Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 14, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 14, 2018

On February 14, 1779, Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke led a charge against British forces at the Battle of Kettle Creek.

On February 14, 1956, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation calling for the protection, cleaning and maintenance, and display of historic Confederate flags at the State Capitol.

On February 14, 1958, the Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution purporting to censure President Dwight D. Eisenhower for using National Guard troops in the integration of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

On February 14, 1977, the B-52s played their first gig at a Valentine’s Day party in Athens.

Later that year, the group began making regular runs in the Wilson family station wagon up to New York City for gigs at seminal New Wave clubs like Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s. With Kate and Cindy in their mile-high beehive wigs and 60s thrift-shop best, and Fred looking like a gay, demented golf pro, the B-52s made an immediate impression on the New York scene, and their independently produced single, “Rock Lobster,” became an underground smash.

The B-52s are still in business three decades later, minus Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS in 1985. Significantly, their success is widely credited for establishing the viability of the Athens, Georgia, music scene, which would produce many minor successes and one massive one—R.E.M.—in the years immediately following the breakthrough of the B-52′s.

On February 14, 2012, we published the first edition of the GaPundit daily political news, featuring dogs. We originally thought that the dogs would be temporary until enough people complained about them that we felt the need to go to once a week. We were surprised that the adoptable dogs have become the signature of GaPundit’s otherwise-political offerings and our greatest success.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:15 AM SENATE FINANCE- Sales Tax Subcommittee 318 CLOB

12:00 PM SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – CANCELED MEZZ 1

4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION – CANCELED 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH 506 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT 341 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HUMAN RESOURCES 415 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTH CARE 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 606 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING 506 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY (CIVIL) 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

2:00 PM< HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HIGHER EDUCATION 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Insurance – Property & Casualty Subcommittee 514 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Motor Vehicles Tags & Title Subcommittee 515 CLOB

3:30 PM HOUSE Motor Vehicles Driver Safety & Service Subcommittee 515 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR LEGISLATIVE DAY 15

SB 6 – Correctional Institutions of the State and Counties; use of unmanned aircraft systems to deliver or attempt to deliver contraband to a place of incarceration; prohibit (Substitute)(PUB SAF-32nd)

SB 8 – Specialty License Plate; benefit the Atlanta United Foundation; establish (PUB SAF-9th)

SB 52 – Code Revision Commission; statutory portion of said Code; revise, modernize, correct errors or omissions in and reenact (JUDY-3rd)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR LEGISLATIVE DAY 15

Modified Open Rule

HR 51 – Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission; create (IntC-Morris-26th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 184 – Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act; enact (Substitute)(ED&T-Harrell-106th)

Governor Brian Kemp‘s Senate floor leader introduced Senate Bill 106, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Legislation unveiled Wednesday by state Sen. Blake Tillery would let Gov. Brian Kemp seek federal waivers for programs that would increase the number of people covered by Medicaid.

Kemp called a press conference to announce he is committed to working with lawmakers to “craft a Georgia-centric healthcare system that ensures a bright and healthy future for all Georgians — no matter their zip code.”

His Patients First Act, SB 106, would restore the governor’s authority to negotiate with federal officials on how to serve more low-income residents. The measure has more than a dozen Republican co-signers, including Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.

“The goal is to help improve the health of Georgians,” he said. “The idea is that preventative care would be a lower cost so there will be an effort to move healthcare upstream.”

Hufstetler said a quasi-governmental test project at Grady Memorial Hospital and several rural hospitals showed a healthcare management-type program reduced costs by 43 percent.

From a press release by the Governor’s office:

“Georgians deserve a health care system that is accessible, affordable, and second to none – and the Patients First Act will allow us the flexibility to craft such a system,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “I look forward to working with Governor Kemp and Speaker Ralston to find innovative solutions and advance substantive policies that will dramatically improve health care for hundreds of thousands of Georgians. I sincerely believe our solutions are going to mirror advances we’ve seen from the private sector.”

“I appreciate Governor Kemp working with the legislature to find a conservative way to ensure access to healthcare for more Georgians,” said Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). “We are committed to moving forward in a fiscally-responsible way that avoids the perils associated with Medicaid expansion.”

From the AJC:

Several Democratic leaders said they would support nothing short of full-scale Medicaid expansion and worried that the measure gives Kemp too much power over the process.

The governor pushed back on those concerns, telling reporters he wants to find a way “that’s focused on Georgia.” He added that he’s mindful of the broad leeway the legislation gives him, including the final signoff on any agreement proposed to the federal government.

“It is giving me the authority to do this, and I take great responsibility with that,” he said. “But I’m not trying to be the Lone Ranger on this — we’re all in this together, we’re all working to together to tackle all the issues we have.”

“Look, everybody keeps talking about Medicaid expansion. We are working on a couple of things here. We want to lower private-sector health care costs — that’s what’s killing hardworking Georgians out there,” he said. “And we want to innovate a health care system that’s not working.”

House Bill 189 by State Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) would exempt railroad fuel from state sales tax, according to the AJC.

A subcommittee Wednesday held a hearing on legislation that would exempt fuel used by railroads from the state’s 4 percent sales tax.

It’s similar to the deal legislators have given airlines on jet fuel off and on for more than a decade.

Legislation by State Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Paulding) would set up a marijuana distribution system in Georgia, according to the AJC.

The proposal calls for up to 10 medical marijuana dispensaries to serve the state’s rising number of registered patients — 8,400 so far. The drug would be legally grown, manufactured, tested, tracked and distributed for the first time if the legislation passes.

The bill is the next step for Georgia’s medical marijuana program, which since 2015 has permitted patients to possess and use marijuana with less than 5 percent THC, the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

“The problem is that there’s nowhere to purchase the oil here in the state of Georgia,” said Gravley, a Republican from Douglasville. “We know it’s beneficial. We’ve seen seizures reduced, we’ve seen the easing of the effects of Parkinson’s, cancer, MS, Crohn’s, sickle cell anemia and autism.”

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has left open the possibility for in-state cultivation of medical marijuana.

“I sympathize and empathize with them on that issue, and I support research-based expansion,” Kemp said in an interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting last month. “Thankfully, there is some research that’s going on in this field that will give us some good data that will kind of tell us how to move forward.”

Federal legislation passed by the United States Senate would give Macon a path to creating a national park, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Supporters of making Ocmulgee National Monument a national park scored a major new victory when the U.S. Senate for the first time approved the designation.

Bills that would create the park have twice passed the House only to fall in the Senate, but this time a bill went through the Senate first and passed by a 92-8 vote on Tuesday. It was part of a larger bill, called the Natural Resources Management Act, that protects 2 million acres of land nationwide. Ocmulgee is one of two new national parks in the bill.

The bill still needs to pass the House and get signed by President Donald Trump to become law, but supporters are optimistic that the long-time goal is now within reach.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) will serve as the senior Republican on the bipartisan Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Northwest Georgia congressman is one of 12 House members appointed to study, investigate and recommend operational efficiencies.

“As technology rapidly evolves, it’s important to give every member of the House access to new resources that will help them better serve their constituents,” Graves said in a Tuesday announcement.

“It’s my goal to ensure this team is able to identify ways to serve the American people more effectively and efficiently while ensuring we also have the tools to recruit and retain top talent,” Graves said.

Abit Massey, longtime lobbyist for the poultry industry, was inducted into the Poultry Industry Hall of Fame, according to the Gainesville Times.

Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, was inducted in to the Poultry Industry Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Massey retired as the Gainesville-based organization’s president in 2009 after serving in that role since 1960. He advocated for the poultry industry and worked to expand research in the field. The Georgia Poultry Lab sits on Abit Massey Way off of Ga. 365.

Before working in the poultry industry, Massey was head of the Georgia Department of Commerce, now Economic Development, and oversaw the creation of the tourist division and the building of the first welcome station.

“I was surprised and I am highly honored,” Massey said Tuesday. “I have loved working for the Georgia Poultry Federation and being in the great poultry industry.”

The Georgia General Assembly passed school bus safety legislation, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Senate Bill 25, approved Wednesday, changes the law to state that only drivers on highways with roadways that are separated by a grass median, unpaved area or physical barrier are allowed to pass a stopped school bus on the other side of that barrier.

“We are very relieved that the state legislature realized that there was a serious safety issue created by last year’s version of that law,” said Doug Moore, director of operations and school safety for the Coweta County School System. “They’ve taken a tremendous step forward to establishing a more safe environment for our students.”

The bill was introduced on Jan. 16 and voted out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on Feb. 5. The Senate approved it unanimously on Feb. 17, and the House approved it Wednesday.

The Georgia Court of Appeals needs more staff, according to The Brunswick News.

Denied the chance in the amended Fiscal Year 2019 budget, Georgia Court of Appeals Chief Judge Stephen Dillard requested from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety at least two new central staff attorneys in the FY 2020 budget.

“There’s really a dire need for additional assistance — that’s why we asked for at least one (for FY 2019),” Dillard said. “We asked for one last year, we didn’t get it, I understand that. But this year we’re asking for the one that we asked for last year, and also another one. So, we’d be asking for two central staff positions.

“What that would do is it would bring our central staff up to 15, which would match the number of judges we now have with the expanded Court of Appeals. And we feel like that would give us a good, core unit to have handle the additional cases that have come down, that would allow us the flexibility when we have people out in chambers that are sick. That’s happened quite a bit.”

A United States Court of Appeals upheld a lower court order to open records on a 1946 lynching, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling to unseal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that followed a monthslong investigation into the killings.

Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey were riding in a car that was stopped by a white mob at Moore’s Ford Bridge, overlooking the Apalachee River, in July 1946. They were pulled from the car and shot multiple times along the banks of the river.

Anthony Pitch, who wrote a 2016 book on the lynching — “The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town” — has sought access to the grand jury proceedings, hoping they may shed some light on what happened.

A federal judge in 2017 granted Pitch’s request to unseal the records, but lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice appealed, arguing grand jury proceedings are secret and should remain sealed. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled 2-1 to uphold the lower court’s order.

A casino boat previously located at Tybee Island will not seek to operate on the Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A Columbus forum on possible plans for the Government Center included calls for price estimates, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center Authority is seeking state funding to expand the Savannah Convention Center on Hutchinson Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The GIMTCA requested $234 million for the expansion, which would be among numerous statewide projects funded through revenue public bonds underwritten by the state, which typically issues more than $1 billion in bonds each year.

President and CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, Michael Owens, who has been working as a go-between between the board and Governor Brian Kemp’s office, told the board on Wednesday during its monthly meeting, that he believes [Governor] Kemp understands the importance of this project economically not only to Savannah and the local municipalities, but to the region and to the state.

State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Dist. 164), who serves as chairman of the Economic Development and Tourism committee, previously told the Savannah Morning News that it’s time for the state to step up and get the ball rolling on the expansion. Stephens could not be reached before press time for this story.

“The locals have put up the majority of the money through hotel/motel taxes, so it’s time for the state since it’s their convention center and on their property. It’s time for the state to ante up,” Stephens said in December.

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