On July 13, 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, in which states ceded some claims to the west, and a process was set up for admitting new states.
On July 13, 1865, James Johnson as provisional Governor of Georgia, issued a proclamation freeing slaves and calling an election in October of that year to elect delegates to a state Consitutional Convention. Johnson had previously opposed Georgia’s secession and after the war was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson.
Savannah, Georgia-born John C. Fremont, who was the first Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1856, died in New York City on July 13, 1890.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Brooke Siskin, Democratic candidate for the Ninth Congressional District, has been arrested, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Brooke Siskin was booked into the jail Thursday on a contempt of court charge for allegedly not surrendering guns she owned. Siskin had been ordered to surrender the weapons and ammunition after a 12-Month Family Violence Protective Order was issued in March. News reports have indicated the protective order was related to her divorce from her ex-husband.
Siskin was ordered by Judge Deborah Fluker to spend the weekend in the jail and will have to appear at a hearing at the Gwinnett County Detention Center Monday morning.
From the Gainesville Times:
This is Siskin’s second arrest this year. She was charged in March after an incident at a Gwinnett bank.
Siskin was the top vote getter in the June Democratic primary, with Pandy second.
Today is the last day to register to vote in the August 11 runoff election, according to the AJC.
There are runoff elections in 94 of Georgia’s 159 counties next month. Races include contests for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Georgia General Assembly or local offices.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently extended the voter registration deadline for state and local primary runoff elections. The previous registration deadline for state and local runoffs was May 11.
U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor Ross changed Georgia election laws to reduce the number of signatures required for third-party candidates to earn a place on the ballot, according to the AJC.
U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross on Thursday ordered the secretary of state’s office to accept 30% fewer signatures from Libertarian Party, Green Party and other third-party candidates.
The ruling provides an accommodation to candidates who couldn’t go door-to-door collecting signatures because of social distancing requirements, especially during the period when Gov. Brian Kemp ordered Georgians to shelter in place.
“No one can debate that conditions throughout the state, country and world are anything but normal,” Ross wrote. “Because of the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on social interactions, plaintiffs could not, and in many ways still cannot, gather signatures in the same safe and reasonable manner as they could during more typical times.”
The secretary of state’s office in May had proposed the 30% reduction in signatures for third-party candidates.
“While it was not something the secretary had the legal authority to do on his own, we think it’s a fair result,” said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “We are taking steps to notify federal and state third-party and independent candidates, as well as notifying counties so that they can notify local candidates.”
Enforcement of marijuana possession laws may be harder under legislation passed to regulate the now-legal hemp industry, according to the AJC.
Police can’t tell the difference between illegal marijuana and legal hemp plants, and law enforcement officials said testing small amounts of green leafy substances is more trouble than it’s worth.
“Marijuana remains illegal in Georgia. That hasn’t changed,” said Pete Skandalakis, executive director for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. “The problem law enforcement will face now is when there’s less than an ounce, there’s no field test that will let you distinguish between hemp and marijuana.”
Under the bill, transportation of hemp plants without appropriate paperwork could result in misdemeanor charges, with penalties of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
But in practice, prosecutors aren’t going to be able to make a strong case unless they can prove that a substance is illegal marijuana, Skandalakis said. And the GBI crime lab will only test for the THC content of felony amounts, over 1 ounce. Field tests can show if a substance contains THC, but those tests don’t differentiate between hemp and marijuana, which usually contains at least 15% THC.
Georgia State Rep. Matt Barton (R-Calhoun) was hospitalized after a seizure, according to the Martinsville Bulletin.
House Speaker David Ralston said Friday that the condition of Republican state Rep. Matt Barton of Calhoun was improving.
Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, said doctors were trying to determine the cause of Barton’s illness. The first-term House member operates a medical transport and fell ill while at Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome. The Calhoun Times reports Barton has a blood infection.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has published a map of broadband availability, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Of the more than 507,000 homes and businesses lacking access to reliable broadband service at speeds of 25/3 megabits per second (mpbs), nearly 70% of these locations are in rural parts of Georgia.
According to the map, there are 148,279 locations served in Chatham County and 1,375 are underserved for a total of 1%; In Bryan County there are 16,996 locations served and 560 underserved for a total of 3%; In Effingham County there are 24,956 locations with 1,650 underserved for a total of 6% and in Liberty County there are 27,292 served locations and 2,466 are underserved for a total of 8%.
The map provides data on where high-speed internet service is available, it doesn’t indicate where residents are subscribing to those internet services. That information is held by the private providers.
According to information released earlier this month by Gov. Brian Kemp, the map is based on location-specific data, which is a more accurate reflection of which Georgia households have high-speed internet available via wireline, such as fiber optic cable. Previously, the only indication of Georgians’ ability to access a broadband connection was FCC’s map, which aggregates data at the Census Block.
The Georgia State House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will hear testimony on the citizen’s arrest law, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.
As the legislature wrapped up its 2020 session late last month, [Speaker David] Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said legislation introduced by state Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City, aimed at eliminating citizen’s arrests in Georgia was worth serious consideration.
But the speaker said lawmakers didn’t have time during the final rush toward adjournment to go beyond the hate crimes bill the legislature passed during the final week of this year’s session. He promised to hold hearings on other criminal justice reform proposals in order to craft legislation for the General Assembly to take up during the 2021 session starting in January.
During a news conference to call attention to his bill, Gilliard said the citizen’s arrest law is outdated and gives untrained civilians a reason to perpetrate violence in the name of law enforcement.
“We need to understand that citizen’s arrest is dangerous more often than not,” Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said at the time.
Camden County Superior Court is working to relieve backlogs caused by the pandemic, according to The Brunswick News.
Rome City Commission may consider requiring masks, according to the Rome News Tribune.
Mayor Bill Collins is scheduled to lead a discussion on the possibility of mandating face coverings in public within the city limits.
At a joint meeting with the Floyd County Commission last week, Collins and at least some of the city commissioners indicated they could support a mask mandate. While Gov. Brian Kemp has barred municipalities from enacting stricter coronavirus restrictions than the state, cities including Atlanta, Savannah and Athens have passed ordinances requiring masks.
There is, however, no action item for masks on the agenda released Friday.
Votes are scheduled on several committee recommendations regarding city monuments and the statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest that stands in Myrtle Hill Cemetery.
The Community Development Services Committee unanimously recommended the city ask the state for permission to move the Forrest statue to the new Fort Norton Park on Jackson Hill.
The Gwinnett County Clerk of Courts is closing to the public after an employee tested positive for COVID, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
“It has come to our attention that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19,” [Deputy Clerk of Courts Tiana] Garner said in the email. “Several staff members are awaiting test results. As a result, we will close our offices at GJAC immediately and remained closed for 14 days with a presumed reopening date of July 27, 2020. We may reopen sooner subject to employee test results.”
Although the clerk’s office is closing its GJAC location, its satellite office at the Gwinnett County Jail is expected to remain open. The office will also continue to accept documents from judges and attorneys via efileGA, Garner said in the email.
Tybee Island City Council passed a resolution calling for specific actions on diversity, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The resolution commits Tybee to a few things.
The city will place a “comprehensive historic display” at Lazaretto Creek and at the site of the civil rights movement-era wade-in protests, when Tybee’s beaches were white only.
A section of the city’s website will be dedicated to the history of Tybee’s “racial, ethnic and religious past.”
Additionally, a third-party group will conduct an annual review of the city’s arrest and sentencing data, as well as the Tybee Island Police Department’s use of force, and the results will be made publicly available on the city’s website.
All city employees will be required to take diversity training under the resolution.
Murray County Public Schools may furlough employees for four days in the coming school year, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.
The fiscal year started July 1.
“I think four [furlough days] is a reasonable number, and it doesn’t impact days of instruction,” [Superintendent Steve] Loughridge said, noting that 85% of the system’s budget is salary and benefits for staff. “It won’t be popular, but I think people will understand.”
“Revenues are sorely lacking, but we can’t do anything about that,” he said. School systems around Georgia had to absorb a 10% cut in funding from the state, which cost Murray County Schools roughly $4 million, and the system saw a decrease in equalization funding of roughly $1 million from fiscal year 2020.
Dalton Public Schools, which adopted a budget with two furlough days for staff for fiscal year 2021, received its highest-ever amount in equalization funding, $3.7 million, which is roughly “$1.3 million to the good” over the previous year, according to Theresa Perry, the system’s chief financial officer. “We are below the state average in property value per child, so that’s part of why we get more in equalization funding.”
Whitfield County Schools, which opted against any furlough days in fiscal year 2021, picked up an additional $1.3 million in equalization funding from the state, which was “a pleasant surprise,” according to Kelly Coon, the system’s chief financial officer. The equalization formula considers average property wealth per student in school systems, as well as the number of students and property tax rates.
Harris County public schools are offering three options for fall: traditional in-person; digital/online; and homeschooling, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
Clarke County public schools are considering pushing back their reopening date, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
Clarke County schools may delay the beginning of the school year until mid-August or after Labor Day Sept. 7.
Clarke County School District Chief Academic Officer Brannon Gaskins told school board members administrators may soon ask the school board to approve a new start date as COVID-19 infections grow in Athens and the rest of the state.
Columbus State University had its highest ever summer enrollment though classes were all online, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
S0me Mercer University students are expressing anxiety over returning to campus via an online petition, according to the Macon Telegraph.
The Dougherty County Commission will take its meetings back online as COVID numbers rise again, according to the Albany Herald.
The county also has canceled for now it’s planned move to Phase 2 of re-opening due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. It had been scheduled to bring more workers back to their office on July 6.
Five commissioners and an audience of about 20 attended the July 6 commission meeting. After that meeting, Commissioner Anthony Jones said he did not feel comfortable and would not be returning to live meetings under current conditions.
“This is because we’ve seen — not a surge — but there’s been an uptick of COVID in Dougherty County,” County Administrator Michael McCoy said of moving meetings back to the virtual format and delaying the implementation of the second phase of re-opening. “Not that they (commissioners) felt uncomfortable, they just wanted to go back to virtual for now. We thought it was best to go back to virtual meetings.”
A construction firm started by (now) Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) received a federal PPP loan, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Elected to the House in 2014, Allen has said the company he founded at age 25 is no longer under his control. His communications director, Andrea Porwoll, had a similar message Friday.
“Years before being sworn into office, Congressman Allen relinquished majority stake of the company and he and his wife no longer hold decision-making authority,” Prowl said.
Consensus appears to be forming in Gwinnett County to relocate a Confederate memorial, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Both District Attorney Danny Porter, a Republican, and his Democratic Party opponent in this year’s election, Patsy Austin-Gatson, called for the monument to be removed from the grounds of the Gwinnett County Historic Courthouse during a protest rally on the square Sunday. So too did state Reps. Shelly Hutchinson and Gregg Kennard, Gwinnett school board member Everton Blair, soon-to-be-school board member-elect Tarece Johnson and Democratic Party county commission District 1 candidate Kirkland Carden.
Even the chairman of the Gwinnett County Historic Restoration and Preservation Board, Aaron Ragans, and board member Marlene Taylor-Crawford called for the monument’s removal.
One of the most interesting twists is that both candidates for district attorney who will appear on the ballot in the November election are calling for the memorial’s removal.
Porter is believed to be the first Republican elected official in Gwinnett to publicly call for the monument’s removal.