Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 16, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 16, 2021

https://youtu.be/wgTPH5y1-ZI

On February 16, 1923, Howard Carter and his archaeology party entered the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen.

The steps led to an ancient sealed doorway bearing the name Tutankhamen. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb’s interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.

Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb–golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing–the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered. Despite rumors that a curse would befall anyone who disturbed the tomb, its treasures were carefully catalogued, removed and included in a famous traveling exhibition called the “Treasures of Tutankhamen.”

On February 16, 1948, the United States Air Force renamed Robins Air Field to Robins Air Force Base. Robins AFB and the City of Warner Robins are named for Air Force General Augustine Warner Robins.

Fidel Castro was sworn-in as Prime Minister of Cuba on February 16, 1959.

On February 16, 1968, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representative Rankin Fite placed the first 911 call from Haleyville City Hall to Congressman Tom Bevill at the Haleyville police station.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Election Save the Date: March 16, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax “SPLOST 8” in Augusta-Richmond County.

All state executive branch offices will open two hours late this morning due to winter weather and pursuant to Executive Order #02.15.21.02.

Governor Brian Kemp also issued Executive Order #02.15.21.01, providing guidance on COVID-19 protocols. From WGXA:

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a new COVID-19-related executive order on Monday that requires restaurants, non-critical infrastructure businesses, and events to make sure their ventilation systems are working.

The Governor’s Office said this comes after data that shows the spread of COVID-19 can be reduced with better air circulation and purification. The state is encouraging all critical infrastructure businesses to also ensure proper ventilation.

The Executive Order includes a provision to allow for the renewal of a weapons carry license up to 120 days after their license expires, if the expiration date takes place during the Public Health State of Emergency.

Governor Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey held a roundtable in Gainesville to discuss vaccinations in the Hispanic community, according to AccessWDUN.

Among the top priorities, the meeting was held to address the hesitancy among some members of the Hispanic community to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The meeting itself was closed to media, however Kemp and others in attendance answered questions shortly after.

“Certainly we’ve seen hesitancy in minority communities,” said Kemp. “When we get to that point when we can expand the supply and we have that supply, we need people to be comfortable taking the vaccine, that’s what will put an end to the pandemic.”

Kemp said that a large portion of helping community members feel confident about getting a vaccine includes administering doses in places where they are comfortable.

“We’re gonna go give vaccines where people are comfortable getting them, obviously many of them are very comfortable going to their place of worship to get a vaccine,” said Kemp. “We talked about that this morning and we’ll continue to do that to make sure that the setting is comfortable and people are confident.”

Kemp and others in attendance said that a large portion of today’s meeting centered around the poultry industry and vaccinating workers. Doctor Zachary Taylor, District 2 Public Health Director, said that state leaders are looking at two options for vaccinating workers when there are enough doses available.

“The larger producers can become vaccinators themselves, so they can order the vaccine directly. They have the medical staff that will be able to vaccinate the employees,” said Taylor. “Smaller producers may not be in that position, and we will work with them to arrange vaccination events at their plants.”

Former United States Senator David Perdue filed papers with the Federal Elections Commission to run against Raphael Warnock next year. From the New York Times:

Mr. Perdue, a former businessman who first ran for office as an outsider, and later became one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies in the Senate, filed documents with the Federal Election Commission to establish a “Perdue for Senate” campaign committee.

The move, first reported by Fox News, was viewed as a first step in the Republican Party’s effort to try to reclaim one of the Senate seats lost in Georgia’s historic runoff elections on Jan. 5.

Mr. Ossoff received 50.6 percent of the vote to 49.4 percent for Mr. Perdue, who waited two days to concede, prompting speculation that he might contest the outcome.

Mr. Warnock prevailed over Senator Kelly Loeffler in their runoff, 51 percent to 49 percent. The two were running in a special election to fill a six-year term; the winner of the 2022 Senate race will serve a full term.

Given Mr. Perdue’s ties with Mr. Trump, it is possible that the former president may be a presence campaigning for Mr. Perdue and against Mr. Kemp next year.

Working in Mr. Perdue’s favor is a significant war chest — about $5 million left over from his campaign available for a 2022 race, according to a federal elections report.

From Politico:

A top Perdue adviser said the paperwork wasn’t an announcement of a campaign, but a “legal step that had to be taken.”

“He is close to making a decision, leaning heavily towards it, but will decide in [the] next few weeks,” the adviser said.

Perdue would start with a hefty sum in his campaign account: He had $5.7 million left over weeks after the runoff, according to a filing with the FEC late last month.

Loeffler is also considering running again in a rematch against Warnock, as is former Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who finished third in the special election in November.

From the AJC:

[O]ne of his aides offered a definitive timeline: Perdue will decide by March and, if he pulls the trigger, he will announce in April with a full campaign team behind him.

Under the Gold Dome Today

7:00 AM Senate Subcommittee A of Ethics – Canceled – Mezz 1
7:00 AM Senate Subcommittee B of Ethics – Canceled – 307 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES – 606 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT – 506 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE Governmental Affairs General Government Subcommittee – 406 CLOB
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session – Senate Chamber
TBD Senate Rules Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Higher Education – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Insurance and Labor – Mezz 1
1:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION – 606 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE – 406 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE Judiciary Non Civil Setzler Subcommittee – 515 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE – 341 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Sales Tax Subcommittee – 403 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE Public Safety and Homeland Security Subcommittee A – 415 CLOB
1:10 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Public Finance and Policy Subcommittee – 403 CAP
1:15 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Special Committee on Tax Revision – 403 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE Judiciary Gunter Subcommittee – 132 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES – 506 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES – 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE GAME, FISH AND PARKS – 403 CAP
2:15 PM Senate Health and Human Services – canceled – 450 CAP
2:15 PM Senate Public Safety – Mezz 1
3:00 PM HOUSE Telecommunications Subcommittee of Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications – 403 CAP
3:30 PM Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities – 450 CAP
3:30 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS – 403 CAP
3:30 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs State and Local Government Subcommittee – 506 CLOB
3:30 PM HOUSE Judiciary NON Civil Reeves Subcommittee – 406 CLOB
4:45 PM Senate Transportation – canceled – 450 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 87 – “Senator Jack Hill Veterans’ Act”; enact (RULES-33rd)

SB 27 – Professional Licenses; extend the time a member of the military has to qualify for the issuance of a license; electrical contractor, plumber; (VM&HS-14th)

SB 43 – “Noncovered Eye Care Services Act”; enact (Substitute)(I&L-28th)

SB 45 – Professions and Businesses; individuals who move to the state and establish residency to obtain a license by endorsement to practice certain professions and occupations in this state; provide(Substitute)(RI&U-14th)

SB 53 – Georgia Technology Authority; power and duty to establish standards for state agencies’ website design, navigation, and accessibility; provide (Substitute)(S&T-52nd)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Structured Rule

HB 93 – Health; eliminate duplicative state licensure and regulation of clinical laboratories; provisions (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd)

HB 128 – Health; prohibit providers from discriminating against potential organ transplant recipients due solely to the physical or mental disability of the potential recipient (H&HS-Williams-145th)

HB 146 – Public officers and employees; paid parental leave for eligible state employees and eligible local board of education employees; provide (H&HS-Gaines-117th)

HB 163 – Community Health, Department of; submit state plan amendment to implement express lane enrollment in Medicaid; direct (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd)

HB 200 – Motor vehicles; issuance of a Class C driver’s license to operators of certain three-wheeled motor vehicles; provide (MotV-Powell-32nd)

HB 207 – Motor vehicles; electronic submission of certain documentation required of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, secondary metals recyclers, used motor vehicle parts dealers, and scrap metal processors by the Department of Revenue; provide (Substitute)(MotV-Corbett-174th)

HB 254 – Insurance; Commissioner’s enforcement authority with regard to adjusters; increase (Substitute)(Ins-Lumsden-12th)

Governor Kemp yesterday signed the FY 21 Amended Budget.

“Today, I am signing a budget that reflects our values as a state. By restoring education funding, making key investments in expanding internet access, prioritizing public health, giving 57,000 state employees a well-deserved bonus, and spurring economic development in every corner of our state, this budget ensures Georgia will continue being the best state to live, work, and raise a family. As other states look to furlough workers, cut essential services, or raise taxes, we acted early in the pandemic to budget conservatively and protect both lives and livelihoods. I thank Lt. Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, members of the General Assembly, and the House and Senate budget staffs who worked closely with my office to get this budget across the finish line. By working together, we will make sure Georgia’s best days are still ahead.” – Governor Brian Kemp

“While other states continue to make budget cuts, or are preparing for looming deficits, Georgia is a testament that states can prioritize both lives and livelihoods. This amended budget not only restores critical funding, but provides a foundation for continued growth – even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Georgians should be proud of the teamwork their state leaders exhibited to get this budget to the finish line. I want to thank Chairman Tillery, and the Senate Budget staff, who worked tirelessly to ensure a conservative, balanced budget.” – Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan

“Working together, we have arrived at an amended budget that prioritizes the state’s response to COVID-19 and helping our people through this pandemic. We have allocated additional funding to the Department of Public Health for more staff and technology. We have added more than half a billion dollars to public schools, and we have provided teachers and many state employees with a $1,000 bonus to reward their efforts. With our AAA-bond rating and strong reserve fund, the nation’s #1 state for business continues to budget conservatively, and we can be proud that our budget reflects our shared commitment to keep Georgia healthy and growing. I want to thank Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Duncan and the members of the Senate for working with Chairman Terry England and the rest of our House members on this budget.” – Speaker David Ralston

From GPB:

The new budget allocates for a $1,000 bonus for state employees who make less than $80,000 annually. 57,000 state employees will receive the one-time bonus.

Kemp announced similar bonuses for Georgia’s public school teachers last month in his State of the State address with more than $600 million for K-12 education. Teachers will receive a $1,000 one-time bonus. The purchase of 520 new school buses are included in the budget.

The state budget also devotes $20 million to expanding broadband internet access to rural regions.

The amended FY21 budget funds the state government through June 30. Lawmakers will continue to work on the FY22 budget.

The governor’s office said the amended budget didn’t include any cuts to agencies, furloughs, layoffs or new taxes.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

“Thanks to our measured reopening and strong fiscal management, Georgia weathered the storm,” he said. “This balanced budget sets our state on a clear path to recovery in the coming months.”

With the mid-year budget delivered and signed, lawmakers will focus next on the $27.2 billion fiscal 2022 state budget, now before the Georgia House of Representatives. That budget will cover the period starting July 1 and running through June 30, 2022.

The Georgia Department of Education ruled against the Savannah-Chatham school district, holding that district are not excused from providing all services to special needs students by the pandemic. From the Savannah Morning News:

Students with special needs must receive all their required services, and the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools System cannot use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for not providing those required services. The Georgia Department of Education issued its ruling against the district on Friday afternoon.

The initial complaint was filed by the Savannah-based Sullivan Law Firm last fall stating that due to the district’s all-virtual learning mode, students with special needs were not receiving their free and adequate public education (FAPE); nor their services as outlined in the students’ IEP (Individual Education Plans) as required by federal and state laws.

In its ruling on Friday, the Georgia Department of Education stated that SCCPSS did not allow IEP teams to consider and plan for all components of students’ educational needs during periods of full distance/remote instruction. “One example of how SCCPSS violated the law in this regard is by prohibiting or discouraging requests for in-person educational services that are either required by the student’s IEP, or could increase the likelihood that the student will make progress in a full distance/remote instruction environment,” the ruling stated.

What the state Department of Education ruling means for parents of children with special needs is:

• They have a right to be a part of the process (not question whether they are or not);

• The students have a right to a free and appropriate public education and the pandemic cannot be used as an excuse, and

• They can assert their rights against the district if a free and appropriate public education is not being provided.

The Georgia State Election Board voted to refer 35 cases of alleged voter fraud to the Attorney General, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Election fraud is not tolerated in Georgia. When there is evidence of it, the people responsible face prosecution,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, chairman of the five-member board, said in a news release. “Georgia has multiple safeguards in place that allow our team of investigators to discover fraudulent voting. They worked to catch the wrongdoing in these cases, and they maintain the security of Georgia elections.”

Among the cases bound over for prosecution were four incidents of felons voting or registering to vote, four cases of non-citizens voting or registering to vote, and one case of misplaced ballots during the 2020 general election, which didn’t change the outcome but did affect the total. Also bound over for prosecution were canvassers for two organizations trying to register people to vote, including one who allegedly submitted registration applications they knew were false.

The City of Atlanta is considering a jobs program for “water boys,” according to the AJC.

The Atlanta City Council on Monday passed a resolution that tasks the city with conducting a feasibility study on whether it should launch the new venture.

Specifically, the city is considering starting a “municipal enterprise,” a business owned by a local government that generates revenue for local communities. The resolution states that the program could provide job opportunities for what the Council calls the city’s “young water vendors — mostly African American young men commonly referred to as ‘the water boys’ — selling water at street corners and on exit ramps throughout 2020.”

Selling water at intersections is illegal, though Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms acknowledged their “entrepreneurial spirit” in an administrative order last June. Her order created an advisory council tasked with coming up with strategies to help promote youth entrepreneurship in the city.

The feasibility study is set to include potential water bottling distributors, the legal requirements for starting a municipal enterprise and a cost and revenue analysis. A new working group will have four months to present its findings to the Council.

Because Atlanta has fixed all the problems with existing programs.

Augusta released its proposed project list for the March 31 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST 8) referendum, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Chatham Area Transit (CAT) will suspend its service to the Savannah/Hilton Head Island airport next month, according to the Savannah Morning News.

According to CAT, the shuttle averages about 170 passengers a month at a cost amounting to $80 per passenger and is one of CAT’s least used and most expensive. The shuttle costs passengers $5 for one-way trips or $8 for roundtrip tickets.

Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar is scheduled to give the “State of the City” address today at 5:30 PM.

“Glamping” will have a legal definition, as the Hall County Planning Commission plans to adopt a new zoning category, according to AccessWDUN.

“We’ve had a couple of different requests during 2020 for what’s commonly known as glamping,” [Hall County Planning Director Sarah] McQuade told commission members. But, McQuade explained, for the purpose of enacting legislation she and her team were calling it, “…transient occupancy of temporary dwellings.”

“It’s when people camp as you normally would but it’s maybe a little more luxurious,” she explained.

“You go to a [site] that’s already established and constructed; they’re not having to bring their own tent with them; it’s already set up on a semi-permanent basis,” McQuade said. “Clients will be coming out to stay in as in a hotel…with luxurious outhouses…and each site would be associated with their own private outhouse.”

McQuade said that at present no Hall County zoning use category perfectly fits glamping. “When we get uses that are presented to us that don’t technically fit within one of our existing permitted uses we have to bring these before you, because the way zoning regulations work is if something is not defined it’s inherently prohibited.”

“We don’t even have really a camping classification within our zoning,” McQuade said. “It really blends the idea of an RV or travel trailer park…and even though it is a commercial venture it’s really residential in nature.”

The Rome Alcohol Control Commission tabled a measure to allow home delivery of alcohol, citing the need for further study, according to the Rome News Tribune.

City Clerk Joe Smith said the home delivery ordinance comes as a result of House Bill 879, passed by the state last year. Smith explained that he is still awaiting a “workable set of rules” from the Georgia Department of Revenue.

ACC Chairwoman Monica Sheppard likened the state law to an effort by the ACC last year to allow open containers of alcohol in certain areas, to help local retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city commission, however, rejected the open container law.

“I think this is absolutely a possible solution to the fact that our establishments are missing out on sales because they can’t have people coming in and spending in the way they would under normal circumstances,” Sheppard said.

The law would require homeowners to have set up an account with the seller and pay for the alcohol in advance.

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