Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 8, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 8, 2019

On February 8, 1751, the first session of the Georgia Provincial Parliament adjourned, having convened on January 15, 1751.

On February 10, 1787, the Georgia House of Assembly named William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houstoun, and Nathaniel Pendleton to the Constitutional Convention called to revise the Articles of Confederation at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

On February 9, 1825, the United States House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as President of the United States, despite his having received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. Congress voted for the President after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the 1824 election.

The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House.

Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected. Clay and Adams were both members of a loose coalition in Congress that by 1828 became known as the National Republicans, while Jackson’s supporters were later organized into the Democratic Party.

Alexander Stephens was elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861. On February 10, 1861, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi received word that he was chosen as President of the Confederate States of America.

On February 9, 1926, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to prohibit teaching evolution in the Atlanta Public Schools.

On February 8, 1955, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the General Assembly calling on Congress to require racial segregation in the military.

On February 8, 1956, the Georgia State House adopted a resolution purporting to hold the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education null and void.

On February 9, 1964, the Beatles debuted in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

On February 10, 1964, the United States House of Representatives voted 290-130 for passage of the Civil Rights Act.

On February 10, 1972, David Bowie made his first appearance as Ziggy Stardust.

On February 10, 2015, on the anniversary of the United States House of Representatives passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation proclaiming February as Black History Month.

On February 8, 1981, R.E.M. held their first recording session at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, recording “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” as well as others.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

9:30 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 11) House Chamber

11:30 AM HOUSE Academic Achievement Subcommittee of Education 417 CAP

12:00 PM SENATE RULES- UPON ADJOURNMENT

1:00 PM SENATE REAPPORTIONMENT AND REDISTRICTING COMMITTEE 307 CLOB

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) announced yesterday that he will not run for reelection in 2020.

“Serving Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in Congress has been one of the greatest honors of my life, with each term being an amazing opportunity to serve and to make a difference. Running for the first time in 2010 marked a new chapter in my life. I have realized over this past year of change—both in politics and in my family—that the time has come for me to pass the baton and move to the next chapter, and so I have decided not to seek reelection in 2020. I make this announcement as early as possible to ensure that quality conservative candidates have time to prepare for a vigorous campaign in 2020.”

“I can’t express in words how thankful I am to each person who has been at my side through these years and remained my partner through both the successes and the adversity. Together, we have made a difference–a difference in the individual lives of families facing challenges here at home and a difference in the halls of Congress. None of this would have been possible without you, and I will always be grateful to you.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Supporters of Shane Hazel, a former Marine and Brookwood graduate who challenged Woodall for the Republican nomination last year, urged him to run again on Facebook, but he has not publicly given an indication if he will run again.

The 7th Congressional District GOP said its chairman, Joel Natt, has already started putting out feelers to local Republicans about running. The party said state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, told Natt she would look at forming an exploratory committee to examine a possible run.

Other names that the 7th District GOP said are being thrown around as possible candidates include former state Sen. David Shafer, former state Reps. Buzz Brockway and Scott Hilton and U.S. Attorney BJay Pak.

“We look forward to a successful transition in 2020 for conservative values, and wish our friend, Rob Woodall, a great and fulfilling future,” Natt said in a statement.

Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams said she believed Woodall “is calling it quits because he sees the writing on the wall” and set the stage for what will likely be a big play for the seat by the party next year.

“The 7th District is a microcosm of the new Georgia as a whole,” Williams said. “Make no mistake: We are the hottest battleground state in 2020 up and down the ballot, and Republicans are running scared. They should be.”

Governor Brian Kemp appointed a new Judicial Nominating Commission.

From the Tribune Ledger News:

Canton’s Shannon Wallace, district attorney for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, was appointed one of three co-chairs of the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission on Thursday by Gov. Brian Kemp.

“As governor, I am honored to appoint this impressive coalition of attorneys to the Judicial Nominating Commission. Together, we will work tirelessly to ensure that members of the state’s judiciary branch represent our values and serve with integrity and humility,”  Kemp said. “I thank each of these distinguished individuals for accepting this call to service on behalf of hardworking Georgians across our state.”

Wallace joins two Atlanta attorneys, Mark Middleton and Vincent Russo as co-chairs of the JNC.

From Yahoo News:

Mark Middleton of Atlanta, of counsel, Gilbert, Harrell, Sumerford & Martin.

Vincent Russo of Atlanta, partner, The Robbins Firm.

Shannon Wallace of Canton, district attorney, Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit.

The members are:

Neera Bahl of Atlanta, managing partner, One Path Legal.

Beth Beskin of Atlanta, Elizabeth A. Beskin P.C.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Michael Boggs, whose hometown is Waycross.

Derek Bottoms of Atlanta, vice president for employment practices at The Home Depot. He also is the husband of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Lance Cooper of Marietta, founder of The Cooper Firm. Cooper is well-known nationally as the lawyer whose product liability case caused General Motors to recall millions of cars with an ignition switch defect.

Meg Heap of Savannah, Chatham County district attorney, Eastern Judicial Circuit.

Robert Highsmith of Atlanta, partner, Holland & Knight. Highsmith has served on the JNC since 2006 under both Govs. Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue, now U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Drew Hill of Athens, shareholder, Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley.

Anne Kaufold-Wiggins of Vidalia, a partner at Balch & Bingham.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn LaGrua. She also presides over a felony accountability court and was short-listed last year for appellate appointments.

Anh Le of Decatur, director of operations and business development, King Commercial Properties Inc.

Quentin Marlin of Savannah, partner, Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams.

John Mroczko of Cartersville, John T. Mroczko P.C.

Brooke Newby of Perry, managing partner, Walker Hulbert Gray & Moore.

Natalie Paine of Augusta, district attorney, Augusta Judicial Circuit.

Darrell Sutton of Marietta, founding partner, Sutton Law Group, and president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia.

Mack Taylor of Evans, Mack Taylor Law.

Trey Taylor of Dublin, Taylor Law LLC.

Ryan Teague of Atlanta, attorney, The Robbins Firm. Teague served the last two governors as executive counsel to Deal and deputy executive counsel to Perdue.

Frank Turner Jr. of Covington, partner, Greer, Stansfield & Turner.

Josh Waters of Perry, associate, Walker Hulbert Gray & Moore.

Kathleen Wilkinson of Atlanta, associate, Hall Booth Smith.

Governor Kemp’s administration will seek two Medicaid waivers, according to the AJC.

His administration told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that it will back a measure that seeks two separate federal “waivers” to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to tailor new programs to Georgia’s needs.

Kemp plans to build support for the measure with a listening tour and a social media blitz after it’s introduced next week.

The ACA waiver, which he outlined on the campaign trail, aims to stop premiums on the health insurance exchange market from rising so fast. A second push, which emerged after his election, would raise the possibility of a partial expansion of Medicaid to some of Georgia’s poorest residents.

“To ensure a bright and healthy future for hardworking Georgians, we must increase access to quality, affordable health care,” Kemp said. “By rejecting the status quo and embracing innovative solutions, we can put the needs of patients first.”

Kemp’s aides maintain that he won’t support outright Medicaid expansion, which he opposed on the campaign trail. But they also said he’ll direct a consultant to devise several options, including some that could allow a more limited expansion of the program.

Gov. Kemp attended a quail hunt in Albany, according to the Albany Herald.

The 31st annual Georgia Quail Hunt kicked off at Wynfield Plantation in Albany on Wednesday night with a visit from Gov. Brian Kemp.

The annual hunt is hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the state chamber, Georgia Allies, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia. It brings statewide leaders together with guests whose companies or clients are thinking of moving or expanding to Georgia.

“It’s a great economic development tool for this part of the state,” Kemp said. “(I’m) very excited about the folks that we have with us on this trip. We got existing industry, prospects and folks that are doing site selection. It’s going to be a good opportunity for me to tell them about the great things that we’re doing in Georgia, and the great opportunities that we have in south and southwest Georgia.”

Chris Clark, president and CEO of the state chamber, discussed his hope for the growth and development of southwest Georgia.

“Our hope is really to raise the profile of southwest Georgia to be able to tell that story, to create jobs, to help small businesses grow down here,” Clark said. “That’s why we love working with Gov. Kemp (because of) his focus on small business, his focus on rural Georgia. It’s a great fit, and we’re starting to see some activity and some movement.”

State Senators have introduced Senate Bill 74 to reform the state’s Certificate of Need program, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The certificate-of-need program, commonly referred to as just CON, has been used in Georgia for decades as a way to try to measure the need for health care services while guaranteeing access to those services and controlling costs.

But critics say the program has turned hospitals into monopolies, squashing the free market forces that would encourage competition and help drive down prices for patients.

“I think the electorate sent all of us a message: Do something about health care and do it now,” said Sen. Matt Brass, a Republican from Newnan who is carrying the bill in the Senate, referring to last year’s election.

“Medicaid waivers are obviously now a bipartisan issue. You couldn’t have said that maybe a year ago. Again, with the electorate sending that message, I think we heard it loud and clear,” he said. “And in order to get the waivers, some CON reforms are going to need to take place.”

The 83-page bill would throw out the controversial program, which often mires providers in a costly and time-consuming process, and replace it with a licensing program that would preserve some remnants of the old program. For example, hospitals outside of metro Atlanta could still object to a new, similar facility trying to set up shop within 10 miles.

“The hospital community strongly opposes the elimination of the certificate-of-need process, which ensures access to care for all patients, regardless of ability to pay,” Ethan James, executive vice president of external affairs with the Georgia Hospital Association, said in a statement. “We can support a thoughtful and measured modernization of CON, but we object to repealing the entire state health planning process.”

From Maggie Lee for the Macon Telegraph:

The authors of new bills in Georgia’s legislature say a decades-old state licensing law for new hospitals and certain new medical facilities keep patients further from care than they could be.

The House version of the nearly 100-page bill also adds a fiscal provision that has to originate on their side: setting aside $100 million in tax credits for donations to struggling rural hospitals, up from $60 million set aside for that now.

Outside of metro Atlanta, existing hospitals would still be able to object to certain kinds of new centers that apply to open within 10 miles. The state might, or might not, uphold objections.

Inside metro Atlanta, there would be no right to object to new centers.

Everywhere, hospitals would be able to add new services inside existing buildings, without asking permission.

“It still provides licensing, protection, to your rural hospitals, but I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, author of the House version of the bill.

Both bill authors expect a lot of hearings about their bills over the coming weeks of the legislative session. CON alone is complex. Their bills also include that tax credit expansion, plus tweaks to how it’s administered. And there are clear new requirements that non-profit, publicly-owned hospitals disclose the salaries of their highest-paid, non-physician staff. So that’s three aspects of health care within one bill.

From the AJC:

The measure, House Bill 198, was filed by state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, chairman of the House majority caucus.

Following the lead of a House study committee, HB 198 takes a broad swipe at the restrictions known as certificate of need, or CON.

According to a summary of HB 198 made public Thursday, it would eliminate CON entirely, giving new health businesses free rein to pop up. Restrictions for long-term care facilities would remain in place, though. The entire bill should be made public shortly and is likely to run dozens of pages with additional details about exemptions and protections.

The new court building rising near the Capitol will be named the “Nathan Deal Judicial Center,” according to the AJC.

The Georgia House of Representatives voted 159-2 on Wednesday to call the nearly completed building the Nathan Deal Judicial Center. Representatives gave a standing ovation after the vote.

Deal, who left office in January after eight years, will be remembered for his criminal justice laws that emphasized treatment and recovery over punishment and hopelessness, said House Speaker David Ralston.

“His greatest legacy is found in the lives of Georgians who have been given a second chance as a result of the criminal justice reforms he has championed,” said Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge who sponsored the proposal, House Resolution 1.

State Rep. Colton Moore was one of two votes against the naming bill, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

One of those two lawmakers on the negative side? Freshman State Rep. Colton Moore, R-Trenton. Moore told the Times Free Press he didn’t believe the building should be named after anybody, and Deal’s criminal justice reforms didn’t go far enough.

“There are poor, broke and damned people in the state of Georgia that are not receiving justice,” he said. “Until we can find a true leader in justice reform, we shouldn’t rush to name the building the Nathan Deal Justice Center just because he is our recent governor. He should not be the symbol of justice for our state.”

Moore, whose father was convicted of marijuana distribution in Dade County in 1999, argued that Deal’s efforts were motivated by the financial picture instead of changing how the state’s police and prosecutors work. He believes some members of law enforcement are still too eager to harshly punish defendants. He also said the number of people in the state under supervision for convictions is still too high.

“They didn’t get to the root of the criminal justice problem,” Moore said.

He also criticized an ethics probe into Deal’s 2010 campaign, which centered on how money was spent. Moore further said the governor should have testified in the December 2017 trial of Nydia Tisdale, a citizen journalist who was arrested after refusing to stop filming a Republican Party Campaign rally in Dawsonville, Georgia. Deal was at the event.

From the AJC Insider:

One of the naysayers was state Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, who has earned a chamber reputation as Dr. No – to the point that Ralston and other House GOP leaders contributed to his primary opponent last year.

Keeping Gurtler company on Wednesday was a young freshman sworn in only in January: Colton Moore, a north Georgia truck driver and auctioneer who can now add irrelevant state lawmaker to his list of occupations.

State legislators from Coastal Georgia came together against offshore drilling, according to the Savannah Morning News.

State Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) has reintroduced a resolution, now H.R. 48, that failed to gain traction last year. The timing is better now, he said, ticking off the pocketbook benefits of spill-free water on the coast.

“In this defining moment we have about $1.1 billion in benefits to our waterways and to our fisheries and to our environment in the state of Georgia,” Gilliard said. “People ask why do we want to stand for Georgia against offshore drilling? Because we also have our military, our Navy, that does so many testings and benefits us to protect us. Why do we want to stand against offshore drilling? Because of the economic support that we have for the many jobs it creates, probably 21,000 jobs.

Gilliard was followed at the podium by State Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island), State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) and State Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), who pointed out that opposition to offshore drilling cut across party and geographical lines.

“This is not just a coastal issue; this is a Georgia issue,” said Jackson, who reintroduced legislation in the Senate, now S.R. 88. “So that’s why you see with me bipartisan support — Democrats and Republicans from all facets of Georgia.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams took her 2020 campaign “Thank You Tour” to Savannah, according to WSAV.

“I’m here to say thank you for fighting with me, for fighting for me, but most importantly for fighting for yourselves,” said Abrams.

Abrams came to Savannah just two days after delivering The Democratic Response to the President’s State of the Union Address.

“We have a lot of work to do because Georgia did not have a fair fight. We didn’t have a fair fight because in the State of Georgia voter suppression is real,” said Abrams.

Abrams announced she intends to run again but says it has to be the right timing.

Savannah was the second stop for Abrams’ tour. She is expected to make stops in the Atlanta area next.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is investigating alleged voter fraud in the “Groundhog Day” series of elections in HD 28, according to AccessWDUN.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement Thursday his office is investigating reports of potential voter fraud in the voided elections for state House District 28.

State Rep. Dan Gasaway lost to Chris Erwin in the original Republican primary last May. A judge found that election was marred by mapping errors that placed some voters in the wrong district. A new election was held Dec. 4, and Gasaway lost by two votes. Last week, the judge ruled four people voted improperly in the do-over election and ordered a third round of voting.

From the Gainesville Times:

“Eliminating voter fraud is essential to strengthening the integrity of Georgia’s elections, which is why I am committed to fighting against crimes that undermine our most fundamental instructions and sow doubt in our communities,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The election to select the representative from House District 28 will not be set until a date is ordered by Judge Sweat.

The Gainesville Times spoke to Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and Art Gallegos, Jr. about their experience watching the State of the Union.

Gainesville was also represented at Tuesday’s State of the Union by Art Gallegos Jr., co-founder of the Latinos Conservative Organization and Collins’ guest for the address. The organization focuses on outreach in the Latino community and works to raise awareness about political and economic issues.

Gallegos said he was grateful for the opportunity to hear the address in person, and he liked the president’s message of bipartisanship.

“I believe that President Trump was able to engage both sides of the aisle. … the tone that he used of engaging with them and speaking about unity and working with anybody that is willing to work together,” Gallegos said.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton spoke to students at South Gwinnett High School, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Glynn County Commissioners voted to cover a $137,000 dollar shortfall in the juvenile court, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Board of Education began work on their 2020 budget, according to The Brunswick News.

A lawsuit between the Glynn County BOE and the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission was sent by the Georgia Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

“There was a constitutional question involved, so I was surprised it was filed in appeals court at all,” said JWSC legal counsel Charles Dorminy.

According to the appeals court’s order, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that the appeals court’s jurisdiction ends with constitutional issues “that do not involve the application of unquestioned and unambiguous constitutional provisions or challenges to laws previously held to be constitutional against the same attack.”

“Because the Supreme Court has not addressed the particular constitutional questions presented in this appeal, we cannot say that those issues are unquestioned and unambiguous, and under such circumstances, we lack jurisdiction to consider them. Thus, we hereby transfer this appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia,” the order says.

A Dalton-based coalition has received a literacy grant, according to the Dalton Daily News.

The partnership, Dalton Public Schools, Dalton State College, the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library and the Whitfield County Health Department have collectively received a $91,390 early learning and literacy grant from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement to provide programming to help these “first responders” help children learn to read.

“We serve two functions on this grant,” said Dent. “We are the agent. We received the grant funds, and we are doing the grant administration. The other role we serve is through our Readers to Leaders program to coordinate an awareness campaign around literacy.”

Readers to Leaders is a community initiative established in 2012 to encourage early literacy among Dalton and Whitfield County children.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development‘s Southeast Regional Administrator visited Rome, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“I have a big region and others are doing wonderful things, but this housing authority is going toe-to-toe with what is going on around this region.” she said. “They are innovative. They are coming up with outstanding programs that are changing the lives of people that is very much in keeping with what Secretary (Ben) Carson has been advocating. They have taken that playbook and run with it.”

The Southeast region includes public housing agencies in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Trispot Darter, found in some North Georgia streams, joined the list of threatened species, according to WRCB-TV.

The trispot darter joins more than two dozen darter species across the country that are either threatened or endangered. The threatened designation means protective measures should be taken now to prevent further population decline.

Darters are small, mostly colorful fish. The males, in particular, are brightly colored during the spawning season.

Development, runoff, droughts and pollution can all negatively impact the habitats on which darter fish rely. That’s why there are currently 26 endangered or threatened darter species in the United States.

“The trispot darter is only found in the Coosa River system. It barely gets a little bit into Tennessee, Georgia and Central Alabama,” Kuhajda stated.

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