Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 1, 2024

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 1, 2024

The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on July 1, 1776 to debate a resolution by Richard Henry Lee that the colonies declare their independence of Britain.

The first U.S. Postage stamps were issued on July 1, 1847 in New York City.

The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders charged San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War on July 1, 1898.

Coca-Cola marketed its current formula for the first time on July 1, 1916.

On July 1, 1956, a new Georgia flag bearing the state seal and a version of the Confederate Battle Flag became effective after being adopted by the Georgia General Assembly in the 1956 Session.

The current Georgia Constitution became effective on July 1, 1983 after its approval in a referendum during the November 1982 General Election.

Georgia native Clarence Thomas was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush on July 1, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The late Abit Massey‘s funeral and visitation have been set, according to AccessWDUN.

Funeral services are now set for Gainesville’s Abit Massey, who recently passed away at the age of 96.

A longtime staple in the poultry industry, Massey served as president of the Georgia Poultry Federation and was also known for his time serving the Hall County community in many roles.

Massey was recently honored by multiple high-ranking members of government across Georgia, including Governor Brian Kemp, at a tribute event held by the Gainesville Rotary Club on May 20.

Funeral and visitation services will be held on Monday, July 8th at Gainesville High School’s Pavilion through the Little and Davenport Funeral Home.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution Editorial Board opines that President Joe Biden should give up his nomination for reelection.

But the unfortunate truth is that Biden should withdraw from the race, for the good of the nation he has served so admirably for half a century.

The shade of retirement is now necessary for President Biden.

Throughout the excruciating 90-minute forum Thursday night, the president failed to convey a competent and coherent vision for the future of America. He failed to outline the most fundamental aspects of his platform. He failed to take credit for the significant accomplishments of his 3½ years in office. And he failed to counter the prevarications of an opponent, who, according to CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, lied 30 times during the course of the debate, approximately once every 90 seconds of his allotted time.

President Biden’s surrogates attempted to brush off the debate performance. Aides claimed he had a cold. Vice President Kamala Harris argued the leader of the free world should be evaluated on the totality of his presidency, not one night. Former President Barack Obama took to social media and said, “Bad debate nights happen.”

These responses are insulting to the American people.

This wasn’t a bad night; it was confirmation of the worst fears of some of Biden’s most ardent supporters — that after 36 years in the U.S. Senate, eight more as vice president and a term in the White House, age has finally caught up to him.

This moment was contemplated by Democrats and by Biden advisers when he was seeking the party’s nomination for president in 2020. There was serious and public discussion of Biden, then 77, pledging to serve only one term. That discussion acknowledged the obvious. If reelected, Biden would be 86 years old at the end of his presidency in January 2029. There is no historical precedent for this. And now there are signs of decline, which were clear Thursday.

President Biden’s ability to withstand the mental and physical rigors of another four-year term would be of concern regardless of his opponent. The fact that he is all that stands in the way of Trump returning to the Oval Office significantly raises the stakes.

Biden has pledged to do all he can to prevent Trump from returning to the White House. The election is still four months away. If he truly hopes to defeat Trump, he must pass the torch to the next generation of Democratic leaders and urge the party to nominate another candidate at its convention in Chicago in August.

Doing this will require a massive and unprecedented string of legal and regulatory actions to get a Biden successor named and placed on each state’s ballot. This is difficult and necessary work that must start immediately.

The Democrats have a number of talented and principled leaders who might take the president’s agenda forward and provide the nation with a viable alternative to Trump. The right candidate would make it a priority to appeal to Republican and Democratic voters.

If he displays the courage and dignity that have defined his political career, he might follow in the footsteps of the nation’s first president and welcome his retirement, secure in the knowledge that he again served his country with honor.

A number of new laws go into effect today after passage in this year’s legislative Session, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

With housing – particularly affordable housing – in short supply across Georgia, two new state laws about to take effect are aimed at an especially challenging group affected by the shortage: the homeless.

The two bills, which the General Assembly passed overwhelmingly this year, are among a host of new laws covering a wide range of policy areas that take effect July 1.

On the housing front, lawmakers passed the Safe at Home Act offering new rights to tenants of rental properties designed to curb a high eviction rate in Georgia that drives up homelessness. The second housing bill brings an accountability component to the State Housing Trust Fund intended to help Georgians overcome the root causes that lead to homelessness.

House Bill 404, the Safe at Home Act, provides renters in Georgia new rights by requiring rental properties to be “fit for human habitation” upon signing a lease. Landlords also will be required to maintain their properties throughout the lease.

“It’s pretty common-sense stuff,” said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, the bill’s chief sponsor. “We shouldn’t have people living in third-world conditions in a first-world country.”

House Bill 1410 amends the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless by requiring program participants for the first time to meet certain accountability requirements to qualify. Those eligible to enroll in the new program can receive funding for transitional housing for up to 18 months.

“This is really the Georgia way to address homelessness,” said House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, the bill’s chief sponsor. “Right now, federal funds prohibit testing participants for sobriety. By prohibiting testing for sobriety, participants face the same challenges they did while homeless. … This is to put them on the path to sobriety.”

From the Associated Press via WSAV:

Georgia on Monday imposed new restrictions on the sale of hemp products, required some basic standards for rented residences, cut income taxes and required cash bail for dozens of new crimes.

Those are among many laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly that took effect on July 1.

Part of the bail law, which limits the ability of individuals and charitable groups to post bail for others, was put on hold Friday by a federal judge after a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality was filed.

Another law that would require online sites to gather data on high-volume sellers who collect payment in cash or some other offline method also has been challenged with a lawsuit, but a federal judge didn’t immediately block it following a Friday hearing.

Other laws took effect when Gov. Brian Kemp signed them, including a measure signed May 1 that compels jailers to check the immigration status of inmates. That already has been law in Georgia but Republican supporters say some jailers are flouting their obligations.

An already-planned state income tax cut is being accelerated under House Bill 1015, giving the state a flat 5.39% income tax rate retroactive to Jan. 1. As of that date, Georgia gained a flat income tax rate of 5.49%, passed under a 2022 law that transitioned away from a series of income brackets that topped out at 5.75%.

The income tax rate is supposed to drop 0.1% a year until reaching 4.99% if state revenues hold up. The state will forgo an estimated $300 million by dropping the rate from 5.49% to 5.39%. That’s on top of the $800 million the state is projected to forgo as part of the earlier tax cut.

A separate law will drop the corporate income tax rate from 5.75% to 5.39%. Under the bill, the corporate income tax rate would keep falling along with the personal income tax rate until reaching 4.99%. The corporate income tax cut would cost $176 million in its first full year.

Retailers can only sell hemp products such as CBD to people 21 and older under Senate Bill 494. Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers must buy permits from the state Department of Agriculture. Products can only be sold if they have been tested, with state agriculture officials also regulating testing labs.

Hemp products must include results of testing and a warning sticker if they contain THC, the substance in marijuana that produces a high. Officials have said products they tested in the past had illegally high levels of delta-9 THC and said labels didn’t accurately reflect a product’s ingredients.

The measure bans the sale of hemp products within 500 feet (152 meters) of a K-12 school and bans hemp products that look like existing snacks or candy, trying to make them less attractive to children. That could ban hemp-infused brownies, cookies and candy, but experts say gummies and hemp-infused beverages are still legal.

The measure limits how much delta-9 THC a product can contain, aiming to also eliminate the sale of products with chemicals that can be turned into THC. Other CBD substances such as Delta-8-THC and Delta-10-THC remain legal in Georgia.

Cash bail would be required for 30 additional crimes, including some misdemeanors, under Senate Bill 63.

A federal judge on Friday put on hold for at least 14 days part of the law that would limit charitable bail funds or individuals from bailing out of jail more than three people in a year. Only those who meet legal requirements to be bail bond companies could do so.

Opponents sued on June 21, alleging that part of the law is unconstitutional.

From Atlanta News First via WALB:

• The $36.1 billion 2025 budget also gives $3,000 annual raises to law enforcement and child welfare workers.

• State workers are also receiving double parental leave of up to 240 hours.

• State employees making less than $70,000 are getting a 4% raise, while K-12 certified teachers are getting a $2,500 raise.

SB 189 makes even more changes to Georgia’s election laws as the state continues to dominate the nation’s political headlines. Voters can now be removed from rolls if evidence exists that they died; voted or registered to vote in another jurisdiction; or have a tax exemption that shows they have a primary residence somewhere else, among other new provisions.

The law also requires homeless individuals to use their respective county’s voter registration office as their address instead of whatever possibly temporary address they may be using.

House Bill 1207 allows for fewer voting machines based on population estimates and also allows election supervisors more freedom to change the number of voting booths in their precincts.

• Senate Bill 73 will now hold companies liable for illegal telemarketing calls made by third-party contractors.

• Senate Bill 10 stiffens the penalties for anyone hosting a drag racing event: repeat offenders will face a felony charge, thousands of dollars in fine, and could spend up to 10 years in prison. Penalties for illegal street racing are also increasing.

• Sections of Senate Bill 63, which requires cash bail for over two dozen more crimes, will go into effect on July 1. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has issued a temporary restraining order from enforcing a certain section of the law.

Fed up with your homeowners association? You’re not alone. Now, House Bill 220 requires HOAs to notify their members of a covenant breach and give them time to fix it before the association call in the lawyers.

• Senate Bill 351, aka the Protecting Georgia’s Children on Social Media Act of 2024, provides guidelines for social media use and Internet safety for minors in schools.

Senate Bill 376 is designed to speed up the permanent placement of children removed from their home by Georgia DFACS.

• Senate Bill 465 is aimed at increasing the penalties for drug dealers found to be indirectly responsible for fatal fentanyl overdoses. They will now face felony aggravated involuntary manslaughter charges and the possibility of life in prison.

• Senate Bill 233 is the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, and it allows parents to receive vouchers up to $6,500 for better-performing schools.

• Senate Bill 421 increases the penalties for swatting, which is the practice of making false reports of shootings and bomb threats at homes.

• Senate Bill 395 allows schools to provide opioid antagonists for drug overdose prevention.

• House Bill 874 requires all schools in Georgia to have automated external defibrillators outside buildings instead of inside.

• House Bill 409 is known as Addy’s Law, named in honor of Adalynn Pierce, an eight-year-old school girl who was killed while crossing a road to board her school bus. It requires public school systems to prioritize bus routes that avoid having students cross roads that have a speed limit of more than 40 miles per hour. Stronger penalties are now imposed on motorists who pass a school bus picking up children.

Finally, since we always need another official something or another, House Bill 1341 makes shrimp Georgia’s official crustacean.

From the AJC on the stay issued by a federal court:

A federal court judge temporarily blocked part of a new Georgia law set to go into effect July 1 that created limits on charitable funds and individuals paying criminal bond for detainees who cannot afford to post bail.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Marie Calvert issued the 14-day block on Section 4 of Senate Bill 63 to give time for both sides in the lawsuit to argue over whether it should be stopped for the duration of the lawsuit. The bill was passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sued to stop the limits from going into effect, alleging they are cruel and unconstitutional. The provision restricts charity organizations or individuals helping others make bail from doing so more than three times each year.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis also denounced the bill this week. She said is considering a legal challenge of her own because it “criminalizes being poor and those good Samaritans who attempt to help the poor.”

A new lawsuit seeks to block the incorporation of the City of Mulberry, which was passed by voters in the May 21, 2024 Primary Election, according to AccessWDUN.

Stephen Hughes filed the lawsuit, alleging that SB 333 was unconstitutional under the Georgia Constitution, according to the filing documents. The new lawsuit was reportedly filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County and is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the State of Georgia.

This marks the third active lawsuit Hughes has filed to have SB 333 ruled unconstitutional in his effort to revoke the City of Mulberry vote back in May.

Residents of the impacted area in Gwinnett County voted in favor of adoption on May 21, pulling in over 56% of the vote.

The three lawsuit filings made by Hughes include the following:

• A complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the State of Georgia.
• A complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against Gwinnett County.
• A mandamus complaint against the individual board members of the Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections and the Gwinnett elections supervisor.

“SB 333 created a city that cannot collect property ad valorem tax,” Hughes representative Allen Lightcap wrote. “This is strictly and explicitly prohibited according to binding precedent of the Supreme Court of Georgia in Peacock v. Georgia Municipal Association. The General Assembly can only regulate a city’s constitutional authority to tax through general law, not local law. SB 333 is plainly a local law, so its restrictions on taxation must be immediately struck down.”

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced he will appoint John Cunningham to the Coweta County State Court, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp [on Friday, June 28, 2024] announced the appointment of the Honorable John Cunningham to the vacancy on the State Court of Coweta County created by the passage of HB 615.

John Cunningham is a partner in the Newnan firm of Thompson, Wallin, & Cunningham and serves as the municipal court judge for the City of Franklin. He began his legal career as an assistant district attorney in the Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. Following his departure from the district attorney’s office, Judge Cunningham was an associate at the Newnan firm of Rosenzweig, Jones, Horne & Griffis. He was previously the judge of the Municipal Court of Woodbury and the judge pro tempore of the Municipal Court of Tyrone. Judge Cunningham is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He is a past president of the Newnan-Coweta Bar Association and the Newnan History Center, and currently serves on the board of the Joseph Sams School. He and his wife, Katie, have two children and reside in Newnan.

Five candidates qualified for an Atlanta City Council seat to be elected in November, according to the AJC.

The consequential citywide seat has been open since March when former Council member Keisha Sean Waites stepped down. When voters take to the polls on Nov. 5 to vote for the new member, the seat will have been empty for eight months.

According to the clerk’s office, five candidates qualified. They are: Devin Barrington-Ward, Eshé Collins, Amber Connor, Nicole Evans Jones and Duvwon Robinson. The winner will serve the remainder of the term through Dec. 31, 2025.

Jefferson County District 2 Commissioner Johnny Davis was replaced in the Primary Runoff Election, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Some 327, or 11.34 percent of the 2,884 registered voters in Jefferson County’s District 2 voted for new representation on the local county commission.

In a runoff election Tuesday, June 18, Rodney F. McKinnie received 221 votes to incumbent Johnnie Davis’ 106.

The Forsyth County Board of Elections took action on a number of voter qualification challenges, according to the AJC.

The election board in Forsyth County rejected an effort Friday to cancel 742 voter registrations whose eligibility was questioned using software called EagleAI to identify individuals who likely moved from Georgia.

The board upheld 45 other voter challenges that included more detailed information beyond EagleAI’s spreadsheets, including screenshots of government websites that showed the voters had recently registered in Florida or North Carolina.

Barbara Luth, the chairwoman of the elections board in Forsyth, a conservative-leaning suburban county north of Atlanta, said she wouldn’t vote to remove voter registrations based on a spreadsheet without seeing where the data came from.

“I’m not going to uphold a challenge that we have no real information on because that’s going to get us in trouble,” Luth said. “We’re looking for more individualized evidence.”

EagleAI CEO Rick Richards said his data is accurate — based on voter lists showing someone had registered in another state after they last participated in elections in Georgia — and the board should have accepted the challenges without demanding more details.

A new Georgia voter challenge law goes into effect Monday which calls for upholding challenges if a voter registers in a different jurisdiction, died, or registered at a nonresidential address. National change of address data won’t be sufficient evidence to sustain a voter challenge, and challenges won’t be considered within 45 days of an election.

The Forsyth board repeatedly voted 3-2 on voter challenges, with Republican-appointed members in favor of canceling registrations and Democrats opposed. Luth, the chairwoman appointed by a nonpartisan superior court judge, was the deciding vote.

Indicted Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard is the target of a new complaint alleging workplace retaliation, according to AccessWDUN.

A former employee of the Hall County Solicitor’s Office has filed a lawsuit against Solicitor Stephanie Woodard on Thursday alleging retaliation.

Woodard was indicted on June 18 on 11 counts of theft by taking and 13 counts of false statements. The charges allege that Woodard stole over $4,000 from the county over a four-year span from August of 2018 through September of 2022.

Michelle Daniel, the former employee, had worked for Hall County government for 33 years before being “separated from employment” in November of 2023 after retaliation according to the lawsuit. Daniel worked as Woodard’s executive assistant.

Daniel was interviewed by Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents in November of 2022 regarding Woodard’s conduct. The lawsuit claims that retaliation began “soon after” Daniel provided information to GBI agents.

The alleged retaliation that occurred included Woodard relocating  Daniel’s work area “from a private office to a small desk placed at an open space within the Solicitor office suite…”

Woodard also questioned Daniel’s friendships with county employees to “isolate Plaintiff (Daniel) from long term friendships.”

Daniel was also allegedly not allowed to work from home like other employees. Woodard also referred to Daniel as “pretty privilege” and made derogatory comments about Daniel to other Solicitor’s Office employees including Mark Vaden according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims that Woodard suggested that Daniel seek employment with other Hall County offices and would chastise her for “petty matters such as the temperature within Plaintiff’s (Daniel’s) office.”

United States Representative Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) testified on alternatives to boating speed limits designed to protect endangered Right Whales, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, told the House Natural Resources Committee that a bipartisan bill he and others are advocating for will protect the nation’s fishing industry and the people in its employ from an expanded federal regulation.

H.R. 8704 would require the U.S. Department of Commerce to offer a grant program for the exploration of technology that would monitor the waters off the East Coast for North Atlantic right whales and warn vessels when the mammals are in their path.

“This bill would first and foremost stop NOAA from finalizing the expanded vessel speed restriction rule first proposed in 2022, keeping the current rules in place,” Carter testified before the committee Thursday.

NOAA is proposing to restrict the speed of vessels 35 to 65 feet in length to roughly 11.5 mph when right whales are present. Larger vessels already must comply with the rule.

“The proposed rule will cause grave safety issues for recreational vessels and pilot vessels alike, as it presents a safety concern for traversing the shipping channels and safety issues at sea,” Carter testified.

“Unfortunately, if this rule goes into effect, boaters who use 35 (feet) or larger vessels will simply not take fishing trips and the market will die for these kinds of vessels.”

Environmental groups, including the Georgia Conservancy, say the rule is necessary to protect North Atlantic right whales, an endangered species.

There are fewer than 360 of them left, a top federal fisheries official noted in written testimony presented to the committee.

Warm waters off Georgia and the southern region in general serve as important calving grounds for the whale.

Tybee City Council adopted a new Short Term Vacation Rental ordinance, according to the Savannah Morning News.

[C]ouncilmen and women discussed and approved the short-term rental ordinance dissipated as attention turned toward the island’s FY2025 budget.

When the fiscal year begins next Monday, July 1, Tybee Island’s municipal budget will be over $1 million lower than the amended FY2024 budget.

Council members unanimously approved keeping the FY2025 millage rate of 3.542 mills the same as last year.

Despite property valuations increasing the tax digest 6.16%, the city lost revenue through the hotel-motel tax because tourism numbers settled back to pre-COVID peaks.

The island is returning to pre-COVID levels of visitors after peak numbers of more than 6 million in 2021 and 2022. Tybee expects to have around 5.7 million visitors in 2024, the same as 2019 and 2023. With visitor numbers declining from peak years, the hotel-motel tax revenue has also decreased. The projected revenue for 2024 in hotel motel is $6.5 million, down from a high of $7.8 million collected in 2022.

Chatham County Commissioners adopted a budget for FY 2025, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved Friday its fiscal year 2025 budget along with a purchase, lease and termination agreement with Southside Fire Protection Inc., all which pave the way for the county to stand up its own fire department at the start of the fiscal year.

“That means we will be in the fire business at 12:01 a.m. (July 1), probably before any of us get up,” said Chatham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Chester Ellis. “The fire services will now be in the hands of the county.”

Southside Fire Protection Inc. was the fire services arm of Chatham Emergency Services. CES will continue to provide emergency medical services, such as ambulances, to its current service area after the Board of Commissioners approved an extension of those services Friday.

Included in the purchase agreement approved by the county were CES’s 13 fire stations, equipment and fees, which came at a cost of $5.3 million. Chatham County’s FY25 budget includes 152 new fire-services related positions, and a total $18.5 million for the creation of the new fire department.

“I think in the future this will prove to be a wise and worthy investment for the growth and future of Chatham County,” said District 6 Commissioner Aaron Whitely.

The county’s all funds budget is nearly $750 million, with $293 million from the general fund. Included in the general fund are five new positions in the District Attorney’s office for paralegals and administrative aids.

Lawrenceville City Council adopted a $189 million dollar FY 2025 budget, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The city plans to set the millage rate at 3.26 mills, which is 1.032 mills above the rate adopted last year and 1.206 mills above the rollback rate needed to keep revenues neutral at last year’s levels.

The millage rate will be addressed during public hearings in July before it is adopted.

“We value the input from our citizens and stakeholders throughout the budgeting process and remain dedicated to serving our community’s needs,” Lawrenceville Mayor David Still said. “By financially supporting an innovative community and emphasizing long-term stability and cohesive growth, we are positioning ourselves for continued success and a vibrant future. This budget reflects our commitment to all of the above.”

City officials said this year’s budget was impact by inflation, which has affected costs for fuel, health coverage, supplies and utilities. As a result, they focused the budget on community engagement, capital improvements, revenue adjustments and restructuring and staff retention and recruitment.

A key area of the community engagement area will be the additional funding that was included in the budget for transitional housing. Lawrenceville officials said this will provide “essential assistance” to people who are facing homelessness in the city. The city will also work Gwinnett County government and Northside Hospital to offer incentives for city employees to live within Lawrenceville’s limits.

The Georgia Municipal Association recognized two Dalton City Council members and the Mayor of Dalton, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Dalton City Councilmember Tyree Goodlett was honored Monday with one of the Georgia Municipal Association’s highest honors in recognition of his dedication to continuing his education as an elected official. Goodlett received the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute Certificate of Distinction during the Georgia Municipal Association’s annual convention in Savannah. Mayor Annalee Sams and city administrator Andrew Parker also received certificates of recognition for their work in training.

“To me it’s an honor and it’s a privilege, and just lets the citizens know that I’m trying to learn on the job and learn every day to better myself,” Goodlett said. “I want to have the tools and the knowledge to make our community better and make it grow.”

Goodlett says that he’s been dedicated to receiving as much training as possible so that he can be a resource for his fellow councilmembers.

“I’m actually in a class right now on municipal law updates, which brings us up to date on new laws that are coming into effect July 1st that affect us, so I’m learning new information that I can bring back home to share with the Mayor and Council,” Goodlett said.

“We are proud of our partnership with GMA to provide high-quality, relevant training to Georgia’s more than 3,500 municipal officials,” said UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government Director Rob Gordon. “The institute remains committed to being the trusted resource that city officials across Georgia turn to for leadership and professional development training that makes a difference in the lives of the citizens they represent.”

Mayor Annalee Sams and city administrator Andrew Parker both received the certificate of recognition from the Holtz Municipal Training Institute on Monday. To earn the certificate, officials must complete 72 hours of training, including at least 36 hours from the required list and the Newly Elected Officials Institute.

The Georgia Municipal Association is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit, and consulting services to all of Georgia’s 537 cities.

The Port of Brunswick set a new record for montly Roll-on/Roll-off cargo, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Macon Telegraph.

The Port of Brunswick handled an all-time high of 86,577 units of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo last month, a 26% increase over May of last year, the Georgia Ports Authority announced this week.

About half of the machinery increase and approximately 15% of the increase in autos were related to the bridge collapse in Baltimore, which shut down that port for 11 weeks. But other factors were involved as well.

“Brunswick’s proximity to domestic manufacturers and to vibrant sales markets make it a critical partner for the auto industry in driving new business,” said Griff Lynch, the ports authority’s president and CEO.

“The recent addition of 120 acres of processing space, along with hundreds more acres available for development, make Colonel’s Island Terminal uniquely able to expand along with the needs of car manufacturers.”

The auto port at Colonel’s Island handled 57 vessels last month, an increase of 12% compared to May of last year.

The strong numbers in May brought Georgia Ports volumes for the first 11 months of the current fiscal year to 796,000 units of autos and heavy machinery, up 20% compared to the same period in fiscal 2023.

“Our increasing Ro/Ro volumes are a testament to the outstanding work of our auto port partners and the reliable service customers have come to expect at Brunswick,” said Kent Fountain, the authority’s board chairman.

Overall, Brunswick imported 54,550 autos in May and exported just over 23,000.

Hall County and its municipalities signed an Intergovernmental Agreement to divide proceeds of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) if voters pass a referendum, according to AccessWDUN.

The Hall County Government held a special meeting Thursday with municipalities to review and sign the 2024 Transportation Special Purpose local option sales tax Intergovernmental Agreement.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners on July 11 will vote on a resolution to move a Single-County Transportation SPLOST forward for a referendum for vote on Nov. 5th.

The cities of Buford, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Lula, Oakwood and Rest Haven were in attendance to sign the document.

Other municipalities in attendance included the towns of Braselton and Clermont.

Audie Rowe was appointed the new Chief of the Adel Police, according to WALB.

This position received 14 submissions from all over the state, and the Police Chief’s Association numbered the candidates down to 8.

When evaluating the candidates, the Police Chief’s Association put the finalists through an assessment in which they underwent multiple choice testing, scenario response testing, and in person interviews, focusing on three components of police work.

City Manager Mark Barber met with each of the four finalists in individual interviews.

Barber said, “Congratulations to Audie Rowe for being selected as Adel’s next Police Chief. Chief Rowe was comprehensively scrutinized during the assessment process that began with fourteen candidates. I am highly confident that Chief Rowe will lead the Police Department to superlative ranks. I am eager to work with. Chief Rowe and the current dedicated and caring police personnel to make the Adel Police Department second to none.”

Rowe now supervises a department with 21 sworn positions.

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