Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 3, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 3, 2017

On March 3, 1779, the British Army met America forces in Screven County, Georgia.

On March 3, 1779, 238 years ago [] , the first major battle of the British Army’s push into the American South took place at Brier Creek at the old road between Savannah and Augusta. According to Battle and President of the Brier Creek Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Craig Wildi, the American loss resulted in the deaths of at least 200 patriots.

Studies done by Battle in conjunction with other professional organizations have uncovered evidence that some of Georgia’s soldiers who lost their lives in the fight for independence may still lie in graves at the battle site.

“This was the 16th bloodiest of all battle sites throughout the Revolutionary War,” Battle said. “We found so many artifacts under our original permit, Georgia DNR (Department of natural Resources) shut the study down.”

The land around the battle site is public, managed by Georgia DNR as part of the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area. The wildlife management area is about 15,000 acres. Battle and Wildi said they want 500-600 acres set aside to fully study the site, but said DNR hasn’t been willing to dedicate more than about five acres for site preservation and management.

Last year, the Sons of the American Revolution held a commemorative event to place flags in honor of those who died at the battlefield. Because the event was hosted by a non-profit organization, Wildi said Georgia DNR waived the requirements for certain liability insurance policies and other fees for group events. This year, he said they are requiring the group to pay for those requirements; payments the small non-profit says it can’t afford.

During the surveys for and original push for the Palmetto Pipeline, bulldozers and other equipment were brought onto the site to widen roads across it inside the wildlife management area. The proposed pipeline map originally had the right of way slated to cross the battlefield. While both said they were relieved the pipeline was stopped, they say other challenges remain in saving the site.

On March 3, 1820, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise.

In February 1819, Representative James Tallmadge of New York introduced a bill that would admit Missouri into the Union as a state where slavery was prohibited. At the time, there were 11 free states and 10 slave states. Southern congressmen feared that the entrance of Missouri as a free state would upset the balance of power between North and South, as the North far outdistanced the South in population, and thus, U.S. representatives. Opponents to the bill also questioned the congressional precedent of prohibiting the expansion of slavery into a territory where slave status was favored.

Even after Alabama was granted statehood in December 1819 with no prohibition on its practice of slavery, Congress remained deadlocked on the issue of Missouri. Finally, a compromise was reached. On March 3, 1820, Congress passed a bill granting Missouri statehood as a slave state under the condition that slavery was to be forever prohibited in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36th parallel, which runs approximately along the southern border of Missouri. In addition, Maine, formerly part of Massachusetts, was admitted as a free state, thus preserving the balance between Northern and Southern senators.

The Missouri Compromise, although criticized by many on both sides of the slavery debate, succeeded in keeping the Union together for more than 30 years.

On March 3, 1845, Congress overrode a Presidential veto for the first time.

On March 3, 1874, Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation permitting persons or companies to lease Georgia prisoners for terms from one to five years, with the Governor setting the rates.

The act required the humane treatment of convicts and limited them to a ten-hour work day, with Sunday off. Equally important, leases had to free the state from all costs associated with prisoner maintenance. Once all state convicts were leased, the law provided that all state penitentiary officers and employees be discharged.

Just think of how much progress Georgia has made with privatizing the justice system — now, instead of leasing convicts, we have private probation companies overseeing released prisoners.

And if you think the legislature has been crazy this year, three years ago, Crossover Day and the first day of candidate Qualifying both occurred on March 3d. Today, we only have Crossover Day to contend with.

It must have been my fat fingers hitting the wrong key, but several readers wrote in to correct me that the groundbreaking for Buford Dam was on March 2, 1950, not 1850. As a sign of my repentance, here is a fascinating story about the groundbreaking by Harris Blackwood, then writing for The Gainesville Times, but currently serving as Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The AJC also compiled a great collection of photos from the groundbreaking in 1950.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Crossover Day in the Georgia legislature: the last day on which lobbyists can secure enough progress to justify a contract renewal legislation can be passed in one chamber and be eligible for consideration in the other. Traditionally the 30th day of the session, this year’s Crossover occurs on Legislative Day 28. The change was designed to give each chamber a little extra time to consider legislation that originated on the other side of the Capitol.

The season of Lent calls us to repent of our sins and leads us to a joyous celebration of the triumph of Christ over the grave. Today, some folks in Atlanta will be speaking of economic development and working to dig casino gambling out of the shallow grave in which it was earlier this week interred. From Jim Galloway at the AJC:

On Monday, the Senate sponsor of a casino gambling bill declared his effort dead. On Friday, Crossover Day, state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, will bring his own casino measure, House Bill 158, before the House Regulated Industries Committee.

Here’s a link to the House version of the casino gambling destination resorts bill.


I just don’t anticipate seeing a lot of repentance today. The forecast does call for plenty of prayer, however.

Citizen Impact helpfully lists the office phone numbers of the House Regulated Industries Committee members in case you wish to let them know your wishes on the casino gambling bill.


9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP



Yes, they really played the music.


SB 211 – Student Assessments; consideration of local reading programs; research based formative assessments; summative component; provide (Substitute) (ED&Y-37th)

SR 204 – Kyle Gilbert Memorial Highway; Gwinnett County; dedicate (Substitute) (TRANS-49th)

SB 180 – Hospital Care for the Indigent; additional reporting requirement for rural hospitals; provide (Substitute) (FIN-11th)

SB 134 – “Save, Earn, Win Act” (B&FI-48th)

SB 250 – State Sexual Offender Registry; individual is convicted in another country; require registration (JUDY-53rd)

SB 193 – Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program; program mission and practice; revise (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SB 153 – Hearing Aid Dealers and Dispensers; exempt certain activities (Substitute) (H&HS-28th)

SB 191 – Petroleum Pipelines; regulation and permitting in this state; definitions; provide (Substitute) (NR&E-17th)

SB 241 – Controlled Substances; electronic data base of prescription information; provisions; change (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SB 126 – State Tort Claims; venue of actions; provisions; change (Substitute) (JUDY-18th)

SB 226 – Alcoholic Beverages; regulations; provisions; annual production requirements for Georgia farm wineries; change (Substitute) (RI&U-49th)

SR 228 – Property Conveyance; authorize 18 counties (SI&P-25th)

SR 229 – Public Property; granting of non-exclusive easements for the construction, operation, and maintenance of facilities, utilities, roads; authorize 10 counties (SI&P-25th)

SB 222 – “Local Government 9-1-1 Authority Act”; Local Government 9-1-1 Authority; create (RI&U-18th)

SB 99 – Georgia Crime Information Center; purging a person’s hospitalization information for purpose of National Instant Criminal Background Check; provide for a judicial procedure (Substitute) (PUB SAF-42nd)

SB 170 – “Georgia SERVES Act of 2017”; child care services for foster children and their families; provide for certification of volunteers (Substitute) (SJUDY-6th)

SB 200 – Insurance; synchronizing patients’ chronic medications; provide (I&L-52nd)

SB 258 – Eligibility and Qualifications for Office; ineligibility for office for holders of public money of municipalities who refuse; pay over such funds to proper office; provide (RULES-19th)

SB 164 – Insurance; copayment, coinsurance, or office visit deductible; for services rendered by a physical therapist; prohibit certain insurers from imposing (Substitute) (I&L-40th)

SB 219 – Motor Vehicles; definitions; operation of motor vehicles with automated driving systems on certain public roads; provide (Substitute) (TRANS-51st)

SB 242 – Advanced Practice Registered Nurses; delegating physician can enter into a protocol agreement at any one time for nurses; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SB 132 – Civil Practice; statutory civil case filing and disposition forms; allow Judicial Council of Georgia to promulgate forms; child custody proceedings; provide (Substitute) (JUDY-19th)

SR 146 – Certain Rights for Victims; suffered an act committed; in violation of the criminal or juvenile delinquency laws; provide-CA (Substitute) (JUDY-18th)

SB 127 – Failure to Provide Notice Not Rendering Responsible Person Liable; victim to file a motion in a criminal case to assert his or her rights; allow (Substitute) (JUDY-18th)

SB 173 – Captive Insurance Companies; provisions; extensively revise (Substitute) (I&L-25th)

SR 192 – General Assembly; election of local school superintendents; local boards of education by grand juries as alternative to appointment; authorize -CA (Substitute) (ED&Y-50th)

SB 149 – School Resource Officers; training requirements; provide (Substitute) (ED&Y-10th)

SB 29 – Education; drinking water in child care learning centers and for lead contamination; require testing (H&HS-39th)

SB 216 – Sales Tax; per capita share of certain municipalities to be paid to the county governing authority; eliminate a provision (FIN-41st)

SB 30 – Sustainable Community School Operational Grants; definitions; planning and implementation grants; provide (Substitute) (ED&Y-39th)

SB 221 – Optometrists; administer pharmaceutical agents by injection; authorize doctors of optometry; limitations and requirements; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th)

SB 206 – “Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act” (I&L-9th)


Modified Open Rule
HB 403 – Interstate cooperation; Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee and House Committee on Interstate Cooperation; clarify number of members (IntC-Dubnik-29th)

HB 413 – Public utilities; regulation of certain matters pertaining to rural telephone cooperatives; provisions (EU&T-Parsons-44th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 15 – Courts; certain civil pleadings to be filed electronically; require (Substitute)(Judy-Willard-51st)

HB 249 – Controlled substances; collect more information regarding dispensing and use; provisions (Substitute)(JudyNC-Tanner-9th) (AM 29 2594)

HB 253 – Special license plates; dog and cat reproductive sterilization support program; increase the proportion of moneys derived from the sale (MotV-Willard-51st)

HB 258 – Crimes and offenses; sentencing for persons who knowingly commit aggravated assault upon a peace officer; provisions (Substitute) (JudyNC-Powell-32nd)

HB 261 – Penal institutions; certain individuals sentenced between March 18, 1968 and October 31, 1982; allow to petition court for first offender status (Substitute) (JudyNC-Werkheiser-157th)

HB 280 – Firearms; license holders; carrying and possession of certain weapons in certain buildings or real property owned or leased to public institutions of postsecondary education; authorize (Substitute) (PS&HS-Ballinger-23rd)

HB 292 – Firearms; laws relating to the carrying of weapons and safety; revise and clarify (Substitute)(PS&HS-Jasperse-11th)

HB 309 – State liability; activities of organized militia engaged in training or duty; provide exception (Substitute)(D&VA-Barr-103rd)

HB 428 – Downtown development authorities; authorize assessments (EU&T-Martin-49th)

HB 470 – Economic Development, Department of; grants to certain organizations supporting military communities; create program (Substitute)(ED&T-Blackmon-146th) (AM 43 0047)

Structured Rule
HB 54 – Health; indigent care in rural hospitals; provide an additional reporting requirement; change certain amounts eligible for tax credit (Substitute)(W&M-Duncan-26th)

HB 59 – Revenue and taxation; tax credits for rehabilitation of historic structures; revise procedures, conditions, and limitations (Substitute)(W&M-Stephens-164th)

HB 181 – Revenue and taxation; furnishing of certain tax information in all municipalities having a population of 350,000 or more; change certain provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Lott-122nd)

HB 285 – Ad valorem tax; criteria used by tax assessors to determine fair market value of real property; revise (Substitute)(W&M-Knight-130th)

HB 302 – Ad valorem tax; property; change certain requirements to notice pertaining to millage rate adoption (Substitute)(W&M-Nix-69th)

HB 342 – Enterprise zones; certain urban redevelopment zones; provide designation (Substitute)(W&M-Efstration-104th)

Noteworthy among today’s bills:

Senate Resolution 146 by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R-Macon) is this year’s version of Marsy’s Law.

House Bill 280 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) is this year’s version of campus carry.

Ballinger, who argues that Second Amendment protections should extend to Georgia’s public colleges and universities, reintroduced the controversial bill this year after it was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal last May. This year’s measure is nearly identical to the one carried by Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, last year, but would prohibit firearms from being brought onto child care facilities located on college campuses.

The measure would allow anyone age 21 and older to carry a concealed handgun on campus with a state-issued permit, which requires that applicants be fingerprinted and undergo a background check.

Though the legislation has the support of each member of Cherokee’s legislative delegation, it faces opposition across the state, namely from the University System of Georgia, which has long opposed students and teachers being able to carry firearms into classrooms.

Ballinger told the Tribune her bill was aimed at allowing students to protect themselves, which is hard to do if their firearms are locked away in their vehicles. She said when she studied at Georgia State University there were times she felt unsafe on campus.

“I’d be sitting in class and I’d receive a text that there had been an armed robbery at a convenience store I would have to pass on my way to my car,” she said after introducing the legislation, citing several armed robberies that have occurred on or near the university’s sprawling downtown campus.

Senate Bill 134, the “Save, Win, Earn” Act by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) would allow banks and credit union to offer a new type of savings account. Under the Act, such an account could include as “juice” an opportunity to win a jackpot instead of, or in addition to, conventional interest.

The “Save Earn Win Act” would authorize banks and credit unions to offer a new type of savings account in which depositors are entered into a drawing that pays a prize to the winner. The bill would incentivize earners who are otherwise predisposed to spend their income on immediate thrills to save. These depositors would have the thrill of a lottery or raffle, but instead of being left with nothing but an empty slip when they lose, they would still have their savings. The prize-linked savings accounts authorized by the Save Earn Win Act could be interest bearing or non-interest bearing. It would be up to the financial institutions in question to organize their raffle as they deem fit.

I was initially skeptical of this bill, thinking it sounded gimmicky, but when I researched the issue found that it appears to be working in some jurisdictions that have adopted similar measures.

[Blue Ridge Bank in Luray, Virginia] said it will award one customer with $200 and four customers with $50 each month, while the annual grand prize is $5,000.

Of course, the savers aren’t earning much on their deposits given interest rates, but that’s not really the point. It is a method to encourage people to do what could seem otherwise daunting or hopeless: save money.

“If you take these examples from a behavioral perspective then you start to see these incentives as ways for consumers to replace high-cost credit,” said George Hofheimer, chief knowledge officer at Filene Research Institute, in an email. “So now a stable (but non- or low-interest earning) savings of a few hundred bucks starts to look pretty sweet. … Now they have free cash flow, which enables stability.”

The concept has been successful in bringing more people into the banking system for those U.S. institutions already offer it.

From Bloomberg,

[Blue Ridge Bank is] the first in the U.S. to take advantage of a new law that allows banks to offer cash prizes to depositors. The idea is to make saving a little more fun. The more you save, the greater your chances of winning monthly or yearly cash jackpots. It’s an extra inducement for low-income people to put money into an emergency fund at the bank rather than buying lottery tickets.

“We’re helping people do something that makes sense for them,” [Blue Ridge Bank President Brian] Plum said. He points out that even those who lose will end up with extra savings – currently the average balance in a jackpot savings account is $1,300.

At first, customers seemed confused by the idea of bank-sponsored games of chance. “It takes a little longer to grasp the concept,” Plum said. “It’s a really different product from anything else out there.”

From the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University,

Benjamin Iverson gets one of two distinctly different reactions when he tells people about his recent research into prize-linked savings (PLS) accounts. The accounts, which are popular overseas, accrue little to no interest. Instead, account holders get entered into jackpot drawings, earning more chances to win as they invest more in the account.

“One reaction is, ‘This is the greatest idea ever! We’re going to help people save,’” says Iverson, an assistant professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management. “The other reaction is, ‘Are you crazy? We’re going to trick people into gambling instead of saving? That’s a terrible idea.’”

Iverson himself was firmly in the second camp before he began his research. After crunching the numbers, he changed his mind.

“I’ve really come around,” he says.

He was convinced through his research, which shows PLS accounts attract new people into the banking system who do not have other savings accounts. And those account holders increase their savings by more than the average across all types of savings accounts, including standard accounts. Additionally, PLS accounts appear to reduce the number of people who buy lottery tickets.

Benjamin Iverson gets one of two distinctly different reactions when he tells people about his recent research into prize-linked savings (PLS) accounts. The accounts, which are popular overseas, accrue little to no interest. Instead, account holders get entered into jackpot drawings, earning more chances to win as they invest more in the account.

“One reaction is, ‘This is the greatest idea ever! We’re going to help people save,’” says Iverson, an assistant professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management. “The other reaction is, ‘Are you crazy? We’re going to trick people into gambling instead of saving? That’s a terrible idea.’”

Iverson himself was firmly in the second camp before he began his research. After crunching the numbers, he changed his mind.

“I’ve really come around,” he says.

He was convinced through his research, which shows PLS accounts attract new people into the banking system who do not have other savings accounts. And those account holders increase their savings by more than the average across all types of savings accounts, including standard accounts. Additionally, PLS accounts appear to reduce the number of people who buy lottery tickets.

In other words, PLS accounts offer an attractive alternative to a particularly financially vulnerable population—those with no savings who are one large medical bill or car wreck away from fiscal disaster—while decreasing overall spending on lotteries, where the vast majority of people reap no benefit.

The research from the Kellogg school is fascinating if you’re an economics nerd and is worth reading in its entirety. Count me as a convert on this issue.

A group of women supporting ObamaCare visited Senator David Perdue’s office to voice their concerns.

U.S. Senator David Perdue’s office in Atlanta got a surprise visit on Thursday: a group of women from Bibb and Houston counties who want to talk about their support of the Affordable Care Act.

“No. 1 we want them to stop calling it Obamacare and start calling it the Affordable Care Act, which is what it is,” said Lynn Snyder, who spearheaded the visit as a member of Georgia Women and Those Who Stand with Us. The group plans to launch a website soon, but for now it’s a private Facebook group that through word-of-mouth has grown into real-life gatherings — and congressional office drop-ins.

“We would like to now have both houses of Congress work on not ‘repeal and replace,’ but ‘repair,’ ” Snyder said. Former President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation does many things, including provide tax credits, that aim to get more people covered by health insurance.

Snyder said the reason they made the 90-mile trek is to take that message to congressmen who aren’t holding town halls. They’ve already visited Republican U.S. Rep. Austin Scott’s office in Warner Robins.

Senator Johnny Isakson held a telephone town hall for constituents.

From his home in Marietta, recovering from back surgery, Senator Johnny Isakson took questions during a 1-hour telephone town hall.

“I’ve called lots of time to your office and left and been very frustrated about getting through to either you or Senator Perdue,” one constituent said

Isakson said the sheer quantity of calls had a lot to do with that.

“That’s because some weeks during the confirmation process we’ve gotten 27,000 calls a week,” he said.

From the Athens Banner-Herald,

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., supports keeping any inquiry into potential Trump adminstration ties to Russia in the intelligence committees in the U.S. Senate and House, with those committees forwarding any concerns to the federal Department of Justice for possible further action.

“I think the Senate committees are the appropriate place for those investigations to begin,” Isakson told participants in a telephone town hall Thursday. Still recovering from recent back surgery, Isakson spent nearly an hour Thursday evening fielding calls from constituents across metropolitan Atlanta and north Georgia, including two calls from Athens.

Isakson likened the committee-based approach to addressing potentially problematic administration ties with Russia to the grand jury process, with the committees sifting through evidence before deciding whether to send the probe to the Justice Department for further action.

One of the nearly 20 callers who asked a question Thursday, identified as a Commerce school teacher living in Athens, asked Isakson about sending tax dollars to educational entities other than public schools.

Isakson defended options like charter schools, telling the Athens caller he “will always support more access for choice” for parents seeking educational options for children, but wouldn’t support taking money from public schools and putting it in private educational options.

The AJC Political Insider noted the civility of the call.

Thursday’s question and answer session was nothing if not a polite affair, even with the questioners who said they were deeply concerned about President Donald Trump’s policies on issues such as refugees, health care and the environment. Many callers wished Isakson a speedy recovery from his recent back surgery and waited for him to finish his responses before asking follow-ups.

Isakson acknowledged the surge of civil engagement in the six weeks since Trump was sworn into office.

“I don’t know if there’s ever been a more interesting time in the last 12 years other than the last six weeks,” he said. “With the election and the swearing-in of President Trump, a lot of things have happened.”

An Isakson spokeswoman said calls were screened beforehand in order to avoid repeat questions and topics but that staff was not looking to weed out tough questions.

She said roughly 3,400 people called into the event or live-streamed it online.

Republicans in Georgia’s Congressional Delegation gave high marks to President Trump’s Joint Address this week.

“We heard President Trump outline his optimistic vision for America—one with more job opportunities, education choices, and economic mobility for everyone,” Sen. David Perdue, a Trump surrogate during the 2016 campaign, said in a statement.

“This is what our country needs to become competitive again, and I am committed to helping him achieve these results for Georgians and the American people.”

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., called Trump’s remarks a “positive bold vision for tackling the big challenges.” The congressman has been under some fire at home for not holding an in-person town hall meeting with constituents to discuss the Affordable Care Act’s expected repeal.

“From ensuring the safety and security of our great country, to providing a patient-centered health care system that offers affordable choices for all Americans, to a tax code that unleashes the power of the American economy, nothing is beyond the grasp of the American people and our great nation when we work together,” Woodall said about Trump’s speech after it ended.

House Bill 514 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) would dissolve the Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority, which was created in 1988.

Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, said he introduced the repealing legislation, House Bill 514, at the request of the authority’s members, who wanted to reevaluate the organization and possibly form an improved entity.

“It was a difficult decision for the board, but sometimes new and improved is better when you are trying to serve the public,” Stephens said.

Introduction of the legislation comes after the city reduced its financial backing for the authority over the past few years. The reductions came after city staffers and the previous Savannah City Council, under Mayor Edna Jackson, began raising concerns about the organization’s direction and ability to meet its goals.

House Bill 255 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would require rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to collect sales tax on services.

If passed, House Bill 225 would require consumers to pay state and local sales tax on every ride they take.

“It’s a great business model, but they still need to play by the same rules that everybody else uses,” explained Rep. Jay Powell, R – Camilla.

Powell is the primary sponsor of the legislation, which he said simply clarifies the current law that taxes transportation services.  Ride share companies think they are exempt from sales tax, but Powell disagrees.

“In my opinion, it’s already clear that they are subject to the law, but to be extra careful, we are changing the law to say that not only does it apply to the direct provider of the service, i.e. a taxi driver or limousine driver, but it also applies to a facilitator or broker of that service so long as they also accept payment,” Powell said.

Savannah is considering issuing fewer licenses for alcohol sales, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Columbus may lose the Cottonmouths professional hockey team after the end of this season.

The old Georgia State Archives will be imploded early Sunday morning. Here’s my favorite fact:

five-year-old Devin Simmons, a Children’s Health Care of Atlanta patient with sickle cell anemia, will pull the plunger to cue the implosion at 6:59 a.m.

The Sip and Swine BBQ Festival takes place this weekend in the parking lot at CoolRay Field. It’s a great event, and I may try to get there.

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