Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2015

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

Lucius D. Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Save the Date: May 26, 2015 from 5-8 PM

The Walton County Republican Party will hold its annual barbecue, hosted by Chairman Roy Roberts at the Nunnally Farm at 74 Nunnally Farm Rd. Between Walnut Grove and Monroe just off HWY 138. This is the best political event of the year.

Confirmed attendees: Senator Isakson, Gov. Deal, Sec. of State Brian Kemp, Ag. Com Gary Black, Attorney General Sam Olens, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, Congressman Jody Hice, and Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett.

Tickets this year will be $15.00 or a table of 9 for $180.00

From Senator Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) and Anna Bullard, mother of Ava, we learned that Governor Deal will sign Ava’s Law, requiring insurance coverage for children with Austism age 6 and younger. The bill signing will be held Thursday, April 29 at 11:30 AM at the Georgia State Capitol.
Georgia Unfiltered writes that Rafer Johnson will run in 2016 for the State House District 62 seat currently held by Ladawn Blackett Jones, who announced previously she will not seek reelection.

Whatever the top court ultimately decides, Olens said he is prepared with his advice to those parties the decision affects, since it will become the law of the land.

“We’re going to encourage all of those agencies that have a policy role that they immediately follow the law,” he said.

Olens, who defended Georgia’s own gay-marriage ban in a federal case that is still pending, said that he merely represents state government in court and doesn’t try to make policy himself.

“I cringe just as much when an attorney general seeks to defy the law as when anyone else does it,” he said. “When the United States Supreme Court rules, it’s not time for criticism, it’s not time for banter. It’s time for the lawyer to play lawyer and to assure that everyone follows that law.”

On the related issue of religious-liberty legislation that caused much controversy during this year’s legislative session, Olens said it was possible to draft a bill that would protect an individual’s religious beliefs without opening the door to discrimination. However, he declined to say how the wording would read.

Toll lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett County are likely to be extended further out to Hamilton Mill Rd exit.

[Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell] McMurry came to Gwinnett on Wednesday to address the county’s Chamber of Commerce about recently passed legislation that increases gas taxes and reworks the state’s new funding model for transportation projects. After the presentation, he talked with Daily Post about the state’s plans for more toll lanes.The toll lanes project will be underway before the new funding model goes into affect, but the lanes illustrate the one type of work state leaders want to accomplish with new revenue streams.

The decision pending before the state transportation board in May will be the selection of a company to design and build the lanes. The new lanes will be managed access lanes, with designated entry and exit points, that will be built in an existing median. It is similar to toll lanes under construction in Henry County.

The new toll lanes will be accompanied by new free-to-use lanes which will be built between Ga. Highway 20 and Gravel Springs Road, McMurry said.

The Marietta Daily Journal writes that Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s “SEC Primary” will help bring presidential contenders to the Peach State.

“Things are coming together fairly well,” Kemp said at a Madison Forum luncheon in Marietta on Monday. “Regardless of what happens, we have gotten some great press about our SEC primary idea. The sole reason I came up with this idea is to try to have more of us go first. That will give us a little more say (in the election). The problem in the past is that the race would already be over when it got to us, or we’re on the same day as New York and California and nobody pays attention to us.”

Georgia captured a bit of that attention during the 2012 campaign, when surprise front-runner Newt Gingrich, hot on the tail of a win in the South Carolina primary, won our state’s primary a week later.

But Kemp’s proposal would put Georgia and the other participants on the minds of the candidates and the media long before primary week, and likely would result in multiple trips by most of them to the Peach State in the months leading up to voting day. That would translate not just to more exposure for our state, and more influence, but also more spending here by the various campaigns and those covering them.

“There is a great opportunity. I don’t think the candidates can ignore us,” Kemp said. “They’re going to know that the South marks the first … at least on the Republican side. Regardless, we’ve already seen more candidates, more action in Georgia as of now than we did in any cycle that I can remember. I think that bodes well for us. We’re going to continue to see candidates have to pay attention to the South.”

Ann Coulter spoke to a sold-out house at Kennesaw State University last night.

One questioner from the audience asked Coulter about the possibility of the U.S. becoming more socialist in the next five to 10 years if a Democrat was elected to the presidency.

Coulter said it wasn’t a matter of a Democrat being elected, but existing U.S. immigration policy.

“I mean, our legal immigration is amnesty on the installment plan,” she said.

If the U.S. had the same demographics now that it did in 1980, Mitt Romney would have won the presidency by a larger landslide than Ronald Reagan did, she said.

“Democrats couldn’t win elections any more so they brought in new voters,” Coulter explained. “And I don’t understand how my party, the Republican Party, got on the wrong side of the question: ‘Should Democrats be allowed to establish their political hegemony for all time?’ But apparently we did.”

More than 40 million new voters have been brought into the U.S., Coulter said.

“And by definition any immigrant who comes to America makes America a more statist, less free place,” she said.

Coulter blasted presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who she said ran as “the tea party savior” in Florida on a ticket opposing a pathway to citizenship.

“That’s a code word for amnesty,” Coulter explained. “And then he got to Washington and spent three years pushing nothing but amnesty. And lying about his bill going around saying, ‘No, we have to have enforcement first, enforcement first.’”

Governor Deal spoke to a lunch in Marietta, where he touted Georgia’s economy.

Deal said he was pleased his plan for the state to take over failing public schools in Georgia and place them in an “Opportunity School District” was approved by the legislature. The state would have the authority to take over up to 20 schools each year if they score below a 60 on the College and Career Performance Index for three straight years.

Deal said the plan has to be implemented with a constitutional amendment because of a Georgia Supreme Court decision, “as opposed to other states like Louisiana and Tennessee who can simply do it statutorily.”

Deal said if approved by voters when it is placed on the ballot in November 2016, the Opportunity School District will show Georgia is dedicated to improving education.

“I think it’s time we recognize that there is a direct link between failing schools, school dropouts and those dropouts being a menace to your community because they have no marketable skills,” Deal said. “That’s why 70 percent of our inmates in our state prison system are high school dropouts. There is a direct correlation, and it’s time we start doing something about it.”

The General Assembly this year passed a bill increasing funding to the Georgia Department of Transportation by about $900 million this year, which Deal called a “major achievement.”

“I know that most of you understand that we have not kept pace with the demands that have been placed on our infrastructure,” Deal said. “This will allow us the opportunity to do that. I think it is a responsible thing to do.”

“Are there those who will not like it because they claim it’s a tax increase? That is true. That has already happened … but remember, we have not increased excise tax on gasoline since 1977 or somewhere like that,” Deal said. “It’s been a very, very long period of time, and many things in terms of cost of construction and all the other things that are associated with maintaining and especially developing and improving your transportation system has become even more expensive as time goes by.”

After he concluded his remarks, Deal was asked to speak on the controversial religious liberty bills that failed to become law during this year’s legislative session. The governor said the state should take care to avoid the situations in states that passed similar laws this year, where fears that the bills could result in discrimination caused a backlash.

“I don’t think we want the spectacle that occurred in Indiana,” he said. “I don’t think we want to go through what Arkansas went through either. I think there should be some way that we can reconcile that.”

“I think there are circumstances, over which none of us have any real control, that have distorted the arguments surrounding (the bills),” Deal said. “I am hopeful that we can dispel that and deal with it in a meaningful and forthright manner.”

Judge Tilman Self said he will dismiss a lawsuit by the Crawford County Coroner and entertain a motion by the defendants to recover attorney fees.

Former Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley is facing a dozen charges alleging insurance fraud.

Earlier this week, the Public Defender Standards Council settled a lawsuit by the Southern Center for Human Rights.

Lawyers with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in January 2014 against the four-county Cordele Judicial Circuit and other defendants. Among the problems they cited were juvenile defendants often appearing without a lawyer or represented by lawyers who met with them only briefly, public defenders unable to spend more than a few minutes per adult case, and chronic underfunding and understaffing.

The Southern Center says the agreement with the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, its director, the Cordele Circuit public defender and the circuit’s four county governments was filed Monday. If it is approved by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, it will go into effect July 1 and will run for three years.

According to the Southern Center, the remedies proposed in the settlement include the following:

— Children will be represented by a lawyer specializing in juvenile law and childhood and adolescent development.

— People arrested in the circuit will see a lawyer within days.

— The circuit public defender’s office will go from two assistant public defenders to four and from one investigator to two.

— Every public defender will attend annual training to keep abreast of developments in criminal and juvenile defense.

Emory University School of Law is creating a John Lewis Chair in Civil Rights and Social Justice, which will be endowed by $500,000 the University will raise to fund it.

A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Floyd County is bringing in more money than expected for the County, along with the cities of Rome and Cave Spring.

The Bryan County Development Authority was briefed on a proposed extension of the Palmetto Pipeline.

About 20 attendees raised pointed questions about several key issues at the meeting at the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office complex near Richmond Hill. Jimmy Burnsed, chairman of the Bryan County Commission, began with one that has been a major talking point.

“Will you use eminent domain, or do you think you will be able to accomplish everything without eminent domain? …That is the biggest issue I heard from folks last night,” Burnsed said.

“Our goal is to not use it all,” Kinder Morgan representative Allen Fore said. “We are working with individual landowners now. A good indication of the reception is that over 90 percent of people approached have granted Kinder Morgan access to survey their property.”

Earlier in the week, hundreds showed up to a Georgia Department of Transportation meeting to discuss the pipeline extension.

The Houston-based energy company Kinder Morgan wants to build the 360-mile pipeline to carry oil and gas through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. As a first step, the Georgia Department of Transportation is considering a request for a certificate that would allow the company to use eminent domain to acquire land.

Nancy Cunningham of Savannah was among roughly 500 people who filled the Richmond Hill City Center.

“The Kinder Morgan pipeline does not benefit anyone in Georgia,” she said. “It is not convenient. It is not necessary. We don’t need it, we don’t want it, and we’re not gonna have it.”

Dozens of other opponents spoke of concerns about environmental damage and the risk of an oil spill. A representative of a union that represents pipeline construction workers stood up to defend the plan.

This weekend, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Valdosta Chapter will observe Confederate Memorial Day.

Lawsuits by elected officials against the City of Columbus government have cost nearly a half-million dollars in legal fees so far, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Sheriff John Darr, Clerk of Superior Court Linda Pierce, Marshal Greg Countryman and Clerk of Municipal Court Vivian Creighton-Bishop are suing the city because they say their budgets are not sufficient to cover all of their mandated duties.

Stone Mountain Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller, appointed to hear the case because of conflicts of interest with Muscogee Superior Court judges, is currently studying preliminary motions in the cases, including motions filed by the city asking him to dismiss the cases.

Fay presented the tally of attorney fees so far incurred by the city in the cases, which total $478,600. Broken down, the suit filed by Pierce has cost the city about $217,755. The suit filed by Darr has cost about $111,600 and the suit filed jointly by Countryman and Creighton-Bishop has cost a little over

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