On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.
Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.
On November 29, 1942, coffee rationing began in the United States.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.
On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
State legislators convene today in a Special Session for Redistricting, according to Atlanta News First via WTVM.
State lawmakers are convening Wednesday in Atlanta to once again draw new congressional and legislative maps, repeating a process they undertook just two years ago.
Maps were redrawn in 2021 in accordance with new – but pandemic delayed – U.S. Census numbers. Now, they’re repeating the process again thanks to an October ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones that found the 2021 maps unconstitutional.
Jones ruled the maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and now thousands of metro Atlanta and Georgia voters will be drawn into new and different congressional and legislative districts before the 2024 election.
On Monday, the state Senate released its proposed new maps. Proposed House maps were released Tuesday afternoon, only hours before the special session was set to begin.
Georgia House Republicans on Tuesday released a map that would likely cost them only two seats from their current 102-78 majority while creating five more majority-Black districts that Democrats would be likely to win. That’s because the map would also pair three sets of Democratic incumbents, meaning Democrats would lose three of those members after 2024 elections.
And Senate Republicans could improve on that performance — the map they proposed on Monday creates two additional Black-majority voting districts, but would probably retain the GOP’s current 33-23 edge in the upper chamber.
Still to come is a new congressional map, where lawmakers have been ordered to draw one new Black-majority seat. Republicans currently hold a 9-5 edge in Georgia’s congressional delegation. To try to hold that margin, they’d have to dissolve the only congressional district held by a Democrat that’s not majority-Black, Lucy McBath’s 7th District in the Atlanta suburbs of Gwinnett and Fulton counties.
It’s unclear if that would be legal. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote in his order that Georgia can’t fix its problems “by eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere.”
Because Black voters in Georgia vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, new Black-majority districts will favor the party. But Democratic hopes to gain seats may have been premature.
“Republicans are clearly going to control the process and the outcome,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock, who studies redistricting.
The House map would create one new Black majority district running east from Macon to Milledgeville and a second district running northwest from Macon into Monroe County. It would create two additional Black majority districts in Atlanta’s southern suburbs, one in Henry and Clayton counties around Hampton and a second one in Henry County around McDonough and Locust Grove. Finally, a fifth Black-majority district would be created in suburban Douglas County west of Atlanta.
Only the Macon-to-Milledgeville district would have a current incumbent, Republican Ken Vance of Milledgeville. The other four would be open seats in 2024.
Paired House Democrats would include Saira Draper and Becky Evans of Atlanta, Teri Anulewicz and Doug Stoner of Smyrna, and Sam Park and Greg Kennard of Lawrenceville. One set of Republicans would be paired, David Knight of Griffin and Beth Camp of Concord.
Under Georgia law, state legislators must have lived in their districts for a year before they are elected. Because 2024’s election is less than a year away, it’s too late for anyone to move to another district to run.
The Senate map doesn’t pair any incumbents. It increases the number of Black majority districts by eliminating two white-majority districts currently represented by Democrats — State Sens. Jason Esteves and Elena Parent, both of Atlanta.
Democrats released their own Senate map Wednesday. It would convert two Republican districts held by Sens. Marty Harbin of Tyrone and Brian Strickland of McDonough into majority-Black districts. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain said the Republican Senate plan doesn’t meet the terms of the court order.
State House leaders unveiled their own redistricting map, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.
Georgia House Republicans released a redistricting map for the lower legislative chamber Tuesday that appears to fall short of creating the five additional Black-majority districts ordered by a federal judge last month.
But the proposed map would create nearly two dozen House districts with white minorities that would give people of color – including Hispanic and Asian voters – an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.
The three new Black-majority districts are all in the southern end of metro Atlanta, a part of the state U.S. District Judge Steve Jones focused on when he ruled the legislative districts the GOP-controlled General Assembly drew two years ago violate the Voting Rights Act. Black voters tend overwhelmingly to support Democratic candidates.
The new map moves House District 74 out of western Spalding and southern Fayette counties into southwestern Henry and southern Clayton counties. As a result, the district’s voting-age population would shift from just 24% Black to 62.8% Black.
The map also shifts House districts 115 and 117 within Henry County, which has seen a large increase in its Black population since the 2010 Census.
House District 115’s Black voting-age population would be 72.2% under the new map, up from a slight minority of 49.2% under the 2021 map. District 117 would see its Black voting-age population increase from 34.5% to 59.5%.
While no other House districts would shift from white majorities under the 2021 map to Black majorities under the proposed map, more than 20 districts either would have Black voting-age populations close to 50% or significant numbers of Hispanic and Asian voters who if they choose could join forces with Black voters to elect people of color to House seats.
The proposed House map modifies the boundaries of 56 of the 180 House districts, stretching from Cobb and Gwinnett counties south through the metro region to Houston and Peach counties south of Macon.
Eight lawmakers were drawn into the same districts with colleagues from their own party under the proposed maps — six of them Democrats and two Republicans.
State Reps. Teri Anulewicz and Doug Stoner, both Democrats from Smyrna, could be drawn into the same Cobb County district.
“I’m going to wait and see what ends up happening,” Anulewicz said. “These maps are the start of a conversation.”
Stoner previously served in the House for two years and the Senate for eight years before losing in his redrawn, more conservative Senate district in 2012. This is his first year back in the General Assembly.
The only Republicans placed in the same districts are Reps. Beth Camp of Concord and David Knight of Griffin, who currently represent areas south of Atlanta including Lamar, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.
“I’m saddened,” said Camp, who plans to vote for the map. “But the reality is we have to adhere to a judge’s court order that required districts be created between Macon and Atlanta, and unfortunately, I’m about midpoint between Macon and Atlanta.”
Knight said the map placed him with his “friend and trusted colleague.”
“No matter the future outcome of elections, I know the constituents of Spalding, Pike and Lamar will be well represented,” Knight said.
House Speaker Jon Burns said the redistricting proposal is fair, and he hopes it passes.
“This map meets the promise we made when this process began: It fully complies with the judge’s order while also following Georgia’s traditional redistricting principles,” said Burns, a Republican from Newington.
Governor Brian Kemp announced upcoming staff changes, according to a Press Release.
Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Trey Kilpatrick, Chief of Staff for the Governor’s Office, has accepted a position with Georgia Power as Senior Vice President for External Affairs, effective January 15, 2024.
“Over the last three years, Trey’s dedicated leadership as Chief of Staff has enabled our administration to deliver on the promises I made to the people of our state and keep Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “After an exemplary career in public service, the Kemp family, the Governor’s Office staff who worked alongside him around the clock, and the countless people who interacted with Trey during his time in our administration are all deeply grateful for his years of service and excited for him as he enters the private sector.”
Governor Kemp also announced the following changes to his senior staff team:
Current Deputy Chief of Staff Lauren Curry will become Chief of Staff, also effective January 15, becoming the first female to step into the role on a permanent basis in Georgia’s history.
Current Director of Government Affairs and Policy Brad Bohannon will become Deputy Chief of Staff, effective the same date.
“Marty, the girls, and I are thankful for Lauren and Brad’s continued willingness to serve in these important and challenging roles. Their hard work and expertise are valued assets for the entire Governor’s Office as we head into a new year and a new regular session.”
Lauren Curry currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Governor Brian Kemp and will step into the Chief of Staff role. She previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Director of Government Affairs and Policy for Governor Kemp.
Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Curry served as Deputy Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Chief of Staff for the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Special Projects Director at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and Press Assistant to former Governor Sonny Perdue.
Curry earned a bachelor’s degree in Government and Business Economics from Wofford College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Georgia.
Brad Bohannon is currently the Director of Government Affairs and Policy in the Office of Governor Brian Kemp and will become Deputy Chief of Staff. He previously served as Vice President of Government Affairs at the Georgia Lottery. Prior to his service in state government, he was Chief of Staff to former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. He also previously served in Government Relations with Georgia EMC.
Bohannon earned a degree in Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia and resides in Newnan with his wife and two children.
Governor Kemp’s suspension of the motor fuel sales tax is scheduled to end tonight, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s rollback of the state taxes of 31.2 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of diesel ends at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
The Republican Kemp began waiving the taxes in September when he issued a novel legal declaration finding that high prices were an emergency. Georgia’s governor can suspend tax collections during an emergency as long as state lawmakers approve the action the next time they meet. But because the General Assembly is beginning a special session Wednesday to discuss legislative and congressional redistricting, Kemp could not extend the waiver of the taxes past then.
Kemp has asked lawmakers to approve his action in the special session. He could also ask lawmakers to pass a law to extend the tax break. But Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas said Tuesday that the governor doesn’t plan to ask lawmakers to act. Douglas said it’s possible that Kemp could issue a fresh emergency declaration once the special session ends.
Douglas said Kemp was talking to legislative leaders “to decide next steps after this session and before the next session.” That next regular session begins on Jan. 8. He said one issue will be whether gas prices keep falling, as they have nationwide since Kemp revived the fuel tax break in September.
Waynesboro will elect a new Mayor in a runoff election, according to WJBF.
Both James Jones and William Tinely are vying for the mayor seat in a runoff election. They spoke about their platforms and what they plan to do for the city of Waynesboro. Citizens got the opportunity to ask questions and speak with the candidates one on one.
Voters will head to the polls Dec. 5.
The Georgia Senate Study Committee on CON Reform recommended repeal of the state’s Certificate of Need program, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.
A Georgia Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that the state abolish its requirements for permits to build health facilities, setting up a renewed push on the issue after a debate in the 2023 legislative session mushroomed into a House-Senate standoff.
The conclusion was little surprise after Republican Lt. Gov Burt Jones appointed many committee members who wanted a full or partial repeal of Georgia’s certificate of need rules.
“What we heard pretty consistently in our work around the state was that access to health care is being constricted by these existing laws,” state Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Cumming Republican and Jones ally, said after the special committee adopted its final report on a 6-2 vote.
What happens in 2024 will depend most on what the state House is willing to do. A parallel House committee studying the issue has yet to submit a final report. The committee heard testimony last week on expanding Medicaid, suggesting some lawmakers might be willing to abolish the permits in exchange for extending health care coverage to many poorer Georgia adults who currently lack it. North Carolina lawmakers agreed to a deal to expand Medicaid in exchange for loosening permitting rules, which was discussed in the House meeting.
“They broached the topic, which we did not broach in our in our meetings,” Dolezal said of expanding Medicaid. “It’s something that I’m not sure that there’s an appetite for in the Senate, coupling those two things together.”
While some states have repealed certificate-of-need laws, Georgia is among 34 states and the District of Columbia still using them.
The committee’s decision centers on the 44-year-old Certificate of Need law. It was created to control health care costs and cut down on duplication of services and unnecessary expansions. It determines when, where and if hospitals need to be built. Opponents have said the law prevents competition and enables big hospitals to have a monopoly, often shutting out small and private medical outlets.
On Tuesday, the Senate Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform effectively said the law needs to be repealed. The committee approved, in a 6-2 vote, nine recommendations.
“Based upon the testimony, research presented, and information received, the Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform has found that the problem Georgia’s CON law was intended to combat no longer exists,” the report said.
However, the head of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals said Tuesday that repealing the law would be a bad idea.
“It would have a devastating financial impact on hospitals and the quality and access to health care,” Monty Veazey, the alliance’s chief executive, told State Affairs.
Veazey said he has not seen the recommendations yet but his organization has sent its own set of recommendations to the senate and house study committees.
“We believe that the certificate of need really does need some modernization and we look forward to working with the committee to work through those recommendations and see if we can reach a compromise position during the upcoming legislative session,” Veazey said. “We still want to see what the House committee recommends before moving forward.”
Advocacy groups representing Georgia hospitals have opposed efforts to significantly reform CON or repeal the law entirely. They have argued that for-profit health-care providers would siphon off paying patients from rural hospitals, leaving them in worse financial straits than before.
Acknowledging that repealing CON might be too heavy a lift for the General Assembly, the study committee also recommended a series of reform measures that would stop short of getting rid of the law.
Those fallback recommendations include exempting maternal and neonatal care from going through the CON process. CON exemptions also would apply to medical research centers and to health-care facilities wishing to add new hospital or mental-health beds or expand the number of beds they already provide.
Meanwhile, the AJC suggests Medicaid expansion may be part of the process.
Some are giving a fresh look to a program adopted in Republican-led Arkansas, where 250,000 additional residents are eligible for Medicaid coverage under a long-running initiative that health care analysts have dubbed the “private option.”
And senior officials say a tradeoff could involve changes to certificate of need rules sought by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and his allies that could clear the way for new hospitals, particularly in rural parts of the state, and for-profit medical offices.
That was the subtext earlier this month when a hearing on Georgia hospital regulations led by state Rep. Butch Parrish, one of the Legislature’s health policy experts, shifted suddenly to a discussion of plans to boost Medicaid enrollment.
“We just got a lot of good information,” the Swainsboro Republican told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “and now we’ll have to sort it all out.”
Talk of a GOP embrace of broader Medicaid changes has become such a perennial issue in Georgia it often prompts eye rolls at the Capitol. But there’s a sense it has gained new traction.
“This year, I do think it’s possible — if the right factors come into place,” said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, long an outspoken GOP supporter of the idea.
With the 2024 election looming, some Republicans hope to neuter Democratic criticism of Georgia’s health care policy by joining 40 other states that have already expanded Medicaid or are set to do so this year.
Democrats see an opportunity, particularly if their votes are needed to adopt a compromise.
“We have a lot of leverage,” said House Minority Leader James Beverly, who added that any proposal must address two issues: “We have to negotiate to lower the high maternal mortality rates, and Medicaid expansion has to be front and center.”
Among the advocates is Chris Riley, a former top aide to Deal who now lobbies on behalf of the Grady Memorial Health System. He said Georgia can craft a “tailored Medicaid waiver” in 2025 that provides commercial insurance reimbursement rates while staying budget-neutral.
Riley called Arkansas’ program a prime “blueprint” for Georgia.
“Georgia’s rapidly growing workforce requires healthy workers,” Riley said. “This program is about meeting the needs of hardworking Georgians who get up and go to a job every day to provide for themselves but aren’t yet able to afford coverage.”
The Arkansas plan quickly gained converts among the small group of Republicans, who recently brought in GOP state Sen. Missy Irvin to discuss how she helped lead the Medicaid expansion in that state.
When Arkansas expanded Medicaid in 2014, it took a novel approach. Unlike states that enrolled new residents into existing Medicaid programs, the state used expansion dollars to buy private insurance for uninsured residents.
Hufstetler, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, has seen this debate play out plenty of times before over the past decade. But he also acknowledged that federal funding tied to any expansion serves as an enticing sweetener.
“I see a win that’s workable for everybody — combined with a Medicaid expansion,” he said.
Gas-powered leaf blowers could be protected by state law against local bans if both chambers are able to come to agreement, according to 11Alive.
A new study shows just how toxic gas-powered leaf blowers can be. It came after the Georgia House and Senate nearly enacted legislation this year to protect gas-powered leaf blowers.
The Senate bill would protect gas-powered leaf blowers by making it illegal for cities or counties to make laws banning them. Some Democratic-led municipalities have enacted such laws. For example, California regulators have reportedly banned the sale of them starting next year.
The Senate passed the bill to protect gas blowers. Yet they are increasingly the bane of environmentalists. In October, a research group reported research showing a single leaf blower used for one hour emits pollutants comparable to a gas-powered automobile driven 1,100 miles.
The Republican-led Senate and House passed separate bills protecting gas-powered leaf blowers but could not agree on language to unite the two bills.
Republicans will be motivated to power through a compromise leaf blower bill when they meet again in January – and could have it on the books by this time next year.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) debate tonight in Alpharetta, according to AccessWDUN.
The two governors are set to square off on the debate stage in Alpharetta on Thursday evening at 9 p.m. with Fox News political commentator Sean Hannity acting as moderator. AccessWDUN spoke with Political Science Professor Carl Cavalli, who teaches at the University of North Georgia, ahead of the debate to get the scoop on why the pair are debating.
“It’s definitely not commonplace to have, a year before the election, prominent members of the two major political parties debating each other,” Cavalli said. “I expect it to be very explosive, these are two people with very, very different visions for their states and for the United States. We know that Ron DeSantis has presidential ambitions. It is almost certain that Gavin Newsom has presidential ambitions.”
Cavalli noted that what voters see Thursday night could be a preview of what they will see during the election cycle in 2028.
“This is now more an opportunity for him [DeSantis] to get back in the race against the others, rather than to sort of take a step forward and compete directly with Trump,” Cavalli said. “For Gavin Newsom, I think that this is maybe sort of a test of the waters. He’s become more and more prominent nationally, but he’s still somebody that most Americans don’t know who he is. And this will be a first shot with really very little for Newsom to lose right now, to get his name and face out there on the public stage.”
Some of the prominent topics Cavalli predicts will be discussed include the conflict in the Middle East, immigration and the economy.
As for the reasoning behind choosing Georgia as the site for the debate, Cavalli noted it could be due to the rising title the Peach State is garnering in becoming a presidential battleground location.
“One-on-one means a much more detailed and in-depth debate, unlike these ones, where you have 10 people on the stage at once, and you get 30 seconds to answer a question, and you get five other people trying to jump in at the same time,” Cavalli said.
Gwinnett County law enforcement agencies worked to crack down on sex offenders who are required to register, according to AccessWDUN.
Operation Watchful Eye has been conducted every year since 2015, and this year involved 73 sheriff’s offices across Georgia cracking down on violations of sex offender registration laws. A social media post from the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Monday indicated they were one of the officers involved in this year’s operation.
A release from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association said the operation took place from October 30 through November 6 and saw 44 sex offenders arrested across the state and more than 200 warrants issued. Gwinnett County authorities conducted over 350 verification attempts and more than 100 residence verifications.
Data collected from the effort showed that across Georgia, 61 new sex offenders moved into reporting counties while more than 500 offenders had absconded from their last known address.
Bulloch County’s fire department service rating improved, according to the Statesboro Herald.
An upgrade in the ISO fire protection classification of the Bulloch County Fire Department’s main service areas will take effect this Friday, Dec. 1, and the department is pressing forward with other improvements.
As a result of a recent evaluation by the Insurance Services Office of Verisk Analytics, the ISO rating for areas within five miles of the department’s stations will improve from the previously split 5/5X classification to a split 4/4Y. Bulloch County Fire Chief Ben Tapley made an informal report to the county commissioners during a work session held with their Nov. 21 regular meeting.
“The ISO survey did reveal we need more stations, more personnel, ladder trucks and better water,” he said in prepared remarks. “Without pressurized water, we need to expand our tanker fleet to cover more of our county and hire firefighters to better establish a tanker shuttle. Overall, our vision is to add additional personnel (a third firefighter on each engine) and open more staffed stations.”
A for-profit business organization that provides data to insurance companies, the ISO issues fire protection ratings on a basic scale of 10 to 1. Details have changed over the years, but “10” still means no ISO-recognized public fire protection, while “1” is the best fire protection available in the ISO’s estimation.
As Tapley confirmed in a follow-up interview, the ISO rating for outlying areas of Bulloch County more than five road miles beyond any of the Bulloch County Fire Department’s 14 stations or the Statesboro Fire Department’s two stations remains, unfortunately, a “10.”
Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner denied motions to dismiss by former Bulloch Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson, allowing the case to proceed, according to The Brunswick News.
The case will not be dismissed against the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney accused of interfering with the prosecution of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, a judge ruled Tuesday.
“The Court, having read and reviewed the Defendant’s Motions to Dismiss, as well as the State’s Responsive Brief, and having heard and considered the evidence and argument presented by the Parties at the hearing held herein, as well as the exhibits filed under seal, and good cause appearing, orders as follows: The Defendants’Motions to Dismiss are DENIED,” the denial order written by Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner.
Johnson is accused of violating her oath office when she allegedly hindered the law enforcement investigation into Arbery’s killing.
Johnson was indicted by a Glynn County Grand Jury in September 2021 and charged with using the power of her office to try to protect the McMichaels from arrest.
Johnson has pleaded not guilty and has denied the allegations, saying in the motion to dismiss the case that there is no evidence to suggest she did anything wrong. She recused herself from the case, passing it on to Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill who supported the decision that the killing was in self-defense.
The denial order filed Tuesday means the prosecution of Johnson will continue in Glynn County Superior Court, more than two years after the initial indictment. The case has moved slowly as Johnson’s attorney Steel has been involved with the case against Atlanta rapper Young Thug, which is expected to take several more months.
Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones appealed a federal court decision to sanction her, according to WTOC.
In a filing last week, DA Jones appealed those sanctions to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last month, a Federal judge said that Jones misrepresented the facts when she failed to appear for a deposition in a lawsuit accusing her of workplace discrimination.
The judge ruled DA Jones in default and ordered her to pay plaintiff Skye Musson’s legal fees.
Muscogee County School District wants to hold an election to renew the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax early, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
The improved local economy means the Muscogee County School District is on pace to receive nearly one year earlier than projected the $189 million in sales tax revenue Columbus voters approved three years ago.
And that means MCSD plans to ask Columbus voters to renew its 1% sales tax for capital projects earlier than expected as well.
The administration is targeting the May 21, 2024, general primary and nonpartisan offices election as the date for the next referendum to continue the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax without interruption, superintendent David Lewis told the MCSD board during its monthly meeting Monday night.
If the ESPLOST referendum is on that election day, it would join the following local offices on the nonpartisan ballot: Columbus Council seats for Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and at-large, MCSD board seats for Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7, and state court judge. Local partisan offices on the primary ballot that election day will be for sheriff, superior court clerk, tax commissioner, state court solicitor, probate judge and coroner.
Richmond County’s Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School was listed as the number 8 middle school in the country, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
As U.S. News & World Report updated its public elementary and middle school rankings in November, multiple Augusta-area schools scored well, including one Augusta school ranking top-10 among Georgia middle schools.
Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, which topped Richmond County middle schools, ranked No. 8 in the state.