Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 13, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 13, 2023

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 32

Monday – March 13, 2023

TBD Senate Rules Committee: Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
8:00 AM Senate Insurance: Prop, Cas, and Workers Comp Sub – 450 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 32) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 32) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE Judiciary Non-Civil Leverett Sub – 132 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE Education Policy Sub – 415 CLOB
1:00 PM Senate Agriculture & Consumer – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Transportation – Mezz 1 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE Education Curriculum Sub – 415 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Government Oversight – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate HHS: Mental Health Parity Sub – 450 CAP
3:00 PM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP
4:00 PM HOUSE Energy, Utilities and Telecom Telecom Sub – 403 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Judiciary – 307 CLOB

As Georgia approaches the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown, the virus may now be endemic in the human population, according to the Associated Press and Atlanta News First via WRDW.

The virus appears here to stay, along with the threat of a more dangerous version sweeping the planet.

Georgia officials say more than 17 million vaccines have been administered. However, the big push is for more people to receive their boosters.

Saturday marked three years since the World Health Organization first called the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and the United Nation’s health organization says it’s not yet ready to say the emergency has ended.

From WALB in Albany:

Phoebe Health System leaders now believe COVID-19 is endemic and it will not be going away.

Mental health is front and center for those that battled and survived COVID.

Healthcare professionals learned since the outbreak of COVID-19, many have suffered from the mental effects of this virus after a confirmed diagnosis.

From the Catoosa County News:

Covid “is still on our radar” across Northwest Georgia, says Dr. Gary Voccio, even as new reported cases continue to decline.

While there’s been “a significant reduction in our number of covid cases” in the past year, the pandemic is especially focused on older residents, he says.

Voccio said 19% of the current local cases involve those over 60 but that age group represents almost half of all those hospitalized for covid in Northwest Georgia.

For the seven days ending Wednesday afternoon, March 8, covid cases statewide: 2,306 new cases were reported, down from 3,017 through March 1. Another 49 people died statewide vs. 69 a week earlier.

Democratic State Rep. Letitia “Tish” Naghise (D-Fayetteville) died last week, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

Kaleb McMichen, a spokesperson for House Speaker Jon Burns, said Naghise died Wednesday. Naghise died at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, where she had been hospitalized for several days, said Wan Smith, a friend and former coworker. No cause of death was given.

“She was an extraordinary servant leader, an extraordinary and multifaceted leader, who didn’t start or stop with the legislature,” said Smith, who supervised Naghise when Naghise worked for the Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund, an environmental advocacy group.

The 59-year-old Fayetteville resident won a Democratic primary in House District 68, which includes Atlanta suburbs in southern Fulton and northern Fayette counties, before easily beating a Republican in November.

She volunteered for U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff’s initial unsuccessful U.S. House run in 2017. The Democrat described Naghise as “a kind, caring, hardworking, and committed community leader and public servant” in a statement Wednesday.

“She was a regular person, but she knew everybody,” Smith said. “No matter what part of the the state we were organizing in, she knew somebody there or knew somebody who could put her in contact with someone there.”

State legislators are addressing teacher planning periods and literacy programs, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Measures to protect teacher’s time and amp up the state’s literacy rates have received nearly unanimous approval, while private-school vouchers have drawn fierce opposition.

“The teachers I know don’t want to walk away … but too many teachers I know are running on empty,” Cherie Bonder Goldman, the 2022 Georgia teacher of the year, wrote at the start of a state Department of Education report published last year. The report recommended increasing the amount of time teachers have to deal with class planning and grading.

Lawmakers appear to have taken that advice to heart, with the state House of Representatives unanimously approving a measure last Monday that would guarantee sixth- through 12th-grade teachers a daily “duty-free” period.

The House has unanimously passed the Georgia Early Literacy Act (House Bill 538), sponsored by Rep. Bethany Ballard, R-Warner Robins, a former teacher who chairs the House’s Education-Curriculum Subcommittee. The bill aims to improve the quality of early reading instruction.

“It develops a framework and it begins to really seriously take a look at literacy,” said Rep. Chris Erwin, R-Homer, who chairs the House Education Committee. “Statewide, there’s a structure out there heavily involving our state [Department of Education] and getting them involved in working with the school systems.”

The legislation would require schools to screen students from kindergarten to third grade on their reading proficiency three times a year. Students who are identified as falling behind in reading would receive an “individual reading improvement plan” within 30 days of being identified and would also receive “intensive reading intervention.”

The bill would also require the state Board of Education to develop a list of high-quality, evidence-backed reading instructional and screening tools districts can use and boost literacy training for teachers.

For its part, the Senate has unanimously passed separate legislation to form a Georgia Council on Literacy. The 24-member council would include education experts, state legislators, a teacher and a local school board member. The council would review literacy research and make recommendations about best practices.

Legislators will also consider whether to change rules on challenging a voter’s registration, according to the AJC.

Voting rights advocates are seeking safeguards to protect against disenfranchisement of legitimate voters, while supporters of the system want even greater ability to disqualify individuals who they suspect might have moved away based on their mailing addresses.

Since Georgia’s 2021 voting law allowed anyone to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of other voters, over 92,000 registrations were contested last year, according to an accounting by the voting organization Fair Fight Action. County election boards upheld about 5,800 of the challenges.

In several cases, eligibility challenges targeted authentic Georgia voters who hadn’t permanently moved away: college students, military contractors temporarily working in a different state and the homeless. Some valid voters faced challenges because their names were similar to other voters who had moved.

Elections officials are asking the General Assembly for changes after government workers spent long hours last year evaluating whether voter challenges were justified.

A bill that recently passed a state Senate committee would have empowered voter challengers by allowing them to rely entirely on change-of-address records from the U.S. Postal Service, which isn’t always a reliable source of information to determine whether someone has permanently moved.

The legislation would have also provided some relief to election workers by postponing action against those voters within 45 days of an election.

“The main thing that we care about right now is taking the work off of them, so having a window of time in which you cannot do those challenges is probably the most important thing to do,” said Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

State Sen. Max Burns, the Republican sponsor of Senate Bill 221, said in a recent hearing that voters shouldn’t be disqualified based on temporary address changes, and the legislation includes language exempting students and members of the military. But the bill doesn’t say how election workers could differentiate between people who have moved temporarily and permanently unless challenged voters come forward.

Dead Poet Sidney Lanier may be the newest on the canceled list. From The Brunswick News:

Sidney Lanier’s choice of sides during the American Civil War may cost him Lake Lanier. He enlisted in the Confederate States Army in 1861.

Buford Dam, which controls the flow of the Chattahoochee River into the lake, also is subject to a name change. It was named for Algermon Sidney Buford, a successful railroad man and former politician who also joined the Confederate States Army in 1861

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, has begun the process of removing the name of the famous Georgia poet and author of “Marshes of Glynn” from Lake Lanier and scratching out Buford’s name on the dam.

The corps has authority over the lake and dam, but Congress will have the final say on any new name.

According to historians, Macon native Lanier was a private aboard a blockade-running vessel before his capture and imprisonment in November 1864. He wrote “The Marshes of Glynn” in 1878. The Sidney Lanier Bridge, structures and an athletic field in Brunswick bear his name.

Buford, a former president of the Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railway, was born in North Carolina. Having been a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he was given the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army of Northern Virginia and the tasks of watching over Confederate soldiers wounded in battle and helping get supplies to the army.

The AJC reports that the renamings have been “paused.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has put a stop on the process that could lead to a new name for Buford Dam and Lake Lanier, one of Georgia’s most popular tourism and recreation sites.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pausing any actions related to project renaming pending further guidance from the Department of the Army,” the corps said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

Local leaders and elected officials had questioned whether the names should change at all and cautioned that doing so would affect surrounding businesses, schools and roads that also took the name of the massive reservoir.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, was a member of an eight-person Renaming Commission that recommended new names for military bases across the nation, including two in Georgia, that carry the names of Confederate leaders. But he said the commission never intended for Department of Defense assets such as Lake Lanier to be part of that discussion.

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, whose district includes Lake Lanier, also said he was happy to hear that what he described as a “misguided proposal to rename Lake Lanier and Buford Dam” had been halted shortly after a phone call with corps leaders.

“The USACE’s decision to pause its efforts is a tremendous victory for Northeast Georgians, as these renamings would have attempted to rewrite history, impose massive burdensome costs on our community, and create unnecessary mass confusion,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that USACE does not under any circumstances engage in any effort to rename Lake Lanier or Buford Dam in the future.”

Backyard Chickens remain canceled in Catoosa County, after Commissioners tabled proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance, according to the Catoosa News via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The controversy over backyard chickens in Catoosa County rages on. Commissioners had hoped to resolve the issued at its Feb. 21 meeting, which went on for five hours, with more than 100 people in attendance. Instead, the issue was tabled for more consideration.

The controversy has been ongoing more than 10 months.

Commission Chairman Larry Black said that before considering options, he felt clarification was needed on what the commissioners believed about chickens: If commissioners vote this down and leave the code as it is right now, will chickens be forbidden in R-1?

District 2 Commissioner Chuck Harris said that he would rather take the time needed to make sure the issue was fully understood before proceeding. He made a motion to table the amendment for further study.

Black called for a second to Harris’ motion to table the issue. All commissioners except Long voted “yes;” Long voted “no.”

Two Douglas County Commissioners who were indicted for alleged corruption continue to serve, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Despite facing criminal charges, two Douglas County elected officials took their places at Monday’s commission work session, including Douglas County chairman Romona Jackson Jones.

The chairman and commissioner Henry Mitchell are two of five people indicted over allegations they steered a county cleaning contract to a political supporter.

Jackson Jones is also accused of lying to GBI agents about the contract. Through her attorney, she has denied the charges.

Why are the two still able to take part in county government? By statute, the governor has to wait 14 days before appointing a committee to recommend action. That can’t happen until later this week. The committee can take another 14 days.

Ingrid Landis-Davis criticized the GBI investigation while a group of supporters stood in the back of the meeting room humming a spiritual tune.

“This racism is here to stay, and it’s our charge to fight and defeat it,” she proclaimed.

All three indicted elected leaders are Black, including Tax Commissioner Greg Baker.

Rome City Commissioners will reconsider a proposed alcohol ordinance revision to allow smaller bars with lower levels of food sales, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The board rejected the proposal from the Alcohol Control Commission in February, but the ACC is giving it another shot.

During that meeting, the sticking point appeared to be an earlier closing time for the small venues — at 11 p.m. instead of the 2 p.m. cutoff for venues that also sell food. There’s an expectation that cutting the cost of a bar pouring permit may address the concerns of enough commissioners to pass it this time.

The Bulloch County Board of Education voted for a new three-year contract for Superintendent Charles Wilson, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper will host their first Waterfest on Earth Day, April 22, 2023, according to AccessWDUN.

The event is free to the public and will feature live music from the Let There Be Rock School as well as performances by Malachi Mills, Fukushima Tuna, Sweet Auburn String Band and Velvet City Sound.

The festival will also serve as a fundraiser for water conservation efforts in and around Lake Lanier and the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River.

CRK also co-manages the Lake Lanier Aquatic Learning Center which one of only two “floating classroom” experiences in the state to provide education programs for both students and teachers.

“With the important goal of reaching new community members of all ages and spreading the word about our growing programs in the headwaters, we are very excited to host this new, one-of-a-kind event,” says Mallory Pendleton, the festival organizer and CRK’s Headwaters Outreach Manager. “Celebrating CRK’s efforts alongside fellow organizations is really meaningful on its own, but doing so in a way that is inclusive to all community members and with the City of Gainesville’s support is all the more special,” she said.

Waterfest begins at 2:00 p.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at Midland Greenway.
To learn more about Waterfest visit

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