Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2020

On June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered plans to be drawn for a new city to be called Augusta.

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia.

Happy birthday to the United States Army, established on June 14, 1775.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia. A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” One hundred years later, on June 14, 1877, was the first observance of Flag Day.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday signed Executive Order, revising the shelter in place order. From a press release:

The order addresses ongoing emergency response efforts for fighting the spread of COVID-19. Unless noted otherwise in specific sections, the order goes into effect at 12 AM on June 16, 2020 and runs through 11:59 PM on June 30, 2020.

Sports: Effective June 16, professional sports teams and organizations must follow the rules and guidelines set by their respective leagues. High school and collegiate teams and organizations must follow the rules and guidelines set by their applicable conferences or associations. Amateur sports teams and organizations must follow the criteria for non-critical infrastructure entities outlined in the order.

Sheltering in Place: Effective immediately, residents and visitors of Georgia who are sixty-five years of age or older are no longer required to shelter in place unless they meet any of the following categories:

Those persons who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, including inpatient hospice, assisted living communities, personal care homes, intermediate care homes, community living arrangements, and community integration homes
Those persons who have chronic lung disease
Those persons who have moderate to severe asthma
Those persons who have severe heart disease
Those persons who are immunocompromised
Those persons, of any age, with class III or severe obesity
Those persons diagnosed with the following underlying medical conditions: diabetes, liver disease, and persons with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis

Gatherings: Effective June 16, gatherings of more than fifty people are banned unless there is at least six feet between each person. This rule does not apply to critical infrastructure entities, incidental or transitory groupings, or cohabitating individuals.

Drinking and Eating (effective June 16): In restaurants and dining rooms, there is no longer a party maximum for the number of people who can sit together. There is no longer a limit on the number of patrons allowed per square foot. Workers at restaurants, dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues are only required to wear face coverings when they are interacting with patrons. In a bar, now you can have fifty people – up from twenty-five – or thirty-five percent of total listed fire capacity, whichever is greater. For salad bars and buffets, a worker can use cafeteria-style service to serve patrons or the establishment can provide hand sanitizer, install a sneeze guard, enforce social distancing, and regularly replace shared utensils to allow patron self-service.

Overnight Summer Camps (effective June 16): Campers and workers may not attend an overnight summer camp unless they have received a negative COVID-19 test within twelve days – up from seven days – prior to starting camp.

Conventions: Effective July 1, a “convention” may occur if it meets twenty-one specific requirements in addition to the requirements for non-critical infrastructure entities. “Convention” means “an organized event of more than 100 persons that are required to register or obtain a license to gather for a common purpose at a single indoor facility or grouping of indoor facilities for more than four hours and in some cases for more than one day” and “shall include exhibitions, trade shows, conferences, and business retreats.” The term “convention” does not include any regular operation of a business that occurs on property owned or leased for the exclusive operation of such business, nor does the term encompass regular religious services, business meetings, sports competitions, or events categorized by O.C.G.A. § 16-11-173(b)(1)(A).

Live Performance Venues: Effective July 1, a “live performance venue” may reopen for business if it complies with specific criteria based on whether it is designated Tier I, II, or III. There are certain exceptions in the order for drive-in performances; private recording sessions, livestream performances, practices, fanless events, and rehearsals; and non-ticketed or free events. “Live Performance Venue” means “any indoor or outdoor location that requires patrons to purchase a license to attend an event featuring live musical, dramatical, automotive, educational, or any other type of entertainment performed before in-person patrons.” The term does not include restaurants and dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, private reception venues, weddings, drive-in venues, or events held as part of a convention, and the term does not include outdoor recreational fields used for amateur sporting events.

Effective June 16: At indoor movie theaters and cinemas, there is no longer a limit on the number of people who may sit together in a party. Walk-ins are now allowed at body art studios, barber shops, hair salons, their respective schools, massage therapy establishments, and tanning facilities subject to specific requirements.

Mandatory requirements for operating non-critical infrastructure businesses, for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations, and organizations are extended through the end of the month. Specific requirements for previously closed businesses remain in effect.

Higher tobacco taxes are being called for to fund state government, according to the AJC.

Only a few days before the restart of the 2020 legislative session, a coalition of more than three dozen groups sent Gov. Brian Kemp and lawmakers a letter asking them to support a tobacco tax hike and other measures to mitigate spending cuts.

The coalition, which includes the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute think tank, the Latin American Association, the NAACP, Georgia Conservation Voters, Georgia Equality and the League of Women Voters said proposed cuts would hurt schools, family services and “disproportionately harm people of color.”

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said last week he hasn’t heard support from his Republican majority for raising any taxes during the session, which resumes Monday after being suspended in March because of the pandemic.

In fact, Ralston backed a move before the session was suspended to cut the state’s income tax rate for the second time in two years. He did so on the same day the House pushed a 2021 budget that reduced spending in numerous agencies.

“Republicans cut taxes,” he said.

From AccessWDUN:

A letter from the groups said the cuts would adversely affect schools and family services. It said finding new sources of revenue, such as a tobacco tax hike would prevent the acceleration of a massive economic downturn.

The letter said a tobacco tax increase would raise about $575 million a year.

From GPB News:

“And so if we just assessed that fee of $1.80 on vaping and cigarettes that would raise $600 million a year and just make us average in the nation,” [Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Analyst Danny] Kanso said.

Georgia ranks 48th out of 50 when it comes to having the lowest cigarette tax in the nation.

Georgia Governor Romance Author Stacey Abrams is trashing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in her latest work of fiction. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Abrams blames Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the problems Tuesday.

“First and foremost, we need a secretary of state who actually takes responsibility for his job,” she said in advance of her online appearance Thursday, June 18, at the Wisconsin Book Festival.

“Unfortunately, in every interview he’s given and in every public statement he has made, he has refused to take responsibility, which is deeply concerning given his constitutional obligation. He has shown a deliberate indifference to the needs of the citizens of Georgia,” she said. “And he has refused to take common sense steps to implement a brand new process for voting in a time of pandemic. He has instead fallen back on the traditional tropes of voter suppression that we’ve seen play out here in Georgia.”

In her new book, “Our Time Is Now,” Abrams writes that she ran against one of the worst purveyors of voter suppression and xenophobia since George Wallace, and “watched in real time as the conflicts in our evolving nation became fodder for racist commercials, horrific suppression — and the largest turnout of voters of color in Georgia’s history.”

The Georgia Department of Labor said that new unemployment claims were down for the fifth week, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The state Department of Labor processed 135,254 claims last week, down about 14,000 from the week before, the agency reported Thursday. That marked the fifth weekly decline in claims in the last six weeks.

The labor department paid out $156.4 million in regular unemployment benefits last week, $4.1 million less than the previous week.

In the 12 weeks since Georgia’s economy shut down because of the global pandemic, the state has paid out more than $1.4 billion in regular benefits to unemployed Georgians.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan spoke about hate crimes legislation, according to the AJC.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the head of the Senate, has said that while he believes Georgia needs a hate-crimes law, he thinks HB 426 requires work.

“I think we can do better than House Bill 426,” Duncan told CNN. “I’ve been told by an African American gentleman sitting in my office that House Bill 426, if passed, would be the weakest hate-crimes law in the country. And quite honestly, that’s not good enough. …

“We have 11 days to craft a hate crimes bill that will make Georgia the worst place to commit a hate crime and the best place to love your neighbor.”

“Hemp University” to educate about the newly legal crop , according to the Albany Herald.

Hemp is grown for the industrial use in a variety of products including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation biofuel food products and oil. It is a fast-growing plant and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber more than 50,000 years ago when it was turned into clothing.

Although marijuana plants and industrial hemp derive from the same species and contain the psychoactive component THC, the hemp strains approved for agricultural cultivation in the United States must have a THC level below .3%, eliminating any potential psychoactive effect.

“You better pay attention to your labels and buy your CBD from a reputable source,” Farmer said. “Some CBD oil, and it could be very good CBD oil, might have the level below .3% of THC and still be picked up on a drug test. We will also make a version of CBD oil that is guaranteed to be THC free.”

Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case in which county Police Chief John Powell was indicted, according to the AJC.

Powell, who was placed on paid administrative leave following the grand jury indictment, did not comment on Thursday. His attorney, Mitch Shook said the charges were politically motivated stemming from animus DA Johnson’s office had for Powell and the agency he leads.

Two Athens-Clarke County Commissioners released a plan to partially defund local police, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Tim Denson in District 5 and Mariah Parker in District 2 have proposed what they call a “50/10 Plan to Reimagine Public Safety,” gradually reducing the size of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department over 10 years.

The plan is similar to many other efforts to “defund” police departments now circulating around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minnesota police officer, and other examples of police brutality.

As the number of police officers lessens, the personnel would be replaced with unarmed, non-police mental health professionals, social workers and restorative justice mediators, according to the commissioners’ proposal.

Specifics of the plan include a first step of making permanent five planned police officer vacancies built into Athens-Clarke County’s proposed 2020-21 budget; bringing 911 emergency dispatching into Athens-Clarke’s 911 system, rather than a private company; funding an additional social worker position for the Athens-Clarke Public Defender office; pay raises for public defender lawyers to bring them closer to the pay of assistant district attorneys; and eliminating local salary supplements for the Western Circuit District Attorney and for five assistant district attorneys.

Senate District Four, vacated by the death of Sen. Jack Hill, has two runoff elections August 10th, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Billy Hickman, the certified public accountant from Statesboro, and Dr. Scott Bohlke, the family practice physician from Brooklet, now advance to an Aug. 11 runoff – or really two simultaneous runoffs – in the race for the District 4 seat in the Georgia Senate.

In the first stage of the election, which culminated Tuesday, Hickman took the lead in the district overall, while Bohlke had the most votes in Bulloch County, the home county of both front-runners. But that’s not why there are two runoffs. They appeared in what were technically two separate elections, among a total of four Republican candidates in one race and five candidates, including one independent, in the other.

Twin runoffs, with the same two names, will occur because Hickman and Bohlke emerged as the front-runners in both the special election to fill Hill’s unexpired term through December and the simultaneous Republican primary for a two-year term as Hill’s successor. But neither got the required 50%-plus majority.

The special election appeared on Tuesday’s nonpartisan ballot, received by Democrats as well as Republicans along with their party primary ballots.

So, voters who chose the Republican ballot were able to vote in both the primary and the special election, while Democratic Party voters saw only the special election, with “Republican” under the names of Bohlke, Hickman, Kathy Palmer and Neil Singleton, and nothing suggesting a party affiliation under the name of Stephen Jared Sammons, the independent.

From WTOC:

Both agreed the sudden and abbreviated campaign felt different due to the pandemic.

“A lot of word of mouth because we couldn’t reach all the people like we could in previous times, going to churches,” said candidate Scott Bohlke.

Both said they heard the voters about the issues, even if through calls, emails, and social media. They hope they get more of a chance to interact with voters this time.

“We’ll be able to be more active now because of the coronavirus loosening up. People will be more out and about and we’ll be more out and about too,” said candidate Billy Hickman.

Athens-Clarke County Commission District Six will be filled in a special election after the late Commissioner Jerry NeSmith won the election, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

District 6 Commissioner Jerry NeSmith, who died in an accidental fall Sunday, took 57 percent of the vote over challenger Jesse Houle, 1,864 votes to 1,404, setting the stage for a special election.

Sheriff Ira Edwards lost narrowly in a Democratic Party primary to Athens-Clarke police officer John Q. Williams, 9,512 votes to 9,120. In strongly Democratic Clarke County, Williams will be favored to win the November general election over the lone Republican candidate, Robert Hare.

Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel appears to have won reelection, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Bethel was leading Atlanta attorney and former state House of Representatives member Beth Beskin by 909,265 votes (53.17%) to 800,844 votes (46.83%) on Thursday.

Bethel said Tuesday night he went to bed “feeling good about what we were seeing and where the math was lining up but still with a lot of questions” because of the number of outstanding votes.

“It became pretty clear on Wednesday as more votes came that the margin we had was not likely to erode,” he said. “It looks like what is still outstanding are absentee votes and maybe some advance. And across the board, in every jurisdiction, it appears we polled better in absentee and advance than on Election Day.”

“I am proud to be from Northwest Georgia and Dalton and Whitfield County,” he said. “I always try to do whatever I can to represent our community well. I’m extremely gratified by the overwhelming support I continue to receive there. And I will continue to do everything I can to make the people there proud.”

Democratic Attorney Mark Jones won the primary for District Attorney of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, beating incumbent Julia Slater, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The final tally left Jones with 52% of the vote to Slater’s 48%.

The circuit’s [] counties include Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, [Muscogee,] Talbot and Taylor.

Jones, 38, made headlines recently because of his arrest stemming from the May 17 filming of a campaign ad at the Columbus Civic Center, where he’s alleged to have recruited two custom-car enthusiasts to cut doughnuts in the parking lot. Authorities claimed the tire marks left there caused more than $300,000 damage.

Jones also has been in the news for representing protesters police arrested after a May 31 downtown demonstration against racial injustice.

Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman won the Democratic Primary to challenge Republican Muscogee County Sheriff Mark LaJoye, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Floyd County Republicans will return to the polls in a runoff election for Sheriff between Tom Caldwell and Dave Roberson, according to the Rome News Tribune.

When the final ballots were tabulated, Roberson led the way with 7,130 votes, equal to 48.1%. Caldwell received 5,079 votes, 34.3%, and Ronnie Kilgo took 2,598, which is 17.5%.

Kilgo posed with Roberson for a social media post early Thursday in which Roberson thanked him for his support.

Fulton County Democratic voters will choose between candidates for Sheriff, according to the Rome News Tribune.

In the sheriff’s race, incumbent Ted Jackson (44.71%) and Pat Labat (22.99%) are bound for a Democratic runoff after leading a field that also included Myron Freeman (17.45%), Walter Calloway (8.93%) and Charles Rambo (5.92%), with the winner unopposed in November.

In the district attorney campaign, Fani Willis (42.39%) and incumbent Paul Howard Jr. (34.99%) are headed to the runoff after outpacing Christian Wise Smith (22.62%), with the winner unopposed in November.

DeKalb County‘s two elections for Sheriff are likely to go into extra innings, according to the Champion.

In the special election for sheriff—of which its winner will only serve through Dec. 31—incumbent Melody Maddox will likely face a runoff against Ruth Stringer or Antonio Block Johnson, the top vote getters in the nine candidate field. Maddox received 26,415 votes; Stinger received 14,111 votes and Johnson received 12,362 votes of the more than 82,000 votes that have been counted.

For the full four-year sheriff term which begins Jan. 1, it appears that Maddox will head to a runoff against Stringer for the Democratic nomination to the sheriff’s seat. The two lead in the eight-person Democrat race. Maddox received approximately 33,986 votes and Stringer received 11,633 of the 77,346 votes. The winner will face sole Republican candidate Harold Dennis in November General Election.

Gwinnett County is discussing logistical issues that caused some voting problems on Tuesday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county had previously rented trucks and hired off-duty firefighters to take voting machines to precincts on the Fridays and Mondays before elections. For this week’s primary, however, the county hired a private trucking company to deliver the machines.

“Using a company for delivery provides more drivers and eliminates the need to coordinate truck rental,” county spokesman Joe Sorenson said. “The late delivery of the equipment on June 9, the first Election Day the new delivery system was implemented, was a result of equipment staging issues and coordination issues between Elections workers and the trucking company.”

County officials have said there were issues with equipment still not having been delivered at 16 voting precincts in the county when polls opened on Tuesday morning, but another list distributed by state Rep. Donna McCleod suggested as many as 28 precincts experienced issues.

Voter error caused delays in tallying ballots in Bibb County, according to 13WMAZ.

The absentee ballots instructs voter to fully fill in the oval next to the candidate of your choice. Kaplan says thousands of people circled a candidate’s name, used an “X,” or a check mark to select their choice.

Elections workers are fixing the errors by hand and entering the choices into Georgia’s new voting system to ensure that all the votes count.

Kaplan hopes voters will learn how to mark the ballots properly before a potential runoff in August and the November election.

The Conasauga Judicial Circuit, serving Whitfield and Murray Counties, will start an accountability court for veterans, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners on April 13 unanimously approved a grant from the state of Georgia establishing a Veterans Accountability Court for the local circuit. As Chairman Lynn Laughter called for a vote, she said, “We ought to all be seen as trying to help our veterans. They have gotten the short end of the stick for a long time.”

Veterans Court is funded through a grant awarded from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council under the Council of Accountability Court Judges grant program.

Accountability courts such as Veterans Court return a savings of approximately $27 per dollar invested due to alleviating court and incarceration costs. The grant provides $44,493 for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020. A new grant request has already been made for fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1 of this year.

The Veterans Court will be geared toward addressing criminal defendants whose behavior is driven by substance abuse and mental health issues that may be related to experiences during their service to the United States. Veteran status with the United States military will be a requirement.

State House Democrats launched a platform focused on criminal justice reform, according to The Brunswick News.

The package, called “Justice for All,” comes as an ambitious set of 12 different bills responding to recent instances of police violence and racial injustice, including the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

“These measures go to the core of combating the disparities that exist in the administration of criminal justice in Georgia,” said House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville.

Democratic lawmakers in the Georgia Senate also put forth their own slate of bills Thursday, called the “Georgia Justice Act,” that mirrors much of what House Democrats are seeking. Many of those have already been filed in the session, while others would be introduced next week.

Savannah City Council will consider a 1/3 increase in the hotel/motel tax rate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah City Council will consider a resolution to increase the hotel/motel tax from 6 percent to 8 percent during their meeting on Thursday, meaning Savannah visitors could soon find themselves paying a few dollars more for overnight stays.

According to the resolution, 14.7 percent of the taxes collected at the new rate would be expended for tourism product development and fund projects according to the following distributions: 50 percent for Canal District improvements; 30 percent for improvements to Savannah’s waterfront plaza and River Street; 10 percent for improvements to Bay Street and the Dorothy Barnes Pelote Bridge Gateway Project and 10 percent to the Tide to Town Urban Trail System.

The Savannah Convention Center would receive 14 percent of the total amount collected to the new rate and 33.8 percent would be used for promoting tourism, conventions and trade shows by a private sector nonprofit registered 501(c)(6) organization designated as the destination marketing organization for the city of Savannah, which is Visit Savannah.

The remaining 37.5 percent of the taxes collected will go to the city’s General Fund.

Hall County Commissioners are considering a rollback millage rate for property taxes, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes a rolled back millage rate and 5.7% fewer dollars as the county deals with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republican National Convention is unlikely to pad Savannah tax revenues, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah is no longer in the discussion as a possible site for the Republican National Convention, the head of Savannah’s Tourism Leadership Council said on Wednesday.

“I am confident that we are not being further considered for a RNC event or any other political party,” said Michael Owens, president and CEO of the group that represents the majority of the area’s tourism and hospitality businesses.

The City of Rome will host a meeting to discuss moving a statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, according to the Rome News Tribune.

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