Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 30, 2014

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 30, 2014

Early voting begins today at your county elections office.

Click here to contact your local county elections office.

Click here for sample ballots or to check your voter registration information.

Jack Kingston NRA endorsement

Jack Kingston at an NRA Second Amendment Rally held at Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna this Saturday.

Georgia History

On June 30, 1665, England’s King Charles signed a royal charter for Carolina, defining its southern border and also claiming all land in what is now Georgia.

On June 30, 1775, the Continental Congress passed the Articles of War, laying out complaints against Britain’s Parliament.

“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

Today could well be called Intermodal Transportation History Day in Georgia. The first four-lane highway in Georgia was announced on June 30, 1937 from Atlanta to Marietta. The first C5 air flight took place from Dobbins in Marietta on June 30, 1968 and MARTA rail service began on June 30, 1979.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell first went on sale on June 30, 1936; on June 30, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Margaret Mitchell.

Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics #1 on June 30, 1938.

The first Corvette was built on June 30, 1953 in Flint, Michigan.

Ohio became the 39th state to ratify the 26th Amendment on June 30, 1971, lowering the voting age to 18.

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing was released on June 30, 1989. Lee was born in Atlanta and graduated from Morehouse College.

http://youtu.be/muc7xqdHudI

This coming Saturday, the GAGOP Veterans Committee will formally present a sports wheelchair they have purchased for a disabled veteran at the Jackson County Republican Party’s monthly meeting.

Special guests are Lt Governor Casey Cagle, SFC Carl Morgan and SGT Charles “Buddy” Mays. The meeting will begin at 7:30am and end at 9:15am. It is held at the Jefferson Club House 302 Longview Drive Jefferson GA. Chicken/Sausage Biscuits, Coffee and Water are donated by State Reps Regina Quick and Tommy Benton.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Cobb County Commission voted to create a Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court to help steer offenders who are military veterans to treatment options and reduce recidivism.

“Drug court helps drug addicts. Mental health court helps people with mental health challenges. We’re very confident that veterans court will help veterans who have some type of issue based on their military service,” Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds told the MDJ.
“We kept noticing we were running into a number of individuals who had a prior military background who were getting in trouble, so we began to look into the possibility of having a court specifically for veterans.”
The bulk of the funding for the Veterans Court will come from the Veterans Administration.
“Research suggests many of the veterans coming back from prior and current wars have adjustment issues when they come back into civilian life, like post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries,” said Superior Court Judge Reuben Green, who will preside over the new court and who is a former Marine. “So they could have the mental health-type issues. They also could be treating their mental health issues with different substances. So a lot of them have co-occurring issues.”

The Gwinnett County Commission has advertised the possibility of a tax rate increase, though no consensus has formed as to whether to keep the millage rate at its current level, which is considered a tax increase due to rising assessments, or roll back the rate.`

Because property values have increased this year in an improved economy, a static rate could mean an increase in an individual’s tax bill, so the state Taxpayer Bill of Rights requires the county to meet the requirements of a tax increase even though the tax rate will not go up. School board members also fulfilled those requirements, voting Thursday to adopt the same rate as 2013.

Two commissioners — Lynette Howard and John Heard — said earlier this month they would prefer the rate remain the same, while another, Tommy Hunter, said he wanted to see the rate “rolled back,” which would reduce the rate to the proportion of the value increases so, on average, people would pay about the same amount in taxes.

“We’ve still got some work to do among ourselves as to what we actually adopt,” said Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who declined to say which option she would prefer. “Part of my responsibility is to pull the group together to a consensus.”

Hall County voted last week to rollback the millage rate while giving employees 3 percent raises.

Meanwhile, the Augusta Commission is considering a 2-percent property tax hike and a new excise tax on energy used in manufacturing.

A 2-mill property tax increase for government operations and a new tax on manufacturers to fund law enforcement, transit and reduce blight might be on the horizon after Augusta Commission members approved the two “action items” at the end of a daylong Friday retreat.

The new tax, an excise tax on energy used in manufacturing, puts them at odds with Mayor-elect Hardie Davis, who co-authored the legislation that exempted manufacturers from paying sales tax on energy but allowed counties to replace the lost revenue with an excise tax.

Davis, who attended the retreat, questioned the wisdom of imposing the tax, up to 2 percent of the 6 percent exempted by the state, a move already taken by Columbia County.

“Does it make us as competitive as a city?” he asked. “Are we being revenue-neutral by doing it?”

Chatham County Commissioners approved a 2015 Budget with a slight millage rate rollback.

Chatham County Commissioners voted unanimously Friday in favor of a balanced $475.5 million budget, which includes a $165.6 million general fund budget that pays for maintenance and operational costs.

Initially, a general fund budget of $164.8 million had been proposed. But some county departments requested additional money that was granted by staff, totaling $831,905.

The 2015 general fund budget is 0.5 percent larger than the amended 2014 general fund.

There will not be a property tax increase this year.

In fact, the county’s millage rate was readjusted from 11.908 to 11.543 mills to reflect the approval by voters last November to repurpose 2003 SPLOST revenue, in essence giving taxpayers a one-time, roughly $4 million rebate.

New State Laws in Effect Tomorrow

Christina A. Cassidy of the Associated Press writes about some of the major new state laws that become effective tomorrow, July 1st.

Medicaid expansion

House Bill 990 limits the governor’s ability to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law, something the governor has already said he doesn’t want to do. The legislation forbids state government from changing the income eligibility rules and thereby enabling more people to join the program without legislative approval.

Education

House Bill 697 establishes the Zell Miller Grant for technical college students. It provides full tuition coverage for those technical college students eligible for the HOPE Grant who maintain a 3.5 grade-point average, with the goal of attracting students back to the system. The technical college system’s enrollment had dropped after changes were made in 2011 to the overall HOPE program. Republicans had argued the changes were needed to keep the program afloat for future generations.

Criminal justice

Senate Bill 365 represents the third installment of criminal justice reform since Deal took office. Under the law, corrections officials are required to establish a program so inmates can complete treatment plans and vocational training while in prison to help prepare them to re-enter society. Meanwhile, House Bill 749 creates a criminal offense of cargo theft with sentences varying based on the value of the stolen goods and House Bill 838 establishes a criminal offense for those convicted of transmitting explicit or nude photos or video of an adult with the purpose of harassment or to cause financial loss. House Bill 845 seeks to crackdown on websites that post photos of people under arrest and charge for such photos to be removed. The law requires those requesting such arrest booking photos to submit a statement affirming the photo will not be used in a publication or on a website that requires payment to remove or delete the photo.

A new state boating regulations will also go into effect. From the Macon Telegraph:

Beginning July 1, Georgia law will require all people born after Jan. 1, 1998, to complete the course before operating any motorized vessel on state waters. The regulation does not apply on private lakes and ponds.

Boaters also need to realize they must lower the throttle to idle within 100 feet of any vessel which is moored, anchored or adrift outside normal traffic channels. The same is true when traveling near a dock, pier, piling, bridge or person in the water.

Personal watercraft operators also must not jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet.

Young boaters will need to learn all these rules to pass the required course, which is offered in the classroom through local DNR offices and online at www.goboat georgia.com.

The Macon Telegraph also analyzes the new Gun bill that becomes effective tomorrow.

GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS

• Local governments can only prohibit firearms or any other weapon in government buildings if the city or county restricts or screens entrance into the government building with security personnel. Security personnel does not necessarily mean a certified law enforcement officer.

• If a city or county does not restrict or screen entrances in the government building, then license holders carrying a weapon will be allowed inside. Non-licensed holders carrying weapons will be prohibited from entering a government building at all times, whether there are security personnel or not.

SCHOOLS

• Local school boards will be allowed to designate authorized personnel to carry weapons within school safety zones, school functions or on a school bus, as long as the personnel have a weapons carry license and undergo some training.

PLACES OF WORSHIP AND BARS

• Weapons, including firearms, will be prohibited in places of worship unless the governing body of the place of worship allows carrying of weapons by license holders.

• Guns will be allowed in bars, unless the property’s owner (or person leasing the building) excludes or ejects the individual after giving them notice to depart.

Senate Election

Jack Kingston Bob Barr NRA

(Left to right: Jay Wallace, owner of Adventure Outdoors; Senate Candidate Jack Kingston; 11th Congressional District candidate and NRA Board Member Bob Barr; Jeri Barr).

Jack Kingston’s campaign held a Second Amendment Rally promoting his lifetime A+ rating by the National Rifle Association and his endorsement by the NRA-Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) on Saturday.

Kingston Fulton County Straw Poll

Jack Kingston won the Fulton County GOP Straw Poll with 67.5% of votes out of 197 straw poll ballots cast.

The Augusta Chronicle Editorial Board opines that Conservatives have a number of challenges before them, some of their own creation.

• American ideals just aren’t bought into by the media and schools like they were when most of us were kids. Those two institutions often focus on America’s shortcomings and sell its exceptionalism short. In fact, we’d wager that hefty portions of both the media and educational system don’t even see America as exceptional.

• Conservatives have lost the battle on many hot-button social issues. Even where they’ve won at the polls, the courts have substituted their judgment for that of lawmakers and voters.

• The media continue exalting an anything-goes culture, and rarely report on the consequences of irresponsible, selfish and reckless behaviors. Thus, people – particularly the young – get bad information or none at all about what works in a free society.

• In contrast to that, conservatives who advocate for responsible behavior, family values and a higher power tend to appear hopelessly old-fashioned, stodgy and no fun.

• Conservatives have packaged their message horribly, coming off preachy, intolerant and out of touch – allowing liberals and their friends in the “mainstream” media to mock and caricature them and traditional American values.

• Conservatives have had some pretty poor messengers. Since the end of the Reagan era, Republican Party leaders have often been unlikable, inarticulate and laughably untelegenic.

By their own reckoning, conservatives have just a few months to get their act together; many believe if the Senate remains in Democrat hands, the country’s future is in serious peril.

If they truly believe that, conservatives need to mobilize, and now. They need to back promising candidates, even those whom they have reservations about. They need to vote. They need to be heard in the media – and turn away from those outlets that disrespect their views.

They need to find more telegenic spokesmen. They need to change how they communicate the tenets of conservatism. They need to relentlessly point out liberalism’s failures, especially in minority communities. They need to reach out to minorities and expand the conservative base.

And they need to completely repackage conservatism. Stop the dour preaching and start pointing out all the ways America will be better if it rediscovers the principles that built it. It’s a positive, triumphant message.

Uh, thanks?

Meanwhile, Jason Carter has substituted publicly thumping his iPhone with a Bible app for thumping a printed version.

Jason Carter, former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, stepped into the pulpit of South Columbus United Methodist Church for a Palm Sunday sermon and offered a message of Christian responsibility to the poor, with his phone in hand.

“How many of you have the Bible (app) on your phone? I bet all of you do,” Carter said to laughs from the crowd. Worshippers listened as the Democrat running for Georgia governor read from his phone a New Testament verse about the importance of “things that are not seen.”

The technology has changed in the four decades since Jimmy Carter spoke openly about his religious beliefs while campaigning, first for Georgia governor and then president. But the broader message of a shared faith remains the same.

Religion offers a powerful connection with many in the South, considered the most religious part of the country. Some Democrats hoping to reverse Republican gains in Georgia and elsewhere are finding their faith can be a valuable way to reach voters. Religion can be a very personal matter, and candidates vary in how much they talk about their faith.

“For Democrats who are disadvantaged politically in the region, it’s one way for them to at least attempt to neutralize the impact or the advantage that religiosity has for the Republican Party,” said Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor. “If you have a Democrat who can make credible claims of faith that might actually help to undermine support for the Republican candidate at least on the issue of, ‘Does this person share my values?’”

Regardless of party affiliation, the South has the highest concentration of people who identify themselves as religious. Gallup polling last year found that the most religious states in the country were in the South. Among those, 52 percent in Georgia said they were very religious, while 49 percent in Kentucky reported the same.

A Gallup survey earlier this year found that Southern Democrats are much more likely to say religion is an important part of their daily life – about 74 percent, compared with 57 percent of Democrats from outside the South.

Here’s the thing: I too read the Bible, and I share Senator Carter’s concern for the poor. Our responsibility to the poor is spelled out pretty explicitiy in the red letters. However, as a political Conservative, I understand that if you want something done right, government is the last place to look. There are better ways to help the poor than simply taking more money and throwing it at bad social programs. It is this understanding of government’s limitations, I believe, that separates Christian liberals from Christian conservatives.

Stanford University Political Scientist Morris Fiorina has a great op-ed in the Washington Post about partisanship and ideology. I first heard about it on a public radio report in my car this weekend, and looked it up online when I got home.

Although the report bears the title “Political Polarization in the American Public,” this is an inaccurate characterization of the findings. In common parlance polarization connotes a movement away from the center toward both extremes. This has not happened in the United States. If one thinks about polarization in partisan terms, one would expect to see an increase in the proportions of Democrats and Republicans and a decrease in the proportion of independents. But the American National Election Studies report that the distribution of American partisanship has been constant since the reelection of Ronald Reagan in 1984. Gallup had the proportion of independents at an all-time high in 2013.

If one thinks about polarization in ideological terms, one would expect to see a decline in moderates and an increase in liberals and conservatives. But the General Social Survey reports that the distribution of ideology in the United State has been stable since the early 1970s. With occasional small exceptions, “moderate” remains the modal category today just as it was in the days of Jimmy Carter.

If one thinks about polarization in terms of positions on specific policy issues, one would expect to see a decline in the center and a lumping up of people on the extremes. We do not have long time series of attitudes toward particular policy issues since they rise and fall on the national agenda, but on most issues, attitudes continue to cluster in the middle rather than lump up on the extremes.

In sum, we can argue about the size of the political center in the United States since the answer depends on various ways of measuring it, but whichever measure one chooses, the conclusion is the same: the country as a whole is no more polarized than it was a generation ago.

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