Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 6, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 6, 2019

The House of Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body, held its second meeting after statehood on February 6, 1788 in Savannah.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. In 1980, Reagan would be elected President of the United States, beating incumbent Jimmy Carter. When he was born, his father said, “he looks like a fat little Dutchman.  But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.”

On February 6, 1952, Governor Herman Talmadge signed resolutions of the General Assembly that included:

A resolution calling on Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and instead allow a maximum rate of 25 percent on any federal income, transfer, gift, or inheritance tax.

A resolution urging U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell to run for the presidency.

On February 6, 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of  the Georgia General Assembly, asking their support for House Resolution 1185, which introduced the idea of “interposition,” in which the State of Georgia would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 and 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decisions “null and void” in Georgia. That day Griffin also signed a raft of legislation for his “massive resistance” agenda against integration of state schools.

On February 6, 1985, Reagan gave the State of the Union. During the speech he announced what would be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome

7:30 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEES 341 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 506 CLOB

9:30 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

12:00 PM SENATE RULES- UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES MEZZ 1

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – CANCELED MEZZ 1

1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION 606 CLOB

2:00 PM JOINT TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION AND YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE BUDGET & FISCAL OVERSIGHT 506 CLOB

2:30 PM HOUSE JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM 125 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE CREATIVE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT WORKING GROUP 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT MEZZ 1

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY – Subcommittee A 307 CLOB

4:30 PM SENATE JUDICIARY – Subcommittee B 307 CLOB

Republican Matt Barton won the Special Runoff Election in State House District 5, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Matt Barton, a Republican and former member of the Calhoun City Council and the Calhoun Board of Education, won a special election runoff on Tuesday for state House of Representatives District 5. District 5 covers one precinct in Murray County (the Southwest precinct) and 10 precincts in central and western Gordon County.

Barton received 1,712 votes (55.03 percent) to Jesse Vaughn’s 1,399 votes (44.97 percent).

Vaughn, a Republican and an attorney with Vaughn & Clements P.C. in Calhoun, had the most votes (33.72 percent) in a January special election for the seat among six candidates, but since he did not receive more than 50 percent of the vote, he and Barton, who came in second (23.15 percent), went to a runoff.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Barton received more votes than Vaughn in 10 of 11 precincts.

He also more than doubled his vote total after a Jan. 8 special election, when he received 812 votes in a six-candidate race. That effort was good enough to put him in second place, landing him in the runoff with Vaughn.

Barton said he wasn’t sure if any particular issues separated him from Vaughn, who finished first in the Jan. 8 runoff but only picked up 201 more votes this time around, in a field with four fewer opponents. He only won one precinct: Calhoun City, where he beat Barton, 564-561.

Compared to the Jan. 8 election, Barton gained votes in all 11 precincts. According to the Secretary of State’s website, his biggest gain came in the Calhoun City Precinct, where he picked up 209 votes more than he did a month ago. His other significant areas of improvement? The Gordon County Precinct, where he added 158 votes. And the Sonoraville Precinct, where he added 141 votes.

Overall, both candidates accurately predicted a low turnout in the race, given the unusual time for the election. Only 3,114 people cast ballots in this election, about 10 percent of eligible voters.

Overall, Vaughn raised $60,000 — three times what Barton received.

Chris Erwin (R-Homer) showed up to represent House District 28 despite having his election to the seat overturned, according to GPB News.

 “I was elected by the people in my district and sworn in here on the 15th of January,” he said this morning. “Obviously we’ve been through a court case, but the judge has to go through the process and the people need representation and I’m here to see if I can do my best to represent the people here in my district.”

In last spring’s primary, with no Democrats in the field, the race between the two republicans ended with Erwin winning by 67 votes. Gasaway sued to void the election and a judge granted a special election in December.

This time, Gasaway lost that election by two votes and once again asked the court to look into claims of illegal voting. Late last week, after a four-day trial, a Superior Court judge threw out the results of the Dec. 4 election.

Erwin said he showed up to work at the Capitol today because he had not received a signed order from the judge assigning a new election.

Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler visits Georgia today, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In addition to the State of the Union, Wheeler is scheduled to discuss the EPA’s new proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, nutrient policy and ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton will speak at the Albany King Day Celebration on February 18, 2019, according to the Albany Herald.

“We’ve had governors, congressmen and high-ranking judges speak at our annual celebration,” King Day Celebration Committee Chairman Ken Hodges, who recently began his term as an elected judge on the state Court of Appeals, said. “I’ll never forget sitting at the head table with (former Georgia Governor) Roy Barnes and all the 1,000 or so seats on the (Albany) Civic Center floor were filled and people were sitting up in the seats surrounding the floor.

“Gov. Barnes leaned over and whispered to me, ‘Ken, this is better than Atlanta.’”

Melton, who was appointed to the state Supreme Court by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue on July 1, 2005, received his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and his juris doctor degree from the University of Georgia. Before being named to the state high court, he served as executive [counsel] to Perdue.

The FBI announced 169 arrests in connection with human trafficking during the period leading up to the Super Bowl, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The operation, which was coordinated by the Violent Crimes Against Children/Human Trafficking Program and the Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force (MATCH), involved more than 25 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and District Attorney’s Offices, along with seven non-government organizations.

The goal of the Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 campaign was to “raise awareness about sex trafficking by proactively addressing that threat during the Super Bowl and events leading up to the Super Bowl,” the FBI said in a news release.

“Sex trafficking is not just a problem during large scale events,” the agency said. “It is a 365-day-a-year problem in communities all across the country.”

In addition to the 169 arrests, nine juvenile sex trafficking victims were recovered, the youngest of whom was 14 years old, while nine adult human trafficking victims were also identified.

First Lieutenant Andrea Lewis will fly an E-8 JSTARS airplace as the first African-American female pilot in the Georgia Air National Guard, according to WGXA.

Lewis was accepted to the Georgia ANG, 116th ACW, in 2014 and hired to be a pilot for the E-8C Joint STARS aircraft. She attended Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama in 2015 before beginning Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Oklahoma.

“When hiring Lt. Lewis, I saw her tenacity and a drive to accomplish her goal,” said Col. Ato Crumbly, commander of the 116th Air Control Wing. “She has already made a tremendous impact in our unit and there is no question she will continue to be successful.”

Lewis graduated from pilot training on April 7, 2017 — officially becoming the first black female pilot in the Georgia ANG.

“It is my dream job, one I hoped for and set my sights to accomplish,” she. “When I got my wings I couldn’t believe it finally was happening, I said to my mom, ‘I finally made it!’”

The Gwinnett County Commission approved a 2040 unified development plan, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said the new plan does not mark a major shift away from the direction outlined a decade ago for the 2030 Unified Development Plan that it is replacing.

“It’s the next iteration (of development planning), not that there’s a total difference between 2030 and 2040,” Nash said. “It’s just that we’re 10 years down the road. We’ve got a better understanding of where it looks like some of the areas of the county are headed and what makes sense.”

The plan anticipates Gwinnett’s population to increase by as much as about 639,740 residents over the next two decades with as many as 1.56 million people projected to call the county home in 2040.

Macon may impose a higher property tax rate on blighted properties, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The higher property tax — seven times the current millage rate — is being proposed as a way to get owners to remove or remodel dilapidated buildings. Macon’s blight tax would be a step toward addressing a county-wide problem, Commissioner Joe Allen said.

The tax would be charged to the “worst of the worst” unoccupied residential and commercial properties, he said.

The blight tax is scheduled to be discussed by the County Commission on Feb. 12.

Currently, Macon-Bibb has about 1,566 structures categorized as being in poor condition or suggested for demolition, according to figures from the Macon-Bibb blight consultant Cass Hatcher.

Based on the current 20.652 millage rate, the blight tax would result in that property being taxed at $144 per every $1,000 in assessed value.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville had its new residency progam accredited, according to the Gainesville Times.

This is the medical center’s third program to receive a signoff from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Last January, the Internal Medicine and General Surgery programs were added.

“We are excited to add Family Medicine residencies to our program and proud to continue developing a GME program that is hardwired for excellence,” John Delzell, MD, vice president of medical education for Northeast Georgia Health System and Designated Institutional Official for NGMC, said in a press release. “We look forward to training future generations of physicians and retaining the best and brightest to care for our community.”

The medical center intends to add three more areas of study to its Graduate Medical Education program, including OB/GYN, psychiatry and emergency medicine.

The health care industry is the leading employer in Hall County, with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center alone employing 7,900 workers in 2017.

“This accreditation comes after months of hard work from our entire team,” said Monica Newton, DO, Family Medicine program director. “Currently, only 25 percent of graduates of Georgia medical schools stay here to practice. We are now closer to our goal of changing the course of health care for our region, state and country by producing exceptionally trained family physicians and keeping them close to home to relieve the physician shortage.”

The Augusta Commission reversed an earlier decision that allowed heirs to retain strip club permits, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With stunning swiftness and surprising unity, the Augusta Commission acknowledged public outcry and voted Tuesday to deny allowing the transfer of strip club permits and struck down hefty raises for Juvenile Court personnel.

A week after two commission committees unanimously approved both items, the commission voted unanimously against allowing an adult club license to become a part of the owner’s estate and then be passed on to an heir. The issue had come to the fore recently because the last two adult dance clubs in downtown Augusta are owned by the same person, James “Whitey” Lester, who was erroneously reported to have died.

His clubs were among those grandfathered in when the commission changed the adult entertainment ordinance to only allow those businesses in industrial areas and forbid them from serving alcohol. The permits cannot be sold, so as other owners of strip clubs downtown have died or the businesses have closed, Lester’s were the only ones remaining. Tuesday’s vote could mean those will close as well when he is gone.

The Rome Floyd Parks and Recreation Department has suspended two employees, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce is searching for a new CEO, in case you’re looking for your next job.

Three seats on the Gainesville Board of Education will be elected this year, according to AccessWDUN.

As part of the city of Gainesville, the school system follows the city’s direction when it comes to qualifying fees, and this year the fees are up for the three seats up for re-election.

“Every two years, we have seats that come up for election, so this November we will have three seats that will roll over starting in January,” said Williams. “So three of our seats as they come up, the qualifying fee to run is approved and set by the city, and then we just follow suit to go along with the fees the city sets.”

The seats up for re-election are District 2, held currently by John Filson; District 3, held currently by Willie Mitchell; and District 5, held currently by Sammy Smith.

Before any election or re-election though, the board will take part in a self-assessment. Williams said the goal is to have the board identify weak and strong areas so they can function better as a group, even though they vote separately.

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