President George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. Here’s an article about the nation’s mourning for our first President.
The Congress, in session at the capital of Philadelphia when Washington’s death was announced, immediately adjourned. The House of Representatives assembled the next day and resolved to shroud the Speaker’s chair in black and have members wear black during the remainder of the session. On December 23, John Marshall speaking for the joint committee of both houses, presented five points that became the foundation for the United States’ first “state” funeral. Resolutions structured mourning events around public commemorations that fostered unity and a sense of national identity among grieving Americans.
On December 15, 1859, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing public execution of criminals. The previous day he signed legislation prohibiting slave owners from freeing their slaves on the owner’s death.
President William McKinley addressed the Georgia General Assembly on December 14, 1898.
On December 14, 1939, a parade was held through downtown Atlanta with stars from Gone With the Wind and the Junior League held a ball that night. The next day, December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind held its world premiere at Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.
President Jimmy Carter announced on December 15, 1978 that U.S. diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China would begin on January 1, 1979.
The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released a report on December 15, 1998 that recommended impeachment against President Bill Clinton and introduced H.Res. 611.
On December 15, 2016, Republican Tim Echols was sworn in by Gov. Nathan Deal to a second term on the Georgia Public Service Commission.
On December 14, 2020, early voting began for the January 5, 2021 Runoff elections in which incumbent United States Senator David Perdue lost his seat and gave away the GOP Senate majority to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Ozzy is an adorable lab and hound mix. He has long legs that loves to run. He would do great in the country air. This super sweet boy is very loving and friendly. If you would like to come and visit, please give us a call at (912) 685-7877 and we will get you an appointment set up.
*Adoption fee is $40, which includes 5-way vaccine, Bordetella, Rabies, flea treatment, deworming regimen, bath and nail trim, microchip and free registration for life, and he is neutered. Heartworm testing and prevention is sponsored by Paws, Hearts, and Hands of Candler County.All fees must be paid at City Hall except Saturdays and events. Call 912-685-7877 or message us if interested.
Bellatrix – Say hello to this beautiful girl! Her name is Bellatrix, and she is around 8 months old. She is up to date on her vaccines but will still need her rabies vaccine along with her spaying. Bellatrix loves to jump around and have a good time. If you are looking for a new forever friend, then give us a call at 912-764-4529. Bellatrix is waiting on you!
On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court organized three regiments of militia to guard against attacks by the Pequot Indians. That day is recognized as the birth of the National Guard.
Echols County, Georgia was created by the Georgia General Assembly on December 13, 1858.
Former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall died on December 13, 1992. Arnall served in the State House, as Speaker, Attorney General, and in 1942 at the age of 35, was elected Governor.
Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945.
Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush on December 13, 2000.
Augusta Democrats note that yet another Special Election is being held on December 20, 2022 to fill a State House vacancy, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman and Augusta Commissioner Jordan Johnson on Monday acknowledged election fatigue while also calling on voters to cast their ballot in the last election of the year.
“I know that we’re sort of fatigued with the mayoral election earlier in the summer, the general in November and then this runoff,” Johnson said. “We cannot stop yet. There’s one more election, and this election is local and it is an important election.”
Former Georgia House District 129 Rep. Henry “Wayne” Howard died in October. Howard had served as state representative of Districts 121 and 124 since 2007, with 124 becoming 129 in a new redistricting map earlier this year.
The candidates on the ballot are all Democrats and include project manager Scott Cambers, student Davis Green, pastor Karlton Howard and private security contractor Brad Owens. Johnson said their local party does not endorse primary candidates.
Advance voting is going on now at the Augusta Municipal Building on Telfair Street and is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 16. Election Day voting takes place 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 20.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that hate crimes increased in Georgia during 2021, according to WRDW in Augusta.
Marc Benjamin, supervisory special agent FBI Atlanta, states, “The FBI takes hate crimes very seriously. Hate crimes are the top priority in the civil rights division.”
Benjamin states that from Jan. 1. to Dec. 31, 2021, most hate crimes involved intimidation, simple assault, destruction of property and vandalism.
Within Georgia, the top tree focuses of hate crimes are race, sexual orientation and religion.
In 2020, Georgia reported 195 incidents of hate crime according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation crime data report.
In 2021, Georgia reported 238 incidents, increasing by 43 incidents over a year.w
The United States Department of Justice issued subpoenas to the Office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the AJC.
The U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office and at least one metro Atlanta county as it continues to investigate former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
A copy of the Dec. 9 subpoena obtained by The Washington Post shows DOJ has requested “any and all communications in any form to, from or involving” Trump, his campaign, employees or attorneys. The subpoena names 19 individuals — including attorneys John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Cleta Mitchell, L. Lin Wood and Sidney Powell.
Meanwhile, a Cobb County spokesperson confirmed the county election board also received an FBI subpoena Monday for records related to the 2020 election. Last week, DOJ issued subpoenas to local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three other states where Trump sought to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
The DOJ has been investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Georgia and other swing states. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith to oversee criminal investigations of Trump after the former president announced he will seek the Republican presidential nomination again in 2024.
The special counsel is seeking “any and all communications in any form” between June 1, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, “to, from or involving” Trump, his campaign, lawyers and aides, including former campaign officials such as Bill Stepien and Justin Clark and lawyers John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn, L. Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to the subpoena, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Separately Monday, the AP obtained through a public records request the copy of a Nov. 22 subpoena sent by Smith to local election officials in Clark County, Nevada, the state’s most populous county. The subpoena seeks similar information as the ones sent to other states.
Efforts by Trump and his associates to reverse his loss in Georgia are currently the subject of a separate investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta. A special grand jury seated to aid that investigation has heard from dozens of witnesses, including a number of high-profile Trump allies, over the past six months and is expected to wrap up its work soon.
Tybee Island City Council will continue discussing allowing
bitches dogs on beaches. From WTOC:
Right now, the proposal would be to allow dogs on the beach once a week on Wednesdays, only from Nov. 1 to March 1.
Dogs would also only be allowed on the beaches from 18th street to Inlet Avenue.
“We need to be more specific about exactly where we want it to be, exactly when it will be, do we need signs for people to know where to go, one of the concerns for code enforcement is how do people know where the line in the sand is so we have to figure that out, so we need to get it specific and detailed,” [council member Brian] West said.
He says last year a survey went out to about 450 Tybee Island residents and found about half would approve of dogs on the beach and the other half did not want to make that change.
If you want to share your thoughts, city council will be discussing this again at their council meeting on Jan. 26.
People have routinely implored the city to go easier on their zero-tolerance policy on dogs for years, according to West. The proposal stresses that dog owners must bring their own bags to pick up after their pets and that pets must be leashed at all times.
“We don’t want the pets to go in the water either, so there’s no exploding diarrhea. We want to make sure this is a safe event for all people,” said West.
Tybee Island’s enforcement on the issue isn’t unique, said City Manager Shawn Gillen. Beaches up and down the coastline implement different rules to protect wildlife and prevent the inevitable issue of dog feces.
On Tybee, the Loggerhead sea turtle and certain migratory birds such as the Piping Plover, which visits Tybee during the winter, must be safeguarded.
Residents like Kate Burns asked the city to trust them once again. Burns referenced a survey of 450 residents conducted three years ago, in which 52% of respondents supported dogs on the beach.
“I think one day a week is something we can live with,” said Burns, who noted she has a service dog she’d like to walk on the beach.
In the fourth hour of the meeting, council member Barry Brown posed a question: “Who’s going to be responsible for these little foo-foo dogs that everybody has when a man from Toombs County comes out with his pitbull that eats your dog up while you’re standing there?”
“It’ll be a lawsuit,” said council member Spec Hosti.
“With the city or between the two dogs?” asked Brown.
Hosti later clarified that it’ll most likely be a civil suit between the two dog owners if the situation were to escalate to legal action.
Macon-Bibb County elected officials continue to be concerned about violence, according to 13WMAZ.
Last week was a violent one in Macon-Bibb County, with five homicides.
[Craig] Paige’s death marks Macon-Bibb’s 68th homicide on the year, shattering last year’s record of 55.
“It’s scary to have this many violent incidents ending in death,” said Commissioner Virgil Watkins. “Continuing to look for some solutions, and trying to find folks some relief.”
For over a year now, Bibb leaders have poured millions into a countywide anti-violence program, called ‘MVP.’
“One shooting leads to the next shooting, which leads to the next shooting,” said Mayor Lester Miller. “So that’s the mentality we have to stop.”
Many Maconites have been skeptical of the program’s impact, citing a record homicide rate. Mayor Miller says there’s more to the program than that.
“There’s a lot of housing initiatives that we have going on because we do believe that having adequate housing is going to help us with crime. We’re gonna continue our fight against blight,” [Miller] said.
Warner Robins elected officials are concerned about homelessness, according to 13WMAZ.
Warner Robins community leaders met for a second time Monday to brainstorm ways to help the homeless in the area.
Mayor LaRhonda Patrick’s office provided a statement:
“I have a heart for all the citizens of Warner Robins, including the homeless. We have a tremendous support network throughout Middle Georgia and collaborating with those organizations to better understand how we can all work together is only the first step in the process. I look forward to sharing more as we gather that information and develop a plan to put it into practice,” Mayor LaRhonda Patrick said.
Dougherty County is considering higher standards for street numbering of houses, according to the Albany Herald.
[O]ne county commissioner has made enforcing requirements a priority for next year.
Dougherty County first responders who attended a Monday commission meeting also supported Commissioner Anthony Jones on the issue.
“It is frustrating, especially at night,” Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services Director Sam Allen said. “You have lettering that has faded, bushes in front of mailboxes.”
The county’s ordinance requires reflective numerals on both sides of a mailbox and letters of four inches or larger posted on the house or mobile home, Allen said.
“I think this is something we need to take time on,” Jones said. “When someone has a heart attack, Sam and his people need to be able to go to the address immediately.
Dougherty County Administrator Michael McCoy was reappointed, according to the Albany Herald.
“I want to thank this board for its confidence in appointing me to another term,” he said. “It seems to me that some commissioners have some issues with me. They want me to run the county the way they want it to run. I answer to the board, not one commissioner.”
McCoy said that during his 24 years working for the county, his predecessor was traditionally retained without a formal vote and that the number of votes during his four years in his current position exceed those taken during Richard Crowdis’ 20 years as county manager.
[Commissioner] Edwards was joined in voting in opposition to McCoy by Commissioners Gloria Gaines and Clinton Johnson. [Outgoing Commission Chair Chris] Cohilas, along with Commissioners Russell Gray, Anthony Jones and Ed Newsome, voted to renew the county manager’s contract.
Houston County is getting in the surveillance business, installing plate readers to fight crime, according to the Macon Telegraph.
Houston County is moving forward with a plan to install license plate-reading cameras across the county to assist law enforcement investigations.
The effort is a collaboration between the Houston County Board of Commissioners, the Houston County District Attorney and Houston County Sheriff’s Office as well as the city governments of Warner Robins, Perry and Centerville and their respective police departments.
At a Tuesday meeting, Houston County commissioners voted to move forward on a four-year agreement with Flock Safety, an Atlanta-based tech company that provides the cameras and service.
Houston County District Attorney William Kendall said the photos will only be used for active law enforcement investigations and humanitarian purposes such as locating missing persons.
“It essentially provides a search query for law enforcement, if they have a partial plate or a plate they’re looking for that was involved in a missing person, abduction or criminal activity, they can go in and search the Flock cameras on our network and the ones that we have been allowed access to from other agencies in different locations, to try to identify either where that vehicle has recently been or if it’s passed by a certain camera where crime has occurred, things like that,” Kendall told the Telegraph.
“They don’t even have a capability to capture speed, let alone are they calibrated or even set in the right direction to monitor whether or not somebody ran the stop sign or stoplight,” Kendall said. “They don’t have that functionality and they can’t be expanded to be able to do that in the future.”
Kendall estimates that between 75-100 cameras will be installed in the county starting next spring. “They’re operated on solar power and they work with a cell phone signal so they don’t require tying into a power source or an internet connection or anything like that,” Kendall said. “So they’re very self-sufficient and cost-effective cameras.” The cameras will operate 24/7 and are capable of capturing 72,000 license plate reads per day.
Floyd County Commissioners will consider an ordinance to implement the results of a voter-approved alcohol sales referendum, according to the Rome News Tribune.
Currently, alcohol sales in the unincorporated area cannot start until 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. However, voters approved a referendum in November to allow alcohol sales starting at 11 a.m., bringing the county into synch with the city of Rome.
Muscogee County has higher STD rates than the rest of the state, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
A report recently released by Piedmont Columbus Regional outlined a number of health concerns in Muscogee County, including a higher than average rate of sexually transmitted diseases locally than across the state.
The numbers are stark: Muscogee County has 255 more cases of Chlamydia per 100,000 people than the Georgia average, along with elevated rates of Gonorrhea and HIV/AIDS.
Why? That’s a difficult question to answer, although a variety of data and studies give researchers a grasp of potential factors.
I mean, that whole story is both a horror show and a cautionary tale.
Habersham County Commission Chair Bruce Palmer will host a Town Hall to discuss
his favorite Nick Offerman sitcom Parks and Recreation, according to AccessWDUN.
Oakwood will hold elections for three City Council seats in November 2023, according to the Gainesville Times.
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell will not run for a fifth term, according to AccessWDUN.
“There comes a point in time in everyone’s life when they just have to make changes and after a lot of prayer and consideration and talking with my wife and family, I think that time has come for me,” Terrell said. “I’m not going to run for re-election in 2024.”
Terrell said he made the announcement to his staff and their families first.
Though he is not sure what he will do when he leaves office at the end of 2024, Terrell said he will be ready for a change as the law enforcement landscape continues to change.
“That’ll be 16 years as sheriff for me and that’s long enough,” Terrell said. “Time to let somebody else step up and lead our county. I’ve always said I believe in term limits and sometimes you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. I just feel that it’s the right thing to do and I just have a great peace about it.”
St. Marys City Council member-elect Danny Riggins died before being sworn in, according to The Brunswick News.
St. Marys City Manager Robert Horton expressed his condolences to Riggins’ family. Horton said Riggins was a lifelong city resident and local business owner.
“He had a lot to offer the city,” Horton said. “Our thoughts and prayers are for Mr. Riggins’ family, friends and coworkers during this time as they mourn their loss.”
Horton said a special election will be held in the spring to replace Riggins.
Shannon Nettles, Camden County’s elections supervisor, said she was unsure if city officials planned to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until a special election is held next spring. City officials said they have no plans to appoint someone to fill the void left by Riggins’ unexpected death.
Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.
Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.
Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.
Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.
The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.
Name: Bo Bo aka Jefferson
Breed: 51 % Golden retriever, 37% American Staffordshire terrier, 9% pit bull, 1% keeshond, and 2% Boxer (according to a similar looking littermate’s DNA test)
Vetting: Up to date on shots, neutered, microchipped, heartworm negative and on prevention
Good with: All dogs, cats, and children — there are several of each in my foster home, and I get along great with them all!
Energy level: High, I am still young after all!
Before FAR/My History: I was originally adopted as a puppy at 8 weeks and was returned through no fault of my own — my family just wasn’t able to take the time needed to help train me to be the best dog I can be.
Training Status/ Commands I Know: Sit, down, Paw. Working on: Come, Off, and Stay
Things I like: I love curling up in your lap or by your feet. I also love to run and catch balls, but I need to be monitored with my toys. I need super hard toys and am able to destroy even very tough toys designed for power chewers.I love fetch, tug of war, and playing in water. I am good at bath time and will just sit in tub once you get me in there.
Things I don’t like: I don’t like being by myself for too long.
Things that make my humans happy: I am good while they are gone.
Ideal family/home: I would love a family who can run with me or play as well as just curl up and watch a movie. I just want to play with everyone!
Special notes: I do get excited when eating and tend to eat very fast, so I need to have a special bowl that helps me to slow down my meal.
Vetting: Neutered, up to date on vaccinations, heartworm negative and on prevention, and microchipped
House trained/Crate Trained: He is crate trained and is in the process of house training
Dogs/Cats/Children: Good with dogs, ok with cats, and would do best with older children as I tend to jump up
Energy Level: Medium-High (I am a puppy after all!)
Working on: Jumping up and house training, but I am getting better every day!
Ideal Family/Home: I would do best in a household that will show me the ropes with house training and obedience training, as I am a young puppy needing guidance. I will return the favor with unconditional love and loyalty! Could you be my furever family?
Vetting: Neutered, up to date on shots, and microchipped. Pocco is heartworm positive — but don’t worry, it’s not contagious and the rescue pays for treatment until negative!
House trained/Crate Trained:Crate Trained and house trained with adapting to schedule
Dogs/Cats/Children: gets along well with other dogs/cats unknown/older children would be fine, he might knock smaller children over… He is small but stout..
Energy Level: He would do great with an energetic family that would exercise him regularly
Before FAR: Pulled from Baldwin County Shelter. He is suspected to be father of Eric Clapton Hits litter
Things I like: Chewing on things so I need to be watched. Love people and other dogs except at meal time, but this is easily managed by feeding me in my crate. I also like spending time outdoors sniffing and exploring.
Things I don’t like: Other dogs near my food – all dogs in foster home are fed in their crates. If Pocco is fed separately from others (or in his crate), he has no issues.
Ideal Family/Home: He is very good-natured but embodies the stubborness of both his breeds and will need owners that will work with him on the rules they want him to follow.
Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.
captured liberated Virginia on December 9, 1775 as militias from Virginia and North Carolina defeated the redcoats at Great Bridge.
On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.
President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863.
First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders.
Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.
John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.
Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.
Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.
The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.
On December 10, 1850, a special convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.
The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.
This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.
On December 9, 1867, a Constitutional Convention to draft a new state document convened in Atlanta. Among the 166 to 169 delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention were 33 or 37 African-American members – accounts vary.
The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.
On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.
A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.
The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
On December 8, 1899, Georgia Governor Allen Candler signed legislation to levy a tax on all dogs older than four months.
Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.
The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Montana Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the United States House of Representatives, cast the sole dissenting vote. Rankin later moved to Athens, Georgia.
On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.
Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.
Gregg Allman was born December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.
The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City on December 8, 1980.
Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.
Governor Brian Kemp signed Executive Orders #12.08.22.01, Renewal of the State of Emergency for Supply Chain Disruptions and #12.08.22.02, Suspending fuel taxes during the State of Emergency for Supply Chain Disruptions. From the Capitol Beat News Service:
The latest suspension will run through Jan. 10, the day after Georgia lawmakers convene under the Gold Dome for the 2023 General Assembly session. After that, Kemp will look to the legislature to help provide tax relief to Georgians in other ways, the governor said during a news conference at the state Capitol.
“We can’t continue to do what we’re doing with gas taxes,” Kemp said. “This was always intended as a short-term answer.”
Kemp, who was reelected to a second term in office last month, repeated a pledge he made on the campaign trail this year to push for an additional $1 billion state income tax rebate on top of the $1.6 billion tax rebate Georgia lawmakers approved this year. He also is asking the legislature for $1 billion in property tax rebates.
Incoming Republican legislative leaders appeared with Kemp Thursday to lend support to his tax cutting proposals.
“Georgians deserve to keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible,” said House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington, the House Republican Caucus’ nominee to succeed the late David Ralston as speaker of the House. “It’s not our money.”
Providing additional tax relief shouldn’t be a heavy lift for the General Assembly. The state is sitting on top of a $6.6 billion budget surplus, which will make deciding what to do with tax dollars a lot easier.
The tax break has cost the state an estimated $1 billion in revenue since it took effect in March, and Kemp suggested during a state Capitol news conference that he won’t extend it further.
Instead, he said his focus will turn to seeking legislative approval of another round of income tax rebates and a property tax break — a pair of campaign promises expected to cost another $1 billion apiece.
After 10 months of tax relief at the gas pump, Kemp said, “we’re going to transition away from that temporary program.” He added: “We can’t continue to pay what we’re doing on the gas tax suspension.”
At his news conference in Atlanta, the governor was flanked by three fellow Republican leaders: incoming Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, House Speaker Jan Jones of Milton and House Majority Leader Jon Burns of Newington, whom GOP lawmakers have nominated to become the new speaker when the legislature convenes in January.
“We stand in strong support and shoulder to shoulder with Gov. Kemp,” said Jones, who temporarily inherited the speaker’s gavel following the death of David Ralston last month.
The governor also hopes to revive a property tax break that was allowed to lapse in 2009 amid a state budget crisis caused by the Great Recession. Kemp has proposed spending another $1 billion to save what he says will be about $500 a year for taxpayers with homestead exemptions.
“I’m calling for a second one-time tax refund of equal size to the first one” Governor Kemp said. The move would give over $1 billion back to local taxpayers.
“I’m also asking that we use an additional billion dollars to fund homeowner tax relief at the local level.” he added.
During his remarks, the governor echoed his long-held public criticisms of the Biden administration, calling on the federal government to address rising costs and inflation.
“We cannot fix everything that Washington has broken, but we are doing our part to deliver relief,” Kemp said.
The 2023 legislative session begins Jan. 9.
United States Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland is asking the State of Georgia to deny a proposed mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, according to The Brunswick News.
U.S. Department of Interior [Secretary] Debra Haaland has written a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp voicing opposition to a proposed mining project near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
“A proposed titanium dioxide mine in the Okefenokee ecosystem and adjacent to the refuge is currently being evaluated by the state of Georgia’s permitting authorities,” she wrote. “I strongly recommend that the state of Georgia not move ahead with approval for this proposed mine in order to ensure that the swamp and refuge are appropriately protected, consistent with all appropriate legal processes.”
It’s the second time in 25 years that an interior secretary has voiced opposition to proposed mining near the Okefenokee. Then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt visited the world-famous swamp a quarter century ago to voice opposition to a proposed mining project by DuPont before the company even applied for a permit.
Haaland’s announcement opposing the mining proposal by Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals comes after a visit to the Okefenokee last week. She toured the refuge with U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who has openly opposed the mining near the swamp.
“The department has a profound interest in protecting the health and integrity of the swamp ecosystem,” Haaland wrote. “Home to the refuge, it is a unique wetland ecosystem unlike any other found in North America and is one of the world’s most hydrologically intact freshwater ecosystems.”
“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has communicated these concerns before and intends to submit further information outlining these serious consequences if the state moves forward with the permitting process,” Haaland said. “We are not alone in this assessment, as some of the preeminent experts on this ecosystem and hydrology at the University of Georgia have also raised the alarm about the threat that this type of mining activity in this area poses to the swamp.”
State legislators representing Hall County spoke at the Hall County Chamber’s Eggs and Issues breakfast, according to AccessWDUN.
Seven Hall County delegation members were included on the panel during the event: District 49 Senator Shelly Echols, District 50 Senator Bo Hatchett, House District 27 Representative Lee Hawkins, House District 28 Representative Brent Cox, House District 29 Representative Matt Dubnik, House District 30 Representative Derrick McCollum and House District 31 Representative Emory Dunahoo, Jr. House District 100 Representative David Clark and House District 103 Representative Soo Hong were not in attendance.
The delegation answered many questions—some that were prepared before the event, and some that were written and submitted by members of the audience. Topics included mental health, teacher pay and education, workforce shortages, marijuana legalization, transportation, tax refunds, healthcare, casinos and gambling and business expansion. Doug Carter, president of Don Carter Realty, mediated the discussion.
Both Echols and Dubnik provided comments on teacher pay concerns. Dubnik began by praising Gov. Brian Kemp’s initiative to increase teacher pay, citing the $5,000 increase as evidence of their success thus far. Echols hopes to continue the trend, stating that more student-teacher programs would help the education system as well.
On the topic of workforce shortages, Hatchett affirmed Georgia as the top state in the nation to do business, emphasizing the need to encourage more young people to consider technical education and trade schools as the backbone of the community. Cox echoed that sentiment, saying that trade apprenticeships should be heavily encouraged.
The entire delegation stood in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Hatchett, Dubnik and Dunahoo explained their position in support of medical marijuana legalization, sharing first-hand stories of the impact the plant has had on suffering patients in the past.
Casinos and gambling are continuously a topic of debate during legislative sessions. Cox detailed the potential positives, giving the example of how some lottery money goes toward scholarships, but still affirmed his resistance. Hatchett agreed with Hawkins on matters pertaining to sports betting. Currently, residents in Georgia can bet on sports through various applications, with the state receiving no money from those transactions. Hatchett said that Georgia gets nothing from the unregulated $4 billion sports betting industry in the state alone. The entire delegation was in stark opposition to casinos.
State Representative Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) will Chair the House Appropriations Committee, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.
Georgia House Speaker Jan Jones appointed former House Majority Whip Matt Hatchett Wednesday to chair the House Appropriations Committee.
“Over his dozen years of service in the House, Chairman Hatchett has earned the trust and respect of our colleagues and brings considerable expertise to this new leadership position,” said Jones, R-Milton.
“The House takes very seriously our stewardship role in working with both the governor and the state Senate to produce a conservative budget that invests wisely for Georgia’s future. I know Chairman Hatchett will ably lead the members of the Appropriations Committee in their important work.”
Hatchett, elected to the House in 2010, has served in numerous leadership roles during his tenure, including as a governor’s floor leader, majority caucus chairman and, most recently, majority caucus whip. He currently serves on the Appropriations Committee’s General Government Subcommittee and has been a member of two other appropriations subcommittees.
Hatchett received a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from Presbyterian College. He currently serves as director of mission enhancement for the Mercer University School of Medicine.
The State Senate Committee on Assignments also received some new members, according to the AJC Political Insider.
State Sens. Brandon Beach and Greg Dolezal were sidelined under Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. But his successor is putting them in positions of power.
Incoming Lt. Gov. Burt Jones tapped both to serve on the influential Committee on Assignments. Other members include Jones, John Kennedy and Steve Gooch.
Beach and Dolezal were demoted by Duncan in 2021 after they endorsed Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. So was Jones, who was stripped of his role as chair of the Insurance and Labor Committee.
State Rep. Jasmine Clark, (D-Lilburn) will sponsor legislation to change Runoff Election procedures, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Clark announced on Wednesday that she will pre-file legislation to extend the window between the general election and runoff from four weeks to six weeks. The biggest impact would be a longer early voting period for a runoff, with counties required to offer at least one Saturday voting day during early voting.
“The bill will address the shortened timeline for the election that led to various issues with voters receiving their absentee ballots in time, extremely long lines and many people not having the option for weekend voting,” Clark said.
Until the 2020 election cycle, the window had been nine weeks, but it was shortened to four weeks as part of election reforms that became law last year.
If the rules outlined in Clark’s legislation had been in place for this year’s runoff, the election would have been held on Dec. 20. Gwinnett County also would have been able to offer 19 days of early voting — the number it traditionally offers before an election — starting the Monday after Thanksgiving.
“Despite record turnout, many voters were unable to participate, and as policymakers, we should strive to make the ballot box accessible to all eligible voters that want to vote,” Clark said.
State Senator Clint Dixon (R-Buford) will sponsor legislation raising the pay of Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
State Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, is working on the bill, and he said the legislation would raise the chairwoman’s salary to the same base salary paid to Gwinnett’s sheriff — which is $143,455. It will be introduced sometime, likely early, during the 2023 legislative session, which begins in January.
He announced it publicly during the county commission’s annual meeting with state legislators at the Gas South Convention Center on Thursday.
Speaking of Runoff Elections, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) improved his share of Gwinnett County votes from the January 2021 Runoff Election to the December 6, 2022 Runoff, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Unofficial results show Warnock received 62.13% of the 265,420 votes cast in Gwinnett for the runoff. Statewide, he defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in the runoff.
By comparison, Warnock received 60.63% of the vote in Gwinnett when he faced then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler in January 2021.
But turnout in Gwinnett for the January 2021 runoff was still higher — 104,374 votes higher, to be exact — than it was for this year’s runoff. In 2021, 369,794 votes were cast in that runoff, which had 12 more days of early voting than Tuesday’s election had.
The Gainesville Times opines about how Herschel Walker won Hall County but lost the state.
Despite falling short in a close runoff race to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, GOP candidate Herschel Walker carried Hall County on Tuesday – taking 72% of the vote to Warnock’s 27%, a slightly higher margin compared to the Nov. 8 election when Walker earned 70% to Warnock’s 26%.
In Hall County, total voter participation in the runoff was down overall, with 47,424 ballots cast for Walker – 4,219 less than the 51,643 votes he received in November. Only 1,423 fewer ballots came in for Warnock on Tuesday, as he earned 17,773 votes in the runoff and 19,196 in the Nov. 8 election.
“Prior to 2021, Republicans usually outperformed (in runoffs), and that was mostly because of a Democratic drop-off,” [University of North Georgia Political Science Professor Glen] Smith said. “Then you saw, in 2021, there was no Democratic drop-off and there was, even slightly, a Republican drop-off … it seemed like there was a little bit of a Republican drop-off (in 2022). The drop-off was less (among Democrats).”
“It seemed like voters rejected the candidate – Walker – more than they did the Republican Party,” Smith said. “I wanted to see if it held up without the third party candidate there … it seems pretty clear, if you look up and down the ballot in Georgia, you had Republicans winning by almost the same margin in every race. But in that one race in the Senate, Walker just couldn’t get over 50%.”
Smith attributed Walker’s inability to match the performance of other Republicans like Gov. Brian Kemp – who was successful in defeating Democratic challenger Stacy Abrams in November – to the candidate’s political alignment with former president Donald Trump.
“If you look at the primaries, some of the ones Trump attacked like Brian Kemp, Brad Raffensperger (won),” Smith said. “… I think it’s fairly clear in the postmortem – I think it’s very comparable to the Pennsylvania race with Dr. (Mehmet) Oz. They both came in with a lot of baggage, not very much experience (and) connected to Trump.”
“I don’t know how much Trump was weighing on voters’ minds,” he added. “But it does seem like the one candidate of all the statewide races that was most closely tied to Trump ended up losing, and that was Walker.”
The AJC notes that nearly 3000 Georgia voters turned in blank ballots.
Election returns indicate that roughly 2,694 voters left their ballots blank. Among them is Beau Stubbs, who said he couldn’t bring himself to choose sides.
“Walker is embarrassing, and Warnock is a liberal Democrat,” said Stubbs. “I hope this gets Republicans’ attention that they can’t put up someone like Walker and expect to win.”
I don’t know how Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan got 2,964 ballots.
Blamestorming over the Herschel Walker loss has started. From the AJC Political Insider:
[H]is aides and allies told us that his wife, Julie Blanchard, also complicated his run by commandeering his schedule and prioritizing interviews with conservative media outlets. She also directed his press team to avoid interviews with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after it published coverage she didn’t like.
We were also told that she was focused on winning a majority of the Black vote even when strategists told her that was unfeasible. And she directed the campaign to falsely claim Walker’s high school football coach wasn’t his coach after he endorsed Warnock.
Blanchard initially didn’t comment on the criticism. But late Thursday, we heard from campaign consultant Timmy Teepell, who said the criticism was “unseemly, dishonest and unethical.”
“Julie is a professional, energetic and unwavering defender of her husband as she should be,” he said, adding: “The cowardly folks engaged in this dishonest whisper campaign should quit politics for the good of this country.”
Meanwhile, Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise tweeted a rejoinder to the attacks.
“We had a great team with a lot of talented people who poured their lives into this race for more than a year,” he wrote.
The AJC profiles Adam Magnus, who is credited for Sen. Warnock’s TV ads, which were excellent.
[T]he ads skewered Walker with more of a wink than a sledgehammer.
The man behind the ads is Adam Magnus, who has worked with dozens of Democratic campaigns over 25 years, mostly in Senate and gubernatorial races.
In a political climate steeped in cynicism, Magnus said his goal with Warnock was different.
“We wanted to make you smile,” he said.
The sweet spot: an ad where Warnock came off as authentic, which reinforced what he had done for the state and still entertained the viewer, at least a little bit, Magnus said.
After he was hired, Magnus spent Martin Luther King weekend holed up in an Atlanta hotel watching every Warnock speech and sermon he could get his hands on so he could accurately capture the pastor’s voice. For the ads to resonate, he needed to harness Warnock’s optimism and warmth, he said.
A trust quickly developed between the two men that has endured five elections.
How else to explain Magnus getting the senator earlier this year to stand waist-deep in peanuts — “That’s nuts,” Warnock exclaims — to showcase his bipartisan work supporting Georgia’s peanut farmers? Or to persuade him to get tackled by an 8-year-old boy in a football-themed spot?
According to Magnus, Warnock never nixed an idea. Instead, he would read what seemed like an outlandish proposal and laugh.
Is this really going to work? Warnock would ask.
We’re going to give it a try, Magnus would reply.
The spots have won praise from both sides.
In a tweet, Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson called them “objectively, some of the best political ads ever run.”
Bobby Kahn, a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia who runs a political media company, said the ads used understated humor effectively, which can be tricky.
“They had an edge to them and and made an important point,” Kahn said.
GOP strategist Brian Robinson called the Warnock commercials “talkers.”
“You could stand in a circle of Republican voters and they would say, under their breath, ‘Those Warnock ads are really, really good,’ ” Robinson said.
The Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) heads to President Biden’s desk for signature, according to the Albany Herald.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed Ossoff’s bipartisan Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act Wednesday to help rural communities experiencing a high level of opioid overdoses respond to the crisis.
Sens. Ossoff and Chuck Grassley’s, R-Iowa, bill passed the Senate last December.
The bipartisan bill will surge federal dollars to provide rural communities with the support they need to combat the epidemic and prevent addiction.
“Like so many Georgians, I’ve lost friends to the opioid epidemic,” Ossoff said. “My bipartisan bill with Sen. Grassley will fund efforts to prevent and treat addiction and save lives. I am bringing Republicans and Democrats together to address the opioid crisis.”
The bipartisan bill will identify current gaps in prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those who interact with the criminal justice system in rural areas and establish new efforts to address the opioid crisis in that community.
Other legislation sponsored by Sen. Ossoff to help veterans also passed, according to WRDW in Augusta.
On Thursday, Sen. Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to help Georgia veterans access their service benefits passed the U.S. House.
Veterans are often required to present their military records to access critical care and benefits they earn through their service.
The bill will help clear the backlog of veterans’ records requests.
“Too many Georgia veterans are having to wait too long to access their service records. It can impact their access to health care and veterans’ benefits,” Ossoff said. “I am bringing Republicans and Democrats together to clear out that backlog so that veterans and the families of veterans are not denied the benefits they’ve earned.”
It sure would have been nice to include the title or bill number in that reporting.
Gwinnett County Commissioners voted to raise the pay of Sheriff Keybo Taylor (D), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The Board of Commissioners approved a $50,000 local salary supplement for Taylor on Tuesday. Although the base salaries for sheriffs are set by the Georgia General Assembly, state law does allow counties to pay a local salary supplement to the sheriff to boost their pay.
Chatham County and its municipalities appear still deadlocked on the proposed revenue split for the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), according to the Savannah Morning News.
In a Tweet, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson stated that Chatham County has, once again, walked away from the cities’ latest offer during a contentious round of Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) negotiations that began in July of this year.
Johnson Tweeted shortly after 1 p.m.: “Chatham County walks away from an offer that would net the County an additional $102 million in additional tax revenue. For #Savannah this is not a ‘plot or a ploy.’ This is real life – involving real dollars & real people. #WeAreAllLOST.”
[T]he mediation ended with still no consensus on how to distribute around $1 billion in tax revenue generated by the 1% tax levy over the next 10 years. If the parties do not reach an agreement by year’s end, the LOST certificate will expire and so will the ability to collect millions in annual funds that are used to offset property taxes for residents and business owners throughout the county.
To bring back the tax levy, a referendum will have to be voted on by residents.
The latest offer from the municipalities presented the county with two options: the county takes 26% of the funding, an immediate 3% increase from their current share, and the cities take 74%. Or, the county starts with its current share (23%) with incremental increases to 31% throughout the 10-year funding cycle.
The county rejected both offers.
“They want us to wait 10 years to get to 31% and that’s not workable,” said Chester A. Ellis, chairman of the Chatham County Commission. “Everybody agrees to the 31. It’s just how you get to the 31% — it needs to be there sooner rather than later.”
Albany and Dougherty County continue negotiating a LOST split, apparently with less drama than in Savannah. From WALB in Albany:
Elected officials of both Albany and Dougherty County met up on Thursday to discuss the future of LOST funding.
LOST stands for Local Option Sales Tax.
The city is asking to increase its share of LOST dollars from 60% to 70%. The funding would last for the next 10 years.
But after many hours of deliberation, neither the county nor the city was able to come to an agreement.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said both the county and the city should have already come to an agreement.
“We really should have. And it’s very frustrating that we have not been able to come to a reasonable agreement. Then their taxes, both on the city side and the county side, are gonna go up a lot. Like a lot. And that’s why folks should be encouraged to watch this process and how it’s going,” Cohilas said.
The city claims raising the funding would help pay for federally mandated projects, like updating the city’s sewer system.
The tax plan expires on Jan. 1. Meaning if an agreement is not met by both, the city and county will lose millions in funding.
Garden City wants to regulate short term vacation rentals (STVRs) like those offered by AirBNB, without having passed an ordinance, according to WTOC in Savannah.
Garden City is attempting to shut down Airbnbs with some big fines.
Some are facing notices of $1,000, but the city might not be able to enforce it.
Councilman Richard Lassiter ended Monday’s Garden City Council meeting questioning how they’re enforcing a code against Airbnbs when one doesn’t exist.
“Just be gung-ho and fine them and there’s no ordinance in place or anything stating an Airbnb is prohibited.” District 4 Councilman Richard Lassiter said.
“There’s no permitted use for an Airbnbs except for the situation that a resident is renting out their place. They’re allowed to do that in a residential area,” said the city’s attorney Jim Gerard said.
He alluded to the fact that there could be an ordinance coming soon.
“One is being drafted. I wasn’t aware that people were being cited right now for that.”
“I received a knock on my door in the morning and Garden City code enforcement was there with a gun and badge in his hand,” Airbnb Owner Heather Moore said.
“The officer said cease immediately…immediately.”
City officials said to them in an email that the fines were “suspended” but they still needed to remove the listing.
It was made clear during the meeting that there are no ordinances against short term vacation rentals, yet residents still have paperwork that says they owe the city.
They went on to say they would be “monitoring” or in other words watching the area for compliance.
Tybee Island City Council member Brian West wants to let the dogs out. Onto the beach. Or at least some of them. From WTOC in Savannah:
Dogs would also only be allowed on the beaches from the 19th Street boardwalk to Inlet Avenue.
The city would have code enforcement and department of public works out on the beach to make sure the area stays clean.
Councilman West says this is all open for discussion and some things could change in the proposal.
“I’m hopeful that we can get some fair and positive discussion about it and not just, there’s no way it can be done, it can’t be done, it’s not possible. It is possible. We just need to figure out how to make it work for people,” West said.
Council will meet to discuss the proposal during their meeting on Thursday. They will not be voting on it.
Former Gainesville Mayor Mark Musselwhite will serve as City Manager for Demorest, according to AccessWDUN.
The city council Thursday night voted to contract with former Gainesville Mayor Mark Musselwhite to serve as interim city manager for the foreseeable future.
The city will pay Musselwhite $2,000 per week with the contract being on a week-to-week basis.
Mayor Jerry Harkness said the city is a city manager/city council form of government, meaning neither the mayor nor a council member can run the city.
Harkness said upon learning of Simonds’ decision on Wednesday that was effective Thursday he immediately began searching for someone who could fill the manager’s role on an interim basis.
FUN AND HAPPY 8 month old Nugget has found himself at the shelter when his family moved and couldn’t take him with them. Not only is Nugget a fan of other dogs but he is used to cats too. But, he is rough with cats. He plays hard. He is housebroken and lets you know when it is time to go outside. Nugget will stay in a crate at night if needed. He is a cuddle bug. He seems to still be teething and will need a sturdy chew toy. Nugget understands: sit, stay, no, come and leave it. He does well on the leash but still pulls a little. He knows how to fetch. Nugget is 46 pounds. He loves to play outside with toys but also needs room to move and run. He will sit for treats and takes them gently. He does occassionally jump and seems to know the off command. Although we do think he will be good with children he is a rather big fella (and still growing) and could accidently knock a small/young child down. Therefore, we recommend a home with older, steady on their feet kids. NO CATS. Up to date on his vaccinations, neutered, microchipped and heartworm negative.
Rain (formerly called Eris) was surrendered to the shelter due to unforeseen health issues with her parent. She is an energetic 2 year old. She is use to people, other dogs and cats. She loves Kongs with treats in them. She is a love bug. Rain is housebroken and notifies you when it is time to go out. She likes to go on walks but will pull on the leash sometimes. She understands sit, down, no, treat/cookie, leave it and quiet. She is crate trained and will stay in the crate when necessary. Make sure she is inside during storms and fireworks as she is afraid of the loud noises.
On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.
On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.
On December 7, 1864, federal troops under W.T. Sherman engaged Confederate forces at Jenks’ Bridge on the Ogeechee, and Buck Creek and Cypress Swamp, near Sister’s Ferry, Georgia Confederates burned the bridge over the Ogeechee.
Today is the 81st anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,
U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”
U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”
U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”
Today at 1 PM, Governor Brian Kemp and his family will light the Capitol Christmas Tree, according to WJBF in Augusta.
Governor Brian Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, Jarrett Porter, Lucy Porter, and Amy Porter will host the ceremony alongside special guests Clark Howard, the Atlanta Boys Choir, and others.
The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. and will be livestreamed online at GPB.org.
Governor Kemp announced he will appoint William “Bill” Ray Oliver to a new judgeship on the Superior Court for the Mountain Judicial Circuit, according to AccessWDUN.
Oliver will fill the vacancy created with the passage of Senate Bill 395 that added a third judge in the circuit that covers Habersham, Rabun and Stephens counties.
Gov. Kemp spoke to legislators at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s Bienial Institute in Athens, GA, and discussed his priorities for the coming session, according to the AJC.
Kemp touted Georgia’s achievements during the last two years in economic development, education, and public safety.
On the economic front, the past year has marked the creation of 51,132 private-sector jobs and more than $21.2 billion in investment, Kemp said during a luncheon speech at the University of Georgia closing out the Biennial Institute, a three-day orientation session for newly elected legislators.
Kemp reiterated a pledge he made on the campaign trail to seek another $1 billion state income tax cut on top of the $1 billion reduction the General Assembly approved this year.
Kemp also said he would push during the 2023 legislative session beginning next month to increase benefits through the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships program to 90% of tuition coverage. HOPE provided full tuition coverage until 2011, when growing demand for scholarships combined with the rising costs of tuition forced the General Assembly to reduce benefits.
In the public safety arena, Kemp said he plans to continue a crackdown on human trafficking and on criminal gangs recruiting children.
Last year, the governor formed a multi-agency Crime Suppression Unit that has made hundreds of arrests, while Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr more recently created a Gang Prosecution Unit that has produced 11 indictments of 46 suspected gang members.
“We cannot rest on our laurels,” Kemp said. “This is an ongoing fight against criminals.”
Democratic United States Senator Raphael Warnock won the runoff election over Republican Herschel Walker. From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times:
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Georgia runoff election Tuesday, ensuring Democrats an outright majority in the Senate for the rest of President Joe Biden’s current term and capping an underwhelming midterm cycle for the GOP in the last major vote of the year.
With Warnock’s second runoff victory in as many years, Democrats will have a 51-49 Senate majority, gaining a seat from the current 50-50 split with John Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania. There will be divided government, however, with Republicans having narrowly flipped House control.
“After a hard-fought campaign — or, should I say, campaigns — it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken,” Warnock, 53, told jubilant supporters who packed a downtown Atlanta hotel ballroom.
In last month’s election, Warnock led Walker by 37,000 votes out of almost 4 million cast, but fell short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff. The senator appeared to be headed for a wider final margin in Tuesday’s runoff, with Walker, a football legend at the University of Georgia and in the NFL, unable to overcome a bevy of damaging allegations, including claims that he paid for two former girlfriends’ abortions despite supporting a national ban on the procedure.
“The numbers look like they’re not going to add up,” Walker, an ally and friend of former President Donald Trump, told supporters late Tuesday at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta. “There’s no excuses in life, and I’m not going to make any excuses now because we put up one heck of a fight.”
Two Lowndes County poll workers were involved in a car wreck while delivering memory cards to the voting office, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
Deb Cox, supervisor of elections, said in an interview with The Valdosta Daily Times that two poll workers were en route Tuesday evening to the Board of Elections from South Lowndes to deliver memory cards with the election results when they were involved in a vehicle accident near Gornto Road and Woodrow Wilson Drive.
The workers reported suffering no injuries and declined to go to the hospital.
An election board member went to the accident site to retrieve the memory cards and check on the workers.
“They seem to be OK to the best of my knowledge right now but we did get the results back. A board member went and picked up the results, brought them back up here for us to upload and then went back to take care of the poll workers,” she said.
Also involved in a car wreck: the entire Republican Party.
According to Billy Wooten, the Chatham County Board of Elections supervisor, three polling locations had scanners that went down. He says that under state law, the protocol in that situation is to place the ballots in an emergency bin – which is on the ballot box – to be counted later.
Voters do have the right to stick around and make sure their ballot is cast once the machine is fixed.
Some folks at a location on Wilmington Island, however, say that they were told otherwise.
“When I questioned whether or not that was the law or if that was true, the polling manager, again, said yes, we didn’t have a choice but to place the ballot in the emergency bin and to keep the line moving and move along,” Andrew Cannon said.
Cannon said he filed a complaint with the Election Authority, and Wooten says the issue was corrected and all votes were counted.
“We’re sorry somehow that information got out or someone said something they weren’t going to say, but that’s a very reliable poll, that Wilmington Island poll,” Wooten said.
The assistant manager at that polling location said around 1:00 p.m. that the machine was back-up and all the ballots from the emergency bin had been cast.
One Precinct manager said turnout was good seeing about 150 people per hour.
Almost 50,000 of the county’s 105,707 registered voters cast a ballot in today’s election. Of that total, 30,744 voted for Warnock and 18,318 for Walker.
Desmond Brown won runoff for Macon Water Authority District 2 over Lindsay Holliday. Brown reclaims a seat he gave up during a failed MWA chairman bid earlier this year.
The final vote tallies for Muscogee County are in. Almost 55,000 of the county’s 120,970 votes cast ballots in today’s election. Of those, 35,462 vote for Raphael Warnock and 19,432 voted for Herschel Walker.
Warnock was leading Walker 51.1% to 48.8% as of 11:50 p.m. Tuesday night, with 98% of precincts reporting. The Warnock victory in the final contest of the 2022 election cycle gave Democrats 51 seats in the Senate to 49 for Republicans.
The lengthy campaign that finally concluded Tuesday night was the most expensive race of the 2022 cycle, with outside groups and the candidates’ campaigns spending more than $401 million in the race, according to campaign-finance tracking group OpenSecrets.
“It is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken,” Warnock said to a jubilant crowd celebrating the victory at a downtown Atlanta hotel.
“The people once again rose up in a multi-racial, multi-religious coalition of conscience,” Warnock said.
“I’m not gonna make any excuses now because we put up one heck of a fight,” Walker told his supporters. “I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and believe in our elected officials.”
“The best thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life is run for this Senate seat right here and the reason I’m gonna say that is I had a chance to meet all you and hear what you guys feel about this country,” Walker added.
Georgians turned out in droves to cast their ballots during the early voting period ahead of Tuesday’s runoff, with more than 1.7 million voting early during the newly shortened period. Total turnout as of Tuesday night was 3.5 million, a record for a midterm runoff in Georgia.
In Bulloch County, Walker received 13, 548 votes to Warnock’s 7,760 with a 47.2% of registered voters casting votes, approaching but not exceeding the Bulloch County turnout at the Nov. 8 general election, which was 52.6% of registered voters.
Many Bulloch precincts had higher Election Day turnout today than on Nov. 8.
Democrats’ Georgia victory solidifies the state’s place as a Deep South battleground two years after Warnock and fellow Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff won 2021 runoffs that gave the party Senate control just months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate in 30 years to win Georgia. Voters returned Warnock to the Senate in the same cycle they reelected Republican Gov. Brian Kemp by a comfortable margin and chose an all-GOP slate of statewide constitutional officers.
Walker’s defeat bookends the GOP’s struggles this year to win with flawed candidates cast from Trump’s mold, a blow to the former president as he builds his third White House bid.
Early and mail voting did not reach the same levels as years past, and it was likely the total number of votes cast would be less than the 2021 Senate runoff election. Voting rights groups point to changes made by state lawmakers after the 2020 election that shortened the period for runoffs, from nine weeks to four, as a major reason for the decline in early and mail voting.
Walker joins failed Senate nominees Dr. Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania, Blake Masters of Arizona, Adam Laxalt of Nevada and Don Bolduc of New Hampshire as Trump loyalists who ultimately lost races that Republicans once thought they would — or at least could — win.
It is still early to know for sure what allowed Warnock to win a full term in the Senate. But there are a few factors that undoubtedly played a role.
1. Not much changed from election night
Georgia voters who overwhelmingly embraced other Republican candidates on election night balked at electing Walker, and nothing much changed in the runoff.
Walker was a historically weak candidate, with a string of scandals — from allegedly paying for multiple abortions to allegations of domestic violence. Gov. Brian Kemp soared to an easy re-election, but thousands of Kemp voters cast ballots for Warnock over Walker.
Warnock focused on these voters during the runoff, featuring them in advertisements. Kemp endorsed and campaigned with Walker, but it was not enough.
2. Turnout remained strong
Total turnout was about 3.4 million voters as of election night, lower than the 3.9 million in the general – and just under half of all registered Georgia voters.
This represented a turnout drop off of about 15%. The 2021 runoff that originally sent Warnock to D.C. alongside Sen. Jon Ossoff had a drop off of 10%. While demographic information will not be available for some time, according to an analysis by Emory University Professor Bernard Fraga, Black voters saw the lowest dropoff in early voting from the general to the runoff.
The recriminations arrived swiftly for the GOP late Tuesday night.
“The only way to explain this is candidate quality,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on CNN, noting the delta between Gov. Brian Kemp’s November victory and where it appears that Walker will end up when all the votes are counted.
He said he hoped Warnock’s victory would serve as a wake-up call for the GOP. “If we don’t take our medicine here, it’s our fault. … Every Republican in this country ought to hold Donald Trump accountable for this.”
Many Republicans attributed the closeness of the race on Tuesday night to the fact that Kemp came to Walker’s rescue in the runoff after keeping his distance during last month’s general election. He not only campaigned for him but put the muscle of his own turnout operation into efforts to help the GOP Senate nominee.
Morale among Walker’s campaign staff hit an all-time low in its final days as it became clear to them their candidate would likely lose his race to Warnock, according to multiple people familiar with his campaign.
Several of Walker’s staff members became frustrated as the runoff election progressed over the last month, sensing their advice for the embattled candidate wasn’t being heeded as outside voices with little political experience were empowered.
Poll workers at Lowndes County precincts told WALB News 10 that voters came in at a pretty steady pace. Some voters and poll workers said they feel early voter turnout was exceptional so election day hasn’t been as hectic as they thought.
“Right around 30 percent is (what we saw Tuesday morning.) We haven’t seen many voters today. It looks like it’s going to mirror the turnout from the election where two-thirds voted advanced and one-third on election day,” Deb Cox, Lowndes County elections supervisor, said. “It’s a good day to get out and make your voice heard. There’s no reason not to.”
Early voting started Monday, Nov. 28 and ended Dec. 2. Some Georgia counties opted for Saturday early voting.
Early voting records were broken as 1.8 million early votes were cast.
“Georgia has struck the perfect balance between accessibility and security,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “These historic turnout levels emphasize that any lawful voter who wants to cast a ballot can do so easily. Turnout and voter participation is excellent. Our elections division will continue working with county election directors to expand early voting opportunities in the future.”
“We were matching the numbers that we did over a longer period of time in a very short period of time,” said Travis Doss, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections.
They won’t know the exact turn-out for Tuesday until later, but they’re optimistic.
“The numbers have been steady,” said Nancy Gay, the executive director of the Columbia County Board of Elections. “I mean they had 350 at some of the precincts by 11 o’clock this morning. I was going into this election looking for at least a 20 percent turnout on election day, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least that.”
“I think we probably will finish out the day somewhere between 40 to 50 percent, probably around the 45 percent mark,” said Doss.
Floyd County’s election results are in and, as expected, Republican Herschel Walker trounced U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock with 70.5% of the vote.
Just under half of Floyd County’s 60,369 registered voters — 46.9% — cast ballots in the runoff. Walker netted 19,950 to Warnock’s 8,340, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office.
Warnock was the favorite in East Rome, 914 to 892, and in South Rome, 442 to 113. Walker handily won the county’s other 23 precincts.
Three Fulton county municipalities elected city council members, according to the AJC.
Josette Bailey appeared to handily defeat challenger Barbara Neville by a nearly 3-to-1 margin for the East Point city council…. Bailey and Neville emerged from a field of five candidates in November general election to fill the council seat vacated by former Councilman Thomas Calloway.
The closest local race of the night was in Roswell, where Sarah Beeson was expected to defeat Allen Sells.
Beeson was leading Sells by 53% to 47%, and would take the council Post 1 seat formerly held by Marcelo Zapata.
Linda Becquer Pritchett seems to be the new council member in the city of South Fulton. Pritchett appeared to defeat Mario Clark by a nearly 2-to-1 margin and will take over the District 7 seat held by Mark Baker.
Richmond County Board of Education District 2 incumbent Charlie Hannah was reelected, according to WRDW in Augusta.
Hannah faced off against Rev. Larry Fryer on Tuesday. Hannah had 2,967, 54%, vs. 2,543, 46%, for Fryer.
Incumbent Venus Cain has represented the District 9 super-district for the past 15 years and now will represent it for another four.
She fought off a challenge by Christopher Mulliens.
With 99% of votes counted, Cain had 18,452 votes, 70%, vs. 7,887, 30%, for Mulliens.
Also keeping his post was District 7 incumbent Charlie Walker, who ran for a second term against newcomer Brittiany Broadwater.
With 99% of votes counted, he had 4,577 votes, 53%, compared to 4,122, 47%, for Broadwater.
The initial [District 2] race that ended on Nov. 8 also included Yiet Knight, owner of Universal Child Care and Learning Center, who did not have enough votes to proceed into the runoff.
Richmond County Board of Elections Director Travis Doss reported that Tuesday’s runoff went “very well.” He reported a turnout of almost 48%, which he said was very impressive for a runoff.
Thank goodness you can now get a lap dance in Augusta, as the City Commission loosened t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶c̶l̶o̶t̶h̶e̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶a̶l̶s̶ rules governing strip clubs, according to WJBF.
“It’s a tough situation it’s a tough topic and were understanding that at the end of the day we have to make decisions for the city of Augusta,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.
Commissioners are making city codes regulating adult nightclubs less restrictive, as a way to help these businesses do better.
“We’ll let the customers that go to them be the judge of whether they want to continue to go to them or not,” says Commissioner John Clarke.
The changes allow dancers the freedom to touch themselves when performing as well as touching customers in public. So, the new rules legalize lap dances in Augusta.
“People want to see that, well, certain people want to see that, and I don’t see any problem in letting people enjoy themselves,” says Commissioner Dennis Williams.
“That’s not the only provision that’s in this ordinance, and I believe you know that as well, at the end of the day we just want to make sure we are a business-friendly city,” said Commissioner Johnson.
Some Gwinnett County residents told Commissioners their thoughts on the proposed 2023 county budget, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Gwinnett County leaders mostly heard positive feedback on the county’s proposed 2023 budget during a public hearing on Monday night, but they also heard calls for additional mental health services and more polling precincts.
The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners will continue to accept written feedback from residents about the proposed budget until Dec. 31. The board will then vote on the final proposed version of the budget on Jan. 3.
“In focusing on our five priority sets, the foundation for critical decisions (in the budget) provides guide points for success,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson told attendees at the public hearing.
Gwinnett County Commissioners approved a one-time cost of living payment to help county employees, according to AccessWDUN.
This approval means that on December 16, eligible full-time employees will receive a $1,500 payment and regular part-time employees will receive a $750 payment.
The county said in a press release that this payment will be used to help support the retention of employees within the county and mitigate the effects of inflation on the county workforce.
Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson said the payments are necessary as the county struggles with retaining first responders, utility workers and hard-to-fill positions across the organization.
“Gwinnett residents deserve sustainable, high-quality county government services and those are made possible by a strong, reliable workforce,” Hendrickson said. “We intend to keep Gwinnett a preferred community where everyone can thrive by being the public sector employer of choice.
Statesboro City Council is considering whether to renew a rent-free lease of office space to their Congressional representative, according to the Statesboro Herald.
“City has traditionally provided office space in City Hall to our Congressional representative,” City Attorney Cain Smith summarized in his memo for the mayor and council. “This lease would continue placement of the office in City Hall through Rep. Allen’s current two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
“I have a question. So, why is it free?” asked District 2 Councilwoman Paulette Chavers.
At first there was some laughter among the city officials.
“Well, no, that’s a reasonable question,” said District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum. “Is he getting free resources across the district?”
“But it’s not for Rick Allen. It’s for the seat,” said District 4 Councilman John Riggs.
“John Barrow actually started that,” noted Mayor Jonathan McCollar.
The Georgia Ports Authority Board approved a plan to renovate the Port of Savannah for greater capacity, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.
“For nearly 40 years, Ocean Terminal has been handling a mix of container ships and breakbulk vessels,” authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said. “The realignment is part of a broader effort to transform the terminal into an all-container operation, shifting most breakbulk cargo to the Port of Brunswick.”
The GPA plans to move breakbulk cargo, which doesn’t easily fit into shipping containers, to Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick. Construction has started on 360,000 square feet of dockside warehousing that will serve auto processing there, as well as three additional buildings and 85 acres of auto storage space on the south side of the island.
The 200-acre Ocean Terminal facility will be modified in two phases.
The work will begin with rebuilding the docks to provide 2,800 linear feet of berth space capable of serving two big ships simultaneously. The docks will be served by new ship-to-shore cranes.
“As the dock construction progresses, GPA will continue to operate container ships at Ocean Terminal,” Ed McCarthy, the ports authority’s chief operating officer, said. “The work … will be conducted alongside container and breakbulk operations.”
Apart from new cranes and berth enhancements, the project will bring expanded gate facilities and paving to allow for 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) of annual cargo capacity. Wharf renovations are scheduled to start in January, with completion of the entire terminal redevelopment expected in 2026.