Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 8, 2022

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 8, 2022

The first Porsche automobile was completed on June 8, 1948.

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984.

On June 8, 2004, Georgia hosted the G-8 summit meeting of the world’s major industrial democracies, which included representatives from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom, plus a representative from the European Union. The 30th meeting of the G-8 was held at Sea Island at the Cloister.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Headline of the Day from the Gainesville Times: Work release inmate on way to interview at chicken plant flies the coop.

A Gainesville man in the Hall County Jail’s work release program removed his ankle monitor Monday, June 6, after being allowed to leave for a job interview at a local chicken plant, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Hall County authorities are searching for Jerry Lamar Thomas, 31, who did not return Monday, after a scheduled job interview at Pilgrim’s.

Thomas was arrested in May on drug possession charges and was in the work release program by court order.

Thomas was allowed to leave at 5:45 p.m. Monday for the job interview, but a representative from the chicken plant called the jail at 6:20 p.m. to say Thomas missed the appointment.

I’d have improved it by rewriting it: Flight risk: jail bird flies coop on way to interview at chicken plant.

Governor Brian Kemp ordered flags on state buildings and properties flown at half-staff today in honor of the last Mrs. Betty Foy Sanders, First Lady of Georgia.

Governor Kemp is targeting Democrat Stacey Abrams’s comment that Georgia is the worst state in which to live, according to FoxNews.

The spot, which was shared first nationally with Fox News on Tuesday, touts that the governor “reopened Georgia first” after the coronavirus pandemic triggered restrictions from coast to coast and that Kemp has “kept Georgia the best place to live.”

The commercial, which the Kemp campaign says it is spending in the high six-figures to run on statewide TV and digital outlets, spotlights a clip of Abrams from a May 21 speech at the Gwinnett Democrats’ Bluetopia Gala in Norcross, Georgia, saying “I am tired of hearing about how we’re the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live.”

Abrams, who narrowly lost to Kemp in the 2018 gubernatorial election and who became a Democratic Party rising star and nationally known voting reform advocate, described her comment as an “inelegant delivery.” But she emphasized that she’ll continue to insist “that Brian Kemp is a failed governor who doesn’t care about the people of Georgia…if you look at his record, if you look at the result, under his four years of leadership, there has been failure after failure.”

After the clip of Abrams controversial comment is played in the Kemp ad, the narrator says “bless her heart” before touting that “Georgia leads the nation because Brian Kemp is governor.”

“He reopened Georgia first. Brought thousands of jobs. And Kemp has cut taxes to help families deal with Biden’s inflation. Brian Kemp has kept Georgia the best place to live,” the narrator argues.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The 30-second ad, released Tuesday, takes exception to Abrams’ comments by ticking off several of Kemp’s accomplishments as governor, including the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

“He reopened Georgia first, brought thousands of jobs, and Kemp’s cut taxes to help families deal with [President Joe] Biden’s inflation,” the narrator says. “Brian Kemp kept Georgia the best place to live.”

And get this: Stacey Abrams has the temerity to criticize Governor Kemp for not cutting the state gas tax for a long enough period. From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp recently extended Georgia’s motor fuel tax break until mid-July. Now his Democratic opponent wants him to suspend the state sales tax on gas through the end of the year to limit the rising costs.

“The time to do the right thing is well past overdue,” Stacey Abrams said in a statement Tuesday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year and give hardworking Georgians the stability they deserve.”

Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell said the “jaw-dropping hypocrisy of the Abrams campaign gained a new chapter“ with her appeal to extend the break.

“Abrams took credit for Joe Biden’s win, supports his disastrous policies at every turn, and opposes Governor Kemp’s action to address inflation and the cost of living,” he said.

“She now suddenly backs a proposal which she has no plan to pay for because her campaign just realized what hardworking Georgians have known all along: Georgia can’t afford four years of the Biden-Abrams agenda.”

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) is touting his support for Georgia agriculture, according to the Tifton Gazette via the Valdosta Daily Times.

Sen. Jon Ossoff said he’s been developing relationships with the farmers and growers of Georgia.

Ossoff met with South Georgia leaders early this month at the headquarters of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association to consult with them about his plans to support the agricultural industry of Georgia, and the people who keep it running.

He said he would work to have the 2023 version of the Farm Bill passed in the Senate and is meeting with farmers and growers across Georgia to secure a better understanding of their needs.

“There’s much more that I’m eager to do as we take on the Farm Bill in the Senate next year but that begins with listening,” Ossoff said. “So today, in meeting with folks who are producing cotton, peanuts, pecans, many of the crops, staples, commodities that are key exports for the state of Georgia, it was a great opportunity to connect with Georgia farmers and growers and understand their needs.”

“Every time I sit down with constituents, producers, farmers, businesspeople,” Ossoff said, “it helps me to understand their needs and to be a more effective champion for them.”

Georgia will spend more than $586 million of federal funds on services for residents with disabilities and seniors, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Funds for home- and community-based services from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) President Joe Biden signed into law in March of last year initially were to be spent by 2024. States will now have until 2025 to spend the money.

The state will use almost half of the funds – $286 million – to increase pay for home health and direct support workers. In some cases, it will increase reimbursement rates, and in others it will provide temporary pay increases.

“The impacts of COVID-19 were substantial, which resulted in a significant reduction in the direct care workforce,” Georgia’s Department of Community Health (DCH) said in its proposal to the federal government. Increasing pay will help Georgia address the workforce shortage, the proposal said.

Another large portion of the money – around $206 million – will go to expanding technology in home and community-based care settings. The goal is to allow members to use telehealth to interact with health care providers and case managers.

Some of those technology funds are also slated to expand the use of assistive technology devices to promote independence for people living with disabilities and the elderly. Examples of assistive technology  include text-to-speech devices, magnifiers, braille readers, pointing devices, and mobility devices.

The third largest line item – $54 million – will provide in-home behavioral aides for youth with autism. The state says this will help reduce the number of young people with autism admitted to psychiatric treatment facilities.

Another $27 million will go toward collaborating with Georgia’s technical colleges to recruit and train more certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Board of Education is moving toward adoption of a new higher millage rate for property taxes, according to WTOC.

The Board of Education for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System has tentatively adopted a 2022 millage rate increase that would require an increase in property taxes by 8.71 percent.

This tentative increase would result in a millage rate of 17.631 mills, an increase of 1.413 mills. They say without this tentative tax increase, , the millage rate would be no more than 16.218 mills. This is a reduction of 0.50 mill from the 2021 school millage rate of 18.131.

The school board will hold public hearings on this tax increase. They will be held at the Jessie Collier DeLoach Board Room of the Whitney Administrative Complex, 2 Laura Avenue, on Wednesday, June 15, at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Additional public hearings on this tax increase will be held at the Jessie Collier DeLoach Board Room of the Whitney Administrative Complex Wednesday, June 22, at 6:00 p.m.

Statesboro may also their raise property tax millage rate, according to WTOC.

As mayor and council try to finalize what’s likely to be an $87 million budget, they caution that they’re facing some of the same financial challenges as families in the community.

At the same time, business owners who worry about a tax increase say they’re dealing with those challenges too.

Mayor Jonathan McCollar says the city is challenged to keep expenses down, but also maintain services and pay employees at a competitive rate or risk losing them to other communities.

“If we have to raise it, how much does it have to be? If we don’t, can we get by and work with what the current figures are,” Jonathan McCollar, Mayor said.

They also heard from three local business owners who said they’re facing challenges to make ends meet and a rise in taxes could hurt them just like homeowners.

They’re expected to approved the final version of the budget two weeks from now on June 21.

Some Georgia Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to address gun violence, according to WSAV.

On Tuesday, [R]epublican Representative Ron Stephens from Savannah said it’s never going to happen.

“This is the same knee jerk reaction we’ve had in the past with defund the police, it’s a knee jerk reaction by the other side,” Stephens said.

“I hope we’ll take a deep breath and do the things that we’re already doing,” said Stephens. “We’re working on the core problem instead of going after these phantoms that won’t solve any issue at all. The core problem is mental health, we’re working on that in Georgia and we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

Democratic Senator Michelle Au of Johns Creek who took part in a press conference last week said “from our standpont we are not going to give up because the environment around gun safety is changing.

“And with each successive tragedy, I think that we’re creating an environment where people are going to demand that our leaders at least start to have this conversation in public about passing or at least discussing common sense gun safety legislation,” said Au.

Democrats say they want common sense gun safety laws, including a universal background check, having a waiting period and safe storage laws.

“Again, very common-sense things that are supported by a majority of Georgians,” said Au who is also a doctor.

From WTVM:

Representative Sandra Scott mentioned several proposals. The top area of concern for her and several other state democrats is the ease of access to assault weapons. They’re pushing for a ban on those types of firearms or an increase in the minimum age requirement to buy them.

Amid the string of gun violence, Georgia Democrats are calling for tougher gun laws. Proposals include banning Glock switches in Georgia, which allow people to turn handguns into machine guns, either raising the minimum age to buy an assault weapon to 21 or banning those firearms across the state and strengthening background checks.

“I don’t have any problem with a background check, and you know we have those background checks now,” said Alton Russell, chairman of the Columbus-Muscogee County Republican Party.

Democrat Stacey Abrams chimed in, according to WJBF:

“As the next Gov. of Georgia, I would work to repeal the guns everywhere law, which is the specific law that was passed in 2014. I would repeal criminal carry, which was passed in 2022, and I would do everything in my power to make certain that we improve the background checks in the state of Georgia. We need to close the background check loophole, the domestic violence loophole that lets you terrorize your family better. We need to close and create a red flag loophole that says if you have a red flag, we can help you before you commit an act of violence.” [said Abrams]

My analysis: this gun debate is not about a special session or passing legislation. It’s about whipping each party’s voter base into a frenzy as we head toward November. For whatever it’s worth, the “Glock switch” is already illegal under federal law, and the agency that enforces such laws is not messing around.

Also predictably, Atlanta gun shops are reporting rising sales numbers to accompany calls for greater regulation. From CBS46 via WRDW:

Gun stores in the metro are seeing more foot traffic these days. People are buying up high-powered guns like AR-15s.

“With all of the discussion of banning things, comes the desire to own it before it’s banned,” said Ken Baye, owner of Stoddard’s Range and Guns.

Gun enthusiast Michael Beatty drove to Atlanta from northeast Georgia Monday on the hunt for some accessories for his collection of guns. He said he understands why people are buying up guns at a fast pace right now.

“A lot of people are getting nervous and saying I better go out and buy a gun now before they take that right away,” Beatty said.

Those concerns could be valid. Democrats, including President Joe Biden want assault-style rifles banned – following recent, deadly mass shootings – like the one at a school in Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers.

While gun purchases are soaring, people are also searching for guns online at a greater rate. Google saw a 10-fold increase in people looking up guns like AR-15s in the days following the Robb Elementary school shooting. The same happened following the mass shootings in Parkland, Florida back in 2018 – and the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Republican Primary Runoffs are more like peeing contests lately. From WSAV:

Republicans traded charges about who’s insufficiently conservative or truthful during debates Monday ahead of June 21 runoffs in three Georgia congressional races.

The debates took a nasty tone in part because of negligible policy differences among the candidates. All the candidates are taking far-right positions on abortion and gun rights.

The Augusta Chronicle has Part One of a Q&A with Mayoral runoff candidates Steven Kendrick and Garnett Johnson.

Gwinnett County public schools named a new Teacher of the Year after the prior recipient dropped the mic and quit. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Gwinnett County Public Schools has named a 2022 Teacher of the Year — again.

Arcado Elementary School first grade teacher Jamie Garcia Caycho, who had been the runner-up for districtwide recognition in December, was announced as the district’s new 2022 Teacher of the Year on Tuesday. District officials said Caycho was officially named the district’s Teacher of the Year on June 3.

The announcement came weeks after Archer High School teacher Lee Allen, who had been crowned as the districtwide teacher of the year in December, announced he would leave GCPS, at the end of the 2021-2022 school year and take a job in another school district.

GCPS officials said Allen, whose resignation generated headlines, no longer met the active teaching status criteria outlined by the state’s Teacher of the Year program because he had resigned from the district. Allen had acknowledged last month that he was willingly walking away from the chance to compete for statewide Teacher of the Year honors as well as financial incentives.

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