Georgia Political News for March 6, 2012

6
Mar

Georgia Political News for March 6, 2012

Today is the Presidential Preference Primary in Georgia and the polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM. Remember to take your photo ID to the polls. Atlanta City voters will vote on whether to extend the MOST sales tax to pay for court-ordered sewer repairs. Voters in unincorporated DeKalb and many other jurisdictions will vote on Sunday Sales of alcohol and several communities will have SPLOST renewals on the ballot.

Birdie is a 15 pound mixed-breed puppy estimated at three months old. She is available today at Walton Animal Control Services for a $40 adoption fee, which includes a referral for discounted spaying, vaccination and deworming treatment.

Walton Animal Services accepts donations and makes it easy for rescue organizations.

Presidential election

Final results in our online poll with 1923 votes cast are:

Newt Gingrich 39%
Ron Paul 35%
Rick Santorum 15%
Mitt Romney 9%
Michele Bachmann 1%

Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer and Rick Perry each received less than one percent. Newt Gingrich may be winning Georgia, but Ron Paul is winning the internet; some of these people will actually be shocked and disappointed when Paul fails to reach the double digits.

Landmark/Rosetta Stone’s final poll of the election had the following: Newt Gingrich  44%, Mitt Romney with 23%, Rick Santorum 17% and Ron Paul 7%; 9% of voters are undecided.

CNN released a poll yesterday that shows Newt Gingrich  47%, Mitt Romney with 24%, Rick Santorum 15% and Ron Paul 9%; 5% of voters are unsure or not supporting a candidate.

 

Gov. Nathan Deal wrote an op-ed that ran in the Marietta Daily Journal endorsing Gingrich: “As Georgia conservatives, we owe Newt Gingrich — who in 1994 led the Republican Party to victory for the first time in 40 years — a debt of gratitude. Without this man giving voice to the practical conservatism the majority of Georgians now hold dear, the Republican Party in our state would not be where it is today.

The Savannah Morning News endorsed Mitt Romney, with the odd headline, “Man Up for Mitt.”

The Augusta Chronicle urges voters to approve the extension of the local option sales tax for education.

The Rome News-Tribune urges a Yes vote on Sunday Sales and a YES vote on extension of the existing sales tax.

The Times-Herald in Newnan takes no position, but notes which local jurisdictions are voting on Sunday Sales.

About 140,000 Georgians cast early votes in the Presidential primary, including 1500 in Carroll County.

Election Night Festivities and where to cry in your beer

Newt Gingrich supporters will join the candidate and Callista Gingrich at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel at 450 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339. Supporters are asked to RSVP to gavolunteer@newt.org or 678-973-2306.

From 7-9 PM tonight, Mitt Romney supporters will gather at The Ivy on Roswell Road.

Rick Santorum will be holding a reception at Dave and Buster’s on Venture Drive in Duluth.

In addition to loitering in the parking lot of a Krispy Kreme donut shop, Ron Paul supporters will have several choices of venue for their second quadrennial shock, denial and disappointment party.

Legislative News

Wednesday will be Day 30 in the Georgia General Assembly, also known as Crossover Day.

In the wake of the Penn State child abuse scandal, the Georgia Senate passed by a 49-2 vote Senate Bill 355 by Sen. Renee Unterman, which requires any adult who witnesses child abuse to report it to the authorities.

Pharmacists and nurses will have greater authority to administer vaccinations under Senate Bill 288 by Sen. Charlie Bethel, which passed on a 43-7 vote.

Senate Bill 410 by Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, passed 38-13, adopts measures of school performance designed to supplement the federal “Annual Yearly Progress” ratings. “AYP is a pass/fail system, which did not provide a way to track progress or improvements,” said Sen. Williams. “This bill implements new criteria based on DOE’s waiver request. The end result will allow us to reward schools for improving and incentivizes them to make progress.”

Senate Bill 458, which requires verificaiton of immigration status for those seeking to enroll in state colleges and universities passed by 34-19. Jim Galloway of the AJC has a story about Senator Tommie Williams considering dropping an amendment to allow prospective students who were brought to the country by their parents before the age of 12, attended Georgia schools for at least six years, and who have clean records and have applied for citizenship,  to attend Georgia colleges at the out-of-state tuition rate. According to Galloway, the amendment was not offered for fear that federal law would require the same accommodation be made to undocumented immigrants from any state.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 397, a rewrite of state Open Records and Open Meetings laws, by 154-5.

The House also passed House Bill 972, which aims to reduce the number of “pill mills” by requiring owners of pain clinics to hold a state license. The Georgia Drugs and Narcotics agencies estimates that 150 pill mills are currently operating in the state.

State Representative Joe Wilkinson, who chairs the House Ethics Committee, spoke with Dick Yarbrough to defend the transparency approach taken by state ethics law.

Wilkinson soldiers on in strongly defending the state’s current ethics laws. He says, “ I challenged Common Cause three years ago to bring me the names of three legislators who had been ‘bought’ by lobbyists. They couldn’t do it. So I asked them for one name. They couldn’t do that, either. If someone can provide me a shred of evidence of wrongdoing, I will leap into action and I will do so with a vigor that would make the members of the Senate Watergate Committee blush.”

The executive director of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy opines in the Gwinnett Daily Post that proposed solar expansion bills might end up costing consumers more than they save.

The fatal flaw of the proposal is that it requires regulated power providers to basically treat the new renewable installations as their own, tying them into the grid, installing the transmission lines they need, and accounting for all of the consequences for when the sun doesn’t shine. Who pays for all of these added costs? All power customers will, meaning that Georgians unable or unwilling to pay the cost for solar will be coughing up more on their power bill for those who do. Doesn’t sound so good anymore, does it?

Executive Branch

First Lady Sandra Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge will continue to tour Georgia schools, reading to students and promoting “Read Across America” during the month of March. Gov. Deal proclaimed March “Read Across Georgia” month.

Attorney General Sam Olens lauded the House passage of the Open Records and Open Meetings statutes.

“The bill passed by the House today is fair and balanced, strengthens government transparency, clarifies current law and provides the tools necessary to adequately enforce the law,” said Olens. “I am grateful to Representative Jay Powell for crafting a bill that protects the rights of Georgians to an open government while recognizing the need for efficient government and the confidentiality of sensitive information. I am also grateful to Speaker David Ralston, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard and House Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman Mike Jacobs for their leadership and hard work on perfecting the legislation. I appreciate the diligence and robust input from the stakeholders, whose tireless efforts have ensured that all interests are well represented. I am proud of the bill that cleared the House today and encourage the Senate to swiftly pass HB 397.”

AG Olens also worked with the legislature on the bill regulating pain clinics.

“I am grateful that the members of the House recognized the urgent nature of the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Georgia and swiftly approved HB 972,” said Olens. “As a result of a tough law passed in Florida last year, we have seen a rapid influx of what amounts to narcotic traffickers into our State. It is essential that Georgia enact a similar law to stop these criminals from moving their businesses here and harming our communities. HB 972 strikes a balance that will allow us to identify and curb bad actors without getting in the way of the many excellent doctors who offer legitimate pain management to patients.”

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice named a new director of the Augusta Youth Development Campus, coming on the heels of a staff shakeup following the beating death of a 19-year old resident.

Local News

Battle lines are being drawn in Macon over the proposed consolidation of city and county governments and school reform.

The Lawrenceville City Council heard a proposal to extend the smoking ban on city property. Villa Rica City Councilman Woody Holland proposes making the west Georgia city smoke-free.

Random Notes

The developer of a proposed Wal-Mart in downtown Athens refused the demands of Occupy Athens hippies that they apologize and hold public meetings on the proposed development. Perhaps the new development will offer employment opportunities to the Occupiers.

A member of the Backstreet Boys was robbed of $120,000 in jewelry in Stone Mountain.

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