Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2018

On May 9, 1862, a Union general, David Hunter, ordered the freedom of all slaves held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, but President Lincoln issued a counter-order.

In Georgia on May 9, 1864, Union troops under General Sherman took Snake Creek Gap. In Atlanta, a notice was published,

“ATTENTION MILITIA! All persons between the ages of 16 and 60, not in the service of the Confederate States, in the second ward, are hereby notified to be and appear at the City Hall today, at 2 o’clock P.M., for the purpose of being armed and equipped for local defense. Herein fail not under penalty.”

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 9, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary opened hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

On May 9, 1977, the Grateful Dead played at Buffalo War Memorial Auditorium.

On May 9, 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation recognizing the Green Tree Frog at the official state amphibian.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp and eight other state governors signed a letter asking Congress and the Administration to fund disaster relief, according to WABE.

A $14 billion disaster relief bill has been hung up for months in a dispute between Trump and congressional Democrats over additional aid to Puerto Rico, which the president argues already has received enough federal assistance.

The 10 states signing the letter include Georgia, Alabama, California, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Plant Vogtle Unit 3 hit a new milestone as equipment has been switched from temporary generators to permanent incoming electric power, according to Oil & Gas 360.

Georgia Power announced today that plant equipment for Vogtle Unit 3 is now energized, or permanently powered, which is needed to perform all subsequent testing for the unit. With plant equipment previously running on temporary construction power, the completion of initial energization represents a significant milestone in the Vogtle expansion as the project moves from construction toward system operations.

“Initial energization is a major first step in transitioning the project from construction toward system operations,” said Vogtle 3 & 4 Construction Senior Vice President Glen Chick. “With energization complete, we can continue moving into the actual testing phase for Unit 3.”

Significant progress continues at the site, with the project now approximately 77 percent complete. With more than 7,000 workers currently onsite and more than 800 permanent jobs available once the units begin operating, Vogtle 3 & 4 is currently the largest jobs-producing construction project in the state of Georgia.

U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said the administration is open to increasing Georgia Medicaid funding under a waiver, according to Georgia Health News.

Verma also told conference attendees that the agency is applying “a rural lens to CMS programs and policies to lower costs, ensure access and improve quality of care for rural Americans.’’

And she told GHN in an interview that the Trump administration is receptive to states’ ideas for federal waivers that could change state Medicaid and private insurance rules. Georgia is in the process of formulating waiver requests that will be made to the federal government.

Verma said CMS had met with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on his waiver initiative, and she added that she would be touching base with Kemp again Wednesday. Georgia officials have begun the process of soliciting bids from consulting firms on a contract to develop the state’s waiver proposals.

“I think it’s too early to understand what direction they’re going in, in terms of this waiver,’’ Verma said.

She said that the Trump administration is reviewing a proposal to raise the federal match level to 90 percent if states want to expand their Medicaid programs to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or roughly $12,500 in income for an individual.

That’s the level that Kemp has targeted in his waiver effort.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) has proposed legislation to fund immigration enforcement on the southern border, according to the Gainesville Times.

Collins, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rogers, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, are seeking to amend the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019. Supplemental budget appropriations are made to cover emergencies, including disaster relief.

Collins said the funds are needed to fully address immigration issues at the southern border.

“The crisis at our southern border demands additional resources,” he said in a statement. “It’s growing every day, and because of loopholes in immigration policy, the men and women who keep our nation safe remain overwhelmed and underfunded.”

The amendment includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance, which includes shelter space for unaccompanied children, care for children in custody and transportation for border processing centers. $1.1 billion would be used for operations, including personnel, transportation and resources to address trafficking. $178 million would be used for technology and law enforcement pay.

Former State Representative Alex Atwood will speak at Saturday’s commencement for the College of Coastal Georgia, according to the Brunswick News.

Atwood has a long and distinguished career in law, business, military and government. He previously served three terms in the Georgia House of Representatives. In that role, he held numerous leadership and committee roles. While serving as a member of the appropriations committee for higher education, Atwood helped secure construction funding for College of Coastal Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Atwood in March to be the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services. In the role, Atwood oversees the numerous state operations and functions of the department, including service as the chief contracting officer for the state and the Human Resources Administration.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved an agreement with three Community Improvement Districts to study bus rapid transit funding, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county’s agreements with the Gateway85 Gwinnett, Gwinnett Place and Sugarloaf Community Improvement Districts call for each of the CIDs to contribute funding to cover a local match on an Atlanta Regional Commission grant to pay for the study.

The study is expected to cost $800,000, but the county and the CIDs will collectively put up half of that cost in the local match on the grant.

The three CIDS are working with the county on securing the grant funding for the study because the route that would be looked at crosses through the three districts, going from Jimmy Carter Boulevard to Sugarloaf Parkway.

Bus rapid transit is a key part of the county’s Connect Gwinnett Transit Development Plan, which would have been MARTA’s blueprint for transit service and may still be incorporated into the Atlanta Transit Link’s regional transit plan.

Congress may eliminate funding for the Sea Grant program, which could affect a partnership that includes the UGA Marine Extension, according to the Brunswick News.

The National Sea Grant College Program has a significant hand in how a lot of states manage their coasts and their fisheries — Georgia’s partnership between the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant conducts all manner of activities along the coast, including out of its Brunswick Station on Bay Street.

However, the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 budget eliminates federal funding for the Sea Grant program. That was one of several topics of discussion Wednesday in a hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife.

U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said Virginia is No. 1 in both clam and oyster aquaculture thanks to Sea Grant implementation through educational bodies like the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and in cooperation with the private sector.

Georgia is looking to get in on some of those oyster aquaculture dollars through a state-regulated program. Gov. Brian Kemp has yet to sign the bill that passed the General Assembly that would legalize oyster farming, House Bill 501. Detractors of the bill are asking Kemp to veto it, so better legislation could be passed in coming General Assembly sessions.

The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education tabled a measure that would have increased the price of school lunches to $3 dollars, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The increase would mean $3 lunches for all schools — whether high school or kindergarten.School board member Julie Wade said she had a problem with that.

“I suspect a kindergarten student doesn’t (eat) the same as a high school senior,” Wade said. “We are now one of the highest in the state (for school lunch).”

Wade also said she was concerned staff is using the incorrect federal regulation to guide the increase.

Wade said the regulation she believes that should be used only allows for a 10 cent increase.

Currently paid lunches for grades K-8 are $2.25 and $2.50 for grades 9 through 12.

Savannah may borrow $45 million dollars to fill a shortfall in funding for a new arena, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Construction is expected to cost $165 million, but the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is expected to generate a maximum of $120 million for the project.

To cover the shortfall, city staff is recommending the issuance of $45 million in bonds that would be paid back over a 30-year period using proceeds from the city’s rental motor vehicle tax.

About 75 percent of the vehicle tax revenue is currently used to help fund operations at the Civic Center, according to David Maxwell, Savannah’s chief financial officer.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler spoke to the Chatsworth-Eton-Murray County Chamber of Commerce, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Ten years after the end of the Great Recession, employers have reached all of the “easy pickings” when it comes to finding workers, says Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

“In an economy like this, somebody who has the will and knows what they are doing and has the soft skills is going to get a job,” Butler said Wednesday at the Murray County Recreation Department during a lunch and learn session hosted by the Chatsworth-Eton-Murray County Chamber of Commerce.

Those soft skills, he said, include such things as showing up on time, the ability to work with others, communication skills and being organized.

“This isn’t just limited to this region,” he said. “Employers from across the state — from the metro Atlanta area to southwest Georgia — say the same thing. They are having trouble finding people with the soft skills they need.”

Butler said a related issue employers face is finding individuals who can pass an initial drug-screening test. He said employers tell him they have often offered people a job contingent on a drug screening and when the applicant finds out he has to be drug tested he just walks away from the offer.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan said he has seen that happen with applicants for county jobs.

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission accepted the resignation of Executive Director Jimmy Junkin, according to The Brunswick News.

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