The blog.

7
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 7, 2020

Dolly Cocos Cupboard

Dolly is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy with a beautiful brindle coat who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

Lucky Cocos Cupboard

Lucky is a young male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

Lucky was surrendered by his owner due to no fault of his own and hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to play with other dogs, so he’s learning now. He gets a little too excited but likes them a lot! He is a little shy with people, and shies away from quick movements but is a love bug! He just needs a home with love and patience to show him how great life can be!

Hunter Cocos Cupboard

Hunter is a young male German Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

Hunter came to rescue from Coweta Co. Animal Control with his Mom, Scarlet, and his brothers and sisters as newborns. Hunter is a 13 week old (as of 2/6/2020) black and tan coated handsome guy who will need a home with working dog experience. He has been in a foster home and loves his foster family who have worked hard at getting him ready for a forever home. His foster home has other dogs and a cat. He is a typical GSD and will make a fantastic addition to your family!If you would like to learn more about Coco’s Cupboard, or to fill out an application please visit cocoscupboardinc.org

7
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 7, 2020

President Donald Trump suggested he’s looking for a way to defuse the “jungle primary” for the Senate seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler, according to the AJC.

The president floated the idea that one of the two could leave the race during a speech at the White House celebrating the defeat of the Democratic-led attempt to remove him from office.

“I know, Kelly, that you’re going to end up liking him a lot,” Trump said of Collins, whom the president called an “unbelievable friend.”

He added: “Something’s going to happen that’s going to be very good. I don’t know; I haven’t figured it out yet.”

The president’s remarks triggered immediate talk in Georgia GOP circles that Collins could be in line for a judgeship or another appointment, or that Loeffler could be tapped for a premier position.

Both Republicans are scrambling to lock up Trump’s support, eager to tout every retweet and every supportive remark from the president as a sign he might be taking sides in their race.

So far, the president has stayed publicly neutral — although Trump privately lobbied Gov. Brian Kemp to tap Collins for the seat on three separate occasions before he appointed Loeffler to succeed retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The Associated Press writes that tension between Governor Brian Kemp and Speaker David Ralston is a defining part of the 2020 Session.

The conflict between the Republican officials flared again Wednesday, with Ralston telling reporters that House members are still unhappy with the budget information they’re getting from the Kemp administration. Earlier, lawmakers were miffed when Kemp told agency heads not to appear before legislative committees last summer after he announced budget cuts.

“We started asking for this information as far back as last September and were assured that we would have it, and frankly, some of the information we still don’t have,” Ralston said after he pushed through a weeklong timeout from normal legislative business. He wants House members to focus intensely on Kemp’s proposed budget cuts amid a revenue slowdown — cuts that are getting clear pushback from many House Republicans.

Kemp’s spokeswoman fired back Wednesday, criticizing Ralston for attempting to change how Georgia holds special elections. The unsuccessful attempt would likely have boosted the U.S. Senate bid of Doug Collins, a Ralston friend, and undercut Kemp’s appointed choice, Kelly Loeffler.

Tension between a governor and legislators is nothing new — indeed it’s designed into the system. Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed a 2007 budget when House Speaker Glenn Richardson was trying to force through property tax relief, and then vetoed 40 other bills, including 29 by members of the House Appropriations Committee. Lawmakers are also inclined to fight among themselves. When Zell Miller led the Senate as lieutenant governor and Tom Murphy was House speaker, their feuding was notorious.

Ralston himself has said news reporters have “inflated” the rift.

“You know we don’t agree all the time, nobody agrees with me all the time. I wish I could find somebody that did,” Ralston said last week after having breakfast with Kemp. “But no there’s no tension. I mean we do look at the budget differently on some items. I think that’s healthy.”

Georgia Democrats are criticizing some potential cuts in the state budget, according to the AJC.

The Democratic Party of Georgia on Thursday launched a “Don’t Cut Georgia’s Future” campaign that highlighted Kemp’s proposal to cut about $500 million from the state’s budget over two years.

The push includes a website Democrats will use to highlight cuts that slice into Georgia’s mental health programs and criminal justice initiatives.

Party officials say they’ll focus on the “human cost behind these cuts” through the 40-day session and into November. Scott Hogan, the party’s executive director, said it would help hold state leaders “accountable through Election Day.”

Former United States Attorney and state legislator Ed Tarver registered his campaign for the Senate seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler, according to the AJC.

Former U.S. attorney Ed Tarver of Augusta has filed statements with the Federal Election Commission registering his candidacy and a campaign committee for the Nov. 3 special U.S. Senate election.

Tarver, who said his public launch will be next week, is one of seven candidates and four Democrats seeking the senate seat held by Johnny Isakson, who retired before the end of his term.

Kim Jackson announced she will run for the State Senate seat currently held by Sen. Steve Henson, according to Decaturish.

According to a campaign announcement, Jackson launched her campaign last July. The announcement notes that Jackson is “an Episcopal priest from the rural South who made Georgia home more than 10 years ago.”

Jackson’s campaign is based on her advocacy for a number of issues, including food security, helping the homeless, finding alternatives to the death penalty, reducing stigma around both reproductive justice and HIV/AIDS and expanding access to quality early childhood education and health care.

“I am honored by the early endorsements, humbled by the team that supports me and excited about the trajectory of the campaign with Chism Strategies on board,” Jackson said in her announcement. “This campaign is about more than me as it is about advocating not only for the people of my district, but for all Georgian’s to have a cleaner, healthier and more just Georgia.”

Superior Court Judge and former State Rep. Mack Crawford will resign his seat on the Griffin Judicial Circuit bench, according to the Daily Report.

In the Pike County Courthouse where he presided as a judge for nearly a decade, suspended Superior Court Judge Robert “Mack” Crawford pleaded guilty through an Alford plea Thursday to theft by taking. A charge of violating his oath of office and a second theft charge were dismissed.

Superior Court Judge Maureen Gottlieb, on assignment from the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit in Columbus, sentenced Crawford to 12 months of unsupervised, fee exempt probation and granted him first offender status. Crawford’s plea will not be made part of the court record at this time and will be sealed along with the charges, once his probation is complete.

Crawford was charged with abusing his judicial authority to steal $15,675 that belonged to former clients from the Pike County court registry.

As part of a plea agreement with the state attorney general’s office, which did not include an admission of guilt, Crawford agreed to retire and submit his resignation to Gov. Brian Kemp by Friday. The 66-year-old judge, whose term expires in December, also promised he will not seek reelection or apply for, run or serve as a judge in any court while he remains on probation. Crawford has not heard any cases since the state judicial watchdog agency suspended him with pay after his indictment by a Pike County grand jury nearly 16 months ago.

Crawford said he entered the Alford plea and agreed to retire because he decided when he ran in 2012 that it would be his last campaign. He said he also feared his state pension might be jeopardized if a trial led to a felony conviction. “I think I would have prevailed, but I wasn’t going to take the chance,” he said.

6
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 6, 2020

Cuddles Danas Dog House

Cuddles is a young female Border Collie and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Dana’s Dog House in Smyrna, GA.

Cubby Danas Dog House

Cubby is a young male Border Collie and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Dana’s Dog House in Smyrna, GA.

Niko Danas Dog House

Niko is a male Corgi and Shih Tzu mix who is available for adoption from Dana’s Dog House in Smyrna, GA.

6
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 6, 2020

On February 7, 1733, the first Georgia colonists had been here a week and they finished building a hand-operated crane to move heavy supplies and livestock from their boats to the top of the forty-foot high bluff where they were building a settlement.

On February 8, 1751, the first session of the Georgia Provincial Parliament adjourned, having convened on January 15, 1751.

The House of Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body, held its second meeting after statehood on February 6, 1788 in Savannah.

On February 9, 1825, the United States House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as President of the United States, despite his having received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. Congress voted for the President after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the 1824 election.

The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House.

Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected. Clay and Adams were both members of a loose coalition in Congress that by 1828 became known as the National Republicans, while Jackson’s supporters were later organized into the Democratic Party.

Alexander Stephens was elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. In 1980, Reagan would be elected President of the United States, beating incumbent Jimmy Carter. When he was born, his father said, “he looks like a fat little Dutchman.  But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.”

On February 9, 1926, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to prohibit teaching evolution in the Atlanta Public Schools.

On February 6, 1952, Governor Herman Talmadge signed resolutions of the General Assembly that included:

A resolution calling on Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and instead allow a maximum rate of 25 percent on any federal income, transfer, gift, or inheritance tax.

A resolution urging U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell to run for the presidency.

On February 8, 1955, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the General Assembly calling on Congress to require racial segregation in the military.

On February 6, 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of  the Georgia General Assembly, asking their support for House Resolution 1185, which introduced the idea of “interposition,” in which the State of Georgia would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 and 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decisions “null and void” in Georgia. That day Griffin also signed a raft of legislation for his “massive resistance” agenda against integration of state schools.

On February 8, 1956, the Georgia State House adopted a resolution purporting to hold the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education null and void.

On February 9, 1964, the Beatles debuted in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

On February 7, 1980, Pink Floyd opened “The Wall” tour in Los Angeles.

On February 8, 1981, R.E.M. held their first recording session at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, recording “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” as well as others.

On February 6, 1985, Reagan gave the State of the Union. During the speech he announced what would be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

On February 7, 1990, the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union agreed to a proposal by Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev that is should give up its political monopoly.

The response from the United States was surprise and cautious optimism. One State Department official commented that, “The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It’s mind-boggling.” Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger indicated that he was “personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot.” President George Bush was more circumspect, merely congratulating President Gorbachev for his “restraint and finesse.”

Ironically, the fact that the Communist Party was willing to accept political challenges to its authority indicated how desperately it was trying to maintain its weakening power over the country. The measures were little help, however–President Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia General Assembly has decided to play hooky today, tomorrow, and next week. From the AJC:

Lawmakers originally had set the calendar through Monday — which would have been the 14th day of the the 40-day legislative session. Instead, lawmakers will take the rest of this week, and all of next week, off from holding floor session in the chambers to hash out the details of meeting Gov. Brian Kemp’s request to trim the state’s budget.

In a letter to House members, Speaker David Ralston told his colleagues to suspend all scheduled committee meetings that aren’t related to the budget over the next week and a half and focus all “time and energies on this important work.”

Lawmakers will return to the chambers Feb. 18, after the federal Presidents Day holiday.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the calendar through the 28th day, March 12 — the Legislature’s self-imposed deadline for bills to make it from one chamber to the next.

Lawmakers will again have to approve a calendar to set the end of the legislative session.

Here’s a look at the legislative calendar through day 28:

Feb. 18-21: legislative days 13-16

Feb. 24-28: legislative days 17-21

March 2-5: legislative days 22-25

March 9-10: legislative days 26-27

March 11: committee work day

March 12: legislative day 28

Under the Gold Dome Today – Maybe

8:00 AM HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 406 CLOB

12:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH 341 CAP

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 450 CAP

FRIDAY

12:30 PM House Hospital and Short Term Care Subcommittee of Behavioral Health Innovation and Reform Commission 415 CLOB

The impromptu Spring Break appears related to escalating tension in the Capitol over the state budget and related processes. From the AJC:

The clash between Gov. Brian Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston reached new heights on Wednesday as state lawmakers abruptly voted to take a break to try to sort out the state’s strained budget situation.

Ralston and his allies said they needed more time to hash out the impact of Kemp’s proposed cuts of $500 million this fiscal year and next, as well as his push for $2,000 in teacher pay hikes that would cost nearly $400 million.

Two of the bigger hang-ups are also two of the biggest-ticket items in the spending plan. Ralston has been skeptical of Kemp’s push to bump teacher pay this year, which would complete the governor’s promise of a $5,000 pay raise in his first term.

The speaker has also led the charge for the second phase of an income tax cut that would decrease the top rate by a quarter-point – at the projected cost of at least $500 million in state revenue.

From the Associated Press via GPB News:

House and Senate leaders announced Wednesday that the chambers will adjourn until Feb. 18. During that time, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England said House budget subcommittees will keep meeting.

“This year, I think the biggest question is ‘What do you cut?’” House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, told members Wednesday. “I don’t think it behooves us as a body to come down here and speed through spending $28 billion in taxpayer dollars.”

The recess underlines Ralston’s earlier statements that the General Assembly’s 2020 session might not wrap up as early as some members running for re-election might have hoped. Lawmakers can’t raise campaign money while they’re in session, and some of them will face a May 19 party primary. Slates won’t be set until March.

“The speaker has made it very plain we’re going to do the job we need to do,” said England, an Auburn Republican, when asked when the session would end.

[I]ncome tax revenues have lagged since the first cut. Lawmakers will get a report of January revenues next week, but England said he’s not hopeful that Kemp will raise the revenue projection that sets the spending limit for lawmakers.

“I don’t know if I could go to him and say ‘You need to adjust it up,’” England said. “It’s still pretty flat.”

From Beau Evans with Capitol Beat News Service:

After the House voted to approve the new session schedule, Ralston told reporters he’s particularly worried about proposed cuts to mental health services, public safety and criminal justice reform initiatives including accountability courts.

Ralston said it was negotiators for the House who convinced Senate leaders of the need to take a break and focus on the budget. He noted that since all spending bills originate in the House, members of the House Appropriations Committee get the first crack at reviewing the budget.

“They have the first real contact with the budget process,” Ralston said. “Department heads and agency heads have come in and said they don’t have the information to give us. … We started asking for this information as far back as late September. Some of the information we still don’t know.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan said the Senate agreed to the break to give lawmakers in the House more time to craft the budget before sending it to the Senate.

“We get one chance to get this right,” said Dugan, R-Carrollton.

The Georgia Senate Agriculture Committee voted to recommend passage of its version of HB 545, the Georgia Right to Farm Act, according to the Albany Herald.

Dubbed the Georgia Right to Farm Act of 2020, the bill would make it more difficult for property owners living in areas zoned for agricultural use to sue nearby agricultural operations such as a chicken house or pig farm for offensive smells or runoff from sludge lagoons.

“We’re just doing our job to protect the family farmers in Georgia,” state Rep. Tom McCall, chairman of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee, said. McCall sponsored the bill in the House, which passed it last year and sent to the Senate for consideration.

The bill essentially updates a law the General Assembly enacted during the 1980s. Supporters say farmers need greater protection against nuisance lawsuits than the current law provides because rapid suburbanization of Georgia means more non-farming homeowners are encroaching on farmland.

Under the new bill, property owners wishing to file a nuisance suit against an agricultural operation must be located within 5 miles of the source of the alleged nuisance. Lawsuits must be brought within two years after a nuisance occurs, down from four years under the current law.

Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, put together the substitute version of the bill the Senate committee passed on Tuesday. He said he gathered feedback both from agribusiness organizations that supported the bill and environmental groups opposed to it.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee recommended passage of Senate Bill 298 to regulate sales of vaping products, according to the Gainesville Times.

A state Senate panel in Georgia unanimously approved a proposal to restrict vaping products on Tuesday, amid growing concern about health risks and use among children.

Senate Bill 298 would raise the age a person must be to purchase vaping products from 18 to 21, impose licensing requirements on stores selling vaping products, increase penalties for illegal sales and require schools to teach students about the dangers of vaping.

The proposal could soon go to the full Senate for a vote.

Under current state law, retail stores in Georgia are not required to have a license to sell vaping products, according to Sen. Renee Unterman, a Buford Republican who sponsored the bill. Her legislation would require stores selling vaping products to be licensed in the same way that stores selling tobacco are currently licensed.

From the AJC:

The American Medical Association has called for a moratorium on sales, and Massachusetts has become the first state with significant prohibitions on flavor sales. The White House, prodded by the controversy, has imposed a partial ban effective Thursday, but it has so many loopholes that the American Lung Association told the Washington Post recently that it is “a joke.”

In Georgia, the Medical Association of Atlanta is hosting an event at North Atlanta High School Friday evening to warn about medical issues associated with vaping and the effect on youths. And the General Assembly is considering legislation. Senate Bill 298 would establish minor criminal penalties for sales to, and possession by, people under age 21 (the current minimum age is 18). House Bill 864 would introduce a sales tax.

Senate Bill 159 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) to allow local regulation of e-scooters passed the State Senate, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The bill defines an electric scooter in Georgia code as a device weighing less than 100 pounds that is powered by both an electric motor and human power, with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.

Regulating e-scooters is not a “one-size-fits all solution,” Gooch told lawmakers on the floor Tuesday after hearing study committee testimony.

“We want to encourage this new technology. First and last mile transit solutions are a big need in this state,” he said. “We didn’t want to over regulate the industry, we didn’t want to put a lot of barriers in the way; in fact, we want to encourage more development of this kind of technology.”

Left up to local governments, some cities and counties have chosen to promote electric scooters as an alternative means of transportation while some have chosen to ban them from their streets.

The bill gives “total local control” to cities and counties, Gooch said.

A last-minute amendment added to the bill allows local governments to consider imposing liability insurance requirements.

The bill passed in a vote of 47 to 0 and will move to the House of Representatives.

Georgia Senate District 14 voters will return to the polls in a special election runoff, according to WALB.

Carden Summers (R), Jim Quinn (R) and Mary Egler (D) were all vying for the Senate District 13 seat left open after the passing of Senator Greg Kirk in December.

On Tuesday, Summers garnered 43.11 percent of the votes while Quinn received 42.18 percent and Egler took 14.71 percent.

“We thought there was gonna be a runoff and that’s what tonight proved and with three people in the race, it was hard to get 50 percent,” said Quinn. “Go back tomorrow and start over again, knock on more doors, talk to more people and get the word out that I’m the true conservative candidate in this race.”

“I wanna thank everybody who voted for me. I’m grateful that we came out on top with the most votes,” said Summers. “My plan is in the next 30 days, is to reach out and touch everyone I can, touch and share my vision with them and ask them to go back to the polls and vote for me again.”

From the AJC:

The winner will fill the Senate District 13 seat previously held by state Sen. Greg Kirk, a Republican from Americus, who died in December after he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer.

The election was one of the first where voters used Georgia’s new voting system, which combines touchscreens and printed-out ballots. The system was previously tested during local elections in six counties in November and in a state House election last month.

Senate District 13 covers Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner and Worth counties, as well as parts of Sumter and Wilcox counties.

After next month’s runoff, the seat will be on the ballot again for a regularly scheduled election in November.

Former Republican State Rep. Bill Hembree will run for the 14th Congressional District seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger), according to the AJC.

The former state legislator is one of a half-dozen Republicans competing to succeed U.S. Rep. Tom Graves in one of the most conservative House districts in the nation. Graves, the senior-most Republican in Georgia’s delegation, announced late last year he wasn’t running for another term.

“I am excited about the changes happening in our country under President Trump’s leadership, and I will serve as a strong conservative voice for Georgia and a valuable contributor to that change,” said Hembree, who served two stints in the Georgia House before losing a close race to state Sen. Mike Dugan in 2014.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Former state school superintendent and candidate for governor John Barge filed his statement for organization with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

He’d not sent out a statement or an announcement as of late Wednesday, but several local Republicans said former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston had been reaching out on Barge’s behalf.

Also, Andy Gunther, a retired Army veteran and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector from Bremen, announced he’s running for the post on Wednesday. Gunther is the vice chair of the Haralson County Republican Party.

That makes eight Republican candidates who have said they’re vying for the post.

The Georgia Criminal Street Gang Database is online, according to Valdosta Today.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Department of Community Supervision (DCS), and the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), the Georgia Criminal Street Gang Database (GCSGD) is now operational.  The GCSGD is a statewide repository and intelligence database that contains information about various criminal street gangs, criminal street gang members, and associates and criminal street gang activities.

The statute for the GCSGD was enacted in 2010.  Under Governor Kemp’s administration, the implementation of this database has been made a priority.   The following agencies participated in the pilot program: DCS, GDC, Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Morrow Police Department, South Fulton Police Department, Cobb County Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, and the GBI. The statistics associated with the data remain fluid; but as of today, the system contains over 100 gangs and over 17,000 gang members & associates.

From the Gainesville Times:

The database currently contains more than 100 gangs and more than 17,000 gang members and associates.

According to the Georgia code, the database’s purposes include increasing “officer safety by improving the sharing of information among multiple jurisdictions using computer intelligence database technology” and enhancing “community security through the prosecution of criminal street gangs and their members/associates.

The Georgia Ports Authority announced an expansion at the Port of Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Georgia Ports Authority has announced the acquisition of 145 contiguous acres to the Port of Savannah, enough land to accommodate more than 1 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in annual capacity.

“This is the largest addition of container terminal space in Savannah in more than 20 years, and represents a powerful opportunity for Georgia to take on new trade.” [said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch].

In order to improve service, Savannah’s Ocean Terminal will be partially converted to handle containers. Renovations at Ocean Terminal, located just down river from the main container port, will include a new truck gate, upgraded container yards and rubber-tired gantry cranes for container operations.

“The expansion at our deepwater ports in both Savannah and Brunswick is helping to fuel growth, and in turn investment, jobs and increased competitiveness on the global stage,” added GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight.

“With the kind of investment and infrastructure development announced today, Georgia’s ports will undoubtedly stay ahead of the curve and the competition.”

In September 2019, the GPA announced plans for the new Savannah Container Terminal, a nearly 200-acre facility to be built across the Savannah River on Hutchinson Island. The new facility will have a capacity of 2.5 million TEUs when fully developed. Phase I is projected to come online in 2025.

Three new Right Whale calves have been spotted off the coast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Survey crews with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the new calves and their moms, nicknamed Arrow, Echo and Calvin, said Allison Garrett, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries division.

Arrow and her calf were sighted 15 nautical miles off Amelia Island. She is 18 years old and this is her second calf. Her first was born in 2009.

Echo and calf were sighted approximately 10 nautical miles off Atlantic Beach. She is 24 years old and this is her third calf. Her last was born in 2010.

Calvin and her calf were sighted approximately 8 nautical miles off Georgia’s Blackbeard Island. She is 28 years old and this is her fourth calf. Her last calf was born in 2015.

5
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 5, 2020

Murray County 15495

15495 is a young female Chihuahua and Jack Russell Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter-Control Unit in Chatsworth, GA.

Murray 15498

15498 is a male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter-Control Unit in Chatsworth, GA.

Murray 15504

15504 is a male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter-Control Unit in Chatsworth, GA.

5
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 5, 2020

John and Charles Wesley arrived at Tybee Roads, at the mouth of the Savannah River on February 5, 1736, along with James Oglethorpe and 254 other colonists.

On February 5, 1777, Georgia’s first Constitution was adopted in Savannah, creating the first eight counties. Happy birthday to Wilkes, Richmond, Burke, Effingham, Chatham, Liberty, Glynn, and Camden counties.

The 1777 Constitution was progressive for the time, outlawing primogeniture and entail, English common law doctrines that controlled inheritance of land.

Primogeniture ensured that the eldest son in a family inherited the largest portion of his father’s property upon the father’s death. The practice of entail, guaranteeing that a landed estate remain in the hands of only one male heir, was frequently practiced in conjunction with primogeniture. (Virginia abolished entail in 1776, but permitted primogeniture to persist until 1785.)

Georgians restructured inheritance laws in Article LI of the state’s constitution by abolishing entail in all forms and proclaiming that any person who died without a will would have his or her estate divided equally among their children; the widow shall have a child’s share, or her dower at her option.

The Southern Pacific Railroad completed its “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California on February 5, 1883, giving the SP a dominant position in transcontinental railroading.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his “court packing” plan on February 5, 1937. After the United States Supreme Court found some of his “New Deal” legislation unconstitutional, Roosevelt’s proposal would have encouraged the retirement of justices older than 70 and for those who did not retire, appoint an assistant Justice with full voting rights on decisions by the Court.

On February 5, 1945, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation abolishing the poll tax, making Georgia the first Southern state to do so.

Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war.

In 1937, the U.S. Supreme court upheld Georgia’s poll tax as constitutional. But in 1942, Georgia voters chose Ellis Arnall for governor and the progressive Arnall ushered in a wave of reforms, including abolishing Georgia’s poll tax.

Nigel Tufnel, of the band Spinal Tap, was born on February 5, 1948.

On February 5, 1974, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” by Barry White reached #1 on the charts.

Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” began a 92-week run on the best-seller charts on February 5, 1983. Rock on.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – LD 12

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:00 AM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR 310 CLOB

8:30 AM HOUSE Transportation State Highways Subcommittee 415 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 12) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY MEZZ 1

1:00 PM SENATE URBAN AFFAIRS 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION 606 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH 341 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE Reeves Sub of Judiciary Non-Civil 132 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH – CANCELED 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 415 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE STATE PROPERTIES 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Sales Tax Subcommittee 133 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE Setzler Sub of Judiciary Non Civil 132 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Income Tax Subcommittee 133 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM 125 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS GENERAL GOVERNMENT 341 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE WORKING GROUP ON CREATIVE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT 403 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Ad Valorem Tax Subcommittee 133 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT – CANCELED MEZZ 1

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY307 CLOB

4:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS EDUCATION 415 CLOB

4:00 PM HOUSE AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS 403 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 289 – Ad Valorem Taxation of Property; mobile homes procure permits and procure and display decals; remove the requirement (FIN-53rd)
SB 26 – Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia; prior service as a member of Georgia Defined Contribution Plan; creditable service; provide (RET-3rd)
SB 47 – Retirement Benefits; creditable service for certain military service; provide (RET-8th)
SB 262 – Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia; eligibility of beneficiary to make new retirement election; provide (Substitute) (RET-15th)

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HR 326 – Roger C. Dill Transportation Center; Tift County; dedicate (Substitute)(SProp-Houston-170th)
HR 935 – Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics; create (Trans-Tanner-9th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 663 – Georgia Judicial Retirement System; membership for certain persons employed in certain full time positions requiring admission to the State Bar of Georgia as a condition of employment; require (Substitute) (Ret-Efstration-104th)

Twin bills to address surprise healthcare billing will be dropped in the House and Senate as a compromise measure, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Two identical bills are expected to drop in the House and Senate today, backed by lawmakers who have been at odds in past sessions. And they’re co-signed in each chamber by the floor leaders for Gov. Brian Kemp, who’s been involved in the process.

“Whichever one makes it through first is the one we’ll go with,” said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, sponsor of the new Senate bill.

The Finance Committee chairman’s counterpart in the House, Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, is sponsoring the bill in that chamber.

A major sticking point has been the formula that would be used to determine a fair price for a service.

Hufstetler said they lit on a different system with help from three professors from Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, which researches and analyses policies in use across the nation.

“It sets up a method of prompt payment based on the negotiated rates. Then, if either side doesn’t agree with (the price), they can arbitrate it through the (Georgia) Department of Insurance,” Hufstetler said.

Senate Bill 303 by Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) attempts to increase price transparency in healthcare, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Senate Bill 303 is part of a general legislative push for greater transparency in medical prices.

The transparency effort includes proposals on what’s known as surprise billing, when a patient receives care from a network hospital but gets an unexpected bill from a non-network provider involved in the care. A bill addressing surprise billing was approved by a House panel Monday.

The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, at a separate hearing, did not take a vote on Senate Bill 303.

The “Georgia Right to Shop Act″ legislation, as it’s also known, would allow patients to query their insurance company, either online or on the phone, on what out-of-pocket costs they would face if they use a particular medical provider. Consumers would also get data on the quality record a doctor or hospital has in providing that medical service.

“Competition helps us all,″ said Republican Sen. Ben Watson, a Savannah physician who’s the bill’s lead sponsor. “We’re trying to make transparent what the cost is and what the quality is.″

The legislation drew some star power: Atlanta-based consumer advocate Clark Howard testified in favor of the bill.

House Bill 523, which would prevent local governments from regulating short term rentals, passed out of the House Regulated Industries Committee, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia cities and counties would be prohibited from regulating short-term rental properties under legislation that cleared a state House committee Tuesday.

Cities and counties can address such issues through nuisance ordinances and occupancy limits without banning short-term rentals altogether, Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, the bill’s chief sponsor, told members of the House Regulated Industries Committee.

“These bans and overregulation are an attack on private property rights,” he said.

Advocates for local governments oppose the bill as usurping their zoning powers under the Georgia Constitution.

Clint Mueller, legislative director for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, said the state’s one-size-fits-all approach toward short-term rentals won’t work in a state as diverse as Georgia.

“What St. Simons does may be different than what they do in North Fulton or in the mountains,” he said.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, one of three committee members who voted against the bill, said it offers no protection for homeowners who might move into a neighborhood expecting the quality of life that comes with living in a residential area only to find short-term rentals plopped into their midst.

“Are you concerned you’re changing the rules for millions of Georgians?” Jones asked Carpenter.

Republican Don Cole announced he will run for the Second Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany).

For the past two and a half years, I had the honor of serving as the Speechwriter for US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue in President Trump’s administration. I have had the opportunity to learn and develop relationships with leaders and decision makers in Washington and here in Southwest Georgia.

I observed the disconnect between the winning policies of the Trump administration and the whining press releases of Democrats and Sanford Bishop. Sanford Bishop and Democrats steadfastly stand with Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff.

Two times Sanford voted to impeach President Trump. When, yet again, Sanford and Democrats turned their backs on us and cast those votes, I had an irrepressible conviction to put forth a clear and commanding choice for the people of Southwest Georgia.

Southwest Georgia does not have a representative. Sanford Bishop and Democrats have abandoned the people of Southwest Georgia. Sanford made the choice to align with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and the values of San Francisco and Hollywood.

Sanford Bishop and Democrats long ago abandoned pro-life to align with Planned Parenthood.

Sanford Bishop and Democrats abandoned God’s design for the family of one man and one woman. They aligned themselves with the very loud promoters of a radical Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender agenda.

President Trump’s conservative policies of opportunity and freedom improve lives for everyone. He has instituted these policies in spite of lies and an unprecedented assault by Democrats in Congress.

Our values go deeper than mere demographic make up. The people of the 2nd District are starving for someone to work for us. I promise that no one will work harder or be a bigger cheerleader for Southwest Georgia than I will.

Republican Will Wade announced he will run for the State House District 9 seat being vacated by State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), according to Fetch Your News.

“Today, I am announcing my campaign to represent the people of Dawson, Lumpkin, and Forsyth counties in the Georgia House of Representatives,” said Wade. “As a life-long resident of Dawson County, I will fight for our conservative, north Georgia values in the State House.

“I am 100% pro-life, and will stand with Governor Kemp and members of the General Assembly to support the heartbeat bill and legislation that strengthens protections for the innocent unborn.

“As a long time member of the NRA, I know our Second Amendment rights are under assault, and I will stand in the gap to protect the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“My top legislative priority as your State Representative will always be ensuring Georgia’s education system serves the needs of the Ninth District. As a family, our commitment to public education runs deep. Since 2004, I have been honored to serve on the Dawson County Board of Education as Chair and Vice Chair, and my wife, Jennifer, has devoted her life to educating Lumpkin County students since 2001. By reducing high-stakes testing, advocating for parents and teachers, championing local control, and eliminating Common Core, I will always put our students first.

“My private sector career in community banking spans over twenty years serving the people of the Ninth District. Because of that experience, I know that small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. I look forward to working with Governor Kemp and members of the General Assembly to make Georgia the best state in the nation to start, operate, and grow a small business.

“Finally, if elected, I will never forget the people who send me down to Atlanta every January. The rural communities we call home are changing, and all too often they go ignored. I will continue Representative Kevin Tanner’s legacy as a rock-solid conservative fighter for our community and pick up right where he left off. I will work around the clock to bring good jobs to the Ninth District, expand access to high-speed internet, lower health care costs, and preserve our quality of life.

“With your help, we can continue to make our community and state an even better place to live, work, and raise our families. I am humbly asking for your prayers for Jennifer, the kids, and me as we begin this journey. I will work hard every day to earn your vote in the May 19 th Republican primary.”

Georgia Democrats are planning to flip control of the State House, according to 11Alive.

Sharon Cooper is a busy and respected member of the legislature. This is her 24th year here. It could also be her last.

When Cooper ran for re-election to her Marietta district in 2018, she barely beat a Democrat named Luisa Wakeman by a margin of 3.1 percent, or just 792 votes.

Two years earlier, no Democrat even tried to beat her.

“Our whole state is changing. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Cooper said. “Just like I’ve always done … when you’re elected, you represent everybody.”

Cooper is one of six Republicans in the House of Representatives who won election in 2018 by less than five percent. Setzler, Cheokas, Stephens, Rutledge, Silcox were the others.

This election year, Democrats will target those seats – and more.

In 2018, Republicans in six House seats won by less than five percentage points. So, they’re the most vulnerable this year.

There are six more House seats Republicans won by margins of less than nine percent. If Democrats could flip them, it would give them 12 new seats.

Catoosa County Republicans heard from candidates for the 14th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger), according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

At the local GOP meeting, Rep. Kevin Cooke, R-Carrollton, and Rome-based neurosurgeon John Cowan spoke to local leaders and other candidates for local races about their campaigns.

Cowan said as a political newcomer, it took him a long time to decide to run. Ultimately, he felt like he couldn’t stand on the sidelines any longer.

As a legislator in Washington, Cowan said he would have his constituents’ interests at the forefront. He also said his experience competing as a high school athlete in northwest Georgia will help him in the race.

“I know how fierce that competition is,” he said. “I know the flooring industry. I know the health care industry. All of these things are so important in our district and part of my DNA. And that’s why I feel at this moment in my life that I’m the right person to serve you in Congress.”

Cooke now serves in the state’s House of Representatives in District 18. He is the associate athletic director at Shorter University in Rome, as well as a farmer and small-business owner. Cooke was first elected to office in 2010.

Cooke said he will use his experience as a longtime lawmaker to make change on the national level on behalf of northwest Georgia. He said his road to making allies in the House has not always been easy.

“I learned very quickly that just because you’re a Republican, and just because you’re in a majority, doesn’t mean that your policies in Atlanta line up with what we say we believe here,” Cooke said.

The Floyd County Republican Womens’ Lunch heard from candidates for Superior Court Clerk, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The incumbent, Barbara Penson, has been at the post since 2008 and referred to herself as “not a politician but a public servant.”

Harbor House Executive Director Joe Costolnick spoke of his background in leadership and law enforcement. From 2001 to 2017, he worked for the Rome Police Department and rose to the rank of lieutenant and supervisor of the Criminal Investigation Division.

Murray County Commissioner Greg Hogan declared the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan approved a resolution Tuesday declaring that “the citizens of Murray County, Georgia, regard the right of people to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and defense of property as an inalienable right.”

Hogan said it was important to take a stand in support of constitutional rights.

“I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and I intend to do that,” he said. “This may not be an issue in Georgia, but it’s an issue in Virginia. And that’s what scares me right now.”

In Georgia, Habersham, Rabun and Stephens counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, all within the past month.

Hogan said Murray County residents can’t be certain that state officials will always be as friendly to the Second Amendment as they are now.

Members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners said at a work session last week that they expect to vote on a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution soon.

Spalding County Commissioner Donald Hawbaker was arrested after a standoff with law enforcement, according to the AJC.

Deputies went to the Sun City Peachtree by Del Webb living community to serve a warrant to Commissioner Donald Hawbaker for simple assault and disorderly conduct, according to Spalding sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Dwayne Jones.

While there, the deputies were met with gunfire from the home in the 1100 block of Satilla Court in Griffin, Jones said. No deputies were hit.

Hawbaker, 64, was eventually taken into custody, ending the standoff after more than two hours.

Voting Rights and Wrongs

Governor President Grand Moff Stacey Abrams is giving Iowa some side-eye, but stopped short of calling it “voter suppression.” From The Hill:

Abrams urged Democrats to consider opening the primary contest with states more “representative of the American people as a whole,” an apparent reference to Iowa’s largely white demographics. Iowa’s Democratic electorate was more than 90 percent white during the last presidential election cycle.

She argued that the party could give people of color a greater voice in the process by holding primaries in multiple states on the first day of voting.

“Demographically, it’s not reflective of the U.S. as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party, and I believe other states should have their chance,” he said.

Abrams’s critique of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status also extended to its voting system. Regardless of the tech issues, Abrams said that caucuses exclude people “who cannot participate because of work or family obligations.”

“The most democratic process invites all eligible voices, which is why early and mail-in voting and a full Election Day are essential,” she said. “Suppression exists when voices are intentionally silenced AND when no one is willing to admit or fix the problem.”

From the AJC:

“The Iowa Democratic Party has taken responsibility and corrective action, which is the first step to restoring trust,” said Abrams. “The next step is re-examining the caucus process.”

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved a schedule for early voting in the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The schedule adopted Tuesday lays out the schedule for early voting in Gwinnett and also addresses the hours for election day voting, which is more of a formality since the date and voting hours are mandated by state law.

“(This) represents a substantial expansion of early voting for presidential primaries for 2020 as compared to 2016,” Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash told her colleagues on the commission.

Under the schedule adopted this week, the first week of early voting will take place only at the county’s elections and voter registration office in Lawrenceville.

Early voting will expand to seven satellite voting sites during the second and third weeks of early voting.

In all, early voting will be available in Gwinnett County every day of the week — including Saturdays and Sundays — at at least one polling location for 19 consecutive days.

Cobb County announced it will change some voting precinct locations, according to the AJC.

Thousands of Cobb voters will cast ballots at new precincts or voting locations when Georgia holds its presidential primary March 24.

The county has split three precincts and moved polling locations for nine others from schools to churches and other buildings. Janine Eveler, Cobb County’s elections and registration director, said 50,063 voters have been affected by the changes.

Eveler said the county has sent certified letters to 40,514 people who will vote in new locations and to 9,549 assigned to new precincts. Voters will be sent new precinct cards, and residents are urged to verify their registration status and polling location before voting by visiting www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

The county is moving polling locations because school security measures could affect voters on Election Day, Eveler said.

Gwinnett County opened the Beauty P. Baldwin building that houses the elections office, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Tuesday’s ribbon cutting at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections building is sort of a punctuation on a career in education and civil service that spans nearly 60 years. Baldwin was both the first black person and the first woman named superintendent in Georgia in 1984 when she was hired for the job at Buford City Schools. After her retirement from education, she was appointed to the Board of Elections in 1997 and has served there ever since.

Baldwin, who said she is eying retirement from the Gwinnett County Board of Elections after being a member for 23 years, said she gets fulfillment looking back at the work she and her fellow board members have done to make the democratic process work.

“We tried and make sure we get as much as possible, in accordance to the law, that they want,” Baldwin said. “I think that’s why we’re here.”

Board of Elections member Stephen Day was chairman of the Gwinnett County Democratic Party in 1997 when he appointed Baldwin to serve on the board. Five succeeding chairs thought that was a good idea and continued to appoint her to the board. Although she is an appointee from the Democratic Party, she has earned respect from both sides of the aisle.

During her time on the Board of Elections, Baldwin has helped issue voting policies and procedures that technologically modernize balloting. She’s promoted the development of bilingual voter education in the county and advocated for the establishment of automatic voter registration. It’s fitting the building that bears her name has been remodeled to also ease the democratic process, particularly during early voting.

4
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 4, 2020

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville will discount all dog and cat adoptions to $2.14 from February 10-15 for its Sweetheart Adoption Event.

WebFlyer_Sweetheart_AWEFeb20

Fernando Gwinnett County

Fernando is a 6-year old male American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Gwinnett County Suade

Suade is a year-old male Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Gwinnett County Horus

Horus is a year-old male Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

4
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 4, 2020

On February 4, 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected by the Electoral College as the first President of the United States; Washington’s runner-up John Adams served as Vice President. Washington would repeat the feat four years later on February 4, 1793.

On February 4, 1801, John Marshall took office as Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall continued to hold the post of Secretary of State until March 4th. In one of American history’s rich ironies, Marshall, who served at the same time in the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government, would write the Court’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, establishing the supremacy of the Supreme Court in matters of applying the Constitution through judicial review and establishing the doctrine of separation of powers. Marshall would serve during the terms of six Presidents.

On February 4, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress convened in Montgomery, Alabama, where it would draft a Constitution for the Confederate States of America, beginning with a near-verbatim copy of the United States Constitution.

On February 4, 1976, the Georgia Senate approved a resolution previously passed by the State House proposing a Constitutional Amendment to allow Governors of Georgia to serve two consecutive terms and voters approved in November 1976. Then-Governor George Busbee won reelection in November 1978, and since then Democrat Roy Barnes is the only Georgia Governor to not win reelection.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD 11

8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 11) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS – CANCELED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Energy Subcommittee of Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications 606 CLOB

1:30 PM HOUSE Alcohol Tobacco Subcommittee of Regulated Industries 605 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE VETERANS, MILITARY & HOMELAND SECURITY 310 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE WORKING GROUP ON CREATIVE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Public Finance and Policy Subcommittee 133 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

2:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Tax Expenditure Subcommittee 133 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTION – CANCELED MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE TRANPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 159 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic; operation of motorized mobility devices; provide (Substitute)(TRANS-51st)

Governor Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced a proposal to reduce standardized testing, according to AccessWDUN.

Both Woods and Kemp oppose the current amount of testing, part of a national backlash to a system largely built by Republicans in Georgia.

“By reducing high-stakes testing, we’ll remove heavy burdens in our classroom for our teachers and our students,” Kemp said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We’ll restore parents’ peace of mind about their children’s education, and we’ll let educators focus on what they do best — teaching children.”

The biggest changes would come in high school. Students would no longer have to take tests in geometry, economics, physical science and American literature.

The proposed legislation would also let the state Board of Education drop the high school exams from being considered in course grades. Now, state law requires that exams be included in course grades. The board’s policy requires that a test count for one-fifth of a student’s overall course grade.

For younger students, the plan would drop a fifth-grade social studies test not required by the federal government, but would hang onto an optional eighth grade test in Georgia history.

The Club for Growth announced it will spend $3 million dollars discussing Rep. Doug Collins’s voting record, according to the AJC.

[T]he conservative Club for Growth organization unveiled plans to spend $3 million to clog Georgia’s airwaves with attacks scrutinizing Collins’ voting record. The group has been critical of Collins’ 57% score on its legislative scorecard in the last year.

The four-term congressman, who launched his campaign last week with a promise to support President Donald Trump, swiped back with a digital ad highlighting one of the votes the anti-tax group has slammed him for taking: The U.S. House passage of a sweeping farm package.

“Why team up with a Washington special interest group that’s against Georgia farmers?” a narrator in a digital ad asked, as grainy images of Loeffler splashed on the screen.

“Why team up with that special interest group that tried to defeat Donald Trump and is attacking Doug Collins for defending Donald Trump and voting with Johnny Isakson and David Perdue to save Georgia farmers?”

State Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock) continues the good fight against the scourge that is Daylight Savings Time, according to the AJC.

Under House Bill 709, voters’ options in the [non-binding] referendum would be to keep the annual time change, switch to year-round standard time (marked by winding clocks back an hour in late fall) or to switch to year-round daylight saving time (marked by moving clocks ahead an hour in early spring).

“By and large, people cannot stand the time change,” Cantrell said.

In a Monday meeting of the House State Planning and Community Affairs Committee, Cantrell cited research that has found an increase in car accidents corresponding with daylight saving time changes. Passing HB 709 and setting the referendum for this year’s November election would help the state gauge whether there’s an appetite for stopping the twice-yearly time changes.

If the referendum were to come back with a clear preference for discarding the current system, Cantrell said he would bring a bill adopting the preferred option to the House next year, pending his own re-election. If voters were to choose standard time, Georgia would be able to make the move on its own. But if year-round daylight saving time was the preference, a switch would require approval from the U.S. Congress.

Senate Bill 302 by Sen. John Albers would allow outside auditors for the film production tax credit program, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Senate Bill 302 comes after a scathing set of audits the state Department of Audits and Accounts released last month that found Georgia’s film tax credit has been poorly managed while being touted as having more economic impact on the state than it actually does.

Sponsored by Sen. John Albers, the legislation would let the governor’s budget office contract with outside auditors to scrutinize up to five tax-incentive programs each year, upon request from state lawmakers.

Auditors would dive into the economic pros and cons of the state’s many tax credits, exemptions, rebates, deferrals and other business incentives.

“All the things that each one of us would do if we were investing our money,” Albers, R-Roswell, said Monday of the audit’s scope.

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee and heads to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.

“We can do better here at making sure we’re making the best use of taxpayers’ dollars,” Hufstetler, R-Rome, said Monday.

From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 302, is sponsored by Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The bill calls for economic analysis of tax benefits upon the request of lawmakers.

Under the bill, chairpersons of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee could request up to five tax benefit audits through the Office of Planning and Budget on or before May 1 of each year.

A new provision, on the terms of Gov. Brian Kemp’s veto, would require contracting independent auditors to complete the reports by Dec. 1 of each year. Each request is limited to one specific exemption, exclusion or deduction from the regular tax rate.

The report would be mandated to include the net change in state revenue, state expenditures and economic activity and — if applicable — the change in public benefit. A fiscal note would also be required to be included and within the year time frame to provide lawmakers relevant information.

The State House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care voted for HB 789, legislation on surprise billing, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

A committee the House formed last year to explore ways to increase access to quality health care passed a bill Monday to set up a rating system Georgians could use to determine which physician specialty groups in their insurance plan’s provider network serve a given hospital.

The measure would apply to anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists and emergency room doctors, typically specialists responsible for the most incidents of surprise billing, the extra hospital charges that result from procedures performed by out-of-network specialists.

The legislation would strike a blow for transparency in the delivery of health-care services, said Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, the committee’s chairman and the bill’s chief sponsor.

“If I want to have elective surgery … I don’t know if the anesthesiologist at my hospital is in my network,” he said. “I have no way to find out.”

A Senate bill on surprise billing, in fact, would go further than the House measure. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, would essentially prohibit the practice. Disputes between insurance companies and medical providers would be subject to arbitration conducted by the state Office of Insurance.

Senate Bill 296 by Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen) will allow chemical cremation of human bodies, according to the Albany Herald.

Senate Bill 296 would permit crematories to undertake the process of alkaline hydrolysis, which combines water, alkaline chemicals, pressure and heat to liquify most human remains. The dissolving process breaks down fat and tissues into liquid, leaving behind bone fragments.

Alkaline hydrolysis, or “aquamation”, is used as an alternative to traditional fire-burning furnaces or burials in several states, according to the advocacy group Cremation Association of North America. The group describes it as more environmentally friendly, a “gentler process.”

“It has been an accepted process,” [Sen. Heath] said.

“Given the option, a lot of families do find that this is less abrasive than fire,” [funeral home owner Mindy] Miller-Moats said at a Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee meeting last week.

The Georgia Funeral Directors Association backs the bill and alkaline hydrolysis as a more environmentally friendly and efficient cremation process.

Two members of the Georgia Department of Transportation Board were reelected by legislators from the Congressional Districts each represents, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Tim Golden continues serving as chairman of the state transportation board.

Golden of Valdosta, representing the Eighth Congressional District, and Vice Chairman Rudy Bowen of Columbus, representing the Seventh Congressional District, were unanimously reelected to full five-year board terms by a caucus of state representatives and senators from their respective congressional districts, according to state officials.

The new terms begin April 15.

“The Georgia Department of Transportation and the people of Georgia are fortunate to have dedicated individuals like (Chairman )Tim Golden and Rudy Bowen representing them on the transportation board,” said Russell R. McMurry, P.E., Georgia Department of Transportation commissioner. “All 14 state transportation board members perform a vital function in advancing transportation across all of Georgia.”

Dougherty County voters will be able to test drive the new voting system, according to the Albany Herald.

Dougherty County voters can get a look at the new voting machines they will be using multiple times this year during a Thursday presentation. The Dougherty County Voter Registration and Elections office will show a video presentation and have some of the machines on hand for a demonstration.

Some of the confusion may lie in the impression some voters have that they receive a paper copy to keep.

“There’s no receipt,” Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said.

“You get to review your ballot, your choices, on paper, and if you’re happy, you submit that. We want to kind of get our voters out and let them see what they’ll be voting on for the first time.”

The informational meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Room 100 of the Albany-Dougherty Government Center at 222 Pine Ave.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) announced he will run for Congress, according to the Gainesville Times.

“I have spent the last several days praying about the decision and talking it over with my family,” Tanner said in the post. “I have truly enjoyed serving in the State House, but I feel the call to try to make a difference at the national level.”

Georgia’s 9th Congressional district includes all of Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties and parts of Clarke, Forsyth and Pickens counties.

“I am ready to continue our district’s 27-year history of having conservative leadership in Congress,” he said. “I am ready for the fight to stop the radical left and work alongside President Trump to protect the conservative values that make North Georgia and all of America great.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of working and serving the citizens of Dawson County for 30 years now in various roles from law enforcement to county manager to their state representative,” he said. “I’m proud of where I come from, I love the community that I’ve been blessed to grow up in and to live in and I look forward to having the opportunity to continue to serve them at a different level.”

Dawson County Board of Education member Will Wade is expected to announce a campaign for House District 9, which is being vacated by State Rep. Kevin Tanner, according to FetchYourNews.

Wade is senior vice president and marketing executive at Southern Bank & Trust and a member of the school board since 2004.

Wade has devoted many years to public service and, in 2017, was named to Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40. He was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to serve on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission in 2010. He was selected vice chairman of Georgia Mountains Workforce Development in 2012, president of the Georgia School Board Association in 2017 and, last year, Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to the Georgia Student Finance Commission in the 9th district.

Announced candidates for the election include attorney Zack Tumlin and attorney Steven Leibel.

Three Georgia cities and a county are seeking certification of a class action lawsuit against AirBNB, according to AccessWDUN.

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday, the three cities and one county are seeking class-action status to include communities throughout the state as plaintiffs.

They say the allegations in the lawsuit affect more than 100 Georgia counties and hundreds of municipalities.

The suit was filed by lawyers representing Rome, Cartersville, Tybee Island and Hart County. They’re among several Georgia communities with ordinances to collect taxes for short-term rentals.

A new Georgia law is expected to change the way taxes are collected from companies in the online marketplace.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last month signed the new law that’s supposed to facilitate the collection of state and local sales taxes from online providers including Airbnb beginning April 1. It’s unclear what effect the new law will have on the lawsuit.

Salvagers working on the M/V Golden Ray, which is capsized in St Simons Sound, hope to have most of the hulk removed before hurricane season, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The salvage team in charge of removing a cargo ship that overturned on the Georgia coast nearly five months ago wants to surround it with a giant mesh screen to contain any loose debris as the vessel gets cut into pieces.

A document issued by the Army Corps of Engineers said the salvage team’s goal is to have “all large sections” of the South Korean ship Golden Ray removed before hurricane season starts June 1. No timeline was given for complete removal of the hulking ship that measures 656 feet (200 meters) long.

3
Feb

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 3, 2020

Sweet Pea Hart County Humane

Sweet Pea is a young female Vizsla mix who is available for adoption from the Hart Co Humane Society in Hartwell, GA.

Sweet Pea was an unclaimed stray now rescued and cared for by a tribe of volunteers who love her. Sweet Pea is approximately 8-9 months old, she is spayed, micro chipped, heartworm negative, appropriately vaccinated and treated for parasites. She may be a Vizsla mix and could possibly grow to be 35-40 pounds. She is available to meet at the Hart County Humane Society at 1364 Reed Creek Hwy by appointment. Please call 706-436-0965 or email [email protected] for information.

Hope Hart County Humane

Hope is a young female terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Hart Co Humane Society in Hartwell, GA.

Hope is a three year old Heeler/Stafford Terrier mix desperately longing for her meant to be family. She is spayed, micro chipped, heart worm negative, appropriately vaccinated and treated for parasites. An affectionate dog, she attaches to those who show her kindness, is quick to learn and wants to please. Hope is house trained and enjoys activity, a fenced yard is important for her happiness. She prefers the company of humans and wants to be the only pet. If you are looking for a loyal best friend and would like to meet Hope or want more information please call or text 706-436-0965 or email [email protected]

Patches Hart County Humane

Patches is a young female mixed breed who is available for adoption from the Hart Co Humane Society in Hartwell, GA.

Patches is a young mixed breed female with a lot of love to give. She is spayed, micro chipped, heart worm negative, appropriately vaccinated and treated for parasites. Patches was a stray with no place to go when the shelter was closed and quarantined for a parvo virus outbreak so we took her in to our rescue. She is a very good girl, eager to learn and please those who are kind to her. If you would like more information please call or text 706-436-0965 or email [email protected] Applications to adopt can be found at harthumane.org.

3
Feb

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 3, 2020

On February 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.

On February 3, 1887, Congress adopted the Electoral Count Act to clarify how Congress was to count electoral votes.

Electoral vote counting is the oldest activity of the national government and among the oldest questions of constitutional law. It was Congress’s first task when a quorum appeared in the nation’s new legislature on April 6, 1789. It has happened every four years since then. Yet, electoral vote counting remains one of the least understood aspects of our constitutional order.

The Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA) lies at the heart of this confusion. In enacting the ECA, Congress drew on lessons learned from its twenty-five previous electoral counts; it sorted through innumerable proposals floated before and after the disastrous presidential election of 1876; and it thrashed out the ECA’s specific provisions over fourteen years of sustained debate. Still, the law invites misinterpretation. The ECA is turgid and repetitious. Its central provisions seem contradictory. Many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long. Proponents of the law admitted it was “not perfect.” Contemporary commentators were less charitable. John Burgess, a leading political scientist in the late nineteenth century, pronounced the law unwise, incomplete, premised on contradictory principles, and expressed in language that was “very confused, almost unintelligible.” At least he thought the law was constitutional; others did not.

Over the nearly 120 years since the ECA’s adoption, the criticisms faded, only to be renewed whenever there was a close presidential election. Our ability to misunderstand the ECA has grown over time. During the 2000 presidential election dispute, politicians, lawyers, commentators, and Supreme Court justices seemed prone to misstate or misinterpret the provisions of the law, even those provisions which were clear to the generation that wrote them. The Supreme Court, for example, mistakenly believed that the Supreme Court of Florida’s erroneous construction of its election code would deny Florida’s electors the ECA’s “safe harbor” protection; Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s hasty submission of his state’s Certificate of Ascertainment was untimely under the Act; and Democratic members of Congress framed their objections to accepting Florida’s electoral vote on the wrong grounds. Even Al Gore, the presidential candidate contesting the election’s outcome, misread the federal deadline for seating Florida’s electors.

Only the United States Congress could so obfuscate a matter as seemingly simple as counting that its Act remained undecipherable for more than one hundred years.

The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Delaware on February 3, 1913, giving the Amendment the requisite Constitutional supermajority of three-fourths of the states. The text of the Amendment reads, in its entirety,

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

President Woodrow Wilson died on February 3, 1924 in Washington, DC. Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia (pronounced Stan-ton) and spent most of his youth to age 14 in Augusta, Georgia. Wilson started practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia in 1882, leaving the next year to pursue a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. His wife, Ellen Louise Axson, was from Savannah, and they married in Rome, Ga in 1885.

On February 3, 1959, a chartered Beechcraft Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed near Mason City, Iowa, killing all aboard.

Jimi Hendrix recorded Purple Haze on this date in 1967.

A new exhibition at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA explores the historic role of African-Americans in the development of railroading.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor President Democrat Stacey Abrams believes America will be ready for her to take the reins in 2040. From Hot Air:

Stacey Abrams did an interview with journalist Clare Malone of FiveThirtyEight on Friday. She has some big plans for herself and shared them.

Abrams even predicted the outcome of a presidential election twenty years in the future. She will be the winner because America will be ready to elect a black woman and it will be her. That’s a pretty bold prediction, right? Who knew Abrams possesses psychic powers?

Clare Malone teed it up for Abrams. She asked if America will be ready to elect a black woman as president and Abrams said yes. Malone asked a follow-up question – “Do you think they’ll elect you?” Abrams’ response was “Yes. I do. That’s my plan. And I’m very pragmatic.”

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD 10

1:00 PM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 10) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH – CANCELED 307 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY MEZZ 1

2:00 PM HOUSE APPROP GENERAL GOVT 341 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE STATE PLANNING AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS 403 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE INTERSTATE COOPERATION 515 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES – CANCELED 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE Welch Sub Judiciary Civil 132 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE Regulatory Sub Regulated Ind 415 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

SENATE CONVENES AT 10:00 A.M.

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

SB 296 – Funeral Directors and Embalmers; alternative cremation process; provide (RI&U-31st)

SR 554 – Iran; protest the hostile actions of the Iranian regime without subjection to violent retaliation; support the rights of the people of Iran (RULES-45th)

SR 538 – U.S. Congress; pursuing impeachment proceedings against President Donald J. Trump; condemn (RULES-51st)

 

Tobacco taxes might be under upward pressure this year due to legislative budget issues, according to Dave Williams of Capitol Beat News Service, via the Ledger-Enquirer.

The legislature passed a bill early in the 2020 session to tax online purchases made through such “marketplace facilitators” as Amazon and Google. Supporters cited the need for more revenue to help offset sluggish state tax collections threatening to force painful spending cuts.

The revenue grab could move next to tobacco products. Legislation before the Georgia House of Representatives would increase the state’s tobacco tax, the nation’s third lowest, from 37 cents per pack of cigarettes to $1.87.

That higher rate, which would move Georgia’s tobacco tax above the national average, would generate $425.2 million a year in new revenue for the state, said Andy Freeman, government relations director for the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

“Resolving the budget deficit and addressing the highest tobacco use rate in 20 years … would mark a major health and fiscal win for our state,” Freeman said.

Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, the bill’s sponsor, said reducing demand for tobacco products by raising the tax also would yield huge savings.

“We’re spending half a billion dollars a year in Georgia to treat smoking-related illnesses,” Stephens said. “That’s coming out of taxpayers.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said human error caused the only glitches seen in the House District 171 Special Election, according to the Albany Herald.

“The new secure paper-ballot system continued to function well in this special election as it had during the November pilot and December runoff,” Raffensperger said. “The types of small human errors that occurred are the kinds of miscues that occur in every election, no matter the type of equipment.”

“The transition to any new system will inevitably trigger some human error, and we experienced some minor ones. Our challenge is to scale up this success to more than 2,000 polling places in March for the Presidential Preference Primary. That’s a lot of new users and a lot of opportunity for these types of minor errors.”

It is the first election in Mitchell and Colquitt counties using Georgia’s new secure paper-ballot system, but it is the second in Decatur, which participated in a pilot with five other counties during the November municipal elections.

Early voting continues in nine other southwest Georgia counties for the special election in Senate District 13 caused by the death of Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus.” Election Day for that contest is Tuesday.

Every county will use the new system statewide for the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary.

Secretary Raffensperger called for study of possible results before changing election rules further, according to the Gainesville Times.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Friday that he believes the state should hold party primaries to select nominees before special elections, instead of letting all candidates run against each other regardless of party affiliation. But he wants to study the issue and make no changes now.

The issue arose after House Bill 757 began advancing in the chamber. The legislation would require party primaries be held in advance of a special election to the U.S. Senate this year. That race, which features appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and others, will determine who serves the final two years of a U.S. Senate term after Johnny Isakson resigned.

The House bill was seen as a way to help Collins defeat Loeffler in the Republican primary. It had drawn a veto threat from Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler and is backing her. Democrats were supporting the bill too, hoping to consolidate support behind Warnock and prevent a January runoff, which would follow if no one won a majority.

Opponents of domestic violence will rally at the State Capitol tomorrow, according to the Albany Herald.

House Bill 545 would restrict property owners rights to sue agricultural producers for alleged nuisance conditions, according to the Gainesville Times.

Neighbors could no longer formally complain about the smell of a chicken house, noise of a tractor or any other alleged nuisance on farms in Georgia that have been operating for at least a year under a bill proposed in the state House.

Legislators are looking to balance the needs of the state’s top industry with the concerns of property owners who may be negatively affected by living near a farm.

Under House Bill 545, property owners would lose the right to bring a nuisance suit, or a legal complaint about noise, odor or a similar issue, against an agricultural operation if the agricultural business has been operating for at least a year.

The bill has gained support from many farming groups, such as the Georgia Farm Bureau and Georgia Poultry Federation, but has some environmental groups concerned about impacts on neighboring properties.

Agriculture remains Georgia’s No. 1 industry, and according to the text of the bill, legislators want to protect farmers who lose resources when nuisance suits arise.

“Agricultural operations and facilities, including support facilities and forest land, are often the subject of nuisance actions when nonagricultural land uses are also located in agricultural areas,” the bill reads. “As a result, such facilities are sometimes forced to cease operations. … It is the purpose of this Code section to reduce losses of the state’s agricultural and forest land resources by limiting the circumstances under which agricultural facilities and operations or agricultural support facilities may be deemed to be a nuisance.”

The bill passed the Georgia House of Representatives last year, gaining the support of Hall County’s delegation. Now, the bill is being reviewed by the Senate’s Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, which held a hearing on the changes on Tuesday, Jan. 28. That committee is chaired by state Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, who represents part of East Hall.

I’ve been following that bill, and I believe the authors and stakeholders are working on a new version. It’s hard to be sure that any article written about the bill correctly conveys what’s in the bill at the moment.

Democrat Ed Tarver, a former United States Attorney and state senator, will announce his campaign for the United States Senate seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta), according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta attorney and former Democratic state senator is running in the Nov. 3 special election to complete the term of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, he confirmed Jan 10. The special election will pit eight announced candidates – three Republicans and five Democrats – against each other, with the two top finishers going to a runoff.

The Thursday announcement by Atlanta Pastor Raphael Warnock – who was immediately endorsed by Democrat Stacey Abrams and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – left Tarver unfazed.

“My primary focus is on preparing to launch my campaign for the U.S. Senate,” he said Friday. Endorsements aside, “the bottom line is voters will have their chance to make a decision.”

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tadia Whitner kicks off her campaign later this month to retain the seat Gov. Kemp appointed her to, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Whitner was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp last summer to replace Judge Melodie Snell Conner, who resigned last year. Although Whitner just joined the bench in 2019, she was always going to have to run for her seat this year.

Whitner will officially kick off her campaign Feb. 20 at the 1818 Club, which is located in the Gwinnett Chamber building at 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway in unincorporated Duluth, according to a Facebook event posting. The event will be held from 5:30 until 8 p.m.

Attendees are asked to RSVP in advance of the event. Details are available on the Facebook event announcement, bit.ly/2U5NaE8, and on Whitner’s campaign website, judgewhitner.com.

The nonpartisan judicial election will be held in May.

 

The Augusta Chronicle looks at fundraising by candidates for Augusta Commission.

Only two of the five candidates seeking the District 1 seat had any reported contributions, including Jordan Johnson, the head of the Richmond County Democratic Party, whose $10,155 came from widely varied sources.

Johnson, who Stacey Abrams made an appearance for Friday, reported a maximum $2,800 contribution from Abrams’ voting rights group, Fair Fight Inc., in addition to $1,000 from Paul King, the Democratic Party headquarters landlord. He received $500 from government contractor Infrastructure Systems Management, owned by former Augusta engineering director Abie Ladson and $3,325 in contributions of less than $100 each.

The Fair Fight contribution irked former Commissioner Moses Todd, who supports candidate Von Pouncey. Todd said that Fair Fight is “using money that I gave to the political action committee against me if I don’t support that candidate” and that “Atlanta should stay out of local elections.”

The City of Port Wentworth has suspended its city manager with pay, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Mayor Gary Norton confirmed Davis’ suspension, but declined to offer any details.

“We can not discuss personnel items outside of the executive session,” Norton said.

The city will try again to conduct business with a meeting set for Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m.

The stop in council action began in November when four council members surprised the mayor and two council members by voting to hire Davis as city administrator. They also voted to change then city administrator Phil Jones from his job to one as a consultant for Davis. Jones has worked part-time as city administrator since June of 2018.

The city has a six-member council which requires four members present to constitute a quorum and allow for voting. The mayor, however, legally can hold a meeting without a quorum as long as no votes are taken.

Cook County Probate Court Judge Chase Daughtrey announced his court will dismiss speeding tickets and refund fines attributable to a Georgia State Patrol Trooper who was fired for alleged cheating, according to Valdosta Today.

“The Georgia State Patrol informed us yesterday that a trooper assigned to Post 13 in Tifton was accused of cheating on an exam for the Speed Detection Operator component of the trooper school curriculum. Based on this information and a review of court citations, I am announcing the speeding citations issued by the former Post 13 Trooper will be dismissed and fines will be refunded to the defendants. All other cases involving this Trooper will be reviewed by the Solicitor and decisions regarding prosecution will be made on a case by case basis,” [said Judge Daughtrey].

Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy will hold a Town Hall meeting Wednesday, according to The Brunswick News.

Hall County Commissioners approved qualifying dates and fees for local offices, according to the Gainesville Times.

Qualifying for the May 19 General Election primaries will be held March 2-6.

The Rome News Tribune profiles new Georgia Board of Education member Phenna Petty.

Petty, who was named to represent the 14th Congressional District — comprised of 12 counties in north Georgia, including Whitfield and Murray — said state Board of Education members are from various walks of life, including attorneys, entrepreneurs and county commissioners, so “there’s not a singular vision,” and she’ll bring yet another perspective based on her background.

Petty became director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education for Murray County Schools in 2002, and that area remains “close to my heart,” she said. “There is a skills gap in the world — not just here (locally) — and there are always job openings that are high-paying for highly-skilled (positions).”

“A farmer, diesel mechanic or welder may not wear a suit and tie, but that is (the look) of success, too,” she said. “If we don’t have the skilled workforce, we’re going to get left behind” on a national and international scale.

The writer of that article and their editor are each docked two points for incorrect use of the work “comprise.”