Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2022

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.

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

On 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.”

 

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

On Saturday, April 2, 2022, Irwinton, Georgia hosts the State Banana Pudding Festival of Georgia, the greatest festival ever. From 13WMAZ:

The State Banana Pudding Festival of Georgia happens in Irwinton this Saturday. It’s where they will crown the best sweet dish in Georgia.

They will then send the winner off to nationals.

Kathy Brewer Thompson has already collected some banana bounty.

“There’s only two spaces — winners and losers,” she said sternly.

Kathy won the State Banana Pudding title, and then she slipped on over to Tennessee and took the national one, too.

“I won it in 2019 and that was the last trip we got to make before he went and met Jesus in 2020,” she said sadly, as she spoke about her late husband Lamar.

She lost her husband, who was her best friend and biggest fan.

It runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

In Washington, House Democrats are likely to pass legislation legalizing marijuana, according to The Hill.

The House is set to pass legislation on Friday to legalize marijuana nationwide, an effort that has unprecedented levels of support in both chambers of Congress.

The bill is likely to pass the lower chamber largely along party lines, with most Republicans expected to oppose it.

Proponents argue that legalizing marijuana at the federal level will simply reflect most states’ existing policies that allow it in some form.

They also frame the effort as a way to end the disproportionate punishment of racial minorities and people in low-income communities for possessing and using weed.

“This landmark legislation is one of the most important criminal justice reform bills in recent history: delivering justice for those harmed by the brutal, unfair consequences of criminalization; opening the doors of opportunity for all to participate in this rapidly growing industry; and decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level so we do not repeat the grave mistakes of our past,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor on Thursday.

The bill, titled the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would eliminate criminal penalties associated with the drug and establish a process to expunge previous convictions from people’s criminal records.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “let them eat cake” motor fuel tax relief is unlikely, according to the Hill.

Pelosi acknowledged that the proposal, which has been floated by some Democrats in recent weeks, sounds appealing in theory. But she argued it doesn’t help consumers much in the long term since oil companies are not required to pass on the savings.

Furthermore, suspending the gas tax would take away the primary source of money for the Highway Trust Fund, which finances roads and mass transit.

“The pro is very showbiz. ‘OK, let’s just do something, there it is.’ But it is not necessarily landing in the pocket of the consumer,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol.

She suggested that measures such as rebates or direct payments to consumers would be more effective to provide Americans relief from the higher cost of gas.

“How do we help people directly? If you’re going to have to pay for it and you don’t want it to come out of the Trust Fund, something could be a rebate card or a direct payments. And those are the things that are being considered,” Pelosi said.

Here’s where I editorialize.

Seven years ago this week, Governor Nathan Deal signed an Executive Order directing state agencies to prepare to implement legislation to allow for some Georgia patients to use low-THC oil derived from cannabis. In one of the great ironies of my life, I was present at that signing.

Eighteen months after Gov. Deal signed that Executive Order, the first Mrs. GaPundit was diagnosed with ALS, one of the qualifying conditions under the legislation, House Bill 1 by then-State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon). We applied for the low-THC oil card but she was never able to legally purchase the medicine the state told her should would be able to. Four years ago tomorrow, she adjourned this life Sine Die.

Today, seven years later, no Georgia patient has yet legally bought this medication. People were diagnosed and died while the state government failed them. But today, driving around the state, not just the City of Atlanta, I see signs everywhere touting the open and allegedly legal sale of allegedly-legal alternative forms of THC, called “Delta-8 THC”.

What has happened is that the private sector saw an opportunity, contained in the interstices of state and federal legislation, and moved more quickly to fill that need than a state government that had a 5-7 year head start could get it together enough to allow it to happen.

But as far as I know, the only quality control on these products is the conscience of the producer, and there is still no reliable medical-grade dosing information for patients who might go to their local convenience store or vape shop to buy this stuff.

This development has tied up law enforcement, with Gwinnett County’s District Attorney stating that sales or possession of the alternative “Delta-8” is illegal and her office would prosecute, leading to a lawsuit. In Extreme Northeast Georgia, several county law enforcement agencies took a similar stand.

Less than a week after Catoosa county shop owners were served papers ordering them to stop selling Delta 8 products, the effort to get THC Cannabis products off of shelves has expanded to other North Georgia counties.

After 3 years of selling what they believed were legal products, shop owners in Dade and Walker County were all served papers by the Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force, ordering them to pull thousands of dollars worth of Delta 8 and Delta 10 products off of their shelves.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. This may be the worst example I can think of that uillustrates the inherent inefficiency of modern state, local, and federal government.

The second great irony of my life is that this issue – whether government is so woefully inadequate in acting swiftly that it is a poor tool for helping individuals – was a thread that ran through my marriage to the first Mrs. GaPundit. She was an old-school liberal who thought that good public policy could changes people’s lives for the better. I was a Republican who thought government was ill-suited for helping people. She devoted her career – a nearly-twelve year stint in state government, and a period as Director of Health Policy for a statewide healthcare organization – to the idea that public policy and government could improve peoples’ lives.

The low-THC oil would not have cured her, but it did make her more comfortable. In time, it might have helped her develop a greater appreciation for the music of the Grateful Dead and Georgia’s own Allman Brothers Band.

I guess it’s somehow fitting given her career that she died on the Monday immediately following the General Assembly’s adjournment. But that Monday was also the day after Easter. And this year on Easter, I’ll likely be found at the crack of dawn in the Columbarium in which her ashes are interred. After the service, I’ll pay a visit and play the songs she asked to be played at her funeral.

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 39

8:30 AM HOUSE BUDGET & FISCAL AFFAIRS OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (House) 341 CAP HYBRID

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE (House) 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 39) (House) House Chamber

10:00 AM Senate Floor Session LD 39 Senate Chamber

12:00 PM Senate Rules Committee 450 CAP

CLICK HERE FOR THE HOUSE RULES CALENDAR FOR TODAY

Click here for the Senate Rules Calendar for Today

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-in exile) continues his tour of Rotary clubs, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visited area Rotary Clubs Wednesday to “set the record straight” about what did and didn’t happen in the 2020 election and to push voter citizen-only voting.

“So, what I want to do today is talk about the fall election. … There has been an awful lot of misinformation out there,” he told a joint meeting of the Valdosta Rotary Club and the Valdosta North Rotary Club.

Raffensperger said several allegations were made regarding how the votes were counted, such as votes being incorrectly skipped in the 2020 presidential race. He said 28,000 Georgia residents skipped the presidential election but they voted in their local races.

“They voted for local sheriffs, state reps, congressmen. What’s interesting is that your Republican congressmen in the state of Georgia collectively received 33,000 more votes than President Trump,” Raffensperger said. “That’s why he came up short.”

“We’re absolutely astounded and shocked that we lost. It’s a grieving process. You know the five stages of grief? My party is still in one of those stages,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we’re really happy that 28,000 Georgians skipped the presidential election and voted locally, because that explains why those elected got 33,000 more votes than Trump and why he came up short.”

Senate Bill 361,  the “Law Enforcement Strategic Support Act” or “LESS Crime Act,” creating a tax credit program to benefit charities supporting law enforcement, passed the State house, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Ledger-Enquirer.

The “LESS” (Law Enforcement Strategic Support) Crime Act cleared the House 153-5 Wednesday after passing the state Senate in February.

The bill offers Georgia taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar income tax credit on contributions to public safety initiatives in their communities. It’s modeled after the highly successful rural hospital tax credit Duncan championed back in 2016 as a member of the House.

Under Senate Bill 361, law enforcement agencies could use the money for police officer salary supplements, to purchase or maintain department equipment and/or to establish or maintain a co-responder program so mental-health professionals could help police officers de-escalate behavioral health emergencies.

“The LESS Crime Act is symbolic of what can happen when leaders seek solutions beyond the scope of government and promote good policy,” Duncan said Wednesday. “Our legislation serves as a model for government entities around the country.”

“The resources generated through the LESS Crime Act will significantly aid Georgia’s 159 sheriffs in strengthening local public safety initiatives,” added Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.

The bill includes a statewide cap on the program of $75 million a year. Individual law enforcement agencies are limited to $3 million annually. Single taxpayers could receive a tax credit of up to $5,000, with married couples filing jointly eligible for up to $10,000.

The Georgia Senate removed caps on film industry tax credits after pushback from the industry, according to the AJC.

The Georgia Senate on Thursday stripped limits from a tax bill that would have capped how much the state spends on its popular film tax credit and make the credits less lucrative.

The limits had been added by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week to House Bill 1437, which would slash state income tax rates that Georgians pay.

Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said the film tax provisions were removed from the bill before the measure was approved by his committee, which decides which bills make it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Ray Brown, president of the local International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees and Motion Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts, said the changes “would crush the industry in Georgia as we know it.”

Senate Resolution 463 would create a Joint Study Committee on the Electrification of Transportation to create a plan for a network of electric vehicle charging stations, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The state House of Representatives voted unanimously this week to create a joint study committee to develop a plan for rolling out a network of electric vehicle charging stations across Georgia. The Georgia Senate passed the resolution two weeks ago, also in a unanimous vote.

“EVs are here. We see them all around us,” House Transportation Committee Chairman Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, told House members shortly before Wednesday’s vote. “But one part that’s lacking is charging infrastructure in this state.”

Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, said time is of the essence if Georgia is to keep up with the growing proliferation of electric vehicles.

“The future of this country in transportation is all-electric vehicles,” he said. “We need to get our ducks in a row so we’re not in the same situation we were in with broadband.”

Under Senate Resolution 463, the joint committee will include four House members, four senators, the Georgia commissioners of transportation and economic development, and the chair of the state Public Service Commission.

Gwinnett County public schools will pay a $2000 bonus to all permanent full- and part-time employees, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced in March that a $2,000 bonus would be provided to specified groups of school staff as part of his mid-year budget amendment for the FY2022 state budget. [Gwinnett County Superintendent Calvin] Watts said that GCPS will extend the payment of $2,000 to all permanent full-time and part-time employees.

In total, almost 22,000 GCPS employees will receive the one-time salary supplement.

“I applaud the state’s recognition of the outstanding work that is taking place throughout our school district,” Watts said. “In particular, I am grateful for the state’s recognition of our teachers and the many other professionals who work, day in and day out, to support teaching and learning.

The Gwinnett Daily Post profiles the candidates in the county’s first-ever nonpartisan elections for Board of Education.

For the first time ever, Gwinnett County voters will be choosing their county school board members in nonpartisan elections in May.

The winners of this spring’s races for school board Districts 2 and 4 will take office in January 2023.

There will be no regularly scheduled school board races appearing on the November 2022 ballot, so unless there is a runoff District 4, the May 24 election will be only opportunity voters will have this year to decide who will occupy either seat.

The Gainesville Times profiles the Republican candidates for Hall County Board of Education Post 2.

The Republican Women of Hall County and other groups will host the Northeast Georgia Republican Candidate Forum ahead of primary elections, according to the Gainesville Times.

The tentative schedule includes 36 candidates including several from Hall County. The schedule may be subject to change, and candidates could still be added to the schedule, Fisher said.

Senate District 49 candidates Shelly Echols, Scott Gibbs and Richard Straut will all likely speak early afternoon Saturday. Their district includes most of Hall County and is currently held by Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Miller will speak, but one of his main opponents, Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, who has been endorsed by Trump, will not be participating.

Whitney Pimentel and Barry Sanders are running for House District 30, and they will be speaking Saturday afternoon as well.

Other local candidates in attendance will include Ben Souther, who is running for U.S. Congress District 9 and Flowery Branch-native Josh Clark, running for U.S. Senate. And other prominent candidates will be in attendance, including governor candidate David Perdue, U.S. Senate candidate Gary Black and State Superintendent Richard Woods.

More than 750 people have registered for the event as of Wednesday, March 30, and Fisher hopes more than 1,000 people will attend throughout the day. Candidates will split between the first and second floor of the civic center.

Bibb County’s election office enters the primary season without a permanent head, according to 13WMAZ.

Over two months since former Bibb County Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson left her position, the board is still scrambling to find a permanent replacement.

After Watson left her post in January, Tom Gillon took over as interim supervisor. Gillon says things are full speed ahead in the office with less than two months to go until the general primary on May 24.

May 24 is a big day. They’re working to make sure things run smoothly with or without a permanent supervisor.

Primary preparations aren’t the only big order of business at the elections office. Thursday, the board met to narrow down its list of candidates for the permanent elections supervisor post. Gillon says there are a couple factors to determine who supervises the May election if the board makes its decision in time.

“We may have someone who has come from another county election board, and they could come in reasonably up to speed on how everything runs here,” Gillon said.
Gillon’s name is in the hat for the full-time position, so he’s kept out of a lot of the planning.

The City of Vidalia is rolling out a text message alert service for residents, according to WTOC.

When you text 91896 and type in VIDALIA GENERAL, you’re automatically signed up to get alerts from the city.

City Manager Nick Overstreet says these alerts can be about anything from event changes to city meeting reminders to water main breaks. Overstreet says the goal is for them to have more transparency with the community.

Overstreet says they also wanted to launch it before the city’s big onion festival in a few weeks. He says that way they can use it for any scheduling changes and more. Overstreet says about 40 people are already signed up and he’s expecting this program will have a good response.

“For us it really provides a tool to communicate with our citizens and citizens don’t have to have the internet, they don’t have to have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all those things. All they have to have is a cellphone and pretty much everyone has a cellphone and the ability to text.”

Berry College’s newest fledgling Bald Eagle left the nest for the first time, according to the Rome News Tribune.

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