Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2018

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

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday signed Senate Bill 17, the brunch bill, according to the Savannah Morning News.


Known as the Brunch Bill, the new law signed Tuesday gives local municipalities that already have Sunday alcohol sales the option to decide through a ballot referendum if they would like to roll back Sunday on-premise consumption sale hours from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m.

Communities who do not currently allow Sunday alcohol sales will be required to have two ballot referendums. One to vote Yes or No to implement Sunday sales and another to decide if their local time will be 11 a.m. or remain 12:30 p.m.

In order for the referendum to appear on the November ballot a resolution or ordinance needs to be passed by city and or county governments by July 31. Reached for comment after the signing, Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach’s Chief of Staff Martin Sullivan said the mayor is in support of giving the citizens the option to vote and looks forward to having discussions with council in the coming weeks.

Gov. Deal issued 21 vetoes yesterday. From the Associated Press:

The term-limited Republican governor had until the end of Tuesday to veto or sign any remaining bills into law. In Georgia the governor also has a third option: Decline to do either and let a bill automatically become law without his name attached.

Among the bills vetoed Tuesday were a proposal to cap fees a homeowners association could charge homeowners for information and another that aimed to make contracts between local governments and private consultants more transparent.

Deal also vetoed a bill criminalizing unauthorized computer access after receiving blowback from the state’s booming cybersecurity industry.

Deal signed into law a measure that would allow victims of domestic abuse who have received a court order to break a residential lease without penalty. On Monday he signed a bill allowing lottery winners with prizes over $250,000 to remain anonymous upon request.

Deal also signed one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to cross his desk this year: a set of bills that could split the city of Stockbridge in two by creating the city of Eagles Landing.

Deal vetoed Senate Bill 357, which would have created a Health Coordination and Innovation Council, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The proposal came from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s health care reform task force that met last year. Cagle is considered the frontrunner in a crowded Republican field of candidates for governor.

Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, who sponsored the measure, said in a statement that Deal’s decision was a major disappointment.

“While we do have numerous agencies involved in health care, the level of coordination and innovation in dealing with these issues is not at the level Georgians expect,” Burke said.

“A state that is the number one state in which to do business should not be ranked 50th in maternal mortality,” he added.

“I’m not going to stop working to make sure Georgians in every corner of our state have access to high-quality, affordable health care,” Cagle said. “And I hope next year to fulfill the goals set forth in this legislation.”

From Georgia Health News:

“This bill’s purpose was to address the complexity and challenging  access, costs and poor health care outcomes faced by all Georgians, but particularly critical in rural Georgia,” [Senator Dean] Burke said in his statement. “While we do have numerous agencies involved in health care, the level of coordination and innovation in dealing with these issues is not at the level Georgians expect.

“A state that is the No. 1 state in which to do business, should not be ranked 50th in maternal mortality,” Burke added. The purpose of SB 357, he said, was to bring health care experts together and build a consensus “on how we can focus on the most pressing needs and ensure desired improvement in those outcomes – in other words, accountability.”

He did sign House Bill 769, which aims to boost rural health care in the state. That legislation contains a provision establishing a Rural Health System Innovation Center.

That center will serve as a research organization that uses Georgia’s academic, public health policy, data, and workforce resources “to develop new approaches for financing and delivering health care in the state,’’ according to the legislation.

Gov. Deal signed two controversial bills paving the way for a new City of Eagles Landing in Henry County, according to the Henry Herald.

Senate Bill 262 will deannex a variety of properties from the city of Stockbridge while annexing some properties from unincorporated Henry County into the city, pending a vote. Senate Bill 263 will provide for a new charter of Eagles Landing, as well as a referendum in the November 2018 election.

SB 262 will take around 9,000 residents out of the city of Stockbridge, and annex another 3,500 residents to the city, should those 3,500 residents vote in favor of the annexation.

If approved by voters in November, the city of Eagles Landing would take an area mostly in the Stockbridge city limits. Stockbridge advocates have argued that taking land from another existing city is illegal.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert proposed a budget that includes a 3.7 mill increase in property taxes, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Reichert outlined the financial strain the county has faced the last four years, leading to the reserve fund being depleted. He said the new millage rate is expected to bring in about $15 million in additional revenue, which should be enough to cover additional expenses.

Last year, the county’s millage rate jumped 3 mills, going to 17.652 mills. That figure does not include the rate set by the Bibb County school board.

If another 3.7 mills is added this year, that would mean a home with a value of $100,000 would cost the property owner an additional $122.

The plan is for the County Commission to vote on the budget in June. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

The county has received millions of dollars of less revenue in the last couple of years after the elimination of double taxation for former city of Macon residents.

Gould Hagler‘s campaign for Mayor of Augusta released a poll showing him tied with incumbent Mayor Hardie Davis, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Of likely voters who responded, 35 percent were firm in their selection of Davis for mayor, while 33 percent strongly backed Hagler and 18 percent were undecided. Hagler outpolled Davis in voters either backing or “leaning” toward voting for him, 42 percent to 41 percent, in the survey.

Conducted by Clout Research, formerly Wenzel Strategies, the survey of 404 landline and cellphone households May 3-6 had a 4.86 percent margin of error, according to Clout’s report of its findings.

Hagler’s campaign declared the insurance broker was in a “tie” with “career politician and incumbent mayor Hardie Davis.”

“Citizens are ready for a mayor who will put our safety first and the best interests of our people ahead of political ambition,” Hagler said. “I am encouraged by our momentum and look forward to working for Augusta as the Garden City’s next mayor.”

An Augusta Commission committee will hear from proponents and opponents of a ban on smoking, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The ordinance is being pushed by the Breatheasy Augusta coalition and is based on one passed by Savannah, Ga., in 2010. The group tried and failed to get a similar ordinance passed in 2012 and 2013. But a previous vote to send the latest ordinance to committee passed easily, and it appears to enjoy more support on the commission than in previous attempts.

There are also probably many more businesses that have gone smoke-free since 2010-11, when 21 percent of employees in Augusta were potentially exposed to secondhand smoke, said coalition member Danielle Moores.

“It does feel like the tide has turned,” she said. “For us, it is a public health issue. We’re trying to create a level playing field where employees across our city” are protected from second-hand smoke.

But for Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, who considers himself a “respectful smoker,” the issue is about property rights.

“You’re stepping on my property and telling me what I can and cannot do,” he said. “I think government is interfering in our private lives more than (it) should.”

WSAV looks at the candidates for four seats on the Liberty County Board of Education.

Eight candidates for four seats on the Gwinnett County Board of Education spoke to voters at a forum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The forum was hosted by Gwinnett SToPP and Find Your Voice: Duluth and held at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. The questions ranged from whether teachers should be armed at school to zero tolerance policies and closing the student achievement gap.

But it was the responses on the gun issue that raised eyebrows as the candidates from both parties largely agreed on the issue, finding themselves on the same side over a question that has generated debate among candidates seeking higher offices.

Republican District II candidate Steve Knudsen was the only candidate who didn’t entirely shut the door on the idea of arming teachers, although he initially expressed opposition to that proposal.

“The answer is no to guns, but I would say that there are school systems that have implemented an opportunity for teachers to protect themselves,” Knudsen said. “I don’t know if I’ve seen in the media that those districts that have implemented that have fallen into complete and utter chaos.

The Northside Neighbor spoke to the Republicans running for State House District 52.

Gavi Shapiro is challenging incumbent District 52 State Rep. Deborah Silcox in the May 22 Republican primary election. The winner will face Democrat Shea Roberts in the November general election, and the district includes parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs.

Both Republican candidates are Sandy Springs residents. Silcox was elected to the position in 2016 and is completing her first term, and Shapiro is running for office for the first time.

Silcox, a lawyer, said she is running for a second term to continue her success under the Gold Dome.

“I am running for reelection for this seat because I have been effective as a leader for Sandy Springs and Buckhead in the Georgia House of Representatives,” she said. “For example, … three of my own bills this year (were approved) including a bill on the control and use of fireworks, another bill addressing sex trafficking and a third bill addressing neonatal and maternal health.”

The Golden Isles Republican Women will host a candidate forum next Monday, according to The Brunswick Times.

Residency Challenges

Tift County Senior Judge Gary McCorvey upheld a Columbus Board of Elections decision to keep Zeph Baker on the ballot for Mayor, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

In explaining his reasoning under the law, McCorvey noted the state Supreme Court ruling against using only a homestead exemption to decide residency and requiring that all factors in the statute be considered.

“The court finds the board did consider all the other factors,” he said.

Candidates are allowed to own residential properties in other places, though they must declare a home, he said: “You can have more than one residence, but you can only have one domicile.” And in Georgia, “your residence to a large part is where you say it is,” he said.

State Rep. David Stover (R-Newnan) defended himself against a complaint challenging his residency in the district, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Stover was recently required to appear before a judge in Atlanta in order to dispel allegations regarding his residency made by Sharpsburg resident and airline pilot, Thomas Finnegan.

In his complaint filed with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Finnegan cited Georgia Law which allows an eligible voter the ability to challenge the qualifications of a candidate.

“He made this challenge simply based on Internet rumors regarding my permanent residence,” Stover said.

For 18 years, Stover resided in the home on 1027 Ridley Road. However, following his divorce in July 2017, he moved into his mother’s home next door located at 1057 Ridley Road.

[Judge Ronit] Walker ultimately ruled Stover met all residency requirements and is qualified to be a candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives.

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