Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2019

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

Lucius D. Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will address the 2019 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta tomorrow and may be viewed via livestream begining at 1 PM tomorrow.

Northwest Georgia‘s population continues growing, according to Census estimates published by the Rome News Tribune.

Bartow and Paulding remain the fastest-growing counties in Northwest Georgia, according to population estimates released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But Floyd, Polk and Gordon are showing moderate gains, picking up in recent years, and Chattooga registered a population increase after years of steady decline.

The Agriculture Census shows growth in micro farms despite losses of some classes of larger farms, according to GPB News.

The latest data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture showed Georgia lost more than 1,500 small and mid-size farms over the past five years. But it’s not all bad news.

While the number of small and mid-size farms has dropped, micro-farms, between one and nine acres, have increased to more than 4,500. That’s up from about three thousand in 2012.

Andrew Lucas with the Georgia Farm Bureau said they’ve also seen an uptick in consolidation of farms, which has led to an increase in large farms.

Gary Black, commissioner of the state’s department of agriculture, said overall, he’s pleased by the data, but farmers here still need help recovering from Hurricane Michael.

“I really am troubled to see what these numbers will be five years from now,” Black said.  “And you know, that’s not smoke and mirrors, that’s reality.”

Herman Cain withdrew his name from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, according to the AJC.

“My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board,” Trump tweeted. “I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr appears in a new public service announcement as part of Alcohol Responsibility Month, according to the Albany Herald.

“Underage drinking is not only harmful in many ways to Georgia’s children and teenagers, but it is also illegal,” Carr said. “Parents have the greatest impact on their kids’ decision to drink or not to drink alcohol, so I encourage parents to have conversations early and often about the risks of underage drinking.”

“April is Alcohol Responsibility Month, and as we continue our mission to eliminate underage drinking, we want to remind parents how important conversations with their kids are,” Dr. Ben Nordstrom, executive director of Responsibility.org, said in a news release.

April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, according to The Brunswick News.

“It’s impossible to prevent something that lives in shadows,” said Michelle Johnston, president of Coastal Georgia. “And it’s difficult to raise awareness about something that you’re not working towards solutions for.”

Open dialogue is necessary, she said, to stop sexual assault and to support survivors. Education, bystander training, access to resources and zero tolerance can help address sexual assault, Johnston said.

“One incident, one situation is too many,” she said.

Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey read a proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The Rape Crisis Center hotline is available 24/7, and the number is 1-800-205-7037.

This week was proclaimed Georgia Procurement Conference Week by Governor Brian Kemp, according to The Brunswick News.

The Jekyll Island Convention Center will host the third annual Georgia Procurement Conference, bringing together more than 800 procurement professionals and suppliers from across the state and nation.

The focus will be on small business, especially in rural Georgia, to help create jobs and grow businesses, said Alex Atwood, state Department of Administrative Services commissioner.

The conference will also feature a video from Gov. Brian Kemp explaining the importance of the state’s procurement efforts and the value of public-private partnerships. The governor has also proclaimed April 22-26 as Georgia Procurement Conference Week.

“The Georgia Procurement Conference is an opportunity to connect small businesses with professionals who are responsible for ensuring that our state secures the best price and best value for goods and services for our citizens,” Kemp said in a statement. “We also are pleased that businesses from every corner of Georgia will be represented at the conference.”

House Bill 374 by State Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta) aims to speed the ability of some hospice patients to receive liquid morphine, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Currently, only a hospice nurse can give morphine to a patient in assisted living. LaHood’s bill was written to allow a certified medication aide at the assisted living facility to administer the medication when a hospice staff member is not on site.

“I consider HB 374 to be compassionate legislation that will enable hospice patients residing in assisted living communities to get the care they need in a more timely manner,” LaHood said.

Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, said the bill, championed by LaHood and LeadingAge Georgia and supported by the Georgia Senior Living Association and the Assisted Living Association of Georgia, should help hospice patients avoid long waits for pain relief.

“This is a carefully crafted solution to help those in the last stages of life deal with constant pain,” Johnson said.

LaHood’s bill, which is now on the desk of Gov. Brian Kemp, does not apply to hospice patients in personal care homes. It treats hospice patients in assisted living similarly to hospice patients who are being cared for at their homes.

The Georgia Municipal Association spoke to Hall County municipal officials, according to the Gainesville Times.

State House and Senate bills that would have prohibited local governments from adopting design standards for single-family homes or duplexes failed to leave each legislative chamber in time this year, which [GMA's Michael] McPherson called a win for municipalities.

“It would have preempted the local design standards to the point where only the national minimum would have been in place,” McPherson said.

Another bill that was considered in the House would have prohibited local governments from regulating short-term rentals, or homes rented out through sites like VRBO or Airbnb.

“We can’t roll over and let our zoning be completely defeated by this concept,” McPherson said.

From AccessWDUN:

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan thanked GMA for fighting to preserve local control, allowing cities to decide how they want to handle issues on a local level rather than having statewide mandates that place all 530-plus incorporated cities in Georgia under one binding regulation.

“They’re trying to take away all our home rule,” Dunagan said.  “That’s exactly what they’re doing, little by little, every session.”

McPherson agreed with Dunagan’s assessment, saying some efforts by GMA to get legislation approved or defeated in recent years have seen over 100 lobbyists arguing on behalf of a giant corporation that stood to benefit if the legislation passed.

“Not all of our General Assembly members have local government experience at the city or county level,” McPherson explained.  “And because of that it’s important that we give them an understanding of what cities and counties have to go through day-in and day-out…to insure that you’re meeting the needs of your residents and the businesses in your community.”

Macon-Bibb County is considering decriminalizing marijuana, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The proposed ordinance calls for a fine instead of a jail time as a penalty for possession of less than one ounce of pot. The proposal follows suit with other places in Georgia, including Fulton County and the cities of Atlanta and Savannah, where officials have approved similar decriminalization measures.

The Macon-Bibb ordinance, sponsored by County Commissioners Al Tillman and Virgil Watkins, states that anyone arrested with less than one ounce would pay a $75 fine.

The marijuana decriminalization ordinance is on Tuesday’s County Commission committee agenda.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said the ordinance would probably not change how his deputies handle those cases in most instances. It could mean that most of those cases would go through Municipal Court instead of State Court.

“On the enforcement piece, it’s really not going to effect what deputies do that much,” Davis said. “We don’t normally bring that many people to jail on just that charge. They’re typically issued a citation.”

Banks County will need financial assistance in dealing with flooding, according to AccessWDUN.

Banks County officials say state or federal help, in the form of disaster or contingency funding, will determine whether the county is able to properly correct an issue that resulted in flash flooding in the Banks Crossing area Friday.

Duckett said the repairs to Steven B. Tanger Boulevard alone could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The busy road connects U.S. 441/Ga. 15 with and is the main artery serving Tanger Outlets, Atlanta Dragway and numerous restaurants and businesses in both Banks and Jackson counties.

The cost of repairing the two-lane road could be higher, depending on the work that has to be done, including repair to at least one travel lane, Duckett said.

Duckett said a timetable on permanent repairs will depend on whether Banks County can get state or federal assistance with the costs.

A Floyd County Commissioner and the county manager spoke about passing their Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to Whitfield County, after Whitfield voters rejected a SPLOST last month, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

In a work session Monday evening, commissioners heard from Floyd County Commission Vice Chairman Wright Bagby — also a former mayor of Rome — and the county’s manager, Jamie McCord. The pair described the process used by the city and county to the southwest to handle SPLOST requests, which relies heavily on citizen input.

“I can’t tell anybody else what to do, but I can tell you what works for us,” Bagby said. “If you don’t have a strong citizens group vetting your projects and part of the process all the way through, the only ones that we have ever had to fail, we didn’t have that group in place, or the government overruled the citizens. That is just what works for us. We think it is extremely important for citizens to be active in the process before, during and after.”

“The three that failed were years ago, and we saw that was an ongoing issue,” Bagby said. “We empowered the SPLOST citizens committee to help us make all of the selections. We also agreed that whatever they come up with is what we are going to work with. We will not be messing with the projects. Does that mean that 100 percent of what the city or the county wants is going to make it in there? No. We were not going to tamper with their work.”

The last SPLOST measure in Floyd County passed with more than 60 percent in favor. The March vote in Whitfield County saw 57.94 percent of voters opposed to the measure.

Emory Healthcare is considering spending $20 million dollars to move administrative offices into part of the old Northlake Mall, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Augusta Parks and Recreation Director Glenn Parker has resigned, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

ugusta Recreation and Parks Director Glenn Parker tendered his resignation Monday, on the heels of the resignations of two other top city officials and pending wrongful death litigation involving the recreation department.

Parker asked that his resignation be effective May 17 and that he receive 14 weeks’ severance pay, or approximately $28,000, according to his resignation letter, which gave no explanation for his decision.

His resignation follows those of City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson and city General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie last week. The Augusta Commission approved paying Jackson and MacKenzie a year’s salary and benefits to step down.

Suwanee Municipal Court will temporarily move into City Hall, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

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