On January 28, 1733, Georgia’s first colonists celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their safe arrival in Savannah and Chief Tomochichi’s granting them permission to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.
On January 28, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed a joint resolution of the Georgia House and Senate amending the Georgia Constitution to make the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia a constitutional board and reduce the power of the Governor over the Regents.
The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.
On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.
Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.
Happy birthday today to Northwestern University (1851), Yale Daily News (1878), the first daily college newspaper in the country, the United States Coast Guard (1915), and the Lego brick, which was patented on January 28, 1958.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Under the Gold Dome Today – LD6
8:00 AM HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS 606 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES – CANCELLED 515 CLOB 8:00 AM CANCELLED Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics 506 CLOB
10:00 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 6) House Chamber
TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP
1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 307 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE Reeves Subcommittee of Judiciary Non-Civil 132 CAP
2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP
2:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS 307 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING 506 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE Public Finance and Policy Subcommittee of Ways and Means 133 CAP
2:30 PM HOUSE Setzler Subcommittee of Judiciary Non-Civil 132 CAP
3:00 PM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT- CANCELED 310 CLOB 3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS- CANCELED MEZZ 1
3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUBCOMMITTEE 415 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES & TELECOMMUNICATIONS 403 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE 406 CLOB
3:30 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP
4:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP
4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB
At 3 p.m. [Mondy], a lowly House subcommittee will take up House Bill 757, a measure intended to clarify the right of the secretary of state to set an early March qualifying date for candidates — Democrats and Republicans — who want to challenge U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the November special election.
Late Sunday, Gov. Brian Kemp sent word that the bill is not to be tinkered with. In essence, the governor confirmed the existence of rebellious GOP sentiment in the state Capitol to challenge his December appointment of Loeffler to the seat vacated by the retiring Johnny Isakson.
Last week, we were the first to tell you that House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville, was searching for Republican partners to amend HB 757, so that the all-comers special election would be converted to the more traditional cycle of a May primary, followed by a November general election.
Kemp has promised a veto of the measure if it becomes an attack on Loeffler. But in their public opposition, aides aren’t admitting any vulnerability on the new senator’s part. Rather, they argue that a change in the calendar risks voter confusion and more court challenges from voting rights groups already seeking vast changes to the election system.
The House Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee took the bait, according to the AJC.
A panel of Georgia representatives voted Monday in favor of creating a partisan primary in the state’s upcoming U.S. Senate election, introducing a new challenge to Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s candidacy despite Gov. Brian Kemp’s veto threat.
The coalition of Republicans and Democrats on an elections subcommittee voted 8-2 to approve the fast-moving legislation before this year’s elections. The bill could receive a committee vote Tuesday as it races toward the full House.
Under current Georgia law, both Republicans and Democrats would meet in a free-for-all election in November. The measure that advanced Monday, House Bill 757, would require a special primary May 19, the same date as regularly scheduled primary elections for offices besides the president. Georgia’s presidential primary is March 24.
“It boils down to whether you believe in the party process and whether you believe those voices should be heard,” said House Governmental Affairs Chairman Shaw Blackmon, a Republican from Bonaire, speaking in support of the bill pending before his committee. “It benefits Georgians. It benefits the party process, which is an integral part of our elections process.”
Kemp sent a message Sunday that the legislation for a special primary election is dead on arrival if it reaches his desk.
“You don’t change the rules at halftime to benefit one team over another,” said Candice Broce, Kemp’s spokeswoman. “People are sick and tired of it. The governor will veto any bill that attempts to undermine the rule of law for perceived political gain.”
House Minority Leader Robert Trammell, D-Luthersville, said eliminating the jungle primary would make the special election less confusing for voters.
“Anytime you have a general election with one candidate for each party, it provides voters with a clear opportunity to evaluate the candidates and a clear contrast between the candidates,” he said.
Speaking of which, Rep. Doug Collins is expected to announce his campaign for the Isakson Senate seat, according to the New York Times.
Representative Doug Collins, one of the faces of President Trump’s impeachment defense, plans to challenge Senator Kelly Loeffler in this fall’s special election for one of Georgia’s Senate seats, people familiar with his intentions said on Monday.
Mr. Collins’s long-expected decision sets the stage for a brutal Republican-on-Republican fight that will put a prominent House conservative known for his defenses of Mr. Trump against a wealthy businesswoman appointed in recent weeks to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat. Democrats also see the contest as a potential opportunity to pick up a seat in November.
Mr. Collins is expected to announce his campaign on Tuesday, according to the people familiar with his plans, who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Mr. Collins’s decision to abandon his House seat will also have implications in that chamber. Two close allies of Mr. Trump, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and John Ratcliffe of Texas, are the leading contenders to replace him as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, a coveted post. Both men helped lead Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense in the House.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the news.
The development could make it tougher for the GOP to hold onto the traditionally red Senate seat in 2020. The pair of Republicans will now be spending millions of dollars bashing each other in a state that recently has become a key battleground.
In 2018, Republican Brian Kemp narrowly edged out Democrat Stacey Abrams in the Georgia governor’s race 50.2 percent to 48.8 percent.
Collins, who is set to be at the Georgia Statehouse on Tuesday, has started to line up campaign staff and call politicians and supporters to inform them of his decision to enter the race, according to several people who received the calls but requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
With Collins’ decision, Kemp’s hopes of unifying Republicans behind his Senate appointment are dashed at a time when the GOP can’t afford much discord. Democrats have circled Georgia as a top 2020 target, eager to flip Georgia’s two Senate seats and upend the GOP’s 53-47 control of the chamber.
The prospect of multiple well-funded Republicans slicing into each other’s base on a November ballot raises the likelihood of a January 2021 runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote – and the possibility that a Democrat who consolidates party support can win the contest outright.
Another U.S. House seat in Georgia will be up for grabs now that Rep. Doug Collins is preparing to challenge Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and an eclectic cast of characters will soon be jockeying for the deeply-conservative seat he’s held since his 2012 election.
Among the possible contenders for the north Georgia district are a well-known radio host, a few powerful state lawmakers and a former congressman who once unsuccessfully challenged Collins.
One of the more likely candidates is former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, who once represented portions of the district in Congress before redistricting in 2012. Broun ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2014 and was trounced by Collins in a 2016 primary.
Another former Collins rival, radio commentator Martha Zoller, could also seek the seat. After she was defeated by Collins in a 2012 runoff, Zoller has worked for both U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp, and recently launched a new Gainesville-based radio show.
It’s the third open U.S. House seat in Georgia on the November ballot. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall said he wouldn’t stand for another term after winning the tightest House race in the nation in 2018, and more than a dozen candidates from both parties are running for his Gwinnet-based seat.
And U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, the senior-most Republican in the state’s delegation, announced his retirement late last year, triggering a wide-open race to represent the solidly Republican district.
Governor Brian Kemp‘s administration is asking for new legislation to combat criminal gangs, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds, Attorney General Chris Carr and others told a House-Senate panel Monday that gangs are a serious problem needing further action.
GBI wants to strengthen a state law it already touts as the nation’s strongest. Perhaps most controversially, GBI wants the power to begin investigating gang crimes without an invitation from local officials, as is needed now. Reynolds told The Associated Press that he anticipates “open discussions” with sheriffs and others who might be hesitant over that authority.
Reynolds said he also wants changes that would clarify that each separate act listed in the state’s 2010 anti-gang law could be prosecuted as a separate offense, allowing prosecutors to load up charges with hefty potential prison sentences for gang members.
Kemp and his officials have called for a gang database that investigators could use to share information. They’ve also proposed a public gang registry that would function like the current public sex offender registry, publicizing the names and residences of convicted offenders. Officials want to enshrine Georgia’s current gang task force in law, and allow prosecutors to consolidate criminal cases across county lines, instead of prosecuting individual offenses separately in individual counties.
Georgia and Florida have 45 days to reply to a ruling in the decades-long water lawsuit, according to the Gainesville Times.
The U.S. Supreme Court is giving Georgia and Florida 45 days to file briefs responding to a Dec. 11 report issued by a special master who ruled against Florida.
The court’s notice is indicated on a docket listing proceedings and orders in the case dating to September 2013.
In the latest litigation, Florida has claimed it has suffered economic and ecological harm from Georgia’s “overconsumption of water” in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which straddles Georgia, Florida and Alabama and has Lake Lanier as its headwaters.
In his 81-page ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. recommended that the Supreme Court not grant Florida’s request for an equitable apportioning of waters in the ACF.
The Supreme Court will decide whether to accept Kelly’s recommendation.
The Gwinnett County Ethics Board ruled on a complaint by D.A. King against County Commissioner Marlene Fosque, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
A Gwinnett County ethics board assembled to hear Dustin Inman Society founder D.A. King’s ethics complaint against county Commissioner Marlene Fosque decided Monday that she did commit two of the six allegations made against her and is recommending she receive a written warning from her colleagues.
“While the overwhelming majority of Commissioner Fosque’s actions in conceiving, planning, salvaging and conducting the forum are highly commendable and reflect a welcomed commitment to the county and its residents, her (Aug. 6, 2019) comments fall short of the ‘earnest effort and best thought’ required by (the ethics code’s) Section 54-24(4) and amount to ‘conduct … unbecoming to a member [of the Board of Commissioners]‘ within the meaning of Section 54-24(11),” the ethics board said in its decision.
The complaint itself was over Fosque’s remarks at the Aug. 6 Board of Commissioners meeting, in which she said “I rebuke, denounce, deplore, and condemn” King’s participation in the 287(g) forum.
Whitfield County Commissioners may consider declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
During their work session Monday, commissioners heard from Whitfield County resident Tyler Martin, who started a Change.org petition asking commissioners to commit to the Second Amendment sanctuary movement. The petition had more than 2,600 signatures Monday night.
Some members of the commission said they believe they will take action on Martin’s request.
“It’s my understanding that (County Administrator) Mark Gibson and (County Attorney) Robert Smalley are looking into this,” said Commissioner Barry Robbins. “I’ll have to see the final proposal, but it certainly sounds reasonable.”
“I think we’ll support the Second Amendment,” said Commissioner Greg Jones.
Commissioner Roger Crossen also expressed support for the idea.
More than 200 counties across the United States have declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries in the last two months, spurred by controversial gun control measures passed by the Virginia state legislature, according to The Hill website.
The Whitfield County Commission voted to put a $66 million dollar Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the November ballot, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
The county Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 on Monday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Dalton that will determine how the SPLOST dollars are spent as well as a referendum to place the measure on the May ballot. The Dalton City Council voted last week to approve the intergovernmental agreement.
“We don’t need an intergovernmental agreement, but it’s better if we do,” said board Chairman Lynn Laughter. “It makes for a more orderly process.”
County Attorney Robert Smalley said one of the advantages of the agreement is that it allows the smaller cities of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell to get their share of the SPLOST “towards the front” rather than get a small share each month of the SPLOST.
A SPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county that can be used for capital projects and some other items but not operating expenses.
Democrat Stacey Abrams will speak to the Brooks County NAACP Branch #5173 at their 10th annual Freedom Fund Banquet next month, according to ValdostaToday.