On January 1, 1751, the law prohibiting slavery in Georgia was repealed after an act passed by the Georgia Trustees the previous year.
On January 2, 1766, some Sons of Liberty marched on the Royal Governor’s Mansion in Savannah to “discuss” the Stamp Act, which required the use of stamped paper for all printing as a means of taxing the colonies. They were met by a pistol-toting Governor Wright.
On January 3, 1766, after passage of the “stamp act,” the Royal Stamp Master arrived at Tybee Island and was taken to the Governor’s Mansion. On that day, Georgia became the first and only colony in which the stamp tax was actually collected.
Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution on January 2, 1788.
Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts became the first United States Senator to be censured by the body on January 2, 1811.
Delaware, technically at the time a slave state, rejected a proposal to secede from the United States on January 3, 1861.
The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln went into effect in eleven Southern states on January 1, 1863, though parts of Virginia and Louisiana were exempt.
Utah was admitted as the 45th state on January 4, 1896.
On January 4, 1965, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson delivered the State of the Union and outlined his plan for a “Great Society.”
“He requested ‘doubling the war against poverty this year’ and called for new emphasis on area redevelopment, further efforts at retraining unskilled workers, an improvement in the unemployment compensation system and an extension of the minimum wage floor to two million workers now unprotected by it. … He called for new, improved or bigger programs in attacking physical and mental disease, urban blight, water and air pollution, and crime and delinquency.”
The Great Society legislation included “War on Poverty” programs, many created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which established jobs and youth volunteer programs as well as Head Start, which provided pre-school education for poor children. Johnson’s social welfare legislation also consisted of the formation of Medicare and Medicaid, which offered health care services for citizens over 65 and low-income citizens, respectively. In addition, the Great Society included the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1968.
The sarcophagus containing the mummy of King Tatankhamen was discovered on January 3, 1925.
On January 4, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon refused to turn over tapes recorded in the Oval Office to the Senate Watergate Committee.
On January 3, 1990, Panamanian General Manuel Antonio Noriega surrendered to American forces in Panama.
Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House on January 4, 1995, the third Georgian to wield the gavel. This marked the first time in more than forty years that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.
On January 4, 1999, in DeKalb County, State Court Judge Al Wong became the first Asian-American judge in Georgia and the Southeast.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
On December 29, 2021, Governor Brian Kemp appointed four judges, according to Executive Orders.
Ralph Bailey, Jr. as Judge of the State Court of Henry County
Danielle P. Roberts as Judge of the Superior Court of the Flint Judicial Circuit
Jaret Teague Usher as Judge of the State Court of Cobb County
Henry R. Thompson as Judge of the Superior Court of the Cobb Judicial Circuit
Governor Brian Kemp signed redistricting plans for Georgia’s General Assembly and Congressional districts, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rockdale and Newton Citizen.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU’s Georgia chapter and a Washington, D.C.-based law firm charge new state House and Senate maps approved by the General Assembly’s Republican majority last month violate Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
The lawsuit cites the significant growth of Georgia’s minority population since the last once-a-decade redistricting session in 2011. On the other hand, the state’s white population has declined since the last decennial census in 2010.
“These newly drawn maps are a brazen attempt by Georgia politicians to undermine the political power of Black voters,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “There’s no legitimate justification for drawing maps that deny Black voters an opportunity to elect representatives who will fight for them.”
During last month’s special redistricting session, Republican lawmakers argued that Democrats targeted GOP congressional and legislative seats in the same way in 2001, the last time they controlled the General Assembly.
They also pointed to projections based on the new maps that show Democrats stand to gain at least one seat in the state Senate after the 2022 elections and a half dozen seats in the House.
While the ACLU lawsuit doesn’t address the new congressional map drawn by legislative Republicans, legal challenges to Georgia’s new congressional districts are likely to follow.
In Congress, Marietta Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s district was redrawn to be much friendlier to a Republican candidate, and she has announced plans to run instead in the neighboring 7th District, currently represented by fellow Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, though both now live beyond the newly drawn boundaries.
Whoever wins, Georgia’s congressional representation is likely to become more Republican after next year’s mid-term election, with the tilt expected to increase from 8-6 to 9-5.
It’s not illegal to bolster one party’s advantage in the once-a-decade redistricting process to strengthen their party’s position, and politicians almost always do so. But drawing maps that reduce the voting power of minorities does violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, a group of organizations led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia allege the state did just that.
“The maps that the Senate has drawn comply with the Voting Rights Act,” Suwanee Republican state Rep. Bonnie Rich, who chaired the House Redistricting Committee, said. “I know this because we have worked on this process together. We have engaged legal counsel, who are experts in this field. We are confident that the maps comply with the Voting Rights Act.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-ish) spoke about the redistricting lawsuits, according to the Albany Herald.
“Georgia’s maps are fair and adhere to traditional principles of redistricting,” Raffensperger said. “These lawsuits are nothing but politically-motivated actions from politically-motivated groups seeking to further their partisan preferences.”
“The plaintiffs hide behind lofty rhetoric, but all they care about is entrenching the failed policies of the Biden Administration that are making everything more expensive for Georgia families and harder on Georgia businesses. In 2020, Republicans made significant gains in the U.S. House of Representatives, held control of state legislatures across the country, and flipped New Hampshire’s legislature. The Virginia and New Jersey statewide elections in 2021 show just how vulnerable the liberals are. When they lose more seats in 2022, it will because the Biden Administration’s failed policies are harming Americans.”
Yahoo News lists Governor Kemp among seven vulnerable Governors in 2022.
Kemp will have to contend with a potentially contentious primary in May. Earlier this month, former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who lost his Senate seat to Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) in January, announced he would challenge Kemp in the primary. Perdue accused Kemp of caving to Democrats after the governor refused to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Perdue quickly garnered the endorsement of former President Trump after announcing. Trump has repeatedly knocked Kemp for not overturning the election results.
“Kemp has been a very weak Governor-the liberals and RINOs have run all over him on Election Integrity, and more,” Trump said in his endorsement, using the acronym for “Republicans in name only.”
Perdue and Kemp will also have to contend with former state Rep. Vernon Jones in the primary, but whoever comes out of the GOP contest will likely face off against Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams. Abrams, who lost to Kemp narrowly in the 2018 gubernatorial race, has been credited with leading the fight to flip Georgia from red to blue in 2020 through her organization Fair Fight Action. The fight is specifically aimed at combating voter suppression.
Cook rates the race as a “toss-up.”
Twitter banned the personal account of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia), according to The Hill.
Twitter’s suspension of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) personal account has breathed new life into the fraught debate about misinformation, inflammatory rhetoric and free speech.
Greene, who has been involved in a steady stream of controversies ever since she began running for Congress, fell afoul of Twitter’s “five strikes” policy against COVID-related misinformation at the weekend.
The Georgia Republican’s final offense was an assertion about an “extremely high” number of deaths that she said were related to COVID-19 vaccines.
Trump branded Twitter “a disgrace to democracy” in a statement released late Monday evening. He also claimed that the site and Facebook — which suspended Greene’s personal account for 24 hours — were “boring, have only a Radical Left point of view, and are hated by everyone.”
Earlier that day, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) claimed that “diversity of opinion…is under assault by Big Tech.” McCarthy also alluded to Greene without naming her when he referred to “recent decisions to silence Americans — including a sitting member of Congress.”
Overall, McCarthy contended, “any speech that does not fit Big Tech’s orthodoxy gets muzzled.”
Greene, in the immediate wake of her banishment from Twitter, took to another social media platform to insist she would fight on. In a post on Telegram, she accused Twitter of being “an enemy to America.”
“Marjorie Taylor Greene has a huge constituency of honest, patriotic, hard-working people. They don’t deserve what’s happened to them on places like low-life Twitter and Facebook,” Trump said in a statement released through his Save America PAC. “They’re boring, have only a Radical Left point of view, and are hated by everyone. They are a disgrace to our nation.”
On Monday, Facebook temporarily banned Greene from commenting and posting for 24 hours after she made posts that violated its community guidelines.
The controversial representative responded to her ban on GETTR, a social media hub for conservatives, calling Twitter “an enemy to America” that “can’t handle the truth.”
Greene criticized the move from Facebook, calling it “beyond censorship of speech” in a post on GETTR.
“I’m an elected Member of Congress representing over 700,000 US tax paying citizens and I represent their voices, values, defend their freedoms, and protect the Constitution,” she added.
“Facebook has joined Twitter in censoring me,” Ms. Taylor Greene wrote in posts on Telegram and Gettr. “This is beyond censorship of speech.”
Nick Dyer, a spokesman for Ms. Taylor Greene, said the removed Facebook post included the same content as her Twitter thread that led to the permanent suspension of one of her accounts on that platform. The posts included her concerns about changes to society due to the coronavirus pandemic, including testing and vaccine mandates. She also falsely claimed “extremely high amounts of covid vaccine deaths are ignored.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Covid-19 vaccines are “safe and effective,” and that “reports of death after Covid-19 vaccination are rare.”
Two Democrats (at least) will meet in a Primary Election for Georgia State Senate district 7, according to the AJC.
Democratic activist Nabilah Islam entered the race for an open Georgia Senate seat on Tuesday with a pledge to fight for racial justice, expand voting rights and expand Medicaid. She will face state Rep. Beth Moore, a second-term legislator, in the newly redrawn seat.
“I act with urgency because I know what it’s like to be told to wait,” Islam said in her debut video. “To wait for healthcare because we can’t afford it. To wait to run for office because that’s not something that young people in office are supposed to do.”
Islam, 32, embraced the label as “Georgia’s AOC” after she earned U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement during her unsuccessful 2020 run for U.S. House. The Lawrenceville native campaigned for “Medicare for all” and a $15-an-hour minimum wage in that campaign.
Islam’s Georgia Senate run will set up a proxy fight between the two competing U.S. House members. Moore was endorsed by Bourdeaux shortly after she launched her campaign, while McBath on Tuesday announced her support for Islam.
“Right now it is more important than ever to have a strong fighter like Nabilah in the state Legislature,” said McBath. “Nabilah will never back down from doing what is right for Gwinnett.”
Islam and Moore are competing for a newly drawn state Senate district that heavily favors Democrats. The territory carves a path through Gwinnett, covering parts of Duluth, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree Corners and Suwanee.
Some new Georgia state laws became effective with the New Year, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.
Income tax breaks for many Georgians, new requirements for physicians to be trained about avoiding sexual assault, and pay raises for some judges are among new legal provisions taking effect Saturday in Georgia.
Most Georgia laws took effect on July 1, but the General Assembly delayed some, or parts of some, until Jan. 1, including provisions for annual taxes.
Alapaha Circuit Superior Court Judge Dick Perryman will seek election to the seat he was appointed to, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
Last year, Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Perryman to the position of superior court judge following the retirement of Alapaha Circuit Judge Howard McClain.
“I am pleased to announce that I am running for superior court judge in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit,” Perryman said in a statement. “While serving on the bench, I have spent my time addressing the backlog of civil cases throughout our circuit. The pandemic created a backlog of civil cases and I am proud to say I have effectively eliminated that backlog.”
“Since serving as superior court judge, I have already received over 50 hours of training and have more training hours scheduled. Also, as superior court Judge, I drafted an application to receive grant money for the Alapaha Judicial Circuit. I am excited to announce we have been approved for over $300,000 in relief funds for our circuit. This grant will save the taxpayers of this circuit money and allow us to push forward with criminal case trials.”
Perryman recently served as Alapaha district attorney, being reelected three times in that role by the voters of the Alapaha Circuit, according to a campaign statement. Perryman has served 20 years as an attorney, practicing both civil and criminal law.
The Alapaha Circuit serves Atkinson, Berrien, Clinch, Cook, and Lanier Counties.
The Floyd County Board of Education is considering a Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-LOST), according to the Rome News Tribune.
Potential education local option sales tax projects top the agenda. The board hopes to put a new ELOST package in front of voters this year.
Superintendent Glenn White has the proposed projects sectioned off in tiers, with the first tier including the replacement of roofs and HVAC — heating and air — systems in all county schools. Armuchee High School would be excluded from this, since it got a new roof last year as part of the current ELOST and the school system will be replacing the HVAC this summer.
Board members will also be discussing the installation of RedSpeed traffic cameras in front of Armuchee Elementary School.
Board members will also discuss their COVID-19 procedures as cases continue to rise in the county.
Brunswick will swear-in new Mayor Cosby Johnson on Wednesday, according to The Brunswick News.
Wednesday’s meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with Orion L. Douglass Sr., senior State Court Judge of Glynn County, swearing in Commissioner Felicia Harris to another four-year term. She was unopposed in her bid for reelection.
Douglass will also swear in Commissioner-Elect Kendra L. Rolle to her first term of office. Rolle prevailed in a four-candidate race in November to replace former commissioner Vincent Williams, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor.
Douglass will be joined by Chris O’Donnell, chief municipal court judge for the city of Brunswick, to swear in Mayor-Elect Cosby Johnson. Johnson and Ivan Figureoa were the top two vote getters among eight candidates seeking to replace Cornell Harvey, who could not seek another term as mayor because of term limits.
Johnson prevailed in the Nov. 30 runoff to become the city’s 60th mayor.
Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter is beginning his final term in that office, according to WTOC.
Dana Williams was sworn in as Mayor of Thunderbolt, according to WTOC.
Braselton will swear in new City Council members and a new Mayor on Thursday, according to the Gainesville Times.
Swearing-in ceremonies have been set for 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6 for new Braselton Mayor Kurt Ward and Town Council members Richard Harper and James Murphy.
All three are new faces in Braselton’s government, elected in November as political newcomers.
Wade Dale makes his move from Gillsville City Council to Mayor, according to AccessWDUN.
Wade Dale, 61, will take his oath of office on Tuesday, Jan. 4, and although he’s served on the city council in the past, he thinks he’ll have some added influence as the city’s mayor. It helps, he said, that there’s new blood on the council with Jeff Perry and Kody Rylee, both of whom defeated incumbents in the Nov. 2020 municipal election. In fact, it was the first contested election in Gillsville in more than a decade. Dale said having competition at the polls created some tension in the close-knit city, but he hopes that’s in the past.
He looks at the new make-up of the Gillsville City Council as a map to the city’s future, especially as the population of Gillsville is becoming younger.
Dale said his ultimate goal is to preserve the history of his hometown, but also make sure it has a viable future.
“I want to take ‘it is what it is’ and make it better.”
Columbus will elect City Council members and Mayor this year, according to WTVM.
Councilwoman Tonya Tucker says Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 are all up for reelection.
Voters will cast their ballots on May 24.
Two new Athens-Clarke County Magistrate Judges will be sworn in on Friday, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
A former lawyer with the Western Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office has been appointed as an associate judge in Athens-Clarke County Magistrate Court.
Kelly V. Wegel will fill the vacancy created when the former associate judge, Benjamin Makin, was appointed in November as chief judge after Judge Patricia Barron announced last year she was retiring on Dec. 31 after 20 years in office.
Wegel and Makin will be sworn in at 3 p.m. Friday on the front steps of the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse.
“We are very excited to have Ms. Wegel joining magistrate court and I am confident she will be an excellent judge. She will bring intelligence, patience, fairness and a strong understanding of the law to her work on the bench,” Makin said in a statement released announcing Wegel’s appointment.