Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2021

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

January 13, 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A Forsyth County billboard calls Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “Treasonist RINOs,” according to CBS46.

A big, bright billboard refers to Kemp and Raffensperger as traitors and treasonist RINOs who should be locked up.

CBS46 contacted the billboard company, Revelation, to find out who’s behind the message, but they never responded.

CBS46 reached out to the Governor and Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office told me they have no comment. The governor’s office also declined comment.

We also spoke with Patrick Bell, Chairman of the Republican Party in Forsyth County, and he does not know who took out the ad. He did say the party is frustrated with the Governor and Secretary of State, but that they do not agree with the message on the billboard.

Today is Legislative Day Three in the 2021 Georgia General Assembly. The current adjournment resolution is HR 10, and has the legislature in session tomorrow for Day Four and reconvening Monday, January 26th for Day Five.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) will self-quarantine after a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to the AJC.

The session opened Monday. On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mike Dugan said he tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating at home.

Meanwhile, House Speaker David Ralston said nearly half of his chamber did not take the coronavirus test as required on Monday.

Ralston chastised a whopping 41% of his 180 members for skipping the test as the chamber convened Tuesday. All Georgia General Assembly members are required to be tested twice a week, and Monday was the first required test.

Dugan’s results came early Tuesday after taking the required COVID-19 test. He said he was also tested Thursday, and those results were negative.

“My symptoms are minor and I plan to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and isolate at home until the virus passes,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

He said he was tested Monday before experiencing any symptoms.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) announced Senate Committee Chairs, according to a Press Release.

Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and the Senate Committee on Assignments announced new standing committee chairs for the first session of the 156th Georgia General Assembly.

“These committee chairs are uniquely qualified to develop real and lasting solutions aimed at building a better Georgia,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “The Senate will continue to prioritize diligent committee work and sound public policy, and I look forward to working closely with each one of our chairs, and their committee members, as we work to enact policies that advance both the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

The following members were named to chair standing committees:
Sen. Larry Walker (R – 20) will serve as chair of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R – 19) will serve as chair of the Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Matt Brass (R – 28) will serve as chair of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – 14) will serve as chair of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
Sen. Chuck Payne (R – 54) will serve as chair of the Education and Youth Committee.
Sen. Max Burns (R – 23) will serve as chair of the Ethics Committee.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – 52) will serve as chair of the Finance Committee.
Sen. Marty Harbin (R – 16) will serve as chair of the Government Oversight Committee.
Sen. Ben Watson (R – 1) will serve as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – 37) will serve as chair of the Higher Education Committee.
Sen. Dean Burke (R – 11) will serve as chair of the Insurance and Labor Committee.
Sen. Donzella James (D – 35) will serve as chair of the Interstate Cooperation Committee.
Sen. Brian Strickland (R – 17) will serve as chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Tyler Harper (R – 7) will serve as chair of the Natural Resources and the Environment Committee.
Sen. John Albers (R – 56) will serve as chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – 18) will serve as chair of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.
Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – 46) will serve as chair of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
Sen. Randy Robertson (R – 29) will serve as chair of the Retirement Committee.
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – 53) will serve as chair of the Rules Committee.
Sen. Greg Dolezal (R – 27) will serve as chair of the Science and Technology Committee.
Sen. Jennifer Jordan (D – 6) will serve as chair of the Special Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Lee Anderson (R – 24) will serve as chair of the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee.
Sen. Ed Harbison (D – 15) will serve as chair of the State Institutions and Property Committee.
Sen. Frank Ginn (R – 47) will serve as chair of the Transportation Committee.
Sen. Lester Jackson (D – 2) will serve as chair of the Urban Affairs Committee.
Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – 32) will serve as chair of the Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee.

Notably absent from the list of Committee Chairs are Senators Brandon Beach and Burt Jones.

From the Rome News Tribune:

While senators typically keep their committee assignments unless they request a change — Hufstetler sought and was given a seat on the Rules Committee this year — there were a few shake-ups.

Two of the members who launched the most vocal attacks on Georgia’s election security this winter lost their chairs.

Sens. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, and Burt Jones, R-Jackson, were among the four who clamored for a special session to investigate President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Sens. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, and Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, also continued the push after being rebuffed by Gov. Brian Kemp and Duncan.

The senators held special committee hearings in early December that featured Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani presenting testimony that had been rejected — or omitted from lawsuits he filed — in courts around the country.

Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, was named chair of the Labor Committee. He previously served as vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.

Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, is the new chair of the Transportation Committee. He had chaired the Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

That seat went to Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, who had chaired the Veterans Committee last session. Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, got that assignment going forward.

Kirkpatrick’s Ethics Committee gavel went to Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania., This is Burns’ first year in the State Senate but he is a former U.S. Representative who served in Congress from 2003 to 2005.

From the Gainesville Times:

The House Committee on Assignments should complete its work this week and announce committee assignments toward the end of the week, House spokeswoman Betsy Theroux said Monday, Jan. 11.

From the AJC:

When the bloodletting was over, state Sens. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, Matt Brass of Newnan and Burt Jones of Jackson were sapped of their political influence on the second day of the winter session.

Duncan stripped Beach of his chairmanship of the Transportation Committee, while Jones will no longer lead the Insurance and Labor Committee. Neither will serve as even a rank-and-file member on the two panels they once led.

And though state Sen. Matt Brass of Newnan will still be a committee chairman this term, he was shelved to a lesser posting. Instead of serving as chairman of the committee that is set to redraw the political map later this year, he’ll oversee a banking committee.

And state Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming will oversee the Science and Technology Committee — the same lower-profile panel that Renee Unterman was shunted to in 2019.

Some insiders call it a “smack down,” others say they got the “McKoon treatment” in honor of former state Sen. Josh McKoon, who lost his Judiciary Committee post after peeving the powers-that-be.

But there’s also a benefit for the outcasts. They are no longer tethered to party leadership and are freer to buck Duncan and other top GOP figures.

Traffic fatalities in Georgia were up significantly for 2020, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Preliminary numbers for 2020 show 1,615 traffic fatalities across the state, which is the highest total since 1,641 fatalities in 2007. Roger Hayes, service director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Law Enforcement Service Director, expects the number for 2020 to continue to increase as the agency confirms more fatalities.

He said a variety of factors have contributed to the increase.

“Some of those reasons are less law enforcement officers on the road. Many agencies told their officers straight out, ‘do not make traffic stops’,” Hayes said. “I’ve had many agencies, many officers send me pictures, screenshots of a radar or a lidar throughout the year that the offender was driving over 100 miles an hour.”

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley will retire July 1, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Columbia County Public Schools have a short list of three candidates for the next superintendent, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Glynn County Commissioners released a tentative project list for a proposed 2021 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County and Brunswick commissioners are mostly in agreement on putting the tax on a referendum in March.

The tax would raise an estimated $68.5 million over a three-year period with Glynn County, the city, Jekyll Island Authority and Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission benefitting from the proceeds. Under the proposed split, the county would get $37.5 million; the city, $13.23 million; JWSC, $15 million; and the JIA, $2.75 million.

Glynn County Commission Chairman Wayne Neal said the county will have to drop some projects to get within its budget.

The Glynn County Board of Education approved some spending and will issue bonds under the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) passed by voters in November, according to The Brunswick News.

Local voters approved Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) IV in November, and the 1 percent sale tax is now being collected. The school board approved the ESPLOST resolution as a potential first step for collecting bonds.

“All that does is allow me to go to the board of elections to let them know that we may go to the Superior Court for a bond validation,” said school board attorney Andrew Lakin. “I have six months from the time that the election was certified in November, which would put me to the end of April to file in Superior Court if you direct me to go out for bonds in the marketplace.”

Scott Spence, superintendent of Glynn County Schools, said he does not intend to go out for bonds, but this resolution is a precautionary measure in case that step is needed.

The school board also unanimously approved using around $179,000 to buy carts for the 6,891 new Chromebooks that were purchased after a board vote in December to make technology more accessible to local students.

Braselton Town Council voted to create a downtown open container district, according to AccessWDUN.

The Braselton Town Council approved the amendment to the Braselton Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance at Monday evening’s voting session. This amendment creates an open container district in downtown Braselton.

In a Thursday afternoon Town Council Work Session, Braselton Town Manager and Clerk Jennifer Scott said businesses participating in the open container district would need to sell clear cups that meet the town’s requirements.

“The purpose of the cup is really two-fold, you know, one, it’s obviously to easily identify if someone brought something from home … but it also educates the public that if they see that cup … they know it’s ok,” said Town Attorney Gregory Jay.

While citizens would be able to drink alcohol outside in the downtown district from approved cups, businesses can still prohibit people from bringing food or drink into their business, according to Jay.

On top of this, each establishment in the district that wants to participate in the open container district would need at least one staff member that has participated in the ServSafe alcohol training program.

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