The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 5, 2019

Smooch Fulton

Smooch is a senior female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Lifeline Project’s Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

Shiba Fulton

Shiba is a senior male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Lifeline Project’s Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

Milo Fulton

Milo is a male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Lifeline Project’s Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

Milo should have been named Mr. Personality. With his talking, his love with belly rubs, and his infatuation with indestructible Kongs, not a moment goes by where he’€™s not telling everyone exactly who he is.

In addition to being a total ham, this handsome man lives for Saturdays when he can jump into bed and cuddle with his best friends. On the weekdays, he can be found watching TV, sleeping, practicing tricks for treats, impersonating scooby doo, and going for leisurely strolls on the Westside beltline.

When it comes to playtime, Milo loves a good old-fashioned romp around the yard, provided he gets to Netflix and chill afterwards. Spend ten minutes with Milo, and you’ll see that he’€™s just a big, goofy puppy at heart, and all he wants is to be your best friend.

Likes: Belly rubs, cuddles, (scooby) snacks
Dislikes: The vacuum cleaner, fireworks, green beans and cats


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 5, 2019

Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who spent part of his youth in Augusta, Georgia and married Ellen Louise Axson, whom he met in Rome, Georgia, was elected President in a landslide victory on November 5, 1912.

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to his unprecedented third term as President of the United States on November 5, 1940.

Richard M. Nixon was elected President of the United States by a plurality vote on November 5, 1968.

On November 5, 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction, beginning the modern era of Republican dominance of Georgia state politics.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will debut the Black Voices for Trump Coalition initiative in Atlanta on Friday, according to WSB-TV.

The president will kick off the Black Voices for Trump Coalition initiative at 3 p.m. Friday at the downtown Atlanta convention center after a high-dollar fundraiser in Buckhead to support U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

He’s expected to highlight recent statistics that show low unemployment rates for black workers as well as an opportunity zone program tucked into the Republicans’ 2017 tax-cut legislation that is designed to encourage investors to pump money into struggling areas.

Trump’s campaign picked Atlanta for his rollout because of its role as an epicenter of black life and the region’s fast-growing African American population, according to a senior White House official. Vice President Mike Pence is set to address the crowd, too.

It will be Trump’s seventh trip to Georgia since his election, a spate of visits that included a November 2018 rally in Macon to promote Kemp’s campaign and an April address at an opioid summit in downtown Atlanta.

Trump’s visit to Atlanta, first reported last month, will start with a roundtable discussion that will cost supporters $100,000 to attend. It follows with a luncheon that will run attendees $2,800 — and a donation of at least $35,000 for a photo with the president.

From Newsweek:

“Black Americans have never had a better champion than President Trump,” Katrina Pierson, Senior Advisor at Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. wrote in a statement emailed to Newsweek. “The Black Voices for Trump coalition will be a national effort to mobilize and empower Black Americans who support President Trump to help get the message of ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ into communities across America.”

“Under President Trump, unemployment for African Americans has reached historic lows and nearly 1.4 million new jobs have been added for African Americans,” Pierson said. “Black Americans’ strong support for President Trump will ensure a second term for the President.”

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday rolled out an application for a federal waiver of some Medicaid rules. From the AJC:

The governor’s long-awaited waiver plan would impose requirements that recipients of a limited Medicaid expansion be employed or involved in other activities, an idea that pleases conservatives but is meeting stiff resistance in federal courts.

The potential impact of his “Georgia Pathways” proposal falls far short of what a full-scale expansion of the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act would achieve. That prospect is a nonstarter under Kemp, who campaigned against it.

Kemp’s alternative, known as an 1115 waiver, takes aim at some of the state’s poorest residents: the 408,000 or so adult Georgians who make less than the federal poverty level — about $12,000 a year for an individual — but do not qualify for Medicaid.

Kemp’s aides estimate a fraction of those — about 50,000 people — will be enrolled under this plan.

From the Gainesville Times:

Under Kemp’s proposal, which is more limited than other states, uninsured adults in Georgia who make no more than the federal poverty level would qualify for Medicaid assistance if they spent at least 80 hours a month working, volunteering, training or studying. They would also have to pay monthly premiums.

The federal poverty level is just under $12,500 for an individual.

The governor’s office called the approach a “conservative reform” that reflects the state’s values as a place that “honors work” and “champions individual responsibility.” It would require approval from the Trump administration.

Kemp’s office plans to seek a 90 percent match from the federal government for its more limited expansion. That would make the cost to the state $10 million in the program’s first year; otherwise, it would be $36 million.

Supporters of a full Medicaid expansion under the ACA estimated it would cover roughly 500,000 Georgia residents. The governor’s office envisions this expansion will cover more than 52,000 people in its fifth year.

The proposal came days after Kemp unveiled a separate proposal to reduce premiums for Georgia residents who buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, while giving the state control of billions of dollars in ACA subsidies. That, too, requires Trump administration approval.

The Democratic National Committee is suing to challenge Georgia’s ballot order statute, according to the Daily Report.

The suit by the Democratic National Committee challenges the constitutionality of a Georgia law that determines the order candidates appear on ballots, based on the governor’s political party.

The suit, filed Friday against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of the State Election Board, contends that the ballot order statute “puts an arbitrary thumb on the scale” in all of the state’s partisan general elections—in favor of candidates of the governor’s political party. As a result, through at least 2022, every Republican candidate in a state partisan race will be listed first because Gov. Brian Kemp is a Republican.

The suit asks a federal judge to declare the statute as unconstitutional and bar the state from enforcing the ballot order statute to benefit the state Republican party. It also asks the court to require a ballot order system that gives other major party candidates “an equal opportunity to be listed first on the ballot.”

The Georgia suit is one of three federal ballot order cases brought by the Democratic National Committee, its congressional affiliates and state parties on Friday. The committee also filed similar suits in Arizona and Texas.

“Our democracy only works if we have free and fair elections without any arbitrary partisan advantages for one party or another,” said Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Every Georgian should have confidence that their vote will count and that their elections are administered under a fair and unbiased system. Especially given the history of Republican efforts at voter suppression in Georgia, the result from the last election should not determine who wins the next one.”

“Democrats are taking every action possible to protect the integrity of our democratic process and ensure every voter can participate in a fair election,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “An unbiased ballot is one of the cornerstones of our democratic system, and this joint effort will help make sure no one political party is given an unfair advantage at voters’ expense.”

Georgia’s new voting system gets an advance tryout today, according to the Associated Press.

State election officials are piloting the $106 million system in six mostly rural counties holding elections Tuesday for mayors, city councils and school boards. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger plans to use the new machines in all 159 counties for Georgia’s presidential primaries in March.

A federal judge in August upped the pressure for a new system. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg gave Georgia until Jan. 1 to retire the election system in use since 2002, calling it “seriously flawed.”

Election officials in the six counties chosen to test the new machines said more than 9,300 voters had few problems during three weeks of advance voting ahead of Tuesday’s elections.

“It’s been a whole lot better than I thought it would be,” said Rickey Kittle, election board chairman for Catoosa County near the Tennessee line. “When you change anything, you always fear for the worst. It just didn’t happen.”

AccessWDUN looks at local elections across North Georgia.

Dawson County voters will be asked to cast their votes for an extension of an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The ESPLOST amounts to $48 million. Approval of the penny sales tax extension would also constitute approval of $10 million worth of general obligation bonds for the school district.

A [City of Cumming] special election will be held asking voters to decide on a Sunday “brunch bill” to extend sales hours for alcohol by the drink on Sundays.

In Habersham County, voters will decide on a $31.7-million jail bond referendum and a successor to fill the balance of the District 5 term (13 months) on the Habersham County Commission.

In Clarkesville, voters will decide a Brunch Bill that reads, “Shall the governing authority of the City of Clarkesville be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.?”

Hall County voters will be asked to cast ballots on an extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. SPLOST VII projects total nearly $217 million.

Dahlonega voters will be asked to vote on a brunch bill, which, if approved, would allow for earlier Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink.

In Cleveland, voters will decide a Sunday sales of distilled spirits referendum that would allow those sales from 11 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.

The Macon Telegraph looks at what’s on local ballots.

Bibb County voters will decide Tuesday whether to extend a 1% sales tax to fund $185 million in school initiatives.

Meanwhile, in Houston County, council elections include three contested races in Warner Robins.

The election in Perry includes one contested council race.

Centerville has one contested council race on the ballot. Additionally, voters will decide a referendum on extending the start time for Sunday alcohol sales by the drink at restaurants by 90 minutes from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Such sales are now permitted from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Harris County voters will decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) in today’s election, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

For the sixth time in three decades, Harris County voters will be asked to approve a sales tax to help fund school projects. But for the first time, the request will come in the form of two questions on the ballot.

An Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, commonly called an ESPLOST, provides school districts a way to raise money for school improvements in addition to property taxes, loans (from a bond issue or a bank) and grants. ESPLOST money can be used for capital projects, such as construction, renovation, buses and technology, or to pay off debt, but it can’t be used for operating expenses, such as salaries.

Although the current ESPLOST is scheduled to continue through December 2021, HCSD wants voters to approve the referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot so planning and construction can be done earlier, decreasing the amount of inflation in the project’s cost. This also would allow the sales tax to continue without interruption, so the new ESPLOST would go into effect in January 2022.

The proposed ESPLOST asks voters to approve continuing the 1% sales tax for five more years, from January 2022 through December 2026, or until $18 million is collected, whichever comes first.

The legalese of the ballot’s second question says, “Shall a total of up to $26,000,000 in aggregate principal amount of” the school district’s “general obligation debt be issued” for these projects?

Although it doesn’t mention anything about a possible property tax increase, HCSD assistant superintendent for business services Justin Finney told the approximately three dozen folks at Monday night’s public forum at the high school that’s what it could mean.

It could be a property tax increase of 1 mill. For example, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $40 per year in property taxes. Approving the second question would give the school board the authority to increase property taxes to pay off the long-term construction bonds.

If the actual cost of the projects end up being less than estimated, the board might not have to increase property taxes, HCSD spokeswoman Rachel Crumbley told the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Savannah Morning News reviews local elections, including a SPLOST renewal.

Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VII and level 1 Freeport Exemption is on all ballots in Chatham County.

The sales tax would extend a current 1% tax for a variety of projects throughout the county and municipalities.

Freeport allows exemptions from personal property taxes on qualified inventories held by e-commerce sellers, known mainly as fulfillment centers. Fulfillment centers handle orders and inventory sold online by retailers and others. The freeport exemptions are used as a tool to attract and keep manufacturing, warehousing and since 2016, e-commerce businesses. The exemption does not impact real property tax collection.

Savannah voters will choose winners for mayor, and alderman in all districts.

Athens-Clarke County will vote on a SPLOST extension today, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

More than $300 million in infrastructure and other capital improvement projects in Athens are at stake Tuesday, when voters head to the polls to approve or deny an extension to a 1-cent sales tax.

Without a voter-approved continuation, the current SPLOST tax is due to expire early next year.

On Tuesday, voters are being asked to approve a $313.4 million package to fund three dozen projects. Athens-Clarke planners estimate it will take about 11 years to reach the funding limit on the penny tax. Some of those projects include:

Grady County will vote on a SPLOST today, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

If approved, proceeds from the SPLOST will be used over the course of the next six years to finance projects around the county. This year’s SPLOST is estimated to generate about $18 million that will be split between the county and the cities of Cairo and Whigham.

“(The SPLOST) is in our opinion the fairest tax, because it is a sales tax,” said County Administrator Buddy Johnson. “Everybody pays into that whether they’re from Grady County or from outside of Grady County. If anyone is visiting, any purchases that they make go toward that tax. It does take a burden off of the land owners and property owners in Grady County.”

The existing SPLOST, approved by voters in 2014, is set to expire next year.

Cairo residents who have different polling locations for city and county elections may have to travel to both today in order to cast their votes. County officials had encouraged residents to vote early at the county registrar’s office where they had access to both ballots in order to avoid traveling to multiple locations on election day.

By the time early voting closed Friday, more than 1,300 county residents had cast their votes in the referendum.

Cairo voters will also pass on a Sunday sales referendum, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

City voters will head to the polls today to cast their ballots in the Cairo municipal election.

On the ballot are three competitive elections in districts 1,3 and 5. City-wide, voters also will be able to decide whether or not to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

Voters also will be able to decide whether or not alcohol should be sold on Sundays. The issue will take the form of two questions on the ballot — one addressing package sales and the other addressing sales by the drink.

Early voting closed Friday, and 855 voters participated by casting their ballot at the county registrar’s office, according to Grady County elections supervisor Denise Maddox.

City residents can cast their votes today at the Grady County Agri-Center at 65 11th Avenue NE.

The Dalton Daily Citizen reports light early voting in local races.

The Whitfield County elections office reported 810 people voted in Dalton, 12 in Cohutta and 31 in Varnell. Early voting ended Friday. By comparison, there are 15,942 registered voters in Dalton, 473 in Cohutta and 1,343 in Varnell.

Murray County voters will decide on a five-year Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) that is expected if approved to raise about $23.5 million. Murray County and the cities of Chatsworth and Eton plan to use the money to resurface streets and roads.

The TSPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county.

Rome will vote for six members of the city commission and on a “brunch bill” referendum, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The “brunch bill” would give authority to local establishments with at least 50% of their sales as alcohol to start serving drinks as early as 11 a.m., instead of the current 12:30 p.m., on Sundays. This does not apply to liquor stores or other package sales.

This was born out of the passage of a provision by the Georgia state legislature last year to allow Georgia cities to put the question to their voters.

As of close of early voting Friday, 1,150 Rome residents already had cast ballots during the 17-day early voting period. There are 19,179 registered voters within Rome city limits.

Two Brunswick City Commission seats will be elected today, according to The Brunswick News.

City elections typically don’t generate a large turnout among Brunswick’s 9,739 registered voters, especially with nothing else on the ballot besides the two city elections. A 25 percent turnout would be considered good, election officials said.

Watkinsville and Wintersville will see contested elections today, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

A mayor’s race highlights a city council election Tuesday in Watkinsville, where incumbent Dave Shearon is challenged by former state Rep. Bob Smith.

In early voting results, there were 383 votes cast and 23 absentee ballots were sent out and 12 were returned, according to the Oconee County Board of Elections.

The city has 2,029 active registered voters.

Smith, who works in real estate and spent 12 years in the state House, is a lifelong Oconee resident who now lives in the house where he grew up.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission dismissed a complaint against Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Houston County NAACP filed the complaint March 13, 2018, alleging three counts, including questionable campaign contributions, improper hiring practices of election personnel and improperly using City Hall for early voting.

The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission determined that it did not have jurisdiction on the allegations of improper hiring and the early voting location. But it found no evidence to support the allegation concerning campaign contributions.



Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 4, 2019

Pete Atlanta Lab Rescue

Pete is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

I’m Pete…nice to meet you! I’m one of the seven boys in Mama Brandy’s litter of 10 puppies born on September 20th in my foster home. I’m loveable and playful, but spend most of my time enjoying a good nap. My foster mom says I’m a real cutie with my soft chocolate fur and beautiful blue eyes. I will need lots of love, guidance and time, so I’m looking for a forever family that is home often and willing to teach me all I need to know to become a great dog! If you would like to adopt me, please go to and submit an application.

Finn Atlanta Lab Rescue

Finn is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Harper Atlanta Lab Rescue

Harper is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 4, 2019

Alexander Stephens was sworn-in as Governor of Georgia on November 4, 1882; Stephens had earlier been elected Vice-President of the Confederate States of America.

Howard Carter found an entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamen on November 4, 1922.

On November 4, 1932 Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. campaigned on behalf of Democratic candidate for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On November 4, 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan was elected President, winning 489 electoral votes to 49 for incumbent Jimmy Carter.

Note on the electoral map in that clip, states that Reagan won were colored blue, and Georgia was a red state, going for Jimmy Carter.

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected President, becoming the first African-American elected to the position.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced on Friday his appointments to four judicial seats.

Bibb County State Court

Sharrell Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Georgia and law degree from Mercer University School of Law. Presently, she serves as the chief assistant solicitor general for the Office of the Bibb County Solicitor-General. Lewis is a Member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Macon Bar Association. In 2018, she was named Prosecutor of the Year by Georgia MADD. She resides in Macon with her husband.

DeKalb County State Court – Jury Division

Kimberly Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Mississippi and law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. At the present, she is an attorney at Robbins Ross Alloy Belinfante Littlefield, LLC. She previously served as Legislative Counsel for the Committee on the Judiciary for the United States Senate. Anderson serves on the Federalist Society Executive Board – Atlanta Chapter, and she is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, DeKalb County Bar Association, and Atlanta Bar Association. She resides in Dunwoody with her family.

DeKalb County State Court – Traffic Division

Kimberly Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgia State University and law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. She currently serves as an assistant county attorney for the Office of the Fulton County Attorney. Alexander is a member of the Georgia Bar Association, Children of the Courts Standing Committee, DeKalb Bar Association, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, Atlanta Bar Association, Gate City Bar Association, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA), and GABWA’s Judicial and Public Office Academy Committee. Her legal department was awarded the 2019 In-House Legal Department of the Year: Office of the Fulton County Attorney. Alexander and her family reside in Decatur.

Gwinnett Judicial Circuit Superior Court

Angela Duncan earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from North Georgia College. She later attended John Marshall Law School to obtain her law degree. At the present, Duncan is the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court Judge, and she serves as the chief judge for the City of Chamblee Municipal Court. She served in the U.S. Army Reserves from March 1987 to March 1995 as a light-weight vehicle mechanic. She resides in Lawrenceville with her wife and children.

From GPB News:

Gov. Brian Kemp named Angela Duncan to the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit, which appears to mark his first appointment of an openly LGBTQ person to the bench.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Kemp appointed Magistrate Judge Angela Duncan to fill the newly-created 11th seat on Gwinnett’s Superior Court bench.

“I would like to say that I am incredibly honored at the trust placed in me by Governor Kemp,” Duncan told the Daily Post. “I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Gwinnett County as a Superior Court Judge. I have been a Magistrate Judge for the past 15 years and I believe the skills learned in that court have prepared me for this next venture.”

But Duncan’s resume is not defined solely by her orientation. She is an Army veteran who served as a lightweight vehicle mechanic from March 1987 to March 1995. She also currently serves as the city of Chamblee’s chief judge.

Governor Kemp is expected to unveil today his plan for a Medicaid waiver, according to the AJC.

After months of planning and fraught political debate, Gov. Brian Kemp is set to detail a proposal that may pave the way for a limited Medicaid expansion that could add thousands of residents to the state’s rolls.

The governor has long ruled out a full expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, something he campaigned against during the 2018 race. But he has said he’s open to a more scaled-back effort to grow the program in a way “that’s focused on Georgia.” He has not made the plans public yet, but he has frequently alluded to health care plans that could help “hardworking Georgians.”

The Republican is set to outline the policy Monday at the Georgia Capitol…. And the Department of Community Health has set a specially called board meeting after Kemp’s event to vote on his “Georgia Pathways” proposal.

His Medicaid policy is meant to harmonize with a separate set of proposals he introduced Thursday that seek to lower insurance premiums and undercut the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care law championed by then-President Barack Obama that Kemp and other Republicans see as too costly and inefficient.

The cost of the plan, too, will play a major factor in next year’s legislative session. State Rep. Terry England, the chairman of the House’s budget-writing committee, said he’s not yet been fully briefed on either proposal but that he doesn’t oppose devoting more state dollars to pay for health coverage for more adults through Medicaid.

But he said that budget request, along with Kemp’s separate plan to spend at least $104 million to lower insurance premiums, would have to compete with other priorities. They include a promised teacher pay increase of $2,000 and tax-cutting proposals.

“I mean, there’s so many things going on,” England said, nodding to hopes that the economy could soon heat up. “So if it were to do that, then you know it gives us a lot of options. If it doesn’t, of course, the number of options we have are extremely limited.”

Gov. Kemp placed a bet with Florida Governor Ron DiSantis, according to WSB-TV.

The die-hard Georgia football fan placed an epic bet Friday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the outcome of the annual grudge match in Jacksonville.

If Georgia loses, Kemp will have to venture down to the Everglades to hunt for pythons that have plagued the nature preserve. Just last month, trappers captured an 18-foot long Burmese python in the swamp.

And if the Bulldogs win? DeSantis would head to south Georgia to track down feral hogs that have ravaged the state’s farmland.

“I know that wild hog sausage is a lot better than python,” said Kemp. “So let’s go Dawgs. Hunker down. We gotta get another one in Jacksonville.”

And more from Gov. Kemp’s unveiling of the Obamacare waiver:

“On the campaign trail, I promised to lead on healthcare reform in Georgia,” said Governor Kemp. “During the 2019 legislative session, I worked with Lt. Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and members of the House and Senate to champion the Patients First Act.”

“Since then, we have worked with medical professionals, industry experts, state leaders, our partners in the federal government, and stakeholders to craft a Georgia-centric approach to lower healthcare costs and insurance premiums for Georgia families, enhance access to top-notch doctors and state-of-the-art services, and ultimately improve health outcomes for every Georgian in every part of our state.”

“Georgia Access creates a state reinsurance program to incentivize the private sector, empower consumers, and lower insurance premiums for families. This plan shakes up the status quo as we work to enhance access to affordable, quality healthcare in Georgia.”

“When combined with Georgia Pathway, our Section 1115 demonstration waiver, we will have healthcare reform in the Peach State that actually puts patients first.”

“Governor Kemp‘s announcement today will do exactly what we talked about on the campaign trail – putting Georgia in the lead on the national conversation surrounding meaningful healthcare reform,” said Lt. Governor Duncan. “Georgia Access will allow us to immediately begin tackling the top two issues that impact every single Georgian: affordability and access to quality services. Healthcare is a complicated topic, but the Georgia Access plan provides the framework to begin simplifying things through innovation and competition in order to better serve Georgia families.”

“We know that access to quality healthcare is key to the health of our citizens and the economic well-being of our state,” said Speaker David Ralston. “I look forward to working with Governor Kemp as we review the details of the Georgia Access plan. We remain committed to Georgia-designed solutions that are fiscally-responsible and empower Georgians to care for themselves and their families.”

“I applaud Governor Kemp’s leadership on healthcare reform in Georgia,” said Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King. “Through Georgia Access, we will spur competition, enhance choice in the marketplace, and ultimately lower insurance premiums for families and hardworking Georgians.”

President Trump’s campaign has created a joint fundraising committee with Senator David Perdue, according to OpenSecrets.

President Donald Trump this week formally set up a joint fundraising committee with Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), making the incumbent lawmaker part of his massive fundraising machine as Republicans prepare to defend the Senate in 2020.

The committee, which distributes funds to the Trump and Perdue campaigns along with the Republican National Committee, was set up to facilitate a high-dollar fundraiser this month. It’s part of the president’s efforts to raise money for vulnerable Republican senators who are defending him against impeachment, Politico reported.

Perdue, a strong Trump ally who accompanied the president to the World Series, is the first congressional candidate to directly receive support from a Trump-backed fundraising committee. Trump didn’t funnel money to vulnerable senators in 2016, opting to share donor money with the RNC and Republican state party committees.

From the AJC:

President Donald Trump is preparing to host a high-dollar fundraiser in Atlanta this week to help defend U.S. Sen. David Perdue, one of the staunchest critics of the Democratic-led impeachment effort.

Trump’s visit, first reported last month, will start with a roundtable that will cost supporters a cool $100,000 to attend. It follows with a luncheon that will run attendees $2,800 – and a donation of at least $35,000 for a photo with the president.

The AJC looks at early reviews of the new voting system.

Voters and election officials say the first trial of Georgia’s new voting machines has gone smoothly so far, but the real test will come during a high-turnout election when the machines are rolled out statewide.

There were 9,031 voters in six pilot counties who cast ballots on the new voting system, which uses touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots, during in-person early voting, which ended Friday.

There were several minor problems in the six test counties: Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Decatur, Lowndes and Paulding.

“The first time someone interacts with something, there’s going to be a few challenges,” Bartow Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said. “Everything was pretty clear once we looked at it. I’ve had no complaints so far. Everyone seems to be very pleased. It’s a very intuitive process.”

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the new voting system is secure, and it has performed well in this initial test.

“Voters and poll workers are enthusiastic about how easy it is to use and how well it works,” Raffensperger said. “The rollout to the rest of the state for the March 24 presidential preference primary will go just as smoothly.”

In one test county, Lowndes County near the Florida border, voters overwhelmingly approved of the new system, Elections Supervisor Deb Cox said.

“They love having a piece of paper in their hand that they can check and do it again if they need to,” Cox said. “It’s one of the best things to happen to elections in a long time.”

While the Augusta Chronicle has a preview of the new system:

The Gainesville Times looks at how new voting machines will be rolled out in Hall County.

The county is set to receive 489 machines from the state, likely in January, Elections Director Lori Wurtz said. Georgia is spending $106 million statewide on the new machines from Dominion Voting Systems, which has provided machines for several other states, including Colorado, Louisiana and Nevada.

With the new system, when a voter arrives at the polling place, he or she will first check in with a poll worker using a touchscreen tablet called a “poll pad.” The tablet will scan the voter’s license, and the poll worker will verify the voter’s eligibility. Then, the voter will get a special access card to insert into the voting machine. The voter then makes selections and clicks “print ballot.” A printer at the polling station will produce a paper ballot with the voter’s choices marked for review. Once the voter has reviewed choices, he or she will feed the ballot into a scanner, and the ballot will be kept in a locked box for storage.

Wurtz said voters must be sure to feed their ballot into the scanner, and a poll worker will be stationed by the scanner to check that all votes are counted.

Paige Nix, Hall’s elections coordinator, has used the machine in a test run with the Secretary of State’s Office. She said the process is a little quicker than current practices, and the larger screen will be easier to read for some voters. Nix said the kits for disabled voters that will come with the new machines are more user-friendly, too.

“Currently, our voters with disability kit is a keypad and a headset. You have to really listen to what the instructions are on what numbers you need to push, pound signs,” Nix said. “But on the new system, it almost looks like a game controller. It has left and right arrows, up and down arrows and an X. It’s a lot easier for the voters to use, and it does still have a headset.”

The Statesboro Herald looks at early voting, which concluded Friday.

After three weeks of early voting opportunity ended Friday, Tuesday will be Election Day and the last chance for residents of Brooklet, Register and of Statesboro council Districts 2, 3 and 5 to vote in the 2019 city elections.

As of noon Friday, 282 residents of the three Statesboro districts with City Council contests had voted early in person, reported Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones. Another 71 Statesboro voters had requested that absentee ballots be mailed to them, and 18 absentee ballots had been returned.

No Register residents had voted early as of noon Friday. Since the county election office handles Register’s town elections, Register residents would have had to vote early in Statesboro.

In Brooklet, where early voting was done at City Hall and remained available until 5:30 p.m. Friday, 54 voters had submitted ballots as of noon Friday, and one requested absentee ballot had been mailed.

The Dalton Daily Citizen-News looks at local races to be decided tomorrow.

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide city council seats in three local cities as well as school board seats in Dalton.

In Dalton, Mayor Dennis Mock is challenged by former Mayor David Pennington.

In Cohutta, four people are running for two seats: Nick Conner, J. Shane Kornberg (incumbent), Andy Lopez and Shelia Rose (incumbent). The two candidates with the most votes will be elected.

Two seats are contested on the Varnell City Council. Seat 3 incumbent David Owens faces Sandy Pangle while Seat 5 incumbent Bob Roche takes on Richard Lowe.

All municipal elections are nonpartisan.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but those in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. You must bring a photo ID.

Glynn County will hear feedback on a rewrite of the zoning ordinance today, according to The Brunswick News.

Members of the public interested in giving their input on a draft report on deficiencies in the county’s zoning ordinance can do so at a public hearing on Monday.

Consultants with planning and architecture firm TSW plan to use feedback from citizens and county officials to guide their efforts overhaul the county’s zoning ordinance, which many county officials have said is over-complicated and difficult to comprehend for average citizens.

The Glynn County Commission set aside $200,000 in this fiscal year’s budget to pay for the overhaul and contracted with TSW late last year.

“Questions asked during the public comment session will be noted and addressed by staff, consultants and planning commissioners following the public comment period,” according to the notice.

Athens-Clarke County voters will decide on a $313.4 million dollar Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum on Tuesday, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

yes vote in Tuesday’s Special Local Option Sales Tax referendum won’t mean a new tax.

Instead, it’s a vote on whether to continue the 1 percent special tax Athens-Clarke officials have used in the past to finance such projects as the Lyndon House Arts Center, the Classic Center, the Athens-Clarke County Library on Baxter Street, new jails, new parks and many other infrastructure projects.

This time, voters are being asked to approve a list of three dozen projects, some costing tens of millions, such as a new courthouse, and some that cost much less, like replacing the county’s E911 phone system for $767,000, or improvements at the animal shelter at a cost of $559,000.

If more people vote ves than no in the referendum, merchants will continue to charge the tax until revenues from it reach $313.4 million. Athens-Clarke planners anticipate that will take about 11 years.

The Banner Herald also looks at small projects included in the SPLOST, a breakdown of projects included in the SPLOST, and big ticket items.

College Park, Hapeville, and Palmetto will have contested elections tomorrow, according to the AJC.

In Dunwoody, two council members are running for Mayor, according to the AJC.

Richmond Hill voters will see a plethora of candidates on their ballots, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Richmond Hill City Council election ballot, with three at-large posts and a total of seven candidates, might have some voters wondering why the city doesn’t assign the top three vote-getters to posts.

The council is divided into posts to allow for staggered terms. Because of a number of vacancies in the council this year, the ballot includes three of the four posts, which isn’t typical. Post 2 is technically a special election to fill the vacated seat of Tara Baraniak, which has been empty since August. The candidate who wins will serve for just over two years to fill the remainder of Baraniak’s term, which expires in 2021, while Post 3 and Post 4 serve four-year terms.

“It’s a little weird,” acknowledged Wendy Bolton, Richmond Hill forums chair for the League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia. She organized the candidate forum the League held Thursday, Oct. 17, where Post 4 had three candidates participating, while Post 3 had none. David London was the only candidate from Post 2 to participate. The empty candidate seats at the League forum raised the question of why the city of Richmond Hill uses this approach.

Five metro Atlanta municipalities will hold “brunch bill” referendums, according to the AJC.

Next Tuesday voters in Henry County’s four cities, along with Morrow voters in Clayton County will decide whether to join a growing number of metro Atlanta towns to pass “brunch” bills that allow restaurants to serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Currently, Sunday alcohol sales start at 12:30 p.m. in cities that haven’t passed the legislation.

Rome will also hold a “brunch bill” referendum, according to the Rome News Tribune.

After 17 days of early voting in the Rome City election concluded Friday, a total of 1,150 local voters had cast their ballots in person and by mail.

So far, that’s a 6% turn-out of Rome’s 19,179 registered voters.

There were still 21 absentee ballots that had not yet been returned to the Floyd County Elections Office by the end of the day Friday, according to Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady.

Rome’s citizens will have one more chance, tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., to have their say in the race for City Commission and whether local establishments that have alcohol as at least 50% of their sales should be able to serve drinks as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.

At stake are three commission seats in each of two wards. Voters from anywhere in Rome can vote for all wards.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach leads fundraising for Tuesday’s election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

DeLoach raised $223,613 since he was elected in the 2015 race. All campaign donations and expenses for incumbents are counted from the day after they were elected through the current election. Donations of $100 or less are not itemized.

Challenger Van Johnson, currently the At-Large District 1 alderman, raised $40,996.30 for his race for mayor.

Regina Thomas received $4,307.50 in campaign donations.

Twelve Gwinnett County municipalities will hold elections tomorrow, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 1, 2019

Bear Cedartown

Bear is a male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Posey Shelter Pet Promoters Inc in Cedartown, GA.

My name is Bear. I am a 50 lb. 4-year-old Black Lab mix. I am solid black except for sparse white hairs on my chest and sides. I am fully housebroken. My owner can leave me loose in the house while she goes to town to run errands and I do not bother anything. I just wait patiently for her to come back home. I’ve had all my shots and am neutered. I love kids and love outdoor playtime. I like to play fetch and tug. I am well mannered on leash and do not pull. I am a snuggle bunny. My owner now is getting older and moving from the country to the city and the apartment does not allow animals.

Polk 4022

Flash is a young male Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Polk County Animal Control in Cedartown, GA.

His name is Flash. He’s a 2 to 3 year old retriever/terrier mix. He weighs about 50 pounds. He has a short black and gold brindle coat with white on his nose, chest and toes. His eyes are chocolate brown. He enjoys the outdoors and walks well on leash. He would make a great running/hiking partner. He’s a handsome boy! *****URGENT*****This shelter is NOT a no-kill facility. If you are interested, please act quickly. We must have commitment before close of business on the first Wednesday after the availability date. ******If you are interested in this Pet, please call Polk County Animal Control at 770-749-8908 or email ****Adoption fee for dogs is only $40. This facility only accepts Checks, Money Orders or Credit/Debit Cards. They do NOT accept Cash. You will sign a contract stating you will get your new pet spayed/neutered and a rabies vaccine by a specified date. **** Upon adoption, adopters are required to fill out a rabies and sterilization contract.****

Polk 2824

Rondo is a young male Shepherd and Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Polk County Animal Control in Cedartown, GA.

His name is Rondo. He was an owner surrender….his family had to move and couldn’t take him with them. He is a large shepherd/retriever type mix. He is 18 months old and weighs about 70 pounds. He has had a distemper/parvo vaccine. He is a bit thin and could use just a little more weight. His coat is of medium length and is mostly a golden/tan color with a black muzzle and white chest. He has speckled “socks” on his front paws. He has attentive brown eyes. Rondo is very friendly and playful. He walks well on leash but pulls a bit. He would sit when I asked. He is a very handsome dog!!


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

Georgia’s Trustees decided on November 1, 1732 that the first settlement would be named Savannah and located on the Savannah River.

Parliament passed the Stamp Act on March 22, 1765 with an effective date of November 1, 1765, to fund British military operations.

The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation.

Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—”Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”

Outrage was immediate. Massachusetts politician Samuel Adams organized the secret Sons of Liberty organization to plan protests against the measure, and the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies passed resolutions opposing the act. In October, nine colonies sent representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, where resolutions of “rights and grievances” were framed and sent to Parliament and King George III.

Georgia Commissioners and Creek leaders signed a treaty on November 1, 1783.

John Willis Menard became the first black man elected to Congress on November 3, 1868 from the Second District of Louisiana. Menard’s election opponent challenged the results and prevented Menard from taking his seat, though in defense of his election Menard became the first black man to address Congress.

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was born in Winder, Georgia on November 2, 1897.

In 1927, at age 29, Russell was named Speaker of the House – the youngest in Georgia history. In 1930, Russell easily won election as Georgia governor on his platform of reorganizing state government for economy and efficiency. Five months shy of his 34th birthday, Russell took the oath of office from his father, Georgia chief justice Richard B. Russell Sr. He became the youngest governor in Georgia history – a record that still stands. After Georgia U.S. Senator William Harris died in 1932, Gov. Russell named an interim replacement until the next general election, in which Russell himself became a candidate. Georgia voters elected their young governor to fill Harris’ unexpired term. When he arrived in Washington in January 1933, he was the nation’s youngest senator.

Russell had a long and storied career in the United States Senate, during which he served for many years as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, unofficial leader of the conservative Southern wing of the Democratic party and a chief architect of resistance to civil rights legislation. He also ran for President in 1952, winning the Florida primary.

On November 3, 1913, details of the federal income tax were finalized and published after the ratification earlier in the year of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Bacon, Barrow, Candler, and Evans Counties were created on November 3, 1914 when voters approved Constitutional Amendments – prior to these Amendments, Georgia was limited to 145 counties. On the same day, Carl Vinson was elected to Congress from Georgia, becoming the youngest member of Congress at the time. Vinson would eventually become the first Member of Congress to serve more than fifty years. Vinson’s grandson, Sam Nunn would serve in the United States Senate.

The Chicago Tribune published the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline on November 3, 1948. Ultimately, Democrat Truman won 303 electoral votes to 189 for Republican Dewey.

Laika, a female Siberian Husky mix who was found stray on the streets of Moscow, was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957.

On November 3, 1964, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson was elected President over Republican Barry Goldwater.

On November 3, 1970, Jimmy Carter was elected Governor of Georgia.

Jimmy Carter ended his first Presidential campaign with a rally in Flint, Michigan on November 1, 1976.

Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States on November 2, 1976.

The current Georgia Constitution was ratified on November 2, 1982 by the state’s voters.

Democrat Cynthia McKinney became the first African-Amercian female elected to Congress from Georgia on November 3, 1992.

On November 3, 1998, Democrat Thurbert Baker was elected Attorney General and Michael Thurmond was elected Commissioner of Labor, becoming the first African-Americans elected to statewide executive office in Georgia.

On November 2, 2010, voters elected Republican Nathan Deal as Governor, and the GOP swept all of the statewide offices on the ballot.

One World Trade Center opened on November 3, 2014, more than thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday unveiled state plans to apply for a federal waiver designed to improve access to healthcare insurance, according to the Forsyth County News.

The plan does not address Medicaid coverage. The Kemp administration is expected to release its plans for Medicaid next week.

The ACA proposal calls for the state and federal government to pay a portion of insurance companies’ costs to treat their sickest patients, a relatively small group that incurs the biggest bills. The so-called reinsurance program would allow the companies to lower monthly premiums for all customers.

The reduction could be as much as $282 in areas of Georgia where premiums now exceed $1,000, according to estimates from the governor’s office.

Under a second part of the governor’s plan, state residents could bypass and sign up for insurance directly through an insurance provider or broker website. Kemp’s plan does not affect the current ACA sign-up season for 2020 plans, which starts Friday.

That change would give Georgia residents access to more health care coverage options, though all plans would have to cover preexisting conditions, the governor’s office said. Georgia would also control billions of dollars in federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.

From the Gainesville Times:

“I believe it’s going to give relief to some folks and give some options people don’t currently have,” said State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, who stood near Kemp at the Oct. 31 announcement at the State Capitol. “We’ll see.”

The Kemp administration says the second part of its plan is unique and would help consumers by making it easier to sign up for health care coverage and obtain subsidies. It would also allow them to see other types of health plans, including short-term and catastrophic plans, not just Affordable Care Act-compliant plans.

“I really applaud the efforts” of Kemp and other top officials, said Deb Bailey, executive director of governmental affairs at Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System. “Anytime we have an opportunity to lower insurance rates, improve outcomes, increase affordability and access to our communities, then it’s been a really good day.”

“Previous plans that have been denied were all centered around repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act,” Miller said.

Georgia Access will instead focus on “giving options and approaches that are unique to (the ACA),” he said.

Miller said he and others were debriefed earlier this week about Kemp’s plans. He said a team has been working on the initiative since nearly the start of the governor’s term.

A roundtable discussion “going into great detail” about the waiver requests is set for Monday, Nov. 4, between the governor and other state officials, Miller said.

From The Hill:

“Through these new, innovative measures Georgians will have access to more insurance options like association health plans that cover our friends and neighbors with pre-existing conditions,” Kemp said Thursday at an event announcing the plan.

The Trump administration has already indicated it would approve state programs that would allow subsidies to pay for plans that don’t comply with the law’s coverage requirements.

Republicans say these plans offer another choice for consumers who can’t afford ObamaCare’s more comprehensive plans. But Democrats say the plans offer skimpy benefits and can lead to high out-of-pocket costs.

“The reinsurance program will make insurance providers compete for your business, offering more plans at better prices, hard work and Georgians will have the money in their pocket to invest in span and their local community,” Kemp said.

From the Rome News Tribune:

“Between encouraging more people to get insurance and the state taking care of some catastrophic claims — which will help the insurers — we think it’s going to lower private insurance costs,” [State Senator Chuck] Hufstetler said.

Kemp called it a “Georgia-centric approach” that allows people to tailor their policy to their family’s needs and fosters competition in the insurance industry.

The state-run insurance system would offer subsidies to people earning between 100% and 400% of the poverty level who buy coverage through direct enrollment brokers or insurance providers.

“The difference is, there’s going to be more plans out there than on,” Hufstetler said. “We think the cost (to the state) will be a little less than straight-up Medicaid expansion to 138%.”

And Hufstetler said the plans in the state exchange would still have to cover pre-existing conditions — “That was very important to us” — although there would be no ACA restriction against charging more.

“It will be very competitive, so they’ll have to price it reasonably,” Hufstetler said. “People will have lots of options, lots of flexibility.”

From Georgia Health News:

Kemp announced the plan in his office, surrounded by lawmakers and government officials. He said Thursday that the waiver plan “is a Georgia-centric approach that will lower health care costs and insurance premiums for Georgia families, enhance access to top-notch doctors and state-of-the-art services, and ultimately improve health outcomes for every Georgian.”

A waiver proposal is a request to the federal government to waive certain health care regulations so a state can make its own rules in certain areas. The changes can be made only if the feds give the OK.

If federal officials approve the 1332 waiver, the state of Georgia would take control of the $2.7 billion in subsidies that are offered to offset the premium prices for consumers in the insurance exchange. The exchange was created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) so people who don’t have coverage from their employers — or from government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare — can buy health insurance at a reasonable price.

People from across the political spectrum agree “that insurance premiums are too dang high,’’ Kemp said, adding that health care for many Georgians “is the largest and most unpredictable expense in the family budget.’’

On Monday, Kemp is expected to roll out his other waiver plan – potentially revamping eligibility for the Medicaid program. That’s expected to draw criticism from Democrats, who argue that a full expansion of Medicaid, as outlined by the ACA, would cover more Georgians at a lower cost than the coming Kemp plan. Republicans who control Georgia government, including Kemp, his predecessor and state legislative leaders, have consistently opposed full expansion as too costly.

After the Kemp announcement, Butch Miller, president pro tem of the state Senate, told GHN that lawmakers will back the plan. “There will be strong support in both chambers,’’ said Miller, a Gainesville Republican.

State Sen. Larry Walker, a Perry Republican who sells health insurance, told GHN that he believes the waiver plan “Is a game-changer for the individual market.”

More than 50 counties have only one insurer for that market, Walker said. “This will bring in more competition and more choice and lower premiums.”

And Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who also addressed those assembled in the governor’s office, said the waiver plan ‘‘puts policy over politics.’’

“Other states will follow Georgia’s lead,” he said.

From the AJC:

“We live in a divided country and in a diverse state,” Kemp said, outlining the proposal in his Capitol office before a bank of TV cameras. “But it’s safe to say that Republicans, Democrats and independents agree on one thing: The insurance premiums are too dang high.”

There’s no guarantee that Donald Trump’s administration will sign off on the plan despite Kemp’s ties to the president. But the governor and his advisers have expressed confidence that it will pass muster, and they stress that they’ve been in direct contact with the White House throughout the process.

Democrats, who broadly opposed legislation that empowered Kemp to seek the waiver, criticized the governor’s plans to cut state spending by $500 million over the next two years and blasted his opposition to expanding Medicaid, which he sees as too costly in the long run.

“While I’m glad that Governor Kemp is beginning to understand what Democrats have been saying for years, his plan doesn’t go far enough,” said state Sen. Gloria Butler, who said Kemp’s proposal would still leave hundreds of thousands of Georgians without adequate health insurance.

Kemp’s aides said they expected the program to take $104 million in state dollars and $264 million in federal dollars the first year. Those dollars would go directly to insurance companies, to satisfy up to 80% of the value of eligible claims filed.

Georgia’s Legislature is full of lawmakers who identify as fiscal conservatives. One of them, House Speaker Jan Jones, R-Milton, stood with Kemp at his announcement. Asked afterward about the $300 million in public money, she said, “I haven’t seen the details yet … but I’m confident it’s going to give Georgians more affordable options.”

The AJC looks at the rollout of the new voting system.

With a presidential election on the line in 2020, Georgia is switching to a new voting company, Dominion Voting Systems, that state evaluators ranked second-best and that critics said will leave elections vulnerable.

Dominion, based in Denver, must rush to install 30,000 voting machines for 7 million Georgia voters before the March 24 presidential primary, the largest rollout of elections equipment in U.S. history. Most voters in Tuesday’s local elections will cast ballots on Georgia’s 17-year-old machines, and voters in six counties are testing Dominion’s machines.

“What Georgia is trying to do basically blows my mind,” said Dwight Shellman, an election official at the Colorado secretary of state’s office. His state adopted a Dominion system in 2016.

“We had 2 1/2 years to do it, and it was challenging,” Shellman said. “I can’t imagine implementing the number of counties Georgia has in, what, two months? Three months?”

Actually, the work will take eight months. But the challenge remains daunting.

“It is an ambitious timetable, and it will require a great deal of coordination, but we have worked very closely with the state and county officials in order to make it go smoothly,” said Kay Stimson, a spokeswoman for Dominion who previously managed communications for the National Association of Secretaries of State. “Not only do we have the experience in doing an implementation of this scale, we are perhaps one of the only companies that could have carried it off effectively.”

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler spoke in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler believes predictions about a recession looming in the near future are misleading.

Butler, the guest speaker Thursday at the Rotary Club of Brunswick meeting, said the challenges facing job seekers and employers are much different than the last recession seven or eight years ago.

The number of initial unemployment claims is the most accurate indicator of the economy’s health. And unemployment claims are at historically low levels, he said.

The challenge facing employers and job seekers is the number of new jobs is outpacing the number of qualified applicants, Butler said.

Most candidates for municipal office in Kennesaw signed affidavits that they won’t receive or spend more than $2500, according to the Rome News Tribune.

If candidates sign an affidavit showing their intentions not to receive more than $2,500 in donations to their campaign, they are not required to provide an itemized list of contributions.

If candidates sign the affidavit, they are not required to report itemized contributions or expenditures.

A State House Study Committee is considering changes in statutes of limitations, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robins, introduced House Bill 479 to extend the statute of limitations for victims to bring a lawsuit to age 38 from 23 or within two years of any age that a victim recalled past abuses through “delayed discovery” — previously repressed memories that resurfaced.

Lawmakers are also considering a year open window period for victims to file suits against institutions or organizations that may have known about the abuse but did nothing in response.

But some child protection experts argue the language in Clark’s bill benefits institutions that knew and hid alleged abusers while deterring victims from coming forward. An alliance of lawyers made the case that targeting entities, such as nonprofits, for past abuses may do more harm than good.

The 2015 legislation set the age limit to sue for past abuse to 23, but research shows the average age of disclosure of childhood abuse is 52, Emma Hetherington, a University of Georgia School of Law assistant clinical professor and director of the school’s Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic, testified in front of the committee.

When the open window provision in the original act opened a period for victims to come forward and file lawsuits for past abuses, Georgia courts across the state saw fewer than 15 cases filed — far less than the “flood gate of litigation” that lawmakers feared, Hetherington said. The clinic took on six cases.

The Chatham County Courthouse was evacuated on Tuesday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Officials are calling an electrical fire Tuesday that forced nearly 300 people to evacuate the Chatham County Courthouse on Montgomery Street a “non-event.” But the courts’ judges remain concerned for the safety of those using the building after the building’s audible alarm system failed.

“This is dangerous,” Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Penny Haas Freesemann, who speaks for the court, said Thursday, adding the audible fire alarm system did not work on Tuesday.

“We are concerned about it,” she said. “The building is of course owned but Chatham County. But the judges of Superior Court still have a duty, a responsibility, for the safety of our employees and the citizens who come to court.”

A report generated by the event ruled the matter a “false alarm which Engine 5 responded to and confirmed,” a Savannah Fire Rescue report obtained by the Morning News said on Wednesday.

Moody Air Force Base will host Thunder Over South Georgia, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The free event is open to the public and will feature the Navy Blue Angels, the Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo Team, the Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II Demo Team, the Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue, the Air Force Heritage Flight Demo Team, and a Combat Search and Rescue demonstration.

More information can be found online at

The Unified Command is asking boaters to stay away from the capsized M/V Golden Ray, according to The Brunswick News.

Unified Command officials are reminding folks of the standing directive to give a wide berth to the vessel and the support boats working around it — a football field and a half of space, to be exact.

There have been inadvertent encroachments on the 150-yard perimeter surrounding the Golden Ray since the off-limits zone was established shortly after the freighter overturned Sept. 8 while heading out to sea with a cargo of 4,200 vehicles. But breaches of the zone by civilian boaters has been on the uptick lately, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes, spokesman for the Unified Command.

Folks who intrude on that 150-yard barrier will very likely be met by a Coast Guard vessel, and escorted out of the zone, Himes said. Such a boat is on patrol in the zone 24/7, with DNR or Coast Guard law enforcement agents on board, he said. “That vessel will intercept you,” Himes said, noting the several wayward boaters have already learned this the hard way.

“We look at this is as an opportunity to better inform the public about that safety zone,” Himes said. “There have been a few of what we call incursions over the course of the response, but the occurrences have been more frequent lately. The 150-yard zone is put in place to protect the public and the response crews.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 31, 2019

Lifeline Animal Project will waive adoption fees at the DeKalb and Fulton County public shelters, according to the AJC.

The public animal shelters in DeKalb and Fulton counties took in about 500 dogs and cats since last week, prompting officials to waive adoption fees through this Sunday, Nov. 3.

The waiver is estimated to be a $300 value, and includes the pet’s spay/neutering, a microchip and vaccinations, according to LifeLine Animal Project, a nonprofit that manages animal services for the two counties.

“LifeLine Animal Project is issuing an urgent plea for Atlantans to adopt or foster from their shelters,” the statement said.

Kerry Moyers-Horton, the shelter director in DeKalb, said the majority of the intakes are strays. Intake typically decreases in October, she said, so “we aren’t sure why so many are entering the shelter now. Putting ID on your pet, including a microchip and tag, is one of the best ways to prevent them from becoming a stray.”

“If you’re looking to adopt a pet, now is truly the time. And if you can’t adopt, consider fostering, even for just a few weeks, to also save lives,” Fulton Shelter Director Lara Hudson said in a statement.

Perdita DeKalb

Perdita is a small, 16-pound female puppy who is available for adoption from LifeLine at DeKalb County Animal Services Shelter in Chamblee, GA.

Stella DeKalb

Stella is a 53-pound female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from LifeLine at DeKalb County Animal Services Shelter in Chamblee, GA.

Stella is a sweet little girl with a HUGE heart. She LOVES playing in a fenced in backyard, playing with her toys, and going for walks. She also is a great downtime buddy who loves nothing more than to snuggle up with you on the couch and watch Netflix! She is potty trained and knows basic commands like sit and stay. She doesn’t do very well with meeting new dogs but we are working on this at training. She is looking for her furrever home!

Amber DeKalb

Amber is a 24-pound female mixed breed dog with a gorgeous brindle coat who is available for adoption from LifeLine at DeKalb County Animal Services Shelter in Chamblee, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 31, 2019

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state on October 31, 1864. Kind of fitting, in a way.

The carving on Mount Rushmore was completed on October 31, 1941.

President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her race for United States Senate from New York on October 31, 2000. On October 31, 2014, Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to campaign for Michelle Nunn for United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will announce a new program designed to expand healthcare insurance to more Georgians, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp is set to unveil a proposal Thursday that he has said would create a “reinsurance” program to help stabilize volatile insurance costs on the individual market.

The program would require obtaining a waiver from the federal government, asking it to free the state from some standard rules in order to tailor a program officials here think would work best for Georgia.

The waiver idea became a staple of Kemp’s campaign in the final weeks before last year’s election, and it’s designed to create a fund that aims to lower premiums on the health insurance exchange market by possibly subsidizing private insurers’ coverage of high-risk customers.

The governor, who plans to detail the plan at a Thursday press conference, has said his idea would help private insurance companies on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange market pay for the high cost of patients with pre-existing conditions.

Kemp is also interested in a waiver involving the state’s Medicaid program.

The governor is expected to soon outline specifics of that more contentious waiver proposal, an idea that emerged after Kemp’s victory and raises the possibility of a partial expansion of the Medicaid program to some of Georgia’s poorest residents.

From The Center Square:

The governor’s office said Wednesday that it will unveil “Georgia Access” as part of its plan to identify more health coverage solutions in the state. Georgia Access is a product of The Patients First Act, signed into law by Kemp in March.

“The Patients First Act is a step toward lowering insurance premiums, enhancing access to quality care and improving health outcomes in every part of our state,” Kemp said in a previous statement.

Kemp’s announcement Thursday will be specific to the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, which allows the state to find other ways to provide affordable health care access. The state employed the help of consulting firm Deloitte to process the waivers.

For the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, Georgia officials must provide the federal government with viable reasons for the request including supporting data and projections. The plan must be able to meet the coverage requirements under the ACA without exceeding the federal load. The application for the waiver must include a 10-year budget plan that is “deficit neutral to the federal government,” and other detailed attachments that outline the plan over its timespan.

Port Wentworth City Council member Thomas Barbee allegedly threatened a resident, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Jodi Hawks of Port Wentworth has filed papers in Chatham County Magistrate Court for a misdemeanor charge of terroristic threats against Barbee.

Barbee is seeking re-election to one of the city’s at-large council seats.

The filing follows a message Barbee apparently sent Hawks on social media stating Hawks doesn’t know when to quit, and that “pain and a little blood usually motivates a person or the lose of home maybe a RV will get a person attention.” Spelling and grammatical errors are Barbee’s.

The police report states that a scheduled interview with Barbee was cancelled by the councilman about one hour before it was to begin.

A pre-warrant hearing regarding the message to Hawks will be at 1.45 p.m. Nov. 22 in Chatham County Magistrate Court in Savannah.

Barbee was also recently accused of trespassing at the home of Mayor Gary Norton. Norton’s wife, Donna Norton, reported Barbee was at their home in the early morning dark hours in September shining a flashlight around their home.

Personally, I might vote against someone on the basis of atrocious spelling.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools are working on how to spend additional school safety funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With public schools in Georgia provided $30,000 for school safety in the Governor’s 2020 appropriations bill, districts are considering the best use of the funds. Liberty County public schools are implementing the Centegix CrisisAlert system in 16 buildings, said Liberty County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Zheadric Barbra. The cost is about $30,000 per site, or about $400,000 total. “We were really, really concerned our community and our board understood the why,” Barbra said. “We’ve trained everyone at the board office.”

For Savannah-Chatham County public schools, which has about 55 schools, purchasing the system could cost over $1.5 million. Considering the purchase would require extensive due diligence, said Terry Enoch, chief of police for the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education.

He said integrating any new system with the district’s existing security technology is an important consideration. “We have a notification system in place,” Enoch said. “The current system we have now works for us, but we’re always looking at ways to improve it. We try to be very safety smart. We’re constantly evaluating how we’re doing things.”

U.S. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) introduced legislation to increase transparency in federal agency spending, according to the Gainesville Times.

“Each year, Georgians entrust the government with their hard-earned tax dollars, but they’re left in the dark on where that money actually goes,” Collins said in a statement. “By requiring federal agencies to regularly publish budget justifications on one central website, the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act will ensure hard-working Americans have access to the information needed to evaluate how their tax dollars are being spent.”

Collins and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, introduced the bill Tuesday.

The text of the budget materials would be searchable. Budget justification materials would have to be posted within two weeks of the date the materials are submitted to Congress, according to the bill.

A breakdown of funds would be included. Classified materials would be exempt from the rules.

U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) recognized Collins Hill High School Principal Kerensa Wing as winner of a national award, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Representative for Georgia’s 7th Congressional district congratulated the National Association of Secondary School Principals finalists for National Principal of the Year — including Joey Jones Robert Frost Middle School in Maryland and Lindsa McIntyre Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Massachusetts — before showing U.S. representatives that Wing was the recipient of the 2019 award, announced on Oct. 21.

“To meet Kerensa Wing, the first thing you’ll notice is that charisma that she has that connects her with her students and with her parents,” Woodall said. “That partnership that she develops with her administrators and with her teachers — that’s the partnership that we strive for here.”

Brunswick City Council discussed legislative policies, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick city officials met Wednesday to discuss the shared vision with Glynn County for the goals they’d like state legislators to consider when the General Assembly meets this winter.

Among those in attendance were many city department heads and Justin Callaway, CEO and president of NewCity Brunswick.

Mayor Cornell Harvey told Callaway he wanted to ensure his organization’s goals to add new residents and businesses downtown were considered.

“We have a problem in the city of Brunswick with homelessness,” said commissioner Vincent Williams. “If we don’t deal with that problem, you’re not attracting businesses and residents.”

Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones said he the number of homeless in the city is three times larger than seven or eight years ago.

The development of the city’s waterfront was also on the agenda. Commissioners agreed the city’s waterfront could be greatly enhanced if they can convince Georgia Port Authority officials to move offices from their current locations in Brunswick.

“They have siphoned off the city quite a bit,” Harvey said. “The port doesn’t contribute back.”

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Cobb) announced she will introduce legislation to regulate minor gender transitions, according to the AJC.

A Cobb County lawmaker wants to make it a felony for medical professionals to help a minor with gender transition.

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said the legislation aims to protect children from having irreversible procedures done when they are young. Current law requires a parent to consent to surgery or for a minor to be prescribed medication.

While the bill is still being drafted, Ehrhart said Georgia medical providers who perform surgeries or administer or prescribe medications that assist minors with gender transition could be charged with a felony. The legislation would not affect doctors working with adults who seek to undergo gender transition.

“We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia but can be castrated and get sterilized,” she said.

Specific procedures that Ehrhart said would be banned — if the measure is approved by the General Assembly — include “mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilization” for the purpose of gender transition. Banned medications would include giving minors “puberty-blocking drugs to stop or delay normal puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy.”

“The removal of otherwise healthy or non-diseased body parts from minor children would also be prohibited,” her press release states.

An ethics complaint filed by D.A. King against Gwinnett County Commissioner Marlene Fosque will be heard by the county ethics board, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The ethics board assembled to hear the complaint that Dustin Inman Society founder D.A. King filed against Commissioner Marlene Fosque met for the first time Wednesday. The five-member panel picked its chairman and vice-chairman, underwent ethics training and decided to schedule two hearings for December.

The first hearing will be a preliminary hearing on Dec. 9. The second, and more crucial, one will be an evidenciary hearing — where testimony will be given and evidence presented — held on Dec. 19.

A candidate for Mayor of Lithonia is under investigation over whether she meets qualifications for the office, according to the AJC.

The Georgia secretary of state’s office is investigating whether Cindy Thomas has met the legal requirement of being a resident of the city for one year before the election, several officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The county elections board dismissed a similar challenge to Thomas’ residency earlier this year.

Thomas’ campaign manager, John Jackson, said the secretary of state’s office is just “doing their due diligence,” and that “there is no debate to be had” about her residency. Jackson also called the complaint a “smear campaign” by members of City Council who don’t want Thomas to win.

Earlier this election cycle, Lithonia council members Ric Dodd and Amelia Inman filed a challenge to Thomas’ residency with the DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections. Dodd said Thomas had been living at her boyfriend’s house in the city for a portion of the last year, and was not living at the address listed when she qualified to run for office.

Former State Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D-Atlanta) will join a lobbying firm, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The Hudson Group LLC will add Kaiser to its payroll effective Nov. 1. Kaiser, a Democrat, represented a House district in East Atlanta for a decade before leaving office in 2017, specializing in health care and education issues. She ran for Atlanta mayor that year before dropping out of the crowded field of candidates before Election Day.

Recently, Kaiser was appointed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp to the board of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

“She is one of Georgia’s most highly respected leaders in both Democrat and Republican circles,” said Brian Hudson, the firm’s managing principal. “Margaret brings vast experience in Georgia’s business and political arenas and will prove a valuable asset to The Hudson Group and our clients.”

Voting Rights and Wrongs

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has released the list of more than 330k inactive voters whose registrations will be purged, according to the AJC.

Georgia election officials released the names of 313,243 people Wednesday whose voter registrations are set to soon be canceled because they moved away or haven’t participated in elections for several years.

The cancellations, expected to be completed in December, would reduce the number of registered voters in Georgia by 4%. There are currently about 7.4 million registered voters in Georgia.

It will be the first purge since Georgia canceled about 534,000 registrations in July 2017, the largest removal of voters in U.S. history.

“Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections, but at the same time I want to ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “That is why my office is releasing the full list to ensure that people who are still eligible voters can update their information.”

Voters can prevent their registrations from being canceled if they sign and mail a postage-paid postcard that will be included with cancellation notices. Voters can also remain on the state’s rolls if they re-register or change their addresses online.

Georgians can check their voter registration status online by visiting the state’s My Voter Page at They can also use the website to reactivate their registrations by registering to vote or changing their addresses online.

The Gainesville Times looks at what to do if you’re on the purge list.

Voters have 30 days from the date of the notice to let the state know they would like their registration to remain active. They can return the postage-paid postcard they receive, update their registration on the Secretary of State’s website or smartphone app, or go to their local elections office. The Hall County Elections Office is in the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.

The list of 313,243 registrations subject to cancellation is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Of the list, 108,306, or 34.6% filed a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service showing they have moved to a different county or state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Another 84,376, or 26.9%, had election mail returned as undeliverable.

The remaining 120,561, or 38.5%, have had no contact with their county election officials since before the 2012 presidential election and did not respond to a confirmation card sent by their county elections office.

Federal and state law require election officials to do list maintenance on records where the person has died or moved to a new address. Georgia law requires removal of registration records that have been “inactive” for two general elections and have had no contact with election officials during that time. A state law passed earlier this year requires election officials to mail a notice to the last known address of people prior to removing them from the voter rolls due to an address change.

Dalton State students voted at a much higher rate in 2018 than 2014, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The student voting rate on campus at Dalton State College more than doubled in last year’s election, increasing to 47% in 2018 from 18% in 2014.

Dalton State is actively promoting voter registration, education and get out the vote efforts through the work of a student group called SAVE (Students Advocating for Volunteer Efforts). This team most recently hosted the Dalton State Voter Registration Campus Takeover, collecting more than 90 voter registration forms.

Dougherty County voter turnout is low, according to the AJC.

[E]arly voter turnout has been underwhelming, according to The Albany Herald. A Dougherty County elections official said only about 1,000 of the county’s 50,000+ registered voters have turned out thus far.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 30, 2019

Duke Albany

Duke is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Scully Albany

Scully is a young male mixed breed mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Ali Albany

Ali is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2019

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books.

On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order allowing the late Senator Leroy Johnson to lie in state in the Georgia Capitol on Thursday, October 31, 2019, and ordering the lowering of flags to half-staff on that date for state buildings and properties.

The Georgia Department of Public Health identified a third vaping-related death, according to CBS46.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has announced the third vaping-related death in the state.

The department says it has identified 25 cases of vaping-related illnesses in Georgia and now three deaths. The identity of the latest victim has not been released.

Symptoms of vaping-related illness include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Vaping is an increasing concern for public health and education officials, according to the Albany Herald.

“I’ve been getting a lot of requests from schools to come out and talk about the harms of vaping and what they (students) can do to quit,” said Ebonee Kirkwood, tobacco cessation specialist for the Southwest Georgia Health District. “There has been an increase in concern in the school system.”

Of the 34 deaths attributed to vaping and e-cigarette use recorded as of Oct. 22, two have occurred in Georgia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths also have been confirmed in 23 other states.

Among Dougherty County public school students, vaping seems to be relatively low, compared to other systems in the area. Among students, less than 7% of 12th graders reported using one of the products at least once within the previous 30 days, according to an annual student health survey released by the Georgia Department of Education.

Out of 4,693 students who answered the question in grades 6 through 12, 26 reported using the product daily over the previous month.

In Lee County, a little more than 20% of 12th-graders reported using one of the products at least once within the previous 30 days and nearly 9% – 25 out of 281 who responded – used them daily during that period.

Atlanta City Council is considering limiting sales of vaping supplies, according to the AJC.

Amid national discussion surrounding vaping, the Atlanta City Council is considering a move to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and the sale of all vaping products to those younger than 18.

The city’s public safety committee postponed voting on the proposed legislation Tuesday after hearing from vape proponents, who were concerned the ban would hurt businesses. Councilman Michael Julian Bond presented the legislation to the council at last week’s council meeting.

At Tuesday’s public safety meeting, vape proponents argued that banning the flavored vapes might not reduce the number of young people attracted to the devices. They said many teenagers use the e-cigarettes for the nicotine — not the flavor. Thus, imposing an age limit on who can by the products might cause minors to purchase vaping products on the black market. Some also worried it would put vape shops, whose customers are often youth, out of business.

Bond suggested the committee hold a work session with vape proponents to better educate councilmembers on the safety and dangers of vaping. No date was set for that discussion.

Several cities in metro Atlanta have already taken steps to restrict where vaping devices can be used or where stores can operate in their jurisdiction. Snellville banned vaping at city-owned buildings, parks, and other spaces. Alpharetta also passed laws limiting where the shops can go and how much they can sell in tobacco and vape items. Smyrna has passed a law making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, possess or use a range of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vapes and electronic hookahs.

A federal judge held that a local sheriff requiring warning signs at sex offenders homes , according to the AJC.

A federal judge on Tuesday said a Georgia sheriff’s plan to post “no trick-or-treating” signs at sex offenders’ homes was unconstitutional.

The ruling comes after three registered sex offenders sued Butts County Sheriff Gary Long to stop his office from the practice, which began last year with deputies planting signs that urged Halloween revelers against stopping. Deputies put up some of the signs while others among the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were told to display one themselves or face unspecified trouble, according to the complaint.

U.S. District Court Judge Marc T. Treadwell’s order applies only to the three plaintiffs, meaning it wouldn’t stop the sheriff’s office from placing signs at other registered sex offenders’ homes. But the judge said Long’s legal authority to place the signs was “dubious at best.”

The sheriff disagreed with the ruling but said he’d abide by it.

The sheriff’s plan to place the signs “run afoul” of the First Amendment because it compels the men to display the message even though they disagree with it.

The sheriff said he’d sought legal advice in 2018 before placing the signs and believed it was appropriate.

Bibb County voters will decide on a $185 million dollar five-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Macon Telegraph.

The US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will delay increasing dock fees on Lake Lanier, according to the Gainesville Times.

Those increases were challenged by several legislators, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

The Corps will hold off on permit fee increases to do a national review of shoreline management fees, according to a social media post from the Corps’ South Atlantic Division.

The increases, announced in June, would have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and affected the Corps’ South Atlantic Division. Under the revised fee schedule, new dock or facility permits would have gone from $400 to $835, and re-issue permits would have increased from $175 to $835.

“I’m very encouraged that the Corps took our concerns seriously and made the decision to hold off on increasing permit fees. Residents of the Ninth District living on or near Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell — and those throughout the southeast living near Corps waterways— will no longer be hit with significant and unexpected fee increases come January,” Collins said in a statement.

The Corps of Engineers also announced their decision on how to proceed at the Savannah River near Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that it will choose an option that will demolish New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in favor of a rock weir fish passage that will lower the pool in the Savannah River significantly.

The decision, which is widely and vehemently opposed by Georgia and South Carolina leaders, will likely end up in a lawsuit perhaps as early as this week, officials said. The Corps left open the door for a higher water level, but it will require local entities to contribute to it.

The Corps said it will hold a “public engagement” on the plan from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in Augusta at the Boathouse Community Center, 101 Riverfront Drive, where it will discuss details of the plan. But public reaction to the plan from Georgia and South Carolina at all levels of government was swift.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., said the move would violate the requirements of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016, which authorized a fish passage but also required the pool in the Savannah River be maintained “for navigation, water supply, and recreational activities, as in existence on the date of enactment of this Act,” which on Dec. 16, 2016, was 114.5 feet above sea level.

Woodstock City Council approved a New Small Business Occupational Tax Waiver program, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News.

Under the program, newly organized businesses in a commercial location with less than 10 employees which open in the city qualify, among other requirements, for the waiver of the application, inspection and occupational tax fees for their first year.

An occupational tax license, more commonly known as a business license, is required for all commercial and home-based businesses by each local jurisdiction.

The waiver program is intended to encourage business owners to consider Woodstock as a favorable and encouraging environment to begin their business.

“Woodstock has been focusing on programs for a few years that help foster a business-friendly community to attempt to grow our employment base,” said Mayor Donnie Henriques in a statement. “From partnerships with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development and Chattahoochee Tech to establish the area’s first co-work space to small business programming support through city supported agencies and nonprofits, we have seen an increase in the community of like-minded individuals looking to establish businesses in the area. We hope that the waiver of these fees is seen as a further incentive to take that next step here in Woodstock.”

Columbus Council member Evelyn Turner Pugh attended her last meeting after 31 years of service, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Tuesday was Turner Pugh’s last meeting after serving nearly 31 years on council. She was first elected in 1988 and last elected to a four-year term in 2016.

She announced Oct. 8 that she will be retiring at the end of the month due to health challenges. Turner Pugh has battled Parkinson’s disease for over a decade.

[Valerie A.] Thompson was appointed by the council to fill the rest of Turner Pugh’s term, and will take the seat effective Nov. 1. She will hold the post until an election can be held, and has said she will not seek re-election.

“She has conducted herself with a fierce loyalty for her district without losing sight of the fact that her votes impacted citizens throughout this community,” [Mayor Skip Henderson] said. “And that’s tough, you ask any district councilor, that is a very, very difficult thing to do.”

The Glynn County Commission Finance Committee voted to move forward with opening a third early voting location, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell told board members in January that opening a third early voting location would cost around $8,500 per election and $17,000 at a minimum for the 2020 presidential election cycle.

To give Glynn County’s busy voters more options, the board hopes to open a new early voting polling place in the county-owned Ballard Complex at the corner of Community and Old Jesup roads.

“To support this request, the Ballard Building will be out of public rental service for 122 days and the Brookman Building will be out of service for 11 days,” according to a memo from Public Works Director Dave Austin to the committee. “Based on last year’s statistics this will cost Glynn County 49 days of rental revenue at Ballard at a cost of $3,675 and 11 days of revenue for Brookman at $825 for a total of $4,500 potential loss of revenue.”

Committee member Bill Brunson asked why it would be necessary to take the building out of circulation for 122 days.

For all the elections the board is required to provide three weeks of early voting, said Channel. The building would also have to be secured and access restricted to elections personnel only during the voting period.

“In my opinion, there is no greater use of that building than the voting process. The public, all the community gets to use it,” Channell said.

Ultimately, the committee unanimously recommended the county commission allow the board of elections to use the Ballard Complex.

A stranded manatee near Savannah was saved by contractors, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Workers with Continental Heavy Civil Corp., the corps’ contractor, found the grounded manatee on the morning of Oct. 1. The 10-foot-long animal apparently tried to swim from the Little Back River into Rifle Cut during high tide, became stuck and was left high and dry when the tide fell. Continental’s crew kept the manatee wet until responders arrived.

“It was a really large female, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen,” said DNR senior wildlife biologist Mark Dodd, who was among the responders. “She was a big fat girl.”

The manatee appeared healthy. Female manatees sometimes ground themselves to avoid unwanted attention from males, Dodd said, but no males were seen in the area. The female probably could have made it to deep water on her own with the next high tide, Dodd said, but her stranding gave staffers with the DNR Wildlife Conservation Section and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute the opportunity to check her health and fit her with a satellite transmitter to track her movements.

Then instead of moving the bulky animal to the water, they brought the water to her.

Continental employee used a bulldozer to dig a shallow channel to the river. As water surged in, the manatee was eased onto a stretcher and hauled to deeper water, where she was released unharmed. Dodd even waded in to shoo her in the right direction.

Two first-time candidates are running for an open seat on Gainesville City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

The Ward 5 post became an open race when longtime councilwoman Ruth Bruner announced in February that she would not be seeking re-election.

Bruner’s announcement to step down presented the opportunity Gainesville residents Juli Clay and William “Bill” Bush saw as their time to step forward and seek Bruner’s seat.

Two other ward seats in the city will be up for re-election and appearing on the ballot, but the incumbents representing those wards are in uncontested races: Ward 2 representative Zach Thompson and Ward 3 representative Barbara Brooks are both unopposed.

Richmond County election officials learned of a state purge of voter rolls through the newspaper, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that more than 300,000 voters who did not vote or otherwise contact the elections office in the last two general elections will get a notice next month – sent to their last known address – that their registration will be canceled unless they respond.

A copy of the notice, posted online by the Atlanta newspaper, showed the form using the return address of a voter’s local county election office.

Travis Doss, the deputy director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said the office learned about the proposed cancellations in the newspaper.

Typically the office removes inactive voters during the spring after a general election, but Richmond County hasn’t seen the notice or been told how many local voters will be sent one, he said.