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

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Jun

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

On June 26, 1918, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, which outlawed the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol. Governor Hugh Dorsey did not sign it for nearly a week, but the United States Secretary of State considers an Amendment ratified when the state legislature has voted on final passage.

On June 26, 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco.

The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948 after the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin, which was occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France.

The first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in the UK on June 26, 1997.

Gone with the Wind was re-released on June 26, 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams urged Congress to increase federal regulation of state voting, according to the AJC.

Stacey Abrams urged members of Congress to bolster federal voting protections on Tuesday, six years to the day after the U.S. Supreme Court nullified key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act for being outdated.

“The Shelby decision created a new channel for the troubling practice of voter suppression during a time of dramatic demographic change,” Abrams told members of a House Judiciary subcommittee.

Georgia’s Republican governor wasn’t at Tuesday’s hearing, but Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins said the Voting Rights Act provision that required federal involvement in state and local elections was “inconsistent with the central pillars of federalism.” He said the courts currently offer critics of voting laws adequate recourse and that Congress doesn’t need to step back into the debate.

In its 5-to-4 Shelby decision, the Supreme Court tossed out the nearly 50-year-old formula that had required Georgia and 15 other jurisdictions with histories of voting discrimination to pre-clear their proposed election changes with the Justice Department.

“Voter turnout is expanding mightily” in the state, [U.S. Rep. Doug] Collins [R-Gainesville] said. “Between 2014 and 2018, turnout among Hispanic and African American voters has soared, increasing by double digits in a state that more and more Americans are choosing to call home.”

Abrams voiced support for a pair of recently introduced proposals, including legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and civil rights leader.

That bill, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, would set a new formula that applies to all 50 states and “hinges on a finding of repeated voting rights violations in the preceding 25 years,” according to a fact sheet. If enacted, it would once again give the Justice Department veto power over any of Georgia’s proposed voting changes.

Clint Eastwood announced he will begin filming “The Ballad of Richard Jewell” in Georgia this summer, according to The Hill.

“The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” is set to start production this summer, according to NBC’s WCNC in Charlotte, which added that the film will star Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, Sam Rockwell among others.

Eastwood will also direct the movie, according to Variety. It will center around Richard Jewell, a security guard who discovered bombs at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and was accused of planning an attack, although he was later exonerated.

Chatham County Board of Elections member Antwan T. Lang wants to create a new voting precinct for Savannah State University students, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The University spans two separate precincts, 3-10 and 3-13. The former gets the same ballot as the rest of Savannah’s third district, but the latter — which has the majority of registered student voters — gets the ballots for Chatham County.

Currently, the university has two addresses that students can use when they register to vote in Chatham County.

Lang said approximately 1,500 to 2,000 students are registered using 3219 College St., and vote on and Unincorporated Chatham ballot at precinct 3-13.

But approximately 155 to 200 students are registered to 147 Tompkins Rd., and vote on a Savannah ballot at precinct 3-10.

Lang’s proposed solution is to make Savannah State its own precinct and put a poll on campus that could serve all students. He said that would eliminate any confusion about which poll students should cast their ballots at and allow students to vote without leaving campus.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren spoke to the Statesboro Rotary Club, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A question after Monday’s meeting was, does Warren think there should be more women on the court again?

“I don’t think I can answer that question, but what I’ll say is, we have a tremendous court,” she said. “I have eight great colleagues, we have racial diversity, we have age diversity, we have geographic diversity, and I think there’s always room for improvement in the future, but I really love my colleagues now, and it’s a real privilege to work with them.”

Another question from the Statesboro Herald was, does she aspire to follow further in the path of Grant, whom she called “a great friend and mentor to me,” from the state high court to the federal system?

“You know, I love serving the state and it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time doing, and I’m just happy to be here and look forward to many years of serving on this court,” Warren said.

To remain on the court, she will have to win a six-year term in next May’s nonpartisan statewide election.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said a shortage of deputies led to more than $1.3 million dollars in additional overtime pay, according to WMAZ.

Sheriff David Davis says right now, they have about 400 deputies, but 135 vacancies.

“Any time there’s a type of serious incident — a violent incident, a presidential visit, or something not foreseen — overtime is issued for that,” said Davis.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office budgets $3 million for overtime, but they need another $1.3 million to pay for their extra overtime for 2019.

Davis asked Bibb County commissioners to move $1.3 million out of payroll to pay overtime costs.

Commissioner Mallory Jones proposed a solution for the deputy shortage. He sponsored a resolution to take $2 million from the county’s reserves to give employees in the sheriff’s office and the fire department $2,000 raises.

The Hall County Commission adopted a $276.7 million dollar budget for FY 2020 that includes a property tax rate rollback, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County will be going with the rolled back general fund millage rate of 5.098 mills, after commissioners unanimously approved the new tax rate and budget on Tuesday.

One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. The rolled back tax rate adjusts for increased assessed property values in the county.

The next fiscal year begins July 1.

The total budget is $276.7 million, a 2.5% increase from the current year. Hall has seen some growth and a strong economy over the past year, leading to increases in revenues from some sources like property taxes, sales taxes and the ad valorem tax.

The Helen City Commission adopted a FY 2020 budget that includes an increase in water and sewer rates, according to AccessWDUN.

During a called meeting to finalize the FY2020 budget Tuesday, the Helen City Commission voted unanimously to increase the base rates for water and sewer by 50 cents each, and to bump the per-thousand-gallon cost for water by 20 cents per 1,000 gallons for the upcoming fiscal year.

Helen is unique because of the number of hotel rooms and restaurants, so commercial water and wastewater are billed by residential equivalent units based on peak consumption.

The base rate for a residential equivalent unit for a water customer inside the city is $8, while it’s $15.50 outside the city. The wastewater base rate for sewer inside the city is $14.86, while the rate is $18.10 outside the city.

“About eight or nine years ago, we actually hit our residents with a large increase – nearly double what they were paying at the current time,” said City Manager Jerry Elkins. “Since that time, we’ve tried to plan and increase our water and sewer rates a little each year where it doesn’t affect them so greatly all at one time.”

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is impacted by low water levels, according to The Brunswick News.

Water levels at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge are still about a foot below normal, despite recent rains.

Some canoe trails leading to overnight camping platforms remain inaccessible because of the low water levels.

Several weeks ago, the refuge began restricting the booking of overnight camping permits to two weeks in advance. Normally, campers can apply for permits as early as two months in advance.

The low water levels have concentrated alligators into some areas where canoeists and kayakers can paddle.

“They’re just following their food sources,” Heisey said.

Bonaire Elementary School in Houston County is currently overcrowded, but a new school expected to open next year should ease that, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Augusta’s 5th Street Bridge is being converted from automotive traffic to pedestrian, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority is at an impasse in selecting a site for a new James Brown Arena, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences gave public tours of a research farm, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

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