Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 4, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 4, 2021

On February 4, 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected by the Electoral College as the first President of the United States; Washington’s runner-up John Adams served as Vice President. Washington would repeat the feat four years later on February 4, 1793.

On February 4, 1801, John Marshall took office as Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall continued to hold the post of Secretary of State until March 4th. In one of American history’s rich ironies, Marshall, who served at the same time in the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government, would write the Court’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, establishing the supremacy of the Supreme Court in matters of applying the Constitution through judicial review and establishing the doctrine of separation of powers. Marshall would serve during the terms of six Presidents.

On February 4, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress convened in Montgomery, Alabama, where it would draft a Constitution for the Confederate States of America, beginning with a near-verbatim copy of the United States Constitution.

On February 4, 1976, the Georgia Senate approved a resolution previously passed by the State House proposing a Constitutional Amendment to allow Governors of Georgia to serve two consecutive terms and voters approved in November 1976. Then-Governor George Busbee won reelection in November 1978, and since then Democrat Roy Barnes is the only Georgia Governor to not win reelection.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Floyd County Sheriff Dave Roberson and other local law enforcement officers are raising money for the Special Olympics, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Since he started raising money mid-January, Roberson has beat his $1,000 goal and is close to hitting $1,500. Wilson has $289 raised of his $500 goal, while the entire Georgia Bureau of Investigation team has beat their $8,000 goal by $633.

“For as long as I can remember, we’ve had some assistance with Special Olympics locally,” Roberson said. “When I heard what the GBI was doing this year, I volunteered to do what I could to help the Special Olympics program.”

Polk County police detective Brandy Brady is also participating with Roberson, Wilson and the rest of the GBI team.

It costs about $110 per athlete to attend the event so the more money raised, the more opportunities can be given out.

Click here to support Sheriff Roberson’s efforts on behalf of Special Olympics. All the money goes to the Special Olympics.

Governor Brian Kemp said vaccine supply shortages are holding up Georgia’s vaccination effort, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

As he toured a new mass vaccination site in Atlanta’s suburbs, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday expressed frustration with tight vaccine supplies.

Georgia could set up more mass vaccination centers and offer more shots — if it had the supply to do so, he said.

“It’s frustrating for us,” he said as he toured the facility at a large park in Marietta where the North Georgia State Fair is held.

“If we had more, we could certainly do it,” he said. “We have a plan right now to do sites just like this all over the state. The problem is, we just don’t have the doses to do it, but we’re getting there.”

“Georgia’s vaccine supply continues to not meet the demand that we have out in the community,” he added. “Our demand is drastically outpacing the supply that we’re seeing in our state.”

President Joe Biden has said the federal government is working to increase vaccine supplies. States will see about a 16% boost in deliveries of vaccines in coming weeks, he said recently.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said that the more-contagious variants of COVID-19 are “probably widespread” in Georgia, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

Twenty-three cases of the COVID-19 variant have been reported as of Wednesday, up from 19 cases confirmed earlier this week, according to Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

The quick-moving variant is “probably widespread” throughout Georgia since test results lag behind by a week, Toomey said at a news conference Wednesday.

She and Gov. Brian Kemp urged Georgians to double down on wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing despite positive case rates and hospitalizations from COVID-19 trending down after winter outbreaks.

“We want everyone vaccinated,” Toomey said. “I think the problem is always going to be adequacy of vaccine and ensuring a risk-based approach.”

Public-health officials are close to launching an online booking portal for scheduling vaccine appointments, Toomey said. It should roll out in mid-February.

The Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Department will open a vaccination site at Gwinnett Place Mall this weekend, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The health department said the site, which will be located at the former Sears location at the Duluth area mall, is set to hold a soft opening on Friday to handle a small number of patients so any logistical issues can be worked out.

The plan is to open the site further on Saturday, with more than 1,000 patients set to be vaccinated on that day.

“This site will be a dedicated, static site where the Health Department will continue to vaccinate Georgians for the remainder of the operation,” health department spokesman Chad Wasdin said.

If they’re doing it as a drive through, let’s hope they’ve got Chick-fil-A involved. I’d like an Arnold Palmer and Spicy Chicken Sandwich with my vaccine, please.

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD 12

8:00 AM Senate Ethics- canceled – 307 CLOB
8:00 AM Senate Appropriations – 341 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE Small Business Development Barriers and Regulation Subcommittee – 515 CLOB
10:00 AM Senate FLOOR SESSION (LD12) – Senate Chamber
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD12) – House Chamber
12:00 PM Senate Rules – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Public Safety – Mezz 1
2:15 PM Senate Transportation- canceled – 450 CAP
2:15 PM Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs – canceled – Mezz 1
3:30 PM Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities – 450 CAP
3:30 PM Senate Science and Technology – 307 CLOB
4:45 PM Senate Government Oversight – 450 CAP


SB 20 – Child Advocate Advisory Committee; composition; revise (ED&Y-54th)

The Georgia State Senate increased spending levels in the mid-year Supplemental Budget, according to the AJC.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the mid-year plan, which increases state spending about $650 million overall.

The largest increase is in education, where the House and Senate are going along with Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal to backfill 60% of the spending reductions lawmakers approved last year, when they cut 10% because of fears that state revenue would plummet due to the pandemic. That didn’t happen.

But it also continues what the House started last month, increasing Department of Public Health funding after critics said Kemp’s original budget didn’t do enough for the agency.

The House passed the mid-year budget last week and the full Senate will likely do the same early next week in hopes of quickly assuring agencies they will be funded through the end of June. The chambers agreed to push through a budget in case they have to suspend the session – as they did last March – because of the pandemic.

Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) to split the Augusta Judicial Circuit, passed out of the State House Judiciary Committee with a “Do pass” recommendation, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

[T]he bill splits Columbia from the Augusta Judicial Circuit, leaving Richmond and Burke counties in the Augusta circuit.

Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, introduced the bill in the committee and said it was a proposal long-discussed to address what is now the largest multicounty judicial circuit in the state.

Newton and Rep. Barry Fleming each emphasized that the Richmond and Columbia county commissions passed resolutions of support for the split. The Augusta Commission, where some members support the split but all are resigned it will go through regardless, approved the split with a guarantee of a fifth judge.

The much smaller Burke County passed a resolution last week asking the state to examine the costs and logistics of the split before making the decision.

The much smaller Burke County passed a resolution last week asking the state to examine the costs and logistics of the split before making the decision.

Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta, also opposed the bill Wednesday but it passed the Judiciary Committee with little opposition and now moves to the House Rules Committee.

Several education bills are working their way through the legislative process, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Students in Georgia public, private and home-school programs may drop out when they turn 16 under current state law. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, would raise the mandatory attendance age to 17.

Separately, state law also requires Georgia schools and school districts to publish ratings based on a five-star scale showing a school’s climate including student health, safety, attendance and discipline rates. A bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, would remove discipline from that evaluation criteria.

Several bills addressing Stone Mountain have been proposed, according to Fox5Atlanta.

“I believe the removal of Confederate memorials not only in this state but this country–it is not a matter of if they will come down. It is a matter of when,” said state Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain.

Rep. Mitchell is the primary sponsor of a bill that would give the Stone Mountain Memorial Association the authority to remove Confederate flags, statues, and other symbols from the park. That would include the carving on the side of the mountain. A state law passed in 2019 prohibits anyone from removing, relocating, or concealing a monument, including those dedicated to the Confederacy.

Mitchell is one of several lawmakers who have also signed on to bills by Rep. Shelly Hutchinson, D-Snellville, that would prohibit any Confederate monuments on public property and repeal the protections approved two years ago.

Meanwhile, four Republican lawmakers have filed a proposal that would appear to strengthen support for keeping the Confederate memorials at Stone Mountain.

Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, Rep. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga, Rep. Jason Ridley, R- Chatsworth, and Rep. Danny Mathis, R-Cochran co-sponsored legislation that would add four new members to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Two of those members would have to belong to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the other two would have to be members of the Georgia Civil War Commission.

The Georgia House State Properties Committee recommended passage of legislation to replace Georgia’s statue of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens with a statue of Congressman John Lewis in the national capitol, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

The resolution, which has the backing of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, was approved by the State Properties Committee on Wednesday. It could soon move to the full House for a vote.

The committee would be composed of eight members: four appointed by the governor, two by House Speaker David Ralston and two by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. The committee would be responsible for commissioning the new statue of Lewis, finding a place in Georgia to put the old statue of Stephens and securing private funding for the whole process. It would have until December 2022 to complete the work.

Each state gets to send two statues to the U.S. Capitol to represent it. Stephens, a white supremacist and slave owner who lived from 1812 to 1883, has been on display as one of Georgia’s statues since 1927.


Whitfield County will vote March 16, 2021 on a referendum to allow the County Commission to create Tax Allocation Districts (TADs), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday signed a bill placing a TAD referendum on the ballot. The bill was authored by state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton.

The county will hold a special election on March 16 to fill the unexpired term of commissioner Roger Crossen, who passed away last year. Putting a TAD referendum on that ballot keeps the county from having to call for another special election.

A tax allocation district is based on the idea that development in an area will increase property values. In effect, the taxes a local government can collect for general purposes inside a district are frozen at what the property was worth when the district was created. Taxes collected on additional value are dedicated to pay for infrastructure, land, buildings, public artwork or other amenities to attract a developer or developers to that area. That “extra” money does not go into general revenue.

County voters rejected TADs in 2014, but [commission Chair Jevin] Jensen said now that they have seen TADs in use, county voters may be more receptive to the idea.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced the formation of a “Savannability” Task Force, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannability task force will focus on making the city more inclusive for residents of all abilities and ensure everyone has equal access to opportunity.

“We’re saying in a very real way that Savannah is willing to listen,” Johnson said. “We’re going to listen, and we’re going to do what we can to improve the experience of people with different abilities in Savannah.”

“Our task force is comprised of people who are living with accessibility issues, or it’s our daily life helping people get around barriers,” said [appointed Chair Patti] Lyons, who is also the president of Senior Citizens Inc. “We really have the people who are living it involved, and they are the ones who are guiding us. Without that expertise, we would just be pretending that we know what’s best. I think that’s a critical difference in this task force versus anything that’s been done previously.”

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones (D) announced his office is investigating whether Hamilton City Police Chief Gene Allmond and another officer broke any laws in, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The police chief, Gene Allmond, resigned last week at Hamilton city leaders’ request. The sergeant, John Brooks, was fired, said Hamilton City Attorney Ron Iddins.

Unaware Brooks’ body camera was on, they were recorded using racial slurs and stereotypes related to slavery while talking about the protest in mid-June, the footage showed.

Mark Jones, who took office as the six-county judicial circuit’s chief prosecutor in January, told the Ledger-Enquirer he has reviewed the video, and believes the two either violated or attempted to violate the oath each took as a law enforcement officer.

Jones said his reasoning is that the Black Lives Matter demonstration attracted counter-protesters, some of whom were armed, and the two officers speculated that were any violent confrontation to ensue, they would stand back and let the counter-protesters “take matters into their own hands” and attack the BLM demonstrators.

The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education voted to resume in-person instruction at an unspecified future date, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah-Chatham County school board voted at its regular meeting on Wednesday to implement a three-day/two-day amended hybrid model to return students to the classroom during this current semester. The resolution passed 7-2-0 with the “no” votes coming from Tonia Howard-Hall, District 8 representative, and David Bringman, District 6 representative.

No date was determined for returning the students to the classroom. Students will remain in virtual learning for now.

The date to be determined is to be “operationally feasible,” meaning that Superintendent Ann Levett will set a start date that works with teachers, support staff, nutrition workers, bus drivers, and parents. She said that when a date is determined, based on the latest Centers for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines, there will be at least a two-week window for parents and staff to plan for the change.

MTG – The Middle Finger to Washington

Georgia has a long history of giving Washington the finger. Clearly, sending a statue of Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy, to represent the state in the Capitol counts in that respect. The 1956 revision of the state flag was also meant to send that message.

Perhaps the election of Marjorie Taylor Greene to Washington is a case of that same sentiment.

House Republicans decided yesterday to stand by Rep. Greene against Democratic demands, according to the Associated Press via the Dalton Daiy Citizen News.

House Republicans decided Wednesday to stand by two GOP lawmakers who have polarized the party, voting to retain Rep. Liz Cheney as their No. 3 leader and saying they’d fight a Democratic push to kick Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene off her committees.

Hours earlier, after Democrats slated a House vote for Thursday that would remove Greene from her committees, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ridiculed them for it. His comments signaled he was dismissing bipartisan demands that the hard-right Georgia Republican be punished for her online embrace of racist and violent views and bizarre conspiracy theories.

“You know what that’s going to mean?” [McCarthy] told reporters after the lengthy evening meeting. ”Two years from now, we’re going to win the majority. That’s because this conference is more united. We’ve got the right leadership team behind it.”

Attendants said Greene and the conspiracy theories she’s embraced came up during the closed-door meeting, which participants said was spirited, with long lines of speakers at the microphones. Some said Greene apologized to her colleagues, though there were conflicting, vague versions of exactly what she’d said.

“She was contrite. And I think she brought a lot of people over to her side,” said conservative Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.

Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said lawmakers would send “an awful message” if they took no action on Greene. “If this is not the bottom, I don’t know what the hell is,” McGovern said.

From the New York Times:

SUMMERVILLE, Ga. — Billy Martin does not care much for politicians. But the retired teacher and coach liked what he heard from Marjorie Taylor Greene, who promised to arrive in Washington as a defiant force, intent on rattling the establishment.

As Democrats push to strip Ms. Greene of committee assignments and as some Republicans condemn her statements, she has argued that the resistance confronting her only “strengthens my base of support at home and across the country.”

To some degree, that was true, as her most fervent supporters saw in the treatment of Ms. Greene a reminder of all that they loathed about Washington. But in a congressional district proud of its ranking as one of the most conservative in the country, voters drawn to her unapologetic intensity were now also brushing the limits of their support.

“I love her,” [local citizen Teresa Rich] said of Ms. Greene, describing her as a fighter taking on the political establishment. “She fought them. If the party was like it was supposed to be, she wouldn’t be in a corner by herself.”

 From the AJC:

In a letter to House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy just before Wednesday’s GOP meeting, Whitfield County Republican Party chair Dianne Putnam wrote that the party wanted to “convey its concern over the treatment” of the congresswoman.

“Marjorie has maintained, if not increased her level of support from Republican voters in the 14th Congressional District, despite relentless attacks from the Democrats, the media and come Republicans….Marjorie has our total support and we ask that you and other Republican congressmen take this into consideration before taking any negative action against our choice to represent the 14th Congressional District.”

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