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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.