Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 10, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 10, 2016

On February 10, 1787, the Georgia House of Assembly named William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houstoun, and Nathaniel Pendleton to the Constitutional Convention called to revise the Articles of Confederation at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

On February 10, 1861, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi received word that he was chosen as President of the Confederate States of America.

On February 10, 1972, David Bowie made his first appearance as Ziggy Stardust.

Under the Gold Dome

Senate Committee Meetings

8:30 AM Health Care Delivery HHS Sub 122 CAP


1:00 PM Public Safety – CANCELED 125 CAP

1:00 PM Regulated Ind and Utilities 310 CLOB

1:00 PM Education & Youth 307 CLOB

2:00 PM Health and Human Svcss 450 CAP

2:00 PM Interstate Cooperation 125 CAP

2:00 PM Science and Technology 310 CLOB

3:00 PM Higher Education 307 CLOB

4:00 PM Special Joint Com Rev Structure Mezz

House Committee Meetings

TBD Jud’y Non-Civil Setzler Sub132 CAP (upon adjournment)

TBD Floor Session (LD19)House Chamber – 10:00AM


8:00 AM Approp Econ Dev Sub 506 CLOB

9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP

1:00 PM W&M Pub Fine & Policy Sub 133 CAP




2:00 PM RETIREMENT – Canceled 515 CLOB





3:00 PM Appropriations Public Safety Sub 515 CLOB

Senate Rules Calendar

HB 750 – Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 (As Passed House)(Substitute) (APPROP-4th) Ralston-7th

SB 262 – Courts; when a judge, judicial officer, grand juror; may be disqualified by being related by consanguinity/affinity to a party; provisions (As Introduced)(Substitute)(JUDY-23rd)

House Rules Calendar

Modified Open Rule

HB 635 – Judges of Probate Courts Retirement Fund; increase number of years of mandatory contribution; provisions (Substitute)(Ret-Epps-144th)

HB 659 – Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions (Substitute)(Ed-Belton-112th)

HB 840 – Conservation and natural resources; rules and regulations used to establish criminal violations; change provisions (Substitute)(GF&P-Stephens-164th)

HB 844 – Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; insurance premiums subject to taxation; update certain provisions (Substitute)(Ret-Maxwell-17th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 509 – Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council; create; provisions (Substitute)(H&HS-Petrea-166th)

Structured Rule

HB 726 – Excise tax; tobacco products; clarify certain charges (W&M-Tanner-9th)

Legislation & Local Issues

Today at noon, Franklin Graham is holding a rally as part of his Decision America 2016 at Liberty Plaza across the street from the State Capitol.

Legislation by State Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) would effectively adopt the federal civil rights standards and apply them under Georgia law. Democrats led by State Rep. Taylor Bennett attempted to insert LGBT as a protected class.

A House Judiciary subcommittee voted 6-4 to defeat an amendment from state Rep. Taylor Bennett, D-Brookhaven, to bar discrimination in Georgia based on “religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or veteran’s status.”

The panel then agreed by voice vote to pass House Bill 849 on to the full Judiciary Committee, which will take it up Tuesday.

HB 849, introduced by state Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, would make Georgia law mirror federal statutes to protect Georgians against discrimination in hotels, restaurants, theaters and other public accommodations based on race, color, religion or natural origin.

The bill “plugs a hole” in the law regarding discrimination in public accommodations, including places such as hotels and restaurants, and it would provide the same protections already in federal law, Golick said.

Governor Deal appointed George R. Christian as District Attorney for the Mountain District, replacing Brian Rickman, whom Deal appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Mountain Judicial District comprises Habersham, Rabun, and Stephens Counties.

Presidential Race Turns South

Early voting is currently underway for the March 1 Presidential Preference Primary held as part of the “SEC Primary.” Secretary of State Brian Kemp posted some stats on turnout so far.

Early voting is off to a good start in Georgia with more than 6700 people showing up in in-person to cast ballots on the first day Monday. 4431 people voted in the Republican‬ primary and 2313 cast ballots in the Democratic‬ primary. Absentee by mail voting is also doing very well with 6235 ballots having been returned since they were sent out January 12. Most of those also voting in the Republican primary at 3968 and 2256 casting ballots in the Democratic primary.

There are still 14,224 absentee by mail ballots that are outstanding. Early voting runs through February 26 and includes a Saturday session on February 20.

For political data nerds, yesterday I published a set of crosstabs showing early voting turnout by county, by ballot style (mail-in, in-person, electronic) and by the number of votes in each party’s primary. I will continue to periodically publish voter turnout data, so please check back.

Here’s my takeaway from New Hampshire:

1.)  Nobody has the kryptonite yet that can defeat Donald Trump in a large field General Primary.

2.)  Ben Carson is toast and should exit the race post-haste, but I don’t know when he will or where his supporters will go.

3.)  The Ted Cruz campaign approach is state-of-the-art and can help him outperform expectations in a hostile environment; he has laid the groundwork for top-tier campaigns across the South.

4.)  Marco Rubio is at a crossroads – he dramatically underperformed and while the #3-5 slots were closely tied, the lack of a developed ground game was probably a factor. I don’t think he has the resources to quickly build out before March 1, and if Georgia is any indication, his ground game consists primarily of lobbyists and legislators. Both those groups will be busy with the legislative session between now and the SEC Primary and I wouldn’t expect much concerted effort from them.

I can see two paths for Rubio – he may continue to do “well enough” and pick up support from supporters of other establishment campaigns and limp into the winner-takes-all phase beginning March 15, when Florida and other high-stakes Primary states come online.

5.) Jeb Bush still has a slim opportunity if Rubio falters and the built-in advantage of an extensive political network developed over many years by his father and brother.

6.) John Kasich survives a few weeks, but I don’t think he has the resources to build out in the SEC Primary states and beyond. His only way forward is if everyone else in the Establishment lane collapses.

7.) I met Jim Gilmore when I was in law school and worked in the Allen Administration in Virginia in the early-90s. He’s a good man and a good Republican. I admire his persistence in continuing to show up when he fails to register at the hundreths-of-a-point level and garners fewer votes than three candidates who dropped out. If he’s still in the race by the time it comes to Georgia, I may vote for him.

8.)  Hillary Clinton must be having full-fledged panic attacks on an hourly basis. I’ll assume her staff keeps a paper bag on hand at all times for her to breathe into.

9.)  Millennial voters went for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton at a nearly 5-to-1 rate, 83% of under-30 year old Democrats in the Granite State voted for Grandpa Simpson Bernie Sanders. As Gertrude Stein said, via Hemingway, “You are all a “génération perdue.

Clean Power Plan Paused

This is probably a bigger story than New Hampshire. Five Justices of the United States Supreme Court voted to stay the Obama Administration EPA’s “Clean Power Plan,” while it works its way through the lower courts.

The order reads as follows:

The application for a stay submitted to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted. The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (October 23, 2015), is stayed pending disposition of the applicants’ petitions for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and disposition of the applicants’ petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is sought. If a writ of certiorari is sought and the Court denies the petition, this order shall terminate automatically. If the Court grants the petition for a writ of certiorari, this order shall terminate when the Court enters its judgment.

The decision [] suggests that a majority of the court has concerns about the EPA’s authority to impose the CPP under the Clean Air Act. The CPP, whatever its policy merits, is based on a fairly aggressive reading of the relevant provisions of the Clean Air Act, most notably Section 111. Even some liberal scholars, such as Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, have raised questions about the EPA’s authority here. (Tribe is also an attorney on one of the stay applications filed with the court.)

There are serious legal arguments against specific elements of the CPP (such as the consideration of potential emission reductions to be achieved “outside the fence” of regulated facilities) as well as the position that Section 111 of the CAA allows the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants in the first place. The latter concerns raise the stakes of the case and strengthen the argument for a stay. This is because the question at issue is not merely whether the EPA observed the relevant procedural niceties or properly exercised its authority on the margin. Rather, the question is whether the EPA has the authority to do this at all.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens issued a press release lauding the Supreme Court action.

Attorney General Sam Olens offered the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court decision blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing its illegal and unprecedented Power Plan until the court challenge concludes.

“This is a victory against an out of control Environmental Protection Agency. We will continue to fight this executive overreach which will put Americans out of work and drive up the cost of electricity for consumers.”

25 States challenged the EPA’s power plan on Oct. 23, 2015, the day it was published. The states argue the EPA exceeded its authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation among other reasons.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols tweeted, “Great News for GA,”

and “Thanks SCOTUS. You made my day!”

Legislation by State Senator Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) addressing the Clean Power Plan was shelved earlier this week by a legislative committee.

Members of the state Senate’s Natural Resources & the Environment Committee agreed to set aside the issue for further study rather than move forward with the bill this year.

The Clean Power Plan, which the Environmental Protection Agency issued nearly two years ago, seeks to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants across the nation 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The federal agency set goals for each state.

The proposed Interstate Power Compact would exempt member states from complying with the plan, although they would remain subject to the federal Clean Air Act, Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, the bill’s chief sponsor, told the Senate committee Thursday.

Utility executives have warned that complying with the plan would force up the costs of electricity to commercial and residential customers, inflicting major damage on the nation’s economy.

“Georgia and other states are looking for any port in a storm,” Bethel said. “This interstate compact is such a port.”

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