Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 11, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 11, 2022

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

May 11, 1996 was the deadliest day on Mount Everest. “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer is a fantastic chronicle of the deadliest season on Everest.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Demoine Kinney learned he doesn’t live in the State House district he’s running for when he couldn’t find his name on the ballot, according to the AJC.

A candidate for the Georgia House, Demoine Kinney, felt stunned when he couldn’t find his name on his own ballot.

Kinney found out that redistricting last year put him within new political boundaries, a fact he learned after he had filed to run for office in the district where he thought he lived.

He might be disqualified from the race because his home isn’t located inside the Conyers-area district he would represent.

Campaign sign theft allegations are being thrown around in Lowndes County, according to WALB.

[Board of Education candidate] Erin Price is accusing fellow candidate Darrell Presley of stealing her campaign signs and putting them in the back of his truck, an accusation that is under investigation. Both are running for District 3 seat on the school board in the May 24 election.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office says they often respond to campaign sign thefts around election time. However, they believe people don’t realize that there are consequences to doing this.

Sheriff Ashley Paulk says he’s worked six elections and says campaign sign thefts can lead to prosecution of property theft charges.

He says these incidents are just a form of political campaign and encourages the community to be mindful of others’ belongings.

Governor Brian Kemp signed Executive Order #, extending the State of Emergency for Supply Chain Disruptions until Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at 11:59 PM.

Governor Kemp also signed six pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly, according to a press release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp has signed six pieces of legislation to strengthen Georgia’s number one forestry industry, promote conservation efforts, and protect the state’s natural resources. The legislation includes HB 997, which exempts forestry equipment from statewide ad valorem taxes, pending a statewide referendum question (agricultural equipment is already exempt); HB 1349, which updates Georgia’s No Net Loss requirement to encompass over 200,000 acres of hunting and fishing land added since 2005; HB 343, which imposes stronger penalties on poaching; HB 586, which extends the sunset on the Conservation Use Value Assessment (CUVA); HB 1147, which provides for year-round hunting season on racoons and opossums on non-public land; and HB 1148, which implements stronger requirements for deer brought into Georgia from states with confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

“Georgia’s agriculture assets, beautiful natural wonders, and great outdoors have given both my family and many others a livelihood and good memories,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “We’re not only proud to be champions of our state’s thriving agriculture and related industries and natural resources, we’re also dedicated to ensuring future generations are able to enjoy them as well. The bills I signed into law will help us treat the forestry industry the same way that we do agriculture as well as protect hunting, fishing, and conservation land, and more. I want to thank those in the Georgia General Assembly who carried these measures, as well as the Department of Natural Resources for their continued efforts to conserve our wild places and the Georgia Forestry Association for their work to support Georgia’s number one forestry industry.”

Governor Kemp, in addition to the many members of the Georgia House and Senate who voted in favor of these important measures, would like to thank the following bill sponsors for their role in the respective legislation:

•  HB 997: Rep. Sam Watson and Sen. Larry Walker

•  HB 1349: Rep. Jason Ridley and Sen. Tyler Harper

•  HB 343: Rep. Trey Rhodes and Sen. Russ Goodman

•  HB 586: Rep. Sam Watson and Sen. Steve Gooch

•  HB 1147: Rep. Trey Rhodes and Sen. Tyler Harper

•  HB 1148: Rep. Trey Rhodes and Sen. Tyler Harper

Gov. Kemp announced two appointments of Solicitors General.

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that he has appointed Brooklyn Franklin to fill the Solicitor General vacancy within the State Court of Long County which was created by the resignation of Billy J. Nelson, Jr. Luana Nolen has been appointed to the Solicitor General vacancy within the State Court of Paulding County which was created by the enactment of House Bill 1119 during the 2020 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Brooklyn Franklin has been appointed by Governor Brian P. Kemp to serve as Solicitor General for the State Court of Long County. Mrs. Franklin most recently served as Interim Solicitor General for Long County since March 2022 and as an assistant district attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit since July 2015. She previously worked as an associate attorney for Lloyd D. Murray, Sr., Attorney at Law, executive assistant to worship arts at Savannah Christian Church, and a judicial assistant for Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Joy A. Kramer. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlantic Judicial Circuit Bar Association. She received her Juris Doctor from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University and her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Political Science from Campbellsville University. Mrs. Franklin and her husband Jacob live in Richmond Hill, Georgia.

Luana Nolen has been appointed by Governor Brian P. Kemp to serve as Solicitor General for the State Court of Paulding County. Previously, she served as Senior District Attorney in the Douglas Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, an assistant district attorney for the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, an assistant district attorney for the Douglas Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Senior Assistant District Attorney Misdemeanor Unit Chief for the Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, senior assistant district attorney for the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, and an assistant solicitor general for the Cobb County Solicitor General’s Office. She is a member of the Douglas County Bar Association and the Cobb County Bar Association. She received her Juris Doctor form New England Law and her Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Albany. She and her husband, Stephen, have three kids and live in Dallas, Georgia.

The Governor’s Office announced that April net state tax revenues were up over the previous April.

The State of Georgia’s net tax collections for April totaled $5.01 billion, for an increase of $2.21 billion, or 78.9 percent, compared to April 2021, when net tax collections totaled $2.80 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled almost $27.54 billion, for an increase of nearly $5.80 billion, or 26.7 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year when net tax revenues totaled $21.74 billion as of the end of April 2021.

Current year-over-year comparisons of state net tax collections for April and May are made difficult by the deferral of the previous year’s state tax filing deadlines for both quarterly and annual income taxes to May 17th rather than the traditional mid-April filing deadline set for most years. While annual revenue totals will be comparable as of May 31st, the current monthly year-over-year comparison to fiscal year 2021 will be incomplete because of the filing deadline shift in 2021 to May.

The changes within the following tax categories help further explain April’s overall net tax revenue increase:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections increased by $1.94 billion, or 158.7 percent, to a total of roughly $3.16 billion compared to last year, when Income Tax collections totaled $1.22 billion. The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

• Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $554.3 million, or 123.8 percent
• Individual Withholding payments increased by $77.7 million, or 7.1 percent, over April 2021
• Individual Income Tax Return payments were up $2,162.6 million, or 774.6 percent, versus FY 2021
• All other Individual categories, including Non-Resident Return payments, were up a combined $254.3 million

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections for the month totaled nearly $1.54 billion, for an increase of $187.1 million, or 13.8 percent, over FY 2021. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by $91.8 million, or 12.9 percent, from April 2021, when net sales tax totaled $712.6 million. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $729.7 million, for an increase of $105.5 million, or 16.9 percent, compared to last year. Lastly, Sales Tax refunds decreased by $10.2 million, or 71.6 percent, compared to April 2021.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections increased by nearly $257.9 million, or 56.9 percent, compared to FY 2021, when Corporate Tax collections totaled $453.3 million for the month. The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

• Corporate Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $10.4 million, or 188.7 percent
• Corporate Income Tax Estimated payments increased by $191.8 million, or 75 percent, over FY ‘21
• Corporate Income Tax Return payments increased by $55.7 million, or 30 percent, versus April 2021
• All other Corporate Tax categories, including Corporate Return payments, were up a combined $20.8 million

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections for April decreased by $68.6 million, or 39.5 percent, from FY 2021, because of the Executive Order issued by Governor Kemp to suspend the Motor Fuel Excise Tax beginning on March 18th through the end of May.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees declined by nearly $6.4 million, or 16.2 percent, while Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections increased by almost $6 million, or 8.4 percent, compared to last year, when TAVT totaled almost $71 million in April.

Note the second paragraph in which it states that year-to-year comparisons may not be apples-to-apples.

Three current or former Governors will tour Georgia with Governor Kemp, according to CNN.

The governors — Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and Doug Ducey of Arizona — as well as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will crisscross the state supporting Kemp in his primary challenge against former US Sen. David Perdue, a source familiar with the plans tells CNN.

Ricketts and Ducey currently serve as co-chairs of the Republican Governors Association, which has poured money into the race to support Kemp, including a large TV ad buy in the state.

Ricketts, Ducey and Christie al​l have clashed at times with Trump. In Nebraska, Ricketts, who is term-limited from seeking reelection, asked Trump not to wade into the Republican gubernatorial primary. Trump rejected this request, endorsing Charles Herbster, a wealthy businessman facing a slew of sexual misconduct allegations, which he has denied. Ricketts backed Jim Pillen, a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, who won Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary in the Cornhusker State.

In January, Trump said he would “never” endorse Ducey if he ran for US Senate in Arizona after criticizing the Republican governor for certifying the state’s election in 2020.

From the AJC:

Ducey will join Kemp at five stops around metro Atlanta on Saturday. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are also expected to rally for Kemp in the final weeks before the May 24 primary.

The three are each key players in the Republican Governors Association, which has already shelled out about $5 million to defend Kemp against a challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

Ducey is the group’s chairman, Ricketts is on the executive committee and Christie is co-chair of the RGA’s new fundraising program.

From the Hill:

In recent weeks, Kemp has received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and is slated to attend a fundraiser alongside former President George W. Bush. He’s also been the beneficiary of some $5 million in spending by the Republican Governors Association, which has been running ads for months touting his record in office.

“The one thing we always lose sight of because we want to focus on the Donald is the candidates themselves,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. “With Kemp, you’ve got two factors: one, he’s been a successful governor in the state, and two, he’s running against someone who voters have already rejected.”

But Trump’s endorsement has so far failed to materialize into overwhelming support for Perdue, who lost reelection last year after falling short in a hotly contested runoff against Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).

Since taking office in early 2019, Kemp has aggressively pursued a conservative policy agenda that has largely pleased Republicans in Georgia and nationally.

He signed a bill that would prohibit abortions six weeks after conception, implemented sweeping changes to the state’s election system and signed a law allowing Georgians to carry guns in public without a license or background check.

“I think the key is: As far as a Republican governor goes, Kemp checks all the boxes,” one Georgia-based Republican strategist said. “His record on pretty much everything — guns, you know, law enforcement, taxes — it’s squeaky clean. I think folks see that and then they hear what Trump is saying and it just doesn’t match up with reality.”

“Brian Kemp is running as a winner and David Perdue can’t,” Heye said.

With no primary election, Democrat Stacey Abrams is tending to her base, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Standing among a crowd of about 75 people in a Savannah restaurant parking lot, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams spoke about her platform and addressed Georgians’ concerns about gun violence, immigration and housing.

“I come here because I know coastal Georgia and Savannah, you all face different challenges,” Abrams told supporters as she spoke on education funds and Medicaid expansion.

“I think what it means is that she’s not having to worry about competing somewhat in the primary, they may not be doing the kind of advance work you’d expect them to do,” said [UGA Political Scientist Charles] Bullock of Abrams’ campaign strategy.

“It gives them opportunity to solidify the Democratic base by campaigning directly to them,” said Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist. “During this period of time, at a time when the general election starts, they’ll still campaign to the Democratic base, but they’ve got to grow that base. And they’ve got to go to more moderates, more independents and disaffected Republicans, and get them to try to persuade them to vote for them in November.”

“I think, for me, these are voters who watched me work for 11 years in the Legislature, who watched my campaign in 2018 and who also watched the work that I did when I was not elected,” Abrams said. “They are excited about the work that I’ve done, and they are excited about what I will do when I become governor.”

Bullock said while Democrats have a harder time getting voters turnout during the midterm year than Republicans do, Abrams overcame that problem during her 2018 run. “Her strategy in 2018 was to try to get Democrats to turn out at presidential year levels and hope Republicans would turn out at midterm year levels,” He said. “She’s got to kind of work toward that same end of trying to get Democrats enthusiastic.”

Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman denies charges that his deputies racially-profiled an out-of-state college athletic team whose bus was pulled over, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“We initiated a traffic stop for a motor coach traveling northbound on I-95,” said Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman during an afternoon news conference. “This is part of our commercial interdiction detail on the interstate.”

The sheriff was referring to an incident on April 20 involving the women’s lacrosse team from Delaware State University, an HBCU. Deputies did not find any contraband in their search.

According to a report, Liberty County deputies started removing players’ bags from the vehicle’s cargo bay to search after asking Jones to open them. One of the players recorded the interaction and caught the moment when one of the deputies said, “If there is anything in y’all’s luggage, we’re probably gonna find it, OK? I’m not looking for a little bit of marijuana, but I’m pretty sure you guys’ chaperones are probably gonna be disappointed in you if we find any.”

 “There were several commercial vehicles stopped that morning, including another bus where contraband was located,” Bowman said. “Due to the nature of the detail, a K9 was part of the stop and an alert was given by the K9. A K9 sniff of the exterior is not a search under the Fourth Amendment and does cause us to provide search of the vehicle.”

“Although I do not believe racial profiling occurred based on the information I have, I welcome feedback from the community on ways our law enforcement practices can be improved,” said Bowman, who noted at the start of the news conference that he would not field any questions. “More than anything, we want feedback from the Delaware lacrosse team on the communication approaches we can consider that we are not aware of. This is how true policing is done.”

“We realize in this current environment that even a traffic stop can be alarming to citizens, especially African Americans,” Bowman said. “… We are happy nothing was found and the passengers arrived home safely.”

For whatever it’s worth, Sheriff Bowman appears to be African-American himself.

Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody has been charged with misdemeanor sexual battery, according to 13WMAZ.

Coody is accused of groping TV Judge Glenda Hatchett, and former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown told our sister station 11Alive he witnessed it all.

“She’s thinking, ‘He’s a sheriff, what do I do?’” Brown recalled.

Brown says in January, he, Hatchett, and two other women were talking in a bar at a hotel where the state sheriff’s convention was happening.

He says Hatchett asked Coody where he was from, to which Brown says he replied, “The heart of Georgia.”

“He wanted to emphasize ‘the heart of Georgia,’ and he did that by placing his left hand on her left breast, and he did it three times,” the former sheriff explained.

“He is the chief law enforcement officer of his county. The head of law enforcement agency sets the tone for the culture of our agency. Law enforcement officers do not put up with law enforcement officers that do the wrong thing,” he said.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the city will take a “holistic” approach to gun violence, according to WSAV.

“No one should ever lose their lives in our city because of gun violence. Further, 15-year-olds should not die in our city or anywhere because of gun violence,” said Mayor Van Johnson in his weekly press conference Tuesday. “It’s absolutely horrible and absolutely unacceptable. Our children are supposed to bury us.”

The mayor said he’s disappointed and frustrated by the violence, but “not dismayed or deterred.”

Johnson explained that the city is taking a holistic approach to combat crime, from good policing to community relationships. Savannah is investing in summer activities and highlighting the young people who are doing the right thing, he said.

He described “a pre-post-pandemic syndrome” — or rise in tempers — taking place across the country.

“Crime is not raging in our community,” Johnson explained. “Tempers are raging in our community.”

“Consider where we were in the last two years. Lives changed,” the mayor continued. “I think that what we’re seeing now is the results of that. I think people are apprehensive. They are tense. They’re upset. Mental illness is real, and it’s been exacerbated by everything that’s going on.”

“Mental health is real and we must become each other’s violence interrupters by diffusing conflict with others and amongst one another,” he said, “and we must be willing to say what we see and proactively report the things that we know.”

My first thought when I read the word “holistic” was that it was clearly code for “bullsh*t,” but I do believe the Mayor makes a good point about tempers and mental illness during the pandemic and the current supply chain and economic issues.

Former Georgia State Senator Hunter Hill was named as Executive Director of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Hill, who currently serves as GEFA’s executive director, will succeed the retiring Kevin Clark on July 1. Hill was recommended for the promotion by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Hill was elected to the Senate in 2012 representing a suburban Atlanta district including parts of Cobb County and North Fulton.

He left office in 2017 to seek the Republican nomination for governor but finished third in the 2018 GOP primary.

GEFA provides financing for a variety of energy, land, and water projects. Since 1985, the agency has approved financial commitments totaling more than $5 billion to local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

Bryan County voters will decide in Novembe whether to continue a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST), according to WTOC.

Voters are being asked whether to continue the TSPLOST program and that’s a penny tax that collects money for infrastructure programs.

The county commission chairman Carter Infinger is a big proponent of continuing TSPLOST.

He says if TSPLOST is renewed, it could bring in 70 million dollars over 5 years for county infrastructure projects.

Infinger says that the first TSPLOST program has brought in more than 27 million dollars so far and that roughly two thirds of the money collected comes from those living outside of Bryan County.

“We’re the fastest growing county in the state, 6th in the nation. It’s good and it’s bad, right? We need to plan for that and we have been planning for that. That’s why you see 144 widening, the new interchange, all these road projects that we’ve been doing. We’re ready for that. Infrastructure projects going in, the sewer coming from the mega site down to Savannah, all the water and sewer infrastructure is going to be put in in order to meet the demands of that growth in the years to come,” Infinger said.

Republican candidates for State House District 179 met in a forum, according to The Brunswick News.

Candidates seeking the Republican nomination for state House District 179 were asked Monday about new abortion restrictions in Georgia if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

The candidates, speaking at the Exchange Club in Brunswick, each expressed support for a state law already approved in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning abortion laws that would make it more restrictive.

Two Democrats are running for the State House District seat being vacated by State Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

He represented Columbus in the Georgia House of Representatives for nearly half a century, and now he leaves the Gold Dome behind. Smyre was tapped to be the new U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republican, and he is awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Two Democrats, Zeph Baker and Teddy Reese, are running in the redrawn and renumbered District 140. No Republican entered the race.

State Rep. Derek Mallow (D-Savannah) wants to level up to a Senate seat, according to the Savannah Morning News.

House Rep. Derek Mallow (D-Savannah) is attempting to become the latest Chatham County legislator to move from one governing body to another. He’s running for Georgia Senate District 2 and will face Orlando Scott in the Democratic primary on May 24. The primary winner advances to face the victor in the Republican primary contest between Ken Yasger and Clinton Young.

The two current senators, Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) and Ben Watson (R-Savannah), both served in the House prior to moving to the Senate. So have many others in recent history, including Buddy Carter, now a U.S. congressman; Regina Thomas, who left office in 2009; and Eric Johnson, who left the Georgia Senate in 2010 to run for governor.

According to a Savannah-based political consultant, David Simons, using the House as a jumping off point to the Senate is “an age old thing” in Chatham County, especially for junior members eager to exert influence.

Mallow sees greater potential if he were elected to the Senate, a much smaller body — 56 members compared to 180 in the House — and one that could see a change in leadership this year should a Democrat win the lieutenant governor’s election.

Former State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D-Metro Atlanta) campaigned for Secretary of State in Columbus, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Dawkins-Haigler served as a state representative for more than eight years, first taking office in 2008 and finishing her post in 2017. When questioned by D.J. Davis, a Valdosta State University sociology major, about her long-term plans should she be elected as secretary of state, Dawkins-Haigler made it clear that her main focus will be on voting rights and helping residents of Georgia with “professional endeavors.”

“I want to make sure that the people of Georgia, Black people in particular, will have free and fair elections and access to the ballot box at any time. Given the craziness of the last two years, I worry that their vote will not count or be suppressed,” Dawkins-Haigler said.

“I would also like the secretary of state’s office to do more around education and resources geared towards business development. There’s a lot of people who wouldn’t know where to start. I want to make sure we get that done in a timely manner because sometimes if you call, it will take all day. We need to reach the people. I mean, the secretary of state’s website is straight garbage right now; people can’t even navigate what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Dawkins-Haigler mentioned that during her term, she pushed for legislation that increased funding for statewide transportation through the HB 170 Transportation Funding Act of 2015 as well as the decriminalization of medicinal marijuana through the Haleigh’s Hope Act – issues she hopes to revisit.

“One bill I’m proud I pushed, especially from the Black Caucus perspective, was the $1 billion transportation bill. I’m also proud of decriminalizing marijuana for medical use. It was me and five other representatives that pushed House Bill 1 across the finish line so that we would be able to participate in this industry,” she said.

“So many Black people have been incarcerated behind cannabis. This is a multi-billion-dollar industry and Black people still cannot participate in the industry fully when there’s so much that it does for health care,” she said.

“People who have cancer and especially sickle cell and lupus, those two illnesses that disproportionately affect Black people, a lot of these things can be dealt with through cannabis, and no one should be criminalized for it.”

The Statesboro Herald profiles three candidates for Bulloch County Board of Education District 4: Kathy C. Sherrod, April Newkirk (incumbent), and Donna Clifton.

Lee County District 4 Commissioner Rick Muggridge will resign as he moved out of his district, according to the Albany Herald.

He has been the District 4 representative since 2009.

“The Lee County government is in fine shape as I leave, but I know they will be fine because of the fine people who work there,” Muggridge said. “It has been the joy and honor of my life to be a part of that. (I) thank my neighbors who elected me four times to serve them.”

The outgoing commissioner said there will need to be a special election to fill the remainder of his commission seat, and that it will probably be held during the November election.

13WMAZ profiles the two Republican candidates for Monroe County Commission District Four.

Glynn County Elections Director Christopher Channell spoke to the Board of Elections about ongoing work on a new building to house operation, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections officials need to move into a larger building because of a state mandate to have a certain number of machines based on population.

Channell said he has contacted state election officials to see if there are any machines the county can borrow instead of purchase.

The concern is state legislators could decided to change voting machines in an upcoming General Assembly session, meaning the county will have bought new machines they will have to replace.

Turnout for the upcoming general primary election is slightly ahead of 2018, though Channell said it’s not that noticeable.

The Bibb County Board of Education voted to hire Dan Sims as the next superintendent, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Lowndes County Board of Education named Dr. J. Shawn Haralson as sole finalist for Superintendent, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

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