Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 23, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 23, 2019

On January 23, 1775, the Georgia Commons House elected three delegates to the Second Continental Congress.

On January 23, 1861, Georgia’s members of the United States House of Representatives resigned following passage of the Secession Ordinance; her Senators had resigned earlier. The next day, the secession convention in Milledgeville elected ten delegates to a conference of Southern states in Montgomery, Alabama.

On January 23, 1923, Georgia ratified the Twentieth Amendment to the US Constitution, which ended Presidential terms on January 20th following an election and those of Congress to January 3d.

On January 23, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon announced that terms had been reached to settle the Vietnam War, a document known as the “Paris Peace Accords.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Clayton City Council approved a temporary alcohol permit for an axe-throwing venue, according to WRBN-FM.

At the last work session of the Clayton City Council, members heard from Wander North Georgia associate Jake Scott who briefed the council on everything axe throwing, a sport that has become quite popular amongst larger cities such as Greenville, South Carolina.

Scott informed the council of his intentions to establish The Admiral LLC, an axe throwing destination that will be established in the basement of current business Wander North Georgia, which is located on Main Street in downtown Clayton.

The council approved permits Tuesday night for the request to sell beer under the [condition] that food will be offered as well as an axe throwing permit.

Who knew there is such a thing as an axe throwing permit?

The Chattanooga Times Free Press covers the drama in the Special Election in Georgia House District 5.

Over lunch at the Taco House in Calhoun, Georgia, Scott Tidwell promised Matt Barton his support.

It was Jan. 9, the day after a special election for the Georgia House District 5 seat. Barton had finished second among six candidates, putting him in a runoff with top vote-getter Jesse Vaughn.

Now it was endorsement time. Tidwell, who finished third in the special election with 21 percent of the vote, grilled Barton on just how conservative he was. So did Larry Massey Jr., who finished fourth. By the end of the meal, Tidwell and Massey agreed to back Barton.

Five days passed. Tidwell posted. He announced his support — for Vaughn.

State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) will run for Congress in the Sixth District, against Democrat Lucy McBath, according to GPB News.

On Friday, the Alpharetta Republican filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, which allows him to start raising money immediately.

Beach, who represents portions of Cherokee and Fulton counties, first took office in 2013. He backed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he is an advocate for helping public transportation to become more effective and efficient, and he believes in keeping taxes low and in promoting economic growth and job creation.

“I am going to concentrate on public education, infrastructure, education and job creation,” Beach said. “We need to empower the state of Georgia to have more autonomy.”

Governor Brian Kemp‘s budget includes more funds to help homebound Georgians, according to Georgia Health News.

The Singhs, who have been in Georgia for more than 40 years, are on a waiting list to receive government services through a home and community waiver. The aid could mean help with bathing, dressing, meals, housekeeping, home health services, or respite for caregivers.

Potential good news for those on the waiting list came last week. Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled a budget proposal for fiscal 2020 that includes an extra $1.8 million for these home and community-based services, which help people remain in their homes instead of moving to nursing homes or other institutions.

The budget boost could translate into services for 1,000 of the 7,000 older Georgians on waiting lists for home and community services, says the Georgia Council on Aging.

“We are so grateful to the governor for his insight and budget recommendation,” Vicki Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, said Thursday in a statement after Kemp’s budget was released. “Not only is this the most cost-efficient way of helping our elderly citizens, but it also allows them to stay in their homes where they prefer to be.”

Georgia State House Democrats are pushing for Medicaid expansion, according to the AJC.

In an eight-page fiscal note delivered to House leaders, the state auditor estimated the net cost of the expansion would be about $150 million in 2020 and range between $188 million and $213 million by 2022.

Democrats seized on the estimates to build a case for expansion. House Minority Leader Bob Trammell called it the “best investment Georgia can make in healthcare spending.”

“Putting an insurance card in the pocket of nearly 500,000 Georgians for a net cost to the state of $150 million in 2020 should be the first priority for this General Assembly,” said Trammell. “The fiscal note shows what 36 other states have already figured out: It’s time to expand Medicaid.”

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan has written an op-ed on school choice, published in the AJC.

[O]ur education system isn’t producing enough qualified students to fill the amount of available high-demand jobs.

According to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, 104 Georgia schools consistently perform in the bottom 5 percent on the Georgia Department of Education’s school report card, known as the College and Career Ready Performance Index. This is unacceptable. In an effort to better educate our students and eliminate the skills gap, we need to allow students — and their parents — the freedom to choose alternative education options that provide them skills essential for successful careers.

This is National School Choice Week, and I know educators, students, parents and policymakers across the nation will be engaged in important conversations that illustrate how school choice can revolutionize our K-12 education system. I firmly believe school choice can have a profound impact on a student’s life – by allowing them the opportunity to attend a public charter school, online academy, homeschool or a private school with a scholarship.

Closing the skills gap will require a multifaceted approach, but school choice should be a large part of the solution.

The Clarke County Board of Education released its legislative wish list, according to WGAU.

CCSD school board members will share the district’s 2019 Legislative Agenda at the town hall:

1.) Fulfill the State’s Promise to Fully Fund Public School Students: Index the state’s formula for funding public schools for inflation and fund student transportation
2.) Eliminate Private School Voucher Programs: End the state’s $100 million tax credit voucher program for private schools
3.) Improve the Quality of Pre-Kindergarten: Fund Pre-K teacher salaries at the same level as K-12 teacher salaries
4.) Promote Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Increase teacher salaries and provide other incentives
5.) Provide Financial Aid to Improve Postsecondary Enrollment and Completion: Fund need-based financial aid for postsecondary students
6.) Foster Liberty and Educational Opportunities for All Americans: Allow immigrant students to attend all institutions in the University System of Georgia and pay in-state tuition

The Coweta County school system posted an online survey on a property tax break for seniors, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Of the 91 comments left on the Coweta County School System’s senior tax exemption website, an overwhelming percentage favored adjusting the current schedule to provide more tax relief for residents ages 65-older. The website, which included tax information, links, contact information and proposed adjustment scenarios, was open for comments from Sept. 12-Oct. 3

However, approximately 13 percent – 11 of the 85 respondents who indicated a preference and were not duplicates – opposed providing or increasing exemptions for older Cowetans.

The Coweta County Board of Education voted 6-1 in October to propose adjusting its current property tax exemption schedule, which was implemented in 2003, to provide an additional $1.8 million in relief for Coweta seniors.

Subsequently, the Coweta County Commission unanimously voted to execute a resolution to forward the proposal to Coweta’s legislative delegation, which will decide whether to introduce local legislation to put it on the ballot for Coweta voters to decide.

The Fulton County Development Authority approved nearly $100 million in tax abatements, according to the Saporta Report.

State Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) spoke highly of State School Superintendent Richard Woods’s budget proposals, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Superintendent Richard Woods said he wants to expand a program that connects kids in need with assistance such as mental health services, job opportunities, supplemental food and clothing. It’s one of the priorities he presented Tuesday during joint House and Senate budget hearings.

“When you have a child who cannot learn because of so much else going on with their life, it’s hard to process,” Dempsey said. ““But it’s real and it’s growing.”

Expanding wrap-around services is another worthy goal, she said.

“A student existing … hiding issues, just trying to survive, can easily give up,” Dempsey said.

But she also said that successful programs should be community partnerships that go beyond a RESA and school system. She held up as a model the Marietta City Schools’ Student Life Center and encouraged state and local educators tour the facility for ideas.

The Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce has endorsed passage of the March transit referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett Chamber President and CEO Dan Kaufman announced the organization’s support passage of the referendum during the On Topic luncheon at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast in Peachtree Corners on Tuesday. Kaufman said the chamber’s board approved a resolution last week to back the referendum.

“Your chamber is going to be four-square behind getting people to turn out and approve the transit resolution,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman said the chamber sees joining MARTA is “the key to our future.” The resolution points to economic development benefits to the county being part of a regional transit system that provides transportation options to locations inside and outside Gwinnett.

“(Continued) success in the retention and creation of jobs in Gwinnett County is dependent upon the ability of businesses to access talented, skilled employees, and … sustained and adequate funding for the creation of a regionally connected transit system is key to the ability of Gwinnett County to provide all residents and businesses of the county with the mobility and transportation services needed to sustain a vibrant and growing community,” the resolution states.

Atlanta Regional Commission Chair Kerry Armstrong said that rising rental prices threaten economic development, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“We have a crisis looming with workforce housing and people being able to live near where they work,” Armstrong said. “If they don’t, then they’ve got to travel to be able to get to and from work and that exacerbates all of our (transportation) problems.”

A graphic that Armstrong showed during his presentation illustrated his concerns about rising living costs versus salary increases. Between 2011 and 2016, the average rent price in metro Atlanta rose by 48 percent while wage earnings for that same period increased by only 10 percent.

With transportation costs included with housing costs, metro Atlanta is one of the most expensive places in America to live, according to Armstrong.

“North of 60 percent of a household’s wages is consumed by housing and transportation,” he said. “That boat won’t float for very much longer.”

The ARC board chairman said the group is going to make an effort to address the issue in partnership with groups around the region, but high rent costs is something that local leaders in Gwinnett have raised concerns about in the past.

The Muscogee County Board of Education elected a new chair and vice-chair, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

During its monthly meeting Tuesday night, the board unanimously elected District 1 representative Pat Hugley Green as chairwoman and District 5 representative Laurie McRae as vice chairwoman.

Lula City Council raised the qualifying fee for city council elections from $35 to $100, according to AccessWDUN.

The Glynn County Commission Finance Committee recommended raising the juvenile court’s budget to cover outside lawyers’ fees, according to The Brunswick News.

In a memo to the county commission, Juvenile Court Judge George Rountree explained that an increase in pay for court-appointed attorneys and a high number of complex, problematic and lengthy cases led the court to project legal fees will run $137,743 over its $207,016 budget.

Until July, court-appointed attorneys handling cases in juvenile court made $60 an hour or in-court work and $45 an hour for out-of-court work. It was around that time that Rountree learned the going rate for family law attorneys was around $250 to $300 an hour.

To retain attorneys, Rountree raised the attorney pay in July to $100 an hour for both in-court and out-of-court work.

New Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish took the oath of office yesterday, according to the Gainesville Times.

Harris Blackwood has completed his term as Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, according to the Gainesville Times.

Four Henry County municipalities will elect council members this year, according to the Henry Herald.

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