The blog.

24
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 24, 2024

Birch is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Screven County Spay & Neuter Corp. in Sylvania, GA.

Birch is a 4-month old puppy who was found dumped on a dirt road. He is recently arrived and still in need of vaccines. They can leave rescue after quarantine and on 1/29/24. He is incredibly friendly and playful! He will need help learning to potty train and walk on a leash.

Stormy is a young female German Shorthaird Pointer mix puppy who is available for adoption from Screven County Spay & Neuter Corp. in Sylvania, GA.

Stormy is an adorable GSP mix. She is your typical puppy and would love a family to call her own! Local (within 1 hour of Statesboro Georgia) adoptions only as she will need her spay once she is old enough and will only be adopted out with a spay contract. Unless adopter chooses to use their own vet at their expense.

Max is a young male Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from Screven County Spay & Neuter Corp. in Sylvania, GA.

Max and his brother Believer were left behind after their owner moved away. They are in need of weight and have neuter appointments scheduled. While we get them healthy we will also work on teaching them humans are ok as they are very nervous in this new home environment. They had always lived outside on a chain. Crate-trained, vaccinated, and will be neutered.

24
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 24, 2024

Jekyll Island

On January 24, 1915, the first transcontinental telephone call was placed from Jekyll Island, Georgia.

January 24, 1933 saw the first sales tax in Georgia proposed to fund schools and aid for farmers.

On January 24, 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr. became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, sharing the pulpit with his father.

On January 24, 1987, some 12,000 to 20,000 civil rights protesters marched in Forsyth County, a week after a smaller protest. From the New York Times reporting:

CUMMING, Ga., Jan. 24— This small town in Forsyth County was overwhelmed today by civil rights marchers, members of the Ku Klux Klan and their sympathizers and an army of National Guardsmen and law-enforcement officers who kept the opposing groups separated.

Guarded by what a spokesman for the Governor’s office called ”the greatest show of force the state has ever marshalled,” a crowd of marchers estimated at 12,000 to 20,000 funneled slowly into Cumming, where a week earlier counterdemonstrators, throwing stones and bottles, disrupted an interracial ”walk for brotherhood” prompted by the all-white county’s racist legacy.

As the marchers headed into Cumming, which has a little more than 2,000 people, they found waiting for them, behind a stern-faced force of 2,300 guardsmen and police officers, a group of hundreds if not thousands of white, mainly young, rural men and women, repeatedly shouting, “N[*****], go home!”

Whatever the final figure, the march was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations since a 1965 rally that followed a march from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery. The rally, led by Dr. King, drew 25,000 people.

Seriously, read the Times report.

On January 24, 2001, the Georgia House of Representatives approved legislation changing the state flag to the Barnes design with the state seal on a blue background and a banner depicting five previous flags that flew over Georgia.

2001GeorgiaFlag

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Governor Nathan Deal was awarded the Order of the Rising Son for his support of Japanese businesses operating in Georgia, according to the Rome News Tribune.Continue Reading..

23
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 23, 2024

Russell is a young male Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education, and Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Russell is the cutest little puppy! Born approx 9/10/23, Russell is currently 34 pounds at 14 weeks old. With a soft, black coat that shines in the sunlight, Russell is quite a gorgeous boy. He is as smart as he is handsome. He is already perfectly crate trained, walks well on a leash, knows sit and is already learning down! Russell is the typical playful pup! He adores toys, gets along well with other dogs, does well in a safe, fenced yard for playtime and loves playing ball and chase with the other foster pups here. Russell is a very special guy…this beautiful puppy was surrendered to us after he tested positive for parvo and the owners could not afford the $2,200 emergency vet bill. After the owners requested for them to euthanize Russell, the emergency clinic reached out to us in the hopes that we would take on his medical costs and accept Russell into our program. We couldn’t say no…and that saved Russell’s life. He is quite literally lucky to be alive and has the honor of being a parvovirus survivor! Russell has recovered wonderfully, has now started all his preventative vet work (vaccines, deworming, micro-chipping) and is ready for his new home. We have decided to place him prior to his neuter surgery to let him grown and develop a bit first while at the same time having the opportunity to go ahead and start his new life at his forever home. We will then work with the adopters on bringing him back when it’s time for surgery.

Dutton is an adult male Beagle mix who is available for adoption from Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education, and Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Meet Dutton! He is a 2.5 year old male Beagle who is about as photogenic as they come! He has a gorgeous tan coat with a ton of chrome (white) on him. Dutton is full grown at 34 pounds which makes him the perfect size. This boy is energetic and athletic without being hyper. He walks well on a leash, is perfectly crate trained and may be housebroken (he lives in a rescue environment so we have no way of knowing if he is already housetrained). Pulled from a high kill shelter just in time, Dutton has an amazing personality and loves everyone he meets! He enjoys going in a safe, fenced yard for interactive playtime, enjoys toys and loves running and playing with the other foster dogs. Dutton appears well behaved, doesn’t chew his bedding or toys and is a joy to be around. He would make an excellent walking/hiking partner. At night, he would make the perfect cuddle buddy. Dutton is fully vetted and ready for his forever home. His wish list consists of an inside, forever home with a big fenced yard for playtime, a home with lots of toys and maybe another doggy friend for play time and pet parents who understand the time commitment that a new doggy requires.

Willow is an adult female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education, and Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

For 1,000 days, this sweet girl has watched literally hundreds of dogs come into the rescue, get healthy and move onto their new home. She has literally grown up at CARES…. Are you someone who would makes excuses why you can go to the party only to stay home in your pajamas, watch tv and cuddle on the sofa with your puppy dog? Is your house relatively quiet with no small children? Do you have the love and patience it takes to allow a dog to acclimate on their comfort level? Then Willow is your girl!

Think this dog must be older? Think again. Willow was rescued out of a kill shelter at just 6 weeks old. She was already unwanted as just a tiny puppy – part of a litter of 6 dumped at the local shelter. She was 42 days old when we took her in. She watched all of her littermates get adopted, yet here she still sits. Today Willow is 1,042 days old and she has been without a real family all 1.042 days of her life…

Oliver is an adult male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education, and Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Meet Oliver! We aren’t sure of this little guy’s breed but we found this young fella sitting in a kill shelter. He was very scared in the shelter – even growling at people. We are happy to report that those days are behind him now and he is so happy to get love and attention! Oliver is simply gorgeous! He has a soft, tan coat with lots of chrome and crystal blue eyes that you could get lost in! Currently weighing in at 26 pounds, Oliver is full grown at 1 and a half years old. He is friendly & sweet, walks well on a leash and enjoys attention. Oliver loves playing with our other foster dogs, big and small. This beautiful boy is eager to learn new things. He is perfect in his crate and should house train easily once given the opportunity (he may already be house trained). Oliver likes toys, running with his canine friends and interactive time in a safe area. Also among favorites is snuggle time with people. This gorgeous pup is a favorite at CARES and won’t last long. Oliver is fully vetted and ready for his new home.

23
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 23, 2024

On January 23, 1775, the Georgia Commons House elected three delegates to the Second Continental Congress.

On January 23, 1861, Georgia’s members of the United States House of Representatives resigned following passage of the Secession Ordinance; her Senators had resigned earlier. The next day, the secession convention in Milledgeville elected ten delegates to a conference of Southern states in Montgomery, Alabama.

On January 23, 1923, Georgia ratified the Twentieth Amendment to the US Constitution, which ended Presidential terms on January 20th following an election and those of Congress to January 3d.

On January 23, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon announced that terms had been reached to settle the Vietnam War, a document known as the “Paris Peace Accords.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is open in the Special Election for State House District 125, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Early voting is underway in Columbia and McDuffie counties to fill the empty District 125 seat on the Georgia House of Representatives.

In both counties, polls are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Feb. 9 and Saturday voting is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. Columbia County’s poll is at Euchee Creek Library in Grovetown. McDuffie County’s are at Precinct on Main in Thompson and the Dearing Community Center on Augusta Highway.

The District 125 seat was opened up earlier this month after state Barry Fleming resigned to accept a state superior court judgeship with the Columbia Judicial Circuit. Running for Fleming’s seat are political activist and online personality CJ Pearson, recent Columbia County Commissioner Gary Richardson, Steed’s Dairy Owner Jim Steed, software engineer John Turpish, and owner of Intome Management as well as IntoME Health & Beauty Kay Turner.

Early voting is also underway in the State Senate District 30 Special Election, but with a twist, according to WABE.

The state Senate’s 30th District, which includes all or parts of Carroll, Douglas, Haralson and Paulding Counties, was redrawn during last year’s redistricting session.

Redistricting was necessary after a federal court ruling said the lines drawn in 2021 violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters.

Those lines take effect with the May primaries and November elections, but they also take effect for any special election this year, according to Gabe Sterling with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

“We consulted with our attorneys and the Attorney General’s office. And the way the new registry map was passed, there’s a specific section that says if there’s a subsequent race after this is adopted, the new lines will hold. So, this new election in State Senate 30 in the West Georgia area will be under the new map that as just passed and approved by Judge Jones.”

It means some who voted in the 30th District in 2022 will not be able to vote in this special election, while others who will pick the replacement for a state senator could not have voted in 2022.

For example, there are voters in southwestern Douglas County represented by state Sen. Matt Brass, who will also select Mike Dugan’s replacement, while there are voters in southern Carroll County who were represented by Dugan, who will not get to select his replacement.

So does that mean there will be some voters with two senators and some with none for the rest of the year?

“Depends on how you view that. Actually, I think they will still be represented and I think that anybody hoping to run for election, they will go to them and say, can you help me with this? And they will probably be represented pretty well. But yes, it is, it is this weird period of time,” commented Sterling.

Under the Gold Dome Today

TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adj – 450 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE MOTOR VEHICLES – 606 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE Ways and Means Sub Income Tax – 403 CAP
8:00 AM Cancelled – Senate Econ Dev & Trsm – 450 CAP
8:15 AM HOUSE Ways and Means Sub Ad Val – 403 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 7) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 7) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE Approp Sub Gen’l Gov’t – 515 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE Approp Sub Econ Dev – 341 CAP
1:00 PM HOUSE Govtal Affairs Sub State & Local – 415 CLOB
1:15 PM Senate Children & Families – 307 CLOB
1:30 PM HOUSE Govtal Affairs Sub Elections – 415 CLOB
1:30 PM HOUSE GAME, FISH AND PARKS – 403 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE Judy Reeves Sub – 132 CAP
2:30 PM Senate Education & Youth – 450 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE DEFENSE AND VETS AFFS – 506 CLOB
3:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES & TELECOM – 403 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Regulated Ind & Utilities – 450 CAP
5:00 PM Senate Ethics Committee – 307 CLOB

The Savannah Morning News has a legislative tracker for bills sponsored by members of the local delegation.

Whether you are well-versed in state politics or a total beginner, the Savannah Morning News has compiled a tool you can use to learn about local and statewide legislation, and keep an eye on important political issues in your community.

The calendar for Georgia’s legislative sessions changes slightly each year, but follows the same basic set of rules: Lawmakers convene for a total of 40 days, during which they are required to pass the state budget, as well as state legislation.

Bills start in either the House or the Senate chambers, and must cross over to the other legislative body before Crossover Day, which falls on Feb. 29. Bills must be passed by the final day of session, known as Sine Die, to be sent on to the governor’s desk. The governor has 40 days to sign a bill into law or veto it. If he takes no action, the bill will automatically become law at the end of the 40 days. The 2024 legislative session is also the second in a two-year series, meaning that bills that stalled during last year’s session have another chance to pass.

It’s a great piece that locals are likely to visit more than once.

Whitfield County legislators are split on Medicaid expansion, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

During a Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce Breakfast with the Legislators on Friday, chamber President Jason Mock asked state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton; state Rep. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga; and state Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, about reports there may be more support for expansion of Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides healthcare for low-income people, this year in the legislature.

“I’m up in the air on that,” said Tarvin. “At first, I said no. But now, I think we really need to look at this.”

Tarvin said he believes the costs of providing healthcare to people without health insurance who cannot pay is being passed on to those with health insurance through higher prices.

“It could be cheaper for us to expand Medicaid,” he said.

Payne said he agrees.

“To do this wisely demands we study this before we start assuming political positions,” he said. “Serving on (the state Senate Appropriations Committee), I know this is something we need to start looking at. This is a discussion that is just starting, but I hope to be part of that discussion.”

Carpenter said, “I’m a no.”

Carpenter said the healthcare system isn’t perfect but he worries about the long-term impact of such a move on the state budget.

Jeff Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Care System, was in attendance at the breakfast. He said afterward it isn’t clear what impact expanding Medicaid would have on Hamilton.

“I do know that, in terms of the volume of uninsured that we take care of, Whitfield County has one of the highest uninsured rates in the state,” Myers said. “The last I heard, it was in excess of 20%.”

“I also know that, in terms of the care we provide, we write off about 12% of our total revenue providing care to folks who don’t have the ability to pay,” he said.

“And I do know that lawmakers will have to consider the long-term impact on the state budget of any reforms they make,” he said.

Rising property tax valuations may drive legislation to curb increases, according to the Associated Press via the Macon Telegraph.

With a run up in home values sparking higher property taxes for many Georgia homeowners, there is a groundswell among state lawmakers in this election year to provide relief.

Georgia’s Senate Finance Committee plans a hearing Monday on a bill limiting increases in a home’s value, as assessed for property tax purposes, to 3% per year. The limit would last as long as the owner maintained a homestead exemption. Voters would have to approve the plan in a November referendum.

Meanwhile, Republican House Speaker Jon Burns of Newington proposes doubling the state’s homestead tax exemption, a measure likely to cut tax bills by nearly $100 million statewide.

In Georgia, supporters say a cap on homes’ taxable value would keep school districts, cities and counties from increasing tax revenues by relying on rising values. Republicans have long pushed local governments to roll back tax rates to keep bills level, even requiring advertisements labeling a failure to do so as a tax increase.

Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, the Rome Republican sponsoring Senate Bill 349, says many school districts and governments are instead pocketing higher revenues based on value.

“I’ve seen some increases where, just in a couple of years, their collections have gone up 40%,” Hufstetler told The Associated Press on Friday. “And they haven’t dropped the millage rate and they are using it for a backdoor tax increase. And I think there needs to be some moderation on that.”

Statistics show overall property tax collections rose 41% from 2018 to 2022 in Georgia. During that same period, total assessed value of property statewide rose by nearly 39%. Those Georgia Department of Revenue figures represent not only existing property but also new buildings. So they don’t clearly state how much valuations rose on existing property.

Many governments and school districts have spent the windfall from rising values to increase employee pay and cover inflation-swollen expenses. A 3% cap could mean that governments would have to raise tax rates instead. In states including California and Colorado, property tax limits have been blamed for hamstringing local governments.

Already, at least 39 Georgia counties, 35 cities and 27 school systems have adopted local laws limiting how much assessed values can rise, according to the Association of County Commissions of Georgia. Some of those limits only benefit homeowners 65 or older.

Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones is backing Hufstetler’s bill, saying it will prevent “large surprise increases in home values.” It’s also supported by at least one Democrat, Atlanta Sen. Jason Esteves.

“A key piece of this bill is trying to ensure that people are able to stay in their home,” Esteves said, saying higher taxes are forcing owners to sell and move.

But state House leaders are cool toward imposing valuation caps statewide, saying that choice should be left to local communities. They instead back Burns’ increased tax exemption.

From the Rome News Tribune:

“We’ve probably all heard more about property taxes than any other issue in the last year,” said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, in presenting his Senate Bill 349 to the committee he chairs. Many members, including Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, are co-sponsors.

“This is a great bill. There’s definitely a need. People around the state have felt a lot of pain lately,” said Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the committee vice chair who held the gavel while Hufstetler explained his intentions and answered questions.

“We are forcing people out of their homes,” agreed Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta.

Justin Pauly, director of communications for the Georgia School Boards Association, said a limit on valuations would affect revenue for school systems, which have a cap on the millage rate they are allowed to levy. And Suzanne Widenhouse, chief appraiser of Columbus-Muscogee County, urged caution. The county has had a freeze in place since 1983.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs will deliver the State of the Judiciary on February 7, 2024, according to the Albany Herald.

Boggs will update legislators on a variety of topics, including efforts to address the need for improved judicial security, work force development challenges facing the judicial system, the progress state trial courts are making on clearing their case backlogs, and, most importantly, the commitment of judges and court staff throughout Georgia to upholding the rule of law and improving the administration of justice.

 

 

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Henry Thompson delivered split results, unsealing the divorce case involving the Trump prosecutor but enjoining subpoenas requiring testimony from the District Attorney, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

The judge ordered the unsealing of the divorce case involving special prosecutor Nathan Wade after a request brought by a defense attorney who alleges an inappropriate relationship between Willis and Wade. The judge also put off a final decision on whether Willis will have to sit for questioning in the divorce case, but delayed her deposition that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

The affair allegations threaten to taint the prosecution, with the Republican primary front-runner and others seizing on the claims to attack the case and Wade’s qualifications as a prosecutor. Trump has pleaded not guilty, denied any wrongdoing and called the charges politically motivated.

Willis was served with the subpoena to sit for a deposition in the divorce case the day that defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who represents former Trump campaign staffer and onetime White House aide Michael Roman, filed a motion earlier this month alleging the romantic relationship between Willis and Wade.

During a brief hearing in the Cobb County Superior Court, Judge Henry Thompson said he can’t rule on whether Willis should have to sit for a deposition in the divorce case until after Wade himself is questioned later this month. In ruling that court documents in the divorce case must be made public, he said a previous judge improperly ordered the case to be sealed without holding a hearing.

From The Hill via WSAV:

Willis was subpoenaed earlier this month in the ongoing divorce case between Wade and his wife, Joycelyn, which began in 2021.

“She’s trying to hide under the shield of her position,” [attorney Andrea] Hastings said of Willis.

Willis’s lawyer, Cinque Axam, said Monday that any knowledge Willis obtains could also be provided by Wade.

“You’ve got two partners in the case, one who is alleged to have some extramarital affair with Ms. Willis,” Axam argued. “If that is the case — if that is true, [Wade] has that information.”

Last week, Wade’s wife in court filings accused Wade of purchasing multiple flights for himself and Willis in the months before they charged Trump and 18 others with attempting to subvert the state’s 2020 election results.

Judge Henry Thompson declined to absolve Willis from being deposed in the future but temporarily paused the requirement until after Wade has been deposed.

From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times:

WHAT CAN THE JUDGE DO?

Merchant’s motion asks Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to remove Willis and Wade and their offices from any further prosecution of the case. McAfee has the power to do that.

In fact, another judge, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, took that step in July 2022 when he was presiding over the special grand jury investigation that preceded the indictment in the election case.

Then-Sen. Burt Jones, one of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the election and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors, had been told he was a target in the election case. He argued that Willis had a conflict of interest because she had hosted a fundraiser for his Democratic opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race.

McBurney ruled in Jones’ favor, writing that the situation had gone beyond bad optics and had created “a plain — and actual and untenable — conflict.” He prohibited Willis and her office from prosecuting Jones in the case.

If McAfee decides to take similar action and to remove Willis and her office from the election case, it would be up to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia to find another prosecutor to take the case. That person could continue on the track that Willis has taken, could choose to pursue only some charges or could dismiss the case altogether.

Finding a prosecutor willing and able to take on the sprawling case could be difficult, former Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said. Only a few district attorneys in the state — all around Atlanta — have the resources to handle such a case, he said.

State legislators are considering how to restructure the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission to oversee elected prosecutors, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Some Georgia Republicans want the new commission to discipline Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for winning indictments of former President Donald Trump and 18 others.

Though Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation last year creating the new commission, it was unable to begin operating after the state Supreme Court in November refused to approve rules governing its conduct. Justices said they had “grave doubts” about their ability to regulate the duties of district attorneys beyond the practice of law. Because lawmakers hadn’t expressly ordered justices to act, they were refusing to rule one way or the other, they said.

A bill in the state House of Representatives removes the requirement that the state Supreme Court approve the rules. It also raises the standard for overturning a decision by the commission.

A House committee passed it on Monday over the objections of Democrats. It now goes to the full House for a vote.

“This is just making the commission workable,” state Rep. Joseph Gullett, a Republican from Dallas, told members of a House judiciary committee.

Democrats on the committee proposed an amendment giving their party the power to appoint some of the commission members, but it was rejected. The legislation Kemp signed gave Republicans control over all eight appointments to the commission.

Also on Monday, Georgia Republican state Sen. Greg Dolezal announced that he wanted to create a special Senate committee to investigate Willis, separate from the commission.

Dolezal said in a statement that a “thorough and impartial examination” would “ensure transparency, accountability and the preservation of the integrity of our justice system.”

Dolezal’s proposed resolution suggests that legal or budgetary changes could follow any inquiry. The resolution would have to win approval in the Republican-majority state Senate before any panel could be appointed.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Senate Bill 92, which the legislature’s Republican majorities passed mostly along party lines, tasked the Georgia Supreme Court with reviewing the new commission’s standards of conduct. But the justices ruled last fall that the high court lacks the authority to conduct such a review, effectively blocking the bill from taking effect.

During last year’s debate, legislative Democrats said an unelected commission could usurp the will of local voters in elections of district attorneys. Similar arguments came up on Monday.

Rep. Shea Roberts, D-Atlanta, said having a commission look over the shoulders of local prosecutors could act as a disincentive.

“I worry about who’s going to be willing to run for these seats when we want quality people,” she said.

Forsyth County Solicitor-General Bill Finch, a Republican, raised similar concerns. The new commission also would have jurisdiction over complaints against local solicitors as well as district attorneys.

“This bill will substitute the will of the voters of Forsyth County who put me in office,” Finch said. “That’s a dangerous thing.”

Republicans on the committee defeated an amendment proposed by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, that would have guaranteed Democratic legislative leaders the ability to appoint two of the commission’s members.

House Bill 881 now moves to the House Rules Committee to schedule a vote of the full House.

From the AJC:

The legislation, filed by Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming, cites accusations that Willis is in an “improper” relationship with Nathan Wade, who she hired to help lead the investigation into efforts by Trump and his now co-defendants to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The accusations against the district attorney stem from divorce filings by Wade’s estranged wife.

Dolezal’s legislation would create a Senate Special Committee on Investigations that would have the ability to subpoena people and evidence, and require that testimony be given under oath. No other legislative committees require that witnesses testify under oath. Under the measure, if the committee finds there has been misconduct, it can recommend changes to the state law or budget.

Last year, lawmakers created a Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission that was empowered to sanction prosecutors. The law was challenged in court, and the state Supreme Court said it had “grave doubts” about whether it had the constitutional authority to approve rules for the commission, a step required by the law.

On Monday the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed legislation that removed the directive that the Supreme Court review the commission’s rules in hopes of getting the panel moving.

From the Senate Press Releasing announcing Sen. Dolezal’s legislation:

Sen. Dolezal spoke on the proposed legislation, stating, “Today, in response to a wave of concerning reports and court filings regarding District Attorney Fani Willis of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, I am calling for the establishment of the Senate Special Committee on Investigations. The multitude of accusations surrounding Ms. Willis, spanning from allegations of prosecutorial misconduct to questions about the use of public funds and accusations of an unprofessional relationship, underscores the urgency for a thorough and impartial examination. We owe it to the public to ensure transparency, accountability and the preservation of the integrity of our justice system.”

The proposed legislation seeks to establish the Senate Special Committee on Investigations, comprising nine members, with three representatives from the Minority Party. The Committee will be assigned to conduct a legislative investigation and will have the power to administer oaths, to call any party to testify under oath at such investigations, among other responsibilities.

From the AJC Political Insider:

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones indicated he supports state Sen. Greg Dolezal’s measure to create a Senate Special Committee on Investigations that would have the ability to subpoena witnesses and require testimony be given under oath. Dolezal, R-Cumming, introduced the legislation Monday.

“The Georgia Legislature has a responsibility to hold public officials accountable,” Jones said. “Recent reports have been deeply troubling and I appreciate Sen. Dolezal’s leadership on this issue.”

Here’s a secret decoder ring on the various pieces of legislation mentioned in the above story:

Senate Bill 92 – passed last session, creating the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, but the Georgia Supreme Court determined it could not fulfill its duties under the legislation due to Constitutional restrictions.

House Bill 881 by State Rep. Joseph Gullett would revise the PAQC after the Georgia Supreme Court bowed out. This passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

Senate Resolution 465 by Sen. Greg Dolezal would create a Senate Special Committee on Investigations and need only pass the Senate.

Chatham County Commissioners voted to update the contract for construction of a new courthouse, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The courthouse, currently under construction on Oglethorpe Avenue, received a 41-day contract extension, according to the meeting’s agenda. That comes with an added $1.9 million to cover additions to the scope of the project.

Some of those include audio-visual revisions to live streaming technology, a path of egress on the roof and a storm drain at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. There were nearly 40 items total added to this contract update ranging in cost from about $1,500 to $240,000.

The Board of Commissioners approved the initial $71.5 million construction contract in March 2021. The contract has grown nearly $7 million dollars, according to the agenda item. The change order passed Friday was the seventh contract update since the initial was awarded in 2021.

Pineview Mayor Brandon Holt has been charged with 75 counts that include stealing from the city, according to 13WMAZ.

The mayor of Pineview in Wilcox County was arrested after allegedly stealing funds from the town of under 500, according to a media release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Brandon Holt, 34, was charged with 75 counts of theft by taking, the release said. They say Wilcox County Sheriff Steve Mauldin and District Attorney Brad Rigby asked the GBI to investigate on Oct. 20.

Holt was arrested last Monday and he was booked into the Wilcox County jail, the release said. He was later released on bond.

The case will be handed over to the Cordele Judicial Circuit District Attorney Rigby for prosecution.

Commerce City Council member Roshuanda Merritt was arrested and charged with a drug related felony, according to AccessWDUN.

A Commerce City Councilwoman was arrested recently on allegations that she attempted to sell marijuana.

According to a press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Roshuanda Merritt, 43, of Commerce, was charged with criminal attempt to commit sale of marijuana and use of a telecommunication facility to facilitate a felony.

“Prior to the drug investigation, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office conducted an unrelated investigation in which investigators discovered Merritt distributed marijuana from her home in Jackson County,” the press release said.

Guyton Police Chief James Breletic has left, according to WTOC.

Hamby told WTOC about the announcement of Chief Breletic’s resignation was sent to city staff on January 13th. Hamby also provided WTOC with a statement saying:

“The city made has this decision based on the fact the former Chief had over 3 years to gain the public’s trust and build a respectful police department. Unfortunately, that wasn’t achieved. We are committed to moving in a new direction to ensure that we have a police department that earns and maintains public trust.”

Breletic’s last day was this past Friday, January 20th.

The city announced just within the last hour that Lieutenant Joey Coppola would be filling in as interim chief.

With that announcement came Breletic’s official resignation letter. He says he had concerns about working for the new city council after elections in November — claiming some of the newly elected members would call for his termination.

He also said he and other officers faced online abuse, verbal harassment in city council meetings, a hostile work environment, and more over his three years with the department.

Hinceville Police Chief Lloyd Slater announced his retirement effective March 29, 2024, according to WTOC.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Senior Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig announced he is not running for reelection, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In a statement, Craig said he plans on completing his term, which ends on Dec. 31, but will not be running for re-election.

Craig served as district attorney and a Superior Court judge for Burke, Richmond and Columbia counties for more than 30 years.

It will be up to voters in Richmond and Burke counties to select a new Superior Court judge to replace Craig.

The Augusta Judicial Circuit serves Richmond and Burke Counties.

Republican Trisha Hoyes announced she will run for Forsyth County Board of Education District 2, according to AccessWDUN.

Tung “Tim” Le announced he will run for the Gwinnett County Commission District 1 seat currently held by Kirkland Carden, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

If he is elected, Le would be the first Vietnamese-American to serve on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

“If elected, Tung Le pledges to prioritize public safety, reduce property taxes and champion support for small businesses,” Le’s campaign said in an announcement. “He emphasizes the need to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities, foster budgetary balance, and make homeownership affordable for all Gwinnett residents. Tung Le advocates for business-friendly policies to navigate the challenges posed by the economic downturn.”

Gwinnett County Board of Education District Three member Mary Kay Murphy endorsed Yanin Cortes to succeed her, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“I made this decision because I believe that Yanin Cortes stands out as the best choice for the office,” Murphy told the Daily Post on Monday. “She has the character, qualities, and temperament needed to make substantial contributions to the Gwinnett Board of Education and its schools and communities.”

“This is particularly true at this crucial juncture in the development of Gwinnett County School District 3.”

There are three school board seats that will be on the ballot in the May 21 nonpartisan school board elections. School Board Vice Chairwoman Karen Watkins’ District 1 seat and Board Member Tarece Johnson-Morgan’s District 5 seat are also up for election this year. Watkins and Johnson-Morgan are running for re-election.

In addition to Cortes, Domonique Cooper, Kirk Buis, Demetrius Nelson, Shana White and Steven Gasper have also announced bids for Murphy’s District 3 seat.

22
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 22, 2024

Rip is a young male Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Castoff Pet Rescue in Blairsville, GA.

We think mama is a Jack Russell / Plott Hound mix and is only about 15 pounds. Babies will be bigger than mama. Pictures don’t do these cuties justice – the precious white puppy is the girl and she is much bigger than the boy, who looks exactly like mama. The babies are about 9 weeks old and are ready to go home. They are both super loving and have been very well socialized. They love people and love to give kisses and snuggle. They would be amazing dogs for any home! 

Alfie is a young male Great Dane and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Castoff Pet Rescue in Blairsville, GA.

Alfie is about 1 year old. He was rescued with his mom from a high kill shelter. They have hard a life and probably were strays for a long time. He is a total complete love bug and just wants to be a lap dog, and wants love. He deserves a loving family of his own. He is about 1 year old, 50 pounds and still a puppy. They are under weight from being on the street and shelter. Alfie is looking for a home that will train him and love him forever!

Petunia is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from Castoff Pet Rescue in Blairsville, GA.

Petunia is said to be good with dogs, cats, and children.

22
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 22, 2024

On January 22, 1733, James Oglethorpe arrived at Yamacraw Bluff, where the colony of Georgia would be founded.

On January 22, 1861, following the passage of Georgia’s Secession Resolution, six delegates, including both from Gwinnett County, signed a statement protesting the decision to secede. On January 23, 1861, Georgia’s members of the United States House of Representatives resigned following passage of the Secession Ordinance; her Senators had resigned earlier. The next day, the secession convention in Milledgeville elected ten delegates to a conference of Southern states in Montgomery, Alabama.

On January 22, 1866, Georgia Governor Charles Jenkins signed a resolution by the legislature asking for federal troops to be removed from Georgia.

On January 22, 1959, Atlanta buses were integrated after a federal court decision.

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court issued its 7-2 decision in the case known as Roe v. Wade.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE Approp Sub Trans – 406 CLOB
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD6) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 6) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE Approp Sub Pub Safety – 406 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE EDUCATION – 506 CLOB
1:00 PM Cancelled – Senate Ag & Con Affairs – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Transportation – Mezz 1 CAP
1:30 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL – 132 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE Approp Sub Human Res – 341 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE Approp Sub Education – 415 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Govt Oversight – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Health & HS – 450 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE Approp Sub Higher Ed – 415 CLOB
3:00 PM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP
4:00 PM Senate Judiciary – 307 CLOB

The Fani Willis v. Trump show has taken a turn from the ridiculous to the sublime. From the Georgia Recorder:Continue Reading..

19
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 19, 2024

Drew is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter Inc. in Eastman GA.

Copper is a young male Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter Inc. in Eastman GA.

Roscoe is a young male Beagle and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter Inc. in Eastman GA.

19
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 19, 2024

On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.

On January 20, 1788, the First African Baptist Church was established in Savannah, Georgia, one of the first black churches in the United States.

John Marshall was nominated as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States by President John Adams on January 20, 1801.

On January 18, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson requested funding from Congress for the Lewis & Clark expedition.

Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807 at his family home, Stratford Hall, Virginia.

Lieutenant William T. Sherman was ordered to Georgia for the first time in his military career on January 21, 1844.

Delegates to the Secession Convention in Milledgeville voted 208-89 in favor of seceding from the United States on January 19, 1861.

On January 19, 1871, Savannah, Georgia became the first city to recognize Robert E. Lee’s Birthday as a public holiday.

L.Q.C. Lamar, born near Eatonton, Georgia, was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on January 18, 1888.

On January 20, 1920, DeForest Kelley was born in Atlanta and he grew up in Conyers. Kelley sang in the choir of his father’s church and appeared on WSB radio; he graduated from Decatur Boys High School and served in the United States Navy. Kelley became famous as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original Star Trek series.

On January 20, 1928, Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the tenth time, staying through February 11th. During the visit, he spoke to the Chamber of Commerce of Americus and Sumter County, telling them

“In Georgia the movement towards the cities is growing by leaps and bounds and this means the abandonment of the farms or those farms that are not suited to the uses of agriculture. It means that we will have vacant lands but these can and should be used in growing timber.”

January 20th became Inaugural Day in 1937; when the date falls on a Sunday, a private inauguration of the President is held, with a public ceremony the following day. The Twentieth Amendment moved inauguration day from March 4 to January 20. Imagine six additional weeks of a lame duck President.

Roosevelt was sworn-in to a fourth term as President on January 20, 1945 and died in Warm Springs on April 12, 1945.

On January 20, 1939, Paul D. Coverdell was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Coverdell was one of the key figures in the development of the Georgia Republican Party.

United States Senator and former Georgia House Speaker and Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. died on January 21, 1971.

On January 20, 1977, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States.

On January 21, 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned draft resistors from the Vietnam War era and urged Americans to conserve energy.

On January 21, 1978, the Bee Gees Saturday Night Live album hit #1 on the sales charts, where it would stay for 24 weeks.

On January 20, 1981, Ronald Wilson Reagan was inaugurated 40th President of the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Next Week, per HR 779:

Monday, January 22 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 6
Tuesday, January 23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 7
Wednesday, January 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 8
Thursday, January 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 9
Friday, January 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . convene for legislative day 10

Georgia’s Secretary of State ran out the clock said insufficient time remains before voting in the March 12, 2024 Presidential Preference Primary to remove QR codes from ballots, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

“I would support moving to human-readable text,” Raffensperger said during the second day of legislative hearings on Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget recommendations. “The challenge is getting it done for the 2024 election.”

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2019 providing for a paper backup to electronic ballots, a move aimed at giving Georgians more confidence their votes are being recorded accurately. But some voters have complained that the QR codes that accompany paper ballots are confusing and impose a barrier on transparency.

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, said last week House Republicans will push to eliminate the QR codes. On the Senate side, Republicans have been calling for eliminating the QR codes since last fall.

“We’ve been talking about getting rid of the QR codes for a long time,” Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Raffensperger Wednesday. “Citizens do not trust the QR code.”

“We’re already into the election of 2024,” he said. “We’re continuing with the system we have now.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, said getting rid of the QR codes would not require new legislation.

“The No.-1 issue is the removal of the QR codes,” he said.

But Raffensperger said passing a new law isn’t the issue.

“It’s really the technology and having that available from the vendors,” he said.

From Atlanta News First via WRDW:

“What we have right now in Georgia, 159 counties. We have over 2,500 different voting systems. You also have all the different voting machines, so you’re talking about a major change and just the time frame,” he said. “We’re already in the election cycle of 2024 and that’s the challenge we have. Because as soon as you roll out of the presidential primary on March 12, we will virtually be beginning the ballot-building process for the June primary.”

While his budget was roughly $30 million beyond what the governor had slated for Raffensperger’s office, a spokesperson told Atlanta News First that Raffensperger was including all of the things that lawmakers had asked for, including the elimination of the QR codes.

“We are agreeing with the governor’s proposal, yet the House and Senate have made additional requests,” Robert Sinners, secretary of state spokesperson, said. “We’ve provided those quotes in response to their requests.”

While Raffensperger applauded the judge’s commitment to the law changes, he also reiterated he would have no issue with state lawmakers eliminating runoffs, citing their cost and logistical burden on local election clerks.

“I’m just reporting back the feedback we’re getting that 159 county election directors if you poll them, the vast majority would say let’s avoid and let’s eliminate runoffs,” he said. “Most voters would like to see them eliminate runoffs. Now how that would happen, that’s for the General Assembly.”

Some LaGrange residents want Troup County to go back in time move to hand-marked paper ballots in 2024 elections, according to The LaGrange Daily News.

On Tuesday night, a group of citizens addressed the Troup County Board of Commissioners asking that the county stop using Dominion Voting Systems and switch to paper balloting.

“We champion secure and transparent elections that are the rights of all citizens, transcending barriers and barriers of race, creed, political party and background,” [LaGrange resident Keenan] Knight said. “This is a nonpartisan issue. We’ve heard the distrust of electronic voting systems with proprietary code that cannot be audited. We’ve seen the sloppy chain of custody protocols with unlimited mailing ballots. We will get proof of the accuracy of hand-counting paper ballots.”

Knight argued that the county needs paper ballots that are hand-counted in person on Election Day. He said this decentralizes the process and allows for greater transparency.

Knight attacked the Dominion Voting System demanding that the county stop using it, noting it is not trusted and is illegal because the paper printouts are not verifiable by the voter.

“It is illegal, unverifiable to the voter, inaccurate, unsecure and it is an unnecessary financial burden. The system is illegal and unverifiable to voters because it accumulates votes within a QR code and that cannot be read by the voter,” Knight said.

County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews thanked the citizens for sharing their concerns and suggested that they bring them to the board of elections. “We understand your desire to make sure there are fair and honest elections. We’ve wrestled with that over the years that I’ve served, at least the time that I can speak of. We appointed an election board several years ago to make sure they oversaw the elections, and our primary purpose was to make sure we have fair and honest elections,” Crews said.

“This really should be worked through the election board, to present to them these ideas that you have and things that we need to look up and research because we’ve already asked our county attorney to kind of look into the legalities of this,” Crews said. Crews also noted that the process for any change in elections is very complicated and they have primaries coming up soon. “In 60 days, to change our election process would be most difficult,” he said.

Election Board Chairman Bill Stump said they can’t just switch to paper balloting just because county residents or the commissioners want to do so. The method of voting is prescribed by Georgia Law. Georgia Code does allow for paper ballots, but only when the use of voting machines is not possible or practicable.

“If you read the Georgia State Code, that’s all we’re supposed to work with. It’s very clear that how we handle our elections on a county, state national level is directed by secretary of state and that’s what Georgia Law says,” Stump said.

“Swatting” came to Dodge County, according to 13WMAZ.

In Georgia, many lawmakers were the targets of so-called ‘swatting’ during the holidays. Now Dodge County Sheriff Brian Robinson says the trend made its way to Eastman this week.

Robinson has about 30 deputies in his department, so he says when they need to respond for something big, they all feel the pressure; but swatting attempts leave many of them feeling frustration, too.

“It does make us angry. It makes us very angry because I don’t want to lose one of my officers,” Robinson said.

Robinson got a call this week that was downright chilling.

“Stated that he had committed a murder. Took two lives,” he recalled. “Possibly had hostages, and any law enforcement officer that showed up, he would use deadly force.”

Robinson plans to meet with lawmakers about possible legislation to combat swatting. He’s hoping for some extra resources. Some Georgia lawmakers are considering legislation that would stiffen penalties for swatting. Right now, the first offense for making a call to a home is a misdemeanor. Their proposal would make it a felony. The bill has yet to be introduced.

Robinson says they’re still investigating who made the call this week.

House Bill 71 by State Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) to protect the Okefenokee Swamp has the support of 90 legislators, according to the Albany Herald.

“This legislative session is a critical one for the Okefenokee, the wildlife that calls the refuge home and the communities that rely on a healthy swamp,” Mike Worley, the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s executive director. “We need to move HB 71 and protect this incredible part of our state.”

HB 71 was originally introduced in 2023 by Rep. Darlene Taylor, R-Thomasville, and co-sponsored by Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, and Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville. As year two of the term begins, the bill has strong bipartisan support with more than half of Georgia’s House of Representatives now co-sponsoring the bill.

Polling conducted in 2022 by Mason-Dixon Polling of Jacksonville, Fla., found that 68% of Georgia voters supported permanently protecting the Okefenokee from risky mining operations. This viewpoint is being fortified through more than 50 clergy signatures on the “Faith Leaders Support of the Okefenokee” letter and city and county resolutions from St. Mary’s, Homeland, Valdosta, Kingsland, and Waycross, and Ware, Echols, Clinch, and Dekalb counties.

The support letters and resolutions urge the governor and General Assembly to protect the integrity of the Okefenokee, as it is seen as one of our state’s natural wonders. Nearly 20 clergy took additional action last month by gathering at the refuge for a prayer vigil to urge the passage of HB 71 in the upcoming legislative session.

Conservative Georgia legislators could face a tough vote on Medicaid expansion, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.

But political experts, advocates and policy analysts say GOP lawmakers face significant headwinds to approving a plan they have long derided as wasteful, and that could ultimately doom the effort.

“There’s reason to be a little more optimistic than one year or two years ago, but there’s not a groundswell of support and willingness to change the status quo on the part of the Republican members of the legislature,” said Harry Heiman, a health policy professor at Georgia State University.

[Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kyle Wingfield] also warned that Republican lawmakers could face backlash for any Medicaid deal from Republican primary voters.

Expanding Medicaid to low-income adults who make up to 138% of the federal poverty level, with the federal government picking up 90% of the cost, was a key part of the Affordable Care Act. Georgia is among 10 states that have not done it.

Wingfield said he thinks Republicans in Washington, and to a lesser extent in Georgia, have accepted that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, but that acceptance may not be shared by rank-and-file GOP primary voters.

“When it comes to the voters in a Republican primary, I don’t think I’d want to be the one finding that out,” he said.

At least for now, Democrats in the General Assembly don’t appear concerned about losing their ability to hammer the GOP on Medicaid. The Democratic caucus organized a lengthy hearing Wednesday focused on the economic and health benefits of expansion that featured health care providers, advocates and policy experts.

In opening remarks, Democratic state Rep. Michelle Au, a doctor, noted Georgia had one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country and some of its worst health outcomes.

“As we start this 2024 legislative session, it is my hope that all options are on the table,” she said.

United States District Court Judge J.P. Boulee (ND-GA) found plaintiffs seeking an end to shorter runoff elections failed to prove the new timelines discriminate against Black voters, according to the Associated Press via WTOC.

A federal judge in Georgia has declined to block part of a sweeping election law that shortened the state’s runoff election period to four weeks from nine weeks while legal challenges play out.

U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee ruled Friday that plaintiffs hadn’t proved that the shorter period disproportionately harmed Black voters, or that Republican lawmakers intended to discriminate against Black voters when lawmakers enacted the measure in 2021. He denied a request for a preliminary injunction, but the claims can still be litigated at trial.

The lawsuits assert that parts of the law deny Black voters equal access to voting and violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. But Boulee said there wasn’t enough evidence that losing the ability to register before a runoff or the ability to vote on some weekend days were discriminatory.

“Plaintiffs did not present any evidence, however, which would show why Black voters would disproportionately struggle to vote during the new early voting period,” the judge wrote.

Boulee said evidence showed “at most” that Republican lawmakers were trying to curtail new Democratic voters with the registration restrictions, but said the law doesn’t protect people from partisan discrimination in the same way it does racial discrimination.

The law shortens the number of early in-person voting days before a runoff and makes very tight the time for mail ballots to be received and returned. Those changes could disadvantage Democrats, who tend to push early voting and vote-by-mail more than Republicans.

Back in August, Boulee did put on hold criminal penalties for providing food and water to voters waiting in line. He has also blocked counties from rejecting ballots from voters who didn’t include their date of birth on absentee ballot envelopes.

But in October he declined to block the overall prohibition against distributing food and drink to people waiting in line within 150 feet of polling places. He also declined to block other provisions limiting the use of absentee ballot drop boxes and cutting off absentee ballot requests 11 days prior to an election.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee set a February 15, 2024 hearing on a motion that includes allegations against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who represents former Trump campaign staffer and onetime White House aide Michael Roman, made the allegations in a motion filed last week. She alleged that Willis was involved in a romantic relationship with attorney Nathan Wade that created a conflict of interest and led to Willis profiting personally from the prosecution. The motion seeks to have the indictment thrown out and to have Willis and Wade removed from the case.

Willis defended her hiring of Wade and his qualifications during an address at a church in Atlanta on Sunday but has not commented publicly on the allegation of a romantic relationship. Among other things, she cited Wade’s 10 years of experience as a municipal court judge and 20 years in private practice.

Willis’ office has said they will respond to Merchant’s motion in a court filing but have not provided a timeline for that.

Merchant has not provided any solid proof to support the alleged inappropriate relationship. She mentioned “information obtained outside of court filings” and “sources close” to Willis and Wade.

District Attorney Willis lashed out at Wade’s wife, accusing her of “interfering” with the Trump prosecution, according to the AJC.

Fulton County’s district attorney on Thursday fired back at allegations she has engaged in an “improper” relationship with her top deputy, accusing his estranged wife of trying to obstruct her prosecution of Donald Trump and his allies.

Fani Willis has been subpoenaed to give a pretrial deposition in the divorce case of Nathan and Joycelyn Wade on January 23, but in a blistering court filing on Thursday the DA’s attorney said that subpoena should be quashed.

Joycelyn Wade “has conspired with interested parties in the criminal election interference case to use the civil discovery process to annoy, embarrass and oppress District Attorney Willis,” argued Cinque Axam on Willis’ behalf.

Willis noted that on January 8, the same day Roman’s filing was made public, she was served a subpoena and Merchant moved to unseal the Wades’ divorce case, which has been conducted in private since February 2022.

“Defendant Joycelyn Wade has not objected to Michael Roman’s motion to unseal the proceedings despite having previously sought it and having benefited from its protection for more than two years,” Axam argued.

Willis did not address the nature of her relationship with Wade in the court filing.

Instead, she said Joycelyn Wade did not provide a relevant reason for deposing her “in an uncontested no-fault divorce where the parties have been separated for over two years.”

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Graham announced she will not run for reelection this year, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Judge Graham, the daughter of famed attorney Bobby Lee Cook, was appointed by Gov. Zell Miller in 1992 as the fourth Superior Court judge in the circuit, which encompasses Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties. She’s sought reelection successfully eight times since her appointment 32 years ago. She’s held the post of circuit chief judge since 2016.

“After much reflection, I have made the decision not to seek reelection this year,” Graham wrote. “I have truly loved my time on the bench and my opportunity to serve our citizens. I feel I leave our judicial circuit in a very healthy and professional state.”

In her tenure, Graham has established three accountability courts and obtained state funding for those courts.

“Our circuit now operates a drug court, a mental health court and a parental accountability court,” Graham wrote. “These courts are open to all citizens of all four counties and have been highly successful. Our drug court boasts over 80 graduates. These programs are designed to reduce incarceration, promote good citizenship and improve the quality of life of the participants. They are an important resource and opportunity for the public.”

In her retirement announcement Judge Graham encouraged voters in the district to study candidates carefully and thoughtfully and to select an individual with the community’s best interest at heart.

Candidates will qualify the week of March 4-8. The election for the nonpartisan position will take place at the same time as the May 21 primary.

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit serves Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, and Walker Counties.

United States Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) released a statement on federal protections governing overdraft fees, according to WALB.

The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s] proposal was to close a loophole that allows financial institutions to make hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from overdraft fees, per the release.

“I’m glad the Biden Administration has acted on an issue that I’ve highlighted for years in the Senate. Wealthy bankers are using exorbitant overdraft fees to take hard-earned money out of Americans’ pockets and line their own. This announcement is good news for Georgia’s small businesses and working families. Big banks shouldn’t be padding their profits on the backs of struggling Georgia families, and this announcement is an important step in the right direction.” says Senator Reverend Warnock.

Senator Reverend Warnock is chair of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection. In Nov. at a Democratic Policy and Communications Committee lunch, the Senator pushed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra to do more to address junk fees and overdraft fees.

Georgian Janae Wartel joined the Biden presidential campaign, according to the AJC.

Wartel, a Marietta native who will serve as the campaign’s senior adviser for Georgia, was a key aide to U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s 2020 and 2022 races and served as the party’s runoff director in 2021, when victories by Warnock and Jon Ossoff flipped control of the chamber.

She was tapped at a critical time, as Biden looks to rebuild the coalition that propelled his narrow victory over Donald Trump in Georgia four years ago.

Wartel joins a core of Georgia operatives with senior roles in Biden’s reelection effort.

Wartel has been involved in state Democratic politics for more than a decade. She was an aide to Stacey Abrams’ bid for governor in 2018 and worked for the Democratic National Committee, along with presidential campaigns in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Gwinnett County Board of Education members elected Steve Knudsen as Chair for 2024 and Karen Watkins as Vice Chair, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The chairman leads the school board meetings, among other duties, while the vice chairwoman fills that roles in the chair’s absence.

Chatham County saw rising numbers for gun crimes in 2023, according to WTOC.

According to CCPD data, gun-related assaults have increased in their jurisdiction over the past six years, and in 2023 – there were 101 instances.

There were 36 instances where a gun was shot at a person and in 15 of those cases, victims were hit.

Five of those 15 people died.

In 2022, there were 73 aggravated assaults involving guns.

Chatham County hosted a discussion of proposed fire fees, according to WTOC.

Commissioner Patrick Farrell led the meeting. Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley and several leaders also spoke at the meeting.

County leaders also gave insight about the fire fee and why it went up last year.

The assistant county manager said the population boom in the area from the last census was a big reason the fire fee needed to go up.

“30 or 40 years ago – that volunteer fire department, that private fire department model worked really well but what we have to do now is really provide some support through the county for the firefighters and all of the different dangers they go into,” said Linda B. Cramer, the assistant county manager.

The fee is based on 14 cents per square foot of a burnable building or structure.

Tift County public schools appointed Natalie Gore as superintendent, according to WALB.

Dorian Usherwood announced he is running for Forsyth County Board of Education District 3, according to AccessWDUN.

Usherwood describes himself as a Republican education advocate.

“As the child of missionaries, I have traveled the world and experienced education systems from our Nation’s Capital to Belgium,” Usherwood said. “But the best schools in the world are right here in Forsyth – and I am running for School Board to help keep it that way.”

Usherwood said his campaign had raised close to $15,000 in contributions, which emphasizes the grassroots support for his campaign.

Melanie Miller announced she is running for the State House District 124 seat currently held by Republican Trey Rhodes, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Melanie Miller, 54, of White Plains, who formed the nonprofit Suddenly Single Parents in 2003, will seek the seat which includes residents in the five counties of Greene, Putnam, Oglethorpe, Taliaferro and Clarke.

Miller previously ran as a Democratic candidate for a seat on the Greene County Board of Commissioners in 2022.

“I have been a public servant for over 20 years and I will remain passionate about helping people create and maintain a better way of life in this district,” Miller said in an email.

17
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 17, 2024

Hambone is an adult male German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

Meeko is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

Harvard is an adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

17
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 17, 2024

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

House Resolution 779 by State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) sets the schedule for the 2024 Legislative Session.Continue Reading..