The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 1, 2019

Rachel Blue Ridge

Rachel is a young female Australian Cattle Dog / Blue Heeler & Jack Russell Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge, GA.

Zeebo Blue Ridge

Zeebo is a young male Australian Cattle Dog / Blue Heeler & Jack Russell Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge, GA.

Nikko Blue Ridge

Nikko is a male Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2019

In perhaps the most fitting historical tidbit ever, the United States House of Representatives first met on April 1, 1789 in New York City. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House. Georgia’s first Members of Congress were James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and George Mathews.

On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

Happy Birthday to Phil Niekro, who turns 80 today. Niekro pitched for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves for twenty years, earning five trips to the All-Star Game, five gold gloves, led the league in wins twice, and came in second in balloting for the Cy Young award in 1969. In 1997, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams called the Georgia legislature’s heartbeat bill “evil,” according to the Times Free Press.

DALTON, Ga. — While she continues to weigh campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the White House, Stacey Abrams said Sunday afternoon she is motivated for another run at the governor’s mansion after Republicans passed a controversial abortion bill last week.

“It is dangerous,” she said after a rally at the Dalton Convention Center. “I think it is scientifically insupportable. I know it will cause harm to women, especially to those women who face the highest rate of maternal mortality already. We know that we will lose doctors. We will lose jobs. And I believe it is purely a craven exercise designed to fulfill a political promise.”

She said legislation like the abortion bill could lead her to challenge Kemp in 2022.

“It tells doctors you could go to jail for doing your job. And it tells women you could be criminalized for taking care of yourself and your family. HB 481 is evil. And it exists because it was a campaign promise. It exists because it was a political stunt. And it exists because votes were not counted in 2018.”

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) wants Abrams to run against Senator David Perdue next year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat told CNN on Thursday that Abrams ““would be a great senator.”

“She’d be a great voice and a great leader in the Senate,”” he added.

In the interview, Lewis said that another gubernatorial run is a “long time” from now. When asked if he thought that Abrams should run for Senate, Lewis said “yes.”

“She would be a great leader for voting rights,” said Lewis. “She would add so much to the politics of Georgia and Washington.”

Politico writes about Abrams’s activities since losing the Gubernatorial race.

[T]he Democrat has mounted a nationwide, largely below-the-radar effort to expand her donor and political network that will make her an instant force whatever she decides.

Abrams has traversed the country meeting with top Democrats since her narrow loss in the Georgia governor’s race. She’s met with every leading candidate for president, and become a regular draw on the big-ticket fundraising circuit, donors and fundraisers told POLITICO. Abrams headlined major donor events for the Democratic National Committee, the progressive donor collaborative Way to Win and former Sen. Barbara Boxer in recent months, and has discussed her political future with top Democratic donors.

At the reception for Abrams hosted by Boxer, held at a five-star Beverly Hills hotel in late February, local Democratic leaders and entertainment industry donors heard her talk about her work against voter suppression and about her brother’s struggle with addiction. After the event, she was mobbed by attendees.

Abrams started to assemble a national network ahead of her run for governor through the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit she formed that’s focused on voter registration and engagement. She courted donors, including George Soros, who aided her campaign for governor.

In December, Abrams was a keynote speaker at a conference hosted by Way to Win, a collective of progressive donors focused on turning Southern states blue that spent $22 million last cycle. Two hundred people attended the event in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

“As best I can tell she’s waiting on one more position to come open, emperor, and see if that fits her taste,” said Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Watson. “Stacey is on the national circuit. If that’s the game she wants to play, that’s up to her. We’re focused on Georgia priorities, Georgia people, getting our grassroots and fundraising up to pace.”

House Bill 324, the cannabis legislation, will head to conference committee after the Senate amended the House bill, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Though House Bill 324, allowing for a tightly regulated system of in-state production of the oil – officially known as Low THC Medical Oil – passed the state House by an overwhelming margin – 123 to 40 – it underwent drastic changes in the Senate.

Both sides insisted on their positions Friday, and a conference committee was appointed to come up with a final version – known as a conference committee report –  that will have to be approved by the House and Senate.

The committee, consisting of three senators and three state representatives, has to work quickly – Tuesday is the final day of the 2019 session, and if the bill doesn’t pass both sides by the end of the night, it’s dead until next year.

[Sen. Matt] Brass (R-Newnan) is also on the conference committee, along with Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, who serves as one of the governor’s floor leaders, and Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who chairs the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, which heard the bill in the Senate.

On the House side, conferees are Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, the other study commission co-chair and author of HB 324, Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, and Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, an emergency room physician and founder of a group of urgent care centers.

From the Gainesville Times:

The bill still closes a loophole created by the state’s 2015 medical marijuana law that allows patients to possess the drug but provides them no legal avenue to obtain it.

Supporters say patients need access to a crucial medicine without breaking the law. Critics worry that legalizing medical marijuana could lead to legalizing recreational marijuana, which Gravley disputes.

The original bill granted 10 growing licenses to private companies — five for smaller organizations and five for larger organizations — and allowed for up to 60 retail locations.

The updated bill grants only two growing licenses to private companies — one for a smaller organization and one for a larger organization — and allows for up to 28 retail locations.

The number of places that sell the oil could rise under the new proposal because it also grants permission for independent pharmacies to sell the drug. Gravley was already interested in the idea of involving pharmacies but mentioned that he was not sure if doing so may jeopardize their DEA license.

The Rome News Tribune looks at bills by local legislators as tomorrow’s final day arrives.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, saw her HB 553 expanded to 13 pages from 1 page in the House and the Senate tabled a vote on it Friday, possibly to line up amendments from the floor.

The bill was initially aimed at removing an obsolete entity from membership on the State Victim Services Commission. It now also dissolves a number of quasi-governmental entities ranging from the Georgia Tobacco Community Development Board to the Commission on Men’s Health and the Georgia Silver-Haired Legislature.

Dempsey’s HB 187, establishing obesity-treatment coverage for state employees, cleared the Senate Friday.

She, Lumsden and Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, also passed resolutions in the House Friday commending the STAR students and teachers in Rome and Floyd County public and private schools.

Scoggins is awaiting votes in the Senate on bills that would provide homestead exemptions from Bartow and Cartersville school taxes for residents of those districts who are age 65 and older.

The Gainesville Times Editorial Board writes about the General Assembly’s FY 2020 budget.

While high profile issues such as abortion and voting machines have garnered much of the public’s attention, lawmakers also have deliberated on dozens of other pieces of state business, some relatively inconsequential, others of great magnitude.

But one piece of business is mandatory — they must approve a balanced budget for the upcoming state fiscal year.

That task was completed Thursday when final approval was given the 2020 budget and the final $27.5 billion spending proposal forwarded on to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. Given that the approved budget reflects many of the governor’s own spending priorities and has his blessing, approval is assured.

The 2020 spending plan reflects realistic growth without being overly optimistic about future revenues. Not that many years ago we were in the midst of a recession and cutting state spending wherever it could be cut; remembering those days with a conservative plan for spending is a wise approach.

There are certain words in the governor’s appraisal of the final product that we wish lawmakers in Washington could take to heart. Can you imagine how good it would be to hear the terms “balanced,” “bipartisan” and “conservative” applied to the federal spending process?

Gwinnett County state representatives tried to limit the county’s ability to call a new transit referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett’s remaining Republican representatives in the Georgia House are not in a rush to see another vote on joining MARTA anytime soon and are seeking a legislative method to keep it off the ballot in 2020.

The amendment has been attached to Senate Bill 200 and would kick the earliest date for another MARTA vote back to 2026, giving it what state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, called a “cooling-off period.” The bill that the amendment is being attached to deals with Georgia Department of Transportation contracts.

“Local officials should not call for repeated ballot questions until their desired outcome is realized,” Efstration said.

“That limits our flexibility by removing one option for a period of time,” Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “It’s going to take some time to really think through what that means for us. We were already in the process of having to look at and process all of the options. You know me, I always prefer more options rather than less.”

The amendment is being pushed by Efstration and state Reps. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville; Tom Kirby, R-Loganville; David Clark-R-Buford; Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville; and Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee.

Legislation to allow incorporation of the Chatham County Islands was introduced, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The placeholder filing is required in the first year of a two-year legislative session before any further incorporation steps can be taken. The one-year delay in taking legislative action puts the responsibility on residents to hold inclusive meetings on incorporation between now and January. Islands involved are Oatland, Whitemarsh, Wilmington and Talahi.

Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-District 166) and state Sen. Ben Watson (R-District 1) said they are neutral on this issue.

“We are taking no side in this,” Petrea said of he and Watson. “We are doing what the law requires and following the letter of the law.”

Petrea and Watson said they had received 900 letters in favor on islands incorporation and since the recent referendum failure of incorporation of Skidaway, they’ve received 800 letters opposed to the move.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) spoke about legislation to improve maternal mortality, according to The Brunswick News.

“I serve on the Health Subcommittee, and we had a hearing in the Health Subcommittee on maternal mortality, and I was shocked,” Carter said. “I had dealt with it when I served on Health and Human Services in the state Senate, and I was vice-chair of that committee, and I knew that we had a problem in the country and we had a problem in Georgia. But when we brought in the witnesses and they testified, two things really raised my concern.”

“First of all, how high it was in our country — for a developed country like America, to be that high, it was just alarming to me. And I guess I knew it, but I didn’t recognize it and i just didn’t realize it.”

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is No. 2 in the country in maternal mortality, with 46.2 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s more than double the nationwide average. Also, the mortality rate among black mothers is 66.6 in Georgia, compared to white mothers at 43.2. However both of these statistics are also significantly above the national averages.

Gwinnett County Commissioners discussed alternative ways forward after the defeat of the MARTA referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

With the defeat of Gwinnett’s MARTA referendum earlier this month fresh on their minds, county leaders spent some of the second day of their strategic planning retreat in Athens talking about revisiting some of their plans for expanding transit on Friday.

The discussions on how to implement county priorities in the 2020 budget did not rise to the level of a full post-mortem on the MARTA vote, but transit came up immediately during discussions on mobility. Among the first transit-related items discussed was a possible update of the Connect Gwinnett Transit Development Plan and a need to make decisions on transit funding.

Despite the defeat of the MARTA referendum on March 19, county leaders haven’t given up on trying to do something to expand transit in Gwinnett. There has been some talk about doing another transit vote, whether that be another referendum on joining MARTA or a 30-year transportation-related special purpose local option sales tax vote allowed under legislation that established the Atlanta Transit Link Authority, also known as The ATL.

The City of Rome‘s ban on outdoor smoking in downtown goes into effect today, according to the Rome News Tribune.

In February the Rome City Commission voted overwhelmingly to pass the ordinance. The measure prohibits smoking in the publicly owned outdoor areas of Broad Street between East First Avenue and East Eighth Avenue, including the side streets and alleyways for one block off Broad Street. This area encompasses the Broad Street District, Town Green, all downtown parking decks and Bridgepoint Plaza. Smoking is prohibited within a distance of 25 feet from a public entrance to a public place or place of employment.

Cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, JUULs and hookah pipes have the same restrictions as cigarettes under this ordinance.

Brunswick City Commission will consider a resolution asking for safety measures on the Sidney Lanier Bridge, according to The Brunswick News.

The Brunswick City Commission will consider approving a resolution during Wednesday’s meeting asking state officials for suicide prevention measures on the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

There has been growing support for suicide prevention measures on the bridge in response to people plunging to their deaths since it was built in 2003. Community leaders have asked elected officials to support asking the state for help in response to the most recent suicide on Feb. 20 by a woman who jumped off the 185-foot bridge.

Another reason the city is being asked to approve the resolution is because the jurisdiction is divided between the city and county. The split jurisdiction sometimes creates debates between which side of the bridge the victims jump from to determine who investigates the death.

Security is another potential concern on the bridge. The channel is vulnerable, and there are no security cameras on or under the bridge where terroristic activities could be conducted.

Dr. Kyle Marrero began work today as the new President of Georgia Southern University, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Macon‘s Cherry Blossom Festival has an annual impact of $10 million to $12 million dollars, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Savannah Alderman Van Johnson apologized for attending a meeting that allowed only African-American media, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Johnson said during the press conference that while he has a responsibility for the people at the meeting, he also has a responsibility to the people who were barred from coming in.

“I know certainly that if this was an event that was held and excluded other folks, then I know I would be one of the first ones to be outraged about it,” he said. “And this outrage would be understandable and it would be justified.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said in a statement issued later that Johnson’s apology came two days after his opponent had initially defended his attendance. Since then, it has become a national embarrassment, DeLoach said.

“For all those that have called, emailed, and texted my office from all walks of life, I want to assure you this is not who we are in Savannah,” he said. “We will continue to be open to everyone and I will not sacrifice my principles for political gain.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 29, 2019

Boo Boo Metter

Boo Boo is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA.

Pepper Metter

Pepper is a 6-month old female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA.

Roxy Metter

Roxy is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 29, 2019

On March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, suggesting that a greater role for women be considered in the fight for Independence and establishment of the United States.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Charles Wesley, hymnist, and brother of Methodist founder John Wesley, died on March 29, 1788 in London, England. Charles Wesley served as Secretary to James Oglethorpe and as a Chaplain at Fort Frederica on St Simons Island. This past Sunday, his hymns were played in churches across the globe, including Christ the Lord Is Risen Today and Rejoice, the Lord Is King.

On March 29, 1865, Federal troops under General Ulysses S. Grant began the Appomattox campaign.

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted after sufficient number of the states ratified it.

With the adoption of the 15th Amendment in 1870, a politically mobilized African-American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican Party to power, which brought about radical changes across the South. By late 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks to the support of African-American voters.

In the same year, Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, became the first African American ever to sit in Congress. Although African-American Republicans never obtained political office in proportion to their overwhelming electoral majority, Revels and a dozen other African-American men served in Congress during Reconstruction, more than 600 served in state legislatures, and many more held local offices. However, in the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, stripping Southern African Americans of the right to vote. It would be nearly a century before the nation would again attempt to establish equal rights for African Americans in the South.

Robert E. Lee arrived in Augusta on March 30, 1870. On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The iconic vote was cast in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the town’s charter.  Gary Sullivan of the News Tribune stated, “Exercising his right to vote in a local election on March 31, 1870.  Peterson became the first black man in the United States to cast a ballot.  The amendment had been ratified on February 3, 1870, and within just two months the Fifteenth Amendment was put to use.

An interview with Peterson showed who encouraged him to vote, “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen’s privilege.”  Peterson also revealed his vote in this election, “As I advanced to the polls one man offered me a ticket bearing the words “revised charter” and another one marked, “no charter.” I thought I would not vote to give up our charter after holding it so long: so I chose a revised charter ballot.”

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel led a group of government officials and press to the top of the Eiffel Tower by foot. It would open to the public nine days later.

On March 29, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation imposing the first state tax on distilled spirits in Georgia.

If made in another state and imported into Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 80 cents per gallon and alcohol at $1.60 per gallon – or at fractional amounts for smaller containers. If made in Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 40 cents per gallon and alcohol at 80 cents per gallon.

Note: GeorgiaInfo says Governor Talmadge signed the legislation, but Talmadge left office in January 1937. It was Gov. Rivers who signed the bill.

On March 30, 1937, Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation authorizing non-profit Electric Membership Corporations to electrify rural Georgia.

On March 30, 1945, President F.D. Roosevelt arrived for his final visit to Warm Spring, Georgia.

On March 29, 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam, ending United States engagement in the war.

On March 31, 1976, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution proposing a new Constitution of Georgia, which would be placed on the ballot for voter referendum on November 2, 1976.

On March 31, 1989, Heathers was released.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today



HB 101 – Ad valorem tax; all-terrain vehicles; revise definitions (FIN-7th) Ridley-6th

HB 187 – Community Health, Department of; pilot program to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions; provide (H&HS-11th) Dempsey-13th

HB 193 – Banking and finance; banks and credit unions to offer savings promotion raffle accounts in which deposits to a savings account enter a depositor in a raffle; allow (B&FI-9th) Dunahoo-30th

HB 444 – Dual Enrollment Act; enact (Substitute)(H ED-37th) Reeves-34th

HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act; enact (Substitute)(RI&U-28th) Gravley-67th

HB 276 – Sales and use tax; certain persons that facilitate certain retail sales; require collection of tax (Substitute)(RULES-52nd) Harrell-106th

HB 242 – Professions and businesses; regulation of massage therapy educational programs; provide (Substitute)(RI&U-53rd) Hawkins-27th

HB 218 – Education; eligibility requirements to receive the HOPE Scholarship as a Zell Miller Scholarship Scholar; provide (H ED-54th) Williams-145th

HB 224 – Income tax; credit for new purchases and acquisitions of qualifiedinvestment property shall be earnable for mining and mining facilities and allowed against a taxpayer’s payroll withholding; provide (Substitute)(RULES-56th) Williamson-115th

HR 239 – Savannah Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor; designate (S&T-1st) Stephens-164th

HB 456 – Local government; elect an annual report in lieu of a biennial audit; increase expenditure amount (GvtO-7th) Tankersley-160th

HB 352 – Sales and use tax; exemption for competitive projects of regional significance; change sunset provision (Substitute)(RULES-17th) Reeves-34th

HB 424 – Crimes and offenses; include certain sex crimes into the definition of criminal gang activity(Substitute)(JUDY-18th) Silcox-52nd

HB 472 – Juvenile Code; procedures concerning removal considerations; revise (Substitute)(RULES-19th) Reeves-34th

HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act; post sign containing telephone number to receive reports of child abuse; require every public school (ED&Y-28th) Williams-145th

HB 33 – Weapons carry license; extension of time for the renewal of a license for certain service members serving on active duty outside of the state; provide (VM&HS-13th) Lumsden-12th

HB 540 – Housing tax credit; add to the list of tax categories eligible for an offset (Substitute)(FIN-52nd) Rhodes-120th

HR 346 – Georgia Southern Nursing Angels Memorial Bridge; Bryan County; dedicate (Substitute)(TRANS-21st) Tankersley-160th

HB 201 – Board of Natural Resources; promulgate rules and regulations regarding anchoring certain vessels within estuarine areas; authorize (NR&E-3rd) Hogan-179th

HB 220 – Solid waste management; certain solid waste disposal surcharges;extend sunset date (Substitute)(FIN-19th) Rogers-10thHB 118Crimes and offenses; transmitting a false alarm; revise offense (Substitute)(JUDY-27th) Morris-26th

HB 134 – County law libraries; repeal a population provision regarding the disposition of law library funds in certain counties (SJUDY-23rd) Rich-97th

HB 182 – Sales and use tax; lower threshold amount for certain dealers (FIN-52nd) Harrell-106thHB 277Insurance; allow good will from insurer acquisitions to be treated as an asset (Substitute)(I&L-9th) Carson-46th

HB 478 – Social services; improvements to the operation of the child abuse registry; provide (Substitute)(JUDY-42nd) Ballinger-23rd

HB 288 – Superior courts; revise the sums that the clerks are entitled to charge and collect for filing documents and instruments pertaining to real estate or personal property (JUDY-3rd) Powell-32nd

HB 290 – Health; pilot program to provide preexposure assistance to persons at risk of HIV infection; establish (H&HS-32nd) Cooper-43rd

HR 37 – Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics; create (TRANS-21st) Tanner-9th

HB 296 – Superior Court of Hall County in the Northeastern Circuit; revise term of court (JUDY-49th) Hawkins-27th

HB 307 – Abandoned Motor Vehicle Act; enact (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Powell-32nd

HB 319 – Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; member’s benefits payable after death shall be paid to his or her estate when such member failed to designate a beneficiary or his or her designated beneficiaries are deceased; provide (RET-52nd) Williams-148th

HB 349 – Local government; counties to exercise powers in incorporated areas; authorize (SLGO(G)-14th) Martin-49th

HB 379 – Revenue and taxation; projects and purposes using SPLOST funds; revise annual reporting requirements (GvtO-48th) Moore-95th

HB 345 – Penal institutions; pregnant female inmates or a female inmate who is in the immediate postpartum period; provide prohibited practices (Substitute)(H&HS-45th) Cooper-43rd

HB 381 – Child support; defined terms and terminology, grammar, and punctuation; revise and correct (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 406 – Local government; joint authorities to furnish certain information necessary for the state auditor to determine the net impact of their activities on associated tax digests; require (FIN-46th) Williamson-115th

HB 454 – Motor vehicles; operation of motorized mobility devices; provide (Substitute)(PUB SAF-51st) Tanner-9th

HB 470 – Law enforcement officers and agencies; analysis and collection of DNA for individuals charged with a felony offense but sentenced as a first offender or under conditional discharge; provide(Substitute)(JUDY-3rd) Sainz-180th

HB 490 – Banking and finance; payment of large deposits of deceased intestate depositors and the deposit of sums held for deceased intestate residents; make changes (B&FI-25th) Ridley-6th

HB 492 – Property; dispossessory proceedings; require applications for execution of a writ of possession be made within 30 days of issuance of the writ unless good cause is shown (Substitute)(SJUDY-23rd) Rich-97th

HB 499 – Public utilities and public transportation; use of electric easements for broadband services; permit (Substitute)(RI&U-46th) Kelley-16th

HB 282 – Criminal procedure; increase amount of time that law enforcement agencies are required to preserve certain evidence of sexual assault (Substitute)(JUDY-45th) Holcomb-81st

HB 76 – Alcoholic beverages; counties and municipalities may regulate alcohol licenses as to certain distances in a manner that is less but not more restrictive than those distances specified by the state; provisions (Substitute)(RI&U-46th) Stephens-164th

HB 70 – Guardian and ward; guardian and conservators of minors and adults; revise provisions (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 553 – State Victim Services Commission; bill of rights for foster parents; delete references to an obsolete entity (I COOP-28th) Dempsey-13th

HB 502 – Civil practice; continuances for members of the Board of Regents and the Attorney General; revise (Substitute)(RULES-6th) Welch-110th

HB 543 – Domestic relations; equitable caregivers; provide (Substitute)(JUDY-29th) Efstration-104th

HR 51 – Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission; create (I COOP-27th) Morris-26th

HB 239 – Georgia Business Court; establish (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Efstration-104th

HB 365 – Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; lower tax rate imposed (Substitute)(FIN-52nd) Blackmon-146th


Pursuant to Rule 33.3, debate shall be limited to onehour on all legislationon today’s calendars. Time to be allocated at the discretion of the Speaker.

Modified Structured Rule

SB 68 – Local School Systems; financial management; strengthen provisions (Substitute)(Ed-Tanner-9th) Sims-12th

SB 117 – Public Retirement Systems Standards Law; that does not require an individual to pay the full actuarial cost of obtaining such creditable service; prohibit passage of any law (Substitute)(Ret-Williams-148th) Black-8th(Rules Committee Substitute LC 43 1385S)

SB 200 – Georgia Department of Transportation; procedure for appealing the rejection of a contract bid; require (Trans-Smith-133rd) Gooch-51st

The General Assembly agreed to a $27.5 billion dollar state budget for Fiscal Year 202 according to the AJC.

Lawmakers plowed a record $600 million into pay raises for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

The Georgia State House revised Senate legislation that would have taken over Hartsfield-Jackson airport, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Instead of trying to take over Atlanta’s massive airport, the Georgia House has passed a proposal establishing a legislative committee to oversee 10 of Georgia’s major commercial airports.

The bill, which passed Thursday, is a House substitute to a Senate proposal calling for a full state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta officials strongly oppose the Senate bill and have said there’s no need for additional oversight.

Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner says the House version is a more “measured approach” to past procurement issues at Atlanta’s airport that led to the Senate original.

The bill also bundles two other proposals: extension of a jet fuel tax exemption and one seeking to improve transit options across rural parts of the state.

From the AJC:

Senate Bill 131 would create the Airport Transparency Legislative Oversight Committee to review “operations, contracts, safety, financing, organization and structure” of commercial airports in Georgia.

It would apply to not just Hartsfield-Jackson, but also other commercial airports across the state with at least 300 commercial passengers boarding planes a year, including airports in Albany, Athens, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and Valdosta.

The bill also includes a measure the House passed earlier this year to suspend jet-fuel taxes on airlines such as Delta for 20 years. The suspension would save airlines $35 million to $40 million a year. Most of the savings would go to Delta.

The stitched-together measure also now includes House Bill 511, which would allow counties to raise sales taxes for public transportation. It would establish programs to aid unemployed residents who need transportation to find jobs.

The State House also passed legislation to protect monuments, according to AccessWDUN.

The bill, passed Thursday, says anyone who damages or destroys a monument could be liable for triple the cost to repair or replace it.

It comes amid a nationwide push to remove statues honoring the Confederacy. Similar legislation in other states has been criticized for protecting those statues.

The bill now goes back to the Senate to consider House changes.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, sponsored SB 77, which levies triple damages and court costs against anyone found guilty of defacing a public monument.

It also adds an exception to state law prohibiting their removal. Local and state entities may move them for construction projects, but they must be placed “in a site of similar prominence.”

The controversial measure passed the Senate 34 to 17, with Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, in support.

In Thursday’s House action, Floyd County’s delegates – Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee; and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville – joined the majority 100 to 71 vote.

The House substitute contains the same provisions as Mullis’ bill but also eliminates references throughout state law to monuments dedicated to military service including the Confederate States of America. Instead, it folds the reference into the definition of a monument.

Many opponents spoke of the pain African-American Georgians may feel from visual reminders of a time when the state fought to keep their ancestors enslaved. The unfairness of their taxes going to maintain monuments to the Confederacy and the potential economic impact from boycotts were issues as well.

House Bill 530 addresses concerns raised after two children were found buried in their parents’ yard, according to the AJC.

Georgia lawmakers passed legislation Thursday that requires safety checks on students withdrawn from school in some circumstances.

House Bill 530 was brought in reaction to the gruesome discovery in December of the corpses of two children buried in the family backyard in Effingham County. Mary Crocker and her brother, Elwyn “JR” Crocker Jr. were allegedly being home schooled.

Hitchens, R-Rincon, wanted sweeping investigations for any child withdrawn from school under conditions that gave educators “reasonable grounds” to be suspicious.

Hitchens’ bill was pared down. Now, it only requires an investigation if parents don’t file a declaration of intent to home school within 45 days of a student’s withdrawal and there is no record of a transfer to another school. Hitchens said the House of Representatives tried to balance the protection of children against parents’ rights.

It won’t prevent all cases of abuse, he said, but it is still an improvement. Currently, there is no oversight “whatsoever,” he said. “This will bring oversight in some cases.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

The Effingham County director of the Division of Children and Family Services cried Thursday night at a town hall meeting about the Crocker teenagers, who were beaten, starved and kept naked in a dog cage.

[Effingham County] DFCS, the Sheriff’s Office and Family Connection organized the three-hour meeting and invited lawmakers, school officials, law enforcement officers and others who are involved with protecting children.

Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie told the group that everyone in the county must call law enforcement when they think something might be wrong.

“If you see something, say something,” he said. He said dozens of people said they suspected something was wrong with the Crocker family but didn’t say anything.

He said with 60,000 residents of the county spread out over 486 square miles, the eight school resource officers can’t see everything that’s wrong.

A state House bill aimed at addressing the Crocker case was approved in the Senate Thursday by a vote of 50-0. House Bill 530 now goes to the governor for his signature.

Under the bill, local school systems will have a list of children who are being homeschooled. Schools will refer cases of children who stop attending school and whose parents have not filed a notice of intent to homeschool to DFCS, which will conduct an assessment to determine “whether such withdrawal was to avoid educating the child.

Some Savannah residents are promoting the idea of a single African-American candidate for Mayor, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With signs stating “Black press only” on the doors of the church where the meeting was held, white reporters were barred from entry, while black reporters for at least two television stations were permitted inside.

The event was coordinated by the Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, owner of the consulting firm, The Trigon Group, who declined to discuss the entry policy.

Former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson declined to comment before going inside, as did Chatham County Commissioner Chester Ellis.

Savannah Alderman Van Johnson, who is one of three African-Americans who have stated their intention to run for mayor, said afterwards that during the meeting he had talked about his vision for an inclusive and progressive Savannah. With regards to the discriminatory policy at the door, Johnson said that he believed people have the right to assemble and determine the rules of their assembly.

“It’s not my meeting,” Johnson said. “I was asked to come and give a statement, so I came and I gave a statement. What I said in there, I’ll say out here.”

Macon-Bibb County is considering a contract to seek insurance payments when county property is damaged in car accidents, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Hall County has rolled back some of the restrictions on short term rentals, according to the Gainesville Times.

Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the county’s short-term rental ordinance on Thursday, allowing homes in all zoning districts to serve as short-term rentals with the approval of a county business license.

The changes will not require approval from the Hall County Planning Commission for homes to be short-term rentals. However, neighbors within 500 feet of the property would be notified by the county when a property has been approved.

There are currently 135 advertised short-term rentals in the county, but only 14 of them have a business license, according to Planning and Development Director Srikanth Yamala. He said over the last year, the Hall County Marshal’s Office has received 10 complaints about short-term rentals and has issued six citations.

The county defines short-term rentals as residential properties that are rented for overnight accommodations for two to 30 nights.

Three public hearings were held before the vote, one at a planning commission meeting and two at commissioners’ meetings. Public opinions were mixed, with some saying they had been negatively impacted by living near vacation rentals and others saying responsibly operated and maintained vacation rentals could improve neighborhoods and help the economy.

Candler County has rolled out a notification system for residents, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Ben Ku wants the county to make more use of social media, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

As the county officials discussed areas that they felt needed improvement during their strategic planning retreat in Athens on Thursday, the topic of communication and engagement with the public came up a few times. Department heads and commissioners are meeting for two days at the University of Georgia to chart out a path for the future.

“It’s coming, but it clearly isn’t here yet,” Ku told the Daily Post. “This is how most people communicate and get their news and get information and we need to be able to interact with people where they are.”

In addition to ramping up social media, other communications-related issues that various department heads and commissioner said they wanted to see addressed included better external communication about changes taking place in the government, better engagement with the public and getting more information in general about what is going on in Gwinnett.

“We don’t tell our story well,” Ku told the other county leaders gathered at the retreat. “We don’t toot our own horn enough.”

Statesboro City Council is holding a special called meeting to take action on a short-term exemption to the prohibition on open alcohol containers in public, according to the Statesboro Herald.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 28, 2019

Jagger Macon

Jagger is a 7-week old male puppy who is available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.

Jacobe Macon

Jacobe is a 7-week old male puppy who is available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.

Joshua Macon

Joshua is a 7-week old male puppy who is available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.

Charlotte Macon

Charlotte is a funny-looking dog pig who is available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 28, 2019

The British Parliament enacted The Coercive Acts on March 28, 1774.

The Coercive Acts were a series of four acts established by the British government. The aim of the legislation was to restore order in Massachusetts and punish Bostonians for their Tea Party, in which members of the revolutionary-minded Sons of Liberty boarded three British tea ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 crates of tea—nearly $1 million worth in today’s money—into the water to protest the Tea Act.

Passed in response to the Americans’ disobedience, the Coercive Acts included:

The Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid.

The Massachusetts Government Act, which restricted Massachusetts; democratic town meetings and turned the governor’s council into an appointed body.

The Administration of Justice Act, which made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in Massachusetts.

The Quartering Act, which required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, including in their private homes as a last resort.

Governor Ernest Vandiver signed legislation authorizing the construction of monuments to Georgians killed in battle at the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields on March 28, 1961.

Identical 15 1/2-foot-tall monuments of Georgia blue granite were sculpted by Harry Sellers of Marietta Memorials. At the top of the shaft is the word “GEORGIA” over the state seal. Lower on the shaft is the inscription, “Georgia Confederate Soldiers, We sleep here in obedience; When duty called, we came; When Countdry called, we died.”

Georgia’s first “Sunshine Law” requiring open meetings of most state boards and commissions, was signed by Governor Jimmy Carter on March 28, 1972.

A nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania overheated on March 28, 1979 and within days radiation levels had risen in a four county area. It was the most serious accident in commercial nuclear history in the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she doesn’t want to “run for second place” again, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams has made clear that she has no plans to join Joe Biden’s presidential campaign as his running mate.

Abrams told hosts of ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday, “You don’t run for second place.” Abrams added that if she joins the 2020 White House chase it will be on her own.

Under the Gold Dome Today

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 38) House Chamber
8:00 AM HOUSE Resolutions Subcommittee of Transportation 506 CLOB



NOTICE OF MOTION TO RECONSIDER: HB 171 – Motor vehicles; use of mounts on windshields for the support of wireless telecommunications devices and stand-alone electronic devices under certain circumstances; allow (Substitute)(PUB SAF-29th) Barr-103rd

HB 332 – Agriculture; service of the Commissioner of Agriculture and the president of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation as ex officio members; revise provisions (AG&CA-7th) Meeks-178th

HB 551 – Controlled substances; kratom; provisions (H&HS-53rd) Hill-3rd

HB 446 – Revenue and taxation; timber producers incurring losses from Hurricane Michael; clarify that certain credits that have been transferred shall not be refundable (Substitute)(FIN-11th) Knight-130th

HB 491 – Insurance; regulation of insurance company holding systems; update (I&L-20th) Taylor-173rd

HB 310 – Insurance, Department of; must submit an autism coverage report to General Assembly; move annual due date to June 15 (I&L-25th) Morris-156th

HB 233 – Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act; enact (Substitute)(H&HS-11th) Knight-130th

HB 228 – Marriage; change minimum age from 16 to 17 and require any person who is 17 to have been emancipated (Substitute)(JUDY-18th) Welch-110th

HB 516 – Professions and businesses; profession of professional structural engineer; provide (Substitute)(RI&U-7th) Smith-133rd

HB 91 – Hospitals and health care facilities; Federal Bureau of Investigation to retain fingerprints when an agency or entity is participating in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s program; allow (JUDY-18th) Welch-110th

HB 530 – Education; prohibit parents or guardians from withdrawing or removing a child from a public school for the purpose of avoiding compliance with laws relating to mandatory attendance, school discipline, parental involvement, or parental responsibilities (ED&Y-4th) Hitchens-161st

HB 382 – Outdoor stewardship; eligible applicants for and recipients of the grants; redefine (Substitute)(NR&E-51st) Burns-159th

HB 525 – Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center; rename to Savannah Convention Center (ED&T-1st) Stephens-164th

HB 353 – Insurance; create the crime of staging a motor vehicle collision(Substitute)(JUDY-31st) Carpenter-4th

HB 314 – Georgia Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act; enact (Substitute)(FIN-56th) Stephens-164th

HB 339 – Special license plates; Alabama A&M University; establish(Amendment)(Substitute)(PUB SAF-43rd) McClain-100th

HB 39 – Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Act; enter into an interstate compact (Substitute)(H&HS-14th) Belton-112th

HB 79 – Blind persons; child custody matters; provisions (Substitute)(JUDY-33rd)Gilliard-162nd

HB 257 – Council of Magistrate Court Judges; organization and provide for officers; increase authority (SJUDY-52nd) Scoggins-14th

HB 266 – Revenue and taxation; income for contributions to savings trust accounts; revise deduction (B&FI-27th) Wiedower-119th

HB 281 – Crimes and offenses; pimping and pandering; increase penalty provisions (JUDY-29th) Anulewicz-42nd

HB 321 – Health; hospital Medicaid financing program; extend sunset provision (Substitute)(FIN-17th) Lott-122nd

HB 322 – Local government; advertisement of certain bid or proposal opportunities; change provisions (SLGO(G)-13th) McCall-33rd

HB 367 – Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Act; enact (I&L-16th) Taylor-173rd

HB 458 – Fire protection and safety; use of class B fire-fighting foam for testing purposes if such foam contains a certain class of fluorinated organic chemicals; prohibit (Substitute)(NR&E-56th) Gullett-19th

HB 527 – Quality Basic Education Formula; change program weights for funding purposes (FIN-52nd) Dickey-140th


Modified Open Rule

HR 228 – President of the United States and United States Congress; enact legislation securing the citizenship of internationally adopted adult individuals; urge (Substitute)(Judy-Glanton-75th)

Modified Structured Rule

SB 2 – Public Utilities and Public Transportation; electric membership corporations and their affiliates; authorize; broadband services; provide (Substitute)(EU&T-Powell-171st) Gooch-51st

SB 6 – Correctional Institutions of the State and Counties; use of unmanned aircraft systems to deliver or attempt to deliver contraband to a place of incarceration; prohibit (Substitute)(PS&HS-Tanner-9th) Kirkpatrick-32nd

SB 72 – Game and Fish; hunting on wildlife management areas; prohibition; remove (Substitute)(GF&P-Rhodes-120th) Harper-7th

SB 77 – State Flag, Seal, and other Symbols; additional protections for government statues; provide (Substitute)(GAff-Powell-32nd) Mullis-53rd

SB 135 – Workers’ Compensation; certain provisions; change (I&L-Werkheiser-157th) Walker III-20th

House Bill 228 would raise the age for marriage in Georgia, and will be on the floor of the Senate today, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Legislation raising the legal age for marriage to 18 from 16 is slated for a vote today in the Georgia Senate after passing the House, 158 to 13, earlier this year.

HB 228 would allow marriage at age 17 if the party has been emancipated by a court. Currently, Georgians can get married at 16 or 17 with parental consent. The measure is aimed at preventing forced or coerced child marriages.

Floyd County’s House delegates — Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee; and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville — all voted in favor of the change. The proposed legislation was amended in the Senate so, if it passes as expected, it would have to return to the House for a vote to agree.

House Bill 324 on medical cannabis passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee yesterday, according to AccessWDUN.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee approved the Republican-sponsored measure on a vote of 7-2 with several changes. But the author of the bill, Republican Rep. Micah Gravley of Douglasville, said there were “many, many problems” with the updated measure. He didn’t immediately elaborate on what they were.

The revised bill significantly lowers the number of available grow licenses and retail dispensaries but would still allow patients who already can legally possess low-potency marijuana oil access to the product.

The updated proposal would create a state commission that allows Georgia to obtain medical marijuana from other states. “That will be the fastest way for sure to get products our citizens need,” said Sen. Bill Cowsert of Athens, Chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities committee.

The bill would still allow for private producers to be involved but on a much lower scale than what was initially proposed, Cowsert said.

It would only grant growers licenses to two private companies one relatively big and one relatively small. But it would also grant permission for two universities to start a research and manufacturing program for the drug.

“Every morning, when my daughter wakes up, I wait to see when I go into her room: is she going to be breathing or am I going to find her face down in her pillow?” [Shannon] Cloud said through tears, while testifying for the bill. “If that one seizure can be prevented and that’s the one that can take her life, then that’s why we need access to this medicine.”

From the AJC:

Senators said they wanted to limit the legislation to ensure it didn’t create a large marijuana industry that they worry could eventually lead to legalization of recreational marijuana consumption.

“It’s for a very narrow subset of patients who are suffering from illnesses and diseases,” said the committee’s chairman, state Sen. Bill Cowsert, a Republican from Athens. “The original distribution system seemed overly broad for such a small number of patients. It seemed like overkill as far as supply.”

Under the revised bill, medical marijuana oil could initially be obtained from other states by a new Georgia commission and then sold to patients through dispensaries and pharmacies. The legislation would allow two private companies to grow medical marijuana, and two universities could start a research and manufacturing program.

The limitations in the bill appeared to appease sheriffs who have tried to stop expansion of medical marijuana in Georgia. Terry Norris, the executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said he’ll recommend that sheriffs not oppose the bill.

Both chambers agreed to fund $3000 raises for Georgia teachers, according to the AJC.

Georgia teachers can expect a $3,000 pay raise, starting July 1, under a new state spending plan House and Senate leaders agreed to Wednesday.

The measure, approved by budget conferees for the two chambers, also calls for a 2 percent pay raise in the coming year for tens of thousands of state and University System of Georgia employees.

Gov. Brian Kemp has called the $3,000 raise a down payment on his campaign promise — made in the fall — to give teachers a $5,000 raise.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, said of the new budget plan, “It does a good bit to advance the objectives Governor Kemp outlined in his campaign and has outlined since he became governor.”

The airport takover bill has been Frankensteined, according to the AJC.

Georgia House leaders on Wednesday showed the state Senate exactly what they thought of its plan to take over Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

They turned the takeover into a proposal to create a state oversight committee with limited power. They threw in a jet-fuel tax break for air carriers such as Delta Air Lines that Senate leaders haven’t backed. And they tossed in a rural transit bill for good measure.

Whether the newly created mega-bill has a chance of passing, or is meant more as a bargaining position in the final few days of the session, is unclear. The General Assembly session is scheduled to end Tuesday.

The proposal was put together and passed by the House Rules Committee, which is the gatekeeper for what legislation the chamber votes on.

The Gainesville Times looks at why the agriculture industry considers House Bill 545 important.

A bill that passed the state House earlier this month, with all representatives from Hall County voting in support, has its roots in a series of North Carolina lawsuits in recent years that have won hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments for plaintiffs against a large hog farming operator.

“As a result, such facilities are sometimes forced to cease operations,” the bill states, or it discourages new investments, expansion or improvements. “It is the purpose of this (bill) to reduce losses of the state’s agricultural and forest land resources by limiting the circumstances under which agricultural facilities and operations or agricultural support facilities may be deemed to be a nuisance.”

Jeffrey Harvey, director of public policy for the Georgia Farm Bureau, said rulings that occurred in North Carolina “undermined the protections we thought we’ve always had.”

Proponents say the bill is simply clarifying language to protect farms and agricultural operators doing business before neighboring commercial and residential developments were established. They say a one-year statute to file nuisance claims remains the standard.

Some Hollywood types want film production moved out of Georgia if the fetal heartbeat bill passes and is signed into law, according to the AJC.

Fort Gordon began work to build a new Cyber Center of Excellence, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Warner Robins Economic Development Director Gary Lee has been indicted, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The charges stem from a Houston County Sheriff’s Office investigation in June into Lee’s allegations of criminal misconduct against another city employee, Sheriff’s Capt. Jon Holland confirmed. He declined to name the other employee or comment on the case.

Lee alleged another employee committed fraud or forgery. The employee works in the city’s economic development department, Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms said. He declined to elaborate.

Lee is accused of making a false statement during a criminal investigation when he told Sheriff’s Cpl. Eric Salter on June 20 that he did not sign his name to a Warner Robins Alcohol and Control Substance Policy form that he did, in fact, sign the indictment alleged.

Gwinnett County Commissioners revised the development ordinance to allow microbreweries, brewpubs and farm wineries in some areas, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County will apply for a federal grant to study bus rapid transit, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Glenn Martin announced he will run for an open seat on the Lawrenceville City Council, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 27, 2019

Mojo Columbus

Mojo is a young male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Rowena PAWS

Rowena is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Pheonix PAWS

Pheonix is a young male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 27, 2019

Thomas Jefferson was elected as a Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress on March 27, 1775.

Colonel James Fannin, a Georgia native and Colonel in the Texas Regular Army and more than 300 other members of the Georgia battalion were executed on March 27, 1836 after surrendering to Santa Anna’s Mexican Army. Fannin County, Georgia is named after Col Fannin.

On March 27, 1912, the first Japanese cherry trees were planted on the northern bank of the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. This weekend, Brookhaven will host the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival. For aging GenXers, the band lineup will include Smash Mouth, Spin Doctors, the Romantics, and the Wallflowers.

On March 27, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation outlawing the handling of venomous snakes in such a way as to endanger another person or to encourage another person to handle a snake in such a way as to endanger them. The legislation resulted from a six-year old handling a venomous snake during a church service in Adel, Georgia, during which she was bitten and died. Under that act you could still handle snakes yourself as long as you didn’t endanger someone else.

On March 27, 1947, Governor Melvin Thompson signed legislation that made Georgia a “Right to Work State,” meaning that employees cannot generally be forced to join a union or pay dues in order to take a job. On the same day, gambling on sporting events was outlawed by another bill signed by Gov. Thompson.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Committee Work Day

11:00 AM HOUSE Regulated Industries Alcohol & Tobacco Subcommittee 514 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee 406 CLOB
3:40 PM HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS – Upon Adjournment of Governmental Affairs Special Elections Subcommittee 406 CLOB

Legislation to enhance penalties for hate crime convictions may have hit a speedbump in the state Senate, according to the AJC.

A Senate committee chairman said he believes legislation creating stiffer penalties for people who commit crimes against people based on hate needs “more time” before he will consider it.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, said he believes victims should have an equal chance at justice and isn’t sure that increased penalties for certain crimes is the best way to go.

The Georgia House earlier this month voted 96-64 to approve a bill that would give sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration, the bill’s sponsor, said he was disappointed it appeared the measure wasn’t going to pass this year. While he’s spoken with some state senators about the measure, the Dacula Republican said he’s not sure of specific concerns.

“I’m aware of bipartisan support for the legislation,” Efstration said. “Until the bill is heard in open committee, it’s hard to assess what any issues could be.”

House Bill 213, which would allow hemp farming in Georgia, passed the Senate by a 45-6 vote, according to the AJC.

Georgia farmers could begin growing hemp for CBD oil, rope and other products, according to a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate voted 45-6 to approve House Bill 213, which would allow the crop as long as it only contains trace amounts of THC, the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

The amended bill now returns to the state House for a final vote.

The Georgia Senate passed legislation to allow citizens to sue governments allegedly acting unconstitutionally, and prohibit sexual extortion, according to The Brunswick News.

State Rep. Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) has proposed funding menstrual products in some schools, according to the Statesboro Herald.

House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, second in command in the Georgia House and one of the highest-ranking elected Republican women in the state, has argued that eliminating the tax for all consumers of menstrual products wouldn’t make a meaningful difference for those who can’t afford the products to begin with. But she thanked advocates of the bill for bringing the issue of affordability to her attention.

Jones has proposed a targeted grant program that would allot $1 million to the state’s Department of Education and at least another $500,000 to county health departments to supply menstrual products, with the amount being adjusted in the future if necessary. The House has already approved a budget allocating $500,000 each for these programs. The Senate has not yet matched that amount, but Jones remains hopeful the final budget will set aside $1 million for schools.

A Valdosta women’s shelter may be forced to close if the house it is renting is sold, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Four museums in Columbus received bomb threats, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) asked House leadership to consider House Resolution 962, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which he co-sponsored, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gwinnett County ranks third-highest in distracted driving convictions per capita, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Augusta Commission Administrative Services Committee voted to demolish the old jail instead of renovating it, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Adairsville became the 99th municipality certified by the National Park Service, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The City of Gainesville is hoping to jumpstart development in midtown through private development of city-owned real estate, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is using federal funds to investigate protecting shorebirds from predators, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Brunswick is considering how to address dilapidated structures in the coastal Georgia city, according to The Brunswick News.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 26, 2019

Tatum Cobb

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

Tatum is a little on the shy side. He is only 8 months old and already knows his commands to sit and stay and walks well on a leash. Tatum is a quiet boy who has not made any sounds since arriving at the shelter. We think he is just really sad to be homeless right now. He is 48 pounds. Tatum is up to date with shots and will be neutered, heartworm tested and micro-chipped when adopted. He is in cage 84 and his ID is 612685. Will you come adopt Tatum and let him love you?

Gidget Cobb

Gidget is a young female Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Gidget is a darling little girl. She is shy and scared in the shelter, but very sweet. She sits when told and she is great on a leash. She is pretty in her pictures, and beautiful in person. Gidget was brought to the shelter as a lost dog on 2/28/2019. Gidget is only about a year old and about 55 lbs. She is current on her vaccines, spayed, microchipped and heartworm tested negative. Her ID at the shelter is 612733 and she is in run 832.

Brody Cobb

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

Brody is simply awesome! This handsome fellow is as sweet as can be and loves toys! He’s so well behaved and stays quiet in his run. Brody knows all his commands such as: sit, stay, shake, shake other paw, and lay down. Someone did a good job training him. Now why haven’t they come to find him at the shelter, as he came in as a lost dog on March 11th. Brody is only 1 year old and weighs 55 pounds. He is up to date with vaccinations, now neutered, and will be heartworm tested, and micro-chipped upon adoption. Brody is in Run 800 and his ID is 612927.

The Georgia State House overwhelmingly rejected Senate Bill 32, legislation to protect people who attempt to rescue pets locked in cars, according to the AJC.

House members voted 108-46 against the measure.

Under Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Marietta Republican state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, anyone who damaged a car to save an animal would have been required to call 911 or animal control and wait for emergency responders to arrive to avoid being sued.

Kirkpatrick said she was disappointed by the vote and planned to regroup to see if there was another way to tackle the issue.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2019

On March 26, 1734, the British House of Commons voted £10,000 to subsidize the Georgia colony, down from £26,000 the previous year.

On March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise, the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published. The author was 23 years old.

On March 26, 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Washington, DC for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the design approved a couple weeks earlier was by 21-year old Yale architecture student Maya Lin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Orders suspending Rebecca McFerrin from her position as Clerk of Court for McIntosh County and appointing a commission to investigate the indictment of Thomasville Mayor Greg Hobbs and recommend whether to suspend him.

The Brunswick News has more on the McFerrin episode.

State Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) was snapped while talking on his cell phone while alone in the HOV lane downtown, according to 11Alive.

Jim Shumake was stuck in standstill traffic, Wednesday, heading south on the Downtown Connector, when he noticed Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) next to him in the HOV lane by himself, talking on a cell phone.

Shumake said he recognized the lawmaker because he had an official tag on his car – SR 101, for “State Representative, District 101.”

“He was not only on his phone, he was driving without hands on the wheel, having a deep conversation in the HOV lane,” Shumake said. “If that was anybody else, we would have been pulled over or received a ticket.”

Park sent [11Alive] an email instead:

“Thank you for reaching out, and allowing me to respond via the following statement regarding the Facebook from yesterday:

“Yesterday, I was heading to my Industry and Labor and Higher Education Committees [at the State Capitol in downtown Atlanta], but got stuck in traffic due to a car accident near the City of Atlanta. To ensure I would not be late to my 2pm hearing, I got onto the HOV lane so I would not miss a vote. I also gave my colleagues a call to update them with where I was. I take very seriously my duties as a State Representative, and I apologize for driving in the HOV lane. I appreciate voters holding me accountable.”

Under the Gold Dome Today

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 37) House Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE Academic Innovation Subcommittee of Education 415 CLOB


HB 26 – Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact; enter into an interstate compact (H&HS-14th) Belton-112th

HB 264 – Public officials’ conduct and lobbyist disclosure; persons promoting or opposing any matter regarding the EMSC Program are subject to transparency and lobbyist disclosure laws; provide (Substitute)(RULES-53rd) Werkheiser-157th

HB 59 – Education; military students enroll in public school based on official military orders prior to physically establishing residency; allow (Substitute)(ED&Y-32nd) Belton-112th

HB 83 – Quality Basic Education Act; recess for students in kindergarten and grades one through five; provide (ED&Y-53rd) Douglas-78th

HB 323 – Insurance; administration of claims by pharmacy benefit managers; revise provisions (Substitute)(H&HS-53rd) Knight-130th

HB 171 – Motor vehicles; use of mounts on windshields for the support of wireless telecommunications devices and stand-alone electronic devices under certain circumstances; allow (Substitute)(PUB SAF-29th) Barr-103rd

HB 213 – Georgia Hemp Farming Act; enact (Substitute)(AG&CA-7th) Corbett-174th

HB 253 – Professions and businesses; occupational therapists; update and revise various provisions (RI&U-32nd) Hawkins-27th

HB 315 – Local government; certain agreements from consultants who enter into contracts or arrangements to prepare or develop requirements for bids; provide (Substitute)(GvtO-24th) Newton-123rd

HB 344 – Sales and use tax; mission to advance arts shall not be required to be an organization’s primary mission in order to obtain an exemption for certain sales of tickets for admission to fine arts performances; provide (FIN-14th) Gambill-15th

HB 346 – Property; prohibit retaliation by a landlord against a tenant for taking certain actions (Substitute)(JUDY-23rd) Cooper-43rd

HB 373 – Labor, Department of; employment security; change certain provisions (Substitute)(I&L-20th) Werkheiser-157th

HB 392 – Board of Public Safety; expense allowance and travel cost reimbursement for members in like fashion as other state boards and commissions; provide (GvtO-7th) Wiedower-119th

HB 459 – Education; driver’s license verification system for school bus drivers; provide (Substitute)(PUB SAF-56th) Ehrhart-36th

HB 493 – Private Permitting Review and Inspection Act; enact (Substitute)(RI&U-30th) Tanner-9th


Modified Open Rule

SB 75 – State Board of Veterinary Medicine; professional health program for impaired veterinarians; provide (Substitute)(A&CA-Pirkle-155th) Black-8th

SB 79 – Outdoor Advertising; references to the term “mechanical” in relation to multiple message signs; remove (Substitute)(Trans-Corbett-174th) Gooch-51st

SB 207 – Georgia Board for Physician Workforce; change name; board’s membership; revise (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Burke-11th

Modified Structured Rule

SB 9 – Invasion of Privacy; sexual extortion; prohibit; definitions; elements of the crime; provide (Substitute)(JudyNC-Setzler-35th) Jones II-22nd

SB 29 – Waiver of Immunity for Motor Vehicle Claims; definition to clarify sheriff, deputy sheriff, other agent, servant, or employee of sheriff’s office; include (Judy-Boddie-62nd) Jones II-22nd

SB 83 – Quality Basic Education; elective courses in History and Literature of the Old and New Testament Eras; provisions; revise (Substitute)(Ed-Jasperse-11th) Mullis-53rd

SB 118 – Insurance; Georgia Telemedicine Act; modernize; Telemedicine Act the Telehealth Act; rename (Substitute)(Ins-Taylor-173rd) Unterman-45th

SB 153 – Trauma Scene Cleanup Services; comprehensive regulation; provide (RegI-Powell-32nd) Harper-7th

SB 157 – Public Funds; when funds shall be considered to held by a depository; specify; State Depository Board certain policies andprocedures related to deposit placement programs; establish (B&B-Washburn-141st) Kennedy-18th

SB 158 – “Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act” (Substitute)(JuvJ-Reeves-34th) Strickland-17th

SB 168 – Nurses; certain definitions; revise (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Kirk-13th

Structured Rule

SB 65 – Alternative Ad Valorem Tax on Motor Vehicles; transfer of a title between legal entities owned by the same person; not constitute a taxable event; provide (Substitute)(W&M-Blackmon-146th) Harper-7th

SB 127 – Motor Fuel Tax; electronic filing of certain reports; require (W&M-Carpenter-4th) Hufstetler-52nd

Georgia Health News covers the passage of two bills in the General Assembly yesterday.

The state House passed a high-profile bill Monday that would allow Gov. Brian Kemp to seek health care “waivers’’ from the federal government to expand and improve coverage in Georgia.

And in another big vote, the Senate approved a bill to change Georgia’s controversial certificate-of-need system regulating medical providers.

These votes were part of a flurry of action Monday on major legislation affecting health care in Georgia, including on issues such as HIV, prescription drugs, services for seniors, and a Medicaid budget hole.

The certificate-of need bill that passed the Senate would be less sweeping than an original House proposal restructuring the health care regulatory process.

CON regulates how health care facilities function in Georgia. A provider must get a “certificate of need” from the state to proceed with a major project, such as building or expanding a medical facility or changing what services are available to patients.

Senate Bill 106, the Medicaid waiver bill, passed the Georgia State Senate and is headed to Governor Kemp’s desk, according to AccessWDUN.

The measure authorizing Kemp’s office to pursue a Medicaid waiver passed the House on a 104-67 vote, largely along partisan lines with Republicans in support.

A waiver will give Georgia the flexibility to expand Medicaid more conservatively than federal rules typically allow. The legislation also caps eligibility for any Medicaid expansion to those at or below the federal poverty level, limiting the number of Georgians who could be covered.

In addition to the Medicaid waiver, the bill would allow for another waiver seeking to help stabilize prices on Georgia’s private insurance markets.

Any waiver plan would need to be approved by the federal government.

Republicans arguing for the bill said the measure could lead to lower private insurance premiums and allow Georgia to customize a targeted health care plan.

A Frankenbill has been created in the State Senate in which House Bill 68 received a transplant from Senate Bill 173, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Georgia Educational Scholarship Act — a measure that would divert public school funds to scholarships for private school students under certain conditions — has found new life through House Bill 68 which has been restructured to included the entire once dead Senate Bill 173.

It is a legal move to attach a dead bill to one that has crossed over from one chamber of the Georgia General Assembly to the other as long as both bills fall under the same Georgia code. This is what freshman republican Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, has done by adding the Georgia Educational Scholarship Act to a bill that prohibits certain entities from being student scholarship organizations.

The brand new House Bill 68 has limited changes to the original voucher bill, including language that states a student can only qualify for an account if they meet all of the conditions listed by the bill. Students would have to have parents residing in Georgia, spend the prior year in a public school when full time equivalence was taken (October and March), live in a family with an income at 150 percent of the poverty level, been adopted into foster care, have a parent who is currently in the military, have one of the 11 qualifying disabilities and has a documented case of bullying.

Senate Bill 66 to regulate 5G cellular technology passed the State House yesterday, according to the AJC.

The Georgia House voted 159-3 on Monday to give final approval to Senate Bill 66, which creates statewide regulations for cellphone companies to set up 5G technology equipment on public land. 5G is roughly 10 times faster than cellphones on existing 4G networks.

The legislation applies to companies like AT&T and Verizon that want to install small cells, which are wireless transmitters and receivers about the size of a mini-fridge.

“Now they know they have guaranteed access and a guaranteed process,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Brett Harrell, a Republican from Snellville. “They’re not going to get any impediments with local governments because they know what to expect.”

More than 22 states have already passed similar legislation, said Todd Edwards of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, which advocates for county governments.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visited Jekyll Island to speak to local elections officials, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections officials from all over the state flocked to the Institute of Voter Registrars of Georgia’s 50th conference and the Georgia Election Officials Associations’ 34th, both of which started Sunday and will continue through Wednesday in the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

Raffensperger spoke to the assembled officials about new elections legislation.

“As many of you know, recently we just passed House Bill 316, which is the new voting machine bill, and in it, we had several pieces of legislation that we think moves Georgia forward and we think it’s a very positive development for all of us,” Raffensperger said.

All voting systems in the state now require a printed ballot component, which creates a paper trail and allows elections officials to perform more accurate recounts, Raffensperger said.

Sea Island‘s exemption  has been removed from a bill governing beach protection, according to The Brunswick News.

The portion of House Bill 445 that included an exemption for the Sea Island spit was removed from the bill on Monday.

Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said Monday that a substitute bill was offered to the Senate Rules Committee and was unanimously adopted by the committee. The substitute bill did not include the exemption language regarding the Sea Island spit, a portion of beach-front land below the Cloister Hotel.

The Brunswick News reported Saturday that Sea Island requested and received special treatment for H.B. 445. Department of Natural Resources staff said the bill’s language crafting process was standard operating procedure.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) continues to support “all of the above” energy policies despite local opposition to some forms, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Resolutions opposing offshore drilling and seismic testing are moving through state and local governments, including a resolution that passed unanimously Monday in Pooler and twin resolutions making their way through the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives.

But U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, who began his political career on Pooler’s city council and served as mayor from 1996 to 2004 before being elected to the Georgia house and then senate, is unswayed by the opposition from his adopted hometown. Carter’s congressional district encompasses all the coastal counties.

“I continue to support an all-of-the-above energy policy,” he said in an email Tuesday. “It is irresponsible to not at least see what is out there off the coast.”

Karen Handel announced to no one’s surprise that she will run for Congress, according to WABE.

Georgia’s 6th U.S. House District flipped last November, with Republican incumbent Karen Handel narrowly losing to Democrat Lucy McBath, a political newcomer.

Now, Handel says she’s ready to flip the former Republican stronghold district back.

“Join me today,” Handel asks in a feel-good campaign commercial posted to YouTube. “Together, we will take back the 6th,” she concludes.

The Chatham County Commission committed to funding $700k toward construction of a behavioral health center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The center is a component of the county’s long-term strategic plan, which calls for the county to address mental health issues by educating the public, increasing early intervention, removing barriers, and increasing access to treatment.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am that this is a role that this county has taken and it’s being noticed across the country,” said Commissioner Helen Stone.

The 30-bed center will effectively serve as the mental health “emergency room” on a short-term basis with a 23-hour maximum stay unit and longer term unit expected to serve patients for an average of eight days, according to the staff report. The agreement calls for Gateway to serve at least 100 unduplicated patients each month.

Some Savannah residents want to see only one African-American candidate for mayor, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Trigon Group’s community meeting at the Bolton Street Baptist Church will center on garnering support for just one candidate from the African-American community and include a presentation on African-American voters, according to a flier promoting the event.

“We can’t win supporting two candidates,” the flier states.

Both black candidates said Monday they do not intend on dropping out of the race.

Bibb County is considering paying bonuses to attract and retain deputies and jail officers, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Buford City Schools will create its own police department and hire two school resource officers, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Whitfield County Commissioners will likely tear down Administrative Building 2, which has fallen into disrepair, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Bobby Williams was sworn in as a new Augusta Commissioner, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Williams won a special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Commissioner Andrew Jefferson, which runs through the end of 2020. After Jefferson died, Williams had a conversation with his uncle, William Mills, about whether he should run for the seat. Once they decided to run, “we worked hard,” Mills said. “We never thought about losing.”

Williams was able to win outright in a four-man race that many had widely expected would need to go to a runoff. He got 50.87 percent of the 976 votes cast, according to previous reports in The Augusta Chronicle.