Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 18, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 18, 2019

On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.

On January 20, 1788, the First African Baptist Church was established in Savannah, Georgia, one of the first black churches in the United States.

John Marshall was nominated as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States by President John Adams on January 20, 1801.

Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807 at his family home, Stratford Hall, Virginia.

Lieutenant William T. Sherman was ordered to Georgia for the first time in his military career on January 21, 1844.

Delegates to the Secession Convention in Milledgeville voted 208-89 in favor of seceding from the United States on January 19, 1861.

On January 19, 1871, Savannah, Georgia became the first city to recognize Robert E. Lee’s Birthday as a public holiday.

L.Q.C. Lamar, born near Eatonton, Georgia, was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on January 18, 1888.

On January 20, 1920, DeForest Kelley was born in Atlanta and he grew up in Conyers. Kelley sang in the choir of his father’s church and appeared on WSB radio; he graduated from Decatur Boys High School and served in the United States Navy. Kelley became famous as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original Star Trek series.

On January 20, 1928, Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the tenth time, staying through February 11th. During the visit, he spoke to the Chamber of Commerce of Americus and Sumter County, telling them

“In Georgia the movement towards the cities is growing by leaps and bounds and this means the abandonment of the farms or those farms that are not suited to the uses of agriculture. It means that we will have vacant lands but these can and should be used in growing timber.”

January 20th became Inaugural Day in 1937; when the date falls on a Sunday, a private inauguration of the President is held, with a public ceremony the following day. The Twentieth Amendment moved inauguration day from March 4 to January 20. Imagine six additional weeks of a lame duck President.

Roosevelt was sworn-in to a fourth term as President on January 20, 1945 and died in Warm Springs on April 12, 1945.

On January 20, 1939, Paul D. Coverdell was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Coverdell was one of the key figures in the development of the Georgia Republican Party.

On January 20, 1977, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States.

On January 20, 1981, Ronald Wilson Reagan was inaugurated 40th President of the United States.

Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian P. Kemp delivered his first “State of the State” address yesterday in the House Chamber.

From the Statesboro Herald:

Georgia’s newly elected Republican governor announced during his State of the State speech Thursday that he was setting aside $1 million to create a waiver plan that would give the state more flexibility in using federal Medicaid funding.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who has frequently assailed Medicaid expansion — a keystone of his defeated Democratic rival Stacey Abrams’ platform during their 2018 gubernatorial race — said the waiver would “expand access without expanding a broken system that fails to deliver for patients.”

Kemp did not elaborate about what the waiver might include and questions emailed to his office were not answered.

His office instead sent a statement saying that the funding was for a consultant to assist in reviewing options and developing a plan and that the “ultimate goals are lowering costs, increasing choice, and improving quality and access.”

From Georgia Health News:

He also said he will work with the Legislature to grow the rural hospital tax credit program – presumably by raising the credit from $60 million to $100 million – and “tackle the doctor shortage, and build a healthier Georgia.’’

Waivers can take various forms. One past proposal from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce looked a lot like standard Medicaid expansion, and would cover an estimated 500,000 low-income adults in the state. Another waiver proposal has been offered by Grady Health System, which would extend coverage to thousands of people and then manage their medical care.

On another health issue, Kemp said in his Thursday speech that to keep classrooms safe, “we must also address the mental health issues that often lead to school violence.’’

He said that with $8.4 million in additional funding through the APEX program, “we can focus on mental health in Georgia high schools. These professionals will engage with struggling students and provide critical resources to prevent disruptive and aggressive behavior. They will inspire, mentor, and keep our students safe. Together, we will secure our classrooms and protect our state’s most treasured asset – our children.’’

From the Albany Herald:

Advocates for the elderly are praising Gov. Brian Kemp for proposing funding that could make a difference for 1,000 of the 7,000 older Georgians on waiting lists for home and community services.

Georgia Council on Aging officials said Kemp’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, unveiled Thursday, includes an extra $1.89 million for a state program that helps the elderly stay in their communities. In response to the waiting lists for Meals on Wheels at the aging agencies across the state, Kemp’s budget includes $945,955 for meals for these seniors.

“We are so grateful to the governor for his insight and budget recommendation,” Vicki Johnson, chair of the state Council on Aging, said. “Not only is this the most cost-efficient way of helping our elderly citizens, but it also allows them to stay in their homes where they prefer to be.”

Officials said funds for adult protective service and public guardianship workers, for a total of $1.32 million, are also included in the budget. These public servants meant to help protect Georgia’s vulnerable at-risk adults.

From the Athens Banner-Herald:

Kemp laid out a proposal to permanently increase teacher salaries by $3,000 for all certified Georgia teachers, which he said was a “sizeable down payment” on his campaign promise to raise pay by $5,000.

Kemp also touted plans previously unveiled to allocate money to each Georgia public school for safety measures and an anti-gang task force within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

He’s seeking $30,000 for each public school in the state — a total cost of $69 million — to enact safety measures determined at the local level. Kemp also said he plans to address mental health within schools and provide extra resources.

Kemp said he wants to put $500,000 in initial funding toward the new GBI anti-gang task force.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The speech was a chance to look at some of the issues Kemp wants to push during the 2019 legislative session as well as some of his priorities for the state’s 2020 budget. Education, crime and health were key parts of Kemp’s address.

Kemp said he intends to build on Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform efforts, but he also wants to address gangs in Georgia, saying the gangs are “pawns for the Mexican drug cartels, pushing opioids and drugs.” In addition to drugs, the governor also tied gangs to the issue of sex trafficking.

He told legislators he wants to set aside half a million dollars that will serve as initial funds to set up a gang task force in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to fight gangs and go after drug cartel “kingpins” who are in the state.

“This highly qualified group of experienced law enforcement personnel and prosecutors will work with local district attorneys and law enforcement to stop and dismantle gangs in Georgia,” Kemp said.

“By utilizing the criminal gang and criminal alien database, which will be funded with existing resources from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, we will track and deport drug cartel kingpins who are terrorizing our communities.”

On the health care front, Kemp said he wants to work with legislators to grow rural hospital tax credit and tackle a shortage of doctors. He also wants to put $1 million in the Department of Community Health’s budget to “craft state flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid program”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston announced the creation of a “Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics,” according to the Saporta Report.

“As we look ahead on transportation, our focus will shift to freight and logistics,” said State House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, addressing something near 2,000 businesspeople and elected officials from across the state, at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast on Wednesday morning.

Ralston announced that a “Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics” will soon be outlined in a House bill to be carried by Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville.

Ralston said two giant railroads — CSX and Norfolk Southern — will be invaluable partners.

Georgia’s ports are economic engines, said Craig Camuso, regional vice president at CSX.

But as more cargo moves around Georgia — sometimes on trucks — that’s more demand on roads.

“While the trucking industry is so important to the state, it can’t handle everything,” said Camuso. “With the number of people that are on the roads coupled with the number of trucks on the road … there have got to be alternatives. Freight rail provides that alternative.”


Columbus-Muscogee County has issued its legislative wish list, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus’ government wants an interstate highway on the route where U.S. 80 is now, in the name of economic development. What’s called Interstate 14 starts in Texas and is a federal project. There’s little the state Legislature can do to make it happen, but the request is that state legislators support the idea where they can.

And on to what seems like a small thing until somebody abandons a car on your private property and blocks your dumpster. Right now, the local government can’t remove an abandoned car for ordinance violations from private property. Columbus wants a change that says it’s OK to tow off an ordinance-violating abandoned car from private property.

Things to put under “money” have a lot to do with showing hospitality by not taxing hotel guests so much: Columbus wants a repeal of a $5-per-night state hotel tax, on the grounds that Georgians who are in hotels are already being taxed in other ways. A more modest request is for a break from that tax for folks who are fleeing hurricanes or other natural disasters. Another would exempt hotel stays from a local tax.

The county’s endorsing what would be a huge change in voting and how candidates get nominated. Right now, if you go vote in a primary, you can pick a Republican ballot with only GOP choices, a Democrat ballot with only Democrat choices or a nonpartisan ballot. The nonpartisan ballot will only have nonpartisan races, like those for judges. Columbus wants nonpartisan ballots to cover all races. So somebody who wants to vote for a Democrat in one primary race and a Republican in another, could.

Delta awarded a grant to keep the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Park in Atlanta open during the federal shutdown, according to CNN.

The National Park Service will use a grant from Delta Air Lines and fee revenues to reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta despite the government shutdown.

Most sites of the park, including the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and King’s birth home, have been closed since the partial government shutdown began on December 22. Travelers missed their chance to relive the civil rights leader’s legacy and many others were worried they could not visit the sites during the upcoming federal holiday honoring King.

The historic park will open Saturday for 16 days to ensure people in Atlanta can celebrate King’s legacy in advance of the holiday on Monday and travelers attending the Super Bowl game on February 3 have a chance to visit the sites, the park service said.

An $83,500 grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation will cover the cleanup, administration, maintenance and operating costs of employees not covered under recreation fee funds.

Savannah breweries and distillers are seeing problems with approvals for new products due to the federal government shutdown, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“This impacts us pretty significantly as we have all these backlogs of beer labels that have been submitted that have not been reviewed at all,” said Smith Mathews, marketing and sales director of Savannah’s Southbound Brewing Co.

“These are beers we planned on releasing in the next couple of months and throughout this year.”

Breweries must submit a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) to a branch of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for any new beer they plan to sell outside of state lines, and Mathews said Southbound has four or five labels for new beers that they’re waiting to get approved.

Beer brewers do have a little relief during the shutdown since any new brews that contain pre-approved ingredients can still be sold and distributed within state lines, but Mathews estimates that about 20 percent of Southbound’s distribution is out-of-state, and that coupled with customer expectations creates quite a challenge.

Macon-Bibb County will use money earmarked for unfilled positions to cover unfunded holiday pay for employees, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Lowndes County Board of Education voted to put a SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) VI referendum on the March 19 ballot, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Glynn County Commissioners made several appointments to local boards, according to The Brunswick News.

Savannah officials heard from residents about how to deal with special events that have the possibility of disrupting, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Flowery Branch City Council tabled a measure that would request changes to the city charter, according to AccessWDUN.

Members of the Flowery Branch City Council decided to table a resolution at their meeting Thursday evening that affects the way the city deals with council vacancies when council members are unable to complete their entire term in office.

Leslie Jarchow won the job of filling out the remainder of Richard’s term representing Post 3 after a Special Election held simultaneous with the November General Election.  In June a Special Election will be held to fill Jones’ vacant Post 2 seat, but whoever wins that seat will only serve the remainder of Jones’ term, which is set to expire later this year.

They will then need to run again in November if they wish to continue serving.  That would be two elections – supposing no run-offs – in five months.

What may sound like an unusual number of Special Elections is even more so when you factor in that two individuals already on the city council, Joe Anglin and Chris Mundy, both took office as the result of previous Special Elections.  So it’s easy to see why the city wants to find another way of dealing with unfulfilled terms.

Special Elections cost money: both for candidates and their campaigns, and for the city.  Andrew said the city spends $1825 to host a Special Election, an amount which can double if a run-off is needed; candidates could spend much more depending upon the number of contenders vying for the position and the closeness of the race.

Braselton will elect two council members on November 5, according to the Gainesville Times.

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