Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 19, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 19, 2019

On February 19, 1807, Aaron Burr was arrested in the Mississippi Territory, in what is now Alabama. Burr had served as Vice President during the first term of President Thomas Jefferson, leaving the administration after the 1804 election; later Jefferson issued a warrant accusing Burr of treason.

On Febrary 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the military to remove from military areas any people whose exclusion was “necessary or desirable.” By June 1942, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans had been interned in concentration camps in the western United States. On the same day, the United States War Department announced that a new bomber plant would be built in Marietta, Georgia.

The Macon Telegraph looks at a museum plane that served as Air Force One.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 17

8:00 AM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS 341 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE JUDICIARY (NON-CIVIL) 132 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 17) House Chamber

12:00 PM SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

12:00 PM HOUSE Regulated Industries Alcohol & Tobacco Subcommittee 132 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS- CANCELLED 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS – CANCELLED 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Reeves Subcommittee of Judiciary (Non-Civil) 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB

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

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE Agriculture Subcommittee 502 CLOB

2:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Expenditure 133 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS 403 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS GENERAL GOVERNMENT 415 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Telecommunications Subcommittee of Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications 403 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE Setzler Subcommittee of Judiciary (Non-Civil) 132 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY- Subcommittee A 307 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

5:00 PM SENATE SPECIAL JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

United States Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will visit Atlanta this week to raise money for her presidential campaign, according to the AJC.

The Minnesota Democrat’s fundraiser will be held at the Buckhead home of Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada and a vice-chair of the Dentons law firm. Other co-hosts include former Gov. Roy Barnes and Sheri and Steve Labovitz, prominent donors to Democratic causes.

Klobuchar, who announced her bid last week in a driving snowstorm, becomes the second presidential candidate to visit Georgia since formally entering the race. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren held a rally in Gwinnett County on Saturday, followed by a private dinner in downtown Atlanta with Stacey Abrams.

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday swore in six appointees to executive positions.

Senate Bill 48 by State Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) takes a comprehensive view to educating students with dyslexia, according to GPB News.

The state Senate is considering a bill that provides for dyslexia screening and additional resources for students with language-based disabilities.

Senate Bill 48 has received bipartisan support from state lawmakers, who want to implement dyslexia testing in pre-K through 2nd grade along with remediation opportunities.

The bill would also require the Georgia Department of Education to create a dyslexia informational guide for parents and each board of education to provide additional learning opportunities for dyslexic students within their county. Under the law, supplementary training would also be required for teachers to better educate dyslexics.

Currently, Georgia is one of few states with no dyslexia laws on the books. While federal law lists dyslexia as a type of learning disability, it merely cites it as an example and does not define it nor provide for remediation.

Voting rights and procedures in Georgia will be under the microscope today, according to the AJC.

On Tuesday morning, U.S. House Democrats will hold a hearing that will probe allegations of voter suppression in Georgia, part of a string of events designed to set the stage for a revival of the Voting Rights Act.

And on Tuesday afternoon, a Georgia House committee will weigh new legislation that could curtail large-scale cancellations of voter registrations and switch the state from an electronic voting system to touchscreen machines that print ballots.

The morning hearing, staged by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Voting, will be held at the Carter Center and start with testimony from Abrams, along with Sean Young of the Georgia ACLU, Cliff Albright of Black Voters Matter and Gilda Daniels of the Advancement Project. Lawmakers will also hear from Stacey Hopkins, a Fulton County voter who said she will testify about her struggle to cast a ballot.

The afternoon committee meeting, in an office building across from the statehouse, will be the first test for Republican-sponsored legislation that could pave the way for a proposed $150 million replacement of Georgia’s voting system.

Dalton City Council is considering an ordinance to crack down on unattended donation boxes, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Dalton City Council member Gary Crews said,… “We’ve had a lot of complaints from citizens. We’ve had complaints from property owners,” he said. “These boxes are placed by people from out of town. They often place them in areas where it isn’t clear who owns the property. They don’t maintain them regularly and stuff starts to pile up outside the boxes, and when you try to call and get the box removed it can be difficult to reach anyone.”

Members of the City Council on Monday held the first reading of an ordinance aimed at reducing such eyesores. The proposal would require those placing donation bins inside city limits to obtain a license. It would require the bin owners to provide their contact information and to file a plan stating how often materials will be removed from the bins and how often the boxes will be checked for “general cleanliness, graffiti and litter or other rubbish.”

The proposed ordinance also states such boxes can only be placed in areas zoned commercial and cannot be placed on empty or abandoned properties, and the owner of the property must certify that permission has been granted to place the box there.

Whitfield County Magistrate Judge Shana Vinyard will be paid more than $26 thousand dollars while on paid leave, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Since she was placed on “voluntary paid leave” in October of last year, Whitfield County Magistrate Judge Shana Vinyard has been paid $19,612.57, according to a county official. By the time she leaves office on April 1 following her letter of resignation, the total will be $26,102.06, all of it paid for by the taxpayers of Whitfield County.

Vinyard’s yearly salary is $52,492. Her resignation letter from last week and the fact she has been getting paid for not working have some county residents irate and some county officials frustrated.

“I think that we feel the same way as a lot of the taxpayers do — frustrated,” county Commissioner Roger Crossen said. “It is not a good situation at all. It is tough to be in this position where you really can’t do anything about it.”

A judge with Magistrate Court confirmed last week that Vinyard has been under investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Chief Magistrate Judge Haynes Townsend has said he can’t comment on any ongoing investigation.

Dalton City Council has approved limited use of “personal transportation vehicles” on public roads, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The City Council voted 3-1 on Monday to designate all streets in Windemere [subdivision] for PTV use. Council member Tyree Goodlett cast the dissenting vote, and Mayor Dennis Mock typically votes only in the event of a tie.

PTVs are essentially golf carts but by law must have a number of safety features — seat belts, headlights, turn signals, etc. — that aren’t necessarily found on golf carts used on golf courses.

The state legislature changed the law a couple of years ago to allow PTVs to be operated on city streets if a city OKs them, subject to certain limitations. PTVs can’t be operated on federal highways, state roads or heavily-trafficked cross streets. They can only be operated on residential streets with speed limits of no more than 25 mph.

University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart visited Robins Air Force Base, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The 116th Air Control Wing is set to deploy out of Warner Robins Air Force Base in the coming weeks but before heading out, the group got a pep talk from a pair of special guests from the University of Georgia.

Head coach Kirby Smart and new secondary coach Charlton Warren spoke to a crowded room of service members preparing for deployment.

“I don’t think people really acknowledge and understand what exactly you guys do,” Smart said. “The group you’re able to have here that is out of Warner Robins, it means a lot to me being a kid from the state of Georgia.”

The Glynn County Commission will hear updates on a beach restoration plan and a code rewrite, according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols spoke about the state’s energy sources, according to The Brunswick News.

Every three years, since 1991, the state requires Georgia Power to submit a new 20-year plan detailing how it’s going to meet the state’s energy needs. The company filed its latest 20-year plan Jan. 31 to the Public Service Commission.

“So, this is the year where we’re doing this, and the five commissioners — which you have a hand in electing, because all five of us stand in staggered elections every six years,” Echols said. “The commissioners, after everybody has their say — nonprofits, businesses, lobbyists for the industrial groups, lobbyists for the Georgia Restaurant Association — after everybody has their say on how they think it should work, the five commissioners will vote later this year on this Georgia Power written plan and exactly how we think it should go in the final version.”

There’s 180 days of consideration. After that, the PSC has to either nix the plan outright, amend it or approve it. A significant aspect is the growth of renewable energy to the mix within the next five years.

“In 2005, coal was 50 percent of what we had,” Echols said. “Now, it’s 23, and it’s going to go down to 21 by 2024. You can see it’s decreasing. Look at renewables — they don’t even show up here (in 2005) — 8 percent in ’19, and we’re about to approve a bunch of solar at the commission, probably more than, I’ll make (Georgia Power area manager) Paulo (Albuquerque) put earplugs in right now, but Georgia Power wants to do 1,000 megawatts, but I’ve heard from one of my colleagues, who’s about to retire, who wants this to be his legacy, he said, ‘No, no, no. We’re going to double it. At least.’”

The Albany Herald reports that federal inaction on Hurricane Michael cleanup is impacting Georgia’s cotton crop.

Leaders in the state’s $1 billion cotton industry say they’ve been left with more questions than answers. With Georgia cotton planting season quickly approaching, farm leaders say, lenders will be reluctant to provide production loans without a promise of disaster assistance.

“It’s frustrating to meet with our leaders face to face and be promised assistance and nothing come in return,” said Bart Davis, a cotton farmer from Colquitt County who chairs the Georgia Cotton Commission.

That concern was shared by U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, in an email statement to constituents on Sunday.

“For months, I have worked tirelessly with my colleagues in the House for timely disaster relief for farmers and communities impacted by Hurricane Michael and the other natural disasters of 2018,” Scott said. “When the most recent spending package was released this past Thursday without disaster assistance, I was disappointed and frustrated that the assurances we have heard for months that relief would be included in spending measures to reopen the government were empty promises.”

Scott cited that lack of disaster action and lack of funding to secure the U.S. Southern border as reasons he voted against the spending package.

Savannah City Council voted to increase the quota on local and disadvantaged businesses contracting with the municipal government, according to the Savannah Morning News.

the Savannah City Council voted to increase the disadvantaged-business participation goal established in February last year from 18 percent to 20 percent. The local goal was set at 10 percent.

Prior to joining the rest of the council in supporting the change, Alderman John Hall touted the program as a way “to move the needle down on the city’s poverty rate.”

“We are keeping the money local where it should be kept and I think that’s a good thing,” Hall said.

A new solar farm in Savannah is sited on a former landfill, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The new solar farm sits atop the Deptford Landfill, disused for more than 50 years, at the entrance to Dulany Industries’ new multi-use industrial complex called SeaPoint. Georgia Power personnel were readying the solar panels’ connections to the grid Thursday.

With landfill debris underground and heavy scrub growing over it, the five acres required expensive preparation, including a blanket of enough clean soil to fill about four Olympic-sized swimming pools, said Philip Rowland, the vice president of operations for Dulany Industries. Solar farms are rare in urban areas.

He credited the city of Savannah, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, former site owner Greenfield Environment Trust, plus contractors including Terracon and Triplett Land Clearing for assistance with the project, which took more than seven years to come to fruition. When up and running in a month or two, the solar farm’s 1.2 megawatt capacity will be enough to power about 240 homes.

The project suffered a setback in August 2017 when Georgia Power at the last minute pulled out of a previous deal that would have provided community solar, a project that renters or homeowners without suitable site conditions on their own property could buy into. At the time, Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said “it did not prove to be a suitable location because of the high cost to construct the facility.”

The Newnan Times-Herald has published the first of a series of interviews with five candidates for Coweta County Sheriff.

A vacancy on the Coweta County Superior Court will be filled by Gov. Brian Kemp, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Coweta Circuit Superior Court Judge Jack Kirby’s retirement was effective Jan. 31, but the process to replace him still hasn’t begun.

While Kirby’s replacement will be appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp, most of the replacement process is handled by the Judicial Nominating Commission.

Each governor appoints his own JNC, and Kemp’s commission was appointed Feb. 7.

Atlanta attorney Vincent Russo, administrative co-chair for the JNC, said Monday that he anticipates application dates for the vacancy will be announced soon.

Trump Administration official Ashley Bell received the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Perry County [Alabama] Civic League, according to the Gainesville Times.

Lula City Council voted to oppose State House Bill 302, which would limit local governments power to regulate single family homes and duplexes, according to the Gainesville Times.

HB 302, sponsored by four Republicans and two Democrats in the Georgia House of Representatives, would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to building design elements on single-family homes or duplexes.

Lula officials said Monday they want to retain some local control over building architecture and passed a resolution expressing their opposition to the state bill. The resolution will be passed on to Hall County’s legislative delegation.

“County and municipal governments use building design standards to protect property values, attract high quality builders and block incompatible development. … Building design standards assure residents and business owners that their investments will be protected,” Lula’s resolution reads.

Councilman Mordecai Wilson also said the control should stay local.

“Are they saying we don’t have a voice in selecting what type of home or materials go in it? They want to take that away from us?” Wilson said. “… I oppose it.”

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