Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2023

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig died on June 2, 1941 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp made it rain announced the state is issuing income tax refunds, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that the first of a projected $1 billion of state income tax refunds have been issued.

The plan, approved overwhelmingly by the General Assembly under House Bill 162, gives a refund of up to $250 to single filers, up to $375 to single adults who head a household with dependents and up to $500 to married couples filing jointly.

It’s the second year in a row that lawmakers have approved Kemp’s request to issue income tax refunds, a move made possible because Georgia ended its last budget year with $6.6 billion in surplus revenue in the bank. That’s in addition to the state’s rainy day fund, filled to its legal limit of $5.2 billion.

The Republican governor says all taxpayers who filed a state income tax return by the regular April 18 deadline should get refunds by the end of June. People who filed an extension to delay their return won’t get a refund until their return is filed.

Lawmakers approved a separate plan this year for a $950 million property tax rebate.

From a Press Release:

“I am proud of the work by the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Kemp to ensure our state’s budget is balanced and the rainy day fund is secure,” said Lt. Governor Burt Jones. “This type of fiscal conservative approach enables the state to give more money back to our taxpayers. Georgia taxpayers deserve to have their money back in their pockets.”

“With Governor Kemp’s steadfast leadership, our General Assembly has remained focused on returning every available dollar to taxpayers,” said Speaker Jon Burns. “At the same time, we have worked together to pass conservative budgets to meet the needs of a growing, thriving state. This is the sort of responsible stewardship that Georgians expect, and I am proud that we have delivered on this promise.”

“Our Department successfully issued the majority of HB 1302 refunds by July of 2022, and we plan to build on that success this year,” said State Revenue Commissioner Frank O’Connell. “We thank the Governor and the General Assembly for working with us through the process of passing and implementing these special refunds out of the state’s revenue surplus.”

From WSAV:

“Georgia is once again in a position to issue surplus tax refunds thanks to years of responsible, conservative budgeting and because we chose to protect both lives and livelihoods during the pandemic,” Kemp boasted. “While failed policies coming out of Washington, D.C. are pushing us closer to a recession and forcing hardworking Georgians to endure sky-high inflation, we on the state level are doing what we can to return money back where it belongs – in taxpayers’ hands.”

Governor Kemp will today sign Senate Bill 65, which lays the groundwork for a state alternative to the federal healthcare marketplace website, according to the AJC.

The state would offer Georgians who currently shop for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act on the federal site a state-run shopping website instead, under a bill expected to be signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Kemp aides have already been trying to get the website switchover proposal approved by the Biden administration. If Kemp’s office wins federal approval, Georgians would be blocked from shopping for insurance on, but could instead shop on the new state-run website.

If the Biden administration doesn’t approve the switchover, experts say, could just continue to be used by Georgians, regardless of whether the Kemp administration stands up a state-run website. As of Monday night no federal approval for the shopping switchover had been announced.

Kemp’s move marks a change for the governor, who had previously advanced a plan to block Georgians from shopping for health plans on without any alternative that would allow them to compare plans.

Kemp’s previous proposal would have blocked Georgians’ access to shopping, but then given them information for other sites such as insurance companies’ websites, private agents, or other already existing alternatives. That proposal was approved by the Trump administration, then suspended by the Biden administration.

A spokesman for Kemp, Garrison Douglas, said in an email Monday that the governor’s change in approach was not so much “a shift in strategy, but rather an expansion” of the governor’s plans. Douglas still alluded to the Affordable Care Act as “a one-size-fits all, broken government program.”

Eighteen states run a state-based exchange as Georgia is proposing to do. The majority are left-leaning states supportive of the ACA from the time of its passage. In those states, the ACA shopping website is tailored to each state’s residents in ways that are supposed to make shopping easier. Those states also get funding to run their sites that the federal government otherwise would take to run

Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney has extended silly season the deadline for Fulton DA Fani Willis to respond to a motion by former President Trump’s lawyers, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been granted a two-week extension to respond to a motion from former President Donald Trump’s attorney to drop her investigation into alleged election interference.

Willis was expected to respond to Trump’s motion by May 1, however, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney extended the deadline to May 15.

In his May 1 scheduling order, McBurney said that Cathleen Latham — one of the “alternate” electors advanced by the Georgia Republican Party after the 2020 general election — filed a motion April 28, to join Trump’s motion, which also seeks to quash the final report of the Special Purpose Grand Jury in the case and to quash the use of any evidence derived from the SPGJ for other prosecutors.

In addition to quashing the SPGJ report, both Trump’s and Latham’s motions also seek to disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office from additional investigation into or prosecution of alleged interference with the 2020 general election.


Augusta-area state legislators will hold a post-Session Town Hall, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The town hall will be held 6 p.m. May 11 at Augusta University in the Summerville Campus University Hall, and is open to all.

“This is something I’m sort of initiating,” said state Rep. Brian Prince, the chair of the Augusta-Richmond County Delegation, who shared a flyer with the time, date and location. The event does not appear to have a website or link.

Legislators in attendance will include Reps. Prince, Karlton Howard, Lynn Gladney, Gloria Frazier and Mark Newton; and, Sens. Max Burns and Harold Jones II.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme NW GA) has spent down her campaign account to under $1 million dollars, according to the Rome News Tribune.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reported $966,133 in her campaign chest as of the latest, April quarterly, filing with the Federal Elections Commission.

She ended the period with $966,133. However, she still has $550,000 in outstanding personal loans to her campaign after paying herself back $400,000 during the reporting period.

The vast majority of her donations this year are from outside her district — which covers all of Floyd, Chattooga, Polk, Gordon, Walker, Catoosa, Dade, Murray, Paulding and Whitfield counties and a small section of Cobb.

Greene’s top 5 donor states were Arizona, $17,300; Texas, $14,251; Georgia, $13,179; Florida, $12,209; and California, $9,550, according to her April filing.

Macon-Bibb County is opening new courtrooms in a mall to alleviate the case backlog, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The courtrooms, which will be located in the former Sears space at the soon-to-be revamped Macon Mall in west Macon, will give judges more space to have trials for cases that stacked up when trials were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We look forward to having the grand opening for those courtrooms in the next 30 to 60 days… we’ve made some great progress over there,” Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller said Tuesday. “We’re still waiting on the furniture to come in, but we’re taking a tour over there in May.”

The idea stemmed from a lack of space when social distancing was necessary during the pandemic, Macon-Bibb Superior Court Judge Howard Simms said. Now the courtrooms will allow more cases be tried simultaneously to dig into the trials that had to be shelved.

The Macon Mall “auxiliary” courtrooms will be used for civil and nonviolent criminal trials, a Bibb County spokesperson said. This will alleviate some of the backup and allow the main courtrooms downtown to be used for violent cases like homicide and murder trials, which the city is particularly behind on due to Macon’s record-breaking homicide rate in 2022 and other crime increases since the 2020 trial delay.

The Macon Water Authority received an award for best tasting water in Georgia from the American Water Works Association, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Pooler City Council member Karen Williams is running for Mayor, according to WTOC.

Williams was elected to the Pooler City Council in 2019.

“We have to have our infrastructure in place because residents need infrastructure,” Williams said. “They need water and sewer. They need to be able to get to point a to point b without having hours sitting in traffic. So we need to be proactive versus reactive plan for that growth. Smart growth, and and and develop those into our daily practices and I think we will be very successful even with the growth I know we’re going to be seeing.”

Grovetown City Council member Deborah Fisher is running for Mayor, according to WRDW.

She has served on the Grovetown City Council for about five years.

Her campaign website calls her “an agent of positive social change” who has been proven effective as a strong leader who works and partners with individuals and organizations to get the job done.

“Being a positive agent of social change and having a history of success in the concept and importance of partnerships, work ethic, and leadership,” the website states. “Deborah understands what it will take to bring people and organizations together and make positive impacts on the city of Grovetown.”

The election will be held in November.

Chatham County Commissioners will appoint an interim member to fill the vacancy caused by the death of District 2 Commissioner Larry “Gator” Rivers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Chatham Commission will appoint a temporary replacement for late District 2 Commissioner Larry “Gator” Rivers at their May 12 meeting, then hold a special election later this summer to fill the seat until the 2024 election, Chairman Chester Ellis announced at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Ellis said in accordance with the county codebook, the Chatham Commission will name an interim commissioner for District 2, which encompasses much of Savannah’s central core.

Georgia’s election law dictates the dates for special elections to fill vacancies on county boards, and the next available date is Sept. 19.

The winner of the special election will hold the seat until the end of Rivers’ term in 2024.

Ellis said if the interim appointee chosen by County Commission wants to run for the seat in the special election, he or she will be able to do so, so long as they qualify for the special election.

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