Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 19, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 19, 2020

On June 20, 1732, the signing of the Georgia Charter was completed by the British government. The University of Georgia has the oldest known American copy of the Charter.

Georgia’s Royal Colony Seal was approved on June 21, 1754.

Georgia Colony Seal

On June 20, 1782, Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States. Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, was responsible for the final design presented to Congress. The design approved by Congress was a written description without any sketches.

The Constitution of the United States of America was ratified on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify.

On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.

On June 20, 1819, the SS Savannah entered the port at Liverpool, England, marking the first transatlantic crossing by a steam-powered ship, having sailed out of Savannah on May 20th.

The Georgia Whig Party held its first convention on June 19, 1843 in Milledgeville and elected ten delegates to the 1844 National Convention.

The first Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ended on June 19, 1856.

The Republicans, who called for the abolition of slavery in all U.S. territories, rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of Southern states were publicly threatening secession if a Republican won the presidency.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the official party of the victorious North. After the war, the Republican-dominated Congress forced a radical Reconstruction policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and granting voting rights to African American men in the South. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency, with a few intermissions, until the ascendance of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

On June 19, 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated from Pine Mountain and Lost Mountain toward Marietta. Click here to watch a two-minute video by Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center about this week in Georgia in 1864.

General Robert E. Lee moved on Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg, Virginia on June 20, 1864.

On the same day, USS Kearsarge sank CSS Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France in one of the most-celebrated naval battles of the Civil War.

Under its captain, Raphael Semmes, the Alabama prowled the world for three years, capturing U.S. commercial ships. It sailed around the globe, usually working out of the West Indies, but taking prizes and bungling Union shipping in the Caribbean, off Newfoundland, and around the coast of South America. In January 1863, Semmes sunk a Union warship, the Hatteras, after luring it out of Galveston, Texas.

During its career, the Alabama captured 66 ships and was hunted by more than 20 Federal warships.

Shortly after the battle between CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge, Edouard Manet painted the scene from newspaper accounts. The painting hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I viewed it late last year. Another painting of Kearsarge is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A lynch mob including members of the KKK killed three young civil rights activists who were trying to register African-Americans to vote near Meridian, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan’s involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

Jaws was released on June 20, 1975.

John W. Hinckley, Jr. was acquitted of attempted murder of President Ronald Reagan and others in the Presidential party by reason on insanity on June 21, 1982.

Voters in Sandy Springs approved the new city’s incorporation on June 21, 2005.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


8:00 AM Senate Natural Resources & Environment 307 CLOB

8:00 AM Senate Special Judiciary 310 CLOB




8:45 AM Senate Agricuture & Consumer Affairs 310 CLOB


10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 34) House Chamber

TBD Senate Rules upon Adjournment 450 CAP

1:00 PM Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities 450 CAP


2:15 PM Senate Finance 450 CAP


3:00 PM Senate Judiciary 307 CLOB

The Georgia State House Committee on Governmental Affairs began hearing testimony on last week’s election, according to the AJC.

“This election was a complete catastrophe,” said [Jacoria] Borders, whom Fulton County had hired just the day before to work at the short-staffed William Walker Recreation Center precinct. “We were totally unprepared and did the best we could.”

Election observers from Savannah said at their precinct, voting computers weren’t ready when polls were supposed to open, and the first ballot wasn’t cast until an hour later, after 8 a.m. on election day.

Voters weren’t allowed to cast backup paper ballots, and some of them left without participating in the election, said Joanna Shepherd, an election observer at a Salvation Army voting location.

“They didn’t seem to understand how to plug things in,” Shepherd said. “Things were clearly going wrong,” with few touchscreens operating and voter access cards often failing to pull up ballots.

Michelle Chaffee, a poll observer in Greene County, said election workers offered paper ballots to voters when check-in tablets didn’t work as polls opened. Some fed-up voters left and came back later.

“When those voters did return, the scanner wouldn’t accept their ballots, so they were issued provisional ballots,” Chaffee said.

Danielle Wynn, a poll observer in Rome, said poll workers told at least 20 voters to try to vote at a different precinct.

Governor Brian Kemp and State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods announced the state will seek a waiver of some federal testing requirements, according to The Brunswick News.

“Given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting state budget reductions, it would be counterproductive to continue with high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year,” Kemp and Woods said in a joint statement. “In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth and the safety of students. Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.”

Georgia was one of the first states to suspend standardized testing at the end of last school year when the pandemic forced the system to shut down. The state later received approval from the U.S. Department of Education to cancel all remaining standardized tests for that school year.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have urged common sense regarding compliance in Georgia’s public schools and a focus before anything else on the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and school staff,” they said in the joint statement.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

“We are continuing to pursue Senate Bill 367,” they said, “which aims to get Georgia’s state testing requirements in line with the federal minimum and maximize time for instruction.”

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced that unemployment has fallen into the single digits, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Unemployment in Georgia stood at 9.7% for the month of May, down 2.9% from April’s jobless rate of 12.6%.

“I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency. Those jobs are still out there for the most part.”

“The decrease in regular weekly claims is indicative of a recovering workforce who are now ready to return to work,” Butler said. “We predict a continual decrease in these weekly claims as businesses return to pre-COVID conditions and Georgians increase their spending habits.”

Gainesville area hospitality industry unemployment, however, was as high as 73%, according to the Gainesville Times.

“That was a devastating impact to our workforce in the community,” Stacey Dickson, Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau president, said Wednesday, June 17, during a tourism webinar sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

In comparison, the overall unemployment rate in Hall was 10.6% in April, an all-time high, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Hall’s jobless numbers in May will be released later this month.

“The good news is that, as businesses have been able to reopen, (the jobless) figure is more in the 25% range, so we are definitely rebounding,” Dickson said. “And hopefully, our businesses and our patrons will respect the guidelines that have been set forth … in order to be able to stay open.

United States Senator David Perdue is seeking addition COVID relief funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, according to the Albany Herald.

“Many HBCUs continue to struggle to meet current and prospective needs,” the senators wrote. “Broadband access remains a major hurdle for far too many students and schools, particularly in rural areas. We must help to equip HBCUs with the technological infrastructure necessary to weather this storm and maintain their growing momentum.”

“In addition, Congress should seek to identify opportunities to ensure that HBCUs have a seat at the table as we seek to better understand COVID-19 and other biomedical challenges, along with their varied impacts. As we transition into discussions on how best to assist in and accelerate the economic recovery, we urge you to consider diverse avenues of support for HBCUs and MSIs.”

Georgia Democratic legislators support a package of bills aimed at reforming policing, including repeal of citizens’ arrest, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

House Bill 1203 would remove language from state law that allows private citizens to arrest someone who commits a crime in their presence or within their “immediate knowledge.”

It would also do away with language allowing a private citizen to make an arrest “upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion” that someone committed a felony crime and is trying to escape.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Carl Gilliard, is among more than a dozen bills filed since Monday when the legislative session resumed that focus on court and policing reforms.

They include measures to repeal the state’s stand-your-ground law, prohibit police officers from racial profiling and ban no-knock search warrants.

The Georgia Senate Finance Committee is looking at eliminating some tax breaks, according to the AJC.

The Georgia Senate Finance Committee on Thursday approved legislation eliminating or reducing a laundry list of tax breaks in hopes of saving about $200 million. They did so without hearing any testimony from the dozens of lobbyists who got those tax breaks approved in the first place.

The original list to get trimmed included one that exempts manufacturers from paying sales taxes on energy they use in production, and another that spares air carriers such as Delta Air Lines from paying a sales tax on jet fuel.

Manufacturers told senators that eliminating the exemption could be a job killer, and it was removed from the hit list. As was the jet-fuel tax break for airlines, who have hired top Capitol lobbyists for years to push for it and keep it.

“We obviously have a tough budget this year,” said Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.

Hufstetler said if schools, law enforcement and health care programs are taking cuts, businesses benefiting from tax breaks should, too.

House Bill 888, passed by both chambers and awaiting the Governor’s signature, aims to prevent surprise medical bills, according to the Gainesville Times.

The bill received support from all of Hall County’s delegation in both chambers of the General Assembly.

If a patient goes to an in-network health care facility, they would be charged the in-network fee, even if their provider was out-of-network with their insurer. The insurer and provider would work out the difference, and the bill outlines an arbitration process through the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s office.

For nonemergency services, like a regular checkup, patients would be given 48 hours notice before treatment if they have scheduled with an out-of-network provider. Patients could then decide to change their plans or pay extra.

[Sponsor State Rep. Lee] Hawkins said the goal of the bill is alleviating the burden of medical costs on families and preventing bankruptcies stemming from health care expenses.

“I truly feel like this is going to be so good for patients,” Hawkins said. “It will take a load off families that already are stressed with trying to make ends meet, and with this pandemic and everything else going on, I think it’s a really good accomplishment that our legislature has made here to help people in this state.”

Senate changes to House Bill 545, called the “Right to Farm Act,” passed the Senate and head back across the capitol, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

The bill, which originated in the Georgia House of Representatives last year, passed the Senate 29-21. Because of changes senators made to the measure, it must return to the House before gaining final passage.

The legislation would make it more difficult for property owners living in areas zoned for agricultural use to file nuisance lawsuits against nearby farms generating offensive noise, dust, smells or sludge runoff.

Supporters argued the original Right to Farm Act the General Assembly enacted during the 1980s contains ambiguities that expose farmers to costly lawsuits that could be avoided by a clearer statute.

“Georgia has a booming agricultural economy that makes a $75 billion (annual economic) impact on our state,” said Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. “But people are not going to be able to continue to farm and invest millions of dollars in equipment if they don’t understand what they can and can’t do.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard hate crimes legislation passed by the State House last year, according to the AJC.

“The Georgia Anti-Hate Crimes Act was carefully crafted in the House of Representatives to address an issue we have in our state,” said state Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Dacula Republican who sponsored the legislation. “This is not a criminalization of thought or speech. What this is, is allowing the state to classify particularly heinous offenses.”

The Georgia House in March 2019 approved House Bill 426, which would give sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, said the hearing was meant to gather information that can be compiled into legislation the Senate can support. Asked whether he thought the legislation would pass this year, he replied: “There’s a chance.”

House Bill 823 by State Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) would ban commercial drivers licenses for anyone convited of human trafficking offenses, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gaines, R-Athens, said in March the bill would go a long way toward reversing Georgia’s status as a state with one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the nation.

Sen. John Albers echoed that sentiment from the Senate floor Thursday, noting it makes sense to take driver’s licenses away from those who use vehicles for human trafficking.

“The punishment certainly will fit the crime,” said Albers, R-Roswell.

Passing the bill is a win for Gov. Brian Kemp, who made legislation targeting human trafficking a top priority for his administration and allies in the 2020 legislative session.

A separate measure on human trafficking, Senate Bill 435, is now winding through the state House. It passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Thursday and now heads to the House floor.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland, would let victims petition the court to vacate convictions for crimes committed while they were being trafficked.

Congressional candidate Marjorie Green in the 14th district is under fire from elected officials in her own party, according to the New York Times.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, captured more than 40 percent of the vote in a crowded primary for the 14th Congressional District in Georgia on June 9 and has a strong chance of winning a House seat this fall.

Ms. Greene, a businesswoman, was criticized for remarks she made in Facebook videos uncovered by Politico, which said the videos appeared to have been recorded between late 2017 and early 2019.

“These comments are appalling and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them,” said Drew Florio, a spokesman for Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader.

“The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great,” said Representative Steve Scalise, the House Republican whip.

From the AJC:

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, took back his endorsement of Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District race.

Greene posted a lengthy statement on social media accusing news reporters of bias and fellow Republicans of being spineless. Georgia Reps. Doug Collins, Drew Ferguson, Buddy Carter and Austin Scott were among the incumbents who criticized her past statements, and they were joined by House Republian Whip Steve Scalise and former Congresswoman Karen Handel.

“No one intimidates me,” Greene wrote on Twitter. “Not the Democrats, Not George Soros, not the Fake News Media, and not the DC Swamp.”

From the Washington Post:

Republican leaders must do more than denounce Greene. They must actively support her opponent. That means the Chamber of Commerce PAC, the Club for Growth, the National Republican Congressional Committee and whomever else can be summoned to fight bigotry within conservative ranks must spend what it takes. Her victory would tarnish the entire GOP ticket from the top down. Only her defeat will suffice.

My political analysis is that attacks by out-of-state Congressional leaders, and even Georgia congressmen, probably helps Greene win her Primary Runoff Election. All she needs now to assure her victory in August is an endorsement of her opponent by the very groups mentioned in the Washington Post editorial.

Lake Lanier attractions Margaritaville and Legacy Lodge have reopened with new safety procedures, according to the Gainesville Times.

Statesboro City Council debated increased funding for either the Boys & Girls Club or the police, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bloomingdale Mayor Ben Rozier has been asked for his resignation by City Council after a Facebook post, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Augusta Utilities will lift a moratorium on disconnections in July, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Dawsonville City Council approved an FY21 budget, according to the Dawson County News.

A Confederate memorial in Decatur was removed, according to AccessWDUN.

The city asked a Georgia judge last week to order the removal of the monument, which was often vandalized and marked by graffiti, saying it had become a threat to public safety.

DeKalb County Judge Clarence Seeliger agreed, and ordered the 30-foot (9-meter) obelisk in Decatur Square to be removed by midnight June 26 and placed in storage indefinitely. His order came hours before a white Atlanta police officer fatally shot another black man, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, in the back, sparking renewed protests in Georgia’s capital region.

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