Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 14, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 14, 2018

General Sherman’s army prepared for the March to the Sea on November 14, 1864.

On November 14, 1944, the Constitutional Convention working on a revised document for Georgia reversed its position on home rule that had been adopted the previous day on the motion of Governor Ellis Arnall.

Three astronauts with connections to Georgia – Eric Boe, Robert Kimbrough, and Sandra Magnus – were aboard the space shuttle Endeavor when it lifted off on November 14, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Representative John Meadows (R-Calhoun), Chair of the House Rules Committee has died after fighting cancer, according to News Channel 9.

“My dear friend John was a great man – brave Marine, loving father and adoring grandfather,” said Speaker Ralston. “He loved his family with total devotion. His public service, both as a Marine and a State Representative, was grounded in trying to ensure his children and grandchildren saw a better tomorrow.”

“John was outwardly fierce and courageous but he was, at the same time, one of the kindest and most generous souls you have ever met. There aren’t words to describe the magnitude of this loss for our House of Representatives or the State of Georgia, and my heart is simply broken under the weight of this sad news.

“My heart goes out to John’s family – particularly his beloved wife Marie, his children B.J. and Missy, and his grandsons Will, Patrick, and Max.”

Rep. Meadows was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in November, 2004 and represented the residents of Murray and Gordon Counties. In addition to chairing the Rules Committee, he also served on the Governmental Affairs, Industry and Labor, Insurance, Retirement, and Game, Fish, & Parks Committees.

Governor Nathan Deal unveiled his proposed legislation for South Georgia relief after Hurricane Michael, according to the AJC.

Gov. Nathan Deal proposed $200 million worth of income tax credits Tuesday for landowners in southwest Georgia as incentive for them to replant trees destroyed last month by Hurricane Michael.

The tax break was part of Deal’s package introduced as state lawmakers convened a special session designed to help fund the cleanup and rebuilding of southwest Georgia after the storm.

The tax break would aid both timber and pecan farmers who saw their trees destroyed by the storm.

The tax credits would be available to landowners in 28 counties hardest hit by the storm. Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, called the $200 million “a drop in the bucket to what was lost.”

Deal also proposed about $270 million in other spending, much of it going to debris cleanup. The state will pay part of local government costs, including overtime for staffers who worked long hours during and after the storm.

From the AJC:

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, shared her love of the chairman.

He was “a person who cared very much for those that are disadva`ten champions legislation to protect children and senior citizens. “He also cared about the vulnerable population, whether it was young or old.”

Meadows stuck by his friends and left no doubt what he stood for, House Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell said.

“He’d tell you exactly what he thought. You might not like it, but he was not going to sugarcoat it,” said Powell, a Republican from Camilla. “You didn’t really like it at the time, but in the long run it was the best thing for you to know where you stood and what he thought.”

Today, the State House will convene for Day Two of the 2018 Special Session, beginning at 10 AM.

House Appropriations Committee, 1 PM in Room 341 of the State Capitol.

House Labor and Industry Committee, 1 PM in Room 515 of the CLOB.

Joint Study Committee on Low THC Medical Oil Access, 1 PM in Room 310 of the CLOB.

House Rules Committee, 3 PM in Room 341 of the State Capitol.

Senate Study Committee on Evaluating the School Year Calendar of Georgia Public Schools, 2 PM in Room 450 of the State Capitol.

Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) was elected Majority Leader by the Senate Caucus yesterday, according to the AJC.

The caucus chose Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, to replace Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, as majority leader of the Senate. Cowsert is the brother-in-law of Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee who has declared victory in the Nov. 6 governor’s election. Kemp’s opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, is contesting the issue in court.

Another Cagle loyalist, Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, was renominated Senate president pro tem, the second-highest position in the chamber behind the lieutenant governor.

Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry, was chosen as the new majority caucus vice chairman.

State Senator Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) was arrested yesterday at the Capitol, according to the AJC.

“I was not yelling. I was not chanting,” she said. “I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested.”

Williams said she was handcuffed after she “refused to disperse” from the rotunda.

Williams is charged with obstruction, Capitol police said. She was released on a signature bond after being detained for about five hours.

The protest in the rotunda under the Gold Dome was organized by a local Black Lives Matter group to pressure state officials to ensure all absentee and provisional ballots are tallied in the governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. Kemp has declared victory.

Occasionally, the group of roughly 100 people broke into chants of “count every vote.”

Authorities said the demonstration was broken up after several warnings because of rules that prohibit chanting or yelling while lawmakers are in session.

The Gwinnett County Board of Elections is delaying its certification of voting totals until at least Thursday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

County elections board chairman Stephen Day said provisional ballots were counted Tuesday, but it will take the county’s elections office a couple of days to comply with a federal judge’s order to count additional absentee ballots. There are more than 300 additional absentee ballots that will have to be counted under the judge’s order, according to Day.

The elections board chairman said the total number of votes that will have to be counted was not immediately clear, though. The ballots will be counted over a two-day period and the board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Thursday to certify the election results.

“We’re going to take the signature (and birth date) mismatches and they’ll be treated like the provisional (ballots), but they’ll be in a separate category, and they’ll be added in at that time,” Day said as the elections board waited for the counting of provisional ballots Tuesday night.

[A] standing-room-only crowd of Republicans and Democrats filled the meeting room at the Gwinnett County elections office Tuesday afternoon after U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May issued the order making the county count absentee ballots that were rejected because of birth date mismatches.

May’s order was issued in response to a motion filed by 7th Congressional District candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux on Sunday.

“While Defendant Gwinnett County argues that it uses ‘all the information on the ballot envelope’ to verify a voter’s identity, this Court does not find that a year of birth is material to determining a voter’s eligibility when such information is not uniformly required across the State,” May said in her order.

Abrams picked up 1,505 provisional votes, compared to 668 for Kemp and 3,816 for Metz. Over in the school board District 2 race, Wandy Taylor picked up 102 provisional votes compared to 89 for Steve Knudsen, but Knudsen still led by a margin of 50.09 percent to 49.83 percent.

Bourdeaux picked up 810 provisional votes, but incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall picked up 442 votes as well. That cut the 901 vote gap between them down to 533 votes.

Now, only the remaining absentee ballots need to be counted.

From the AJC:

At 10:30 p.m. [on Tuesday], more than eight hours after it originally convened, the Gwinnett County elections board voted to formally accept more than 2,100 provisional ballots.

Those included enough to pull Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux more than 300 votes closer to Republican incumbent Rob Woodall in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District.

Overall, the county rejected about 200 provisional ballots.

Gwinnett County Board of Education District 2 candidates are waiting on final results in their election, according to the AJC.

At the end of the night on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Republican Steven Knudsen had 175 votes more than his Democrat rival, Wandy Taylor in the race for Gwinnett County’s District 2 seat on the board of education. But with thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still out, nobody has broken out the champagne quite yet.

Two separate court rulings, one late Monday and another Tuesday, put disqualified absentee ballots in Gwinnett back into play.

A week after Election Day the needle has moved slightly in Taylor’s favor. Knudsen’s lead is narrowed to 162 votes.

Today, a third federal judge is expected to decide whether the court order for Gwinnett to count absentee ballots missing valid birth dates should be applied. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones will also rule on whether provisional ballots cast by voters who were registered in a different county should be counted.

Lowndes County finalized vote totals in last week’s election, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

In the hotly contested governor’s race, Republican Brian Kemp led Lowndes with 20,488 votes, while Democrat Stacey Abrams polled 15,024 votes, according to the official results. Libertarian candidate Ted Metz claimed 241 votes.

Just because the numbers are in doesn’t mean the fight is over. Abrams has refused to concede, and a federal judge ruled Monday the secretary of state’s office must not certify the results of the gubernatorial election until 5 p.m. Friday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s order forces all counties with 100 or more provisional ballots to conduct a “good faith review” or to do an “independent review” itself of the eligibility of voters who had to cast a provisional ballot because of registration issues.

Lowndes County, with 541 provisional votes in the gubernatorial election, has to get its review done by 5 p.m. Thursday, [Lowndes County election supervisor Deb] Cox said.

United States Attorney BJay Pak released a report on his office’s fight against opioid abuse, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Earlier this year, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and set a goal to reduce opioid prescriptions by one-third over the next three years,” Pak said. “In our district, the results are promising. There were approximately 20 percent fewer opioid prescriptions written and filled in Fiscal Year 2018 than in Fiscal Year 2016, and the total Morphine Milligram Equivalents decreased over 18 percent for that same period.

“But our work is far from done. We are committed to further reducing the excess supply of prescription opioids which has unintentionally fueled the epidemic.”

Last year, Pak’s office launched Operation SCOPE (Strategically Combating Opioids through Prosecution and Enforcement), which is designed to identify and prosecute, through a collaborative partnership with state and local law enforcement, those who illegally distribute opioids in Georgia.

Joselyn Butler Baker has been named the new president of the Grady Health Foundation, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Helen City Commission is considering changes to their alcohol ordinance to allow some hotels with alcohol licenses to also serve in secondary building on their property, according to AccessWDUN.

Rome City Commissioners approved an extension of the hours during which a two-hour parking limit is enforced in downtown, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Whitfield County reached an agreement with its cities on how to divide proceeds from a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners has joined with the cities of Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell in approving an intergovernmental agreement for $100 million in projects for the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) that residents will vote on in March of next year.

Voting is scheduled for March 19, 2019, and, if approved, the 1 percent SPLOST — applied to most goods and services bought in the county — would last for six years.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is working to prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease to the state’s deer herds, according to the Albany Herald.

“The potential introduction of CWD poses a serious threat to Georgia’s economically and culturally valuable white-tailed deer resource,” Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for the Wildlife Resources Division, explains. “We encourage hunters to be knowledgeable of and to abide by current importation regulations and restrictions.”

CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose, and belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which is the same group of diseases affecting some domestic animals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “mad cow disease.”

All Georgians can help by reporting any known illegal importation of deer species or carcasses to the department at 1-800-241-4113.

“Anyone interested in wildlife – hunters, wildlife watchers and processors, among others – are encouraged to help keep Georgia’s quality deer herd CWD-free,” Killmaster said.

The Georgia Department of Community Health approved a Certificate of Need for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to replace the existing hospital on the Emory University campus with a new, larger facility at North Druid Hills and I-85, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

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