Sine Die – Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 31, 2021


Sine Die – Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 31, 2021

On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, asking that he and his colleagues “remember the ladies” in the fight for Independence.

The future First Lady wrote in part, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The iconic vote was cast in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the town’s charter.  Gary Sullivan of the News Tribune stated, “Exercising his right to vote in a local election on March 31, 1870.  Peterson became the first black man in the United States to cast a ballot.  The amendment had been ratified on February 3, 1870, and within just two months the Fifteenth Amendment was put to use.

An interview with Peterson showed who encouraged him to vote, “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen’s privilege.”  Peterson also revealed his vote in this election, “As I advanced to the polls one man offered me a ticket bearing the words “revised charter” and another one marked, “no charter.” I thought I would not vote to give up our charter after holding it so long: so I chose a revised charter ballot.”

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower remained the world’s tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition’s 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world’s premier tourist attractions.

On March 31, 1999, The Matrix opened in theaters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 40) – Senate Chamber

10:00 AM HOUSE Floor Session (LD40) – House Chamber


HB 44 – State government; Georgia shall observe daylight savings time year round; provide (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (GvtO-1st) Cantrell-22nd

HB 97 – Courts; oath for certain clerks of the probate court; require and provide (SJUDY-50th) Leverett-33rd

HB 117 – Low THC Oil Patient Registry; ulcerative colitis as a condition for which low THC oil may be used for treatment; add (Substitute) (H&HS-29th) Wilensky-79th

HB 160 – Revenue and taxation; water and sewer projects and costs tax (MOST); provide for audits of tax by state auditor under certain conditions (Substitute) (FIN-39th) Boddie-62nd

HB 194 – Criminal procedure; term of probation shall follow mandatory term of imprisonment for persons convicted of a sexual offense; clarify (Substitute) (JUDY-50th) Sainz-180th

HB 236 – Domestic relations; additional monitoring of victim after granting of a temporary protective order; provide (PUB SAF-29th) Neal-74th

HB 241 – Insurance; revise meaning of property insurance; change parameters under which certain contracts or agreements may be canceled (I&L-29th) Gambill-15th

HB 244 – Insurance; flood risk reduction in the enumerated list of county purposes for ad valorem taxes; include (I&L-3rd) Hogan-179th

HB 246 – Motor vehicles; issuance of replacement licenses and permits; increase fee (PUB SAF-56th) Watson-172nd

HB 258 – Crimes and offenses; response to State v. Williams, 2020 Ga. LEXIS 85; provisions (JUDY-3rd) Sainz-180th

HB 289 – Motor vehicles; issuance of Class C drivers’ licenses; provide for requirements (Substitute) (PUB SAF-29th) Belton-112th

HB 291 – Education; tuition equalization grants at private colleges and universities; expand definition of approved school (H ED-17th) Dempsey-13th

HB 306 – Corporations, partnership, and associations; corporations may hold shareholders’ meetings by means of remote communication; provide (Substitute) (JUDY-50th) Gunter-8th

HB 317 – Excise tax; revise definition of innkeeper to include marketplace facilitators; provisions (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (FIN-1st) Stephens-164th

HB 327 – Organized Retail Crime Prevention Act; enact (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (JUDY-56th) Momtahan-17th

HB 333 – Ethics in Government Act of 2021; enact (Substitute) (Rules)(Substitute) (ETHICS-17th) Efstration-104th

HB 334 – Superior courts; clerks; notaries public; provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-19th) Gullett-19th

HB 369 – Physicians; job description submission to Georgia Composite Medical Board; provisions (Substitute) (H&HS-20th) Powell-32nd

HB 371 – Evidence; certain proceedings may be conducted by video conference; provide (Substitute) (JUDY-53rd) Gunter-8th

HB 383 – State government; certain contracts; Israel; provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-32nd) Carson-46th

HB 392 – Alcoholic beverages; licenses for retail sale packages of alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises shall be subject to regulation as to distance from schools as determined by the local governing authority; provide (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (RI&U-53rd) Ridley-6th

HB 411 – Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission; create (Substitute) (JUDY-29th) Gullett-19th

HB 443 – Torts; transfer of structured settlement payment rights; provide new requirements (Substitute) (JUDY-4th) Leverett-33rd

HB 454 – Insurance; certain coverage requirements concerning providers that become out-of-network during a plan year; provide (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (I&L-32nd) Newton-123rd

HB 470 – Property; no plans are required when units are not designated by physical structures; provide (JUDY-28th) Washburn-141st

HB 477 – Income tax; applications for credit for qualified donations of real property; extend sunset date (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (FIN-51st) Watson-172nd

HB 480 – Property; creation, declaration and priorityof liens for labor, services, or materials performed or furnished by registered interior designers; provide (RI&U-24th) Washburn-141st

HB 498 – Ad valorem tax; property; expand an exemption for agricultural equipment and certain farm products (Substitute) (Rules)(FIN-20th) Watson-172nd

HB 517 – Education; calculation of minimum revenue obligations for scholarships and tuition grants; provide for the inclusion of earned interest (Substitute) (FIN-54th) Carson-46th

HB 548 – Social services; reasonable access to records concerning reports of child abuse to the Administrative Office of the Courts; provide (JUDY-50th) Dempsey-13th

HB 562 – Criminal procedure; add DFCS case managers to people for whom arrest warrants may be issued only by certain judicial officers (Substitute) (JUDY-17th) Carpenter-4th

HB 574 – Animals; Companion Local Government Animal Trust Fund for reimbursement of impoundment expenses incurred by local governments; provide (Substitute) (FIN-25th) Camp-131st

HB 575 – Ad valorem tax; authorize on premises processing and marketing of agricultural products as a qualifying conservation use (Substitute) (FIN-18th) Dickey-140th

HB 577 – Highways, bridges, and ferries; proposal guaranty for bids upon certain projects; provide (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (TRANS-51st) Carpenter-4th

HB 579 – Public Safety and Judicial Facilities Act; enact (PUB SAF-10th) Oliver-82nd

HB 587 – Georgia Economic Renewal Act of 2021; enact (Substitute) (FIN-18th) Williamson-115th

HB 588 – Transportation; eligible expenditures; Georgia Freight Railroad Program; provisions (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (FIN-51st) Jasperse-11th

HB 591 – Mental health; marriage and family therapists to perform certain acts which physicians and others are authorized to perform; authorize (Substitute) (Rules) (Substitute) (JUDY-32nd) Hogan-179th

HB 605 – Health; provide for authorized electronic monitoring in long-term care facilities (Substitute) (H&HS-18th) Cooper-43rd

HB 606 – HOPE scholarships; add Georgia Independent School Association to the list of accrediting agencies (H ED-28th) Nix-69th

HB 617 – Postsecondary education; student athletes may receive compensation for use of name, image, or likeness; provide (H ED-46th) Martin-49th

HB 653 – Georgia Pharmacy Practice Act; pharmacy care; revise definition (H&HS-52nd) Jasperse-11th

HB 681 – Education; course of study in financial literacy for students in tenth or eleventh grade; provide (Substitute) (ED&Y-14th) Yearta-152nd

HR 144 – Katie Poff Memorial Interchange; Baldwin County; dedicate (Substitute) (TRANS-45th) Williams-145th

HR 248 – Savannah Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor; designate (ED&T-1st) Stephens-164th


Modified Structured Rule

SB 27 – Professional Licenses; extend the time a member of the military has to qualify for the issuance of a license; electrical contractor, plumber; (RegI-Clark-147th) Thompson-14th

SB 46 – Health; certain medical personnel to administer vaccines during public health emergencies under certain conditions; authorize (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Burke-11th (Rules Committee Substitute LC 33 8828S)

SB 204 – Education; State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to award high school diplomas; provide (Substitute)(HEd-Martin-49th) Tippins-37th (Rules Committee Substitute LC 49 0562S)

SB 219 – Alcoholic Beverages;regulation of the manufacture, distribution, and sale of malt beverages; provide (RegI-Powell-32nd) Ginn-47th(Rules Committee Substitute LC 36 4852S)

SB 222 – State Symbols;pecan as the official state nut; designate (SP&CA-Williams-148th) Summers-13th

SB 237 – License Plates; specialty license plate supporting members of the United States Army Rangers; establish (MotV-Hitchens-161st) Harbison-15th

SB 256 – County Boards of Health; comprehensive reorganization; provide (H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Burke-11th

Structured Rule

SB 201 – Revenue and Taxation; financial institutions to provide certain information related to delinquent taxpayers to the Department of Revenue under certain conditions; require (Substitute)(W&M-Williamson-115th) Hufstetler-52nd(Rules Committee Substitute LC 43 2051S)

From the AJC:

Security fencing to keep protesters at bay was erected around the perimeter of the Statehouse, and law enforcement officers wielding heavy-duty weaponry stood vigil across the Gold Dome’s campus.

As a marathon day of bill-writing looms Wednesday, other hallmarks of the final closeout are up in the air. Gov. Brian Kemp would normally address both chambers in the evening, but he’s in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone with the deadly virus.

Outside, the state GOP is planning an 10 a.m. rally at Liberty Plaza to thank Republican legislators who backed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s election system that includes new voting restrictions.

And religious leaders plan to hand out water bottles to legislators and lobbyists, a rebuke of the provision in the new law that bans outside groups from offering food or drinks to people in long voting lines.

It’s going to be a weird day.

From another story in the AJC:

Most Day 40s run from 10 a.m. to midnight, and in some years beyond, with lawmakers voting on rewritten proposed statutes that they sometimes have little or no time to read, doing so in rapid succession before the House speaker and lieutenant governor semi-simultaneously bring down the final gavel and yell “Sine Die.”

It can be a head-spinning experience as night falls and tired lawmakers turn to seatmates and ask, “Wait, what did that bill do?”

House Rules Chairman Richard Smith, R-Columbus, who joined the General Assembly 16 years ago, on Wednesday had a piece of advice for members of his committee, which decides which bills get voted on and which don’t.

“If things get a little hectic tomorrow, stand back, take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m ready,’ ” Smith said.

Lawmakers still need to approve a $27.2 billion budget for fiscal 2022, which begins July 1. By law, that’s the one thing the General Assembly has to do before quitting for the year.

And looming for the entire General Assembly this fall is the once-a-decade special session to redraw their political districts and those of members of Congress, based on 2020 census data that is due out later this year.

The State House voted down local legislation that came out of the Gwinnett delegation, in an uncommon act, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Bills that would have reformed the Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, as well as given county commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson a raise, were defeated in Georgia House of Representatives last week after they were put on a Gwinnett-specific local calendar.

The rejection of the bill to reconstitute the elections board, to give local elected officials a say in who sits on the board, means the board’s format will likely remain as is until at least the 2023 legislative session, said state Rep. Sam Park, who authored the bill and is the Gwinnett Legislative Delegation’s chairman. The rejection, on a 97-70 party line vote on March 22, is significant because it came during a legislative session where the GOP-controlled Georgia General Assembly passed elections board reconstitution bills in several Republican-leaning counties.

Under the format that had been proposed by Park’s elections board reconstitution bill, the Republican and Democratic parties in Gwinnett would have each submitted a slate of five nominees for consideration for seats on the board to county commissioners.

The Board of Commissioners would have then chosen two representatives from each party and had the ability to chose anyone they wanted, from any political party, to fill a fifth seat on the board.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, said there were concerns about giving the county commission — which became made up entirely of Democrats after the 2020 elections — the ability to choose the fifth member of the elections board.

Allowing the commissioners to appoint a member of the elections board would make the elections board partisan, the Dacula lawmaker said.

Meanwhile, the defeat of a bill to raise Hendrickson’s salary does not mean that issue is dead. Georgia law allows two methods for raising a commissioner’s salary: the legislature can do it, or the Board of Commissioners can vote to do it.

Efstration said there were concerns among some members of delegation that Hendrickson’s salary was being raised right after she took office.

It is unclear where the decision to create a Gwinnett-specific local calendar was made, however. A local calendar is a collection of local legislation bills that put together for a single vote by a chamber in the General Assembly. These bills are designed to deal with an issue in a specific community with bills from multiple cities and counties normally put together on the same calendar.

Can anybody tell me what time it is?  The State House and Senate have competing visions for whether and when the state should observe Daylight Saving Times. From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

The House voted 111-48 on Monday to put Georgia on daylight time year-round, substituting that language for a bill the Senate passed last month calling for permanent standard time.

“Most people prefer daylight saving time over permanent standard time,” Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Canton, declared shortly before Monday’s vote, citing a recent poll in Politico that found Americans prefer permanent daylight time over standard time 5-1.

Even if the Senate abandons its position and agrees with the House on switching to daylight time year-round, it can’t do so without congressional approval.

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, chief sponsor of the Senate bill calling for permanent standard time, has cited studies that show switching between standard and daylight time interrupts sleep patterns and, more importantly, increases the risk of illnesses including heart attacks.

Watson and other lawmakers also have expressed concerns that going to daylight time all year would put children getting on school buses at greater risk during the winter, when sunrise would occur as late as 8:30 a.m.

Gabriel Sterling continues to make friends in the legislature, characterizing the change of the Chairman of the State Elections Board, “pure politics,” according to the AJC.

“It was political payback, no question,” Sterling said during an interview in the Capitol earlier this week, when I asked what Raffensperger had done in 2020 to have gotten so sideways with the GOP leaders behind the bill.

“It wasn’t so much what we did,” Sterling said. “I think what happened was their constituents were told that the President lost because of what (Raffensperger) did, when all he did was follow the law. That’s the biggest thing, so they had to get a pound of flesh in there somewhere.”

[House Speaker David] Ralston said Raffensperger had his role in elections reduced in SB 202, not because of politics, but because he deserved it.

“This was not a Trump-driven position,” Ralston said of the new power over elections the General Assembly gained in SB 202. “They can say a lot of stuff about me but they can’t say that I don’t protect the independence of our Legislature and the equality of our Legislature with the other two branches of government.”

Primarily, the law demotes Raffensperger from his previous position as the chair of the State Elections Board, which has broad authority over Georgia elections, to a nonvoting ex-officio member. A new, “nonpartisan” head of the board will be appointed by the General Assembly.

The law also prevents any election official from mass mailing absentee ballot applications before they’re requested, which Raffensperger did for all Georgia voters last Spring as the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through the state. And the law now says the Legislature must be notified before the Secretary of State joins a legal consent order related to elections.

“My ultimate purpose was not to retaliate against him. My purpose was to find a better way of doing things than he was doing.” [said Ralston]

The Georgia State Board of Education voted to send $1000 raises to public school teachers, according to the AJC.

The bonuses, announced by Gov. Brian Kemp in January, won final state approval last week from the State Board of Education.

The state will use federal stimulus dollars to give special payments to more than 225,000 eligible full- and part-time teachers and other staffers. Full-time employees are slated to receive $1,000. Part-time workers will get about half that.

Glynn County Commissioners will reconsider changing the alcohol ordinance to allow delivery, according to The Brunswick News.

“Restaurants are starting to open back up, and I’m really starting to wonder if this delivery (ordinance) is going to be necessary,” Brunson said.

State law allows counties to pass alcohol delivery ordinances governing restaurants, bars, package stores, gas stations and grocery stores. Package stores could be allowed to deliver beer, wine and distilled spirits, while other establishments would be limited to beer and wine.

Commissioner Cap Fendig mostly agreed. The county was considering the ordinance to address a very specific problem, and if that problem goes away then the ordinance would no longer be needed, he said.

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