Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 26, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 26, 2017

The Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting on January 26, 1846 at Talbotton, Georgia.

John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.

On January 26, 2001 a new state flag, first designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander, passed out of committee in the General Assembly by a 4-3 vote and would be voted on later that week. Click here to view the floor debate from 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Committee Meetings





1:00 PM House Judy (Civ) Fleming Sub 132 CAP





3:00 PM SEN FINANCE – Pub Policy & Fin Sub 123 CAP



Governor Nathan Deal and local legislators surveyed tornado damage in South Georgia yesterday.

On his way to Cook County, the governor learned that FEMA had approved Albany’s request for federal disaster assistance for the Jan. 2 storm damage.

The Trump administration also said it would expedite Deal’s request for federal help with the deadly Jan. 22 tornadoes.

Deal and at least 14 members of the regional legislative delegation flew into the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, where he and other officials took a helicopter trip over east Albany, which was hit hard by a tornado Sunday morning — just three weeks after another storm ravaged the middle of of the city.

“It’s hard to describe what I was seeing because my first visit it was on the ground and it was a more confined area in regard to the path the tornado took. From the air, as I was today, the tornado’s path is clean and whatever was in that path was either leveled or severely damaged.” Deal said when asked the difference between his two visits. “On the first tour I saw a lot of trees down and a lot of homes that were damaged by tree falls. But the severity of this latest storm was because it traveled along the ground as opposed to the first one, which appeared to be more up in the air.”

“We took a helicopter tour over some of the devastation. Obviously, we couldn’t go everywhere, but it is almost breathtaking and it’s amazing we did not have more loss of life that actually occurred. We are thankful for that. There is a lot of activity on the ground in terms of in terms of chainsaw crews, in fact we passed over one area where it appeared there were a lot of DNR vehicles and chainsaw crews that were attempting to clear the trees in the particular area we were over.”

“We went over the Marine Depot and they, too, suffered some damage. Many homes, trailers, businesses, roofs were taken off. It was just a complete disaster in many parts of the area which we flew over. There is a lot of work to be done,” he said. “I’m told the state has resources of some 776 state workers that have been in the affected areas and about 322 of those are here in Dougherty County.”

Local officials and FEMA toured damage in Worth County.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Worth County Commission Vice Chair Ken Hall amended the local state of emergency order to include a 7 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew for the hardest hit areas of the county. The curfew area extends from the Worth-Dougherty County line east to Georgia Highway 33 and is bordered on the north by Georgia Highway 32 and on the south by Jewell Crowe Road.

The local order says that only residents of the affected area; law enforcement and other public safety personnel, and federal, state and local employees engaged in their official capacities are exempt from the curfew. Hall said in the amended declaration that its purpose is to prevent or minimize injury, damage and theft of property.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens will send Department of Insurance employees to South Georgia to assist in processing claims.

Hudgens said that some time next week his office would open a “claims village” in Albany at a site to be determined.

“We are going to bring all the major insurers under one roof to make it easier for policy holders to file claims for their losses.”

In the meantime Hudgens reminds Georgians that they can call the Consumer Services Hotline at 404-656-2070 or, outside the Metro area, 1 (800) 656-2298, if they need help filing a claim, or if they are experiencing difficulty reaching their insurance company.

Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Red Cross says that inclement weather nationwide has led to blood shortages and is asking for donors.

Senate Bill 70 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), an Administration Floor Leader for Gov. Deal, and others, has been introduced and would extend the Medicaid Provider Fee that some call the “Bed Tax,” by three years to 2020.

Deal earlier this month exhorted lawmakers to keep the fee, which was instituted in 2010 and subsequently renewed in 2013 despite some lawmakers’ complaints about it being a “bed tax.” It is administered by the board of the state Department of Community Health.

The fee is a key funding source for the state’s Medicaid program. Based on a percentage of patient revenue, the hospital fee raises about $311 million annually and allows the state draw down an additional $600 million in federal money to help fund Medicaid and support hospitals that provide care to large numbers of uninsured patients.

Senate Bill 2, the FAST Act, by Senate Economic Development Committee Chair Mike Dugan, President Pro Tem David Shafer, and others, aims to streamline government processes for new businesses.

The part of SB 2 that applies to local businesses deals with issuing business licenses. Under the act, every agency that issues a business license or permit must establish a fee schedule that includes turnaround times. If the agency is late issuing the permit, the fee will be reduced 10 percent for every 10 days it is late. Agencies are also required to offer expedited processing of licenses, for a charge not to exceed twice the standard fee.

Similar provisions would apply to state agencies which impose fees for business licenses and permits, and other regulatory fees for businesses.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs would be required to create a “building and infrastructure transparency score” for each county and city in the state, based upon licensing fees, turnaround time, dispute resolution, the consolidation of forms and documents to avoid repetitive or duplicate requests, and other criteria that may be deemed relevant.

The bill also requires the state’s professional licensing boards to set up provisions for issuing provisional licenses for people who have either been licensed in the state previously or who have been licensed in another state with similar licensing criteria.

Two Hall County legislators told the Gainesville Times that they’re undecided on casino gambling legislation.

State Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, told The Times on Wednesday that 80 percent of his constituents are opposed to casino gambling, and that for him to support it, he would have to be convinced that the legislation is “good for the state and good for his district.”

However, Dunahoo said he would “be open-minded,” wait for the bill to be vetted in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee and hear from those who are in favor or opposed to the bill.

“They elect me to make that decision,” Dunahoo said. “We will look at it.”

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, admitted that the issue could be “controversial with some folks” and that some of his constituents are opposed to the idea and some are in favor.

“This gets down to a personal issue for many people,” Hawkins said. “When you deal with these types of issues, and it’s plausible to put it in a referendum, we should do that. Let the people decide the issues.”

Hawkins and Dunahoo agreed there’s merit to the bill’s objective of funneling tax revenues toward scholarship programs.

State House Democrats announced a raft of bills to push their agenda during this legislative session.

Democrats in the Georgia House have announced an agenda of 35 bills that they say will tear down barriers to education, health care and fair treatment.

House Democrats are repeating their call for the state to allow more Georgians to join Medicaid — publicly financed health insurance for low-income people. They say that if Medicaid were open to people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, nearly 500,000 Georgians could join the program.

Among other measures, House Democrats also want to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour, raise the legal dropout age to 17 and allow automatic voter registration whenever folks interact with any of several state agencies. House Democrats also returned to a list of bills related to military families. One bill would speed the transfer of military spouses’ teaching credentials to Georgia so that they can get to work quickly.

“We encourage Georgia citizens to do what was done last week. March, call, show up and speak up to make certain that every person who stands for election and asks for the job of serving you does their job,” said state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, as she and dozens of other House Democrats introduced the agenda Wednesday.

Georgia election officials say there is no evidence of illegal voting in the 2018 Presidential election.

“We haven’t had illegal votes in Georgia,” said David Dove from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, who testified Tuesday before a state House hearing on Georgia’s elections system.

Dove said the November election saw only a handful of problems among what was a record turnout in Georgia, with more than 4.1 million votes cast. In Fulton County, for example, five residents are being investigated for repeat voting, an action which at least one of them told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution came from concern that their votes had not been properly counted. The double votes were caught, however.

The Daily Caller reports that a federal Inspector General is asking why the feds broke their own rules in scanning Georgia election computers.

 John Roth, inspector general for DHS, wants to know why the agency broke protocol on its way to 10 unprecedented attacks on the system overseen by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp — who is also one of the most vocal critics about the Obama administration’s attempt to designate local and state election machinery as part of federal “critical infrastructure.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will distribute “demonstration dolls” to local law enforcement agencies.

The dolls are the approximate dimensions of a 3-month old baby and are a realistic tool for investigators in re-enacting and photographing incident scenes. First lady Sandra Deal served as a guest speaker at the event. Representatives of the Child Fatality Review Panel, the Division of Family and Children Services, the Department of Public Health, the Office of the Child Advocate and the Prosecuting Attorneys Council were also in attendance.

Sleep-related infant deaths are one such investigation in which the dolls are utilized. Sleep-related deaths continue to be a leading cause of preventable infant fatalities in Georgia. A total of 170 infant deaths were determined to be sleep-related in 2015. Demonstration dolls will aid in identifying factors contributing to such deaths.

Mark King was appointed to Grantville City Council and sworn in after the resignation of former council member David Riley.

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools System has chosen a firm to lead the nationwide search for a new superintendent.

A Georgia man is headed to prison after starting an altercation that began with complaints about getting bacon on his burger at Dairy Queen.

Sims caused a scene inside the Dairy Queen on Jefferson Street when he discovered bacon on his hamburger. While inside the restaurant, he berated a cashier and used profanity as she attempted to calm the situation, according to police reports.

A father who was having ice cream with his family approached Sims and asked him to watch his language, to which Sims responded “If you don’t get out of my face, I’ll kill you,” according to Assistant District Attorney Robert Mooradian.

Sims then grabbed his pocket knife and began to open it before the father took Sims to the floor where the knife was dropped.

After leaving the restaurant, Sims got into his pickup truck and led police on a chase that included driving in reverse up Jefferson Street and then down Augusta Drive where his truck went airborne while crossing the railroad tracks at a high rate of speed, according to the police report.

Sims then parked the truck behind a house on Berry Avenue where he refused police commands to get out of the vehicle. He allegedly told officers, “You can’t give me a DUI. My truck is parked.”

Sims was found guilty on charges of aggravated assault and driving under the influence.

One of my other favorite foods was implicated in a Macon shooting.

A man who bought lunch at Hot Wings Plus on Wednesday afternoon reportedly fired a shot inside the restaurant after he asked for his money back and a restaurant employee refused to put it in his hand, placing it instead on the counter, police say.

It was about 2 p.m. when deputies were called to the wings restaurant at 3479 Pio Nono Avenue, according to a news release from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

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