Category: Georgia Politics

5
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 4, 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics Campaign Election

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Georgia Politics Campaign Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis. James Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia State Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) died on April 5, 2020, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Republican was first elected to the Georgia Senate from the 4th District in 1990 and was reelected in 2018 to his 15th term. Hill was a 37-year veteran, serving 33 years in the Georgia Air National Guard.

[Lt. Gov. Geoff] Duncan called Hill a “true statesman, a man of overwhelming integrity, and a servant leader.”

“For three decades Georgians have benefited from his leadership and his calm and steady hand at the helm,” Duncan said in a statement. “He exhibited all the characteristics we hope for in a leader and was a true friend to all. Jack always ensured we were good stewards of taxpayer dollars, but it was more than that, he led with kindness and clarity.”

“There is not a member of the legislature whose life was not touched in some way by Jack,” Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller said in a statement. “Whether it was providing insight into a budgetary need for their district, or by just being a friend to lean on, you could always count on Jack to be there. I can personally attest to the many times I sought his wisdom and how much I benefitted from his counsel.”

Gov. Brian Kemp called Hill a “gentle giant.”

“Jack Hill was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I ever served with,” he said on Twitter. “His loss is devastating to our state, but he leaves behind an unmatched legacy of hard work and public service.”

Hill was sworn into the Senate as a Democrat, but in 2002 switched parties and after winning the election was named chairman of the Senate budget committee.

“Senator Jack Hill was one of the finest public servants I have known,” House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement. “Quiet, studious, thorough, he exemplified the best in a leader. Senator Hill served with integrity. Georgia has lost one of its finest and I have lost a friend and a mentor. Rest In Peace, Mr. Chairman.”

History drives tourism in the Golden Isles, according to The Brunswick News.

Jekyll Island is one of the most obvious sites in Glynn County with its historic landmark district and its 34 structures, including historic homes and museums.

“We have this unique attribute of being a protected state park where preservation and conservation are the core of our mission in managing this special place, but we can also offer visitors and residents the modern-day amenities of a resort destination,” a Jekyll Island Authority official said. “These attributes, along with our historical significance, are key components of what brings visitors to the island. Given our responsibilities to be a self-operating state park, it’s imperative that we maintain that balance every day, and our historical and natural resources continue to be carefully protected and maintained.”

“We see a lot of Glynn County visitors during spring break and throughout the summer, but we also welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors from Atlanta, Jacksonville, Savannah and other nearby cities. Jekyll Island also attracts tourists from across the United States and even international travelers, most frequently from the U.K., Germany and Canada, interested in its unique history and natural beauty,” according to authority officials.

While many of the attractions on Jekyll Island are historic structures, there are also archaeological sites and nature trails like the Dubignon Cemetery and the Wanderer Memorial Trail that educate the public on their significant history through interpretive panels.

Phil Officer, interpretive supervisor at Fort Frederica, said 286,017 visitors came to Fort Frederica in 2023.

“We definitely see a large number of visitors,” he said. “Most of our visitors are not locals, are new to the island or are visiting and were aware of our site. They come to learn, take a stroll and learn more about the fort.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #04.03.24.01, appointing J. Wade Padgett to the Georgia Court of Appeals seat vacated by former Judge Christian Coomer.

Governor Kemp also issued Executive Order #04.03.24.02, suspending Reginald “Reggie” Loper from his office on the Effingham County Commission after Loper was indicted.Continue Reading..

3
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 3, 2024

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

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

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

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell. On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured Richmond, Virginia the day after the Confederate Capitol fell to Union forces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On April 2, 1985, Governor Joe Frank Harris signed legislation recognizing the Right Whale as the official state marine mammal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The City of Oakwood will swear-in Rhonda Wood to City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

A release from the city Tuesday afternoon said Wood will be sworn in at the next monthly city council meeting on April 8. She will fill the Post 4 seat left vacant last September by the passing of her husband, Dwight Wood. She defeated Volley Collins for the seat by an 88-vote margin.

Hall County elections officials, however, later found that 200 people who did not live in the city cast ballots in that election, while 22 people who should have been able to vote in the race did not have the item included on their ballots. An investigation by one county elections official indicated the errors were not the results of Hall County elections staff failures.

“While the City acknowledges the conclusions of the Hall County Board of Elections and the investigation of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office may be on-going, O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-503(b) provides that the City may swear in the presumptive winner – even if a challenge is pending,” Tuesday’s release said.

The city also cited state law indicating that the window for Collins to challenge the results of the race has passed. Wood was originally scheduled to be sworn in on April 2, but that ceremony was canceled after Oakwood’s attorney recommended a postponement.

A recall campaign against Athens-Clarke County’s Mayor, Sheriff, and District Attorney is moving forward, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Organizers of an effort to recall four local elected officials have reached an initial threshold for collecting signatures seeking recall elections, although they have had to abandon their effort to oust District 2 Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Melissa Link from office.

Still targeted in the recall are Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, Clarke County Sheriff John Q. Williams, and Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, whose jurisdiction covers both Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties.

Because petition organizer James Lee, also known as James DePaola, is not a resident of Link’s intown district, he cannot sponsor a recall effort targeting her.

[Athens-Clarke Elections Director Charlotte] Sosebee also let board members know that Lee and others who have been collecting signatures had surpassed the 100-signature minimum in the applications for recall petitions submitted against Girtz, Williams and Gonzalez. The 100-plus signatures collected in connection with the recall efforts all came from registered voters, as verified by county elections officials.

Specifically, recall organizers had collected 159 signatures in the effort to recall Gonzalez, 126 signatures in the effort against Williams, and 118 signatures in the recall effort targeting Girtz as of March 28, the end of the 15-day period allowed for collecting the signatures.

The next step, getting signatures on an actual petition for the scheduling of a recall election, will be a much heavier lift for organizers and whoever they recruit to help them collect signatures.

Organizers must collect the signatures of 30% of the people who were registered to vote in the last election in which the targeted officials were candidates. For the sheriff, the last election was Nov. 3, 2020; for the district attorney, it was a Dec. 1, 2020, special election; and, for the mayor, it was the 2022 general primary.

Note that District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez was elected from the Western Judicial Circuit, which includes Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County. Not sure how a multi-county recall works.

An Athens-Clarke County citizen was tased by police in a Commission meeting, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Richard Camden Pace, a longtime Athens-Clarke County resident who introduced himself Tuesday as a rabbi, and as founder and director of YeshuaNation.org, was ordered out of the commission chamber by Mayor Pro-Tem Ovita Thornton after not relinquishing the microphone when his allotted three minutes expired during a public comment period at the end of the commission meeting.

Thornton repeatedly urged police to get Pace out of the commission chamber shortly after Pace called Girtz “a paid-off, Satan-worshipping communist child-trafficking Democrat.”

[Later] that Pace ripped up the pro-Palestinian sign, and Thornton told the police officer on hand for the meeting – a routine practice – to “Walk him out. Walk him out. Walk him out.”

Pace resisted the police officer and a struggle ensued, during which Pace was tased as he was taken to the floor. Moments later, as stunned commissioners and citizens looked on, Pace was escorted to a police car. Outside City Hall, Pace apologized to the officer, who in turn told Pace that the commission strictly enforces its three-minute limit on public comment.

“When they tell you it’s over, it’s over,” the officer told Pace.

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) called for Georgia Republican Party Vice Chair Brian K. Pritchard to resign, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Georgia Republican Party first vice chair said he will not step down despite calls to resign from people within his own party, including 14th District U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“Brian Pritchard must resign immediately,” The Rome Republican wrote on her X account Tuesday. “He’s a convicted felon who committed voter fraud and can not continue to be allowed to represent the Georgia GOP.”

Pritchard told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the demands that he resign were “sensationalized,” despite a recent court ruling that he violated state elections laws by voting nine times while on probation for a felony forgery sentence.

This past week, an administrative court judge fined Pritchard for voting illegally and registering to vote while serving a sentence on a felony conviction in Pennsylvania.

Georgia Republican Party Chair Josh McKoon joined MTG in calling for Pritchard to resign, according to the AJC.

State GOP chair Josh McKoon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that he asked Brian Pritchard to resign last night during a meeting of the state executive committee because he was distracting from the party’s goal of flipping Georgia back to the GOP column.

McKoon noted that he ran on two campaign commitments – to help elect a Republican nominee for president and ending what he described as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ “witch hunt” election-interference trial.

“The judicial finding that our First Vice Chairman registered to vote illegally and voted illegally nine times makes it harder to accomplish both of these goals,” said McKoon.

“His resignation will allow us to focus all of our time, attention and resources on electing President Trump and ending the evil Willis prosecution.”

“Our state party should be the leading voice on securing our elections,” said Greene, who called on Pritchard to resign immediately. “It is unacceptable for our party to have a man in leadership who has repeatedly committed voter fraud himself.”

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission issued a report finding that Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson should be removed from office, according to the AJC.

Christina Peterson, who became a probate judge in an uncontested November 2020 election, has been fighting the ethics charges since they were filed by the director of the state’s judicial watchdog in July 2021. At one point, Peterson faced 50 separate charges accusing her of violating the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct, but 20 have been withdrawn or dismissed.

Peterson, a University of Georgia School of Law graduate who practiced as an attorney for several years before taking the bench, was accused of inappropriate social media posts, unnecessarily jailing and fining a woman who sought to amend her marriage license and letting wedding participants into Douglas County’s courthouse after hours without permission. She was also abusive toward a fellow judge and other county officials, obstructed access to public records and had improper contact with a litigant, among other things, the judicial commission alleged.

“(Peterson’s) actions demonstrate a troubling pattern of ineptitude and misconduct,” the panel wrote in a 54-page report Sunday. “She is not fit to serve.”

The Georgia Supreme Court will decide whether Peterson remains on the bench.

Throughout the ethics case, Peterson has said that she has faced unfair criticism as the first Black probate judge in Douglas County. During a trial before the commission panel last year, Peterson admitted to making mistakes in her first year as a judge while learning the ropes and said she was trying to do better.

The commission, which is tasked with investigating complaints of judicial misconduct, has twice sought Peterson’s suspension. Both requests were denied by the state Supreme Court.

Peterson has qualified for reelection this year as Douglas County’s probate judge. She is being challenged in the Democratic primary in May by Douglasville attorney Valerie Vie. No Republican candidates have qualified in the race.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) wants to punish people who leave guns in cars or fail to report stolen guns, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The proposed changes to city code, expected to go before city council for a vote next week, would require owners and dealers to report the theft of a firearm to the Savannah Police Department and also require firearms left in parked vehicles be stowed in a locked compartment.

“It is our responsibility to do whatever we can within the parameters of the law to keep Savannahians safe, and I committing to doing just that, whatever it takes,” said Johnson, who has long signaled his intention to reduce the number of firearms stolen from cars.

Infractions under the new ordinance would be city code violations, and potential penalties are a fine not to exceed $1,000 or no more than 30 days in jail, Johnson said. The ordinance comes as response to crime stats that show the majority of guns stolen from vehicles come from unlocked cars.

In 2023, SPD reported 244 guns stolen from cars, with 203 stolen from unlocked vehicles, according to SPD data. Through the end of March this year, 56 out of 69 firearms stolen from cars came from unlocked vehicles.

“We support the Second Amendment, and the right to bear arms,” Johnson said. “This ordinance will not affect one’s ability to legally carry a firearm in your car, but this ordinance does address irresponsible actions by firearm owners.”

From WTOC:

During his weekly news conference Mayor Van Johnson announced the ordinance would require gun owners to report firearm thefts within 24 hours to the Savannah Police Department.

The ordinance says firearms shouldn’t be visible and secure in a locked glove compartment or locked trunk while the car is parked.

“We want to make sure that we balance the right of someone to bear arms and the responsibility of someone to keep those arms secured,” said Mayor Van Johnson, City of Savannah.

He says so far this year, 69 guns have been stolen from vehicles— 56 of which were unlocked.

“The math ain’t mathing and that is a problem for me,” Mayor Johnson expressed.

“People, when you say the G-word it’s, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re trying to take our guns.’ Well, no we’re not. You can have your guns just lock them up, lock them up, lock them up,” said Johnson.

From WSAV:

• All firearm owners and dealers will be required to report the theft of a firearm to the Savannah Police Department (SPD)

• SPD will record and maintain unique identifying information pertaining to each firearm reported stolen

• Everyone who is traveling with a firearm is required to store them in a locked compartment while the vehicle is parked

• Owners may not allow guns to be visible while parked, and all vehicles containing the firearms must be fully locked when not in operation

“Everybody knows you look under the seat or in the center console that’s not locked. It just doesn’t make sense,” Johnson said.

“This ordinance will not affect one’s ability to legally carry a firearm in your car, but it does address irresponsible actions by firearm owners,” the mayor said. “It is our responsibility to do whatever we can within the parameters of the law to keep Savannah safe. I am committed to doing just that, whatever it takes. I have asked city council for their support.”

The proposal will be read at the Thursday, April 11, council meeting at 2 p.m. If approved, Johnson says the city will hold a 30-day public education campaign as well.

Brunswick City Commissioners are considering a new property tax homestead exemption, according to The Brunswick News.

“The city wishes to provide for a new homestead exemption to property owners in the city within the meaning of and as fully permitted under the provisions of the (Georgia) Constitution of the state of Georgia,” according to a resolution included in the agenda for Wednesday.

Local homestead exemptions must be implemented on behalf of a local government by the Georgia General Assembly. The process usually begins with a local government requesting action by the state.

“Usually what happens is the commission will adopt a resolution asking for certain things, and the house or senate member, whoever, will introduce it as a local action,” Chapman said.

Most times, other legislators will support a local act if it’s endorsed by the delegates representing the area, he said.

If commissioners voted to pass the resolution on Wednesday, Chapman said the assembly’s 2024 legislative session just ended so it would not come up under the Gold Dome until 2025 and could not take effect until 2026.

1
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2024

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The City of Oakwood has postponed swearing in a new City Council member after questions were raised about the election and voter eligibility, according to AccessWDUN.

Secretary of State’s Office officials confirmed to AccessWDUN Friday morning that an investigation is underway after 200 people who should not have been eligible to vote in the March 12 city council race cast ballots, along with 22 people who should have been eligible to vote in the race who did not have the item included on their ballots.

Rhonda Wood defeated Volley Collins by an 88-vote margin to win the Post 4 seat that was previously held by her husband, Dwight Wood, who passed away in September 2023.

Oakwood City Manager B.R. White said Friday afternoon that the city has canceled Rhonda Wood’s swearing-in ceremony that was scheduled for the Tuesday, April 2 city council meeting.

“The City will wait on the Sec.of State’s office to complete its investigation,” White said in an email Friday.

“The problem Oakwood has is that we didn’t run the election, so we don’t have any control over anything that’s going on. We’re just like everybody else, waiting to see what’s going to happen,” [Oakwood City Attorney Donnie] Hunt said Friday morning.

“I still am a firm believer, and I’m going to stand my ground, that I won the election,” Wood said. “It’s frustrating because I’ve been waiting to start carrying on my husband’s legacy and taking care of the citizens of Oakwood, and I don’t understand how people are getting these off-the-wall numbers regarding the votes.”

The Hall County Board of Elections issued a statement Friday morning saying the county has investigated the incident and determined that the discrepancies were not a result of errors of Hall County election staff. The board asked that any further inquiries into the issue be directed to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

From a later story by AccessWDUN:

Tom Braatz, Hall County Elections Sr. Specialist, said a combination of factors led to the discrepancy. Aside from the 200 voters who should not have been able to vote in the race, it was previously announced that 22 people should have been able to vote and were unable to. Rhonda Wood won that race by an 88-vote margin, defeating opponent Volley Collins. That election was held the same day as the Presidential Preference Primary in Georgia.

Braatz said the Presidential Preference Primary ballots were delivered to Hall County on Jan. 2. Those ballots were reviewed and validated in a process known as proofing, with that process being complete about a week after they were delivered to the county. The election status then became “ballot ready,” following that review process.

A Federal Court-ordered redistricting was then approved on Jan. 4, two days after the ballots were delivered to Hall County.

The election was carried out in the new, post-redistricting data structure, according to Braatz. However, a failure to properly map the new data to the old, pre-redistricting data led to incorrect ballot assignments to voters from the electronic poll books.

Braatz said the court-ordered redistricting started a series of issues, as it was an abnormal event. He said he believed officials would need to look at the election preparation process to determine what additional steps can be taken in the future to ensure that the issue does not occur again.

“It wasn’t really, unfortunately, until it was all over and done with that we could see the extent of it,” Braatz said. “We wouldn’t obviously stop the Presidential Preference Primary for the City of Oakwood election. And they’re co-mingled, they’re all done together. It’s all on the same equipment … so there was really no reasonable opportunity to stop the election.”

It’s unclear if any action will be taken in the days to come, but Georgia House District 30 Representative Derrick McCollum told AccessWDUN Thursday that he believed another election should be held.

“It just bothers me that they’re going to swear [Wood] in without having another election,” McCollum said. “I hate to cost the taxpayers money, but I feel like they could just have another election on the May primary date and it wouldn’t cost taxpayers any more money.”

State legislators passed a $36.1 billion dollar state budget for the coming fiscal year, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

The spending plan, which passed the state House 175-1 and the Senate 54-1 in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, represents an increase of $3.7 billion over the fiscal 2024 budget lawmakers adopted last spring.

It includes $4,000 cost-of-living raises for most state workers, with an additional $3,000 for employees in state agencies suffering large turnover rates, including law enforcement officers and welfare workers. Teachers would get increases of $2,500.

The budget also contains substantial increases in funding for various education initiatives, including $243 million to account for student enrollment growth, $200 million to buy more school buses, and $108 million in school safety grants to upgrade security on public school campuses. Every public school in Georgia will get grants of $45,000.

A late-arriving increase of $48.4 million would go to Georgia’s lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program, thanks to brisk lottery ticket sales. Gov. Brian Kemp announced late Wednesday he would revise his revenue estimate upward to make room for the additional funds.

“Ensuring Georgia’s children have the strongest possible start in their educational career continues to be a priority for my administration,” the governor wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees. “I am increasing my revenue estimate … to further address class size, teacher pay, and capital and operational needs critical to the continued success of our nationally recognized Pre-Kindergarten program.”

In a departure from the usual policy of borrowing the funds for building projects, the state’s $16 billion budget surplus allowed the legislature to load up the spending plan with $1.2 billion in cash for a variety of projects. Of that amount, $866 million would go toward buildings at public schools, colleges and universities, and at state agencies.

The budget now heads to Kemp’s desk. Governors typically sign annual budgets in early May.

Legislators also passed Senate Bill 189, to revise some voting procedures, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

The state House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 189 101-73, with the Senate adopting the bill a short time later 33-22. Both votes fell along party lines.

The legislation cobbled together a series of election-reform bills that were introduced separately earlier in the 2024 session. Some of the provisions were not controversial, including the elimination of QR codes from paper ballots – which tended to confuse voters – and tightening the chain of custody of ballots on Election Day.

But other parts of the bill drew fire from legislative Democrats, who accused Republicans of suppressing the vote by making it easier for citizens to challenge voters’ eligibility. Mass challenges have been filed in some Georgia counties in recent years, gumming up the operations of local elections offices with meritless challenges, the vast majority of which ended up being dismissed.

“I can’t believe we’re still bending over to accommodate election deniers and conspiracy theorists,” said Rep. Saira Draper, D-Atlanta. “There’s a very vocal minority out there who will never be satisfied with our elections if they didn’t win.”

“We’ve taken steps to give Georgians confidence in our elections,” House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, told reporters shortly after lawmakers adjourned the 2024 legislative session just before 1 a.m. Friday.

The bill now goes to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign it.

 

 

Two bills by coastal legislators passed in the waning hours of the 2024 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, according to The Brunswick News.

House Bill 181, a bill regulating the sale of kratom in Georgia and introduced by Rep. Rick Townsend, passed Thursday afternoon and House Bill 1207, which carried a substitute measure authored by Rep. Buddy DeLoach on county voting machines, got through in the closing hours of the legislature.

“We passed (it) about 10 p.m. last night,” DeLoach, R-Townsend, said Friday.

DeLoach’s substitute counters legislation passed in the General Assembly in 2021 requiring counties to provide one voting machine for every 250 registered electors during elections. DeLoach’s measure allows the superintendent of elections in each county to decide the number of voting machines needed.

Members of the Glynn County Board of Elections had argued that the 2021 legislation failed to take into account voters who cast ballots early or by absentee. They said the mandate would compel them to acquire more machines that they do not need at a cost of thousands of dollars to taxpayers.

DeLoach’s own bill loosening the voting machine rules failed to pass the House before crossover day, the deadline for a measure to win passage in one chamber in order to be considered in the other. That prompted him to seek approval to attach his legislation to House Bill 1207, which called for increasing the home exemption in the Hall County School District.

For Townsend, passage of a bill regulating the sale of kratom, manufactured from a plant found in Southeast Asia and which is said to relieve pain, was the end of a long journey that began with the 2023 session of the General Assembly. The St. Simons Island Republican had initially sought to have kratom banned in Georgia as it is in other states, but heavy pushback from lobbyists led to the dilution of the bill.

Regulations carried in the adopted version of HB 181 include setting the minimum age to purchase kratom at 21, requiring sales clerks to store products made from it behind the counter and mandating that the manufacturer of its products be properly identified and its contents or strength properly labeled.

“It’s going to be harder for those teenage kids to get a hold of it like they do now,” Townsend told The News earlier this month.

Senate Bill 349 by State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) passed and will allow voters to cap increases in their home value assessment to the Consumer Price Index, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“This will be the largest property tax overall cut in history,” said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, in presenting his bill for a final vote shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday. Less than an hour later, the House gave final passage to the resolution setting the enabling vote in November to amend the state constitution.

If approved by voters, the cap would go into effect Jan. 1, 2025. It would create a statewide homestead exemption that limits increases in assessed value to no more than the Consumer Price Index from year to year.

Jurisdictions that don’t opt out of the cap would be able to vote on a second 1-cent local option sales tax “to be used for one thing, and one thing only: Property tax relief,” Hufstetler said. Right now, only one LOST is allowed under state law.

Calculations done hurriedly on Good Friday indicate a second LOST could reduce Floyd County property taxes by 41%, Hufstetler said, and Bartow County’s by 71%. School taxes would not be affected.

Bigger reductions are likely in city taxes. Hufstetler said Rome could see a drop of about 82% with a second LOST. Cave Spring already uses its existing LOST revenue to eliminate city taxes. That money could go to other government projects if a second LOST is enacted, he said.

House Bill 353 by State Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) passed and will change the Coin-Operated Amusement Machine industry in Georgia, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Senators passed House Bill 353 Tuesday night 29-24, the minimum number of votes needed to pass legislation in the 56-member chamber.

The House followed suit later by a much larger margin of 148-18.

The bill would award non-cash redemption gift cards to winners that could be redeemed anywhere in Georgia for any legal product.

Current law allows COAM winners to redeem their prizes only for merchandise sold in the store where the machine they played is located.

Supporters have argued gift cards would take away the temptation to illegally pay out cash prizes, contributing to a crime problem long associated with the COAM industry.

Senators amended the bill Tuesday night to increase the state’s share of the revenue generated from COAM proceeds from 10% to 13%. The additional 3% would produce an estimated $40 million a year for Georgia’s HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs, said Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, who carried the bill in the Senate.

But Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, said the COAM machines provide a form of entertainment to people without the means to travel to Las Vegas.

House Bill 1146 by State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) passed and will allow private water companies to apply for water permits from GA EPD without approval from local government, according to WTOC.

The bill allows private utility companies to get water service permits from Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division without local government approval.

It only applies to companies that tap into coastal aquifers in areas where a city or county water service would take longer than 18 months to be ready.

“There’s private water systems and public water systems and they’re going to have to work together,” said Sen. Ben Watson, District 1.

State Senator Ben Watson co-sponsored the bill.

He says the change is needed to spur workforce housing development near Hyundai’s Bryan County electric vehicle plant…which is expected to bring more than eight thousand jobs to the area.

“Bryan County needs to go ahead and move on this because if not the developers will be building deep wells for every home and doing septic tanks for every home,” said Watson.

The Georgia Association of Water Professionals and the Georgia Municipal Association also opposed the bill…saying it undermines local government’s authority.

The changes under House Bill 1146 would expire in 2029.

It now awaits Governor Brian Kemp’s signature.

 

Gwinnett County Board of Education members heard a proposed $3.18 billion dollar budget for FY 2025, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County’s school board got its first look at what district officials are putting in GCPS’ proposed $3.18 billion fiscal year 2025 budget on Thursday night during the board’s first of two budget work sessions.

The district expects total enrollment for the 2025-2026 school year will be 182,707 students, up by nearly 500 students from this year.

A big part of GCPS’ efforts in preparing the proposed budget was trying to determine how to make up for ESSR funding ending in September.

The funding was made available to school districts to help them deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that ESSR is ending, however, systems must decide whether to keep programs they supported with that money or discontinue them.

One big part of the proposed budget that will likely catch the eyes of district employees are proposed salary increases in the budget.

All eligible GCPS employees will get a longevity step increase. Teachers will also get a $3,000 raise — this includes a $2,500 raise Gov. Brian Kemp had put in the state’s fiscal year 2025 budget. There will also be a 4% cost-of-living increase for district employees who are not paid on the teacher salary scale.

The district’s “blue book” that goes into more detail about what will be included in the proposed budget is expected to be released when the school board holds its second budget work session on April 18. That is when the school board is scheduled to vote on tentative adoption of the budget.

Two public hearings will then be held on May 16 and June 20, with final adoption of the budget slated to take place on the same day as the second hearing.

The district plans to keep its millage rate, which is the rate used to determine property taxes, at 20.65 mills for the upcoming fiscal year.

United States District Court Judge Roger Hugh Lawson, Jr. (MD-GA) has died, according to WALB.

A Middle District of Georgia judge passed away on Friday, March 29, at the age of 82.

Roger Hugh Lawson, Jr. was born in Hawkinsonville, Georgia. In 1995, Lawson was nominated by Senator Sam Nunn, and appointed by former President Bill Clinton to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. He serrved as the Chief Judge of the Middle District, president of the Eleventh Circuit District Judges Association, and a director of the Federal Judges’ Association, according to his obituary.

Two candidates for Superior Court in the Southern Judicial Circuit met in a public forum, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Judge Richard M. Cowart announced in January that he would not seek re-election, and two Valdosta attorneys have qualified for his seat: Jeremy Baker, the Valdosta Municipal Court judge, and William Whitesell, an attorney and owner of the William Long Whitesell, LLC law firm in Valdosta.

The forum was sponsored by the Democratic Party of Colquitt County, although the judgeship race is nonpartisan.

The judge’s post will be on the nonpartisan ballot for the May 21 election. People who are not registered to vote but wish to vote in this election can register until April 22. Voters can already request an absentee ballot, but the registrar can’t send them out until April 6. In-person early voting will start April 29.

The Southern Judicial Circuit comprises Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Lowndes, and Thomas Counties.

Rincon City Councilman Kevin Exley has assumed the role of Mayor Pro Tem after former Mayor Ken Lee resigned, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Exley, who is Mayor Pro Tem, resumed mayoral tasks after former Mayor Ken Lee announced his resignation last month after 18 years at the helm. His spot on city council will remain open and he will be allowed to vote since they are without one councilmember.

The abrupt move surprised staff members who thought Lee would finish his term. Lee cited family as his reason for stepping away, saying they need his “complete and undivided attention” in a letter he submitted to the city.

“It happened fast,” said Exley. “He turned his stuff in and walked out. I do feel like the pace we were moving at was much faster than prior. My biggest thing is I didn’t want any of the citizens to think that we had any drop in our ability to lead the city. I thought about the things we needed to do. We had a plan the whole time.”

Exley agreed the move will bolster his campaign when he runs for the position in 2025.

“I feel like I can complete the things that we started off talking about and then people will see that not only can I lead the city through meetings but we can do the things that we were not getting done,” said Exley.

13WMAZ profiles Republican candidate for Houston County Sheriff Jimmy Dunn.

Chatham Area Transit is launching a ride share service for people with disabilities called “CAT SMART,” according to WSAV.

In April of 2023, US Senators Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock secured a $1.2 Million USDOT SMART grant to reduce barriers to mobility and transportation. Today, that vision has become a reality for residents of Savannah.

Chatham Area Transit is taking its service to a new level with the launch their new “microtransit” pilot project called “CAT SMART” which stands for Strengthening Mobility And Revolutionizing Transportation, and that’s exactly what this will do for riders who struggle with mobility.

It will operate in a similar fashion to ride-share services like Uber or Lyft. Passengers will now be able to use an app to arrange transportation from their location to their destination.

The interface will use state-of-the-art technology developed at Georgia Southern University to allow people to request rides and track their driver right on their phone or laptop.

Pooler City Council will not move forward at this time with a short term rental ordinance, according to the Savannah Morning News.

According to Pooler Mayor Karen Williams, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) notified elected leaders that language could be added to a bill that would be voted on this week before the session ends on March 28. The alert included that the language would likely contain a grandfather clause for properties operating as STRs and make enforcement of STR ordinances impossible over time. Local governments were urged to adopt an STR ordinance if they didn’t have one, which Pooler does not.

Williams called the special meeting to urge council to get an ordinance on the books, in case HB 1121 was passed, which would limit control. By the end of the hour-long meeting Wednesday morning, the gathered councilmembers agreed that they may have been rushing into passing an ordinance.

Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Higgins motioned to postpone the second reading and adoption, which passed unanimously. Williams said she supports the decision to postpone, but also stands by her decision to call a special meeting.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller is looking at a referendum to extend the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to 13WMAZ.

Now, the county’s nearing its collections cap and it’s almost time for a new SPLOST. Mayor Lester Miller projects the current $280 million SPLOST will reach that cap next June. Current and incoming Macon-Bibb commissioners will need to act quickly.

“Soon as the election is over, whether it’s May 21, or maybe there’s a runoff, whoever’s got a seat at the table at that time will have some input on the next SPLOST,” Mayor Lester Miller said.

His second point first came up in October as Miller announced support for building a new jail as one of the next SPLOST projects.
Miller hopes voters will also get behind new entertainment spaces. He says the county may look to demolish the 55-year-old Macon Coliseum and build a new venue in its place.

“If you’re going to maintain your status in tourism and attraction, you’re going to have to keep up with that and facilities too. What better way to do that is through using some of the SPLOST dollars. I would look for input from the private sector, and I think we’ll get that, to help build those facilities,” Miller explained.

Miller says they’ll have public input sessions for Maconites to discuss what’s important to them. Once those finish up, commissioners will vote on a list to go on the ballot. Miller says voters should get to decide in March 2025. If approved, the SPLOST would continue as normal in June.

Mayoral candidate Shekita Maxwell says she’ll discuss her plans for the SPLOST at a meet and greet this weekend. She declined further comment.

Chatham County Assistant District Attorney Andre Pretorius is running for the big office currently occupied by his boss, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Andre Pretorius, an assistant Chatham County attorney, is kicking it up a notch, so to speak, and running for Chatham County District Attorney.

Pretorius, a Republican, will face the winner of the May 21 Democratic primary race between current DA Shalena Cook Jones, and former Chatham County ADA Jenny Parker, who announced her candidacy for the top job on June 30, 2023.

Initially, Pretorius didn’t seem to be the likely Republican candidate. More than two years ago, former Chatham County Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Anthony Burton announced he would run for Chatham County DA, but on March 8 of this year, he made a Facebook post announcing that he was dropping out of the DA race, and instead will run for Chatham County Probate Judge. In the Facebook post, Burton pledged support for Pretorius’ campaign.

Why are you running for Chatham County District Attorney?

“The reason I’m running for the District Attorney’s office is because I want to get a voice of victims, making sure that the cases are prosecuted for the victims. Then, on top of that, to build a bridge between the DA’s office and the police department so that the cases are thoroughly investigated, and that we are there to support them if they have questions. And then on top of that, to bring in prosecutors who are good prosecutors, hardworking prosecutors are willing to learn and enjoy the job of being the prosecutor.”

“I’ve always had a passion to work with victims. When I started here, we had a domestic violence docket, and I saw how that was being run. So, what I basically did at that point was make sure that that docket changed so that we had the victims there, we had the treatment provider’s there, and kind of figured out what was going on? Is the treatment working? Put them into a domestic violence program, so if it’s a money issue or an employment issue or an alcohol abuse issue, we get them the help and treatment they need for that. [The goal was to] get to the bottom of the struggles that they’re dealing with.”

Republican Buck Holly is running for Chair of the Bryan County Commission, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Don Montgomery, solicitor general of Bryan County, spoke highly of the veteran, saying, “We need Buck Holly.”

“Bryan County deserves a Chairman of the County Commission that will lead us with honesty and transparency,” said Montgomery. “Buck Holly is a leader who will bring his business background to the table, making county finances transparent. His focus is on managing budgets wisely and cutting down taxpayer burdens. In Buck Holly, we’ve got a candidate who isn’t just talking about hearing everyone out, but actually lives and breathes inclusivity, making sure every single person in our community feels heard and valued.”

“I have been the janitor. I’ve done marketing, accounts payable. I’ve negotiated contracts and I’ve been human resources,” said Holly. “All the things that I do are directly relatable to the job of a politician. If you compare my experience to my competitors’ experience, if you put it on paper, I’d be willing to bet that I have more experience than he does, but he can claim that he has political experience.”

Holly’s [opponent] is incumbent Carter Infinger, who has held the seat since 2016.

County Commissioner Patrick Kisgen is president of C&H Precision, but Holly said he does not think there is a conflict of interest there since the commission chairman is not allowed to vote.

“I cannot influence him,” said Holly. “I’ve known him for 15 years. He is one of the most admirable and respectable men I know. There is not enough money in the world to get him to change his vote.”

29
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 29, 2024

On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, asking that he and his colleagues “remember the ladies” in the fight for Independence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert E. Lee arrived in Augusta on March 30, 1870.

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

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

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

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower remained the world’s tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition’s 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world’s premier tourist attractions.

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

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

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

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

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

On March 29, 1971, U.S. Army Lieutenant William L. Calley was found guilty by Court Martial at Fort Benning, Georgia, of massacring Vietnamese civilians at My Lai.

The unit had been conducting a search-and-destroy mission to locate the 48th Viet Cong (VC) Local Force Battalion. The unit entered Son My village but found only women, children, and old men. Frustrated by unanswered losses due to snipers and mines, the soldiers took out their anger on the villagers, indiscriminately shooting people as they ran from their huts. The soldiers rounded up the survivors and led them to a nearby ditch where they were shot.

Calley was charged with six specifications of premeditated murder. During the trial, Chief Army prosecutor Capt. Aubrey Daniel charged that Calley ordered Sgt. Daniel Mitchell to “finish off the rest” of the villagers. The prosecution stressed that all the killings were committed despite the fact that Calley’s platoon had met no resistance and that he and his men had not been fired on.

Calley was found guilty of personally murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment, but his sentence was reduced to 20 years by the Court of Military Appeals and further reduced later to 10 years by the Secretary of the Army. Proclaimed by much of the public as a “scapegoat,” Calley was paroled in 1974 after having served about a third of his 10-year sentence.

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

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot.

The president had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel and was walking with his entourage to his limousine when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and critically wounded, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the side, and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahanty was shot in the neck. After firing the shots, Hinckley was overpowered and pinned against a wall, and President Reagan, apparently unaware that he’d been shot, was shoved into his limousine by a Secret Service agent and rushed to the hospital.

The president was shot in the left lung, and the .22 caliber bullet just missed his heart. In an impressive feat for a 70-year-old man with a collapsed lung, he walked into George Washington University Hospital under his own power. As he was treated and prepared for surgery, he was in good spirits and quipped to his wife, Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck,” and to his surgeons, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.” Reagan’s surgery lasted two hours, and he was listed in stable and good condition afterward.

On March 31, 1999, The Matrix opened in theaters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced four judicial appointments, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced four judicial appointments, three to state courts and one to superior court. The Governor will appoint the Honorable Matthew Rollins to the Superior Court of the Paulding Judicial Circuit, Matthew Swope to the State Court of Coweta County, the Honorable Charles Bailey to the State Court of Dekalb County Division A, and the Honorable Phyllis Williams to the State Court of Dekalb County Division B.

District Attorney Rollins will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Tonny S. Beavers from the Superior Court of the Paulding Judicial Circuit. Mr. Swope will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable John Herbert Cranford from the State Court of Coweta County. Judge Bailey will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Johnny Panos from the State Court of Dekalb County Division A. Judge Williams will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Charles Bailey to the State Court of Dekalb County Division A.

Matthew Rollins serves as the District Attorney of the Paulding Judicial Curcuit. He previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in the same office. Born and raised in Georgia, Rollins served four years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, he attended Kennesaw State University, where he received his B.S. in Political Science, and Mercer Law School, where he received his J.D. An active member of his community, Rollins is a member of the Dallas Lodge, the Paulding Rotary Club, and the Paulding Bar Association. Rollins and his wife, Minna, have one child and live in Acworth.

Matthew S. Swope is a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Coweta County office of the Coweta Judicial Circuit, a position he has held since 2017. Before joining the District Attorney’s Office, he served as an Assistant Solicitor General in Coweta County and was an associate attorney at Rosenzweig, Jones, Horne, & Griffis, P.C. in Newnan, Georgia. Swope is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Newnan-Coweta Bar Association where he previously served on the Executive Board. Swope was a Board Member of Elevate Coweta Students and the Newnan-Coweta Boys and Girls Club. Swope received his J.D. from the Georgia State University College of Law and his B.A. from Elon University. Swope and his wife, Orren, live in Newnan and are expecting their first child in June.

Charles E. Bailey has served full-time on Division B of the State Court of DeKalb County since January 2022. He previously served the State Court as a pro hac judge and as a part-time judge in the Municipal Court of Decatur. Before pursuing a career in law, Judge Bailey worked for a community mental health center providing intensive case management services to people with chronic and severe mental illness. He also worked for several years in the field of higher education administration at Vanderbilt University. Judge Bailey serves on the Ministry Board and Board of Trustees for Developmental Disabilities Ministries, Inc. He previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Oakhurst Recovery Program. Judge Bailey earned his J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School. Judge Bailey is the father of two adult children. He and his family reside in Decatur, Georgia.

Phyllis R. Williams serves as an Associate Judge in the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County. Judge Williams began her legal career at the law firm of Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers before starting her own firm and practicing as a trial attorney for over 25 years. In 2017, she merged her firm with Fox Legal, LLC, where she serves as of-counsel. In addition to her private practice, Judge Williams is currently an adjunct professor at Georgia State University College of Law. She is an active member of the DeKalb Bar Association, DeKalb Lawyers Association, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Stonewall Bar Association, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, and Georgia Association of Women Attorneys. Judge Williams has also served on the Board of Directors for the South DeKalb YWCA, is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb, and is a member of the Leadership DeKalb Beacon Society. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in music with a concentration in piano performance and from Florida State University College of Law with her J.D.

Governor Kemp also appointed a three-member Commission to investigate and make recommendations on the indictment of Pineview Mayor Brandon Holt, issuing Executive Order #03.28.24.01.

From 13WMAZ on the indictment in January 2024:

The mayor of the City of Pineview is accused of stealing nearly $65,000 from the small Wilcox County city of fewer than 500 residents, the mayor’s arrest warrant shows.

The newly obtained documents offer the first glimpse at the alleged scheme that has landed the mayor in the middle of a 75-count theft case.

Brandon Holt, 34, was arrested last Monday and booked into the Wilcox County jail after the county’s sheriff, Steve Mauldin, and District Attorney Brad Rigby asked the Georgia Bureau investigation to look into possible theft of city funds.

But now, the arrest warrant accuses Holt of siphoning $64,455 from the city’s general account over a nearly three-month period.

Between June 26 to Oct. 11, 2023, the arrest warrant says Holt made 75 transactions through the mobile payment app Cash App, sending funds from the city of Pineveiw’s general account and funneling them into his own personal bank account.

Mauldin and Rigby asked the GBI to investigate Holt on Oct. 20, only nine days after the last Cash App transaction is believed to have been made.

After the GBI’s investigation, Holt was charged with 75 counts of theft by taking, corresponding to each alleged Cash App transaction.
But this is not the first time the 34-year-old mayor has been charged in a theft investigation.

Back in 2022, Holt was arrested in Bibb County on two counts of felony theft by deception charges along with nine counts of financial identity fraud.

The [2022] indictment claims Holt used the account numbers for Macon Asphalt to steal $22,196 from the company. The indictment also shows that the alleged thefts date back to transactions from 2018.

Georgia Administrative Law Judge Lisa Boggs held that Brian K. Pritchard voted illegally nine times, ordering him to pay $5000 in fines, according to the AJC.

A judge ruled Wednesday that the Georgia Republican Party’s first vice chairman, Brian K. Pritchard, violated state election laws when he voted nine times while serving probation for a felony check forgery sentence.

Pritchard, a conservative talk show host, must pay a $5,000 fine and receive a public reprimand from the State Election Board, according to the decision by Administrative Law Judge Lisa Boggs.

Pritchard has previously alleged the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent on his show, but now he has been found to have voted illegally. Recounts, court cases and investigations over the past 3 1/2 years have consistently debunked fraud claims and upheld the 2020 election results.

Prichard has said he didn’t do anything wrong and thought he had completed his probation before voting in Georgia. But that didn’t convince the judge in the case.

“The court does not find the respondent’s explanations credible or convincing,” Boggs wrote in her 25-page decision. “At the very least, even if the court accepts he did not know about his felony sentences, the record before this court demonstrates that he should have known.”

Pritchard registered to vote in Georgia in 2008 and cast ballots in nine elections before his probation was over, according to election records presented in court.

The judge fined Pritchard $500 for each of the nine times he voted illegally, plus another $500 for his illegal voter registration. Pritchard can appeal the decision.

This year’s Presidential Preference Primary results are a political Rorschach test, where the conclusions one draws tell much about the presuppositions underlying them.

The AJC writes that turnout in the March 12, 2024 Georgia Presidential Preference Primary show no movement of African-American voters toward former President Donald Trump.

Nearly 200,000 Black voters participated in Georgia’s March 12 presidential primary, with 95% of those voters choosing a Democratic ballot, according to an analysis of voter turnout data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The overwhelming support for Democrats either contradicts claims by former President Donald Trump that he is gaining support from Black voters or those voters failed to turn out to vote in the primary.

“I got indicted. … A lot of people say that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against,” Trump said to the South Carolina audience.

Trump’s claims of increased appeal to Black voters appeared to be consistent with the most recent polls from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times, which suggest that 20% of Black voters would vote for Trump in the general election. But in Georgia’s March 12 presidential primary, only 5% of Black voters cast a ballot in the Republican primary. The partisan breakdown parallels previous presidential primaries — in both 2020 and 2016, roughly 95% of Black voters voted in the Democratic primary, indicating no major shift in Black voter behaviors yet.

“This idea that Trump is making these huge gains among minority voters, to me, it sort of defies the laws of physics,” said Alan Abramowitz, professor emeritus of political science at Emory University. “There’s no evidence that anything is changing. Maybe in November we’ll suddenly see something different, but I’m skeptical.”

Since the mid-1960s, no Republican presidential candidate has won more than 13% of the Black vote, Abramowitz said. He said a 20% win from Trump would be unprecedented, but it’s still possible the former president could increase his share of the Black vote. From 2016 to 2020, Trump gained 1 percentage point of the Black vote in Georgia during the general election, according to exit polling by ABC News.

Other political scientists predict that the concern for Democrats will not be Trump winning over Black voters, but Black voters not turning out for President Joe Biden. If there are not enough Black voters casting Democratic ballots overall, then turning out 90% of the Black vote in the general election could still result in a loss for Biden.

In the 2024 primary, 8% of Black voters turned out. This turnout is lower than the 33% in the 2020 presidential primary and 15% in 2016. However, turnout in this year’s primary was generally lower with noncompetitive races for each party.

From the New York Times:

Last week, we got the first big tranche of vote history data from a place where we’ve done a recent state poll: Georgia.

At least here, it suggests that most Haley voters already supported Mr. Biden in 2020. It also implies that Mr. Biden’s strength in the primaries is not inconsistent with polls showing him struggling among young and Black voters.

The Haley vote in Georgia

In the Republican primary in Georgia, Ms. Haley received 13.2 percent of the vote. That may not have been anywhere near enough to win, but it could easily be enough to be a big headache for Donald J. Trump if those are Republicans who have soured on the former president.

The vote history data offers a few clues suggesting that Mr. Trump doesn’t have much to worry about here — or at least nothing new to worry about. Most of these voters already backed Mr. Biden in the 2020 election and continue to back him in 2024.

There are two pieces of evidence to support this idea.

The first comes from the vote history data from previous partisan primaries in Georgia. That data shows that about 10 percent of voters in this month’s Republican primary had voted in a Democratic primary in the last eight years — a good indication that they may have been Democrats voting in a Republican contest. These voters probably backed Ms. Haley by a wide margin.

A second comes from our October Times/Siena survey of Georgia, which we matched to the new vote history records. Respondents who voted in the recent Republican presidential primary said they had voted for Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden by a margin of 82 percent to 12 percent in 2020, a tally similar to what these voters say they’ll do in November. Both tallies mirror Mr. Trump’s 85-13 victory in the Georgia primary.

The similarity between the Republican primary results and the poll responses of Republican primary voters suggest that most of Mr. Trump’s weakness in the primary simply came from those already inclined to back Mr. Biden in 2020 and 2024.

Among solid Republicans, Mr. Trump remains on stronger footing. He held a 94-2 polling lead over Mr. Biden among Republican primary voters who identified as Republicans in the Times/Siena survey. Similarly, he had a 91-3 lead among Republican primary voters who had not voted in a recent Democratic primary.

Not surprisingly, the Times/Siena poll last fall found no evidence of serious dissent among these [2024 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary] voters: Mr. Biden had a 96-0 lead over Mr. Trump among Times/Siena respondents who went on to vote in the Democratic primary, four months later.

What’s interesting is that the Times/Siena poll found plenty of evidence of Democratic dissent among the broader group of registered voters. In the head-to-head polling matchup in Georgia in October, Mr. Trump led Mr. Biden by six points, including finding Mr. Biden at just 76-19 among Black voters overall. (In 2020, he won around 90 percent of the Black vote in Georgia.)

Overall, just 4 percent of registered voters turned out in the Democratic primary. Nearly half were 65 and over; just 5 percent were under 30. It turns out that this old and highly engaged group of Democrats is very loyal to Mr. Biden.

This is particularly clear seeing Biden’s support among Black voters, who account for over one-fourth of the electorate in Georgia.

Remarkably, none of the Black voters who flirted with Mr. Trump in the October poll — those who said they would choose him in November 2024 — ended up voting in a primary, whether in the Republican primary or as Democratic dissenters. Mr. Biden led, 96-0, in the Times/Siena poll among self-identified Black voters who turned out in the March 12 primary, versus 74-21 among all other Black voters. Despite Mr. Trump’s support in the poll, only about 5 percent of Black primary voters decided to cast a ballot in the Republican primary, according to state voter records.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a big difference between primary voters and the rest of the electorate. In Times/Siena data, Mr. Biden is struggling badly among irregular young and nonwhite voters, helping to give Mr. Trump a narrow lead among registered voters nationwide. At the same time, Mr. Trump fares poorly among highly engaged voters, like those who vote in special elections.

Mr. Biden has major weaknesses in the polling, but his problems aren’t being put to the test in low-turnout primaries. The general election is when the irregular voters tend to show up, if they show up at all.

27
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 27, 2024

Lancelot is a young male Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Gilmer County Animal Shelter in Ellijay, GA.

Lancelot was picked up with his sister Guinevere at 6 months of age. Fully vaccinated now and 7 months old, this handsome little guy is ready for his forever home. At 35lbs, we suspect he will be 45lbs by the time he is full grown. He is a sweetie pie. He plays well with others, and he is learning his leash skills. He is your all around silly sweet puppy. He will make someone a great companion and a great additions to a family.

Roxy is an adult female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Gilmer County Animal Shelter in Ellijay, GA.

Roxy is a two year old, 30lb pocket pittie who is so adorable, you won’t be able to stand it! And, she is pure love! She loves her belly rubbed so much that it was difficult to get a picture right side up! She plays well with other dogs but we are pretty sure her favorite past time is snuggling with our volunteers.

Tiger is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Gilmer County Animal Shelter in Ellijay, GA.

Tiger is an 18 month old beautiful brindle hound mix, and he is as soulful as he is beautiful. He was picked up on Yukon Road by a fed-ex driver after seeing him almost run over. He was emaciated and dehydrated. Remarkably, this sweet boy has been nothing but grateful and loving to all the volunteers and staff. He often leans up as if he is saying thank you. He plays very well with other dogs and does just as well hanging out in the living room. He clearly had a rough life before, lets give him the life he deserves!
27
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 27, 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On March 27, 1912, the first Japanese cherry trees were planted on the northern bank of the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Ports Authority said state bridges are protected against ship strikes, according to the Savannah Morning News.Continue Reading..

26
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2024

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #03.11.24.01, appointing Amy B. Godfrey as the new Solicitor General for Coweta County.

Legislative Session Schedule

Tuesday, March 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .convene for legislative day 39
Thursday, March 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(Sine Die) convene for legislative day 40

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:00 AM HOUSE JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL – 132 CAP
8:00 AM Senate Rules Committee – 450 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD39) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 39) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS – 406 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES & TELECOM – 403 CAP

The Senate Rules Calendar and the first House Rules Calendar have been set for the penultimate day of the Georgia General Assembly’s 2024 Session. I suspect the House Rules Committee will add to it in their 9 AM meeting, or in subsequent meetings held through the day. In fact, the House did adopt a (first) Supplemental Calendar for today.

From the AJC:

Each chamber’s Rules Committee becomes increasingly important as the speeding train that is the legislative session heads to a stop — scheduled to adjourn late Thursday — because it is in charge of selecting the bills that get debated and have a chance of passing. This year’s final meeting is even more so as lawmakers close out the second year of the two-year cycle of a legislative session.

Shortly after concluding Monday’s meeting, Senate Rules Chairman Matt Brass, a Newnan Republican, scheduled another meeting for early Tuesday, likely after getting feedback that a high-priority bill was left off the list.

A typical late-session Rules Committee scene goes like this: Brass calls an anxious lawmaker to the podium to present his or her bill — or bills.

Brass is wrapping up his first biennium in this role, replacing former Chairman Jeff Mullis, who retired two years ago.

“You’ve got every author of every bill that’s (passed a committee) stop me in the hallways, at lunch and call me on the weekends,” he said. “But, to them, their bills are the most important bills. Unfortunately, the committee has to pick (bills), and we’ve only got so much bandwidth. And so it was tough because you’re having to tell your friends ‘no.’ ”

Once the dust settled, the 19 committee members emerged from their meeting having placed about 75 bills and resolutions up for debate during the final two days of the legislative session. More could be added Tuesday.

From another article in the AJC:

The state budget is the single bill that must pass. The spending plan, with pay raises for about 300,000 state employees, has already cleared the House and awaits Senate approval. That’s on top of the midyear budget that passed earlier this year adding $5.5 billion in spending for a new medical school at the University of Georgia and a revamp of the state Capitol complex, as detailed by the AJC’s James Salzer.

Along with the must-pass bill are dozens of measures championed by members in both chambers. Those range from nuts-and-bolts tax bills, such as a child care tax deduction and property tax relief legislation favored by House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, to a host of bills related to culture war social issues that started in the state Senate.

An education “Frankenbill” is still alive after Senate Republicans took a freshman Democrat’s suicide prevention bill and added four Republican-backed measures, including banning transgender athletes from playing sports, requiring that students use restrooms that align with their gender identity, and preventing sex education in schools before the sixth grade.

With nursing student Laken Riley’s killing still on lawmakers’ minds, two closely watched immigration bills need final action before they can head to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk. House Bill 301 and HB 1105 aim to force local law enforcement officials to comply with federal immigration laws.

Several big industries are watching the Capitol this week for bills that could affect their business, including a measure narrowing the state’s lucrative film tax credit and a mining-related bill that would keep a titanium mine planned near the Okefenokee Swamp at bay for the time being. Then there are the perennial sports betting bills — could this be the year?

House Bill 1172 by State Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) is among the bills that made the Senate Rules Calendar. It’s a radical rewrite of Georgia’s historical riparian rights and threatens small businesses that rely on river access for boating and fishing. From the Georgia Recorder:

The bill, sponsored by Waycross Republican Rep. James Burchett, has been presented as a follow-up fix after the agriculture industry and private property owners objected to changes made in the final hours of last year’s legislative session.

The Senate’s gatekeeping Rules Committee ushered the measure forward Monday for a potential vote this week as the legislative session winds down. Thursday is the final day of the 2024 session.

Opponents of the proposal are urging lawmakers to reject the bill after Burchett told a Senate panel last week that standing on a streambed would be trespassing under his proposal if the landowner has a land grant dating back to before 1863. Many anglers wade into the water when fishing and boaters use anchors to stay put while casting a line.

A similar proposal, sponsored by Moultrie Republican Sen. Sam Watson, unanimously passed out of the Senate last month but has stalled in the House. That bill, which is supported by advocates for river access, says that a member of the public can access these streambeds “only when incidental to passage and when actively hunting and fishing.”

“The concern I have is ‘takings,’” Burchett told the group of senators last week. “And if we are giving an explicit right to walk on somebody’s streambed that they own with a valid grant pre-1863, I think that’s the first time in statute we would put a statutory right to trespass on somebody’s property.”

But Burchett’s comments about standing on a streambed amounting to trespassing have alarmed the same groups that cheered on the surprise passage of last year’s measure.

Gordon Rogers, executive director of Flint Riverkeeper, argued this interpretation could apply to anglers who anchor along rivers, like many people do when fishing for catfish on Georgia’s river bottoms or when trolling for redbreast sunfish and bream.

And Rogers and others worry more private property owners can and will follow suit and close off more public access to the state’s rivers.

Mike Worley, president and CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation, said the proposal is a “big step” toward privatizing the wild places that people have paddled and fished for centuries.

“More and more of the streams that have always been available to us, as Georgians, will be off limits to do a lot of the things that we’re accustomed to doing. That’s a troubling precedent,” Worley said.

“We may get to the point where all we can do is go to places where there’s a state park bordering a stream or public land bordering a stream, or have to get permission from private landowners to go on to their stream, and we might even see people charging for it, which is what we saw on the Yellow Jacket Shoals,” he said, referring to the Flint River case that spurred last year’s bill.

Burchett, who is the House majority whip, has said he is trying to clarify when property owners along navigable waterways can restrict public access in hopes of heading off more of the violent encounters that have sprung up over misunderstandings on the river.

Paddling groups had already raised concerns that the bill would cut off their access to smaller streams.

Burchett had also attempted to push a separate measure that identified which waterways are navigable – and therefore open to the public – and which ones are non-navigable and require permission from property owners. That bill stalled.

“That was a lot like water over the dam. It was too hard to track it, too hard to keep up with it. It was moving too fast. So that got delayed,” said Rep. Lynn Smith, a Newnan Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

Instead, Smith has introduced a late proposal calling for another study committee that would this time take a closer look at which streams are navigable.

Governor Brian Kemp visited the Port of Savannah to support the next deepening project, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Three U.S. Congressmen accompanied Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on a visit to the Georgia Ports Authority on Monday to show unified support for funding a new study on deepening the Savannah River channel less than two years after crews finished dredging the channel to 47 feet.

U.S. Reps Buddy Carter (R-St. Simons), Mike Collins (R-Jackson), and Sam Graves (R-Missouri) all serve on the U.S. House Committee that authorizes the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activities.

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. We need to continue moving forward, and that’s why we need this study so much,” Carter said.

Graves, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was asked by Carter and Collins to make the trip. Graves agreed to do so to demonstrate his his support for a deepening study.

The study is supported by every member of Congress from Georgia, including Sen. Raphael Warnock. The GPA says that the deepening is needed to accomodate larger ships, and the GPA signaled in October 2023 its ambition to study deepening the Savannah River’s shipping channel another time.

Kemp sent a letter last year to Georgia’s congressional delegation urging support of the deepening study. The continued growth of the Georgia Ports is crucial to servicing the state’s growing economic development, Kemp said. He referenced in his remarks the Hyundai Metaplant in Bryan County, the state’s largest economic development project in its history.

Kemp also touted $1.5 billion in the state’s 2024 amended budget for Georgia Department of Transportation projects. About $500 million of that is devoted to improving freight infrastructure.

From WSAV:

“Congressman Graves, you’ll probably hear a lot while you’re here that we are the number one state in the country for business for 10 years in a row,” Gov. Kemp said. “So, I wanted to state that again. The ports are a big reason why we are.”

“We know that we must continue growing our ports to meet both the needs of our company and our consumers,” Gov. Kemp said.

“I sent a letter last year to every member of our congressional delegation to support the new study for further deepening and widening the port of Savannah,” Gov. Kemp said.

Graves said the Water Resources Development Bill will be on the house floor by the September 30 deadline.

Savannah has the fourth busiest U.S. port for cargo shipped in containers.

From WTOC:

That process to study a new expansion to Savannah’s port would fall under a water resources development bill – it’s something House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Sam Graves says its set to be marked up this spring and on the floor of the house by sometime this summer. Graves, throwing his support behind the port expansion today.

“It is important to me. It’s a priority of mine to get this study done and see the port widened and deepened,” said Graves.

Rep. Mike Collins says they hope to bring lessons learned from the last deepening of the harbor completed in 2022 to the next potential expansion.

“It should be a lot quicker. I hope that the Governor is right that we can keep this on a good pace,” said Rep. Mike Collins, Georgia.

Statesboro City Council is considering reducing the distance required between churches and facilities that sell alcohol, according to WSAV.

The Statesboro city council is considering changing a rule that forbids alcohol sales within 100 yards of a church, educational campus or rehab facility.

“We’re trying to make it a vibrant downtown and have businesses,” said city manager Charles Penny.

“You look across the country, people are trying to create that energy in the downtown area because downtown is the living room of the city,” said Penny. “What we want to see is more people in downtown after 5 o’clock.”

Only churches built into storefronts would be affected. Penny says keeping churches out of downtown is not their intention.

“By having this issue and having council approve it, we take off the issue of limiting what can go in the downtown area,” said Penny. “If a church decides they want to go into the downtown area and be a storefront church, they would make that decision knowing that a bar could be right next door to it.”

The office of United States Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) will host an in-person constituent services event in Blakely, according to WALB.

The event will take place Tuesday, March 26 from 10:00 a .m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Blakely Senior Center.

According to the release, in collaboration with local officials, community partners and staff will assist Georgians with issues relating to medicare and medicaid, social security, veterans and servicemembers benefits, federal taxes, passports, visas, and more.

Senator Reverend Warnock says, “As a United States Senator for all Georgians, providing Georgians with quality, accessible, and personable constituent services will always be a top priority for me. We are ready to serve you and your families, and we hope to see you there.”

Senator Warnock’s team will gather insights on community needs and concerns to inform policy decisions and advocate for positive change, all while educating residents on navigating government systems and accessing resources independently. The flagship event offers a one-day opportunity for residents to access resources, and attend educational workshops and presentations.

The Atlanta Veterans Affairs Regional Office was renamed in honor of the late U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The Atlanta Veterans Affairs Regional Office was formally renamed in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson Monday during a ceremony at the building in Decatur.

Isakson, who died in 2021, served as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee from 2015 until he retired from the Senate in 2019.

“Senator Isakson’s values and example continue to influence the United States Senate for the better,” Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., said during Monday’s ceremony. “Senator Isakson was a statesman among mere politicians, whose work ethic, whose commitment to the national interest over small partisan interests, and whose unyielding commitment to America’s veterans continues to have a positive impact on the Senate.”

Isakson, a Republican elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving five years in the U.S. House of Representatives, gained a reputation as a lawmaker willing to reach across the aisle to Democrats in order to pass meaningful legislation.

Ossoff sponsored the bipartisan bill naming the VA office after Isakson, which the Senate passed in 2022.

The Savannah Morning News spoke to Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones about her reelection campaign.

Jones faces two challengers for the job.

Her first contest will come on May 21, during the party primaries. Jones is running against Jenny Parker in the Democratic primary. Parker is a former Chatham County Chief Assistant District Attorney (ADA), who most recently served as an assistant district attorney in the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit.

The winner of that race will face Andre Pretorius, a Republican and a former Deputy Chief Assistant for the Chatham County State Court. He works now on a part-time basis as an assistant Chatham County attorney.

From 2010 to 2014, Jones worked as an ADA in the Chatham County DA’s office under Meg Heap before leaving to open her own law firm. In November 2020 she challenged heap, and Jones won with 68,944 votes for a total vote share of 52.83%.

In an interview last week, Jones touted her track record, including the implementation of the conviction integrity and cold case units and tackling of the case backlog, which ballooned to nearly 30,000 cases after her first year in office, primarily because of COVID restrictions.

“To put it plainly, I’m running for re-election to complete the work of change that we promised citizens in 2020. We won the 2020 election by a margin of 8,000 people, and what that suggests to me is that our voters are looking for the type of change that we were offering. So, I’m running to complete the work.”

“Four years is not enough time to make the criminal justice system run efficiently and make it effective and make sure that it’s equitable and put all those quality controls in place. So, I’m running because I think I’m proud of the work that our office did, and we need to continue to move the office in the direction of change.”

Davin Pandy discussed his campaign in the Special Election for Gainesville City Council Ward 4 with AccessWDUN.

Pandy served in the U.S. Army for 21 years and wanted to serve his community back home after he retired. He currently volunteers with multiple area organizations.

“Well, first will be to serve as an example, as something that people can look up to. I am Afro-Latino, with a touch of British and Irish. So I have a wealth of cultures running within my veins, and I try to identify with those cultures, with the cultures that make me who I am, as much as possible,” Pandy said. “And so being such a diverse person, I definitely look at the world and Gainesville, in a diverse way. So having my input on the council, I believe, could open the eyes of our leaders to some of the issues that they may not be aware of, or that they may not know, are as serious as it is.”

Pandy expressed his admiration for the late Ward 4 Councilman George Wangemann. Wangemann resigned late in 2023, prior to his passing early in 2024.

“George was amazing. I almost hesitate to say was, because his influence still affects my life,” Pandy said. “I use this acronym a lot that we learned in the military. The acronym that I speak of, spells out L.D.R.S.H.I.P. And that acronym stands for loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. And my interactions with George, from the time we first met years ago, until we got close last summer. Everything he did lived up to the leadership acronym and he just wasn’t even trying to be a role model. He just was.”

Judy Wangemann, wife of Councilman Wangemann, recently announced her husband’s posthumous endorsement of Pandy for City Council.

“Amidst our grief, it is crucial for the people to know that George, even in his final moments, was thinking about the future of Gainesville,” Wangemann said. “His endorsement of Devin Pandy reflects his deep trust and confidence in Devin’s ability to lead with the same dedication and compassion that defined George’s service to our community. George had written a heartfelt letter of endorsement, a testament to his commitment, but unfortunately, he passed away before it could be published.”

25
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 25, 2024

The British Parliament closed the Port of Boston on March 25, 1774, passing the Boston Port Act in retaliation for the destruction of $1 million worth of tea in the Boston Tea Party.

Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia. She would come to be recognized as one of the greatest American fiction writers. O’Connor graduated from the Georgia State College for Women, now called Georgia College and State University. She returned to Milledgeville in 1951, living at the family farm, called Andalusia, until her death at age 39 in 1964.

At GCSU, the Flannery O’Connor Room is located in the GC Museum, the Flannery O’Connor Collection includes manuscripts, and the College includes a program in Flannery O’Connor Studies.

O’Connor died of Lupus, which also killed her father.

Horton Smith won the first Masters tournament on March 25, 1934.

On March 25, 1937, Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation creating the Georgia Department of Labor; in 1945, the Commissioner of Labor was upgraded from statutory office to Constitutional.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp today visits the Georgia Ports, according to WSAV.

Governor Brian Kemp is scheduled to visit the ports here in Savannah on Monday with federal lawmakers.

Kemp plans to host House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Sam Graves, along with Representatives Buddy Carter and Mike Collins.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (R) pled guilty to a federal fraud charge, according to the Associated Press via WTVM.

John W. Oxendine of Johns Creek entered the guilty plea Friday in federal court in Atlanta. The 61-year-old had been indicted in May 2022 on charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but Oxendine is likely to be sentenced to less. Federal sentencing guidelines discussed in the plea agreement suggest prosecutors will recommend Oxendine be imprisoned between 4 years, 3 months, and 5 years, 3 months, depending on what U.S. District Judge Steve Jones decides at a sentencing hearing set for July 12. Jones could also fine Oxendine and order him to serve supervised release.

Oxendine also agreed to pay nearly $700,000 in restitution to health insurers who lost money in the scheme, the plea document states. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the money laundering charge as part of the plea.

“John Oxendine, as the former statewide insurance commissioner, knew the importance of honest dealings between doctors and insurance companies,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement. “But for personal profit he willfully conspired with a physician to order hundreds of unnecessary lab tests, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Oxendine served as the elected state insurance commissioner from 1995 to 2011. He ran for governor in 2010 but lost the Republican primary. The state ethics commission began investigating and prosecuting campaign finance cases against him in 2009, alleging Oxendine broke state law by using campaign funds to buy a house, lease luxury cars and join a private club.

Oxendine settled that case with the Georgia Ethics Commission in 2022, agreeing to hand over the remaining $128,000 in his campaign fund while admitting no wrongdoing.

Legislative Session Schedule

Monday, March 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . committee work day
Tuesday, March 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .convene for legislative day 39
Thursday, March 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(Sine Die) convene for legislative day 40

Under the Gold Dome Today – Committee Work Day

Continue Reading..

22
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 22, 2024

King George III approved of the passage of the Stamp Act legislation on March 22, 1765 designed to pay for some of the costs the UK incurred in protecting the colonies, but it would lead to the movement that culminated in the American Revolution.

Lyman Hall was elected to the Continental Congress on March 21, 1775 from St. John’s Parish; the next year he would sign the Declaration of Independence as a representative from Georgia.

Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Convention in Richmond on March 23, 1775, stating, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

On March 24, 1825, the Marquis de LaFayette visited Augusta, Georgia.

On this date in 1825, LaFayette, a beloved French hero of the American Revolution, stopped in Augusta on his nationwide tour, and thousands turned out to greet him.

Storekeepers displayed all sorts of LaFayette gear – hats, portraits, souvenirs. An arch was constructed over Broad Street. A platform big enough to hold 600 diners was put up in front of the courthouse on Greene Street.

On March 23, 1861, the Georgia Secession Convention adopted a new state Constitution to be submitted to a referendum of the voters on the first Tuesday in July and then adjourned.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act on March 22, 1933, allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages, and later that year, the federal Prohibition was ended.

The first Masters golf tournament began on March 22, 1934 in Augusta, Georgia.

Governor E.D. Rivers signed a resolution on March 24, 1939, calling for the return of “General” locomotive made famous in the Great Train Chase from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Georgia. It currently resides in The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia. The other locomotive involved in the chase, The Texas, is displayed at the Atlanta Center.

The state prohibition on all alcoholic beverages ended on March 22, 1935 with Governor Eugene Talmadge’s signature of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.

On March 21, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation establishing the Eastern Standard Time Zone as the only Time Zone in Georgia. Prior to that, Georgia observed two different time zones.

Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army on March 24, 1958.

On March 21, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 3000 protesters in a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

On March 24, 1970, Gov. Lester Maddox signed legislation naming the Largemouth Bass the Official State Fish.

The United States Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment on March 22, 1972; it would fail to garner enough state ratifications.

On March 23, 1972, in the case of Gooding v. Wilson, the United States Supreme Court held that a Georgia statute, OCGA § 26-6303, which provided: “Any person who shall, without provocation, use to or of another, and in his presence . . . opprobrious words or abusive language, tending to cause a breach of the peace . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,” was unconstitutionally vague and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

On March 21, 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan called for the development of an anti-missile system that would come to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.

On Saturday, March 24, 1984, five juvenile delinquents disaffected youth reported to detention at Shermer High School.

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Former Georgia Governor and United States Senator Herman Talmadge died on March 21, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State senators voted for a new schedule for Public Service Commission elections, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Valdosta Daily Times.Continue Reading..

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 20, 2024

March 20, 1854 saw a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin that is generally considered the founding of the Republican Party.

[F]ormer members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

The Georgia State Capitol was completed on March 20, 1889. Ron Daniels, the Poet Laureate of GaPundit, has written an ode to the Gold Dome:

Well I guess it was back in eighteen eighty nine,
When a couple of boys in Dahlonega went down in a mine,
And found it was slap full of gold.
Then these folks in Atlanta wanted to keep growing,
So they told the legislature the Capitol had to be going,
And so those politicos said “Good Bye Milledgeville! Our attorneys will be in touch.”
Now the Capitol had been moved before,
Savannah, Louisville, and more,
They’d even moved it down to Macon on an overloaded poultry wagon.
Atlanta sure wanted to lend the State a hand,
Giving the legislature plenty of land,
Hammers started swingin’ and, boy howdy, they sure were buildin’.
The architect of this here building was feeling bold,
Covering the building’s dome all in beautiful gold,
Leaving the gold mine empty, and leaving someone with the shaft.
Well, Governor Gordon was slap full of delight,
When his eyes did recognize that impressive sight,
On March 20, 1889, a completed Capitol building.
He grabbed the keys and a few words he spoke,
The words he uttered were no joke,
“Boys when you’re hot, you’re hot! Now thanks a lot.”

On March 20, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation authorizing a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution and make the Public Service Commission a Constitutional agency.

On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson notified Alabama Governor George Wallace that Alabama National Guard troops would be called up to maintain order during a third march from Selma to Montgomery. Within five months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress.

On March 20, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation designating the Brown Thrasher the official state bird, and the Bobwhite Quail the official state game bird.

Happy birthday to Georgia-born actress Holly Hunter (1958) and film director/actor Spike Lee (1957).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

An Artifical Intelligence-generated “deepfake” of Sen. Colton Moore (R-Upper Left Hand Corner) demonstrated more maturity than the real thing the threat posed to political campaigns by the new technology. From the AJC:Continue Reading..