Category: Georgia Politics

14
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 14, 2020

On August 14, 1784, Russians invaded settled Alaska, founding the first permanent Russian settlement at Three Saints Bay.

Dentist, gambler, and gunfighter Doc Holliday was born on August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia.

On August 14, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln hosted a group of African-American men at the White House to discuss emancipation of American slaves outside the United States as colonists.

The Second Battle of Dalton was joined on August 14, 1864.

On August 15, 1903, Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation requiring that Georgia schools teach elementary agriculture and civics. Two days later, on August 17, 1903, the General Assembly condemned the practice of whipping female inmates.

The Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914.

The County Unit System of elections was created on August 14, 1917 when Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation by the General Assembly.

Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Forestry on August 15, 1921.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. The road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

On August 14, 1945, the Japanese surrender to the Allies was made public in Japan.

In the afternoon of August 14, Japanese radio announced that an Imperial Proclamation was soon to be made, accepting the terms of unconditional surrender drawn up at the Potsdam Conference. That proclamation had already been recorded by the emperor.

On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Festival began in upstate New York.

Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppolla was released on August 15, 1979.

Paul Anderson, known for years as the “Strongest Man in the World” for his weightlifting feats, died on August 15, 1994 in Vidalia, Georgia. Anderson was born in 1932 in Toccoa, Georgia. He won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of weightlifting in 1956.

A Special Session called by Governor Zell Miller to address legislative redistricting convened on August 14, 1995, after the United States Supreme Court threw out Georgia’s Congressional redistricting map.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp withdrew a lawsuit he filed against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and issued a statement:

“I sued the City of Atlanta to immediately stop the shuttering of local businesses and protect local workers from economic instability. For weeks, we have worked in good faith with Mayor Bottoms, and she agreed to abandon the city’s Phase One roll-back plan, which included business closures and a shelter in place order. Unfortunately, the Mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia. Given this stalemate in negotiations, we will address this very issue in the next Executive Order. We will continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

In light of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ concession regarding the city’s Phase One roll-back plan and following her refusal in mediation to further negotiate a compromise, the Attorney General’s Office has filed to withdraw our pending lawsuit. The Governor’s current Executive Order expires this Saturday, August 15, at which time he will issue a new order with relevant language.

From the AJC:

Kemp said he will instead sign an executive order Saturday that is expected to specify that local governments can’t order private businesses to require masks. It is also likely to remove a provision that explicitly outlawed cities and counties from mandating face coverings, administration officials say.

“Unfortunately, the mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia,” said Kemp, citing a “stalemate” in negotiations. “We will continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

During settlement negotiations, Bottoms agreed to clarify that the “phase one” economic restrictions were voluntary, not mandatory, but both sides clashed over the scope of mask requirements.

Congratulations to Nick Ayers, who has been appointed to the Board of Natural Resources.

State employees will find the State Health Benefits Plan takes more of a bite out of their paychecks. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Teachers and state employees will face an average hike of 5 percent in health insurance premiums for 2021 coverage.

That would be the first premium increase in the past three years for non-Medicare members in the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP), which covers 673,000 state employees, teachers, other school personnel, dependents and retirees. The monthly rate will depend on the health plan option that’s chosen.

The increase would translate to an average premium hike of $11.33 per month, the head of SHBP, Jeff Rickman, told the board of the state Department of Community Health, which approved the increase Thursday.

Gwinnett County will have another transportation referendum on the ballot in November, according to the AJC.

This fall’s vote will be the second time in just a year and a half that Gwinnett residents will have a say about expanding transit in the county. It’s a quick revival after the March 2019 defeat, especially considering it took decades to bring the measure back for a vote following earlier failures in 1971 and 1990.

“We’re definitely excited and supportive of Gwinnett’s efforts,” said Chris Tomlinson, the executive director of the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority. “It’s not only beneficial to Gwinnett, it’s significant to the entire region.”

When Gwinnett voters rejected a plan to bring MARTA to the county last March, just 17% of voters showed up at the polls — more than initially expected for a special election, but fewer than 100,000 people in a county with a population rapidly approaching 1 million. They defeated the measure with 54% of the vote.

But perhaps most importantly, they scheduled the vote for this fall, when a hotly contested presidential election will be on the ballot and voter turnout is expected to break records.

Gwinnett County voters will also weigh in on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Our county’s success can be directly tied to the quality of our schools,” Gwinnett Chamber President and CEO Nick Masino said. “The E-SPLOST is not a new tax. Extending it allows our schools to upgrade and provide technology, access and distance learning for all students and helps close the achievement gap.”

The education SPLOST is one of two tax-related measures that will appear on ballots in the county this fall. The county commission recently decided to put a referendum, to institute a penny sales tax to fund transit expansion in Gwinnett, on the November ballot as well.

The Capitol Beat News Service reports that first-time unemployment claims are down in Georgia.

Initial unemployment claims in Georgia fell last week to a level not seen in the 21 weeks since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Unemployed Georgians filed 62,335 first-time claims last week, down 11,598 from the week before and less than 50% of the numbers the agency was seeing a month ago.

Georgia’s numbers reflected a nationwide drop in initial unemployment claims to 963,000, the first time that number was below 1 million since mid-March and a decrease of 228,000 from the previous week.

A federal prison in Charlton County – the county’s largest employer – will close permanently, according to The Brunswick News.

13
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 12, 2020

On August 12, 1492 by the current calendar, Christopher Columbus set sail from the port of Palos de la Frontera in southern Spain with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Other accounts date his arrival at the Canary Islands off the coast of northwestern Africa on August 12, 1492.

Juan Ponce de Leon invaded Puerto Rico on August 12, 1508 and declared himself Governor.

On August 12, 1864, Confederate General John B. Hood prohibited Confederate soldiers from seizing civilian property.

The first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line on August 12, 1904.

On August 12, 1908, Ford’s first “Model T” rolled off a Detroit, Michigan, factory floor. Within six years, the car, company and man were propelled to unprecedented success, thanks to the new Highland Park plant’s first-of-its-kind assembly line, which created the intricate product quickly and in large numbers.

“If it hadn’t been for Henry Ford’s drive to create a mass market for cars, America wouldn’t have a middle class today,” wrote [Lee] Iacocca.

Increased travel spurred appeals for better and more roads, the development of suburbs, the oil industry’s rise and a boom in gas stations, strip malls and motels.

But the assembly line itself had the biggest impact on American society, Hyde contended, in making possible the swift, mass production of everything from computers to “fast food.”

On August 12, 1910, Georgia Governor Joseph M. Brown signed legislation prohibiting the carrying of a pistol or revolver without a license.

East Germany began building the Berlin Wall on August 12, 1961.

[T]he government of East Germany, on the night of August 12, 1961, began to seal off all points of entrance into West Berlin from East Berlin by stringing barbed wire and posting sentries. In the days and weeks to come, construction of a concrete block wall began, complete with sentry towers and minefields around it. The Berlin Wall succeeded in completely sealing off the two sections of Berlin.

Three churches in Albany, Georgia first allowed African-Americans to attend their services on August 12, 1962.

On August 12, 1968, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham played together for the first time.

The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, made its first flight in the earth’s atmosphere on August 12, 1977.

President Jimmy Carter was nominated for reelection as President by the Democratic National Convention in New York City on August 13, 1980.

President Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act on August 13, 1981.

The ERTA included a 25 percent reduction in marginal tax rates for individuals, phased in over three years, and indexed for inflation from that point on. The marginal tax rate, or the tax rate on the last dollar earned, was considered more important to economic activity than the average tax rate (total tax paid as a percentage of income earned), as it affected income earned through “extra” activities such as education, entrepreneurship or investment. Reducing marginal tax rates, the theory went, would help the economy grow faster through such extra efforts by individuals and businesses. The 1981 act, combined with another major tax reform act in 1986, cut marginal tax rates on high-income taxpayers from 70 percent to around 30 percent, and would be the defining economic legacy of Reagan’s presidency.

Reagan’s tax cuts were designed to put maximum emphasis on encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and creating incentives for the development of venture capital and greater investment in human capital through training and education. The cuts particularly benefited “idea” industries such as software or financial services; fittingly, Reagan’s first term saw the advent of the information revolution, including IBM’s introduction of its first personal computer (PC) and the rise or launch of such tech companies as Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Compaq and Cisco Systems.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released on August 13, 1982.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

On June 19, 2020, I wrote this:

My political analysis is that attacks by out-of-state Congressional leaders, and even Georgia congressmen, probably helps Greene win her Primary Runoff Election. All she needs now to assure her victory in August is an endorsement of her opponent by the very groups mentioned in the Washington Post editorial.

And on July 20, 2020, I wrote in the newsletter version about attacks against Greene by GOP insiders Steve Scalise, Kevin McCarthy, and 90 elected officials who endorsed her opponent:

My two-cent analysis is that I’m not sure any of that hurts Marjorie Greene or helps Dr. Cowan.

President Trump congratulated Republican nominee Marjorie Greene, according to CBS46:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted support for congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, a supporter of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory who’s been criticized for racist comments, following her Republican primary victory in Georgia.

Greene, a businesswoman and political newcomer, beat neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff Tuesday in Georgia’s deep-red 14th Congressional District, which stretches from the outskirts of metro Atlanta to the rural northwest corner of the state.

“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump said on Twitter. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up – a real WINNER!”

“You inspired me to run and fight to Save America and Stop Socialism!!” Greene responded to Trump’s tweet. “No one will fight harder than me!!”

Greene will face Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in November. Republican Rep. Tom Graves, who did not seek reelection, last won the seat with over 76% of the vote in 2018.

The Masters Tournament will take place this year without spectators, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta National Golf Club made the announcement Wednesday, confirming what Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis predicted last week. The tournament is scheduled for Nov. 9-15.

“Since our initial announcement to postpone the 2020 Masters, we have remained committed to a rescheduled Tournament in November while continually examining how best to host a global sporting event amid this pandemic,” club and tournament chairman Fred Ridley said in a the release. “As we have considered the issues facing us, the health and safety of everyone associated with the Masters always has been our first and most important priority.”

The decision also affects the Augusta-area school systems that altered academic calendars for a November Masters. Following Wednesday’s announcement, several area counties were faced with an extra fall break.

11
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 11, 2020

On August 11, 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg declared martial law in Atlanta.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the summer commencement address at the University of Georgia on August 11, 1938. Later that day, Roosevelt endorsed Lawrence Camp over incumbent Governor Walter F. George, saying George had not been sufficiently supportive of the New Deal.

The Atlanta Braves signed legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige on August 11, 1968. Here’s a story on what the Braves signing meant to Paige:

In 1968, the right-hander was 158 days shy of the five years’ playing time needed to qualify for the major league pension. He would reach out to 29 teams and 29 teams would turn him down.

The problem was, he was 62.

But Braves president Bill Bartholomay saw an opportunity. While it would help at the box office for a franchise that was in its third season in Atlanta, it was also about something more.

“I jumped all over it, because I just thought it was the right thing to do,” said Bartholomay, currently the team’s chairman emeritus. “I didn’t think of it so much from the standpoint of diversity, I thought it was just the right thing to do.”

After reaching his 158 required days, Paige left the Braves and less than three years later, began drawing that pension. He received $250 a month.

“It was momentous and he did quality for his pension,” Bartholomay said, “but more importantly, the slight recognition for one of the great athletes, maybe one of the .. certainly short list of greatest pitchers of all time.”

From the AJC:

“Baseball would have been guilty of negligence should it not assure this legendary figure a place in the pension plan,” the [Braves] owner said at the signing in 1968. Looking back 40 years on, Bartholomay says Satchel justified his faith by performing sensationally as a goodwill ambassador.

“He came to us four months after the King funeral in Atlanta,” says Bartholomay. “Those were pretty tough times for African-Americans and the country in its entirety. Satchel understood that. He helped in a way that went way beyond baseball.”

On August 11, 1984, Ronald Reagan jokingly announced that he had “signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever…we begin bombing in five minutes,” without knowing he was speaking into a live microphone.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp addressed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic yesterday. You can watch the entire address on Facebook or GPB News.Continue Reading..

10
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 10, 2020

On August 10, 1774, a group calling itself the “Sons of Liberty” met at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah, the first move in Georgia toward what would become the Revolutionary War. The Sons of Liberty adopted eight resolutions, among those one that reads,

Resolved, nemine contradicente, That we apprehend the Parliament of Great Britain hath not, nor ever had, any right to tax his Majesty’s American subjects; for it is evident beyond contradiction, the constitution admits of no taxation without representation; that they are coeval and inseparable; and every demand for the support of government should be by requisition made to the several houses of representatives.

Resolved, nemine contradicente, That we concur with our sister colonies in every constitutional measure to obtain redress of American grievances, and will by every lawful means in our power, maintain those inestimable blessings for which we are indebted to God and the Constitution of our country–a Constitution founded upon reason and justice, and the indelible rights of mankind.

The first copy in Georgia of the Declaration of Independence was read publicly in Savannah on August 10, 1776.

On August 10, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

Missouri was admitted as the 24th State, and the first entirely west of the Mississippi River, on August 10, 1821.

On August 10, 1864, the bombardment of Atlanta by Union force continued, with Sherman writing, “Let us destroy Atlanta and make it a desolation.”

Sherman-and-Cannon Atlanta

The first Georgia state Motor Fuel Tax was enacted on August 10, 1921, when Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation imposing a one-cent per gallon tax.

Japan accepted unconditional surrender on August 10, 1945, one day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Red Dawn, the first movie rated PG-13 was released on August 10, 1984.

Wolverines!

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The late Herman Cain was laid to rest Friday, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

7
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2020

The first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence arrived in Savannah on August 8, 1776 and was read publicly for the first time on August 10, 1776.

General George Washington created the Purple Heart on August 7, 1782. Click here for an interesting history of the award.

On August 7, 1790, a delegation of Creeks met with the United States Secretary of War and signed the Treaty of New York, ceding all land between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers to Georgia.

On August 8, 1863, General Robert E. Lee offered his resignation in a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, following the Battle of Gettysburg.

Theodore Roosevelt, who served as President from 1901 to 1909, was nominated for President by the Progressive Party, also called the Bull Moose Party, on August 7, 1912.

Herman E. Talmadge was born on August 9, 1913, son of Eugene Talmadge, who later served as Governor. Herman Talmadge himself served as Governor and United States Senator from Georgia.

On August 8, 1925, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation outlawing the brazen act of dancing publicly on Sunday.

On August 8, 1929, Georgia Governor Lamartine Hardman signed legislation placing on the ballot for Fulton and Campbell County voters a merger of the two.

The old Campbell County Courthouse still stands in Fairburn, Georgia.

Campbell County Courthouse Fairburn GA 3

On August 7, 1942, Marine forces landed at Guadalcanal.

Voters ratified a new version of the State Constitution on August 7, 1945. Among the new features was the establishment of the State Board of Corrections to ensure humane conditions.

The board was directed to be more humane in its treatment of prisoners and abolished whippings, leg irons, and chains. Until 1945, prisoners in Georgia could expect to have heavy steel shackles put on by a blacksmith upon arrival. They were then taken out to work under severe conditions.

The caravan bearing 43 ounces of Dahlonega gold to be used in covering the Georgia State Capitol dome reached the Capitol and delivered it to Governor Marvin Griffin on August 7, 1958.

On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which would be used as the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were nominated for President and Vice President by the Republican National Convention on August 8, 1968.

On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned, effective at noon the next day.

On August 9, 1988, President Ronald Reagan announced his nomination of Dr. Lauro Cavazos as Secretary of Education, succeeding William Bennett. Cavazos was the first Hispanic to serve in a Presidential Cabinet position. Interestingly, he was born on the King Ranch.

On August 9, 1990, voters in the City of Athens and Clarke County chose to unify the two governments into Athens-Clarke County government.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislators are questioning Governor Kemp’s statement about calling a Special Session, according to the AJC.

“Fixing the error could easily happen within an hour or so, and could easily happen on day one of the 2021 session in January,” said state Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna.

“Best I can tell,” she said, “the tracking error is a pretext for convening a special session to consider a likely laundry list of issues the governor wants to attempt while he’s sure his party still holds the majority.”

Kemp said he had little other choice but to scramble for a swift update of House Bill 105, which includes a tax break for federal payments for victims of the storm. He said the bill is “far too important to our state to leave room for a legal challenge on its legitimacy.”

Rick Ruskell, the General Assembly’s legislative counsel, said in an interview that he doesn’t believe a fix is needed.

“It had no impact on the bill that was duly passed by both legislative chambers. I don’t see any problem with the legislative process of the bill,” he said. “I’m confident that the bill as passed was clear.”

State House Speaker David Ralston and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan issued a joint statement:

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston issued the following statement regarding Governor Kemp’s suggestion of calling a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly:

“While we respect Governor Kemp’s opinion, we disagree that the manner in which HB 105 was passed leaves the legislation vulnerable to a legal challenge. However, we are prepared to convene a special session, if called, to perform our constitutional duty to address his concerns and consider other important measures like House Bill 991, which provides critical oversight to taxpayer dollars.”

House Bill 991 was vetoed by Gov. Kemp, who wrote in a veto statement:

to ensure that members appointed to the Healthcare Transparency and Accountability Oversight Committee do not violate the separation of powers as delineated by the Constitution and laws of this state, I VETO HOUSE BILL 991.

Governor Kemp earlier this week signed legislation designed to narrow the broadband accessibility gap, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Tribune Ledger News.

Under House Bill 244, the state Public Service Commission will decide how much EMCs can charge telecommunications providers for broadband attachments to their utility poles. Some residents in Cherokee County are served by Cobb EMC and others by Sawnee EMC.

High pole attachment fees have been a key obstacle to extending broadband technology into underserved rural communities in Georgia. According to a state broadband service map, large portions of northern Cherokee County are without broadband service.

“The EMCs eagerly look forward to working with the Public Service Commission as an integral partner to expand access to broadband in rural Georgia, while keeping our neediest and most vulnerable citizens from shouldering the burden of that progress,” Dennis Chastain, president and CEO of Georgia EMC said Wednesday.

Georgia’s Secretary of State was initially rebuffed when he requested a Primary Runoff ballot in early voting, according to WSB-TV.

“I went to vote, and they said there’s nothing here to vote for, there’s only a Democrat election,” Raffensperger said.

Shortly after that, Raffensperger said other Republican voters in Fulton County called his office with the same problem.

They said they were told by poll workers there’s only a Democratic runoff.

“We’ve been getting reports of that from other people who’ve been going and actually leaving because they don’t think they can vote in any election,” Raffensperger said.

For the state’s top election official, the problems continued after he convinced the poll worker to let him vote.

“I went to the voting machine. What popped up was the Democrat ballot,” Raffensperger said. “My concern on that actually is I do not want to vote on a Democrat ballot. I’m a Republican, and so this is their runoff election. We want to make sure Republicans aren’t voting in Democratic races.”

Gray contacted Fulton County about the issue. They sent him a statement, saying:

“Fulton County understands that its responsibility is to provide experienced prepared poll workers throughout the election process. This includes making sure that our team of poll workers receive the necessary and required in-person training.”

The Golden Isles Republican Women will host a lunch Monday, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Senate candidate Kandiss Taylor and Glynn County Schools Superintendent Scott Spence will speak at the Golden Isles Republican Women’s Monday lunch.

Taylor, of Baxley, is one of 21 candidates running in the November special election for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to replace former Sen. Johnny Isakson upon his retirement.

Due to state public health guidelines, attendance will be limited to 50 pre-registered guests.

No walk-ins will be admitted.

Fani Willis, Democratic candidate for Fulton County District Attorney, says her opponent and former boss, incumbent DA Paul Howard, will be indicted before the end of this year, according to 11Alive.

“I think it’s a choice actually between integrity and corruption, good and bad. I think it’s a classic fight,” Willis said. “We have a district attorney now that works for his own self interest and seems to care about the things that benefit him and not the community.”

Former prosecutor Fani Willis said Paul Howard took for himself nearly $200,000 that former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed transferred to a nonprofit designed to help fight crime in underserved communities.

Howard told 11Alive News it was always intended for his bank account.

“I met with the mayor (Kasim Reed) asking him for a salary supplement from the city of Atlanta,” Howard told 11Alive’s Neima Abdulahi. “What I did was what Americans do all the time, which is ask for pay raises. Pay increases. And that’s what I asked for. That’s what the city of Atlanta sent over based upon the work I had performed for the city.”

“What he did was enrich himself. It’s really horrible,” Willis accused. “It’s not a pay raise. He can call that all he wants. But it’s a violation of (state law, OCGA 45-11-5), and it’s a criminal offense.”

“I believe he’ll be arrested for it and ultimately prosecuted … before the year is out,” she predicted.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says unemployment claims are declining, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

First-time unemployment claims in Georgia fell by 11,053 last week to 73,931, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said 92% of all valid claims submitted in the last 19 weeks have been paid. However, more than 135,000 other initial unemployment claims have been filed by Georgians who have not worked in the last 18 months and are, thus, ineligible for unemployment benefits, he said.

“Unemployment insurance is not a guaranteed benefit,” Butler said. “Each claim has to be thoroughly reviewed for eligibility and verified before payments can be issued.”

“A claimant may not be granted benefits if they have not worked and earned insured wages in the past 18 months or were fired for cause or quit a job of their own accord. Many times, the employer and employee have different versions of what happened, and that takes even longer to gather information for a complete decision.”

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis predicts empty bunkers for the Masters Golf Tournament, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“The PGA Championship begins at Harding Park without fans, and that’s likely what will probably happen in Augusta,” Davis said of the tournament that started Thursday in San Francisco without fans.

Should patrons be allowed to attend, Davis said the club likely has the resources to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Augusta National can do it better than anybody, and they have the wherewithal to test all patrons who show up at and the course and if you have a fever, they can tell you to go get in the car,” the mayor said.

Lester Miller and Cliffard Whitby met in two forums for runoff candidates in the race for Mayor of Macon-Bibby County, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Five Cherokee County schools are now subject to partial quarantines, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

Columbia County schools now have a fourth COVID case, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Chattahoochee Valley will host a camp for children during the online-only portion of school reopening, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Because local COVID-19 cases have surged, the Muscogee County School District changed its plan and will open its fall 2020 semester with online-only classes from Aug. 17 through at least Sept. 9.

Among the 169 parents or guardians who responded to MCSD’s survey in June, 20% said they didn’t have access to resources and teachers to help their children succeed with remote learning. A similar survey of students, with 167 responses, said 19% don’t have such access.

“The staff will be there to support the instruction,” she said. “. . . We’ve been hearing a lot of thank-yous, a lot of appreciation.”

The staff at the YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus also will use a similar experience to supervise students during their online-only classes.

My sincere appreciation to the Boys & Girls Club of the Chattahoochee Valley and the YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus for showing how private organizations can support parents and families.

Chatham County has lower homeless numbers, but that may changes as a wave of evictions is predicted, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The 2019 number was 4,590, down from the 4,641 for 2018, the annual count showed. Included in the new totals were 271 homeless veterans.

“This count does not reflect any homeless activity for January to present, 2020,” Kelley said. “We anticipate higher numbers for 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis and expected evictions for many.”

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners have decided how to spend $6.6 million in federal COVID aid, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The money must be obligated by Sept. 1 and spent by the end of the year, Athens-Clarke Manager Blaine Williams told commissioners in a Tuesday meeting.

Nearly $1.5 million is already spent, including more than $1 million for sick pay, according to documents prepared for Tuesday’s commission meeting. The police department submitted requests for more than $1 million in sick pay, and the airport requested a smaller amount..

About $200,000 will go for digital access points in parks and other places, Mayor Kelly Girtz said in a virtual Athens Area Chamber of Commerce community update Wednesday morning. Overall, the spending plan includes about $560,000 in expenditures to “provide wifi access to facilitate distance learning.”

County officials expect an additional $15.5 million in a second phase of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding, but will have more time to work on that spending plan.

6
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 6, 2020

On August 6, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia began debating the first draft of the Constitution of the United States.

On August 6, 1958 the wagon train carrying gold from Dahlonega to gild the State Capitol dome reached Atlanta, where city officials were not prepared to receive them.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in attendance and was given one of the pens Johnson used to sign the Act. Here is an auction for one of the pens used in the VRA signing. And another pen auction.

John Hughes, director of every meaningful teen angst movie of the 1980s (except Say Anything and Better Off Dead) died on August 6, 2009.

Molly Ringwald wrote in The New Yorker about working as a young woman with John Hughes.

USA Today looks at the history of the Voting Rights Act and the role black women played in its passage.

“Men always got the attention, but the ones who were really organizing it and were really making it work were women,” [author Lynn] Olson said. “And that was true going back to the time of the time of abolitionists.”

When Boynton Robinson’s husband died in 1963, she used his memorial service at Tabernacle Baptist Church as the first mass meeting for voting rights in Selma.

“Mrs. Boynton [Robinson] really was the organizer of this and I think the person who actually wrote the letter that invited Dr. King and SCLC to come to Selma to help them with the voting rights movement,” Dawson said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will call the General Assembly into Special Session to address Hurricane Michael tax issues, according to AccessWDUN.

Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that he plans to call a special session of the state legislature in order to fix a technical error on a bill that exempts hurricane relief payments from certain taxes.

Kemp said in a statement that he signed House Bill 105 despite the problem.

The bill, passed by the legislature in June with bipartisan support, shields farmers from having to pay state income tax on relief payments received after Hurricane Michael, which caused widespread damage across southern Georgia in Oct. 2018. It also imposes a 50-cent tax on ride-hailing service, taxi and limousine rides instead of leaving them subject to higher, regular sales taxes.

“When House Bill 105 was amended, it appears an incorrect legislative counsel number (i.e., tracking number) was assigned to the draft,” Kemp said in a signing statement. “Whereas this error is not necessarily a fatal flaw, this bill is far too important to our state to leave room for a legal challenge on its legitimacy.”

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 838, designed to protect first responders, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The bill Kemp signed into law sets out punishments for those who commit crimes against police officers, firefighters and medics because of their “actual or perceived employment as a first responder.” Crimes would have to involve serious physical injury or property damage.

Backers of the legislation have highlighted it as a show of support for police and other first-responders amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice that have prompted tense and at times violent encounters between officers and protesters.

Late Wednesday, Kemp said he had “attended the funerals of far too many law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty,” and that the bill aims to help “those who are risking their lives to protect us.”

“While some vilify, target, and attack our men and women in uniform for personal or political gain, this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue,” Kemp said in a statement.

“It’s disappointing that supporting law enforcement has become a partisan issue,” House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said Wednesday. “We value and stand with the men and women who wear the badge in Georgia, and House Bill 838 demonstrates that unequivocally.”

Shortly after the bill’s passage in June, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan called it necessary to help distinguish between officers who have violated the public’s trust on the job from those who have carried out their duties properly.

“At a time when officers feel under siege, when police fear politically motivated prosecution, when extreme voices are calling to ‘defund the police,’ our state must stand up for those who put their lives on the line for us,” Duncan said

Gov. Kemp signed Senate Bill 359 addressing business liability for issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

SB 359, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, absolves a wide range of entities from damages unless the injury or death stems from gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.

“It waives liability if someone is substantially abiding by the rules,” Hufstetler said. “I thought it was a pretty reasonable balance.”

It applies to a wide range of premises, covering healthcare facilities, medical providers and other business, nonprofit and government entities.

They can post signs on the door of their building stating that, under Georgia law, people are assuming the risk of contracting COVID-19 by entering.

Establishments also may print their admission tickets with the warning that a person “waives all civil liability against this premises owner and operator for any injuries caused by the inherent risk associated with contracting COVID-19 at public gatherings, except for gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, by the individual or entity of the premises.”

Senate Bill 313 regulates Pharmacy Benefits Managers and was signed by Gov. Kemp, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The bill Kemp signed into law requires companies called pharmacy benefits managers to set drug prices within a national average, a move aimed at reining in excessively high prescription prices.

PBMs act as go-betweens for prescribers and insurance companies that contract with health insurers to negotiate lower drug prices for patients. But critics have long accused them of muddying the process, prompting increases in drug prices and unnecessary delays in filling prescriptions.

Senate Bill 313, by state Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, also forces PBMs to offer up full rebates to health plans that are typically given by drugmakers, rather than pocketing a portion.

And PBMs will need to submit to new audits by the state Department of Community Health as well as requirements for publishing data on prescription prices online.

Gov. Kemp vetoed a bill to address the question of whether Glynn County should maintain its own police department, according to The Brunswick News.

Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed Wednesday a Senate bill that would place a non-binding referendum on the ballot asking Glynn County voters whether they would prefer to see the Glynn County Police Department merged into the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office.

Senate Bill 504 was passed by both houses of the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year as part of a package of three bills that would allow registered voters in the county to abolish the GCPD.

Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said Kemp indicated earlier in the day that he would sign the other two, placing the question in the hands of the electorate.

The bills came as the direct result of alleged police misconduct that led the city and county to scrap a joint narcotics enforcement team in 2019. Several past and present GCPD leaders have been charged with crimes in connection with the scandal.

Kemp vetoed three other bills, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The most significant of the vetoed bills called for the creation of an oversight committee to review the performance and conduct of all contractors and subcontractors working for the insurance plan that covers Georgia teachers and state employees.

In a veto message issued late Wednesday, Kemp argued the committee would violate the separation of powers provision of the Georgia Constitution.

A third vetoed bill would have authorized Georgia to enter into a compact with other states to regulate the audiology and speech-language pathology professions. Kemp wrote the measure was not put before a state council that reviews occupational regulations.

Finally, Kemp nixed a local bill for Gwinnett County at the request of its sponsor, Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, that would have added senior judges to the county Recorder’s Court.

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) says states need $500 billion in COVID-19 relief, according to the AJC.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge us on the state level regarding the delivery of services,” Ralston wrote in a letter to U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Georgia Republicans.

“With additional financial assistance from the federal government to mediate the depth, breadth and immediacy of declining state revenues, we will continue to work together at our level to implement state responses that mitigate the disruption to Georgians’ needs for health, education and economic support,” wrote Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

The association representing the nation’s governors asked for a $500 billion relief package to states in April, and Georgia House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, and Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, also urged Congress to act months ago.

“Georgia’s economy is typically a strong network of diverse revenue streams, but the pandemic has affected all of them, even those like motor fuel that typically tend to resist downturns,” Ralston wrote. “The lagging effect on our largest revenue sources, income and sales taxes, is presenting us with additional challenges for months to come.”

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has been fined by the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, according to the AJC.

Days away from facing a re-election runoff, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard agreed to pay a $6,500 state ethics fine for failing to disclose his role as CEO of two non-profits, one of which netted him $195,000 in city grant money.

The state ethics commission approved a consent agreement with Howard imposing the fine at a Capitol Hill meeting Thursday.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported earlier this year that Howard padded his pay with $195,000 of the $250,000 in grant money the city of Atlanta signed over to the DA’s Office in two checks. Those checks were then deposited into the bank account of Howard’s People Partnering for Progress nonprofit, which then wrote out checks to the DA over the next four years.

Democrats are suing in federal court seeking changes to election procedures, according to the AJC.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday asks the courts to step in to prevent hours-long lines in Georgia’s presidential election.

The lawsuit, brought by the Democratic Party and three voters, says a judge should require more polling places, better-trained poll workers and emergency paper ballots.

“The issues we saw in Georgia in the primary cannot be repeated in November,” said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democratic senator from Nevada and chairwoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This is a problem with a clear solution, and there is no reason elections officials should not take the reasonable steps to make sure Georgians don’t stand in line for hours to vote.”

The lawsuit was filed by the DSCC, the Democratic Party of Georgia, two Fulton County voters and a Cobb County voter.

Floyd County voters continue early voting in Runoff Elections for Sheriff and the 14th Congressional District, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Over the last few weeks, more than 2,600 voters have come to the Community Room on the second floor of the Floyd County Administration Building to cast their ballots early.

With no Democratic opposition in the Floyd County sheriff’s race, the Republican primary will determine if Tom Caldwell or Dave Roberson will take the office after Sheriff Tim Burkhalter retires in December.

The runoff will also determine if Marjorie Greene or Dr. John Cowan will be the Republican candidate for the U.S. House 14th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Tom Graves, who is not running for reelection.

All voters registered by July 13, except those who voted in the Democratic primary, are eligible to vote in the runoff.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson wants to open part of the search for a new City Manager to public participation, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The mayor later said he will recommend to council members that once finalists are chosen they will be asked to come to Savannah for in-person interviews by council and with a group representing the public.

“My idea is that we gather people from various parts of the community,” Johnson said. “For example, each council member could choose a neighborhood association member and we could have representatives from media, business owners, someone with the preservation community and more as part of a round robin-type meeting.”

Mayor Johnson blasted several members of the city council after confusion over a property tax rate vote, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The University of Georgia President and the Board of Regents are defending reopening plans, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead and University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley defended UGA and university system re-opening plans in letters to UGA faculty groups Tuesday.

“These plans prioritize the health and safety for students, faculty and staff, while recognizing the value and importance to students of the on-campus educational experience as one that is simply richer and more well-rounded,” Wrigley noted.

Morehead’s letter also said that the two faculty senates are not the proper bodies “for providing formal input on institutional matters.”

That authority “clearly rests with the University Council,” Morehead wrote.

The University Council has scheduled a special online meeting next Tuesday to consider whether to adopt the resolution the faculty senates adopted last week. The council will also vote on appointing an ad hoc “COVID-19 Crisis Response Committee” composed of elected members of the council, and excluding ex-officio members.

Columbia County public schools are reporting COVID-19 cases to parents, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Harlem and Lakeside high schools sent letters to several parents Tuesday informing them of “a student or staff member who may have been in contact with your child/children tested positive for COVID-19.” and that their children might have been “in proximity” to the positive person.

Since then, superintendent Sandra Carraway said, a third student — also from Harlem High — has been identified as testing positive.

Jessica Barrs’ son started his first year of high school at Harlem on Monday. She said she let him choose whether to return to in-person classes, but the decision was made “back in June before we started hearing of children with the virus.”

Barrs said “the school system forced us to make our decision by July 1,” which was the original deadline set by the school district for parents to commit to either in-person or all-online learning.

She said she thinks she and other parents should get “immediate notification” from their children’s schools by email, text or phone call when a positive case is confirmed.

Carraway said the school district’s policy is to notify only parents and guardians of children who might have been exposed.

Effingham County students returned to the public schools yesterday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

More than 13,000 Effingham County students returned to school Wednesday, as administrators smoothed scheduling snafus and nearly one-quarter of the students began their studies online.

Effingham is the first county in the Savannah area to return to school during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 400 of the nearly 2,000 ECHS students opted for virtual school rather than in-person learning, which some administrators call “brick” students for short.

Augusta plans to begin enforcing the mask mandate, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Law enforcement will immediately begin citing people for not wearing masks and businesses that ignore social distancing and occupancy requirements, Mayor Hardie Davis and Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Wednesday.

In a joint new conference, Davis said enforcement will include his newest order which is effective through Sept. 8. The order affirms his earlier order requiring masks be worn in all government buildings and public spaces, with the exception of churches.

Brunswick City Commissioners decided against adopting a mask mandate, opting instead to consider an urging resolution, according to The Brunswick News.

Some local governments are receiving federal aid for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Gainesville Times.

Flowery Branch City Council, for one, is set to vote Thursday, Aug. 6, on a funding agreement, which could mean as much as $435,795 for the city. Technically, it is voting on whether to accept the terms and conditions for the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The city got $130,738 as an advance to the total amount and must document for the federal government by Sept. 1 how it has spent that money since March 1 and/or how it has been earmarked as an expense through Dec. 30.

“If local governments do not spend the 30% advancement, the monies remaining must be returned, and they do not qualify for the next tier, 70% reimbursement,” said Alisha Gamble, Flowery Branch’s finance director, on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

According to the CARES Act, eligible expenses include personal protective equipment, testing, overtime for staff working in direct response to the pandemic, sanitization supplies or cleanings in excess of routine purchases.

Also eligible are regular pay and benefits costs for employees “who are substantially dedicated to COVID-19 mitigation, costs associated with purchasing or deploying equipment to enable telework or online instruction as part of social distancing, or increased risk pool or health care costs associated with pandemic response.”

Dalton will use federal COVID-19 funding public safety pay increases for hazardous conditions, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

City Administrator Jason Parker said Tuesday during a meeting of the city’s Finance Committee that the city will receive about $1.72 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding. The CARES Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March.

The city will receive $528,685 of that money in the next few days, and City Council members say they will use it to reimburse the city for hazard pay the city has been paying to firefighters, police officers and Public Works Department employees who may come into contact with coronavirus patients or waste during their work.

Parker said the remaining $1.2 million has to be spent before the end of the year and must be spent on certain items.

“We can continue to use it for hazard pay,” Parker said. “We can use it for the equipment that we need to clean and disinfect public buildings. We can use it for community programs — support for food or mortgage or rent. We are actually still waiting for a lot of the guidance. Once we understand that more fully, the council members can make a decision on how they wish to spend the money.”

Congressmen Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) and Tom Graves (R-Ranger) are spearheading efforts to change one of Georgia’s statues in the U.S. Capitol from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens to the late Congressman John Lewis, according to 11Alive.

Lewis, Rep. Sanford Bishop said on a press call Wednesday, was someone who “inspired millions of people across Georgia, America and the world.”

“There’s no better person we have to represent our state in the Capitol than John Lewis,” he said.

While a growing movement has called for the removal of Confederate statues around the country, Republican Rep. Tom Graves said that states will, from time to time, change out their representation in the hall. The Stephens statue has remained there for nearly 100 years (it was placed there in 1927) and, he said, it’s time to honor modern legacies.

“As we go through time in our country and state we have great leaders, and I refer to John Lewis as one of those giants that we stand on the shoulders of, who are part of positive change and have a positive impact on lives, not only in our state but in the country only,” he said. “It’s fitting that you recognize that, it’s okay.”

Macon-Bibb County has been enjoined from removing a confederate statue in a lawsuit, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Rucker Smith, the chief judge of the Southwestern Judicial Circuit, granted a temporary injunction to Martin Bell, who filed the lawsuit in Bibb Superior Court. The injunction prevents the county from doing anything to “move, obscure, deface” or let “harm of any kind” come to the two Confederate monuments, one at the intersection of Cotton Avenue and Second Street and a second at Poplar Street near city hall, both in downtown Macon. Smith hasn’t scheduled a hearing for Bell’s lawsuit yet.

Bibb County commissioners voted 5-4 on July 21 to move the two monuments to Whittle Park, near Rose Hill Cemetery after Maconites called for the statues’ removal following the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

In his lawsuit, Bell cites a Georgia law that restricts where local governments can relocate Confederate statues. He said he has received nothing but positive reactions to his lawsuit.

“I thought this is exactly the way it would go, the law is very specific on what it requires,” he said. “All responses have been very, very positive, haven’t heard any negative responses.”

5
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 5, 2020

On July 5, 1737, James Oglethorpe sailed from England to Georgia with a warship and troop transports carrying a regiment to be stationed at St. Simons Island.

On July 5, 1742, Spanish forces based in Florida sailed past Fort St. Simon, bypassing English forces there. That night, Oglethorpe’s troops left Fort St Simon and fell back to Fort Frederica.

Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island

Union cavalry under Gen. Kenner Garrard reached Roswell, Georgia on July 5, 1864, setting the town alight.

On July 7, 1742, General James Oglethorpe was victorious over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek; a week later Gov. Montiano would call off the invasion of Georgia from Florida, leaving Georgia to develop as a British colony.

I’m not sure how I missed it, but yesterday was the 27th Anniversary of the greatest moment of Old Man sports history.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Bear Trump 2020

Hold my (craft) bear beer. Outside the hipster mecca of Asheville, North Carolina, someone is putting Trump 2020 stickers on bears.Continue Reading..

4
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 4, 2020

On August 4, 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

On August 4, 1944, Anne Frank, her family, and two others were found by Nazis in a sealed area in an Amsterdam warehouse. They were sent first to a concentration camp in Holland, then most were sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945.

Gold from Dahlonega on its way to Atlanta. Photo by Ed Jackson via http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu

On August 4, 1958, a wagon train left Dahlonega, headed to Atlanta to pay tribute to the mighty General Assembly deliver 43 ounces of gold to be used to coat the dome of the State Capitol.

On August 4, 1993, Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, hit Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura, and Ventura charged the mound.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 879 by State Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), which will allow home delivery of alcohol, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

House Bill 879, which cleared the General Assembly in June during the final week of this year’s legislative session, will let restaurants, supermarkets and liquor stores make home deliveries of beer, wine and distilled spirits in Georgia, subject to the approval of local voters. The bill also allows alcohol retailers to provide to-go services.

“This new law represents the balance of safe, convenient delivery while maintaining the rights for local governments to decide what is best for their community,” said Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association. “We want to thank Governor Kemp and the Georgia legislature for setting a high standard for the safe delivery of alcohol in our state.”

Harrell’s bill also broadens the so-called “Sunday brunch bill” the General Assembly passed two years ago allowing restaurants, hotels and wineries to serve alcohol on premises starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays. The new law allows sales of liquor by grocery stores for off-premises consumption as well.

House Bill 879 also expands the current state law allowing tastings of limited amounts of beer, wine and spirits from just wineries and distilleries to package stores.

From Georgia Recorder:

Customers will need to create an account with the store and show their ID on delivery to prove they are of legal age to buy alcohol. Drivers are not supposed to make a delivery if the customer is not present, is visibly intoxicated or without identification. A business that fails to meet the requirements could face a fine of up to $500 and a 30-day suspension.

Businesses that deliver alcohol will be subject to the same local laws as those that sell it in-store, including restrictions on Sunday sales before 12:30 p.m., and local government officials can ban alcohol deliveries in their jurisdictions.

“During this COVID, a lot of people have been getting their groceries, delivered, and they’re like, ‘Hey, if we’re not going out to get exposed, why not get our beer and wine delivered too?” said Athens Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert during the Senate debate.

The new law directs the state revenue department to create a system for approving the licenses by Jan. 1.

Governor Kemp also signed House Bill 847 to regulate the hemp industry, according to the AJC.

The measure prepares the state for its first hemp crops, which are already being grown this summer after the General Assembly legalized hemp farming last year.

Hemp is used to make CBD oil, a product sold in stores as a treatment for pain, anxiety and insomnia. Hemp comes from the cannabis plant, but unlike marijuana it contains less than 0.3% THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The legislation, House Bill 847, increases the annual hemp processing fee to $50,000 a year, up from a $10,000 fee initially set last year. The fee to grow hemp remains at $50 per acre.

Anyone transporting hemp plants is required to carry appropriate paperwork to help prove they’re in possession of a legal product, according to the bill.

In addition, the bill permits farmers and processors to sell their products to authorized hemp producers in other states.

Gov. Kemp has an Op-Ed published in the Augusta Chronicle.

Under the current executive order, the medically fragile are sheltered in place; large gatherings are banned unless social distancing measures are implemented; and businesses that choose to operate are required to follow intense sanitation and safety protocols.

Through multiple partnerships with academia and private companies, Georgia has rapidly expanded COVID-19 testing. With 170 locations and over 20,000 tests reported on a daily basis, we have exceeded 1.5 million tests administered since March.

While our state is split on what power state and local leaders should wield during these difficult times, we all agree that individuals – not the government – are ultimately responsible for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.

That is why we are asking Georgians to do “4 Things for 4 Weeks” to flatten the curve:

First, wear a mask.

Second, keep your distance.

Third, wash your hands.

Fourth, follow and enforce the guidance provided in the executive order and from public health officials.

Study after study shows that unemployment, economic instability and loss of income do more than just tighten the pocketbook. A decade ago, we saw an uptick in substance abuse, depression and suicide as Americans endured the Great Recession. We are already seeing similar warning signs as Congress debates the next stimulus package.

This reality was top of mind when I took action against the city of Atlanta. Despite reckless misreporting by the national press, this lawsuit was never about masks, politics or control. I sued the mayor and city council because their Phase One rollback plan would have shuttered businesses, slashed paychecks and sent thousands of hardworking Georgians to the back of the unemployment line.

In short, their action would have made matters worse and created a ripple effect with serious, real-world consequences. Politics aside, I had to act.

You see, protecting livelihoods – businesses, jobs, economic stability – is also protecting lives. It is a war on two fronts, but the goal is undoubtedly the same.

So, hunker down, mask up and join the fight. Together, we will protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians!

Western Circuit Superior Court Judge Eric Norris enjoined an Athens measure to close bars earlier, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Western Circuit Superior Court Judge Eric Norris granted a temporary restraining order Friday which stops enforcement for an Athens-Clarke County ordinance changing the “last call” for alcohol sales.

The Athens-Clarke Commission passed an update to the ordinance Thursday making “last call” for alcohol at 10 p.m.

The commission passed the ordinance as a way to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

A key component of the suit is that it violates pandemic measures set in place by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The Western Judicial Circuit serves Clarke and Oconee Counties.

United States Senator Kelly Loeffler‘s campaign has hired a former Kemp field director, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Chris Allen, who ran then-gubernatorial candidate Kemp’s outreach in 2018, has been tapped as Loeffler’s state field director in charge of voter mobilization efforts, her campaign announced Monday.

Allen also managed state Rep. Kevin Tanner’s campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat that he lost in the Republican primary in June.

Loeffler, R-Ga., is looking to fend off challengers from all sides as she campaigns to keep her Senate seat, to which she was appointed by Kemp in December to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

The Nov. 3 special election is a free-for-all contest involving candidates from all parties on the same ballot. A runoff will be held in January if no candidate gains more than 50% of votes.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and his wife hosted a discussion of school reopening plans, according to AccessWDUN.

Georgia Ninth District Congressman Doug Collins and his wife, Lisa, hosted a roundtable discussion Monday evening to hear from both school districts operating in Hall County about their plans, and their needs, as they prepare to reopen later this month.

Representative Collins said what concerned school leaders was a longtime interest of his. “I’m glad to have Lisa here tonight, because the last time, frankly, we were in this room (conference room at Hall County School’s District Office) we were finding out about retirement.”

Lisa Collins retired this spring after thirty years of teaching elementary students in Hall County Schools.

“We wanted to have this tonight to see just what we can do from a federal perspective; what is the local perspective; and how can we be a helpful mouth piece to help you get the message out of what’s going on in your systems and how each are different,” Collins explained.

The vital importance of in-person learning was a common thread woven throughout the roundtable discussion.

Ms. Collins’ last months as a teacher were spent teaching online and she quickly witnessed the added challenge involved in teaching her students while they were at home. “There was a lot of teaching of the parents, if you will, just as much as it was for the kids.”

“So much of the teaching had to come from the parents,” Collins continued. “The biggest thing we dealt with was teaching the parents how to help their child.”

Republicans Marjorie Greene and Dr. Joel Cowan head toward next week’s Primary Runoff Election in the 14th Congressional District, according to the (Chattanooga) Times Free Press.

In the primary, Greene — a construction company owner in Milton — received more than 40% of the vote and got nearly twice as many votes as Cowan. The primary field was one of the most crowded races in the state with nine candidates vying for Rep. Tom Graves’ seat.

Both Greene and Cowan consider themselves pro-Trump. Trump congratulated Greene’s primary victory in a tweet, saying she was “a big winner.” Greene came out of the primary as the favorite but the race got significantly closer weeks after the primary as several GOP leaders started to distance themselves from the frontrunner.

As of July 22, Greene has raised $1.59 million, which includes a $900,000 loan from herself, and has spent $1.44 million. She has about $143,500 on hand.

Cowan has raised $1.2 million, which includes a $200,000 loan from himself, and has spent $960,000. He has about $237,000 cash on hand.

Heading into the final week of early voting, about 253,000 votes have been cast in Georgia for the runoff. Of those votes, 68% have been absentee mail-in ballots. In the 14th District race, about 26,000 people have already voted.

The 14th District includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Walker, Whitfield and a portion of Pickens counties.

The Rome-Floyd County NAACP has filed a complaint with its statewide organization against the Floyd County Board of Elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome-Floyd County NAACP has forwarded a list of complaints to its state organization in regard to the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration’s handling of local voting in the June 9 primary.

According to local NAACP president Ouida D. Sams, the group is unhappy with portions of how the last election day was handled and with Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady’s June 26 follow up report on the matter.

Brady said he was unaware of any action by the NAACP, but stands by his June 26 report.

“There were a few problems, as there always are,” Brady said. “We had one piece of equipment fail, and we replaced that. Beyond all that, I’m not aware of anything other than the usual minor annoyances with opening and closing the polls.”

The complaint contains allegations that there were late poll openings, a lack of training, an inconsistent absentee ballot protocol and instances of equipment failure.

UGA Faculty representatives are not entirely happy with reopening plans, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

UGA measures to contain COVID-19 when students come back are vague and in some cases life-threatening to students, faculty and other workers, according to a resolution unanimously adopted by the elected faculty senate of Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the university’s largest academic unit, and overwhelmingly endorsed by the faculty senate of the Mary Frances Early College of Education.

The groups sent their resolution to UGA President Jere Morehead and USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley, asking for a response by Tuesday.

The Franklin College Senate is scheduled to meet again Aug. 11, possibly to vote on a no-confidence resolution depending on administrators’ response to the faculty resolution.

The groups also asked for a series of open town hall meetings, and say faculty, staff and students should be included in future decision-making. Task forces appointed to prepare UGA’s reopening plans were almost entirely made up of UGA administrators.

“It is deeply regrettable that the UGA and USG administrations have brought us so close to the opening of the Fall semester without a clear community understanding of the issues above,” the faculty representatives wrote. “Furthermore, these issues by no means exhaust the list of unanswered concerns, many of them literal matters of life and death, held by staff, students and faculty.

The Atlanta Board of Education voted to delay school reopening and require masks, according to the AJC.

Atlanta Public Schools will postpone the first day of class until Aug. 24, two weeks later than the district initially planned.

The school board on Monday voted unanimously to give final approval to the delayed start, which officials said would give teachers and families more time to prepare for virtual instruction. The district previously announced it would hold online-only lessons for at least the first nine weeks of the year, or until there is minimal or moderate spread of the coronavirus.

The board also approved a dress code change which would allow the district to require students to wear masks when they are in school buildings.

“Face coverings are required for all students and staff except while eating, drinking and exercising, with limited exceptions for students or staff who have medical reasons for not being able to wear a mask or face shield,” a district document states.

Lawrenceville Mayor David Still announced that all large scale events will be canceled for the remainder of 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

That does not mean there may not be events in Lawrenceville during the remainder of the year, however. Still said there will be smaller events held in the city for residents.

These events include drive-in movies from September through December; A “Free Comic Book Summer” event through September; a Wellness Wednesday series from September through November; a virtual version of the Family Promise Bed Race on Aug. 22; a Universal Joint Chili Cook-Off on Nov. 14; a Spotlight in the DTL series from September to December; and Yoga at the Plaza on Aug. 13, 20 and 27.

“Also look for pop-up live entertainment on the square, artists, and other surprises and unique events offered by our downtown businesses,” Still said. “On behalf of the City Council, I thank you for supporting the City of Lawrenceville and look forward to seeing you at our restructured 2020 events and at future events when we are able to safely return to our regular event schedule.”

Details about the events are expected to announced at lawrencevillega.org and downtownlawrencevillega.com as well as on the city’s social media channels.

3
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 3, 2020

16th Amendment

On August 3, 1910, Georgia became the ninth state to ratify the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which allows Congress to levy a tax without apportioning it among the states.

Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President on August 3, 1923 after Warren Harding died in office.

On August 3, 1982, Michael Hardwick was arrested, setting in motion the prosecution that would eventually lead to the United States Supreme Court in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick.

The World of Coca-Cola opened on August 3, 1990 between Underground Atlanta and the Georgia State Capitol.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legendary actor Wilford Brimley has died, according to the Albany Herald. His finest performance was in Absence of Malice.

I can’t see a photo or mention of Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills without being reminded of Brimley’s tour de force perfomance.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #07.31.20.01, continuing the Public Health State of Emergency through September 10, 2020 at 11:59 PM.Continue Reading..

31
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 31, 2020

Georgia delegates Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.

On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned a Major General in the Continental Army, serving without pay.

The cornerstone for the first United States Mint was laid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1792, becoming the first building constructed by the federal government under the Constitution.

Former President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded President Lincoln upon his assassination and oversaw much of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, died of a stroke in Tennessee on July 31, 1875.

August 1 was a big day for Benjamin Mays – he was born on August 1, 1895 and became President of Morehouse College on August 1, 1936.

On July 31, 1906, a bill to place a Constitutional Amendment on the November election for voters to decide whether to create an intermediate-level Georgia Court of Appeals was approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

PT-109, commanded by LTJG John F. Kennedy was sunk on August 1, 1943.

On July 31, 1962, the one-millionth immigrant was welcomed into Israel.

On August 1, 1982, Hank Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

On August 2, 1983, the United States House of Representatives voted to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday on the third monday in January.

On July 31, 1987, “The Lost Boys” was released. From the New York Times:

“The Lost Boys” is to horror movies what “Late Night With David Letterman” is to television; it laughs at the form it embraces, adds a rock-and-roll soundtrack and, if you share its serious-satiric attitude, manages to be very funny.

Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, won his 300th career game on July 31, 1990. During eight innings, Ryan threw 146 pitches, while today, many pitchers are pulled at around the 100-pitch count.

“In the old days throwing that many pitches was a normal game,” said Nolan Ryan, who tossed a record seven no-hitters and is the all-time leader in strikeouts, fifth in innings pitched.

Ryan, currently the Rangers’ team president, is an outspoken detractor of the recent trend toward monitoring pitch counts. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Ryan expressed his belief that today’s pitchers are “pampered” and that there is no reason why today’s pitchers cannot pitch as much as he and his colleagues did back in the day. As a result, Ryan is pushing his team’s pitchers to throw deeper into games and extend their arms further, emphasizing conditioning over what some would call coddling.

As Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux told SI: “This generation of players has become a creature of the pitch count. Their ceiling has been lowered. It’s up to us to jack it back up.”

Although I think that time he whipped Robin Ventura should count as a win.

President Barack Obama visited Georgia on August 2, 2010 – his first trip to Atlanta and second to Georgia after his election in November 2008. The occasion of his 2010 trip, like his trip to Atlanta yesterday, was to deliver a speech to the Disabled American Veterans Conference at the Hyatt Regency. From his 2010 speech:

As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised and on schedule….

As agreed to with the Iraqi government, we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year.

At the same time, every American who has ever worn the uniform must also know this: Your country is going to take care of you when you come home. Our nation’s commitment to our veterans, to you and your families, is a sacred trust. And to me and my administration, upholding that trust is a moral obligation. It’s not just politics.

That’s why I’ve charged Secretary Shinseki with building a 21st century VA.  And that includes one of the largest percentage increases to the VA budget in the past 30 years. We are going to cut this deficit that we’ve got, and I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary domestic spending. But what I have not frozen is the spending we need to keep our military strong, our country safe and our veterans secure. So we’re going to keep on making historic commitments to our veterans.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain died yesterday at age 74 of the coronavirus disease. From the New York Times:

Herman Cain, who rose from poverty in the segregated South to become chief executive of a successful pizza chain and then thrust himself into the national spotlight by seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has died. He was 74.

Mr. Cain had been hospitalized in the Atlanta area this month after testing positive for the virus on June 29.

On the stump, Mr. Cain called himself an ABC candidate — American Black Conservative. He brought an irreverent style to the 2011 campaign as he touted his by-the-bootstraps story in an appeal to Tea Party conservatives.

Mr. Cain said he had become a Republican after a Black man at a restaurant yelled out: “Black Republicans? There’s no such thing.”

“When I got back to Omaha,” where he was living at he time, “I registered as a Republican,” he told The New York Times Magazine in 2011. “It haunted me for three days that someone would dare tell me what party affiliation I should have.”

After the announcement of his death, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Cain had “embodied the American dream and represented the very best of the American spirit.”

Herman Cain was born on Dec. 13, 1945, in Memphis, to Lenora (Davis) and Luther Cain. His mother was a cleaning woman and domestic worker; his father, who grew up on a farm, worked as a janitor and a barber and as a chauffeur for Robert W. Woodruff, president of the Coca-Cola Company, which is based in Atlanta, where Herman was raised.

Herman graduated from historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He worked as a civilian ballistics analyst for the Navy and earned his master’s degree in computer science at Purdue University in 1971.

From the AJC:

The Henry County resident was as successful and opinionated as he was unforgettable, but COVID-19 has silenced him, Cain’s current and former employees confirmed Thursday. He was 74.

“We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord,” an employee wrote on Cain’s Instagram page.

Cain’s supporters, including Trump, spoke instead of his charisma and how he emerged from humble beginnings to become an accomplished businessman and prominent figure within the GOP.

“Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me,” Trump tweeted. “He was a very special man, an American Patriot, and great friend.”

Close friend and fellow radio host Neal Boortz said, “You combine his faith, a personality that enjoyed everybody and his accomplishments in his life — it’s a pretty extraordinary package.”

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton spoke yesterday at the funeral of Congressman John Lewis.

Consensus appears to be forming to replace the statute of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol with one of Congressman Lewis. From the Georgia Recorder.

Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Wednesday night that swapping out a statue of Alexander Stephens for one of Lewis would “celebrate his legacy of service for years to come.”

Ten members of Georgia’s U.S. delegation sent a formal letter Thursday asking that Republicans Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan work to replace the U.S. Capitol statue of Confederate Alexander Stephens. Duncan and Ralston publicly backed the idea last week.

Getting the statue inside the hall will first require the support of Georgia state legislators, a path that could be smoothed with powerful supporters like Ralston and Duncan.

Each state is entitled to place two statues of honorees in the hall, so adding Lewis’ statue requires removing one of the existing ones: Stephens or Crawford Long, an Athens doctor who is credited with pioneering the use of ether in a surgery.

From the Chattanoogan:

[Congressman Tom] Graves said, “I can think of no better statue in the U.S. Capitol representing our state than one of John Lewis. Our nation lost a giant, and it’s up to us to work together so that John’s fight for justice and equality continues. I was glad to see Gov. Kemp signal yesterday that he agrees that John’s legacy should be honored in our nation’s Capitol for generations to come.”

From the AJC:

Legislative leaders previously made clear they support the switch. House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who presides over the Senate, both signaled their support shortly after Lewis’ July 17 death.

“I like the idea very much,” Ralston said. “I always admired Congressman Lewis and told him so many times. Georgia has a long history, so much more than just the Civil War, and John Lewis has been an important part of that.”

Duncan said in an earlier statement that it’s “time for our state to be represented in the National Statuary Hall by a figure that aligns with our state’s core values — that all are created equal — and I’ll advocate for that figure to be Rep. John Lewis.”

Each state gets two statues in the Statuary Hall, and Stephens has represented Georgia since 1927 at the U.S. Capitol. Georgia’s other honoree, Crawford W. Long, was a 19th century physician who pioneered the use of ether in surgery.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) is supported by 41 locally-elected Sheriffs in his race for United States Senate, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Glynn County Republican Party will hold runoff forums, according to The Brunswick News.

Local runoff candidates and U.S. Sen. David Purdue will rub elbows with voters Saturday evening at a meet and greet organized by the Glynn County Republican Party.

Glynn County Commission At-large Post 2 candidates Bo Clark and Walter Rafolski and state Senate District 3 candidates Sheila McNeill and David Sharpe will be in attendance.

The event will be held from 5-7 p.m. Saturday in the River Room at Coastal Kitchen, 102 Marina Drive on St. Simons Island.

The rubbing elbows part may be literal, as that has largely replace handshakes.

Or Fist Bumps. As seen in the photo accompanying the Statesboro Herald’s coverage of a runoff forum in Senate District 4. The Herald also has video of the candidates for Bulloch County Solicitor General and Commission District 4.

New unemployment claims are down for last week, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

Initial unemployment claims filed in Georgia declined last week to 84,984, down 37,329 from the previous week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The labor agency paid out $778.1 million last week, including not just regular state unemployment insurance but funds from other state and federal unemployment compensation programs created to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

That brought to more than $11 billion the total payout by the labor department since mid-March.

“As additional claims are being filed, we have been able to maintain an impressive ratio of eligible claims filed to payouts,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “Record-breaking payout rates represent a new standard for this department as we strive to better serve Georgians.”

The Savannah Morning News compares the school reopening plans of Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham Counties.

Some Juliette residents are suing Georgia Power over allegation of coal ash pollution, according to the Albany Herald.

Tony Bowdoin is one of 45 central Georgia residents living near America’s largest coal-fired plant who claim in a lawsuit that the utility has unlawfully released, discharged and deposited coal ash into their community’s drinking water source. The residents get their water from private drinking wells, which draw water from the aquifer below the ground.

They’re seeking to force the state’s largest power company to stop polluting the area’s water, provide ongoing medical monitoring and pay damages.

The mass tort lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in Superior Court of Fulton County, where Georgia Power is based, claims that coal ash stored in an unlined basin has contaminated the groundwater surrounding the plant site.

“Georgia Power has been a bad neighbor,” said Atlanta-based attorney Stacey Evans, a former state lawmaker and gubernatorial contender who recently won a Democratic primary to regain her seat in the Georgia House. “When you’re a bad neighbor, and you hurt your neighbors, you fix it. It’s unfortunate a lawsuit is required to do that.”

Georgia Power has repeatedly denied that Plant Scherer’s coal ash is linked to any negative health outcomes. In a statement Wednesday, Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft told Georgia Health News that the company is “reviewing the lawsuit,” and declined to answer specific questions.

The Walker County Courthouse is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive, according to WDEF.

The Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette is closed to the public until Monday.

All offices will still conduct business online or by phone.

The Walker County Board of Elections and Registration is exempt from the closure order, since Advance Voting in the August runoff is underway on the ground floor.