The blog.

31
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 31, 2020

Rosalie Renegade

Rosalie is a young female Hound and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Huckleberry Renegade

Huckleberry Finn is a young male Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Changa Renegade

Changa is a young female Dachshund and Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

31
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 31, 2020

On January 31, 1733, six boats carried Georgia’s first colonists to Trench’s Island, now called Hilton Head Island, where they spent the night before continuing on to land in Georgia at Yamacraw Bluff on February 1, 1733.

The United States Supreme Court held its first session in New York City, Chief Justice John Jay presiding, on February 1, 1790.

On January 31, 1865, Robert E. Lee began service as Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate armies.

On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery.

The first recorded reference to Groundhog Day was in 1841; the first Punxsutawney observance was in 1870.

The first recorded reference to Groundhog Day was in 1841; the first Punxsutawney observance was in 1870.

Atlanta City Council met for the first time on February 2, 1848.

On February 1, 1861, Texas seceded from the Union.

On February 2, 1870, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

On February 1, 1871, Jefferson Franklin Long of Macon, Georgia became the first black Member of Congress to speak on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Long was born into slavery and taught himself to read and write. Long was a prominent member of the Republican Party, speaking on its behalf in Georgia and other Southern states. He helped elect 37 African-American members to the 1867 Georgia Constitutional Convention and 32 members of the state legislature; Long continued after his term in Congress as a delegate to Republican National Conventions through 1880. In 1880, Long’s support of Governor Alfred Colquitt showed that African-Americans could be an electoral force in Georgia politics.

General William Tecumseh Sherman visited Kimball Opera House in Atlanta on January 31, 1879, which was then serving as State Capitol, fifteen years after burning the city.

On January 31, 1893, the trademark for “Coca-Cola” was filed.

On February 2, 1932, Al Capone was sent to federal prison in Atlanta.

On February 1, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Selma, Alabama, where he was arrested.

Richard M. Nixon announced his candidacy for President of the United States on Feburary 1, 1968.

On February 2, 1988, the Georgia Senate ratified the 22d Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that pay raises for Members of Congress shall not go into effect until the next term.

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker was suspended on January 31, 2000 for remarks made to ESPN.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – LD

8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES 515 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL 132 CAP

9:30 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 9) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

Governor Brian Kemp appointed James Prine, II as a Judge on the Superior Court for the Southern Judicial Circuit, which serves Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Lowndes, and Thomas Counties.

Governor Kemp is not amused after the Georgia State Patrol fired an entire class of troopers, according to WSB-TV.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant broke the news Wednesday that 31 state troopers were fired this week for cheating at the state’s training academy.

Diamant spoke one-on-one with Kemp on Thursday about the public safety impact the scandal could have.

“Well, it’s very disappointing,” Kemp said.

“What is your expectation of that agency?” Diamant asked.

“Well, I certainly am going to make sure we get to the complete bottom of what’s going on and be transparent as we do that,” Kemp said.

Gov. Kemp signed legislation clarifying the responsibility of online retailers to collect and remit Georgia sales tax, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The tax is projected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Georgia.

Lawmakers in Georgia’s House and Senate hashed out a compromise measure early in this year’s legislative session to collect the tax from so-called “marketplace facilitators,” which allow third-party companies to conduct business on their websites.

The measure, House Bill 276, stalled in the Senate last year amid pushback from ride-share companies like Uber, which wanted a tax exemption. Lawmakers involved in negotiating the compromise bill expect separate legislation to be filed that would give Uber an exemption or require them to pay a fee.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said state revenue experts estimate the tax could raise $10 million a month — though he thinks that’s a conservative estimate.

“It’s great for cities, counties, schools and Georgia businesses that the playing field will be more level now,” Hufstetler said Thursday.

Governor Kemp’s proposal for anti-gang measures is drawing praise and criticism, according to the AJC.

The Nicholas Sheffey Act, named for the Chamblee boy who was killed in a 2010 drive-by shooting, would give judges the option to add drastically more prison time for convicted gang members than current law allows and let prosecutors seek the death penalty more often.

“We will send a clear message,” Kemp said, “to those who want to prey upon our families, our communities and our young people, that their actions will have big consequences.”

For defendants convicted of multiple crimes in a gang case, the bill would let judges sentence them to an additional five to 15 years in prison for each count, instead of five to 15 years for the whole case. That could easily leave more convicted gang members facing the rest of their lives behind bars, as is the case with the man who killed Nicholas.

In a lengthy statement, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said the state’s gang laws and sentencing guidelines are already strict — as evidenced by the sentence for Nicholas’ killer. The legislation also has defense attorneys on edge because the governor has proposed decreasing funding for public defenders and increasing funding for prosecutors and the GBI.

Nicholas’ mother is most thankful for another part of the proposal: the bill would make defendants in gang-related murder cases automatically eligible for the death penalty. The death penalty can already be used in a wide range of cases that could include gang incidents, although capital punishment has become far less common in recent years as life without parole has become more common.

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

As part of his anti-gang push, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday said he wants prosecutors to be able to charge crimes across multiple counties and to be able to seek the death penalty for murders committed during gang activity.

“Criminal street gangs are plaguing our communities with violence, drugs, weapons and fear,” Kemp told reporters, with more than two dozen lawmakers standing behind him. “They’re responsible for the most violent crime in our state.”

Allowing prosecutors in one county to charge crimes in other counties is also something the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had asked for earlier. Merchant said she feared that could lead to prosecutors seeking to bring cases in “tough-on-crime” counties.

Murders committed during gang activity would be added to the list of other crimes tied to a murder that make a convicted killer eligible for execution, such as rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, murder-for-hire or killing a law enforcement officer.

One bill would also expand the state’s power to seize property and put people who commit sex crimes as part of gang activity onto Georgia’s sexual offender registry.

A second bill would create a legal division at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and allow those GBI lawyers to serve as special prosecutors for gang crimes when requested. Currently, the GBI only investigates crimes. Kemp said he saw no reason to fear prosecutors working for an investigative agency instead of having independence, and said having them in an agency under his control underlined gang prosecutions as one of his priorities.

From Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Georgia has more than 71,000 gang members at large plus another roughly 30,000 in prison or on parole, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds. It’s likely the actual number of gang members is higher, he said.

“This is the major issue facing law enforcement today,” Reynolds told a joint hearing of the House and Senate Public Safety committees on Monday.

Kemp’s budget calls for nearly $1.6 million this fiscal year and next to add seven agents and analysts to the gang task force, more than doubling its current staff. He launched the new task force last year under the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The budget would also pump $420,000 into a gang database created in 2010 that has gone unfunded. The database would allow local sheriff’s offices and city police departments to better share information on gang activity in the state, officials say.

Those additional funds come as Kemp has proposed budget cuts for several criminal justice areas like alternative-sentencing courts and the Georgia Public Defender Council.

Legislation to change the “jungle” election for the Senate seat held by Republican Kelly Loeffler is less likely to pass, according to the AJC.

House Speaker David Ralston says a bill to end free-for-all special elections in Georgia probably wouldn’t affect this year’s upcoming election for the U.S. Senate.

Ralston told News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB that it’s unlikely the bill would have an impact on the U.S. Senate special election, which under current Georgia law will include all candidates from multiple political parties on the same ballot in November.

“It was never directed at this special election,” Ralston said of House Bill 757. “This special election was not to be singled out. I think jungle primaries are bad policy. We’re just trying to change the policy moving forward.”

State appropriators will take a hatchet scalpel to Governor Kemp’s proposed budget, according to the AJC.

“It’s pretty obvious we’re not excited about these cuts,” state Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, told the head of one state agency during testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee on health funding.

House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, said “the brunt of the cuts” appear targeted at some of the General Assembly’s most recent work, such as efforts over several years to alleviate the shortage of health care workers in rural Georgia.

Proposed cuts of particular interest to rural lawmakers include funding for county health departments, which stand to lose $6.4 million this year and $9.24 million next year.

That’s a significant blow, said House Appropriations Vice Chairman Clay Pirkle, who called the departments “the front line of health care in rural Georgia.”

“There are many counties in this great state that don’t have a doctor,” the Republican from Ashburn said, “but every one of them has a county health department.”

Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta will run for the United States Senate seat currently held by Republican Kelly Loeffler, according to The Epoch Times.

Warnock, who became the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church at the age of 35 in 2005, released a campaign announcement video highlighting his family and upbringing, saying his parents taught him and his 11 siblings the value of hard work.

Responding to those who might wonder why a pastor would run for Senate, Warnock told viewers: “I’ve always thought that my impact doesn’t stop at the church door; that’s actually where it starts. I love this country. I believe that what makes America so great, is that we’ve always had a path to make it greater.”

Warnock is vying for a seat that was vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), 75. Kelly Loeffler, a 49-year-old business executive, was selected to fill the seat temporarily by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. The seat is up for grabs in the 2020 election, as is the seat held by Sen. David Purdue (R-Ga.), who is running for reelection.

Warnock is the third Democrat to join the race. Also running are Ed Tarver, a former federal prosecutor who served as U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District under President Barack Obama; and Matt Lieberman, the son of former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.

Governor Stacey Abrams will appoint support Warnock for Senate, according to the AJC.

Stacey Abrams endorsed the Rev. Raphael Warnock’s bid for U.S. Senate on Thursday hours after the pastor of the famed Atlanta church entered the race, calling him a “proven leader” as she pledged to help him appeal to voters on the campaign trail.

“Wherever there is need, Reverend Warnock can be found on the front lines. And that’s where we need him at this moment. On the front lines of the battle for the soul of America,” Abrams wrote to supporters.

“So today, as he kicks off his campaign, I am proud to endorse Reverend Raphael Warnock for the U.S. Senate because Georgia must have a leader who sees all of us and serves all of us.”

United States Senator David Perdue (R-Sea Island) will report raising $2.5 million this quarter, according to the AJC.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue raised $2.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, including $1.8 million that went directly into his campaign account, his team announced today.

That leaves the Republican incumbent with $7.8 million in cash on hand for his reelection campaign this year.

“Georgians are proud of Senator Perdue’s record as a bipartisan leader and political outsider who gets results for our families,” campaign manager Ben Fry said in a statement. “Their early investment in his campaign shows they are not taking this election for granted and they are grateful that Senator Perdue is leading the way to grow our economy and keep Americans safe.”

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) announced via Facebook that he will run for the Ninth Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Doug Collins.

Today I made an official announcement. I am running for United States Congress to fill the seat Doug Collins is vacating to run for Senate.

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

We will be sending out a lot of official posts as we move forward, but tonight I wanted to ask my friends to just remember me in prayer.

Will Wade, a Dawson County Board of Education member, told the Dawson News he’s considering running for Tanner’s seat in the State House.

Should Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) announce his decision to run for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District seat, longtime Dawson County Board of Education member Will Wade will likely run to fill Tanner’s seat in the state house of representatives, the education official announced on Thursday.

“Serving the Dawson County citizens and students over the past almost 16 years on the school board has been truly an honor,” Wade said in a statement to the Dawson County News. “Given the recent possibility of Kevin Tanner running for Congress I have had lots of phone calls and nudges from friends and customers to consider running for this house seat.”

Wade said he will likely make his announcement following Tanner’s decision.

“I believe in service and love Dawson County and this district. I know I have a heart and passion for my neighbors, this community and this region of the state,” Wade said. “Given my deep roots in Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth County both personally and professionally I am seriously considering running for State House to continue the next chapter in the call to serve.”

Georgia’s District 9 represents Lumpkin County and parts of Dawson and Forsyth counties. Tanner has held the state house position since 2013.

Brunswick lawyer Keith Higgins will run as an independent for Glynn County District Attorney, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick attorney Keith Higgins is looking to change those facts as he launches his campaign to unseat incumbent District Attorney Jackie Johnson. Higgins, who is running as an independent, discussed his entry into the race Wednesday with local news media at Brunswick Country Club.

Higgins, who worked as a prosecutor in the circuit for more than 20 years and as a defense attorney for nearly a decade more, said he feels the office is a calling. He also said he feels it’s time for a change — that some things need to be conducted differently to provide fairness for everyone in the system.

By running as an independent, Higgins needs the signatures of 5 percent of the number of registered voters in the circuit as of the 2016 general election. He has until July 14 to file his nomination petition with at least 4,991 verified signatures of voters in the counties of Glynn, Camden, Appling, Jeff Davis and Wayne.

Higgins’ candidacy is a bit of a surprise for more than one reason. In the past 28 years, there was primary opposition only three times to the person who won in November, and the last general election showdown had Republican nominee Stephen Kelly, now a superior court judge, defeating Democratic nominee John Johnson 54.9 percent to 45.1 percent — an ultimate difference of a little more than 4,000 votes.

Jackie Johnson’s run opposed in each of the past three general elections since receiving appointment to fill the end of Kelley’s term in 2010. However, Jonathan Miller, who worked as a local assistant district attorney from 2005 to 2012, challenged Johnson in the Republican primary. He lost in a rout, 68.57-31.43 percent, a difference of more than 10,000 votes out of more than 27,800 cast.

Nicole Love Hendrickson will run for Chair of the Gwinnett County Commission, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Longtime Gwinnett County outreach director Nicole Love Hendrickson announced she will step down from that position on Feb. 28 to run for chairman. She said she will run as a Democrat.

“I am uniquely qualified for this position because I have the proven experience in local government and understand the tough decisions that have to be made in order to balance the needs of the community with being a steward of our tax dollars,” Hendrickson said in a statement. “But most importantly, I have the heart to serve.”

“It gives me so much pride to look back on all I’ve accomplished in this short tenure,” Hendrickson said. “Community outreach started out as a concept, but has now evolved into an award-winning program that has motivated countless residents to volunteer in their communities, seek other opportunities to be more knowledgeable about their county government and even run for office.

Mitch Taylor announced he will run for Hall County Sheriff, according to the Gainesville Times.

Mitch Taylor joined the Hall County Sheriff’s Office in 1991 and retired in October 2013.

Following a stint as the Athens Technical College assistant police chief, Taylor has been a police officer with Braselton Police since September 2017.

“First, my campaign’s platform is based on integrity and trust. The sheriff is employed by the people of Hall County and must be visible and involved in the community as well as his agency. Second, loyalty and respect must be earned, and respecting the person behind the Sheriff title is a true mark of great leadership. Third, my proactive focus on the current and future needs of our community is critical,” Taylor said in a statement announcing his candidacy.

Kris Hall also announced a campaign for Hall County Sheriff, according to the Gainesville Times.

Habersham County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Kris Hall has entered the race for Hall County Sheriff.

Hall started his law enforcement career in 1996 following his service in the U.S. Army.

A graduate of Forsyth Central High School, Hall holds a criminal justice degree from Columbia Southern University and more than 3,200 hours of training through the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

He currently supervises the traffic unit and part of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic unit.

The Bulloch County Board of Elections is hosting demos of the new voting system, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration staff has a room set up until Feb. 27 to demonstrate the all-new voting equipment to civic and faith groups who call and schedule a time.

To make a group appointment, call (912) 764-6502. The demonstration should take about an hour, said Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones.

Georgia’s new voting equipment, combining touchscreen digital voting and a printed-out paper ballot, amounts not so much to a single type of new voting machine as a set of different machines with which voters will interact.

Bibb County School District is soliciting parent input on a plan to increase parent involvement, according to WGXA.

WMAZ-13, The Macon Telegraph and GPB will hold listening sessions ahead of this year’s Macon elections, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Four Columbus schools went on lockdown yesterday morning, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

30
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 30, 2020

Cobb County Commissioners are considering a ban on retail dog and cat sales, according to 11Alive.

“Various parts of Georgia have different problems. For example, rural parts of Georgia have lots of puppy mills,” said Claudine Wilkins, an attorney who works as an animal welfare advocate.

Wilkins said this is a local issue Cobb County needs to address.

“I do believe local jurisdictions should have some say in how they treat animals in their locality,” she said.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr issued his opinion last month on this issue, saying cities can’t ban sales of cats and dogs in pet stores. But, Wilkins said there are already counties and cities that do this, including Fulton and Cherokee counties, and the cities of Centerville, Atlanta, Canton, Sandy Springs, and Senoia.

11Alive was told the board intends on withdrawing the proposed ban from its code amendment package. Chairman Mike Boyce’s office told 11Alive the meeting was just a public hearing.

There will be another public hearing on these same issues at their next meeting on February 11.

Benji Cobb County Shelter

Benji is a young male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Say hello to Benji, one of the cutest little dudes in town. Benji lost his way and landed in the shelter on 01/18. He is micro-chipped but his family chose not to come for him when contacted. Benji has the most beautiful and unique coat, a very soft brindle color. He is sweet and calm but also playful. He is about 1 year old and weighs about 42 pounds. Benji is current on his vaccines, will be neutered and tested for heart worms upon adoption. You will find him waiting in run 16 and his ID# is 620539.

Duke Cobb County Shelter

Duke is a young male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Meet Duke!. He is an awesome boy with the perfect amount of energy to be a walker or runner or just to play outside. He sits as soon as he is told and is great on a leash. So far he has not made a lot of noise in his run. Duke got lost and came to the shelter 1/20. and so far no one has come for him. He is about 3 years old and 44 pounds. He will be neutered, microchipped and heartworm tested upon ddoption. Duke is waiting in run 53. ID 620572

Faith Cobb County Shelter

Faith is a two-year old female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Miss Faith came to the shelter as a lost girl with ID on 01/17 and her family chose not to come for her when they were contacted. Faith sure could use to put on a few pounds because she weighs in at only 40 pounds. She has been taught to sit and lay down when told and is great on a leash for those long, leisurely walks. Faith is current on vaccines,spayed and micro-chipped and will be tested for heart worms when adopted. She is waiting in run 801 and her ID# is 620533.

30
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 30, 2020

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.

On January 30, 1788, the Georgia legislature passed a resolution calling for a state Constitutional Convention in Augusta to adopt a state Constitution that conformed to the new Constitution of the United States.

On January 30, 1862, the United States launced its first ironclad warship, USS Monitor.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. In 1942, Roosevelt ordered Japanese-Americans on the west coast of the United States into concentration camps, leaving German and Italian Americans free.

On January 30, 1935, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. protested segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse.

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated.

1920 Georgia Flag

On January 30, 1956, six members of the Georgia State House of Representatives introduced House Bill 98 to replace the red and white stripes on Georgia’s flag (above) with a Confederate battle flag (below). That same day, a bomb was thrown at the Birmingham, AL home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1956 Georgia Flag

January 30, 1972 is remembered as Bloody Sunday in commemoration of the shooting of 26 civilians by British troops in Northern Ireland.

On January 30, 2001, the Georgia State Senate passed a house bill changing the state flag from the 1956 version to one that aggregated the State Seal and five former state flags, pictured below.

2001GeorgiaFlag

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congressman Doug Collins announced on Fox News that he will run for the United States Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler. From FoxNews:

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., confirmed on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning that he will run for U.S. Senate in a November special election, challenging incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler — a move that drew a stunning rebuke from the organization tasked with defending the Republican Senate majority.

“We’re in for the Georgia Senate race down here. I’ve still got a lot of work left to do to help this president finish this impeachment out, and we’re going to make a bigger announcement down here in Georgia,” he told the “Fox & Friends” hosts.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, slammed Collins for what it said was an ill-advised and self-centered bid for higher office.

“The shortsightedness in this decision is stunning,” NRSC Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin said in a statement. “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump. Not to mention the people of Georgia who stand to bear the burden of it for years to come. All he has done is put two senate seats, multiple house seats, and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in play. The NRSC stands firmly behind Sen. Kelly Loeffler and urges anyone who wants to re-elect President Trump, hold the GOP senate majority, and stop socialism to do the same.”

Collins’ entrance into the race makes a runoff far more likely, which could potentially decide the balance of the Senate in a vote held in January, a month when most people are not accustomed to going to the polls.

From Fox5Atlanta:

“Anyone is welcome to run for the United States Senate,” said [Loeffler] Press Secretary Caitlin O’Dea. “Kelly Loeffler grew up on a farm, worked her way through college, and built a successful career in business. She’s a conservative outsider, not a career politician, who is willing to challenge Washington’s wasteful ways to keep our state and country moving in the right direction [...] Kelly Loeffler remains unapologetically supportive of President Trump and his policies to Keep America Great. Already she’s delivering conservative results for hardworking families in the Peach State. And that’s exactly what she’s going to keep doing.”

Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia’s Legislative Luncheon Wednesday, Governor Kemp reaffirmed his support for Loeffler.

“We need somebody fighting for us every single day,” said Kemp. “I said, ‘you go up there and do that and I will be with you fighting to make sure that we keep you as our U.S. Senator.’ And Marty, the girls, and I look forward to being on the campaign trail with her over the next few months.”

From the AJC:

Now that U.S. Rep. Doug Collins has made his Senate run official, other Georgia GOP members in the House have a difficult decision to make.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter said Collins’ decision to challenge Loeffler for the seat creates an “awkward situation.”

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, described Collins and Loeffler as “two absolutely great candidates” who each would reliably support conservative causes in Washington.

State Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) announced yesterday that he will run for the Ninth Congressional District seat being vacated by Collins. From WGAU:

“This is a critical time for our country, and we need an experienced, conservative voice willing to stand up for the values that residents of North Georgia hold dear”, said Wilkinson. “For the past eight years in Atlanta, I have fought to eliminate useless red tape and regulation of business, defended the sanctity of all life, and fought for our constitutional rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. I look forward to continuing that fight in Washington.”

A native of Toccoa and graduate of Stephens County High School, Wilkinson earned degrees in agriculture and education from the University of Georgia. He has experience as a classroom teacher and served on the State Agricultural Education staff for 26 years. He has served as State Advisor to the Georgia FFA Association, as well as the Georgia Young Farmer Association. He was recognized as the Outstanding Member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education in 2006. He and his wife Debbie have two children and five grandchildren. John and Debbie are active members of Tates Creek Baptist Church.

Senator Wilkinson has served as Chair of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee in the Senate for the past eight years. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee, as well as a member of the Natural Resources and the Environment, Appropriations and Rules Committees. He has served as Secretary of the Senate Majority Caucus for the past 6 years.

The Ninth Congressional District includes all of Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White and parts of Clarke, Forsyth and Pickens counties. To learn more about Senator John Wilkinson, please visit www.VoteWilkinson.com.

Habersham County Commission Chair Stacy Hall announced via Facebook that he will run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Wilkinson.

I am truly grateful and humbled by the overwhelming support and encouragement throughout the district to run for the State Senate seat currently held by John K. Wilkinson. After much prayer and speaking with many individuals across the district, along with the encouragement of my wife Ivy Copeland Hall and our children, I have decided to run for Georgia Senate District 50. If elected, I plan to represent you in fighting for our North Georgia values and Constitutional Rights.

I am asking for your prayers and support as we start this campaign.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is also mulling a run for Congress, according to the Gainesville Times.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) says he is weighing a run for Georgia’s 9th Congressional district seat.

The 9th District, which includes a large swath of northeast Georgia, including Dawson, Hall, Lumpkin and many other counties, has been held by Collins since 2013.

In a statement to the Dawson County News on Wednesday, Tanner said that he has received a tremendous amount of support from constituents and colleagues, who have urged him to consider running for the seat.

“Well it’s unexpected and not something I was ever really planning,” he said. “But I’m definitely considering it.”

After much prayer and time spent talking with people in the 9th District, Tanner says he will likely make a decision one way or another in the next few days.

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD7

8:00 AM HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT 606 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS TRANSPORTATION SUBCOMMITTEE 515 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD8) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION- CANCELED 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE JOINT House Education and Senate Education and Youth 606 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HIGHER EDUCATION SUBCOMMITTEE 403 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

1:00 PM JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE EDUCATION 606 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE Powell Public Safety and Homeland Security Subcommittee CANCELLED 415 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEES 506 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE MEZZ 1

2:00 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE OF GENERAL GOVERNMENT 415 CLOB

2:00 PM JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

2:45 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY- CANCELED MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HUMAN RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE 406 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION- CANCELED 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY – CANCELED 307 CLOB

The State Senate Transportation Committee will not regulate electric scooters, but laid the groundwork for local governments to do so, according to AccessWDUN.

The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a new version of Senate Bill 159, which would define electric scooters in state law. But it would do nothing else, leaving other regulations up to local governments.

State Sen. Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican, told committee members Tuesday that’s how the scooter companies and local governments both want it.

“Local governments should be doing backflips and cartwheels,” Gooch said. “They’re getting everything they asked for.’”

The study committee, which Gooch chaired, recommended regulating impounds and encouraging safer scooter designs and docks to alleviate the problem of scooters being strewn on sidewalks. However, it also said the state “should be careful not to overregulate the micromobility industry.” Gooch says he hopes cities don’t ban scooters.

“We believe scooters are a good solution to the first- and last-mile transit problem,” Gooch said, saying they help people reach buses and trains.

The State Senate Agriculture Committee heard a proposed new version of House Bill 545, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Georgia Right to Farm Act of 2020, now before the state Senate, would make it more difficult for property owners living in areas zoned for agriculture to sue nearby agricultural operations such as poultry houses or cattle ranches for offensive smells or runoff from sludge lagoons.

In order to sue, property owners would have to be located within five miles of the source of the alleged nuisance. The bill also would require lawsuits to be brought within two years after a nuisance occurs, compared to four years in the current law.

Supporters told members of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Tuesday farmers need more protection against nuisance lawsuits as Georgia’s growing population brings more people who don’t farm for a living into closer proximity to agricultural operations.

“Agribusiness often comes with smells, sights, and dust,” said Will Bentley, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. “We have to decide whether to protect the state’s No.-1 industry.”

Sen. Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth, said the proposed changes to the law would make existing owners of farm properties more vulnerable to large agricultural polluters that move into their neighborhoods. She questioned the need to change the law when there’s no data showing whether there has been an outbreak of nuisance lawsuits in Georgia.

From the Georgia Recorder:

The so-called “Right to Farm” bill would add new limitations for when nuisance complaints can be filed against farmers. A new iteration unveiled Tuesday afternoon softened some of the proposed changes from last year, but environmentalists and Democrats still argue the current law is working just fine.

There may not be widespread nuisance complaints being filed against farmers statewide, but successful lawsuits against the hog industry in North Carolina were enough to send chills across the country in recent years. The bill is considered a top priority for the agricultural industry this session.

The current law grants a four-year window for someone to pursue a nuisance complaint. The new proposal would allow for two years, which is a year longer than last year’s bill. It also requires the aggrieved to be a property owner who lives within five miles of their gripe’s target. The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee did not vote on the measure Tuesday.

Opponents, like Damon Mullis with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, argued that these changes and others disrupt the balance that the current law provides and hurt long-time residents of rural Georgia. He noted that the proposal now appears to nix protections against urban sprawl – one of the concerns driving the original law.

“For over 30 years, the ‘Right to Farm’ law has worked to protect farmers and rural property owners and now for some reason we’re trying to fix a problem that I don’t think really exists,” Mullis said.

Former Governor Nathan Deal toured the judicial building that now bears his name, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Deal, Georgia Supreme Court Justices and several others visited the building Wednesday morning for a tour. They also heard from a former prison inmate, William Rutledge, and saw some of the furniture in the building made by inmates from three Georgia Department of Corrections facilities.

At $130 million, the building is intended to last 100 years, which was Deal’s vision when he secured the funding and won the legislature’s support for it. The building is now owned and managed by the Georgia Building Authority, though different courts lease it.

The building came in $1 million under budget, but what helps it stand out is that a number of pieces of furniture were designed and constructed by Georgia prison inmates through Georgia Correctional Industries.

“I think this is emblematic of all of those reforms that we worked for while I was governor,” Deal said. “I have so many people to thank and certainly Justice Michael Boggs is one of those because he was the consistent co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Commission from its very inception. He and many other have worked really hard to get those reforms passed … and I can’t think of a better illustration of all of that coming together than in this facility.”

A federal judge has drawn new districts and ordered elections in Sumter County, according to the AJC.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands created four districts in Sumter County where more than 60% of the voting population is made up of African Americans, giving them a better chance to win a majority on the seven-member school board.

Sands also eliminated two at-large districts that were elected countywide and are held by white school board members.

The judge found that the school districts had disempowered black voters and violated the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that prohibits racial discrimination in elections.

“This ruling is a victory for the parents and children of Sumter County who want an equal say in their education,” said Sean Young, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “At-large districts have traditionally been a racist tool for preventing black voters from electing candidates of their choice. The court today has eliminated those at-large seats.”

An attorney defending the Sumter County elections board said he plans to appeal Sands’ ruling.

The Special Election for State House in southwest Georgia exposed some growing pains with the new voting system, according to the AJC.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Georgia’s new voting system performed well during a special election Tuesday, saying voters experienced “just two minor issues.”

But poll watchers said they observed more problems, including scanners that wouldn’t initially accept ballots and a lack of voter privacy when they made their choices on touchscreens.

Raffensperger said several voter access cards, used to activate ballots on the touchscreens, weren’t working because a poll worker had been inserting them the wrong way in the computer that encodes them.

In addition, 13 ballots had to placed in an emergency ballot box when a ballot scanner lost power. A technician found that the scanner wasn’t plugged in.

“The transition to any new system will inevitably trigger some human error, and we experienced some minor ones Tuesday,” Raffensperger said in a statement Wednesday. “Our challenge is to scale up this success to more than 2,000 polling places in March for the presidential preference primary.”

The problems didn’t prevent anyone from voting or delay precincts from opening on time, he said.

The election for DeKalb Commission Super District 6 is gaining candidates after incumbent Kathie Gannon announced she will not seek reelection. From the Champion:

Gannon made her announcement Jan. 24 stating: “It is time for the next generation to move on up, to provide the energy, initiative and new ideas to build upon what we have started to continue progressive movement forward in DeKalb County.”

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced Jan. 27 that he will soon resign his role as mayor to run for the District 6 DeKalb County commission seat and realtor Robert Murphy also started his campaign for the seat. Digital media executive Emily Halevy announced her intent one day prior to Gannon’s announcement.

Gannon, whose term is set to expire Dec. 31, has endorsed Halevy to take over as the District 6 representative upon her departure.

“Please take the time to get to know any candidates for District 6 to make sure they are sincere about public service and serving you; that they are accessible and that they can work with the board of commissioners,” Gannon stated. “I am thrilled to present to you for your consideration the person I will support as my District 6 County Commissioner, Emily Halevy.”

DeKalb County Super District 6 includes portions of the city of Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, and Dunwoody.

Candidates may officially qualify for the seat March 2, ahead of the May 19 General Election Primary.

The Macon-Bibb County Mayoral race has lost candidates, according to 41 NBC.

harles Olson announced he’s dropping out of the Macon-Bibb mayoral race Tuesday.

Now, a second candidate has decided to drop out of the race as well. Michael McKeever announced that he’s ending his campaign Wednesday at the Board of Elections Office. McKeever thanked everyone who contributed to his campaign and, and says he will endorse Stanley Stewart.

A proposed mining facility near the Okefenokee Swamp is drawing more opposition, according to The Brunswick News.

Opposition is mounting against the proposed titanium mine by Twin Pines Minerals near the south end of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, has joined more than 25 regional, state and national organizations to express concerns about the proposed mining project.

In a letter written to Col. Daniel Hibner, with the Army Corps of Engineers office in Savannah, Ligon said the 12,000-acre heavy mineral sands mine could impact many of his constituents.

“The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was designated in 1937 and enjoys over 600,000 visitors annually,” Ligon said in his letter. “I join more than 20,000 citizens, businesses and organizations, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Georgia Environmental Protection Division to express my concern for the long-term impacts that may result from the proposed mine.”

Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, will speak in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

She will be the keynote speaker at the 35th annual Black History Month Observance Breakfast in the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on Feb. 17, starting at 7 a.m.

29
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 29, 2020

Leroy Angel Dog Rescue

Leroy is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Angel Dog Rescue, Inc. from Georgetown, GA.

Lola Angel Dog Rescue

Lola is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Angel Dog Rescue, Inc. from Georgetown, GA.

Rambler Angel Dog Rescue

Rambler is a young male Flat Coated Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Angel Dog Rescue, Inc. from Georgetown, GA.

29
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 29, 2020

On January 29, 1779, British forces captured Augusta, Georgia.

Walter F George Vienna Georgia

Walter F. George was born on January 29, 1878 in Preston, the county seat for Webster County, Georgia. Ron Daniels has a brief bio of the United States Senator who gave his name to a Law School, a courthouse, and a lake. The photo above is a bust in the town square of Vienna, Georgia, in Dooly County, where George made his home.

On January 29, 1892, the Coca Cola Company was incorporated in Georgia in Fulton County Superior Court.

On January 29, 1955, Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation granting the power to take land needed for the Stone Mountain Park through condemnation if negotiations to buy it fell through.

On January 29, 1977, Congressman Andrew Young resigned his seat to accept the nomination by President Carter as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

On January 29, 1998, a bomb exploded in a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing a police officer. Eric Rudolph would later admit to setting that bomb, along with the Centennial Park bombing in 1996, and the bombing of a Sandy Springs abortion clinic and an Atlanta bar in 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Joe Campbell of Camilla won the Special Election for House District 171, according to WALB.

Joe Campbell (R) has been elected in the special election to fill the seat after the sudden death of [State Rep. Jay] Powell. He will now represent Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties in the Georgia House.

Campbell was running against fellow Republican, Tommy Akridge, and Democrat Jewell Howard.

Howard garnered 33.35 percent of the votes while Akridge managed 8.38 percent, leaving Campbell with 58.27 percent and a strong victory over the other two candidates.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway announced he will not run for reelection this year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Conway, a Republican, was Gwinnett County’s longest-tenured sheriff. He was first elected to the post as a Republican in 1996 and was continually re-elected after that. There had been uncertainty for months, however, as to whether he would seek re-election this year.

“My decision to not seek re-election was not made easily, but I have reached a point in my life where I desire to pursue other opportunities which will afford me more time with my family, who recently suffered a great loss,” Conway said in a statement.

His son-in law, Chris Clay, recently died after a long battle with brain cancer.

“That’s been a big loss,” he said in a press conference Tuesday. “… It’s affected our family and I’ve got a daughter I want to help now. That’s not the only reason (I chose to not run for re-election). I still want to pursue business. I’ve always been a businessman at heart. I got out of law enforcement in the ’80s – didn’t plan on going back in but it’s just the way things happened.”

So far, there are five Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for sheriff, including Curtis Clemons, Keybo Taylor, Ben Haynes, Floyd Scott and Jerry Ramos-Acre. Recent election cycles have seen Gwinnett increasingly go for Democrats, including Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 and Stacey Abrams for governor in 2018.

Democrats also flipped two county commission seats, a school board seat, the solicitor general’s office and several state legislative seats in the county in 2018.

“In the sheriff’s office, a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ doesn’t really mean anything because the job is to prosecute people that violate the laws in the state of Georgia or the United States,” he said. “That’s not a big effect on the sheriff.”

In his statement, Conway said he hired Chief Deputy Lou Solis two years ago with the intention of preparing him to succeed him, though he didn’t know it would be so soon. Conway endorsed him for sheriff on Tuesday due to his work ethic, abilities and commitment, he said.

“Chief Deputy Solis has worked exhaustively over the past two years to familiarize himself with our operations,” Conway said. “His work ethic is unparalleled and his contributions to our office are great. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership time and time again.”

Under the Gold Dome – LD 7

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 7) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY- CANCELED MEZZ 1

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HUMAN RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION 606 CLOB

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

2:00 PM SENATE DOT Board Election- 7th Cong. District Senate Chamber

2:00 PM HOUSE Ad Valorem Tax Subcommittee of Ways & Means 133 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE Energy Subcommittee of Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications 415 CLOB

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

3:00 PM SENATE DOT Board Election- 8th Cong. District Senate Chamber

3:00 PM SENATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM 125 CAP

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HIGHER ED SUBCOMMITTEE 515 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR – CANCELED 506 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS EDUCATION SUBCOMMITTEE 606 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT MEZZ 1

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

Vacation plans for legislators and lobbyists may have to wait for a longer than usual legislative session. From the AJC:

The intense budget fight brewing between Kemp and Ralston, over both the extent of cuts needed and where the knife should slice, already has lobbyists and lawmakers advising each other to prepare for a legislative session that could drag on through mid-April.

On Monday, both Ralston and the governor appeared before members of the Georgia Municipal Association at a gathering near the state Capitol. The House speaker sought allies.

“In weddings, they tell you to speak now or forever hold your peace,” Ralston told the mayors. “I’m telling you much the same this morning. Because soon it will be too late.”

State budget cut decisions on health care will be controversial, according to the AJC.

Legislators writing the Georgia budget said they will push back at cuts to health care funding proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

“It’s pretty obvious we’re not excited about these cuts,” state Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, told the head of one state agency testifying Tuesday before a House Appropriations subcommittee on health funding. He said the Legislature had spent years trying to understand and fight key health care problems in the state, especially in rural areas, and finally had programs hitting the ground to do that.

“It appears that the cuts are all the new programs that we have added over the last few years,” Parrish said. “And we’re going to take a long hard look at that.”

State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said it was “painful” to see cuts to a program that subsidizes doctors and other professionals in rural areas in order to persuade them to keep working there. Half of Georgia’s counties have no ob/gyn, and a handful have no doctor at all.

The program is already subsidizing 37 doctors, but the state funded an additional 13. Doctors applied for the slots, but then the recent budget proposal would cut the program back to 37. The same with nurses and physician’s assistants, which went back from 25 slots each to 20.

“It’s sort of a yo-yo effect,” Hawkins said. “They make plans based on what we’re telling them we’re going to do. And then we say, ‘Well never mind,’ you know? … If we can find some money to fix this, we’re going to look for it I think.”

Parrish, the subcommittee chairman, said changes were coming to Kemp’s budget, no matter that the governor wields the veto pen.

“It’s my understanding that he recommends and the General Assembly appropriates,” Parrish said.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is asking for additional budgeting to cover defending the state against election-related lawsuits, according to the AJC.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is asking state budget writers to approve an additional $200,000 to help the state defend itself against mounting elections lawsuits.

The money would pay for attorneys and legal costs associated with the rising expense of court cases, including one alleging that the state’s election laws create obstacles to voting and that voting machines aren’t secure.

“Recently our state’s election laws have become a central focus of litigation,” Carr told a House Appropriations subcommittee. “The fiscal impact that this litigation will have on the state in the coming months and years is significant.”

Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed budget would transfer nearly $200,000 from the secretary of state’s office to the attorney general’s budget for “legal services to support election litigation and cyber security” in fiscal 2020 and 2021.

Hall County Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin warned that cuts to funding for accountability courts may prevent new courts from being established, according to the AJC.

Accountability courts, the centerpiece of Nathan Deal’s efforts to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system when he was governor, take in drug addicts, the mentally ill, veterans and those charged with DUI. The 18- to 24-month-long programs allow participants to avoid jail and prison time if they stay sober, get treatment, get an education and hold a job.

Over the past eight years, with increased funding and incentives, the number of such courts statewide has increased from 72 to 163, with the number of participants growing from about 3,000 to more than 12,000.

The cost savings can be enormous, Gosselin said, noting that housing an inmate in prison costs taxpayers about $18,000 a year, while the cost for an accountability court participant is about $3,600.

The judge added that the cuts would have more of a detrimental effect on accountability courts in rural areas, where local counties are unable to provide as much additional funding support as those in metro areas. Startup courts will also suffer, largely for the same reason, Gosselin said.

The Georgia State Senate adopted House Bill 444, which changes dual enrollment eligibility, according to the AJC.

House Bill 444 would restrict students to a total of 30 college credit hours, and would mainly limit courses to 11th and 12th grade students, with some exceptions. Currently, they can take up to 15 credit hours a semester.

Students who want to take more than 30 credit hours would have to pay for additional classes. The legislation has a grandfather clause for current dual enrollment students.

Proponents say the legislation is needed to reduce the rising costs of the state’s dual enrollment program, once known as Move On When Ready, which began in 1992. A 2018 state audit found general fund spending for the dual enrollment program increased by more than 325% over the prior five years. The 2019 fiscal year budget was about $105 million.

The bill’s critics questioned whether a thorough analysis was done to determine program costs. They also raised concerns that it would discourage some lower-income students from seeking a college degree since they may have to pay for some dual enrollment courses.

The State Senate Regulated Industries Committee herad Senate Bill 298 to regulate vaping by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), according to AccessWDUN.

Georgia lawmakers considering restrictions on vaping products heard from doctors and students Tuesday who said e-cigarette use is prevalent among children and poses serious risks to their health.

More than 2,600 people nationwide have been diagnosed with a vaping-related lung illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dozens of people have died.

A bill before the Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities committee would raise the minimum age to purchase vaping products in the state from 18 to 21, increase penalties for selling them to minors and restrict packaging that appeals to young people. It would also require schools to teach students about the dangers of vaping.

“My biggest concern is those marketing schemes of where they’re trying to appeal to a younger and younger audience,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said.

The State House Governmental Affairs Committee recommended passage of legislation that would change this year’s election for the Isakson Senate seat from a jungle election to a primary process, according to the AJC.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee approved the legislation that would replace a planned free-for-all special election in November with a partisan primary election in May. Then the Republican and Democratic nominees would compete head-to-head in a November election.

The Republican-led committee and its Democratic minority joined forces in support of the proposal, with only one no vote from a Republican representative.

The bill sets up a clash between Republicans who support Collins and Loeffler. Meanwhile, Democrats backing the proposal are seeking to unify around one Senate candidate. So far, entrepreneur Matt Lieberman and former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver are seeking the Senate seat, while the Rev. Raphael Warnock of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church is considering a run.

“If you trust the primary process and if you trust the voters and want to give them the max opportunity to weigh in as members of parties that are an integral part of our process, I would ask you to vote in favor of this bill,” said committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon, a Republican from Bonaire.

From the Albany Herald:

Congressman Doug Collins, a Gainesville Republican who is among President Donald Trump’s staunchest allies, will likely enter the race to complete former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term, several media outlets reported Monday night. Isakson resigned at year’s end due to health complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Collins’ path to compete against Loeffler, an Atlanta businesswoman, could be made easier by legislation aimed at overhauling rules governing the special election in Georgia to fill Isakson’s seat. Kemp, who picked Loeffler last month to hold the seat until a November election, has said he would veto the bill if it clears the Georgia General Assembly.

If passed, the special-election bill moving through the state legislature would greatly reduce chances for a runoff in a jungle primary, which likely would result in votes being split between several strong candidates all competing at once. The top candidate in the free-for-all format would need more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff with the second-highest vote getter.

The State House Retirement Committee adopted a measure (HB 757) that would increase legislative pensions, according to the AJC.

The House Retirement Committee backed a bill Tuesday that it has approved in the past to raise what for most lawmakers are relatively small retirement payments.

Under House Bill 67, sponsored by Retirement Chairman Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, lawmakers would be eligible to receive 38% of their highest salary or $50 per month per year of service as a pension, whichever is higher. It would also increase the contribution lawmakers make into the system to help pay for the higher pension.

At $50 per month, per year, a lawmaker serving 20 years would receive $1,000 a month as his or her pension.

Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, a member of the committee, said the optics were poor considering that the House is holding budget hearings this week on Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal to cut $200 million in spending from state agencies this fiscal year and $300 million next year. In some cases, employees have been laid off, but many of the cuts involve eliminating or not filling vacant positions.

“At a time of budget cuts, I don’t think it sends the right message that legislators are giving themselves an increase in their retirement benefit,” Wilkerson said. “I’d say bring it back next year when we have a better budget situation and we can discuss it then.”

United States Senator David Perdue announced his statewide campaign leadership team, according to WALB.

“Georgians sent me to the Senate to tackle tough challenges and find solutions. Since day one, I have been focused on breaking through the gridlock and getting things done. I am forever grateful for the support of so many people from across the state who have stepped forward to join my leadership team,” Perdue said. “Serving the people of Georgia in the United States Senate continues to be the greatest honor of my life and I cannot do it without your help. That’s why I am committed to keeping up the fight for conservative principles and getting results for families across our state from growing our economy, creating opportunity for our kids, and keeping all Americans safe.”

Click here for the full list.

State Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) and radio host Martha Zoller are unlikely to join the race for the Ninth Congressional District seat expected to become vacant due to Rep. Doug Collins running for the Isakson Senate seat. From AccessWDUN:

“I am certainly going to consider running for this position, but I, at this time, am leaning toward not running,” Zoller, host of WDUN’s weekday political talk show “Morning Talk,” said.

Miller was more adamant that he wouldn’t be a candidate.

“I am not planning on being a candidate for the congressional race,” Miller said. “I will be serving the 49th senate district and continuing my role as president pro tem of the state senate. I feel very gratified doing that and I feel that’s where I should be.”

Besides Miller and Zoller, other candidates who are being mentioned as possible candidates for the U.S. House are Chris Riley, former chief of staff for Gov. Nathan Deal; state Sen. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega; state Sen. John Wilkinson of Toccoa, whose current district includes a portion of Hall County; and former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, who now lives in Towns County.

The Port of Savannah set new records for yearly throughput, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Last year proved to be another record year for the Port of Savannah with 4.6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) moving through the port during the Calendar Year 2019, which was an increase of nearly 250,000 TEUs or 5.6% compared to the previous year.

“It was a record year and the fourth consecutive year in a row that we’ve achieved record status,” Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said Tuesday, Jan. 28, during the authority’s monthly board meeting.

On the container side, Lynch attributes the growth to the expansion of the Panama Canal and larger ships.

“We’re still enjoying the fruits of that and the expansion of the vessels; up sizing is still happening,” he said.

28
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 28, 2020

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville is waiving all adoption fees on Fridays in January.

Chester Gwinnett Animal Shelter

Chester is a year-old male Boxer and Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Angelo Gwinnett Animal Shelter

Angelo is a 5-year old male American Staffy mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Kato Gwinnett Animal Shelter

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

Grumpy Cat Gwinnett Animal Shelter

Grumpy Cat is a year-old female Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

28
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 28, 2020

On January 28, 1733, Georgia’s first colonists celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their safe arrival in Savannah and Chief Tomochichi’s granting them permission to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.

On January 28, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed a joint resolution of the Georgia House and Senate amending the Georgia Constitution to make the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia a constitutional board and reduce the power of the Governor over the Regents.

The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.

Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.

Happy birthday today to Northwestern University (1851), Yale Daily News (1878), the first daily college newspaper in the country, the United States Coast Guard (1915), and the Lego brick, which was patented on January 28, 1958.

Elvis Presley made his first appearance on television on January 28, 1956 on the Stage Show on CBS.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD6

8:00 AM HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS 606 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES – CANCELLED 515 CLOB

8:00 AM CANCELLED Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics 506 CLOB

10:00 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 6) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE ETHICS 307 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE 341 CAP

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

2:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTILITIES 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE RETIREMENT 515 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE BANKS AND BANKING 506 CLOB

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

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

3:00 PM SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT- CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING & FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS- CANCELED MEZZ 1

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUBCOMMITTEE 415 CLOB

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

3:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE 406 CLOB

3:30 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFFAIRS 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

Governor Brian Kemp made clear that changes to House Bill 757, legislation on qualifying for the “Jungle Primary” Senate election would not be viewed favorably, according to the AJC.

 At 3 p.m. [Mondy], a lowly House subcommittee will take up House Bill 757, a measure intended to clarify the right of the secretary of state to set an early March qualifying date for candidates — Democrats and Republicans — who want to challenge U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the November special election.

Late Sunday, Gov. Brian Kemp sent word that the bill is not to be tinkered with. In essence, the governor confirmed the existence of rebellious GOP sentiment in the state Capitol to challenge his December appointment of Loeffler to the seat vacated by the retiring Johnny Isakson.

Last week, we were the first to tell you that House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville, was searching for Republican partners to amend HB 757, so that the all-comers special election would be converted to the more traditional cycle of a May primary, followed by a November general election.

Kemp has promised a veto of the measure if it becomes an attack on Loeffler. But in their public opposition, aides aren’t admitting any vulnerability on the new senator’s part. Rather, they argue that a change in the calendar risks voter confusion and more court challenges from voting rights groups already seeking vast changes to the election system.

The House Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee took the bait, according to the AJC.

A panel of Georgia representatives voted Monday in favor of creating a partisan primary in the state’s upcoming U.S. Senate election, introducing a new challenge to Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s candidacy despite Gov. Brian Kemp’s veto threat.

The coalition of Republicans and Democrats on an elections subcommittee voted 8-2 to approve the fast-moving legislation before this year’s elections. The bill could receive a committee vote Tuesday as it races toward the full House.

Under current Georgia law, both Republicans and Democrats would meet in a free-for-all election in November. The measure that advanced Monday, House Bill 757, would require a special primary May 19, the same date as regularly scheduled primary elections for offices besides the president. Georgia’s presidential primary is March 24.

“It boils down to whether you believe in the party process and whether you believe those voices should be heard,” said House Governmental Affairs Chairman Shaw Blackmon, a Republican from Bonaire, speaking in support of the bill pending before his committee. “It benefits Georgians. It benefits the party process, which is an integral part of our elections process.”

Kemp sent a message Sunday that the legislation for a special primary election is dead on arrival if it reaches his desk.

“You don’t change the rules at halftime to benefit one team over another,” said Candice Broce, Kemp’s spokeswoman. “People are sick and tired of it. The governor will veto any bill that attempts to undermine the rule of law for perceived political gain.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

House Minority Leader Robert Trammell, D-Luthersville, said eliminating the jungle primary would make the special election less confusing for voters.

“Anytime you have a general election with one candidate for each party, it provides voters with a clear opportunity to evaluate the candidates and a clear contrast between the candidates,” he said.

Speaking of which, Rep. Doug Collins is expected to announce his campaign for the Isakson Senate seat, according to the New York Times.

Representative Doug Collins, one of the faces of President Trump’s impeachment defense, plans to challenge Senator Kelly Loeffler in this fall’s special election for one of Georgia’s Senate seats, people familiar with his intentions said on Monday.

Mr. Collins’s long-expected decision sets the stage for a brutal Republican-on-Republican fight that will put a prominent House conservative known for his defenses of Mr. Trump against a wealthy businesswoman appointed in recent weeks to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat. Democrats also see the contest as a potential opportunity to pick up a seat in November.

Mr. Collins is expected to announce his campaign on Tuesday, according to the people familiar with his plans, who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Mr. Collins’s decision to abandon his House seat will also have implications in that chamber. Two close allies of Mr. Trump, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and John Ratcliffe of Texas, are the leading contenders to replace him as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, a coveted post. Both men helped lead Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense in the House.

From the Hill:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the news.

The development could make it tougher for the GOP to hold onto the traditionally red Senate seat in 2020. The pair of Republicans will now be spending millions of dollars bashing each other in a state that recently has become a key battleground.

In 2018, Republican Brian Kemp narrowly edged out Democrat Stacey Abrams in the Georgia governor’s race 50.2 percent to 48.8 percent.

From WSB-TV:

Collins, who is set to be at the Georgia Statehouse on Tuesday, has started to line up campaign staff and call politicians and supporters to inform them of his decision to enter the race, according to several people who received the calls but requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

With Collins’ decision, Kemp’s hopes of unifying Republicans behind his Senate appointment are dashed at a time when the GOP can’t afford much discord. Democrats have circled Georgia as a top 2020 target, eager to flip Georgia’s two Senate seats and upend the GOP’s 53-47 control of the chamber.

The prospect of multiple well-funded Republicans slicing into each other’s base on a November ballot raises the likelihood of a January 2021 runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote – and the possibility that a Democrat who consolidates party support can win the contest outright.

From the AJC:

Another U.S. House seat in Georgia will be up for grabs now that Rep. Doug Collins is preparing to challenge Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and an eclectic cast of characters will soon be jockeying for the deeply-conservative seat he’s held since his 2012 election.

Among the possible contenders for the north Georgia district are a well-known radio host, a few powerful state lawmakers and a former congressman who once unsuccessfully challenged Collins.

One of the more likely candidates is former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, who once represented portions of the district in Congress before redistricting in 2012. Broun ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2014 and was trounced by Collins in a 2016 primary.

Another former Collins rival, radio commentator Martha Zoller, could also seek the seat. After she was defeated by Collins in a 2012 runoff, Zoller has worked for both U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp, and recently launched a new Gainesville-based radio show.

It’s the third open U.S. House seat in Georgia on the November ballot. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall said he wouldn’t stand for another term after winning the tightest House race in the nation in 2018, and more than a dozen candidates from both parties are running for his Gwinnet-based seat.

And U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, the senior-most Republican in the state’s delegation, announced his retirement late last year, triggering a wide-open race to represent the solidly Republican district.

Governor Brian Kemp‘s administration is asking for new legislation to combat criminal gangs, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds, Attorney General Chris Carr and others told a House-Senate panel Monday that gangs are a serious problem needing further action.

GBI wants to strengthen a state law it already touts as the nation’s strongest. Perhaps most controversially, GBI wants the power to begin investigating gang crimes without an invitation from local officials, as is needed now. Reynolds told The Associated Press that he anticipates “open discussions” with sheriffs and others who might be hesitant over that authority.

Reynolds said he also wants changes that would clarify that each separate act listed in the state’s 2010 anti-gang law could be prosecuted as a separate offense, allowing prosecutors to load up charges with hefty potential prison sentences for gang members.

Kemp and his officials have called for a gang database that investigators could use to share information. They’ve also proposed a public gang registry that would function like the current public sex offender registry, publicizing the names and residences of convicted offenders. Officials want to enshrine Georgia’s current gang task force in law, and allow prosecutors to consolidate criminal cases across county lines, instead of prosecuting individual offenses separately in individual counties.

Georgia and Florida have 45 days to reply to a ruling in the decades-long water lawsuit, according to the Gainesville Times.

The U.S. Supreme Court is giving Georgia and Florida 45 days to file briefs responding to a Dec. 11 report issued by a special master who ruled against Florida.

The court’s notice is indicated on a docket listing proceedings and orders in the case dating to September 2013.

In the latest litigation, Florida has claimed it has suffered economic and ecological harm from Georgia’s “overconsumption of water” in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which straddles Georgia, Florida and Alabama and has Lake Lanier as its headwaters.

In his 81-page ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. recommended that the Supreme Court not grant Florida’s request for an equitable apportioning of waters in the ACF.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to accept Kelly’s recommendation.

The Gwinnett County Ethics Board ruled on a complaint by D.A. King against County Commissioner Marlene Fosque, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A Gwinnett County ethics board assembled to hear Dustin Inman Society founder D.A. King’s ethics complaint against county Commissioner Marlene Fosque decided Monday that she did commit two of the six allegations made against her and is recommending she receive a written warning from her colleagues.

“While the overwhelming majority of Commissioner Fosque’s actions in conceiving, planning, salvaging and conducting the forum are highly commendable and reflect a welcomed commitment to the county and its residents, her (Aug. 6, 2019) comments fall short of the ‘earnest effort and best thought’ required by (the ethics code’s) Section 54-24(4) and amount to ‘conduct … unbecoming to a member [of the Board of Commissioners]‘ within the meaning of Section 54-24(11),” the ethics board said in its decision.

The complaint itself was over Fosque’s remarks at the Aug. 6 Board of Commissioners meeting, in which she said “I rebuke, denounce, deplore, and condemn” King’s participation in the 287(g) forum.

Whitfield County Commissioners may consider declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

During their work session Monday, commissioners heard from Whitfield County resident Tyler Martin, who started a Change.org petition asking commissioners to commit to the Second Amendment sanctuary movement. The petition had more than 2,600 signatures Monday night.

Some members of the commission said they believe they will take action on Martin’s request.

“It’s my understanding that (County Administrator) Mark Gibson and (County Attorney) Robert Smalley are looking into this,” said Commissioner Barry Robbins. “I’ll have to see the final proposal, but it certainly sounds reasonable.”

“I think we’ll support the Second Amendment,” said Commissioner Greg Jones.

Commissioner Roger Crossen also expressed support for the idea.

More than 200 counties across the United States have declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries in the last two months, spurred by controversial gun control measures passed by the Virginia state legislature, according to The Hill website.

The Whitfield County Commission voted to put a $66 million dollar Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the November ballot, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The county Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 on Monday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Dalton that will determine how the SPLOST dollars are spent as well as a referendum to place the measure on the May ballot. The Dalton City Council voted last week to approve the intergovernmental agreement.

“We don’t need an intergovernmental agreement, but it’s better if we do,” said board Chairman Lynn Laughter. “It makes for a more orderly process.”

County Attorney Robert Smalley said one of the advantages of the agreement is that it allows the smaller cities of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell to get their share of the SPLOST “towards the front” rather than get a small share each month of the SPLOST.

A SPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county that can be used for capital projects and some other items but not operating expenses.

Democrat Stacey Abrams will speak to the Brooks County NAACP Branch #5173 at their 10th annual Freedom Fund Banquet next month, according to ValdostaToday.

27
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 27, 2020

Hollie Macon Bibb

Hollie is a young female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Jennie Macon Bibb

Jennie is a young female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Percy Macon Bibb

Percy is a young male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

27
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 27, 2020

On January 27, 1785, a charter was approved by the Georgia legislature for the first publicly-supported state university in America.

On January 27, 1941, Delta Air Lines announced it would move its headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia. It was an interesting case of public-money-fueled economic development.

In 1940, the city of Atlanta and Delta had signed an agreement whereby the city agreed to contribute $50,000 for construction of a new hanger and office building for Delta if it would move its headquarters to Atlanta. In turn, Delta agreed to pay the remaining construction costs and then assume a 20-year lease for the new facilities. On Jan. 16, 1941, Delta had secured a $500,000 loan from Atlanta’s Trust Company of Georgia, thus allowing it to make a public announcement of the move.

On January 27, 1965, the Shelby GT 350 was unveiled.

Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” was released on January 27, 1965, seven weeks after his death.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will speak at the 11th Annual Addiction Recovery Awareness Day Program and Rally 4 Recovery.

WHEN:

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Program

Governor Brian Kemp speaks at 10:00 AM in the Freight Depot                    

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Rally in Capitol

WHERE:

Program at The Georgia Freight Depot, 65 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW, Atlanta, GA  30303

Recovery Rally at Georgia State Capitol Building, South Steps

WHY:

•  An estimated 22 million Americans are in recovery from alcohol or drug addictions
•  There are more than 800,000 Georgians living in recovery
•  The program and rally will celebrate the power of recovery in the lives of everyday Georgians and demonstrate that Georgia’s leadership stands united in support for the Georgia Recovery Community
•  The Georgia Recovery Community supports initiatives which promote prevention and early intervention, increase opportunities and resources for treatment, and support pro-recovery policies that increase the likelihood of sustained, long-term recoveryWHAT ELSE:

•  At the rally on the south steps of the State Capitol, State Representative Erick Allen (D-Smyrna) willintroduce the design of the Georgia Recovers license plate. House Bill 326 would create a special state license plate to honor people in recovery from addiction and mental health challenges, their allies and professionals who have dedicated themselves to help improve lives and communities.

•  The program will feature: Narcan training, recovery language training, personal recovery stories from people in recovery, remarks from state Constitutional Officers and Members of the General Assembly

•  Program speakers include Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, Senator Renee Unterman, Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, Representative Sharon Cooper, Representative Erick Allen, Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald, and Neil Campbell, Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.

•  The Rally will feature speakers including members of the Georgia General Assembly and state Constitutional Officers as well as Georgian’s in Recovery.WHO:

The program is jointly organized by the Georgia recovery Community, a collaborative network of addiction treatment and recovery stakeholders and advocates, including:

Georgia Council on Substance Abuse (GCSA), Georgia Addiction Counselors Association (GACA), Georgia Association of Recovery Residences (GARR), STAND, Inc., Georgia Association of Community Service Boards (GACSB), Penfield Christian Homes, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification of Georgia (ADACB/GA), Georgia Overdose Prevention, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, and the Kennesaw State University Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery.

Under the Gold Dome Today – LD5

10:00 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 5) House Chamber

TBD SENATE RULES UPON ADJOURNMENT 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR- CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE FINANCE- CANCELED MEZZ 1

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY SUB 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUB 515 CLOB

1:30 PM SENATE & HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY JOINT MEETING 450 CAP

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

2:00 PM HOUSE Kelley Sub Judiciary 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs State and Local Sub 606 CLOB

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

3:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs Elections Sube 606 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUDICIARY 307 CLOB

The Georgia General Assembly will be occupied with budget issues for the foreseeable future, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has warned his legislative colleagues repeatedly this month the need for painful spending cuts means the 2020 General Assembly session likely will last longer than usual.

Three days of hearings Jan. 21-23 on Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed mid-year budget adjustments for this fiscal year and his $28.1 billion fiscal 2021 budget plan dramatically demonstrated Ralston’s point.

While some of the budget austerity results from slower economic growth in Georgia, a major culprit is the tax cut the General Assembly passed two years ago. Lawmakers reduced the state’s income tax rate for the first time since 1937 from 6% to 5.75%.

Then-Gov. Nathan Deal steered the tax cut through the legislature to make sure taxpayers received the benefit of a revenue windfall the state was expecting as a result of the federal tax reforms Congress passed late in 2017.

The 2018 bill called for a two-part tax cut, with lawmakers due to vote this year whether to roll back the income tax rate again to 5.5%.

But Kemp has been cool to the idea, citing the tight budget climate. Passing the second phase of the tax cut this year would cost about $500 million.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, said the state can’t afford that kind of revenue hit this year.

“We’re looking at some severe budget cuts,” Hufstetler said Friday. “I don’t see the math there right now.”

From the AJC:

Hufstetler and his colleagues have been working on measures to increase tax collections and he voiced support for increasing the state’s tobacco taxes.

Two Democrats on the panel Friday, House Minority Caucus Chairman James Beverly, D-Macon, and Rep. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, also voiced opposition to another income tax cut.

“In a word, no,” Beverly responded when asked whether the General Assembly should consider it.

State Economist Jeffrey Dorfman suggested a further state income tax rate reduction is not necessary for continued economic growth, according to The Covington News.

Georgia lawmakers reduced the state’s income tax two years ago from 6% to 5.75%, the first change in the rate since the 1930s. The 2018 bill called for the legislature to vote again this year whether to reduce the tax rate again to 5.5%.

But with employment in Georgia and the state’s unemployment rate already at record highs, cutting taxes again would not be an effective way to increase economic activity by luring other businesses to the Peach State, Dorfman told members of the state House and Senate Appropriations committees at the start of three days of budget hearings.

“A quarter percent one way or the other just doesn’t move the bar,” Dorfman said.

The $28.1 billion fiscal 2021 state budget plan Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled last week does not take into account the $500 million revenue hit the state would absorb if the General Assembly follows through with the additional .25% tax cut.

Governor Brian Kemp has proposed $900 million dollars in state borrowing in the coming budget, according to the AP via the Daily Inter Lake.

Key projects in the Republican governor’s plan include $70 million to expand the state-owned convention center in Savannah and $55 million to build a new headquarters for the Department of Public Safety in Atlanta.

Lawmakers authorized borrowing of nearly $1.1 billion last year. The agency that forecasts Georgia’s borrowing said the state could issue up to $1.2 billion in bonds this year.

In one shift, Kemp wants to move more funding to aid school construction from districts statewide to those that have small property tax bases. Kemp would borrow $155 million for construction in such low-wealth districts, up from $44 million this year. But the amount to buy new school buses would fall to $12.5 million from $20 million this year, if lawmakers don’t change it. A new school bus can cost more than $100,000, depending on the model.

Kemp also proposes:

— $48 million for a new science and engineering research building and equipment at the University of Georgia in Athens. — $35 million to renovate and expand a building at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville.

— $30.7 million for a new building for Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

— $19.5 million for a new business building at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega.

— $6 million for a new conference center at Lake Lanier.

— $2 million for a new driver’s services office in Dalton.

Proposed state budget cuts are being scrutinized for their effect on rural Georgia, according to the AJC.

Lawmakers have spent the past few years making it a priority to boost rural Georgia, pouring millions of dollars into efforts to help a part of the state that voted overwhelmingly for Kemp for governor in 2018.

Now they are wondering what will become of their work after much of what they championed was slated by Kemp and agency heads to be trimmed back as the governor tries to balance a shaky state budget and keep his campaign promise to raise teacher pay.

“Rural Georgia is going to feel the pain of this,” said state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Rural Georgia is going to get killed.”

“Many of the programs the General Assembly has worked on over the last several years in trying to address the (health care) workforce shortage in rural Georgia … all of them seem to be offered up for cuts,” said House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn. “It seems like these are things that are taking the brunt of the cuts.”

“Governor Kemp is committed to keeping rural Georgia strong by using innovative ways to spur economic growth, improve educational opportunities, and ensure bright futures for Georgia families,” said his spokeswoman, Candice Broce.

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican David Perdue, according to the AJC.

Democrat Ted Terry dropped out of the crowded race against U.S. Sen. David Perdue on Sunday to run for an open DeKalb County commission seat, leaving three top rivals competing to challenge the Republican in the nationally-watched contest.

The Clarkston mayor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his fundraising struggles – his latest disclosure showed him with roughly $60,000 in campaign cash – contributed to his decision to abandon a race expected to set new spending records.

He’ll take that donor list to his race for the seat held by long-time DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who announced last week she will not seek another term. She represents Super District 6, which covers the western half of the heavily-Democratic county.

At least two other candidates are already in that contest: Democrat Robert Murphy, a local realtor, has already filed paperwork. And community activist Emily Halevy announced her own campaign last week with Gannon’s support.

Gov. Kemp visited a Porsche factory during a trade trip to Germany, according to Global Atlanta.

When Gov. Brian Kemp visited Porsche’s new electric vehicle plant in Stuttgart, the sports car maker made a thoughtful choice for his tour guide.

The governor walked the production line of the brand new Taycan Turbo all-electric sports car with Detlev von Platen, an executive who led Porsche Cars North America’s Atlanta operation for seven years. He presided over a selection process that considered 73 sites but ultimately landed Porsche on a 53-acre complex with a test track near the Atlanta airport.

Mr. Von Platen, who was succeeded here as president and CEO by Klaus Zellmer in 2015, is now a member of the Porsche AG executive board for sales and marketing.

He showed off the Taycan, which launched in December with a six-figure starting price, at an opportune moment: Mr. Kemp was fresh off announcing a new foreign investment to supply a $1.7 billion vehicle battery factory in Jackson County. In a news release, he noted a desire to see a hub for future-facing vehicles continue growing in Georgia, already an automotive magnet.

Analysis by the AJC found shockingly that the highest numbers of voter registration cancellations were in the four most populous counties.

The AJC analyzed the state’s list of voter registration cancellations to find out who in the metro Atlanta area had their registrations removed. Election officials last month canceled the registrations of voters who moved away or failed to participate in elections for several years.

More than a third of voters removed statewide came from four metro Atlanta counties: Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb. Of the 286,790 voter registrations canceled across Georgia, 107,711 or 38% came from the four metro counties — Georgia’s four most populous counties.

The rate of voter registration cancellations in the metro area counties was slightly higher than in the rest of the state. About 4.2% of all registered voters in the four counties were canceled compared to 3.9% statewide.

Of those metro voters removed, more than half were canceled because voters submitted change of address forms, indicating they had moved and were no longer eligible to vote at their previous precincts. Voters were also removed because they hadn’t participated in elections since before 2012, or their elections mail was returned as undeliverable.

Chatham County will see an unusual number of new judges this year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

a new Superior Court judge, two of the three State Court positions and as many as two Juvenile Court judgeships could be fresh faces when 2021 begins. With those shifts will be some veteran judgeships being filled by younger talent.

The only similar numbers in Chatham County changes occurred in May 1995 when then-Gov. Zell Miller appointed judges Penny Haas Freesemann, John E. Morse Jr. and James F. Bass Jr. to Superior Court and H. Gregory Fowler and Ronald Ginsberg to State Court.

Several Gwinnett County municipalities are deploying automated speeding ticket cameras in school zones, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In July 2019, the Lilburn City Council approved an agreement with RedSpeed USA to install school zone cameras. This came after House Bill 978 passed in 2018, which allowed for automated enforcement in school zones.

“Once the HB was passed into law we decided to conduct our own speed studies at all seven schools inside our city,” Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said. “All studies showed we had a speeding problem, but we decided on Arcado and Trickum because of the high volume of pedestrian traffic, especially during drop off and pick up times. Safety is a priority and the goal is that the program will encourage drivers to slow down and obey the speed limit.”

The city of Norcross also plans to install cameras in the school zones at Beaver Ridge Elementary School, Baldwin Elementary School, Norcross Elementary School and Summerour Middle School. During a special called meeting on Oct. 21, Norcross Mayor Craig Newton and the City Council approved a contract with RedSpeed to monitor and enforce school zone speed within the city limits of Norcross.

Sgt. Eric Butynski with the Norcross Police Department said the city had not set an exact date to deploy those cameras, but it could be as early as one month away. The department met with RedSpeed on Thursday to learn the ins and outs of the new system.

A Snellville municipal ordinance regulating extended stay hotels might affect homelessness, according to the AJC.

Snellville’s new city ordinance, which is already in effect, includes a limit on how long guests can stay — no more than 30 days straight or 60 days total within three months. Before the ordinance’s passage, there was no time restriction for hotel residents. The city also requires hotel residents to have a car and register it with the hotel.

In addition, the ordinance bans hourly room rentals and prohibits air-drying of clothes on clotheslines, balconies or outdoor railings. Hotels that violate the ordinance can be declared a public nuisance and forced to close.

The ordinance is intended to prevent crime and promote public safety, said Councilman Dave Emanuel. The ordinance cites research from the U.S. Department of Justice that found extended stay hotels can become hubs for crimes including sex trafficking, prostitution, and drug manufacturing and sales.

The Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office recently cited similar concerns about crime at extended stay hotels. Five Gwinnett County hotels, all in the Norcross area, were the source of 300 misdemeanors between September 2018 and September 2019, according to the solicitor’s office.

The Gainesville Times looks at how the embattled film tax credit has affected the local area.

“If Georgia were to cancel the film tax credit, we would very likely see projects like this go elsewhere to film,” [Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau President Stacey Dickson] said.

The popular but expensive state tax credit, which has come under scrutiny after a state audit showed lax oversight, has emerged as a hot topic in this year’s legislative session, which got underway Jan. 13.

The audit, conducted by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts and released earlier this month, “brought to light some very serious issues that we need to take a look at, no doubt,” said state Rep. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville, who represents part of South Hall and is a member of the House Working Group on Creative Arts & Entertainment.

The tax credits have grown from $141 million in 2010 to an estimated $870 million in 2019.

Georgia requires companies to provide less documentation than any of the 31 other states with a film tax incentive, auditors wrote. Hundreds of projects annually receive the credits.

“If the state continues the film tax credit program and refines the process by which eligible projects receive tax credits, I hope they will consider a mechanism to be able to share data with local communities,” Dickson said.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is warning about an online scam involving fishing licenses, according to the Gainesville Times.

Perry Lamb will run for Chairman of the Walker County Commission, according to the Chattanoogan.

Perry Lamb, who was second in the 2016 general election for sole commissioner of Walker County, announced that he is running for chairman of the county’s new five-member board. He will run as a Republican.

He noted that in the 2016 race he became the first candidate in the history of Walker County to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot as an Independent.