Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2019

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

On April 26, 1866, the Atlanta Ladies’ Memorial Association held a Confederate memorial observance at Oakland Cemetery for the first time.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 26, 1913, 13-year old Mary Phagan was found dead, having been sexually assaulted, in the basement of a pencil factory in Atlanta. Guilt was pinned on the Jewish owner of the factory, Leo Frank. Frank was convicted, but later his sentence was commuted after Governor John Slaton concluded from his own investigation that Frank had been framed. Frank was later hanged by a lynch mob.

On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union.

Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.

On April 27, Soviet authorities began an evacuation of the 30,000 inhabitants of Pripyat. A cover-up was attempted, but on April 28 Swedish radiation monitoring stations, more than 800 miles to the northwest of Chernobyl, reported radiation levels 40 percent higher than normal. Later that day, the Soviet news agency acknowledged that a major nuclear accident had occurred at Chernobyl.

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Trump Administration put a hold on expanding offshore drilling, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Trump administration is suspending plans to expand offshore drilling, including plans to drill off Georgia, after a recent court ruling blocked drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal.

Bernhardt said the agency would delay indefinitely its five-year plan for oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf as the case goes through the appeals process.

“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal in a report published Thursday. The plans had been expected to be released in the near future.

From the Brunswick News:

A March 29 federal court order invaliding an executive order behind the Trump administration’s offshore energy plans led to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordering an indefinite suspension of all those efforts Thursday.

An Interior spokesperson told The Hill after the WSJ story broke, “Given the recent court decision, the department is simply evaluating all of its options to determine the best pathway to accomplish the mission entrusted to it by the president.”

Governor Brian Kemp will today signs a number of bills, including one to expand broadband access, according to the AJC.

The Republican will ink the broadband measures at a signing ceremony in Dahlonega, part of a stretch of mountainous north Georgia territory where residents have long complained about spotty connectivity.

The measures aim to bring more competition to residents with few options.

One proposal, Senate Bill 2, will allow electric membership corporations to sell internet service along with power. And Senate Bill 17 lets telephone cooperatives to offer internet services.

A third measure, Senate Bill 66, allows telecom firms to set up 5G technology equipment on public land. That proposal, however, will primarily benefit large cities that are likely to receive faster cellphone internet service long before rural areas.

Lawmakers tucked about $2 million into this year’s budget proposal for rural internet funding; some estimates project it will cost well over $1 billion to rewire the entire state.

Governor Kemp yesterday signed a number of other bills, according to AccessWDUN.

Among the measures getting Kemp’s signature was a bill sponsored by State Rep. Matt Dubnik of Gainesville. House Bill (HB) 287 amends portions of the state’s so-called PTIP program. (Read more at the link below).

The full list of legislation signed during the ceremony is below. Click on the House Bill number to see full content of each bill.

HB 186 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R – Savannah)
HB 321 by Rep. Jodi Lott (R – Evans)
HB 63 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta)
HB 287 by Matt Dubnik (R – Gainesville)
HB 290 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta)
SB 16 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta)
SB 18 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta)
SB 168 by Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus)
SB 184 by Sen Greg Kirk (R – Americus)
SB 207 by Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge)

Senator Chuck Hufstelter (R-Rome) discussed healthcare legislation passed this session, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“This was a huge year for healthcare … About 90% of what I wanted to see happen happened,” the Republican chairman of the chamber’s finance committee told the Rome Rotary Club.

Hospitals will have greater leeway to expand and add services under legislation revising certificate-of-need requirements.

“I’m a free-market person, but health care is not always a free market,” Hufstetler said in explaining the conflict. “There are some people who need to be treated for free and if someone just cherry-picked off the good business, that could leave (hospitals providing indigent care) vulnerable.”

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation, HB 186, Thursday — along with a slew of other healthcare legislation — at a ceremony at CTCA in Newnan. Hufstetler was among the lawmakers invited, but the Rotary Club engagement conflicted.

He also hailed SB 16, which makes it easier for some specialists licensed in other states to get licensed in Georgia, and SB 18, which addresses direct primary care.

“If someone wants to contract with an independent physician — it’s usually around $50 a month — it’s not an insurance issue (anymore),” he said.

House Bill 287 by State Rep. Matt Dubnik was also among legislation signed by Gov. Kemp, according to the Gainesville Times.

House Bill 287 was introduced by Rep. Matt Dubnik and co-sponsored by Rep. Lee Hawkins, both Gainesville Republicans.

The legislation will get rid of an income tax deduction currently offered to physicians who teach future doctors and replace it with a new income tax credit. Registered nurses and physician assistants who train students would also qualify. Only community medical professionals, not those who work in a university setting, would be able to get the tax credit.

The goal is to incentivize medical professionals in Georgia to train the next generation of health care providers, Dubnik said.

“With the primary care shortage in Georgia, this is just another tool in our tool belt to keep those future doctors here in Georgia,” he said.

A Medicaid waiver proposal by the Kemp administration could be modeled on a proposal by Grady Memorial Hospital, according to the AJC.

Clark entered a program that Grady invented in 2017 to lower its emergency room costs by diverting some of its most frequent ER visitors into a specialized clinic. Grady leaders believe their program could be replicated across the state, and possibly across the country, to cover more patients at a lower cost.

As Gov. Brian Kemp explores options for a limited expansion of Medicaid in Georgia, Grady’s program could provide one way to bring more federal health care dollars into the state to cover more people in a cost-efficient way.

Kemp’s research into Medicaid waiver plans is just beginning. But the approach he has mentioned so far, several times, is Grady’s.

“They (the Trump administration) want us to figure out ways to innovate,” Kemp said in his most recent comments, on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB. “Grady has a plan” to better deliver the right health care to people, he said, and the administration wants states to develop ideas that can spread across the country. “People are very excited about this, and I am as well.”

Since the clinic started in 2017 with a $2 million private grant, it’s enrolled about 250 patients. Some fell out of the program, and others kept up with appointments but didn’t follow directions. Overall, 64 patients have graduated, moving on to regular care teams. Grady estimates the pilot project saved 44% of what the hospital would have spent on their care.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) spoke at a roundable hosted by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

One of the key issues discussed was the chamber’s opposition to the FAA’s so-called “1,500-hour rule.”

The rule requires new pilots to receive an airline transport pilot certificate attesting that they have 1,500 hours of cockpit training, chamber officials said. It mostly impacts regional – rural – trunk carriers where 1,500-hour pilots are difficult to find and recruit, thus creating a pilot shortage and curtailing regional air service.

Another topic discussed at the meeting pertained to issues surrounding the measurements of the Base Realignment and Closure process, which determines the possibility of a military base closing, chamber officials said.

“Congressman Scott is very accessible to his constituents,” [Chamber President Myrna] Ballard said. “He takes the time to listen to the concerns of the business community. These face-to-face discussions with our elected officials are the best way to advocate for our members.”

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at Mayor Skip Henderson’s first proposed budget.

Henderson presented his recommended budget to council during a regular council meeting Tuesday.

The total balanced budget recommended is $282,597,030, which is a 2.64 percent increase over the 2019 adopted budget of $275,340,292.

The proposed budget consists of $152.8 million in General Fund revenue, which includes $34.8 million in Local Option Sales Tax funds, $34.8 million in Other Local Option Sales Tax funds and $94 million in all other operating fund revenues.

The city is projecting a 2 percent increase in the 2020 tax digest (the assessed value of all taxable property in the county) Henderson said, and the budget reflects $2,010,000 in new General Funds revenue.

The Rome Office of Tourism is working to attract part of a Disney film production, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“We’ve been courting a Disney blockbuster,” [Ann] Hortman said. “Filming would begin sometime in the fall and we’re super excited about it.”

Through the first quarter of 2019, tourism-related expenditures tracked by the local Office of Tourism has amounted to $2.1 million, which is down about 3.1% from the first quarter of last year.

The Hall County Board of Elections is considering revising their bylaws, according to the Gainesville Times.

Changes up for a vote include allowing more time for public comment on future bylaw changes and basing party appointments on presidential rather than state elections.

The five-member board currently has two members appointed by the Hall County Republican Party, two appointed by the Hall County Democratic Party and a chairman, the Rev. Tom Smiley, appointed by the Hall County Board of Commissioners rather than a political party.

Current bylaws state that members should be appointed by the two parties that got the most votes in the last election for all members of the Georgia General Assembly. The proposed changes would base members’ parties on which parties’ candidates for president got the most votes in the last election.

“If there were to be a presidential candidate that received more votes than a Republican or Democrat candidate, then according to these bylaws we would seat two members from that party,” Smiley said at the board’s April 9 meeting when potential changes were being discussed.

Savannah City Council voted to hired former Chatham County Assistant Manager Pat Monahan as an interim city manager, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah City Council also approved a management contract for a new arena, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Forsyth City Council approved a new entertainment district that will offer liquor to go, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The City Council on April 15 approved an entertainment district that includes the courthouse square and surrounding blocks. It will allow people in the district to carry alcoholic drinks in designated cups sold by the city.

Mayor Eric Wilson said the idea and policy grew out of a visit to the city of Monroe. Officials there said it had been working out well and there had been no problems.

Open containers will be allowed in the district from 5-11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The policy will go into effect as soon as the cups come in, hopefully within a couple of weeks, Tammie Pierson, Main Street director, said.

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