Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for April 24, 2013

24
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for April 24, 2013

Governor Deal signs Return to Play Act

Governor Deal Signs Return to PlayYesterday, Governor Deal signed the Return to Play Act, which requires local boards of education, governing bodies of nonpublic schools and governing bodies of state charter schools to implement a concussion policy with the following components:

  • Provide a concussion form to parents and guardians
  • Youth athletes shall be removed from the activity if they exhibit signs or symptoms of a concussion
  • If a youth athlete is determined to have a concussion, they shall not return to play until they have received clearance from a medical provider

“Even the mildest bump or blow to the head can lead to a concussion,” said Deal. “I am proud to sign this bill that serves to protect Georgia’s young athletes from sustaining very serious injuries if the condition goes unnoticed or untreated.”

“A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that should never be overlooked and we all need to know the symptoms to look for. I am grateful to the NFL, our very own Atlanta Falcons, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the members of the General Assembly who have worked so long to ensure that this legislation was brought to the forefront,” said Deal.

Deal signs Boating Safety Law

Governor Deal also signed The Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law, which lowers the blood-alcohol level to be charged with boating under the influence, and the Kile Glover Boat Education Law, which requires a boater safety education course for some boat operators and requires that kids 13 and under wear life jackets on a moving boat. Both laws were contained in Senate Bill 136, which was part of Governor Deal’s legislative agenda this year.

Here’s a great line from Walter Jones followed by some facts:

Deal chose a large marina on Lake Lanier as the site to sign Senate Bill 136, which sailed through the session of the General Assembly that ended last month.

Lanier, near metro Atlanta, was the lake with the most arrests last year for boating under the influence, 60, and the most injuries with 13, according to the Department of Natural Resources which patrols the state’s lakes. Another Atlanta-area lake, Allatoona, had the second-most BUIs with 28 and four injuries.

Lake Thurmond had nine BUIs and three injuries. Lake Hartwell had three BUIs and four injuries while Lake Oconee had six BUIs and four injuries. The DNR’s Brunswick region reported six BUIs and five injuries last year plus seven cases of drowning and one death.

Georgia Republican Party

I mentioned to Randy Evans that I thought the State Convention would be a long one and that I’m packing a lunch. Randy’s free advice to me, “If you’re packing a lunch, go ahead and pack a dinner too.” It’s not very often that a McKenna lawyer gives me free advice, so I’m inclined to follow it when it’s offered.

This might be an epically-long convention with multiple candidates for Chair and no clear front-runner. You might see me pulling a wheeled cooler with my meals and a supply of beverages on the way to the Classic Center. Other things in my Convention supply kit? iPod and a good book.

Campaigns & Elections, Negotiations & Love Songs

Former State Representative Bill Hembree, who lost a December 2012 runoff election for State Senate appears to be considering a return to the ring against either the man who beat him, Senator Mike Dugan, or his successor in the State House, Micah Gravley.

Hembree said while things can change between now and next year, he’s seriously considering a comeback.

“I’m keeping my options open, but I’m probably going to do something,” Hembree said. “I thoroughly enjoyed serving and I feel like I have something to give back to the community and want to continue to do that.”

The two men who currently represent Hembree in the General Assembly — Dugan and District 67 Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), who ran for and won the House seat Hembree vacated — appear to be in Hembree’s crosshairs.

Hembree, a Republican from Winston, went after Gravley and Dugan for not doing more to get local legislation through in the recently completed session of the Legislature.

“It gets down to doing your job,” said Hembree. “If you can’t do that basic level of work, then what’s the point in being down there? Local legislation is easy. The tough issues are those that affect the state.”

Asked if that was indictment of Dugan and Gravley, Hembree said it was.

“It’s an indictment on them and the lack of leadership and the ability to accomplish something,” Hembree said.

Bill Simon of PoliticalVine.com writes that some of the last open issues from the 2010 Governor’s race may be disposed of today as Karen Handel’s campaign responds to four allegations before the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Also before the Commission will be complaints filed by former Cherokee County Commissioner Karen Bosch against several Tea Party activists and organizations.

Qualifying is open through Friday for seats on the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government, with a Special Election to be held July 16, 2013, and any runoffs on August 13, 2013.

Twenty candidates filed for the elections on Monday, with at least five more qualifying on Tuesday. From the Macon Telegraph:

Current Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, former Mayor C. Jack Ellis and Bibb County Commission Vice Chairman Joe Allen were among the early candidates who qualified Monday for offices in the consolidated Macon-Bibb County government set to begin Jan. 1.

Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart, 71, and former Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop, 68, both qualified [on Tuesday] to run in the mayor’s race.
Although candidates this week are not qualifying with a political party for the July 16 elections, the U.S. Department of Justice must still approve nonpartisan balloting in Bibb County. The federal government has until June 2 to do so. If it doesn’t give its approval, the county would reopen qualifying for a primary in August and a general election Nov. 5.

After he had served five days, Tuten released him on an appeal bond but ordered him back to jail for a violation of the terms of his release. Tuten had ordered Grovner to not participate in any matters concerning electionsOfficials said that Grovner provided a election qualification form to a candidate in the Darien City Council election.The jury had found that Grovner lied under oath in the January 2009 trial of an election contest. Grovner testified that county Board of Elections Chairman Bob Mucha had said during the tabulation of November 2008 election returns that he had found 500 to 600 uncounted absentee ballots.

Mucha and others testified Mucha did not make such a statement and that no additional ballots were uncounted at the time.

But Jay Bookman, liberal AJC columnist says there’s no such thing as vote fraud. Bookman also says that there’s no liberal cover-up of government misdeeds but conservatives just need to face up to their failures. I suppose that means we’ll see an AJC story on the conviction of former Commissioner Grovner because they’re not covering up or ignoring inconvenient facts, right?

ObamaCare

Bernie Marcus, a co-founder of Atlanta’s Home Depot, was blunt in assessing the affect ObamaCare will have on small businesses and the families that rely on them for jobs.

“Obamacare is going to kill off the small businesses. There’s no question about it.” [said Marcus.]

“If [employees] are thrown out of their medical plans now, where they’re covered in a good plan, and thrown under the bus, they’re going to be destroyed,” Marcus told Newsmax TV. “If, in fact, they don’t stay as full-time employees but go to part-time employees, they’re going to be destroyed.”

Some companies are cutting workers or their work hours to avoid paying penalties for not providing health care insurance under the act. Regal Entertainment Group, which operates Regal Cinemas and United Artists Theatres in metro Atlanta and has more than 6,800 theaters across the country, is among them, according to  a company memo obtained by Fox News.

“People have to understand that the villain is not their employer; the villain is the U.S. government,” Marcus told Newsmax TV. “Obamacare is the capper. That’s the bullet to the temple.”

Atlanta-based AAA Parking recently did just that, announcing to employees that it will be restructuring its workforce in light of the employer mandates contained in ObamaCare.

The parking garage operator, which employs more than 1,600 companywide, will move about half of its 500 full-time hourly employees to part-time status effective April 15, in response to the law Congress passed in 2010.

“Our executive team has spent extensive time evaluating the impact of this mandate, and the financial impact for AAA Parking is dramatic,” the company said in a memo to employees.

Upholding the new law requires AAA to either make “substantial changes in our hourly staffing models, or suffer an enormous and unsustainable annual net loss,” the company said in a statement to Atlanta Business Chronicle.

More than half of AAA’s full-time hourly workers — or about 250 people — will be shifted to work schedules of less than 30 hours a week.

Congressman Tom Graves: Why I voted for CISPA

Congressman Tom Graves released a statement on why he voted for the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

Prior to this vote, I listened to and weighed a lot of legitimate concerns about the impact of this bill on individual privacy. As a result, I supported several amendments that clarified the importance of personal privacy.
The amendments stated that information received under the bill can only be used for cyber security purposes, and in no uncertain terms that personal information such as tax records, gun purchase information, library records, education records, and health records may not be used by the federal government under CISPA.

With the adoption of these amendments, as well as provisions automatically repealing this legislation after 5 years (at which time it would have to be voted on again to be renewed), I believe that the bill addresses the critical need to protect our nation’s internet infrastructure from attack while ensuring that our constitutional rights are preserved now and in the future.

Ask Not For Whom the Lane Tolls, It Tolls for Thee Henry and Clayton

Georgia DOT is considering adding reversible toll lanes on I-75 in Clayton and Henry Counties, in my humble opinion, the worst interstate cluster anywhere in Georgia. Predictably, some complained about it, while others support it.

The lanes would be reversible to add more lanes for traffic heading north toward Atlanta during the morning rush hour and south in the afternoons.

The proposed 75 Express Lanes Project would add barrier separated toll lanes along I-75 from SR155 to SR138.

Lanes would be tolled on a variable pricing system – just as they are on a stretch of I-85 – meaning that when congestion and demand are heaviest, tolls would be higher.

GDOT has scheduled public hearing open house meetings Tuesday and Thursday to discuss the plans.

The meeting on Thursday is at Hilton Garden Inn, 95 Highway 81 West, McDonough, Ga. 30253. The hearing is from 5 to 8 p.m.

Some at the [Tuesday] open house said it’s not right to add lanes that could require tolls of more than $6, when not everyone can afford such a fee, reported Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV. Others there said they are willing to pay the toll if that would trim driving time.

Comments ( 1 )