On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.
An elected Provincial Assembly first convened in Georgia on January 15, 1751. The Assembly did not have the power to tax or spend money, but was to advise the Trustees.
On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.
The state of New Connecticut declared its independence of both Britain and New York on January 15, 1777. In June of that year they would decide on the name Vermont. Vermont would be considered part of New York for a number of years, finally being admitted as the 14th state in 1791.
The donkey was first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party on January 15, 1870 by cartoonist Thomas Nash.
L.Q.C. Lamar, born near Eatonton, Georgia, was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on January 18, 1888.
On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify the Amendment.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.
At 4:30 PM on January 16, 1991, the Persian Gulf War began as air attacks against Iraq launched from US and British aircraft carriers, beginning Operation Desert Storm.
On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
“There is no doubt that this virus has impacted all of us beyond what we could ever have imagined,” Kemp said in Thursday’s hour-long address. “Too many families are now missing loved ones — a heartbreaking, devastating loss that I know many Georgians are still grieving today.”
“Yes, we still have challenges ahead: a virus to beat, an economy to rebuild and restore,” he said. “But my fellow Georgians, the state of the state is resilient, and we will endure.”
On a practical level, Kemp said lawmakers need to move on and avoid trying to “assign blame, settle old scores and relive and relitigate 2020,” referring to months that saw many Republicans baselessly attack the state’s election integrity and falsely claim widespread voter fraud cost President Donald Trump’s reelection.
On the economy front, Georgia’s unemployment rate of 5.7% is below the national average, companies have continued to invest into more communities — especially in rural Georgia — and that there would be no budget cuts or tax increases for the next year.
In another surprising note, Kemp said that the state did not actually have to tap into its revenue shortfall reserve “rainy day” fund to cover the cost of state government.
The proposed changes to the 2021 state budget featured no new cuts to state agencies or widespread layoffs of state employees. School districts would receive more than $1 billion during the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years to offset previous spending cuts.
Rural Georgia residents and entrepreneurs would get a boost from targeted initiatives to support businesses and expand broadband internet access — a continued priority for Kemp.
Combating rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths remains a goal in 2021.
“We will win this fight against COVID-19. …In Georgia, our people are the foundation. Despite incredible loss and unprecedented challenges. Georgia is still standing,” Kemp said. “Our house, built on a sure foundation, survived the storm. This state, while battered, is not broken; a better brighter future is right around the corner.”
The governor credited the CARES Act, conservative state budgeting and the “measured reopening” of Georgia’s economy for staving off additional cuts and keeping the state’s rainy day fund strong. No new taxes would be required. Georgia, Kemp said, finds itself in a position that other states should “envy.”
“Our careful planning and measured approach was rewarded in spades,” Kemp said. “Other states are looking at further cuts to employees and essential services. For aid, they’re now forced to turn to a dysfunctional and distracted Washington D.C.”
Kemp also announced his intention to modify the state’s citizen’s arrest statute following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020, saying Arbery was a “victim of a vigilante-style of violence that has no place in our state.”
In a 65-minute State of the State address to a joint session of the state House and Senate, Kemp proposed expanding a tax credit the General Assembly passed last year for Georgia businesses that make personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and gowns to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
“We cannot waste time in bidding wars with other states or foreign adversaries,” the governor said. “No one nation should hold a monopoly on life-saving medicines and medical supplies, and we should bring these critical industries and the jobs that come with them back to America and here to Georgia.”
Along with restoring more than $1.2 billion to Georgia’s public schools to offset massive spending cuts on education the legislature imposed last year, Kemp called for a one-time $1,000 supplement to help Georgia teachers and other school employees reopen schools safely.
“Many of the economic, medical, and other challenges that are facing rural Georgia cannot be fixed with a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach,” Kemp said. “These issues are best addressed through targeted, innovative, public-private solutions that meet the needs of specific communities not just today or tomorrow, but five, 10, or 25 years down the road.”
Kemp announced that he wants to use $240 million in federal coronavirus relief, mostly controlled by the state Board of Education, to pay a one-time supplement of $1,000 for every teacher and school employee. Kemp has promised to increase teacher pay by $5,000 during his first term, of which he’s already delivered $3,000.
Kemp has been on the defensive in recent days over the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, with widespread frustration at a lack of availability after Kemp expanded eligibility to anyone 65 or older and a vaccination rate that federal figures rate as the second worst among states. And Democrats have vowed to make him pay on his overall approach to the pandemic, with Georgia recording the third-highest rate of confirmed infections over the last week.
The governor sought to make inroads on other issues that he’s frequently criticized on. He’s seeking money for a partial Medicaid expansion, which could help shield him from Democratic attacks seeking a fuller rollout of health insurance.
“I know that many in this room and those watching are worn out, tired and burdened. It’s a new year, but it all feels the same. There is no doubt that this new normal isn’t really normal and, frankly, it’s not clear when things will return to business as usual,” Kemp said. “But my fellow Georgians, we have the opportunity and responsibility to make strategic decisions now that will impact generations to come.”
The Columbia Judicial Circuit would come into existence as soon as July 1 under a bill filed Wednesday by two state senators.
Senate Bill 9, filed by area lawmakers at the request of Columbia County, would create the new single-county Superior Court system. It removes Columbia County from the three-county Augusta Judicial Circuit, which would be left with Richmond and Burke counties.
Filed by state Sens. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, and Max Burns, R-Sylvania, the bill creates the new position of Columbia Circuit district attorney, to be appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve through Dec. 31, 2022.
In the bill, the three judges who live in Columbia County – identified as James Blanchard, Sheryl Jolly and Wade Padgett – would become the new circuit’s judges, and the longest-serving one the chief judge.
Joe Biden nominated Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for Democratic National Committee Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Protection, according to 11Alive.
“I’m honored and humbled to be endorsed by @JoeBiden for Vice Chair of the @DNC,” Bottoms tweeted Thursday evening. “I’m ready to build on our party’s progress to make a better future for all Americans.”
“This group of individuals represent the very best of the Democratic Party,” President-elect Joe Biden said in the statement about the list of nominees. “Their stories and long histories of activism and work reflects our party’s values and the diversity that make us so strong. As our country faces multiple crises from systemic racism to the COVID-19 pandemic, working families in America need and deserve real leadership.”
“We need to elect Democrats across our country and up and down the ballot. To do that is going to take tireless leadership, committed to strengthening Democratic infrastructure across our states,” he added. “These leaders are battle-tested and ready for this immense task. I know they will get the job done.”
Initial unemployment claims are rising, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
First-time unemployment claims in Georgia increased by 5,581 last week to 37,039, reflecting a national trend, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.
As a result, the state agency paid out more than $223 million to jobless Georgians last week, as benefit checks authorized by a second COVID-19 relief package Congress passed during the holidays continued uninterrupted.
However, the agency is continuing to work on implementing changes to the system required by the new stimulus package. That work has to be completed before those eligible for the 11 weeks of extended payments can receive all of their benefits.
“Our … teams are working around the clock to implement the new guidelines that include complex requirements and programming,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said.
Former State Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) was named President of North Georgia Technical College, effective February 1, 2021, according to AccessWDUN.
The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) approved Commissioner Greg Dozier’s appointment of Wilkinson on Thursday in Atlanta.
“Senator Wilkinson has spent his professional life advancing and advocating for CTAE [Career, Technical and Agricultural Education] here in Georgia,” said Dozier in a statement released by North Georgia Tech. “He is one of Georgia’s leading CTAE experts and we are excited for him to lead North Georgia Technical College as we serve the needs of business and industry in the region and across the state. I know he will continue the lasting legacy left by Dr. Mark Ivester by providing opportunity for every student that comes through the college’s doors.”
“I am truly honored to be chosen to lead North Georgia Technical College,” said Wilkinson. “Technical education is near and dear to my heart as I have seen how it transforms the lives of students. It is my goal to continue in the footsteps left by Dr. Mark Ivester by providing business and industry with a skilled workforce and by helping more students realize their full potential through postsecondary education.”
The Glynn County Board of Elections is looking at their space needs going forward, according to The Brunswick News.
“We’re trying to tee up a space argument not only for the main office and the staff, we’re tapped out … but what are we going to do for (the early voting location on) St. Simons,” said Patricia Featherstone, one of the Glynn County Republican Party’s appointees to the board.
County commission chairman Wayne Neal said the county government is peripherally aware of the need for more space in the board’s office. The county is currently planning an overhaul of Glynn County Juvenile Court facilities in the same building, he said, but the board will be part of that overhaul process and may benefit from reallocation of space.
An early voting location on St. Simons Island is also likely to be an issue in the future. High turnout during recent elections is already pushing the capacity of the voting polling place at Glynn County Fire Station No. 2. Early voting polls must, by law, be located in a government-owned building, which leaves few other options, said Assistant Elections and Registration Supervisor Christina Redden.
Clarke County public schools expect to receive $21 million in federal coronavirus relief funding, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
Georgia is moving to accept $2 billion in additional federal coronavirus relief for K-12 schools.
That will include $1.7 billion that will be given to school districts based on their proportion of students from low-income families and $189 million that the state Board of Education will control and can be used on things like internet service for students.
Hall County Commissioners approved upgrades to the county government building, according to AccessWDUN.
Augusta Commissioner Dennis Williams announced he will run for Mayor, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Mayor Hardie Davis’ second consecutive term ends at the end of next year and Augusta’s Consolidation Act limits candidates from serving more than two in a row.
With the state moving nonpartisan elections to May, the election for mayor — and four city commission seats — is just 15th months away.
Augusta has a so-called weak mayor form of government. Final authority on most things, including the city budget, hiring and firing rests with the 10-member commission. The mayor serves as the face of the organization, makes certain appointments and can break a 5-5 commission tie.
Last week Davis suggested the city consider a panel and Augusta legislative delegation to examine changing the structure of the consolidated government, which was formed in 1996. Changes could include increasing the authority of the mayor or administrator or increasing commissioner salaries.