock resigned in May from the District 2 seat, citing the impact being on the board was having on his family business. District 2 is a sprawling district that covers the very north end of the county and the northeast part of the county. But it’s borders are very irregular.

“When (the district attorney) asked me to describe the district, I told him it’s hard to describe and it would be better if he just came and looked at the map,” said Registrar Mary Hammontree.

The grand jury will appoint someone to fill Lock’s unexpired term, which ends on Dec. 31. There is no deadline for when that appointment has to be made. Applications can be picked up in the district attorney’s office in the courthouse.

Lock was the sole Republican to qualify for the position in March for the next term. No Democrat qualified. With his victory in the May GOP primary, Lock looked set for a third term. But with his resignation, the county will have to have another Republican primary for that seat. That primary will take place Nov. 6, the same day as the general election.

Qualifying for that primary is Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon in the elections office in the courthouse. The qualifying fee is $18.

The Whitfield County Board of Education will set the same property tax millage rate as last year, but must advertise it as a tax increase, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The board has proposed no change to the millage rate for 2018. The proposed millage rate remains 18.756, the same rate as set in 2017. State law requires this to be advertised as a tax increase since the state measures change not against the actual prior-year millage rate but rather against the “rollback rate.” The rollback rate is calculated by subtracting any increase in the digest due to reassessment. However, if your own assessment did not change, your taxes will be the same as last year.

Richmond County Board of Education District 2 member Alex Howard is not seeking reelection, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Qualifying for five open Richmond County Board of Education seats will be held Aug. 20 through Aug. 24 for the Nov. 6 general election.

School board members are not term-limited and their seats are nonpartisan.

Also coming open is the District 7 board post held by Charlie Walker. Walker won the seat in a March special election and April runoff to replace Frank Dolan, who resigned.

The other members whose board seats are up for election are District 2 Trustee Charlie Hannah, District 6 Trustee Jack Padgett and Super District 9 Trustee Venus Cain.

Glynn County Commissioners may consider a rezoning that would allow surface mining, according to The Brunswick News.

Local residents slammed a proposed spaceport for Camden County, according to the Savannah Morning News.

More than 15,000 people and organizations commented to the Federal Aviation Administration about its draft Environmental Impact Statement on Spaceport Camden, a proposed rocket launch facility in Camden County.

“The number of comments received is greater than previous EISs, in which we received a few hundred,” FAA spokesman Hank Price wrote in an email. For comparison, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental impact statement on the deepening of the Savannah harbor drew about 1,100 comments when it was released in 2010. The Spaceport Camden EIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the proposal, including construction of launch site infrastructure, launch operations, and provisions for visitors and viewing launches. The 90-day comment period for the spaceport document closed last month.

The containership Stork called on the Port of Savannah for the first time, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The vessel, part of the Ocean Network Express (ONE) shipping company, has a capacity of 14,026 20-foot equivalent units. The newly built Stork was delivered to ONE on June 12.

“It’s an honor to welcome this distinctive ship to the Port of Savannah,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Vessels in the 14,000-plus range represent the future of global shipping and play to Savannah’s strengths of space, infrastructure and cargo fluidity.”

At the 1,200-acre Garden City Terminal, five cranes will move more than 4,000 containers on and off the vessel, including 3,432 export containers and 655 import boxes.

Referendums

The Gwinnett County Commission will vote Wednesday on whether to hold a referendum on transit, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Board of Commissioners will hold a special called meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center auditorium to vote on holding a referendum in conjunction with the state’s general election. The board will also vote on a proposed contract with MARTA at the meeting.

Although there is some support on the commission for holding a referendum, Commissioner John Heard issued a statement Thursday vehemently opposing the idea, saying a proposed agreement was “fatally flawed.”

A MARTA spokeswoman confirmed Friday that the agency was negotiating a contract with Gwinnett County, but that it had not been finalized as of that time.

In addition to needing the county commission’s approval, any agreement between Gwinnett and MARTA would also require the approval of the transit agency’s Board of Directors. The MARTA board is set to hold its monthly meeting in Atlanta on Thursday.

Twenty-seven percent of GOP Primary voters in Southwest Georgia’s Early County voted to secede from the state, according to WDHN.

“Should the counties south of Macon join together to Form the 51st state of south Georgia?”

That was the question on the republican primary ballot for one southwest Georgia county that gained more support that anticipated.

27 percent of residents in southwest Georgia voted yes for counties to secede to form a new state.

“Yeah we don’t get all the opportunities that Atlanta has but we’re making our own way in Blakely and Early County,” said Mayor Howard.

Gwinnett County voters will weigh-in on whether to expand Sunday sales of alcohol in restaurants, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

County commissioners gave their blessing for a referendum, dealing with alcohol sales in unincorporated Gwinnett between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, to be held on the November general election ballot.

“During the session this year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 17, which was known as ‘The Brunch Bill,’ ” county attorney Van Stephens said. “It authorizes counties to issue a resolution requesting a referendum. The process from there goes through the referendum process.

“If the referendum is approved by a majority of the electors of the county, then the referendum is approved and the matter would come back to the Board of Commissioners for an ordinance dealing with the Sunday sales.”

Alpharetta City Council voted to place a “Brunch Bill” referendum on the November ballot, according to Patch.com.

The Council unanimously voted to call for the referendum related to the Brunch Bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. The referendum will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Senate Bill 17 allowed city councils and county commissions to call for referendum votes on allowing on-premise, alcohol sales by the drink beginning at 11 a.m. on Sundays. Under current law, bars and restaurants may not begin serving Sunday booze until 12:30 p.m.

Residents should note the bill only applies to establishments where 50 percent of its annual gross sales are from food or meals, which includes most restaurants. In other words, bars or breweries would not be included in the earlier serving time.

Council members also voted to call an election on the referendum to impose a new homestead exemption in the city of Alpharetta. If approved by voters on the Nov. 6 ballot, new homestead exemptions would freeze homeowners’ tax assessments at the 2016 level. It would allow increases up to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The homestead exemptions would remain in place as long as homeowners own their homes. The more current assessment would take effect and become the new “frozen” level once a home is sold.

Grovetown City Council added the city to the list of Brunch Bill referendums, according to CBS46.

Grovetown voters will be able to decide whether or not they want to start sipping alcohol at 11 a.m. Friday in a special called meeting, Grovetown’s four city council members unanimously voted to add it to November’s ballot. It’s part of a statewide talker that’s been dubbed the “Brunch bill” or “mimosa mandate.”

“The unincorporated part of Grovetown, the county at large, Harlem, Richmond County, this affects everybody in the state. It is a state bill that is asking whether or not the residents in the particular jurisdictions wish to have alcohol sales earlier on Sundays,” said Grovetown City Administrator John Waller.

In the Augusta area, Grovetown joins Columbia County and the City of Harlem in holding brunch bill referendums, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Cobb County will be brunch bill referendum central in November, with a number of jurisdictions placing referendums on the ballot, according to the AJC.

Smyrna, Kennesaw and Powder Springs have joined Cobb County, Marietta, Austell and Acworth with plans to place an alcohol referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The City Councils of Smyrna, Kennesaw and Powder Springs made their unanimous decisions in favor of the referendum on July 16.

From the AJC on Cobb County’s vote for a referendum:

“I believe in limited government and I see no reason why the government should restrict those hours right now,” said County Chairman Mike Boyce. “If people want to have the opportunity to drink a mimosa at 11:30 on a Sunday, they should have the right to do that.”

Duluth and Peachtree Corners will both hold Brunch Bill referendums, according to the AJC.

Peachtree City Council adopted a referendum measure by a 5-0 vote, according to the AJC.

Habersham County voters will decide whether to approve a 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to AccessWDUN.

“Tonight, we approved an acceptance of an intergovernmental agreement and all seven of the municipalities within the county for a distribution methodology should the voters approve the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for repair of roads and bridges and transportation services,” Commission Chairman Victor Anderson told AccessWDUN. “With that, once we approved the IGA with those municipalities, we also issued the call to have that placed on the ballot of the November election.”

If approved by voters, the single-county transportation sales tax would begin April 1, 2019, and conclude collections on March 31, 2024, raising some $35,567,472 for the purpose of funding transportation projects.

“Should the voters approve this, it also will give Habersham County a funding method to improve our road paving schedule, our maintenance schedule in just about every aspect of our transportation,” Anderson said. “It also provides a mechanism to pay for those items through sales tax, which is about 25-30 percent from people outside the county. In other words, county residents, while it is a shift of tax within the county, it also allows the residents to get $1 worth of services for about 70 cents.”

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