Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 9, 2024


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 9, 2024

On February 11, 1733, the first military formation in Georgia was held, as male colonists assembled with their muskets.

On February 8, 1751, the first session of the Georgia Provincial Parliament adjourned, having convened on January 15, 1751.

On February 11, 1776, Georgia Royal Governor Sir James Wright escaped from house arrest in Savannah to a waiting British warship HMS Scarborough.

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 9, 1825, the United States House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as President of the United States, despite his having received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. Congress voted for the President after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the 1824 election.

The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House.

Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected. Clay and Adams were both members of a loose coalition in Congress that by 1828 became known as the National Republicans, while Jackson’s supporters were later organized into the Democratic Party.

Alexander Stephens was elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861.

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

On February 9, 1926, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to prohibit teaching evolution in the Atlanta Public Schools.

Burt Reynolds was born on February 11, 1936 in Lansing, Michigan, though some accounts say Waycross, Georgia. Beginning with Deliverance, filmed along the Chattooga River in North Georgia in 1972, Georgia rose to number three in the nation for film production while Reynolds’s star rose to prominence. Other Reynolds movies filmed in Georgia include The Longest Yard, Gator, Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Sharky’s Machine.

On February 8, 1955, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the General Assembly calling on Congress to require racial segregation in the military.

On February 8, 1956, the Georgia State House adopted a resolution purporting to hold the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education null and void.

On February 9, 1964, the Beatles debuted in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

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

On February 8, 1981, R.E.M. held their first recording session at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, recording “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” as well as others.

On February 10, 2015, on the anniversary of the United States House of Representatives passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation proclaiming February as Black History Month.

Savannah will unveil a new marker for Taylor Square, fka Calhoun Square, according to WTOC.

The City of Savannah is turning a page of history this weekend when it unveils a marker for the newly-named Taylor Square.

The Council voted back in November of 2022 to remove the name “Calhoun Square.”

They took public suggestions on what to replace it with and last August, the city landed on honoring Susie King Taylor .

She was the first Black nurse during the Civil War, and the first Black teacher to open a school in Savannah.

This started over three years ago when the Center for Jubilee, Reconciliation, and Healing started advocating for the removal of John Calhoun’s name from the square and the addition of Susie King Taylors.

Calhoun was not a Georgia native, but a South Carolina native and a former Vice President of the United States.

The Center for Jubilee wanted to change the name due to his stance on slavery.

In November of 2022, Savannah’s City Council voted to remove the name, and began the process of picking a new name. People were able to submit applications for what they thought the new name should be.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

TBD UPON ADJOURNMENT– HOUSE Natl Res Sub Resource Mgmt – 606 CLOB
TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adj – 450 CAP
TBD Senate Spcl Comm on Investigations: Upon Adj Rules – 341 CAP
7:30 AM Senate Finance Committee – 450 CAP
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9:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD18) – House Chamber
9:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 18) – Senate Chamber
12:30 PM HOUSE Pub Sfty and Homeland Sec 2-A Sub – 506 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE Appropriations Sub Public Safety – 415 CLOB
1:00 PM Joint Education & Higher Ed – 450 CAP

Today, I tip my hat to the sponsors of the “Bridging the Gap for ALS and Chronic Kidney Disease Act of 2024.” House Bill 1098 by Dr. Lee Hawkins, (R-Gainesville) and SB 409 by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta).

Both bills would require insurance companies to sell Supplemental Medicare policies to “individuals under 65 years of age who are eligible by reason of  disability under federal law” and “prohibit an insurer from charging premium rates for such policies for such individuals that exceed premium rates charged for individuals who are 65 years of age.”

When the late Mrs. GaPundit was diagnosed with ALS, one of the saving graces is that she became eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare almost immediately. ALS is not only a devastating disease for all around, but it is extraordinarily expensive. Medicare was incredibly helpful and my experience with it changed my mind about this government program. Supplemental Medicare policies generally are aimed at paying the 20% co-pay that often goes with Medicare.

To give you an idea of the scale of the costs involved, my late wife’s power wheelchair had a list price of about $39,000. At the time, that was more than any car I’d ever bought. The copay comes to about $7800.

Other expenses are not covered at all. Our home had bathrooms in the basement and the second floor, but not the first floor. So, we had a stairlift installed so she could go up and down stairs. Price those out, and you’ll see those can run $3500 to $7000.

If you want to leave the house with your PALS (Person with ALS), a handicapped van will typically run in the $80,000 range for a new one, and good used ones generally start around $40,000. We bought a station wagon and got a push wheelchair of the “tilt in space” type, which typically run between $1500 and $4500. For our home, the layout and lot dimensions meant we could not have a ramp installed to get the 450-pound wheelchair in and out of the house, but for those whose home can be adapted, that’s an additional expense. Later in the disease progression, the only way we could leave the house was to call 911 for an “invalid assist.” DeKalb Fire and Rescue would send the local ladder truck with all the bells and whistles, and a group of firefighters would carry Mrs. GaPundit in her push wheelchair eight stairs out of the house, and another four stairs from the front yard to street level.

If the primary caregiver needs to work, at some point, your PALS will need a paid caregiver. In 2017-2018, we were paying between $20 and $24 dollars per hour, and I imagine it’s more now. So, call it $800 to $1000 for a 40-hour week, or $3200 to $4000  per month.

The eye-tracking computer Mrs. GaPundit needed to communicate once she lost her ability to write and speak ran about $10,000 at the time.

I think the average person would struggle with those costs, and the legislation offered by Dr. Hawkins and Senator Albers will be a lifeline to people going through this. The current estimated rate of ALS in the population is about 4-7 cases per 100,000 people. So, for 11,000,000 Georgia residents, that comes to about 440-770 people living with ALS. Overall, roughly 15,000 to 21,000 people in the United States are living with ALS today. Compare that with the roughly 6.7 million people living with Alzheimer’s and you’ll understand that’s a drop in the bucket. A Supplemental Medicare policy would have been a godsend.

So, my most sincere gratitude goes out to Dr. Hawkins and his co-sponsors, State Reps. Ron Stephens, Mark Newton, Mack Jackson, and Rick Townsend, as well as Senator John Albers and his co-sponsors, Senators Randy Robertson and Ed Harbison.

Now, back to the news.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Boggs told legislators the court system remains burdened by a COVID backlog, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Backlogs of pending court cases that built up during the pandemic are on the decline, Georgia Chief Justice Michael Boggs said Wednesday.

But shortages of prosecutors, public defenders, court reporters, and other court staff continue to plague the court system, Boggs told a joint session of the General Assembly during the annual State of the Judiciary address.

“Judges alone cannot move criminal cases without prosecutors,” he said. “Nothing can be done without court reporters.”

Boggs said an influx of federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 has helped judicial circuits hire more staff and upgrade technology. Forty-six of the state’s 50 judicial circuits have taken advantage of ARPA funding, he said.

As a result, the backlog of cases has declined by 11% on average statewide, Boggs said.

With Georgia also suffering from a shortage of judges, Boggs urged lawmakers to pass House Bill 947, which would overhaul the system for paying superior court judges, justices of the Georgia Supreme Court, justices of the state Court of Appeals, and the judge of the Georgia State-wide Business Court.

Boggs also supported proposed legislation to require that personal information on judges, such as their addresses, be kept confidential to help protect them from growing threats to judges across the nation.

“These attacks and threats are meant to intimidate,” he said. “Georgia judges will not be threatened or intimidated into abandoning their constitutional duties.”

It’s a kind of “long COVID” for the justice system.

The Georgia State House adopted their version of the midyear budget reconciliation that trues up revenue and spending for the current year budget adopted in the last Session. From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

Georgia’s House backed changes to the state budget Wednesday that would add $5 billion in spending, including a burst of roadbuilding, new dental and medical schools, and money to cover bonuses paid to state employees and teachers.

“Five billion dollars. You can do a lot of good with $5 billion,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Matt Hatchett, a Dublin Republican, told House members. “Now, not every item in the budget is glamorous, but I can tell you it’s needed.”

The House voted 161-2 to pass a bill that adds money to the current budget running through June 30. The bill now goes to the Senate for its own changes.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp proposed the boost, which would push spending of state money to $37.5 billion. Total spending, including federal aid, college tuition, fines and fees, would rise to $67.5 billion

Because lawmakers can’t spend above Kemp’s revenue estimate, lawmakers can only cut or rearrange the governor’s proposed spending.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Of the $5 billion spending increase, $2 billion would come directly from the unprecedented $16 billion in reserves the state has built up during the last several years.

Among the big-ticket spending items is $1.5 billion for transportation improvements, including $659 million for projects in the existing pipeline, $509 million for projects aimed at more efficient movement of freight, $200 million for improvements to local roads, $100 million for resurfacing projects, and $53 million in airport aid.

For the first time in memory, the proposed spending spree would let the state pay for major capital projects with cash instead of bond financing. The midyear budget allocates $450 million for a new state prison in Washington County, $178 million for a new dental school at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus in Savannah, and $50 million for a new medical school at the University of Georgia in Athens.

State employees and teachers will get one-time pay supplements of $1,000, an initiative Gov. Brian Kemp announced in December to help reduce turnover in public schools and state agencies.

All of those spending increases were in the mid-year budget recommendations Kemp presented to the General Assembly last month.

But the House made some additions on its own. Hatchett said the midyear budget seeks to restore some of the spending items the governor ordered state agencies to disregard last spring when he signed the fiscal 2024 budget.

“We are the appropriators,” Hatchett declared. “We absolutely have the authority to set policy in this state.”

Voter registration continues in Lowndes County ahead of the deadline for voter eligibility to vote in the March 12, 2024 Presidential Preference Primary, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Voter registration is under way ahead of the March 12 presidential primaries.

A “trickle” of people have been coming into the Lowndes County Board of Elections office to register, but most sign up in other ways, said Deb Cox, Lowndes County elections supervisor.

“We’re pretty saturated,” she said. “Most people in Lowndes sign up at the Department of Driver Services. … It’s about typical, not higher nor lower than in presidential election years.”

Cox expects Lowndes County to have around 85,000 registered voters by the time March 12 rolls around.

On March 12, the only item on the ballot will be presidential primaries, Cox said.

On May 21, elections on the ballot will include a multi-county T-SPLOST decision and a vote in Remerton to fill an empty council seat, she said.

In terms of staffing, Lowndes County’s elections board has been hiring poll workers and is at about 70% of where they need to be, Cox said.

“We need about 250 people for the entire process,” she said.

From the AJC:

During the presidential race four years ago, more than 26,000 people registered on the day of the deadline ahead of the general election, and nearly 3,500 people signed up on the last registration day before the presidential primary. Georgia’s registration deadline is one of the earliest in the country, 29 days before election day.

Voters can check their registration status and view sample ballots through the state’s My Voter Page at

Eligible Georgians can register online, and registration forms are available at libraries, post offices and county election offices.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has a legislative wish list, according to WALB.

Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, speaks on what the agenda should include.

What is the Georgia Chamber of Commerce telling legislators that they think the agenda should be including?

“Jim, it’s the same three things we’ve been working on for the last five years. It’s work on workforce development, talent, education improvement, it’s infrastructure of the future and it’s making sure that Georgia remains a competitive state whether through tax lawsuit abuse reform, helping small businesses. So those are the three big buckets that we go and talk to the General Assembly about every single day.”

We saw yesterday again another big automotive plant coming to Candler County, announcing a huge building coming there. That region is growing so fast and of course, you have to have the infrastructure to have that kind of industry.

“Right. And we’re so blessed Governor Kemp announced in his budget $150 billion, or $1.5 billion, worth of new investment to help on those types of projects and to think long-term about how we move goods and products out of the ports of Savannah. Obviously, that port has continued to grow. They just announced a multi-billion dollar growth plan for the next 10 years. So a lot of investment there. And then a big discussion about how we continue to pay for railroads, roads, bridges, over the long term.

Senate Bill 333 by State Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford), passed the State House and would allow some Gwinnett County residents to vote whether to incorporate a new City of Mulberry, according to AccessWDUN.

Senate Bill 333 passed the State Senate last week and was approved in the State House Thursday afternoon by a 101-63 vote. If signed by the governor, it will put an item on the ballot for voters in the area to vote on cityhood in either May or November.

District 109 Representative Dewey McClain (D-Lawrenceville), who represents an area of Gwinnett County between Lawrenceville and Lilburn, said the city’s creation could have a negative impact on his constituents.

“What I said, and what my folks said, was as long as it didn’t affect me, we didn’t give a hoot…But after getting what we received from (Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson)…it is going to affect the rest of the citizens of Gwinnett County,” McClain said during Tuesday’s hearing. “My folks are concerned that they don’t want to pay for someone else’s concerns…Where’s (fire service) going to come from? They’re still going to get it from Gwinnett. Where’s water and sewer going to come from? It’s going to come from Gwinnett County.”

State Senator Clint Dixon (R-Buford) presented the bill to the committee, saying the effect of the city’s creation on the rest of the county would not be as significant as Gwinnett County officials have claimed.

“Not to say (Gwinnett County) wouldn’t have to change or go through those service delivery contracts…but as far as a county-wide impact, you’re talking about a budget of $2.5 billion. The estimated impact from the county in the feasibility study is $9 million,” Dixon said. “If the citizens do choose and vote in favor of cityhood, they would have that negotiation with the county and some of those costs would actually be recouped by the county.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Voters would have to approve Mulberry cityhood in a referendum on the May 21 general election primary ballot before the city could come into existence.

“I am thankful to both my Democrat and Republican colleagues who voted in favor of this legislation in today’s vote, which would create the City of Mulberry without implementing any city property taxes,” said House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, who lives in the proposed Mulberry city limits.

If Mulberry becomes a city, it would be the 17th municipality in Gwinnett County and the county’s largest city by geographic size. It would also be the second largest city in Gwinnett in terms of population, behind only Peachtree Corners.

The city would be governed by a five-member city council and the council members would chose one of their own to serve as mayor for two years.

The legislation calling for the city’s creation would bar it from instituting a municipal property tax. The city would instead be funded through the collection of fees for licenses, permits and inspections as well as franchise fees, such as those paid by cable television or cell phone customers.

But Democrats in the House who spoke out against the bill said it needs more time to be reviewed by groups such as the Carl Vinson Institute before the General Assembly sent it to voters for consideration.

A three-bill package of tax relief measures passed the State House, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed an election-year tax relief package Thursday.

A measure introduced on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp would accelerate a state income tax cut that took effect this year, rolling back the income tax rate from 5.49% to 5.39%. House Bill 1015 would save Georgia taxpayers about $1.1 billion this year, Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming, said on the House floor before Thursday’s vote.

Another bill in the package calls for doubling the state’s homestead tax exemption from $2,000 to $4,000. The exemption has remained unchanged since 1978, when the average home in Georgia cost $55,000, said Rep. Matt Reeves, R-Duluth, House Bill 1019’s chief sponsor.

“This gives good tax relief at a time it’s needed,” he said.

The third bill in the package – House Bill 1021 – would increase Georgia’s child-tax deduction from $3,000 to $4,000.

The three bills now move to the state Senate.

Senate Bill 349 by State Sen. Chuck Hufstletler, (R-Rome) aims to address rising property tax valuations and passed the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by the bill’s sponsor, according to the AJC.

A key Georgia Senate committee backed a measure Friday aimed at slowing the rate of property tax hikes especially prevalent in metro Atlanta by limiting how much home assessments can go up to 3% a year.

Senate Bill 349 by Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Hufstletler, R-Rome, was passed without debate after initially facing some opposition from local government and school groups, which have a stake because limiting assessments may mean they have to raise tax rates to bring in more money to pay for government services.

A key Georgia Senate committee backed a measure Friday aimed at slowing the rate of property tax hikes especially prevalent in metro Atlanta by limiting how much home assessments can go up to 3% a year.

Senate Bill 349 by Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Hufstletler, R-Rome, was passed without debate after initially facing some opposition from local government and school groups, which have a stake because limiting assessments may mean they have to raise tax rates to bring in more money to pay for government services.

Senate Bill 362 by State Sen. Mike Hodges (R-Brunswick) would limit the ability of workers to form unions and passed the Senate, according to the AJC.

Businesses that voluntarily recognize unions through a check of signed union cards rather than a secret ballot election would not have access to state economic development incentives under Senate Bill 362, which was approved in a 31-23 vote, mostly along party lines.

State Sen. Mike Hodges, a Brunswick Republican and one of Gov. Brian Kemp’s floor leaders, said workers can still form a union, so long as they vote through a secret ballot election. That, he said, would prevent organizers from trying to “coerce, intimidate or harass employees publicly” into joining. Kemp voiced support for the idea last month in his annual State of the State address.

It would also prevent access to economic incentives, such as tax credits for jobs on large projects and access to grants, for businesses that provide labor unions their workers’ contact information, even though that is a provision under the National Labor Relations Act.

Supporters of the proposal say the bill would not preempt federal law or impact current agreements that unions have with employers. Employers could still choose to voluntarily recognize unions, but they would not be eligible for the incentives.

Georgia’s Congressional Delegation all signed a letter asking for a study of whether the Savannah River Channel serving the Port of Savannah needs another round of deepening, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The offices of Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Rep. Buddy Carter on Tuesday released a copy of the letter sent to top-ranking members of the House and Senate committees that would handle legislation to authorize a study.

The Georgia Ports Authority is pushing for Congress to consider another round of deepening Savannah’s shipping channel. The agency’s leaders say ever-growing classes of cargo ships need deeper water to reach the port with full loads at lower tides — even though less than two years have passed since the Army Corps of Engineers finished the last project, which added 5 feet (1.5 meters) of depth to the waterway.

Savannah has the fourth-busiest U.S. seaport for cargo shipped in containers — giant metal boxes used to transport goods ranging from consumer electronics to frozen chickens. Savannah handled 4.9 million container units of imports and exports in the 2023 calendar year.

The letter signed by Georgia’s two Democratic senators and each of its House members — nine Republicans and five Democrats — argues that “we cannot sit back” as increasing percentages of ships arriving at Savannah have to wait for higher tides to reach the port.

Gainesville City Council announced a Special Election for the vacant Ward 4 seat will be held in conjunction with the May 21, 2024 General Primary Election, according to WDUN.

The Ward 4 seat was vacated after the passing of longtime City Councilman George Wangemann.

The City Clerk’s Office will qualify candidates beginning Mar. 4, 2024, through Mar. 6, 2024, from 8:30 am to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Administration Building at 300 Henry Ward Way, Third floor, Suite 303.

Potential candidates must file qualifying documents and pay a qualifying fee of $684 during the qualifying period.

Officials said voter registration for the special election will be open through April 22.

If a runoff election is needed it will be held on June 18.

The Barrow County Board of Commissioners voted last week to name Hall County Community Development and Infrastructure Director Srikanth Yamala as sole finalist for County Manager, according to AccessWDUN.

The Barrow County Board of Commissioners will meet on Friday, February 16 to approve the contract for Yamala and confirm him as the next county manager.

Commission Chairwoman Pat Graham said she’s excited to bring Yamala into the job.

“We did an exhaustive search…we had 30 applicants, we interviewed five candidates and Srikanth was by far the most qualified applicant,” Graham said. “He’s got an excellent work history, an excellent career with Hall County Government, and we’re very fortunate to have somebody of his quality and his character be named as our finalist.”

Port Wentworth’s hotel-motel tax has increase, according to WSAV.

As the City of Port Wentworth continues to grow, Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill to increase the hotel-motel tax there by 2%. The rate will go from 6% to 8%. They expect revenue to rise by about half a million dollars this year.

City Manager Steve Davis says around 13,000 people currently live in the city limits. Port Wentworth is growing by 10 percent each year. He hopes that additional revenue from this tax increase will help with city improvements.

“This isn’t a tax increase on residents. It’s not a tax increase on the hoteliers. It’s the people that are that are renting the rooms,” he said. “We’re going to be able to invest that into our community… We’ve got a lot of beautification programs. We’ve got projects that we’re going to do at the Highway 21 interchange… spruce it up, make it look more inviting.”

This increase allows the city to catch up with 90 other counties and cities like Savannah, Atlanta, and Dublin, which are already at an 8% rate.

Glynn County’s Islands and Mainland Planning commissions are discussing an update to the county zoning ordinance, according to The Brunswick News.

Toby Harris, community development director, said the zoning review team responsible for rewriting the ordinance received lots of comments and suggestions. Citizen comments are also being considered.

Robert Ussery, chairman of the Islands Planning Commission and chair of the zoning review team, said new people have been asked to help with the highly criticized document.

“I’m thinking we’re getting some good input,” he said. “The comments are getting more and more specific.”

One issue that still needs clarification is site plan coverage, including driveways and previous and impervious surfaces such as driveways.

“One of the criticisms we continue to get is drainage,” Ussery said.

Parking requirements for people staying in short-term rentals is an ongoing concern that has generated complaints by residents living nearby.

Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick spoke about the impact of violent crime, according to the Macon Telegraph.

In the wake of two murders over the weekend, one involving a teenager, Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick held a call to action gathering with community leaders to discuss the impact of violent crime and seek solutions.

The two murders bring the total to three in 2024 alone. There were seven homicides in Warner Robins in 2023.

Seven Polk County residents applied to be appointed to the vacant District 1 seat, according to the Rome News Tribune.

A total of seven candidates applied to fill the District 1 seat left vacant following the sudden passing of Commissioner Scotty Tillery on Jan. 1 after a brief illness. The most recent applicants are Jose Iglesias, Derinda Stephens and James Vines. They join Andrew Carter, Deborah Connelly, Janet Jolly Edwards and Jordan Hubbard, who registered with the county clerk earlier.

Candidates are required to be a resident of District 1 — which covers the northwest corner of the county — for a minimum of one year.

The current commission will select one of the applicants to serve the rest of Tillery’s term, which runs until the end of the year. That means the person who is appointed will have to immediately decide whether to run for a full 4-year term, with the primary in May and the general election in November.

Jummy Dunn announced he is running for Houston County Sheriff this year, according to 13WMAZ.

In a release, he said that “after great consideration and prayer,” he would be joining Slate Simmons, Will Kendall, and Matt Moulton on the ballot.

Candidates can qualify for the election in March and folks can vote in May primaries.

TV Judge Glenda Hatchett filed a lawsuit against former Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody, according to 13WMAZ.

The suit, filed Jan. 17 in Cobb County State Court, builds upon Coody’s guilty plea to sexual battery in August. He admitted to groping Hatchett’s breast at a January 2022 Georgia Sheriffs’ Association event in a Cobb County hotel bar.

Coody, who resigned as sheriff shortly before the hearing, apologized in a statement and said he didn’t mean to touch Hatchett inappropriately.

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