Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2021

Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863.

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

Nixon Vinson 1973

President Richard Nixon, Secretary of the Navy John Warner, Carl Vinson, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on November 18, 1973. John Warner would later be the namesake of USS John Warner, a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia hit record low unemployment, according to AccessWDUN.

Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point from September to October for an all-time low of 3.1%.

“We have seen continuous job growth this year as we have gained back 90% of the jobs lost during the pandemic,” Butler said. “The continual increase in employment opportunity, particularly in those areas hardest hit by the pandemic, reinforces the critical need for encouraging available Georgians back into the workforce.”

Since May 2021, job growth has increased by 117,400 and October’s growth marks only the fifth time since 1990 that over-the-month job growth for October was over 20,000 (2020, 2017, 2004, 1993). The sectors of administrative and support services, transportation and warehousing, and retail trade have all recouped the jobs lost during the pandemic and have added to their respective totals. At the same time, accommodation and food Services, local government, and religious, grants, civic, and professional services continue to struggle to fill jobs, according to Butler.

At the same time, the numbers of workers entering the labor force continue to decline. In October, the labor force dropped 1,889 to 5,174,052, while the number of employed rose 11,008 to 5,015,945. The number of unemployed was down 12,897 to 158,107. In comparing October 2021 figures to pre-pandemic March 2020 figures, the labor force remains down 32,000, the number of employed remains down 3,000, and the number of unemployed is now down 29,000.

“The GDOL is working to ensure that every Georgian who wants a job can find a job,” said Butler. “Our Business Services Unit is helping the state’s employers find employees that meet their business needs, and we are scheduling in-person appointments across the state in our career centers to make sure job seekers have the support they need to successfully find employment.”

General Assembly leadership released a new proposed Congressional redistricting map, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The map appears to make U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s 6th Congressional District less friendly to Democrats by drawing in more white voters, while U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux’s 7th District in Gwinnett County remains a minority-majority district. U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop’s 2nd district also appears to have been drawn to include more white voters, which could make the southwest Georgia district more competitive for the GOP.

“Today, we have released a proposed map that reflects Georgia’s growing, diverse population, respects jurisdictional lines and communities of interest, and conforms to applicable legal standards including the Voting Rights Act,” House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said. “This map will now go through the legislative process in both the House and the Senate, which will include public testimony and debate in both chambers.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Northwest Georgia’s 14th District would become even more compact, covering all of Floyd and nine other counties along with a southwest slice of Cobb, which is divided into four districts.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s 14th District would have a higher percentage of Black and Hispanic voters — although it would also have the highest percentage of white voters in the state.

From WABE:

The map that was released by both chambers of the General Assembly could increase the current 8-6 Republican majority in Georgia’s congressional delegation by stretching the 6th district held by Democrat Lucy McBath in suburban Atlanta into the more conservative and Republican areas of Forsyth and Dawson counties.

In a news release, Ralston defended the decision, saying the new political map reflects Georgia’s growing, diverse population and “conforms to applicable legal standards including the Voting Rights Act,” he said.

Ralston said in the release. “And we have done so in a manner that has been thorough, transparent and inclusive.”

“The congressional map Republicans have proposed is a slap in the face to Georgia voters,” Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement on Wednesday. “In drawing a congressional map that disproportionately advantages one political party and diminishes the voting strength of people of color, Republicans are once again silencing millions of Georgians’ voices for the sake of holding on to power.”

This will be the first time in decades that Georgia lawmakers won’t be required to get federal approval of their maps because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, but legal challenges based on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are still possible.

Some Republican elected officials weighed in on whether former U.S. Senator David Perdue should run against Governor Brian Kemp, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

“I would hate to see two good men run against each other,” said Eric Tanenblatt, a veteran GOP strategist and former chief of staff to former Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. “Having watched the Republican Party become the dominant party in Georgia, it’s puzzling to me we would see a sitting incumbent Republican governor be challenged by another Republican.”

Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter, a staunch supporter of Trump in the US House, told CNN Tuesday that he does and will continue to support Kemp for governor. The Republican congressman added that he does not know what Perdue will do.

“My hope is that he won’t run,” said Carter. “My hope is that we’ll have just one candidate that we can unify behind.”

When asked for comment, a spokesman for Kemp’s campaign provided CNN with a statement.

“Governor Kemp and Marty proudly campaigned hard for — and with — former Senator Perdue and Bonnie throughout the 2020 election cycle,” said Tate Mitchell. “Both the Governor and the First Lady were honored when Senator Perdue told them personally that he would fully support their campaign for re-election earlier this year.”

Georgia Freight & Logistics Commission members were encouraged to consider per-mile taxes, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Robert Poole, director of transportation policy for the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, urged members of the Georgia Freight & Logistics Commission to start thinking about replacing the gas tax by taxing motorists based on the number of miles they drive.

“Electric vehicle technology is coming much faster than most people realize,” Poole said. “Fuel tax revenues have begun what is going to be a long decline. We’re going to need to replace the fuel tax as a source of transportation funding.”

Poole and Benita Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, teamed up on a recent report extolling the potential of the vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax.

“We support looking at this as an alternative to a declining fuel tax base,” Dodd said.

“This looks like a lot of record-keeping,” state Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and a member of the Freight & Logistics Commission, said.

Poole said the collection issue could be addressed by phasing in the VMT tax to apply only to interstate highways at first, which account for 28% of the road miles traveled in Georgia. Transponders installed along interstates could reduce the cost of collection to 5% of the revenue the tax brings in, he said.

But the idea of using transponders to track how far drivers are traveling has raised concerns among the public.

Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, suggested a way to sell the VMT politically would be to levy the tax only on electric vehicles and continue taxing motorists who use gasoline when they fill up.

The Georgia Commission on E-Commerce & Freight Infrastructure Funding is a study committee created by State House legislation.

Valdosta City Council passed a resolution opposing mineral extraction near the Okefenokee Swamp, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“The Valdosta City Council’s resolution has no impact on our plans whatsoever,” said Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, in a statement.

Valdosta City Council voted Nov. 11 to oppose Twin Pines’ plans to start a mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp, about 75 miles from Valdosta. The vote was 6-0; Councilman Sonny Vickers was not present.

Several organizations, including Georgia’s Sierra Club, have voiced opposition to the mining plan. Both of Georgia’s senators — John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — have asked the U.s. Fish and Wildlife Service to review the project to insure there is no impact on the swamp.

Valdosta is concerned about the proposed mine because so many people enjoy visiting the Okefenokee’s scenic beauty and natural resources, said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson.

“This is something we promote as a tourist draw … If we didn’t do something, we would have lost an opportunity,” the mayor said in reference to the council’s resolution.

In his statement, Twin Pines president Steve Ingle said “We are answerable to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The EPD’s experts are evaluating our permit application and the extensive studies that show our mining methods will protect the Okefenokee and surrounding environs. They will make a determination based on the facts and science of our application.”

Brunswick City Commission is discussing creation of a Tax Allocation District (TAD), according to The Brunswick News.

The certification of 2020 as the city’s tax base is the one of the final steps needed to create a working tax allocation district in downtown Brunswick. The tax allocation district, or TAD, is designed to help accelerate growth in the tax digest and attract redevelopment.

City officials learned there are three ways to finance TAD projects: Tax exempt bond funding, typically used for large projects over $10 million. Bank financing, which is done for projects ranging between $1 million and $10 million. And the most common way of funding is Pay as you go, where rebates of taxes are given for a set number of years to help developers invest more in their projects.

Richmond County Board of Education is asking for parental input on a proposed school calendar, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gwinnett County public schools will vary mask requirements with the community transmission rate, according to AccessWDUN.

According to a press release, masks will be required when the transmission rate is considered “high.” The release adds, “when community transmission has been maintained at the ‘moderate’ level for two consecutive weeks, GCPS will transition to strongly recommending masks in all of its facilities.”

The decision comes as the COVID numbers continue to improve. “As more of our community members are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine—including our youngest students—and there has been ongoing improvement in COVID conditions, GCPS leaders saw an opportunity to implement a metric that takes into account community transmission rates.”

Gwinnett County Board of Education meetings will be protected by metal detectors, according to the AJC.

Gwinnett County Public Schools today will begin requiring those who wish to attend board of education meetings to pass through a metal detector.

The metal detector is part of new security screening procedures the school district announced Wednesday for people who attend the board’s 7 p.m. business meeting. Bags will also be subject to search, said Sloan Roach, school district spokeswoman.

Face masks are required in all district facilities, including the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Service Center where board meetings take place. Last month’s meeting ended early after several audience members took off their masks and refused to put them back on, chanting, “Unmask our children.”

People who refuse to wear masks appropriately will be asked to leave and can be removed by police or security officers, according to the school district. Those removed for disruptive behavior could face criminal charges.

Macon-Bibb County will have an amnesty day for getting rid of scrap tires ahead of issuing citations, according to 13WMAZ.

Valdosta City Schools gave $10,000 bonuses to school nurses, according to WALB.

Each of the 10 school nurses was presented with a $10,000 stipend for the work they have done during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant superintendent for student support services, Beth DeLoach, applied for a grant offered through the Department of Public Health. The maximum amount to request was $100,000. DeLoach submitted the request for the entire amount to give as a stipend to the VCS school clinic nurses.

“I just can’t thank the district enough for supporting us through this, being a school nurse during a pandemic is not as glorious as it may seem. I’m so very thankful for them for showing us this support and love,” said Shannon Robinette.

“To see what they did for us, puts some value in the hard work we put in and we didn’t expect it so it’s an incredible, overwhelming feeling,” said Jenne Brandon.

Savannah City Manager Jay Melder presented recommendation on how to spend $55 million in COVID relief funds to city council, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“When I took the job on Sept. 10, I told mayor and council that I wanted to be able to provide an [American Rescue Plan Act]  list and that my priorities would be that ARPA be spent and be seen in the communities,” Melder said Tuesday during the first day of the city’s two day Fiscal Year 2022 budget retreat, which was held at the Savannah Civic Center.

Melder’s plan addresses a range of needs, from affordable housing and recreation to stormwater drainage and public safety. The federal government dictates how the city can use the monies, but the guidelines are broad: ARPA funds can be used for public health expenditures; to address negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic; to replace lost public sector revenue; to provide premium pay for essential workers; or by investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

A total of $10.6 million of the total funding would be allocated toward the city’s efforts to provide more affordable housing and tackle the growing issues of homelessness in the city.

Various public safety projects, which would extend outside of just the police and fire departments, would receive $17.4 million of the total funding.

Just over $14 million of the funding would be used for basic infrastructure. Melder is recommending $4.8 million for stormwater ditch maintenance, which he said is a city-wide issue.

Melder is proposing that just under $16 million be invested in Savannah’s neighborhoods and households.

Former State Rep. Josh Clark spoke about his run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, according to the Gainesville Times.

Clark served as the House District 98 representative in Gwinnett County from 2011 to 2014 before his brother, David Clark, succeeded him.

Clark said he is the only Republican candidate with a proven conservative voting record and legislative experience.

“A crowded primary makes for a sharper candidate in November so I love it,” Clark said.

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