Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2017

Georgia and American History

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.

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.”

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.

On May 9, 1977, the Grateful Dead played at Buffalo War Memorial Auditorium.

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) will campaign in Georgia’s Sixth District for Republican Karen Handel.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will headline an event in Georgia with Republican Karen Handel on May 15, making him the latest high-profile GOP leader to stump with the 6th Congressional District candidate.

Ryan campaign spokesman Zack Roday said the speaker is “proud to stand with Karen Handel, a strong conservative leader who will be a fighter for Georgians.”

Ryan and his allies have poured millions into the race. He’s raised record sums for the House GOP’s campaign arm, which has spent more than $6.2 million on the race. And the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC endorsed by Ryan — has laid out an additional $5 million on the contest.

Also, Ryan’s [Washington, DC] Handel fundraiser took in $150,000, and he’s signed four emails that have netted an additional $50,000 for her campaign.

The visit will come in the middle of the fight in Congress over an Obamacare repeal.

Governor Nathan Deal left more legislation to the closing days for signature or veto this year as part of a strategy.

The governor has waited a bit longer than in past years to sign off on the crush of legislation awaiting his approval, but top aide Chris Riley said the delay was part of a new strategy from the governor’s office.

Riley said the decision to wait until just before the deadline to sign many of them came from Julia Ayers, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs. He said it was a “great tactic for 2017” because it spared proposals that might meet his veto pen on Tuesday – the deadline to sign or veto proposals – of additional attention and pressure.

“This late date for bill signings with the governor has certainly kept members a little curious, I am sure,” said Riley. “But more importantly it’s what it has accomplished on the other side of the argument: The bills that may not make it have not been singled out with a spotlight for additional pressure from the authors and the stakeholders.”

More than 50 measures are set to be signed Monday at ceremonies in Deal’s office.

According to the Governor’s Office website, Deal signed 57 bills yesterday, but Channel 2 news says he signed nearly 100.

Senate Bill 85, allowing beer brewers and distilleries to sell directly to consumers was signed by Gov. Deal.

“Our state leaders have been committed to ensuring Georgia remains a great state in which to brew beer and that local economies benefit from the industry’s steady growth,” Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to have worked alongside our brewer partners and retailers in supporting the bill and look forward to the positive impact the new law will have on the industry.”

The most noticeable change for local booze aficionados may be how breweries and distilleries offer drinks for on-site consumption. No longer will they be forced to offer paid tours of their facilities that come with limited samples of their beverages. State Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah, previously called this process “a shell game.”

Senate Bill 180 by state Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) was signed by Gov. Deal and increases the tax credit for donations to certain rural hospitals.

Senate Bill 180 increases from 70 percent to 90 percent the value of the credit taxpayers can earn from contributions to qualifying rural hospitals.

Lawmakers originally passed the 70 percent measure last year, but backers said a bigger incentive was needed because so few people had agreed to donate.

Alan Kent, president and CEO of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, applauded the move, as did other supporters including the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

“This is a chance for people to step up individually and for corporations to step in as business leaders and be able to make a difference in their very own communities,” Kent said.

State Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) lauded Gov. Deal’s signature of House Bill 87.

“House Bill 87 saves business owners time, resources and hassle and I am grateful for Governor Deal signing this into law today,” said Raffensperger.

“This legislation will now provide business owners the flexibility to do up to 3 year corporate registration renewals with the Secretary of State Office instead of only an annual process.”

A Spaceport in Camden County may be ready to launch after Gov. Deal signed legislation easing the way.

“Commercial spaceflight is the next great space race. It is a $320 billion industry that offers tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. By signing this legislation today, Gov. Deal is sending a message to the global space industry that we are open for business,” said Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden Project lead Steve Howard.

Howard said that after the general assembly passed HB 1, companies began contacting his office expressing interest in launching from Spaceport Camden.

“HB 1 put Georgia on the radar of the industry and Gov. Deal’s signature only reinforces to those companies that Georgia wants their business,” Howard said.

“The signing of HB 1 not only represents the huge strides taken in developing space flight legislation, but also demonstrates the viability of Spaceport Camden to support Vector’s goal of conducting hundreds of launches a year,” said Jim Cantrell, co-founder and CEO of Vector. “Vector is honored to make Camden County one of our homes for upcoming rocket launches, including our first sub-orbital test there this summer, making ours the first rocket launch out of this historic location, ever.”

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle,

Deal said the spaceport bill will help enhance Georgia’s reputation as the nation’s No.-1 state in which to do business. Georgia has won that designation four years in a row from Site Selection magazine.

“For the last four years, numerous companies have found that Georgia is the best state in the nation to do business,” the governor said. “We look forward to Spaceport Camden becoming the best place in the nation to launch a rocket.”

Camden officials expect regulatory review of the project to continue through this year and hope Spaceport Camden will secure an operational license from the Federal Aviation Administration by next year.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about legislation signed and some still waiting for signature and veto.

Senate Bill 201 would require some large employers to let their employees use sick leave to care for immediate family members, and the debate over the measure divided Republicans, with some criticizing what they saw as a new mandate.

And Senate Bill 160, known as the “Back the Badge” bill, stiffens penalties against people who assault law enforcement officers. That measure earned widespread legislative approval after a provision that targeted protesters was removed.

[S]till pending on Deal’s desk is Senate Bill 16, which would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment under Georgia’s growing medical marijuana program, which now has 1,700 patients and more than 350 physicians.

State Rep. Allen Peake, the Macon Republican who is the godfather of the program, said he has “every expectation that (the governor) will sign the bill” on Tuesday. That would let patients suffering from severe forms of autism, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome have access to cannabis oil. Patients in hospice programs, no matter their diagnosis, would also be allowed to access the oil.

United States Senator David Perdue met with supporters of Georgia’s military bases, according to the Macon Telegraph.

 Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said he appreciated having all of the base communities represented in one room.

“The consensus is that every single one of our bases is strong,” he said. “The performances are very competitive with the bases they compete with inside their service, but we recognize with the debt crisis and all of the problems we have with funding the military that we can’t take anything for granted.”

One topic discussed was the formation of a military commission that would meet regularly to address issues among bases across the state.

Perdue said all of the state’s military bases combined have a $23 billion economic impact, with Robins being the largest.

Although many still advocate for a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Perdue doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon.

“I don’t think BRAC is in our immediate future but we have to assume that sooner or later all of these bases will come under some sort of rationalization,” he said.

Effingham County Commissioners declined to renew the contract of County Administrator Toss Allen.

The Gainesville Department of Water Resources is waiting for federal approval to begin upgrades for a dam on Lake Knickerbocker.

Georgia’s peach crop could be the worst in decades, according to USDA scientists.

“The closest comparison we have right now is, looking back at the historical records has to go back all the way to the 1930s,” says research horticulturist Tom Beckman, making it what they say is one of the worst peach seasons in about a hundred years.

“We have never been so short. Hardly any of the commercial material that’s out at grower’s orchards was designed to deal with chill this low. We’ve never seen trees this low on chill before. I haven’t, in my entire career, seen trees in some cases receive less than half the chill that they normally expect,” says Beckman.

They say the poor production is due to not enough cold temperatures in the winter and an unexpected freeze in the Spring.

“We have fruit. In fact, we’ll probably have fruit throughout the season, but it’s going to be a lot less than what we could consider normal. I’d say it will be well under a half a crop,” explains Beckman.

He says the peach shortage will affect how much you will pay at the grocery store.

“The prices will be a little higher. You will probably see fewer loss leaders. There will be peaches, more California peaches probably than regional, but there will be peaches,” says Beckman.

2018 Elections

Bee Nguyen joins the race for House District 89 to succeed State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is considering running for Governor.

State Senator Burt Jones will not run for higher office in 2018, instead running for reelection.

Jones, R-Jackson, issued this statement:

“The past few months have been filled with speculation as my name has been circulating as a potential candidate for higher office. This has been a very exciting time as I have been humbled and honored by all the calls, texts and messages of support to run for higher office. After much deliberation and discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek higher office and will continue to work hard to serve the citizens of Senate District 25.”

“My family and I looked at all of the options on the table and I came to the conclusion that I enjoy what I am doing on the state level as a public servant for Senate District 25. While serving in this capacity, I am able to remain active in my growing business and daily family life and activities. It is truly a pleasure to serve on your behalf and I look forward to continuing to serve you as long as you allow me to do so and I have your support. I look forward to growing my skills and leadership as your state senator.”

“During my short time serving in the senate, I have the honor of being appointed as a Chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and currently the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. I will continue to seek new opportunities to serve as a leader in the senate while being a proponent of what is best for Senate District 25.”

“While now is not the right time for me to seek higher office, I will continue to work hard and look forward to future opportunities. I am grateful for your continued support and overwhelming encouragement. It remains an honor to serve the citizens of Senate District 25 and all Georgians as a member of the Georgia State Senate.”

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution,

State Sen. Burt Jones is not running for lieutenant governor or any other higher office, and he’s endorsing his Republican colleague David Shafer’s bid for the state’s No. 2 job.

Jones said in an interview that he’s staying out of the governor’s race for the time being but would support Shafer, who he said has done a “terrific” job reaching out to grassroots Republicans.

His decision means that Shafer has dodged another bullet in his bid for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s job. Although there were weeks of rumbling from other Senate Republicans that they might challenge Shafer, none have yet emerged.

That means his main GOP opponent remains state Rep. Geoff Duncan, the former pro baseball player who announced in April. Cagle, of course, is running for governor.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has more on David Shafer’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Shafer announced to supporters on Friday that he was entering the race to seek the No. 2 position in state government. It came days after Cagle announced — in unincorporated Duluth — that he plans to run for governor next year after spending three terms as the lieutenant governor.

“I have spent the five weeks since the Legislative Session ended on the telephone and in meetings, talking with and listening to nearly 1,200 of my fellow Georgians, old friends and new,” Shafer said in his announcement on one of his Facebook pages. “The response has been heart-warming. I have filed paperwork to begin running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.”

The lieutenant governor’s race is wide open with Cagle seeking a higher office, and Shafer is not the only person who has already made moves to try and become only the second Republican in Georgia history to be elected as lieutenant governor. State Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, has filed also paperwork to run for the seat.

If Shafer wins the seat, it will represent a promotion in state government, but also within the Senate since the lieutenant governor serves as the president of that chamber. Meanwhile, the president pro tem serves as second-in-command of the Senate, filling in whenever the lieutenant governor is unavailable.

Gwinnett County attorney Matt Reeves announced at Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast that he will run for Shafer’s seat in the state Senate.

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