Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2024

8
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2024

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 9, 1862, a Union general, David Hunter, ordered the freedom of all slaves held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, but President Lincoln issued a counter-order.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

In Georgia on May 9, 1864, Union troops under General Sherman took Snake Creek Gap. In Atlanta, a notice was published,

“ATTENTION MILITIA! All persons between the ages of 16 and 60, not in the service of the Confederate States, in the second ward, are hereby notified to be and appear at the City Hall today, at 2 o’clock P.M., for the purpose of being armed and equipped for local defense. Herein fail not under penalty.”

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 9, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary opened hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

On May 9, 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation recognizing the Green Tree Frog as the official state amphibian.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In-person Advance Voting continues through May 17 for the May 21, 2024 General Primary Election, according to WALB.

Congratulations to Republican Carmen Rice, who was elected State Representative from District 139. From WTVM:

The results are in for the District 139 special election runoff. The seat covers North Columbus and a small portion of Harris County.

Former Muscogee County Republican Chair Carmen Rice is the winner… beating out business owner Sean Knox.

2,075 votes were cast and Rice won 1,157 of those votes or about 56%… Knox got 918 votes or 44%.

In Muscogee County alone, 1,485 people voted and Rice took 841 votes and Knox won 644.

In Harris County, 590 people cast their ballots and Rice took the lead with 316 votes while Knox followed behind with 274.

Carmen Rice will finish out the term and would have to be re-elected in November to hold office come 2025.

 

 

Ms. Rice will also be on the May 21, 2024 Republican General Primary Ballot against Mr. Knox again, as well as Republican Donald Moeller, before the winner of that election faces Democrat Carl Sprayberry in November. Dr. Moeller also ran in the April 9, 2024 Special Runoff Election, finishing fourth.

 

Governor Brian Kemp signed the FY 2025 state budget, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, Speaker Jon Burns, constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly, and state and local elected officials, signed the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget (HB 916) today at a signing ceremony in the North Wing of the Georgia State Capitol. This budget was carefully worked on by Senate and House Appropriations Chairmen Blake Tillery and Matt Hatchett, along with members of both legislative chambers and invests in public safety, education, healthcare, workforce development, and much more.

An excerpt from the governor’s remarks can be found below:

The yearly budget is the biggest demonstration of our priorities and the biggest tool we have to serve the people of our state.

This budget in particular will help us further promote economic prosperity in communities all across the state, provide Georgia students a quality education, care for the health and wellbeing of our families, and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods.

And because we’ve budgeted conservatively and refused to spend beyond our means, we’re able to invest in these core areas while cutting taxes at the same time.

The fiscal year 2025 budget will build on the investments we made in the amended budget and the budgets that came before as we meet the challenges facing our communities.

One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced even as we’ve enjoyed unprecedented economic development is the recruitment and retention of critical positions like law enforcement officers, teachers, caseworkers, and other public sector roles.

In recent years, we’ve raised pay to offer competitive salaries to these hardworking men and women, and this budget furthers those efforts by offering a four percent cost-of-living adjustment for state employees.

And while helping all of our workers fight the negative effects of inflation, we’re also targeting positions with the highest need and offering additional salary enhancements for roles like public safety officers.

This budget will also help us address another side effect of record job creation – the need for affordable workforce housing. HB 916 includes an additional 6 million dollars for the Rural Workforce Housing Program that is already producing quality results, because every Georgian should be able to live in the same community where they work.

We know that maintaining that growth will require a well-educated workforce.

That’s why, between this budget and the amended budget I signed in February, we are committing more to K-12 education than ever before: an additional 1.4 billion dollars, for a total of 13.2 billion dollars.

We know just how important teachers are to preparing the next generation for that success, which is why we’ve raised educator pay faster and by more than ever before in state history.

This year, we’ll do it again, with an increase of an additional 2,500 dollars. That’s a total pay raise of 9,500 dollars since I took office.

We’re also committing over 7 million dollars for literacy initiatives – an important priority for the state Senate – to ensure all Georgians have this foundational skill.

And in a time when far too many parents and loved ones worry about the safety of students and teachers in our classrooms, one of our most serious responsibilities is securing our classrooms.

That’s why one of our top priorities in this budget was enacting a school safety grant program that will be included annually to provide ongoing state support for school safety as a part of the K-12 budget.

After hearing from administrators across the state how impactful our school safety grants have been, we wanted to provide them certainty that these funds would be there when they were making planning decisions.

I’m grateful to the General Assembly for supporting that vision and including over 100 million dollars to establish this yearly program.

But our commitment to public safety does not end with our campuses… we’re also pouring resources into strengthening law enforcement statewide.

Frontline state public safety officers are receiving a 3,000-dollar salary enhancement – helping ensure these critical positions are filled with capable men and women.

We’ve also allocated over 1.5 million dollars to support an additional trooper school of 35 graduates.

Rest assured, we will continue investing in our law enforcement to ensure they have the training and resources necessary to protect hardworking Georgians.

That includes investing in our Department of Corrections, where Commissioner Oliver has made improving security and staffing levels a top priority.

We’ve allocated a record amount to help achieve that goal… including over 10 million dollars for safety, security, and technology enhancements to intercept contraband.

We know many of the criminals engaged in these activities are also gang members, which is why cracking down on these criminal enterprises has been one of our top priorities for years.

This year, the budget includes 4.8 million dollars to the GBI to establish a gang task force in Columbus and over 800,000 dollars to expand the Attorney General’s Gang Prosecution Unit across the state.

On top of that, we’re putting 1.4 million dollars to standing up the Organized Retail Crime and Cyber Prosecution Unit within the Attorney General’s Office – further building on our efforts to combat crime on a statewide level.

We also have made historic investments in the health and wellbeing of our people.

We’ve already made incredible strides in both increasing access and improving affordability for health insurance… and I’m proud this budget includes a further 20 million dollars for the state reinsurance program that has been critical to that success.

And as our population continues to grow, we’re also making sound investments in growing our healthcare workforce. This budget includes over 160 million dollars to implement provider rate study recommendations and provide parity for the Georgia Pediatric Program to support the men and women providing critical and direct care to Georgians in need.

We’ve also allocated 2 million dollars for 105 new primary care residency slots; 3.3 million dollars for the Board of Healthcare Workforce to address physician workforce needs through the support and development of medical education programs; 900,000 dollars for additional loan repayments for dentists who practice in rural areas.

We’re also expanding the maternal health pilot program in rural communities, with over 1.7 million additional dollars committed to this program that is helping mothers across Georgia.

Finally, Marty and I have made it a top priority, alongside many of the leaders here today, to ensure we are tackling the challenge of mental health directly.

We took the first steps two years ago when I signed the Mental Health Parity Act, a top priority of the late Speaker David Ralston.

Now, we’re building on that legacy by committing more funds to mental health than ever before.

That includes 16.5 million dollars for behavioral health crisis centers statewide; 1 million dollars for child advocacy centers to expand mental health services and forensic interviewing for children who have suffered abuse, neglect, exploitation, and trafficking; And 1 million dollars to expand the Veterans Mental Health Services Program.

We’re also allocating 1.5 million dollars to establish the David Ralston Center for Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities at UGA, ensuring we remain at the forefront of this issue, building the needed workforce and providing a valuable resource for research.

As we make record investments in the services our state needs, we have returned over 5 billion dollars to Georgia taxpayers – all while speeding up cuts to the state income tax.

When others, including Washington, D.C. politicians, want to spend like there is no tomorrow, here in Georgia, we continue to balance the budget and put our money where it will have the greatest impact while working together to ensure we are good stewards of the people’s money.

Because we know that is your money, not the government’s.

This year’s budget is in line with that philosophy, and I’m grateful to all the partners in the General Assembly who supported it.

So, with that, let’s sign this budget!

From the Savannah Morning News:

Kemp signed the $36.1 billion budget into law Tuesday at a ceremony at the state capitol building in Atlanta. The budget, dubbed House Bill 916, allocates funding for all state departments, programs and employees from July 1 to June 30, 2025. Including money from the federal government, the state is projected to spend a total of $66.8 billion.

At the signing ceremony, Kemp emphasized his focus on cutting taxes, as well as investing in key services for Georgia residents.

Also present at the bill signing ceremony were state officials and lawmakers who played a key role in passing this year’s budget, including Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, House Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia).

Among the most notable items included in this year’s budget are sweeping raises for state employees, including a $2,500 pay increase for public K-12 and pre-K teachers, a 4% salary increase for university employees, and a $3,000 pay increase for law enforcement officers.

From WSAV:

What the newly signed budget offers for the city of Savannah is $4.7M to expand the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus).

It will grant $2.3M to construct and equip a new State Patrol facility for Post 21 (Sylvania).

The budget also includes $500,000 for EV transit infrastructure in Chatham County.

Under the new budget state and university employees would also get a 4% pay increase, up to $70,000 in salary. The typical state employee makes $50,400.

Georgia has $5.4 billion set aside in its rainy-day fund, which is filled to its legal limit of 15% of state revenue. Beyond that, it had $10.7 billion in surplus cash collected over three years. Lawmakers approved Kemp’s plan to spend more than $2 billion of the surplus in changes to the current budget, which ends June 30. But that would leave more than $8 billion in reserve.

Kemp said it was important to hold on to that money to fulfill his promise to reduce the state income tax rate while maintaining higher spending levels.

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 409, “Addy’s Law,” according to WTOC via WTVM.

House Bill 409 is named after 8-year-old Adalynn Pierce, who was killed after being struck by a vehicle while trying to get on a school bus. That happened in Henry County back in February.

Under the new law, anyone convicted of passing a stopped school bus, could face a $1,000 fine or more than a year in prison.

Representative Jesse Petrea from our area voted in favor of this law, saying protecting our children is always a priority.

“Public safety is job one for government. It is the number one thing that government should always be dealing with, and now we’re talking about a subset of our society and of our community that are children,” said Rep. Jesse Petrea, (R) Ga. House. “So, we have to do everything we can as we learn what we can do to make it safer for children to attend school.”

The law also calls on school systems to look at their bus routes and consider getting rid of any stops where a child has to cross streets with a speed limit higher than 40 mph, something officials at the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System say they have already started doing.

From Fox5Atlanta:

“This bill directs school districts to consider not having bus stops where a student would have to cross the roadway with a speed limit equal to or greater than 40 miles an hour,” Gov. Kemp said.

The new law means the possibility of re-drawn bus routes for some metro Atlanta school districts—many of whom didn’t have answers when we reached out.

In Rockdale County, a school spokesperson said: “We are aware of Addy’s Law and will be evaluating our routes to see if any of them need to be adjusted based on this law.”

In response to questions on Wednesday, Clayton County school officials issued a statement saying in-part: “In anticipation of Governor Kemp’s signing of Addy’s Law, Clayton County Public Schools’ Department of Transportation has initiated an audit of the more than 200 bus routes that may be affected by the new law.”

From an earlier story by Fox5Atlanta:

“To me, it just felt like victory. It felt like everything I had been fighting for when this happened had finally been accomplished,” Alexa Wright said.

Wright and other family members were on hand as Gov. Brian Kemp signed HB 409 into law on Tuesday. The law is named for the 8-year-old.

In February, the little girl succumbed to injuries she suffered when she was struck by a passing motorist on Jackson Lake Road in McDonough, while boarding her school bus.

Family members started a petition, following the deadly accident, for the creation of a law that would require school buses to pick children up in their driveways so they wouldn’t have to cross the street to board a school bus.

In February, Addy’s mother joined lawmakers at the State Capitol to lobby for the bill’s passage.

“We do understand the logistics around a lot of things with buses and everything, but I think we can figure out some resources or find time to pour into this issue now,” Pierce told reporters.

“It hurts to lose somebody,” Wright said, “and if we can prevent other families from losing somebody, then that’s good.”

Gov. Kemp signed Senate Bill 494, the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act,” limiting hemp products sales to people 18 or over, according to 13WMAZ.

Under Senate Bill 494, you have to be 21 or older to purchase consumable hemp products.

Businesses that manufacture or sell the products will also need state licenses under the new bill. Additionally, labs that test hemp products will be required to test for a variety of hemp extracts besides Delta-9-THC. Delta-9-THC is the cannabinoid that gets users “high.”

It also gives regulatory power to the Department of Agriculture, allowing it to determine if businesses and farmers are complying with the law.

In Georgia, people with a medical marijuana card can have 20 ounces of low-THC oil at a time. Harrison said that doesn’t cut it for her pain, and that’s why she buys stronger products at the CBD Source.

Joseph Loadholt is the owner of the CBD Source, and said his small business opened last February. He said a lot of his products — like kief, wax and hemp flower, which is his top seller — couldn’t be sold anymore under the new bill because it redefines Delta-9 THC.

Under the new bill, products will have to have under 0.3% of both Delta-9-THC and Delta-9-THCA to be legal.

“It’s going to end my business. It’s going to end my family’s you know, life and everything. The ability to do anything for myself,” Loadholt said.

He said he already doesn’t sell to people under 21 and has no problem with applying for licenses. He also has no problem with it being regulated and held to safety standards.

State Sen. Sam Watson sponsored the bill, and said it’s all about consumer protection.

“Consumers know and understand when they purchase a product, what’s in that product. I mean we do that with food that we grow and produce,” Watson said.

He said they’re just trying to look out for everybody who uses hemp products.

“We want to make sure everybody is using safe products and they’re labeled properly and that we know, you know, who’s manufacturing it, selling it,” Watson said.

This new law takes effect July 1.

Governor Kemp also signed into law a changes to some voter registration procedures, according to USA Today via the Athens Banner Herald.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill on Monday, his spokesperson, Garrison Douglas, confirmed to USA TODAY. Kemp did not issue a statement or comment on the bill.

Kemp’s decision was highly anticipated given his unique predicament in governing a state whose GOP lawmakers often follow former President Donald Trump. Trump rejects the results of the 2020 election, but Kemp refused to help Trump overturn his defeat in Georgia. Throughout the South, Republican legislatures have been making changes to election laws in response to unfounded allegations of a stolen 2020 election.

The new law, SB 189, creates a new process for how counties can remove people’s voter registrations from the rolls, provisions that empowered grassroots activists on the right who have challenged thousands of registrations as ineligible, but that the secretary of state’s office have said provide limitations.

It’s the second election overhaul bill Kemp has signed into law since 2020. The previous law, SB 202, made it more difficult to obtain an absentee ballot and banned bringing food or gifts to people waiting to vote. The law also moved control over the leading the state election board from the secretary of state to the legislature, and allowed average citizens to file unlimited numbers of challenges to people’s voter registrations.

The bill also makes it easier for third-party candidates to get on the ballot, a provision that can help independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of the former president, who has challenged President Joe Biden to drop out of the race if he can’t beat Donald Trump.

Other provisions of the law, including removing QR codes from ballots, will go into effect in future years.

From WRDW:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed legislation that makes additional changes to Georgia’s election laws ahead of the 2024 presidential contest in the battleground state.

Among the most contested provisions in the election measure is a definition of probable causes for removing voters from the rolls when their eligibility is challenged.

Republican activists fueled by debunked theories of a stolen election have challenged more than 100,000 voters in recent years.

Opponents have said the probable cause list would enable more baseless attacks on voters and overwhelm election administrators. Republican lawmakers have said the measure would make the challenge process more difficult.

The bill Kemp signed into law — SB 189 — lists death, evidence of voting or registering in another jurisdiction, a tax exemption indicating a primary residence elsewhere, or a nonresidential address as probable causes for removing voters from the rolls. Most controversially, it says the National Change of Address list can be considered, though not exclusively.

The Georgia bill also allows challenges to be accepted and voters removed from the rolls up until 45 days before an election. That provision in part has prompted the threat of lawsuits from liberal groups because federal law says states and counties can’t make systematic changes to voting rolls within 90 days of a federal election.

The measure also says homeless people must use the county voter registration office as their address instead of where they live. Opponents have said that could make it harder for homeless citizens to cast ballots because their registered polling place might be far away.

Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, slammed the signing of SB 189, calling the measure a “voter suppression bill that emboldens right-wing activists in their efforts to kick Black and brown voters off the rolls.”

“By signing SB 189 to become law, Brian Kemp delivered a gift to MAGA election deniers,” the group said in a statement.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Kemp signed the three bills on Tuesday, the deadline for the governor to either sign or veto legislation the General Assembly passed this year.

The three-bill package marked the latest bid by Georgia Republicans to overhaul state election laws in the wake of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. Biden narrowly carried the Peach State, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Passing mostly along party lines, the package included:

Senate Bill 189, which makes it easier to file mass voter challenges, eliminates QR codes from paper ballots, and eases requirements for third-party presidential candidates to get on Georgia’s ballot.

House Bill 1207, which allows fewer voting machines on election days, requires poll workers to be U.S. citizens, and allows closer access for poll watchers.

House Bill 974, which requires the secretary of state to set up a statewide system to scan and post paper ballots at a minimum resolution and requires more audits of statewide election results.

Republican supporters praised Kemp for signing into law legislation they said will promote the cause of election integrity.

“Although there is always more work to be done, our new laws will ensure even more accuracy, safety and transparency,” said former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., now serving as chairwoman of Greater Georgia, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing voters and protecting election integrity.

“On the eve of a presidential election, Georgians deserve to have confidence that – despite the best efforts of liberal activists in our courts, our media, and our federal government – their votes will count.”

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

Raffensperger and some others had lobbied for Kemp, himself a former secretary of state, to veto the bill.

The bill, additionally, says that beginning July 1, 2026, the state can no longer use a kind of barcode called a QR code to count ballots created on the state ballot marking devices. That is how votes are counted now, but opponents say voters don’t trust QR codes because they can’t read them. Instead, the bill says ballots must be read using the text, or human-readable marks like filled-in bubbles, made by the machines.

The bill also requires counties to report the results of all absentee ballots by an hour after polls close. It also lets counties use paper ballots in elections in which fewer than 5,000 people are registered, though that change will not take effect until 2025.

Kemp on Tuesday vetoed a separate election bill that would ban political contributions by foreign nationals and impose additional registration requirements on agents of foreign principals. The governor noted that such donations are already prohibited by federal law, and he said some of the registration requirements were not intended by the bill’s sponsor.

Governor Kemp also vetoed 12 bills, according to the Savannah Morning News.

May 7, which marked exactly 40 days since the end of the 2024 legislative session, was the deadline this year for Gov. Brian Kemp to sign bills into laws. The legislation included the 2025 state budget, which Kemp signed Tuesday morning.

Vetoes usually come at the very end of the 40-day signing period. Any bills that are vetoed will be returned to the legislature at the beginning of the next session, and the bill must pass each chamber with a two-thirds majority.

House Bill 1019, a homestead exemption bill that has been one of the biggest priorities for Republican lawmakers throughout the legislative session, was vetoed due to what amounts to a legislative typo.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Reeves (R- Duluth), would have posed a referendum question to voters in the November general election, letting them decide whether to raise the current homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000.

An earlier draft would have raised the exemption from $2,000 to $10,000, but that number was changed during a state Senate Finance Committee hearing. However, those changes were not reflected in the final referendum question.

“Voters would therefore be approving a different exemption which the legislature did not pass, while the statutory language would never receive the voter approval needed for it to take effect,” Kemp noted in a news release. “This conflict between the statutory language and the referendum language precludes implementation of House Bill 1019.”

Senate Bill 368, a measure that would ban non-U.S citizens from donating to Georgia state candidates or election campaigns, was also vetoed by Kemp at the request of Sen. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), the bill’s sponsor.

The legislation would also have required foreign nationals conducting business in Georgia to register with the State Ethics Commissioner. It passed unanimously in the Senate, and 161-2 in the House.

However, Kemp said late additions ultimately capsized the measure. The bill, he noted, “would prohibit foreign nationals from making political contributions, which is already prohibited by federal law, and impose additional state-level registration requirements on agents of foreign principals, some of which were unintended by the bill’s sponsor.”

A full list of bills that Kemp vetoed is available at gov.georgia.gov.

State Rep. Rick Tonwsend (R-St Simons Island) faces criticism over his legislation regulating kratom sales, according to The Brunswick News.

Mac Haddow, senior fellow with the American Kratom Association, claims legislation sponsored by state Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, accomplished little other than requiring needed product standards and labeling.

“There is only one beneficiary of Rep. Townsend’s Kratom bill – other than his own political campaign account – and that is a group of trial attorneys who want to sue Kratom manufacturers and retailers for their own profit,” Haddow said. “The Georgia citizens who purchase Kratom for their health and well being are less protected today than they were before this legislation was passed.”

Townsend originally advocated for an outright ban of Kratom like it has been in several other states. He said a strong lobbying effort derailed that attempt.

“An out-of-state political special interest group continues misrepresenting the facts and engaging in a campaign of misinformation to protect their own interests,” Townsend said. “This legislation is a constituent-driven initiative aimed at safeguarding the health and well-being of Georgia citizens who consume Kratom products.”

The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will raise the minimum age to 21 to buy Kratom.

Townsend said the legislation was necessary because of the ongoing harm to Georgians caused by unregulated Kratom.

“Too many families have been devastated by the loss of loved ones due to the lack of proper oversight in the Kratom industry,” he said. “As a representative of the people of Georgia, it is my duty to prioritize the safety and protection of my constituents above all else.”

“The continued claim by this out-of-state political special interest group that this bill only benefits trial attorneys is false and baseless.”
The product also has to remain behind the counter in stores once the new law goes into effect.

The Georgia Court of Appeals will hear an appeal of a lower court decision against disqualifying Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) and her office from the Trump prosection, according to The Hill via WSAV.

On Wednesday, the Georgia Court of Appeals granted the request from Trump and several allies charged alongside him to take up their appeal now, before the case heads to trial. The district attorney’s office had opposed the move.

Willis was allowed to continue prosecuting the case after Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case in the Superior Court of Fulton County, ruled that she could stay if her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade – with whom she had a romantic relationship – resigned.

McAfee has not yet set a trial date, and the higher court’s decision to hear the appeal is likely to cause further delays. McAfee has signaled he plans to continue addressing various pending motions in the meantime, though the defendants could attempt to pause the trial.

Steve Sadow, who represents Trump in the case, welcomed the development.

“President Trump looks forward to presenting interlocutory arguments to the Georgia Court of Appeals as to why the case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct in this unjustified, unwarranted political persecution,” Trump attorney Steve Sadow said in a statement.

The NAACP Macon Branch is considering a lawsuit over ballots containing incorrect election districts, according to the Macon Telegraph.

With only nine days left until early voting closes, the NAACP is considering taking legal action after Macon-Bibb County voters in four districts were allegedly given wrong ballots.

Gwenette Westbrooks, head of the NAACP’s Macon-Bibb branch, said some voters in Districts 2, 4, 6 and 9, including at precincts Warrior 1, Howard, and Hazzard, were given ballots for the wrong districts. The county addressed the issue but initially only discussed issues involving two districts.

“For a person to cast their vote, and then a vote not even get counted for the correct district, it sends a message that we’re dealing with the same issues from 50 years ago, where voter suppression took place,” Westbrooks told The Telegraph.

A candidate from District 6 first informed the NAACP on Friday, May 3 about the discrepancy, Westbrooks said. They later found out three other districts had the same problem.

“Some people could not vote for a candidate because they were not on their ballot,” Westbrooks said.

Thomas Gillon, elections supervisor of the county, mentioned how the discrepancy impacted two districts when contacted by The Telegraph, but did not mention the others. Gillon did not respond to further request for comment about additional issues before publication.

Gillon told The Telegraph that some voters in District 6 noticed their electronic ballots were actually meant for District 9. He said recent redistricting of the county – updated in December due to the latest U.S. Census results – may have sent ballots to the wrong precincts.

Voters in District 6 brought the discrepancy to poll workers’ attention, Gillon said. The Elections Board then inspected the ballots, and discovered some precincts in the electronic “poll bed” system, which creates voter cards, hadn’t updated since the county commission’s redistricting.

“We started looking at each voter in our registration system, which was much more correct than the system that was making voter cards,” Gillon said.

In addition to flaws within the electronic system, some voters never received updated voter cards properly assigned to their designated districts.

“Anytime there was a discrepancy we’d make a proper voter card once there was an issue … while we were working to get the voter card system updated,” he added.

An Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of disqualifying a candidate for State House District 151, currently held by State Rep. Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert), according to the Albany Herald.

An administrative law judge ruled on Tuesday that Democrat Othellious Cato was disqualified after the candidate reportedly failed to appear for a Tuesday session of the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office received the initial decision on Tuesday, the office said in an email response. The office has not issued a final decision in the case and is reviewing the administrative law judge’s initial decision.

The complaint in the case was related to a challenge over the question of whether Cato lives within the district.

Bryan County Commission Chair Carter Infinger is being challenged by Republican Buck Holly, according to WTOC.

Infinger is hoping his experience will convince voters to re-elect him, saying he has unfinished business as the county prepares for Hyundai’s massive car plant and recovers from the April 2022 tornado.

“Obviously the Hyundai one. We’ve got a lot of big projects in the south end with the co-op project, a bunch of infrastructure projects and roads. I think it’s critical to have experience to know about those projects and be able to finish them up,” Infinger said.

Holly says his time owning a business and the variety of roles he’s held gives him a fresh perspective.

“Being able to focus on the little things, medium things, and big things will translate well into being a politician,” Holly said.

Both candidates note the race has ignited a social media firestorm…as they vie for a job that could change the course of Bryan County.

“If you can’t do the small things? How can we trust you to do the big things,” asked Holly.

“You cannot run the county like a business. It’s not a business, it’s not a family business. This is the government,” Infinger said.

Both candidates are running on the Republican ticket and no Democrats are on the ballot, meaning whoever wins the May 21 primary will run unopposed in November.

Incumbent Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Denise Mitchell (D) and Democratic Primary challenger Phillip Bonton III face-off to determine who is in the November General Election with Republican Arefeen Chowdhury, and spoke to the Gwinnett Daily Post about modernizing the Tax Commissioner’s Office.

Gwinnett County Commission candidates spoke to the Gwinnett Daily Post about housing affordability.

The Dalton Daily Citizen profiles the Republican candidates for Whitfield County Sheriff – Wallace “Wally” Johnson III and Scotty Martin.

The Savannah Morning News profiles the candidates for Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education District Three.

Funeral arrangements were announced for the late Muscogee County District Attorney Stacey Jackson, according to WTVM.

District Attorney Stacey Jackson passed away Sunday morning, May 5, after a long battle with illness, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Jackson worked as an Assistant District Attorney from 2000 until 2008. He then went into private practice in 2008 and remained there until 2022. He returned to the office as District Attorney in May 2022 when Governor Brian Kemp appointed him to the office.

Mr. Jackson is a native of Harris County. He is survived by his two children.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson continues to push back on opposition to gun storage legislation, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Two high-profile challenges to the city’s landmark ordinance, which was passed unanimously by city council in April, came in quick succession last week. A Wayne County man filed a civil suit against the city on May 1, dubbing the ordinance “void” by state law in what appears to be the ordinance’s first legal challenge. Attorney General Chris Carr followed up with the same assessment on May 3 in a courtesy review letter to Savannah’s city attorney Bates Lovett.

The ordinance requires firearms left in motor vehicles to be “securely stored” in compartments or in a locked trunk. Johnson, who led the creation of the ordinance, has continued to defend both the law’s legality and rationale despite the public pushback. Lawsuits were anticipated and even welcomed, Johnson said.

“It is Savannah’s legal opinion that this ordinance strikes the right balance,” Johnson said.

Included in Johnson’s remarks were the same emphasis used during his advocacy for its passage: the majority of guns stolen from cars in Savannah occurred when the vehicles were unlocked. The point of the law is to promote responsible gun ownership, not infringe on Second Amendment rights, said Johnson, who is gun owner and former police officer.

When asked during his press conference why the city did not consult the Georgia AG’s office for review, Johnson said they don’t send most ordinances in for review.

“I think we were pretty certain about what that reaction would be, so we chose not to do it, which was our prerogative,” Johnson said.

Forty military aircraft take to the skies of Coastal Georgia for exercises, according to the Savannah Morning News.

From now until May 18, 40 aircraft will be participating in Sentry Savannah, the Air National Guard’s “premier fighter exercise,” according to the Air Dominance Center (Savannah CRTC).

Nearly 800 participants will be part of the exercise. People in the coastal Georgia area and near the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport are likely to notice noise from the jets.

During this event, “4th and 5th generation fighter jets and warfighters from across the Air National Guard come together to train,” according to the Air Dominance Center.

 

 

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