On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.
The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state on October 31, 1864. Kind of fitting, in a way.
The carving on Mount Rushmore was completed on October 31, 1941.
President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her race for United States Senate from New York on October 31, 2000. On October 31, 2014, Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to campaign for Michelle Nunn for United States Senate.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Governor Brian Kemp will announce a new program designed to expand healthcare insurance to more Georgians, according to the AJC.
Gov. Brian Kemp is set to unveil a proposal Thursday that he has said would create a “reinsurance” program to help stabilize volatile insurance costs on the individual market.
The program would require obtaining a waiver from the federal government, asking it to free the state from some standard rules in order to tailor a program officials here think would work best for Georgia.
The waiver idea became a staple of Kemp’s campaign in the final weeks before last year’s election, and it’s designed to create a fund that aims to lower premiums on the health insurance exchange market by possibly subsidizing private insurers’ coverage of high-risk customers.
The governor, who plans to detail the plan at a Thursday press conference, has said his idea would help private insurance companies on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange market pay for the high cost of patients with pre-existing conditions.
Kemp is also interested in a waiver involving the state’s Medicaid program.
The governor is expected to soon outline specifics of that more contentious waiver proposal, an idea that emerged after Kemp’s victory and raises the possibility of a partial expansion of the Medicaid program to some of Georgia’s poorest residents.
The governor’s office said Wednesday that it will unveil “Georgia Access” as part of its plan to identify more health coverage solutions in the state. Georgia Access is a product of The Patients First Act, signed into law by Kemp in March.
“The Patients First Act is a step toward lowering insurance premiums, enhancing access to quality care and improving health outcomes in every part of our state,” Kemp said in a previous statement.
Kemp’s announcement Thursday will be specific to the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, which allows the state to find other ways to provide affordable health care access. The state employed the help of consulting firm Deloitte to process the waivers.
For the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, Georgia officials must provide the federal government with viable reasons for the request including supporting data and projections. The plan must be able to meet the coverage requirements under the ACA without exceeding the federal load. The application for the waiver must include a 10-year budget plan that is “deficit neutral to the federal government,” and other detailed attachments that outline the plan over its timespan.
Port Wentworth City Council member Thomas Barbee allegedly threatened a resident, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Jodi Hawks of Port Wentworth has filed papers in Chatham County Magistrate Court for a misdemeanor charge of terroristic threats against Barbee.
Barbee is seeking re-election to one of the city’s at-large council seats.
The filing follows a message Barbee apparently sent Hawks on social media stating Hawks doesn’t know when to quit, and that “pain and a little blood usually motivates a person or the lose of home maybe a RV will get a person attention.” Spelling and grammatical errors are Barbee’s.
The police report states that a scheduled interview with Barbee was cancelled by the councilman about one hour before it was to begin.
A pre-warrant hearing regarding the message to Hawks will be at 1.45 p.m. Nov. 22 in Chatham County Magistrate Court in Savannah.
Barbee was also recently accused of trespassing at the home of Mayor Gary Norton. Norton’s wife, Donna Norton, reported Barbee was at their home in the early morning dark hours in September shining a flashlight around their home.
Personally, I might vote against someone on the basis of atrocious spelling.
Savannah-Chatham County public schools are working on how to spend additional school safety funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.
With public schools in Georgia provided $30,000 for school safety in the Governor’s 2020 appropriations bill, districts are considering the best use of the funds. Liberty County public schools are implementing the Centegix CrisisAlert system in 16 buildings, said Liberty County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Zheadric Barbra. The cost is about $30,000 per site, or about $400,000 total. “We were really, really concerned our community and our board understood the why,” Barbra said. “We’ve trained everyone at the board office.”
For Savannah-Chatham County public schools, which has about 55 schools, purchasing the system could cost over $1.5 million. Considering the purchase would require extensive due diligence, said Terry Enoch, chief of police for the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education.
He said integrating any new system with the district’s existing security technology is an important consideration. “We have a notification system in place,” Enoch said. “The current system we have now works for us, but we’re always looking at ways to improve it. We try to be very safety smart. We’re constantly evaluating how we’re doing things.”
U.S. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) introduced legislation to increase transparency in federal agency spending, according to the Gainesville Times.
“Each year, Georgians entrust the government with their hard-earned tax dollars, but they’re left in the dark on where that money actually goes,” Collins said in a statement. “By requiring federal agencies to regularly publish budget justifications on one central website, the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act will ensure hard-working Americans have access to the information needed to evaluate how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Collins and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, introduced the bill Tuesday.
The text of the budget materials would be searchable. Budget justification materials would have to be posted within two weeks of the date the materials are submitted to Congress, according to the bill.
A breakdown of funds would be included. Classified materials would be exempt from the rules.
U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) recognized Collins Hill High School Principal Kerensa Wing as winner of a national award, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The Representative for Georgia’s 7th Congressional district congratulated the National Association of Secondary School Principals finalists for National Principal of the Year — including Joey Jones Robert Frost Middle School in Maryland and Lindsa McIntyre Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Massachusetts — before showing U.S. representatives that Wing was the recipient of the 2019 award, announced on Oct. 21.
“To meet Kerensa Wing, the first thing you’ll notice is that charisma that she has that connects her with her students and with her parents,” Woodall said. “That partnership that she develops with her administrators and with her teachers — that’s the partnership that we strive for here.”
Brunswick City Council discussed legislative policies, according to The Brunswick News.
Brunswick city officials met Wednesday to discuss the shared vision with Glynn County for the goals they’d like state legislators to consider when the General Assembly meets this winter.
Among those in attendance were many city department heads and Justin Callaway, CEO and president of NewCity Brunswick.
Mayor Cornell Harvey told Callaway he wanted to ensure his organization’s goals to add new residents and businesses downtown were considered.
“We have a problem in the city of Brunswick with homelessness,” said commissioner Vincent Williams. “If we don’t deal with that problem, you’re not attracting businesses and residents.”
Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones said he the number of homeless in the city is three times larger than seven or eight years ago.
The development of the city’s waterfront was also on the agenda. Commissioners agreed the city’s waterfront could be greatly enhanced if they can convince Georgia Port Authority officials to move offices from their current locations in Brunswick.
“They have siphoned off the city quite a bit,” Harvey said. “The port doesn’t contribute back.”
State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Cobb) announced she will introduce legislation to regulate minor gender transitions, according to the AJC.
A Cobb County lawmaker wants to make it a felony for medical professionals to help a minor with gender transition.
State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said the legislation aims to protect children from having irreversible procedures done when they are young. Current law requires a parent to consent to surgery or for a minor to be prescribed medication.
While the bill is still being drafted, Ehrhart said Georgia medical providers who perform surgeries or administer or prescribe medications that assist minors with gender transition could be charged with a felony. The legislation would not affect doctors working with adults who seek to undergo gender transition.
“We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia but can be castrated and get sterilized,” she said.
Specific procedures that Ehrhart said would be banned — if the measure is approved by the General Assembly — include “mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilization” for the purpose of gender transition. Banned medications would include giving minors “puberty-blocking drugs to stop or delay normal puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy.”
“The removal of otherwise healthy or non-diseased body parts from minor children would also be prohibited,” her press release states.
An ethics complaint filed by D.A. King against Gwinnett County Commissioner Marlene Fosque will be heard by the county ethics board, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The ethics board assembled to hear the complaint that Dustin Inman Society founder D.A. King filed against Commissioner Marlene Fosque met for the first time Wednesday. The five-member panel picked its chairman and vice-chairman, underwent ethics training and decided to schedule two hearings for December.
The first hearing will be a preliminary hearing on Dec. 9. The second, and more crucial, one will be an evidenciary hearing — where testimony will be given and evidence presented — held on Dec. 19.
A candidate for Mayor of Lithonia is under investigation over whether she meets qualifications for the office, according to the AJC.
The Georgia secretary of state’s office is investigating whether Cindy Thomas has met the legal requirement of being a resident of the city for one year before the election, several officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The county elections board dismissed a similar challenge to Thomas’ residency earlier this year.
Thomas’ campaign manager, John Jackson, said the secretary of state’s office is just “doing their due diligence,” and that “there is no debate to be had” about her residency. Jackson also called the complaint a “smear campaign” by members of City Council who don’t want Thomas to win.
Earlier this election cycle, Lithonia council members Ric Dodd and Amelia Inman filed a challenge to Thomas’ residency with the DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections. Dodd said Thomas had been living at her boyfriend’s house in the city for a portion of the last year, and was not living at the address listed when she qualified to run for office.
Former State Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D-Atlanta) will join a lobbying firm, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
The Hudson Group LLC will add Kaiser to its payroll effective Nov. 1. Kaiser, a Democrat, represented a House district in East Atlanta for a decade before leaving office in 2017, specializing in health care and education issues. She ran for Atlanta mayor that year before dropping out of the crowded field of candidates before Election Day.
Recently, Kaiser was appointed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp to the board of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.
“She is one of Georgia’s most highly respected leaders in both Democrat and Republican circles,” said Brian Hudson, the firm’s managing principal. “Margaret brings vast experience in Georgia’s business and political arenas and will prove a valuable asset to The Hudson Group and our clients.”
Voting Rights and Wrongs
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has released the list of more than 330k inactive voters whose registrations will be purged, according to the AJC.
Georgia election officials released the names of 313,243 people Wednesday whose voter registrations are set to soon be canceled because they moved away or haven’t participated in elections for several years.
The cancellations, expected to be completed in December, would reduce the number of registered voters in Georgia by 4%. There are currently about 7.4 million registered voters in Georgia.
It will be the first purge since Georgia canceled about 534,000 registrations in July 2017, the largest removal of voters in U.S. history.
“Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections, but at the same time I want to ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “That is why my office is releasing the full list to ensure that people who are still eligible voters can update their information.”
Voters can prevent their registrations from being canceled if they sign and mail a postage-paid postcard that will be included with cancellation notices. Voters can also remain on the state’s rolls if they re-register or change their addresses online.
Georgians can check their voter registration status online by visiting the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.gov. They can also use the website to reactivate their registrations by registering to vote or changing their addresses online.
The Gainesville Times looks at what to do if you’re on the purge list.
Voters have 30 days from the date of the notice to let the state know they would like their registration to remain active. They can return the postage-paid postcard they receive, update their registration on the Secretary of State’s website or smartphone app, or go to their local elections office. The Hall County Elections Office is in the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.
The list of 313,243 registrations subject to cancellation is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
Of the list, 108,306, or 34.6% filed a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service showing they have moved to a different county or state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Another 84,376, or 26.9%, had election mail returned as undeliverable.
The remaining 120,561, or 38.5%, have had no contact with their county election officials since before the 2012 presidential election and did not respond to a confirmation card sent by their county elections office.
Federal and state law require election officials to do list maintenance on records where the person has died or moved to a new address. Georgia law requires removal of registration records that have been “inactive” for two general elections and have had no contact with election officials during that time. A state law passed earlier this year requires election officials to mail a notice to the last known address of people prior to removing them from the voter rolls due to an address change.
Dalton State students voted at a much higher rate in 2018 than 2014, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.
The student voting rate on campus at Dalton State College more than doubled in last year’s election, increasing to 47% in 2018 from 18% in 2014.
Dalton State is actively promoting voter registration, education and get out the vote efforts through the work of a student group called SAVE (Students Advocating for Volunteer Efforts). This team most recently hosted the Dalton State Voter Registration Campus Takeover, collecting more than 90 voter registration forms.
Dougherty County voter turnout is low, according to the AJC.
[E]arly voter turnout has been underwhelming, according to The Albany Herald. A Dougherty County elections official said only about 1,000 of the county’s 50,000+ registered voters have turned out thus far.