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

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Mar

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

On March 12, 1739, James Oglethorpe, recognized as the Founder of Georgia, wrote the Georgia Trustees, urging them to continue the ban on slavery in the new colony.

Juliette Gordon Low held the first meeting of the Girl Guides, which would later be renamed the Girl Scouts, in her home in Savannah, Georgia on March 12, 1912.

Gianni Agnelli was born on March 12, 1921 in Turin, Italy, and would come to be the wealthiest man in Italy, head and principal shareholder of Fiat, and recognized as an Italian Senator for Life in 1991. Among those who follow fashion, Agnelli has long been recognized as an archetype of the Italian approach to menswear.

His style was about more than clothes—it was an attitude, a philosophical response to absurdity. Watching him could tell you how to live, how to behave. In Italy, they call it sprezzatura, making the difficult look easy. Americans are gonzo, a spirit personified by Hunter S. Thompson, who defined it as a man who learns to fly by falling out of a plane. Agnelli might look gonzo—especially on nights when he showed up in boots and an ill-fitting tie—but was, in fact, sprezzatura; he knew how to fly all along. “When he was not perfectly dressed, it was contrived,” says Taki Theodoracopulos, the writer, columnist, socialite and son of a Greek shipping tycoon. Taki is one of the few surviving members of Agnelli’s social circle. “The tie askew, the unbuttoned shirt—nothing was an accident. Or, to put it another way, it was meant to be an accident, which made it even more stylish.”

Clarence Thomas, originally from Pin Point, Georgia, was sworn in to the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on March 12, 1990.

R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves slugger Dale Murphy.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS 341 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE Insurance -Admin/Licensing Subcommittee 514 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM 341 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE Powell Subcommittee of Public Safety & Homeland Security 515 CLOB

9:30 AM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS- AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE 450 CAP

9:30 AM HOUSE Environmental Quality Subcommittee of Natural Resources and Environment 606 CLOB

10:00 AM FINANCE MEZZ 1

10:00 AM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – INSURANCE & LABOR SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE Kelley Subcommittee of Judiciary (Civil) 132 CAP

11:00 AM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – CRIMINAL JUSTICE & PUBLIC SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP

11:30 AM HOUSE Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee 341 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 307 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs State & Local Government Subcommittee 341 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Finance and Policy 132 CAP

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

2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – COMMUNITY HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP

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

4:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – JUDICIAL SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP

Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent the weekend in Georgia at Sea Island, according to The Brunswick News.

In addition to VP Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also attended the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum on Sea Island. The conservative think tank’s yearly gathering of political and economic bigwigs is an extremely discreet affair, and some top members of the Brunswick and Glynn County police departments stepped up to ensure the event was uneventful from a security standpoint.

Members of the two law enforcement agencies provided security escorts for Pence, Pompeo and others from the local airport to Sea Island, said Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones. Police SWAT team members from both departments provided round-the-clock security on the private resort island as well, he said. Members of Brunswick’s K9 team also took part providing security.

Pence and Pompeo both flew into the into the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport on Friday and departed late Saturday, Jones said. The local law enforcement officers worked in conjunction with the secret service, department of state and other federal agencies, said Glynn County Police Chief John Powell.

Brunswick and Glynn County SWAT team members were stationed on the island throughout the event, which also drew former Vice President Dick Cheney, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and AOL cofounder Steve Case.

Democrat Stacey Abrams is leaving the door open to a national campaign, according to the AJC.

Stacey Abrams raised the possibility of a White House run Monday in a series of social media posts and public remarks, saying that she once thought the soonest she could campaign for president was 2028 but that a bid next year is now “definitely on the table.”

Abrams had previously refused to rule out a campaign for president, but her comments Monday made clear she’s considering joining the growing Democratic field to challenge President Donald Trump.

“She is taking a look at all options on the table in 2020 and beyond,” [former Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo] said.

“20 years ago, I never thought I’d be ready to run for POTUS before 2028,” she said in the social media post. “But life comes at you fast – as I shared in Q&A w @Yamiche at @sxsw. Now 2020 is definitely on the table…”

Abrams has little incentive to rule out any of her options – White House, Senate or governor – too early. She’s in the middle of a nationwide tour to promote her book and has lined up speaking gigs through the Harry Walker Agency, and the element of mystery adds to the intrigue.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Abrams turned heads Monday with a tweet referencing her book, “Lead from the Outside,” in which she mentioned plans for someday running for president of the United States. In the tweet she said she had mentioned that she’d told an interviewer at the SXSW conference and festivals that she might seek the nation’s highest office far sooner than she’d planned to do so.

Governor Brian Kemp signaled openness to medical cannabis legislation, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp sounded receptive to a measure moving through the Georgia Legislature that would allow medical marijuana oil to be grown, manufactured and sold to registered patients.

The Republican told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was impressed by the “strong vote” earlier this month in the House for the measure, which would allow 60 dispensaries to serve the state’s rising number of medical marijuana patients. House Bill 324 was approved by a 123-40 vote.

“When it passes with a constitutional majority,” quipped Kemp, referring to the two-thirds support behind the bill, “it might not matter what I think.”

“I need to learn more about the bill, see what the Senate has to say,” said Kemp. “And I’m trying to understand that we are probably putting people in violation of federal law.”

Two Georgia Democratic legislators are proposing testicular regulation in response to the fetal heartbeat bill. From the Washington Times:

Men of Georgia … state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick is coming after you with her “Testicular ‘Bill of Rights’ Legislation.”

In a memo to her staff Monday morning, which she also posted on Twitter, the Democrat representing an Atlanta-area district said she wanted a bill drafted to include provisions that she laid out in a series of bullet points:

• “Require men to obtain permission from their sexual partner before they are able to obtain a prescription for Viagra or any erectile dysfunction medication.”

• “Ban vasectomy procedures in Georgia … with the name [sic] punitive measures for performing the procedure that are listed in HB481,” a reference to an anti-abortion bill currently before the Georgia House of Representatives.

• “Make it an ‘aggravated assault’ crime for men to have sex without a condom.”

• “A 24-hour ‘waiting period’ for men to purchase any porn or sex toys in the state of Georgia.”

Ms. Kendrick labeled the importance of her Testicular “Bill of Rights” order to her staff as “high” and she said in an interview with Rolling Stone that she wants the legislation ready this week.

“I’m dead serious,” she told the magazine, though she admitted her bill would have little chance of passing.

From Q Magazine Atlanta:

State Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta, is gathering co-sponsors for a bill that would require men age 55 and older to “immediately report to the county sheriff or local law enforcement agency” when he “releases sperm from his testicles,” according to the AJC.

Cannon said that a 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention argued that increasing men’s involvement in family planning helps improve women’s health, according to the AJC.

“This bill helps men who are well past reproductive age to self-report when they willfully engage in conception,” she said.

The bills are largely symbolic and have little chance of passing. They’re a reaction to the House passing House Bill 481, a measure that would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which happens at about six weeks.

State legislators are considering new rules on beachfront development on the Georgia coast, according to The Brunswick News.

House Bill 445, sponsored by Don Hogan (R-St. Simons island) proposes a 25-foot regulated zone between private beachfront development and either the high tide line on beaches without dunes or the landward reach of the sand dune where dunes exist. It also carves out an exemption for highly vulnerable oceanfront lots near a rock groin on the Sea Island Spit.

Environmentalists are concerned those same exemptions could also apply elsewhere on the coast where rock groins exist, such as on Tybee.

Currently the 40-year-old law defines the state’s jurisdiction by drawing a zigzag line connecting 20-foot native trees to each other and to shorefront buildings erected in 1979 or earlier.

Despite sharp criticism from Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) and a minority report opposed to the bill, the house approved the bill Tuesday by a vote of 113-54.

Newnan Republican Lynn Smith, chair of the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee, noted that Georgia’s coastal ecosystem must be well managed because it got a B-plus on its most recent environmental report card, which focuses on human health, fisheries and wildlife. But she didn’t note that the Surfrider Foundation’s more pointed look at states’ policies to protect beaches from coastal erosion, irresponsible beach fill, sea level rise, and poorly planned coastal development gave Georgia an F in December.

House Bill 346 by State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) would give tenants more rights in dealing with poor living conditions, according to the Gainesville Times.

Renters are sometimes evicted or have their rents raised when they complain to their landlords or local code enforcement agencies seeking fixes to their residences.

It could be a leaky roof, a broken appliance, rodent or bug infestations, or simply poor construction they seek to have remedied.

But because contractual leases often have stipulations that allow a landlord to evict for most any reason with, typically, a 30- or 60-day notice, renters have little legal recourse.

Georgia does not require a “warranty of habitability” that mandates housing meets basic living and health safety standards, although the warranty is usually considered implied from a legal standpoint.

In Georgia, House Bill 346 would still need to pass the Senate and receive the governor’s signature to become law.

If that happens, it would give tenants the opportunity to prove their eviction is retaliatory and have it stopped, while also placing civil penalties on the landlord.

The Georgia Senate will vote on House Bill 316, the elections bill, on Wednesday, according to The Brunswick News.

Once H.B. 316 passed out of the state House on Feb. 26 with a vote of 101-72, it went to the Senate Ethics Committee’s subcommittee on elections and voting, which is chaired by state Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak. H.B. 316 passed both subcommittee and committee last week. Ligon, who also serves as the Senate sponsor for the bill, introduced it Monday to the Senate Rules Committee.

“This is the new elections bill, and it’s going to modernize our method of elections in our state,” Ligon said. “We’ll vote on electronic voting machines that’ll actually produce paper ballots so that you can see how you voted. It’ll be more secure and much better.”

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, noted today is “committee day” and they have a lot of House bills to hear and good ones to pass, but Wednesday would be reserved for H.B. 316 debate.

[Democratic Leader Senator Steve] Henson added he’s glad that will be the only legislation on the Wednesday Rules calendar, so there will be a lot of time to discuss it.

Macon-Bibb County will not have a sales tax referendum this year as legislation stalled in the General Assembly, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The first step toward a referendum would be bipartisan support among at least three of five the state House members who represent Macon-Bibb in Atlanta. But the idea of OLOST referendum — a one-penny “other local option sales tax” — does not have that much support from state lawmakers.

Democratic state Rep. Miriam Paris filed a bill on Tuesday that would have set up a vote in Macon-Bibb. But her bill is not going anywhere, she says.

In line with a request from the Macon-Bibb County Commission, her bill would have set up a public referendum on that penny-on-the-dollar sales tax.

Fellow Democrat James Beverly also signed the bill, but Paris said she wasn’t able to get a third signature. Without at least one other supporter, the bill is dead.

And the Legislature on Thursday passed a deadline that makes it almost impossible to move a bill that hasn’t already passed one chamber.

The Whitfield County Commission adopted an ordinance requiring most pets to be spayed or neutered, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

[C]ommissioners voted 3-1 to require dog and cat owners to have their pets spayed or neutered if they are six months old or older or obtain a breeder’s license from the state Department of Agriculture. Animals will also be exempt from the spay/neuter requirement if the owner provides a letter from a veterinarian saying the animal has a medical condition that would not allow the surgery.

Commissioner Harold Brooker cast the dissenting vote. Commissioner Greg Jones was absent, and board Chairman Lynn Laughter, who typically votes only when there is a tie, voted with the majority on the advice of County Attorney Robert Smalley so the measure would have three votes.

“It isn’t right that people will bring in a litter of puppies to the animal shelter for us to put down and they won’t have their female fixed,” said Commissioner Roger Crossen.

Those who violate the law face a fine of up to $1,000 but the law says any citation for a first offense will be dismissed if the owner provides medical records saying the animal has been spayed or neutered.

“I think it will help,” said Samuel Shatz, executive director of the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia. “I’m sure it won’t be 100 percent effective. No law is. But it will send a message that this is what responsible pet owners should do.”

A mother of special needs children writes about what the state could do to better supports students and families, in the Macon Telegraph.

Public school was a nightmare for my kids. To provide a less stressful environment, I chose to leave my career of 14 years as a public school teacher to home-school.

This choice is a step in the right direction for our family, but we desperately need more support. Georgia lawmakers have a unique opportunity this year to extend a vital lifeline to families like mine — those who’ve not only adopted but chosen kids with special needs.

The reality is that traditional public schools are not a one-size-fits-all solution, particularly for kids with emotional and physical challenges. We need more choices. Thankfully, there are two key ways Georgia lawmakers can empower adoptive families with the help they need this year.

The most significant step comes through Educational Scholarship Accounts. These accounts would enable us to pay for adaptive technology and therapies that we simply can’t afford on our own right now.

Another way that lawmakers can assist families like mine is by updating Georgia’s existing Special Needs Scholarship Program. As it stands, the scholarship (which has an average value of $6,672.14 for each child) allows students who are enrolled in public school for at least one year to transfer to another school (public or private) to better meet their educational needs.

Glynn County is laying the foundation for a 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum next year, according to The Brunswick News.

“I think most of the commissioners are receptive to putting in on the ballot so the voters can decide if they want to keep the SPLOST going,” said Glynn County Commission Chairman Mike Browning. “… Anybody that comes into Glynn County, they spend a dollar they pay the tax. When we have a community of some 80-some-thousand people and we have three million visitors, they spend a lot of money here, they are all paying to finance our infrastructure upgrades, and I just don’t think you get any better than that.”

Commissioners discussed a new SPLOST project at a retreat in late February, where they were presented with a list of 84 items county staff felt were deserving of SPLOST revenue.

Voters approved SPLOST 2016 in November of that year. Tax collection began on April 1, 2017, and will continue through September 30, 2020, or until the tax raises a total of $71,595,000.

“Getting a few extra dollars from who we cater to — tourists, our surrounding counties’ visitors, I-95 travelers — I don’t think there’s an argument,” said Commissioner Bob Coleman.

Commissioners talked about a transportation SPLOST, called a TSPLOST, at their retreat in February, but did not put much stock in the idea.

“At the end of the day we’ve got millions of unmet needs, deferred maintenance and implementation projects and no appetite to raise the revenue to meet those needs,” Murphy said.

Newnan City Council approved an increase in the hotel-motel tax from five percent to eight percent, according to the Newnan Time-Herald.

The current rate of 5 percent will now increase to 8 percent, taking into consideration O.C.G.A. § 48-13-51, which allows county and municipal levies on public accommodations charges for promotion of tourism, conventions, and trade shows. The current rate of 5 percent will now increase to 8 percent, taking into consideration O.C.G.A. § 48-13-51, which allows county and municipal levies on public accommodations charges for promotion of tourism, conventions, and trade shows.

The council adopted a resolution in October 2018 requesting Rep. Lynn Smith to introduce legislation in the General Assembly of the State of Georgia to provide for revisions to the current hotel/motel tax rate.

The majority of the council voted for the tax increase, with Councilmember Dustin Koritko, as the sole no vote. He publicly stated his opposition to the matter back in October as well.

Forsyth County is revising zoning standards to allow micro-breweries and distilleries in some areas, according to AccessWDUN.

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