Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2021

On March 1, 1778, the Georgia legislature confiscated property owned by 117 people after labeling them traitors.

The Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781.

The nation was guided by the Articles of Confederation until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.

The critical distinction between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution —the primacy of the states under the Articles—is best understood by comparing the following lines.

The Articles of Confederation begin:

“To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States”

By contrast, the Constitution begins:

“We the People of the United States do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

On March 1, 1875, Governor James Smith signed legislation making cruelty to animals a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $50.

Paul Broun, Sr. was born on March 1, 1916, in Shellman, Georgia, and served 38 years in the Georgia legislature.

Broun was first elected to the state senate in 1962 in a historic election that took place after the federal courts struck down Georgia’s long-established county unit election system. Broun was one of several new senators elected in a class that included Jimmy Carter, the future president of the United States; Leroy Johnson, the first black legislator elected in Georgia since Reconstruction; and politicians like Hugh Gillis, Culver Kidd, and Bobby Rowan, who would have a lasting impact on legislative politics.

Broun was elected to nineteen consecutive terms in the senate, where he served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee.

Dorothy Felton was born on March 1, 1929, and served as the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia legislature.

Dorothy Felton was the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly and eventually became the longest-serving Republican and the longest-serving woman of either party in the state legislature. She also worked for more than a quarter of a century for the right of the Sandy Springs community of Fulton County to incorporate as a municipality, a goal that was not achieved until four years after she retired from elective office.

Felton was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974 from a district in Sandy Springs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 25

8:00 AM Senate Ethics-CANCELLED – 307 CLOB
8:00 AM Senate Economic Development and Tourism – 450 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE Small Business Development Incentives and Education Workforce Subcommittee – 406 CLOB
9:00 AM Senate Government Oversight – Mezz 1
9:00 AM Senate Higher Education – 450 CAP
10:00 AM Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities – 450 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD25) – House Chamber
11:00 AM Senate Education and Youth – 307 CLOB
1:00 PM Senate Floor Session (LD 25) – Senate Chamber
2ish? Senate Rules Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
3:00 PM Senate Ethics – 307 CLOB


SB 140 – Flag, Seal, and Other Symbols; placement of a monument in honor of the Honorable Zell Bryan Miller upon the capitol grounds of the state capitol building; provide (SI&P-53rd)

SB 80 – “Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization Act”; enact(Substitute)(I&L-32nd)

SB 82 – Emergency Medical Services; prudent layperson standard is not affected by the final diagnosis given; clarify (Substitute)(I&L-48th)

SB 169 – Bonds; acceptance of electronic signatures and electronic corporate seals on bonds; provide (I&L-20th)

SB 185 – Revenue and Taxation; all questions of law decided by a court; matters from state board of equalization and refunds and appeals be decided without deference; require (JUDY-50th)

SB 235 – Offenses Against Public Order; offense of wearing a mask, hood, or device which conceals the identity of the wearer; revise (Substitute)(H&HS-1st)

SB 114 – Professions and Businesses; grounds for refusing to grant or revoking a license; revise (JUDY-29th)

SB 112 – Life Insurance; annual notification to policy owners and requested beneficiaries of the existence of such policies; require (Substitute)(I&L-16th)


Modified Structured Rule

HB 124 – Funeral directors and embalmers; multiple cremation devices; provide (RegI-Williams-145th)

HB 244 – Insurance; flood risk reduction in the enumerated list of county purposes for ad valorem taxes; include (GAff-Hogan-179th)

HB 392 – Alcoholic beverages; licenses for retail sale packages of alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises shall be subject to regulation as to distance from schools as determined by the local governing authority; provide (RegI-Ridley-6th)

HB 443 – Torts; transfer of structured settlement payment rights; provide new requirements (Judy-Leverett-33rd)

HB 453 – Special license plates; certified, volunteer, and retired firefighters; provide standards for proof of eligibility (MotV-McDonald-26th)

HB 459 – Local government; prohibit annexations of county operated airport property (GAff-Martin-49th)

HB 466 – Motor vehicles; number of required hours in the intervention component of DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Programs; reduce (Substitute)(MotV-Powell-32nd)

HB 476 – Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act of 2021; enact (Substitute)(RegI-Washburn-141st)

HB 531 – Elections; no election superintendents or boards of registrars shall accept private funding; provide (Substitute)(SCEI-Fleming-121st)

HB 539 – Medical Practice Act of the State of Georgia; institutional licenses; revise provisions (H&HS-Cooper-43rd)

Governor Brian Kemp congratulated the University of Georgia on its successful fundraising campaign to raise $4.5 million dollars to endow the John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar position, according to a Press Release:

“For decades, Johnny Isakson was devoted to serving his fellow Georgians and to causes he knew were bigger than himself, so it only makes sense that he would be the one to push this important project over its funding goal,” said Governor Kemp. “It was an honor to announce the creation of this position in my State of the State Address in 2020, and I am thankful to the University of Georgia for their leadership in fighting this disease and honoring Senator Isakson. This partnership commemorates an unrivaled statesman and outstanding Georgian and will bring us one step closer to curing Parkinson’s disease once and for all.”

On January 16, 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp, in conjunction with University of Georgia, announced in his State of the State address the creation of the Johnny Isakson Professorship for Parkinson’s Research at UGA. The PhD researcher will develop better treatments, better medicines, and a better quality of life for Parkinson’s patients. The incoming Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar will also be the director of UGA’s forthcoming Center for Brain Science and Neurological Disorders.

Isakson served in the Georgia General Assembly, chaired the State Board of Education, and represented Georgia’s 6th Congressional District for six years before serving in the U.S. Senate. Even after concluding of his career in public service, Isakson continues to advocate for Americans through funding Parkinson’s research.

The Biden Administration denied a Georgia waiver request to alter standardized testing, according to the Gainesville Times.

Following the decision, in a press release Kemp called it “ridiculous” to expect students to take standardized tests this year amid the challenges faced by the pandemic.

“I am disappointed in the Biden Administration’s decision and will continue to work with State School Superintendent Richard Woods and leaders in education to lessen the burden on teachers and students in Georgia’s classrooms,” Kemp said in the release.

In the waiver form submitted last week, Kemp defended his request by saying students should not be evaluated on “test scores, accountability or percentiles.”

The Georgia State House is expected to vote today on House Bill 531, an omnibus election “reform” bill, according to the AJC.

Republican legislators have said their bills are meant to restore voter confidence after it was shaken by distrust promoted by their own political party. Their proposed policies would reduce easy access to absentee voting, used by a record 1.3 million people in the presidential election, two-thirds of whom voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

“Both sides have lost the sense of security with election integrity,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, a Republican from Carrollton. “At the end of the day we’ve got to figure out a way to make it as fast, as accurate, as secure and with the public’s faith in the system as we possibly can.”

The measure pending in the House on Monday, House Bill 531, would require ballot drop boxes to be available only at in-person early voting locations, limit “Souls to the Polls” community events to one Sunday during early voting, and require voters to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or copy of photo ID to request absentee ballots.

Meanwhile in the Senate, the Ethics Committee could vote Monday on Senate Bill 241, which would only allow people to vote absentee if they’re 65 or over, have a physical disability or are out of town. Georgia has allowed any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot since 2005.

The legislation also includes requirements for ID to vote absentee and restrictions on ballot drop boxes.

The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee passed legislation to reform voting procedures, according to the AJC.

The voting limitations advanced Friday are the latest in a series of bills pushed by Republican legislators after record turnout led to Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Republican Donald Trump. Other legislation advancing in the General Assembly would add voter ID requirements for absentee voting, restrict ballot drop boxes and limit weekend early voting hours.

Under Senate Bill 69, voters wouldn’t be automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses. They’d have to check a box to sign up to vote.

The sponsor of the bill, Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, said the state shouldn’t sign people up to vote by default.

“We believe that it’s important people have the ability to register to vote, and we believe just to assume that people need to vote might not be the right way,” said Mullis, a Republican from Chickamauga.

The measure ending no-excuse absentee voting, Senate Bill 71, would only allow people to vote remotely if they’re 65 or over, have a physical disability or are out of town.

A record 1.3 million people cast absentee ballots in the presidential election out of a total of 5 million total voters.

Georgia Democrats are pulling out the stops to oppose GOP election reform, according to the AJC.

Ads financed by Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action group began bombarding the airwaves last week with dire warnings that the new restrictions on mail-in ballots will hurt Republicans as much as Democrats.

Democratic lawyers have promised to challenge the new measures in court if they pass — and remind Republicans of their recent win streak on elections-related matters — while protesters brand the proposals “Jim Crow with a new suit and tie.”

And a new phase of the pushback starts Monday as critics demand that Georgia’s biggest corporations to take a stand. Many of the same companies that opposed the “religious liberty” legislation in 2016 are now being asked to fight the GOP voting restrictions.

A Capitol protest led to a sit-in by Georgia Democrats, sparking conflict with the Georgia State Patrol, according to the AJC.

A protest over Georgia voting bills led to a confrontation Friday between a state representative and a police officer who grabbed her arm to try to move her out of the way.

State Rep. Park Cannon and fellow Democrats then started a sit-in on the stairs of the state Capitol until they received an apology, which the Georgia State Patrol didn’t publicly offer. No one was arrested, and the sit-in ended after over an hour and a half.

“The goal of me speaking today is so that Black people, people across the state of Georgia, poor people, mothers and seniors can vote,” Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta, said as she sat on the Capitol stairs.

She compared the conflict to a prior clash in 2018, when Capitol Police arrested Nikema Williams, who was a state senator at the time.

“The same police officers are still here today and touching Black women. It is not OK, and they need to apologize publicly,” Cannon said. “This is the people’s house, and we’ve got to protect the right to vote.”

Cannon positioned herself in front of an officer’s bullhorn, and then another officer took hold of her arm to move her away.

The Georgia Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 115 by State Senator Randy Robertson (R-Columbus), which would which would teach manners and common sense to prospective Georgia drivers, according to the AJC.

Senate Bill 115 would require the Department of Driver Services to collaborate with the Department of Public Safety in creating an education course that would teach “best practices of what a driver should do during a traffic stop.”

The bill passed 36-13 mostly along party lines and with no debate. Democratic state Sens. Michelle Au of Johns Creek, Emanuel Jones of Decatur, David Lucas of Macon and Sheikh Rahman of Lawrenceville voted in favor of the bill.

Senate Democratic Leader Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain said her caucus didn’t take a position on the bill, but she voted against it because it doesn’t address the different ways in which Black drivers and other drivers of color can be treated.

Butler said she also was concerned about what the curriculum would include. But Robertson said he believed it could be a step toward improving relationships between the public and police.

“I’m sure it will not only save lives but go a long way in rectifying certain issues related between law enforcement and citizen relationships,” he said.

African-American female candidates were at the leading edge of the Democratic wave in Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In a two-year span, 20 Black women were elected to legislative, county and municipal offices in Gwinnett. The county also went for Stacey Abrams, whose bid to be Georgia’s first African-American governor came up short in 2018, and voted for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris presidential ticket in 2020.

“Gwinnett is a great example,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said. “Women at the county level, traditionally the job they were most likely to hold would be that of clerk of court and then probably, oh, probate judge might be the next most common thing at the county level. They didn’t hold jobs like sheriff or district attorney.”

“We’re not just talking about Black women. We’re talking about any women holding those kinds of positions and so what we’re seeing is Black women are moving into county jobs that I guess were almost thought of more male jobs than women jobs.”

By the numbers, Gwinnett Democrats flipped 23 seats previously held by Republicans in partisan elections between 2018 and last November. These range from school board seats to the 7th Congressional District seat.

Of those seats, 11 were flipped by African-American women, five were flipped by African-American men, four were flipped by White women, one was flipped by an Asian woman, one was flipped by an Asian man and one was flipped by a White man.

On top of that, four Black women were elected in nonpartisan elections to the city councils in Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Snellville and Norcross. Four more Black women were elected to serve on the benches in Gwinnett’s Superior and State courts.

Gwinnett Solicitor General Brian Whiteside (D) is threatening to sue the State of Georgia if the General Assembly passes election reform legislation, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Regardless of how one describes it, the underlying message that came out of Solicitor General Brian Whiteside’s office on Friday afternoon is that he will fight the state of Georgia in court if a controversial omnibus elections reform bill, House Bill 531, pending in the Georgia House of Representatives becomes law.

“If Georgia H.B. 531 passes and is signed into law, the Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office is prepared to take legal action against the state of Georgia,” Whiteside said in a statement. “H.B. 531 poses an undue burden upon the citizens of Gwinnett County during a global pandemic by removing absentee ballot drop boxes and removing Sunday early voting.”

“The ramifications of H.B. 531 may increase the chance of possible civil disturbance and create a burden for local law enforcement and Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections,” Whiteside said. “The Gwinnett County Solicitor-General’s Office has a duty to protect the rights and safety of the citizens from any possible violent protests and unconstitutional actions.”

Gwinnett Sheriff Keybo Taylor (D) held a pandemic-delayed formal swearing in, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Taylor, who has made history as the first African-American to be elected sheriff of Gwinnett County, talked about growing up in one of Lawrenceville’s poorer neighborhoods. He grew up to serve in the county’s police department and became its first Black major and the first African-American leader of the department’s narcotics unit.

“Failure builds character, but we must also understand that failure is not final and that it should never control or foretell the vigor or your enthusiasm for success,” Taylor said. “Your failure will leave scars and those are your badge of courage. You can hide it or you can proudly display it, but your scars are not the sum of who you are.”

Taylor’s swearing in ceremony was original supposed to take place in December, but it was postponed until this weekend after he tested positive for COVID-19 right before Christmas.

The event on Saturday was about celebrating the start of Taylor’s history-making tenure as sheriff. Taylor is one of eight African-American sheriffs currently serving in metro Atlanta counties.

He kicked off his tenure as the county’s top law enforcement official on Jan. 1 by disbanding the county jail’s embattled Rapid Response Team and terminating the office’s participation in the controversial 287(g) detention program on his first day in office.

Nearly 1200 early ballots were cast in the Glynn County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Referendum, according to The Brunswick News.

The first week of early voting in the special election on Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2021 saw 1,197 casting a ballot in person.

On the ballot are two referendums, one to ratify SPLOST 2021 and another to declare the Oglethorpe Conference Center an infeasible project, thereby providing an avenue to return to the taxpayers $2.5 million in SPLOST IV and V proceeds that remain allocated for the project.

As of the close of business Friday, 234 people had cast a ballot at Ballard Community Building off Old Jesup Road, 190 at the Glynn County Board of Elections’ office and 773 at Glynn County Fire Station No. 2 on St. Simons Island.

Democrat Marcus Flowers is the second announced candidate to run against Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest GA), according to the AJC.

The political newcomer unveiled his campaign Monday with a splashy video that sharply contrasts himself with Greene, the disgraced freshman legislator stripped of her committee assignments by her House colleagues for her embrace of hateful and dangerous conspiracy theories.

Flowers outlines a background that included overcoming a troubled childhood, serving in the U.S. Army and then years as a military contractor with “top-secret clearance” in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan before deciding to compete for the seat.

“I’ve spent my life serving my country in combat zones across the world. But I never thought I’d see one here in the United States,” he said in the video, which shows images of the Jan. 6 insurrection egged on by lies about systemic voter fraud promoted by former President Donald Trump and echoed by Greene.

“Her twisted conspiracy theories might have made her famous, but they haven’t done a damn thing to help the people here in our district.”

Heading into the 2022 election, Greene is heavily favored to carry the 14th district, which spans from Atlanta’s northwestern exurbs through the rural corner of the state. The contours are sure to be revised, however, when legislators redraw the district later this year with new Census data.

The Macon Cherry Blossom Festival will be held this year with COVID-19 precautions, according to 13WMAZ.

Mayor Lester Miller was adamant, and said that there was “absolutely no chance” he would cancel the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Miller explained that the festival staff has spent the past year strategizing and planning the pinkest party on earth, pandemic-style.

“Buy your shirts, buy your pins, because it will happen this year,” Miller emphasized during the February meeting of the Downtown Macon Community Association.

“We are only producing outdoor events,” [Cherry Blossom Festival CEO Stacy] Moore told Visit Macon. “We’re not going to produce ourselves or sanction any indoor events.”

No one will be lining the sidewalks for the March 21st Cherry Blossom Parade which will be livestreamed and later broadcast.

The Conasauga Judicial Circuit Superior Court, serving Murray and Whitfield Counties, is planning to resume jury proceedings in March, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Statesboro will move forward with a $4.5 million dollar issue and awarding contracts for park improvements, as the City Council and the Urban Redevelopment Agency meet, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Cumberland Island bobcat population is dwindling, according to The Brunswick News.

Researchers captured 32 of the animals from the mainland and reintroduced them to the barrier island in 1989. They have regularly monitored them ever since.

Bobcats were brought to the island as a way to help restore the ecological balance by introducing a natural predator to prey on rabbits, rodents, feral hogs and old or injured deer.

The population has dwindled to 24 bobcats and the prediction is they face extinction on the island over time without human intervention.

Since the animals were released on the island more than three decades ago, the population has lost about 15 percent of its genetic diversity. By 2040, the risk of extinction on the island will increase to about 20 percent.

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