Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 17, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 17, 2019

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify the Amendment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Senator Johnny Isakson spoke out about the possible consequences of the federal shutdown for the Super Bowl Atlanta hosts next week, according to the AJC.

On Tuesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian reported that the shutdown will cost his airline $25 million this month in lost revenue.

And there is the riled-up U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who walked onto the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon and excoriated his colleagues for “not doing a damned thing while the American people are suffering.”

Isakson was a late arrival to Washington this week — he stayed behind in Georgia an extra day to watch Gov. Brian Kemp’s swearing-in. But when passing through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Isakson said he was unable to offer an explanation for the shutdown when constituents, including several Transportation Security Agency workers, approached him.

“We’re just doing the wrong thing, punishing the wrong people, and it’s not right,” he said.

“We’ve got a Super Bowl coming to Atlanta, Ga., in about three weeks. The biggest tourism event in the world this year. What if the largest airport in the world, that’s going to bring people to the largest football game in the world, goes out of business because the TSA strikes?” Isakson asked. “Then you’ve just cost millions of dollars to the United States of America, my home city of Atlanta and others.

Also from the AJC:

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the shutdown is costing the company $25 million in revenue this month as fewer government contractors and employees travel.

“We are seeing some pressure on our business,” Bastian said during an investor conference call Tuesday morning. “We strongly encourage our elected officials to do their very best to resolve their differences and get the government fully open as soon as possible.”

The Transportation Security Administration said wait times at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at their peak were about an hour and a half long on Monday. In PreCheck lanes, the wait times were up to 55 minutes long at the Atlanta airport, TSA said.

A Forsyth County resident has been charged with planning an attack on the White House, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, was charged with “attempt to damage by means of an explosive” after the Joint Terrorism Task Force received a tip from the community.

“As articulated in the affidavit supporting the complaint, his alleged intent was to attack the White House and other targets of opportunity in the Washington, D.C. area,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A confidential informant, one undercover agent and Taheb met Wednesday, Jan. 16, in a Buford parking lot to exchange vehicles for weapons, according to the FBI special agent’s affidavit.

In other meetings with FBI informants or undercover agents, Taheb allegedly told them “jihad was an obligation,” that he wanted to do maximum damage and expected to be a “martyr,” according to the affidavit.

He allegedly showed them his plan for attacking the White House’s West Wing in composition book sketches, but Taheb later expanded the plans to the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and a synagogue, according to the affidavit.

Governor Brian Kemp will present his budget to the General Assembly today, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Gov. Brian Kemp is slated to present his budget today to a joint session of the Georgia House and Senate. He gave a short preview Wednesday at the annual Eggs and Issues breakfast in Atlanta.

“We’ll get down to business next week with budget hearings,” Lumsden said. “We won’t be in session, but we’ll be hearing from all the department heads.”

Governor Kemp spoke about plans to increase school safety funding and teacher pay, according to the AJC.

Increased teacher pay, money to secure schools and growing the ranks of school counselors will all be part of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s strategy to bolster education.

“Investments in education have brought higher graduation rates,” Kemp told a crowd of business and government leaders who gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center Wednesday morning for the state Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues forum. An educated workforce is key to the economy, he added.

The speech echoed Kemp’s commitment while a candidate to raise pay for teachers by $5,000. Given the cost — analysts place it at $700 million or more annually — some have speculated he will break the raise into pieces to be delivered over multiple years.

He said the classroom should be a “safe haven” from would-be shooters, hence his commitment to funding school security improvements. Addressing mental health is also important for safety, he said, which elicited applause. Again, the details will be revealed Thursday, he said.

The Rome News-Tribune spoke to local education officials about Governor Kemp’s proposal to increase school safety.

At the annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast, newly-elected Gov. Brian Kemp told those attending the Georgia chamber of Commerce event his plan to give every public school in the state $30,000 for school security.

“Our first deal for safety is to get resource officers for each school,” Wilson said for Floyd County Schools. “If it does happen, I promise it will go to good use.”

Byars said how Rome City Schools will use the funds depends entirely on how the state appropriates the money. According to Byars, RCS does receive some money marked for school security already, and the system uses it for upgrades or other security-related items. For example, the schools recently updated their security cameras using their security funds he said. Regardless, Rome City Schools will be looking to continually add to their security next year he said.

Another issue discussed with the two superintendents was the piece of legislature submitted by Sen. John Albers, R-Sandy Springs, which would allow for schools to pull funds from ELOST to be “allocated towards the security of schools, including additional staffing, such as specialized mental health counselors.”

“Some districts need that, but I think there are inherent problems with using those funds for mental health,” said Byars. “I would try to not use ELOST funds for that.”

Gov. Kemp’s budget will include $1 million to develop a state waiver application for Medicaid funding, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp will include $1 million in his budget to develop a waiver that he said would give the state more flexibility to use federal Medicaid dollars, an idea he indicated was promoted by former Health Secretary Tom Price.

The Republican, who has long opposed Medicaid expansion, said on WSB’s The Erick Erickson Show that he would outline the plan Thursday in his State of the State address to take a “first step to start moving the needle” on healthcare.

Kemp quickly brought up Price, who he said “knows about how these processes work to get approvals through the executive branch in D.C. to allow you to do some innovative things.”

“We believe this money we’re looking at funding will give us opportunities to figure those things out,” Kemp told Erickson. “This is absolutely an issue we’ve got to work with the Legislature on, and I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston announced the formation of a new House Working Group on Creative Arts & Entertainment, according to the AJC.

The working group could propose legislation to support the entertainment industry, which includes film, TV, music and video game production.

Those businesses employ about 200,000 Georgians and have a $60 billion annual impact on the state’s economy, Ralston said.

“The House Working Group on Creative Arts & Entertainment will work to encourage the growth of these industries and the creative economy,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, at the state Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues forum. “They will work to ensure Georgia has a workforce ready for the jobs these industries are creating throughout our state.”

Four candidates qualified for a Special Election to House District 176, after State Rep. Jason Shaw was appointed to the Georgia Public Service Commission, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Feb. 12 election is to fill the seat for House District 176 vacated by Jason Shaw. The district is made up of portions of Lowndes, Atkinson, Lanier and Ware counties.

• James Burchett, an attorney from Waycross (Republican);

• Barbara Griffin, a social worker from Waycross (Democrat);

• Franklin Patten, a businessman from Lakeland (Republican);

• Barbara Seidman, a retiree from Waycross (Democrat).

The Gordon County Republican Party hosted Jesse Vaughn and Matt Barton, special runoff election candidates for State House District 5, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Following the results from Election Day on Jan. 8 – where Vaughn finished with 33.72 percent of the votes and Barton received 23.15 percent – a runoff election was set for Feb. 5.

At Thursday’s forum, Barton said he was also in favor of giving teachers raises, keeping taxes low, maintaining religious freedom and against legalizing casino gambling.

“I think (legalizing gambling) is a slippery road and it can increase crime and unwarranted things in the area,” Barton said. “I wouldn’t be in favor of that, at least not at this time.”

Barton views medicinal marijuana in the same light, saying if it’s legalized in the state, it would have to be heavily regulated.

Vaughn is passionate about being pro-life, pro-Georgia and pro-America. The lawyer also said at the forum that he is for religious freedom, for lowering taxes, giving teachers raises and against legalizing casino gambling.

“We need to protect our property owners and our beauty but also help the environment,” Vaughn responded to a question on fracking. “It’s much better to have a thoughtful set of rules in place to say there absolutely can’t be any fracking or have no rules and just let it be the wild west.”

State Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) was sworn into the General Assembly from a hospital room, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton, was unopposed for reelection to a 13th term last year. His district, 33, includes part of Columbia County and all of Lincoln County.

McCall was recovering from open heart surgery at Piedmont Athens, Ga., Regional Hospital when he took his oath Monday after watching Gov. Brian Kemp’s inauguration on an iPad, the hospital said in a statement.

Joined by his wife, Jane, and son Alan, McCall was given the oath by longtime friend and colleague, Northern Circuit Superior Court Judge Chris Phelps.

Former State Senator Michael Williams pled not guilty to charges alleging insurance fraud, according to the Gainesville Times.

His attorney A.J. Richman filed the plea with the Superior Court of Hall County on Jan. 8. Williams turned himself in at the Hall County Jail Dec. 26 and left the jail that afternoon.

In May 2018, Williams, a former state senator from Cumming, reported that about $300,000 worth of cryptocurrency servers were missing from his office on Monroe Drive in Gainesville. He had been using the servers for his business, LPW Investments, and running campaign operations out of a separate part of the building.

On Dec. 18, Williams was charged by a Hall County grand jury with three counts for insurance fraud, false report of a crime and making a false statement.

According to his indictment, he is accused of “claiming that computer servers were stolen from his place of business, when in fact they were not” when filing an insurance claim to The Hartford.

The federal shutdown may affect a Valdosta shelter for domestic violence victims, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Haven, which offers a shelter for domestic violence victims as well as a rape crisis center, may have to cut back services or even close due to the sudden cutoff of federal funding, said Michelle Girtman, executive director.

“We received a letter from our state funders” warning that federal funding was unavailable as of Tuesday, she said. About 80 percent of The Haven’s funds come from the U.S. Department of Justice; the money is filtered from the federal level through state agencies to The Haven, Girtman said.

“Anything we spend from (Jan. 15) onward does not get reimbursed until the shutdown’s over,” she said. “As of right now, we’re OK, but everything depends on expenses.”

The Haven is at full capacity with 30 women right now, Girtman said.

An Augusta union will rally members on Saturday in support of federal employees affected by the shutdown, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

April C. Newkirk was sworn in as a new member of the Bullock County Board of Education, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Coast Guard members stationed in Brunswick missed their first paycheck of the federal shutdown, according to The Brunswick News.

Tonya Elrod will serve as the first female Chief of Police for Tallulah Falls, according to AccessWDUN.

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