Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 16, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 16, 2022

The Georgia Trustees visited the first group of settlers on November 16, 1732, the day before they were scheduled to depart England for the New World.

On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.

On November 16, 1737, the Georgia Trustees learned that England’s King George II would send 300 soldiers, along with 150 wives and 130 children to the settlement in Georgia.

On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.

On November 16, 1864, Sherman left Atlanta in smoking ruins.

Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.

Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.

Today is the 21st Anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled that two sections of Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill” abortion legislation are unconstitutioanl and unenforceable, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, in his Nov. 15 ruling, said two sections of the LIFE Act (or HB 481) are unconstitutional.

The law had been in limbo since shortly after its passage in 2019 due to court challenges; however, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s July vote to overturn Roe. v. Wade — ruling that abortion was not a federally protected right— a Georgia judge allowed the state’s law to take effect.

At the time of the bill’s passage in 2019 before, McBurney said restricting abortion was unconstitutional.

“In other words, per controlling Georgia precedent, the proper legal milieu in which to assess the LIFE Act’s constitutionality is not our current post-Roe Dobbsian era but rather the legal environment that existed when H.B. 481 was enacted,” McBurney stated in the ruling. “At that time, the spring of 2019, everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability.”

McBurney also ruled that a section mandating that any physician who performs an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat must report to the Department of Public Health the exception to the ban imposed was also unconstitutional at the time HB 481 was signed into law. HB 481 included exceptions for rape or incest if a police report is filed and for medical emergencies when the mother’s life is at risk.

“Because, in the spring of 2019, criminalizing post-heartbeat but pre-viability abortions was unconstitutional, so too, was any requirement that medical providers somehow publicly justify their decision to comply with their patients’ wishes for a pre-viability procedure,” he said in the ruling.

He ultimately ruled that the Georgia law, approved along party lines by Republicans, is void and “must be re-enacted in our post-Roe world if they are to become the law of Georgia.”

The ruling means for now, abortions are still legal after six weeks.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Coco Papy said that with the recent ruling, she hopes the Georgia General Assembly is taking notes on the changing demographics and realizing that “this is a bipartisan issue.”

“If anything, the midterm election showed us that Americans support abortion access and that the decision by SCOTUS a few months ago really is not in line with the fact that over 80% of Americans support abortion care and believe that abortion is health care,” Papy said.

“We’re seeing it backfire on elected officials who have decided to go after it with full force. I hope our general assembly … makes the right decision this session and decides to not create restrictive legislation.”

“Everyone deserves the right to bodily autonomy and HB 481 is an attack on our basic freedoms. I don’t know what Georgia has in store for us now, but for today, I feel like we had a victory.” [said Morgan Pikaard, President of Savannah Federation of Democratic Women]

In a statement released after the decision, Amy Kennedy, vice president of external affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast, said:

“Thankfully, today’s ruling offers relief from our state’s devastating abortion ban, but make no mistake: the threat to Georgians’ health and rights will remain so long as politicians try to interfere with our personal decisions.”

“We already know that abortion opponents will stop at nothing until abortion has been completely outlawed. This is a critical step in the long fight for reproductive freedom. We are prepared to do everything we can to ensure abortion care is available and accessible to everyone in Georgia.”

From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which represented doctors and advocacy groups that had asked McBurney to throw out the law, said it expects abortions past six weeks of pregnancy to resume Wednesday at some clinics.

Their lawsuit, filed in July, sought to strike down the ban on multiple grounds, including that it violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by forcing pregnancy and childbirth on women in the state. McBurney did not rule on that claim.

Kara Richardson, a spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, said in an email that the office filed a notice of appeal and “will continue to fulfill our duty to defend the laws of our state in court.”

Andrew Isenhour, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, said McBurney’s ruling placed “the personal beliefs of a judge over the will of the legislature and people of Georgia.”

“The state has already filed a notice of appeal, and we will continue to fight for the lives of Georgia’s unborn children,” he said in a statement.

Georgia’s law was passed by state lawmakers and signed by Kemp in 2019 but had been blocked from taking effect until the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Georgia to begin enforcing its abortion law just over three weeks after the high court’s decision in June.

McBurney wrote in his ruling that when the law was enacted, “everywhere in America, including Georgia, it was unequivocally unconstitutional for governments — federal, state, or local — to ban abortions before viability.”

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the prohibition on abortions provided for in the 2019 law “may someday become the law of Georgia,” he wrote.

But, he wrote, that can happen only after the General Assembly “determines in the sharp glare of public attention that will undoubtedly and properly attend such an important and consequential debate whether the rights of unborn children justify such a restriction on women’s right to bodily autonomy and privacy.”

Therefore, the state’s law “did not become the law of Georgia when it was enacted and it is not the law of Georgia now,” he wrote.

Elsewhere in the Fulton County courts, Governor Brian Kemp testified before Democratic District Attorney Fani Willis’s witchhunt “Grand Jury” investigating former President Donald Trump, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp testified for roughly three hours on Tuesday before an Atlanta-area special grand jury probing efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

Among the topics prosecutors were eager to ask Kemp about was a December 2020 phone call in which Trump allegedly tried to push Kemp to convince state legislators to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the Peach State.

On Wednesday, Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is scheduled to testify in Fulton County, and on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham is slated to appear as a witness before the special grand jury.

U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) and the Democratic Senate Congressional Committee filed suit over voting rights allegations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The campaign of Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are suing over the recent announcement that state law prohibits Saturday voting for Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff.

“Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians,” said Quentin Fulks, Warnock for Georgia campaign manager, in a press release.

Raffensperger sent out a statement denouncing the lawsuit.

“If recent elections prove one thing, it’s that voters expect candidates to focus on winning at the ballot box – not at the courthouse,” he wrote. “Senator Warnock and his Democratic Party allies are seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences. Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff.”

The key argument in the lawsuit is that the legislation applies only to primary and general elections, not runoffs. They argue that elsewhere in the law, runoffs are specifically mentioned, so the omission should be considered intentional.

Georgia State House Republicans elected new leadership for their Caucus Monday.

Speaker-nominee (and presumptive Speaker) Jon Burns

Jan Jones was re-elected Speaker Pro Tem without opposition.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration was elected Majority Leader.

State Rep. James Burchett was elected Majority Whip.

State Rep. Bruce Williamson was elected Majority Caucus Chair.

State Rep. Houston Gaines was elected Caucus Vice Chair.

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart was elected Caucus Secretary.

Runoff In-person Early Voting for the United States Senate race will begin November 28, according to The Brunswick News.

Early voting in the U.S. Senate runoff election will start the Monday after Thanksgiving.

At a Tuesday meeting, the five-member Glynn County Board of Elections voted unanimously to open early voting polls from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2.

Election Day is Dec. 6.

Julie Jordan, chair of the Glynn County Democratic Party, said the normal early voting poll hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. would not work for a large number of voters who work during those hours. She also asked the board to open early voting polls on Sunday, Nov. 27.

State law prevents the board from opening the polls on Thanksgiving Day or the Friday and Saturday afterward, said Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell.

Sunday was still too close to the holiday, said board member Sandy Dean, and it would be unfair to ask county personnel to set up the polling places on Saturday and for the poll workers to staff the polls on Sunday.

The board will likely begin sending out absentee ballots in a week or so, said Assistant Elections and Registration Supervisor Christina Redden.

Channell also recapped the Nov. 8 general election on Tuesday.

Turnout was 57.24%, he said, with 20,721 casting a ballot during early voting, 10,505 on Election Day and 2,104 by mail. The elections office also received a few dozen provisional ballots, he said.

Governor Brian Kemp and the Technical College System of Georgia announced a $1 million dollar investment in Apprenticeship programs, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) today announced $1 million in awards for the inaugural Registered Apprenticeships program as part of the High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI). These investments will create 120 new apprenticeships throughout the state across multiple industries in need of workers following generational investment and job creation in the Peach State, including healthcare, manufacturing, and construction.

“Providing opportunity for hardworking Georgians to thrive has always been and will remain a top priority for my administration,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Apprenticeships open doors both for our students to gain quality, on-the-job experience and for employers to fill their workforce needs. This innovative approach will ensure the next generation has the skills they need to succeed in the best state to live, work, and raise a family.”

During the 2022 legislative session, Governor Kemp and lawmakers partnered to pass SB 379, representing a historic investment in apprenticeships in Georgia through the HDCI Program. The HDCI Program awards up to $50,000 in funding to Georgia businesses to upskill workers through registered apprenticeships and increase skilled talent within Georgia’s high-demand industries.

“The HDCI Program and the apprenticeships it creates will pay dividends for Georgia workers and businesses for years to come,” said TCSG Commissioner Greg Dozier. “This year’s awards alone will eventually bring more than $6.2 million in added income into Georgia’s economy each year. This is a statewide impact that will be felt in communities across Georgia.”

Governor Kemp has proclaimed that November 14 through 20, 2022, as Apprenticeship Week in Georgia. Interested parties can click here to see the 2022 HDCI Program Award List.

About the High Demand Career Initiatives (HDCI) Program
In 2022, Georgia Senate Bill 379 was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp, authorizing new funding for the the High Demand Career Initiatives (HDCI) Program that would create Georgia’s first-ever state-funded apprenticeship initiative. This represents a historic investment by the State of Georgia in registered apprenticeships. The HDCI Program provides funding to Georgia employers to incentivize the creation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs throughout the state. This program aimed to both upskill Georgians and increase skilled talent within Georgia’s high-demand industries. For more information about Georgia’s HDCI Program visit www.tcsg.edu/HDCI.

About the Technical College System of Georgia
The 22 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) are Georgia’s top resource for skilled workers. TCSG offers world-class training in more than 600 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs to students who are trained on state-of-the-art equipment by instructors who are experts in their fields. The system also houses Georgia’s Office of Adult Education, which promotes and provides adult literacy and education programs, including the GED® testing program, throughout the state. In addition, TCSG partners with companies through Quick Start, the nation’s top customized workforce training program, and through its individual colleges, who work with local industry to provide workforce and training solutions. For more information, visit TCSG.edu.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit contesting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision on the proposed mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, according to The Brunswick News.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its summer decision to remove Clean Water Act protections from almost 600 acres of wetlands next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Those acres are the proposed site for Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals’ titanium dioxide mine that environmental groups and experts argue will devastate the black water swamp.

The four organizations represented by the SELC in the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia are the National Wildlife Refuge Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The SELC’s lawsuit alleges that the Army Corps unlawfully revoked the jurisdictional determination, which removed federal protections.

The rocky legal waters can be traced back to an upheaval in recent years of federal water protections. According to the a news release, the suit is challenging the Corps’ decision made under the Trump administration’s now-vacated “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which scaled back federal authority to protect waterways and wetlands.

From the AJC Political Insider:

TODAY ON THE TRAIL:

Herschel Walker will hold a rally in McDonough with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has no public events. His bus tour resumes Thursday.

I received a text message yesterday about the Herschel Walker event, and here’s what they said:

Team Herschel here with a Reminder:

Georgia, we’re in overtime and we need your help!

Join Herschel Walker and special guests Mike Huckabee and others for the Evict Warnock Bus Tour stop in your area TOMORROW.

If we want to stop Biden’s disastrous agenda, we must stop Warnock. We will be at Bennett Trucking located at 1001 Industrial Pkwy. in McDonough at 12pm.

Herschel looks forward to seeing you tomorrow!
Secure your free tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/466591717387

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson introduced a propsed $2.26 billion dollar budget for FY 2023, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson and county finance staff unveiled the proposed $2.26 billion 2023 Gwinnett County government budget on Tuesday. It includes a $1.77 billion operating budget as well as a $488 million capital improvement budget.

“While the County is not immune to global economic uncertainty, we have taken steps in the creation of this budget to ensure that Gwinnett’s financial foundation remains strong,” Hendrickson said. “With this budget, we will be able to maintain the excellent services that our residents have come to expect and build on them with initiatives that support safety, mobility, environmental sustainability and more.”

Residents who want to see the budget document can read the budget resolution on the county’s website, or visit the county’s financial Services Office from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. onMondays through Fridays at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville.

Among the items in the proposed budget is a new equity officer position and a new environmental sustainability officer position. Additional firefighter positions and a transit system expansion are also included in the budget.

Floyd County reached agreement with Rome and Cave Spring on the allocation of Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The LOST agreement is a tax revenue sharing agreement that must be renewed every 10 years. Under the new agreement, Rome’s percentage increases from 41.7% to 45.2% and Floyd County’s goes from 56.5% to 53%. Cave Spring’s share stays the same at 1.8% of the proceeds.

“I appreciate that all local governments would take the time to hash this out,” said Rome City Commissioner Jamie Doss.

Richmond County Board of Education member-elect Tyrique Robinson was found dead at his home, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Robinson recently ran unopposed and won a seat on the school board representing District 6. He would have replaced A.K. Hasan in the new year.

My condolences to his friends and family.

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