Category: Georgia Politics

8
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 8, 2019

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote about what Aaron meant to baseball and America.

As the last major league player who was a part of the Negro leagues, he was one of the game’s most prominent bridges to integration. For 23 years on the field, this humble native of Mobile, Ala., represented the game with unfailing grace, overcoming obstacles that most of us could not even imagine. In the years since then, Hank has remained one of the most distinguished and revered figures in American public life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzWHOkE4FoM

Aaron himself spoke to the Associated Press about the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Aaron’s record-breaking homer will be celebrated tonight before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener against the New York Mets.

Hate mail and threats made it impossible for him to savor the chase of Ruth’s revered record, but on Monday he said he’ll enjoy the anniversary because such old friends as former teammate Dusty Baker will return for the pregame ceremony.

Aaron, 80, said he has a greater appreciation for fans who still celebrate his career.

“It does. It means an awful lot to me,” Aaron said.

“I’m not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”

The Braves will wear an Aaron 40th anniversary patch on their uniform sleeves this season. An outfield sign at Turner Field also will mark the anniversary.

Before hitting the homer into the Braves’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall, Aaron told [Dusty] Baker what was about to happen.

“That I can remember like it was yesterday,” Baker said. “It was a cold, cold night in April. Hank told me, ‘I’m going to get this over with now.’ He knew every pitch that was coming. He had total recall of pitch sequences. He was as smart as they came.”

Aaron confirmed Baker’s tale on Monday: “I think that was right. I think I made that remark and made it to Dusty maybe three or four times. I just felt within myself that eventually before the night was over I was going to hit a home run.”

Kurt Cobain was found dead by his own hand on April 8, 1994.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

A local variation of the “no white before Easter” rule was proposed, which I can support. It holds that the wearing of white may commence in Augusta, Georgia, upon the opening of the Masters Tournament. This begins with the practice rounds, which started today.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed twenty one bills on Sine Die, April 2d.

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed several bills ahead of the General Assembly’s adjournment sine die. Governor Kemp signed House Bills 21, 50, 51, 52, 54, 217, 284, 285, 304, 306, 316, 559, 574, 590, 597, 601, 602, 603, 607, 622, and 632.

Once the Georgia General Assembly adjourns sine die, the Governor has forty days to review a bill or resolution intended to have the effect of law and sign, veto, or take no action on the measure, allowing it to become law. The last day for the Governor to sign or veto a bill or resolution is May 12, 2019.

On February 15, Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 25 – his first as Georgia’s 83rd Governor – to improve school bus safety for families and children across the Peach State. On March 12, Governor Kemp signed House Bill 30, the amended fiscal year 2019 budget. On March 27, the Governor signed the Patients First Act – Senate Bill 106.

On the same day, Gov. Kemp signed an Executive Order suspending Thomasville Mayor Greg Hobbs after Hobbs was indicted.

The Ledger-Enquirer fawns over former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is considering a campaign for United States Senate.

Teresa Pike [later Tomlinson] became a Republican, thanks to Max Davis, as all she knew of politics at the time was what she saw as a child.

She took part in student government before she graduated in 1983 from Chamblee High School and went off to school at Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, Va., and later to law school at Atlanta’s Emory University.

“As a young person, I worked in the U.S. Senate, actually, for Sen. John Warner,” she said during an interview Thursday with the Ledger-Enquirer. Warner was a five-term Republican senator from Virginia, serving from 1979 to 2009. “I volunteered for his office, as a college student. I was actually on the payroll of Reagan-Bush, 1984. I was the only female member of quote, ‘Youth for Reagan.’ … I stuffed a lot of envelopes for Mack Mattingly.”

Tomlinson became disenchanted with the Republican Party’s shift to the right during the 1980s, and soon decided she didn’t fit there.

“I just can’t abide intolerance,” she said. “I think it’s antithetical to our concept of all men are created equal, and so I just fell out of step with them, related to that. What was most troubling to me was that the Republican Party came to use race, sexual orientation, religion, as a divisive means to get out the vote, and I thought that was just particularly cynical.”

Read more here: https://www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/politics-government/election/article228884009.html#storylink=cpy

The Associated Press looks at what the 2019 Session of the General Assembly left for later.

Several of Kemp’s main priorities — including teacher pay raises, a restrictive abortion ban and a Medicaid waiver authorization — translated into legislative action and were passed by the General Assembly.

But several other proposals introduced by lawmakers failed to move forward before the session’s end this past Tuesday. They include enhanced penalties for hate crimes, greater protections for actions driven by religious belief, a state takeover of Atlanta’s airport, and a 20-year extension on a jet fuel tax exemption.

A hate crimes bill that would have added penalties for those convicted of targeting certain groups passed the state House in March but failed to gain traction in the Senate amid concerns that crime victims wouldn’t be treated equally under the statute.

A plan for the state to take control of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport passed the Senate in early March, but encountered skepticism in the House amid strong opposition from city officials.

Former United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) doesn’t miss Washington, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Chambliss, who now works with a prestigious Atlanta-based law firm with a global reach, said he doesn’t particularly miss the hustle and bustle of Washington, especially in its current state of extreme partisanship. The former Georgia senator said when he announced in 2014 that he would not seek re-election that the unwillingness of members of the different political parties to work together was one of the primary reasons he was leaving politics behind.

“I don’t really miss Washington,” Chambliss said. “I do, however, miss working behind the scenes with friends and colleagues to push through legislation that was important to the American people. There just got to be less and less of that, as the members of the two parties refused to work together. It quit being about the American people, and that’s why I got into politics.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations of forgery and blackmail in Port Wentworth, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The investigation involves an alleged letter that Port Wentworth City Council member Debbie Johnson said had been left at her home. Johnson informed the council and mayor of the letter via email dated March 13. Johnson’s emails were obtained by the Savannah Morning News through the Georgia Open Records Act. The open records request was made for Councilman Thomas Barbee’s emails. Johnson’s email had been sent to Barbee, the mayor and other council members from her Savannahga.gov work email account.

In the email to council members and the mayor, Johnson said the letter contained an accusation against the city attorney, James Coursey Jr.

Port Wentworth Mayor Gary Norton declined to answer questions Friday regarding the contents of the letter or any other questions about the investigation.

“I don’t think I can given the ongoing investigation,” Norton said.

A panel gathered in Savannah to discuss race relations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The panel of five included Lisa Ring, the 2020 Democratic challenger for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District; John McMasters, a former Chatham County Commissioner; Jolene Byrne, a former Savannah-Chatham County School Board president; Terry Tolbert, the chairman of the Chatham County Board of Assessors; and Ricardo Manuel, Pastor at Second Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

At the start of the meeting, Lawrence Bryan III referenced a March 27 meeting which featured two black Savannah mayoral candidates.

Signs reading “Black press only” were hung on the doors of the church where the March 27 meeting was held, and white reporters were barred from entry. Black reporters for at least two local television stations were permitted inside.

“I think the city needs this, especially in the wake of what happened,” Lawrence Bryan III said on Sunday. “What happened was tragic, in the sense that Van Johnson and Teddy Williams had a bad day. They made a mistake. Neither of those guys is racist.”

The Mayor and City Council of Statesboro have filled out their brackets and reached the final four of city manager applicants, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap‘s office is asking to remove Chatham County Superior Court Judge John E. Morse Jr. from consideration of some cases, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Morse’s “desire to control the district attorney’s office and do things the way he wants them done” has shown a “bias that has already affected his decision-making in these cases,” Thompson said.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap and her assistants are attempting to remove Morse, who is a former assistant district attorney in Chatham County, from presiding at the trials of two defendants because of what the contend it is a “systematic bias” against their office and in favor of the defense in each case.

[Assistant District Attorney Brad] Thompson emphasized that the challenge involves only those two cases and that any finding in those cases cannot be used in any other criminal cases before Morse.

The Glynn County Board of Elections will discuss applicants for supervisor of elections and registration, according to The Brunswick News.

The state is still in the purchasing process [for new voting machines] and hasn’t made a decision on which machines to buy, said Patricia Gibson, the board’s chairwoman. She doesn’t expect the decision to be made for another few weeks.

“Until we know that, we really are kind of in limbo,” Gibson said. “I did learn at the end of the conference that they have selected 12 sites of municipal elections to use the machines (the state selects). We volunteered, but we aren’t one of those … If one is near enough to us, then we would certainly try to send someone just to see how they do.”

In other business, the board plans to talk about applications for the elections and registration supervisor role in a closed session.

“Applications have been closed, and each of the (board) members has a copy of the applications,” Gibson said. “We will be going into executive session and determining which ones the board wants to interview.”

State Rep. Pedro Marin (D-Norcross) told the Gwinnett Daily Post he will not run for the seventh Congressional district seat being vacated by Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Suburbia).

“During the 2019 legislative session, we saw efforts to undermine local control and deny Gwinnett voters a meaningful opportunity to vote on expanding transit,” Marin said. “We also saw an unprecedented attack on the constitutional rights of women and passage of vulnerable voting machines that threatens the integrity of our elections.

“It is clear that we need greater accountability in the Georgia House and leaders who will advocate for the best interest of those they serve, rather than their personal ideology or political ambitions.”

The open congressional race has already attracted Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux, Snellville attorney Marqus Cole, former Fulton County commission chairman John Eaves and Nabilah Islam, who was Hillary Clinton’s Southern States deputy finance director in 2016, on the Democratic side.

No Republican candidate has officially announced a run for the seat or has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to pursue the office.

The Oglethorpe Power Board of Directors reelected Chairman Bobby C. Smith and Vice Chair Marshall S. Millwood, according to the Gainesville Times.

Rome City Commission will hear the State of the City presented by City Manager Sammy Rich tonight, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

5
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 5, 2019

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

On April 7, 1776, the United States warship Lexington captured a British warship, HMS Edward, for the first time.

The_Lexington_-_NARA_-_513013_628

On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what is currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA.

Georgia Map 1795

Above: a 1795 map showing Georgia extending west to Louisiana. “These Parts are little known.”

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when the US House of Representatives voted 373-50 on a declaration of war that passed the Senate two days earlier.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.

On April 5, 1968, amid racial tension following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., musician James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 6, 1968.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.

On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.

On April 7, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting begins Monday, April 8, 2019 in the runoff election for Atlanta City Council District 3, according to Under the Georgia Sun.

Next week Fulton County voters can cast their ballots early for the City of Atlanta Council District 3 Special Election Runoff at the Fulton County Government Center, at 130 Peachtree Street, SW, Atlanta 30303.

The one polling location will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Monday, April 8 and continuing through Friday April 12.

President Donald Trump will appoint Herman Cain to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, according to the Associated Press.

“I’ve told my folks that’s the man,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, saying that Cain is currently going through background checks prior to a formal nomination.

“He’s a very terrific man, a terrific person. He’s a friend of mine,” Trump said. “I have recommended him highly for the Fed.”

The choice of Cain would mark the second Trump nomination that would elevate a conservative Trump ally to the Fed’s main policy-making body, a panel that the president has been highly critical of in recent months.

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson filed to run for United States Senate, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is planning to take the first official steps today toward challenging Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue in the 2020 election, according to an exclusive interview Thursday with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

“We’ll be taking this time, of course, to talk with people, citizens. I’ll also be talking with donors, setting up our team and laying a strong foundation for a successful candidacy, should Stacey Abrams, who, of course, is also looking at this seat, not run.”

Will your plans change if Abrams enters the race?

“Well, we’re still in the exploratory committee, obviously. That’s what we’re attempting to all coordinate through staying in touch, is making sure that everyone’s interest is being served. The major objective, of course, is getting the best representation for the state of Georgia that we possibly can in the U.S. Senate, and certainly the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wants to make sure that they have a strong Democratic candidate in that race. And so we’re trying to allow Stacey to finish her book tour, which is very exciting. We’re very proud of what she’s doing. It’s a strong Georgia voice on a national stage, and at the same time, make sure we’ve laid that groundwork that’s so necessary to have a successful campaign.”

So you can’t say that you would drop out, if she got in?

“Well, I think if she got in, she’s clearly the Democratic Party’s selected candidate for this particular race. It’s been offered to her by the minority leader, very publicly. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been in the press and that they themselves have not stated publicly. That position’s been offered to her, should she want it. And you know, Stacey Abrams and I have been in the trenches of Democratic politics in the state of Georgia for a very long time, and we’re excited about the fact that finally all this hard work is paying off. It is a two-party state, and we are well poised to have a Democratic senator in the United States Senate from Georgia. So we want to make sure that we’re not working against each other, or that our efforts are not colliding in that shared objective.

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux says she has raised more than $350,000 toward her next bid for the Seventh Congressional District, according to The Hill.

By comparison, Bordeaux raised $219,545 in the first quarter of 2018, a midterm election year.

Bourdeaux’s campaign said that the first-quarter total came from more than 1,000 individual contributions and brings her total cash on hand to nearly $400,000. Bourdeaux started the quarter with just under $142,000 in her campaign account.

“I’m incredibly grateful to our supporters who have put us in a strong position as we kick off this campaign,” Bourdeaux said in a statement.

“Together, we’re sending a strong message that we are tired of partisan divisions and gridlock holding us back, and we’re ready to forge a new path forward to get things done for our communities. We have a long way to go, but this is the start of a movement to finish the job.”

John Eaves, a former Fulton County Commission chairman, filed paperwork last month with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy. And two others, attorney Marqus Coles and activist Nabilah Islam, have also announced campaigns for the Democratic nomination in the district.

Candidates have until April 15 to file their first-quarter fundraising reports with the FEC. But campaigns can choose to put out their fundraising totals themselves.

From the Forsyth County News:

Bourdeaux outpaced primary challenger Nabilah Islam, who raised more than $100,000 from more than 500 individual contributions since announcing her campaign in late February, according to her campaign.

Fellow Democratic candidate Marqus Cole hadn’t disclosed his first-quarter fundraising figures as of Wednesday. Candidates are required to file first-quarter fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by April 15.

The race figures to attract national attention in 2020 after Bourdeaux’s near-miss attempt last November. In her first run for office, the Georgia State University professor came 419 votes shy of defeating Woodall, who has held the seat since 2011. The razor-thin margin allowed Bourdeaux to seek a recount under Georgia law, which she eventually lost.

To Democrats, it was a sign that the traditionally-conservative district formed by the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties is part of a recent demographic shift observed in other metro Atlanta suburbs. They hope to follow the 6th District, another longtime Republican stronghold that saw political newcomer Lucy MacBath defeat incumbent Karen Handel in 2018 as part of the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.

Democrats are eager for the 2020 rematch, particularly after Woodall announced on Feb. 7 that he would not seek re-election. Within minutes, Bourdeaux she would run again.

The Washington Times has a collection of twelve times Stacey Abrams complained about the 2018 Georgia election results.

The Port of Savannah notched more records in March, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Rail and containerized cargo volumes continue to grow at the Port of Savannah with records set in March, both in time and quantity.

“I would like to thank our employees at GPA, the stevedores and the International Longshoremen’s Association for helping to make this accomplishment possible,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director. “To have handled this level of intermodal volume, while reducing the time it takes for a container to move between rail and vessel operations, is a big win for our customers. We are just beginning to see this port’s capabilities.”

The port handled more than 410,000 20-foot container units, or TEUs in March. That is an increase of 15.5 percent, according to the GPA.

Rail volumes jumped by 26 percent, for a total of 82,135 TEUs.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Director Thomas Walters discussed the center’s economic impact on Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

Established in Brunswick in 1975, the center’s staff of more than 2,400 employees trains anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 students every day, with more than 35,000 graduates expected over the next five years.

An estimated $11 million in small business contracts are awarded each year, supporting the local economy even more.

The center has housing but an estimated 800 trainees stay in local motels and hotels at any given time, generating lots of business for local merchants. Tourist season can be problematic, with some trainees having to stay in rooms as far as Savannah and Jacksonville, he said.

Rome City Commissioners discussed attracting development at a retreat, according to the Rome News Tribune.

4
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 4, 2019

On April 4, 1776, General George Washington began marching his troops from Cambridge, Massachusetts to New York, in anticipation of an invasion by the British.

President William Henry Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, a month after his inauguration.

At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.

On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured Richmond, Virginia the day after the Confederate Capitol fell to Union forces.

On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis. James Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714, tying Babe Ruth’s record.

On April 4, 1988, the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was recognized as the official state butterfly of Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves played their first game in Turner Field on April 4, 1997, defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-4. Denny Neagle started on the mound for the Braves and Mark Wohlers earned a save. Atlanta’s Michael Tucker hit the first homerun in the new stadium.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she will decide this month whether to challenge U.S. Senator David Perdue, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said Thursday that she wants to make a decision this month about running for a U.S. Senate seat from her home state and thinks she could hold off on making a decision about running for president until this fall.

Abrams, who narrowly lost her race for Georgia governor last year, has been publicly mulling her options for next year.

“My first responsibility is to decide whether a Senate run is right for me,” Abrams said during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that she is trying to determine if the Senate is “the right job that I need to hold.”

If she forgoes the Senate race, Abrams said she thinks she could wait until September to enter the race for the White House.

Abrams also has some salty words for Governor Brian Kemp, who whipped won the 2018 election, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp a “cartoon villain” and said her former opponent from the 2018 midterm elections is an “architect of voter suppression.”

In her remarks at the National Action Network Convention in New York, Abrams said that, because Kemp was the Georgia secretary of state during the race, he was “the referee, the contestant and the score keeper” for the 2018 gubernatorial election.

“I’m a good lawyer, and I understand that the law of the land said that Brian Kemp became the governor that day. And I acknowledge that,” Abrams said. “But you can’t trick me into saying it was right. And you can’t shame me into saying what happened should’ve happened because in the state of Georgia black people faced hours long lines of up to four hours waiting to cast their ballots.”

“While I haven’t decided what I’m running for next, our experiment proves that identity politics works,” Abrams said, referring to her 2018 campaign.

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 316, to replace Georgia’s voting machines, according to the AJC.

His office said in a notice posted on his website Wednesday that Kemp inked the bill, along with 20 lower-profile measures, on Tuesday during the last day of the legislative session.

The overhaul was introduced with Kemp’s blessing after his narrow election victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who cast the Republican as an “architect of voter suppression” and accused him of creating barriers to ballot access.

Kemp and other Republicans supported the new system as a more accurate way to count votes, saying they’re easy to use and provide a paper record to verify vote counts. They were also strongly supported by government workers experienced in running elections.

The measure passed the House and Senate mostly on a party line vote and approved in time to allow the system to be in place for next year’s presidential election, when the state’s 7 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots.

House Bill 353 by State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) passed when the House agreed to the Senate Substitute and creates a new crime, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, a Republican from Dalton, says the proposed changes are an attempt to keep rising auto insurance rates in check in Georgia. The bill would make it a felony offense to either intentionally cause an automobile collision or attempt to manufacture evidence for a wreck that never happened.

“This is an important piece to deter this crime,” Carpenter said to his colleagues Tuesday, which was the last day of this year’s legislative session.

Staging a wreck and cashing in on the insurance payout has become a problem for rental companies in particular. U-Haul, for one, has flagged Georgia as the state with the second most incidents reported within the company.

But several lawmakers were hesitant to send someone to prison for five to 20 years for a staged wreck involving any injury. That was dialed back to two to 10 years, and the injury would have to be serious. Offenses without an injury could yield a prison sentence of one to five years.

Dalton Utilities failed to receive an exemption from requirements for a referendum before incurring bonded debt, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

That version initially cleared the House late Tuesday night by a single vote, only for it to lose minutes later by seven votes after Rep. Jason Ridley, a Republican from Chatsworth, pressed for a redo. Ridley has long objected to the proposal, comparing it to giving the city-run utility a blank check for Plant Vogtle.

Dalton Utilities owns a 1.6 percent stake in the ongoing expansion of the nuclear power plant, which is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. The utility has said it does not plan to borrow money to cover its share of the work.

“While (the bill) was not specific to Georgia Power or the Vogtle project, the legislation would have benefitted our other utility partners in Georgia,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Proponents have argued that the change would level the playing field with other utilities that do not have to hold a public referendum before borrowing money for electric-related projects. Dalton Utilities, they noted often, also does not have to call a public vote on other types of borrowing.

“Needless to say we are very disappointed in the outcome of this important legislative measure to Dalton Utilities and our customers,” [Dalton Utility's CEO Tom] Bundros said in a statement. “The defeated legislation would have placed Dalton Utilities on parity with all of the electric providers in the state of Georgia that do NOT have to seek a voter referendum to issue revenue bonds to acquire electric generating and transmission assets to serve their customers.”

House Bille 445, revamping shore protection laws, passed the House and Senate, according to The Brunswick News.

House Bill 445 — a Shore Protection Act revision years in the making — barely cleared its last hurdle Tuesday in the state House of Representatives, with a 93-75 vote.

Earlier in the day, it had to pass the Senate, where it was introduced by state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah.

“This law, when passed in 1979, established the presence of a 20-foot-tall tree, or a building older than 1979, to determine the jurisdictional area used to protect dunes,” Watson said. “However, as times has gone on, with storms and other factors, the use of the 20-foot-tall tree simply does not work anymore. You have trees that are particularly far inland….that require property owners to be in regulation who have no impact on the dune system, and for the (state Department of Natural Resources) to administer this, they literally visit every site with a 20-foot-tall stick to measure trees.

“House Bill 445 fixes this flawed methodology by removing the use of the tree and instead using the features of our coast to determine what is and what is not in jurisdiction. This is a much more consistent method that makes it easier for the department to administer this law and makes it easier for the property owners to understand where they are regulated or not, while still offering our coast protection.”

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said state governments could still use zoning laws to express their will. He also took exception with some of the criticism of dune crossovers as they would be permitted.

“Crosswalks can actually protect the dunes because you’re walking over them,” Ligon said. “When you don’t have a crosswalk, people walk and they trample them down and then that dune system is actually damaged. To do what we’ve been asked to do on this minority report is actually detrimental to our sand dune system.”

The Senate gave its OK with a vote of 35-21.

From the Savannah Morning News:

If signed as expected by Gov. Brian Kemp, H.B. 445 would create a 25-foot regulated zone between private beachfront development and the landward reach of the sand dune or from the high tide line on beaches without dunes. The 25-foot line would be measured from a functional seawall or bulkhead where those exist.

Environmentalists lobbied for a wider regulated zone to protect the publicly owned beach as well as the private property owners.

The bill also makes it easier for beachfront property owners to build “minor” projects such as patios, landscaping and dune crossovers by allowing the Department of Natural Resources commissioner to approve such projects without the public review previously required.

The successful version of the bill also did not include the original version’s exemption for Sea Island, where developers are planning to build luxury homes on a thin stretch of the island called the Spit, which is so vulnerable to storms and erosion that it does not qualify for federal flood insurance. That exemption was removed from the bill after a report in the Brunswick News made it clear Sea Island Company was involved in writing the exemption.

House Bill 734 would create a state censorship journalism ethics board, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Six Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives, including one from Gwinnett County, filed legislation to create a board that would oversee journalists across the state as legislators closed out this year’s legislative session Tuesday.

The “Ethics in Journalism Act,” officially known as House Bill 734, would create a “Journalism Ethics Board” and mandate journalists and news outlets make copies of their notes and recordings from interviews, as well as their photographs, available free of cost upon request by the person interviewed.

The bill was filed Tuesday by state Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, who announced the same day that he would resign from office after the General Assembly wrapped up its 2019 legislative session — which ended Tuesday.

Co-sponsors on the bill include: state Reps. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville; Ron Stephens, R – Savannah; Mark Newton, R – Augusta; Rick Jasperse, R – Jasper; and Mike Cheokas, R – Americus.

The board would also be authorized to create a voluntary accreditation process in which journalists and news organizations would have to “demonstrate compliance with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity in journalism” to gain accreditation. The board would also have the authority to investigate and sanction accredited journalists or news organizations if it feels they have acted unethically.

Punishments could include probation, public reprimand, private reprimand and loss or suspension of accreditation.

House Bill 324, the marijuana cultivation bill, will be signed by Governor Kemp, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Cody Hall, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, said Wednesday morning he’ll sign the bill into law.

The legislation, HB 324, closes loopholes created from a 2015 act that legalized the use of low-THC cannabis oil for certain medical conditions but did not allow for the growing, selling or possession of the oil in the state.

The new bill would allow for the “production, manufacturing, and dispensing” as well as the possession of low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia. It would also set up a state commission to oversee the industry and license universities and private companies that could produce the oil. The bill would also allow the state to license pharmacies and private companies that would sell low-THC cannabis oil to medical marijuana patients.

An amendment limiting Gwinnett County’s ability to call for a re-do on the MARTA referendum was pulled from consideration, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The proposal from the six Republicans in Gwinnett’s majority-Democrat House Delegation would have barred county leaders from calling for another vote on MARTA until after Jan. 1, 2026. It was the Republicans’ response to the defeat of a MARTA referendum held in Gwinnett on March 19.

Amid several changes designed to add new stuff to the legislation, the section dealing with Gwinnett was taken out, according to state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula.

“There are many components to Senate Bill 200 right now, but the language with respect to Gwinnett is not in the bill,” Efstration said.

“At this point in time, it appears that the commission will make a decision as to whether to call for another voter, and I am hopeful that the commission will respect the voice of the voters as demonstrated March 19 in the referendum,” Efstration said.

The City of Gainesville will take over the Olympic rowing venue under legislation passed by the General Assembly, according to the Gainesville Times.

The state legislature has approved the city of Gainesville’s requests to annex Lake Lanier Olympic Park and to increase the city’s hotel-motel tax from 6% to 8%.

The Senate approved the proposals late Tuesday, the last day of the legislative session. The House of Representatives had approved the park annexation on March 28 and the tax increase on March 26.

All of Hall’s state representatives supported both measures. State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, voted in favor of both, while State Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, who represents part of Hall, did not vote either time.

Gainesville hopes to use the additional revenue from the hotel-motel tax increase to fund improvements at the park, including new restrooms, a pavilion and renovations at the boathouse.

Seniors may receive assistance in staying in their homes under a program included in the state budget, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Advocates for Georgia seniors said Wednesday the 2019 legislative session was a big win, with an additional $5.6 million committed to services that protect the safety and independence of the elderly.

“Every extra dollar of money that was approved is so appreciated and so needed,” said Lynne Reeves, director of the Northwest Georgia Area Agency on Aging.

“Many of our seniors need just a small helping hand and, no doubt, thousands of them will be better off under the 2020 state budget.”

Some of the new money will go to boost home- and community-based care. There also are earmarks for home-delivered meals, assistive technology and a resource network connecting aging adults to local resources and support.

Money also was added to hire 22 additional caseworkers to address elder abuse complaints and to advocate for older adults without guardians.

Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, issued a statement thanking Gov. Brian Kemp and lawmakers for addressing the needs of the state’s 1.3 million seniors.

House Resolution 48 opposes some offshore energy exploration techniques, according to The Brunswick News.

Language in resolutions against seismic airgun testing and offshore drilling, despite not having any force of law, nevertheless took nearly two whole sessions of the state legislature before it got a vote in either chamber. That changed Tuesday, the last day of the 2019 session, when the state House of Representatives passed House Resolution 48 by a vote of 125-36.

State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, in presenting the bill, said to Rules Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, “Mr. Chairman, H.R. 48 is the most comprehensive anti-drilling and anti-seismic-testing resolution that we’ve had to date, and we’ve got the coastal delegation — those that are here — to sign that.”

State Rep. Carl Wayne Gilliard, D-Savannah — the lead sponsor of the resolution — introduced it on the House floor. He said it’s meant to show the intention of the coastal delegation to protect around 1.1 billion jobs involved in fisheries, tourism and related industries.

“We’re just standing united for Georgia’s coast, urging that there are no efforts of seismic testing or offshore drilling,” Gilliard said.

The Rome News Tribune writes about education legislation that passed the Georgia legislature.

[B]ills that have been passed by the house and senate include a $3,000 state-wide raise for teachers, mandatory recess for elementary students in kindergarten as well as first- through fifth-grades and required computer science classes for middle and high schools.

The $3,000 pay raise was called a down payment by Kemp, who promised a $5,000 raise across the board once he was elected. The standing governor announced the raise on Jan. 17 along with $30,000 to each school to be used for security purposes. The budget containing these two items has been passed by the house and senate and await Kemp’s signature.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, state schools will be required to give kindergarten through fifth-grade students a daily recess providing around 30 minutes of outdoor time. Schools are not required to give students recess if they have physical education or other activities scheduled for the day according to the bill. The bill calls for local school boards to create their own policies regarding recess time for elementary school students.

The Georgia General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 108 which will now require middle and high schools to incorporate a computer science class into the curriculum. According to the bill less 0.5% of high school students take a computer science course. The bill says there is a growing number of computer science jobs in the state of Georgia, and the logical thinking taught in these classes has become valuable.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) has requested that Georgia be excluded from offshore energy development, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt, Carter wrote, “As the representative of the First District of Georgia, I was elected to represent the entire coast of our state and to be their voice in Washington.”

“As you know, the issue of offshore energy exploration off the Atlantic Coast has been raised, first by the Obama administration and now by the Trump administration. This is of great interest to the residents in the First District of Georgia as proposed plans have included opening the waters off our coast for possible energy exploration and development.”

“I understand the benefits that have been realized for local economies and tourism industries on the Gulf Coast due to offshore energy. I also understand the importance of offshore energy to an all-of-the-above energy strategy that is critical for our national defense as well as in our efforts to lower energy costs for Americans.”

“While I will continue to be an ardent supporter of American energy independence, I believe that the will of our state and local communities must be respected in a decision of this magnitude. That is why I want to bring to your attention a resolution that overwhelmingly passed in the Georgia House of Representatives this week opposing offshore energy development off Georgia’s coast. The resolution passed in the legislature this week was preceded by the approval of resolutions opposing offshore energy development by several municipalities.”

“Elected representatives of Georgia have voted, and I believe that the federal government should respect the people of Georgia to make this critical decision for themselves. That is why I write today to request that Georgia be excluded from offshore energy plans until the concerns of the legislature are addressed.”

Anthony Oliver, an announced candidate for Mayor of Savannah, was arrested and charged with stalking, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Anthony Oliver, who has declared his intent to run in the November election to be Savannah’s next mayor, was arrested Tuesday by Pooler police on aggravated stalking charges.

The arrest comes after a protective order against Oliver was issued in Effingham County Superior Court in September that prohibited him from contacting the petitioner or approaching her within 500 yards.

A restraining order had previously been issued against Oliver in California in 2004, according to the September order.

In June 2017, Oliver pleaded guilty in California Superior Court in San Diego to driving under the influence within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction and driving with a suspended license. His guilty plea stemmed from an incident that occurred Feb. 27, 2016, according to the court documents.

Macon-Bibb County declined an application by a movie theater for a license to sell alcohol, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The outcome of Tuesday night’s alcohol license vote means the company that operates the AmStar 16 Macon theater can appeal by requesting that a hearing be held. A special master would then issue a report that would come back to the County Commission for a decision.

Tuesday’s vote was 5-3 against granting the license. Commissioners Mallory Jones, Elaine Lucas, Joe Allen, Bert Bivins and Valerie Wynn opposed the license.

Mayor Robert Reichert told commissioners on different occasions that if a business meets the legal requirements for an alcohol license but it’s not approved, then “we could be opening ourselves up to a lawsuit,” said Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for public affairs.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, by early 2017 alcohol was already being sold at more than 400 locations of three largest movie chains in the U.S.

Columbus High School received one of six inaugural Military Flagship School Awards from the Georgia Department of Education, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

CHS principal Marvin Crumbs estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of the school’s 1,262 students have a parent on active duty in the military.

“When you travel from school to school, you want to feel safe,” Crumbs said. “We want to actually provide a home-like feeling while you’re at school. So we welcome them in, we meet their needs, and anything they need while they’re here we try to go above and beyond in making those things happen.”

The state awards reflect the important economic role that the military plays in Georgia. Rep. Dave Belton, Chair of the Military Affairs Working Group in the Georgia House, noted the military provides the state an average of an estimated $28 billion in annual economic impact.

“The Pentagon has repeatedly told us that education is their number-one issue when looking at bases,” Belton said in the GaDOEs news release. “That’s why I’m so excited about this Military Flagship program. This emphasis on military children will go a long way toward making Georgia the most military-friendly state in the nation. But most of all, it’s the right thing to do for the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our freedoms.”

Cleveland City Council placed a “brunch bill” referendum on the November 5 ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

Mayor Shan Ash read aloud the content of the ballot question:

“Shall the governing authority of the city of Cleveland, Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages, for the beverages purposes by the drink from 11 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.”

3
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 3, 2019

Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on April 3, 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.

On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used.

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell.

On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”

“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday was “Sine Die,” the last day of the legislative session, at the conclusion of which each chamber votes to “adjourn sine die,” or without a date set for their next meeting. In typical Georgia fashion, it went right up to midnight. I’m exhausted and have a lot to do this morning, so I’ll be very brief today before starting in earnest to unpack what happened this Session.

WSB-TV has a story on what passed last night.

The medical marijuana bill would create a way for patients who are already allowed to use cannabis oil, a legal way to get it by having it grown and dispensed here in the state.

One of the most controversial bills, the “heartbeat” bill, which ould ban abortions in Georgia once a doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat, approximately six weeks into a pregnancy, passed the House and Senate earlier this week.

Some Hollywood stars and producers say the bill could impact future film and TV productions in the state.

The clock ran out, however, on legislation giving airlines a jet fuel tax break, creating new rural transit options and allowing the state to take over Atlanta’s airport.

A bill raising Georgia’s minimum marriage age to 17 is heading to Kemp’s desk after the House approved it by a vote of 155-14 on Tuesday.

From Georgia Public Broadcasting:

Georgia Senators have approved a bill that would give more than 8,000 patients access to medical marijuana.

It’s currently illegal to grow or sell the drug here but it is legal to use. The legislation calls for six commercial licenses for growers and one each for the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State.

The bill will allow pharmacies to serve as dispensaries. It must still be agreed on by the House.

SB 2 would allow electric membership corporations who sell power to customers to also offer internet service. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Brian Kemp addressed both the House and the Senate after dinner. He thanked them for their hard work and commended passage of the state’s budget. “I think all Georgians can be proud of this great state of Georgia and this body’s broad bi-partisan support on our balanced budget. So, congratulations to you all on that and I think that this is a budget that is putting Georgians first and that’s really the most important thing that we do here.”

From the AJC:

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp called it a “historic” legislative session.

“We’ve done a lot this session — a lot more than people thought I’d do,” he said. “I’m just doing what I told people I would do. And that’s what I heard from people during the campaign — they were starving for people to do what they told them they would actually do.”

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said: “We’ve had a good session. We have accomplished things that matter a lot to a lot of Georgians.”

The compromise on House Bill 324 provides several ways for Georgia’s 8,400 registered patients to buy medical marijuana oil, including through six private growing companies, state universities and pharmacies.

It’s unclear how many dispensaries would be allowed to sell medical marijuana oil. That would be determined by a state oversight commission. Smoking or eating marijuana would remain prohibited.

2
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 2, 2019

On April 2, 1513, Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, claiming it for the Spanish crown. Today he is best-known in Georgia for giving his name to be mispronounced daily on a sketchy street in Atlanta. It is not known if he was wearing jean shorts, or if those were developed later. Georgians began mispronouncing his name immediately.

On April 2, 1917, Jeanette Rankin took office as the first woman elected to Congress, representing Montana.

Born on a ranch near Missoula, Montana Territory, in 1880, Rankin was a social worker in the states of Montana and Washington before joining the women’s suffrage movement in 1910. Working with various suffrage groups, she campaigned for the women’s vote on a national level and in 1914 was instrumental in the passage of suffrage legislation in Montana. Two years later, she successfully ran for Congress in Montana on a progressive Republican platform calling for total women’s suffrage, legislation protecting children, and U.S. neutrality in the European war. Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany.

On April 2, 1985, Governor Joe Frank Harris signed legislation recognizing the Right Whale as the official state marine mammal. Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tested a drone aircraft for use in conducting surveys of the aquatic population off the East Coast.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary could use it in a variety of ways, including sea turtle and right whale counts, he said. It could even give managers a better idea of how many boats are out in the sanctuary.

“It’s much cheaper than putting an aircraft or a boat out,” Sedberry said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the last day of the legislative session, according to AccessWDUN.

[T]here’s still plenty of legislation that could be considered on the last hectic day Tuesday.

That includes a bill that would allow in-state production of low-potency medical marijuana oil and another that would authorize a state takeover of Atlanta’s airport.

The airport is currently owned and operated by the city of Atlanta, and city officials strongly oppose a takeover. One recent version has the state taking an oversight role, rather than a full takeover.

There’s also a bill on the table that would increase the minimum marriage age from 16 to 17.

Senate Bill 56 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) aims to eliminate surprise medical billing, according to the Rome News Tribune.

[T]he measure is stalled in a House committee.

But its sponsor, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said he hasn’t given up on getting the provisions enacted this year. The Senate Finance Committee he chairs added the language to a House bill expanding tax credits for low-income housing projects. It was passed (again) by the full Senate Friday.

“The surprise billing is attached to HB 540 and back in the House,” Hufstetler said Monday. “We are requesting that the House be allowed to vote on it.”

Any measure that doesn’t pass by midnight can be rolled over to the 2020 session.

Legislation to allow local regulation of rental scooters hit a speedbump, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner, a Republican from Dawsonville, told the Senate Public Safety Committee recently that he’s putting off the proposed statewide rules for electric scooters until next year while negotiations with scooter companies continue.

The biggest problem is that users are “dumping them all over the place,” Commissioner Andy Herod previously said. “They are making private profit and the public is picking up the cost of having to deal with this.”

The legislation in the General Assembly would have banned people from parking scooters on sidewalks and in other locations that could hinder vehicles or pedestrians, among other restrictions.

Athens-Clarke County commissioners voted in December to impose a year-long ban on the electric scooters while they develop rules for dockless vehicles like the scooters. Once it adopts rules, the commission then plans to put out a request for proposals from scooter rental companies to participate in a pilot program.

The General Assembly approved legislation to improve education for students with dyslexia, according to the AJC.

Senate Bill 48, if signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, would eventually require dyslexia screening for every student starting in kindergarten. It also would pave the way for teacher training programs.

Experts estimate that 10 percent to 20 percent of the population has the condition. If so, then the reading condition afflicts anywhere from 175,000 to 350,000 of Georgia’s nearly 1.8 million public school students. Some say they have gotten little help in their schools.

Besides mandating screening for all kindergartners beginning in the fall of 2024, the legislation would set in motion changes in credentialing designed to encourage colleges to equip future teachers with the skills to recognize and deal with the condition. It would also establish training programs for current teachers.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, said school districts will only have to conduct the screening if the General Assembly gives them the money to do it. A study committee last summer estimated the screening cost at $8 or less per student, putting the total under $2 million a year. The legislation would also establish pilot programs in a handful of districts — in urban, suburban and rural settings — to test screening and teaching methods before the statewide implementation. Martin said the approach will likely evolve as the state gains knowledge about the condition.

Gwinnett County opposes an annexation by Norcross that would take the municipality across I-85, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county is fighting efforts by the city to use legislation to annex 2.8 square miles sandwiched between Interstate 85, Buford Highway, the county line and Jimmy Carter Boulevard. The annexation would be pending voter approval.

City officials have said they can provide improved services and that the area is one of the few, if not only, viable option to accommodate Norcross’ plans for expansion and meeting demands for services. County officials, however, have raised concerns about the size of the annexation area as well as its impact on a tax allocation district in the area and tax revenues used to pay for police services.

“It is the largest annexation by any Gwinnett city in my memory and will have significant impacts on residents, businesses and property owners in the area proposed for annexation, for those currently in the City of Norcross and for the majority of all within Gwinnett,” county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said in an email to the Daily Post.

“The County is opposed to this proposed annexation and has expressed that position to the Gwinnett Legislative Delegation.”

It is not clear if the annexation bill, House Bill 661, will make it out of the General Assembly by the end of Sine Die day — the last day of the 2019 legislative session — on Tuesday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Suburbia) talked to 11Alive about his last campaign.

“Ugliness sells,” said the Republican who has represented Georgia’s 7th District since 2011. “That is certainly what they teach you in campaign school.”

“I don’t have to beat down the other guy,” Woodall told 11Alive News. “I want it to be true that my opponent is always a very good man or woman with very bad ideas. And let’s have that conversation and see where the election falls.”

“Give credit where credit is due, and that goes to Stacey Abrams and her voter identification and turnout machine. She did an amazing job,” Woodall said.

He also describes the Democratic vote in 2018 as a “high water mark,” and predicts whichever Republican gets nominated in 2020 will win the 7th district seat. But it won’t be pretty.

Congressman Lucy McBath (D-Suburbia) was not a legal Georgia citizen when she was elected to Congress, according to Daily Caller.

Tax documents uncovered by The Washington Free Beacon reveal that Cobb County, Georgia, does not recognize the freshman congresswoman’s home as her permanent residence, and consequently, the county has revoked the homestead exemptions her family previously received.

McBath acknowledged during her campaign that she decided to run for Georgia’s sixth district while she was still living in Tennessee. Her Republican challenger, former Georgia Rep. Karen Handel, questioned how McBath and her husband, a permanent resident of Tennessee, were able to write off Cobb County taxes using the homestead exception, which allows permanent county residents to lower their property tax liability.

While McBath called the accusation “baseless,” the Cobb County tax commissioner is requiring the McBaths to pay back taxes for the past three years. A tax audit determined that the family was misusing the homestead exemption from 2015 though 2018 since they never qualified for it.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) introduced legislation to ease international adoptions, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Intercountry Adoption Information Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, would require the Secretary of State’s office to include in its annual report information about countries that have new policies or laws that reduce or prevent U.S. adoptions. The Department of State would also be required to include information on its efforts to encourage these countries to resume U.S. adoption.

“Millions of children at home and abroad are in need of a loving home, and families all across the globe are eager to provide them with the care and support they deserve,” Collins said in a statement. “The Intercountry Adoption Information Act will help bring families together by ensuring parents pursuing overseas adoption, like the Romano family, have access to the information required to navigate the international adoption landscape, and ultimately, to bring their children home.”

Collins is also taking the lead in addressing the Mueller report, according to the AJC.

Part honey, part vinegar would be one way to describe the strategy the Gainesville lawmaker has deployed since becoming the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican earlier this year. Collins, 52, describes it in slightly different terms: “offensive defense.”

The four-term congressman ascended to the role in part because of his bipartisan policy experience. But Collins has also aggressively fought Democrats’ investigations of the Trump administration, using procedural tactics and rhetorical flourishes to trip up their inquiries.

With special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe now completed, Collins has entered the biggest spotlight of his political career.

The fast-talking former lawyer has become a fixture on cable news shows, where he’s tenaciously defended the president and polished one-liners about what he’s labeled the Democratic “fishing expedition” into Trump’s background.

Columbus Government Center visitors must wear hard hats now, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Columbus Government Center’s continuing deterioration was evidenced again last week when ceiling tiles fell outside a courtroom on the 10th floor.

The courts and offices have nowhere else to go, so business will go on, as usual, except everyone has to wear a hard hat now.

Visitors cannot bring their own, because of security precautions: The headgear has to be inspected, declared safe, and issued by the city at a checkpoint in the east wing off Second Avenue.

With so many workers and visitors daily coming and going, the supply of available hard hats soon was exhausted, so city officials had to scrounge for any protective headgear they could get, even requesting donations from local organizations that regularly use such equipment.

“We understand this is an imposition, but we have to improvise with the resources we have,” said a sheriff’s major wearing a Columbus Cottonmouths goalie’s helmet.

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools is waiting for a report by AdvancED, the regional accrediting body, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chris Griffin was named Chief Magistrate Judge for Whitfield County, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The four Superior Court judges announced Monday they had named Magistrate judge Chris Griffin as chief magistrate to fill the unexpired term of Haynes Townsend, who retired effective Sunday. Griffin has been a Magistrate judge since 2009, having been elected to three four-year terms. Prior to becoming a Magistrate judge, Griffin served 16 years in law enforcement as a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy and as assistant police chief in Tunnel Hill.

Griffin’s appointment as chief magistrate created an opening, and the judges appointed Thomas Lee Phillips II, a captain with the Dalton Police Department, to fill Griffin’s unexpired term as Magistrate judge. Phillips has been with the police department since 1988 and also served 10 years with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

The judges appointed Rodney “Rod” Weaver to fill the unexpired term of Shana Vinyard.

The qualifications to be a Magistrate judge are at least one year of residency in the county, the individual must be at least 25 years old and must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

More than 14,000 cases came through Magistrate Court in 2018, and a judge is on call 24 hours a day to handle arrest and search warrants for law enforcement. The court handles a variety of cases, including evictions, civil disputes up to $15,000, violations of county ordinances and some misdemeanor crimes. The judges also handle first appearances, hearings in which defendants are informed of the charges against them and can make a plea or be referred to Superior Court, depending on the severity of the charges.

Dalton City Council approved a contract with a new City Attorney, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Glynn Environmental Coalition received two federal grants through the EPA, according to The Brunswick News.

“The Glynn Environmental Coalition has been working on the applications for additional funding for our technical assistance grants for almost nine months,” said Rachael Thompson, GEC executive director. “Our organization receives this funding to assist the public in understanding what actions are being taken toward remediation, help the public participate when public input is requested and provide annual status updates for each Superfund site.

“To put it simply, this funding is specifically to keep our community involved in the remediation process. Public participation is an extremely integral part of the Superfund site cleanup process, and we are grateful to have been awarded additional funding to continue to involve our community.”

The grants for Terry Creek and LCP are for $25,000 each. The money is to hire an independent technical advisor who will review documents and final studies, the proposed plan, record of decision, consent decree, and participate in community and public meetings.

Sammy Strode announced he will run against incumbent Tony Thomas for Savannah Alderman in District 6, according to the Savannah Morning News.

1
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2019

In perhaps the most fitting historical tidbit ever, the United States House of Representatives first met on April 1, 1789 in New York City. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House. Georgia’s first Members of Congress were James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and George Mathews.

On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

Happy Birthday to Phil Niekro, who turns 80 today. Niekro pitched for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves for twenty years, earning five trips to the All-Star Game, five gold gloves, led the league in wins twice, and came in second in balloting for the Cy Young award in 1969. In 1997, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams called the Georgia legislature’s heartbeat bill “evil,” according to the Times Free Press.

DALTON, Ga. — While she continues to weigh campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the White House, Stacey Abrams said Sunday afternoon she is motivated for another run at the governor’s mansion after Republicans passed a controversial abortion bill last week.

“It is dangerous,” she said after a rally at the Dalton Convention Center. “I think it is scientifically insupportable. I know it will cause harm to women, especially to those women who face the highest rate of maternal mortality already. We know that we will lose doctors. We will lose jobs. And I believe it is purely a craven exercise designed to fulfill a political promise.”

She said legislation like the abortion bill could lead her to challenge Kemp in 2022.

“It tells doctors you could go to jail for doing your job. And it tells women you could be criminalized for taking care of yourself and your family. HB 481 is evil. And it exists because it was a campaign promise. It exists because it was a political stunt. And it exists because votes were not counted in 2018.”

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) wants Abrams to run against Senator David Perdue next year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat told CNN on Thursday that Abrams ““would be a great senator.”

“She’d be a great voice and a great leader in the Senate,”” he added.

In the interview, Lewis said that another gubernatorial run is a “long time” from now. When asked if he thought that Abrams should run for Senate, Lewis said “yes.”

“She would be a great leader for voting rights,” said Lewis. “She would add so much to the politics of Georgia and Washington.”

Politico writes about Abrams’s activities since losing the Gubernatorial race.

[T]he Democrat has mounted a nationwide, largely below-the-radar effort to expand her donor and political network that will make her an instant force whatever she decides.

Abrams has traversed the country meeting with top Democrats since her narrow loss in the Georgia governor’s race. She’s met with every leading candidate for president, and become a regular draw on the big-ticket fundraising circuit, donors and fundraisers told POLITICO. Abrams headlined major donor events for the Democratic National Committee, the progressive donor collaborative Way to Win and former Sen. Barbara Boxer in recent months, and has discussed her political future with top Democratic donors.

At the reception for Abrams hosted by Boxer, held at a five-star Beverly Hills hotel in late February, local Democratic leaders and entertainment industry donors heard her talk about her work against voter suppression and about her brother’s struggle with addiction. After the event, she was mobbed by attendees.

Abrams started to assemble a national network ahead of her run for governor through the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit she formed that’s focused on voter registration and engagement. She courted donors, including George Soros, who aided her campaign for governor.

In December, Abrams was a keynote speaker at a conference hosted by Way to Win, a collective of progressive donors focused on turning Southern states blue that spent $22 million last cycle. Two hundred people attended the event in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

“As best I can tell she’s waiting on one more position to come open, emperor, and see if that fits her taste,” said Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Watson. “Stacey is on the national circuit. If that’s the game she wants to play, that’s up to her. We’re focused on Georgia priorities, Georgia people, getting our grassroots and fundraising up to pace.”

House Bill 324, the cannabis legislation, will head to conference committee after the Senate amended the House bill, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Though House Bill 324, allowing for a tightly regulated system of in-state production of the oil – officially known as Low THC Medical Oil – passed the state House by an overwhelming margin – 123 to 40 – it underwent drastic changes in the Senate.

Both sides insisted on their positions Friday, and a conference committee was appointed to come up with a final version – known as a conference committee report –  that will have to be approved by the House and Senate.

The committee, consisting of three senators and three state representatives, has to work quickly – Tuesday is the final day of the 2019 session, and if the bill doesn’t pass both sides by the end of the night, it’s dead until next year.

[Sen. Matt] Brass (R-Newnan) is also on the conference committee, along with Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, who serves as one of the governor’s floor leaders, and Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who chairs the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, which heard the bill in the Senate.

On the House side, conferees are Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, the other study commission co-chair and author of HB 324, Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, and Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, an emergency room physician and founder of a group of urgent care centers.

From the Gainesville Times:

The bill still closes a loophole created by the state’s 2015 medical marijuana law that allows patients to possess the drug but provides them no legal avenue to obtain it.

Supporters say patients need access to a crucial medicine without breaking the law. Critics worry that legalizing medical marijuana could lead to legalizing recreational marijuana, which Gravley disputes.

The original bill granted 10 growing licenses to private companies — five for smaller organizations and five for larger organizations — and allowed for up to 60 retail locations.

The updated bill grants only two growing licenses to private companies — one for a smaller organization and one for a larger organization — and allows for up to 28 retail locations.

The number of places that sell the oil could rise under the new proposal because it also grants permission for independent pharmacies to sell the drug. Gravley was already interested in the idea of involving pharmacies but mentioned that he was not sure if doing so may jeopardize their DEA license.

The Rome News Tribune looks at bills by local legislators as tomorrow’s final day arrives.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, saw her HB 553 expanded to 13 pages from 1 page in the House and the Senate tabled a vote on it Friday, possibly to line up amendments from the floor.

The bill was initially aimed at removing an obsolete entity from membership on the State Victim Services Commission. It now also dissolves a number of quasi-governmental entities ranging from the Georgia Tobacco Community Development Board to the Commission on Men’s Health and the Georgia Silver-Haired Legislature.

Dempsey’s HB 187, establishing obesity-treatment coverage for state employees, cleared the Senate Friday.

She, Lumsden and Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, also passed resolutions in the House Friday commending the STAR students and teachers in Rome and Floyd County public and private schools.

Scoggins is awaiting votes in the Senate on bills that would provide homestead exemptions from Bartow and Cartersville school taxes for residents of those districts who are age 65 and older.

The Gainesville Times Editorial Board writes about the General Assembly’s FY 2020 budget.

While high profile issues such as abortion and voting machines have garnered much of the public’s attention, lawmakers also have deliberated on dozens of other pieces of state business, some relatively inconsequential, others of great magnitude.

But one piece of business is mandatory — they must approve a balanced budget for the upcoming state fiscal year.

That task was completed Thursday when final approval was given the 2020 budget and the final $27.5 billion spending proposal forwarded on to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. Given that the approved budget reflects many of the governor’s own spending priorities and has his blessing, approval is assured.

The 2020 spending plan reflects realistic growth without being overly optimistic about future revenues. Not that many years ago we were in the midst of a recession and cutting state spending wherever it could be cut; remembering those days with a conservative plan for spending is a wise approach.

There are certain words in the governor’s appraisal of the final product that we wish lawmakers in Washington could take to heart. Can you imagine how good it would be to hear the terms “balanced,” “bipartisan” and “conservative” applied to the federal spending process?

Gwinnett County state representatives tried to limit the county’s ability to call a new transit referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett’s remaining Republican representatives in the Georgia House are not in a rush to see another vote on joining MARTA anytime soon and are seeking a legislative method to keep it off the ballot in 2020.

The amendment has been attached to Senate Bill 200 and would kick the earliest date for another MARTA vote back to 2026, giving it what state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, called a “cooling-off period.” The bill that the amendment is being attached to deals with Georgia Department of Transportation contracts.

“Local officials should not call for repeated ballot questions until their desired outcome is realized,” Efstration said.

“That limits our flexibility by removing one option for a period of time,” Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “It’s going to take some time to really think through what that means for us. We were already in the process of having to look at and process all of the options. You know me, I always prefer more options rather than less.”

The amendment is being pushed by Efstration and state Reps. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville; Tom Kirby, R-Loganville; David Clark-R-Buford; Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville; and Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee.

Legislation to allow incorporation of the Chatham County Islands was introduced, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The placeholder filing is required in the first year of a two-year legislative session before any further incorporation steps can be taken. The one-year delay in taking legislative action puts the responsibility on residents to hold inclusive meetings on incorporation between now and January. Islands involved are Oatland, Whitemarsh, Wilmington and Talahi.

Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-District 166) and state Sen. Ben Watson (R-District 1) said they are neutral on this issue.

“We are taking no side in this,” Petrea said of he and Watson. “We are doing what the law requires and following the letter of the law.”

Petrea and Watson said they had received 900 letters in favor on islands incorporation and since the recent referendum failure of incorporation of Skidaway, they’ve received 800 letters opposed to the move.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) spoke about legislation to improve maternal mortality, according to The Brunswick News.

“I serve on the Health Subcommittee, and we had a hearing in the Health Subcommittee on maternal mortality, and I was shocked,” Carter said. “I had dealt with it when I served on Health and Human Services in the state Senate, and I was vice-chair of that committee, and I knew that we had a problem in the country and we had a problem in Georgia. But when we brought in the witnesses and they testified, two things really raised my concern.”

“First of all, how high it was in our country — for a developed country like America, to be that high, it was just alarming to me. And I guess I knew it, but I didn’t recognize it and i just didn’t realize it.”

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is No. 2 in the country in maternal mortality, with 46.2 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s more than double the nationwide average. Also, the mortality rate among black mothers is 66.6 in Georgia, compared to white mothers at 43.2. However both of these statistics are also significantly above the national averages.

Gwinnett County Commissioners discussed alternative ways forward after the defeat of the MARTA referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

With the defeat of Gwinnett’s MARTA referendum earlier this month fresh on their minds, county leaders spent some of the second day of their strategic planning retreat in Athens talking about revisiting some of their plans for expanding transit on Friday.

The discussions on how to implement county priorities in the 2020 budget did not rise to the level of a full post-mortem on the MARTA vote, but transit came up immediately during discussions on mobility. Among the first transit-related items discussed was a possible update of the Connect Gwinnett Transit Development Plan and a need to make decisions on transit funding.

Despite the defeat of the MARTA referendum on March 19, county leaders haven’t given up on trying to do something to expand transit in Gwinnett. There has been some talk about doing another transit vote, whether that be another referendum on joining MARTA or a 30-year transportation-related special purpose local option sales tax vote allowed under legislation that established the Atlanta Transit Link Authority, also known as The ATL.

The City of Rome‘s ban on outdoor smoking in downtown goes into effect today, according to the Rome News Tribune.

In February the Rome City Commission voted overwhelmingly to pass the ordinance. The measure prohibits smoking in the publicly owned outdoor areas of Broad Street between East First Avenue and East Eighth Avenue, including the side streets and alleyways for one block off Broad Street. This area encompasses the Broad Street District, Town Green, all downtown parking decks and Bridgepoint Plaza. Smoking is prohibited within a distance of 25 feet from a public entrance to a public place or place of employment.

Cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, JUULs and hookah pipes have the same restrictions as cigarettes under this ordinance.

Brunswick City Commission will consider a resolution asking for safety measures on the Sidney Lanier Bridge, according to The Brunswick News.

The Brunswick City Commission will consider approving a resolution during Wednesday’s meeting asking state officials for suicide prevention measures on the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

There has been growing support for suicide prevention measures on the bridge in response to people plunging to their deaths since it was built in 2003. Community leaders have asked elected officials to support asking the state for help in response to the most recent suicide on Feb. 20 by a woman who jumped off the 185-foot bridge.

Another reason the city is being asked to approve the resolution is because the jurisdiction is divided between the city and county. The split jurisdiction sometimes creates debates between which side of the bridge the victims jump from to determine who investigates the death.

Security is another potential concern on the bridge. The channel is vulnerable, and there are no security cameras on or under the bridge where terroristic activities could be conducted.

Dr. Kyle Marrero began work today as the new President of Georgia Southern University, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Macon‘s Cherry Blossom Festival has an annual impact of $10 million to $12 million dollars, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Savannah Alderman Van Johnson apologized for attending a meeting that allowed only African-American media, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Johnson said during the press conference that while he has a responsibility for the people at the meeting, he also has a responsibility to the people who were barred from coming in.

“I know certainly that if this was an event that was held and excluded other folks, then I know I would be one of the first ones to be outraged about it,” he said. “And this outrage would be understandable and it would be justified.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said in a statement issued later that Johnson’s apology came two days after his opponent had initially defended his attendance. Since then, it has become a national embarrassment, DeLoach said.

“For all those that have called, emailed, and texted my office from all walks of life, I want to assure you this is not who we are in Savannah,” he said. “We will continue to be open to everyone and I will not sacrifice my principles for political gain.”

29
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 29, 2019

On March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, suggesting that a greater role for women be considered in the fight for Independence and establishment of the United States.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Charles Wesley, hymnist, and brother of Methodist founder John Wesley, died on March 29, 1788 in London, England. Charles Wesley served as Secretary to James Oglethorpe and as a Chaplain at Fort Frederica on St Simons Island. This past Sunday, his hymns were played in churches across the globe, including Christ the Lord Is Risen Today and Rejoice, the Lord Is King.

On March 29, 1865, Federal troops under General Ulysses S. Grant began the Appomattox campaign.

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted after sufficient number of the states ratified it.

With the adoption of the 15th Amendment in 1870, a politically mobilized African-American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican Party to power, which brought about radical changes across the South. By late 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks to the support of African-American voters.

In the same year, Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, became the first African American ever to sit in Congress. Although African-American Republicans never obtained political office in proportion to their overwhelming electoral majority, Revels and a dozen other African-American men served in Congress during Reconstruction, more than 600 served in state legislatures, and many more held local offices. However, in the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, stripping Southern African Americans of the right to vote. It would be nearly a century before the nation would again attempt to establish equal rights for African Americans in the South.

Robert E. Lee arrived in Augusta on March 30, 1870. On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The iconic vote was cast in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the town’s charter.  Gary Sullivan of the News Tribune stated, “Exercising his right to vote in a local election on March 31, 1870.  Peterson became the first black man in the United States to cast a ballot.  The amendment had been ratified on February 3, 1870, and within just two months the Fifteenth Amendment was put to use.

An interview with Peterson showed who encouraged him to vote, “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen’s privilege.”  Peterson also revealed his vote in this election, “As I advanced to the polls one man offered me a ticket bearing the words “revised charter” and another one marked, “no charter.” I thought I would not vote to give up our charter after holding it so long: so I chose a revised charter ballot.”

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel led a group of government officials and press to the top of the Eiffel Tower by foot. It would open to the public nine days later.

On March 29, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation imposing the first state tax on distilled spirits in Georgia.

If made in another state and imported into Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 80 cents per gallon and alcohol at $1.60 per gallon – or at fractional amounts for smaller containers. If made in Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 40 cents per gallon and alcohol at 80 cents per gallon.

Note: GeorgiaInfo says Governor Talmadge signed the legislation, but Talmadge left office in January 1937. It was Gov. Rivers who signed the bill.

On March 30, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation authorizing non-profit Electric Membership Corporations to electrify rural Georgia.

On March 30, 1945, President F.D. Roosevelt arrived for his final visit to Warm Spring, Georgia.

On March 29, 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam, ending United States engagement in the war.

On March 31, 1976, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution proposing a new Constitution of Georgia, which would be placed on the ballot for voter referendum on November 2, 1976.

On March 31, 1989, Heathers was released.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 39)
5:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEZZ 1

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 101 – Ad valorem tax; all-terrain vehicles; revise definitions (FIN-7th) Ridley-6th

HB 187 – Community Health, Department of; pilot program to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions; provide (H&HS-11th) Dempsey-13th

HB 193 – Banking and finance; banks and credit unions to offer savings promotion raffle accounts in which deposits to a savings account enter a depositor in a raffle; allow (B&FI-9th) Dunahoo-30th

HB 444 – Dual Enrollment Act; enact (Substitute)(H ED-37th) Reeves-34th

HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act; enact (Substitute)(RI&U-28th) Gravley-67th

HB 276 – Sales and use tax; certain persons that facilitate certain retail sales; require collection of tax (Substitute)(RULES-52nd) Harrell-106th

HB 242 – Professions and businesses; regulation of massage therapy educational programs; provide (Substitute)(RI&U-53rd) Hawkins-27th

HB 218 – Education; eligibility requirements to receive the HOPE Scholarship as a Zell Miller Scholarship Scholar; provide (H ED-54th) Williams-145th

HB 224 – Income tax; credit for new purchases and acquisitions of qualifiedinvestment property shall be earnable for mining and mining facilities and allowed against a taxpayer’s payroll withholding; provide (Substitute)(RULES-56th) Williamson-115th

HR 239 – Savannah Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor; designate (S&T-1st) Stephens-164th

HB 456 – Local government; elect an annual report in lieu of a biennial audit; increase expenditure amount (GvtO-7th) Tankersley-160th

HB 352 – Sales and use tax; exemption for competitive projects of regional significance; change sunset provision (Substitute)(RULES-17th) Reeves-34th

HB 424 – Crimes and offenses; include certain sex crimes into the definition of criminal gang activity(Substitute)(JUDY-18th) Silcox-52nd

HB 472 – Juvenile Code; procedures concerning removal considerations; revise (Substitute)(RULES-19th) Reeves-34th

HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act; post sign containing telephone number to receive reports of child abuse; require every public school (ED&Y-28th) Williams-145th

HB 33 – Weapons carry license; extension of time for the renewal of a license for certain service members serving on active duty outside of the state; provide (VM&HS-13th) Lumsden-12th

HB 540 – Housing tax credit; add to the list of tax categories eligible for an offset (Substitute)(FIN-52nd) Rhodes-120th

HR 346 – Georgia Southern Nursing Angels Memorial Bridge; Bryan County; dedicate (Substitute)(TRANS-21st) Tankersley-160th

HB 201 – Board of Natural Resources; promulgate rules and regulations regarding anchoring certain vessels within estuarine areas; authorize (NR&E-3rd) Hogan-179th

HB 220 – Solid waste management; certain solid waste disposal surcharges;extend sunset date (Substitute)(FIN-19th) Rogers-10thHB 118Crimes and offenses; transmitting a false alarm; revise offense (Substitute)(JUDY-27th) Morris-26th

HB 134 – County law libraries; repeal a population provision regarding the disposition of law library funds in certain counties (SJUDY-23rd) Rich-97th

HB 182 – Sales and use tax; lower threshold amount for certain dealers (FIN-52nd) Harrell-106thHB 277Insurance; allow good will from insurer acquisitions to be treated as an asset (Substitute)(I&L-9th) Carson-46th

HB 478 – Social services; improvements to the operation of the child abuse registry; provide (Substitute)(JUDY-42nd) Ballinger-23rd

HB 288 – Superior courts; revise the sums that the clerks are entitled to charge and collect for filing documents and instruments pertaining to real estate or personal property (JUDY-3rd) Powell-32nd

HB 290 – Health; pilot program to provide preexposure assistance to persons at risk of HIV infection; establish (H&HS-32nd) Cooper-43rd

HR 37 – Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics; create (TRANS-21st) Tanner-9th

HB 296 – Superior Court of Hall County in the Northeastern Circuit; revise term of court (JUDY-49th) Hawkins-27th

HB 307 – Abandoned Motor Vehicle Act; enact (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Powell-32nd

HB 319 – Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; member’s benefits payable after death shall be paid to his or her estate when such member failed to designate a beneficiary or his or her designated beneficiaries are deceased; provide (RET-52nd) Williams-148th

HB 349 – Local government; counties to exercise powers in incorporated areas; authorize (SLGO(G)-14th) Martin-49th

HB 379 – Revenue and taxation; projects and purposes using SPLOST funds; revise annual reporting requirements (GvtO-48th) Moore-95th

HB 345 – Penal institutions; pregnant female inmates or a female inmate who is in the immediate postpartum period; provide prohibited practices (Substitute)(H&HS-45th) Cooper-43rd

HB 381 – Child support; defined terms and terminology, grammar, and punctuation; revise and correct (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 406 – Local government; joint authorities to furnish certain information necessary for the state auditor to determine the net impact of their activities on associated tax digests; require (FIN-46th) Williamson-115th

HB 454 – Motor vehicles; operation of motorized mobility devices; provide (Substitute)(PUB SAF-51st) Tanner-9th

HB 470 – Law enforcement officers and agencies; analysis and collection of DNA for individuals charged with a felony offense but sentenced as a first offender or under conditional discharge; provide(Substitute)(JUDY-3rd) Sainz-180th

HB 490 – Banking and finance; payment of large deposits of deceased intestate depositors and the deposit of sums held for deceased intestate residents; make changes (B&FI-25th) Ridley-6th

HB 492 – Property; dispossessory proceedings; require applications for execution of a writ of possession be made within 30 days of issuance of the writ unless good cause is shown (Substitute)(SJUDY-23rd) Rich-97th

HB 499 – Public utilities and public transportation; use of electric easements for broadband services; permit (Substitute)(RI&U-46th) Kelley-16th

HB 282 – Criminal procedure; increase amount of time that law enforcement agencies are required to preserve certain evidence of sexual assault (Substitute)(JUDY-45th) Holcomb-81st

HB 76 – Alcoholic beverages; counties and municipalities may regulate alcohol licenses as to certain distances in a manner that is less but not more restrictive than those distances specified by the state; provisions (Substitute)(RI&U-46th) Stephens-164th

HB 70 – Guardian and ward; guardian and conservators of minors and adults; revise provisions (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 553 – State Victim Services Commission; bill of rights for foster parents; delete references to an obsolete entity (I COOP-28th) Dempsey-13th

HB 502 – Civil practice; continuances for members of the Board of Regents and the Attorney General; revise (Substitute)(RULES-6th) Welch-110th

HB 543 – Domestic relations; equitable caregivers; provide (Substitute)(JUDY-29th) Efstration-104th

HR 51 – Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission; create (I COOP-27th) Morris-26th

HB 239 – Georgia Business Court; establish (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 365 – Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; lower tax rate imposed (Substitute)(FIN-52nd) Blackmon-146th

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Pursuant to Rule 33.3, debate shall be limited to onehour on all legislationon today’s calendars. Time to be allocated at the discretion of the Speaker.

Modified Structured Rule

SB 68 – Local School Systems; financial management; strengthen provisions (Substitute)(Ed-Tanner-9th) Sims-12th

SB 117 – Public Retirement Systems Standards Law; that does not require an individual to pay the full actuarial cost of obtaining such creditable service; prohibit passage of any law (Substitute)(Ret-Williams-148th) Black-8th(Rules Committee Substitute LC 43 1385S)

SB 200 – Georgia Department of Transportation; procedure for appealing the rejection of a contract bid; require (Trans-Smith-133rd) Gooch-51st

The General Assembly agreed to a $27.5 billion dollar state budget for Fiscal Year 202 according to the AJC.

Lawmakers plowed a record $600 million into pay raises for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

The Georgia State House revised Senate legislation that would have taken over Hartsfield-Jackson airport, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Instead of trying to take over Atlanta’s massive airport, the Georgia House has passed a proposal establishing a legislative committee to oversee 10 of Georgia’s major commercial airports.

The bill, which passed Thursday, is a House substitute to a Senate proposal calling for a full state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta officials strongly oppose the Senate bill and have said there’s no need for additional oversight.

Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner says the House version is a more “measured approach” to past procurement issues at Atlanta’s airport that led to the Senate original.

The bill also bundles two other proposals: extension of a jet fuel tax exemption and one seeking to improve transit options across rural parts of the state.

From the AJC:

Senate Bill 131 would create the Airport Transparency Legislative Oversight Committee to review “operations, contracts, safety, financing, organization and structure” of commercial airports in Georgia.

It would apply to not just Hartsfield-Jackson, but also other commercial airports across the state with at least 300 commercial passengers boarding planes a year, including airports in Albany, Athens, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and Valdosta.

The bill also includes a measure the House passed earlier this year to suspend jet-fuel taxes on airlines such as Delta for 20 years. The suspension would save airlines $35 million to $40 million a year. Most of the savings would go to Delta.

The stitched-together measure also now includes House Bill 511, which would allow counties to raise sales taxes for public transportation. It would establish programs to aid unemployed residents who need transportation to find jobs.

The State House also passed legislation to protect monuments, according to AccessWDUN.

The bill, passed Thursday, says anyone who damages or destroys a monument could be liable for triple the cost to repair or replace it.

It comes amid a nationwide push to remove statues honoring the Confederacy. Similar legislation in other states has been criticized for protecting those statues.

The bill now goes back to the Senate to consider House changes.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, sponsored SB 77, which levies triple damages and court costs against anyone found guilty of defacing a public monument.

It also adds an exception to state law prohibiting their removal. Local and state entities may move them for construction projects, but they must be placed “in a site of similar prominence.”

The controversial measure passed the Senate 34 to 17, with Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, in support.

In Thursday’s House action, Floyd County’s delegates – Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee; and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville – joined the majority 100 to 71 vote.

The House substitute contains the same provisions as Mullis’ bill but also eliminates references throughout state law to monuments dedicated to military service including the Confederate States of America. Instead, it folds the reference into the definition of a monument.

Many opponents spoke of the pain African-American Georgians may feel from visual reminders of a time when the state fought to keep their ancestors enslaved. The unfairness of their taxes going to maintain monuments to the Confederacy and the potential economic impact from boycotts were issues as well.

House Bill 530 addresses concerns raised after two children were found buried in their parents’ yard, according to the AJC.

Georgia lawmakers passed legislation Thursday that requires safety checks on students withdrawn from school in some circumstances.

House Bill 530 was brought in reaction to the gruesome discovery in December of the corpses of two children buried in the family backyard in Effingham County. Mary Crocker and her brother, Elwyn “JR” Crocker Jr. were allegedly being home schooled.

Hitchens, R-Rincon, wanted sweeping investigations for any child withdrawn from school under conditions that gave educators “reasonable grounds” to be suspicious.

Hitchens’ bill was pared down. Now, it only requires an investigation if parents don’t file a declaration of intent to home school within 45 days of a student’s withdrawal and there is no record of a transfer to another school. Hitchens said the House of Representatives tried to balance the protection of children against parents’ rights.

It won’t prevent all cases of abuse, he said, but it is still an improvement. Currently, there is no oversight “whatsoever,” he said. “This will bring oversight in some cases.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

The Effingham County director of the Division of Children and Family Services cried Thursday night at a town hall meeting about the Crocker teenagers, who were beaten, starved and kept naked in a dog cage.

[Effingham County] DFCS, the Sheriff’s Office and Family Connection organized the three-hour meeting and invited lawmakers, school officials, law enforcement officers and others who are involved with protecting children.

Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie told the group that everyone in the county must call law enforcement when they think something might be wrong.

“If you see something, say something,” he said. He said dozens of people said they suspected something was wrong with the Crocker family but didn’t say anything.

He said with 60,000 residents of the county spread out over 486 square miles, the eight school resource officers can’t see everything that’s wrong.

A state House bill aimed at addressing the Crocker case was approved in the Senate Thursday by a vote of 50-0. House Bill 530 now goes to the governor for his signature.

Under the bill, local school systems will have a list of children who are being homeschooled. Schools will refer cases of children who stop attending school and whose parents have not filed a notice of intent to homeschool to DFCS, which will conduct an assessment to determine “whether such withdrawal was to avoid educating the child.

Some Savannah residents are promoting the idea of a single African-American candidate for Mayor, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With signs stating “Black press only” on the doors of the church where the meeting was held, white reporters were barred from entry, while black reporters for at least two television stations were permitted inside.

The event was coordinated by the Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, owner of the consulting firm, The Trigon Group, who declined to discuss the entry policy.

Former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson declined to comment before going inside, as did Chatham County Commissioner Chester Ellis.

Savannah Alderman Van Johnson, who is one of three African-Americans who have stated their intention to run for mayor, said afterwards that during the meeting he had talked about his vision for an inclusive and progressive Savannah. With regards to the discriminatory policy at the door, Johnson said that he believed people have the right to assemble and determine the rules of their assembly.

“It’s not my meeting,” Johnson said. “I was asked to come and give a statement, so I came and I gave a statement. What I said in there, I’ll say out here.”

Macon-Bibb County is considering a contract to seek insurance payments when county property is damaged in car accidents, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Hall County has rolled back some of the restrictions on short term rentals, according to the Gainesville Times.

Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the county’s short-term rental ordinance on Thursday, allowing homes in all zoning districts to serve as short-term rentals with the approval of a county business license.

The changes will not require approval from the Hall County Planning Commission for homes to be short-term rentals. However, neighbors within 500 feet of the property would be notified by the county when a property has been approved.

There are currently 135 advertised short-term rentals in the county, but only 14 of them have a business license, according to Planning and Development Director Srikanth Yamala. He said over the last year, the Hall County Marshal’s Office has received 10 complaints about short-term rentals and has issued six citations.

The county defines short-term rentals as residential properties that are rented for overnight accommodations for two to 30 nights.

Three public hearings were held before the vote, one at a planning commission meeting and two at commissioners’ meetings. Public opinions were mixed, with some saying they had been negatively impacted by living near vacation rentals and others saying responsibly operated and maintained vacation rentals could improve neighborhoods and help the economy.

Candler County has rolled out a notification system for residents, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Ben Ku wants the county to make more use of social media, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

As the county officials discussed areas that they felt needed improvement during their strategic planning retreat in Athens on Thursday, the topic of communication and engagement with the public came up a few times. Department heads and commissioners are meeting for two days at the University of Georgia to chart out a path for the future.

“It’s coming, but it clearly isn’t here yet,” Ku told the Daily Post. “This is how most people communicate and get their news and get information and we need to be able to interact with people where they are.”

In addition to ramping up social media, other communications-related issues that various department heads and commissioner said they wanted to see addressed included better external communication about changes taking place in the government, better engagement with the public and getting more information in general about what is going on in Gwinnett.

“We don’t tell our story well,” Ku told the other county leaders gathered at the retreat. “We don’t toot our own horn enough.”

Statesboro City Council is holding a special called meeting to take action on a short-term exemption to the prohibition on open alcohol containers in public, according to the Statesboro Herald.

28
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 28, 2019

The British Parliament enacted The Coercive Acts on March 28, 1774.

The Coercive Acts were a series of four acts established by the British government. The aim of the legislation was to restore order in Massachusetts and punish Bostonians for their Tea Party, in which members of the revolutionary-minded Sons of Liberty boarded three British tea ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 crates of tea—nearly $1 million worth in today’s money—into the water to protest the Tea Act.

Passed in response to the Americans’ disobedience, the Coercive Acts included:

The Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid.

The Massachusetts Government Act, which restricted Massachusetts; democratic town meetings and turned the governor’s council into an appointed body.

The Administration of Justice Act, which made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in Massachusetts.

The Quartering Act, which required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, including in their private homes as a last resort.

Governor Ernest Vandiver signed legislation authorizing the construction of monuments to Georgians killed in battle at the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields on March 28, 1961.

Identical 15 1/2-foot-tall monuments of Georgia blue granite were sculpted by Harry Sellers of Marietta Memorials. At the top of the shaft is the word “GEORGIA” over the state seal. Lower on the shaft is the inscription, “Georgia Confederate Soldiers, We sleep here in obedience; When duty called, we came; When Countdry called, we died.”

Georgia’s first “Sunshine Law” requiring open meetings of most state boards and commissions, was signed by Governor Jimmy Carter on March 28, 1972.

A nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania overheated on March 28, 1979 and within days radiation levels had risen in a four county area. It was the most serious accident in commercial nuclear history in the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she doesn’t want to “run for second place” again, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams has made clear that she has no plans to join Joe Biden’s presidential campaign as his running mate.

Abrams told hosts of ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday, “You don’t run for second place.” Abrams added that if she joins the 2020 White House chase it will be on her own.

Under the Gold Dome Today

12:30 PM SENATE RULES 450 CAP
8:15 AM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB
8:30 AM HOUSE JUDICIARY (NON-CIVIL) 132 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 38) House Chamber
1:00 PM SENATE GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT 125 CAP
1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION- CANCELLED 450 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB
2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1
3:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES- CANCELLED 450 CAP
4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION – CANCELLED 310 CLOB
4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY- CANCELLED 307 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE Resolutions Subcommittee of Transportation 506 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SENATE CONVENES AT 10:00 A.M.

NOTICE OF MOTION TO RECONSIDER: HB 171 – Motor vehicles; use of mounts on windshields for the support of wireless telecommunications devices and stand-alone electronic devices under certain circumstances; allow (Substitute)(PUB SAF-29th) Barr-103rd

HB 332 – Agriculture; service of the Commissioner of Agriculture and the president of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation as ex officio members; revise provisions (AG&CA-7th) Meeks-178th

HB 551 – Controlled substances; kratom; provisions (H&HS-53rd) Hill-3rd

HB 446 – Revenue and taxation; timber producers incurring losses from Hurricane Michael; clarify that certain credits that have been transferred shall not be refundable (Substitute)(FIN-11th) Knight-130th

HB 491 – Insurance; regulation of insurance company holding systems; update (I&L-20th) Taylor-173rd

HB 310 – Insurance, Department of; must submit an autism coverage report to General Assembly; move annual due date to June 15 (I&L-25th) Morris-156th

HB 233 – Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act; enact (Substitute)(H&HS-11th) Knight-130th

HB 228 – Marriage; change minimum age from 16 to 17 and require any person who is 17 to have been emancipated (Substitute)(JUDY-18th) Welch-110th

HB 516 – Professions and businesses; profession of professional structural engineer; provide (Substitute)(RI&U-7th) Smith-133rd

HB 91 – Hospitals and health care facilities; Federal Bureau of Investigation to retain fingerprints when an agency or entity is participating in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s program; allow (JUDY-18th) Welch-110th

HB 530 – Education; prohibit parents or guardians from withdrawing or removing a child from a public school for the purpose of avoiding compliance with laws relating to mandatory attendance, school discipline, parental involvement, or parental responsibilities (ED&Y-4th) Hitchens-161st

HB 382 – Outdoor stewardship; eligible applicants for and recipients of the grants; redefine (Substitute)(NR&E-51st) Burns-159th

HB 525 – Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center; rename to Savannah Convention Center (ED&T-1st) Stephens-164th

HB 353 – Insurance; create the crime of staging a motor vehicle collision(Substitute)(JUDY-31st) Carpenter-4th

HB 314 – Georgia Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act; enact (Substitute)(FIN-56th) Stephens-164th

HB 339 – Special license plates; Alabama A&M University; establish(Amendment)(Substitute)(PUB SAF-43rd) McClain-100th

HB 39 – Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Act; enter into an interstate compact (Substitute)(H&HS-14th) Belton-112th

HB 79 – Blind persons; child custody matters; provisions (Substitute)(JUDY-33rd)Gilliard-162nd

HB 257 – Council of Magistrate Court Judges; organization and provide for officers; increase authority (SJUDY-52nd) Scoggins-14th

HB 266 – Revenue and taxation; income for contributions to savings trust accounts; revise deduction (B&FI-27th) Wiedower-119th

HB 281 – Crimes and offenses; pimping and pandering; increase penalty provisions (JUDY-29th) Anulewicz-42nd

HB 321 – Health; hospital Medicaid financing program; extend sunset provision (Substitute)(FIN-17th) Lott-122nd

HB 322 – Local government; advertisement of certain bid or proposal opportunities; change provisions (SLGO(G)-13th) McCall-33rd

HB 367 – Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Act; enact (I&L-16th) Taylor-173rd

HB 458 – Fire protection and safety; use of class B fire-fighting foam for testing purposes if such foam contains a certain class of fluorinated organic chemicals; prohibit (Substitute)(NR&E-56th) Gullett-19th

HB 527 – Quality Basic Education Formula; change program weights for funding purposes (FIN-52nd) Dickey-140th

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

HR 228 – President of the United States and United States Congress; enact legislation securing the citizenship of internationally adopted adult individuals; urge (Substitute)(Judy-Glanton-75th)

Modified Structured Rule

SB 2 – Public Utilities and Public Transportation; electric membership corporations and their affiliates; authorize; broadband services; provide (Substitute)(EU&T-Powell-171st) Gooch-51st

SB 6 – Correctional Institutions of the State and Counties; use of unmanned aircraft systems to deliver or attempt to deliver contraband to a place of incarceration; prohibit (Substitute)(PS&HS-Tanner-9th) Kirkpatrick-32nd

SB 72 – Game and Fish; hunting on wildlife management areas; prohibition; remove (Substitute)(GF&P-Rhodes-120th) Harper-7th

SB 77 – State Flag, Seal, and other Symbols; additional protections for government statues; provide (Substitute)(GAff-Powell-32nd) Mullis-53rd

SB 135 – Workers’ Compensation; certain provisions; change (I&L-Werkheiser-157th) Walker III-20th

House Bill 228 would raise the age for marriage in Georgia, and will be on the floor of the Senate today, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Legislation raising the legal age for marriage to 18 from 16 is slated for a vote today in the Georgia Senate after passing the House, 158 to 13, earlier this year.

HB 228 would allow marriage at age 17 if the party has been emancipated by a court. Currently, Georgians can get married at 16 or 17 with parental consent. The measure is aimed at preventing forced or coerced child marriages.

Floyd County’s House delegates — Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee; and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville — all voted in favor of the change. The proposed legislation was amended in the Senate so, if it passes as expected, it would have to return to the House for a vote to agree.

House Bill 324 on medical cannabis passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee yesterday, according to AccessWDUN.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee approved the Republican-sponsored measure on a vote of 7-2 with several changes. But the author of the bill, Republican Rep. Micah Gravley of Douglasville, said there were “many, many problems” with the updated measure. He didn’t immediately elaborate on what they were.

The revised bill significantly lowers the number of available grow licenses and retail dispensaries but would still allow patients who already can legally possess low-potency marijuana oil access to the product.

The updated proposal would create a state commission that allows Georgia to obtain medical marijuana from other states. “That will be the fastest way for sure to get products our citizens need,” said Sen. Bill Cowsert of Athens, Chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities committee.

The bill would still allow for private producers to be involved but on a much lower scale than what was initially proposed, Cowsert said.

It would only grant growers licenses to two private companies one relatively big and one relatively small. But it would also grant permission for two universities to start a research and manufacturing program for the drug.

“Every morning, when my daughter wakes up, I wait to see when I go into her room: is she going to be breathing or am I going to find her face down in her pillow?” [Shannon] Cloud said through tears, while testifying for the bill. “If that one seizure can be prevented and that’s the one that can take her life, then that’s why we need access to this medicine.”

From the AJC:

Senators said they wanted to limit the legislation to ensure it didn’t create a large marijuana industry that they worry could eventually lead to legalization of recreational marijuana consumption.

“It’s for a very narrow subset of patients who are suffering from illnesses and diseases,” said the committee’s chairman, state Sen. Bill Cowsert, a Republican from Athens. “The original distribution system seemed overly broad for such a small number of patients. It seemed like overkill as far as supply.”

Under the revised bill, medical marijuana oil could initially be obtained from other states by a new Georgia commission and then sold to patients through dispensaries and pharmacies. The legislation would allow two private companies to grow medical marijuana, and two universities could start a research and manufacturing program.

The limitations in the bill appeared to appease sheriffs who have tried to stop expansion of medical marijuana in Georgia. Terry Norris, the executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said he’ll recommend that sheriffs not oppose the bill.

Both chambers agreed to fund $3000 raises for Georgia teachers, according to the AJC.

Georgia teachers can expect a $3,000 pay raise, starting July 1, under a new state spending plan House and Senate leaders agreed to Wednesday.

The measure, approved by budget conferees for the two chambers, also calls for a 2 percent pay raise in the coming year for tens of thousands of state and University System of Georgia employees.

Gov. Brian Kemp has called the $3,000 raise a down payment on his campaign promise — made in the fall — to give teachers a $5,000 raise.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, said of the new budget plan, “It does a good bit to advance the objectives Governor Kemp outlined in his campaign and has outlined since he became governor.”

The airport takover bill has been Frankensteined, according to the AJC.

Georgia House leaders on Wednesday showed the state Senate exactly what they thought of its plan to take over Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

They turned the takeover into a proposal to create a state oversight committee with limited power. They threw in a jet-fuel tax break for air carriers such as Delta Air Lines that Senate leaders haven’t backed. And they tossed in a rural transit bill for good measure.

Whether the newly created mega-bill has a chance of passing, or is meant more as a bargaining position in the final few days of the session, is unclear. The General Assembly session is scheduled to end Tuesday.

The proposal was put together and passed by the House Rules Committee, which is the gatekeeper for what legislation the chamber votes on.

The Gainesville Times looks at why the agriculture industry considers House Bill 545 important.

A bill that passed the state House earlier this month, with all representatives from Hall County voting in support, has its roots in a series of North Carolina lawsuits in recent years that have won hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments for plaintiffs against a large hog farming operator.

“As a result, such facilities are sometimes forced to cease operations,” the bill states, or it discourages new investments, expansion or improvements. “It is the purpose of this (bill) to reduce losses of the state’s agricultural and forest land resources by limiting the circumstances under which agricultural facilities and operations or agricultural support facilities may be deemed to be a nuisance.”

Jeffrey Harvey, director of public policy for the Georgia Farm Bureau, said rulings that occurred in North Carolina “undermined the protections we thought we’ve always had.”

Proponents say the bill is simply clarifying language to protect farms and agricultural operators doing business before neighboring commercial and residential developments were established. They say a one-year statute to file nuisance claims remains the standard.

Some Hollywood types want film production moved out of Georgia if the fetal heartbeat bill passes and is signed into law, according to the AJC.

Fort Gordon began work to build a new Cyber Center of Excellence, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Warner Robins Economic Development Director Gary Lee has been indicted, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The charges stem from a Houston County Sheriff’s Office investigation in June into Lee’s allegations of criminal misconduct against another city employee, Sheriff’s Capt. Jon Holland confirmed. He declined to name the other employee or comment on the case.

Lee alleged another employee committed fraud or forgery. The employee works in the city’s economic development department, Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms said. He declined to elaborate.

Lee is accused of making a false statement during a criminal investigation when he told Sheriff’s Cpl. Eric Salter on June 20 that he did not sign his name to a Warner Robins Alcohol and Control Substance Policy form that he did, in fact, sign the indictment alleged.

Gwinnett County Commissioners revised the development ordinance to allow microbreweries, brewpubs and farm wineries in some areas, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County will apply for a federal grant to study bus rapid transit, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Glenn Martin announced he will run for an open seat on the Lawrenceville City Council, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

27
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 27, 2019

Thomas Jefferson was elected as a Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress on March 27, 1775.

Colonel James Fannin, a Georgia native and Colonel in the Texas Regular Army and more than 300 other members of the Georgia battalion were executed on March 27, 1836 after surrendering to Santa Anna’s Mexican Army. Fannin County, Georgia is named after Col Fannin.

On March 27, 1912, the first Japanese cherry trees were planted on the northern bank of the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. This weekend, Brookhaven will host the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival. For aging GenXers, the band lineup will include Smash Mouth, Spin Doctors, the Romantics, and the Wallflowers.

On March 27, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation outlawing the handling of venomous snakes in such a way as to endanger another person or to encourage another person to handle a snake in such a way as to endanger them. The legislation resulted from a six-year old handling a venomous snake during a church service in Adel, Georgia, during which she was bitten and died. Under that act you could still handle snakes yourself as long as you didn’t endanger someone else.

On March 27, 1947, Governor Melvin Thompson signed legislation that made Georgia a “Right to Work State,” meaning that employees cannot generally be forced to join a union or pay dues in order to take a job. On the same day, gambling on sporting events was outlawed by another bill signed by Gov. Thompson.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Committee Work Day

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS 403 CAP
10:00 AM SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION 450 CAP
11:00 AM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1
11:00 AM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT 310 CLOB
11:00 AM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB
11:00 AM HOUSE EDUCATION 406 CLOB
11:00 AM HOUSE Regulated Industries Alcohol & Tobacco Subcommittee 514 CLOB
1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – CANCELLED MEZZ 1
2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP
2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH – CANCELLED 307 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTH CARE 341 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS 406 CLOB
3:00 PM SENATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM – CANCELLED 125 CAP
3:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES- CANCELLED 450 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee 406 CLOB
3:40 PM HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS – Upon Adjournment of Governmental Affairs Special Elections Subcommittee 406 CLOB
4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

Legislation to enhance penalties for hate crime convictions may have hit a speedbump in the state Senate, according to the AJC.

A Senate committee chairman said he believes legislation creating stiffer penalties for people who commit crimes against people based on hate needs “more time” before he will consider it.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, said he believes victims should have an equal chance at justice and isn’t sure that increased penalties for certain crimes is the best way to go.

The Georgia House earlier this month voted 96-64 to approve a bill that would give sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration, the bill’s sponsor, said he was disappointed it appeared the measure wasn’t going to pass this year. While he’s spoken with some state senators about the measure, the Dacula Republican said he’s not sure of specific concerns.

“I’m aware of bipartisan support for the legislation,” Efstration said. “Until the bill is heard in open committee, it’s hard to assess what any issues could be.”

House Bill 213, which would allow hemp farming in Georgia, passed the Senate by a 45-6 vote, according to the AJC.

Georgia farmers could begin growing hemp for CBD oil, rope and other products, according to a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate voted 45-6 to approve House Bill 213, which would allow the crop as long as it only contains trace amounts of THC, the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

The amended bill now returns to the state House for a final vote.

The Georgia Senate passed legislation to allow citizens to sue governments allegedly acting unconstitutionally, and prohibit sexual extortion, according to The Brunswick News.

State Rep. Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) has proposed funding menstrual products in some schools, according to the Statesboro Herald.

House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, second in command in the Georgia House and one of the highest-ranking elected Republican women in the state, has argued that eliminating the tax for all consumers of menstrual products wouldn’t make a meaningful difference for those who can’t afford the products to begin with. But she thanked advocates of the bill for bringing the issue of affordability to her attention.

Jones has proposed a targeted grant program that would allot $1 million to the state’s Department of Education and at least another $500,000 to county health departments to supply menstrual products, with the amount being adjusted in the future if necessary. The House has already approved a budget allocating $500,000 each for these programs. The Senate has not yet matched that amount, but Jones remains hopeful the final budget will set aside $1 million for schools.

A Valdosta women’s shelter may be forced to close if the house it is renting is sold, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Four museums in Columbus received bomb threats, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) asked House leadership to consider House Resolution 962, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which he co-sponsored, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gwinnett County ranks third-highest in distracted driving convictions per capita, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Augusta Commission Administrative Services Committee voted to demolish the old jail instead of renovating it, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Adairsville became the 99th municipality certified by the National Park Service, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The City of Gainesville is hoping to jumpstart development in midtown through private development of city-owned real estate, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is using federal funds to investigate protecting shorebirds from predators, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Brunswick is considering how to address dilapidated structures in the coastal Georgia city, according to The Brunswick News.

26
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2019

On March 26, 1734, the British House of Commons voted £10,000 to subsidize the Georgia colony, down from £26,000 the previous year.

On March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise, the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published. The author was 23 years old.

On March 26, 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Washington, DC for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the design approved a couple weeks earlier was by 21-year old Yale architecture student Maya Lin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Orders suspending Rebecca McFerrin from her position as Clerk of Court for McIntosh County and appointing a commission to investigate the indictment of Thomasville Mayor Greg Hobbs and recommend whether to suspend him.

The Brunswick News has more on the McFerrin episode.

State Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) was snapped while talking on his cell phone while alone in the HOV lane downtown, according to 11Alive.

Jim Shumake was stuck in standstill traffic, Wednesday, heading south on the Downtown Connector, when he noticed Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) next to him in the HOV lane by himself, talking on a cell phone.

Shumake said he recognized the lawmaker because he had an official tag on his car – SR 101, for “State Representative, District 101.”

“He was not only on his phone, he was driving without hands on the wheel, having a deep conversation in the HOV lane,” Shumake said. “If that was anybody else, we would have been pulled over or received a ticket.”

Park sent [11Alive] an email instead:

“Thank you for reaching out, and allowing me to respond via the following statement regarding the Facebook from yesterday:

“Yesterday, I was heading to my Industry and Labor and Higher Education Committees [at the State Capitol in downtown Atlanta], but got stuck in traffic due to a car accident near the City of Atlanta. To ensure I would not be late to my 2pm hearing, I got onto the HOV lane so I would not miss a vote. I also gave my colleagues a call to update them with where I was. I take very seriously my duties as a State Representative, and I apologize for driving in the HOV lane. I appreciate voters holding me accountable.”

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE JUDICIARY (NON-CIVIL) 132 CAP
8:30 AM HOUSE HB 31 – FY20 BUDGET CONFERENCE COMMITTEE 403 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 37) House Chamber
TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP
12:00 PM HOUSE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 606 CLOB
1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS – CANCELLED 307 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 515 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE Academic Innovation Subcommittee of Education 415 CLOB
2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP
2:00 PM SENATE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT – CANCELED 307 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY (CIVIL) 132 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS 415 CLOB
2:30 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB
3:00 PM NSENATE ATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT – CANCELED 310 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL RULES 415 CLOB
4:00 PM ASENATE GRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP
4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 26 – Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact; enter into an interstate compact (H&HS-14th) Belton-112th

HB 264 – Public officials’ conduct and lobbyist disclosure; persons promoting or opposing any matter regarding the EMSC Program are subject to transparency and lobbyist disclosure laws; provide (Substitute)(RULES-53rd) Werkheiser-157th

HB 59 – Education; military students enroll in public school based on official military orders prior to physically establishing residency; allow (Substitute)(ED&Y-32nd) Belton-112th

HB 83 – Quality Basic Education Act; recess for students in kindergarten and grades one through five; provide (ED&Y-53rd) Douglas-78th

HB 323 – Insurance; administration of claims by pharmacy benefit managers; revise provisions (Substitute)(H&HS-53rd) Knight-130th

HB 171 – Motor vehicles; use of mounts on windshields for the support of wireless telecommunications devices and stand-alone electronic devices under certain circumstances; allow (Substitute)(PUB SAF-29th) Barr-103rd

HB 213 – Georgia Hemp Farming Act; enact (Substitute)(AG&CA-7th) Corbett-174th

HB 253 – Professions and businesses; occupational therapists; update and revise various provisions (RI&U-32nd) Hawkins-27th

HB 315 – Local government; certain agreements from consultants who enter into contracts or arrangements to prepare or develop requirements for bids; provide (Substitute)(GvtO-24th) Newton-123rd

HB 344 – Sales and use tax; mission to advance arts shall not be required to be an organization’s primary mission in order to obtain an exemption for certain sales of tickets for admission to fine arts performances; provide (FIN-14th) Gambill-15th

HB 346 – Property; prohibit retaliation by a landlord against a tenant for taking certain actions (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Cooper-43rd

HB 373 – Labor, Department of; employment security; change certain provisions (Substitute)(I&L-20th) Werkheiser-157th

HB 392 – Board of Public Safety; expense allowance and travel cost reimbursement for members in like fashion as other state boards and commissions; provide (GvtO-7th) Wiedower-119th

HB 459 – Education; driver’s license verification system for school bus drivers; provide (Substitute)(PUB SAF-56th) Ehrhart-36th

HB 493 – Private Permitting Review and Inspection Act; enact (Substitute)(RI&U-30th) Tanner-9th

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

SB 75 – State Board of Veterinary Medicine; professional health program for impaired veterinarians; provide (Substitute)(A&CA-Pirkle-155th) Black-8th

SB 79 – Outdoor Advertising; references to the term “mechanical” in relation to multiple message signs; remove (Substitute)(Trans-Corbett-174th) Gooch-51st

SB 207 – Georgia Board for Physician Workforce; change name; board’s membership; revise (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Burke-11th

Modified Structured Rule

SB 9 – Invasion of Privacy; sexual extortion; prohibit; definitions; elements of the crime; provide (Substitute)(JudyNC-Setzler-35th) Jones II-22nd

SB 29 – Waiver of Immunity for Motor Vehicle Claims; definition to clarify sheriff, deputy sheriff, other agent, servant, or employee of sheriff’s office; include (Judy-Boddie-62nd) Jones II-22nd

SB 83 – Quality Basic Education; elective courses in History and Literature of the Old and New Testament Eras; provisions; revise (Substitute)(Ed-Jasperse-11th) Mullis-53rd

SB 118 – Insurance; Georgia Telemedicine Act; modernize; Telemedicine Act the Telehealth Act; rename (Substitute)(Ins-Taylor-173rd) Unterman-45th

SB 153 – Trauma Scene Cleanup Services; comprehensive regulation; provide (RegI-Powell-32nd) Harper-7th

SB 157 – Public Funds; when funds shall be considered to held by a depository; specify; State Depository Board certain policies andprocedures related to deposit placement programs; establish (B&B-Washburn-141st) Kennedy-18th

SB 158 – “Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act” (Substitute)(JuvJ-Reeves-34th) Strickland-17th

SB 168 – Nurses; certain definitions; revise (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Kirk-13th

Structured Rule

SB 65 – Alternative Ad Valorem Tax on Motor Vehicles; transfer of a title between legal entities owned by the same person; not constitute a taxable event; provide (Substitute)(W&M-Blackmon-146th) Harper-7th

SB 127 – Motor Fuel Tax; electronic filing of certain reports; require (W&M-Carpenter-4th) Hufstetler-52nd

Georgia Health News covers the passage of two bills in the General Assembly yesterday.

The state House passed a high-profile bill Monday that would allow Gov. Brian Kemp to seek health care “waivers’’ from the federal government to expand and improve coverage in Georgia.

And in another big vote, the Senate approved a bill to change Georgia’s controversial certificate-of-need system regulating medical providers.

These votes were part of a flurry of action Monday on major legislation affecting health care in Georgia, including on issues such as HIV, prescription drugs, services for seniors, and a Medicaid budget hole.

The certificate-of need bill that passed the Senate would be less sweeping than an original House proposal restructuring the health care regulatory process.

CON regulates how health care facilities function in Georgia. A provider must get a “certificate of need” from the state to proceed with a major project, such as building or expanding a medical facility or changing what services are available to patients.

Senate Bill 106, the Medicaid waiver bill, passed the Georgia State Senate and is headed to Governor Kemp’s desk, according to AccessWDUN.

The measure authorizing Kemp’s office to pursue a Medicaid waiver passed the House on a 104-67 vote, largely along partisan lines with Republicans in support.

A waiver will give Georgia the flexibility to expand Medicaid more conservatively than federal rules typically allow. The legislation also caps eligibility for any Medicaid expansion to those at or below the federal poverty level, limiting the number of Georgians who could be covered.

In addition to the Medicaid waiver, the bill would allow for another waiver seeking to help stabilize prices on Georgia’s private insurance markets.

Any waiver plan would need to be approved by the federal government.

Republicans arguing for the bill said the measure could lead to lower private insurance premiums and allow Georgia to customize a targeted health care plan.

A Frankenbill has been created in the State Senate in which House Bill 68 received a transplant from Senate Bill 173, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Georgia Educational Scholarship Act — a measure that would divert public school funds to scholarships for private school students under certain conditions — has found new life through House Bill 68 which has been restructured to included the entire once dead Senate Bill 173.

It is a legal move to attach a dead bill to one that has crossed over from one chamber of the Georgia General Assembly to the other as long as both bills fall under the same Georgia code. This is what freshman republican Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, has done by adding the Georgia Educational Scholarship Act to a bill that prohibits certain entities from being student scholarship organizations.

The brand new House Bill 68 has limited changes to the original voucher bill, including language that states a student can only qualify for an account if they meet all of the conditions listed by the bill. Students would have to have parents residing in Georgia, spend the prior year in a public school when full time equivalence was taken (October and March), live in a family with an income at 150 percent of the poverty level, been adopted into foster care, have a parent who is currently in the military, have one of the 11 qualifying disabilities and has a documented case of bullying.

Senate Bill 66 to regulate 5G cellular technology passed the State House yesterday, according to the AJC.

The Georgia House voted 159-3 on Monday to give final approval to Senate Bill 66, which creates statewide regulations for cellphone companies to set up 5G technology equipment on public land. 5G is roughly 10 times faster than cellphones on existing 4G networks.

The legislation applies to companies like AT&T and Verizon that want to install small cells, which are wireless transmitters and receivers about the size of a mini-fridge.

“Now they know they have guaranteed access and a guaranteed process,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Brett Harrell, a Republican from Snellville. “They’re not going to get any impediments with local governments because they know what to expect.”

More than 22 states have already passed similar legislation, said Todd Edwards of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, which advocates for county governments.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visited Jekyll Island to speak to local elections officials, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections officials from all over the state flocked to the Institute of Voter Registrars of Georgia’s 50th conference and the Georgia Election Officials Associations’ 34th, both of which started Sunday and will continue through Wednesday in the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

Raffensperger spoke to the assembled officials about new elections legislation.

“As many of you know, recently we just passed House Bill 316, which is the new voting machine bill, and in it, we had several pieces of legislation that we think moves Georgia forward and we think it’s a very positive development for all of us,” Raffensperger said.

All voting systems in the state now require a printed ballot component, which creates a paper trail and allows elections officials to perform more accurate recounts, Raffensperger said.

Sea Island‘s exemption  has been removed from a bill governing beach protection, according to The Brunswick News.

The portion of House Bill 445 that included an exemption for the Sea Island spit was removed from the bill on Monday.

Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said Monday that a substitute bill was offered to the Senate Rules Committee and was unanimously adopted by the committee. The substitute bill did not include the exemption language regarding the Sea Island spit, a portion of beach-front land below the Cloister Hotel.

The Brunswick News reported Saturday that Sea Island requested and received special treatment for H.B. 445. Department of Natural Resources staff said the bill’s language crafting process was standard operating procedure.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) continues to support “all of the above” energy policies despite local opposition to some forms, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Resolutions opposing offshore drilling and seismic testing are moving through state and local governments, including a resolution that passed unanimously Monday in Pooler and twin resolutions making their way through the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives.

But U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, who began his political career on Pooler’s city council and served as mayor from 1996 to 2004 before being elected to the Georgia house and then senate, is unswayed by the opposition from his adopted hometown. Carter’s congressional district encompasses all the coastal counties.

“I continue to support an all-of-the-above energy policy,” he said in an email Tuesday. “It is irresponsible to not at least see what is out there off the coast.”

Karen Handel announced to no one’s surprise that she will run for Congress, according to WABE.

Georgia’s 6th U.S. House District flipped last November, with Republican incumbent Karen Handel narrowly losing to Democrat Lucy McBath, a political newcomer.

Now, Handel says she’s ready to flip the former Republican stronghold district back.

“Join me today,” Handel asks in a feel-good campaign commercial posted to YouTube. “Together, we will take back the 6th,” she concludes.

The Chatham County Commission committed to funding $700k toward construction of a behavioral health center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The center is a component of the county’s long-term strategic plan, which calls for the county to address mental health issues by educating the public, increasing early intervention, removing barriers, and increasing access to treatment.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am that this is a role that this county has taken and it’s being noticed across the country,” said Commissioner Helen Stone.

The 30-bed center will effectively serve as the mental health “emergency room” on a short-term basis with a 23-hour maximum stay unit and longer term unit expected to serve patients for an average of eight days, according to the staff report. The agreement calls for Gateway to serve at least 100 unduplicated patients each month.

Some Savannah residents want to see only one African-American candidate for mayor, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Trigon Group’s community meeting at the Bolton Street Baptist Church will center on garnering support for just one candidate from the African-American community and include a presentation on African-American voters, according to a flier promoting the event.

“We can’t win supporting two candidates,” the flier states.

Both black candidates said Monday they do not intend on dropping out of the race.

Bibb County is considering paying bonuses to attract and retain deputies and jail officers, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Buford City Schools will create its own police department and hire two school resource officers, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Whitfield County Commissioners will likely tear down Administrative Building 2, which has fallen into disrepair, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Bobby Williams was sworn in as a new Augusta Commissioner, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Williams won a special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Commissioner Andrew Jefferson, which runs through the end of 2020. After Jefferson died, Williams had a conversation with his uncle, William Mills, about whether he should run for the seat. Once they decided to run, “we worked hard,” Mills said. “We never thought about losing.”

Williams was able to win outright in a four-man race that many had widely expected would need to go to a runoff. He got 50.87 percent of the 976 votes cast, according to previous reports in The Augusta Chronicle.