The blog.

8
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 8, 2019

Clyde Toccoa

Clyde is a male coonhound mix who is available for adoption from the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter in Toccoa, GA.

Genny Puppy

Genny is a female Labrador Retriever and Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Charles Smithgall Humane Society and Adoption Center in Sautee-Nacoochee, GA.

Winifred Clarkesville

Winifred is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

8
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 8, 2019

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote about what Aaron meant to baseball and America.

As the last major league player who was a part of the Negro leagues, he was one of the game’s most prominent bridges to integration. For 23 years on the field, this humble native of Mobile, Ala., represented the game with unfailing grace, overcoming obstacles that most of us could not even imagine. In the years since then, Hank has remained one of the most distinguished and revered figures in American public life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzWHOkE4FoM

Aaron himself spoke to the Associated Press about the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Aaron’s record-breaking homer will be celebrated tonight before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener against the New York Mets.

Hate mail and threats made it impossible for him to savor the chase of Ruth’s revered record, but on Monday he said he’ll enjoy the anniversary because such old friends as former teammate Dusty Baker will return for the pregame ceremony.

Aaron, 80, said he has a greater appreciation for fans who still celebrate his career.

“It does. It means an awful lot to me,” Aaron said.

“I’m not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”

The Braves will wear an Aaron 40th anniversary patch on their uniform sleeves this season. An outfield sign at Turner Field also will mark the anniversary.

Before hitting the homer into the Braves’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall, Aaron told [Dusty] Baker what was about to happen.

“That I can remember like it was yesterday,” Baker said. “It was a cold, cold night in April. Hank told me, ‘I’m going to get this over with now.’ He knew every pitch that was coming. He had total recall of pitch sequences. He was as smart as they came.”

Aaron confirmed Baker’s tale on Monday: “I think that was right. I think I made that remark and made it to Dusty maybe three or four times. I just felt within myself that eventually before the night was over I was going to hit a home run.”

Kurt Cobain was found dead by his own hand on April 8, 1994.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

A local variation of the “no white before Easter” rule was proposed, which I can support. It holds that the wearing of white may commence in Augusta, Georgia, upon the opening of the Masters Tournament. This begins with the practice rounds, which started today.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed twenty one bills on Sine Die, April 2d.

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed several bills ahead of the General Assembly’s adjournment sine die. Governor Kemp signed House Bills 21, 50, 51, 52, 54, 217, 284, 285, 304, 306, 316, 559, 574, 590, 597, 601, 602, 603, 607, 622, and 632.

Once the Georgia General Assembly adjourns sine die, the Governor has forty days to review a bill or resolution intended to have the effect of law and sign, veto, or take no action on the measure, allowing it to become law. The last day for the Governor to sign or veto a bill or resolution is May 12, 2019.

On February 15, Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 25 – his first as Georgia’s 83rd Governor – to improve school bus safety for families and children across the Peach State. On March 12, Governor Kemp signed House Bill 30, the amended fiscal year 2019 budget. On March 27, the Governor signed the Patients First Act – Senate Bill 106.

On the same day, Gov. Kemp signed an Executive Order suspending Thomasville Mayor Greg Hobbs after Hobbs was indicted.

The Ledger-Enquirer fawns over former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is considering a campaign for United States Senate.

Teresa Pike [later Tomlinson] became a Republican, thanks to Max Davis, as all she knew of politics at the time was what she saw as a child.

She took part in student government before she graduated in 1983 from Chamblee High School and went off to school at Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, Va., and later to law school at Atlanta’s Emory University.

“As a young person, I worked in the U.S. Senate, actually, for Sen. John Warner,” she said during an interview Thursday with the Ledger-Enquirer. Warner was a five-term Republican senator from Virginia, serving from 1979 to 2009. “I volunteered for his office, as a college student. I was actually on the payroll of Reagan-Bush, 1984. I was the only female member of quote, ‘Youth for Reagan.’ … I stuffed a lot of envelopes for Mack Mattingly.”

Tomlinson became disenchanted with the Republican Party’s shift to the right during the 1980s, and soon decided she didn’t fit there.

“I just can’t abide intolerance,” she said. “I think it’s antithetical to our concept of all men are created equal, and so I just fell out of step with them, related to that. What was most troubling to me was that the Republican Party came to use race, sexual orientation, religion, as a divisive means to get out the vote, and I thought that was just particularly cynical.”

Read more here: https://www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/politics-government/election/article228884009.html#storylink=cpy

The Associated Press looks at what the 2019 Session of the General Assembly left for later.

Several of Kemp’s main priorities — including teacher pay raises, a restrictive abortion ban and a Medicaid waiver authorization — translated into legislative action and were passed by the General Assembly.

But several other proposals introduced by lawmakers failed to move forward before the session’s end this past Tuesday. They include enhanced penalties for hate crimes, greater protections for actions driven by religious belief, a state takeover of Atlanta’s airport, and a 20-year extension on a jet fuel tax exemption.

A hate crimes bill that would have added penalties for those convicted of targeting certain groups passed the state House in March but failed to gain traction in the Senate amid concerns that crime victims wouldn’t be treated equally under the statute.

A plan for the state to take control of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport passed the Senate in early March, but encountered skepticism in the House amid strong opposition from city officials.

Former United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) doesn’t miss Washington, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Chambliss, who now works with a prestigious Atlanta-based law firm with a global reach, said he doesn’t particularly miss the hustle and bustle of Washington, especially in its current state of extreme partisanship. The former Georgia senator said when he announced in 2014 that he would not seek re-election that the unwillingness of members of the different political parties to work together was one of the primary reasons he was leaving politics behind.

“I don’t really miss Washington,” Chambliss said. “I do, however, miss working behind the scenes with friends and colleagues to push through legislation that was important to the American people. There just got to be less and less of that, as the members of the two parties refused to work together. It quit being about the American people, and that’s why I got into politics.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations of forgery and blackmail in Port Wentworth, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The investigation involves an alleged letter that Port Wentworth City Council member Debbie Johnson said had been left at her home. Johnson informed the council and mayor of the letter via email dated March 13. Johnson’s emails were obtained by the Savannah Morning News through the Georgia Open Records Act. The open records request was made for Councilman Thomas Barbee’s emails. Johnson’s email had been sent to Barbee, the mayor and other council members from her Savannahga.gov work email account.

In the email to council members and the mayor, Johnson said the letter contained an accusation against the city attorney, James Coursey Jr.

Port Wentworth Mayor Gary Norton declined to answer questions Friday regarding the contents of the letter or any other questions about the investigation.

“I don’t think I can given the ongoing investigation,” Norton said.

A panel gathered in Savannah to discuss race relations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The panel of five included Lisa Ring, the 2020 Democratic challenger for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District; John McMasters, a former Chatham County Commissioner; Jolene Byrne, a former Savannah-Chatham County School Board president; Terry Tolbert, the chairman of the Chatham County Board of Assessors; and Ricardo Manuel, Pastor at Second Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

At the start of the meeting, Lawrence Bryan III referenced a March 27 meeting which featured two black Savannah mayoral candidates.

Signs reading “Black press only” were hung on the doors of the church where the March 27 meeting was held, and white reporters were barred from entry. Black reporters for at least two local television stations were permitted inside.

“I think the city needs this, especially in the wake of what happened,” Lawrence Bryan III said on Sunday. “What happened was tragic, in the sense that Van Johnson and Teddy Williams had a bad day. They made a mistake. Neither of those guys is racist.”

The Mayor and City Council of Statesboro have filled out their brackets and reached the final four of city manager applicants, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap‘s office is asking to remove Chatham County Superior Court Judge John E. Morse Jr. from consideration of some cases, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Morse’s “desire to control the district attorney’s office and do things the way he wants them done” has shown a “bias that has already affected his decision-making in these cases,” Thompson said.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap and her assistants are attempting to remove Morse, who is a former assistant district attorney in Chatham County, from presiding at the trials of two defendants because of what the contend it is a “systematic bias” against their office and in favor of the defense in each case.

[Assistant District Attorney Brad] Thompson emphasized that the challenge involves only those two cases and that any finding in those cases cannot be used in any other criminal cases before Morse.

The Glynn County Board of Elections will discuss applicants for supervisor of elections and registration, according to The Brunswick News.

The state is still in the purchasing process [for new voting machines] and hasn’t made a decision on which machines to buy, said Patricia Gibson, the board’s chairwoman. She doesn’t expect the decision to be made for another few weeks.

“Until we know that, we really are kind of in limbo,” Gibson said. “I did learn at the end of the conference that they have selected 12 sites of municipal elections to use the machines (the state selects). We volunteered, but we aren’t one of those … If one is near enough to us, then we would certainly try to send someone just to see how they do.”

In other business, the board plans to talk about applications for the elections and registration supervisor role in a closed session.

“Applications have been closed, and each of the (board) members has a copy of the applications,” Gibson said. “We will be going into executive session and determining which ones the board wants to interview.”

State Rep. Pedro Marin (D-Norcross) told the Gwinnett Daily Post he will not run for the seventh Congressional district seat being vacated by Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Suburbia).

“During the 2019 legislative session, we saw efforts to undermine local control and deny Gwinnett voters a meaningful opportunity to vote on expanding transit,” Marin said. “We also saw an unprecedented attack on the constitutional rights of women and passage of vulnerable voting machines that threatens the integrity of our elections.

“It is clear that we need greater accountability in the Georgia House and leaders who will advocate for the best interest of those they serve, rather than their personal ideology or political ambitions.”

The open congressional race has already attracted Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux, Snellville attorney Marqus Cole, former Fulton County commission chairman John Eaves and Nabilah Islam, who was Hillary Clinton’s Southern States deputy finance director in 2016, on the Democratic side.

No Republican candidate has officially announced a run for the seat or has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to pursue the office.

The Oglethorpe Power Board of Directors reelected Chairman Bobby C. Smith and Vice Chair Marshall S. Millwood, according to the Gainesville Times.

Rome City Commission will hear the State of the City presented by City Manager Sammy Rich tonight, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

5
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 5, 2019

Daisy PAWS

Daisy is an adult female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Kahlua PAWS

Kahlua is a mixed breed female dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Colby PAWS

Colby is a male Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

5
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 5, 2019

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

On April 7, 1776, the United States warship Lexington captured a British warship, HMS Edward, for the first time.

The_Lexington_-_NARA_-_513013_628

On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what is currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA.

Georgia Map 1795

Above: a 1795 map showing Georgia extending west to Louisiana. “These Parts are little known.”

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when the US House of Representatives voted 373-50 on a declaration of war that passed the Senate two days earlier.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.

On April 5, 1968, amid racial tension following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., musician James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 6, 1968.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.

On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.

On April 7, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting begins Monday, April 8, 2019 in the runoff election for Atlanta City Council District 3, according to Under the Georgia Sun.

Next week Fulton County voters can cast their ballots early for the City of Atlanta Council District 3 Special Election Runoff at the Fulton County Government Center, at 130 Peachtree Street, SW, Atlanta 30303.

The one polling location will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Monday, April 8 and continuing through Friday April 12.

President Donald Trump will appoint Herman Cain to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, according to the Associated Press.

“I’ve told my folks that’s the man,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, saying that Cain is currently going through background checks prior to a formal nomination.

“He’s a very terrific man, a terrific person. He’s a friend of mine,” Trump said. “I have recommended him highly for the Fed.”

The choice of Cain would mark the second Trump nomination that would elevate a conservative Trump ally to the Fed’s main policy-making body, a panel that the president has been highly critical of in recent months.

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson filed to run for United States Senate, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is planning to take the first official steps today toward challenging Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue in the 2020 election, according to an exclusive interview Thursday with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

“We’ll be taking this time, of course, to talk with people, citizens. I’ll also be talking with donors, setting up our team and laying a strong foundation for a successful candidacy, should Stacey Abrams, who, of course, is also looking at this seat, not run.”

Will your plans change if Abrams enters the race?

“Well, we’re still in the exploratory committee, obviously. That’s what we’re attempting to all coordinate through staying in touch, is making sure that everyone’s interest is being served. The major objective, of course, is getting the best representation for the state of Georgia that we possibly can in the U.S. Senate, and certainly the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wants to make sure that they have a strong Democratic candidate in that race. And so we’re trying to allow Stacey to finish her book tour, which is very exciting. We’re very proud of what she’s doing. It’s a strong Georgia voice on a national stage, and at the same time, make sure we’ve laid that groundwork that’s so necessary to have a successful campaign.”

So you can’t say that you would drop out, if she got in?

“Well, I think if she got in, she’s clearly the Democratic Party’s selected candidate for this particular race. It’s been offered to her by the minority leader, very publicly. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been in the press and that they themselves have not stated publicly. That position’s been offered to her, should she want it. And you know, Stacey Abrams and I have been in the trenches of Democratic politics in the state of Georgia for a very long time, and we’re excited about the fact that finally all this hard work is paying off. It is a two-party state, and we are well poised to have a Democratic senator in the United States Senate from Georgia. So we want to make sure that we’re not working against each other, or that our efforts are not colliding in that shared objective.

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux says she has raised more than $350,000 toward her next bid for the Seventh Congressional District, according to The Hill.

By comparison, Bordeaux raised $219,545 in the first quarter of 2018, a midterm election year.

Bourdeaux’s campaign said that the first-quarter total came from more than 1,000 individual contributions and brings her total cash on hand to nearly $400,000. Bourdeaux started the quarter with just under $142,000 in her campaign account.

“I’m incredibly grateful to our supporters who have put us in a strong position as we kick off this campaign,” Bourdeaux said in a statement.

“Together, we’re sending a strong message that we are tired of partisan divisions and gridlock holding us back, and we’re ready to forge a new path forward to get things done for our communities. We have a long way to go, but this is the start of a movement to finish the job.”

John Eaves, a former Fulton County Commission chairman, filed paperwork last month with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy. And two others, attorney Marqus Coles and activist Nabilah Islam, have also announced campaigns for the Democratic nomination in the district.

Candidates have until April 15 to file their first-quarter fundraising reports with the FEC. But campaigns can choose to put out their fundraising totals themselves.

From the Forsyth County News:

Bourdeaux outpaced primary challenger Nabilah Islam, who raised more than $100,000 from more than 500 individual contributions since announcing her campaign in late February, according to her campaign.

Fellow Democratic candidate Marqus Cole hadn’t disclosed his first-quarter fundraising figures as of Wednesday. Candidates are required to file first-quarter fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by April 15.

The race figures to attract national attention in 2020 after Bourdeaux’s near-miss attempt last November. In her first run for office, the Georgia State University professor came 419 votes shy of defeating Woodall, who has held the seat since 2011. The razor-thin margin allowed Bourdeaux to seek a recount under Georgia law, which she eventually lost.

To Democrats, it was a sign that the traditionally-conservative district formed by the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties is part of a recent demographic shift observed in other metro Atlanta suburbs. They hope to follow the 6th District, another longtime Republican stronghold that saw political newcomer Lucy MacBath defeat incumbent Karen Handel in 2018 as part of the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.

Democrats are eager for the 2020 rematch, particularly after Woodall announced on Feb. 7 that he would not seek re-election. Within minutes, Bourdeaux she would run again.

The Washington Times has a collection of twelve times Stacey Abrams complained about the 2018 Georgia election results.

The Port of Savannah notched more records in March, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Rail and containerized cargo volumes continue to grow at the Port of Savannah with records set in March, both in time and quantity.

“I would like to thank our employees at GPA, the stevedores and the International Longshoremen’s Association for helping to make this accomplishment possible,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director. “To have handled this level of intermodal volume, while reducing the time it takes for a container to move between rail and vessel operations, is a big win for our customers. We are just beginning to see this port’s capabilities.”

The port handled more than 410,000 20-foot container units, or TEUs in March. That is an increase of 15.5 percent, according to the GPA.

Rail volumes jumped by 26 percent, for a total of 82,135 TEUs.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Director Thomas Walters discussed the center’s economic impact on Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

Established in Brunswick in 1975, the center’s staff of more than 2,400 employees trains anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 students every day, with more than 35,000 graduates expected over the next five years.

An estimated $11 million in small business contracts are awarded each year, supporting the local economy even more.

The center has housing but an estimated 800 trainees stay in local motels and hotels at any given time, generating lots of business for local merchants. Tourist season can be problematic, with some trainees having to stay in rooms as far as Savannah and Jacksonville, he said.

Rome City Commissioners discussed attracting development at a retreat, according to the Rome News Tribune.

4
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 4, 2019

Loretta ACR

Loretta is a female Black and Tan Coonhound & German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

Pippa ACR

Pippa is a female Husky and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

Edna ACR

Edna is a young female Boston Terrier & English Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

4
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 4, 2019

On April 4, 1776, General George Washington began marching his troops from Cambridge, Massachusetts to New York, in anticipation of an invasion by the British.

President William Henry Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, a month after his inauguration.

At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.

On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured Richmond, Virginia the day after the Confederate Capitol fell to Union forces.

On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis. James Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714, tying Babe Ruth’s record.

On April 4, 1988, the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was recognized as the official state butterfly of Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves played their first game in Turner Field on April 4, 1997, defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-4. Denny Neagle started on the mound for the Braves and Mark Wohlers earned a save. Atlanta’s Michael Tucker hit the first homerun in the new stadium.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she will decide this month whether to challenge U.S. Senator David Perdue, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said Thursday that she wants to make a decision this month about running for a U.S. Senate seat from her home state and thinks she could hold off on making a decision about running for president until this fall.

Abrams, who narrowly lost her race for Georgia governor last year, has been publicly mulling her options for next year.

“My first responsibility is to decide whether a Senate run is right for me,” Abrams said during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that she is trying to determine if the Senate is “the right job that I need to hold.”

If she forgoes the Senate race, Abrams said she thinks she could wait until September to enter the race for the White House.

Abrams also has some salty words for Governor Brian Kemp, who whipped won the 2018 election, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp a “cartoon villain” and said her former opponent from the 2018 midterm elections is an “architect of voter suppression.”

In her remarks at the National Action Network Convention in New York, Abrams said that, because Kemp was the Georgia secretary of state during the race, he was “the referee, the contestant and the score keeper” for the 2018 gubernatorial election.

“I’m a good lawyer, and I understand that the law of the land said that Brian Kemp became the governor that day. And I acknowledge that,” Abrams said. “But you can’t trick me into saying it was right. And you can’t shame me into saying what happened should’ve happened because in the state of Georgia black people faced hours long lines of up to four hours waiting to cast their ballots.”

“While I haven’t decided what I’m running for next, our experiment proves that identity politics works,” Abrams said, referring to her 2018 campaign.

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 316, to replace Georgia’s voting machines, according to the AJC.

His office said in a notice posted on his website Wednesday that Kemp inked the bill, along with 20 lower-profile measures, on Tuesday during the last day of the legislative session.

The overhaul was introduced with Kemp’s blessing after his narrow election victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who cast the Republican as an “architect of voter suppression” and accused him of creating barriers to ballot access.

Kemp and other Republicans supported the new system as a more accurate way to count votes, saying they’re easy to use and provide a paper record to verify vote counts. They were also strongly supported by government workers experienced in running elections.

The measure passed the House and Senate mostly on a party line vote and approved in time to allow the system to be in place for next year’s presidential election, when the state’s 7 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots.

House Bill 353 by State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) passed when the House agreed to the Senate Substitute and creates a new crime, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, a Republican from Dalton, says the proposed changes are an attempt to keep rising auto insurance rates in check in Georgia. The bill would make it a felony offense to either intentionally cause an automobile collision or attempt to manufacture evidence for a wreck that never happened.

“This is an important piece to deter this crime,” Carpenter said to his colleagues Tuesday, which was the last day of this year’s legislative session.

Staging a wreck and cashing in on the insurance payout has become a problem for rental companies in particular. U-Haul, for one, has flagged Georgia as the state with the second most incidents reported within the company.

But several lawmakers were hesitant to send someone to prison for five to 20 years for a staged wreck involving any injury. That was dialed back to two to 10 years, and the injury would have to be serious. Offenses without an injury could yield a prison sentence of one to five years.

Dalton Utilities failed to receive an exemption from requirements for a referendum before incurring bonded debt, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

That version initially cleared the House late Tuesday night by a single vote, only for it to lose minutes later by seven votes after Rep. Jason Ridley, a Republican from Chatsworth, pressed for a redo. Ridley has long objected to the proposal, comparing it to giving the city-run utility a blank check for Plant Vogtle.

Dalton Utilities owns a 1.6 percent stake in the ongoing expansion of the nuclear power plant, which is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. The utility has said it does not plan to borrow money to cover its share of the work.

“While (the bill) was not specific to Georgia Power or the Vogtle project, the legislation would have benefitted our other utility partners in Georgia,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Proponents have argued that the change would level the playing field with other utilities that do not have to hold a public referendum before borrowing money for electric-related projects. Dalton Utilities, they noted often, also does not have to call a public vote on other types of borrowing.

“Needless to say we are very disappointed in the outcome of this important legislative measure to Dalton Utilities and our customers,” [Dalton Utility's CEO Tom] Bundros said in a statement. “The defeated legislation would have placed Dalton Utilities on parity with all of the electric providers in the state of Georgia that do NOT have to seek a voter referendum to issue revenue bonds to acquire electric generating and transmission assets to serve their customers.”

House Bille 445, revamping shore protection laws, passed the House and Senate, according to The Brunswick News.

House Bill 445 — a Shore Protection Act revision years in the making — barely cleared its last hurdle Tuesday in the state House of Representatives, with a 93-75 vote.

Earlier in the day, it had to pass the Senate, where it was introduced by state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah.

“This law, when passed in 1979, established the presence of a 20-foot-tall tree, or a building older than 1979, to determine the jurisdictional area used to protect dunes,” Watson said. “However, as times has gone on, with storms and other factors, the use of the 20-foot-tall tree simply does not work anymore. You have trees that are particularly far inland….that require property owners to be in regulation who have no impact on the dune system, and for the (state Department of Natural Resources) to administer this, they literally visit every site with a 20-foot-tall stick to measure trees.

“House Bill 445 fixes this flawed methodology by removing the use of the tree and instead using the features of our coast to determine what is and what is not in jurisdiction. This is a much more consistent method that makes it easier for the department to administer this law and makes it easier for the property owners to understand where they are regulated or not, while still offering our coast protection.”

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said state governments could still use zoning laws to express their will. He also took exception with some of the criticism of dune crossovers as they would be permitted.

“Crosswalks can actually protect the dunes because you’re walking over them,” Ligon said. “When you don’t have a crosswalk, people walk and they trample them down and then that dune system is actually damaged. To do what we’ve been asked to do on this minority report is actually detrimental to our sand dune system.”

The Senate gave its OK with a vote of 35-21.

From the Savannah Morning News:

If signed as expected by Gov. Brian Kemp, H.B. 445 would create a 25-foot regulated zone between private beachfront development and the landward reach of the sand dune or from the high tide line on beaches without dunes. The 25-foot line would be measured from a functional seawall or bulkhead where those exist.

Environmentalists lobbied for a wider regulated zone to protect the publicly owned beach as well as the private property owners.

The bill also makes it easier for beachfront property owners to build “minor” projects such as patios, landscaping and dune crossovers by allowing the Department of Natural Resources commissioner to approve such projects without the public review previously required.

The successful version of the bill also did not include the original version’s exemption for Sea Island, where developers are planning to build luxury homes on a thin stretch of the island called the Spit, which is so vulnerable to storms and erosion that it does not qualify for federal flood insurance. That exemption was removed from the bill after a report in the Brunswick News made it clear Sea Island Company was involved in writing the exemption.

House Bill 734 would create a state censorship journalism ethics board, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Six Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives, including one from Gwinnett County, filed legislation to create a board that would oversee journalists across the state as legislators closed out this year’s legislative session Tuesday.

The “Ethics in Journalism Act,” officially known as House Bill 734, would create a “Journalism Ethics Board” and mandate journalists and news outlets make copies of their notes and recordings from interviews, as well as their photographs, available free of cost upon request by the person interviewed.

The bill was filed Tuesday by state Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, who announced the same day that he would resign from office after the General Assembly wrapped up its 2019 legislative session — which ended Tuesday.

Co-sponsors on the bill include: state Reps. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville; Ron Stephens, R – Savannah; Mark Newton, R – Augusta; Rick Jasperse, R – Jasper; and Mike Cheokas, R – Americus.

The board would also be authorized to create a voluntary accreditation process in which journalists and news organizations would have to “demonstrate compliance with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity in journalism” to gain accreditation. The board would also have the authority to investigate and sanction accredited journalists or news organizations if it feels they have acted unethically.

Punishments could include probation, public reprimand, private reprimand and loss or suspension of accreditation.

House Bill 324, the marijuana cultivation bill, will be signed by Governor Kemp, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Cody Hall, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, said Wednesday morning he’ll sign the bill into law.

The legislation, HB 324, closes loopholes created from a 2015 act that legalized the use of low-THC cannabis oil for certain medical conditions but did not allow for the growing, selling or possession of the oil in the state.

The new bill would allow for the “production, manufacturing, and dispensing” as well as the possession of low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia. It would also set up a state commission to oversee the industry and license universities and private companies that could produce the oil. The bill would also allow the state to license pharmacies and private companies that would sell low-THC cannabis oil to medical marijuana patients.

An amendment limiting Gwinnett County’s ability to call for a re-do on the MARTA referendum was pulled from consideration, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The proposal from the six Republicans in Gwinnett’s majority-Democrat House Delegation would have barred county leaders from calling for another vote on MARTA until after Jan. 1, 2026. It was the Republicans’ response to the defeat of a MARTA referendum held in Gwinnett on March 19.

Amid several changes designed to add new stuff to the legislation, the section dealing with Gwinnett was taken out, according to state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula.

“There are many components to Senate Bill 200 right now, but the language with respect to Gwinnett is not in the bill,” Efstration said.

“At this point in time, it appears that the commission will make a decision as to whether to call for another voter, and I am hopeful that the commission will respect the voice of the voters as demonstrated March 19 in the referendum,” Efstration said.

The City of Gainesville will take over the Olympic rowing venue under legislation passed by the General Assembly, according to the Gainesville Times.

The state legislature has approved the city of Gainesville’s requests to annex Lake Lanier Olympic Park and to increase the city’s hotel-motel tax from 6% to 8%.

The Senate approved the proposals late Tuesday, the last day of the legislative session. The House of Representatives had approved the park annexation on March 28 and the tax increase on March 26.

All of Hall’s state representatives supported both measures. State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, voted in favor of both, while State Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, who represents part of Hall, did not vote either time.

Gainesville hopes to use the additional revenue from the hotel-motel tax increase to fund improvements at the park, including new restrooms, a pavilion and renovations at the boathouse.

Seniors may receive assistance in staying in their homes under a program included in the state budget, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Advocates for Georgia seniors said Wednesday the 2019 legislative session was a big win, with an additional $5.6 million committed to services that protect the safety and independence of the elderly.

“Every extra dollar of money that was approved is so appreciated and so needed,” said Lynne Reeves, director of the Northwest Georgia Area Agency on Aging.

“Many of our seniors need just a small helping hand and, no doubt, thousands of them will be better off under the 2020 state budget.”

Some of the new money will go to boost home- and community-based care. There also are earmarks for home-delivered meals, assistive technology and a resource network connecting aging adults to local resources and support.

Money also was added to hire 22 additional caseworkers to address elder abuse complaints and to advocate for older adults without guardians.

Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, issued a statement thanking Gov. Brian Kemp and lawmakers for addressing the needs of the state’s 1.3 million seniors.

House Resolution 48 opposes some offshore energy exploration techniques, according to The Brunswick News.

Language in resolutions against seismic airgun testing and offshore drilling, despite not having any force of law, nevertheless took nearly two whole sessions of the state legislature before it got a vote in either chamber. That changed Tuesday, the last day of the 2019 session, when the state House of Representatives passed House Resolution 48 by a vote of 125-36.

State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, in presenting the bill, said to Rules Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, “Mr. Chairman, H.R. 48 is the most comprehensive anti-drilling and anti-seismic-testing resolution that we’ve had to date, and we’ve got the coastal delegation — those that are here — to sign that.”

State Rep. Carl Wayne Gilliard, D-Savannah — the lead sponsor of the resolution — introduced it on the House floor. He said it’s meant to show the intention of the coastal delegation to protect around 1.1 billion jobs involved in fisheries, tourism and related industries.

“We’re just standing united for Georgia’s coast, urging that there are no efforts of seismic testing or offshore drilling,” Gilliard said.

The Rome News Tribune writes about education legislation that passed the Georgia legislature.

[B]ills that have been passed by the house and senate include a $3,000 state-wide raise for teachers, mandatory recess for elementary students in kindergarten as well as first- through fifth-grades and required computer science classes for middle and high schools.

The $3,000 pay raise was called a down payment by Kemp, who promised a $5,000 raise across the board once he was elected. The standing governor announced the raise on Jan. 17 along with $30,000 to each school to be used for security purposes. The budget containing these two items has been passed by the house and senate and await Kemp’s signature.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, state schools will be required to give kindergarten through fifth-grade students a daily recess providing around 30 minutes of outdoor time. Schools are not required to give students recess if they have physical education or other activities scheduled for the day according to the bill. The bill calls for local school boards to create their own policies regarding recess time for elementary school students.

The Georgia General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 108 which will now require middle and high schools to incorporate a computer science class into the curriculum. According to the bill less 0.5% of high school students take a computer science course. The bill says there is a growing number of computer science jobs in the state of Georgia, and the logical thinking taught in these classes has become valuable.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) has requested that Georgia be excluded from offshore energy development, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt, Carter wrote, “As the representative of the First District of Georgia, I was elected to represent the entire coast of our state and to be their voice in Washington.”

“As you know, the issue of offshore energy exploration off the Atlantic Coast has been raised, first by the Obama administration and now by the Trump administration. This is of great interest to the residents in the First District of Georgia as proposed plans have included opening the waters off our coast for possible energy exploration and development.”

“I understand the benefits that have been realized for local economies and tourism industries on the Gulf Coast due to offshore energy. I also understand the importance of offshore energy to an all-of-the-above energy strategy that is critical for our national defense as well as in our efforts to lower energy costs for Americans.”

“While I will continue to be an ardent supporter of American energy independence, I believe that the will of our state and local communities must be respected in a decision of this magnitude. That is why I want to bring to your attention a resolution that overwhelmingly passed in the Georgia House of Representatives this week opposing offshore energy development off Georgia’s coast. The resolution passed in the legislature this week was preceded by the approval of resolutions opposing offshore energy development by several municipalities.”

“Elected representatives of Georgia have voted, and I believe that the federal government should respect the people of Georgia to make this critical decision for themselves. That is why I write today to request that Georgia be excluded from offshore energy plans until the concerns of the legislature are addressed.”

Anthony Oliver, an announced candidate for Mayor of Savannah, was arrested and charged with stalking, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Anthony Oliver, who has declared his intent to run in the November election to be Savannah’s next mayor, was arrested Tuesday by Pooler police on aggravated stalking charges.

The arrest comes after a protective order against Oliver was issued in Effingham County Superior Court in September that prohibited him from contacting the petitioner or approaching her within 500 yards.

A restraining order had previously been issued against Oliver in California in 2004, according to the September order.

In June 2017, Oliver pleaded guilty in California Superior Court in San Diego to driving under the influence within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction and driving with a suspended license. His guilty plea stemmed from an incident that occurred Feb. 27, 2016, according to the court documents.

Macon-Bibb County declined an application by a movie theater for a license to sell alcohol, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The outcome of Tuesday night’s alcohol license vote means the company that operates the AmStar 16 Macon theater can appeal by requesting that a hearing be held. A special master would then issue a report that would come back to the County Commission for a decision.

Tuesday’s vote was 5-3 against granting the license. Commissioners Mallory Jones, Elaine Lucas, Joe Allen, Bert Bivins and Valerie Wynn opposed the license.

Mayor Robert Reichert told commissioners on different occasions that if a business meets the legal requirements for an alcohol license but it’s not approved, then “we could be opening ourselves up to a lawsuit,” said Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for public affairs.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, by early 2017 alcohol was already being sold at more than 400 locations of three largest movie chains in the U.S.

Columbus High School received one of six inaugural Military Flagship School Awards from the Georgia Department of Education, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

CHS principal Marvin Crumbs estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of the school’s 1,262 students have a parent on active duty in the military.

“When you travel from school to school, you want to feel safe,” Crumbs said. “We want to actually provide a home-like feeling while you’re at school. So we welcome them in, we meet their needs, and anything they need while they’re here we try to go above and beyond in making those things happen.”

The state awards reflect the important economic role that the military plays in Georgia. Rep. Dave Belton, Chair of the Military Affairs Working Group in the Georgia House, noted the military provides the state an average of an estimated $28 billion in annual economic impact.

“The Pentagon has repeatedly told us that education is their number-one issue when looking at bases,” Belton said in the GaDOEs news release. “That’s why I’m so excited about this Military Flagship program. This emphasis on military children will go a long way toward making Georgia the most military-friendly state in the nation. But most of all, it’s the right thing to do for the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our freedoms.”

Cleveland City Council placed a “brunch bill” referendum on the November 5 ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

Mayor Shan Ash read aloud the content of the ballot question:

“Shall the governing authority of the city of Cleveland, Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages, for the beverages purposes by the drink from 11 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.”

3
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 3, 2019

Roma Hero

Roma is a young female Border Collie and Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Pickle Hero

Pickle is a young male Cocker Spaniel puppy who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Deuce Hero

Deuce is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

3
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 3, 2019

Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on April 3, 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.

On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used.

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell.

On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”

“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday was “Sine Die,” the last day of the legislative session, at the conclusion of which each chamber votes to “adjourn sine die,” or without a date set for their next meeting. In typical Georgia fashion, it went right up to midnight. I’m exhausted and have a lot to do this morning, so I’ll be very brief today before starting in earnest to unpack what happened this Session.

WSB-TV has a story on what passed last night.

The medical marijuana bill would create a way for patients who are already allowed to use cannabis oil, a legal way to get it by having it grown and dispensed here in the state.

One of the most controversial bills, the “heartbeat” bill, which ould ban abortions in Georgia once a doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat, approximately six weeks into a pregnancy, passed the House and Senate earlier this week.

Some Hollywood stars and producers say the bill could impact future film and TV productions in the state.

The clock ran out, however, on legislation giving airlines a jet fuel tax break, creating new rural transit options and allowing the state to take over Atlanta’s airport.

A bill raising Georgia’s minimum marriage age to 17 is heading to Kemp’s desk after the House approved it by a vote of 155-14 on Tuesday.

From Georgia Public Broadcasting:

Georgia Senators have approved a bill that would give more than 8,000 patients access to medical marijuana.

It’s currently illegal to grow or sell the drug here but it is legal to use. The legislation calls for six commercial licenses for growers and one each for the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State.

The bill will allow pharmacies to serve as dispensaries. It must still be agreed on by the House.

SB 2 would allow electric membership corporations who sell power to customers to also offer internet service. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Brian Kemp addressed both the House and the Senate after dinner. He thanked them for their hard work and commended passage of the state’s budget. “I think all Georgians can be proud of this great state of Georgia and this body’s broad bi-partisan support on our balanced budget. So, congratulations to you all on that and I think that this is a budget that is putting Georgians first and that’s really the most important thing that we do here.”

From the AJC:

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp called it a “historic” legislative session.

“We’ve done a lot this session — a lot more than people thought I’d do,” he said. “I’m just doing what I told people I would do. And that’s what I heard from people during the campaign — they were starving for people to do what they told them they would actually do.”

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said: “We’ve had a good session. We have accomplished things that matter a lot to a lot of Georgians.”

The compromise on House Bill 324 provides several ways for Georgia’s 8,400 registered patients to buy medical marijuana oil, including through six private growing companies, state universities and pharmacies.

It’s unclear how many dispensaries would be allowed to sell medical marijuana oil. That would be determined by a state oversight commission. Smoking or eating marijuana would remain prohibited.

2
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 2, 2019

Winnipeg DGP

Winnipeg is a female Hound and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society Inc in Barnesville, GA.

Kalila DGP

Kalila is a female Boxer and Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society Inc in Barnesville, GA.

Pixie DGP

Pixie is a female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society Inc in Barnesville, GA.

2
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 2, 2019

On April 2, 1513, Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, claiming it for the Spanish crown. Today he is best-known in Georgia for giving his name to be mispronounced daily on a sketchy street in Atlanta. It is not known if he was wearing jean shorts, or if those were developed later. Georgians began mispronouncing his name immediately.

On April 2, 1917, Jeanette Rankin took office as the first woman elected to Congress, representing Montana.

Born on a ranch near Missoula, Montana Territory, in 1880, Rankin was a social worker in the states of Montana and Washington before joining the women’s suffrage movement in 1910. Working with various suffrage groups, she campaigned for the women’s vote on a national level and in 1914 was instrumental in the passage of suffrage legislation in Montana. Two years later, she successfully ran for Congress in Montana on a progressive Republican platform calling for total women’s suffrage, legislation protecting children, and U.S. neutrality in the European war. Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany.

On April 2, 1985, Governor Joe Frank Harris signed legislation recognizing the Right Whale as the official state marine mammal. Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tested a drone aircraft for use in conducting surveys of the aquatic population off the East Coast.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary could use it in a variety of ways, including sea turtle and right whale counts, he said. It could even give managers a better idea of how many boats are out in the sanctuary.

“It’s much cheaper than putting an aircraft or a boat out,” Sedberry said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the last day of the legislative session, according to AccessWDUN.

[T]here’s still plenty of legislation that could be considered on the last hectic day Tuesday.

That includes a bill that would allow in-state production of low-potency medical marijuana oil and another that would authorize a state takeover of Atlanta’s airport.

The airport is currently owned and operated by the city of Atlanta, and city officials strongly oppose a takeover. One recent version has the state taking an oversight role, rather than a full takeover.

There’s also a bill on the table that would increase the minimum marriage age from 16 to 17.

Senate Bill 56 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) aims to eliminate surprise medical billing, according to the Rome News Tribune.

[T]he measure is stalled in a House committee.

But its sponsor, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said he hasn’t given up on getting the provisions enacted this year. The Senate Finance Committee he chairs added the language to a House bill expanding tax credits for low-income housing projects. It was passed (again) by the full Senate Friday.

“The surprise billing is attached to HB 540 and back in the House,” Hufstetler said Monday. “We are requesting that the House be allowed to vote on it.”

Any measure that doesn’t pass by midnight can be rolled over to the 2020 session.

Legislation to allow local regulation of rental scooters hit a speedbump, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner, a Republican from Dawsonville, told the Senate Public Safety Committee recently that he’s putting off the proposed statewide rules for electric scooters until next year while negotiations with scooter companies continue.

The biggest problem is that users are “dumping them all over the place,” Commissioner Andy Herod previously said. “They are making private profit and the public is picking up the cost of having to deal with this.”

The legislation in the General Assembly would have banned people from parking scooters on sidewalks and in other locations that could hinder vehicles or pedestrians, among other restrictions.

Athens-Clarke County commissioners voted in December to impose a year-long ban on the electric scooters while they develop rules for dockless vehicles like the scooters. Once it adopts rules, the commission then plans to put out a request for proposals from scooter rental companies to participate in a pilot program.

The General Assembly approved legislation to improve education for students with dyslexia, according to the AJC.

Senate Bill 48, if signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, would eventually require dyslexia screening for every student starting in kindergarten. It also would pave the way for teacher training programs.

Experts estimate that 10 percent to 20 percent of the population has the condition. If so, then the reading condition afflicts anywhere from 175,000 to 350,000 of Georgia’s nearly 1.8 million public school students. Some say they have gotten little help in their schools.

Besides mandating screening for all kindergartners beginning in the fall of 2024, the legislation would set in motion changes in credentialing designed to encourage colleges to equip future teachers with the skills to recognize and deal with the condition. It would also establish training programs for current teachers.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, said school districts will only have to conduct the screening if the General Assembly gives them the money to do it. A study committee last summer estimated the screening cost at $8 or less per student, putting the total under $2 million a year. The legislation would also establish pilot programs in a handful of districts — in urban, suburban and rural settings — to test screening and teaching methods before the statewide implementation. Martin said the approach will likely evolve as the state gains knowledge about the condition.

Gwinnett County opposes an annexation by Norcross that would take the municipality across I-85, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county is fighting efforts by the city to use legislation to annex 2.8 square miles sandwiched between Interstate 85, Buford Highway, the county line and Jimmy Carter Boulevard. The annexation would be pending voter approval.

City officials have said they can provide improved services and that the area is one of the few, if not only, viable option to accommodate Norcross’ plans for expansion and meeting demands for services. County officials, however, have raised concerns about the size of the annexation area as well as its impact on a tax allocation district in the area and tax revenues used to pay for police services.

“It is the largest annexation by any Gwinnett city in my memory and will have significant impacts on residents, businesses and property owners in the area proposed for annexation, for those currently in the City of Norcross and for the majority of all within Gwinnett,” county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said in an email to the Daily Post.

“The County is opposed to this proposed annexation and has expressed that position to the Gwinnett Legislative Delegation.”

It is not clear if the annexation bill, House Bill 661, will make it out of the General Assembly by the end of Sine Die day — the last day of the 2019 legislative session — on Tuesday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Suburbia) talked to 11Alive about his last campaign.

“Ugliness sells,” said the Republican who has represented Georgia’s 7th District since 2011. “That is certainly what they teach you in campaign school.”

“I don’t have to beat down the other guy,” Woodall told 11Alive News. “I want it to be true that my opponent is always a very good man or woman with very bad ideas. And let’s have that conversation and see where the election falls.”

“Give credit where credit is due, and that goes to Stacey Abrams and her voter identification and turnout machine. She did an amazing job,” Woodall said.

He also describes the Democratic vote in 2018 as a “high water mark,” and predicts whichever Republican gets nominated in 2020 will win the 7th district seat. But it won’t be pretty.

Congressman Lucy McBath (D-Suburbia) was not a legal Georgia citizen when she was elected to Congress, according to Daily Caller.

Tax documents uncovered by The Washington Free Beacon reveal that Cobb County, Georgia, does not recognize the freshman congresswoman’s home as her permanent residence, and consequently, the county has revoked the homestead exemptions her family previously received.

McBath acknowledged during her campaign that she decided to run for Georgia’s sixth district while she was still living in Tennessee. Her Republican challenger, former Georgia Rep. Karen Handel, questioned how McBath and her husband, a permanent resident of Tennessee, were able to write off Cobb County taxes using the homestead exception, which allows permanent county residents to lower their property tax liability.

While McBath called the accusation “baseless,” the Cobb County tax commissioner is requiring the McBaths to pay back taxes for the past three years. A tax audit determined that the family was misusing the homestead exemption from 2015 though 2018 since they never qualified for it.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) introduced legislation to ease international adoptions, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Intercountry Adoption Information Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, would require the Secretary of State’s office to include in its annual report information about countries that have new policies or laws that reduce or prevent U.S. adoptions. The Department of State would also be required to include information on its efforts to encourage these countries to resume U.S. adoption.

“Millions of children at home and abroad are in need of a loving home, and families all across the globe are eager to provide them with the care and support they deserve,” Collins said in a statement. “The Intercountry Adoption Information Act will help bring families together by ensuring parents pursuing overseas adoption, like the Romano family, have access to the information required to navigate the international adoption landscape, and ultimately, to bring their children home.”

Collins is also taking the lead in addressing the Mueller report, according to the AJC.

Part honey, part vinegar would be one way to describe the strategy the Gainesville lawmaker has deployed since becoming the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican earlier this year. Collins, 52, describes it in slightly different terms: “offensive defense.”

The four-term congressman ascended to the role in part because of his bipartisan policy experience. But Collins has also aggressively fought Democrats’ investigations of the Trump administration, using procedural tactics and rhetorical flourishes to trip up their inquiries.

With special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe now completed, Collins has entered the biggest spotlight of his political career.

The fast-talking former lawyer has become a fixture on cable news shows, where he’s tenaciously defended the president and polished one-liners about what he’s labeled the Democratic “fishing expedition” into Trump’s background.

Columbus Government Center visitors must wear hard hats now, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Columbus Government Center’s continuing deterioration was evidenced again last week when ceiling tiles fell outside a courtroom on the 10th floor.

The courts and offices have nowhere else to go, so business will go on, as usual, except everyone has to wear a hard hat now.

Visitors cannot bring their own, because of security precautions: The headgear has to be inspected, declared safe, and issued by the city at a checkpoint in the east wing off Second Avenue.

With so many workers and visitors daily coming and going, the supply of available hard hats soon was exhausted, so city officials had to scrounge for any protective headgear they could get, even requesting donations from local organizations that regularly use such equipment.

“We understand this is an imposition, but we have to improvise with the resources we have,” said a sheriff’s major wearing a Columbus Cottonmouths goalie’s helmet.

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools is waiting for a report by AdvancED, the regional accrediting body, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chris Griffin was named Chief Magistrate Judge for Whitfield County, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The four Superior Court judges announced Monday they had named Magistrate judge Chris Griffin as chief magistrate to fill the unexpired term of Haynes Townsend, who retired effective Sunday. Griffin has been a Magistrate judge since 2009, having been elected to three four-year terms. Prior to becoming a Magistrate judge, Griffin served 16 years in law enforcement as a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy and as assistant police chief in Tunnel Hill.

Griffin’s appointment as chief magistrate created an opening, and the judges appointed Thomas Lee Phillips II, a captain with the Dalton Police Department, to fill Griffin’s unexpired term as Magistrate judge. Phillips has been with the police department since 1988 and also served 10 years with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

The judges appointed Rodney “Rod” Weaver to fill the unexpired term of Shana Vinyard.

The qualifications to be a Magistrate judge are at least one year of residency in the county, the individual must be at least 25 years old and must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

More than 14,000 cases came through Magistrate Court in 2018, and a judge is on call 24 hours a day to handle arrest and search warrants for law enforcement. The court handles a variety of cases, including evictions, civil disputes up to $15,000, violations of county ordinances and some misdemeanor crimes. The judges also handle first appearances, hearings in which defendants are informed of the charges against them and can make a plea or be referred to Superior Court, depending on the severity of the charges.

Dalton City Council approved a contract with a new City Attorney, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Glynn Environmental Coalition received two federal grants through the EPA, according to The Brunswick News.

“The Glynn Environmental Coalition has been working on the applications for additional funding for our technical assistance grants for almost nine months,” said Rachael Thompson, GEC executive director. “Our organization receives this funding to assist the public in understanding what actions are being taken toward remediation, help the public participate when public input is requested and provide annual status updates for each Superfund site.

“To put it simply, this funding is specifically to keep our community involved in the remediation process. Public participation is an extremely integral part of the Superfund site cleanup process, and we are grateful to have been awarded additional funding to continue to involve our community.”

The grants for Terry Creek and LCP are for $25,000 each. The money is to hire an independent technical advisor who will review documents and final studies, the proposed plan, record of decision, consent decree, and participate in community and public meetings.

Sammy Strode announced he will run against incumbent Tony Thomas for Savannah Alderman in District 6, according to the Savannah Morning News.