Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2019

General George Washington created the Purple Heart on August 7, 1782. Click here for an interesting history of the award.

On August 7, 1790, a delegation of Creeks met with the United States Secretary of War and signed the Treaty of New York, ceding all land between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers to Georgia.

Theodore Roosevelt, who served as President from 1901 to 1909, was nominated for President by the Progressive Party, also called the Bull Moose Party, on August 7, 1912.

On August 7, 1942, Marine forces landed at Guadalcanal.

Voters ratified a new version of the State Constitution on August 7, 1945. Among the new features was the establishment of the State Board of Corrections to ensure humane conditions.

The board was directed to be more humane in its treatment of prisoners and abolished whippings, leg irons, and chains. Until 1945, prisoners in Georgia could expect to have heavy steel shackles put on by a blacksmith upon arrival. They were then taken out to work under severe conditions.

The caravan bearing 43 ounces of Dahlonega gold to be used in covering the Georgia State Capitol dome reached the Capitol and delivered it to Governor Marvin Griffin on August 7, 1958.

On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which would be used as the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Republicans will grapple with “red flag” legislation, according to the AJC.

President Donald Trump’s support for “red flag” gun laws after twin mass shootings left at least 31 people dead in Ohio and Texas poses a challenge for Georgia Republicans who have long resisted firearm restrictions.

Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday that he was “closely monitoring” discussions in Washington over the legislation after Trump endorsed “extreme risk protection orders” that could let authorities take firearms from a person deemed by a court to be dangerous.

“As we review these proposals, we will solicit input from the law enforcement community, subject-matter experts in behavioral and mental health, and advocacy groups to best inform our analysis,” Kemp said in a statement.

Other Georgia Republicans were noncommittal. U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is running for a second term in 2020, said he hasn’t decided whether he would explore the “red flag” legislation.

“The thing that’s been missing in this issue is really both sides trying to work on it in a bipartisan manner. That’s why I’m encouraged by some of these things that we’re talking about going further,” he said after a speech to the Kiwanis Club in Atlanta. “I still think there’s a lot of work to do here.”

Medical cannabis legislation is stalled over appointments to an oversight board, according to the AJC.

Nearly four months after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law allowing companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in Georgia for the first time, he and other top politicians still haven’t appointed members of the commission that will hash out the rules for dispensing the drug.

The legislation, House Bill 324, gave the seven-member commission vast oversight over the state’s medical marijuana operation, including picking which businesses can grow the plant and developing the licensing requirements that retailers must meet to sell it.

It’s a cornerstone of legislation that creates a new but limited marijuana industry in Georgia. The legislation was celebrated as a milestone for patients who were previously allowed to use the drug — but had to violate state and federal laws to purchase it.

“I was hoping the commission would be appointed right away, as it will take considerable time to establish the process for granting the licenses,” said Allen Peake, a former Republican lawmaker and the author of the state’s first medical marijuana laws.

The law gives the commission power to license up to six private companies to grow medical marijuana, to develop a list of laboratories to test the drug, to handle state funds and grants linked to the initiative, and to hire an executive director and other staff for the program.

Governor Brian Kemp ordered state agencies to develop plans for trimming budgets, according to the AJC.

It is the first time budget cut proposals have been requested from agencies since the state was hammered by the after-effects of the Great Recession nearly a decade ago.

“The governor is asking agencies to find efficiencies in their organizations and submit budget reduction proposals for amended FY2020 (which ends June 30) of four percent and FY2021 of six percent,” the governor’s budget office instructions said.

State agencies were told to expect to get 4% less to spend in their monthly allocations as of Oct. 1.

“To secure an even brighter future for our state, we must continue to budget conservatively, spend wisely, and put Georgia taxpayers first,” Kemp said in a statement. “That’s why I have instructed all state government offices to reduce expenditures and streamline operations through proactive leadership. By reducing waste and ending duplication in government, we can keep Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) spoke to the Floyd County Republican Women, according to the Rome News Tribune.

During the question-and-answer period, however, several people drilled in on the weekend massacres in Dayton and El Paso where 31 people were killed and dozens wounded. Trump’s rhetoric and access to guns — two of the issues in the national debate — did not come up. Mental illness and law enforcement did.

Ansley Saville asked if there’s a correlation to the closing of mental institutions, adding that “the homeless population blew up” in Rome when Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital was shuttered.

“There’s a lot of focus on the mental health issue,” Graves said, noting that the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act “emphasized the need for more investment and understanding.”

Emily Matson, who described herself as “a big Second Amendment person,” asked about reports that El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles said law enforcement can’t deal with the number of guns available.

“I haven’t heard any law enforcement say law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t have guns. I’m hearing we need more enforcement of the laws on who can have guns,” Graves said. “That’s not a local responsibility. That’s the (U.S. Department of Justice.)”

Former Atlanta Mayor and Ambassador to the U.N. Andrew Young will join former President Jimmy Carter in teaching Sunday School in Plains, according to the AJC.

“I was a preacher first,” Young said. “When I became a congressman, I saw Congress as my congregation. When I was the mayor, I had a church of 2 million people. The model that I use in all of my work is a pastoral model.”

On Sunday, he’ll bring that model to the pulpit of Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, the church home of Jimmy Carter. He and the former president will co-teach Sunday school class.

Carter and Young, who met in the 1960s, will teach from the 16th chapter of Proverbs: “The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”

Six candidates in the 6th and 7th district Congressional races don’t live in the districts they’re running to represent, according to the AJC.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis found that at least six candidates running for the two most competitive U.S. House seats in Georgia don’t live in the districts they’re running to represent. Two others moved into the districts shortly before announcing their bids.

The numbers come as a surprise given the blowback against Ossoff for not being able to vote for himself in his 4-point defeat to Republican Karen Handel. And it’s an issue rivals have already highlighted to emphasize their local roots.

It’s not illegal for U.S. House candidates to live outside their districts. The Constitution stipulates only that congressional hopefuls “be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”

An AJC poll ahead of the special election found that 32% of 6th District voters considered Ossoff’s residency a “major factor” in determining their vote, and an additional 19% determined it to be a minor one.

Augusta‘s city government is under active investigation by the FBI, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Augusta Law Department confirmed Tuesday the empaneling of a federal grand jury and an accompanying federal criminal investigation of unknown scope into Augusta government activities.

After the Augusta Commission voted July 30 to refer allegations against Commissioner Sammie Sias to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, The Augusta Chronicle requested copies of all state and federal subpoenas sent to the city since July 23.

The law department said Tuesday that it had not received any GBI subpoenas, but it confirmed the existence of a federal criminal investigation.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis asked Richmond County School Superintendent Angela Pringle to stay after rumors she might resign, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners voted to license a movie theater for alcohol sales, according to the Macon Telegraph.

After previously denying the request, the Macon-Bibb County Commission on Tuesday approved a beer and wine license for AmStar 16 on Zebulon Road.

The vote was 7-2, with Commissioners Elaine Lucas and Bert Bivins opposing. Three commissioners who had previously opposed switched sides, saying they recognized the county did not have the legal standing to deny it.

Opponents had previously cited concerns about selling alcohol where children are present. But others and the movie theater had pointed out there are other establishments in the city that cater to families that also sell alcohol.

Also Tuesday the commission voted 8-1 to override Mayor Robert Reichert’s veto of a one-time $1,000 bonus for each county employee. Commissioner Scotty Shepherd, who voted by phone, cast the only vote against the override.

Reichert began by saying he vetoed the measure primarily because the estimated $2.3 million expense was not in the fiscal-year budget. He also said he thought it would ultimately hurt the chances of giving employees a permanent raise.

The Lowndes County Board of Education adopted a lower property tax millage rate, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

It is reducing from 16.541 in 2018 to 16.384 this year, and this is the third year in a row that Lowndes County Schools has stated it would lower the millage rate.

“That will put us over the last three years as over a half a mill lower than we were then,” said Ken Overman, assistant superintendent. “We’re excited to be able to do that. We’re good where we are with budgeting, so let’s give back to the taxpayers.”

The millage rate was 16.911 in 2016.

Overman said that translates to paying almost $14 less in property taxes than last year if a residence is valued at $200,000.

Lowndes County public schools will be under increased security today after an apparent threat, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Increased security was planned at a school in Lowndes County for Wednesday after the sheriff’s office questioned a teen about online threats, authorities said.

Lowndes County’s 911 service received two calls Monday night from people saying they had seen Instagram posts from someone threatening to shoot up a county school, Sheriff Ashley Paulk said.

Investigators tracked the posts to an eighth-grade boy “about 14-15 years old” and went to his house, the sheriff said.

There are no charges against the boy because the Department of Juvenile Justice, which would have to approve charges, said to turn the boy over to his mother, Paulk said.

“We (the sheriff’s office) filled out a complaint form for the DJJ, but they wouldn’t even evaluate him,” the sheriff said.

Glynn County public schools have improved security for the new school year, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Schools has invested a significant amount of money and training into school safety efforts and plans to continue doing so.

Staff at all levels, including school resource officers, receptionists, bus drivers and more, have gone through forms of emergency response training.

The school system is also making plans to invest recently acquired grant money into new security for school facilities.

Gov. Brian Kemp pushed for the security grants during this year’s state budgeting process. Each public school in the state will receive $30,000 to put toward improving school safety. The money must be spent on an individual school basis, by June 30, 2020.

“We have to build a budget and define what those requirements are according to the schools,” said Jim Pulos, assistant superintendent for operations and administrative services for Glynn County Schools. “We’re in the process of doing that.”

Harris County School District overtaxed property owners last year and will rollback this year’s property tax rates to make up for the difference, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Harris County School District superintendent Roger Couch is taking responsibility for the mistake that led to overtaxing property owners last year and will result in them paying less in taxes this year.

Couch inadvertently kept the extra property tax of 0.65% in the 2018 budget he presented to the Harris County Board of Education last summer, he told the Ledger-Enquirer in a phone interview Tuesday, after HCSD announced the tax rollback.

The extra tax was supposed to end then because the debt of about $10 million that helped build Creekside School had been paid off, Couch said. That meant Harris County property owners paid a total of $850,106.87 in overcharged taxes, he said.

So to pay back the property owners, the 0.65% extra tax is eliminated and the 2019 property tax millage rate is rolled back by 0.65%. HCSD finance director Kelly Bowen estimated the rollback equals a savings of around $50 for the owner of a $100,000 home compared to 2018.

Dalton Utilities broke ground on an upgrade to their water treatment plant, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Warner Robins Police Chief John Wagner was upgraded from “acting” to permanent chief, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber President and CEO Brian Anderson resigned to accept a job at the Richmond, Virginia Chamber, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Clarkesville City Manager Barbara Kesler has resigned, according to AccessWDUN.

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