On January 11, 1765, Francis Salvador of South Carolina became the first Jewish elected official in America when he took a seat in the South Carolina Provincial Congress. Salvador’s grandfather was one of 42 Jews who emigrated to Georgia in 1733. Salvador later became the first Jewish soldier to die in the American Revolution.
On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.
On January 10, 1868, the Georgia Equal Rights Association was formed in Augusta.
On January 10, 1870, the Georgia General Assembly convened and seated African-American legislators who had been expelled in 1868.
On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.
On January 11, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument.
“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”
Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.
Eugene Talmadge was sworn-in to his first term as Governor of Georgia on January 10, 1933.
Talmadge fired elected officials who resisted his authority. Others were thrown out of their offices. Literally.
Marvin Griffin of Bainbridge was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 11, 1955.
After Julian Bond’s election to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, the chamber voted against seating him ostensibly because he had publicly state his opposition to the war in Vietnam. On January 10, 1967, after the United States Supreme Court held the legislature had denied Bond his right to free speech, he was seated as a member of the State House.
Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.
The first inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris was held on January 11, 1983; his second inauguration was January 13, 1987.
Six years ago, on January 10, 2014, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution released a poll of the Georgia Governor’s race that showed Nathan Deal with 47 percent to 38 percent for Jason Carter. The nine-point Deal advantage was as close as the AJC polling firm would come all year to correctly predicting the point spread in the General Election.
Governor Nathan Deal was sworn-in as the 82d Governor of Georgia on January 10, 2011 while snow shut down the planned public Inaugural.
Governor Brian Kemp may be challenged to fulfill the rest of his promise of a $5000 raise for teachers, according to the Statesboro Herald.
Gov. Brian Kemp has promised Georgia public school teachers another $2,000 in pay raises, after the legislature provided funding for $3,000 last year.
But even the strongest advocates of raises say they may not happen this year, in part because of flagging tax revenues that led the Republican to order budget cuts.
“It may not come this year,” said Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, an affiliate of the National Education Association. “It may come next year. But I’m hopeful he will live up to his word and give at least $1,000 or more this year.”
Kemp has said he stands by his promise, but won’t say whether he’ll push for any money this year. The remaining $2,000 could cost $325 million. Observers say that it’s possible that lawmakers could still give the $1,000 Booker referenced, in part because they are up for re-election.
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) discussed how the budget will affect the length of the session, according to WABE.
“People that haven’t been around for a budget-cutting session are going to be in for a real surprise,” he said.
Speaking to media Thursday, Ralston was cautious about promising too many new items in the state budget, given the governor’s request that most state agencies cut their budgets.
He had a similar answer related to a recent proposal to address the state’s high maternal mortality rate by extending Medicaid coverage to mothers up to one year postpartum.
“Obviously the budget kind of constrains what we can do in that regard,” he said of the idea. “The question becomes, is this the year we can do that, and I think that remains to be seen because, as I said earlier, we can’t do everything.”
“We always have to keep in mind the budget is about more than numbers and percentages. Those programs that are important to people,” he said.
Speaker Ralston favors an income tax cut, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Lawmakers voted two years ago to reduce Georgia’s income tax rate for the first time since the 1930s, from 6% to 5.75%. The 2018 legislation called for another vote in 2020 on cutting the tax rate further to 5.5%
“The income tax cut was a commitment we made to the people of Georgia,” House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said Thursday. “I hope we do that.”
Ralston’s determination to follow through with the rest of the promised tax cut sets up a likely debate among majority Republicans during the session that starts next week.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Hill warned this week that 2020 may not be the right time to be making additional tax cuts. Hill, R-Reidsville, pointed to state tax revenues that are running well below projections, a trend likely to create a budget gap the legislature will have to fill.
While Ralston supported cutting state income taxes again, he was less enthusiastic over giving Georgia teachers the remaining $2,000 of a $5,000 pay raise the governor promised on the campaign trail in 2018. Lawmakers approved the first $3,000 of the raise last year.
“That was not my campaign promise, even though it’s a laudable goal,” Ralston said.
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, is not joining any move to completely get rid of the state’s film tax credit or to take over the Atlanta airport.
“If we need to make some changes [in the tax credit program], I’m happy to have some discussion about that, but I think it’s important that we come into this process being very clear that we’re going to continue that” [tax credit] Ralston said.
As for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Ralston said he still has yet to see any case for the state trying to take over the city-owned asset.
“A separate question is: ’Is there a proper role for legislative oversight of operations of the airport?’” Ralston said. “That’s something I think we can have a discussion about.”
The Dalton Daily Citizen News writes about local legislators on state budget issues.
“I think any bills that call for new spending are going to have a tough sell,” said state Rep. Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth, in an interview.
Members of the Whitfield County delegation spoke at a breakfast hosted by the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Dalton Convention Center. The General Assembly’s 2020 session starts on Monday.
Gov. Brian Kemp, who has been advised by state economists that a mild recession is likely later this year, has asked lawmakers to cut 4% from spending in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and 6% in fiscal 2021.
“The budget cuts will really only be to about 35% or 40% of the budget,” said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, in an interview.
Georgia Recorder looks at the candidates in the Special Election for State Senate District 17.
Carden Summers of Cordele and Jim Quinn of Leesburg will run as Republicans, and Mary Egler of Leesburg is the lone Democrat in the special contest set for Feb. 4, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office website.
The trio will compete to replace the late state Sen. Greg Kirk, who died just days before Christmas after a six-month battle with bile duct cancer. The conservative district is expected to stay in Republican hands.
All the candidates will be familiar to voters after past campaigns for public office, with Quinn and Egler running in last year’s special election to replace former state Rep. Ed Rynders.
If needed, a runoff will be held March 3. Thursday, Jan. 9 is the last day to register to vote.
The district includes Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner and Worth counties and parts of Sumter and Wilcox counties.
Quinn, the former Leesburg mayor, finished first in the special election to fill the House District 152 seat with nearly 42 percent of the vote, but lost in the Dec. 3 runoff to former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta.
Egler, a Democrat, said a big part of the reason she is running is to encourage citizen participation in the political process.
She has sought political office on several occasions. She finished third in the first round of the District 152 contest.
State Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) will take the chair of the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
“This committee is doing important work examining the state’s regulatory role in health care and exploring how we can increase access to health care while decreasing costs,” Ralston said.
“Lowering costs, empowering patients and improving outcomes are the overarching goals which this group has been tasked to achieve,” Newton said.
Newton, R-123, was first elected in 2016 when Rep. Barbara Sims retired. Now chief deputy whip of the Majority Caucus, Newton replaces committee chair Rep. Richard Smith, who was named chairman of the House Rules Committee.
Angela Duncan was sworn in as a Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Duncan’s seat on the bench is a newly created position that was established by the Georgia General Assembly last year, and she joins the bench as its 11th member.
It was a history-making moment because Duncan is Gwinnett County’s first openly gay Superior Court judge. Her wife, Michele Tainter, held the Bible that Duncan laid her hand upon as Kemp administered the oath of office.
The couple’s sons Brody and Alex Tainter watched from the audience, alongside other family members.
[T]he judge said a friend asked her what relevance her sexual orientation had to her qualifications.
“The reality is it doesn’t; however, it is extremely important that other people have an example to follow,” Duncan said. “I had examples like that. Ellen DeGeneres had the courage to come out. I have been open in Gwinnett County … for my entire practice there, and it is a stronghold for the Republican Party, and I am proud to be a part of that community, and I have been accepted with open arms.”
“So, why does it matter? It matters because there might be people similarly situated that don’t have the courage or maybe think ‘I can’t,’ so if I have an opportunity to be an example, then I am honored to have that opportunity.”
[Her] background includes service as an Army and Operation Desert Shield veteran, her work as a private practice attorney, her time as a municipal judge in multiple cities and her 20 years as a judge, including work as a municipal judge in multiple cities and her time as a Gwinnett County Magistrate Court judge.
“Judge Duncan clearly stood out (as a candidate for the position) because of her work ethic and her experience,” Kemp said during the swearing in ceremony. “She has some impeccable credentials and, quite honestly, the right expertise to serve the people of Gwinnett County.
State Court Judge Carla Brown, a longtime friend of Duncan, introduced her before the oath of office was administered.
“Judge Duncan has presided over numerous civil and criminal trials and shows true compassion to those who come before her,” Brown said. “She has a sharp wit, incredible insight and enjoys finding uniquely appropriate solutions to the cases that she encounters.
“Gov. Kemp, it is obvious from all of the accolades and qualifications that Judge Duncan was a solid and strong choice to be Gwinnett County’s 11th Superior Court judge. Thank you for your wisdom and for leading Gwinnett County, Georgia into 2020 by having the courage to appoint Gwinnett County’s first openly gay Superior Court judge.”
Some Bibb County schools are using yoga and meditation to encourage better student behavior, according to the Macon Telegraph.
[Guided breathing exercise] is part of a pilot program at two Bibb County schools that Andrade hopes to bring into more area classrooms. The program is relatively simple — four deep-breathing techniques that take about four minutes with an aim of doing it for at least 40 days.
“Forty days is what research has shown it takes to create a habit,” [breathing instructor Maria Andrade] said. “So we ask teachers to do it for 40 days to basically create a new habit.”
This Saturday, teachers, school officials, parents and students will gather at Georgia State University for an On the Same Breath Summit focused on teaching some of the breathing techniques. Andrade, who attended a similar program in August, was inspired to bring the training to Macon.
“The feedback I’m getting is that it really calms the students, that they are starting to ask for it because they enjoy taking that four minutes for themselves during the day,” Andrade said. “And some of the younger students, when they really start crying hysterically, the teachers have used that to calm them down.”
Schools in places like Baltimore and Chicago have seen positive results from implementing time for mindfulness exercises into their curriculum. A 2019 analysis of research published in the journal of “Aggression and Violent Behavior” suggested “mindfulness practices may offer low-cost intervention to reduce stress and violence in the community. … There is ample support that mindfulness can reduce stress and aggressive behavior.”
Chatham County kicked off its campaign in support of the 2020 Census, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Scott James Matheson was sworn in as Mayor of Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
Jennifer Gibbs announced she will run for Hall County Clerk of Courts, according to AccessWDUN.
The Rome News Tribune spoke to three Rome City Commissioners about their 2020 priorities.
Theo is an adult male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.
Copper is a young male mixed breed (looks like Labrador) dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.
The first modern circus was held in London on January 9, 1768. The next one kicks off on Monday in the big building downtown with a gold dome.
Thomas Paine published a pamphlet titled, “Common Sense” on January 9, 1776. The pamphlet is considered to have united colonists to the cause of American independence.
Herman Talmadge was sworn-in to his second term as Governor of Georgia on January 9, 1951.
Segregated seating on Atlanta buses was held unconstitutional by a federal court on January 9, 1959.
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, debuted the iPhone on January 9, 2007.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has an editorial in the Augusta Chronicle.
In January 2019, I took the oath of office to officially became Georgia’s 83rd governor. Since then, I have worked around the clock to make good on campaign promises and keep Georgia moving in the right direction.
As a father of three, my top priority will always be public safety. That’s why – working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Attorney General Chris Carr and our dedicated U.S. Attorneys – we have doubled down on our efforts to stop and dismantle street gangs and drug cartels. As you know, ruthless criminals are flooding our communities with drugs, weapons, violence and fear. Nearly every county has reported a rise in gang activity with membership levels climbing to 71,000. We are under siege with no time to waste.
Under Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds, the new anti-gang task force is taking the fight to these criminals and working with local law enforcement officials across our state to put them behind bars. During this legislative session, I look forward to working with the General Assembly to strengthen anti-gang laws and give law enforcement greater tools to shut down illegal operations.
Another alarming public safety concern – made worse by organized crime – is human trafficking. Every day, innocent children are sold for sex in Georgia. It is a disturbing, profit-driven industry threatening families and communities in every corner of our state. Last January, my family and I attended Street Grace’s Stop Traffick event in Atlanta that illustrated the evil that we face; 72 school buses drove in rush-hour traffic to represent the 3,600 children sold into modern-day slavery in Georgia every year. This visual called my family to action. We could not remain on the sidelines of this fight….
During the upcoming legislative session, we will continue to value life by championing reforms to our state’s foster care and adoption laws. We will invest in education, strengthen our anti-gang and human trafficking laws, and spur economic growth by eliminating red tape for job creators. We will continue to budget conservatively, save for a rainy day, and be good stewards of taxpayer funds.
Above all, we will continue to put hardworking Georgians first in 2020. We will stand with our farmers, support our veterans, defend our conservative values, and always protect the most vulnerable among us.
I am honored to serve as your governor and look forward to working together in the new year to build a safer, stronger Georgia!
Governor Kemp is considering whether Georgia will continue accepting federal resettlement of refugees, according to the AJC.
[An] executive order by President Donald Trump requires state and local governments to provide written consent to the federal government if they want to accept refugees, giving state officials new powers to block them.
Kemp’s decision could affect as many as 1,052 people who are fleeing persecution in their home countries and who could be brought to Georgia this fiscal year, according to the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies. But Kemp has stayed largely silent on the issue, aside from suggesting he has some flexibility with his timeline. He said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it “seems like a lot of what’s been reported on deadlines and what needs to be done is not correct,” though he and his office didn’t elaborate.
Forty-two states — many led by Republican governors — have either issued such letters or have indicated they will do so, according to Church World Service, a refugee resettlement agency. Dozens of cities and counties across the nation have done the same. Kemp is among a handful of state leaders who has not yet taken a stance.
A Special Election for DeKalb County Sheriff drew nine candidates during qualifying, according to the Champion.
Voters in the March 24 special election for DeKalb County sheriff will see nine candidates on the ballot.
Qualifying for the seat began Jan. 6 at 9 a.m. and ended at noon Jan. 8. Melody Maddox has been serving in the role since Dec. 1 after former sheriff Jeffrey Mann announced Nov. 13 that he would retire on Nov. 30. As required per the DeKalb County code, Maddox, the former DCSO chief deputy was appointed to serve in the sheriff’s position until the position is filled through an election.
Those who qualified as candidates for the sheriff’s position are:
Geraldine Champion, retired homicide detective
Harold Dennis, former DeKalb County reserve lieutenant
Adam Gardner, law enforcement
Ted Golden, retired special agent for DEA
Antonio Johnson, retired marshal
Kyle Keith Jones, retired law enforcement
Melody Maddox, DeKalb County sheriff
Carl Mobley, retired DeKalb County officer
Ruth Stringer, retired law enforcement
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced his office will work with Augusta University and the Georgia Cyber Center, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Election security must be a “first priority,” Raffensperger said in a statement.
“In this challenging environment, Georgia is fortunate to have national-caliber expertise to help stay ahead of the bad actors,” said. “This association is another way Georgians can be confident that their vote will be accurate and secure.”
The Augusta experts will examine the state’s systems — which is receiving new equipment this year — and the environment in which they are employed to look for potential vulnerabilities, [Dr. Alex Schwarzmann, dean of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences] said. The center will get a replica of the real systems deployed to help with that evaluation, he said.
“We’ll be evaluating the equipment, identifying any potential security vulnerabilities and advising the state on how to make sure these vulnerabilities do not become a risk in terms of official elections in the state,” Schwarzmann said. “We’re looking at the entire environment in which the collection of equipment can be used safely.”
The Georgia-Florida water lawsuit is headed for the United States Supreme Court, according to WABE.
For three decades, Georgia and Florida have been battling over how to share a precious resource: water. Georgia has it, and Florida, which is downstream, says it’s not getting its fair share. The dispute is once again headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Florida wants the justices to cap Georgia’s water use. But a court-appointed special master recently rejected that idea.
After two decades of talks and lawsuits, Florida finally went to the Supreme Court in 2013, asking it to limit how much water Georgia could use.
State Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) is preparing to take over as Chair of the House Rules Committee, according to the Georgia Recorder.
The Columbus Republican and retired University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service director was sworn into the state Legislature Jan. 10, 2005. For about eight of the last 15 years, he chaired the state House Insurance Committee. So, he’s heard his share of testimony about the price Georgians pay for health care.
When Smith is sitting in the Rules chair, he’ll give preference to bills that he says meet common litmus tests.
“Will it create jobs, will it improve health care, the road system, fund the state?” Smith said.
Smith said he intends to approach the job with objectivity. He’s looking for a satisfactory answer to several questions, like why a bill is being proposed, whether it has unintended consequences and how it would benefit the state.
“Then you say ‘OK, maybe that needs to make it to the House floor for a vote,’” Smith said.
The Valdosta Daily Times looks at the work of the Joint Special Committee on Access to Health Care and Insurance.
Independent pharmacies in Georgia are saying big pharmaceutical management companies are running them out of business, and lawmakers are struggling with what they can do to even the playing field.
A Joint Special Committee on Access to Health Care and Insurance convened within days of the first session to hear testimony from Georgia pharmacists, patients and physicians on how pharmacy benefit managers — third-party drug providers such as CVS and Express Scripts — and Medicaid managed care organizations “rig the system” to profit from patient’s drug needs.
“Calling this meeting so close to the session hasn’t been taken lightly,” Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, chairman of the House insurance committee, said. “It’s being convened because we believe that it’s necessary.”
Last session, Rep. David Knight, the Griffin Republican, led legislation that passed with almost unanimous bipartisan support to prevent large pharmacy benefit managers from steering patients away from independent pharmacies to often more expensive drugs with unreliable prescription services.
The House Majority Caucus announced in the hours following the meeting that Knight will spearhead additional legislation this session “closing loopholes in existing laws” and bringing oversight to pharmaceutical management companies and Medicaid managed care organizations contracted with the state. The legislation will carve out prescription drug benefits from Medicaid managed care — intended to save money while compensating local pharmacies equally.
The Georgia Recorder writes about the State House Maternal Mortality Committee.
A push to ensure low-income new mothers have a year of health care coverage through Medicaid – as opposed to cutting off access for many of them two months after they give birth – is among the raft of proposed legislative fixes coming out of the study committees that met this fall.
The proposal from a panel focused on the state’s high rate of maternal deaths, which routinely places Georgia among the worst in the nation. It was packed into a report released Monday that also recommended mandating autopsies for women who die during or after pregnancy and leaning more on local health departments to provide care to pregnant women and new moms.
Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Marietta Republican who chaired the maternal mortality study committee, says she has been pressing the governor’s office to fund the Medicaid extension even as Gov. Brian Kemp calls for budget cuts in response to unsteady state revenues.
Georgia Health News looks at some of the challenges for rural Georgia healthcare.
Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”) is the least populous county in Georgia, with fewer than 1,800 inhabitants. But its people have more than their share of problems. They suffer from a higher obesity rate than Georgia’s average, and County Health Rankings show the county has a higher rate of physical inactivity as well as a lack of access to exercise opportunities. There is also a higher rate of poverty among children, which adds to the difficulty in maintaining a public health standard for the upcoming generation.
The needs are obvious. But the difficulty that Twilley experienced shows how hard the problems can be to address. Here and in other parts of rural America, many organizations face big challenges when they try to improve public health. Even when new projects are introduced, the efforts may not be sustainable if the funding runs out.
Whitfield County Commissioners will not vote on placing a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the ballot until Dalton signs off on an agreement, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners had planned to vote this coming Monday on an intergovernmental agreement that would spell out how a four-year, $66 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) would be spent.
But with the Dalton City Council tabling action on that agreement this past Monday, Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said commissioners probably won’t vote on the matter.
“We can’t vote until they sign off on it,” she said. “We’ll probably leave it on the agenda in case they sign it at the last minute, and table it if they don’t.”
Statesboro swore in three new City Council members, according to the Statesboro Herald.
District 2 Councilwoman Paulette Chavers, was then voted mayor pro tempore by the rest of the council.
Separately and in series, Chavers, District 3 Councilwoman Venus Mack and District 5 Councilwoman Shari Barr each raised her right hand and was administered the oath of office by Bulloch County Probate Court Judge Lorna DeLoach.
State Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan) spoke to the Newnan Times-Herald about the upcoming legislative session.
Ethylene oxide, coal ash and the Golden Ray – as well as health care legislation, rural broadband, and gambling – are among the issues Rep. Lynn Smith expects to deal with this legislative session.
Smith, R-Newnan, is chairwoman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and her committee hears most bills dealing with environmental issues.
Another issue Smith said she is working on involves the way property tax values are calculated for land that has streams or wetlands on it. The state requires a 50-foot buffer on each side of a stream, and that buffer can add up to a significant amount of land that can only be used in a limited way. Smith said she wants to make sure that is taken into account when property values are calculated.
Sam Pardue announced his resignation as Dean of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
Floyd County Commissioner Allison Watters announced she will run for reelection, according to the Rome News Tribune.
Blitzen is a 9 week old, 6#, Dachshund/Yorki mix puppy. He is brown with black tipped fur, He is on solid food, eats twice a day, and is trained to sleep in a crate all night. He is loving, playful, and curious about everything. He was rescued from owners who could not care for him. He does well with the other dogs. He loves to bite your toes while you’re trying to dress. Blitzen is looking for an inside home with a loving family.
Daisy is a 7 month old, 22#, Whippet/Beagle mix. She is brindle with perk ears, a white line up her face, a white chest and polka dot toes. She is active, curious, and loves to run. She is spayed, vaccinated, and trained to sleep in a crate all night. She is a very healthy girl who is still full of energy. She loves playing tag with the other dogs. Daisy is looking for a home with a fenced yard and a family wanting a perky little female.
9 month old Toby is a sweet, easy to train, outgoing little guy. He likes other dogs and he is young enough to train with cats. He has a lot of lab in him and wants to please you and be close to you. He is small, only about 25 lbs currently. We expect Toby to weigh 40 lbs at adulthood.
Chatham County held a public forum to discuss proposed changes to the animal control ordinance, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Charles Harper, Chatham County’s director of animal services, led the forum held in downtown Savannah’s Old Courthouse on Jan. 7. Harper provided a rundown of the proposals, beginning with requiring dogs and cats to receive rabies vaccinations by the time they are 14 weeks old, instead of six months.
The audience had little to say about this proposal, or on the next one for Chatham County to reinstate animal neglect and cruelty as a local code violation. However, Harper received impassioned reactions about a suggestion regarding animals found running loose.
Currently, all found dogs and cats must be brought to Animal Services, but the proposed changes would only require citizens to file a “lost pet report”, according to Harper.
“Last year, on average, we had about 4,500 animals coming to the shelter,” Harper said, adding that this proposal could reduce that number. “Doing this gives us the opportunity to keep animals as safe as possible and still monitor where they are.”
The audience had few comments when Harper discussed the 10-dogs-per-acre limitation, but a proposal to remove all wording on service animals or emotional-support animals in the ordinance raised concerns about how businesses can address pet owners who falsely claim that their animals are allowed inside restaurants and stores.
The final proposal discussion — regarding the removal of cat-feeding restrictions — drew the meeting’s most vociferous reactions, as the focus shifted toward Chatham County’s feral-cat population and how best to handle it. Several audience members suggested that Animal Services should establish a “Trap-Neuter-Return” program for stray cats.
“The shelter’s not big enough to do a full-blown TNR program,” Harper said, while stating that feral-cat communities would diminish if they were not sustained. “If you don’t feed them, they do go away.”
Lyman Hall, one of three Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor on January 8, 1783.
On January 8, 2007, R.E.M. was announced as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Here’s REM at their induction into the Rock Hall.
On January 8, 2014, Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were announced as incoming members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Columbus, Georgia native Frank Thomas, a long-time Chicago White Sox outfielder.
The Hill looks at one of Kelly Loeffler’s committee assignments in the Senate.
Georgia’s newest senator, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), will join the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and fill a spot left open with the retirement of Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
“I welcome Senator Kelly Loeffler to the Senate and look forward to working with her to lower what Americans pay out of their own pockets for health care and to make a college education worth students’ time and money,” said Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is retiring from Congress at the end of this term.
One of Alexander’s goals during his final year in Congress is passing legislation to end the “surprise bills” some patients get from providers after receiving medical care.
Senator Loeffler also takes a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to Agri-Pulse.
Georgia’s newest member of the Senate, Kelly Loeffler, will have a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee, taking the place of Georgia Sen. David Perdue, who shifted to another panel.
In a statement, she cited her Illinois farm upbringing and said she looked forward to being on the Ag committee.
“Growing up on the family farm, I understand the vital importance of agriculture to our state, and the issues facing rural communities and local businesses firsthand,” she said. “On the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will stand with our farmers, advance pro-growth policies, and proudly promote our Georgia Grown products. I will work around the clock to keep America growing.”
She will also be a member of the Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration.
“Georgia is leading the way on agriculture nationally with Secretary Perdue at the helm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Historically, Georgia has also had strong representation on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and that will not change,” said Sen. Perdue, the agriculture secretary’s cousin. “Kelly Loeffler and I will work closely with Georgia’s farmers and producers to ensure their voices are heard in the United States Senate. Together, we will continue to fight for farm families and rural communities.”
FiveThirtyEight looks at Loeffler’s reelection bid.
On Monday, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia took office, which means she’ll now have to run in a special election in November to keep her seat — and with a possible GOP challenger, it could be an action-packed race. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp picked Loeffler, a businesswoman and co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, to take over for GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned at the end of 2019, but Loeffler was not a consensus pick.
President Trump had wanted Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, who was front and center during the impeachment hearings defending the president. Collins has fueled speculation that he might mount a bid against Loeffler in November, but hasn’t yet decided on whether he will.
Loeffler has also promised to spend $20 million of her own money on the race, which could scare off opponents like Collins or other Republicans from running.
Whether Collins runs, the special election next November will be a jungle primary, which means all candidates, regardless of party, run at the same time. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two will take place on Jan. 5, 2021. At this point, the only notable Democrat running is Matt Lieberman, son of former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, although a number of better-known Georgia Democrats are running for the party’s nomination in the contest for the state’s other Senate seat, which is also up in 2020. Election handicappers favor the GOP to hold onto both seats in 2020.
Loeffler‘s office announced some staff picks as well, according to the AJC.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s office is starting to take shape. Today, she announced some key staff decisions, including hiring one Johnny Isakson’s former chief of staff.
Joan Carr now holds the same position in Loeffler’s office, which is operating out of temporary space in the basement of one of the Senate’s office buildings. Carr also served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, who unlike Loeffler and Isakson was a Democrat.
Other hires announced today include Chad Yelinski, who will serve as legislative director, and Kerry Rom, Loeffler’s communications director.
Yelinski held the same role in the office of U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina. Rom arrives from the office of U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
vanity voting rights project will hold a summit in Atlanta on Friday, according to the AJC.
The invite-only Fair Fight 2020 event will be headlined by Abrams and include representatives from the Democratic National Committee, labor union leaders and state Sen. Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Abrams launched Fair Fight shortly after her 2018 election loss to Gov. Brian Kemp, and last year she expanded the group’s work to 20 competitive states to promote ballot access and expand voting rights.
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be at the Abrams event, according to the AJC.
The billionaire mayor was invited because he’s a major financial contributor to Abrams’ Fair Fight organization. He announced in December a $5 million donation to the group, which expanded last year to promote voting rights in 20 states.
Abrams, seen as a potential running-mate, has not endorsed Bloomberg or any other 2020 candidate. But each of the top contenders have courted her, and she’s urged them to make ballot access a key part of their campaign platform.
It will be Bloomberg’s second visit to Georgia since announcing his run for president in November, following a stop in Augusta a month ago where he appeared with Mayor Hardie Davis, who endorsed his campaign.
Early voting continues in State House District 171, giving a preview of new voting systems, according to the Albany Herald.
As three southwest Georgia counties unroll a new voting system in House District 171, voters taking advantage of the early voting period in two of them also are using new voting equipment for the first time.
During the three weeks of early voting in Colquitt County, officials have an opportunity to address any issues that arise, Moultrie Probate Court Judge Wes Lewis, whose office oversees elections in the county, said. Eight precincts in the county will be open during the Jan. 28 special election.
The death of state Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, made a special election necessary in the district that includes all of Mitchell County and a portion of both Colquitt and Decatur counties.
“We really are encouraging people to come to the event station,” Lewis said. “It really will be a chance while we have the tech staff on site. It will give us the opportunity, if there are any issues, to deal with it.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visited Moultrie on Monday, the first day of early voting in the election, to check on the new voting machines.
“I commend the secretary,” Lewis said. “With all the chatter and naysayers, I really give his staff credit. I do believe that once the voter, the citizen, uses this, they’re going to like it. The state really did a good job about training for the new system.”
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter will seek reelection as a Republican, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
In a statement issued from the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, Porter officially announced he would run as a Republican, though he emphasized the bipartisan nature of his job.
“Over the past 27 years, I have enjoyed bipartisan support from the voters as a Republican candidate and intend to run again as a Republican,” Porter said in a statement. “I look forward to presenting my record of innovation, accomplishment and experience in the areas of victims’ rights, criminal justice reform, and innovative prosecution strategies in comparison to the ideas and record of the announced Democratic candidate.”
Porter has run as a Republican since he was elected in 1992. Porter said he decided it would be disingenuous to change parties after running as a Republican for 27 years. He felt he would be hard pressed to convince Democratic voters that changing parties was anything other that an expedient way to get reelected.
“I’ve never been one to put expediency over principles,” he said.
“I don’t want to argue about whose the best Democratic candidate is, I want to argue about who’s the best District Attorney,” Porter said.
“I have always trusted all voters in Gwinnett County to make the wise choice when it comes to the safety of their families and their communities,” Porter’s statement said. “I will gladly present my qualifications to voters of both parties and I am confident that they will see that I am the best choice to lead the District Attorney’s Office for four more years.”
Porter reiterated, if reelected in 2020, he has no plan to seek reelection in 2024.
While he reiterated his belief that the district attorney’s job should be nonpartisan, he said running as a Democrat would have been “disingenuous.”
Being a 27-year incumbent certainly comes with advantages. But Gwinnett’s recent political history suggests Porter will nonetheless have an uphill battle to reelection.
In the 2018 Georgia governor’s race, Democrat Stacey Abrams won Gwinnett by a significant margin. The same election cycle saw Democrats seize control of Gwinnett’s delegation to the state legislature and win their first seats on the county commission since the 1980s.
Gwinnett’s current solicitor general is an upstart Democrat who ousted a longtime Republican incumbent in 2018.
“Republicans have lost in Gwinnett and will continue to do so,” Gwinnett Democratic Party chair Bianca Keaton said.
Porter, meanwhile, will rely on his track record to try and appeal to voters from both parties. Pointing to his office’s participation in diversion programs and accountability courts, he said he’s never fit the mold of a stereotypical, “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” Republican prosecutor and is capable of having broad appeal.
The Georgia State House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care proposed legislation aimed at promoting transparency in healthcare, according to The Brunswick News.
“For all the good work that’s been done, many of the (pharmacy benefit managers) themselves have proceeded to ignore and make every effort to find loopholes in our laws, while at the same time other practices harmful to patients continue to grow and spread across the prescription drug landscape,” said House Majority Caucus Chairman Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin.
State Rep. David Knight, who will be leading the push on this legislation, said the system as it stands now prevents freedom of patient choice of pharmacy, obscures prescription drug prices with complex methodologies, leads to refusing coverage for cheaper generics and reimbursing PBMs and managed care organization-affiliated pharmacies with far more money than retail independents.
Using the leukemia drug imatinib as an example, the reimbursement fee per pill for an independent pharmacy was $34.50, while an MCO affiliate pharmacy received $279 and a PBM affiliate received $302. For the cancer drug capecitabane, a clinic pharmacy received $4.39 per pill, as opposed to $27.63 for an MCO affiliate.
“The unifying theme that you will hear throughout today’s testimony is that patients and providers are being harmed by huge corporate interests that put their profitability over the lives of Georgians,” Knight, R-Griffin, said at Tuesday’s hearing.
“We’re going to seek a carve-out of prescription drug benefits for Medicaid managed care,” Knight said. “West Virginia did this and in ’18, an actuarial study showed that the carveout saved over $50 million, while at the same time paying community pharmacies fairly.”
The State House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality will recommend changes to address Georgia’s high rate of maternal deaths, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Low-income pregnant women in Georgia should receive Medicaid coverage for one year after giving birth, a legislative study committee is recommending.
The proposal to expand Medicaid coverage for eligible women from the current limit of two months postpartum highlights a 14-page report issued by the state House of Representatives Study Committee on Maternal Mortality.
Besides extending Medicaid coverage for pregnant women to one year, the study committee recommended the General Assembly pass legislation requiring an autopsy following any woman’s death during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth.
The study committee suggested the state encourage hospitals and medical societies to provide training in racial sensitivity for physicians, nurses and other health-care workers.
To address geographic disparities in pregnancy outcomes, the panel suggested the state continue to fund and support efforts to increase Georgia’s rural health-care workforce and expand the availability of telemedicine services by providing incentives that prevent telemedicine from being a money-loser for providers.
“We are in a tight budget,” said state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, a co-chairwoman of the committee. However, she said, “If they find a program that’s working, maybe the money needs to be sought. … If the estimate was $17 million, then they might be able to fund it.”
Estimates vary widely, up to $70 million in state money, and she said state officials told her they would figure out the discrepancy to understand the real cost.
House Appropriations Chairman Terry England is interested. “I think we certainly have to take a look at it,” he said.
Many pregnant women and caregivers don’t know, for example, that the majority of maternal deaths happen in the year following birth, not during birth. Or that things such as changes in vision can be a warning sign for heart and blood problems that so often kill pregnant women or new moms.
The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts alleged that some film tax credits may have been misallocated, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
“Due to control weaknesses, companies have received credits for which they are not eligible and credits that are higher than earned,” the report stated in its opening paragraph. “The issues can be attributed to limited requirements and clarity in state law, inadequately designed procedures, insufficient resources and/or agency interpretations of law that differ from our own.”
According to the audit, the state delivered more than $3 billion in credits from 2013 through 2017. The numbers grew steadily during that period, from more than $667 million in 2016 to more than $915 million in 2017.
Despite granting more credits than any other state, the audit found that Georgia requires film companies to provide less documentation than any of the 31 other states offering film tax credits. Georgia is among only three state that do not require an audit by the state or a third party.
While the state Department of Revenue does require limited documentation to receive the credit, the audit found many production companies failed to provide the documentation yet still received the credit.
The Cordele Dispatch profiles Carden Summers, who is running for State Senate District 13 in the Special Election.
Local business owner and former county commissioner Carden Summers will be on the ballot in the February 4 special election to fill the state senate seat vacated by the untimely passing of incumbent Greg Kirk, who died Dec. 22, 2019. Early voting in the race begins on Monday, Jan. 13.
Summers, a conservative Republican, is hardly a new face to Georgia’s political scene. He ran for the same state senate seat in 2002, narrowly losing to the late Rooney Bowen, who held the seat for some 25 years. Prior to that run, Summers had served a six-year term on the Crisp County Board of Commissioners, where he gained a reputation as a proactive worker sensitive to taxpayer concerns.
The 13th District is comprised of [sic] Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Sumter, Tift, Turner, Wilcox, and Worth counties.
“This special election is going to be one of the shortest elections in history,” Summers said, “and I would appreciate all the support I can get.”
Summers and Janis, his wife of 38 years, plus their two grown children Weston and Jade, invite voters to contact them at his 13th Avenue business office. Early voting in Crisp County begins on Monday, Jan. 13 at 8 a.m. at the elections office in the county government building at 210 South 7th St. Voters can cast an early ballot there Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. up until January 31st and on Saturday, January 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bianca Motley Broom took the oath of office as the first new Mayor of College Park in over two decades, according to the AJC.
Bianca Motley Broom defeated six-term mayor Jack Longino in a December runoff, making her the first new leader of College Park and its 15,000 residents in 24 years.
A new and an incumbent College Park councilman were also sworn in, but Motley Broom garnered the most applause.
In College Park’s nearly 130-year history, Motley Broom is the first woman and the first African-American person to become mayor. The 42-year-old is a mediator, arbitrator and former Fulton County magistrate judge — but this was her first run for office.
Longino attended the event Monday and told the AJC that he wishes her the best. When asked about the loss, the 66-year-old businessman: “The citizens wanted a change.”
Joseph Geierman was sworn in as Mayor of Doraville, according to ProjectQ.
John Borrow was sworn in as Mayor of Cornelia, according to AccessWDUN.
Braselton will swear in two new council members on Thursday, according to the Gainesville Times.
Jim Joedecke is set to be sworn in Thursday, Jan. 9, as the newest member of the Braselton Town Council.
Also being sworn in Thursday is Becky Richardson, who was elected to her second four-year term after a Dec. 3 runoff.
Joedecke defeated three-term incumbent Tony Funari on Nov. 5, getting nearly 82 percent of the vote to Funari’s 18 percent.
Port Wentworth City Council member Shari Dyal resigned her seat representing District 1, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Council member Linda Smith said Dyal has moved to Effingham County. Dyal lived in the Rice Creek subdivision.
Dyal represented District 1, which includes the Rice Hope and Rice Creek areas. She was serving her first term on the Port Wentworth council.
Kim Simonds was appointed Demorest City Manager, according to AccessWDUN.
Lowndes County Commissioners will meet this week to discuss service delivery strategies, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners will hold a special called meeting 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, in the commission chambers. The meeting was called to consider a new SDS agreement, according to a statement from Lowndes County Clerk Paige Dukes.
When asked whether Mayor John Gayle or Mayor-elect Scott James Matheson negotiated the new agreement, Dukes said only commissioners and city council members participated in the new version.
Whitfield County and the City of Dalton remain at loggerheads over service delivery agreements, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
About two dozen people filled a meeting room Tuesday at the Dalton Convention Center hoping to listen in to at least part of a mandatory mediation between the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, the Dalton City Council and the city councils of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell regarding their service delivery agreement, which spells out which services each government will provide and how they will be funded.
But their hopes were quickly dashed when Adele Grubbs, a senior judge with the Cobb County Superior Court overseeing the mediation, said that Supreme Court of Georgia rules for mandatory mediation require that the discussions be confidential and they can not be opened to the public and can not be discussed by participants outside of the mediation. The mediation, which lasted more than eight hours, ended without an agreement.
The City of Dalton filed a lawsuit on Nov. 5 against Whitfield County and the other cities, in Whitfield County Superior Court, seeking mandatory mediation of the agreement, noting that if the governments fail to reach an agreement during the mediation, “Dalton will petition the court to resolve all remaining items in dispute.”
The Golden Isles Development Authority adopted a new logo as part of a rebranding, according to The Brunswick News.
The Unified Command has chosen a salvage company to removed the capsized M/V Golden Ray from waters off St. Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.
Texas-based T&T Salvage LLC has been hired to remove the wreck that has sat overturned in the sound between St. Simons and Jekyll island for four months. T&T Salvage was chosen from among six bidders, which included DonJon-SMIT, the maritime emergency contractor that originally responded to the Golden Ray crisis. With the contract awarded to T&T Salvage, DonJon-SMIT has completed its involvement with the Golden Ray operation, said Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. Gallagher Marine Systems represents the Golden Ray and its insurers in Unified Command, which also consists of the Coast Guard and the state Department of Natural Resources.
Unified Command is still trying to determine the best type of barrier to build around the ship before demolition begins, a measure intended to prevent mitigate pollution and environmental damage. Once that is decided, Unified Command said it will release a timeline for the ship’s removal and other details about the process.
Brunswick City Commission voted to approve a $15.8 million dollar project list for an upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum, according to The Brunswick News.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the SPLOST budget, which will be submitted to the Glynn County Commission on Jan. 13.
City officials also approved a resolution that will enable them to apply for federal funding for planning, infrastructure and potential operations of a public transit system.
The Floyd County Republican Women heard from candidates for Sheriff, according to the Rome News Tribune.
Albany area elected officials toured the Radium Springs area, according to the Albany Herald.
State Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, and state Rep. CaMia Hopson, D-Albany, toured a historic bridge located a short distance from the more familiar blue hole and site of the demolished Radium Springs Casino building.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas and Commissioners Victor Edwards, Russell Gray and Anthony Jones were among the local delegation that gave the lawmakers a tour of the bridge. The site is adjacent to a trailhead under development at a former golf course on land owned by the county. The bridge is on property owned by the state, as is the blue hole and the majority of land around it.
The county has started the development of a trail that eventually will link to downtown Albany. A separate project would extend the trail system from Albany to Sasser.
On Monday, county commissioners approved the first of three phases of development in the area. That project includes restrooms at the trailhead, which was where officials gathered before heading to the bridge on Tuesday.
“Dougherty County is putting its money on the other side,” County Attorney Spencer Lee said “We’re asking the state to put its money here on (Department of Natural Resources) property.”
Fulton County Animal Services has reduced adoption fees for all dogs over 25 pounds to $20 for the month of January.
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Georgia voted for George Washington for President on January 7, 1789. Technically, they elected Presidential Electors who would later meet in Augusta and cast their ballots for Washington.
On January 7, 1795, Georgia Governor George Matthews signed the Yazoo Act, passed after four land companies bribed members of the General Assembly to vote for legislation selling more than 35 million acres of land for less than 2 cents per acre.
Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich (R) was re-elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 7, 1997. In the election for a second term, nine Republicans voted against the incumbent Speaker.
Governor Brian Kemp is open to working with legislators on changes to the film industry tax incentives, according to the AJC.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gov. Brian Kemp refused to rule out legislation that could seek changes with the lucrative credits, which cost the state an estimated $870 million in revenue in 2019.
“Legislators passed the film tax credit to start with, so if there are some that want to review it or have reservations about it or want to add to it, this certainly is their prerogative and we’ll be glad to work with them,” he said.
The governor was responding to buzz about a Georgia Tech study on the impact of the film tax credit that’s already set tongues wagging under the Gold Dome. State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, is one of several influential Republicans looking at reducing the credits this year to avoid steeper budget cuts.
In the interview, Kemp said he would “hold judgment” on those ideas until the report is released. And he chuckled at the idea of pre-emptively telling Tippins or other Republicans to steer clear of the credits.
“Well, I don’t know if I told them that, if they would listen,” he said, adding. “I guess probably said more than I needed to have how supportive I’ve been of the industry. It’s kind of hard to weigh in on something I haven’t seen. I’ve been around long enough to know there’s agenda-driven reports.”
Governor Kemp spoke to WABE about the state budget.
“I think, you know, we’re in a little bit of a dramatic situation, if you will, with our revenues just flattening out. We haven’t seen the growth that we have in years past. …The facts are we just don’t have as much money coming in as we’ve had in our budget. Every year has growth in it from the new kids coming into the educational system, new people that are coming into the health care system because of our state’s growing. And then we have other, you know, government programs that have been implemented over the years that, you know, we have to deal with.
“And so for us to be able to continue to fund our priorities in state government, we had to reduce the budget. And so I’ve ordered the executive branch agencies to do that. And I’ll tell you, it’s been a great exercise. I campaigned on making government smaller and more efficient. So we’ve used this opportunity to get rid of things that we don’t need to be doing to make agencies more efficient, to really take a hard look at, you know, how many telephone lines we have, how many cellphone lines, how many computers, you know, renegotiate and contract, just really creative things that agencies have come up with to meet the cuts. And I think taxpayers can be very proud of that. Because of that work, we’re going to balance our budget again. But we’ll also be able to continue to fund our priorities, like fully fund the education formula, being able to fund public safety and higher education and our health care programs and make sure we’re providing the services that we need to in our state.”
Why Are State Revenues Down?
“I think it’s a lot of different things. We have more to pay for now, too, with the existing revenues that we have, when you look at the holes to fill, because we’ve had the full implementation of the tax cut, which was about a half a billion dollars. We had a change in the TVAT tax, which has I think, cost the state $150 to $200 million of revenue that’s now going to the counties. We’ve certainly got the Hurricane Michael damage on the agriculture economy in southwest Georgia.
“Certainly the trade issues that we have had been very helpful for some Georgia companies and, you know, have been tough on others Even though I think we need to be fighting that fight, I think we’re going to be better off in the long run, I think there may have been some short term repercussions of that, especially in commodity prices. That seems to be turning now, which I think is good for our state.
“So, I mean, those are a few of the things, but even though we’re at record unemployment, a record number of people working in our state, we’re not seeing as many new jobs coming as we have in years past. And I think it’s just because we’re basically at almost full employment.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger went to South Georgia to observe the first day of early voting – using new voting machines – in State House District 171, according to the Albany Herald.
“The first day of early voting, I wanted to make sure everything is working smoothly,” Raffensperger said during a telephone interview after he left the Colquitt County Courthouse Annex building, site of early voting in the county. “Everything is going smoothly.”
“We (also) can do physical recounts and they can do audits,” the secretary of state said.
The first use of the machines in fall 2019 included six counties, including Decatur and Lowndes. Decatur County residents are among those voting in the House District 171 special election to replace state Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who died in November.
The district also includes Mitchell County and a portion of Colquitt County.
The special election will be held on Jan. 28, and the winner will serve out the remaining year of Powell’s term. A runoff, if necessary, would be held on Feb. 25.
Three candidates qualified in the Special Election for State Senate District 13, according to the Secretary of State’s website.
Mary Egler, Democrat, Leesburg
Jim Quinn, Republican, Leesburg
Carden H. Summers, Republican, Cordele
Former Governor Roy Barnes became the second prominent Democrat to switch endorsements in the 7th Congressional District, according to the AJC.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes flipped his endorsement Tuesday in Georgia’s 7th District to Democrat Zahra Karinshak, making him the second high-profile politician to back the state senator’s bid for the Gwinnett-based seat.
Barnes was an early supporter of Carolyn Bourdeaux, a public policy professor who was narrowly defeated in a 2018 bid for the seat. But he said he decided to back Karinshak because of her “conviction, fearlessness and fighting spirit” when she served as his deputy executive counsel.
“Zahra is a no-nonsense get-things-done kind of leader who can move our state and country forward,” he said in a statement.
The flip comes days after former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland had a similar change of heart, rescinding his endorsement in favor of Karinshak, who entered the race in August.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said a proposed move of the “Waving Girl” statue will be put on hold, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Johnson said the newly sworn-in council will evaluate all the plans and make a final determination at a regularly scheduled council meeting.
The monument was installed in 1972 at the east end of River Street at Morrell Park. It was commissioned by the Altrusa Club and designed by sculptor Felix De Weldon, best known for his Iwo Jima monument in Arlington, Virginia.
Dalton City Council tabled a vote on putting a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the ballot to
gain leverage see what happens in talks with Whitfield County on Inter-Governmental Agreements, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
Members of the Dalton City Council said Monday night that mediation planned for Tuesday concerning the service delivery agreement could have an impact on a potential Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) vote later this year.
The council voted 4-0 Monday to table an intergovernmental agreement that would spell out how a four-year, $66 million SPLOST would be spent. Mayor David Pennington typically votes only in the event of a tie.
“We need more time to study this agreement,” said council member Gary Crews. “And we also need to see if the mediation will have any effect on any of the projects the SPLOST would fund.”
Officials have been looking at putting a SPLOST referendum on the May general primary ballot.
David Pennington was sworn in again as Mayor of Dalton, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
Rebecca Benton was sworn in as Mayor of Pooler, the first woman to serve in that position, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Juli Clay will be sworn in as a new member of Gainesville City Council today, according to the Gainesville Times.
Lifeline Animal Project will celebrate 2020 by lowering adoption fees to $20 for cats and dogs in the Fulton and DeKalb County shelters, according to the AJC.
That discounted price includes the pet’s spaying/neutering, vaccinations and microchipping, equivalent to a $300 value, according to LifeLine Animal Project, the organization that manages animal services for both counties.
The “Roaring 20s promotion” lasts through January.
Animals can be adopted from four locations in Fulton and DeKalb:
• DeKalb County Animal Services, 3280 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Chamblee
• Fulton County Animal Services, 860 Marietta Blvd NW, Atlanta
• LifeLine Cat Adoption Center, 3172 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Scottdale
• LifeLine Community Animal Center, 3180 Presidential Drive, Atlanta
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On January 5, 1734, the Trustees of Georgia ordered the return of 42 Jewish settlers who had come in 1733, primarily from Portugal, without the knowledge or approval of the Trustees. The Brits who sponsored the Jewish settlers refused and Georgia is home to the oldest Jewish settlement in the United States.
On January 5, 1781, traitor Benedict Arnold and 1600 British troops captured Richmond, Virginia.
Samuel Elbert was elected Governor of Georgia for a one-year term on January 6, 1785. Elbert was an early participant in Patriot meetings at Tondee’s Tavern, a Lt. Colonel in the first group of troops raised in Georgia, and a prisoner of war, exchanged for a British General, and eventually promoted to Brigadier General reporting to Gen. George Washington. As Governor, Elbert oversaw the charter of the University of Georgia and afterward, he served briefly as Sheriff of Chatham County.
Utah was admitted as the 45th state on January 4, 1896.
On January 6, 1961, United States District Court Judge William Bootle ordered the University of Georgia to enroll Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, ending the segregation of UGA.
On January 4, 1965, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson delivered the State of the Union and outlined his plan for a “Great Society.”
“He requested ‘doubling the war against poverty this year’ and called for new emphasis on area redevelopment, further efforts at retraining unskilled workers, an improvement in the unemployment compensation system and an extension of the minimum wage floor to two million workers now unprotected by it. … He called for new, improved or bigger programs in attacking physical and mental disease, urban blight, water and air pollution, and crime and delinquency.”
The Great Society legislation included “War on Poverty” programs, many created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which established jobs and youth volunteer programs as well as Head Start, which provided pre-school education for poor children. Johnson’s social welfare legislation also consisted of the formation of Medicare and Medicaid, which offered health care services for citizens over 65 and low-income citizens, respectively. In addition, the Great Society included the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1968.
On January 4, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon refused to turn over tapes recorded in the Oval Office to the Senate Watergate Committee.
On January 5, 1978, the British band the Sex Pistols started their American tour at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta, GA. The AJC has a photo gallery from the show, including the young promoter, Alex Cooley, who would become legendary.
On January 6, 1988, the United States Postal Service released a stamp commemorating the bicentennial of Georgia’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788.
Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House on January 4, 1995, the third Georgian to wield the gavel. This marked the first time in more than forty years that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.
On January 4, 1999, in DeKalb County, State Court Judge Al Wong became the first Asian-American judge in Georgia and the Southeast.
Kelly Loeffler will be sworn in to the United States Senate today, according to the AJC.
Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as the Senate’s president, will administer the oath of office around 5 p.m. Loeffler will carry a family Bible that she will use to swear upon.
Because Senate rules prohibit photography inside the chambers, members always re-enact the ceremony in the Old Senate Chambers. So, any pictures you see of Loeffler taking the oath with her family by her side will be of that re-enactment.
Governor Brian Kemp discussed his priorities for the 2020 legislative session with the AJC.
The governor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution his leading priorities include a call for tougher penalties for violent offenders, more resources to crack down on gangs and changes to make it easier for families to adopt foster care children.
And he plans to devote much of his focus to steering budget cuts of $200 million this fiscal year and $300 million next year, a refashioning of state finances that he hopes will force agencies to pare down excesses and embrace innovation but that critics warn would hobble essential services.
“My commitments are the same. My campaign promises are the same. Nothing has changed. But you have to have a certain amount of votes to be able to get something passed, and people’s agendas are different,” he said.
“We got a lot done last year, but it’s an election year this year,” he added. “People are going to get like Elvis and want to exit the building quickly. How much we can get done this year will remain to be seen.”
Kemp told the AJC he wanted to “put some more teeth” into state laws that increase penalties for those convicted of human trafficking and boost state funding for an anti-gang task force he launched last year. He also said he would beef up funding for a promised database to track gang members.
The budget is set to dominate the 40-day session, which starts in January and typically runs through late March. As some lawmakers fear his cost-cutting mandate will slice into essential services, Kemp cast them as a needed overhaul to “make government more efficient, to get rid of waste and streamline.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger continues to roll out the new voting machine system, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The machines will be paid for by the state, Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey said, but individual counties will have to foot the bill for some of the additional costs — privacy screens and tables.
“There’s no cost for the equipment. Now, counties will certainly have to adjust certain things they do,” Harvey said. “For example, their storage needs are going to be a little bit different than the previous system.”
House Bill 316, signed into law in April, denotes that the state must allocate one voting machine for every 250 registered voters per precinct. Harvey said the state has more than enough.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the state has ordered 33,100 machines for the first year of the new system — that’s one machine for every 224 registered voters.
So far, the machines have been tested in pilot counties during municipal elections in November. They’ll also be used in late January in Decatur, Mitchell and Colquitt counties during an election to replace Rep. Jay Powell, who died after collapsing at a lawmaker retreat Nov. 26.
Bulloch County has received the first two of 188 new voting machines, according to the Statesboro Herald.
“It’s no longer one machine,” said Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones. “It’s now a screen and a printer and a ballot box, or I should say the correct name is a polling place scanner.”
As of Friday, the Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration office had just two examples each of the touchscreen and printer setup, called a BMD, for “ballot marking device” and the scanner and ballot box unit, called a PPS, for “polling place scanner.”
To supply all of its 16 Election Day precincts, Bulloch County is expected to receive a total of 188 BMD’s and 25 PPS’s.
Jones had received no word yet from the state or its equipment manufacturer on when the rest of the machines will be delivered. The old machines are supposed to be collected first, she said, and that hasn’t happened yet.
Of the two new machines, voters will spend much more time with the BMD, which includes the touchscreen, so the number of these needed corresponds roughly to the number of the old voting machines. One difference, Jones noted, is that the BMD screen will display the choices for only a single office or question at a time instead of multiple ballot items.
Each polling place will need at least one PPS, where the voter inserts the ballot, which is scanned and falls into a locked box. Bulloch’s largest precincts will get two of these units, Jones said. The PPS both records a photo-like image of the ballot and counts the encoded votes.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety reported the lowest holiday death toll in more than a decade, according to the Albany Herald.
With an abbreviated, midweek travel period, traffic fatalities on Georgia roadways plummeted to two people for the just-completed New Year’s holiday, the Georgia Department of Public Safety reported.
That is the lowest number of traffic deaths in the state for a New Year’s holiday period in more than a decade, according to archives on the DPS website. There were 18 deaths in the lengthier 2018-19 travel period.
That brings the death total for the year-end holidays travel periods — Christmas and New Year’s — to 16, compared to 44 for the combined year-end holidays of 2018-19.
Valdosta will swear in the Mayor and Council members on Thursday, according to Valdosta Today.
The City of Valdosta will swear in the Mayor and four City Councilmembers during the first City Council meeting of the New Year, on Thursday, Jan. 9, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Those taking office include Mayor-Elect Scott James Matheson, who begins his first term as the City of Valdosta Mayor; City Councilman Ben Norton, re-elected to serve At-Large; City Councilman Vivian Miller-Cody, District 1; City Councilman Joseph “Sonny” Vickers, District 3; and City Councilman Tim Carroll, District 5; who will each retain their seats representing their respective districts.
UGA professor Richard Winfield announced he will run for the U.S. Senate, according to The Red and Black.
The progressive Democrat said he’s looking forward to November as an election that could change the political leadership in the nation and in Georgia, and he hopes to be a part of the shift.
“The tide is now turning where Democrats can finally win,” Winfield told a group of people protesting a potential war in Iran on Jan. 4.
Winfield is running in the special election for former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health issues. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Republican businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill the seat until a November special election. The winner of that election will complete the two years remaining in Isakson’s term.
“I want to show the public how we can’t really have the Green New Deal we need unless we ensure that everyone whose livelihood may be jeopardized by shutting down fossil fuel production and consumption will have a guaranteed job with fair wages waiting for them,” Winfield said.
The Ledger-Enquirer looks at 2020 elections at the state and local levels.
The presidential preference primary and special election will be held on March 24.
The Muscogee County School District is also scheduled to hold an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum on the same day. It’s expected to raise $189 million over five years to fund capital projects for the school system.
The general primary election and nonpartisan general election will be held May 19, with a runoff set for July 21.
The general election will be Nov. 3, with a runoff date of Dec. 1.
Also on the general election ballot, Columbus Council is expecting to hold a special purpose local option sales tax referendum, which could raise $350 million over a 10-year-period for capital projects including a new Government Center.
If both this tax and the ESPLOST are approved, taxpayers would see a 9% sales tax starting in April 2021, the highest ever for Columbus and one of the highest rates in the state.
The Gainesville Times writes about projects remaining from the last Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The $2.35 million [Hog Mountain / Cash Road] improvement is one of Hall County’s remaining special purpose local option sales tax projects before SPLOST VIII, approved by voters in November, kicks in July 1.
The county still has about $33.5 million in unfinished projects from SPLOST VII, ranging from road work to fire stations and park renovations. The projects are either underway or in various planning stages.
SPLOST, which became a taxing method for governments through a state law passed in 1985, is a 1% sales tax, or a penny on the dollar, with proceeds divided between the county and its cities. The money can only be used for capital projects, not for funding operations.
SPLOST VII was approved by voters in March 2015, and collections started that summer. It was projected to generate $158 million. As of Nov. 30, $141.6 million had been collected; collections continue until June 30.
Former Chatham County Commission Chair Billy Hair will run for a chance to return to the commission, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Hair called the commission chairmanship the job he held for eight years, before being term-limited out, and said his experience is needed to run a government with 1,600 employees and a budget of $230 million.
“If there was ever a time for experienced leadership, it’s now,” Hair said. “Why now? My experience matches up with the job perfectly.”
And he said he sold his last business in April and has the time it will take to be chairman, which he called a full time job.
“I don’t think we need to raise the millage (rate),” he said. “We all have to stay within our budgets so why shouldn’t the government stay within its budget?
Shalena Cook Jones announced she will run for Chatham County District Attorney, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Jones began her professional career in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office as a third-year law student in 2001-04. In the 17 years since ,she has practiced with two prominent insurance defense firms in Atlanta, as a private practitioner, as an assistant U.S. attorney and has successfully prosecuted Special Victims Unit cases in the Chatham County District Attorney’s office where she started in 2010. She left in 2014 to open her own firm.
District Attorney Meg Heap said she intends to seek re-election and plans a formal announcement by mid-January. Attorney Zena McClain has filed paperwork with the state and plans to formally announce for the position within the coming weeks.
Three candidates have announced so far for the Cobb County Board of Education seat currently held by Republican David Banks, according to the AJC.
Shelley O’Malley, Rob Madayag and Matt Harper have all launched bids to challenge incumbent David Banks for the Post 5 seat, which is in east Cobb and includes some of the schools that feed into the Pope and Lassiter high school boundaries. Banks, who has been in office since January 2009, has not formally announced if he’s running for re-election.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will run for reelection in 2021, according to the AJC.
Floyd County Superior Court candidate Bryan Johnson heads into 2020 with $50k on-hand, according to the Rome News Tribune.
Bryan Johnson, who’s seeking the seat being vacated by Chief Judge Bryant Durham, filed his report with the State Ethics Commission Jan. 2. It lists contributions and expenditures through Dec. 31.
Johnson reported a total of $51,032 in donations and $899 in expenses, giving him a balance of $50,133.
Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach’s seat will be on the nonpartisan ballot with Durham’s in May. Niedrach reported $46.43 in his campaign account as of June 30, 2019 — typical for local judges who rarely face a challenger. Durham, who is retiring at the end of the year, reported no money in his account as of June 30.
District Attorney Leigh Patterson’s four-year term is also ending this year. The longtime prosecutor reported $522 in her campaign chest as of June 30.
United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is hiring senior staff in Georgia for her Presidential campaign, according to the AJC.
The Massachusetts Democrat’s new hires will initially focus on metro Atlanta and Columbus, the campaign said, though it plans to open offices or place staffers in Savannah, Augusta and Athens ahead of Georgia’s March 24 primary.
The team will be led by Anthony Davis Jr., who worked for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ 2017 campaign in Alabama and Bobby Kaple’s 6th District run in 2018.
The campaign tapped Edima Ufot, a veteran of the New Georgia Project voter registration initiative, as its community organizing director.
And it hired two veterans of Stacey Abrams’ run for governor for key roles: Jasmine Talley will oversee Warren’s outreach efforts in north Georgia, and Bev Jackson will coordinate Warren’s push to reach churches.
Floyd County Public Schools expects to take a $2.5 million dollar annual budget hit from a power plant closing, according to the Rome News Tribune.
School systems are funded by property taxes, and Plant Hammond, according to Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne, was the county’s largest taxpayer prior to closing.
With the plant no longer operating, the property value will go down significantly, affecting school budgets.
“There’s no way to replace that (tax revenue),” Payne said previously. “They are our largest taxpayer and there’s nobody close.”
It’s also likely that Rome City Schools will lose some money due to the closure of the power plant. It may not be as substantial as what the county is facing since most public utilities are used by the county and not the city.
The Albany Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is scheduled for February 6, according to the Albany Herald.
Dave Williams of Capitol Beat News Service looks at legislative attempts to corral e-scooters.
A state Senate study committee has released a report recently on how to approach the issue that is expected to become the starting point for a bill lawmakers will consider during the 2020 session that kicks off Jan. 13.
The panel’s recommendations seek to balance concerns for public safety driven by an explosion of e-scooters in Atlanta and its suburbs with a desire to encourage an industry with potential to help alleviate the metro region’s chronic traffic woes.
“I’m not against some common-sense regulations,” said Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, the study committee’s chairman. “But we need to create innovation. … There’s an opportunity here for Georgia to offer a private-sector solution to a problem that’s been around for years.”
Georgia cities’ reactions to the sudden proliferation of e-scooters reflects the uncertainty surrounding the technology. While Atlanta, Brookhaven and Decatur allow scooters, 12 cities have either banned them outright or imposed a temporary moratorium on scooters while elected officials consider how to regulate them.
State Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) warned local elected officials that a statewide preemption bill addressing building codes may be resurrected this session, according to the Rome News Tribune.
The [Rome] city commission passed a resolution last February that helped stall House Bill 302. But Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, told them they might want to think about submitting another resolution this year to join other cities combating a strong lobbying effort for the bill.
The legislation — said to champion affordable housing — would apply to both single-family homes and duplexes outside historic districts. It would bar local governments from enacting standards on building color, cladding material such as vinyl siding, architectural ornamentation, the location of doors, windows, garages and other design elements.
“HB 302 would severely erode the ability of all 538 Georgia cities and 159 counties to address unique and community-specific quality of life issues,” last year’s resolution stated.
State Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) writes about issues that might arise during the 2020 legislative session, in the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
Given the upcoming election cycle, with primaries in May, we expect a quick but productive 40 legislative days in Atlanta.