Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 1, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 1, 2019

Georgia’s Trustees decided on November 1, 1732 that the first settlement would be named Savannah and located on the Savannah River.

Parliament passed the Stamp Act on March 22, 1765 with an effective date of November 1, 1765, to fund British military operations.

The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation.

Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—”Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”

Outrage was immediate. Massachusetts politician Samuel Adams organized the secret Sons of Liberty organization to plan protests against the measure, and the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies passed resolutions opposing the act. In October, nine colonies sent representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, where resolutions of “rights and grievances” were framed and sent to Parliament and King George III.

Georgia Commissioners and Creek leaders signed a treaty on November 1, 1783.

John Willis Menard became the first black man elected to Congress on November 3, 1868 from the Second District of Louisiana. Menard’s election opponent challenged the results and prevented Menard from taking his seat, though in defense of his election Menard became the first black man to address Congress.

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was born in Winder, Georgia on November 2, 1897.

In 1927, at age 29, Russell was named Speaker of the House – the youngest in Georgia history. In 1930, Russell easily won election as Georgia governor on his platform of reorganizing state government for economy and efficiency. Five months shy of his 34th birthday, Russell took the oath of office from his father, Georgia chief justice Richard B. Russell Sr. He became the youngest governor in Georgia history – a record that still stands. After Georgia U.S. Senator William Harris died in 1932, Gov. Russell named an interim replacement until the next general election, in which Russell himself became a candidate. Georgia voters elected their young governor to fill Harris’ unexpired term. When he arrived in Washington in January 1933, he was the nation’s youngest senator.

Russell had a long and storied career in the United States Senate, during which he served for many years as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, unofficial leader of the conservative Southern wing of the Democratic party and a chief architect of resistance to civil rights legislation. He also ran for President in 1952, winning the Florida primary.

On November 3, 1913, details of the federal income tax were finalized and published after the ratification earlier in the year of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Bacon, Barrow, Candler, and Evans Counties were created on November 3, 1914 when voters approved Constitutional Amendments – prior to these Amendments, Georgia was limited to 145 counties. On the same day, Carl Vinson was elected to Congress from Georgia, becoming the youngest member of Congress at the time. Vinson would eventually become the first Member of Congress to serve more than fifty years. Vinson’s grandson, Sam Nunn would serve in the United States Senate.

The Chicago Tribune published the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline on November 3, 1948. Ultimately, Democrat Truman won 303 electoral votes to 189 for Republican Dewey.

Laika, a female Siberian Husky mix who was found stray on the streets of Moscow, was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957.

On November 3, 1964, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson was elected President over Republican Barry Goldwater.

On November 3, 1970, Jimmy Carter was elected Governor of Georgia.

Jimmy Carter ended his first Presidential campaign with a rally in Flint, Michigan on November 1, 1976.

Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States on November 2, 1976.

The current Georgia Constitution was ratified on November 2, 1982 by the state’s voters.

Democrat Cynthia McKinney became the first African-Amercian female elected to Congress from Georgia on November 3, 1992.

On November 3, 1998, Democrat Thurbert Baker was elected Attorney General and Michael Thurmond was elected Commissioner of Labor, becoming the first African-Americans elected to statewide executive office in Georgia.

On November 2, 2010, voters elected Republican Nathan Deal as Governor, and the GOP swept all of the statewide offices on the ballot.

One World Trade Center opened on November 3, 2014, more than thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday unveiled state plans to apply for a federal waiver designed to improve access to healthcare insurance, according to the Forsyth County News.

The plan does not address Medicaid coverage. The Kemp administration is expected to release its plans for Medicaid next week.

The ACA proposal calls for the state and federal government to pay a portion of insurance companies’ costs to treat their sickest patients, a relatively small group that incurs the biggest bills. The so-called reinsurance program would allow the companies to lower monthly premiums for all customers.

The reduction could be as much as $282 in areas of Georgia where premiums now exceed $1,000, according to estimates from the governor’s office.

Under a second part of the governor’s plan, state residents could bypass Healthcare.gov and sign up for insurance directly through an insurance provider or broker website. Kemp’s plan does not affect the current ACA sign-up season for 2020 plans, which starts Friday.

That change would give Georgia residents access to more health care coverage options, though all plans would have to cover preexisting conditions, the governor’s office said. Georgia would also control billions of dollars in federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.

From the Gainesville Times:

“I believe it’s going to give relief to some folks and give some options people don’t currently have,” said State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, who stood near Kemp at the Oct. 31 announcement at the State Capitol. “We’ll see.”

The Kemp administration says the second part of its plan is unique and would help consumers by making it easier to sign up for health care coverage and obtain subsidies. It would also allow them to see other types of health plans, including short-term and catastrophic plans, not just Affordable Care Act-compliant plans.

“I really applaud the efforts” of Kemp and other top officials, said Deb Bailey, executive director of governmental affairs at Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System. “Anytime we have an opportunity to lower insurance rates, improve outcomes, increase affordability and access to our communities, then it’s been a really good day.”

“Previous plans that have been denied were all centered around repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act,” Miller said.

Georgia Access will instead focus on “giving options and approaches that are unique to (the ACA),” he said.

Miller said he and others were debriefed earlier this week about Kemp’s plans. He said a team has been working on the initiative since nearly the start of the governor’s term.

A roundtable discussion “going into great detail” about the waiver requests is set for Monday, Nov. 4, between the governor and other state officials, Miller said.

From The Hill:

“Through these new, innovative measures Georgians will have access to more insurance options like association health plans that cover our friends and neighbors with pre-existing conditions,” Kemp said Thursday at an event announcing the plan.

The Trump administration has already indicated it would approve state programs that would allow subsidies to pay for plans that don’t comply with the law’s coverage requirements.

Republicans say these plans offer another choice for consumers who can’t afford ObamaCare’s more comprehensive plans. But Democrats say the plans offer skimpy benefits and can lead to high out-of-pocket costs.

“The reinsurance program will make insurance providers compete for your business, offering more plans at better prices, hard work and Georgians will have the money in their pocket to invest in span and their local community,” Kemp said.

From the Rome News Tribune:

“Between encouraging more people to get insurance and the state taking care of some catastrophic claims — which will help the insurers — we think it’s going to lower private insurance costs,” [State Senator Chuck] Hufstetler said.

Kemp called it a “Georgia-centric approach” that allows people to tailor their policy to their family’s needs and fosters competition in the insurance industry.

The state-run insurance system would offer subsidies to people earning between 100% and 400% of the poverty level who buy coverage through direct enrollment brokers or insurance providers.

“The difference is, there’s going to be more plans out there than on Healthcare.gov,” Hufstetler said. “We think the cost (to the state) will be a little less than straight-up Medicaid expansion to 138%.”

And Hufstetler said the plans in the state exchange would still have to cover pre-existing conditions — “That was very important to us” — although there would be no ACA restriction against charging more.

“It will be very competitive, so they’ll have to price it reasonably,” Hufstetler said. “People will have lots of options, lots of flexibility.”

From Georgia Health News:

Kemp announced the plan in his office, surrounded by lawmakers and government officials. He said Thursday that the waiver plan “is a Georgia-centric approach that will lower health care costs and insurance premiums for Georgia families, enhance access to top-notch doctors and state-of-the-art services, and ultimately improve health outcomes for every Georgian.”

A waiver proposal is a request to the federal government to waive certain health care regulations so a state can make its own rules in certain areas. The changes can be made only if the feds give the OK.

If federal officials approve the 1332 waiver, the state of Georgia would take control of the $2.7 billion in subsidies that are offered to offset the premium prices for consumers in the insurance exchange. The exchange was created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) so people who don’t have coverage from their employers — or from government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare — can buy health insurance at a reasonable price.

People from across the political spectrum agree “that insurance premiums are too dang high,’’ Kemp said, adding that health care for many Georgians “is the largest and most unpredictable expense in the family budget.’’

On Monday, Kemp is expected to roll out his other waiver plan – potentially revamping eligibility for the Medicaid program. That’s expected to draw criticism from Democrats, who argue that a full expansion of Medicaid, as outlined by the ACA, would cover more Georgians at a lower cost than the coming Kemp plan. Republicans who control Georgia government, including Kemp, his predecessor and state legislative leaders, have consistently opposed full expansion as too costly.

After the Kemp announcement, Butch Miller, president pro tem of the state Senate, told GHN that lawmakers will back the plan. “There will be strong support in both chambers,’’ said Miller, a Gainesville Republican.

State Sen. Larry Walker, a Perry Republican who sells health insurance, told GHN that he believes the waiver plan “Is a game-changer for the individual market.”

More than 50 counties have only one insurer for that market, Walker said. “This will bring in more competition and more choice and lower premiums.”

And Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who also addressed those assembled in the governor’s office, said the waiver plan ‘‘puts policy over politics.’’

“Other states will follow Georgia’s lead,” he said.

From the AJC:

“We live in a divided country and in a diverse state,” Kemp said, outlining the proposal in his Capitol office before a bank of TV cameras. “But it’s safe to say that Republicans, Democrats and independents agree on one thing: The insurance premiums are too dang high.”

There’s no guarantee that Donald Trump’s administration will sign off on the plan despite Kemp’s ties to the president. But the governor and his advisers have expressed confidence that it will pass muster, and they stress that they’ve been in direct contact with the White House throughout the process.

Democrats, who broadly opposed legislation that empowered Kemp to seek the waiver, criticized the governor’s plans to cut state spending by $500 million over the next two years and blasted his opposition to expanding Medicaid, which he sees as too costly in the long run.

“While I’m glad that Governor Kemp is beginning to understand what Democrats have been saying for years, his plan doesn’t go far enough,” said state Sen. Gloria Butler, who said Kemp’s proposal would still leave hundreds of thousands of Georgians without adequate health insurance.

Kemp’s aides said they expected the program to take $104 million in state dollars and $264 million in federal dollars the first year. Those dollars would go directly to insurance companies, to satisfy up to 80% of the value of eligible claims filed.

Georgia’s Legislature is full of lawmakers who identify as fiscal conservatives. One of them, House Speaker Jan Jones, R-Milton, stood with Kemp at his announcement. Asked afterward about the $300 million in public money, she said, “I haven’t seen the details yet … but I’m confident it’s going to give Georgians more affordable options.”

The AJC looks at the rollout of the new voting system.

With a presidential election on the line in 2020, Georgia is switching to a new voting company, Dominion Voting Systems, that state evaluators ranked second-best and that critics said will leave elections vulnerable.

Dominion, based in Denver, must rush to install 30,000 voting machines for 7 million Georgia voters before the March 24 presidential primary, the largest rollout of elections equipment in U.S. history. Most voters in Tuesday’s local elections will cast ballots on Georgia’s 17-year-old machines, and voters in six counties are testing Dominion’s machines.

“What Georgia is trying to do basically blows my mind,” said Dwight Shellman, an election official at the Colorado secretary of state’s office. His state adopted a Dominion system in 2016.

“We had 2 1/2 years to do it, and it was challenging,” Shellman said. “I can’t imagine implementing the number of counties Georgia has in, what, two months? Three months?”

Actually, the work will take eight months. But the challenge remains daunting.

“It is an ambitious timetable, and it will require a great deal of coordination, but we have worked very closely with the state and county officials in order to make it go smoothly,” said Kay Stimson, a spokeswoman for Dominion who previously managed communications for the National Association of Secretaries of State. “Not only do we have the experience in doing an implementation of this scale, we are perhaps one of the only companies that could have carried it off effectively.”

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler spoke in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler believes predictions about a recession looming in the near future are misleading.

Butler, the guest speaker Thursday at the Rotary Club of Brunswick meeting, said the challenges facing job seekers and employers are much different than the last recession seven or eight years ago.

The number of initial unemployment claims is the most accurate indicator of the economy’s health. And unemployment claims are at historically low levels, he said.

The challenge facing employers and job seekers is the number of new jobs is outpacing the number of qualified applicants, Butler said.

Most candidates for municipal office in Kennesaw signed affidavits that they won’t receive or spend more than $2500, according to the Rome News Tribune.

If candidates sign an affidavit showing their intentions not to receive more than $2,500 in donations to their campaign, they are not required to provide an itemized list of contributions.

If candidates sign the affidavit, they are not required to report itemized contributions or expenditures.

A State House Study Committee is considering changes in statutes of limitations, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robins, introduced House Bill 479 to extend the statute of limitations for victims to bring a lawsuit to age 38 from 23 or within two years of any age that a victim recalled past abuses through “delayed discovery” — previously repressed memories that resurfaced.

Lawmakers are also considering a year open window period for victims to file suits against institutions or organizations that may have known about the abuse but did nothing in response.

But some child protection experts argue the language in Clark’s bill benefits institutions that knew and hid alleged abusers while deterring victims from coming forward. An alliance of lawyers made the case that targeting entities, such as nonprofits, for past abuses may do more harm than good.

The 2015 legislation set the age limit to sue for past abuse to 23, but research shows the average age of disclosure of childhood abuse is 52, Emma Hetherington, a University of Georgia School of Law assistant clinical professor and director of the school’s Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic, testified in front of the committee.

When the open window provision in the original act opened a period for victims to come forward and file lawsuits for past abuses, Georgia courts across the state saw fewer than 15 cases filed — far less than the “flood gate of litigation” that lawmakers feared, Hetherington said. The clinic took on six cases.

The Chatham County Courthouse was evacuated on Tuesday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Officials are calling an electrical fire Tuesday that forced nearly 300 people to evacuate the Chatham County Courthouse on Montgomery Street a “non-event.” But the courts’ judges remain concerned for the safety of those using the building after the building’s audible alarm system failed.

“This is dangerous,” Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Penny Haas Freesemann, who speaks for the court, said Thursday, adding the audible fire alarm system did not work on Tuesday.

“We are concerned about it,” she said. “The building is of course owned but Chatham County. But the judges of Superior Court still have a duty, a responsibility, for the safety of our employees and the citizens who come to court.”

A report generated by the event ruled the matter a “false alarm which Engine 5 responded to and confirmed,” a Savannah Fire Rescue report obtained by the Morning News said on Wednesday.

Moody Air Force Base will host Thunder Over South Georgia, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The free event is open to the public and will feature the Navy Blue Angels, the Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo Team, the Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II Demo Team, the Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue, the Air Force Heritage Flight Demo Team, and a Combat Search and Rescue demonstration.

More information can be found online at www.moody.af.mil/Air-Show/.

The Unified Command is asking boaters to stay away from the capsized M/V Golden Ray, according to The Brunswick News.

Unified Command officials are reminding folks of the standing directive to give a wide berth to the vessel and the support boats working around it — a football field and a half of space, to be exact.

There have been inadvertent encroachments on the 150-yard perimeter surrounding the Golden Ray since the off-limits zone was established shortly after the freighter overturned Sept. 8 while heading out to sea with a cargo of 4,200 vehicles. But breaches of the zone by civilian boaters has been on the uptick lately, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes, spokesman for the Unified Command.

Folks who intrude on that 150-yard barrier will very likely be met by a Coast Guard vessel, and escorted out of the zone, Himes said. Such a boat is on patrol in the zone 24/7, with DNR or Coast Guard law enforcement agents on board, he said. “That vessel will intercept you,” Himes said, noting the several wayward boaters have already learned this the hard way.

“We look at this is as an opportunity to better inform the public about that safety zone,” Himes said. “There have been a few of what we call incursions over the course of the response, but the occurrences have been more frequent lately. The 150-yard zone is put in place to protect the public and the response crews.”

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