Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 20, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 20, 2019

On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, creating the United States Postal Service.

The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail.

On February 20, 1970, Georgia ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.The Amendment states:

Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Seriously. 1970. Luckily ratification occurred when Tennessee approved adoption of the Amendment on April 18, 1920.

Interestingly, the only case in which the United States Supreme Court has addressed the Nineteenth Amendment arose in Georgia. Breedlove v. Suttles was a suit brought in Fulton County Superior Court concerning the poll tax. Here’s an excerpt:

The tax being upon persons, women may be exempted on the basis of special considerations to which they are naturally entitled. In view of burdens necessarily borne by them for the preservation of the race, the state reasonably may exempt them from poll taxes.

The laws of Georgia declare the husband to be the head of the family and the wife to be subject to him. To subject her to the levy would be to add to his burden. Moreover, Georgia poll taxes are laid to raise money for educational purposes, and it is the father’s duty to provide for education of the children. Discrimination in favor of all women being permissible, appellant may not complain because the tax is laid only upon some or object to registration of women without payment of taxes for previous years.

Privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.

It is fanciful to suggest that the Georgia law is a mere disguise under which to deny or abridge the right of men to vote on account of their sex. The challenged enactment is not repugnant to the Nineteenth Amendment.

Bless their hearts.

On February 20, 1974, Reg Murphy, an editor for The Atlanta Constitution was kidnapped and held until managing editor G. James Minter delivered $700,000 in ransom. I’m not sure if they’d pay 700 cents to get any employee back nowadays.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 18

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS EDUCATION 506 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE & 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 18) House Chamber

12:00 PM SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY MEZZ 1

1:00 PM HOUSE Resource Management Subcommittee of Natural Resources and Environment 403 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING 506 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION 606 CLOB

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

2:00 PM SENATE STATE INSTITUTIONS AND PROPERTY 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE VETERANS, MILITARY AND HOMELAND SECURITY 310 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE BUDGET & FISCAL AFFAIRS OVERSIGHT 506 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE Welch Subcommittee of the House Judiciary 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Sales Tax 133 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Academic Innovation Subcommittee 417 CAP

2:15 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Ad Valorem 133 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE Industry and Labor Subcommittee 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE CREATIVE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT WORKING GROUP 403 cap

3:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

3:30 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH 341 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT 125 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

4:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs State & Local Government Subcommittee 133 CAP

4:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS 341 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 17 – Public Utilities and Public Transportation; authorize telephone cooperatives and their broadband affiliates; provide broadband services (Substitute) (RI&U-51st)
SB 48 – Dyslexia; identification of and support for students in pre-kindergarten through second grade; provide (Substitute) (ED&Y-9th)
SB 55 – Retirement; method and manner by which a member of the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia may purchase an annuity; revise (RET-52nd)
SB 75 – State Board of Veterinary Medicine; professional health program for impaired veterinarians; provide (Substitute) (AG&CA-8th)
SB 79 – Outdoor Advertising; references to the term “mechanical” in relation to multiple message signs; remove (TRANS-51st)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HR 165 – Property; conveyance of certain state owned real property; authorize (SProp-Greene-151st)
HR 182 – Property; granting of non-exclusive easements; authorize (SProp-Greene-151st)

Structured Rule
HB 35– Sales and use tax; certain poultry diagnostic and disease monitoring services; create exemption (W&M-Watson-172nd)
HR 164 – General Assembly; dedication of revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed; authorize – CA (W&M-Powell-171st)

Ivanka Trump will visit Georgia this morning, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Trump, who serves as an advisor to her father, President Donald Trump, will visit and tour UPS Integrad, a driver training facility, according to Jessica Ditto, White House Deputy Director of Communications.

“During the visit, Ivanka will receive a tour of the facility, experience the training program first-hand and meet with students,” Ditto said. “Ivanka Trump will also participate in a roundtable discussion with Gov. Kemp and (UPS CEO David) Abney and hear directly from the UPS employees who are learning valuable skills to be able to succeed in their skills at UPS and beyond.”

Trump will also be briefed on UPS’ efforts to combat human trafficking.

“The Trump administration has made the fight against human trafficking one of its highest priorities,” Ditto said. “The President recently signed into law four robust pieces of bipartisan legislation to prevent human trafficking, punish perpetrators and support victims.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams spoke about voting rights during a Congressional hearing in Atlanta, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Abrams, who narrowly lost the Georgia governor’s race last year, told a congressional subcommittee examining ways to boost voting rights that a toxic combination of “incompetence and malfeasance” led to a systemic voter suppression effort in Georgia.

“Incompetence and malfeasance operates in tandem and the sheer complexity of the state’s voting apparatus smooths voter suppression into a nearly seamless system that targets voter registration, ballot access and ballot counting,” Abrams told the House Administration’s subcommittee on elections. “These hurdles have had their desired effect.”

Republicans lambasted Tuesday’s hearings, calling it a congressionally-funded ad for a potential Abrams 2020 Senate run against incumbent Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia.

“This hearing as well as her State of the Union address (response) are part and parcel of a Democratic desire to see that race,” said John Watson, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. “This is the next stage of the promotion of Stacey Abrams on the taxpayer’s dime. I believe these are in-kind contributions for her campaign for the United States Senate.”

Some House Democrats at the hearing voiced strong support for Abrams. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, called her “Senator Abrams” when he began questioning her. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, praised Abrams’ gubernatorial run, adding “All I can say is ‘Black Girl Magic.’”

The Georgia Senate Health and Human Services Committee recommended passage of Senate Bill 106, according to AccessWDUN.

A proposal to allow Gov. Brian Kemp to pursue Medicaid waivers from the federal government was approved by a Georgia Senate committee Tuesday.

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee voted 9-4 to approve a bill authorizing Kemp’s office to pursue the waivers after lawmakers sped through testimony and questions in a one-hour meeting.

A federal waiver, as opposed to a full Medicaid expansion backed by Democrats, would give Georgia the flexibility to adopt a more conservative plan.

“That waiver doesn’t just come as a blank check,” Tillery said, adding that the waiver would be subject to annual appropriations and other guidelines.

From Curt Yeomans at the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Full Medicaid expansion, as called for under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would cover people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate, and the federal government has pledged to provide 90 percent of the cost for these newly eligible members.

Kemp’s bill would allow a Medicaid waiver of up to 100 percent of poverty (roughly $12,500 of income for an individual).

Federal health officials have not allowed the 90 percent match if a state requests the lower eligibility limit.

So at 100 percent of poverty, the state presumably would be in line for its regular Medicaid match, which in Georgia would be 67 percent.

[Democratic Senator Steve] Henson said that because of those restrictions, the legislation would cost Georgia more money and cover fewer people than full expansion, which he has proposed under Senate Bill 36. He said the Kemp waiver bill had been ‘‘rushed through,’’ with much more time spent on studying legislation to improve rural broadband.

From the AJC:

[Senate Bill 106] would authorize the governor to seek two “waivers” from the federal government that would allow the state to create government-funded health care initiatives here, but to reshape the rules for them in a way that Georgia officials believe would work better for this state. But the bill, 17 lines long, doesn’t get too specific about how ambitious the goals of those initiatives would be. It gives the governor the power to make those choices after the bill becomes law.

Then Georgia would apply for the waivers, and the federal government would decide whether to grant them.

One of the waivers would be for a new initiative under the Medicaid program, possibly to expand coverage to poor people who currently have no insurance.But Medicaid, the state and federal program that pays for health care for the poor and some disabled people, mostly does not cover low-income childless adults in Georgia.

The other waiver would be for a new initiative under the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange aimed at helping to stabilize the private insurance market.

One of the issues Democrats wanted to discuss was the cap within the bill on the poor population to be considered for the Medicaid waiver. The bill caps the population who could benefit at those who make up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $12,000 a year for a single individual. Federal law gives states the option to consider more people for Medicaid, up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,000 a year for an individual.

The State House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee recommended passage of House Bill 258, according to The Brunswick News.

A select number of sex crimes in Georgia exist outside of the statute of limitations for when they’ve allegedly been committed against someone who was younger than 16 years old at the time of the crime — the legislation first went into effect following the 1992 session of the General Assembly. A new bill would add aggravated sexual battery to that list, beginning in July of this year.

“Basically, what it’s doing is adding the offense of aggravated sexual battery to the tolling statute, which is dealt with in (Chapter 3 of Title 17 in the state code),” said the bill’s sponsor, state House Minority Whip William Boddie, D-East Point. “And, it’s dealing with tolling crimes for individuals who are victims under the age of 16 years of age.”

“So, basically, what we’re doing in line 51 (of the bill) is adding the offense, so therefore it’s just like trafficking for sexual servitude, cruelty to children in the first degree, rape, aggravated sodomy, child molestation, aggravated child molestation, incest and enticing a child for indecent purposes. It is adding that charge, so a prosecutor can prosecute those, or that particular offense, without a statute of limitations. Again, for whatever reason, it was erroneously left from the list, and so I want to include that with the other listed charges for this particular code section.”

The crime carries with it a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime probation.

The State House Governmental Affairs Election Subcommittee heard House Bill 316 by State Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), which would require new voting machines, according to the AJC.

A state House subcommittee didn’t vote on House Bill 316 on Tuesday after hearing three hours of testimony from voters who passionately opposed the proposed $150 million voting system.

But election officials said at the Capitol that ballot-marking devices help avoid errors introduced by voters marking their ballots by hand.

“Ballot-marking devices are best because they ensure more accuracy for the voters’ intent,” said Lynn Bailey, the elections director for Richmond County. “Voters stand a better chance of having their choices more accurately reflected on a ballot marked by a machine rather than by a human hand.”

From another article at the AJC:

Last October, Gwinnett County election officials were found to be rejecting 10 percent of absentee ballots, alleging that signatures on the mailed ballot didn’t match the signature on a voter’s registration form. A federal judge was required to step in.

In HB 316, a suspected mismatch of signatures would require county election officials to automatically mail the voter a provisional ballot, which would be counted when the situation is resolved.

In HB 316, before serving notice to voters that their registration is suspect, the state would be required first to make sure that “the failure to verify is not the result of a data entry error or other fault of the board of registrars.”

The Gwinnett County Commission approved $950,000 dollars to combat homelessness, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The commissioners unanimously approved the HomeFirst Gwinnett Initiative’s $950,000 request for funding to several efforts designed to ultimately get homeless residents back on their feet and into permanent housing. HomeFirst Gwinnett was set up last year through a partnership between the county, the United Way and Primerica.

“We have many organizations and individuals in the community who are working on different aspects of service to the homeless population, but it is not always well-coordinated,” commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “Partnering with the private sector and with United Way, the County is helping fund the HomeFirst Initiative in order to help create a system that is coordinated and that does the most with each dollar that is available to address the homelessness issue.”

Suicide stats are rising in Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

In 2015, there were 12 suicides followed by 15 in 2016, 21 in 2017 and 30 in 2018. The victims in these situations are overwhelmingly white males who predominantly use firearms to end their lives, according to statistics provided by the coroner’s office.

“It’s definitely going up,” [Lowndes County Coroner Austin] Fiveash said. “Most of the time it’s a gunshot wound. There has been a growing number of older people suffering from what I call ‘health care induced depressions.’”

Fiveash said older people are becoming more prone to suicide from being in constant pain because they are not receiving proper treatment or because they see themselves as a burden on their family.

Valdosta Police Lt. Adam Bembry said he has noticed an increase in calls related to people suffering from mental health issues and thoughts of suicide since he joined the department in 2005.

He said when he joined the force, police received maybe one call a week. Now, it’s one call every 12-hour shift, he said.

Law enforcement is not intended to deal with suicide threats, Bembry said. The mission is to enforce the law and fight crime.

“These are mostly medical issues,” Bembry said. “Although we are trained in it to a point, we’re not counselors. We’re not psychologists. My officers are doing the best they can, but when you are dealing with the mentally ill, it is very difficult.”

Whitfield County SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) advocates are being questioned about proposed projects, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

A plan the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) would fund increases by about 33 percent the amount of office space for the county’s administrative employees, and former Dalton Mayor David Pennington asked why the county needs so much more space since county officials say they don’t plan to immediately add employees.

Under the plan, the county would tear down Administrative Buildings 1 and 2, which are both near the Whitfield County Courthouse, and replace them with two new buildings.

Pennington questioned the need for the added space at a meeting of the Dalton Rotary Club following a presentation on the proposed SPLOST on Tuesday.

But Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said later Tuesday that Pennington’s numbers about the amount of space that would be built were incorrect.

Whitfield County voters go to the polls on March 19 to vote on a six-year, 1 percent SPLOST expected to bring in $100 million. Early voting starts Feb. 25. If approved, the SPLOST would begin on July 1. There is currently a four-year SPLOST that expires on June 30 that is projected to collect $64 million.

The Glynn County SPLOST Citizens’ Oversight Committee heard updates on projects, according to The Brunswick News.

Statesboro City Council is reviewing applications for City Manager, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Rome City Commission passed an ordinance requiring adult stores to apply for a permit, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The ordinance requires the owner — or “an individual with an influential interest in the business” — to get a license specific to a sexually oriented business. Each employees also must be licensed.

The application includes disclosure of any criminal convictions and if the applicant has held an interest in any sexually oriented business within the past five years that had been declared a nuisance or court-ordered to close.

The license fees are set at $100 for a business, going to $50 for annual renewals; and $50 for an employee, dropping to $25 for renewals. Hours of operation are limited to between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan delivered the State of the City, according to the Gainesville Times.

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