Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2023

Savannah received news of the battle at Lexington on May 10, 1775, leading to a raid of British gunpowder for the colonial effort. On the same day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Second Continental Congress met.

On May 10, 1863, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died a week after being shot at by his own troops.

He died, as he had wished, on the Sabbath, May 10, 1863, with these last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

On May 10, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.

On May 10, 1869, a ceremonial “Golden Spike” was driven in Promontory, Utah, symbolizing completion of a transcontinental railroad line joining the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.

The first observance of Mother’s Day was May 10, 1908 at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

May 11, 1996 was the deadliest day on Mount Everest. “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer is a fantastic chronicle of the deadliest season on Everest.

On May 10, 2006, Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, a Republican, pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering, beginning a streak of Republican State School Supers to leave office under a cloud.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp broke out the special pen he uses for line-item budget vetos. From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Statesboro Herald:

The Republican governor has vetoed 14 bills the General Assembly passed during this year’s legislative session, not including nine vetoes of line items in the $32.4 billion fiscal 2024 state budget he signed late last week.

Other bills Kemp vetoed include:

— House Bill 193 increasing the value of local government public works contracts subject to competitive bidding requirements from $100,000 to $250,000. Kemp argued state contracts worth more than $100,000 must be competitively bid, and he saw no reason to be more lenient with local contracts.

— House Bill 541 expanding Georgia’s “move over” law to apply to any stationary vehicle displaying flashing hazard lights. Kemp argued applying the requirement to such a broad group of emergency vehicles would pose a safety and enforcement hazard.

— Senate Bill 199 allowing the Employee Benefit Plan Council to offer health savings accounts to all eligible state employees to be funded through automatic salary deductions. Kemp wrote the fiscal ramifications of such a step have not been fully explored.

The nine budget line-item vetoes include several projects on Georgia’s public university and technical college campuses to be financed through bonds. In each case, Kemp wrote the projects had not been requested by the University System of Georgia or the Technical College System of Georgia.

The projects include:

— $6 million for a dental school building at Georgia Southern University.

— $6 million to expand a medical building at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

— $4 million for land acquisition for Georgia Piedmont Technical College in DeKalb County.

— $2 million to build a new student services and academic support center at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.

Kemp also vetoed $4 million in bond funding to expand the medical examiner’s office in Bibb County, arguing the project already has received funding.

From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp has blocked $550,000 in state funding for technology intended to reduce wait times when voters check in at their polling places.

Instead, money for the upgrades would have to come from county governments and their taxpayers during next year’s elections.

Kemp wrote in a message that accompanied his line-item vetoes Friday that the secretary of state’s office should disregard an item in the state budget calling for a statewide data plan to connect check-in tablets to a cellphone network. The Republican governor said local governments are responsible for data plan contracts for election equipment.

The connected tablets, called PollPads, reduced early voting check-in times by about a minute per voter during a test run last year, said Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office.

Some of the additional costs that will fall on local election offices are minimal, Sterling said. Network connections cost about $38 per early voting location, or roughly $12,000 for the entire state in each election, Sterling said.

The bulk of the $550,000 in funding would have paid for tablet connections on election day, when many more polling places and tablets are needed. Election officials would be able to remotely monitor check-in times, slowdowns and technical difficulties.

Some nursing instructors will be eligible for educational loan repayment under legislation signed by Gov. Kemp, according to WALB.

Healthcare workers around the state are celebrating a new law that could help keep nurses in the state. A new law will help certain nurses and instructors repay college loans.

The bill states that nursing facility members with at least a master’s degree in nursing are eligible. This incentive is their way to keep nursing instructors keep teaching instead of leaving the profession.

The bill also states that those already employed for at least a year in a nursing program at a University System of Georgia or a Technical College System of Georgia can get up to $100,000 in student loan repayments over the course of five years.

Almost one-third of the nursing workforce could be retiring in the next decade, according to the National Institute of Health. Health professionals say they are worried about the future of healthcare.

The talk about new incentives has been a priority in several healthcare facilities to combat the many challenges healthcare workers face daily.

Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 129 to allow workers two hours off to vote, according to the AJC.

Workers in Georgia can take up to two hours off to cast a ballot during early voting, under a bill Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Thursday. The law also requires more frequent audits of election results.

The new law expands on an existing statute that guarantees two hours of unpaid voting time for workers on Election Day.

“This bill would further empower Georgians to participate in one of the most important civic duties,” said state Sen. Rick Williams, a Republican from Milledgeville and the sponsor of Senate Bill 129.

Workers seeking time off will have to notify their employer in advance, and then the employer will decide on a time when workers can be absent.

Gov. Kemp signed local legislation allowing Savannah to raise the Hotel-Motel tax, according to WTOC.

Visitors to the Hostess City will soon pay a little more for a room now that Governor Brian Kemp has signed a hotel-motel tax increase into law.

The law brings Savannah’s tax rate up to 8% from 6%.

City leaders and local lawmakers told WTOC back in March that the change puts them on par with other places like Tybee Island and Macon.

“This was a seven-year journey. For us to get to this point where visitors help to pay for things that visitors enjoy, but that we all enjoy is a huge shift and another opportunity for us to be able to expand our financial and revenue streams,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

The mayor says Tuesday’s signing paves the way for the council to change the city’s tax code.

From WSAV:

The hotel motel tax in Savannah is finally going to be on the rise. It comes after Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 718 which now paves the way for Savannah to increase the tax from 6% to 8%.

Michael Owens, CEO of the Savannah Tourism Council explained, “Hotel motel tax is really built to invest in tourism. Our folks are by and large pretty excited about the opportunities that this higher tax can bring.”

Today, Mayor Van Johnson further explained the advantage of the two percent increase.

“To get to this point where visitors help to pay for things that visitors enjoy is a huge shift for us to be able to expand our financial and revenue streams,” Johnson said.

“What we will ultimately do is we will have total renovation of River Street. I see it being play spaces I see it being splash pads, more performance. It’s going to be epic. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us.”

Based on the 2022 tourism numbers, the city would have brought in an extra $12 million with an 8% tax in place.

As of now, the mayor says the city will look to start collecting in the fall.

Medical cannabis is making its way to Georgia patients after more than eight years of waiting. From the Valdosta Daily Times:

The rocky battle toward bringing the medicine to shelves in Georgia ended late last month with the opening of two medical marijuana dispensaries operated by Trulieve — one at 3556 Riverside Drive in Macon and the other at 220 Cobb Parkway in Marietta.

Another customer at the Macon facility — a 37-year-old who did not want to be identified — said he’s been obtaining medical marijuana in the “black market.” He has a Georgia Low THC Oil Card to treat post traumatic stress disorder, which he said often triggers his attention-deficit disorder.

In 2015, lawmakers approved the Low THC Oil Patient Registry in 2015, which allows Georgia patients to possess 20 fluid ounces of Low THC Oil within the state, though the medication was not available in the state.

Medical cannabis is allowed to be sold in non-smokable forms such as tinctures, topical creams, tincture drops and capsules, which are priced at approximately $40.

“There’s always a place for growth,” Andrey Mathurin, general manager of the Macon Trulieve. “And now we are going to be looking to add to our product list. But of course, we’re going to do as much as we can, legally, of course.”

Medical marijuana products are not covered by insurance and must be paid for out-of-pocket.

“Customers can tell us what they would like or let us know their conditions, and we can go from there to help them pick which product would best suit them,” Mathurin said.

As long as their THC card is active, customers can purchase as much product as they would like.

According to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, since 2015 the Low-THC Oil Patient Registry has grown from 13,000 to more than 27,000 registered patients. That number is expected to grow as medical cannabis becomes more widely available.

A Hollywood writers’ strike is affecting Georgia businesses, according to WALB.

Dozens of cameras and lenses typically used on TV and film sets in Atlanta are sitting stagnant inside Otto Nemenz International in Norcross.

“It’s all just sitting here until the strike ends,” manager Pat Smart said. “Basically, we are on hold.”

The camera warehouse typically makes money by renting equipment out for productions like Jumanji, Dynasty, and MacGyver. But, with the writers’ strike in full swing, Smart says there is virtually no one who needs their equipment.

“We were just getting ready to start a show. We had just received notice on Friday afternoon that it was going to be our show, and Friday evening, the news came out that the show had been stopped because of the writer’s strike,” Smart said.

Smart says he may have to reduce work hours for his staff. But others in the Atlanta entertainment industry are already out of a job, like cinematographer Paul Krumper.

Krumper says the strike is creating a trickle-down effect, impacting things like local hotels and restaurants that won’t benefit from a film crew is in town. Or police officers who won’t be employed to patrol productions. And even people who work in the lumber industry, won’t be needed to build sets or props.

Tybee Island began asking for law enforcement support ahead of Orange Crush, according to WTOC.

In an early April email chain between Tybee Island police chief Tiffany Hayes and Sgt. Joseph Curlee with the Georgia State Patrol, Hayes says: “We are planning on heavy traffic coming on the island on April 22 and 23 for Orange Crush. Would it be possible to have a unit or two help with traffic during these dates?”

GSP Sgt. Curlee responded saying: “The nighthawks will be doing a crime suppression detail with Savannah PD on the 22 and are off on the 23, so we won’t be available.”

A week later, on April 12, Tybee city manager Shawn Gillen messaged Chief Hayes about getting help ahead of Orange Crush saying: “If the Sheriff is still bugging you, you can let him know that we are bound by an agreement with the US Justice Department.”


Brunswick area leaders met to discuss homelessness, according to The Brunswick News.

Pastors and representatives of nonprofit organizations from around the Golden Isles gathered at Zion Baptist Church on Monday with a single goal: figure out what the collective of faith leaders and their congregations could do to help address the issue of homelessness.

Zion is located one block over from the former St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, where the Revs. Leonard Small of Savannah and Zack Lyde of Brunswick set up a tent for homeless people to use as a shelter at the corner of Gordon and G streets. They did so after the City Commission imposed a 65-day closure on The Well, a daytime shelter and hospitality center for the homeless on Gloucester Street, which began on April 22.

Small, pastor of Litway Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, and Lyde opened the doors of the derelict St. John’s church building at the corner of G and Gordon streets to the homeless after The Well closed. Brunswick code enforcement shut down the church and had it boarded up last week after declaring it unfit for occupancy, prompting the pastors to put up a tent.

Code enforcement cited Small for both housing people in the derelict building and putting up the tent. Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones, who also attended, said Small has a May 24 court date.

Jones noted that since The Well’s closure, police calls for service and interactions with homeless persons are down 70% in the downtown area.

When asked directly why the city commission had closed The Well, Jones said four homeless people alleged by police to have been involved in violent crimes in the last month said they had recently been to The Well or received mail from The Well.

It’s nearly impossible for the Brunswick Police Department to be proactive with heading off issues at any one particular location, Jones responded. The department continues to struggle to fill open positions. Of the 72 officers the department has in its budget, only 38 are filled. Some shifts have only three officers on patrol, instead of the seven the department is supposed to field.

He also reiterated that several other jurisdictions, including Savannah and Camden County law enforcement, regularly bring homeless people to Brunswick and drop them off at truck stops off I-95.

The Glynn County Board of Elections and Registration elected officers, according to The Brunswick News.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2023

On May 9, 1862, a Union general, David Hunter, ordered the freedom of all slaves held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, but President Lincoln issued a counter-order.

In Georgia on May 9, 1864, Union troops under General Sherman took Snake Creek Gap. In Atlanta, a notice was published,

“ATTENTION MILITIA! All persons between the ages of 16 and 60, not in the service of the Confederate States, in the second ward, are hereby notified to be and appear at the City Hall today, at 2 o’clock P.M., for the purpose of being armed and equipped for local defense. Herein fail not under penalty.”

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 9, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary opened hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

On May 9, 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation recognizing the Green Tree Frog as the official state amphibian.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp’s office announced that April Net State Tax Revenues were down 16.5% over the previous year, according to a press release.

The State of Georgia’s net tax collections for April totaled $4.19 billion for a decrease of $829.5 million, or -16.5 percent, compared to April 2022, when net tax collections totaled $5.01 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled $27.79 billion for an increase of $256.9 million, or 0.9 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year, when net tax revenues totaled $27.54 billion at the end of April 2022.

The changes within the following tax categories help further explain April’s overall net tax revenue decrease:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax (IIT) collections decreased by roughly $1.02 billion, or -32.4 percent, to a total of $2.14 billion compared to last year, when Income Tax collections totaled $3.16 billion.

The sharp year-over-year decline in IIT revenues is due in large part to the first-year implementation of HB 149, passed in 2021, that permits certain pass-through entities such as S-Corporation and partnerships to make entity-level tax elections on behalf of their individual partners, beginning with tax year 2022 returns filed in 2023. In addition, the impact of HB 149 is reflected in the significant year-to-date increases in corporate income tax revenue throughout the current fiscal year.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net decrease:

• Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were down $379.7 million, or -37.9 percent.
• Individual Withholding payments increased by $84.2 million, or 7.2 percent, compared to FY 2022.
• Individual Income Tax Return payments were down roughly $1.21 billion, or -49.4 percent, from last year.
• All other Individual Tax categories, including Non-Resident payments, were down a combined $281.3 million.

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections for the month totaled almost $1.59 billion, for an increase of $47.1 million, or 3.1 percent, over FY 2022. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by $19 million, or 2.4 percent, from April 2022, when net sales tax totaled $804.4 million. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $756.4 million for an increase of $26.7 million, or 3.7 percent, over last year, while sales tax refunds increased by $1.4 million, or 34.5 percent, compared to April 2022.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections increased by $33.2 million, or 4.7 percent, compared to the previous year, when Corporate Tax collections totaled $711.2 million for the month.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

• Corporate Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $40.4 million, or 254.8 percent.
• Corporate Income Tax Return payments increased by $66 million, or 27.4 percent, over April 2022.
• Corporate Income Tax Estimated payments decreased by $68.4 million, or -15.3 percent, from last year.
• All other Corporate Tax types, including S-Corp and Partnership payments, were up a combined $76 million.

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections increased by $87.5 million, or 83.5 percent, over FY 2022.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees increased by nearly $1.4 million, or 4.1 percent, while Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections increased by $2.3 million, or 3 percent, compared to last year, when TAVT collections totaled almost $77 million.

From the AJC:

State tax collections were way down in April, as Gov. Brian Kemp’s economic team predicted, making it less likely Georgians will see the kind of tax rebates next spring they’ve gotten the past two years.

April marked the second consecutive month tax collections, which pay for K-12 schools, universities, public health care, law enforcement, roads and parks, have been down from 2022.

For the first 10 months of fiscal 2023, which ends June 30, collections are less than 1% ahead of last year, by far the worst performance for the state since the beginning of the pandemic. That means the state won’t finish the fiscal year with the kind of massive surpluses that paid for tax rebates.

Four Democratic state legislators are calling for a special legislative session to pass gun control laws, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

State Sen. Nabilah Islam and state Reps. Pedro Marin, Gregg Kennard and Ruwa Romman, all Democrats, signed the letter, which was sent to the governor on Monday. The call for a special session comes on the heels of the shooting at a Northside Hospital facility in midtown as well as another incident in Moultrie last week, and a shooting at mall in Texas over the weekend.

“For many years, the Georgia General Assembly has passed legislation that has made it easier for dangerous individuals and individuals experiencing mental health crises to acquire and possess firearms,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “This legislation has been signed into law by you and your predecessors. At the same time, our communities have been forced to endure mass casualty events that have become more frequent and more deadly because of these laws.”

Additional Democrats in the General Assembly came out in support of the call for a special session after news about the letter emerged on Monday. The Georgia House Democratic Caucus announced legislators will hold a press conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday morning to reiterate the call for a special session.

“But we believe that this crisis can no longer be ignored,” they wrote. “Therefore, we request that, under the authority granted to you by the Georgia State Constitution, you immediately and without delay call a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to specifically address firearm related public safety.”

Georgia’s Republican National Committeewoman Ginger Howard spoke to the Golden Isles Republican Women meeting, according to The Brunswick News.

“The 2022 elections did not work out,” she said. “Everybody wants someone to blame. So many factors go into a campaign and there are many reasons things fall apart.”

She said consultants hired to help with campaigns don’t care who wins or loses — they get paid regardless of the outcome.

“A lot of time you don’t know what you are getting into,” Howard said. “Anyone who puts their name on a ballot, God bless you.”

“United we win, divided we lose,” she said. “We are a circular firing squad. The Democrats are beating us up with younger people.”

Howard said voters between the ages of 18 and 30 are voting 2-1 in favor of Democrats.

The way to reach younger voters and convince them to vote Republican can be achieved with the help of “influencers” who will reach out via social media.

“We’ve got to reach younger people,” she said.

The state party is planning to launch a campaign called “Unite the Right.” The campaign is still in the developmental stage, including a youth advisory board to create a social media campaign.

Statesboro and Bulloch County have agreed upon a new location for a voting place, according to the Statesboro Herald.

After a 3-0 vote Monday by the Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration, the county and city are both proposing to make the community building at Luetta Moore Park the new voting place for their precincts that formerly voted in the cafeteria at the William James Educational Complex.

Last week the city clerk placed a new notice in the Statesboro Herald for a hearing during the 5:30 p.m.  May 16 City Council meeting, again citing the “Luetta Moore Building,” formally the Jones-Love Cultural Center at Luetta Moore Park on Martin Luther King Jr.  Drive, as the proposed voting place.

The county Board of Elections and Registration’s decision is separate, affecting what is called simply the “Statesboro” precinct for county, state and federal elections. But officials have expressed a desire to keep them in the same voting place to avoid confusing voters.

Dougherty County Commissioners are considering a surcharge to cover jail costs, according to the Albany Herald.

The Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office is asking county commissioners to help it establish a rainy day fund to pay for maintenance and save for the day when a new jail complex is needed.

On Monday, Sheriff’s Col. Jon Ostrander requested that Dougherty County commissioners approve a 10% surcharge that would be added to bonds and court fines earmarked for those purposes.

“A jail facility, that’s hard use,” said the colonel, who is in charge of jail operations. “We’re the only facility in the county where people are trying to destroy the facility 24 hours a day.

The current jail cost $32 million, and replacing it today would be about double that amount, Ostrander said. Georgia law allows for the imposition of fees on bonds and court fines to help fund jail construction, operational costs and staffing.

“SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) won’t cover that,” Ostrander said of the construction costs. “There is just not enough money there to build a new facility. The only possible way we could do this is to have a funding source separate from the general fund, separate from SPLOST.”

Two commissioners brought up the issue of the possible extra burden the additional fees would have on individuals who are struggling to afford bail.

“Can you ask people who are presumably innocent, ‘well, you have to pay an extra 10% to get out of jail?’” Commissioner Gloria Gaines said. “It’s a double-edged sword. You have people in jail who cannot afford a bond, plus they’re costing us money.”

Watkinsville Police Chief Shannon Brock resigned for health reasons, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Deputy Chief Todd Tetterton has been appointed as interim chief. City officials said they have not decided when they will begin the process of hiring a new chief. Tetterton, an employee since January 2020, has 35 years of experience in law enforcement, according to the city.

City officials, in the news release, touted Brock’s tenure as chief. They noted he has upgraded technology, provided body cameras for officer, and overseen the patrol fleet. He hired the first female officer for the department and worked on improving relationships with other law enforcement agencies and participating in community events with seniors and children-related endeavors.

Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams is under investigation, according to WRDW.

[T]he Georgia Bureau of Investigation has announced it will be conducting a limited preliminary inquiry into allegations and concerns regarding Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams and the sheriff’s office.

The I-TEAM recently uncovered the sheriff is under fire for missing funds, $53,000, and a separate GBI investigation regarding training records.

Burke County says they presented a lot of evidence to the GBI, they took the evidence to the District Attorney Jared Williams.

According to the GBI, the investigation is active and ongoing.

From WJBF:

Sheriff Williams’ office responded to our question about the nature of the investigation, stating:

“The GBI was asked by the District Attorney [Jared Williams] conduct a non-criminal preliminary inquiry to look at travel and reimbursement expenses related to my work, both as sheriff of Burke County and as an instructor with a private company, LHLN.  My role as sheriff is very unique. I believe a thorough sifting of the duties and role of sheriff, combined with servant leadership influence and taking ownership of our profession, I am confident the GBI will find I acted within the scope of the office of sheriff and within the confines of my constitutional authority. I respect the DA’s decision to have this non-criminal preliminary inquiry reviewed and I value the role of the GBI and the integrity they bring. Again, I remain confident that a thorough sifting of the facts of the inquiry will prove there is no criminal wrongdoing. My office has fully cooperated with the investigation.”

Alfonzo Williams, Burke County Sheriff


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2023

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

I like how WTOC partners with the local junior high school to put a 12-year old reporter on camera.

Governor Brian Kemp signed the state budget for FY 2024, according to a Press Release.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 5, 2023

Georgia and American History

On May 6, 1789, the Constitutional Convention in Augusta, Georgia adopted a new Georgia Constitution.

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

On May 5, 1886, Jefferson Davis attended a public reception at Savannah, Georgia’s City Hall.

Jefferson Davis spoke in Savannah, Georgia on May 6, 1866.

Davis … defend[ed] the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers.

Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”

Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on May 5, 1904.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running the mile.

For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility. The world record for a mile was 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds, set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945. Despite, or perhaps because of, the psychological mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, several runners in the early 1950s dedicated themselves to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone.

At 6 p.m., the starting gun was fired. In a carefully planned race, Bannister was aided by Chris Brasher, a former Cambridge runner who acted as a pacemaker. For the first half-mile, Brasher led the field, with Bannister close behind, and then another runner took up the lead and reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 3 minutes 0.4 seconds, with Bannister at 3 minutes 0.7 seconds. Bannister took the lead with about 350 yards to go and passed an unofficial timekeeper at the 1,500-meter mark in 3 minutes 43 seconds, thus equaling the world’s record for that distance. Thereafter, Bannister threw in all his reserves and broke the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. As soon as the first part of his score was announced–”three minutes…”–the crowd erupted in pandemonium.

A “sub-four” is still a notable time, but top international runners now routinely accomplish the feat. Because a mile is not a metric measurement, it is not a regular track event nor featured in the Olympics. It continues, however, to be run by many top runners as a glamour event.

Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight that reached an altitude of 115 miles, during which he experienced about five minutes of ‘weightlessness.’ He was launched in the 2,000-lb. capsule Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The flight traveled 302 miles at a speed relative to the ground of 4,500 mph. The mission was named Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 6, 1984, Spinal Tap played a “comeback show” at CBGB’s in New York.

On May 6, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta was the most dangerous city in America.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succeed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1997.

Happy Birthday on Sunday to Bill Kreutzman, one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead. On Kreutzman’s 31st birthday, the Dead played at Boston Garden. The next night was the legendary Cornell show.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia’s Secretary of State set March 12, 2024 as the date for the Presidential Preference Primary, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2023

May 3d is National Widow’s Day.

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

On May 4, 2003, I had the fortune of marrying the first Mrs. GaPundit. Happy Anniversary.

For tomorrow, Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You! I’ll be taking the day off unless something earth-shattering happens. Like, say, the Supreme Court overruling a nearly-50-year old precedent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) says her summer announcement will be YUGE historical, according to Atlanta News First via WALB.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is planning to make a “historical decision” this summer following a letter she sent to Fulton County officials regarding an investigation into former president Donald Trump.

“That decision may displease people,” Willis said at an event Tuesday at Atlanta City Hall honoring volunteers of the Court Watch Program. “No matter what they feel about it, I support 100 percent, 1,000 percent, their right to protest. I do not support the ability to destroy property or to harm anyone, including laws enforcement, my staff and my family.”

Governor Brian Kemp signed a number of healthcare bills, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Ledger-Enquirer.

A law granting welfare benefits to pregnant women was among a package of a dozen health-related bills signed into law in Georgia Tuesday.

“We’re taking important steps to improve access to and quality of health care,” Gov. Brian Kemp said during a signing ceremony inside the Georgia Capitol.

Federal law currently allows low-income pregnant women to receive cash aid through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, but Georgia law does not. The General Assembly overwhelmingly passed House Bill 129 to rectify that.

Kemp pledged in his State of the State address in January to push for legislation extending TANF benefits to pregnant women. The bill was introduced by freshman state Rep. Soo Hong, R-Lawrenceville, one of the governor’s floor leaders in the House.

• House Bill 85, which requires insurance companies to cover biomarker testing if supported by medical and scientific evidence.

• House Bill 383, increasing penalties for assaulting a health-care worker.

• House Bill 295, beefing up consumer protections against surprise billing.

• Senate Bill 46, requiring testing of all pregnant women for HIV and syphilis.

• Senate Bill 106, creating a three-year pilot program providing coverage for remote maternal clinical health services.

• Senate Bill 223, requiring reimbursements of expenses incurred by patients participating in cancer clinical trials.

The Rome News-Tribune had a couple of local additions to the Capitol Beat Story:

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a package of a dozen bills related to health care Tuesday, including legislation sponsored by Floyd County delegates Sen. Chuck Hufstetler and Rep. Eddie Lumsden.

The RN-T story then notes which of the bills signed yesterday were sponsored by Sen. Hufstetler or Rep. Lumsden.

From the AJC on HB 129:

“It will be another promise kept,” Kemp said Tuesday at a bill signing event.

Lawrenceville Republican state Rep. Soo Hong filed House Bill 129 on Kemp’s behalf.

In recent years, the Legislature approved bills that aim to improve the state’s dismal maternal mortality rate. For example, the state extended the amount of time low-income Georgia mothers can receive benefits under Medicaid, the public health program that provides care to the poor and disabled, from two months to one year after the birth of a child.

Under HB 129, low-income women will soon be able to apply to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program while pregnant. Currently, those women are only eligible for TANF, commonly known as welfare, once a child is born.

To qualify now for welfare, a child must be in a home with one parent, or if two parents are in the home, one must be physically or mentally incapacitated. School-age children must be immunized and have an acceptable school attendance record. There also are income requirements. For example, a family of three must have a gross income below $784 a month.

WALB has a more complete list of legislation signed by Gov. Kemp as does State Affairs.

From StateAffairs:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed into law nearly three dozen bills, many of them related to health care. Tuesday’s signings were the first of two bill events scheduled for this week, with the governor expected to sign more on Friday.

“I want to thank Gov. Brian Kemp for all of his support during my first session in this office,” Lt. Gov. Burt Jones said. “As of May 2, the governor has signed nine of my legislative priorities into law. I ran on three important issues: boosting Georgia’s workforce, standing with our law enforcement to strengthen public safety, and supporting Georgia’s children and families across our state. That is exactly what we delivered this past session.”

“Governor Kemp has been a strong partner working with the General Assembly over the last five years to enact prudent legislation and pass conservative, balanced budgets,” said Kaleb  McMichen, deputy chief of staff for House Speaker Jon Burns. “This legislative session reflects that team approach. We look forward to concluding the bill signing period and beginning work over the interim on House priorities including early childhood education and public safety.”

Governor Kemp issued an unusual signing statement with Senate Bill 115:

Senate Bill 115 seeks to ensure sportsman have use of Georgia’s navigable rivers. My office has received many calls both in support of and some in opposition to this piece of legislation. After careful analysis, I have signed Senate Bill 115 for the following reasons.

One, the state has invested millions of dollars collected through license fees to establish fisheries and boat ramps and to manage recreational fishing populations in our rivers. Two, this legislation does not affect non-navigable rivers or streams or change the definition of navigability. The definition of navigability is codified in a different subsection of this statute: O.C.G.A. § 44-8-5(a). Three, this legislation does not impact the use of water by adjacent landowners in navigable rivers. Four, this statute does not create a private right of action. Any implied private right of action is abrogated by statute. See O.C.G.A. § 9-2-8.

This bill allows for the public to hunt, fish, and transit the navigable waters of this state – an embodiment of the principle of sic vos non vobis and a privilege that has been assured Georgians for generations. To the extent some believe it stands for more, House Resolution 519 establishes the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources. This study committee will meet between legislative sessions this summer and is the appropriate venue to receive suggested amendments to the language in Senate Bill 115.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

Senate Bill 115, which the governor inked late Monday, guarantees Georgians’ right to fish in navigable portions of the state’s rivers and streams.

Fishing rights didn’t become an issue until a property owner along a portion of the Flint River asserted its exclusive right to control fishing from the bank on its side of the river to the center of the stream and banned fishing there.

Four Chimneys LLLP, which owns a stretch of the Flint along Yellow Jacket Shoals, sued the state alleging failure to enforce the ban and won an agreement from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in late March promising to enforce the ban.

Senate Bill 115 cleared the Senate overwhelmingly minutes after midnight on March 30. The bill had passed the House on the night of the 29th — the 40th and final day of the 2023 session — but not without dozens of “no” votes from lawmakers apparently unhappy with the 11th-hour process used to pass it.

The governor also acknowledged there seems to be some uncertainty about the bill’s language. He said the upcoming House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources will provide an opportunity for clarity.

On a busy day for bill signing, the governor also inked legislation to:

• guarantee Georgia public school teachers a daily planning period.
• apply the state sales tax to digital downloads.
• ban TikTok from devices owned by the state government.
• do away with the sunset provision on a law prohibiting the state and local governments from requiring Georgians to show proof of COVID vaccination in order to receive government services.

Gov. Kemp also signed Senate Bill 56 to extend the state’s sales tax to digital downloads. From the AJC:

According to state estimates, the digital download tax provisions in Senate Bill 56 are expected to bring in $80 million in state and local sales taxes in the upcoming fiscal year, $172 million the following year and more than $200 million a year by fiscal 2028.

The bill passed on the 40th and final day of the legislative session. The digital download portion of the bill will take effect Jan. 1.

The digital download measure took a long and winding road through the General Assembly. For years, House members have proposed taxes on digital products, such as Netflix subscriptions and downloads of songs. The bills have usually stalled well before the finish line.

This year, a bill proposed by Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, was the latest bid to bring digital sales in line with taxes paid when Georgians buy similar products from local stores.

Carpenter’s bill included downloads of things such as books, video games and music that a buyer retains possession of. It didn’t call for taxing streaming services — such as Netflix — or subscription-based products.

“I know when the House sends something over with this many measures it’s hard to keep up with them,” Hufstetler told colleagues on the 40th day. “It’s fair to say whichever way you sell something, it should be taxed equally.”

From 11Alive:

You’ll have to pay state and local sales taxes on anything you buy and download to keep, beginning in January.

As it is, book buyers in Georgia, for example, know that when they buy the digital version of a book and download it, right now they don’t have to pay any sales taxes on it.

But customers who buy printed books, either in person or online, know that they have to pay state and local sales taxes.

Starting in January in Georgia, whatever people buy and download — such as eBooks, music, knitting patterns, video games, you name it — will have Georgia state and local sales taxes added to the purchase price.

The new digital download sales tax will not apply to everything people download.

It will not apply, for example, to online subscriptions; so newspapers that people download as part of their subscriptions will still be tax free.

But the author of the new law tells 11Alive that next year he will work to tax online subscriptions, as well, as part of the state’s long-range plan of taxing in-person and online sales the same.

Governor Kemp is considered likely to sign House Bill 221 today, giving the Insurance Commissioner greater authority over some auto insurance rates, according to the AJC.

“What are you going to do about auto insurance rates?” King told a House committee, recalling those conversations on the campaign trail. “And when I told them I had no authority to at least negotiate with companies, they couldn’t believe that.”

King hopes House Bill 221, which Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign into law Wednesday, will give him a little more authority to review auto insurance rate hikes before they take effect.

Auto insurance rates in Georgia have skyrocketed since the General Assembly in 2008 changed state law to let new rates take effect immediately once a company filed them with the insurance commissioner’s office. Previously, companies needed prior approval from the commissioner, and insurers fought to change the law for years, saying then-Commissioner John Oxendine’s decisions were sometimes made based on politics, not actuarially sound decisions.

Under HB 221, rate hikes on most coverage could not take effect for at least 60 days unless approved by the commissioner, giving the office more time to review them.

“We’re committed to maintaining and sustaining the market. I don’t want any insurance company to leave this state,” he told members of the House Insurance Committee. “I want to be able to have the authority to negotiate with the companies about how they impact Georgia consumers.”

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb was confirmed as Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) by the DJJ Board, according to a press release.

She had been serving as Interim Commissioner since December, 2022.

“Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb has demonstrated excellent leadership and proactively worked to keep the Department of Juvenile Justice operating efficiently since taking over as Interim Commissioner,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “I have the utmost confidence she will build on the work of the past few months in the days ahead to ensure DJJ helps youth involved in the justice process grow into productive citizens.”

Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb was appointed Interim Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice in 2022 by Governor Brian Kemp. She is responsible for the daily operation of more than 3,400 employees that hold justice-involved youth accountable.

Prior to her appointment, Interim Commissioner Reynolds-Cobb served as Assistant Commissioner and Chief of Staff, overseeing the operational aspects of the department, including the Division of Administrative Services, Division of Community Services, Division of Secure Facilities, Division of Treatment and Care, and Office of Professional Development and Standards.

Interim Commissioner Reynolds-Cobb has 30 years of experience in government service, beginning with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in 1993 where she managed the daily operations of the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program, including the DUI Sign Program, Restitution Program, and the Training and Outreach Program. She also oversaw the Division budget and was the Legislative Liaison for the Council. In 2011, she joined the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice as Deputy Commissioner of Administrative Services.

Mrs. Reynolds-Cobb earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University in 1994 and a master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.

Governor Kemp also signed Senate Bill 65 to allow the state to stand up an alternative to the federal healthcare marketplace website, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

The Republican governor said during a ceremony at the state Capitol that the law would create a better way of people “knowing and comparing their health care insurance options” and bring “further competition to the field.”

“Georgians know their needs and those of their families best,” he said.

Senate Bill 65, allowing the state marketplace, took effect with Kemp’s signature. It reverses an earlier law which blocked the state from establishing its own health care exchange. That law was part of an effort to blockade Georgia from participating in the Affordable Care Act under then-President Barack Obama. However, the federal government has been providing coverage through the website, and nearly 900,000 Georgians signed up for individual coverage during the yearly enrollment period that ended Jan. 15.

Insurance Department spokesperson Weston Burleson said Georgia officials hope to launch the state marketplace as early as this November. However, federal officials could push back Georgia’s launch date until 2024. Federal rules usually require states to spend at least 15 months constructing their own marketplace.

Kemp administration officials say they’re prepared to launch the marketplace quickly because of all the work they did on the earlier proposal, on which they spent at least $31 million.

Details of the merger of Augusta University Health into Wellstar are becoming public, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr received the notice on Friday, kicking off a legal review followed by a public hearing. This also means that the agreement is finalized and can be released to the public for the first time.

The 89 documents included in the notice to the attorney general’s office offers in detail what the transfer will mean, including a cover letter outlining the highlights of the agreement.

The cover letter notes that the transaction is not a sale; Wellstar will become the “sole corporate member” of AU Health. The agreement comes with a hefty financial commitment from Wellstar − $797 million spent over 10 years. This includes:

• Construction of the Columbia County Hospital and moving the Surgery Center of Columbia County;
• Implementing the Epic Electronic Health Record System (which the state contributed $105 million to earlier this year);
• $31 million a year for the first two years of the agreement spent at the AU Medical Center Campus; and,
• $139 million spent on capital projects at the AU Medical Center in Augusta in years three through 10 of the agreement.

About a quarter of the spending is subject to performance, meaning Wellstar can defer $201 million of the spending if the AU Health System is not operating with a 2% operating margin.

Wellstar and AU Health will work to establish a regional medical campus for Medical College of Georgia students at Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center in Marietta.

Wellstar will take on some of AU Health’s debt, and commits in the meantime on working to avoid violating the terms of the debt.

Other documents outlined in the cover letter include an agreement to allow AUMC to continue as the primary teaching hospital for the Medical College of Georgia, an agreement to allow MCG faculty to provide medical services through Wellstar, the leases and the development agreement for the Columbia County Hospital. The attached development agreement; however, is unfinished and consists of one page reading “to be provided upon completion.”

Some election check-in tablets were stolen from DeKalb County, according to the AJC.

Police are investigating the theft of 19 voter check-in tablets from a DeKalb County warehouse, but Georgia election officials say the crime didn’t put voters’ information at risk.

The new devices hadn’t been loaded with any voter data, and they don’t generate ballots or count votes, said Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

The tablets, called PollPads, went missing from a former Sam’s Club store in Stonecrest that the county uses as an equipment warehouse, Hassinger said. An exit door had fresh pry marks where thieves might have gained entry between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

Savannah might have a spicy race for City Council district three, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In the Savannah City Council District 3 election race, two candidates have previous charges from Savannah Police, according to records acquired by Savannah Morning News.

An open records request for Savannah police narrative reports involving each of the four District 3 candidates revealed these arrests and other incidents of note. The public records query was prompted by reports of disorderly conduct charge against one of the candidates, Malik Jones, and allegations from community members that another of the challengers, Todd Rhodes, had an arrest record.

Jones, who works as a motivational speaker, was charged with disorderly conduct earlier this year after he attempted to retrieve his improperly placed campaign signs from the back of a city code compliance truck.

Following the publishing of reports about Jones’ incident, accusations emerged about Rhodes and a 2015 dispute with his wife. The altercation led to two domestic violence charges: one for simple battery and one for cruelty to children.

The incumbent, Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan, has no charges with Savannah Police, though she was listed in a report from an incident in February. Officers responded to a complaint that involved her blocking entry to a business’s parking lot with her car, preventing another driver from making a delivery.

Clinton Cowart has no charges with Savannah Police, only calls for service, most of which involve reports of larceny.

For municipal elections, the city clerk, Mark Massey, serves as the elections supervisor and will hear any challenges to the eligibility of candidates. In 2020, a resident called for a challenge to Chatham County Commission candidate Tony Riley, who had been convicted of a felony and served time in prison. Ultimately, the challenge to Riley’s eligibility was heard by the Chatham Board of Elections, the body that serves as the election supervisor for county races. The board voted to disqualify Riley.

“If a similar challenge [to the 2020 Riley challenge] is made at the City, as the elections superintendent I will receive the challenge. If a challenge warrants the need for a hearing, the person making the challenge will be heard. Whoever is named in the challenge will also have the opportunity to be heard,” Massey said via email.

It’s not clear whether Clinton Cowart’s favorite band is The Cure or Flock of Seagulls, but he’s clearly a member in good standing of Generation X. [P.S. – looking for tickets to The Cure in Atlanta if anyone bought and cannot attend:-)]

Augusta City Commissioners voted to remove the name of convicted former Commissioner Sammie Sias from a local street, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta Commission on Tuesday voted to rename Sammie Sias Way to Jamestown Lane, effective immediately.

Sias was accused by a former employee of sexual misconduct, pocketing $10,000 of SPLOST funds, and mistreating children at the Jamestown Community Center – a center he was been long criticized for managing while serving as a commissioner.

Sias was found guilty in July 2022 after a four-day trial of destroying records in a federal investigation and then lying about it to federal investigators researching the case.

COVID is still affecting services for homeless and food-insecure people, according to the Albany Herald.

Food banks across the country also are dealing with higher demand and less food available for distribution, said Frank Sheppard, president and CEO of the Columbus-based Feeding the Valley Food Bank.

“It’s a perfect storm of a number of issues, from the supply chain to the inflation to the pandemic,” he said of the current situation. “Oddly, canned goods are very difficult to acquire. Canned goods go into every one of the 12,000 boxes we supply to families every month. It’s one of those situations we’ve never imagined in 40 years of food banking.”

During the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased its supply of food for organizations like Feeding the Valley, but that has been reduced. In November, Sheppard said that food supplies were 40% below pre-pandemic levels, and the need has been increasing due to inflation.

Eventually the supply chain issues will be worked out, but there are other challenges for the food bank, which began operation in Dougherty County serving it and three additional counties in June 2019. Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Quitman, Randolph and Terrell counties are among the most poverty-stricken in the state, Sheppard said.

“In some of those counties, child food insecurity is 40%,” he said. “(For the elderly) it’s sheer numbers, with the Baby Boomer generation getting up there. Ten thousand people a day are turning 65, and some of them don’t have the resources to make it alone.”

The Coastal Health District said some Georgians should still be careful of COVID, according to The Brunswick News.

“COVID has not disappeared and some people are at higher risk of getting really sick if they get COVID-19,” warns Ginger Heidel, public information officer for the eight-county Coastal Health District.

“The CDC’s new recommendations give health care providers more flexibility to administer another (vaccine) dose to individuals over 65 and to folks with immune system concerns. If these individuals received an updated booster shot when the bivalent vaccine was first introduced last year, then 6 months or more may have passed since they were vaccinated and their immunity may be waning.”

The Coastal Health District includes Glynn, Camden, McIntosh, Liberty, Long, Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties.

“If you fall into the high-risk age group and you’re not sure if you should get another booster dose, then I encourage you to talk with your health care provider for advice,” Heidel said.

Savannah’s federal courthouse collapse was caused by insufficient support, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Federal officials have shared what they believe caused a collapse at the Tomochichi Federal Courthouse in downtown Savannah last month.

According to a General Services Administration (GSA) spokesperson, the support holding up a section of the third floor was “insufficient.”

Three construction workers were injured when part of the third floor collapsed onto the second floor on April 11.

Some Savannah State University students rallied for more funding, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With news of being in an $11 million deficit, they are pleading with the public to help get the proper funding because they fear the school might close.

Officials have had to cut its operating budget by 10% and its travel budget by 50% because of declining enrollment.

State Representative Carl Gilliard tells News 3 that this is not just a Savannah State issue and that a lot of HBCUs are struggling to get proper funding. He and his team from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus are committed to helping Savannah State keep its doors open.

“Savannah State might come and ask for $3 to $5 million and that might be their cap window but the other universities because of the formula that can ask for 33 and 43. That’s a double standard somewhere. Our formula is really off. Savannah State has an 11 million dollar deficit, and it’s not by their own fault, it’s just that the way the formula are given to black universities. They have not been given their fair share of the money needed to be appropriate for survival,” Gilliard said.

[Savannah State student Natori] Milner said, “the point that Georgia is underfunding us, is really kinda sad because although we were first here more people like even though it’s like Atlanta and other communities, they’re getting more money than we are. We’re an HBCU, other HBCUs like as we saw with Fort Valley they have a higher amount of money that they’re getting paid. We’re only getting funded 89 point something mil for the whole next year that’s not enough to run a community.”

The Dalton Board of Education set two public hearings ahead of its consideration of the FY 2024 budget proposal, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is working on their FY 2024 budget, which includes considerable state and federal funding, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is looking at a proposed $140.2 million fiscal year 2024 general fund budget as the school system begins spending down a massive $59 million fund balance from special federal cash received during the COVID years.

As part of this, Bulloch County Schools will continue delivering on previously awarded raises for all employees. These include a $2,500 boost in local supplement for teachers and other certified educators and a locally funded $3-an-hour raise for non-certified school employees, which Superintendent Charles Wilson proposed in January and board members agreed to make retroactive to the beginning of the calendar year. In addition, the school system’s budget shows the pass-through effect of the $2,000 state raise for certified educators Gov. Brian Kemp proposed in January.

Besides covering the raises, the budget proposal also shifts some payroll and other expenses back to the general fund that three years ago were transferred to special budgets for federal funding received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act of 2020, and similar legislation.

The $140.2 million in general-fund spending proposed for fiscal 2024 amounts to a $22.7 million, or 19.3%, increase over the school system’s actual spending in the 2023 fiscal year, ending June 30. But since expenditures in the current fiscal year had already increased from the originally budgeted $107.4 million to a revised estimate of $117.5 million, the proposed $140.2 million spending for fiscal 2024 reflects an increase of about 30% over the current year’s original general-fund budget.

The $3 raise for non-certified employees is projected to cost $1.1 million more for the year; the $2,500 local supplement boost for certified educators, $1.3 million; and the pass-through state teacher raise $1.54 million. But salaries transferred back from the special CARES-related funds add almost $4.9 million spending back to the general fund.

Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen said higher attendance at Orange Crush was too much and left the city unprepared, according to WTOC.

Tybee Island’s city manager called Orange Crush in particular, “unprecedented” and the city’s mayor called some of the issues around the event “horrifying.”

“This event was twice the size of any Orange Crush event in history,” Gillen said. “…We could have and should have been better prepared. Had we known the level of attendance that was going to be here, we could have called the DOJ and said this is not going to work, because we’re expecting 50,000 people. Not 20,000 or 30,000. We had no evidence to show that, other than social media chatter. Now that we know it, a failure would be not to be ready for the next one.”

Gillen says a few years ago, they’ve been accused of profiling for having a heavy police presence on the island ahead of the beach bash which resulted in an agreement with the Department of Justice.

“We were limited on what we could do for various reasons,” Gillen said. “Now we’re freed up from that.”

Mayor Shirley Sessions says they do not have the authority to call a state of emergency. She says they will start looking at creating a plan for unpermitted events and a crisis plan for when an unexpected amount of people are on the beach.

“It is not a race thing,” Sessions said. “It’s not a religious thing. It’s not a political thing. It is a behavioral thing.”

She also mentioned asking universities in Georgia to discourage their students from coming to Orange Crush.

Gillen says the conversation will go beyond this room and continue with state legislators.

“We need to come up with some sort of regional plan for how to handle that level or traffic, especially what’s the limits on Tybee Island and what do we do at that point.”

Milledgeville’s fire department is contending with rising salaries, according to 13WMAZ.

Milledgeville’s Fire Department says they need higher pay or they’ll keep losing staff.

They say that their situation is critical and explain why they need the money.

Battalion Chief David Ussery says 13 people have left the fire station since last year. He says now more than half the staff has less than two years of experience, and that could be dangerous for both them and the community.
“We cannot neglect it this year,” he says. “We have to address the salaries.”

Ussery says the city has failed to address their salary problems for years. He says they’re now at a critical point with staff leaving.

“It wasn’t just our young firefighters, it was our middle management that left,” Ussery says. “The risk drastically increase by not having experienced firefighters.”

He says they’ve asked the city for a $400,000 total pay raise and it’s being wasted in other ways.

“Every time we hire a firefighter, it costs the city of Milledgeville $26,900.”

He says once trained, those firefighters often leave after a year for better pay somewhere else.

He says it usually takes at least two years of experience to promote someone to their sergeant and company officer positions. However, their staff shortages have them promoting folks sooner.

[Sergeant Courtney] Butts says she made $31,000 as a starting firefighter, but even with a promotion she works two jobs.

“To make it day by day, we have to find something else to do. If I could, I wouldn’t have to work a second job. Just getting off and going to another job while I’m working four to five days straight,” she explains. “Just being 23 years old, it’s tough.”

“Surrounding counties are paying more,” she says. “Everybody has other obligations other than being a firefighter. They have things they have to do at home, families to take care of, bills.”

She says if the pay doesn’t increase she may have to leave too.

“This is my hometown, this is my community and I would hate to have to go, but at the end of the day I got to make the best decision that’s for myself. That’s a loss because if we’re losing all of our people, then who’s gonna be here to protect all the people,” Butts asks.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2023

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig died on June 2, 1941 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp made it rain announced the state is issuing income tax refunds, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 1, 2023

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.


On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day. On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 1, 1971, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night was the #1 song in the nation.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke the major league baseball stolen base record on the same day that Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, recorded his seventh no-hitter.

The official state tartan of Georgia was designated on May 1, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Kemp issued Executive Order #, appointing Jessica Barrett Martin as Solicitor General for Habersham County State Court.

Governor Brian Kemp last week signed legislation to bolster Georgia’s workforce, according to a Press Release:Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 28, 2023

German scientist Johannes Kepler dated the creation of the universe to April 27, 4977 BC(E).

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boundary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

Richard B. Russell, Sr. was born on April 27, 1861 near Marietta, Georgia. Russell served in the Georgia House of Representatives, on the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and ran for Governor, Congress, and United States Senate. His son, Richard B. Russell, Jr. served in the Georgia State House, including a stint as Speaker, as Governor of Georgia, and in the United States Senate.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrived in LaGrange, Georgia for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes tomorrow “Whacking Day.”

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former State Representative Jeanette Jamieson has died, according to Access WDUN.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2023

On April 26, 1866, the Atlanta Ladies’ Memorial Association held a Confederate memorial observance at Oakland Cemetery for the first time.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it became custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 26, 1913, 13-year old Mary Phagan was found dead, having been sexually assaulted, in the basement of a pencil factory in Atlanta. Guilt was pinned on the Jewish owner of the factory, Leo Frank. Frank was convicted, but later his sentence was commuted after Governor John Slaton concluded from his own investigation that Frank had been framed. Frank was later hanged by a lynch mob.

On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union.

Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.

On April 27, Soviet authorities began an evacuation of the 30,000 inhabitants of Pripyat. A cover-up was attempted, but on April 28 Swedish radiation monitoring stations, more than 800 miles to the northwest of Chernobyl, reported radiation levels 40 percent higher than normal. Later that day, the Soviet news agency acknowledged that a major nuclear accident had occurred at Chernobyl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Federal regulations mandating a pay raise for temporary agriculture workers could affect local farms and ultimately prices for consumers, according to 13WMAZ.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 25, 2023

James Oglethorpe won reelection to the British Parliament while in America on April 25, 1734.

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

On April 25, 1996, Georgia Governor Zell Miller signed Senate Bill 519 designating English the official language of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) is fanning the embers of outrage calling for enhanced security, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has asked county law enforcement to prepare for her impending plans to announce indictments this summer regarding interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

In a letter to Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat, Willis said she plans to announce a charging decision sometime between July 11 to Sept. 1.

“I am providing this letter to bring to your attention the need for heightened security and preparedness in coming months due to this pending announcement,” Willis wrote.

Willis implied, though not referencing a specific event, in the letter to Labat that acts of violence have occurred in the past that go “outside of public expressions of opinion.” Most notably, Trump’s claims of election fraud ultimately resulted in his supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021 as Congress was preparing to certify the results of the 2020 election.

“Open-source intelligence indicated the announcement of decisions in this case may provoke a significant public reaction,” she said.

The letter, Willis said, was intended to provide sufficient time for the sheriff’s office to coordinate with local, state and federal agencies to ensure law enforcement is ready to protect the public when her charging decisions are announced.

From Atlanta News First via WTOC:

Willis addressed the letter to Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat, in which she wrote, “I will be announcing charging decisions resulting from this investigation during Fulton County Superior Court’s fourth term of court, which will begin on July 11, 2023, and conclude on September 1, 2023. Please accept this correspondence as notice to allow you sufficient time to prepare the Sheriff’s Office and coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure that our law enforcement community is ready to protect the public.”

Last year, Willis opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.” Willis continues alleging Trump attempted to interfere in Georgia’s election, a contest that saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Metro Atlanta defense attorney Joshua Schiffer said the letter implies that Willis plans to bring charges against Trump.

“If this was going to be indictments against lesser-known individuals, I don’t think she would go about the consumption of public resources by announcing this,” Schiffer said. “It wouldn’t be as newsworthy. There’s not going to be throngs of people in the streets over local Georgia politicians or even some of the cabinet or other high advisors to the former president.”

Cumberland Island’s horses have filed a lawsuit against the federal government, according to The Brunswick News.

The horses on Cumberland Island have been named plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Athens lawyer Hal Wright filed the lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division after notifying the National Park Service of his intent to sue if nothing was done to manage the horses on the barrier island.

Wright asked park service officials to start providing medical care, food and water for the estimated 140 to 170 horses on Cumberland. The horses are in poor health because of a limited food supply and the park service’s policy not to interfere with the horses.

“The horses of Cumberland’s life expectancy is believed to be but eight to nine years, well below that of a domestic horse, which is expected to live between 25 to 30 years,” Wright argues. “This discrepancy is due to the harsh and inhumane living conditions these horses must endure.”

The Georgia Equine Rescue League and the Georgia Horse Council are plaintiffs in the case, along with Will Harlan, a senior scientist and southeast director at the Center for Biological Diversity, and Carol Ruckdeschel, a longtime Cumberland Island resident and biologist.

Defendants in the case are Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, as well as Mark Foust, director of the National Park Service South Atlantic-Gulf region. Also named as defendants are Gary Ingram, superintendent of Cumberland Island National Seashore, Mark Williams, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Tyler Harper Black, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The solution proposed in the lawsuit is for the park service and state to “take all steps necessary to assess the health and well-being of the horse herd on Cumberland Island and provide the needed additional water, food, and care.”

Liberal groups are suing Georgia over the ban on providing food and drink to voters in line, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Augusta Chronicle.

Groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia are seeking a preliminary injunction as part of a broader lawsuit that challenges changes to state election law Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican legislative leaders pushed through the General Assembly along party lines.

Senate Bill 202 requires voters seeking to cast absentee ballots to show a photo ID, a provision that already applied to in-person voting. The law also limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes and prohibits non-poll workers from handing out food and drinks within 150 feet of voters standing in line.

“There can be no reason for denying food or water to people in long polling lines, other than trying to prevent them from exercising their freedom to vote,” said Poy Winichakul, senior staff attorney for voting rights with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “These barriers to voting must be removed so all Georgians can have a voice to advocate for their communities in the crucial 2024 elections.”

“Our clients used to be able to offer a bottle of water or a snack to voters waiting in long lines at the polls,” added Rahul Garabadu, senior voting rights staff attorney at the ACLU of Georgia. “We’re now asking the court to strike down the unlawful provisions of the ban so that our clients can provide crucial support to voters across our state.”

The bill’s supporters justified banning non-poll workers from handing out food and drinks to voters in line at polling locations as a way to prevent campaign volunteers from seeking to influence voters within an area that is legally off limits to campaigning.

Governor Brian Kemp held a bill-signing in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

During his visit on Monday to Augusta’s downtown municipal building, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed HB 230, creating a special sales tax to fund an arena rebuilding project contingent on voters approving it in a fall election.

“That facility, well over four decades old, helps bring major events, tourism, economic development opportunities to the city and the surrounding area,” Kemp said. ”It is a valued asset to this region and it will be the people’s right to decide how to best take care of it.”

The bill asks voters to support a sales tax of up to 0.5% for up to five years for the purpose of funding “coliseum capital outlay projects and project costs” and not to exceed the project’s guaranteed maximum price.

If approved, the tax would only fund up to the amount needed to finance the project. The bill does not allow the tax to be renewed under any circumstances and limits the principal amount of general obligation bonds issued to up to $250 million.

While he was in Augusta, Kemp also signed HB 128 and SB 213. The House bill looks to support minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses by streamlining and expanding access to state certifications during the procurement process. The state Senate bill allows property owners to replace old or damaged manufactured homes with new ones without restriction from local governments.

Augusta will likely vote on two referenda in November, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In this past week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signed new legislation calling on Augusta voters to determine if the mayor should get an equal vote to city commissioners and to approve a special sales tax to fund a new James Brown Arena.

Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Travis Doss confirmed that the earliest date for these votes is during the Nov. 7 election. There are only two dates available to propose a question on the ballot and the last one was in March. Both issues will be listed on the ballot with voters choosing “Yes” or “No” on the respective topics.

Senate Bill 231 calls for the mayoral vote. Currently, Augusta’s mayor is only allowed to break ties. Mayor Garnett Johnson detailed in February that he would not seek to be a voting member of committees and this is not a power grab.

House Bill 230 calls for the arena tax vote. The bill asks voters to support a sales tax of up to 0.5% for up to five years for the purpose of funding “coliseum capital outlay projects and project costs” and not to exceed the project’s guaranteed maximum price. If approved, the tax would only fund up to the amount needed to finance the project. The bill does not allow the tax to be renewed under any circumstances and limits the principal amount of general obligation bonds issued to up to $250 million.

Dying Georgians may soon be able to purchase medical cannabis oil more than eight years after Governor Nathan Deal signed the “Haleigh’s Hope” legislation, according to WABE.

Two in-state producers are expected to have product available by this summer, if not earlier.

The next major step for the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission is to grant dispensing licenses for the two current in-state producers of low-THC oil. Those would be used to open up to 12 stores across the state.

Those two producers are Botanical Sciences, which has a facility in Southeast Georgia in Glenville, and Trulieve Georgia, which has a South Georgia facility in Adel.

Commission Executive Director Andrew Turnage explains how they expect the two current producers to use the data.

“When they apply to the commission for their dispensing license, we’ve asked them to articulate how they’re going to serve the patient population in the area that they choose,” he said. “So we really wanted them to get access to that data so that they can show us how their plan is going to reach patients in the area that they chose.”

Four Atlanta counties have between 1,000 to 3,000 registered patients each. Those are Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. The next tier of counties have 500 to 1,000 patients each and include Cherokee, Clayton, Forsyth, Henry and Spalding.

Overall, there are about 27,000 Georgia patients on the low-THC oil registry. Turnage expects that number to grow.

“On the commission’s part, our expectation is to see that number, really to grow very close to 100,000,” he said. “That’s what we anticipate. That’s just based on similar states with registries that started at similar size with medical-only programs somewhat like Georgia’s, you know, it’s our expectation that it could grow beyond that, but that’s what we anticipate in I think the timeframe for that will happen within 12 to 18 months.”

To get on the low-THC oil registry, a doctor has to confirm your eligibility based on a list of conditions written into law including severe ALS, autism, MS and Parkinson’s.

State legislators will begin to review the efficacy of tax breaks, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

The chairmen of the two legislative committees responsible for tax policy will co-chair an upcoming review of all of Georgia’s tax credits.

The initiative, announced last month, is intended to make sure the various tax credits on the books in Georgia aimed at boosting economic development and job creation are giving taxpayers a good return on that investment.

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who presides over the state Senate, announced Monday he is appointing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, to co-chair the review. House Speaker Jon Burns named House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, to serve as the other co-chair.

Other appointees announced Monday include Sens. John Albers, R–Roswell; Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming; Bill Cowsert, R-Athens; and Michael “Doc” Rhett, D- Marietta; state Reps. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City; Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton; Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta; and Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, will serve as an ex-officio member.

“My appointees are experts on tax policy and have been implementing and analyzing tax policy supporting economic development and Georgia’s ranking as the number one state in which to do business for over a decade,” Jones said Monday.

“I have called on some of the House’s most experienced leaders on tax policy to work on this important review,” Burns added. “I know they will work on behalf of all Georgians to support job growth and maintain a fair, competitive tax structure.”

From the AJC:

In the Senate, some leaders say they’d like to use any savings to further reduce income taxes on Georgians.

But Blackmon said lawmakers need to be careful not to eliminate incentives for businesses to create jobs.

The House and Senate passed legislation in 2021 that was a first step toward greater accountability: allowing the chairmen of the tax-writing committees to request reviews of a limited number of tax breaks each year.

Liquor stores are coming to Tifton, according to WALB.

Tift County’s dry county days will soon be over for its county seat.

Four new liquor stores are headed to Tifton. Leaving some for and against it since the city decided to allow liquor stores over a year ago. The liquor stores are expected to open this summer. And some Tifton residents said it’ll save them money on gas.

Former Chatham County Assistant District Attorney Skye Musson is asking a court to sanction District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination by the DA’s office, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Musson is requesting for her counsel fees and costs to be covered by Jones.

According to Musson’s motion, “Defendant Jones violated this Court’s order to appear on April 11, 2023, citing a ‘conflict’ of her own creation and invention after she failed to properly manage her concurrent obligations to this case and as a trial attorney in a criminal matter in Superior Court.”

Based on court records, Musson attempted to depose Jones multiple times since December 2022. From Feb. 15 through March 31, 2023, Musson asked Jones for her deposition five times, and Jones never offered a single date. On March 28, Jones requested rescheduling her deposition to April 11.

After Brunswick City Commission ordered a 65-day closure of homeless shelter The Well, a “pop-up” homeless shelter has opened, according to The Brunswick News.

Organizers of a homeless shelter that opened in a vacant Brunswick church building over the weekend after The Well closed have until 3 p.m. today to get the building up to code and permitted for use.

The Brunswick City Commission voted Wednesday to impose a 65-day closure on The Well after it became a target of the ire of some residents and business owners following five violent incidents police have attributed to homeless individuals since Feb. 27.

Small said the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act protects his right to use the church through his ministry and allows him to open the church to homeless people seeking shelter.

“We’re going to help them eat,” Small told Jones. “We’re going to help them wash and maybe go to the bathroom inside instead of in someone’s backyard.”

Small said it is his duty as a Christian and a pastor to help people in their time of need. He also said it is in the city’s best interest to provide shelter for people who don’t have it.

“It is much more desirable to have them someplace rather than to have them wandering,” Small said. “It is less reasonable to put them out.”

Jones said the issue was with how the building is being used and what the city ordinances say about needing the proper inspection and permitting.

Jones first said the options were to allow inspectors inside to sign off on the building and approve it for occupancy or to vacate the building and allow code enforcement to post it as uninhabitable. Jones said he is a Christian too and that he respects what Small is trying to do.

“Unfortunately today I am the enforcer of the city’s ordinances, which would include loitering and camping,” Jones said.

The City Commission passed a new ordinance Wednesday requiring homeless shelters, day shelters or service providers to get a conditional use permit approved by the commission. Those permits must be reviewed by the city’s Planning and Appeals Commission first and are subject to a public hearing. The ordinance lays out other restrictions on camping and loitering at shelters.

At a city commission meeting earlier in April, Mayor Cosby Johnson said the police department was taking a zero-tolerance policy toward enforcing the city’s ordinances.

Brunswick’s proposed FY 2024 budget is 7.5% higher than the current year, according to The Brunswick News.

In total, the city’s budget is tentatively set at $24.3 million, City Manager Regina McDuffie told Brunswick’s finance committee on Monday. Just over $4.1 million of that is remaining ARPA funding. Minus the ARPA funding, the budget is $20.2 million, a 7.48% increase over this fiscal year’s $18.7 million budget.

Property taxes are expected to account for $5.4 million of the city’s revenue in the next fiscal year; sales tax, $9 million; and other taxes, $3.8 million. Other taxes include the insurance premium tax and a franchise tax on utilities, McDuffie explained.

Valdosta City Council named Richard Hardy as sole finalist for City Manager, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

As city manager for Valdosta, Hardy will oversee the city’s 10 departments, 600-plus employees and the city budget. Hardy has been with the City of Valdosta since 2014, first serving as the director of public works before being named deputy city manager of operations in late 2020.

As deputy city manager of operations, he led the public works and utilities departments, including 17 divisions.

“I am ecstatic to serve the citizens as city manager. My vision is to collaborate and strengthen community relationships,” Hardy said in a statement. “I am honored to have the support and trust of the mayor and council who saw fit to select me as the sole finalist.”

Johns Creek Mayor John Bradberry will deliver a “State of the City” address this Thursday at 7 PM, according to the AJC.