Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2019

5
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2019

John and Charles Wesley arrived at Tybee Roads, at the mouth of the Savannah River on February 5, 1736, along with James Oglethorpe and 254 other colonists.

On February 5, 1777, Georgia’s first Constitution was adopted in Savannah, creating the first eight counties. Happy birthday to Wilkes, Richmond, Burke, Effingham, Chatham, Liberty, Glynn, and Camden counties.

The 1777 Constitution was progressive for the time, outlawing primogeniture and entail, English common law doctrines that controlled inheritance of land.

Primogeniture ensured that the eldest son in a family inherited the largest portion of his father’s property upon the father’s death. The practice of entail, guaranteeing that a landed estate remain in the hands of only one male heir, was frequently practiced in conjunction with primogeniture. (Virginia abolished entail in 1776, but permitted primogeniture to persist until 1785.)

Georgians restructured inheritance laws in Article LI of the state’s constitution by abolishing entail in all forms and proclaiming that any person who died without a will would have his or her estate divided equally among their children; the widow shall have a child’s share, or her dower at her option.

The Southern Pacific Railroad completed its “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California on February 5, 1883, giving the SP a dominant position in transcontinental railroading.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his “court packing” plan on February 5, 1937. After the United States Supreme Court found some of his “New Deal” legislation unconstitutional, Roosevelt’s proposal would have encouraged the retirement of justices older than 70 and for those who did not retire, appoint an assistant Justice with full voting rights on decisions by the Court.

On February 5, 1945, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation abolishing the poll tax, making Georgia the first Southern state to do so.

Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war.

In 1937, the U.S. Supreme court upheld Georgia’s poll tax as constitutional. But in 1942, Georgia voters chose Ellis Arnall for governor and the progressive Arnall ushered in a wave of reforms, including abolishing Georgia’s poll tax.

Nigel Tufnel, of the band Spinal Tap, was born on February 5, 1948.

On February 5, 1974, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” by Barry White reached #1 on the charts.

Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” began a 92-week run on the best-seller charts on February 5, 1983. Rock on.

A Warner Robins veteran who fought at the Battle of the Bulge will speak about his experiences during WWII on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Two events this week will discuss public library desegregation in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“As in other efforts to integrate civic institutions in the 1950s and 1960s, the determination of local activists won the battle against segregation in libraries,” says the news release from the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries. “In particular, the willingness of young African American community members to take part in organized protests and direct actions ensured that local libraries would become genuinely free to all citizens.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome

8:00 AM HOUSE JUDICARY (NON-CIVIL) 132 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 8) House Chamber

12:00 PM SENATE RULES- UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS TRAINING 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE JOINT EDUCATION & YOUTH 406 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS – CANCELED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE EDUCATION 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 515 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 415 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES – CANCELED 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM Kelley Subcommittee of the House Judiciary (Civil) 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS 415 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE GAME, FISH AND PARKS 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS – Cancelled 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM Welch Subcommittee of the House Judiciary 132 CAP

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s “Operation Interception” arrested 21 people for sex trafficking related allegations, according to the Albany Herald.

As a result of a proactive undercover investigation coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit, Brookhaven Police Department, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, and United States Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, 21 people were arrested over a five-day period beginning Jan. 30.

Those arrested were charged with O.C.G.A. 16-12-100.2, Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007 and/or O.C.G.A 16-5-46, Trafficking of Persons for Labor or Sexual Servitude. Additional charges and arrests may be forthcoming.

“Operation Interception” was centered in Brookhaven in DeKalb County. The operation took several months of planning. Most of the arrestees, ranging in age from 20 to 55, traveled from areas around metropolitan Atlanta with the intent to meet a child for sex. Multiple people were arrested who were in possession of suspected illegal drugs. Twenty-four digital devices were seized as evidence and processed during the operation.

Brookhaven Police offered a strong warning to would-be child predators. “Our message is simple: If you think you’re coming to Brookhaven to meet a child for sex, you’re likely to find us instead. This behavior will never be tolerated here.”

“The Brookhaven Police Department is one of our most active member agencies,” GBI Special Agent in Charge, and commander of the Georgia ICAC Task Force, Debbie Garner, said in a GBI press release. “We appreciate their daily efforts to combat child exploitation. This type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them. This successful operation was a true partnership between all the agencies involved. We will continue to aggressively work together to protect our children.”

Murray and Gordon County voters go to the polls tomorrow in a Special Runoff Election for House District 5, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

District 5 covers one precinct in Murray County (the Southwest precinct) and 10 precincts in central and western Gordon County.

Calhoun attorney Jesse Vaughn had the most votes in a January special election for the seat, but since he did not receive more than 50 percent of the vote, he and businessman Matt Barton, who came in second, face off in the runoff. Whoever is elected will get a late start as the legislative session began Jan. 14.

The death of John Meadows, a Republican who represented District 5 for 14 years, on Nov. 13, 2018, made the special election necessary.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The special election runoff is between Matt Barton, a courtier business owner and former Calhoun city councilman, and attorney Jesse Vaughn. Vaughn has tripled Barton’s fundraising in this competition and has the backing of Speaker of the House David Ralston and Meadows’ family. Both now Republicans, Barton has attacked Vaughn for his previous support for the Democratic party, including an unsuccessful run as a liberal candidate in a 2002 state house race.

Polls in Gordon and Murray counties will open at 7 a.m. In Murray County, the only voters who can cast ballots are those zoned for the Southwest Precinct at County Fire State No. 5, located at 6620 Highway 225 S.

In Gordon County, polls are open at all precincts except at the Oakman and Fairmount precincts.

After the race, Barton earned the endorsement of Larry Massey Jr., a former Gordon County Board of Education member who finished fourth in the Jan. 8 election. Vaughn, meanwhile, picked up the endorsement of the Georgia Right to Life PAC.

The Zell Miller Foundation will present the Zell Miller Award for Distinguished Public Service to former Governor Nathan Deal, according to the Albany Herald.

“Governor Deal has embodied true leadership throughout his entire public service career, from his time in the United States Army to most recently serving as Georgia’s 82nd governor,” Bryan Miller, Zell Miller’s grandson and the foundation’s executive chairman and founder, said. “The foundation is very proud to honor Gov. Deal’s service to our great state with this award.”

The celebration is set for Feb. 23 at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta. Previous recipients of the Zell Miller Award for Distinguished Public Service include Hank Huckaby, former chancellor of the University System of Georgia, and David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The Associated Press looks at legislation introduced in the Georgia General Assembly.

A closely watched House bill that would allow Georgia gun owners to open or concealed carry any legally-owned firearm without a permit moved from pre-filed status and was officially introduced Wednesday. While the bill is authored by a Republican, GOP leaders in the House have opposed the measure, so its prospects of moving forward are unclear.

A bill introduced by House Democrats would make it a felony punishable by five years in prison to print of produce a 3D printed gun. Another bill, introduced by House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, aims to repeal the state’s 2017 campus carry law, which opened parts of public universities to permit holders that wish to carry a concealed gun.

A bill that would make Georgia the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment had life injected into it Wednesday when it gained several Republican co-signers in the Senate.

Republican State Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford said the 2018 election, which saw high levels of women participate and run, made it harder for her colleagues to oppose the ERA.

I’d note that the ERA languished unratified for decades while Georgia was under Democratic Party control.

The Brunswick News writes about legislation by State Rep. Jeff Jones (R-SSI).

State Rep. Jeff Jones — joined by fellow St. Simons Republican Rep. Don Hogan and a bipartisan group of sponsors — made official this year’s effort at getting two coal ash disposal bills through the General Assembly by filing H.B. 93 and H.B. 94 on Jan. 29. They received first reading Wednesday.

At the end of the last session, Jones told a group of local Republican women, “Prior to the beginning of the session in 2019, I intend to have all the objections worked out with all of those who are in the solid waste industry, so when we come into the 2019 session, pretty much all those objections will be worked out.”

The New York Times fawns over writes about former State Rep. Stacey Abrams ahead of her Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union tonight.

Stacey Abrams’s defeat in the Georgia governor’s race was only a few weeks old when she arrived in New York in December to meet with campaign donors and political allies. At a reception in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, a supporter asked her what she would do next.

Ms. Abrams, attendees recalled, said she was undecided, except on one point: She was determined to seek high office again.

Ms. Abrams’s planned rebuttal to Mr. Trump is only one element of the role she is positioned to play in national politics: Democratic Party leaders are already imploring her to put her name back on the ballot, this time as a challenger to Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican who is loyally aligned with Mr. Trump. Democrats believe that by challenging Mr. Perdue in 2020, Ms. Abrams could help break the Republican Party’s near-monopoly on Southern power in the Senate, and perhaps help make Georgia competitive in the presidential race.

Former Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican who sought the Senate seat in 2014 but lost in the primary, said he saw Mr. Perdue as a strong bet for re-election. In a Senate race, Mr. Kingston said, Ms. Abrams would be up against the leftward tilt of her own party: He predicted Republicans would tie her to figures like Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, three of the liberal women of color who electrified Democrats in the midterms, and who positioned themselves well to Ms. Abrams’s left.

“Georgia is still a conservative, center-right state,” Mr. Kingston said, adding of Ms. Abrams’s last race: “She had a really, really strong anti-Trump wave and she had a good organization with lots of outside money. But that’s not going to happen again.”

The Valdosta Daily Times spoke to local residents about tonight’s State of the Union address.

[Gary]Wisenbaker, a Republican, was part of Trump’s Georgia campaign staff. He believes the president will almost certainly talk about the border wall.

He hopes the president will talk about the economy, which Wisenbaker feels the “mainstream media” hasn’t given Trump enough credit.

“He has a strong base in the economy, in jobs creation,” he said.

“The Democrats have no agenda other than stop Trump,” Wisenbaker said. “They want to promote Stacey Abrams” for a potential Senate election against incumbent Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., in 2020, he said.

United States Senator David Perdue (R) joined a bipartisan group of legislators requesting an audit of Department of Defense spending, according to the Albany Herald.

“We commend Mr. (David) Norquist and the Department of Defense for finishing its first-ever complete audit required by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990. This was a critical first step to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Pentagon; however, more progress must be made to reach a clean opinion,” the senators wrote. “It is important to note that the benefits of the audit go beyond good stewardship of the taxpayer dollar. Not only will it improve business operations, but also it can enhance national security by ensuring accuracy in inventory and by identifying vulnerabilities in our cybersecurity.

“Ultimately, because only five of the 24 individual audits conducted received a passing grade, it is imperative that subsequent, annual audits continue as planned to properly measure progress.”

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will host Art Gallegos Jr. at tonight’s State of the Union, according to the Gainseville Times.

Art Gallegos Jr. is the co-founder of the Latinos Conservative Organization, a local group that works with community members, elected officials and pastors to raise awareness about political and economic issues. He was born and raised in San Diego and moved to Georgia in 1998.

Gallegos said the local Latino community is concerned with topics like education and the economy, and like many, they want to see politicians on both sides of the aisle work together to find solutions.

“Believe me when I tell you they’re very concerned. They’re concerned with border security. They’re concerned with family members,” Gallegos said. “They’re also concerned with having a status and having Congress set concrete reform on immigration.”

“It’s time for people to come to the table on both sides, and that’s what I’d like to see,” he said. “… At the end of the day, I think that by President Trump sending all this to Congress and putting it on their side of the court, saying let’s fix this. … That has been affecting people in the past, it’s affecting people now, it will affect our future.”

The Georgia State Senate is not the only state legislative chamber to revise its sexual harrassment policies, according to the Statesboro Herald.

An AP review last August found that about half of the 99 state legislative chambers had updated their own sexual harassment policies since the #MeToo movement began (Nebraska has just a single legislative chamber). The most common response was to boost their own training about sexual harassment, typically by making it mandatory or providing it more frequently. Only a few legislatures passed measures that apply to private-sector workers.

As one of his first acts in office, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, issued an executive order that strengthened the sexual harassment reporting processes and mandated training for executive branch employees.

But that same day, the Republican-led Georgia Senate changed its rules to make it harder to bring some sexual harassment complaints. The new rules require misconduct complaints against senators and staff to be made within two years of the incident, raise the burden of proof for investigations to go forward from “reasonable grounds” to “substantial credible evidence,” require accusers to keep complaints confidential and allow penalties against those who publicize complaints or make frivolous claims.

Congressman Jody Hice (R-Monroe) will host a telephone town hall tonight at 6 PM, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Gainesville Times looks at local jurisdictions where voters opted to allow earlier “Brunch Bill” alcohol service on Sundays.

Thanks to the Gainesville City Council, which voted in favor of this new alcohol ordinance in January, restaurants can sell alcohol at 11 a.m., instead of the previous rule of 12:30 p.m.

Around 70 percent of voters in Gainesville had approved the measure in November.

Voters in Hall County, Flowery Branch and Oakwood also voted in favor of earlier Sunday sales. Lula and Clermont did not put the item up for a vote, meaning the sales will not be allowed within those city limits.

Savannah City Council is considering whether to do something with a confederate memorial, according to the Savannah Morning News.

It’s been almost a year since the Savannah City Council unanimously approved changes to the Confederate Memorial in Forsyth Park that included relocating the bronze busts of two Confederate leaders to the Laurel Grove Cemetery, where their remains are buried.

But the busts of Lafayette McLaws and Francis Bartow remain mounted on stone pillars on the north and south sides of the memorial, which features a 48-foot-tall monument in the center with a bronze confederate soldier standing on top.

The city-created task force that had recommended the removal of the busts had also recommended adding a plaque that rededicates the memorial to all the dead of the Civil War. No such plaque has been added since the council approved the plan on Feb. 14, 2018.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said last week that it is now his understanding they may need support from state lawmakers to make the changes and he does not believe such support is likely at this time.

The Chatham Emergency Management Agency will conduct an emergency simulation on March 26, 2019, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Augusta Chronicle will host a Facebook Live interview with Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree today and citizens may submit questions for the interview.

Glynn County Commissioners will consider resurfacing Frederica Road on St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Johnson delivered her State of the City address yesterday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Lawrenceville City Council appointed former Downtown Development Authority member Victoria Jones to a vacant council seat, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Valdosta was named a “Live, Work, Play” city by the Georgia Municipal Association, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Cleveland Lee Spruill has taken office as the new Sheriff for Athens-Clark County, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“After being appointed … chief I attended roll calls and meetings with command staff and administrative units over a two-day period to introduce myself, share my vision for the department and to hear staff’s thoughts,” Spruill said.

On his first day as head of an agency with more than 300 sworn and civilian positions, Spruill said he had seen enough of Athens to form positive initial impressions.

“It is a very nice urban community that is benefiting from significant growth and economic development, and from the presence of a major university within its borders,” Spruill said. “It is a good place to live, learn, work and to do business.

“However, like most other police departments serving in a modern urban environment, ACCPD faces challenges related to reducing crime, improving the relationship and trust between the community and police department, addressing traffic and pedestrian safety issues, and hiring and retaining quality police employees in a highly competitive workforce environment,” he said. “These are some of the areas that my focus and attention will be on as I assume the role as Athens-Clarke County police chief.”

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