The blog.

22
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 22, 2017

Stretch

Stretch is a young male Bullmastiff mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Baby Pixel

Baby is a 13-month old female Golden Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Pixel Fund in Macon, GA.

Looking at this little girl you would never know she’s a Golden Mix! Her stunning personality and love for life burst through and just glow. This sweet pup is on her way up in life, after some freshening up, a bit of medical treatment, she’ll have a mane and coat that will shine in the spring sunlight.

Babydoll

Babydoll is a 3-month old female Schnauzer mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Pixel Fund in Macon, GA. Her favorite activities are wrestling with her mates, pulling at your shoelaces, stealing the blankets and snuggling for a good nap after a long day of fun.

Cheyenne Alexis

Cheyenne Alexis is a 9-month old female Golden Retriever and Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Pixel Fund in Macon, GA.

Full of fun, lots of kisses, Cheyenne Alexis will be the star of your neighborhood. If it’s love at first sight, don’t wait, she’s an awesome sweetheart. Apply today.

21
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 21, 2017

The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville is raising money to expand and improve play areas for their resident dogs.

Executive Director Julie Edwards is asking people to donate a $35 foot of fence to help the group reach its goal. Just a few weeks ago, an anonymous donor also agreed to match every donation up to $10,000, turning the total into $40,000 if the goal is met.

“With the extra money, we hope to add some things to make the area more enriching for the dogs and more attractive. So colorful flowers, sun canopies, agility equipment, toys, etc.,” Edwards said.

Click here for the Humane Society’s fundraising page.

Star

Star is an adult female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

Pancho

Pancho is a young male Pit Bull mix (or Lab?) puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA. Several of his siblings are also available for adoption.

Digit

Digit is a young male Pit Bull (or Lab?) mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

21
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 21, 2017

Lyman Hall was elected to the Continental Congress on March 21, 1775 from St. John’s Parish; the next year he would sign the Declaration of Independence as a representative from Georgia.

On March 21, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation establishing the Eastern Standard Time Zone as the only Time Zone in Georgia. Prior to that, Georgia observed two different time zones.

On March 21, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 3000 protesters in a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

On March 21, 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Georgia Governor and United States Senator Herman Talmadge died on March 21, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Coweta GOP

Tonight, I’ll moderate a debate in Fayetteville among the four candidates for Georgia Republican Party Chairman. It will be from 6:30 to 8 PM at the Fayette Event Center – 174 Glynn St N, Fayetteville, GA 30214.

Jon Richards, whom many of y’all may know from his work on behalf of the Gwinnett and Georgia Republican Parties, will move into hospice care.

“He’s always good for a conversation or two regarding trends and topics, and what was going on politically, as well as everything else,” Gwinnett County Republican Party Immediate Past Chairman Rich Carithers said.

Gov. Nathan Deal honored Richards on Twitter after Harper broke the news about his condition.

“Jon is a good man and a great friend,” Deal wrote.

Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, reminisced about Richards on the social media website as well while he reflected on both the news and the fact that legislative session is heading into its final hectic days.

“As we enter the last four days of session, we are still one big family under the Gold Dome and Jon helped to instill this characteristic,” Riley wrote.

Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus Executive Director Liz Flowers wrote “My heart is heavy” on Twitter after hearing the news.

Note this is probably the first time in Georgia politics that Gov. Deal and Liz Flowers were both quoted in the same article saying nice things about the same person. That’s the kind of guy Jon Richards is. Please join us in praying for his comfort.

Cobb County voters will decide today on renewal of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST).

If approved by voters, the sales tax would bring in up to $797 million for Cobb schools and $62.5 million for Marietta schools to build new schools, replace old ones, repair buildings and increase technology and security in schools. The program would run from January 2019 to December 2023.

Cobb voters have approved four education sales tax cycles since 1998.

A section of Marietta will also vote to choose a new school board member. Real estate agent Kerry Minervini and Patricia Echols, a co-owner of a private investigation firm, are vying to fill the Ward Six seat vacated by Tom Cheater.

Ward Six covers the northeast section of Marietta stretching from a section of Cobb Parkway up to the Sandy Plains Exchange at the intersection of Sandy Plains Road and Scufflegrit Road and is the same area that is represented on the Marietta City Council by Michelle Cooper Kelly.

Stonecrest and South Fulton will elect their first Mayors and City Council members today.

Residents in two new cities, South Fulton and Stonecrest, will cast ballots Tuesday for their first mayors and council members as voters across metro Atlanta go to the polls for local elections.

Dozens of candidates are running in the inaugural elections for South Fulton and Stonecrest. Voters approved referendums creating the two southside cities last November.

In South Fulton, a city of about 100,000 people, nine candidates are vying for the mayor’s seat, while more than 60 are running for seven council seats.

With so many candidates, most, if not all of the races, are expected to go to a runoff. Runoff elections are scheduled for April 18.

In Stonecrest, which includes 50,000 residents in DeKalb County, three candidates are running for mayor and 17 others are seeking five council seats.

Roswell voters will decide today between four candidates in a special election for City Council.

There are four candidates in the race to fill the vacant Post 4 seat: Lori Henry, Shelley Sears, Marie Willsey and Shawn Wright.

[P]olls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 21 throughout the city. A runoff, if needed, is scheduled for April 18.

For more information about the election and required documents for voting, visit www.fultonelections.com or call 404-612-7020.

Newton County voters will decide on a SPLOST sales tax today.

As of Friday afternoon, according to the Newton County Board of Elections, fewer than 800 people had voted on the measure. At this same juncture in 2011, more than 1,000 votes had been cast. The 2011 SPLOST was approved with 54 percent of the vote.

The 2011 vote was the smallest margin of victory for the tax. The 1995 SPLOST passed with more than 78 percent of the vote, while the 2000 SPLOST passed with 62 percent of the vote. In 2005, 64 percent of Newton County voters voted to approve the tax.

Fayette County voters will also choose in a SPLOST referendum today.

Tuesday, March 21, voters who haven’t already voted early will be asked to approve a referendum for a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) aimed at helping the county and its municipalities fund a number of needed improvements in transportation, stormwater infrastructure, public safety, and facilities.

The SPLOST is touted as a way to let our neighbors help foot the bill for improvements to infrastructure that they use. While a property tax is only paid by property owners in the county, a SPLOST would see anyone who shops or dines in the county helping chipping in. All counties surrounding Fayette currently have a SPLOST, meaning Fayette residents contribute when they shop out of the county, but not the reverse. Currently, Fayette has one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state at six cents. Of those six cents, four go to the state, one goes to the school system, and one goes to the county.

If approved, the six-year SPLOST would bring in an estimated $141,014,157 in tax revenue to be divvied up between the County and municipalities based on population. Fayette County would take the largest share at $64,646,530, followed by Peachtree City at $45,472,835, Fayetteville at $21,098,538, Tyrone at $9,102,463, and Brooks at $693,791.

Without a SPLOST, a significant property tax increase and/or cuts in services would be needed in order to fund the same projects. For the county, 37 percent of its share would go towards stormwater infrastructure projects. The need to catch up years of stormwater maintenance was highlighted by the December 2015 floods that washed out portions of three roads. The County would also spend 30 percent of their allotment on transportation projects, including road replacements and multi-use path projects, and 28 percent to upgrade an outdated public safety radio system for the E911 system.

Wilkinson County goes to the polls today on their E-SPLOST for education.

The sales tax would allow the Board of Education to spend $7.5 million over five years.

Superintendent, Aaron Geter, says they need a new ESPLOST to help pay off the debt from the new school.

“We pay $1.2 to $1.3 million a year into a fund to pay back the $16.5 million we borrowed from the federal government,” says Geter.

Geter says he is asking people to vote yes on the new ESPLOST that would raise up to $7.5 million from sales tax over five years to help pay off the school and other projects, like larger buses.

If it does not go pass, Geter says they would have to increase people’s property taxes. He says the increase would be at least 3 mills.

Laurens County will also vote on a SPLOST today.

Madison County will decide on an E-SPLOST today.

The one-cent sales tax referendum extends the current one-cent sales tax and if approved, will fund continued bond payments on the recent high school construction and renovations at Comer Elementary.

Superintendent Allen McCannon told the board of education Tuesday night that by using the E-SPLOST funds for capital improvements, the millage rate on property taxes has remained stable at 16.99 since 2007.

He said based on current projections the majority of the funds will have to be used to continue paying for previous construction, not new construction. He said any additional funds collected over the bond payments could be used for items that will be listed on the ballot (such as a fine arts center).

“Based on current projections, the chance of generating substantial funds over the required payments is unlikely,” he said.

McCannon said if the E-SPLOST is not approved, the school system would have to find additional revenue, likely through an increase in property taxes.

Baldwin County voters are being asked to approve a new SPLOST.

Houston County voters will cast their ballots on renewing their local SPLOST.

Decatur County voters will weigh-in on an E-SPLOST today.

[Decatur County Schools Superintendent Tim] Cochran said ESPLOST is very important to the school system. It has funded the building of the new high school, Jones Wheat and West Bainbridge  Elementary Schools. No property taxes are used for the construction. He pointed out the constant need for upgrades to the other facilities. Five buildings are 50 plus years old, while three are 61 years old.

Cochran stressed that all SPLOST money stays here in the county. Visitors to Bainbridge and area help fund it when they make purchases here.

The term is for five years, with the current one expiring the end of June. This is not a new tax, but a renewal of the current one. The continued 1cent will provide for Decatur County by making payments on the high school debt, ongoing facility upgrades and repairs system wide, purchase technology for all schools, purchase of new school buses and for transportation equipment and maintenance equipment.

He pointed out that if the ESPLOST fails to renew, there will be no solution but to raise property taxes.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has endorsed Republican Bruce LeVell in the 6th Congressional District special election.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will campaign next week for Republican Bruce LeVell, as he burnishes his pro-Trump credentials in the race to represent the suburban Atlanta district.

LeVell, a Dunwoody jeweler who headed Trump’s diversity coalition, said Monday that Lewandowski’s March 29 appearance in Alpharetta is an indication the “Trump team is rallying around my campaign.”

“Corey and I have been brothers-in-arms fighting for President Trump since June of 2015,” he said.

In the 18-candidate April 18 special election, LeVell is positioning himself as Trump’s biggest ally in the race. But he’s facing stiff competition from other pro-Trump Republicans in the race, including former Johns Creek councilman Bob Gray, whose TV ad featured him with a water pump prepared to drain a swamp.


LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR

8:00 AM HOUSE NAT’L RES & ENV’T 606 CLOB

9:30 AM HOUSE JUD’Y NON- CIVIL 406 CLOB

10:00 AM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS-CANCELLED 403 CAP

11:30 AM SENATE RULES 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

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

1:00 PM HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y CIVIL 132 CAP

1:00 PM MARTOC 515 CLOB

1:00 PM House Telecom Sub Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE ECON DEV & TOURISM – CANCELED 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM House Energy Sub Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

Yesterday, the Senate Rules Committee met in the morning, and pulled all legislation from the previous Rules Calendar, replacing it with seven House Bills. View the updated calendar of what the Senate considered here.

Kathleen Foody and Ezra Kaplan of the Associated Press write about legislation considered yesterday.

A bill to grant the state more power to intervene in Georgia’s struggling schools is one step closer to a vote in the Senate.

The chamber’s education committee on Monday approved the bill creating a “chief turnaround officer” to work with low-performing schools.

The committee maintained a key portion of the bill, which would make the State Board of Education responsible for hiring the new official. Education groups instead want the elected state superintendent to hire the new official because board members are appointed by the governor.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital would be able to request the right to purchase a gun before the end of the standard five-year ban under a bill approved by a House committee.

A proposal collecting sales taxes on trips through ride-hailing services including Uber and Lyft and another to force online retailers to collect sales taxes also were on the committee’s agenda, but didn’t receive a vote. The Senate Finance committee may take up the bills Wednesday.

The AJC has more on the committee passage of House Bill 338.

A key Senate committee on Monday passed House Bill 338, now named the First Priority Act instead of “plan b,” the informal moniker by which it has been known around the Capitol.

The bill has been slightly modified since it passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, but must return there for ratification of the Senate’s changes. That’s assuming the full Senate approves the measure before the legislative session ends next week. After approval Monday by the Senate Education and Youth Committee, it goes to a committee that schedules Senate floor votes.

The House Insurance Committee voted for passage of Senate Bill 8 to reduce “surprise medical billing.”

The House Insurance Committee on Monday passed revamped legislation to reduce “surprise billing,’’ in which patients using hospitals in their insurance network may still get unexpected bills from doctors who are not in the network.

The new version of Senate Bill 8 is vastly different from the original proposal that passed the state Senate unanimously.

Both Sen. Renee Unterman, the bill’s sponsor, and Rep. Richard Smith, chairman of the House Insurance Committee, called the bill ‘’a first step’’ toward solving the billing problem. Smith said that about one in five hospital ER patients nationally receive bills from non-network doctors.

Unterman, a Buford Republican who’s also a nurse, said many teachers needing emergency care in her county, Gwinnett, find that ER doctors at Gwinnett Medical Center hospitals are out of their insurance network.

Rep. Darlene Taylor, a Thomasville Republican, said health care is not a free market. “Doing nothing [on surprise billing] helps no one,” she said.

If Senate Bill 8 passes the House, the two chambers must settle the differences between the original and revised versions in a conference committee.

House Bill 425 by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) passed the Senate by 44-9.

Students will have a clear right to refuse to take state tests in schools without being punished if Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation approved by the Georgia Senate Monday.

House Bill 425 says schools cannot punish students who refuse to take standardized state tests and encourages state and local school boards to let students take the tests with paper and pencil rather than on a computer.

Deal vetoed similar legislation, Senate Bill 355, last year.

House Bill 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) passed the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation Monday that could mean a $200 million a year tax hike for used-car buyers.

Supporters of House Bill 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire – which is backed by new-car dealers – view it as cleaning up a loophole that currently allows used-car dealers to get an unfair competitive advantage on taxes and to sometimes scam the system.

State estimates say that by fiscal 2019 — the first full year the law would be in effect — the proposed changes in how used cars are taxed could mean an extra $237 million in title fee payments. That could rise to $268 million by 2022.

Another part of the legislation would lower the bill on the same tax to those who lease cars, cutting their tab by up to $74 million in 2019, a number that could grow up to $106 million by 2022.

The new-car lobby says the bill would merely force used-car buyers to pay the tax under the same system that governs new-car buyers.

The Georgia Ports Authority reported the fourth consecutive month of record breaking growth.

Griff Lynch, the authority’s executive director, said Monday the Savannah and Brunswick seaports handled 2.94 million tons of cargo in February — up nearly 10 percent from the same month last year. It was also their second-highest monthly tonnage ever. That record was set in January.

Containerized cargo moving through Savannah is driving the growth.

Lynch said the Panama Canal, which finished a major expansion last summer, is increasing container volumes “a little faster and stronger” than expected.

City of Gainesville education administrators approved spending nearly $17.5 million to build a new school called Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

The Lake Lanier Association will hear from Brad Carver about efforts to reclaim parts of Georgia mistakenly ceded to Tennessee.

Carver, who couldn’t be reached for comment, “has invested considerable time and effort on issues surrounding the transfer of a small amount of water from the Tennessee River into the watershed that feeds Lake Lanier,” states a Lake Lanier Association invitation about the event at Port Royale Marina in Forsyth County.

The Lowndes County Board of Education is holding a Stakeholder Meeting on March 29th at 4 PM at the Lowndes County Board of Education, 1592 Norman Drive in Valdosta.

The Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority will hold a public meeting at 9 AM today at the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, 100 S. Hamilton St, in Dalton.

Lula City Council member Lamb Griffin has been hospitalized at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Warner Robins City Council passed an ordinance restricting drone flights inside the city limits.

411 revelers were arrested during the St. Patrick’s Day period in Chatham County.

20
Mar

Glynn County GOP Passes Resolution Against Casino Gambling

Here’s the text of the resolution approved at the Glynn County Republican Party on Saturday.

RESOLUTION OPPOSING CASINO GAMBLING

WHEREAS, Georgia Republican legislators have introduced legislation that would allow for casino gambling in Georgia; and

WHEREAS, the gambling bills now mask the negative connotations of casino gambling by referring to casinos euphemistically as “destination resorts”; and

WHEREAS, the usual arguments for opening the state to gambling continue to be, “this will create jobs” and “it is for the children” because it will generate revenue for Pre-K and for the HOPE scholarship, and

WHEREAS, these reasons fail to overcome the substantial societal costs of gambling, which include (1) the break-up of families because gamblers are twice as likely to divorce as non-gamblers, (2) an increase in local crime by at least ten percent within five years or less after the establishment of a casino, including an increase in prostitution; (3) local job loss because local citizens change their spending habits, (4) an increase in bankruptcies, and (5) an increase in child neglect and domestic violence; and

WHEREAS, all taxpayers, including non-gamblers, end up paying higher taxesfor these publicly borne social costs; and

WHEREAS, the proposed establishment of the gambling industry in Georgia violates free-market principles by instituting a politically protected industry that will drain customers from legitimate businesses not similarly protected; and

WHEREAS, once the gambling industry is allowed to operate legally in the state, its lobbying power will grow and increase its influence over legislators and local community officials; and

WHEREAS, once the State of Georgia allows Class III gambling, this would open the door for any Indian tribe to “venue shop” for property to open casinos on land that would be taken out of the governance of the State and off the local tax digest; and

WHEREAS, the State should not have a vested interest in predatory activities such as gambling for the sake of filling State coffers at the expense of ruined lives and broken families;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, we, the Delegates of Georgia’s Chatham County Republican Convention, urge the members of the Georgia Legislature to cease and desist with any efforts to open the State of Georgia to casino gambling;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Secretary of Georgia’s Chatham County Republican Party Convention is directed to immediately transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to the Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and to all elected Chatham County Republican officials in the Georgia Senate and in the Georgia House; to the Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor of the State of Georgia, the Honorable Casey Cagle, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Georgia; and to the Honorable David Ralston, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

 

 

20
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 20, 2017

Ranger Girl

Ranger Girl is a 4-6 month old, 20-pound Labrador Retriever & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. She is very sweet and playful.

Mocha

Mocha is a 4-6 month old female Hound & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. Mocha is good with other dogs and kids. She is still adjusting to shelter life and has not yet mastered the art of walking on a leash, but she makes improvements every day.

Emerald

Emerald is a 4-5 year old, 60-pound female Black-and-Tan Coonhound who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. Emerald is sweet and affectionate and good with dogs and children.

20
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 20, 2017

March 20, 1854 saw a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin that is generally considered the founding of the Republican Party.

[F]ormer members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

The Georgia State Capitol was completed on March 20, 1889. Ron Daniels, the Poet Laureate of GaPundit, has written an ode to the Gold Dome:

Well I guess it was back in eighteen eighty nine,
When a couple of boys in Dahlonega went down in a mine,
And found it was slap full of gold.
Then these folks in Atlanta wanted to keep growing,
So they told the legislature the Capitol had to be going,
And so those politicos said “Good Bye Milledgeville! Our attorneys will be in touch.”
Now the Capitol had been moved before,
Savannah, Louisville, and more,
They’d even moved it down to Macon on an overloaded poultry wagon.
Atlanta sure wanted to lend the State a hand,
Giving the legislature plenty of land,
Hammers started swingin’ and, boy howdy, they sure were buildin’.
The architect of this here building was feeling bold,
Covering the building’s dome all in beautiful gold,
Leaving the gold mine empty, and leaving someone with the shaft.
Well, Governor Gordon was slap full of delight,
When his eyes did recognize that impressive sight,
On March 20, 1889, a completed Capitol building.
He grabbed the keys and a few words he spoke,
The words he uttered were no joke,
“Boys when you’re hot, you’re hot! Now thanks a lot.”

On March 20, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation authorizing a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution and make the Public Service Commission a Constitutional agency.

On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson notified Alabama Governor George Wallace that Alabama National Guard troops would be called up to maintain order during a third march from Selma to Montgomery. Within five months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress.

On March 20, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation designating the Brown Thrasher the official state bird, and the Bobwhite Quail the official state game bird.

On March 20, 1982, this song was #1 on the Billboard charts:

Happy birthday to Georgia-born actress Holly Hunter (1958) and film director/actor Spike Lee (1957).

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park set a new record for annual visitors in 2016.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

UNDER THE GOLD DOME – LEGISLATIVE DAY 36

8:00 AM SENATE RULES 450 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE INSURANCE 606 CLOB

8:30 AM JOINT APPROPRIATIONS – Conf Comm 403 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 36) HOUSE CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE HIGHER ED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED IND. 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y NON-CIVIL 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY 606 CLOB

1:30 PM HOUSE REGULATED IND 506 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM FINANCE MEZZ 1

2:30 PM House Energy Sub of Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE RETIREMENT-CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE GOV’T OVERSIGHT 125 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE ETHICS – CANCELED 450 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS 415 CLOB

3:30 PM House Telecom Sub of Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE INS. & LABOR 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE VETERANS, MILITARY, & HOMELAND SECURITY MEZZ 1

4:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 506 CLOB

5:00 PM SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS 450 CAP


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 139 – Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions (ED&Y-28th) Belton-112th

HB 148 – Educating Children of Military Families Act; enact (ED&Y-43rd) Glanton-75th

HB 198 – Elementary and secondary education; influenza vaccine; provide information (ED&Y-50th) Dempsey-13th

HB 205 – Mining and drilling; regulate exploration and extraction of gas and oil; provisions (Substitute) (RI&U-52nd) Meadows-5th

HB 210 – Health; certain specimen collection stations and blood banks are not considered clinical laboratories; provide (H&HS-17th) Lott-122nd

HB 234 – Motor vehicles; drivers stop at crosswalks with user activated rectangular rapid-flash beacons; require (PUB SAF-50th) Frye-118th

HB 290 – Ad valorem tax; definitions related to exemption of certain agricultural equipment; revise (FIN-7th) Watson-172nd

HB 382 – Georgia Commission on Women; place under Department of Public Health administration (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Pruett-149th

HB 437 – Agricultural Education Advisory Commission; recreate (ED&Y-50th) Dickey-140th

HB 470 – Economic Development, Department of; grants to certain organizations supporting military communities; create program (ED&T-30th) Blackmon-146th

HB 243 – Minimum wage; require additional pay to employees based on schedule changes; preempt local government mandates (I&L-16th) Werkheiser-157th

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

SB 147 – Cemetery and Funeral Services; unitrust distribution method provisions; permit a cemetery to request a trustee (Substitute)(RegI-Carson-46th) Williams-27th

SB 200 – Insurance; synchronizing patients’ chronic medications; provide (Substitute)(Ins-Taylor-173rd) Hufstetler-52nd

SB 206 – “Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act” (Substitute) (Ins-Houston-170th) Martin-9th

Modified Structured Rule

SB 18 – Georgia Public Safety Training Center; any member of security police force; retain his/her weapon and badge under certain conditions (PS&HS-Lumsden-12th) Harper-7th

SB 88 – “Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act” (Substitute) (H&HS-Knight-130th) Mullis-53rd

SB 128 – Drivers’ Licenses; Department of Natural Resources; limited purposes; allow for the sharing of personal data (PS&HS-Powell-32nd) Wilkinson-50th

SB 242 – Advanced Practice Registered Nurses; delegating physician can enter into a protocol agreement at any one time for nurses; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Unterman-45th


Today is the Voter Registration Deadline for the April 18th Special Elections in the Sixth Congressional District and the 32d State Senate District.

You can check your voter registration online here.

Less than 1% of registered voters cast early ballots in Cobb County elections being held tomorrow.

Less than 1 percent of Cobb’s 444,677 registered voters cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s election for the special 1 percent sales tax for schools as of Friday morning, according to Cobb elections.

A total of 3,787 Cobb residents have cast early ballots since early voting opened on Feb. 27, according to Janine Eveler, director of Cobb elections.

Early voting ended Friday.

About 89 percent, or 3,357 votes, of the early votes so far were cast in-person while the other 430 votes were returned to Cobb elections by mail.

Voters across Georgia will go to the polls tomorrow to decide sales tax referenda.

The turnout in Tuesday’s sales tax referendum in Houston County will not draw nearly that of the presidential election four months ago, but Jimmy Autry says the stakes are equally important.

He chairs the committee that’s promoting the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST. A yes vote in the referendum would extend the 1-percent tax on retail sales for another six years.

“It’s just as important as the presidential election, but you can’t convince some people,” Autry said. “This is all local. These are things that affect you. I drive home on a Moody Road upgraded because of SPLOST.”

Jones, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Pulaski counties are also among the places deciding sales tax proposals. Additionally, voters in Monroe County are deciding whether to approve a 1 mill property tax increase to go toward keeping the Monroe County Hospital open. Peach County voters are deciding whether to approve an expansion of the tax exemption on business inventory, with the aim of spurring economic growth.

Senator Johnny Isakson is recovering from his second recent back surgery and we hope you’ll join us in praying for him and his family and staff as he recuperates.

Senator David Perdue is co-sponsoring the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017 to expand scholarships through the Department of Defense for students in cyber security-related programs.

The campaign of Republican Amy Kremer went off the rails this weekend, with her entire staff quitting and sending out a press release:

The entire campaign staff of GA 6th District Congressional candidate and former Tea Party Express CEO Amy Kremer has resigned over Kremer’s inability to raise funds and failure to pay her staff and operating bills, including campaign vendors.

Ms. Kremer had only raised $2500 through the first month despite placing 4th among Republican candidates in a recent poll.

This is yet another setback for Ms. Kremer whose previous venture, Women Vote Trump Pac, raised only $28,000 of its $30 million goal.

Then, one of her former campaign workers called the police on Kremer.

Cooper Mohr, 30, was on the campaign’s field team and was staying in Kremer’s east Cobb house with two other staffers. After he resigned from the campaign, he said Kremer changed the locks and wouldn’t let them get their belongings. Reached outside her house on Friday, he said he contacted the Cobb police for help.

“I’m not going to let them do this to us,” he said.

Former Johns Creek City Council member and current Congressional candidate Bob Gray picked up the former Kremer staffers for his campaign.

Republican Bob Gray hired the staffers who quit a rival campaign’s staff en masse after complaining she couldn’t pay their campaign bills, the latest move in an increasingly bitter race to represent a suburban Atlanta district.

Jack Melton, the former campaign manager for tea party activist Amy Kremer, said the Republican side of the April 18 special election appears to be between Gray and former Secretary of State Karen Handel – and that Gray was his pick “as the only conservative outsider in this race.”

Gray also opened his campaign headquarters on Saturday. Pretty good crowd, it looks like.

Gray HQ opening

Former State Senator Judson Hill held a Meet and Greet event this weekend with “100 Women Who Support Judson Hill. Pictured below with Shelly Hill, Rear Admiral Wendi Carpenter (USN Ret.), and DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester.

Judson Hill Event628

Kyle Wingfield writes about potential candidates for Governor in 2018.

Next year’s state elections have dominated the current year’s legislative session, never more so than this past week. The contest got off to a semi-official start when the AJC reported Secretary of State Brian Kemp will jump into the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal. Next to enter the fray, most likely, is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

After that, it’s anyone’s guess how big the field grows, and how quickly. But you can expect April to be busy.

The field won’t get as large as last year’s GOP presidential primary, or this year’s special election in the Sixth Congressional District, but it looks to be a full one. (That’s before we get to the Democratic side, a topic for another day.)

Given the foregoing array of possible candidates, not to mention the emerging scramble to replace them in the seats they now occupy, we could see dramatic turnover in the highest levels of state government. Imagine, for instance, that Cagle and Ralston not only both run for governor, but both lose. In that case, we would see a totally new group in charge of the House, the Senate and the executive branch. At a minimum, having two new faces in those three offices is very plausible.

In the near term, that probably means gridlock. Already, there’s a sense under the Gold Dome that personal ambitions, and efforts to thwart the same, are shaping the legislative process behind closed doors.

The Glynn County Republican Party passed a resolution opposing casino gambling in Georgia. Similar resolution were passed by County parties in Union, Coweta, Bartow, Paulding, and Clarke Counties, and last week in Chatham County.

Legislation & Local Issues

Today is Legislative Day 36 in the Georgia General Assembly, marking the beginning of the spring to the end of session next Thursday. Some bills will break the tape and win passage, others will be deferred until next year. Some will hit the wall, and some will stumble. Keep running through the finish line, my friends.

Kathleen Foody and Ezra Kaplan of the Associated Press looks at bills still pending before the legislature.

GUNS ON CAMPUS

The Senate could vote this week to allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses.

Senate approval would send the bill back to the House, which approved a version earlier this month on party lines. The Senate added an exemption for buildings where high school-age students attend classes at technical colleges under a state program.

2018 BUDGET

The budget-writing process has remained uncontroversial this year, with few major differences in the $49 billion proposals advanced by the House and Senate. Both chambers have agreed on 2 percent salary increases for teachers and some other state employees and a 20 percent increase for law enforcement officers with state agencies, including Georgia State Patrol.

STRUGGLING SCHOOLS

The Senate’s Education Committee plans to vote Monday afternoon on a bill giving the state more power to intervene in struggling schools.

The House has already passed a version of the bill creating a “chief turnaround officer” to work with struggling schools. The new position would be appointed by the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor, with input from the elected state superintendent and education groups.

A reader mentioned seeing figures of $49 billion and $25 billion for the 2018 Fiscal Year state budget. The larger number includes federal funds that pass through the state government, while the smaller number reflect only state dollars.

The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 201 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) and the bill passed out of House Industry and Labor by substitute.

The Georgia Senate passed SB 201 that would require employers to let workers use their sick days to take care of a child, parent, or any dependent listed on tax returns.

State Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) is sponsoring the bill in the House.

“I think what we’re doing is stating the policy of the state is to welcome companies that will give flexibility to their workers,” Strickland said.

If the company you work for doesn’t offer sick leave, this bill doesn’t do much for you. There is no mandate in Georgia requiring companies to offer sick days to their employees.

Healthcare

“Surprise medical billing,” one of the bigger healthcare issues in the legislature, will be heard in the House Insurance Committee at 8 AM today, as they take up Senate Bill 8 by Sen. Renee Unterman. House Insurance Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) proposed his own measure, HB 71, which has not passed the House.

Tom Frieden, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control, writes in the AJC about legislation to combat the opioid epidemic in Georgia.

The United States – and Georgia – is in the midst of a horrific epidemic of opiate overdose. Every day, a Georgian dies of an opiate overdose. Most of those who die are young adults. Their deaths are tragic for their families and communities, and all of us are poorer because they can no longer contribute to our society. And it could get much worse. Other states have twice Georgia’s rate of opiate overdose.

Overprescribing of opiates – which are no less addictive than heroin – has driven this devastation. Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but there has been no change in the amount of pain Americans report. Prescription opiates are a gateway drug – the great majority of those addicted to heroin got started with opioid medications. This is one reason CDC released opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain a year ago.

Reversing this epidemic won’t be simple, and won’t be quick – but the sooner we take effective action, the more lives will be saved. To their credit, Georgia’s political leaders are working to do so by improving Georgia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP).

In states with laws regulating pain clinics and requiring PDMP checks, deaths from opioids have decreased.

This past Thursday, the Senate Health Committee approved House Bill 249 that would require doctors to check our state PDMP before prescribing all opioids and all benzodiazepines. It also sensibly allows for delegates to do so, saving our doctors time.

Unfortunately, this version of the bill has too many loopholes. The Senate version of the bill had sensible exemptions, including opiates prescribed for palliation, end-of-life care, and addiction treatment. The current draft includes exemptions that would endanger public safety and result in avoidable overdoses and deaths of Georgians.

Too many Georgians have already been killed in this epidemic. A final bill in the coming days that includes only the specific and well-worded exemptions included in Senate Bill 81 is safer for patients and will save lives. Families throughout Georgia are counting on our elected officials to do the right thing and make our PDMP work for doctors and protect patients.

Recent research shows that the amount of opioids in a patient’s first prescription has a large effect on whether they are still on opioids one year later.

When patients get an initial opioid prescription that’s just a one-day supply, they have about a six-percent chance of being on opioids for a year or longer. But if that first prescription is for a three-day supply, the probability of long-term use starts inching up. With an initial five-day supply, the chance jumps to about 10 percent. With a six-day supply, the chance hits 12 percent. With 10-day’s worth, the odds of still being on opioids a year later hits roughly 20 percent.

So, with an initial 10-day opioid prescription, about one-in-five patients become long-term users. That’s according to the new study’s lead author Bradley Martin, a professor of pharmaceutical evaluation and policy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science. It’s a fast rise, Martin said to Ars. “We really didn’t expect that.”

People who got 30 days of opioid total—meaning they may have gotten multiple prescriptions or refills over time—had about a 30-percent probability of using opioids for a year. And they had a nearly 20-percent chance of being on them for three years.

The CDC estimates that 91 people die of an opioid overdose every day in the US.

11Alive looks at how the GOP’s plan for federal healthcare reform could affect rural Georgia.

In Gilmer County, Ga., where 82 percent of residents voted for Trump, 28 percent have no health insurance.

“Gilmer County suffered the loss of our hospital last spring,” said County Commissioner Travis Crouch.

The hospital was losing money from “a large increase in indigent care.”

“Folks who can’t pay or don’t have insurance — that’s, in a nutshell, what that refers to,” Crouch said. “They show up in the emergency, they’re treated. There’s no payment.”

A hospital with an emergency room, by law, cannot turn anyone away.

“Indigent care had basically buried the hospital and made it difficult to stay afloat financially,” Crouch said.

 

17
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 17, 2017

Samson

Samson is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County in Hamilton, GA.

My name is Samson, and I used to be a gypsy… Roaming country roads and sleeping on the highway. But I gave up my traveling life to settle down with a family and a big couch. All my friends tell me I’m a really chill dude. You know… calm, gentle, affectionate. Serious. Kind of nerdy. Really, my top priority is finding someone who I can keep company and chill with.

Whopper

Whopper is a small male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County in Hamilton, GA.

JackHarris

Jack is a male 1-year old, 65-pound Great Pyrenees and German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County in Hamilton, GA.

Hayes

Hayes is an adult male Treeing Walker Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from the Meriwether County Animal Shelter in Greenville, GA.

Canton City Council passed an ordinance banning retail sales of pets.

16
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 16, 2017

Mary

Mary (above) and Fawn (below) are female Coonhound and Rhodesian Ridgeback sisters who are available for adoption from Companion Animal Rescue Inc. in Madison, GA.

Fawn and Mary are sweet, loving and sightly under-exposed with different humans but have excellent potential. They are sisters that are very smart and learn so quickly! A fantastic mix of Coon Hound and Rhodesian Ridgeback. They have a gorgeous and different look.

They seem to really enjoy human companionship and are warming up to positive training methods to learn leash walking,come, riding in the car and new and different sights, smells and sounds. Fawn is right at 73 pounds and is almost 2 and a half years old. These girls have affectionate hearts and loving souls and are absolutely beautiful.

Fawn

Bennie

Bennie is a five-year old, 60-pound male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Companion Animal Rescue Inc. in Madison, GA.

Bennie is all about playing hard and loving with his whole heart. He will make a wonderful family boy. The only reason we have him marked for older kids is that his play is excited and because of his large size we don’t want him knocking down a young child.

Bennie loves toys and especially the ball, he will fetch and most times return for you to throw again….sometime he will want you to chase him for it. Bennie loves the water and swimming. He is muscular and athletic. He is a total snuggle bug and a fun time! He is well behaved, loving and has some basic obedience skills, house trained and ready to be a large part of your family!

Huey

Huey is a young male Black Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Morgan County Madison, GA.

Hi! I’m Huey. I am an adorable fluff ball of a puppy. I’m pretty chill and love basically everyone. I’m hoping to grow up with my forever family and not at the Adoption Center. Can you help me find my family?

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is an adult male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Morgan County Madison, GA.

Hi! My name is Copenhagen. I am as sweet as they come! I am super friendly, and I love everyone. I just want to snuggle. I am looking for my forever family to snuggle with. Are you my forever family?

16
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 16, 2017

James Madison, drafter of the Constitution and fourth President of the United States, was born on March 16, 1751.

The United States Military Academy was established at West Point, New York on March 16, 1802.

On March 16, 1861, delegates in Savannah unanimously ratified the Confederate Constitution and voted to have a new state constitution drafted.

On March 16, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Illinois Democratic Primary. His spiritual successor President Barack Obama, from Illinois, would visit Carter’s home state of Georgia on March 16, 2012.

Former professional football player Warrick Dunn personally delivered the keys to a Habitat for Humanity house in Gwinnett County to the new homeowner.

Gwinnett Habitat Executive Director Brent Bohanan said 239 volunteers worked on the house for more than 1,300 hours. It’s the 132nd home built by Gwinnett Habitat, but it was originally built in 1992 as Habitat’s fifth home in Gwinnett. Bohanan said the first homeowner paid it off and moved on, but sold it back to Habitat.

“We’re just so excited to be able to recycle one of our homes and pass it on to Lula and her famly,” said Bohanan, who prayed during the ceremony and cited Psalm 127:1. “We hope that this home will be a great place that you can make a lot of memories together.”

“That tells you when people have a will to not just sit on their butts, but to go out and sometimes you’ve got to make things happen, even when you don’t succeed, you try again,” said Dunn, who played 12 seasons in the NFL, six with the Atlanta Falcons and six with Tampa Bay. “I think she’s an example that no matter what background, no matter the situation, you may not succeed, but try again.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – LEGISLATIVE DAY 35

8:00 AM House Reeves Sub Jud’y Non-Civil 515 CLOB

8:00 AM House Nat’l Res Special Ad Hoc 606 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 35) CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

12:30 PM Setzler Subcommittee of Judiciary Non-Civil 606 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE 406 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE & TECH 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HS 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION 606 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y CIVIL 132 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

3:00 PM FINANCE – Income Tax Subcommittee MEZZ 1

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 1 – Georgia Space Flight Act; enact (Substitute) (S&T-14th) Spencer-180th

HB 276 – The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act; enact (I&L-53rd) Knight-130th

HB 49 – Livestock dealers and auctions; license and surety requirements; update (AG&CA-7th) Pirkle-155th

HB 75 – Social services; certain records from disclosure; exclude (JUDY-23rd) Willard-51st

HB 143 – Financial institutions; provide for definitions; provisions (B&FI-18th) Williamson-115th

HB 268 – Elections; time period for certification of election officials; provide (Substitute) (ETHICS-11th) Fleming-121st

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule

SB 109 – “Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact” (“REPLICA”); provide for the enactment (H&HS-Cooper-43rd) Williams-27th

SB 173 – Captive Insurance Companies; provisions; extensively revise (Ins-Shaw-176th) Jones-25th

SR 152 – Joint Study Committee on Stream Buffers in Georgia; create (NR&E-Smith-70th) Ginn-47th

SR 224 – Joint Study Committee on Storm-Water Management Fees; create (NR&E-Williams-119th) Ginn-47th

Modified Structured Rule

SB 103 – “The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act”; pharmacy benefits managers; Commissioner of Insurance to promulgate certain rules and regulations; authorize (Ins-Knight-130th) Mullis-53rd

SB 169 – Specialty License Plate; honoring law enforcement; establish (MotV-Pirkle-155th) Kirk-13th

SB 201 – Labor and Industrial Relations; employees to use sick leave for the care of immediate family members; allow (Substitute)(I&L-Strickland-111th) Miller-49th


Legislation & Local Issues

Governor Nathan Deal continues to press the case that Georgia should not be treated worse under GOP healthcare plans than states that took Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.Continue Reading..

15
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 15, 2017

Judd

Judd is a senior male German Shepherd dog mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County in Marietta, GA.

Judd is a sweet older boy who has some arthritis in his back legs and really like to get out of the shelter into a loving home with a soft bed. He loves sniffing around and will sit when you ask him to. Judd arrived at the shelter as a lost dog on 1/11 and since no one ever came to find him, he is now in need of a new home. Judd is up to date on shots, and will be heartworm tested and microchipped before adoption. Since he in an older boy, he will need to be neutered at your own veterinarian. Judd is 8 years old, his ID is 591405, he is in run 57 and weighs 46 lbs.

Eenie Amy

Eenie/Amy is a female Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County in Marietta, GA.

She originally came to the shelter as a stray with ID and her family did not come for her. She thought she found her new forever home when she was adopted but that new person decided owning a dog just was not what the were expecting so she was returned on 02/21. They said she was good with kids but needs some work on her potty skills. Eenie is a playful, sweet 3 year old girl and is also well behaved, sitting and laying down when told. She has been spayed, tested negative for heart worms, micro-chipped and is current on vaccines so she is all set to go for that new home. You will find her waiting in run 804 and her ID# is 591844.

Ripley

Ripley is an adult male German Shepherd/Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County in Marietta, GA.

Meet Ripley! He’s a real ham and just a total sweetheart. He is playful and well behaved, and knows all his basic commands. He was found as a lost doggie on 2/26/17 and will become available for adoption on 3/5/17. Ripley keeps his run nice and clean and appears to be housebroken. He is about 2 years old and weighs 47 lbs. He is current on his vaccines and upon adoption will be neutered, heartworm tested and micro chipped. Ripley’s ID # is 593267 and can be found in cage 83.