Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2017

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown addressed the Georgia legislature calling on them to consider Georgia’s future on November 7, 1860, the day after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President.

Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress, the first female Member, on November 7, 1916 from Montana. After leaving Congress, Rankin moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in 1925. The Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation, based in Athens, Georgia provides college scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term on November 7, 1944.

Democrat Sam Nunn was reelected to the United States Senate on November 7, 1978.

On November 7, 1989, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American Mayor of New York and Douglas Wilder was elected the first African-American Governor of Virginia.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is election day in many parts of Georgia. Polling places are open until 7 PM in most areas.

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday ordered flags on state buildings and grounds to be flown at half staff in honor of the victims of the Sutherland Springs, Texas mass murder. They will remain at half staff until sundown Thursday.

Gov. Deal spoke to the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, discussing healthcare.

The intended goal of the healthcare summit was expanding healthcare options for residents and bettering the economy.

Governor Deal spoke on his intended initiatives to positively impact the two.

He expressed that higher education and improved access to it would lead to an enrollment drop in Medicaid and PeachCare.

By providing enrollees better opportunity, the intention is to create a better economy and improve earnings, so the everyday expenses of life, including healthcare are more attainable and manageable.

According to deal, “what Medicaid and PeachCare are spending per Georgia household now, amounts to $1,227 per year. The addition of federal contribution and related cost, results in a jump to $4,476 per year.”

State elected officials’ decision to not expand our Medicaid roles, according to Deal, would have resulted in a needed $288 million in additional funds to cover that.

Deal noted that in order to achieve that deficit, “significant cuts to other elements of state government,” would have to occur.

State currently contributes $900 million in coverage to state employees every year. In addition to $1.2 million currently budgeted.

Deal also attributed the issue to “healthcare providers are not available,” noted a shortage even in the thriving areas. His suggestion is “more homegrown healthcare providers.”

In the next six fiscal years, Deal aims to proposing $3.7 million be allocated to add more residency slots for physicians, what he describes as one “critical element.”

Deal states that physicians are “likely to stay where they complete their residency” and intends for Georgia to achieve that.

He also encouraged a greater number of nursing students.

The Dalton Daily Citizen spoke to candidates in today’s Special Election for State House District 4.

Beau Patton (R)

Eddie Caldwell (R)

Kasey Carpenter (R)

Peter Pociask (D)

Port of Savannah traffic is up 32% for October.

Container trade at the Port of Savannah grew by 32 percent in October, with Garden City Terminal moving 410,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of nearly 100,000 TEUs.

It was the first time in the port’s history that it topped 400,000 TEUs in a single month. For the fiscal year to date (July 1-Oct. 31), the Port of Savannah has moved 1.42 million TEUs, up by 155,050 or 12.3 percent.

“Since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, Garden City Terminal has experienced meteoric growth,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We’re now handling more ships, bigger vessels and larger cargo exchanges. By working more weekly vessel calls than any other East Coast port, and serving more neopanamax ships than any other port in the U.S. Southeast, Savannah has strengthened its position as a vital gateway to the global marketplace.”

Lynch said the Port of Savannah, with the nation’s single largest container terminal in North America, is playing a significant and growing role in supporting the nation’s economy, emphasizing the need for the timely completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

“With deeper water, today’s 14,000-TEU ships will be able to transit the Savannah River with greater scheduling flexibility, and take on heavier export loads,” he said. “Because these larger vessels provide lower cost per container slot, they help make American farms and factories more competitive.”

The Georgia Ports Authority will be seeking more support from Washington for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Georgia Ports Authority officials plan to hit Capitol Hill this week to press for more federal funding to deepen the Savannah River, and they’ll bring with them new figures to support their case that show record-breaking cargo traffic.

“As great as the numbers are, and they are phenomenal, they aren’t telling the full story,” Lynch said. Because the river channel isn’t deep enough for the newest generation of freighters to ply the river with full loads, Lynch said, Savannah isn’t seeing as much cargo as the shippers would like to bring to the port.

“We are cutting the ships short because of the lack of water,” he said.

he Savannah River dredging is arguably Georgia’s biggest economic development project. But in April, the project’s price tag grew by 38 percent to $973 million.

Georgia’s ports system accounts for some $40 billion in estimated economic impact across the state, and directly or indirectly touches about 400,000 jobs. The Savannah port is the nation’s No. 4 container port by volume.

Lynch said the ports delegation plans to meet with Georgia’s House and Senate delegation and with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the deepening project, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Suwanee City Council candidate Joe Briggs has withdrawn from the election after being accused of making anti-semitic comments on social media.

Voters in Lula and Clermont will cast their ballots on paper.

Augusta area voters will decide several municipal elections.

In the small municipality of Hephzibah, population about 4,000, incumbent Frank Godbee faces a challenge for his at-large commission seat from political newcomer Julius Lee Harris, Jr. Harris, 51, said he’s a retired Army veteran who became a full-time resident of Hephzibah 10 years ago. Godbee, 74, listed his occupation as “retired” and reported living in Hephzibah for 34 years on his qualifying affidavit.

In Grovetown, two council seats are up for vote with five candidates on the ballot. Incumbents Sylvia Martin and Vickie Cook are seeking re-election against challengers Allen Transou, Deborah Fisher and David Payne.

In Harlem, two council seats are up for election, sought by incumbents Danny Bellavance and John Thigpen, along with challenger Al Reeves. Mayoral candidate Roxanne Whitaker is running unopposed.

Floyd County voters will decide two tax referenda as well as municipal elections.

All Floyd County voters will decide whether or not to extend the SPLOST and ELOST collections for five more years.

The 1-cent education local option sales tax would go toward funding up to $80 million in capital projects for the Rome and Floyd County school systems. The 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax would fund a proposed $63.8 million package of projects.

For residents of Rome and Cave Spring, city elections will be on their ballots. Rome voters will pick three city commissioners and all seven board of education members. Cave Spring voters will fill three city council seats.

Cobb County voters may see a legislative race or municipal elections on their ballot today.

DeKalb County voters have three ballot questions in addition to any municipal races.

The Nov. 7 ballot for DeKalb voters will include a special local option sales tax referendum to raise the tax a penny, from 7 percent to 8 percent.

But that’s not the only choice voters will be making – voters will also be voting on two other measures: an EHOST, or equalization homestead option sales tax, and to freeze home property values for city and county taxes permanently while the EHOST and SPLOST are in place. The EHOST and SPLOST both have to pass for them to be enacted.

Rome City Commissioners met this morning with local state legislators.

Commissioner Milton Slack said Sunday that Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is expected to attend along with Republican Reps. Katie Dempsey of Rome and Eddie Lumsden of Armuchee. Also invited are Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, and representatives of the Georgia Municipal Association.

There’s no set agenda, but a number of city initiatives are dependent on state actions.

“We’ll probably talk about illegal gaming machines, and Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital — which is always on the table,” Slack said.

Rome lost its option to buy the 132-acre former state mental hospital complex off North Division Street but local leaders are still hoping it can be redeveloped to boost the economy. The biggest sticking point is the nearly $6 million in state bonds that a new owner would have to pay off.

Nuclear Options

Senator David Perdue wrote an Op-Ed advocating for the completion of Vogtle units 3 and 4.

Our domestic plants are aging rapidly. Five have closed in recent years. At the start of this year, four new reactors were under construction at two plants: two in South Carolina and two in Georgia. The South Carolina project has since come to a halt because of mounting delays and regulatory hurdles.

Two years ago, Reuters reported that Rosatom – a state-owned Russian nuclear energy export agency – had 29 reactors under construction around the globe. Russia collected billions in nuclear export revenues in 2015, and last year it exported $133 billion worth of nuclear goods and services.

China’s rise is equally, if not more, concerning.

This year alone, China has announced nuclear deals with multiple African nations. Chinese firms are building reactors in Pakistan and Great Britain. China is currently building 20 reactors at an average of one new reactor every five months. That’s why U.S. Energy Information Administration has predicted China will surpass America as the world’s largest nuclear energy producer in just 15 years.

Experts and leaders on both sides of the aisle agree we cannot allow that to happen.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recently wrote, “When other nations buy Russian and Chinese nuclear exports – as they increasingly do – Moscow and Beijing, not Washington, set the standards.”

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has said, “Without a strong commercial presence in new nuclear markets, America’s ability to influence nonproliferation policies and nuclear safety behaviors worldwide is bound to diminish.”

Finally, President Donald J. Trump said in June that, “we will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector.” President Trump also ordered a full review of our domestic nuclear energy policies, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recently announced a conditional loan guarantee of up to $3.7 billion for the completion of Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

The Georgia Public Service Commission yesterday opened hearings on Plant Vogtle.

Georgia Power and partner companies overseeing the construction of nuclear plant, Vogtle, presented a united appeal Monday to PSC commissioners, as hearings began on the fate of the embattled nuclear power plant.

The CEO’s led by Georgia Power’s Paul Bowers argued the project would present “the best economic choice” and “long-term benefits to customers.”

“We believe nuclear is the dominant solution. We are confident you will make the right long-term solution for the people in Georgia,” Bowers told the commissioners.

The commissioners now face the task of evaluating the cost and schedule estimates presented by Georgia power, to determine the fate of the project.

“There was always some chance this commission would rule that some of the costs were unreasonable.” Commissioner Chuck Eaton said.

Georgia Power and its co-owners however want to know whether these estimates are reasonable before going on.

“We need to know before we spend additional dollars,” said Bowers.

From WSAV in Savannah:

”We’re concerned this Vogtle project is off the rails and we will hear about the costs that have doubled from the original estimate,” said Sara Barczak from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. She reminds everyone the project started in 2010. “I think it’s clear Plant Vogtle is already a disaster because it was supposed to e operating by now,”

Barczak says it’s still seems likely the reactors will double in price to up to $25 Billion and says Georgia Power customers have already paid about $2 Billion over the past few years for financing costs. “You won’t get that money back if these (reactors) are not built I can guarantee you,” she said.

But Georgia Power’s CEO Paul Bowers told the PSC Monday that rate payers are actually saving tens and tens of millions of dollars by paying now instead of paying financing after the project is completed. He assured the Commission that the project is still possible and that is is vital to the U.S in terms of overall carbon free energy being produced. Bowers indicated that the project promises reliable and low cost energy for the next 60 years.

Kristi Swartz of Energy Wire drills down into the issues regarding Vogtle.

[I]t was who was going to shoulder the risk of the Plant Vogtle reactor project that concerned consumer advocates and some Georgia commissioners at a meeting of the Public Service Commission here yesterday.

“The risk difference is astronomical,” PSC Vice Chairman Tim Echols said, questioning two Georgia Power officials about the newly signed agreements with contractors. A previous fixed-price contract protected the utility and its consumers from significant rate hikes, but that is no longer there.

“So we’re in a real dilemma. Either we abandon the project and leave it sitting there, or we move forward at great risk,” Echols said.

Georgia Power officials said they are doing all they can to manage the known and unknown risks. At the same time, they — as well as the public power companies that are also building Vogtle — are pressuring commissioners to ensure that they will be able to recoup the project’s costs from customers.

Georgia Power enjoys a strong alliance with the governor and holds significant political sway at the Capitol. Being known as the utility that shepherds the nation’s first nuclear reactors in 30 years through a series of obstacles can only add to that status.

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