Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 12, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 12, 2019

Today is Georgia Day, celebrating the founding of the Thirteenth Colony on February 12, 1733.

After years of planning and two months crossing the Atlantic, James Oglethorpe and 114 colonists climbed 40 feet up the bluff from the Savannah River on this day in 1733 and founded the colony of Georgia.

George II granted the Georgia trustees a charter for the colony a year earlier. The trustees’ motto was Non Sibi Sed Allis—not for self but for others. Georgia would be a philanthropic and military enterprise that would provide the “worthy” poor a new start and serve as a buffer between Spanish Florida and the English colonies.

The trustees prohibited slavery and large landholdings….

Congress enacted the first fugitive slave law, on February 12, 1793 requiring states to return runaway slaves to their owners, even if the state in which the slave was captured did not permit slavery.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

On February 12, 1867, the editor of the Milledgeville Federal Union expressed dismay at the rapidity with which Atlanta was growing and basically everything about Atlanta.

“Atlanta is certainly a fast place in every sense of the word, and our friends in Atlanta are a fast people. They live fast and they die fast. They make money fast and they spend it fast. They build houses fast, and they burn them down fast… . They have the largest public buildings, and the most of them, and they pass the most resolutions of any people, ancient or modern. To a stranger the whole city seems to be running on wheels, and all of the inhabitants continually blowing off steam.”

On February 12, 1999, the United States Senate voted 55-45 against convicting impeached President Bill Clinton on a charge of perjury. Senator Paul Coverdell voted guilty and Senator Max Cleland voted not guilty. On the second charge of obstructing justice, Coverdell and 49 other Republicans voted guilty and Cleland joined 49 other senators in voting not guilty. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to convict a President, so Clinton was acquitted on both counts.

Five years ago, on February 12, 2014, most of Georgia state government was closed by Executive Order because of an ice storm.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has certified the results of the Special Runoff Election in House District 5.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A § 21-2-499, after receipt of certified election results from the election superintendents in Gordon and Murray Counties, the Secretary of State has tabulated, computed, canvassed, and certified the votes cast. Official results are now accessible on the Secretary of State’s website for the House District 5 Special Runoff Election.

Five Thirty Eight looks at what Stacey Abrams should run for next.

Although Abrams has yet to be included in any 2020 polls in our database, if she did enter the presidential race, she could inspire plenty of excitement around her campaign. Abrams is a progressive, 45-year-old, African-American woman who served as the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives for six years. That background means she could appeal to both the party’s left and establishment wings, not to mention those voters who believe the party should move on from nominating older white men.

The biggest benefit of running in Georgia for Abrams is that she’s unlikely to face serious primary opposition (her indecision over whether to enter the U.S. Senate race has so far kept other potential candidates on the sidelines), so she would probably only have to worry about winning the general election. Even though Georgia remains a Republican-leaning state, her odds in a statewide race are probably better than 1 in 10. In 2018, for example, FiveThirtyEight gave her a 1-in-3 chance of winning the 2018 gubernatorial election, and she ultimately lost by a very narrow margin. But which office would be easier to capture — senator or governor?

If a Democrat wins the White House in 2020, Georgia could very well be a battleground state. Over the past 10 years, voting patterns in the state have been moving closer and closer to the national average: In the 2008 presidential election, Georgia was 12.5 points redder than the nation as a whole; in 2012, it was 11.8 points redder; in 2016, it was 7.3 points redder. With a particularly strong national performance, the Democratic nominee has an outside shot at carrying the Peach State in 2020. That would bode well for Abrams if she is also on the ballot as Democrats’ U.S. Senate candidate.

On the other hand, if Trump wins re-election in 2020, he will almost certainly carry Georgia, whose 16 electoral votes are a crucial part of the Republican path to 270.3 And if Trump carries Georgia, it’s difficult to see Abrams winning a Senate election at the same time, again because of Georgia’s inelasticity. But if Trump wins a second term, it’s actually good news for an “Abrams for governor” campaign, since it would likely make 2022 a Democratic-leaning year. Just like she did in the blue-wave year of 2018, Abrams would have a decent shot at the governorship. So in the universe where Trump is re-elected, governor is clearly Abrams’s best bet.

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:00 AM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Insurance & Labor Subcommittee 328 CLOB

8:00 AM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Higher Education Subcommittee 341 CAP


8:00 AM HOUSE Motor Vehicles Tags and Title Subcommittee 515 CLOB


10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 13) House Chamber

11:30 AM HOUSE Regulated Industries Occupational/Professional Licensing Subcommittee 502 CLOB


1:00 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Criminal Justice & Public Safety 341 CAP




1:00 PM HOUSE Admin/Licensing Subcommittee 415 CLOB

1:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Expenditure 133 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Judicial Subcommittee 341 CAP







2:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Finance and Property 133 CAP







4:00 PM HOUSE Life & Health Subcommittee of Insurance 606 CLOB

Tom Baxter, writing for the Saporta Report, looks at a potential match-up in the Seventh Congressional District.

State Rep. Nikema Williams, the newly elected Georgia Democratic Party chair, called the 7th “a microcosm of the new Georgia as a whole” in a statement last week, referring to the demographic changes which have transformed the former Republican stronghold into a minority-majority district with fast-growing Hispanic and Asian communities.

But the 7th isn’t entirely Gwinnett County, where Democrats made sweeping gains last year, and Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux led Woodall by more than 23,000 votes out of about 215,000 cast. An additional 66,000 voted in neighboring Forsyth County, and there Woodall led by more than 2 to 1. While Gwinnett voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, that portion of Forsyth gave Donald Trump enough to carry the district by 6.4 percent. So the 7th can be viewed as a microcosm in other respects as well.

The last election dislodged a lot of Republicans in this area, which has swelled the list of Republicans who might be interested in succeeding Woodall. State Sen. Renee Unterman won reelection, but she was a big Casey Cagle supporter in the Republican primary for governor and lost her post as chair of the Senate Health Committee. Her unhappiness with the new Senate leadership was made clear when she was the only Republican to vote against rules changes which put more limits on the reporting of sexual harassment charges.

Unterman is the most interesting of the Republican names mentioned so far for this race because of the possibility for a debate over health care between opponents who know what they’re talking about. Unterman is a former nurse as well as having worked on health care issues as a legislator. Bourdeaux, a Georgia State professor, has had experience in making hard health care choices as director of the Georgia Senate Budget Office.

Governor Brian Kemp spoke to students at Dawson County High School yesterday, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp traveled to Dawson County High School Monday afternoon for a round-table discussion about mental health services.

The discussion centered on how Dawson County Schools has benefited from the Apex grant program, which Kemp hopes to expand in 2019.

Kemp said he wants to allocate $8.4 million to double the reach of the Apex program. This week he is touring systems that are recipients of the grant to see how it’s utilized and how it services students.

“When we were putting together our school safety plan … we learned that mental health is a big part of it,” Kemp said. “The more we learn about the Apex program it’s like ‘why do we need to reinvent the wheel?’ Sometimes, we have big ideas but we don’t ask the people implementing them. That’s why we are here today.”

Proposed state legislation would break down data silos in government social services, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Legislation creating a centralized state database of social services is moving through the House with powerful backers, and the sponsor says a recent change to federal law makes it imperative to pass it now.

“Some federal programs under Family First are going to affect DFCS and foster care greatly,” said Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome. “There are waivers available, but we’re going to need that data to show what’s working.”

Dempsey on Friday introduced House Bill 197 establishing the Strategic Integrated Data System — the SIDS Project — which calls for all state agencies providing physical and mental health services to pool their data.

The reports, with information identifying clients removed, would be housed under the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. The database would be available to policy-makers, researchers and state universities studying ways to make programs more effective and cost-efficient.

“It will give us insight from existing data but will also be configured to do deeper dives,” Dempsey said.

The Georgia Senate Public Safety Committee recommended legislation by Senator P.K. Martin (R-Gwinnett) to create an Atlanta United car tag, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Martin dropped Senate Bill 8, which creates an Atlanta United license plate, on Jan. 28, but it cleared a big hurdle Monday when it was approved by the Senate’s Public Safety Committee. The license plate will help raise funds for the Atlanta United Foundation’s philanthropic activities, according to the legislation.

Although the legislation is still pending in the General Assembly, it is starting to generate excitement among team supporters on internet forums.

The plates would feature the team logo on top of alternating red and black bars on one side and the phrase “Unite & Conquer” will be in the space where county name decals would be located on regular license plates.

In accordance with state law, $10 from the sale of each plate would go to the Atlanta United Foundation.

The Senate Public Safety Committee also recommended legislation to create “no-fly zones” for drones, according to The Brunswick News.

The state Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously passed a bill by voice vote Monday that would create no-fly zones over any detention facility in the state, while also banning photography of those facilities without a permit.

“I first learned about the problems of criminals using drones to drop contraband such as cell phones, drugs, weapons, etc., and take photographs over our state prisons, when former (state Department of Corrections) Commissioner (Gregory) Dozier highlighted this in his appropriations request last year,” state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta. “Since that time, I’ve been talking to the (Federal Aviation Administration) about this, because they ultimately control the airspace. As you know, technology frequently gets ahead of the law, and criminals, also, can get ahead of the law sometimes, so we need our law to catch up.”

She said the bill adds a subsection to the state penal code that prohibits the use of drones to carry payload that’s already prohibited by the prison. Kirkpatrick added that it covers state prisons, probation detention facilities, jails and any similar institution operated by the federal government, state, localities or a private corporation.

The state DOC and Georgia Sheriff’s Association announced their support for the legislation, Senate Bill 6. Sean Ferguson, who works in new projects technology for DOC, said a lot of people don’t understand the issues involved. For instance, some drones come equipped with software that prevent it from flying near or over sensitive locations, but that software, of course, can be hacked.

Legislation by State Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) would allow Electric Membership Corporations to provide broadband access, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Local utility cooperatives would be authorized to provide broadband in an effort to boost internet access in rural areas, under legislation that won unanimous support Monday in the Georgia House.

Republican Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville said Monday that her proposal would remove any legal question about whether Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives, called EMCs, could offer broadband to their customers.

That authorization, she said, would increase economic development and improve education in rural parts of the state where internet access can be slow, spotty or non-existent.

“Broadband has become as important to infrastructure as roads,” Houston said.

Georgia’s EMCs say they currently provide power to 4.4 million residents and operate across 73 percent of the state’s land area, including many rural places. But current Georgia law does not address whether they can or cannot legally provide internet access.

Many supporters believe allowing EMCs to provide internet is key to expanding availability because they already serve many of the rural communities where broadband access is needed.

The Coweta County Board of Education is considering raises for some employees, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Over the past three years, the Coweta County School System has faced increasing shortages and high turnover rates in school nurse positions. To attract and retain quality applicants in a competitive healthcare field, the board is being asked to consider increasing the pay scale for the school system’s licensed practical nurses and registered nurses for the 2020 fiscal year.

As the budget planning process progresses, the board also will be asked to consider raises for teachers and teaching assistants who serve high-need emotional behavioral disorder and autistic students; substitute bus drivers; teachers who drive buses transporting students to and from extracurricular activities; maintenance and operations field employees; and bus technicians.

The board likely will set dates Tuesday for its state-mandated budget workshops, and for its tentative and formal adoption of the 2020 fiscal year budget. Those workshops and dates take place each year during a combination of regular and called meetings throughout May and June, with the new budget taking effect July 1.

The Glynn County Democratic Committee is seeking new members, according to The Brunswick News.

Qualifications to be a state committee member include being registered to vote in Glynn County and being able to provide proof of residence.

The Gainesville Rotary Club selected local businessman Dallas Gay and former First Lady Sandra Deal as Man of the Year and Woman of the Year, respectively, according to AccessWDUN.

Rome has adopted a new smoking ban, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Downtown Rome will go smoke-free April 1.

Rome City Commissioners voted 7 to 2 Monday to ban smoking and vaping on all outdoor public property along Broad Street, including in sidewalk cafes. The prohibition includes the side streets for a block deep, the Town Green, Bridgepoint Plaza and the parking decks.

“We’re not saying you can’t smoke,” Commissioner Milton Slack said. “We’re just saying that, right here, we need to create a healthy environment for everybody.”

Forsyth County Commissioners have banned sales of vaping supplies to those under 18, according to WSB-TV.

Now, county commissioners are addressing the vaping issue by targeting convenience store owners who sell the products to underage teens right at the counter.

“In our county, it’s pretty much three strikes, you’re out,” Commissioner Cindy Mills told Channel 2′s Lori Wilson.

Because of the legislation passed Thursday, a store could lose its liquor license if it’s caught selling the synthetic drugs of paraphernalia to underage buyers.

Stores would have to get caught selling the items to children three times before they would lose their licenses.

The Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Transportation Forum on March 7, according to the Gainesville Times.

Savannah is the nation’s fastest-growing industrial market, according to a report by the Savannah Morning News.

The designation in the annual Emerging Industrial Markets report by Colliers International, a global real estate and investment management company, credits Savannah’s port as the catalyst for growth.

“Savannah is one of the last U.S. seaport markets that has land available to develop,” said James Breeze, National Director of Industrial Research for Colliers International. “It’s a major advantage.”

Savannah is listed as having a 6.9 percent growth rate, based on absorption of inventory as a percentage.

Savannah is one of the most western points on the eastern seaboard, allowing containers to stay on ships longer before calling at part, the report states. Trucks then have a “mere” six-mile drive to Interstate 95 and nine miles to Interstate 16.

A growing population is another boon to the market with more than 24 million people living within 240 miles of Savannah. That number is projected to increase 5.5 percent by 2023.

John Cusack will speak at a screening of “Say Anything” in Savannah on May 15, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The 1989 comedy/drama “Say Anything” brought popular culture the love story of Lloyd Dobler (actor John Cusack) and Diane Court (actress Ione Skye). Ranked by Entertainment Weekly as one of the greatest modern movie romances (and No. 11 on the list of 50 best high school movies), “Say Anything” made a star out of Cusack, who went on to success in multiple films, including “High Fidelity,” “Grosse Point Blank” and “Being John Malkovich,” among others.

At 7:30 p.m. May 15 at the Savannah Civic Center, join Cusack for a screening of “Say Anything.” The screening will be followed by a live conversation regarding his career and the making of the film, which Roger Ebert called “one of the best films of the year” when it was released. Fans will get the opportunity to experience a moderated discussion, with Cusack answering audience questions.

Cusack will also speak at a screening of “High Fidelity” in Atlanta on April 19th.

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