Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 29, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 29, 2015

Georgia History

On September 29, 1526, 600 Spanish colonists led by Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon landed on the Georgia Coast, the first European colonists in Georgia.

Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on Sapelo Sound in present–day McIntosh County. He sailed north from Hispaniola during the summer and first landed in present–day South Carolina. Meeting no natives, he traveled south along the coast before settling in Georgia.

To help establish the colony, Ayllon brought with him the very first group of slaves.  But hunger, disease, and conflict with the natives all took their toll, and the settlement survived for only three months.

Other sources say that the September 29, 1526 landing was in South Carolina and Vasquez de Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on October 8, 1526.

WSB-TV took to the airwaves for the first time on September 29, 1948.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump GA2

Would be Peach State supporters of the Donald J. Trump campaign now have a way to get in touch with the mothership sign up to volunteer for the campaign.

Candidates in the State House District 122 race and Columbia County Commission District 3 will speak to voters in a forum at 6 PM at the Columbia County Library’s Performing Arts Theater in Evans.

Commission District 3 candidates Jim Bartley, Gregory Grzybowski, Gary Richardson, Frank Spears and Russell Wilder will take the stage first for a question-and-answer session, followed by state House District 122 candidates Pat Goodwin, Jodi Lott, Joe Mullins and Mack Taylor in a separate session.

Steve Crawford, the publisher of the News-Times, and Ed Burr, a member of the chamber’s board of directors, will ask questions of each candidate, whose answers will be limited to two minutes. Questions from the audience also will be asked, if time allows, event organizers said.

Candidates will also have two minutes each to make opening and closing statements.

The free event is open to the public.

The premiere political event of yesterday was a lecture on Georgia history by First Lady Sandra Deal and her co-authors of Memories of the Mansion Jennifer Dickey and Catherine Lewis. Five former First Ladies joined Mrs. Deal and Drs. Dickey and Lewis at the Atlanta History Center. Here’s my favorite of the stories, told by Mrs. Zell Miller and relayed by Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

Shirley Miller: Sometimes, signature policy events are born in interesting places. Shirley remembered her husband Zell welcoming droves of elite high school students to the Mansion. As he shook hands with each of them, he asked where they were headed to college. Student after student told him they were going out of state. Zell took a pen in hand and got to work that very evening. “So on a kitchen stool on a yellow legal pad, HOPE was born.”

And another favorite told by Jeff Busbee and recounted by Jill Vejnoska of the AJC:

Jeff Busbee recalled that his father worked hard to attract international business to Georgia during his two terms, but also liked to play hard at practical joking. One time a state senator equally well known for his practical jokes departed from a working dinner at the mansion only to be stopped near the gate and made to open his car trunk by a state trooper. Inside was a large box of the official state silverware he’d supposedly “lifted” from the mansion — placed there by that jokester Gov. Busbee.

The Price is Right

Congressman Tom Price made official his bid for Majority Leader in the United States Congress, sending an email to fellow Republicans.

In order to succeed, our Leadership must be responsive to you, the Representative[s] of the American people.

The hurdles that inevitably lay ahead will require effective and capable leaders. It will require new thinking and a change from the status quo. And it mus advance the cause of a smaller, more limited, more accountable government by allowing everyone’s voice to be included.

That is why I humbly ask for your support to by your next House Majority Leader in the United States Congress.

House Ways & Means Chair and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed Price’s bid for Majority Leader.

“Tom Price is a committed conservative and a good friend,” Ryan said in a statement. “He and I have served for years together on the Budget and Ways and Means Committees, working to pay down our debt, fix our tax code, and grow our economy. Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles. He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective Majority Leader, and I’m proud to support him.”

Ryan endorsed Price in his 2014 race for conference chair, which he lost to [Cathy] McMorris Rodgers.

Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling said he will not run for a leadership position and endorsed Price. Cathy McMorris Rodgers also declined to run for Majority Leader.

Though she hadn’t formally declared she was running for the job, McMorris Rodgers had started making calls seeking support soon after House Speaker John Boehner surprised the political world and fellow members with the news he was resigning on Friday.

But in a crowded field against the current third-ranked House Republican in Scalise and Price, the powerful budget committee chairman, the Washington State Republican decided to not continue in the contest.

“The best way right now for me to empower my colleagues through positive change is to remain conference chair,” McMorris Rodgers said in a written statement.

The other announced candidate for Majority Leader is Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Scalise, currently the House GOP whip, has attracted the support of defense-minded lawmakers like Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, who opposed Scalise in his last leadership election.

Scalise has not rolled out a list of supporters — and furthermore, hasn’t even officially announced his candidacy. Some have questioned whether he’ll remain as majority whip and forgo a race for majority leader.

But during a Monday meeting with lobbyists at the Capitol Hill Club, Scalise reaffirmed that he’s running for the No. 2 slot. He also emphasized that he’s raised $3.5 million for Republicans this year and has traveled to 50 cities and 25 states.

The New York Times on Sapelo Island

Speaking of Sapelo Island (see History, above), The New York Times has an article about the Geechee-Gullah settlement on Sapelo Island and how property taxes are causing problems for one of the last remaining groups.

Sapelo Island, a tangle of salt marsh and sand reachable only by boat, holds the largest community of people who identify themselves as saltwater Geechees. Sometimes called the Gullahs, they have inhabited the nation’s southeast coast for more than two centuries. Theirs is one of the most fragile cultures in America.

These Creole-speaking descendants of slaves have long held their land as a touchstone, fighting the kind of development that turned Hilton Head and St. Simons Islands into vacation destinations. Now, stiff county tax increases driven by a shifting economy, bureaucratic bumbling and the unyielding desire for a house on the water have them wondering if their community will finally succumb to cultural erosion.

The county, which has about 14,000 year-round residents and thousands more with vacation homes, had for years put off reviewing its taxable property. An outside firm did the last valuation in 2004. Paul Griffin, the chairman of the Board of Tax Assessors, called the work “very, very sloppy” at a June meeting covered by The Darien News.

In 2009, the county was in the process of updating its tax digest when the state froze property taxes to help stanch the effects of the recession. Instead of continuing its work, the county stopped the process until this year.

The county also started a new garbage pickup service and added other services, which contributed to the higher tax rates, he said. Sapelo Island residents, however, still have to haul their trash to the dump.

“Our taxes went up so high, and then you don’t have nothing to show for it,” said Cornelia Walker Bailey, the island’s unofficial historian. “Where is my fire department? Where are my water resources? Where is my paved road? Where are the things our tax dollars pay for?”

Here, where land is usually handed down or sold at below-market rates to relatives, Ms. Bailey has come to hold four pieces of property. She lives on one, which is protected from the tax increases by a homestead exemption. The rest will cost her 600 percent more in property taxes. “I think it’s an effort to erode everyone out of the last private sector of this island,” she said.

Ashes, Ashes, All Fall Down

Coal ash is exactly what it sounds like – the residue from burning coal, and when power plants’ appetite for coal was measured in trainloads, it could accumulate rapidly. Containing coal ash is often done in ash ponds near coal-fired powerplants, and have for a number of years been a target for environmentalists and now the Environmental Protection Agency.

Georgia Power announced yesterday it is working on a timetable for the closure of 29 ash ponds in Georgia.

Georgia Power announced today that the company is developing a closure timeline for all of its 29 ash ponds and expects to finalize and release the schedule within the next six months. The schedule will be developed in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) costly Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule as well as the soon-to-be signed Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines. The company will consult with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop the plan.

“We are developing an ash pond closure timeline that will meet all federal regulations in the most economical way for our customers and our business,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “Safety and compliance will continue to be our primary focus throughout the closure process, while fulfilling our longstanding commitment to protect the environment and the communities we serve.”

Georgia Power has a strong safety and compliance record with a comprehensive and rigorous inspection program to safely maintain its containment structures and facilitate long-term planning. The company is in the pre-closure process at several retired or converted coal-fired generation sites which includes some preliminary site work such as ash relocation and tree clearing, as well as considering vendors for potential closure activities.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce applauded the move,

The Georgia Chamber supports Georgia Power’s announcement today that it is proactively moving to close all ash ponds associated with its power generation activities across Georgia.

“Georgia Power has a long and distinguished history of delivering high quality, safe, reliable and affordable energy supplies to businesses, industries and communities across the state and this decision exemplifies that tradition,” said Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark.

The Chamber is confident that through this decision, Georgia Power will continue to proactively position its business to satisfy Georgia’s current and forecast energy needs.

This decision will continue to position the state as a national leader in the provision of environmentally responsible and diverse energy supplies.

While supporting this Georgia Power decision, the Chamber is concerned with the continued endeavors of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose layers of costly regulations on the nation’s energy sector.

Each additional regulation adds upward pressure to energy costs and become an additional burden on industry, pressuring industry profitability and competitiveness.

Water Wars Everywhere

A Senate spending bill does not contain language that would affect the tri-state water issues between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, according to the AJC.

This spring, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., secured language in an appropriations bill that would have blocked the Army Corps of Engineers from reallocating water in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa basin until the governors of Alabama and Georgia work out an agreement. This matters because recent court decisions have tilted in Georgia’s direction the battle over how much water metro Atlanta can draw from rivers and reservoirs, and the corps is updating its water plans accordingly.

Georgia does not want Congress to weigh in at all on the water wars, and Isakson said he’s been working to eliminate Shelby’s “egregious language.” The House version of the energy and water appropriations bill does not have the language.

Isakson said the water wars issue was an important reason why he voted for the “continuing resolution” — even though it did not defund Planned Parenthood, as he and most Republicans would have liked:

“I can understand people who want to make a political point [about Planned Parenthood] and that’s all well and good, but I don’t want Atlanta to run dry. … I’ve been crawling on my hands and knees for the last two weeks following along the process to make sure that language isn’t in there.”

Meanwhile, some communities around Savannah are being limited in their withdrawals of groundwater from the Floridan aquifer.

Cities, towns and industries around Savannah have new marching orders about how much water they can pull from local wells.

The city of Savannah, the largest permit holder in the region, will see its current limit of about 23.5 million gallons a day go down to about 18 million gallons.

The cuts are meant to address problems with saltwater seeping into the freshwater Floridan aquifer, an otherwise pristine source of drinking water that flows beneath coastal Georgia. The same aquifer extends south into Florida and north into coastal South Carolina, including Hilton Head Island where wells have become too salty to use.

That issue has become a sticking point between the two states with Georgia officials offering pumping reductions as a way to slow the salt migration and head off a water war with the Palmetto State.

Medical Cannabis

Haleigh Cox, the six-year old namesake of the Haleigh’s Hope Act, has returned to Georgia.

Almost two years ago, now six-year- old Haleigh and her mother, Janea Cox, moved to Colorado.

Her husband had to stay behind in Monroe County to work.

“I’m just happy that we’re able to get home and get Haleigh’s medicine here where she’s happier and healthier,” says Cox.

Governor Nathan Deal signed the Georgia Medical Marijuana Bill, or “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” into law this past April.

They have to order medical cannabis oil from Colorado. Cox says her next steps will be fighting to have medical marijuana grown in state.

State Representative Allen Peake, Chair of the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis, will be holding its next meeting this Wednesday.

Tomorrow, the Chairs of the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis will gavel in their next meeting to discuss moving forward.

State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) announced that the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. in room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) in Atlanta.

The meeting will feature presentations from the medical community, including two Commission members: Dr. Yong Park, Neurologist, Georgia Regents University; and Dr. Cynthia Wetmore, Hematologist/Oncologist, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Steven Morris of Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates, the largest gastroenterology practice in the nation will also address the Commission.

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