Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for February 19, 2013


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for February 19, 2013

Gwinnett3007830078 is a young female Lab/Shepherd mix in Pen 175 and available for adoption today at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Gwinnett3006530065 is described as a male Lab baby, but he looks more like a Pointer to me; he’s available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Gwinnett3008330083 is one of a trio of baby Chow mix puppies together in Pen 192; she’s a female and they’re all friendly, and don’t look much like Chows to me. I suspect they have purple blotches on their tongue, which gets them tagged as Chows in the shelter breed classification system.

Gwinnett3008430084 is one of her sisters.

Gwinnett3008530085 is the third of the trio.

Gwinnett30088Finally, 30088 is a young female Beagle puppy. She is a lemon Beagle, which are generally said to be less problematic for people with allergies and they’re great for active folks. A good Beagle pack must have at least one Lemon Beagle.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for February 19, 2013

General Assembly

Today is the Nineteenth Legislative Day. The Senate and House both convene at 10 AM.

Click here for the Senate Rules Calendar. Click here for the House Rules Calendar.

Scheduled for Senate votes today:
SB 81 by Senator John Wilkinson relating to harvesting ginseng.
SB 117 by Senator Rick Jeffares relating to blasting or excavating near utility facilities.

Scheduled for House votes today:
House Bill 68 by Rep. Rusty Kidd relating to continuing education for some medial practitioners.
House Bill 182 by Rep. Tom Weldon relating to Juvenile Court procedure.
House Bill 124 by Rep. Brett Harrell relating to subsequent votes on Sunday Sales.
House Bill 246 by Rep. Rich Golick relating to Georgia World Congress Center employee benefits.

Senate Meeting Schedule

9:00 AM PUBLIC SAFETY Sub Com-Fire Emergency Mgmt 328 clob
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM EDUCATION & YOUTH-Sub Com-Accademic Sup. 310 CLOB
3:00 PM HEALTH & HUMAN SERV.-Sub Com-Prof. Issues 310 clob


House Meeting Schedule

TBD Floor Session (LD19) HOUSE CHAMBER (10:00am)
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM RULES 341 CAP
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Sales Tax Subcommittee of Ways & Means 133 CAP
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Student Finance Subcommittee of Higher Education 606 CLOB
1:30 PM – 2:00 PM Appropriation Health Subcommittee 341 CAP (1:45pm)
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Appropriation General Government Subcommittee 341 CAP
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Appropriation Human Resources Subcommittee 515 CLOB
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Property & Casualty Subcommittee of Insurance 605 CLOB
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Environmental Quality Subcommittee of Natural Resources 406 CLOB
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDUCATION 506 CLOB
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Admin/Licensing Subcommittee of Insurance 605 CLOB
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM WAYS & MEANS 606 CLOB
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM GAME, FISH & PARKS 403 CAP
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM General Government Subcommittee of Governmental Affairs 415 CLOB
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Powell Subcommittee (One) of Judiciary Civil 132 CAP (Upon Adjournment of Full Committee)
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Jacobs Subcommittee (Two) of Judiciary Civil 403 CAP
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Ad Valorem Subcommittee of Ways & Means 133 CAP
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM Academic Innovations Subcommittee of Education 506 CLOB (Upon Adjournment of Full Committee)

Former State Rep. Maretta Taylor, who served from 1990 to 2002 has died.

Senator Josh McKoon introduced Senate Bill 175 to force state legislators who decide to run for Congress or other offices to vacate their legislative seats in order to end “conflicts of candidacies.” Under McKoon’s bill, legislators would lose their seat thirty days after filing a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission unless they terminate their federal campaign during the test drive period.

The Marietta Daily Journal gives Governor Deal high marks for bipartisanship in backing a proposal by Democratic State Rep. Stacey Evans to lower the GPA requirement to 2.0 for recipients of the HOPE Grant for technical college.

Winston Jones with the Times-Georgian in Carrollton asked State Rep. Kevin Cooke about House Resolution 273, which would put Georgia on the record supporting repeal of the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which instituted direct popular election of US Senators.

Cooke introduced a similar House resolution in 2010, but it never made it out of committee for a House floor vote.

“It’s a way we would again have our voice heard in the federal government, a way that doesn’t exist now,” Cooke said Monday afternoon. “This isn’t an idea of mine. This was what James Madison was writing. This would be a restoration of the Constitution, about how government is supposed to work.”

Cooke said the election of U.S. Senators by state legislatures was what Madison intended to give the states a check on the federal government, based on state sovereignty and ability of states to govern themselves.

“The fact that this coincides with the 100th anniversary gives us a pretty good snapshot of what has happened to the federal government since then,” he said. “The federal government has grown exponentially since the amendment was ratified. This would restore the constitution to what it was in 1913.”

Dr. Robert Sanders, University of West Georgia political science professor, said the reason the 17th Amendment was passed was to stop widespread corruption that was rampant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“There was a lot of corruption from interest groups who were buying state legislators,” Sanders said. “The legislators were easy to buy out and the interest groups could get who they wanted for U.S. Senators.”

He called the current move to appeal the amendment “a step backwards” and “a step by one party to find another way to stay in power by circumventing the process.”

Sanders said he feels the resolution has little chance to make it through the Georgia General Assembly, let alone Congress.

“I can’t see any democratic person allowing this to happen,” he said. “It’s just an antiquated way to hold on to power.”

House Bill 282, by Rep. Mark Hamilton, which would restrict municipalities from offering broadband internet to their customers citizens appears to be heading for a fight if the pace of media stories is any indicator. Here’s a round-up:

Campaigns & Elections

Georgia’s Republican Primary for US Senate in 2014 may be ground zero for the fight between Tea Party conservatives and Karl Rove’s Conservative Victory Project.

Despite total silence in the media, a runoff election for House District 71 will be held March 5th, between Republicans David Stover, who came in first in the Feb. 5th Special Election, and second-place finisher Thomas G. Crymes.

Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, who has announced her candidacy for Macon-Bibb Commission District 3, will meet Danny Glover, a former Bibb County Democratic Party chairman who ran for Macon City Council in 2011.

Macon is seeing a shortfall in sales tax revenues, while Savannah Hotel-Motel tax collections soar.


DeKalb County School Board Chair Eugene Walker will not serve as Chairman of the dysfunctional board anymore, though he will remain a member.

“I will be stepping down as chair, and we will elect a new chair,” Eugene Walker announced Monday. Also Monday, Walker and four others voted to pay former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker and his law firm at least $150,000 for “governance training.”

Both moves are calculated to placate the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which determined that the board led by Walker had mismanaged finances, engaged in nepotism and otherwise abused power while neglecting responsibilities as academic performance suffered.

SACS put DeKalb on probation in December and threatened to strip accreditation altogether, triggering a Georgia Board of Education hearing Thursday that could lead to the suspension of Walker and the other eight DeKalb board members.

Walker received prominent mention in a scalding report by SACS, which noted that he’d made a hiring recommendation to former superintendent Cheryl Atkinson. Walker, who will remain as a school board member, was holding the chairman’s title by default, after the fractious board failed to muster a majority vote for a new chairman earlier this year. He had been selected by majority last year, but the position is up for renewal annually.

Walker’s decision to step down came as a welcome surprise to parents such as Karen Zeliff, who has two sons in DeKalb schools, the eldest a junior at Lakeside High. He could face diminished college prospects if the district loses accreditation.

“Finally, thank God,” Zeliff said when she heard of Walker’s decision. He was “definitely part of the problem,” she said. “I think he very clearly had the ‘my school’ attitude.”

How is paying a law firm $150k for governance not continued financial mismanagement? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hug it out? [Link NSFW: adult language]

The Macon School Board also committed acts of incredible stupidity, according to a lawyer trying to get Superintendent Romain Dallemand’s contract thrown out.

“Whether the Board’s failure to include all material terms of Supt. Dallemand’s contract offer was the result of incompetence or intent to deceive the public, the result is the same,” Cox wrote.

“The Board’s extension of a contract to Supt. Dallemand that was not approved by a public vote violates the Open Meetings Act.”

Cox concluded, “The Board’s arguments simply make a mockery of the Open Meetings Act.”

National Politics

In Washington, Congressman Jack Kingston has signed on as an Honorary Co-Chair of a new group called Insight, which aims to bring more Conservative members of minority ethnic groups to work on the hill.

The group, called Insight, will start an internship program to help students of color get placed in Republican offices, host professional development events and provide networking opportunities.

Insight, organizing as a 501(c)4, will start with a full-time staff of one, but organizers outlined big plans for fundraising and expansion. An official launch party is scheduled for Feb. 27.
The animating idea is that the GOP must do more than recruit minority candidates in order to improve outreach.

Stacy Barton, the only African-American Republican chief of staff in Congress, first came to the Hill through a fellowship program offered by the overwhelmingly Democratic Congressional Black Caucus.

“This is the kind of thing that’s sort of been going on on the other side for quite some time,” said Barton, who works for Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.). “The assumption was that if you were African-American, you’d be exclusively interested in Democratic offices. … I always tout that program as a huge success. … Something like that on the Republican side is critical.”

“In a way we haven’t given people the opportunity to hear our worldview,” she added. “We’re certainly not trying to indoctrinate people, but I think it’s an important piece of the puzzle for Republicans moving forward.”
Insight plans “strategic alliances” with the Black Republican Congressional Staff Association, the Hispanic Conservatives Congressional Staff Association and The Heritage Foundation.

At the local level, the Future Majority Caucus of the Republican State Leadership Committee will help Hispanic Republican candidates.

“The way for the party to grow again is to elect more Hispanics and more women at the local level,” New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said on a conference call introducing the effort. “I feel strongly about that. I think we need to look in these communities and make sure these candidates look like their communities.”

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