Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 4, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 4, 2020

On August 4, 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

On August 4, 1944, Anne Frank, her family, and two others were found by Nazis in a sealed area in an Amsterdam warehouse. They were sent first to a concentration camp in Holland, then most were sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945.

Gold from Dahlonega on its way to Atlanta. Photo by Ed Jackson via http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu

On August 4, 1958, a wagon train left Dahlonega, headed to Atlanta to pay tribute to the mighty General Assembly deliver 43 ounces of gold to be used to coat the dome of the State Capitol.

On August 4, 1993, Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, hit Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura, and Ventura charged the mound.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 879 by State Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), which will allow home delivery of alcohol, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

House Bill 879, which cleared the General Assembly in June during the final week of this year’s legislative session, will let restaurants, supermarkets and liquor stores make home deliveries of beer, wine and distilled spirits in Georgia, subject to the approval of local voters. The bill also allows alcohol retailers to provide to-go services.

“This new law represents the balance of safe, convenient delivery while maintaining the rights for local governments to decide what is best for their community,” said Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association. “We want to thank Governor Kemp and the Georgia legislature for setting a high standard for the safe delivery of alcohol in our state.”

Harrell’s bill also broadens the so-called “Sunday brunch bill” the General Assembly passed two years ago allowing restaurants, hotels and wineries to serve alcohol on premises starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays. The new law allows sales of liquor by grocery stores for off-premises consumption as well.

House Bill 879 also expands the current state law allowing tastings of limited amounts of beer, wine and spirits from just wineries and distilleries to package stores.

From Georgia Recorder:

Customers will need to create an account with the store and show their ID on delivery to prove they are of legal age to buy alcohol. Drivers are not supposed to make a delivery if the customer is not present, is visibly intoxicated or without identification. A business that fails to meet the requirements could face a fine of up to $500 and a 30-day suspension.

Businesses that deliver alcohol will be subject to the same local laws as those that sell it in-store, including restrictions on Sunday sales before 12:30 p.m., and local government officials can ban alcohol deliveries in their jurisdictions.

“During this COVID, a lot of people have been getting their groceries, delivered, and they’re like, ‘Hey, if we’re not going out to get exposed, why not get our beer and wine delivered too?” said Athens Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert during the Senate debate.

The new law directs the state revenue department to create a system for approving the licenses by Jan. 1.

Governor Kemp also signed House Bill 847 to regulate the hemp industry, according to the AJC.

The measure prepares the state for its first hemp crops, which are already being grown this summer after the General Assembly legalized hemp farming last year.

Hemp is used to make CBD oil, a product sold in stores as a treatment for pain, anxiety and insomnia. Hemp comes from the cannabis plant, but unlike marijuana it contains less than 0.3% THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The legislation, House Bill 847, increases the annual hemp processing fee to $50,000 a year, up from a $10,000 fee initially set last year. The fee to grow hemp remains at $50 per acre.

Anyone transporting hemp plants is required to carry appropriate paperwork to help prove they’re in possession of a legal product, according to the bill.

In addition, the bill permits farmers and processors to sell their products to authorized hemp producers in other states.

Gov. Kemp has an Op-Ed published in the Augusta Chronicle.

Under the current executive order, the medically fragile are sheltered in place; large gatherings are banned unless social distancing measures are implemented; and businesses that choose to operate are required to follow intense sanitation and safety protocols.

Through multiple partnerships with academia and private companies, Georgia has rapidly expanded COVID-19 testing. With 170 locations and over 20,000 tests reported on a daily basis, we have exceeded 1.5 million tests administered since March.

While our state is split on what power state and local leaders should wield during these difficult times, we all agree that individuals – not the government – are ultimately responsible for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.

That is why we are asking Georgians to do “4 Things for 4 Weeks” to flatten the curve:

First, wear a mask.

Second, keep your distance.

Third, wash your hands.

Fourth, follow and enforce the guidance provided in the executive order and from public health officials.

Study after study shows that unemployment, economic instability and loss of income do more than just tighten the pocketbook. A decade ago, we saw an uptick in substance abuse, depression and suicide as Americans endured the Great Recession. We are already seeing similar warning signs as Congress debates the next stimulus package.

This reality was top of mind when I took action against the city of Atlanta. Despite reckless misreporting by the national press, this lawsuit was never about masks, politics or control. I sued the mayor and city council because their Phase One rollback plan would have shuttered businesses, slashed paychecks and sent thousands of hardworking Georgians to the back of the unemployment line.

In short, their action would have made matters worse and created a ripple effect with serious, real-world consequences. Politics aside, I had to act.

You see, protecting livelihoods – businesses, jobs, economic stability – is also protecting lives. It is a war on two fronts, but the goal is undoubtedly the same.

So, hunker down, mask up and join the fight. Together, we will protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians!

Western Circuit Superior Court Judge Eric Norris enjoined an Athens measure to close bars earlier, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Western Circuit Superior Court Judge Eric Norris granted a temporary restraining order Friday which stops enforcement for an Athens-Clarke County ordinance changing the “last call” for alcohol sales.

The Athens-Clarke Commission passed an update to the ordinance Thursday making “last call” for alcohol at 10 p.m.

The commission passed the ordinance as a way to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

A key component of the suit is that it violates pandemic measures set in place by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The Western Judicial Circuit serves Clarke and Oconee Counties.

United States Senator Kelly Loeffler‘s campaign has hired a former Kemp field director, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Chris Allen, who ran then-gubernatorial candidate Kemp’s outreach in 2018, has been tapped as Loeffler’s state field director in charge of voter mobilization efforts, her campaign announced Monday.

Allen also managed state Rep. Kevin Tanner’s campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat that he lost in the Republican primary in June.

Loeffler, R-Ga., is looking to fend off challengers from all sides as she campaigns to keep her Senate seat, to which she was appointed by Kemp in December to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

The Nov. 3 special election is a free-for-all contest involving candidates from all parties on the same ballot. A runoff will be held in January if no candidate gains more than 50% of votes.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and his wife hosted a discussion of school reopening plans, according to AccessWDUN.

Georgia Ninth District Congressman Doug Collins and his wife, Lisa, hosted a roundtable discussion Monday evening to hear from both school districts operating in Hall County about their plans, and their needs, as they prepare to reopen later this month.

Representative Collins said what concerned school leaders was a longtime interest of his. “I’m glad to have Lisa here tonight, because the last time, frankly, we were in this room (conference room at Hall County School’s District Office) we were finding out about retirement.”

Lisa Collins retired this spring after thirty years of teaching elementary students in Hall County Schools.

“We wanted to have this tonight to see just what we can do from a federal perspective; what is the local perspective; and how can we be a helpful mouth piece to help you get the message out of what’s going on in your systems and how each are different,” Collins explained.

The vital importance of in-person learning was a common thread woven throughout the roundtable discussion.

Ms. Collins’ last months as a teacher were spent teaching online and she quickly witnessed the added challenge involved in teaching her students while they were at home. “There was a lot of teaching of the parents, if you will, just as much as it was for the kids.”

“So much of the teaching had to come from the parents,” Collins continued. “The biggest thing we dealt with was teaching the parents how to help their child.”

Republicans Marjorie Greene and Dr. Joel Cowan head toward next week’s Primary Runoff Election in the 14th Congressional District, according to the (Chattanooga) Times Free Press.

In the primary, Greene — a construction company owner in Milton — received more than 40% of the vote and got nearly twice as many votes as Cowan. The primary field was one of the most crowded races in the state with nine candidates vying for Rep. Tom Graves’ seat.

Both Greene and Cowan consider themselves pro-Trump. Trump congratulated Greene’s primary victory in a tweet, saying she was “a big winner.” Greene came out of the primary as the favorite but the race got significantly closer weeks after the primary as several GOP leaders started to distance themselves from the frontrunner.

As of July 22, Greene has raised $1.59 million, which includes a $900,000 loan from herself, and has spent $1.44 million. She has about $143,500 on hand.

Cowan has raised $1.2 million, which includes a $200,000 loan from himself, and has spent $960,000. He has about $237,000 cash on hand.

Heading into the final week of early voting, about 253,000 votes have been cast in Georgia for the runoff. Of those votes, 68% have been absentee mail-in ballots. In the 14th District race, about 26,000 people have already voted.

The 14th District includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Walker, Whitfield and a portion of Pickens counties.

The Rome-Floyd County NAACP has filed a complaint with its statewide organization against the Floyd County Board of Elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome-Floyd County NAACP has forwarded a list of complaints to its state organization in regard to the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration’s handling of local voting in the June 9 primary.

According to local NAACP president Ouida D. Sams, the group is unhappy with portions of how the last election day was handled and with Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady’s June 26 follow up report on the matter.

Brady said he was unaware of any action by the NAACP, but stands by his June 26 report.

“There were a few problems, as there always are,” Brady said. “We had one piece of equipment fail, and we replaced that. Beyond all that, I’m not aware of anything other than the usual minor annoyances with opening and closing the polls.”

The complaint contains allegations that there were late poll openings, a lack of training, an inconsistent absentee ballot protocol and instances of equipment failure.

UGA Faculty representatives are not entirely happy with reopening plans, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

UGA measures to contain COVID-19 when students come back are vague and in some cases life-threatening to students, faculty and other workers, according to a resolution unanimously adopted by the elected faculty senate of Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the university’s largest academic unit, and overwhelmingly endorsed by the faculty senate of the Mary Frances Early College of Education.

The groups sent their resolution to UGA President Jere Morehead and USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley, asking for a response by Tuesday.

The Franklin College Senate is scheduled to meet again Aug. 11, possibly to vote on a no-confidence resolution depending on administrators’ response to the faculty resolution.

The groups also asked for a series of open town hall meetings, and say faculty, staff and students should be included in future decision-making. Task forces appointed to prepare UGA’s reopening plans were almost entirely made up of UGA administrators.

“It is deeply regrettable that the UGA and USG administrations have brought us so close to the opening of the Fall semester without a clear community understanding of the issues above,” the faculty representatives wrote. “Furthermore, these issues by no means exhaust the list of unanswered concerns, many of them literal matters of life and death, held by staff, students and faculty.

The Atlanta Board of Education voted to delay school reopening and require masks, according to the AJC.

Atlanta Public Schools will postpone the first day of class until Aug. 24, two weeks later than the district initially planned.

The school board on Monday voted unanimously to give final approval to the delayed start, which officials said would give teachers and families more time to prepare for virtual instruction. The district previously announced it would hold online-only lessons for at least the first nine weeks of the year, or until there is minimal or moderate spread of the coronavirus.

The board also approved a dress code change which would allow the district to require students to wear masks when they are in school buildings.

“Face coverings are required for all students and staff except while eating, drinking and exercising, with limited exceptions for students or staff who have medical reasons for not being able to wear a mask or face shield,” a district document states.

Lawrenceville Mayor David Still announced that all large scale events will be canceled for the remainder of 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

That does not mean there may not be events in Lawrenceville during the remainder of the year, however. Still said there will be smaller events held in the city for residents.

These events include drive-in movies from September through December; A “Free Comic Book Summer” event through September; a Wellness Wednesday series from September through November; a virtual version of the Family Promise Bed Race on Aug. 22; a Universal Joint Chili Cook-Off on Nov. 14; a Spotlight in the DTL series from September to December; and Yoga at the Plaza on Aug. 13, 20 and 27.

“Also look for pop-up live entertainment on the square, artists, and other surprises and unique events offered by our downtown businesses,” Still said. “On behalf of the City Council, I thank you for supporting the City of Lawrenceville and look forward to seeing you at our restructured 2020 events and at future events when we are able to safely return to our regular event schedule.”

Details about the events are expected to announced at lawrencevillega.org and downtownlawrencevillega.com as well as on the city’s social media channels.

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