Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 13, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 13, 2023

President George Washington returned to the City of Washington on November 13, 1789, ending the first Presidential tour.

On the same day, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his friend Jean-Baptiste LeRoy, in which he said,

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

On November 13, 1865, the United States government issued the first Gold Certificates.

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a resolution against ratifying the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 13, 1866.

In deciding not to ratify the 14th Amendment, the General Assembly adopted a committee report explaining that: “1. If Georgia is not a State composing part of the Federal Government known as the Government of the United States, amendments to the Constitution of the United States are not properly before this body. 2. If Georgia is a State composing part of the Federal Government … , these these amendments are not proposed according to the requirements of the Federal Constitution, and are proposed in such a manner as to forbid the legislature from discussing the merits of the amendments without an implied surrender of the rights of the State.”

Excavation began for a new Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on the site of the former City Hall/Fulton County Courthouse on November 13, 1884.

Walt Disney released “Fantasia” on November 13, 1940.

Georgia Governor and Constitutional Commission Chair Ellis Arnall moved that a home rule provision be included in the new draft of the state Constitution and his motion passed 8-7 on November 13, 1944.

On November 13, 1956, the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down a law requiring segregation on buses in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ronald Reagan announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States on November 13, 1979.

“The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the thirty-four years since the end of World War II, it has spent 448 billion dollars more than it has collection in taxes – 448 billion dollars of printing press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way “solve” the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay the taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise.”

“The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, the elderly, the sick and the handicapped. We have long since committed ourselves, as a people, to help those among us who cannot take care of themselves. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have.”

“I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded—religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and parent. It is our servant, beholden to us.”

“We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of pilgrims, “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982 in Washington, DC.

On November 13, 2006, groundbreaking began for a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Two United States Senators lauded the late Sen. Johnny Isakson, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and former Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., highlighted the first annual Johnny Isakson Symposium on Political Civility, held to honor the legacy of the late Georgia Republican senator Manchin called “the most civil public servant I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Isakson, who died nearly two years ago of Parkinson’s disease and other health issues, was widely respected as a voice of reason and compromise on Capitol Hill while other members of Congress were busy pushing partisan agendas that got in the way of achieving results.

Manchin and Blunt gave the audience gathered at the UGA Chapel examples of legislation they worked to achieve that wouldn’t have happened without the bipartisanship only made possible by political civility.

For Manchin, it was the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending bill Congress passed two years ago this month. He said he had to make deals with other lawmakers to get the measure through after 30 years without significant congressional action to improve the nation’s infrastructure.

For Blunt, it was increasing federal funding of the National Institute of Health for the first time in a decade. He said it was only possible by getting Senate Democrats to agree to eliminate funding for 36 other NIH programs.

Blunt said the sharp partisanship now rampant in Congress isn’t just the lawmakers’ fault. He also blamed a political climate shaped by the media that has left Americans unable to see eye to eye on the most basic facts.

After retiring from Congress in 2019, Isakson founded the Isakson Initiative to raise awareness and funding for research related to neurological diseases. On Friday, Heath Garrett, who served as Isakson’s chief of staff, announced the initiative has raised more than $57 million.

John Isakson, the senator’s son, said the Isakson Symposium on Political Civility, will continue in the coming years at different sites around the country.

Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones (R-GA) launched a digital ad attacking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the AJC.

The digital ad featured Raffensperger’s image on a milk carton as the narrator asks about his whereabouts — a reference to Raffensperger’s decision earlier this month to skip a Senate hearing on upgrades to the state’s electronic voting system.

“How are we supposed to have safe, secure, honest elections if our state’s chief elections officer is missing?” said the narrator in the ad, which also accused Raffensperger of not attending a Senate appropriations hearing since 2020.

Raffensperger’s office dismissed the attacks, saying he is “fully focused on a successful 2024 election.”

“While desperate politicians and election deniers work to discredit the outcome of next year’s election, we will continue to focus on preparing our counties for a smooth, secure and successful election,” said Jordan Fuchs, his top deputy.

United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg (ND-GA) ruled a 2017 voting rights suit will go forward to a bench trial, according to the Associated Press via WALB.

The question of whether Georgia’s electronic voting system has major cybersecurity flaws that amount to a violation of voters’ constitutional rights to cast their votes and have those votes accurately counted is set to be decided at trial early next year.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg issued a 135-page ruling late Friday in a long-running lawsuit filed by activists who want the state to ditch its electronic voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The state had asked the judge to rule in its favor based on the arguments and facts in the case without going to trial, but Totenberg found there are “material facts in dispute” that must be decided at trial.

She set a Jan. 9 bench trial, which means there will be no jury. But she also suggested that the two sides work together to reach a resolution.

The lawsuit was filed by several individual voters and the Coalition for Good Governance, which advocates for election security and integrity, against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of the State Election Board. It claims that the current configuration of the state’s election system presents a threat to voters’ right to have their votes counted as cast.

Since the lawsuit was first filed in 2017, Georgia has emerged as a pivotal swing state, putting a national spotlight on its elections. The electronic voting system the state uses, which was purchased from Dominion Voting Systems in 2019 and implemented statewide in 2020, has been the subject of outlandish conspiracy theories.

Totenberg stressed in her order that at this stage in the process, where she was considering the state’s motion for summary judgment, she was required to look at the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiffs. At the upcoming trial, the plaintiffs have “a heavy burden to establish a constitutional violation” connected to the voting system, she wrote.

Even if she ultimately rules in their favor, she wrote, she can’t order the state to implement a paper ballot system. She said there are “pragmatic, sound remedial policy measures” that she could order or that the parties could agree upon, including: eliminating QR codes on ballots and having scanners read human-legible text; using a broader scope and number of election audits; and implementing essential cybersecurity measures and policies recommended by leading experts.

Democratic state legislators are expected to introduce legislation to lift the state law ban on rent control programs, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Macon Telegraph.

Affordable housing advocates and their allies in the General Assembly vowed Thursday to push for legislation that would get rid of a ban on rent control in Georgia that dates back to 1984. Senate Bill 125 would do away with the provision in state law that prohibits local governments from imposing rent control in their communities.

“Parts of Georgia are housing deserts when it comes to affordability,” [Rodney Mullins] said. “People are living in Walmart parking lots.”

Mullins said soaring rents are wreaking havoc on Georgians indirectly beyond having to dig deeper into their wallets to afford a place to live. “If you continue this erosion of the home … it will push people into areas where they have no transportation,” he said. “Without transportation, you’ve made it really tough to maintain a job.”

“We have a huge problem with tenants being evicted as rents go up,” added state Rep. Terry Cummings, D-Mableton, who was sitting in on Thursday’s Senate committee meeting. “It’s a problem across the state.”

Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, suggested Georgia could dip into the state’s unprecedented $11 billion in undesignated surplus to pay for enforcing the law. With the second year of the two-year legislative term beginning in January, the bill remains alive for consideration.

Statesboro City Council is considering hiking the fine for leaving garbage cans out, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council on Tuesday moved a proposal forward that could increase the fine for leaving a garbage cart at the curb after the collection day from the current $10. But the new first-offense fine will apparently be $25, and not the $50 suggested in a staff memo and previously by a citizen.

Statesboro resident Sue Palmer spoke to the council Sept. 19, about “garbage cans that are being left out 24-seven” by residents in the city. Palmer said she saw five polycarts left out every Sunday at apartments on East Main Street.

“I would like for y’all to impose, instead of $10, increase that to $50, and impose it on the owner of the complex, and that’s where the responsibility belongs, you know, the responsibility for the grass, the maintenance and everything else,” Palmer said to the council.

The current ordinance section on residential garbage collection refers only to responsibilities of residents and does not refer to property owners as such.

A new Kratom ordinance takes effect in Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

A new ordinance approved by the Glynn County Commission will require merchants to sell kratom behind the counter instead of openly displaying it.

State Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, convinced commissioners to pass an ordinance to ensure kratom, marketed as a supplement, is hidden because he believes it is unsafe.

Townsend said legislation is planned during the upcoming General Assembly session in January to better regulate kratom, including labeling that gives the exact dosage.

He said the proposed legislation, which he said has strong bipartisan support, will also raise the minimum age to purchase kratom from 18 to 21 years old.

Originally, Townsend said he wanted legislation banning kratom like several other state have already done. But he knows that legislation will not pass, so this is the compromise.

“It’s a billon dollar industry,” Townsend said. “They’ve got a lot of lobbyists. The argument came down to fighting a billion dollar industry and trying to help Georgians out.”

Tiffany Zeigler was elected Mayor of Pembroke, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Having spent nearly two decades on city council, Zeigler jumped at the opportunity to run for mayor after she learned Judy Cook was retiring.

“Throughout this time, the training and continuing education I received further motivated me to aspire for the position of Mayor,” said Zeigler.

Zeigler has her eye on improving quality of life, an issue that has hampered residents for years. A lack of affordable housing and educational opportunities have contributed to the town’s 13% poverty rate. Zeigler thinks giving residents a path to entrepreneurship and affordable housing are key to their path to success. A demographic and market assessment project is being considered for approval by council.

“Having a strong economy is crucial for the well-being of every resident,” said Zeigler. “It encompasses key elements like vibrant downtown businesses, a diverse and affordable housing stock catering to all income levels, job opportunities for our community members and a range of activities for both our youth and seniors. By focusing on these aspects, we can ensure the overall prosperity of our city and enhance the quality of life for all residents.”

“As mayor, my objective is to foster the growth of Pembroke in a positive direction while preserving our cherished small-town heritage,” said Zeigler. “I will tirelessly work towards creating an environment that nurtures our community’s values, encourages progress and ensures that our city continues to flourish. Together, we can shape a future where Pembroke thrives, all while honoring and preserving the unique aspects that make our town so special.”

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