Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 18, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 18, 2019

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes mounted up on horseback to warn of British troops on their way to confiscate American arms and to warn patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who the British sought to capture.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured….

About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded; only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.

President William H. Taft learned on April 18, 1912 of the death of his military aide, Major Archibald Butts of Augusta, Georgia on RMS Titanic.

The honeybee was recognized as the official state insect of Georgia on April 18, 1975.

On April 18, 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation establishing February 6 of each year as “Ronald Reagan Day” in Georgia and celebrating the date of President Reagan’s birth.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania will be in Atlanta to attend the 8th annual Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday signed House Bill 324, which will allow limited in-state cultivation and processing of medical marijuana, according to ABC News.

Current state law allows people with 16 specific conditions, including cancer, seizure disorders and Parkinsons disease, to possess cannabis oil with less than 5 percent THC, the chemical that gets users high.

Kemps spokesman, Cody Hall, said the law takes effect July 1.

It grants up to six growing licenses to private companies — two for larger organizations and four for smaller organizations. It also gives pharmacies priority for distributing the drug, but allows a state commission to seek out independent retail locations if it determines there is a need. The commission can also attempt to legally obtain the oil from other states. Two universities will be allowed to seek federal approval to research and produce the oil.

The Republican-controlled legislature approved the measure despite objection from many Georgia sheriffs, who absolutely do not support allowing so many private producers to grow marijuana to produce the oil, said Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs Association.

From the Macon Telegraph:

It also gives state permission to grow and manufacture medical cannabis to two colleges: Fort Valley State University and the University of Georgia. The schools also may apply for federal licenses to become medical marijuana research schools.

It is unclear what the new law could mean for Fort Valley State University. Asked whether the school would pursue plans to grow cannabis, university spokeswoman Teresa Southern said, “at this time we have no comment regarding this matter.”

A University of Georgia spokesman referred comment to the University System of Georgia. Jen Ryan, spokeswoman for the system, said it is “reviewing the legislation and will work closely with the governor’s office, our institutions and other stakeholders regarding implementation of the law.”

Kemp called the new law a “carefully balanced” measure, saying it would expand access for patients in need without opening the door to recreational drug use.

From the AJC:

While medical marijuana sales are now legal, that doesn’t mean they’ll start anytime soon. It will likely take well over a year before state-sanctioned medical marijuana oil reaches the hands of patients.

The state government still needs to appoint members of an oversight board, create regulations and license up to six private companies to grow medical marijuana. Then seeds will have to be planted and harvested, and the government will have to approve dispensaries to sell the product.

At least three companies hired lobbyists to push the bill during this year’s legislative session.

It’s still illegal in Georgia to smoke or vape marijuana. Only marijuana oil with less than 5% THC, the compound that gives pot its high, is allowed.

“Now the hard work starts,” said Allen Peake, a former state representative from Macon who led the effort to legalize medical marijuana. “The implementation of the bill is crucial to making sure we get the process done efficiently and quickly, and get medicine to families as soon as possible.”

Governor Kemp is expected to sign three bills today against human trafficking, according to the AJC.

The first measure, House Bill 281, increases penalties for those convicted of pimping or pandering. A first offense would increase jail time from 24 hours to three days, a second offense would now be a felony and allow a judge to sentence up to 10 years in prison upon a conviction.

A second, Senate Bill 158, gives the state new powers to provide emergency care for a child victim of human trafficking without a court order or the consent of a parent or legal guardian, and bars authorities from prosecuting them for prostitution if they are under 18 years old.

And the third, House Bill 424, broadens the definition of criminal gang activity to include sex trafficking, giving authorities new powers to seek penalties.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr joined a multistate effort urging the EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers to adopt new “Waters of the United States” rules, according to the Albany Herald.

“Our office has been leading litigation to prevent the implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule for almost four years,” Carr said. “That rule would have given the federal government jurisdiction to implement complex federal mandates over state natural resources, including roadside ditches, streams and many other areas.”

“That’s unacceptable, and Georgia is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts to stand up for our farmers and landowners.”

“The new rule also respects the primary responsibility and right of states to protect their own water resources,” a news release from Carr’s office said.

In addition to this joint effort, Georgia currently leads litigation challenging the 2015 rule on behalf of an 11-state coalition. Last June, that coalition secured a preliminary injunction to block its implementation.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) toured the Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

LARC, an agency that serves individuals with disabilities, works to improve the quality of life of each person they serve, according to the agency’s website.

Based on the client’s choice, LARC provides support on the job, at home or at various sites in the community. Support and training are designed to enable people to experience success and pleasure in life.

“We’re down here with the Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center, seeing their facilities and meeting with their clients. It’s a wonderful organization and doing a lot to help people,” Scott said. “We have a lot of people out there with developmental disabilities, and certainly, we want to find ways to help them. It’s been a great opportunity to visit with them and see this operation.”

“We need to make it easier for people like this resource center to provide those services,” Scott said. “The people who work here have value and take pride in their work, and I think it is a wonderful mission.”

“The main thing you need to do is listen to them,” Scott said. “They are able to tell us where the rules and regulations are coming from and what the threats to them are.”

New locomotives producing lower emissions were rolled-out in Macon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

New locomotives at Macon’s giant Brosnan Yard rail hub have big implications for health and jobs in Middle Georgia and Robins Air Force Base.

The yard received its first Eco locomotive about a year ago, replacing decades-old engines that towed freight cars around the yard tracks. The yard now has six Eco locomotives with lower pollution emission, plus three “slugs” used to provide weight for traction.

The program cost $10 million, said Mark Duve, manager of locomotive engineering for Norfolk Southern. Federal and state funds secured by the Middle Georgia Clean Air Coalition accounted for $6.3 million.

According to a release, the EPA estimates that in the first six months of operation the Eco locomotives reduced particulate matter emissions by a rate of 3.44 tons annually, while nitrogen oxides were reduced by 100 tons. Particulate matter and nitrogen oxides are associated with smog and acid rain.

Augusta, GA and North Augusta, SC, appear to be preparing for a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the water level of the Savannah River, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The cities of Augusta and North Augusta appear to be laying the groundwork for a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a proposed plan to remove New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in favor of a rock weir fish passage, according to the joint comments filed by those cities.

The public comment period ended Tuesday afternoon on the Corps’ recommended plan for the lock and dam and the cities submitted a 32-page “Legal Comments” that lays out a number of arguments against the plan and how they believe the Corps violated federal law and its own policies and procedures in formulating that recommendation. Chief among them is that the recommended plan does not adhere to the relevant section of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 that the Corps is proceeding under.

“It is inappropriate, illegal and patently unfair to place such a significant impact on the Augusta region simply to permit benefits to another region,” they said.

Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom alluded to a potential need to file a lawsuit during an address Wednesday to the CSRA Home Connections Networking Breakfast, adding “I think we have some legal standing. As a region we are very concerned about it.”

He alluded to support for the cities’ position offered last week by Gov. Brian Kemp, and the city and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis are working on setting up a further meeting with Kemp. But the city is also hopeful that the public comments and the arguments the cities put forward will convince the Corps to be more open to negotiation.

Floyd County Commissioners are moving toward placing a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) on the ballot, according to the Rome News Tribune.

A transportation special purpose local option sales tax for individual counties has been allowed under state law since July 2017. Only communities that already impose a regular SPLOST may add a TSPLOST.

“Let the voters decide,” Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said, following a lengthy discussion at the board’s planning retreat held at the training room of FM Global Emergency Response Consultants in Coosa.

The issue is expected to be presented to members of the SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committees tonight, as part of an update on projects in the 2013 and 2017 packages.

The county’s parameters appear to mirror the standards Rome city commissioners backed during their informal discussion earlier this month: The TSPLOST would be for a short period and for a specific set of projects.

Hall County is now home to 200,000 residents, according to the Gainesville Times.

Savannah is considering dropping prices for parking in some downtown areas, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Dredging at Jekyll Creek has begun, according to The Brunswick News.

The plan, announced several weeks ago, is to take around 3 percent of the dredged material and spray it in thin layers over a nearby marsh in order to, hopefully, find a beneficial reuse for it. A pipeline extends from the Dredge Rockbridge, initially above the water, then submerged, and it comes back out of the water further north along the marsh bank.

“It’s going to come to a nozzle, and it sprays — it rainbows — in the air, and then as they’re doing that, at different points of time this week, they’re going to move it around to different places,” said Tyler Jones, communications specialist with CRD. “So, they’ll be between 3 inches and up to a foot in sediment that will be deposited here, and they should be done with that by Sunday.”

Three candidates qualified for a special election for Flowery Branch City Council, according to WDUN.

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