Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 7, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 7, 2016

Georgia voted for George Washington for President on January 7, 1789. Technically, they elected Presidential Electors who would later meet in Augusta and cast their ballots for Washington.

On January 7, 1795, Georgia Governor George Matthews signed the Yazoo Act, passed after four land companies bribed members of the General Assembly to vote for legislation selling more than 35 million acres of land for less than 2 cents per acre.

Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich (R) was re-elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 7, 1997. In the election for a second term, nine Republicans voted against the incumbent Speaker.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Two candidates have already announced for Republican National Committeewoman from Georgia, which will be elected at this year’s Georgia Republican State Convention. Ginger Howard will be making a repeat run for the position and Vicki Willard, former Chair of the Georgia Republican Foundation will also contest the election.

An Epic Proposal. More properly, a modest Epi-Proposal. I got this idea from a friend’s posting on Facebook. Under a new law that went into effect January 1, 2016, pharmacists in Texas are now allowed to administer an epinephrine injection, most commonly done with an Epi-Pen, when a person in allergic distress is at their pharmacy.

“Under prior legislation, if I walked in and I was in anaphylactic shock, I could not get treatment from the pharmacist,” said Justin Hudman, director of public policy for the Texas Pharmacy Association. “The pharmacist had no authority under our laws to administer epinephrine.”

Hudman, a key proponent and advocate on behalf of the new law, which adds provisions to protect pharmacists from liability when they act in an allergy emergency, said it was Texas pharmacists themselves who demanded the change.

“We’ve had pharmacists give [epinephrine] prior to the passage of this law, but they always said, ‘Don’t use my name, don’t mention me,’” Hudman told Allergic Living. “They were really being put in between a rock and hard place, being forced to ask: ‘Do I avoid risking my livelihood or do I save this person’s life?’”

But Hudman cites first-time reactions, especially in children, and the simple fact that many people live closer to a pharmacy than a hospital emergency room, as reasons for this new law being so important.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed, and Governor Deal signed, legislation that allows schools and businesses to keep Epi-Pens on-hand in case of an emergency. This may cover the issue at hand. Although, if it doesn’t allow administration, it may fall somewhat short.

I know several folks for whom an allergic reaction is a life-and-death matter. They carry Epi-pens, but inevitably there will be a time when they left theirs in a car or at home or misplaced it. It seems like this is a good idea for Georgia, but there may be something I’m missing.

Many who carry Epi-Pens are apprehensive about using them, since it amounts to jabbing a needle quickly into your own thigh. Perhaps allowing anyone who has completed the Red Cross training to assist those suffering an allergic reaction would cover it.

After Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens issued an opinion that Governor Deal’s executive order to stop state agencies from supporting Syrian refugees brought to the state is unsupported by the law, Deal rescinded the order.

Gov. Nathan Deal made headlines earlier this week when he opened the new year by issuing an executive order that rescinded his previous order which barred state agencies from accepting refugees. The course change came days after Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said the state may not be able to fight resettlement efforts.

“Based on the official opinion of Attorney General dated Dec. 30, 2015, Executive Order, halting the involvement of state agencies in accepting refugees from Syria for resettlement in the state of Georgia, is hereby rescinded,” the order states.

Olens effectively said the order didn’t pass muster on several grounds, including the fact that Georgia already has a formal agreement with the federal government to operate a refugee resettlement program.

The attorney general also said the constitutional Supremacy Clause principals of preemption come into play, meaning Georgia can’t interfere with a federal immigration program that has been authorized by Congress. In this case, the refugee program is operated by the federal government under the auspices of the Immigration and National Act that was amended by the Refugee Act of 1980.

The AJC Political Insider opines that Olens may have closed the door on a Gubernatorial bid by issuing the opinion.

[P]olitically, Olens has just placed a tall, tall hurdle between himself and a 2018 Republican nomination for governor. The height of that barrier will become more obvious in the weeks ahead, as the GOP presidential contest turns our way.

The two frontrunners in Georgia, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have gotten there in large part by welding together the issues of Islamist terrorism and immigration. The strength of such talking points are unlikely to ebb before the next election cycle, when a small army of Republicans will attempt to replace Nathan Deal.

Yesterday, Gov. Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal attended a fundraiser for State Rep. Brooks Coleman, who chairs the House Education Committee.

Gov Deal Brooks Coleman

The gathering was a fete of Coleman and his career as both an educator and a legislator. The fact that it was designed to launch his bid for a 13th term in the General Assembly took a back seat, with Coleman himself not even mentioning the campaign until the very end.

It began with Gwinnett school board Chairwoman Mary Kay Murphy making a formal presentation on the new STEAM-themed middle school in Duluth that was recently named for Coleman.

She explained the school board chose to break with its tradition of waiting until someone is deceased before naming a school after them because Coleman has been an active and respected part of education and politics in Duluth for years.

She said he was known for 45 years as the voice of Duluth High School football at Friday night games, one of the planners for the Duluth Fall Festival for 33 years and the “Soul of Duluth” for nearly 50 through his Saturday morning ritual of having breakfast at the Rexall Drug Store on Buford Highway.

Deal praised the school name while also citing Coleman’s work on education issues in the state.

“Mary Kay, thank you and the board and the administration of the Gwinnett county school system for bestowing this very well-deserved honor on Brooks,” the governor told Murphy. “It is certainly a memory and a legacy that will last far into the future and will have an effect on the many children who pass through that school, and that’s an appropriate thing to do.”

In addition to Deal, the audience included House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, several other members of Gwinnett’s legislative delegation, and a few mayors and council members from cities in Coleman’s district.

Coleman has at least one opponent in former Gwinnett County Republican Party Second Vice-Chairman John Marsh, who announced his own bid for the seat last year.

Fixing Georgia’s garnishment law, which was held unconsitutional in federal court, will likely consume some time during the 2016 Session of the General Assembly.

“We don’t have a good law right now,” said Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I would hope once we pass this law, the question hanging over all the courts about what they can and cannot do will be removed.”

The state’s existing garnishment law is flawed because it doesn’t require creditors to tell debtors that some money — like Social Security benefits, welfare payments and workers’ compensation — is off limits to garnishments. When that money is wrongly taken, the law doesn’t require creditors to tell people how to get it back, and it doesn’t provide a timely procedure for determining whether funds should have been exempt, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Marvin H. Shoob wrote in an order last September.

New cityhood movements appear to be running head-first in to a legislative reluctance to move quickly on incorporations.

Dan Chapman of hte AJC writes that cityhood for St Simons Island appears to be hitting speed bumps and possibly a roadblock.

[L]egislative study committee recommended that the proposed incorporation remain under review for two more years.

Cityhood backers vowed nonetheless to push forward by requesting legislative action in the upcoming General Assembly session which begins Monday.

Also hitting the skids, according to Mark Niesse of the AJC, is the proposed City of Sharon Springs in Forsyth County.

Forsyth’s state legislative delegation recently pulled its support for Sharon Springs, said Steve Benefield, a founding member of the Sharon Springs Alliance. Legislators cited legal concerns about incorporating a city with limited services and capped property tax rates.

Supporters of Sharon Springs wanted more local government representation by forming a city located between Fulton and Gwinnett counties, with a population of about 50,000.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) has dropped his latest medical cannabis bill in the hopper, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Peake wants the state to issue up to six licenses for medical cannabis cultivators in Georgia. His bill also would open medical cannabis use to many more Georgians. People who have any one of 17 diagnoses — including post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable pain, HIV and AIDS — would be eligible for Georgia-made cannabis liquids or pills.

Wednesday morning, Peake filed House Bill 722, a 24-page bill that details the proposal. He’s aiming to expand on his 2015 law that allows possession of certain liquid cannabis for patients who join the state medical marijuana registry and have one of eight diagnoses.

A total of 465 patients had signed up to the registry by the end of last year, Peake said.

Now, those patients must get their drug from a state that allows cultivation, but Peake said that’s a burden on seriously ill people. Besides, it’s dicey legal territory. The federal government has backed off from enforcing its marijuana ban where states have allowed tight medical marijuana programs, but it has also told states to keep their cannabis within their own borders.

During this past summer’s hearings on medical cannabis, the director of the GBI as well as some sheriffs and district attorneys testified that they thought growing medical marijuana in the state was a bad idea. One of their worries is that some growers might try to use medicine as a cover to grow or sell illegal recreational marijuana.

That description of the federal government’s approach to medical cannabis is a bit optimistic, as the DEA is still raiding some operations, though the Agency has loosened restrictions on medical marijuana research.

New digs for the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections have been delayed as we enter primary election season.

Savannah’s City Manager, Stephanie Cutter, may be leaving as new Mayor Eddie DeLoach takes office, along with three new City Council Members.

Some returning aldermen are voicing concerns about a plan they say newly sworn-in Mayor Eddie DeLoach, as well as four other council members, have to remove City Manager Stephanie Cutter.

On Wednesday, Alderman Tony Thomas repeated concerns he initially posted on Facebook on Tuesday about a phone call he said he received that afternoon from DeLoach, who Thomas claimed informed him of a deal he had reached with Cutter for her to retire.

If you see a dumpster fire, do you call the fire department or sanitation? Hopefully this burning question will be answered by the new website launched by Macon-Bibb County’s sanitation department.

DeKalb County’s new ethics board has been appointed and began organizing itself, according to the AJC.

The board voted to ask residents who want to move forward with their previously filed ethics complaints to fill out a form swearing that their allegations are truthful, as required by House Bill 597. Then their cases will be considered anew by the board and a full-time ethics officer, whom the board must hire.

Ethics complaints are pending against suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, Commissioner Stan Watson and several others.

A judge put Sutton’s case on hold while her lawsuit questioning the board’s legitimacy is being considered.

State Senator Gloria Butler rescinded her appointment of Harmel Codi to the DeKalb Audit Oversight Committee.

The board is responsible for hiring an independent watchdog who will monitor a county government that has seen numerous corruption investigations and criminal prosecutions.

Codi, a former county employee who has called for Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May’s resignation, said her removal was illegal and politically motivated.

“It’s evidence that, if you are not within the status quo, you’re going to have issues with people in politics in this county,” Codi said. “I’m one of those people who is outspoken about what’s going on in the county. It makes them very nervous.”

It may or may not be relevant that Codi also ran for DeKalb County Commission District 5 last year, in the Special Election won by Mereda Davis Johnson.

Most of the parks at Lake Lanier have been reopened following their closure due to flooding.

Women and children first may not be just for lifeboats, as Georgia Department of Natural Resources hosts an introduction to hunting event at the Berry College Wildlife Management Area.

Chuck Waters, the DNR Region One game management supervisor in Armuchee, said men can come along, but cannot carry a firearm.

“We got to looking at the regulations and there has not been much in the way of adult-child opportunities after Christmas,” Waters said.

He said that adding ladies to a traditional adult-child hunt was done to boost the number of hunters.

Jason West of Cave Spring has three daughters but only one, 12-year-old Mary Katherine West, ever showed an interest in hunting. He started taking her on hunts when she was 9 and she’s bagged a deer in each of the last three seasons.

West said the quality of the time spent in the woods with his daughter can’t be matched around the dinner table or watching TV.

“When I take her hunting it’s just her and I, sitting there together. We’ve got three hours — no telephone, no video games, no Facebook,” he said. “It’s hard to do that these days anywhere else.”

This weekend’s hunt is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days.

Newly-minted State Rep. Taylor Bennett (D-Brookhaven) will likely have the largest “legislative team” under the Gold Dome, as he announced 8 folks, some of whom are volunteers, and at least one of whom ran against him as a Republican in 2015.

A statewide transportation forum is being held today at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The event, set for 3-4:30 p.m., will serve as an opportunity for officials to discuss key transportation issues leading up to Georgia’s 2016 legislative session, which starts Jan. 11.

Invited speakers include state Sens. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, and Tommie Williams, R–Lyons, and Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cassville.

The Georgia Transportation Alliance, an arm of the Georgia Chamber, and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the forum.



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