Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 29, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 29, 2019

On March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, suggesting that a greater role for women be considered in the fight for Independence and establishment of the United States.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Charles Wesley, hymnist, and brother of Methodist founder John Wesley, died on March 29, 1788 in London, England. Charles Wesley served as Secretary to James Oglethorpe and as a Chaplain at Fort Frederica on St Simons Island. This past Sunday, his hymns were played in churches across the globe, including Christ the Lord Is Risen Today and Rejoice, the Lord Is King.

On March 29, 1865, Federal troops under General Ulysses S. Grant began the Appomattox campaign.

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted after sufficient number of the states ratified it.

With the adoption of the 15th Amendment in 1870, a politically mobilized African-American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican Party to power, which brought about radical changes across the South. By late 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks to the support of African-American voters.

In the same year, Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, became the first African American ever to sit in Congress. Although African-American Republicans never obtained political office in proportion to their overwhelming electoral majority, Revels and a dozen other African-American men served in Congress during Reconstruction, more than 600 served in state legislatures, and many more held local offices. However, in the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, stripping Southern African Americans of the right to vote. It would be nearly a century before the nation would again attempt to establish equal rights for African Americans in the South.

Robert E. Lee arrived in Augusta on March 30, 1870. On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The iconic vote was cast in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the town’s charter.  Gary Sullivan of the News Tribune stated, “Exercising his right to vote in a local election on March 31, 1870.  Peterson became the first black man in the United States to cast a ballot.  The amendment had been ratified on February 3, 1870, and within just two months the Fifteenth Amendment was put to use.

An interview with Peterson showed who encouraged him to vote, “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen’s privilege.”  Peterson also revealed his vote in this election, “As I advanced to the polls one man offered me a ticket bearing the words “revised charter” and another one marked, “no charter.” I thought I would not vote to give up our charter after holding it so long: so I chose a revised charter ballot.”

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel led a group of government officials and press to the top of the Eiffel Tower by foot. It would open to the public nine days later.

On March 29, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation imposing the first state tax on distilled spirits in Georgia.

If made in another state and imported into Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 80 cents per gallon and alcohol at $1.60 per gallon – or at fractional amounts for smaller containers. If made in Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 40 cents per gallon and alcohol at 80 cents per gallon.

Note: GeorgiaInfo says Governor Talmadge signed the legislation, but Talmadge left office in January 1937. It was Gov. Rivers who signed the bill.

On March 30, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation authorizing non-profit Electric Membership Corporations to electrify rural Georgia.

On March 30, 1945, President F.D. Roosevelt arrived for his final visit to Warm Spring, Georgia.

On March 29, 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam, ending United States engagement in the war.

On March 31, 1976, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution proposing a new Constitution of Georgia, which would be placed on the ballot for voter referendum on November 2, 1976.

On March 31, 1989, Heathers was released.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today



HB 101 – Ad valorem tax; all-terrain vehicles; revise definitions (FIN-7th) Ridley-6th

HB 187 – Community Health, Department of; pilot program to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions; provide (H&HS-11th) Dempsey-13th

HB 193 – Banking and finance; banks and credit unions to offer savings promotion raffle accounts in which deposits to a savings account enter a depositor in a raffle; allow (B&FI-9th) Dunahoo-30th

HB 444 – Dual Enrollment Act; enact (Substitute)(H ED-37th) Reeves-34th

HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act; enact (Substitute)(RI&U-28th) Gravley-67th

HB 276 – Sales and use tax; certain persons that facilitate certain retail sales; require collection of tax (Substitute)(RULES-52nd) Harrell-106th

HB 242 – Professions and businesses; regulation of massage therapy educational programs; provide (Substitute)(RI&U-53rd) Hawkins-27th

HB 218 – Education; eligibility requirements to receive the HOPE Scholarship as a Zell Miller Scholarship Scholar; provide (H ED-54th) Williams-145th

HB 224 – Income tax; credit for new purchases and acquisitions of qualifiedinvestment property shall be earnable for mining and mining facilities and allowed against a taxpayer’s payroll withholding; provide (Substitute)(RULES-56th) Williamson-115th

HR 239 – Savannah Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor; designate (S&T-1st) Stephens-164th

HB 456 – Local government; elect an annual report in lieu of a biennial audit; increase expenditure amount (GvtO-7th) Tankersley-160th

HB 352 – Sales and use tax; exemption for competitive projects of regional significance; change sunset provision (Substitute)(RULES-17th) Reeves-34th

HB 424 – Crimes and offenses; include certain sex crimes into the definition of criminal gang activity(Substitute)(JUDY-18th) Silcox-52nd

HB 472 – Juvenile Code; procedures concerning removal considerations; revise (Substitute)(RULES-19th) Reeves-34th

HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act; post sign containing telephone number to receive reports of child abuse; require every public school (ED&Y-28th) Williams-145th

HB 33 – Weapons carry license; extension of time for the renewal of a license for certain service members serving on active duty outside of the state; provide (VM&HS-13th) Lumsden-12th

HB 540 – Housing tax credit; add to the list of tax categories eligible for an offset (Substitute)(FIN-52nd) Rhodes-120th

HR 346 – Georgia Southern Nursing Angels Memorial Bridge; Bryan County; dedicate (Substitute)(TRANS-21st) Tankersley-160th

HB 201 – Board of Natural Resources; promulgate rules and regulations regarding anchoring certain vessels within estuarine areas; authorize (NR&E-3rd) Hogan-179th

HB 220 – Solid waste management; certain solid waste disposal surcharges;extend sunset date (Substitute)(FIN-19th) Rogers-10thHB 118Crimes and offenses; transmitting a false alarm; revise offense (Substitute)(JUDY-27th) Morris-26th

HB 134 – County law libraries; repeal a population provision regarding the disposition of law library funds in certain counties (SJUDY-23rd) Rich-97th

HB 182 – Sales and use tax; lower threshold amount for certain dealers (FIN-52nd) Harrell-106thHB 277Insurance; allow good will from insurer acquisitions to be treated as an asset (Substitute)(I&L-9th) Carson-46th

HB 478 – Social services; improvements to the operation of the child abuse registry; provide (Substitute)(JUDY-42nd) Ballinger-23rd

HB 288 – Superior courts; revise the sums that the clerks are entitled to charge and collect for filing documents and instruments pertaining to real estate or personal property (JUDY-3rd) Powell-32nd

HB 290 – Health; pilot program to provide preexposure assistance to persons at risk of HIV infection; establish (H&HS-32nd) Cooper-43rd

HR 37 – Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics; create (TRANS-21st) Tanner-9th

HB 296 – Superior Court of Hall County in the Northeastern Circuit; revise term of court (JUDY-49th) Hawkins-27th

HB 307 – Abandoned Motor Vehicle Act; enact (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Powell-32nd

HB 319 – Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; member’s benefits payable after death shall be paid to his or her estate when such member failed to designate a beneficiary or his or her designated beneficiaries are deceased; provide (RET-52nd) Williams-148th

HB 349 – Local government; counties to exercise powers in incorporated areas; authorize (SLGO(G)-14th) Martin-49th

HB 379 – Revenue and taxation; projects and purposes using SPLOST funds; revise annual reporting requirements (GvtO-48th) Moore-95th

HB 345 – Penal institutions; pregnant female inmates or a female inmate who is in the immediate postpartum period; provide prohibited practices (Substitute)(H&HS-45th) Cooper-43rd

HB 381 – Child support; defined terms and terminology, grammar, and punctuation; revise and correct (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 406 – Local government; joint authorities to furnish certain information necessary for the state auditor to determine the net impact of their activities on associated tax digests; require (FIN-46th) Williamson-115th

HB 454 – Motor vehicles; operation of motorized mobility devices; provide (Substitute)(PUB SAF-51st) Tanner-9th

HB 470 – Law enforcement officers and agencies; analysis and collection of DNA for individuals charged with a felony offense but sentenced as a first offender or under conditional discharge; provide(Substitute)(JUDY-3rd) Sainz-180th

HB 490 – Banking and finance; payment of large deposits of deceased intestate depositors and the deposit of sums held for deceased intestate residents; make changes (B&FI-25th) Ridley-6th

HB 492 – Property; dispossessory proceedings; require applications for execution of a writ of possession be made within 30 days of issuance of the writ unless good cause is shown (Substitute)(SJUDY-23rd) Rich-97th

HB 499 – Public utilities and public transportation; use of electric easements for broadband services; permit (Substitute)(RI&U-46th) Kelley-16th

HB 282 – Criminal procedure; increase amount of time that law enforcement agencies are required to preserve certain evidence of sexual assault (Substitute)(JUDY-45th) Holcomb-81st

HB 76 – Alcoholic beverages; counties and municipalities may regulate alcohol licenses as to certain distances in a manner that is less but not more restrictive than those distances specified by the state; provisions (Substitute)(RI&U-46th) Stephens-164th

HB 70 – Guardian and ward; guardian and conservators of minors and adults; revise provisions (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 553 – State Victim Services Commission; bill of rights for foster parents; delete references to an obsolete entity (I COOP-28th) Dempsey-13th

HB 502 – Civil practice; continuances for members of the Board of Regents and the Attorney General; revise (Substitute)(RULES-6th) Welch-110th

HB 543 – Domestic relations; equitable caregivers; provide (Substitute)(JUDY-29th) Efstration-104th

HR 51 – Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission; create (I COOP-27th) Morris-26th

HB 239 – Georgia Business Court; establish (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 365 – Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; lower tax rate imposed (Substitute)(FIN-52nd) Blackmon-146th


Pursuant to Rule 33.3, debate shall be limited to onehour on all legislationon today’s calendars. Time to be allocated at the discretion of the Speaker.

Modified Structured Rule

SB 68 – Local School Systems; financial management; strengthen provisions (Substitute)(Ed-Tanner-9th) Sims-12th

SB 117 – Public Retirement Systems Standards Law; that does not require an individual to pay the full actuarial cost of obtaining such creditable service; prohibit passage of any law (Substitute)(Ret-Williams-148th) Black-8th(Rules Committee Substitute LC 43 1385S)

SB 200 – Georgia Department of Transportation; procedure for appealing the rejection of a contract bid; require (Trans-Smith-133rd) Gooch-51st

The General Assembly agreed to a $27.5 billion dollar state budget for Fiscal Year 202 according to the AJC.

Lawmakers plowed a record $600 million into pay raises for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

The Georgia State House revised Senate legislation that would have taken over Hartsfield-Jackson airport, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Instead of trying to take over Atlanta’s massive airport, the Georgia House has passed a proposal establishing a legislative committee to oversee 10 of Georgia’s major commercial airports.

The bill, which passed Thursday, is a House substitute to a Senate proposal calling for a full state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta officials strongly oppose the Senate bill and have said there’s no need for additional oversight.

Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner says the House version is a more “measured approach” to past procurement issues at Atlanta’s airport that led to the Senate original.

The bill also bundles two other proposals: extension of a jet fuel tax exemption and one seeking to improve transit options across rural parts of the state.

From the AJC:

Senate Bill 131 would create the Airport Transparency Legislative Oversight Committee to review “operations, contracts, safety, financing, organization and structure” of commercial airports in Georgia.

It would apply to not just Hartsfield-Jackson, but also other commercial airports across the state with at least 300 commercial passengers boarding planes a year, including airports in Albany, Athens, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and Valdosta.

The bill also includes a measure the House passed earlier this year to suspend jet-fuel taxes on airlines such as Delta for 20 years. The suspension would save airlines $35 million to $40 million a year. Most of the savings would go to Delta.

The stitched-together measure also now includes House Bill 511, which would allow counties to raise sales taxes for public transportation. It would establish programs to aid unemployed residents who need transportation to find jobs.

The State House also passed legislation to protect monuments, according to AccessWDUN.

The bill, passed Thursday, says anyone who damages or destroys a monument could be liable for triple the cost to repair or replace it.

It comes amid a nationwide push to remove statues honoring the Confederacy. Similar legislation in other states has been criticized for protecting those statues.

The bill now goes back to the Senate to consider House changes.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, sponsored SB 77, which levies triple damages and court costs against anyone found guilty of defacing a public monument.

It also adds an exception to state law prohibiting their removal. Local and state entities may move them for construction projects, but they must be placed “in a site of similar prominence.”

The controversial measure passed the Senate 34 to 17, with Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, in support.

In Thursday’s House action, Floyd County’s delegates – Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee; and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville – joined the majority 100 to 71 vote.

The House substitute contains the same provisions as Mullis’ bill but also eliminates references throughout state law to monuments dedicated to military service including the Confederate States of America. Instead, it folds the reference into the definition of a monument.

Many opponents spoke of the pain African-American Georgians may feel from visual reminders of a time when the state fought to keep their ancestors enslaved. The unfairness of their taxes going to maintain monuments to the Confederacy and the potential economic impact from boycotts were issues as well.

House Bill 530 addresses concerns raised after two children were found buried in their parents’ yard, according to the AJC.

Georgia lawmakers passed legislation Thursday that requires safety checks on students withdrawn from school in some circumstances.

House Bill 530 was brought in reaction to the gruesome discovery in December of the corpses of two children buried in the family backyard in Effingham County. Mary Crocker and her brother, Elwyn “JR” Crocker Jr. were allegedly being home schooled.

Hitchens, R-Rincon, wanted sweeping investigations for any child withdrawn from school under conditions that gave educators “reasonable grounds” to be suspicious.

Hitchens’ bill was pared down. Now, it only requires an investigation if parents don’t file a declaration of intent to home school within 45 days of a student’s withdrawal and there is no record of a transfer to another school. Hitchens said the House of Representatives tried to balance the protection of children against parents’ rights.

It won’t prevent all cases of abuse, he said, but it is still an improvement. Currently, there is no oversight “whatsoever,” he said. “This will bring oversight in some cases.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

The Effingham County director of the Division of Children and Family Services cried Thursday night at a town hall meeting about the Crocker teenagers, who were beaten, starved and kept naked in a dog cage.

[Effingham County] DFCS, the Sheriff’s Office and Family Connection organized the three-hour meeting and invited lawmakers, school officials, law enforcement officers and others who are involved with protecting children.

Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie told the group that everyone in the county must call law enforcement when they think something might be wrong.

“If you see something, say something,” he said. He said dozens of people said they suspected something was wrong with the Crocker family but didn’t say anything.

He said with 60,000 residents of the county spread out over 486 square miles, the eight school resource officers can’t see everything that’s wrong.

A state House bill aimed at addressing the Crocker case was approved in the Senate Thursday by a vote of 50-0. House Bill 530 now goes to the governor for his signature.

Under the bill, local school systems will have a list of children who are being homeschooled. Schools will refer cases of children who stop attending school and whose parents have not filed a notice of intent to homeschool to DFCS, which will conduct an assessment to determine “whether such withdrawal was to avoid educating the child.

Some Savannah residents are promoting the idea of a single African-American candidate for Mayor, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With signs stating “Black press only” on the doors of the church where the meeting was held, white reporters were barred from entry, while black reporters for at least two television stations were permitted inside.

The event was coordinated by the Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, owner of the consulting firm, The Trigon Group, who declined to discuss the entry policy.

Former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson declined to comment before going inside, as did Chatham County Commissioner Chester Ellis.

Savannah Alderman Van Johnson, who is one of three African-Americans who have stated their intention to run for mayor, said afterwards that during the meeting he had talked about his vision for an inclusive and progressive Savannah. With regards to the discriminatory policy at the door, Johnson said that he believed people have the right to assemble and determine the rules of their assembly.

“It’s not my meeting,” Johnson said. “I was asked to come and give a statement, so I came and I gave a statement. What I said in there, I’ll say out here.”

Macon-Bibb County is considering a contract to seek insurance payments when county property is damaged in car accidents, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Hall County has rolled back some of the restrictions on short term rentals, according to the Gainesville Times.

Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the county’s short-term rental ordinance on Thursday, allowing homes in all zoning districts to serve as short-term rentals with the approval of a county business license.

The changes will not require approval from the Hall County Planning Commission for homes to be short-term rentals. However, neighbors within 500 feet of the property would be notified by the county when a property has been approved.

There are currently 135 advertised short-term rentals in the county, but only 14 of them have a business license, according to Planning and Development Director Srikanth Yamala. He said over the last year, the Hall County Marshal’s Office has received 10 complaints about short-term rentals and has issued six citations.

The county defines short-term rentals as residential properties that are rented for overnight accommodations for two to 30 nights.

Three public hearings were held before the vote, one at a planning commission meeting and two at commissioners’ meetings. Public opinions were mixed, with some saying they had been negatively impacted by living near vacation rentals and others saying responsibly operated and maintained vacation rentals could improve neighborhoods and help the economy.

Candler County has rolled out a notification system for residents, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Ben Ku wants the county to make more use of social media, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

As the county officials discussed areas that they felt needed improvement during their strategic planning retreat in Athens on Thursday, the topic of communication and engagement with the public came up a few times. Department heads and commissioners are meeting for two days at the University of Georgia to chart out a path for the future.

“It’s coming, but it clearly isn’t here yet,” Ku told the Daily Post. “This is how most people communicate and get their news and get information and we need to be able to interact with people where they are.”

In addition to ramping up social media, other communications-related issues that various department heads and commissioner said they wanted to see addressed included better external communication about changes taking place in the government, better engagement with the public and getting more information in general about what is going on in Gwinnett.

“We don’t tell our story well,” Ku told the other county leaders gathered at the retreat. “We don’t toot our own horn enough.”

Statesboro City Council is holding a special called meeting to take action on a short-term exemption to the prohibition on open alcohol containers in public, according to the Statesboro Herald.

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