Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 26, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 26, 2021

On February 29, 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, arrest warrants were issued for Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, accusing the three women of witchcraft.

On February 28, 1784, John Wesley executed a document titled “The Rev. John Wesley’s Declaration and Establishment of the Conference of the People called Methodists.”

On February 28, 1827, the first American railroad organized to transport people and freight commercially, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was chartered. At the time, Baltimore was the second largest city in the nation.

On February 28, 1854, 30 anti-slavery opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would repeal the 1820 Missouri Compromise, met in Ripon, Wisconsin and called for the creation of the Republican Party.

On February 26, 1868, the Atlanta City Council offered use of the combined City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse as a temporary capitol if the Constitutional Convention meeting in the city would designate it the capital city.

On February 26, 1877, Governor Alfred Colquitt signed legislation calling a June 1877 election of delegates to a state Constitutional Convention to be held in July of that year.

On February 28, 1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph company was incorporated, though some accounts says March 3d.

On February 29, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed the first Panama Canal Commission.

On February 27, 1922, the United States Supreme Court released an unanimous decision holding that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is constitutional. The case, Leser v. Garnett, arose because of a challenge seeking to strike women’s names from the voter rolls in Maryland and asserting:

  • The power to amend the Constitution did not cover this amendment, due to its character.
  • Several states that had ratified the amendment had constitutions that prohibited women from voting, rendering them unable to ratify an amendment to the contrary.
  • The ratifications of Tennessee and West Virginia were invalid, because they were adopted without following the rules of legislative procedure in place in those states.

It might as well have asserted that sleeping on the couch for the rest of the plantiffs’ lives would be cold and uncomfortable.

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932.

On February 29, 1936, a board appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt recommended constructing a dam on the Savannah River at Clarks Hill, north of Augusta.

On February 29, 1940, Gone With the Wind received eight Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie Mcdaniel, the first African-American winner.

On February 27, 1962, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy were tried in Albany for charges stemming from a demonstration on the steps of City Hall.

On February 27, 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted in Fulton County Superior Court of murdering two adult males. Atlanta Police later said he was guilty of at least 23 of 29 child murders between 1979 and 1981. Williams was never indicted or tried on the allegations of child murder and maintains his innocence.

On February 28, 1991, the First Gulf War ended, as President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire and that Kuwait was liberated.

The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed on February 26, 1993, killing six and causing half-a-billion dollars in damage.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 24

7:30 AM Senate Health and Human Services – 450 CAP
7:30 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS – 341 CAP
8:00 AM Senate Education and Youth – 307 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE Governmental Affairs State and Local Government Sub – 406 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE Governmental Affairs General Government Sub – 506 CLOB
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 24) – Senate Chamber
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD24) – House Chamber
Noonish Senate Rules Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
12:00 PM HOUSE Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications – Telecom Sub – 403 CAP
1:ish Senate Judiciary – upon adjournment of Rules Comm. Meeting – 307 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION – 606 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES – 406 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE CODE REVISION – 341 CAP
3:00 PM Senate Ethics – 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 174 – Bonds and Recognizances; appointed judges who are fulfilling a vacancy of an elected judge to issue an unsecured judicial release under certain circumstances; (PUB SAF-51st)

SB 198 – Department of Public Safety; subsistence and per diem allowances; receipt of badge and duty weapon upon retirement; provide(Substitute)(PUB SAF-7th)

SB 28 – Juvenile Code and Domestic Relations; provisions relating to the protection of children; strengthen, clarify andupdate (JUDY-50th)

SB 85 – “Max Gruver Act”; enact (Substitute)(JUDY-56th)

SB 201 – Revenue and Taxation; financial institutions to provide certain information related to delinquent taxpayers to the Department of Revenue under certain conditions; require (Substitute)(FIN-52nd)

SB 215 – Regulation of Hospitals; certified medication aides to administer certain medications to nursing home residents; authorize (Substitute)(H&HS-20th)

SB 221 – Ethics in Government; leadership committees; chairpersons; such committees may receive contributions and make expenditures; provide (RULES-53rd)

SB 116 – Children and Youth Services; registration of maternity supportivehouse residences to provide housing for pregnant women; provide (Substitute)(H&HS-29th)

SB 115 – Drivers’ Licenses; instructional course; educating drivers and the public on best practices to implement when interacting with law enforcement officers; provide(Substitute)(PUBSAF-29th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

HB 437 – Local government; attendants at self-service motor fuel establishments to dispense motor fuel to individuals with special disabilities; require (Substitute)(H&HS-Howard-124th)

HR 77 – State veterans cemetery; Augusta-Richmond County; support creation (D&VA-Prince-127th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 152 – Postsecondary education; exemption applicable to certain institutions operating on military installations or bases; revise provisions (Substitute)(HEd-Wiedower-119th)

HB 271 – Community Health, Department of; assess one or more provider matching payments on ambulance services; authorize (Substitute)(H&HS-Reeves-34th)

HB 275 – Fire protection and safety; random drug tests for certain firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, paramedics, and cardiac technicians; require (Substitute)(PS&HS-McDonald-26th)

HB 289 – Motor vehicles; issuance of Class C drivers’ licenses; provide for requirements (Substitute)(MotV-Belton-112th)

HB 336 – Agriculture; hemp farming; compliance with federal laws and regulations; provide (Substitute)(A&CA-Corbett-174th)

HB 338 – Motor vehicles; issuance of veterans’ driver’s licenses; revise qualifications (Substitute)(MotV-DeLoach-167th)

HB 370 – Health; term limits for members of joint hospital authorities; provide (H&HS-Jones-47th)HB 384Motor vehicles; issuance of traffic citation to vehicle owner in lieu of individual operating motor vehicle in certain instances; provide (MotV-Dollar-45th)


Governor Brian Kemp announced the next phase of vaccine eligibility, according to 11Alive.

Gov. Brian Kemp gave an update on vaccine distribution in Georgia Thursday afternoon, expanding the criteria for eligibility, which will start on March 8.

The state has been in Phase 1A+, which makes the shots eligible for people 65+ and their caregivers, health care workers, law enforcement and fire personnel, along with long-term care facilities’ residents and their caregivers.

Now, starting March 8, Pre-K through 12 educators and staff, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions will be eligible for vaccinations.

Kemp said the expansion helps cover more high-risk Georgians.

“This population of approximately 1 million Georgians will join the current 1A+ population of roughly 2 million Georgians,” he said.

Kemp said he would like to see students back in classrooms statewide.

“To ensure that happens as quickly as possible, effective March 8, Pre-K, K through 12, public and private school teachers and faculty and the Department of Early Care Learning educators and staff will now be eligible for the vaccine,” he said.

From WSB-TV:

“Virtual learning is leaving too many children behind and parents are at wits end. They are also very exhausted,” Kemp said.

“Moving forward we cannot delay full in-person learning any longer,” Kemp said. “Georgians deserve to return to normal as soon as possible and that will not happen without school doors open to instruction each and every day.”

“Given the steady increase in vaccine supply and the significant progress in getting more doses administered, today we will be taking another step to protect the most vulnerable and get Georgians back to work,” Kemp said.

From the Savannah Morning News:

The state says that more than 800,000 people 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Kemp spokesperson Mallory Blount said the state estimates the new populations made eligible will include at least 1 million people.

The state is currently receiving about 200,000 doses a week, although that could rise a little if federal officials give permission to use a third vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. State officials said the weekly supply has risen 70% since mid-January.

Officials have said they expect vaccine supply to expand significantly in April. But opening the gates to many more groups could prompt a rush like the one that was seen when Kemp made everyone over 65 eligible in mid-January, when there were many complaints about the difficulty of scheduling an appointment.

Georgia has administered nearly 1.9 million doses according to the Department of Public Health data,

The state is nearing 1 million test-indicated COVID-19 infections and crossed 17,000 confirmed and probable deaths Wednesday.

Governor Kemp said the federal response to COVID unfairly punishes Georgia, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp urged federal lawmakers to overhaul the funding formula written into the $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package to give Georgia a bigger share of the economic relief.

The Republican sent the state’s congressional delegation a letter this week saying the formula was “unacceptable” because it relies on metrics that benefit states with higher unemployment rates.

“Georgians should not be punished by a federal government hoping to tip the scales in favor of other states who chose to decimate their economies,” he wrote in the letter.

The relief package that passed last year took population, the rate of coronavirus cases and unemployment rate into account. The latest version places a greater emphasis on the average number of unemployed people in each jurisdiction during the end of 2020.

That could wind up hurting Georgia, Kemp said, because the state’s unemployment rate hovered around 5 percent while some other states with more stringent economic limits had higher jobless rates.

From the AJC:

Proponents of a new round of coronavirus stimulus say the $1.9 trillion proposal is needed to keep households intact, businesses alive and municipalities from shedding tens of thousands of workers — while accelerating the vaccine rollouts that will make a full recovery possible.

In addition to infusing the Paycheck Protection Program with $7 billion in new money, the package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals and an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Formally titled the American Rescue Plan, it also has additional funding streams that would directly benefit Georgia governments and industries.

The state and its agencies could receive $4.7 billion that can be used to avoid laying off workers in health care, transportation and public safety. In addition, Georgia’s 159 counties and cities would share an additional $3.6 billion. The biggest impact on Georgia would be the money going to municipalities, said Raymond Hill, economist and professor at the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University.

“The best way to spend it would be to make sure that those governments do not cut their expenditures,” he said. “To make sure they are not cutting teachers, that kind of thing. That is very efficient stimulus money when it’s spent to keep somebody working.”

A State House Resolution to name a Savannah bridge after former United States Senator Johnny Isakson passed the State House, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The bridge on Georgia 307 crosses over the Mason Mega Rail Yard, a $215 million project that, when completed, will give the port enough additional capacity to ship goods to cities in the nation’s Mid-South and Midwest regions.

Isakson helped land federal funding for that project as well as the $1 billion deepening of Savannah Harbor to make room for a new generation of giant containerized cargo ships now calling at the Port of Savannah. Both projects will be key contributors to one of the nation’s fastest-growing ports.

“Johnny Isakson was and is a champion for economic development and job creation,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, the resolution’s chief sponsor, who made a rare appearance in the well of the House chamber to present it. “Senator Isakson believes the best way to help lift our state up is to expand economic opportunity for everyone.”

Senate Bill 105 by Sen. Brian Strickland (R-Henry County) passed the State Senate and would allow some probationers to end their sentences early, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The bill would allow well-behaving probationers to petition courts for early termination of their supervision terms after three years. Its aim is to cut down Georgia’s highest-in-the-country probation population, Strickland said.

“In Georgia, we should incentivize individuals who make mistakes, serve their time, pay their restitution and stay out of trouble,” Strickland said from the Senate floor.

“We should be helping Georgians who have earned a second chance in life to get a job, buy a house, start a family or accomplish anything else they dream of doing in this state without the stigma of probation hanging over their heads.”

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and now heads to the state House of Representatives.

Strickland’s bill marks a priority on Republican state senators’ criminal justice reform agenda in the current legislative session, along with another measure by state Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, that would bar licensing boards from denying business licenses to most Georgians on probation.

House Bill 265 by State Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) is the annual bill to reconcile Georgia law with changes to the federal Internal Revenue Code, and has passed both chambers, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Georgia Legislature has approved a bill that could save taxpayers more than $250 million and would make certain federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans tax exempt.

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday, 53-0, after it cleared the House on Feb. 9. It now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Under HB 265, businesses eligible for PPP loan forgiveness would not be required to pay state taxes on the loans, even though they count as income. The measure also lets those business owners claim tax deductions on the loans.

Senate Bill 221 by State Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Extreme Northwest GA) would allow the creation of new political money vehicles, according to the AJC.

The Georgia Senate is set to vote Friday on Senate Bill 221 — sponsored by Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga and backed by Republican leaders — that would allow the creation of something called state “leadership committees,” which are common in Washington.

The measure would let a governor, lieutenant governor, a party’s nominee for those positions, and House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders create such committees, which would raise money either for their own races or to try to affect other contests.

Statewide candidates are allowed to raise about $18,000 per election cycle if they make a runoff, – $7,100 in legislative races – from individual donors. But limits on how much donors could give to the committees would not apply. So contributors — typically lobbyists, industry associations or businesses interested in legislation or state funding — could give as much as they like.

Mullis told his committee this week that the bill was designed to fight so-called dark money — funds that hide the identity of donors, something that has become more common in the past decade.

Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook-Jones (D) announced she opposes House Bill 168, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The bill, HB168, passed 99-66 on Feb. 18 and was read and referred to the Senate’s public safety committee. Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook-Jones has raised concerns about the bill and describes it as “problematic.”

“It enlarges prosecutorial power unnecessarily and creates too much potential for abuse and discriminatory application,” Cook-Jones said in an emailed statement to the Savannah Morning News.

Lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jesse Patrea (R-Savannah), said it is intended to allow district attorneys to see the file of an inmate who is up for parole and offer any objections. The bill stems from the case of Torrey Scott, a serial rapist who murdered one of his victims after being released from prison on early parole.

The bill would also modify the current Georgia law that classifies the files of state prison inmates as state secrets — which typically contain confidential information about the inmate’s victim or an inmate’s medical records — that cannot be released. “This bill today is about how we protect our people in our community, from people like Torrey Scott,” Patrea said last week on the House Chamber floor.

Hall County courts are preparing to reopen jury proceeding, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County court officials have summoned 150 jurors for a potential trial week March 10, hoping they can soon return to a regular schedule and normal court business.

The court has created a short list of cases to be called for trial March 10, all of which are drug cases ranging from possession of synthetic cannabinoids to trafficking methamphetamine.

As a caveat, Hall County court administrator Jason Stephenson said “any trial is contingent upon (Georgia Supreme Court Chief) Justice (Harold D.) Melton lifting the statewide suspension on jury trials in his next emergency order on March 9.”

In the Hall County Jail, there are 338 defendants awaiting trial on felony charges.

Stephenson said 15 of the 150 summoned jurors have been granted COVID-related deferrals.

The jury division vets the request before it is passed up to the judge’s office, who may have a hearing over the phone or videoconferencing to determine whether to grant the request.

Ringgold Democrat Holly McCormack announced she will run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest GA), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

On her website, hollyforcongress.org, McCormack said, “It is time Congress finally pass a long overdue infrastructure bill which will help our community position itself for the future while also providing good-paying jobs for folks right here in our district.” She also promises to fight for nationwide rural broadband internet and to seek greater funding for rural hospitals and healthcare.

Whitfield County Democratic Committee Chairman Debby Peppers said McCormack likely won’t be the last Democrat to announce hoping to oppose Greene.

“There’s tons of people looking at running against Marjorie Taylor Greene,” she said. “Greene has really stirred up a hornet’s nest.”

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to remove Greene from her committee assignments for what The Associated Press reported as her “racist remarks, her embrace of conspiracy theories and her past endorsement of violence against leading Democratic officials,” including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She has espoused support for QAnon theories.

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