Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 5, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 5, 2018

On March 5, 1735, James Oglethorpe presented a budget to the trustees of Georgia and proposed seeking an appropriation from Parliament, thus beginning the addiction of the Georgia government to Other People’s Money.

On March 5, 1869, the United States Congress refused to seat Georgia’s elected members of the House and Senate.

On March 5, 1977, President Jimmy Carter held the first “Dial-A-President” radio broadcast in which he fielded questions from radio listeners.

Ron Daniels brings you more on the Presidential Q&A from 1977.

Regardless of Carter’s policy positions and his answers to questions, “Ask President Carter” was a truly historic broadcast. Never before had the President been accessible via telephone on a live radio broadcast. And the questions presented to the President weren’t confined to one or two issues that he had been prepared to handle. One can argue that the American people were also fascinated with the concept of calling and speaking directly to Carter; nine million people called into the broadcast trying to reach him.

The President seemed to enjoy the broadcast as well, remarking: “[t]he questions that come in from people all over the country are the kind that you would never get in a press conference. The news people would never raise them, like the Ottawa Indian question. And I think it’s very good for me to understand directly from the American people what they are concerned about and questions that have never been asked of me and reported through the news media.”

Revolutionary War burial sites at the Kettle Creek Battle Ground near Washington, GA have been located by cadaver dogs. From Fox News:

For nearly 240 years, many of those slayed soldiers lied untouched in cursory, makeshift graves – until recently.

An incredible sense of smell zeroed in on more than two dozen graves, according to Walker Chewning, president of the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association. Cadaver dogs surveyed about a quarter of the battlegrounds near Washington, Ga, sniffing out where soldiers could have fallen.

Chewning told Fox News “the use of cadaver dogs is something new in archaeological research” and certainly something the association will continue to utilize.

This research helped the battlefield park earn federal money for an expansion. Kettle Creek Battlefield Association announced the acquisition of 180 additional acres – tripling the American Revolutionary War park’s size – during the anniversary month of the hasty encounter.

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., said the joint program allows small communities who “work at it, they labor, they try to raise the money but they really are never able to come to the full extent of purchasing” to finally make ends meet.

“It just helps people connect our present generation with those who gave their lives to give us the greatest country in the world,” Hice said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flu-related hospitalizations are down for last week, according to the AJC.

As of the week ending Feb. 24, the Georgia Department of Public Health said 6.5 percent of patient visits to doctors were for the flu, down from 11.9 percent of patient visits the week before.

The number of new flu-related hospitalizations reported added up to 49, down from 91 during the previous week.

The flu season may have peaked according to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention, but expect several more weeks of the influenza.

First Lady Sandra Deal will kick off Read Across Georgia Month at the State Capitol at 10:30 AM today.

Get Georgia Reading Day highlights the importance of reading and literacy skills for future academic growth and success in the workforce. Launched in 2012, Read Across Georgia Month supports Gov. Deal’s Grade-Level Reading Initiative, which aims to have all Georgia third-graders reading at grade-level or better by the completion of the third grade.

Mrs. Deal will preview an unreleased children’s book that was written, illustrated, printed and published in Georgia. In partnership with the Georgia Forestry Foundation, the Get Georgia Reading Campaign will provide every public elementary school and public library system in the state with a copy of the book. In upcoming classroom visits, Mrs. Deal will also share with Georgia students “Behind the Little Red Door,” a new book by Georgia author and Zac Brown Band guitarist Coy Bowles.

Governor Nathan Deal will sign House Bill 159 at 1 PM in a public signing at the State Capitol.

Gov. Deal appointed Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner to a vacancy on the State Court of Douglas County.

United States Senator David Perdue (R) will visit the Georgia Capitol today, according to the AJC:

[H]is office said the former Fortune 500 chief executive does plan to talk to lawmakers about the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill, the national debt crisis and the federal infrastructure package.

He also plans to praise state officials for quick work on repairing the I-85 bridge collapse, which he said should be a model for the nation.

“To get this project completed weeks ahead of schedule, all levels of government worked together to waive regulations, maximize capital, and put in place reasonable incentive plans,” he said. “This common-sense, outside of the box approach worked and should be mimicked in future infrastructure projects.”

Legislative Day 30 commences at 10 AM when the House and Senate convene.








2:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Health and Human Dev, and Public Health Subs 341 CAP





HB 162 – Income tax; transfer of setoffs by the Administrative Office of the Courts; revise procedures (Substitute) (JUDY-3rd) Price-48th

HB 309 – State liability; activities of organized militia engaged in training or duty; provide exception (VM&HS-32nd) Barr-103rd

HB 475 – Charitable solicitations; use of collection receptacles for donations; implement additional requirements (Substitute) (RI&U-13th) Harden-148th

State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) said his effort to (re)name the bridge over the Savannah River might move forward as an amendment to a legislative vehicle. From the Savannah Morning News.

A bill to name the bridge after Juliette Gordon Low did not make it out of committee by Crossover Day at the Georgia Capital, but state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, said the legislation to honor the Girl Scouts founder and Savannah native could still move forward by attaching it to another bill — although her last name may be dropped from the proposal.

Instead, Stephens said he is leaning toward naming the bridge something along the lines of the Juliette Great Savannah Bridge to alleviate fears competitors would capitalize on ships having to go under a “Low” bridge to get to the Georgia Ports.

In the end, Stephens said the legislation could be attached to his resolution to name the new King George Boulevard bridge after Edward Zipperer, a Savannah native who served on the Georgia Senate from 1967 to 1975.

Dalton leaders are discussing school safety after a teacher fired a gun at school, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, cautioned against knee-jerk reactions but said an on-campus shooting involving a teacher will likely “debunk” the theory — at least in the mind of some — that armed teachers may be a way to end the carnage.

“There may be more persuasive conversation that that is a solution, but just on the surface, the headline will tell you that that’s not going to work,” Carpenter said Wednesday.

Carpenter, a 1996 Dalton High graduate, was so troubled by the Dalton High incident that he scratched his name off a legislative resolution in the works “urging” school districts to arm educators as state law allows.

[State Rep. Jason] Ridley, who also represents Whitfield County, said the Dalton teacher’s action should not chill talk of equipping school personnel with firearms.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is offering a special session of its firearms training class to school system employees, according to

Deputy Shannon Volkodav said  the class is given on a regular basis, but a special session is open to anyone who works in a school system. She says the classes covers weapon options and laws that apply to carrying a firearm.

“It also covers weapons choices, accessories and holsters.” Volkodav said.

Volkodav adds what differs in the class is that it is geared toward educators and covers laws as they pertain to having a weapon on campus.

Albany and Dougherty County will see local contests on the ballot, according to the Albany Herald.

“I’m sure (District 4 Commissioner) Ewell Lyle will sign up for re-election, but we’re hearing that there are others who are seriously thinking about running, too,” [Dougherty County Republican Party Chair Stephen] Brimberry said. “I think (yoga instructor) Sylvia Maxwell is thinking very seriously about running for the (at-large) School Board seat held by Geraldine Hudley. And Tracy Taylor is reportedly thinking about swapping parties and running for a (County Commission) seat as a Republican.

In the commission races, Chairman Chris Cohilas and Commissioners John Hayes (District 2), Lyle and Anthony Jones (District 6) are all expected to seek another four-year term in office. Cohilas told The Albany Herald last week he would qualify for re-election at 9 a.m. Monday.

Jason Anavitarte announced via Facebook that he will run for Paulding County Board of Education District 6.

Floyd County Commissioners meet today and tomorrow in a planning session to discuss topics ranging from prioritizing SPLOST-funded projects to solar energy.

Springfield, Georgia was designated a “Rural Zone” under legislation that offers tax credits for reveloping buildings, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The program that lasts five years includes three incentives: a job tax credit, investment credit and rehabilitation credit.

Investors can claim up to 25 percent of their acquisition costs and up to 30 percent of their renovation costs. Creating new jobs in the zone yields $2,000 per year per full-time job.

The Rural Zone program includes retail businesses, which previously were excluded from state job tax credits. And multiple sources can benefit – for instance, a new coffee shop might provide job tax credits for the local business owner, an investment credit to an urban investor and a rehabilitation credit to a local contractor.

Springfield applied for and won the designation first offered by the legislature in 2017. The law calls for up to 10 revitalization zones to be designated each year, provided that there are not more than 50 zones in existence at the same time.

Columbia County Commission Chair Ron Cross is not running for reelection and three candidates will vie for his seat, while Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis will be challenged by Gould Hagler, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Elections for mayor and Augusta Commission were moved by the Georgia Legislature from November to May four years ago. In addition to mayor, five commission seats are to be decided May 22. The election for Columbia County Commission chairperson will also likely be decided in May on the Republican primary portion of the ballot, as all announced candidates are Republicans.

Coweta County Fire Rescue trained workers on how to deal with behavioral health issues, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

“It was a scenario-based class that helps responders deal with mental health issues as they apply to kids,” [Assistant Chief Jeff] Denney said.

In 2017, Coweta County formed a Behavioral Health Task Force made up of local public safety and law enforcement agencies as well as representatives from Piedmont Newnan Hospital, Pathways Community Service Board and Riverwoods Behavioral Health. Streamlining access to mental health care for those in crisis – the ones who depend on Coweta 911, in particular – is one goal of the task force, and another is education.

“We started pushing these issues last year in an effort to better educate our people on how to deal with these calls,” Denney said. “We as a county are trying to figure out better ways of actually helping these patients.”

Bulloch County Board of Education District 4 member Steve Hein will not qualify for reelection, but Adrianne McCollar announced in January she will run for the seat, according to the Statesboro Herald. Bulloch County will also see three Commission district races, with one incumbent retiring, and at least one incumbent being challenged.

Whitfield County Commissioner Roger Crossen announced he will run for reelection to his District 3 seat.

Candidate qualifying begins this morning at 9 AM, and Georgia Democrats are making a push for candidates in suburban districts. From the AJC:

In Cobb County, which Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, Democrats are targeting diverse districts around Smyrna and Marietta. One of the highest-profile contests pits Democrat Lucy McBath, a gun control activist whose son was shot to death in 2012, against state Rep. Sam Teasley, a Republican with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

Across town in Gwinnett County, which like Cobb also flipped blue in the presidential race for the first time in decades, at least five Republican-held legislative seats will be open this year.

Retiring incumbents include state Rep. Joyce Chandler of Grayson, who narrowly kept her seat in 2016, and state Rep. David Casas of Lilburn, the state’s first Republican Hispanic legislator. State Sen. David Shafer’s bid for lieutenant governor leaves Democrats another pickup opportunity for a Duluth-based seat.

Houston Gaines, a few months removed from his stint as the University of Georgia’s student body president, was defeated by Democrat Deborah Gonzalez in a conservative-leaning Athens-based House district in 2017. He’s making another bid this year, hoping that heavier turnout will help.

And Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, who won a 2017 race to represent an Atlanta-based swing district, will have to fend off a challenge by Republican Leah Aldridge, who was the top GOP vote-getter in that special election.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

With five Republican-held seats in Gwinnett’s legislative delegation open with no incumbents running this year, there are two things at stake as qualifying begins Monday: influence and power.

Republicans currently hold the majority of seats in the delegation over Democrats by a 4-3 margin in the Senate and an 11-7 margin in the House of Representatives. There are enough open seats from Gwinnett in each chamber this year, however, to put the balance of power in Gwinnett’s legislative delegation into question.

Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, is running for lieutenant governor this year while state Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, is running for Secretary of State. Three other members of the House of Representatives from Gwinnett, Reps. Brooks Coleman, Joyce Chandler and David Casas, are either retiring from public service or are leaving to focus on other pursuits.

Rep. Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville, defeated then-Rep. Valerie Clark, a Republican, in the House District 101 race in 2016 — a victory that made Park in particular a legislative focus for Republicans who want the seat back. Clark has already announced she is running for the seat this year, and Seigle said Clark has stepped up her campaigning efforts from two years ago.


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