Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2022

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2022

On June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered plans to be drawn for a new city to be called Augusta.

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

Happy birthday to the United States Army, established on June 14, 1775.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” One hundred years later, on June 14, 1877, was the first observance of Flag Day.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From the AJC:

Former Democrat Vernon Jones, who dropped out of the race for governor to run instead for the 10th District, was asked whether he’d support the governor at a Walton County GOP event this week.

“I was not behind Gov. Kemp 100% in the primary. Why? Because he didn’t stand for election integrity,” Jones said, invoking lies about widespread election fraud. He added: “I’m not going to blindly support a RINO. I’m not going to do that.”

Mike Collins, the frontrunner in the June 21 runoff, was unequivocal: “I’m a Republican and I support Republican candidates and I’m behind Gov. Kemp 100 percent.”

Early voting is open across the state, according to WTVM.

“We started early voting [Monday] morning at 7:30, and we have early voting here at the city service center only until Friday at 5:30,” says Nancy Boren, Director of Elections and Registration.

With a photo ID in hand, it’s an easy and convenient way to get your voice heard without waiting in long lines. It’s something Leslie Reiney and her husband say they felt is needed as some races were very tight.

Those facing off for the Republican District 2 congressional seat are Jeremy Hunt and Chris West.

Whoever wins the runoff will face [Democratic Congressman Sanford] Bishop in the general election in November. Also a run off for the city council district 7 seat, a non-partisan race between Laketha Ashe and Joanne Colge.

From the Albany Herald:

“We definitely want to encourage people to come out and vote, and let people who voted in the primary election know that they will be required to vote the same ballot style (party),” Dougherty County Election Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “If you didn’t vote, you get to pick a ballot style.”

Early voting runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Dougherty County at the RiverFront Resource Center at 225 Pine Ave.

In Lee County, the hours are 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m. at the election office, located at 100 Starksville Ave. North.

“There are four very important races on the Democratic ballot and one important one for Congress, so there’s something for everyone,” Lee County Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said. “It’s certainly important for everybody to turn out and vote. These candidates worked really hard to get in the runoffs.”

From the Augusta Chronicle:

For this week only, registered voters may cast ballots early at any advance voting site in their county. Augusta has four advance voting locations and Columbia County has two.

On the nonpartisan ballot – available to any Augusta voter – is the hotly-contested mayor’s race runoff between Steven Kendrick and Garnett Johnson. The pair were only 105 votes apart May 24, with Kendrick slightly ahead.

Voters who live in Augusta Commission District 2 will select between Realtor Stacy Pulliam and educator/nonprofit founder Von Pouncey, and those in Super District 10 – regular Districts 3, 6, 7 and 8 – will choose from incumbent Commissioner John Clarke or former commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

A federal judge ruled that the Houston County Sheriff’s Office cannot omit gender reassignment surgery from health plans, according to WSAV.

U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell ruled June 2 that Houston County cannot exclude surgery for the transgender woman from its health insurance plan, citing a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision finding that a Michigan funeral home couldn’t fire an employee for being transgender.

The case involves Sgt. Anna Lange, an investigator in the middle Georgia county who began her transition in 2017 after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

“I can confidently move forward with my life knowing that gender affirming care is protected under federal law,” Lange said in a statement released by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, which represented her. “This decision is not only a personal victory, but a tremendous step forward for all transgender Southerners who are seeking insurance coverage for medically necessary care.”

[T]he county health plan had excluded sex change surgery and drugs since 1998. Lange was denied authorization for surgery in November 2018 after county personnel director Kenneth Carter told the insurer the county wanted to keep the exclusion, even though the insurer had advised Houston County in 2016 that the rule was discriminatory under the federal Affordable Care Act.

County commissioners voted unanimously to keep the exclusion in 2019, after Lange had asked them to pay for the surgery in a public meeting, claiming they were trying to keep health insurance costs low. The surgery she was seeking was estimated to cost $25,600 at the time.

But the judge said the Supreme Court made clear in a 2020 case that treating someone differently because they are transgender violates a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. For example, the judge noted the county health plan would pay for a mastectomy for cancer treatment, but not to treat gender dysphoria.

Governor Brian Kemp announced Georgia again received the highest bond ratings from the three major rating agencies.

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced today that Georgia has again secured the highest ratings of AAA with a stable outlook from each of the three main credit rating agencies: FitchRatings, Moody’s Investors Service, and S&P Global Ratings.

Of the states that issue general obligation bonds, only nine currently meet this standard.

Georgia’s upcoming sale of general obligation bonds will fund $754 million in capital projects and, if interest rates permit, also refund outstanding bonds to achieve debt service savings on a portion of the state’s outstanding debt. The majority of the bond proceeds will fund K-12 education, higher education, public safety, and economic development projects. The Peach State’s AAA ratings will enable the state to sell its bonds at the lowest possible interest costs when it takes bids for those bonds on June 22. The credit rating agencies’ individual ratings, which are AAA, Aaa, and AAA, respectively, are the highest ratings possible, and indicative of sound fiscal management.

“Securing the highest possible state bond ratings for yet another year is the result of decades of conservative state leadership and our balanced approach to protect both lives and livelihoods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Kemp. “By keeping our state open for business we have brought in record levels of jobs and investments all throughout the state. Our approach – which continues to include working closely with the General Assembly – allowed us to pass both budgetary and legislative measures that cut taxes and put money back into the pockets of our citizens, put parents, students, and teachers first, invest in our workforce, support Georgia’s thriving economy, strengthen public safety, and create innovative solutions to our healthcare challenges. These decisions have resulted in a record-low state unemployment rate and record-high job and investment growth. Today’s news further underscores that the Peach State remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P cited the strength of Georgia’s economy with a positive employment trend, fully funding the state’s rainy day fund, a balanced approach to primary revenue sources, and consistent funding of obligations as factors contributing to AAA ratings.

Bond Rating Agency Report Excerpts

FitchRatings:

“Georgia’s ‘AAA’ Issuer Default Rating (IDR) reflects the state’s proven willingness and ability to maintain fiscal balance and a broad-based, growth-oriented economy that supports solid revenue growth over time. … Growth in population and jobs has outpaced the nation over several decades, driving steady economic gains and providing a solid foundation for future growth. … Georgia’s long-term liability burden is low, and overall debt management is conservative. The state issues bonds regularly for capital needs and principal amortization is rapid. Georgia fully funds its actuarially determined contributions (ADCs) for pensions supporting a modest net pension liability (NPL) burden. … The state is well positioned to deal with economic downturns with exceptionally strong gap-closing ability…”

Moody’s Investors Service:

“The Aaa issuer rating reflects the state’s large and diverse economy, population and employment growth that outpaces the nation, solid reserves and liquidity, strong fiscal governance and low direct leverage from debt, pension and OPEB liabilities. Very strong revenue performance year-to-date in fiscal 2022 will fund the state’s recently enacted tax cuts – including a gas tax holiday, one-time rebates and permanent cuts to income tax rates – with limited impact on financial reserves. … The outlook is stable as the state will likely maintain its solid reserves and continue outpacing the nation in economic growth while long-term leverage will not significantly change in coming years.”

S&P Global Ratings:

“Georgia’s ‘AAA’ long-term rating is supported by our view of its overall strong credit fundamentals, including its large and diverse economic base that has benefited from sustained population growth and ongoing economic development efforts that have attracted considerable investment. … Georgia’s rating is also supported by our view of a strong governmental framework that supports its ability [to] control its expenditures and manage its liquidity. … Georgia has demonstrated responsive financial management that has enabled timely adjustments to general fund appropriations, and has yielded resilient budgetary performance and quick rebuilding of reserve balances in its revenue shortfall reserve (RSR). … The stable outlook incorporates our expectation that Georgia will maintain its strong financial position and will preserve balances in its RSR at or near its statutory maximum in the near term. … We consider Georgia’s financial management practices strong, which indicates practices are well embedded and likely sustainable. … The state’s debt burden is low-to-moderate, and it should remain so despite future debt plans and the potential for additional borrowings over the near- to medium-term. … Georgia maintains it commitment to adequately funding its pension liabilities and in recent years the state started to prefund its other postemployment benefits (OPEB) obligations.”

Governor Kemp was criticized by his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, who alleged the $5000 raises he worked to provide for teachers isn’t enough, according to the Associated Press via WJCL.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams is proposing a big teacher pay raise in her run for governor, saying Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s much-touted $5,000 across-the-board increase is not enough to recruit new teachers and retain current teachers.

“We are losing the fight for our children’s future,” Abrams said Sunday as she accepted the endorsement of the Georgia Association of Educators. “We need a governor who does not see education as an election year gimmick, but sees our responsibility as a guarantee for the strongest future for our people.”

Georgia has long had the highest average teacher pay in the South, but Abrams is proposing a $1.65 billion bump over four years. She would raise the typical starting salary to $50,000 from the current level just under $40,000 and increase average teacher pay to $75,000 from $60,553 this past school year, as tracked by the National Education Association.

Kemp’s $5,000 raise was a signature 2018 promise that he finished delivering this year. But Lisa Morgan, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators, said Georgia teachers have fallen behind inflation despite that. Federal figures show Georgia teachers made an average salary of $41,023 in 1999-2000. In today’s money, that would be more than $71,000.

“Our educators are underpaid,” Morgan said. “Adjusted for inflation, educators in Georgia are making less now than they did in 1999. We have to attract the best and brightest to be educators. This requires our profession be attractive as a career. It’s not just about salaries. It’s about educators being treated as the professionals we are.”

From GPB News:

t the recent Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) Conference in Savannah, Democrat Stacey Abrams discussed stricter gun safety laws, while Republican Gov. Brian Kemp focused on school security plans and active shooter classes for school resource officers.

“Georgia has to have gun safety laws that let us protect the Second Amendment and protect second graders at the exact same time,” Abrams said.

When Kemp mentioned the teacher raises totaling $5,000 since he took office, the GSBA audience applauded and cheered.

But Abrams told the group those raises were not enough.

“While yes, we should give credit for raises that have come in, we have to start with our baseline pay,” Abrams told GSBA attendees. “Our baseline pay is woefully low. We’re 21st in teacher pay. We’re the eighth-largest state in the nation.”

At the GSBA conference, both Kemp and Abrams addressed the impact of mental health issues on school security.

“The ratio of mental health support counselors to students is 1-to-452,” Abrams said. “It should be 1-to-250. We are woefully underserving our young people.”

Kemp talked about the importance of the $65 million Mental Health Parity Act he recently signed into law which requires public and private health insurance plans to cover behavioral health equitably with physical health.

“This historic bill includes robust reforms and resources to address mental health challenges in our state,” Kemp said in his speech. “We’ve also provided further funding to the APEX program to focus on mental health in our schools.”

From the AJC:

Kemp said the state’s public safety training center will train 300 school resource officers this year and provide them more opportunities for active shooter training. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Department of Education will also unveil an updated school safety plan later this month, according to Kemp.

“We have to remain vigilant and learn how to best spot the warning signs so that we can intervene before tragedy occurs,” the Republican said.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger Alisha Thomas Searcy also participated in interviews at the conference.

Valdosta saw its highest ever gas prices, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the city Sunday was $4.44, the highest ever, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Numbers eased off a bit Monday, with Valdosta’s average price slipping a couple of cents to $4.42 per gallon, a hike of 19 cents in one week. A year ago, that same gallon of fuel cost $2.90 cents in Valdosta, which means the average cost of gasoline has skyrocketed 65% in one year.

The Azalea City was tied with Rome and Columbus for the sixth least expensive gas among the 15 Georgia markets monitored by AAA — above Warner Robins, Dalton, Catoosa, Augusta and Albany but below Savannah, Macon, Hinesville, Gainesville, Brunswick, Atlanta and Athens.

The Lowndes County government is monitoring the gas price situation, said Paige Dukes, county manager.

“(The county) doesn’t pay retail prices,” she said. “We buy fuel in bulk … if our prices rise, we’ll make decisions about what to do from there.”

The Augusta Chronicle has Part 2 of their Q&A with Mayoral runoff candidates Steven Kendrick and Garnett Johnson and profiles Commission District 2 runoff candidates Stacy Pulliam and Von Pouncey.

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at the abortion positions of Second Congressional District Republican Runoff candidates Jeremy Hunt and Chris West.

Republican congressional candidates Jeremy Hunt and Chris West say they support banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest. However, Hunt told the Ledger-Enquirer that he supports the procedure in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.

The winner of June’s runoff faces incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop, who said in a recent statement that he believes that “abortion should be legal, safe and an available choice in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life or health of a woman.”

West told the Ledger-Enquirer in a statement that he doesn’t support any exemptions, citing experiences during his own birth. Unlike Hunt, West expressed no support for abortion if the life of the mother is at-risk.

Three of the four other Republican congressional candidates who made it to Georgia’s June runoffs said they support banning abortion during Atlanta Press Club debates earlier this week. Only District 6 candidate Jake Evans said abortions should be allowed if the life of the mother is at risk.

Democrat Janice Laws Robinson campaigned in Albany ahead of her runoff election for Insurance Commissioner against Raphael Baker, according to the Albany Herald.

In 2018, Janice Laws Robinson came short in her bid to become Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, with the Democrat receiving 46.99 percent of the vote to 50.37 percent for Republican Jim Beck.

This year Robinson is making another bid and said she hopes to get over the top in November. But first she has a runoff race with fellow Democrat Raphael Baker. Robinson, who finished in the May 24 primary with 48.70 percent of the vote to Baker’s 33.08 percent, has reason to be optimistic.

Some Hall County liberals held a March for our Lives to hype their fellow liberals for the upcoming elections protest gun violence, according to the Gainesville Times.

Speakers condemned Republicans for blocking legislation that would limit access to guns and urged everyone to vote blue.

“There was almost nothing planned and people just wanted to get up and talk from their hearts,” said Laura Colannino who organized the protest. She lives in Flowery Branch and is running against Republican Kathy Cooper for the Hall County Commissioner District 1 seat.

Colannino said there were about 125 attendees. The protest was one of hundreds nationwide organized by March for Our Lives, a group founded by student survivors of the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.

A number of speakers directed their ire squarely at U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, whose office is just a few blocks away. Clyde is a gun shop owner and has campaigned on protecting the second amendment. He is running against Mike Ford, chair of the Hall County Democratic Party, for the U.S. House 9th District. The winner will be decided in the Nov. 8 election.

[Clyde’s] solution to shootings like the one in Uvalde? Arming school staff. He advocates for a single point of entry. “There should be multiple staff,” he said. “Depending on the size of the school, five, six, seven, 10, 12 that are trained … that have to qualify every year just like a law enforcement officer does.”

Democrat Kim Floria is running for Georgia House District 30. She will face off against the winner of the June 21 runoff election between Republicans Whitney Pimentel and Derrick McCollum.

“Vote blue! Vote blue! Vote blue! Because red doesn’t care,” she said.

Georgia State Senator Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) was appointed by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan to the Senate Study Committee to Review Education Funding Mechanisms, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Summer school seats in Bibb County are scarce this year amid high demand, according to 13WMAZ.

They were told instead to write a letter explaining why their child should move on as another option to get their child to the next grade.

We have reached out to Bibb for a statement. In an email, they said that invitations were sent to a limited group of parents whose students would benefit the most from the program.

Seats were also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once those seats filled, students were moved to a waiting list.

[Parent Qua-Monica] Jackson has since learned that her son also needs improvement on the math portion of the test, so again, he needs summer school or a letter to move on to the next grade.

She says, “Every child should have a chance to catch up in the classroom over the summer.”

The Glynn County Commission may consider restructuring county departments, according to The Brunswick News.

The recommendation by County Manger William Fallon is designed to streamline processes and allow for more efficiency in day-to-day management of departments that answer to his office.

The proposed reorganization will allow Fallon to focus on overall county management, strategic planning, performance measures and objectives, county policy, and long-term planning rather than dealing with the day-to-day issues of every department that need guidance and direction.

The recommended budget of $85,516,306 is a 6.6% increase over the current budget, with much of the increase going to pay raises for public safety workers. The proposed budget includes more than $18 million from the fund balance.

Brunswick City Commissioners are working on their budget for the coming Fiscal Year, according to The Brunswick News.

Highlights include a 3% cost-of-living raise for employees, over $600,000 in equipment upgrades and replacement, funding for the demolition of neglected homes and an expansion of the city’s Christmas light program.

Discussion of the budget at the commission’s last meeting was dominated by a conversation on law enforcement, which accounts for 31% of the city’s general fund. Only half of the Brunswick Police Department’s officer positions were filled at the time of the June 1 meeting, according to BPD Chief Kevin Jones.

The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education tentatively adopted a budget for the next fiscal year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The tentative $791.9 million budget represents a mix of general funds, general obligation debt funds, special revenue funds, capital funds and other grants.

In the tentative budget, SCCPSS is looking to decrease the current millage rate from 18.131 to 17.631, or a .50 mil decrease. The millage rate is the tax rate that is used to calculate local property taxes and represents the tax imposed on every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

Because overall assessed property values increased resulting in a rise in local revenues, the district was able to reduce the school millage rate and still remain in budget, said Sheila Blanco, the district’s communication director.

The tentative budget also includes a 5% salary increase for non-teaching, hourly employees in an effort to bring custodians, bus drivers, nutrition workers and other hourly employees up to a livable wage.

The local pay increase comes in addition to the $2,000 pay raise for teachers from the 2023 Georgia state budget signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. The teacher pay raise is not related to the increased millage rate, but is included in the district’s budget, Cooley said.

The district will adopt a final millage rate and budget during a special called board meeting at 6 p.m., June 22.

The Bulloch County Commission is considering its budget for the coming fiscal year, and many property owners will see higher tax bills, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The proposed budget being set out this week by the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners and staff for fiscal year 2023 allows for a one-fourth mill rollback in the property tax rate. But because of 9% inflation in the average value of taxable property, owners on average will still pay more in property tax than last year.

Based on the inflationary growth in property values, Bulloch County Chief Tax Appraiser John Scott informed the commissioners that a rollback of roughly one full mill would likely be needed to avoid holding tax increase hearings this fall under the state law known as the Georgia Property Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

With property in Georgia generally taxed on 40% of market value, 1-mill rollback would eliminate about $40 worth of tax on property that was worth $100,000 at the beginning of 2021 but showed an average increase in value for 2022. The proposed quarter-mill rollback avoids about $10 of that increase but leaves the hypothetical $100,000 property owner to pay the other $30.

“We’re trying, and I wish we could do the whole mill, but if we did, then we’ve got to cut further staff, we’ve got to cut services, and we just can’t cut any more,” commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson said in a phone call Thursday. “But we just want the citizens to know that we are trying, and at least a quarter of a mill is something.”

With the quarter-mill rollback, the county staff is also assigning $530,000 in costs to American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or ARPA, funds anticipated from the federal government. Without that, the year’s deficit, or projected drawdown of balance, would exceed $3 million.

The Muscogee County Board of Education will host a required hearing about setting a property tax millage rate, according to WTVM.

By state law, Muscogee County School District must either keep tax collections revenue neutral by decreasing the millage rate to offset the gained taxes from the property value updates or announce a tax increase.

The board is considering adopting a millage rate of 23.321%, the same as for the fiscal year 2022.

At the tentative rate, 7.62% more revenue will be generated next year. However, taxpayers whose property values have not increased will see no change in their school tax bill.

“The increase is due to inflation by maintaining our millage rate as it has been. We have not raised it in over 20 years. About five years ago, we decreased it. The only action we have done in the millage is decrease it,” said Muscogee County School District member Cathy Williams.

Savannah Fire Chief Derik Minard will leave his current job to return to Colorado, according to WSAV.

A portrait of former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein will be unveiled at the court on Thursday, according to the Albany Herald.

Through an unusual turn of events, Hunstein became the first judge in Georgia history to serve as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court before becoming a permanent member of the court. While a Superior Court judge, she was named president of the Council of Superior Court Judges. And in 1991, all seven of the sitting Justices at the time recused themselves and designated seven Superior Court judges to hear and decide a case. Justice Hunstein, as president of the Council, served by designation as Chief Justice.

Hunstein’s adult children and young grandchildren will unveil the portrait during the special session, and current Chief Justice David E. Nahmias will formally accept the portrait on behalf of the Court. The portrait was painted by artist Larry Bishop of Birmingham, Ala.

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