Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 13, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 13, 2019

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

The Brunswick News looks at the 1777 duel between Lachlan McIntosh and Button Gwinnett.

Both McIntosh and Gwinnett took similar paths to that fateful day on May 16, 1777. Lachlan McIntosh was born in Scotland in 1725, the son of John Mohr McIntosh. The elder McIntosh brought his family to the newly established Georgia Colony in 1736 as the leader of a hardy bunch of Scotts settlers. They established the settlement that would become Darien in the area that today carries the family name, McIntosh County.

A Georgia delegate to the Continental Congress in the summer of 1776, Gwinnett’s signature sits first on the left of signers to this nation’s Declaration of Independence. By 1777, the man for whom the county in metropolitan Atlanta is named was serving in Georgia’s state legislature. He succeeded Archibald Bulloch as president of Georgia’s general assembly after Bulloch’s death.

Standing 12 paces apart, the two leveled their pistols, each at the other. No quick-draw stuff. Each staring down a barrel, the two men fired simultaneously. Gwinnett took a bullet to the thigh; McIntosh also was shot in the leg. McIntosh’s wound eventually mended; Gwinnett lived but three more days.

Gwinnett’s Whig party allies brought murder charges against McIntosh. He was acquitted.

Fearing further reprisals against the young Continental officer, Gen. George Washington himself reassigned McIntosh to the main army. There he endured the bitter winter of ’77-78 at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, supervising North Carolina troops.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed a copy of the state budget in Camilla, according to the Albany Herald.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget on Friday. Joined by lawmakers, law enforcement officials, educators, and local leaders in Camilla, Kemp’s signature of the balanced budget caps a historic first legislative session.

“This budget demonstrates our priorities as a state, reflects our core values, and signals the bright future ahead for all Georgians,” Kemp said at the signing ceremony. “For the second year in a row, our state fully-funded public education. With the support of the General Assembly, this budget delivers a well-deserved — and long overdue — educator pay raise of $3,000, the largest in state history.

“I am confident these bold investments will enhance educational outcomes and yield huge dividends for our students and our state in the future.”

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said the budget addresses priorities established by the General Assembly.

“Eleven million Georgians expect our policies to enhance education, economic development, and health care,” he said. “The FY 2020 budget – which passed the Georgia Senate unanimously – recognizes those priorities by fully funding our K-12 education system, raising educator pay, promoting innovative approaches to technological learning, advancing health care reform measures and funding programs which prepare our state for long-term success.

Governor Kemp vetoed legislation that would have required recess time for some students, according to Georgia Health News.

Kemp vetoed House Bill 83 on Friday along with several other bills. In his veto message, the governor said the recess requirement “would impose unreasonable burdens on educational leaders without meaningful justification.’’

“While I support expanded recess opportunities for Georgia’s students, I am a firm believer in local control, especially in education,’’ Kemp stated. He said House Bill 83 would dramatically restrict this local control, stripping long-held authority from school boards.

Rep. Demetrius Douglas, a former Georgia Bulldog linebacker and currently a Henry County high school football coach, was lead sponsor of the bill. He pushed the recess idea for three years.

Douglas, a Stockbridge Democrat, pointed to the high child obesity rate in the state. One-third of Georgia children ages 10-17 were overweight or obese in 2017. “It’s a health initiative first,’’ he said of the recess bill. “It’s about our future. These kids will be running our state.’’

Kemp also vetoed another health-related measure – a pilot program for covering prescription drugs for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions for the State Health Benefit Plan, which covers schoolteachers, other school personnel, state employees and retirees.

The governor said the program would be too costly and cause higher premiums for state employees.

From the AJC:

Recess lost ground after the No Child Left Behind Act pressured schools to raise their math and reading scores. Forty-four percent of America’s school districts reported cutting time from other areas, including recess, art and music and physical education, to beef up math and reading instruction.

There is no federal requirement for recess as it’s viewed as a state matter. Five states mandate recess, while at least seven states require daily physical activity for elementary schools. In every case, legislators in those states expressed fears over the increasing sedentary lifestyles of children. Georgia has the 18th highest obesity rate for youth ages 10 to 17

A strong push for recess is coming from parents, who contend unstructured play is vital to children’s physical and social advancement. Those parents found allies among child development researchers who say recess bolsters social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

Hemp farming is now legal in Georgia, after Gov. Kemp signed House Bill 213, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp made it legal Friday for farmers to grow hemp in Georgia.

Kemp signed into law a bill that allows hemp crops, which can be used to make CBD oil, rope and other items.

Besides Georgia, 41 states have hemp programs. Kemp signed House Bill 213 during a ceremony in Lake Park in South Georgia.

Some students at Valdosta State University walked out when Gov. Kemp spoke at commencement, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Most graduates stayed seated but others walked out of Valdosta State University’s 227th commencement ceremony as Gov. Brian Kemp gave the address Saturday evening.

Students returned following the speech to walk across the stage.

A town hall meeting was held in late April protesting Kemp as VSU’s keynote speaker. On Saturday, students gave varying opinions regarding the governor’s visit.

“But graduates, I’m confident that together we can tackle things like the opioid crisis. We can expand access to quality health care,” Kemp said.

“We can keep our family safe and boost educational outcomes, protect the vulnerable and ensure that all people are treated with respect,” [said Kemp].

“There will be moments when the odds are not in your favor, when you feel alone and ill-prepared, times of darkness and despair,” he said. “Perseverance builds character and character produces hope,” [said Kemp].

D-list actress Alyssa Milano says she may not return to Georgia, according to BuzzFeed.

Alyssa Milano says she intends to honor the film production boycott of Georgia that she and dozens of other celebrities petitioned for after the state’s governor signed the controversial “heartbeat” abortion restriction into law.

Milano is currently filming Netflix’s second season of Insatiable in Georgia, a show that was criticized when it was released in August for fat-shaming and a storyline featuring an adult male beauty pageant coach who is falsely accused of molesting a minor. The actor said she’s contractually obligated to stay in Georgia for another month, but won’t return to the show if it films there in the future.

“I have to be there for another month but you can be sure I will fight tooth and nail to move Insatiable to a state that will protect our rights,” Milano told BuzzFeed News in an interview that she only agreed to do over email. “And if it doesn’t move to another state, I will not be able to return to the show if we are blessed with a third season. This is my leverage. I will use it for the betterment of society and our great country.”

Good riddance.

Milano also called for a sex strike to protest strict abortion laws, according to CNN.

Actress Alyssa Milano called for a sex strike in response to restrictive abortion laws, and many women were quick to call her out.

“Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy,” Milano said on Twitter Friday. “JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.”

Critics said the strike assumes that sex is enjoyed only by men and that women’s bodies are commodities that can be denied to men as punishment. Some people also pointed out that the sex strike ignored LGBTQ people and didn’t consider the possibility of sexual violence.

“Living under the patriarchy has already robbed me of safety, autonomy, opportunities, and trust in our institutions. Now I’m supposed to give up sex, too, and play into the fiction that it is just a bargaining chip/transaction for women,” said Kristi Coulter on Twitter. “Love you, but nope.”

“A shame because again, you are using sex as a weapon, as a way to get what you want,” said Tammy Lawson on Twitter. “I guess your brain wasn’t good enough.”

Some other actress I’ve never heard of suggested mandatory vasectomies for Georgia men, according to Breitbart.

Hollywood actress Evan Rachel Wood took to Twitter over the weekend and joked that men should undergo mandatory surgical sterilization in response to Georgia’s “Heartbeat” abortion law, which prohibits a woman from aborting her pregnancy in the state after a heartbeat is detected.

“Please. We have been abused and used enough. They want control of our bodies. I cant even begin to explain the terrifying implications of this. Help. Please,” the Westworld star said. “They are going to try and overturn Roe vs Wade and countless women are going to die. Everyone STAND UP.”

“I dont want mandatory vasectomies because I don’t believe we should legislate peoples bodies, its a dangerous slippery slope.” the HBO star said. “I used the example to point out the hypocrisy of always putting the responsibility, punishment, blame, or means of prevention, solely on women.”

Some film production companies that don’t do business in Georgia say they’re boycotting the state, according to The Hill.

Bernie Sanders will visit Georgia, according to the AJC.

The Vermont Democrat will hold a town hall on Saturday in Augusta, part of a three-day blitz that will also bring him to Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina.

It’s his first visit to Georgia this cycle, and one of several to South Carolina, home to the first-in-the-South Democratic primary. And by visiting Augusta, the White House hopeful will also slice into a chunk of the South Carolina media market.

The City of Norcross will release results of the first municipal study of extended stay hotel populations, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Like in many other cities across metro Atlanta, there are limited residential options for working and middle-class families in Norcross,” organizers of the presentation event said in a media advisory. “A defining feature of the housing landscape in this city of 17,000 is that it is dotted with extended-stay motels, and most of these are home to families and elderly individuals.”

Rome Circuit Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham will not run for reelection in 2020, according to the Rome News Tribune.

At least one person who already holds a similar position has been openly talking about running within the legal community and others have hinted at it. We’ll see what happens.

The past two judicial races have been hotly contested — three ran for Judge Larry Salmon’s seat in 2008 and two ran for Judge Tami Colston’s seat in 2018. In fact, Judge Jack Niedrach — who won the election for Salmon’s seat — will become the new chief judge. We’re certainly thankful for the experience and gravitas he will bring to that position.

Speaking of the 2020 election, and rumors involved, there have been several more names floating about for those who may run for Sheriff Tim Burkhalter’s position. Three people have officially come out publicly saying they’ll qualify to run for the post — Tom Caldwell, Ronnie Kilgo and Dave Roberson. The last count of rumored candidates (including these three) was somewhere around seven. We’ll see what happens when qualifying time comes around.

Westside High School in Bibb County became the first public school to receive the SMART Exemplary School Award, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Lowndes County Board of Elections will meet on May 14, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Chatham County Board of Elections will add two new precincts in Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In the 2018 mid-term election, Chatham County saw a surge in voter registrations and early voting numbers.

At 10:30 p.m. on Election Day, voters at Rothwell Baptist Church in Pooler reported about 60 people were still in line waiting to vote. Others reported it took more than four hours to cast ballots.

It’s an issue that Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges attributes to Pooler’s growing pains. The city’s booming population growth in the last few decades.

In 2018, Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb told Savannah Morning News he estimates there were about 2,000 residents in Pooler when he moved there 42 years ago. In 2017, Census data estimates put the population at 24,000.

The new precincts will include at least two voting machines — Bridges said that’s the minimum number for any precinct countywide.

There are currently three precincts in Pooler.

“The biggest problem in places like Pooler is finding places to put the polls. Pooler is residential, and it has a huge commercial district, but the Tanger Outlet and the shopping mall and all those places — they’re not amenable to be polling places,” Bridges said. “We usually use community buildings, public places, churches and schools.”

The Glynn County Board of Elections will announce their choice for hiring a new elections supervisor on Tuesday, according to The Brunswick News.

The board will have to wait 14 days from the announcement date to make the hiring official, she explained.

Assistant supervisor Chris Channell is currently serving as the interim supervisor. He follows former supervisors Tina Edwards and Monica Couch, who left their roles in July 2017 and December 2018, respectively.

Edwards resigned from her position while the board voted to fire Couch on Dec. 12, just after the 2018 general election runoff.

At the same time, they appointed Channell interim supervisor.

The board will also recognize outgoing Glynn County Republican Party appointee Ruby Robinson, who is nearing the end of her second term. The Republican Party announced her replacement, Patricia Featherstone, last week.

Savannah tourism and related revenue increased in 2018, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Last year visitors to the Hostess City opened their wallets more than ever, spending a record breaking $3 billion in 2018, an increase of 3.2% compared to the $2.91 billion spent in 2017, according to the annual Visit Savannah Visitor Study compiled by Longwoods International.

According to the survey, about $1 billion was spent on lodging; $785 million on food and beverage; $502 on retail; $359 on recreation and $322 on transportation and Marinelli said the increase in spending reflects the overall product in the local market, which has added several new, higher-end additions including The Perry Lane Hotel, Alida hotel, Husk and La Scala.

The total number of visitors also increased to 14.5 million compared to 14.1 million in 2017. About 6.2 million of those visitors were day-trippers and 8.2 million overnight visitors, who are also staying a bit longer with the average length of stay increasing to 2.6 nights from 2.4 nights in 2017.

Cave Spring City Council will likely hear a draft of a new alcohol ordinance on Tuesday, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Board members have been working on a comprehensive revision since voters approved in March the sale of liquor – by the drink, by the package and on Sundays – within the city limits. They’re using the city of Rome’s ordinance as a template but tailoring it for their historic small town.

City Attorney Frank Beacham said at the close of a work session last week that he would have a draft of the changes he’s been directed to incorporate so far.

“It is your intention to allow liquor by the drink at restaurants, distillery tasting rooms, farm wineries, malt beverage tap rooms, hotels, private clubs and retail establishments approved by the City Council – but not at bars or sham establishments,” Beacham said in summary, to nods from the board members.

The Hall County Tax Commissioner’s Office will be open Saturday, according to AccessWDUN.

There will be limited or no services related to motor vehicles May 20 through May 29 statewide. The Hall County Tax Commissioner’s Office will be unable to process vehicle tags and titles and business renewals from Thursday, May 23 through Monday, May 27, according to Tax Commissioner Darla Eden. Additionally, the self-service kiosk located at Kroger Marketplace and online renewal services will be off-line from May 21 through May 29.

With that in mind, Eden said the office will be open this Saturday, May 18 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. All titling and registration services will be available to individuals and dealerships on Saturday.

Statesboro City Council will hear the results of a transit study on Tuesday, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Connetics Transportation Group has completed its feasibility study for a possible public transit system in Statesboro and is scheduled to present the results to City Council in an open, special session at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST, referendum approved by a majority of Bulloch County voters in May 2018 earmarked $450,000 to start a public transit program in Statesboro.

City Council in September contracted CTG, which has an office in Atlanta, to do the study for $68,793. The final report is about 110 pages long, or 190 pages if appendences of details such as survey and interview results are included. Beginning with data showing rapid population and employment growth, the report’s executive summary projects further growth for Statesboro and describes it as having already a “large transportation disadvantaged population,” including students, seniors, low-wage working people and people with disabilities.

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