Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 30, 2020

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Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 30, 2020

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrived in LaGrange, Georgia for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill.

The Augusta Library system is collecting stories of the COVID 19 outbreak, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The project, called Augusta-Richmond County Public Library Pandemic Project, will help to tell the story to future generations, students and scholars of what occurred during the coronavirus similar to how people have learned about experiences from the Spanish flu. Floyd said eventually the fervor and stories of the coronavirus will die down so the stories need to be gathered now.

The library is asking for written documentation, personal stories, photos, audio recordings and video clips to be submitted through the library’s genealogy blog with online forms. The library is accepting submissions from everyone but is particularly interested in first responders, medical professionals, hospitality workers, small business owners, military members, teachers and students. Monaco said there is no story, no event too mundane for submission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

More than one million absentee ballot requests have been made by Georgia voters, according to the AJC.

The number of Georgia voters requesting absentee ballots crossed 1 million Thursday, a tremendous increase in people voting from home amid challenges to make polling places safe.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said voters responded to his initiative to increase absentee voting for the June 9 primary. He mailed absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters, encouraging them to avoid voting in person at precincts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can now see that effort is exceeding far past our own aspirations,” Raffensperger said during a press conference outside the state Capitol. “Today we are passing the 1 million mark in absentee ballot requests. That is unprecedented.”

The number of absentee ballots requested could exceed 1.5 million or even 2 million, he said. Most voters are expected to vote by mail after about 5% of voters did so in most prior elections, Raffensperger said. Georgia has allowed anyone to cast an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse since 2005.

Governor Brian Kemp‘s Shelter-in-Place order expires at midnight tonight, unless it is renewed or replaced. From WRDW:

Georgia’s shelter-in-place order will expire Thursday at 11:59 p.m., but many are wondering what’s next for the state.

Kemp has not said in recent news conferences whether or not if he’d extend the order again. Instead, he’s made a point to say the shelter-in-place would be expiring on April 30.

In Augusta, Mayor Hardie Davis has pushed city residents to continue social distancing efforts in hopes of continuing to stymie the spread of COVID-19.

From the AJC:

“We will announce more tomorrow,” Candice Broce, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in an email Wednesday. She declined to comment further.

Kemp has strongly hinted — most recently, during a news conference on Monday — that he would lift the shelter-at-home order for all but elderly and sick Georgians. He has spoken forcefully about the economic harm caused by the quarantine, particularly the damage done to countless small businesses.

In a study of Georgia coronavirus cases that was released Wednesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus appears to be more dangerous than previously thought for relatively young and healthy people.

The findings, the CDC said, show the need for continued social-distancing measures — “not only to protect older adults and those with underlying medical conditions but also … persons in the general population who might not consider themselves to be a risk for severe illness.”

Nevertheless, Kemp and his aides have said state data shows the virus’ spread is declining or hitting a plateau. Other experts have questioned their interpretations.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

Kemp is weighing whether and how to relax mandatory social restrictions in place since April 3 that have required people to remain at home except for essential errands like grocery runs and to exercise, and for most businesses to limit their operations only to levels that will keep them financially afloat.

The order has already been extended once since it was first issued on April 3. It is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

At a news conference Monday, the governor said the state largely has been following federal guidelines for deciding when to let businesses reopen, while also weighing input from local health officials as well as the dire financial situation facing many business owners who have been shuttered for weeks.

“We are looking at depression-like unemployment,” Kemp said. “It has all tumbled off a cliff like it has in every state. But we will come back, and we will come back even stronger.”

Governor Kemp suspended the requirement for road testing to get a Georgia driver’s license, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced in his most recent executive order that — provided they meet all other requirements — those holding instructional permits can qualify for their licenses without the “comprehensive on-the-road driving test.”

That means teens can get their license when they turn 16 without getting in a car with a test administrator.

The change is in effect until the expiration of the state’s Public Health State of Emergency, which Kemp has extended to May 13.

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston will allow House committees to begin in-person meetings, according to the AJC.

While Georgia legislative leadership continues to negotiate the date lawmakers will return the Capitol, House Speaker David Ralston told his chamber’s members that panels could begin discussing bills in mid-May.

It is not yet clear when lawmakers will come back to Atlanta to complete the legislative session. Ralston is taking steps to resume work June 11, while Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Senate leaders are pushing for a May 14 return. Ralston and Duncan must agree before session can resume.

“We plan to permit the resumption of in-person committee meetings at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 19,” Ralston said in a letter to chamber members sent Thursday. “Those meetings will be subject to the provisions of any applicable public health directives.”

Committees can only hear testimony and discuss legislation. Ralston said they can not take any action on proposed bills until the session resumes. Under the plan outlined in Ralston’s letter, House staff members would return to the Capitol May 18.

Hundreds of workers in Georgia’s poultry industry have been sickened by COVID19, according to the AJC.

Nearly 400 workers in Georgia’s prized poultry industry have tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus, and one has died from his illness, according to Georgia Department of Public Health statistics obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The 388 workers who have been sickened by COVID-19 represent about 2% of the estimated 16,500 people employed at 14 chicken processing plants across the state.

“The biggest challenge for these employees is the community widespread transmission in the areas where they live, the lack of education about COVID-19, and reluctance to change behaviors,” said Georgia Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam, adding that her agency has received many anecdotal reports of people attending large social gatherings, house parties and religious services.

“Also, most live in multi-generational homes with large numbers of family members (12-14 persons),” she said. “They have no place to self-isolate if they are sick with COVID-19 and the whole family ends up getting sick.”

From AccessWDUN:

As poultry processing plants ramp up safety initiatives to fight the coronavirus, employees at those facilities should be able to take home best practices learned on the job to help prevent the virus’s spread at home.

That’s the opinion of Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King, who has been asked by Gov. Brian Kemp to lead an initiative to help educate members of the Hispanic community about how to protect themselves from COVID-19. About half the confirmed cases in Hall County are Hispanic residents.

King and Gary Black, the state’s agriculture commissioner, toured a Hall County poultry plant Monday and talked with officials and workers about the pandemic.

“How do we provide accurate information not only to the community but then taking those lessons learned and what they are doing at work and how do we carry that to their homes, to their churches, to their family gatherings,” King said during an appearance Wednesday on WDUN’s “Morning Talk with Martha Zoller.

King offered praise for the plant he toured, saying it put safety procedures in place that “went above and beyond” those issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said the company enacted the procedures after conversations between management and employees. He did not name the company who owned the plant.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools are seeking donations to help equip students, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Since switching to distance learning in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has been working to give students at-home access to devices.

In March, SCCPSS surveyed schools and families about their technology devices and connectivity and acted accordingly. “At the start of [distance learning], we did survey students about connectivity, access to a device and other technology questions,” wrote Stacy Jennings, director of communications for the district, in an April 23 email.

“In a strategic move to ensure technology barriers were addressed, the district pulled devices from schools at the end of March for distribution to students,” according to an April 20 press release from the district.

More are still needed. “We’ve distributed approximately 3,000 devices,” Jennings continued in her email. “But we need around 3,500 more.” Several local corporate sponsors have stepped up recently to donate funds and/or Chromebooks for students. International Paper, Gulfstream, Choate Construction, and Hussey Gay Bell are just some of the district’s most recent benefactors. As of Wednesday, April 29, $80,600 has been donated, according to the district website.

Mayor Hardie Davis and SBA Regional Director Ashley Bell will host a webinar on COVID 19 effects on small businesses, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Davis and Ashley Bell, SBA Regional administrator and entrepreneurship policy advisor for the White House opportunity and revitalization council, will host the webinar at 3 p.m. According to a release, the meeting will include COVID-19 response and recovery updates from the federal and local level, including updates about the Paycheck Protection Program.

“This webinar will provide helpful information about how to access federal and local resources for small businesses,” Davis said in a release. “Coronavirus has impacted businesses and families and it is important to connect our business community with resources to help them weather the storm.”

Panelist will include South State Bank Regional President Jay Forrester, Augusta University Dean of the James M. Hull College of Buisness and Professor of Management Richard Franza and Augusta Meto Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Sue Parr. During the webinar, panelist will share information about how to work with banks to withstand economic hardship, how to navigate local business networks and resources and what to expect from the economy, according to a release.

Viewers will be able to ask questions, if time permits. The webinar can be accessed at https://zoom.us/j/99469263074.

Columbia County schools are scheduling fall around the golf tournament, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With the 2020 Masters rescheduled for Nov. 9-15, the board approved beginning the school year three days early for a new start date of Aug. 3 and students will no longer have Oct. 12 as a school holiday to allow students and teachers to be off during the week of the tournament. Nov. 11 was already a scheduled holiday for Veterans Day.

If the tournament is not open to the public or is canceled, October 12 will be restored to a holiday, the week of November 9–13 will be a regular school week and the school year will end three days earlier than scheduled.

Statesboro City Council is considering changes to their alcohol ordinance, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro’s council members and mayor are considering changes to the city’s Alcohol Ordinance to allow open alcoholic beverages to be carried outside by pedestrians in the downtown area and to allow public officials – potentially including themselves – to hold beverage licenses.

City Attorney Cain Smith noted that Georgia’s only statewide “open container” law is the one that prohibits open alcoholic beverage containers inside vehicles.

“There is no other state law regarding open containers,” he said. “That’s why you see these open-container exemptions in other jurisdictions. That’s why you’re allowed to walk along River Street with a beer in a plastic cup, because that’s governed by Savannah law and they’ve made the decision to do exemptions, with those restrictions, in that area.”

Franklin City Council member Clifford Henry Jiles was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly swapping stickers on meat at the Piggly Wiggly, according to the AJC.

Jiles, 54, allegedly swapped the price tag on the beef tenderloin with the tag on a less expensive pork tenderloin. The beef cut was priced at $83.24, while the pork retailed for $12.16, Miles confirmed. Franklin police were notified Monday after a customer noticed the price tag that had been left on the pork tenderloin.

The case was turned over to the GBI because it involved an elected official.

Jiles was charged with theft by deception and theft by shoplifting.

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