Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 13, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 13, 2019

On February 13, 1941, Gov. Eugene Talmadge signed legislation that proposed a Constitutional Amendment changing the 2-year terms for Governor and other statewide Constitutional Officers to 4-year.

On February 13, 1956, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed legislation adopting a new state flag incorporating the Confederate battle flag.

On February 13, 2007, United States Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-Augusta) died at home.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Rep. Chris Erwin (R) has appealed a court decision that removed him from office, according to AccessWDUN.

Now-former Georgia House District 28 State Rep. Chris Erwin has appealed Senior Judge David Sweat’s ruling that grants Petitioner Dan Gasaway’s petition and threw out the Dec. 4 House District 28 Special Election, removing Erwin from office.

That appeal now heads to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

“The Supreme Court, rather than the Court of Appeals, has jurisdiction to hear this appeal because this is an appeal of an election contest and the Supreme Court has ‘exclusive appellate jurisdiction’ over appeals involving ‘cases of election contest’,” the appeal filed by Erwin’s attorney, Bryan Tyson, states.

Meanwhile, Superior Court Senior Judge David Sweat‘s order under appeal also included a re-do of the election in question, according to AccessWDUN.

“The Special Election in which Respondent Chris Erwin was certified the winner is hereby declared invalid; having been sworn into office as Representative of Georgia House District 28 … Mr. Erwin hereby ceases to hold this office and ceases to exercise the powers, duties, and privileges of the office immediately,” Sweat’s ruling states.

“The third 2018 Georgia House District 28 Republican General Primary Election shall take place on April 9, 2019, with all absentee ballots, early voting ballots, and other ballots to be administered in accordance with Georgia’s Election Code,” Sweat’s order states.

Matt Barton was sworn in as the newest State Representative, according to GPB News.

“Everybody has been great,” he said. “and, that’s what other freshmen have told me. They’ve been here 12 days, so I’m looking forward to meeting everybody.”

The former school board member and city councilman won the seat in a runoff election in Calhoun last week. Barton fills the position once held by John Meadows, who died last November.

“Those are shoes I won’t be able to fill,” said Barton of Meadows. “Johnny was a special man, who lived about five houses up from me. I saw him all the time.  He was a great man.  He was in very important positions. I’m the low man on the totem pole.  To fill Johnny’s shoes would be hard to do.”

“I have a servant’s heart. I was on the school, and I was on the city council. I just want to do good for my community. I’m a staunch conservative. I want to keep taxes low, as low as possible,” said Barton. “My mom and wife are both educators. My daughter’s going into education, so education is a big part of my life. I’m on board with Governor Kemp trying to get a raise for them, as long as we can do it without raising taxes.”

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS TRANSPORTATION 515 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS 403 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 14) House Chamber

12:00 PM SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Community Health Subcommittee 341 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – CANCELLED MEZZ 1

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HIGHER EDUCATION 415 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs State & Local Government Subcommittee 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION 606 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HUMAN RESOURCES 403 CAP

1:15 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Tax 133 CAP

1:30 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Fiscal Management & General Government Subcommittee 123 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE STATE INSTITUTIONS AND PROPERTY 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee 341 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION AND YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE STATE PROPERTIES 132 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH 341 CAP

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

3:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR 506 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT 125 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY- Canceled 307 CLOB

Senate Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 14

SB 38 – Courts; electronic filing requirements of superior and state courts; certain types of filings; exclude (Substitute)(JUDY-3rd)

Franklin Patten (43.13%) and James Burchett, (42.50%) both Republicans, head to a Special Runoff Election in House District 176, to succeed former State Rep. Jason Shaw.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

In a county-by-county break down, Patten overwhelmingly took Lowndes County and Lanier County with 63 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

The race was tightest in Atkinson County with Patten receiving 44 percent and Burchett getting 40 percent.

Burchett caught up with Patten in Ware County by a large margin, earning himself 75 percent of the county’s vote or more than 1,000 votes.

Governor Brian Kemp visited Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County to discuss mental health needs in the education system, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Kemp’s first state budget calls for an $8.4 million increase in funding for what is known as APEX mental and behavioral health services. During the governor’s visit to Meadowcreek, he and his wife participated in a discussion on the issue with Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, school officials and state behavioral health officials.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said the governor visited Meadowcreek for the discussion and a school tour because the school receives APEX funding from the state. Kemp also visited Dawson County High School for the same reason Monday.

Governor Kemp also announced appointments to the Georgians First Committee, according to GPB News.

Kemp named Cade Joiner and James Whitley to co-chair the commission. The two will lead the 18 member organization and report recommendations back to the governor’s office.

The Commission was established last month through an executive order and is a followup on a campaign promise to promote small business growth in the state. In the order, Kemp states that he hopes to promote growth through common-sense initiatives and by applying successful private-sector solutions to state government.

“Right now, as you know, our state is the epicenter for job growth,” Kemp said Tuesday during a press conference. “We have been the top state for business for six years, a leader in countless industries, but we cannot rest on our laurels, we have to keep chopping, as we say. And I believe together we can make Georgia the best state in the nation for small businesses as well.”

Click here for the Executive Order that includes all appointees.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and several professional baseball players served as guest judges in a fundraiser for Extra Special People in Athens, according to WGAU.

On Feb. 9, Georgia’s Lt. Governor, Geoff Duncan, and several other MLB players were guest judges for Extra Special People (ESP) Big Hearts at Bat. The line-up included Duncan, who played for the Florida Marlins early in his career before being elected as Georgia’s Lt. Governor. Kyle Farmer of the Cincinnati Reds, Gordon Beckham formerly with the Atlanta Braves and now with the Detroit Tigers, Brooks Brown formerly with the Colorado Rockies, and Trevor Holder of the San Diego Padres were also guest judges.

“One of the best parts about being lieutenant governor is having the opportunity to find out about organizations like ESP and the huge impact they have on a community and the joys they bring to people’s lives,” Duncan said.

In its 12th year, ESP’s Big Hearts pageant showcases kids of all abilities as they perform for thousands of guests in Athens, Ga. This year, money was raised to build a Miracle League baseball field and sports complex. Through generous donations at Big Hearts at Bat, ESP reached the $1.1 million mark of a $1.4 million campaign goal. The Miracle League sports complex will bring the magic of baseball to kids of all abilities in Northeast Georgia. Additionally, funds were raised at the pageant and silent auction to send hundreds of kids to summer camp.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced the first of its kind prosecution for alleged violation of the Open Records Act, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Jenna Garland, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s then press secretary, was issued two citations for violations of the Georgia Open Records Act by Attorney General Chris Carr.

The citations state that on two separate occasions Garland told the director of communications for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management to drag out a records request response to a news agency. This is a direct violation of the Open Records Act that states it is a misdemeanor to knowingly and willingly attempt to frustrate access to records.

Garland’s attorney has publicly denied the allegations.

Carr said in a statement that openness and transparency in government are vital to upholding the public trust.

“I am confident that this action sends a clear message that the Georgia Open Records Act will be enforced,” Carr said. “I commend the Georgia Department of Law’s Prosecution Division and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for their work on this first of its kind prosecution.”

Senate Bill 56 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) will be heard by the Senate Committee on Insurance and Labor, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is sponsoring Senate Bill 56, which has provisions applying to scheduled and emergency procedures. It aims to address the financial hardship patients sometimes face when they discover later that some of the services were done by out-of network providers.

“The lieutenant governor sent it to the Insurance Committee and it will possibly get a hearing next week,” Hufstetler said Tuesday.

Lawmakers have tried for several years to rein in the charges, and the surprises. But the measure has been caught between the interests of the insurers and the providers — such as radiologists, pathologists and anesthesiologists who are hospital contractors rather than employees.

The Senate passed on Monday a measure he co-sponsored that would create a streamlined method of licensing physicians to work in Georgia when they’ve been licensed in other states.

SB 16, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act, now moves to the House for review.

Senate Bill 72 by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) passed out of the state Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee, according to The Brunswick News.

“Last year, the majority of this bill passed out of the Senate about four times, if I remember correctly,” said state Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla and chairman of the committee. “We just didn’t quite get across the finish line. I’ll just leave it there.”

Included in the bill — Senate Bill 72 — is the codification of board rules for the state Department of Natural Resources and the legalization of air gun hunting. Air guns could be used “for big game only during primitive weapon hunts, primitive weapon seasons and firearm seasons.” That provision sunsets in 2024, but would be reviewed as to whether it should be renewed.

Section Four is a significant update to the game code. Harper said that basically, what they’re doing in the section is giving DNR the authority to make some decisions in regard to seasons for game to where the code will reflect bookends, and they’re giving the department the authority to make those decisions within those bookends.

“Section Five deals with feral hogs and the baiting of feral hogs,” Harper said. “Baiting of feral hogs is legal in Georgia. All this does is it kind of cleans up the code and makes it read a little bit better, and the only thing that this does is it does away with the 50-yard prohibition (on bait from a property boundary).”

The United States Senate passed legislation that would expand the boundaries of Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

“I am so pleased to see the Senate pass this legislation to preserve the rich, historical significance and archaeological heritage of some of Georgia’s oldest landmarks,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in a statement. “This legislation will give visitors a chance to experience Georgia’s history while also providing an economic boost for the tourism industry. I thank the many federal, state and community leaders who have supported these efforts and congratulate them on today’s good news.”

The legislation would mend a 1936 law to allow the maximum boundary limit to increase from 250 acres to 305 acres. That would include 21 acres owned by the St. Simons Land Trust that the trust bought for $3.5 million in 2007 for this purpose. This particular effort’s been in the works for at least nine years.

The vote was 92 in favor and eight against. U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., presided over the vote, which also included provisions for the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon and Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park in Kennesaw.

“Expanding the parks’ boundaries and preserving their history is a top priority for many Georgians and will boost tourism in our state. I’m hopeful the House will get this bill across the finish line and to President Trump’s desk soon.”

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, worked on a number of House bills in recent years to expand Fort Frederica’s boundaries, including the latest — House Resolution 114 — which was referred to a House subcommittee Feb. 5.

Four candidates for Augusta Commission District Five met in a public forum, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Savannah City Council will consider a $1 million dollar rehab of City Hall, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The planned renovations include the construction of offices for the city attorney’s office and for any aldermen who would like an office there, according to city spokesperson Ken Slats.

The city attorney’s office is being relocated as a result of the city’s decision to sell the Gamble Building, where the office is currently located. Located next to City Hall along River Street, the six-story building is expected to be converted into a condo complex after a majority of the city council voted in August to sell the historic structure for $8.5 million to Foram Development.

The Glynn County Board of Elections project to computerize voter records is taking longer than anticipated, according to The Brunswick News.

The Floyd County Board of Elections is considering how to run elections while the state government considers new voting equipment, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“If the Legislature mandates new equipment, they will mandate how they’re going to pay for it … We shouldn’t have any terrible expenses coming up,” Brady said.

This is a slow year for elections, with only six Rome City Commission seats slated for a vote. Brady said he’s working with City Clerk Joe Smith on the details “and we’re right on schedule.” Qualifying for the Ward 1 and Ward 3 contests is slated for the last week in August.

Meanwhile, Elections Board members are holding on to their equipment funding in case the General Assembly doesn’t provide enough for incidentals.

Two types of systems are under consideration. One would maintain an electronic touchscreen voting method but print out a paper ballot for scanning. The other would use paper ballots filled in by hand, which also would be counted by optical scanning machines.

Northside Hospital and the Gwinnett Health System say they have final regulatory approval to merge, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In a statement, the systems said that late last week, the Federal Trade Commission completed its review of the merger and gave its approval to move forward. The agreement was approved by the State of Georgia Office of the Attorney General in November 2017.

“We are excited to move forward on the merging of our two health systems,” said Bob Quattrocchi, president and CEO of Northside Hospital. “Leaders from both systems are already meeting to develop a comprehensive integration plan that honors our employees and physicians. This plan ensures that our patients continue to receive quality health care with no disruption of service.”

“Through the merged entity, Gwinnett County will continue to have access to world-class medical treatment,” said Philip Wolfe, president and CEO of Gwinnett Health System. “Health care is a dynamic industry that requires complex technology, highly skilled medical professionals and exceptional leadership. I’m confident the merger will help sustain our ability to offer leading-edge, compassionate and effective health care close to home for many years to come.”

Anchored by five hospitals in Sandy Springs, Lawrenceville, Cumming, Canton and Duluth, the new nonprofit health system will also operate additional sites of care including cancer treatment, imaging, surgical, urgent care and other outpatient centers throughout the state.

Altogether, the Northside-Gwinnett combined system will have 1,604 inpatient beds, over 250 outpatient locations, 21,000 employees and more than 3,500 physicians on staff.

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