On August 2, 1983, the United States House of Representatives voted to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday on the third monday in January.
President Barack Obama visited Georgia on August 2, 2010 – his first trip to Atlanta and second to Georgia after his election in November 2008. The occasion of his 2010 trip, like his trip to Atlanta yesterday, was to deliver a speech to the Disabled American Veterans Conference at the Hyatt Regency. From his 2010 speech:
As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised and on schedule….
As agreed to with the Iraqi government, we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year.
At the same time, every American who has ever worn the uniform must also know this: Your country is going to take care of you when you come home. Our nation’s commitment to our veterans, to you and your families, is a sacred trust. And to me and my administration, upholding that trust is a moral obligation. It’s not just politics.
That’s why I’ve charged Secretary Shinseki with building a 21st century VA. And that includes one of the largest percentage increases to the VA budget in the past 30 years. We are going to cut this deficit that we’ve got, and I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary domestic spending. But what I have not frozen is the spending we need to keep our military strong, our country safe and our veterans secure. So we’re going to keep on making historic commitments to our veterans.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission has submitted a short list of nominations to the Georgia Supreme Court to Governor Nathan Deal.
J.P. Boulee – Judge, Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit
William S. Cowsert – founding partner, Cowsert & Heath, LLP; Senator, Georgia State Senate
Melanie B. Cross – Judge, Tifton Judicial Circuit
Asha F. Jackson – Judge, Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit
C. LaTain Kell, Sr. – Judge, Cobb Judicial Circuit
Shawn Ellen LaGrua – Judge, Atlanta Judicial Circuit
Sarah H. Warren – Georgia Solicitor General, Office of the Attorney General of Georgia
Andrew (Andy) J. Welch, III – manager, Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLP; Representative, Georgia House of Representatives
Paige Reese Whitaker – Judge, Atlanta Judicial Circuit
Governor Nathan Deal gave state agencies the greenlight to seek higher funding for programs next year, according to the AJC.
For the first time in his administration, Gov. Nathan Deal is letting the people who run state agencies ask for a little more spending money next year.
Of course, Deal is retiring in January, so he won’t be the one deciding whether they get it. The next governor will.
Still, the instructions Deal’s budget director gave to state agencies Wednesday were somewhat historic: For the first time since before the Great Recession, the agencies that help educate 2 million children, provide health care to 2 million Georgians, build roads, maintain parks, investigate crimes and run prisons were told they could ask for up to 2 percent more in spending.
In some areas of government, where growing enrollment is increasing costs — such as schools and Medicaid — agencies can ask for even more.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp may rule on a border dispute between Bibb and Monroe Counties before November’s general election, according to the Macon Telegraph.
A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he is hoping to make a decision in the case before November.
The lingering dispute — more than a decade old — is over where the county line should be drawn across parcels that include the Bass Pro Shops retail store and distribution center, which were believed to be built on Bibb County land. There are potentially millions of dollars in property taxes at stake in the decision.
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams campaigned in Whitfield and Murray Counties and spoke to the Dalton Daily Citizen.
Abrams spent the day on Wednesday campaigning in both Whitfield and Murray counties and stopped by the Daily Citizen-News for a discussion with members of the newspaper’s editorial board.
“As a small business owner, a political leader, a writer and as an activist, I have been very proud of the work that I have done to help move Georgia forward,” she said.
Abrams told the editorial board she favors expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides health insurance for low-income individuals.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — provides money to states to expand coverage to those earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which differs by state. Georgia officials have so far declined to expand Medicaid, citing concerns about the long-term funding of the expansion.
Abrams said that failure to expand the program is costing the state $8 million a day and making it more likely that hospitals will close, and local communities can lose 5.6 jobs per hospital bed.
Abrams said, however, that she opposes tying Medicaid expansion to requirements that able-boded adults receiving Medicaid work or be in job training.
Abrams stumped in Dalton and Chatsworth the same day former President Barack Obama endorsed her, injecting another dose of presidential politics into the race. President Donald Trump stunned Georgia politicos when he backed Kemp in a tweet days before last month’s GOP primary runoff.
Wednesday was also the same day the new inland port in Murray County had its soft opening. The former House minority leader in Georgia panned tariffs on America’s trading partners, which she said threaten manufacturing hubs like northwest Georgia.
“It is nonsensical that we would try to expand access to our ports and deny the ability to move those goods offshore and sell them around the world,” Abrams said to the press gathered at the Murray County Recreation Department earlier in the day.
Abrams is touting a plan that focuses on continuing the state’s investment in transit, promoting small business growth and giving locals the flexibility to use a Local Option Sales Tax on infrastructure needs, such as sewer improvements.
The Augusta Chronicle has more on former President Obama’s endorsement of Stacey Abrams.
“I am so excited to endorse Stacey Abrams for governor of Georgia,” Obama said in a statement. “She’s not running a campaign built on division or distraction; she’s running to lead one Georgia where everybody has opportunity and everybody’s voice is heard. And she’s got the record of building consensus that shows she can deliver – with good jobs, great public education, expanded Medicaid, and secure, affordable health insurance for everyone.
“In a time when too many folks are focused simply on how to win an election, Stacey’s somebody who cares about something more important: why we should. That’s the kind of politics we should practice. That’s why I’m proud to give Stacey Abrams my support,” Obama said.
Abrams, the former Georgia House Democratic leader, called Obama’s endorsement “a profound honor.”
“President Obama’s legacy is marked by integrity, a deep commitment to service and an ability to find solutions that put the well-being of people first. I am grateful for his support as I continue a campaign for governor grounded in hope, optimism and a boundless belief that we can do more to make sure every family in Georgia has the opportunity to thrive.”
MARTA’s Board of Directors will wait until next month to decide on a contract with Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
MARTA board members said they had some concerns about the contract, which is why they will take a month to look it over. The decision to wait on voting on the contract came a day after Gwinnett County commissioners voted 4-1 to approve it, but it won’t go before voters in the form of a referendum until March 19.
As part of the agreement, MARTA will absorb Gwinnett County Transit and use the recently approved Connect Gwinnett Transit Plan as its guide for building out service in the county.
Senator David Shafer has conceded the election for Lieutenant Governor and will not seek a recount, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The results of the runoff were well within the state’s one percent threshold that allows the losing candidate of an election to seek a recount. Shafer got 49.9 percent of the votes cast in the Republican runoff, but said the completion of the counting of provisional ballots led him to believe it was time to move on.
“We came very close,” Shafer said in his letter to supporters. “I am entitled to an automatic recount because the margin is so narrow, but I have no plans to ask for one. First, I do not believe that retabulating the electronic voting machines will change the outcome. Second, with the general election less than 14 weeks away, it is time to unify behind our Republican nominees.”
Shafer’s decision clears the way for former state Rep. Geoff Duncan to be the Republican Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor. Duncan will face the Democratic party’s nominee, Sarah Riggs Amico, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Camden County‘s new Board of Elections and Registrations is seeking applicants for five seats, according to The Brunswick News.
Glynn County schools will host a meeting to discuss improving school attendance and school safety, according to The Brunswick News.
John House won the runoff election for Columbus Council District 10 and has joined the board, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
Unlike the others elected to council and school board positions this year, House does not have to wait until January to begin his term. House took office once the runoff was certified because he was filling the seat vacated by Mayor-elect Skip Henderson, who had to resign to run for mayor. The District 10 seat has been vacant for four months awaiting a winner in the special election.
House won a three-way race that included Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce executive Amy Bryan and community activist Tollie Strode. He defeated Bryan in the runoff.
Two candidates qualified so far for a Special Republican Primary Election to the Whitfield County Board of Education, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.
Jamie Johnson and Terry Ross qualified for the primary, which will be held on Nov. 6, the same day as the general election.
Rodney Lock resigned from that seat in May, citing the impact being on the board was having on his family business.
Lock was elected to the District 2 seat in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. With his victory in the May GOP primary, Lock looked set for a third term. But his resignation and withdrawal from the race have forced the county to hold another GOP primary. The general election for that seat, which will be a special election, will be held on March 19, 2019, but it will only include the winner of the GOP primary, since no Democrat qualified originally, and any independent or write-in candidates.
Qualifying continues today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to noon in the elections office in the courthouse. The qualifying fee is $18.
Four United States Marshalls received Congressional Medals of Bravery in a Savannah ceremony, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Four U.S. Marshals for the Southeastern Regional Task Force received the Congressional Medal of Bravery on Wednesday for their service in a 2016 incident in Long County. The ceremony was at the Tomochichi Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Savannah.
Deputy Marshals Robert Doherty and James Turner, Supervisory Deputy Ramiro Suarez Jr. and the family of late Deputy Commander Patrick Carothers received the award from Georgia First Congressional Representative Buddy Carter, R-Ga. and South Carolina First District Representative Mark Sanford, R-S.C.
Rep. Carter said he was proud of the deputies, but lamented Carothers’ death.
“Anytime you lose the life of a law enforcement officer, it is a very sad experience,” Buddy Carter said. “You’ve also got to keep in mind that we owe so much to these officers. They do such a wonderful job day-in and day-out, putting their lives on the line.”
Lowndes County Commissioners will meet on August 17th to set the property tax millage rate, according to the Valdosta Daily News.
Glynn County Democrats held a “brainstorming” session on how to win elections in November, according to The Brunswick News.
Jerrold Dagen is running against incumbent Republican state Sen. William Ligon for the District 3 seat, but in addition to that focus, he hosts monthly lunch meetings at the Glynn County Democratic Party office to try to bring Democrats together in a county that tends to go reliably Republican.
“(We’re) trying to get our campaigns more coordinated and trying to get the state more involved, too — I think with our school board, county, state representatives and congressional representative, we have a lot of points of contact and what we started to talk about last week was just how we could get canvassing more organized, and that’s going to be the big thing in voter turnout this year,” Dagen said.
He continued, “Just old-fashioned knocking on the door is what’s making the difference in different parts of the country — and phone banking, too. I think we have to sit down and everybody look at their calendars and see if we can do one or two days a week — one or two days of canvassing, get all the campaign lit that’s out there that we can — and try to get at least one day of phone banking….”
Georgia pecan farmers might get hit with tariffs, according to WABE.
That is because of a nearly 47 percent tariff China plans to impose on U.S. pecans. Those come in retaliation to the tariffs the Trump administration imposed on Chinese goods in early July.
According to the USDA, Georgia leads the nation in U.S. production of pecans at 32 percent. That’s followed by New Mexico, which makes 22 percent and Texas, which makes 18 percent. Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 27 percent of total U.S. supply was exported to China.
Gary Black, Georgia’s commissioner of agriculture, said about a third of all pecans produced in Georgia are also exported to China.
“We have a concentrated portfolio so now this is a challenge to us to try to broaden our portfolio,” Black said.
“I would concur with Secretary Sonny Perdue that you know farmers are patriots and maybe arguably some of the strongest patriots in the entire country, but farmers can’t pay their bills with patriotism,” Black said. “So it is important that we come to an agreement soon so that we can return to a free market and I’m still remaining hopeful that the actions that we’ve taken will help get us there.”