Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 18, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 18, 2016

On March 18, 1766, the British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, which required American colonists to purchase a stamp for every legal or printed document they obtained.  Revenue would be used to support the British army in America.

The Stamp Act led Patrick Henry to denounce King George III, the British Monarch at the time of the passage of the Stamp Act and the ensuing Revolutionary War; Henry’s later “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech to the Virginia Assembly at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, listed by Time magazine as one of the top ten speeches of all time. Henry later opposed adoption of the Constitution, arguing it was incomplete without a Bill of Rights; after the Bill of Rights was adopted, Henry was satisfied.

On March 19, 1916, the first American military air combat mission began in support of an incursion into Mexico under President Woodrow Wilson.

On March 18, 1939, the State of Georgia ratified the Bill of Rights, which were proposed 150 years earlier in 1789. Georgia initially declined to ratify the Bill of Rights arguing that the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were unnecessary. Governor E.D. Rivers signed the joint resolution six days later, but under federal court decisions the ratification is marked as of the date the second house of the state legislature adopts the legislation (assuming a bi-cameral state legislature).

On March 18, 1942, the United States government, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, created the War Relocation Authority to “Take all people of Japanese descent into custody, surround them with troops, prevent them from buying land, and return them to their former homes at the close of the war.” More than 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of them citizens of the United States were moved from the west coast into concentration camps in the western United States.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed entirely of Japanese Americans, many of whose families were interned at the camps, became the most-decorated unit of World War II, with members being awarded 4,667 medals, awards, and citations, including 1 Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 560 Silver Stars; eventually 21 members of the 442nd would be awarded the Medal of Honor. The late United States Senator Daniel Inouye, a member of the 442nd from 1941 to 1947, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton for actions during WWII. First elected to the United States Senate in 1962, Inouye became President Pro Tem in 2010.

On March 18, 1947, Herman Talmadge surrendered the Governor’s office, ending the “Three Governors Affair.” Earlier this year, the General Assembly honored the late Governor Melvin Thompson, who was elected the first Lieutenant Governor of Georgia and became Governor at the conclusion of the Three Governors Affair.

On March 19, 1947, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Thompson v. Talmadge on the “Three Governors Affair.” The Court held that the Georgia General Assembly lacked authority to elect Herman Talmadge as Governor, and that because of the death of Eugene Talmadge before he took office, no successor to Gov. Ellis Arnall was in place until the newly-elected Lt. Governor Melvin Johnson was sworn in and became Governor, succeeding Arnall.

On March 18, 1955, the Georgia Educators Association endorsed “equal but separate” schools for the races.

On March 18, 1961, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Gray v. Sanders, which arose from Georgia. Three politically-important results come from the case.

First, the Court held that state regulation of the Democratic Primary made the primary election a state action, not merely that of a private organization; thus, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies.

Second, the Equal Protection Clause requires that every vote be given equal weight in electing officials, often stated as the “one person, one vote” rule. In Georgia at that time, each County had between two and six “county unit votes”. As a result,

“One unit vote in Echols County represented 938 residents, whereas one unit vote in Fulton County represented 92,721 residents. Thus, one resident in Echols County had an influence in the nomination of candidates equivalent to 99 residents of Fulton County.”

Third, because the County Unit System gave the votes of some Georgians greater weight than that of others, it violated the Equal Protection Clause. The “one person, one vote” rule is one benchmark of redistricting.

On March 18, 1976, Governor George Busbee signed legislation recognizing the following official state symbols:

Staurolite – Official Mineral of Georgia
Shark’s Tooth – Official Fossil of Georgia
Clear Quartz – Official Gem of Georgia
Purple Quartz (Amethyst) – Official Gem of Georgia

I suspect samples of all of these can be found in the display cases on the Fourth Floor of the Georgia State Capitol.

On March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush announced the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in order to depose Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and eliminate the country’s ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.

March 18, 2014 was the 39th Day of the Legislative Session. It’s a wonder what the need to get out on the campaign trail will do for a Session.

In my post and email for March 19, 2014, I noted that Georgia has no Official State Dog and pondered what breed would be best. The last time it was voted on, in 1991, the Georgia Senate rejected the Golden Retriever on a 37-10 vote against. South Carolina’s official State Dog is the Boykin Spaniel, a breed developed for hunting in the Palmetto State and most commonly found there today.

This year, State Rep. Joe Wilkinson introduced HB 561 to name the “Adoptable Dog” as the Official State Dog of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The General Assembly is not in session today, and for that reason as well as a heavy workload today, I’m taking a partial hiatus for the morning. I hope you enjoy the quick and abbreviated morning politics, and that you take advantage of the glorious weekend ahead.

State Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) has withdrawn from his reelection bid, leaving a single candidate in the race for House District 3.

Former Catoosa County Commissioner Dewayne Hill has a clear path to the Georgia State Capitol.

State Rep. Tom Weldon, R-Ringgold, announced Thursday he will withdraw from the race for his District 3 seat in the May 24 primary election. The announcement came six days after the deadline to qualify for the election, leaving Hill with no competition as the challenger to Weldon’s post.

Weldon filled out the necessary paperwork to run for re-election on March 7. He said he had considered leaving politics for several months, though he did not make a decision until days after he qualified for the race. He said his work in Atlanta took away from time at his Ringgold law practice and with his family.

“I’m going to let Dewayne Hill have it,” Weldon said. “I’m withdrawing from the race. I expect to do that in the next couple of weeks.”

Hill is a cousin of state Rep. David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, the speaker of the House. Hill said the two of them are distant cousins, that his grandmother was a Ralston. But Hill said he had never met the speaker before becoming a Catoosa County commissioner and visiting the state legislators in Atlanta.

Weldon said nobody asked him to leave his seat. And he qualified to run despite his apprehensions because dropping out is always an option throughout the race. The opposite — deciding not to run, then changing his mind — is not possible after the deadline to qualify.

“Several things came together at one time,” Weldon said of his decision last week. “It came up at a time that coincided with the qualifications [deadline].”

The State House Governmental Affairs Committee voted to recommend passage of Senate Bill 378 by Fran Millar (R-DeKalb), which would eliminate the position of DeKalb County CEO after 2018. From the AJC,

The Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 378, which would allow voters to decide the issue in November. The bill could be considered by the full House of Representatives next week before returning to the Senate for final approval.

Sen. Fran Millar, the sponsor of the bill, said DeKalb’s government structure should be more consistent with other counties. DeKalb is the only county in Georgia with a CEO form of government.

“Ninety percent of people in DeKalb County know there’s been a problem with that (CEO) position,” said Millar, R-Atlanta. “This will place us on an equal footing with other counties with a professional county manager and an elected chair.”

The chairperson of the commission would be elected countywide but wouldn’t have a vote except to break ties. The chairperson, who would be paid $153,000, would be responsible for supervising the county manager, appointing committee members, calling special meetings and compelling commissioners to attend meetings.

The widow of a Marietta municipal employee will get nothing from the pension plan her late husband was fully vested in because he died in his final year of work before he retired.

Keith Brainard, research director of The National Association of State Retirement Administrators, said there is a lot of disparity in pension plans. But not paying a vested employee’s spouse when their other half dies?

“I am not aware of another public pension plan that does not provide a survivor’s benefit for active workers who have vested in their retirement plan,” he said.

The current pension plan has been in place since 1987 and many former employees of the city have decided to retire over the years when they reached the point they were retirement eligible, because they knew of the plan’s provisions,” said Lindsey Wiles, Marietta spokeswoman.

Like every city employee, Cosper was informed of his retirement options “and he chose to continue to work for the city,” she said.

I’d look for some legislative action on this next year because the same provision applies to Marietta police and firefighters.

If one of the city’s first responders dies, even in the line of duty, their spouses and children get no pension benefit, except for the tiny fraction the employee contributed.

Legislation from State Rep. Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) will expand the availability of advanced cancer treatments akin to those received by former President Jimmy Carter.

Under the new Georgia legislation, insurance companies would no longer be allowed to require patients to first try conventional cancer treatments before being prescribed immunotherapy drugs.

“Every Georgian with health insurance that covers cancer should have the same access to cancer drugs as President Carter,” the legislation states. The title of the bill is the Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Act.

The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Mike Cheokas, a Republican, represents Carter’s hometown of Plains and received permission from the former president’s office before attaching his name to the bill, the legislator said on Monday. The former president is a long-time family friend, Cheokas added.

Peachtree Ridge High School has moved its April 23d prom from Stone Mountain amid concerns over a pro-white rally being held at the park on that date.

Flowery Branch will have a new interim solicitor after City Council voted to remove the current Solicitor.

Macon-Bibb County’s legislative delegation shows signs of strain as the session heads toward a close next week.

State Reps. James Beverly and Nikki Randall, who are both Democrats, questioned a decision by some delegation members to hold a meeting in downtown Macon Thursday afternoon. State Reps. Bubber Epps, Allen Peake and Robert Dickey — all Republicans — were the only legislators to attend the meeting. Epps said it was an opportunity to discuss the session and some of the recent concerns raised by Beverly and Randall.

Beverly said he was unable to attend because he had a meeting with the Georgia Department of Transportation at the same time, but he questioned whether the meeting was necessary.

“The point of a meeting when there is no benefit to the people that I represent in Bibb County is kind of ludicrous,” he said. “It’s kind of too little, too late. Overall, I think we could have done a lot more for Bibb had we had meetings prior to the end of the session.”

Muscogee County may be in for a heated election for Sheriff as a former Captain in the Department who sued the incumbent announces her campaign for the office.

Former sheriff’s Capt. Donna Tompkins, who sued Sheriff John Darr for gender discrimination in 2013 and won, formally announced her candidacy for sheriff of Muscogee County today.

In a speech delivered on the Plaza Level of the Government Center, two floors below the Sheriff’s Office, Tompkins said that the time has come for a change in the office.

“We all know that there needs to be a change, and I’m that I’m the person who is best prepared to make that change,” Tompkins said. “There are considerable problems facing this sheriff’s office. Budget overspending, lawsuits, scandals, all of this has resulted in a diminished public confidence in the sheriff’s office.”

Tomorrow, delegate selection by the Georgia Republican Party opens for the process that will culminate in the election of delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. In Forsyth County, the meeting begins at 10 AM sharp at at South Forsyth High School.

Beginning at 10 a.m., attendees will select delegates to attend upcoming conventions and have a chance to hear from those in and seeking office.

Jason Mock, chairman of the local party, said there are many decisions to be made.

“Those individuals that are delegates [chosen by precinct last month] will vote on the slate for the delegates and alternates to the 7th Congressional District Convention, as well as the 9th Congressional District Convention, as well as the state convention that is going to be held in June,” Mock said.

District 9 includes north Forsyth, while south Forsyth is in District 7. The district conventions will take place in April, while the state convention is set for June 3 and 4 in Augusta.

Delegates could find that their involvement leads all the way to the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland.

For Cherokee County Republicans, the County Convention begins at the same hour at the Northside Cherokee Conference Center at the Bluffs, 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.

Cherokee County Republican Party Chairman Rick Davies said all residents are welcome and agendas will be sent out to delegates and alternates with any additional rules and information prior to the event.

“Who we elect to represent us at the National Convention is of paramount importance given that the potential does exist, as small as it may be, for a brokered convention. Above and beyond that, we want everyone who has been involved to date to continue to stay involved because we need a large, diverse set of ideas to help improve the not only the local Republican Party but the national party and its overall structure and direction,” Davies said Thursday.

Bainbridge attorney Ryan Cleveland announced he will run for Superior Court Judge for the South Georgia Circuit, which includes Baker, Calhoun, Decatur, Grady and Mitchell Counties.

“We deserve to continue to have a judge that we can trust to treat everyone fairly,” said Cleveland. “Residents of our circuit need to be assured that everyone will be treated fairly and equally under the law, and not have the law being decided based on political connections or favors.”

“A judge should be held to the highest standards – both personal and professional. I have proudly served my community, my family and my clients with dignity and dedication. I will bring this same commitment to the bench.”

He is the current Decatur County Solicitor General and Bainbridge City Solicitor.

“I believe in our Constitutional principles,” said Cleveland. “In a day and age where our Second Amendment Rights are being threatened, we need judges who will stand up for our Second Amendment right to protect ourselves.”

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