The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 8, 2023

Maddie is a six-month old female Black Mouth Cur puppy who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg GA.

Maddie is a sweet, playful 6 month old Cur mix. She is good with other dogs and children. Maddie is looking for a nice family to call her own. Please come by the shelter to meet Maddie. Maddie is Heartworm negative.

Reno is an eight-month old male Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg GA.

Reno is an 8 month old pit mix. He is super playful and loved to be outside. Reno is a very affectionate pup who loves hugs and likes to gives kisses. Reno is looking for his furever home. Please come meet Reno at Lee County Animal Shelter!

Sheba is a year-old female Rottweiler mix who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg GA.

Sheba is a quiet 1 year old Rottie mix. She is a very calm and sweet and just wants to be loved. Sheba is good with children and other dogs. Please consider allowing Sheba to be a part of your family. Come visit Sheba at Lee County Animal Shelter Mon-Fri. 9 am-4 pm.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2023

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

I like how WTOC partners with the local junior high school to put a 12-year old reporter on camera.

Governor Brian Kemp signed the state budget for FY 2024, according to a Press Release.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 5, 2023

Reese is a young male Collie and Australian Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society Worth County in Sylvania, GA.

River is a young female Collie and Australian Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society Worth County in Sylvania, GA.

Rizzo is a young female Collie and Australian Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Best Friends Humane Society Worth County in Sylvania, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 5, 2023

Georgia and American History

On May 6, 1789, the Constitutional Convention in Augusta, Georgia adopted a new Georgia Constitution.

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

On May 5, 1886, Jefferson Davis attended a public reception at Savannah, Georgia’s City Hall.

Jefferson Davis spoke in Savannah, Georgia on May 6, 1866.

Davis … defend[ed] the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers.

Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”

Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on May 5, 1904.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running the mile.

For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility. The world record for a mile was 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds, set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945. Despite, or perhaps because of, the psychological mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, several runners in the early 1950s dedicated themselves to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone.

At 6 p.m., the starting gun was fired. In a carefully planned race, Bannister was aided by Chris Brasher, a former Cambridge runner who acted as a pacemaker. For the first half-mile, Brasher led the field, with Bannister close behind, and then another runner took up the lead and reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 3 minutes 0.4 seconds, with Bannister at 3 minutes 0.7 seconds. Bannister took the lead with about 350 yards to go and passed an unofficial timekeeper at the 1,500-meter mark in 3 minutes 43 seconds, thus equaling the world’s record for that distance. Thereafter, Bannister threw in all his reserves and broke the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. As soon as the first part of his score was announced–”three minutes…”–the crowd erupted in pandemonium.

A “sub-four” is still a notable time, but top international runners now routinely accomplish the feat. Because a mile is not a metric measurement, it is not a regular track event nor featured in the Olympics. It continues, however, to be run by many top runners as a glamour event.

Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight that reached an altitude of 115 miles, during which he experienced about five minutes of ‘weightlessness.’ He was launched in the 2,000-lb. capsule Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The flight traveled 302 miles at a speed relative to the ground of 4,500 mph. The mission was named Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 6, 1984, Spinal Tap played a “comeback show” at CBGB’s in New York.

On May 6, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta was the most dangerous city in America.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succeed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1997.

Happy Birthday on Sunday to Bill Kreutzman, one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead. On Kreutzman’s 31st birthday, the Dead played at Boston Garden. The next night was the legendary Cornell show.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia’s Secretary of State set March 12, 2024 as the date for the Presidential Preference Primary, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 3, 2023

Blossom is a three-year old, female Labrador Retriever and Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Fletcher is a two-year old, male Shephed dog mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Ruben is a year-old, male Labrador Retriever and Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

The Hall County Animal Shelter was awarded a $20,000 grant from Petco Love, according to AccessWDUN.

Hall County Animal Shelter program coordinator, Stephanie Maloch, said in a press release that the grant will be used to help reach and treat more animals in the Hall County community by providing funding for life-saving medical support and vaccines.

The Hall County Animal Shelter is a nonprofit organization that provides second chances, love and care for the animals.  From 2019 to 2022, Hall County Animal Shelter helped over 10,000 animals find their forever homes through private adoptions and rescue partnerships.

“Our investment in Hall County Animal Shelter is part of more than $15 million in investments recently announced by Petco Love to power local organizations across the country as part of our commitment to create a future in which no pet is unnecessarily euthanized,” Susanne Kogut, president of Petco Love said in a press release.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2023

May 3d is National Widow’s Day.

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

On May 4, 2003, I had the fortune of marrying the first Mrs. GaPundit. Happy Anniversary.

For tomorrow, Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You! I’ll be taking the day off unless something earth-shattering happens. Like, say, the Supreme Court overruling a nearly-50-year old precedent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) says her summer announcement will be YUGE historical, according to Atlanta News First via WALB.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is planning to make a “historical decision” this summer following a letter she sent to Fulton County officials regarding an investigation into former president Donald Trump.

“That decision may displease people,” Willis said at an event Tuesday at Atlanta City Hall honoring volunteers of the Court Watch Program. “No matter what they feel about it, I support 100 percent, 1,000 percent, their right to protest. I do not support the ability to destroy property or to harm anyone, including laws enforcement, my staff and my family.”

Governor Brian Kemp signed a number of healthcare bills, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Ledger-Enquirer.

A law granting welfare benefits to pregnant women was among a package of a dozen health-related bills signed into law in Georgia Tuesday.

“We’re taking important steps to improve access to and quality of health care,” Gov. Brian Kemp said during a signing ceremony inside the Georgia Capitol.

Federal law currently allows low-income pregnant women to receive cash aid through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, but Georgia law does not. The General Assembly overwhelmingly passed House Bill 129 to rectify that.

Kemp pledged in his State of the State address in January to push for legislation extending TANF benefits to pregnant women. The bill was introduced by freshman state Rep. Soo Hong, R-Lawrenceville, one of the governor’s floor leaders in the House.

• House Bill 85, which requires insurance companies to cover biomarker testing if supported by medical and scientific evidence.

• House Bill 383, increasing penalties for assaulting a health-care worker.

• House Bill 295, beefing up consumer protections against surprise billing.

• Senate Bill 46, requiring testing of all pregnant women for HIV and syphilis.

• Senate Bill 106, creating a three-year pilot program providing coverage for remote maternal clinical health services.

• Senate Bill 223, requiring reimbursements of expenses incurred by patients participating in cancer clinical trials.

The Rome News-Tribune had a couple of local additions to the Capitol Beat Story:

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a package of a dozen bills related to health care Tuesday, including legislation sponsored by Floyd County delegates Sen. Chuck Hufstetler and Rep. Eddie Lumsden.

The RN-T story then notes which of the bills signed yesterday were sponsored by Sen. Hufstetler or Rep. Lumsden.

From the AJC on HB 129:

“It will be another promise kept,” Kemp said Tuesday at a bill signing event.

Lawrenceville Republican state Rep. Soo Hong filed House Bill 129 on Kemp’s behalf.

In recent years, the Legislature approved bills that aim to improve the state’s dismal maternal mortality rate. For example, the state extended the amount of time low-income Georgia mothers can receive benefits under Medicaid, the public health program that provides care to the poor and disabled, from two months to one year after the birth of a child.

Under HB 129, low-income women will soon be able to apply to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program while pregnant. Currently, those women are only eligible for TANF, commonly known as welfare, once a child is born.

To qualify now for welfare, a child must be in a home with one parent, or if two parents are in the home, one must be physically or mentally incapacitated. School-age children must be immunized and have an acceptable school attendance record. There also are income requirements. For example, a family of three must have a gross income below $784 a month.

WALB has a more complete list of legislation signed by Gov. Kemp as does State Affairs.

From StateAffairs:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed into law nearly three dozen bills, many of them related to health care. Tuesday’s signings were the first of two bill events scheduled for this week, with the governor expected to sign more on Friday.

“I want to thank Gov. Brian Kemp for all of his support during my first session in this office,” Lt. Gov. Burt Jones said. “As of May 2, the governor has signed nine of my legislative priorities into law. I ran on three important issues: boosting Georgia’s workforce, standing with our law enforcement to strengthen public safety, and supporting Georgia’s children and families across our state. That is exactly what we delivered this past session.”

“Governor Kemp has been a strong partner working with the General Assembly over the last five years to enact prudent legislation and pass conservative, balanced budgets,” said Kaleb  McMichen, deputy chief of staff for House Speaker Jon Burns. “This legislative session reflects that team approach. We look forward to concluding the bill signing period and beginning work over the interim on House priorities including early childhood education and public safety.”

Governor Kemp issued an unusual signing statement with Senate Bill 115:

Senate Bill 115 seeks to ensure sportsman have use of Georgia’s navigable rivers. My office has received many calls both in support of and some in opposition to this piece of legislation. After careful analysis, I have signed Senate Bill 115 for the following reasons.

One, the state has invested millions of dollars collected through license fees to establish fisheries and boat ramps and to manage recreational fishing populations in our rivers. Two, this legislation does not affect non-navigable rivers or streams or change the definition of navigability. The definition of navigability is codified in a different subsection of this statute: O.C.G.A. § 44-8-5(a). Three, this legislation does not impact the use of water by adjacent landowners in navigable rivers. Four, this statute does not create a private right of action. Any implied private right of action is abrogated by statute. See O.C.G.A. § 9-2-8.

This bill allows for the public to hunt, fish, and transit the navigable waters of this state – an embodiment of the principle of sic vos non vobis and a privilege that has been assured Georgians for generations. To the extent some believe it stands for more, House Resolution 519 establishes the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources. This study committee will meet between legislative sessions this summer and is the appropriate venue to receive suggested amendments to the language in Senate Bill 115.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

Senate Bill 115, which the governor inked late Monday, guarantees Georgians’ right to fish in navigable portions of the state’s rivers and streams.

Fishing rights didn’t become an issue until a property owner along a portion of the Flint River asserted its exclusive right to control fishing from the bank on its side of the river to the center of the stream and banned fishing there.

Four Chimneys LLLP, which owns a stretch of the Flint along Yellow Jacket Shoals, sued the state alleging failure to enforce the ban and won an agreement from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in late March promising to enforce the ban.

Senate Bill 115 cleared the Senate overwhelmingly minutes after midnight on March 30. The bill had passed the House on the night of the 29th — the 40th and final day of the 2023 session — but not without dozens of “no” votes from lawmakers apparently unhappy with the 11th-hour process used to pass it.

The governor also acknowledged there seems to be some uncertainty about the bill’s language. He said the upcoming House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources will provide an opportunity for clarity.

On a busy day for bill signing, the governor also inked legislation to:

• guarantee Georgia public school teachers a daily planning period.
• apply the state sales tax to digital downloads.
• ban TikTok from devices owned by the state government.
• do away with the sunset provision on a law prohibiting the state and local governments from requiring Georgians to show proof of COVID vaccination in order to receive government services.

Gov. Kemp also signed Senate Bill 56 to extend the state’s sales tax to digital downloads. From the AJC:

According to state estimates, the digital download tax provisions in Senate Bill 56 are expected to bring in $80 million in state and local sales taxes in the upcoming fiscal year, $172 million the following year and more than $200 million a year by fiscal 2028.

The bill passed on the 40th and final day of the legislative session. The digital download portion of the bill will take effect Jan. 1.

The digital download measure took a long and winding road through the General Assembly. For years, House members have proposed taxes on digital products, such as Netflix subscriptions and downloads of songs. The bills have usually stalled well before the finish line.

This year, a bill proposed by Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, was the latest bid to bring digital sales in line with taxes paid when Georgians buy similar products from local stores.

Carpenter’s bill included downloads of things such as books, video games and music that a buyer retains possession of. It didn’t call for taxing streaming services — such as Netflix — or subscription-based products.

“I know when the House sends something over with this many measures it’s hard to keep up with them,” Hufstetler told colleagues on the 40th day. “It’s fair to say whichever way you sell something, it should be taxed equally.”

From 11Alive:

You’ll have to pay state and local sales taxes on anything you buy and download to keep, beginning in January.

As it is, book buyers in Georgia, for example, know that when they buy the digital version of a book and download it, right now they don’t have to pay any sales taxes on it.

But customers who buy printed books, either in person or online, know that they have to pay state and local sales taxes.

Starting in January in Georgia, whatever people buy and download — such as eBooks, music, knitting patterns, video games, you name it — will have Georgia state and local sales taxes added to the purchase price.

The new digital download sales tax will not apply to everything people download.

It will not apply, for example, to online subscriptions; so newspapers that people download as part of their subscriptions will still be tax free.

But the author of the new law tells 11Alive that next year he will work to tax online subscriptions, as well, as part of the state’s long-range plan of taxing in-person and online sales the same.

Governor Kemp is considered likely to sign House Bill 221 today, giving the Insurance Commissioner greater authority over some auto insurance rates, according to the AJC.

“What are you going to do about auto insurance rates?” King told a House committee, recalling those conversations on the campaign trail. “And when I told them I had no authority to at least negotiate with companies, they couldn’t believe that.”

King hopes House Bill 221, which Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign into law Wednesday, will give him a little more authority to review auto insurance rate hikes before they take effect.

Auto insurance rates in Georgia have skyrocketed since the General Assembly in 2008 changed state law to let new rates take effect immediately once a company filed them with the insurance commissioner’s office. Previously, companies needed prior approval from the commissioner, and insurers fought to change the law for years, saying then-Commissioner John Oxendine’s decisions were sometimes made based on politics, not actuarially sound decisions.

Under HB 221, rate hikes on most coverage could not take effect for at least 60 days unless approved by the commissioner, giving the office more time to review them.

“We’re committed to maintaining and sustaining the market. I don’t want any insurance company to leave this state,” he told members of the House Insurance Committee. “I want to be able to have the authority to negotiate with the companies about how they impact Georgia consumers.”

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb was confirmed as Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) by the DJJ Board, according to a press release.

She had been serving as Interim Commissioner since December, 2022.

“Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb has demonstrated excellent leadership and proactively worked to keep the Department of Juvenile Justice operating efficiently since taking over as Interim Commissioner,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “I have the utmost confidence she will build on the work of the past few months in the days ahead to ensure DJJ helps youth involved in the justice process grow into productive citizens.”

Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb was appointed Interim Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice in 2022 by Governor Brian Kemp. She is responsible for the daily operation of more than 3,400 employees that hold justice-involved youth accountable.

Prior to her appointment, Interim Commissioner Reynolds-Cobb served as Assistant Commissioner and Chief of Staff, overseeing the operational aspects of the department, including the Division of Administrative Services, Division of Community Services, Division of Secure Facilities, Division of Treatment and Care, and Office of Professional Development and Standards.

Interim Commissioner Reynolds-Cobb has 30 years of experience in government service, beginning with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in 1993 where she managed the daily operations of the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program, including the DUI Sign Program, Restitution Program, and the Training and Outreach Program. She also oversaw the Division budget and was the Legislative Liaison for the Council. In 2011, she joined the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice as Deputy Commissioner of Administrative Services.

Mrs. Reynolds-Cobb earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University in 1994 and a master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.

Governor Kemp also signed Senate Bill 65 to allow the state to stand up an alternative to the federal healthcare marketplace website, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

The Republican governor said during a ceremony at the state Capitol that the law would create a better way of people “knowing and comparing their health care insurance options” and bring “further competition to the field.”

“Georgians know their needs and those of their families best,” he said.

Senate Bill 65, allowing the state marketplace, took effect with Kemp’s signature. It reverses an earlier law which blocked the state from establishing its own health care exchange. That law was part of an effort to blockade Georgia from participating in the Affordable Care Act under then-President Barack Obama. However, the federal government has been providing coverage through the website, and nearly 900,000 Georgians signed up for individual coverage during the yearly enrollment period that ended Jan. 15.

Insurance Department spokesperson Weston Burleson said Georgia officials hope to launch the state marketplace as early as this November. However, federal officials could push back Georgia’s launch date until 2024. Federal rules usually require states to spend at least 15 months constructing their own marketplace.

Kemp administration officials say they’re prepared to launch the marketplace quickly because of all the work they did on the earlier proposal, on which they spent at least $31 million.

Details of the merger of Augusta University Health into Wellstar are becoming public, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr received the notice on Friday, kicking off a legal review followed by a public hearing. This also means that the agreement is finalized and can be released to the public for the first time.

The 89 documents included in the notice to the attorney general’s office offers in detail what the transfer will mean, including a cover letter outlining the highlights of the agreement.

The cover letter notes that the transaction is not a sale; Wellstar will become the “sole corporate member” of AU Health. The agreement comes with a hefty financial commitment from Wellstar − $797 million spent over 10 years. This includes:

• Construction of the Columbia County Hospital and moving the Surgery Center of Columbia County;
• Implementing the Epic Electronic Health Record System (which the state contributed $105 million to earlier this year);
• $31 million a year for the first two years of the agreement spent at the AU Medical Center Campus; and,
• $139 million spent on capital projects at the AU Medical Center in Augusta in years three through 10 of the agreement.

About a quarter of the spending is subject to performance, meaning Wellstar can defer $201 million of the spending if the AU Health System is not operating with a 2% operating margin.

Wellstar and AU Health will work to establish a regional medical campus for Medical College of Georgia students at Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center in Marietta.

Wellstar will take on some of AU Health’s debt, and commits in the meantime on working to avoid violating the terms of the debt.

Other documents outlined in the cover letter include an agreement to allow AUMC to continue as the primary teaching hospital for the Medical College of Georgia, an agreement to allow MCG faculty to provide medical services through Wellstar, the leases and the development agreement for the Columbia County Hospital. The attached development agreement; however, is unfinished and consists of one page reading “to be provided upon completion.”

Some election check-in tablets were stolen from DeKalb County, according to the AJC.

Police are investigating the theft of 19 voter check-in tablets from a DeKalb County warehouse, but Georgia election officials say the crime didn’t put voters’ information at risk.

The new devices hadn’t been loaded with any voter data, and they don’t generate ballots or count votes, said Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

The tablets, called PollPads, went missing from a former Sam’s Club store in Stonecrest that the county uses as an equipment warehouse, Hassinger said. An exit door had fresh pry marks where thieves might have gained entry between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

Savannah might have a spicy race for City Council district three, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In the Savannah City Council District 3 election race, two candidates have previous charges from Savannah Police, according to records acquired by Savannah Morning News.

An open records request for Savannah police narrative reports involving each of the four District 3 candidates revealed these arrests and other incidents of note. The public records query was prompted by reports of disorderly conduct charge against one of the candidates, Malik Jones, and allegations from community members that another of the challengers, Todd Rhodes, had an arrest record.

Jones, who works as a motivational speaker, was charged with disorderly conduct earlier this year after he attempted to retrieve his improperly placed campaign signs from the back of a city code compliance truck.

Following the publishing of reports about Jones’ incident, accusations emerged about Rhodes and a 2015 dispute with his wife. The altercation led to two domestic violence charges: one for simple battery and one for cruelty to children.

The incumbent, Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan, has no charges with Savannah Police, though she was listed in a report from an incident in February. Officers responded to a complaint that involved her blocking entry to a business’s parking lot with her car, preventing another driver from making a delivery.

Clinton Cowart has no charges with Savannah Police, only calls for service, most of which involve reports of larceny.

For municipal elections, the city clerk, Mark Massey, serves as the elections supervisor and will hear any challenges to the eligibility of candidates. In 2020, a resident called for a challenge to Chatham County Commission candidate Tony Riley, who had been convicted of a felony and served time in prison. Ultimately, the challenge to Riley’s eligibility was heard by the Chatham Board of Elections, the body that serves as the election supervisor for county races. The board voted to disqualify Riley.

“If a similar challenge [to the 2020 Riley challenge] is made at the City, as the elections superintendent I will receive the challenge. If a challenge warrants the need for a hearing, the person making the challenge will be heard. Whoever is named in the challenge will also have the opportunity to be heard,” Massey said via email.

It’s not clear whether Clinton Cowart’s favorite band is The Cure or Flock of Seagulls, but he’s clearly a member in good standing of Generation X. [P.S. – looking for tickets to The Cure in Atlanta if anyone bought and cannot attend:-)]

Augusta City Commissioners voted to remove the name of convicted former Commissioner Sammie Sias from a local street, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta Commission on Tuesday voted to rename Sammie Sias Way to Jamestown Lane, effective immediately.

Sias was accused by a former employee of sexual misconduct, pocketing $10,000 of SPLOST funds, and mistreating children at the Jamestown Community Center – a center he was been long criticized for managing while serving as a commissioner.

Sias was found guilty in July 2022 after a four-day trial of destroying records in a federal investigation and then lying about it to federal investigators researching the case.

COVID is still affecting services for homeless and food-insecure people, according to the Albany Herald.

Food banks across the country also are dealing with higher demand and less food available for distribution, said Frank Sheppard, president and CEO of the Columbus-based Feeding the Valley Food Bank.

“It’s a perfect storm of a number of issues, from the supply chain to the inflation to the pandemic,” he said of the current situation. “Oddly, canned goods are very difficult to acquire. Canned goods go into every one of the 12,000 boxes we supply to families every month. It’s one of those situations we’ve never imagined in 40 years of food banking.”

During the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased its supply of food for organizations like Feeding the Valley, but that has been reduced. In November, Sheppard said that food supplies were 40% below pre-pandemic levels, and the need has been increasing due to inflation.

Eventually the supply chain issues will be worked out, but there are other challenges for the food bank, which began operation in Dougherty County serving it and three additional counties in June 2019. Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Quitman, Randolph and Terrell counties are among the most poverty-stricken in the state, Sheppard said.

“In some of those counties, child food insecurity is 40%,” he said. “(For the elderly) it’s sheer numbers, with the Baby Boomer generation getting up there. Ten thousand people a day are turning 65, and some of them don’t have the resources to make it alone.”

The Coastal Health District said some Georgians should still be careful of COVID, according to The Brunswick News.

“COVID has not disappeared and some people are at higher risk of getting really sick if they get COVID-19,” warns Ginger Heidel, public information officer for the eight-county Coastal Health District.

“The CDC’s new recommendations give health care providers more flexibility to administer another (vaccine) dose to individuals over 65 and to folks with immune system concerns. If these individuals received an updated booster shot when the bivalent vaccine was first introduced last year, then 6 months or more may have passed since they were vaccinated and their immunity may be waning.”

The Coastal Health District includes Glynn, Camden, McIntosh, Liberty, Long, Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties.

“If you fall into the high-risk age group and you’re not sure if you should get another booster dose, then I encourage you to talk with your health care provider for advice,” Heidel said.

Savannah’s federal courthouse collapse was caused by insufficient support, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Federal officials have shared what they believe caused a collapse at the Tomochichi Federal Courthouse in downtown Savannah last month.

According to a General Services Administration (GSA) spokesperson, the support holding up a section of the third floor was “insufficient.”

Three construction workers were injured when part of the third floor collapsed onto the second floor on April 11.

Some Savannah State University students rallied for more funding, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With news of being in an $11 million deficit, they are pleading with the public to help get the proper funding because they fear the school might close.

Officials have had to cut its operating budget by 10% and its travel budget by 50% because of declining enrollment.

State Representative Carl Gilliard tells News 3 that this is not just a Savannah State issue and that a lot of HBCUs are struggling to get proper funding. He and his team from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus are committed to helping Savannah State keep its doors open.

“Savannah State might come and ask for $3 to $5 million and that might be their cap window but the other universities because of the formula that can ask for 33 and 43. That’s a double standard somewhere. Our formula is really off. Savannah State has an 11 million dollar deficit, and it’s not by their own fault, it’s just that the way the formula are given to black universities. They have not been given their fair share of the money needed to be appropriate for survival,” Gilliard said.

[Savannah State student Natori] Milner said, “the point that Georgia is underfunding us, is really kinda sad because although we were first here more people like even though it’s like Atlanta and other communities, they’re getting more money than we are. We’re an HBCU, other HBCUs like as we saw with Fort Valley they have a higher amount of money that they’re getting paid. We’re only getting funded 89 point something mil for the whole next year that’s not enough to run a community.”

The Dalton Board of Education set two public hearings ahead of its consideration of the FY 2024 budget proposal, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is working on their FY 2024 budget, which includes considerable state and federal funding, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is looking at a proposed $140.2 million fiscal year 2024 general fund budget as the school system begins spending down a massive $59 million fund balance from special federal cash received during the COVID years.

As part of this, Bulloch County Schools will continue delivering on previously awarded raises for all employees. These include a $2,500 boost in local supplement for teachers and other certified educators and a locally funded $3-an-hour raise for non-certified school employees, which Superintendent Charles Wilson proposed in January and board members agreed to make retroactive to the beginning of the calendar year. In addition, the school system’s budget shows the pass-through effect of the $2,000 state raise for certified educators Gov. Brian Kemp proposed in January.

Besides covering the raises, the budget proposal also shifts some payroll and other expenses back to the general fund that three years ago were transferred to special budgets for federal funding received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act of 2020, and similar legislation.

The $140.2 million in general-fund spending proposed for fiscal 2024 amounts to a $22.7 million, or 19.3%, increase over the school system’s actual spending in the 2023 fiscal year, ending June 30. But since expenditures in the current fiscal year had already increased from the originally budgeted $107.4 million to a revised estimate of $117.5 million, the proposed $140.2 million spending for fiscal 2024 reflects an increase of about 30% over the current year’s original general-fund budget.

The $3 raise for non-certified employees is projected to cost $1.1 million more for the year; the $2,500 local supplement boost for certified educators, $1.3 million; and the pass-through state teacher raise $1.54 million. But salaries transferred back from the special CARES-related funds add almost $4.9 million spending back to the general fund.

Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen said higher attendance at Orange Crush was too much and left the city unprepared, according to WTOC.

Tybee Island’s city manager called Orange Crush in particular, “unprecedented” and the city’s mayor called some of the issues around the event “horrifying.”

“This event was twice the size of any Orange Crush event in history,” Gillen said. “…We could have and should have been better prepared. Had we known the level of attendance that was going to be here, we could have called the DOJ and said this is not going to work, because we’re expecting 50,000 people. Not 20,000 or 30,000. We had no evidence to show that, other than social media chatter. Now that we know it, a failure would be not to be ready for the next one.”

Gillen says a few years ago, they’ve been accused of profiling for having a heavy police presence on the island ahead of the beach bash which resulted in an agreement with the Department of Justice.

“We were limited on what we could do for various reasons,” Gillen said. “Now we’re freed up from that.”

Mayor Shirley Sessions says they do not have the authority to call a state of emergency. She says they will start looking at creating a plan for unpermitted events and a crisis plan for when an unexpected amount of people are on the beach.

“It is not a race thing,” Sessions said. “It’s not a religious thing. It’s not a political thing. It is a behavioral thing.”

She also mentioned asking universities in Georgia to discourage their students from coming to Orange Crush.

Gillen says the conversation will go beyond this room and continue with state legislators.

“We need to come up with some sort of regional plan for how to handle that level or traffic, especially what’s the limits on Tybee Island and what do we do at that point.”

Milledgeville’s fire department is contending with rising salaries, according to 13WMAZ.

Milledgeville’s Fire Department says they need higher pay or they’ll keep losing staff.

They say that their situation is critical and explain why they need the money.

Battalion Chief David Ussery says 13 people have left the fire station since last year. He says now more than half the staff has less than two years of experience, and that could be dangerous for both them and the community.
“We cannot neglect it this year,” he says. “We have to address the salaries.”

Ussery says the city has failed to address their salary problems for years. He says they’re now at a critical point with staff leaving.

“It wasn’t just our young firefighters, it was our middle management that left,” Ussery says. “The risk drastically increase by not having experienced firefighters.”

He says they’ve asked the city for a $400,000 total pay raise and it’s being wasted in other ways.

“Every time we hire a firefighter, it costs the city of Milledgeville $26,900.”

He says once trained, those firefighters often leave after a year for better pay somewhere else.

He says it usually takes at least two years of experience to promote someone to their sergeant and company officer positions. However, their staff shortages have them promoting folks sooner.

[Sergeant Courtney] Butts says she made $31,000 as a starting firefighter, but even with a promotion she works two jobs.

“To make it day by day, we have to find something else to do. If I could, I wouldn’t have to work a second job. Just getting off and going to another job while I’m working four to five days straight,” she explains. “Just being 23 years old, it’s tough.”

“Surrounding counties are paying more,” she says. “Everybody has other obligations other than being a firefighter. They have things they have to do at home, families to take care of, bills.”

She says if the pay doesn’t increase she may have to leave too.

“This is my hometown, this is my community and I would hate to have to go, but at the end of the day I got to make the best decision that’s for myself. That’s a loss because if we’re losing all of our people, then who’s gonna be here to protect all the people,” Butts asks.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 2, 2023

Rudy is a 3-4 year old, 70-pound male Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Ruffus Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Oliver is a year-old, 8-pound male Chiweenie (Chihuahua and Dachshund mix) who is available for adoption from Ruffus Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Gracie is a year-old, 34-pound female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Ruffus Rescue in Atlanta, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2023

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig died on June 2, 1941 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp made it rain announced the state is issuing income tax refunds, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 1, 2023

Bella is a 37-pound, year-old female American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Velma is a 4-year-old, 55.8-pound female Catahoula Leopard Dog (hound) mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Puddin is a 6-year-old, 87-pound female Great Pyrenees mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 1, 2023

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.


On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day. On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 1, 1971, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night was the #1 song in the nation.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke the major league baseball stolen base record on the same day that Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, recorded his seventh no-hitter.

The official state tartan of Georgia was designated on May 1, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Kemp issued Executive Order #, appointing Jessica Barrett Martin as Solicitor General for Habersham County State Court.

Governor Brian Kemp last week signed legislation to bolster Georgia’s workforce, according to a Press Release:Continue Reading..