The blog.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 9, 2017

On February 9, 1825, the United States House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as President of the United States, despite his having received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. Congress voted for the President after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the 1824 election.

The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House.

Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected. Clay and Adams were both members of a loose coalition in Congress that by 1828 became known as the National Republicans, while Jackson’s supporters were later organized into the Democratic Party.

Alexander Stephens was elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861.

On February 9, 1926, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to prohibit teaching evolution in the Atlanta Public Schools.

On February 9, 1964, the Beatles debuted in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

This Friday and Saturday, February 10-11, 2017, the Georgia Archives in Morrow will display Georgia’s recorded copy of the Declaration of Independence and Royal Charter.

On Jan. 18, 1777, the Continental Congress met in Baltimore, Md., and ordered that copies of the Declaration of Independence be printed and sent to each of the 13 states. The states were directed to make the Declaration a part of their official records. Georgia’s copy was officially entered into the records on March 2, 1777.

Today, the Declaration is protected with Georgia’s other “birth documents,” which are the Royal Charter that created the colony in 1733 and Georgia’s 1788 ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the document that made Georgia a state. All are kept in a high-security vault where a constant temperature and humidity are maintained to ensure their long-term survival.

The Georgia Archives has limited public viewing of its copy of the Declaration in order to mitigate the fading, deterioration and other damage caused by frequent exhibits.

The Georgia Archives is at 5800 Jonesboro Road in Morrow. For more information, visit or call 678-364-3710.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Caring4Others is collecting funds for South Georgia Tornado Relief.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles, GBI, Public Safety, partner in fundraising for Georgia tornado victims.

They are joining Atlanta television station Channel 2 WSB-TV, the Georgia Motor Trucking Association, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) and Caring for Others, Inc., to help raise funds for South Georgia residents who survived the historic tornado outbreak last month.

The Convoy of Care will take a load of supplies to South Georgia on Sunday, February 12th. Mt Zion Baptist Church in Albany will be accepting the donations and distributing supplies on site.

Funds being collected through Caring for Others will be disbursed directly to Long Term Recovery Committees being established in the Berrien, Cook, Crisp, Dougherty, Thomas, Turner, Wilcox, and Worth counties in coordination with G.E.M.A.

Click here to visit the website and donate securely online.

Governor Nathan Deal announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved loans for some tornado damage.

Gov. Deal Nathan Deal [on Tuesday] received notice from the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that 11 counties impacted by the severe weather on January 21 and 22 have been approved for individual assistance.

The 11 counties include:

“I am thankful for the attention and assistance Georgia has received from President Trump, FEMA, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, and our state and local partners,” said Deal. “I am also encouraged by the continued efforts of everyone involved as we work together to rebuild these communities during this difficult time.”

For more information on damage assessments, contact Catherine Howden at [email protected].

Georgia State Patrol Sergeant First Class Tony Henry was mourned yesterday at the State Capitol.

“Our hearts are heavy tonight,” the governor tweeted late Tuesday, “but we rejoice knowing he is in a better place.”

“Tony was not only respected by his peers but he was well loved,” said Ralston. “He was one of the finest individuals that I’ve been privileged to be associated with, and we are very, very saddened with his loss.”

“Sgt. Henry was a Trooper’s trooper and a wonderful individual who upheld not only his profession in high esteem but was also a friend and family man,” said state Sen. Tyler Harper. “He represented our state to the utmost for 17 years as a Georgia patrolman and he will be missed by all.”

Rep. Tom Price could be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services this week after the Senate voted to limit debate on his nomination.

Senate rules allow Democrats to delay the final vote for up to 30 hours, a tactic that they’ve utilized for two other Cabinet nominations this week.

If Democrats hold the floor for the full 30 hours, the Senate would take a final vote on Price’s HHS nomination early Friday morning.

On Saturday, I’ll be moderating a debate among the candidate for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Join us starting at 6 PM at the Lumpkin County Park & Recreation Building, 365 Riley Road, Dahlonega, GA 30533. Or you can watch on the internet, courtesy of

Debate Flyer

Under the Gold Dome – Committee Meetings

8:00 AM HOUSE Trans Sub State Highways 515 CLOB



9:00 AM HOUSE Resource Mgmt Sub 606 CLOB



12:00 PM SENATE RULES – Upon Adjournment 450 CAP





1:30 PM House Env’tal Quality Sub of Nat’l Resources 510 CLOB












HB 43 – Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 (Substitute) (APPROP-4th) Ralston-7th

SB 48 – Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing License; hunting licenses that are renewed before expiration; freeze the cost (NR&E-31st)

SB 52 – Mental Health; authorizing licensed professional counselor; sunset provision; repeal (H&HS-9th)


Modified Open Rule

HB 176 – Agriculture, Department of; enter into agreements with the federal government to enforce provisions of certain federal laws; authorize (A&CA-McCall-33rd)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 64 – Protection and Guarantee of Service for Health Insurance Consumers Act; enact (Substitute)(Ins-Blackmon-146th)

HB 75 – Social services; certain records from disclosure; exclude

HB 126 – Courts; Judicial Qualifications Commission; change provisions (Substitute)(Judy-Willard-51st)


Georgians for Lawsuit Reform will seek changes to state law in opposition to some trial lawyers.

Georgians for Lawsuit Reform is headed by Kade Cullefer, an attorney from Columbus who once worked for Sonny Perdue’s legal team. Chaired by the top attorney for SunTrust Banks, the group aims to bring a “fair, equitable and balanced” legal environment.

It will eventually file friend-of-the-court briefs to weigh in on legal disputes and back political allies with financial support. But it is already making its mark early in the legislative session by advocating for proposals long sought by some business boosters.

First up is House Bill 192, a measure sponsored by state Rep. Beth Beskin that would make it harder for plaintiffs to win lawsuits targeting the board members of financial institutions.

The group also has designs on changes to Georgia’s discovery laws and to resurrect parts of the 2005 “tort reform” law that were overturned by the state’s top court.

Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) introduced Senate Bill 88 to regulate opioid addiction treatment programs.

The proposal, introduced last week by state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, would make it more difficult to open new programs. It would also limit the number of clinics in different regions of the state.

As it stands, Talbott said, the bill would help state health officials weed out any unethical medical directors who care more about selling drugs like methadone than their patients’ health. At the same time, the bill does not regulate the industry too strongly, so more clinics can open in Georgia if the owners prove local addicts need the treatment.

Talbott was cautiously optimistic, however. The bill will go before the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on Thursday, and Talbott worries other lawmakers will create extra regulations. He fears they could make opening a new clinic too difficult.

Jonathan Connell, president of the Opioid Treatment Providers of Georgia, echoed Talbott’s sentiment: The bill works if legislators don’t add more restrictions.

The House Appropriations Committee recommended passage of Senate Bill 70 by Sen. Butch Miler (R-Gainesville), which would renew the hospital provider fee through mid-2020.

Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) introduced Senate Bill 134 to encourage savings by Georgia residents.

Shafer, R-Duluth, is the author of Senate Bill 134, also known as the Save, Earn, Win Act. The bill gives banks and credit unions permission to offer a new savings account format where the owner of the account would be entered in a drawing for a financial prize just for having the account.

“Our country is facing a crisis and we have stopped saving,” said Sen. Shafer. “Most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and do not have enough to pay for a $400 emergency. I am proud to introduce the “Save Earn Win Act” which will serve as an incentive for people to save more and to invest in their future.”

A Senate spokesperson said the drawings would give account owners “the thrill of a lottery or raffle” without taking the risk of losing any money in the process. The spokesman added it would also give Georgians an incentive to save money they earn rather than spending it on “immediate thrills.”

Shafer was joined by officials from the Georgia Bankers Association, Community Bankers Association, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, Members First Credit Union, the United Way, Operation Hope and Urban Asset Builders to announce the bill on Tuesday.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony Tuesday on Senate Bill 8.

he Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on a proposal to halt these medical bills, which can come from ER doctors, anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists and others who are not in a patient’s insurance network — even though the hospital where they work is.

“It’s a very complicated issue,’’ said Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who chairs the panel and is a nurse by profession. She is the sponsor of Senate Bill 8.

Health insurers and medical providers can’t agree on a solution, she said.

“It’s like putting cats and dogs in a room,’’ she said. “The one that suffers the most is the consumer.”

Prior to the debate on surprise billing, the committee passed a bill that would allow police and emergency crews to transport a person in a mental health crisis to a physician or a hospital for involuntary treatment without having to arrest that person first.

Casey Snyder, the Gwinnett County fire chief, told the panel that his crews are dispatched about eight times a day for mental health episodes. “These folks don’t need to be arrested,’’ he said. “They need to be in a medical facility.”

The State House Medical Cannabis Working Group, chaired by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) recommended expansion of Georgia’s medical cannabis law.

Georgians who have autism, intractable pain or a handful of other diagnoses would be allowed to posses medical cannabis under a bill moving through the state House.

The state House Medical Cannabis Working Group on Wednesday unanimously endorsed the idea of allowing medical cannabis possession by people with those diagnoses as well as AIDS or HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome or people in hospice.

State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, chairs the working group and wrote House Bill 65, which will be the vehicle for their recommendations.

A separate Senate bill would add only autism to the list of cannabis-eligible diagnoses in Georgia and it also cuts the amount of THC allowed in Georgia medical cannabis.

At a hearing on Senate Bill 16, some senators said they are uncomfortable with the lack of scientific evidence on marijuana’s effect on patients.

Peake said he understands some doctors’ hesitation to endorse medical cannabis due to the lack of studies.

“But the anecdotal real world evidence … is overwhelming,” Peake said.

The Gwinnett County Democratic Party Chair wants more minorities appointed in county government.

Okoye stood before county commissioners on Tuesday and called on them to appoint more minorities to key positions in the majority-minority county’s government, including county administrator, spokesman, clerk and department head jobs.

“The county’s government does not reflect the diversity that is out there in the county,” Okoye told the Daily Post after the meeting.

While Okoye singled out the appointed positions, he also said adding more seats on the commission might help matters by shrinking commission district sizes and providing more positions for minority candidates to run for. He pointed to the Fulton and DeKalb counties, each of which have seven commission seats.

Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said the county is trying to increase diversity at the appointed level. Although there are not many minorities in appointed department head positions, there are some.

“We are certainly interested in adding more diversity at all levels within the county organization, including the senior management level,” Nash said. “I know that this is an objective as hiring decisions are made by staff, even as they focus on hiring the most qualified candidate for each position.



Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 8, 2017


Charlie is a friendly 49-pound mixed breed male dog who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control in Winder, GA.


Number 2017-02-o10 is a fun-looking little 2-3 year old 11-pound female scruffy dog who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control in Winder, GA.

Misty Winder

Misty is a 3-year old female mixed breed and Winder is her little 4-week old puppy who are available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control in Winder, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 8, 2017

On February 8, 1751, the first session of the Georgia Provincial Parliament adjourned, having convened on January 15, 1751.

On February 8, 1955, Gov. Marvin Griffin signed a resolution by the General Assembly calling on Congress to require racial segregation in the military.

On February 8, 1956, the Georgia State House adopted a resolution purporting to hold the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education null and void.

On February 8, 1981, R.E.M. held their first recording session at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, recording “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” as well as others.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced the appointment of Paige Reese Whitaker as Superior Court Judge for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.

Gov. Deal also unveiled the latest video in the “Real Teachers, Real Voices” campaign.

This initiative, which highlights exceptional educators around the state, stems from feedback from Deal’s Teacher Advisory Committee. “Why I Teach” features Eric Crouch, an educator at Double Churches Elementary in Columbus and the 2016 Georgia Milken Educator.

“School is such an amazing place. It is a place where children from all different walks of life come together to try and find common solutions to the challenges we will face tomorrow … teaching is very rewarding and fulfilling.

“It wasn’t until later in my life that I found my purpose. When I got to college I had a professor who showed me the true art and beauty of teaching, and it was then that I knew what teaching could be for me. It was there that I found my hope and my inspiration, and I wanted to give that same hope and inspiration to my students. That is why I became a teacher.”

The Ledger-Enquirer has more on the teacher featured in the video.

In November, Crouch was honored as the only Georgian among the 35 U.S. educators to receive a 2016 Milken Educator Award. The awards are nicknamed the “Oscars of Teaching.”

Crouch, who serves on Gov. Nathan Deal’s Teacher Advisory Committee, was among the 10 semifinalists for the Muscogee County School District’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Award.

In January 2015, Crouch was among the five teachers featured on North America’s largest billboard, displayed in New York City’s Times Square, in the advertisement for, a website that helps teachers raise money for educational projects. Crouch’s fundraising enabled his classroom to receive items totaling at least $20,000, such as 20 iPads, 20 iPods, a 3D printer and hundreds of books.

Committee Meetings for Legislative Day 14

8:00 AM House Energy Sub of Energy, Util, and Telecom 515 CLOB


9:00 AM House RULES 341 CAP


12:00 PM SENATE RULES – Upon Adj’t 450 CAP



1:00 PM House Fleming Sub House Jud’y (Civil) 403 CAP


1:00 PM House Ways & Means Sub Public Finance & Prop 133 CAP








2:30 PM House Ways & Means Income Tax Sub 133 CAP








4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y Group B Sub 307 CLOB


SB 69 – Packaging, Labeling and Registration of Organic Products and Certifying Entities; registration requirement; eliminate (AG&CA-50th)

SB 78 – Adulteration and Misbranding of Food; Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a variance to certain rules and regulations; authorize (AG&CA-24th)


Modified Open Rule
HB 39 –Real estate professionals; disciplinary actions and sanctions; change certain provisions (RegI-Powell-32nd)
HB 74 – Insurance; life risk-based capital trend test to comply with accreditation standards; change (Ins-Taylor-173rd)
HB 92 – Insurance; automobile or motorcycle policies; expand definition of policy (Ins-Carson-46th)
HB 127 – Insurance; nonprofit medical and hospital service corporations; revise provisions (Ins-Smith-134th)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 76 – Superior courts; change certain requirements and certifications for certain maps, plats, and plans for filing with clerk; provisions (Judy-Jasperse-11th)

Autism would be included among conditions eligible for medical cannabis under legislation passed out of the Senate HHS Committee yesterday.

Senate Bill 16 is the first of several bills dealing with the law’s expansion to move this year, although medical marijuana advocates oppose the bill because it would also roll back the maximum THC level in the cannabis oil now allowed here.

THC is the component in the drug that makes people high. The law allows the possession of cannabis oil with up to 5 percent THC. The legislation would reduce that maximum to 3 percent. Parents of children who take oil with the higher percentage have testified that it has helped alleviate debilitating conditions and should not be lowered.

House Bill 65, is expected to be moved forward Wednesday by the newly formed House Medical Cannabis Working Group, which is led by the law’s architect, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

HB 65 would expand the list of illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include Alzheimer’s disease, autism, HIV/AIDS, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.

The State House Appropriations Health subcommittee recommended passage of Senate Bill 70, which would extend the hospital provider fee that brings more than $600 million in federal funding annually through 2020.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other top Republicans have called the extension a priority for the session.

Changes to federal healthcare laws may cause further problems for rural hospitals.

Rural areas could be deeply affected by changes that President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are considering to the Affordable Care Act, said speakers at the National Rural Health Association’s annual conference on Tuesday.

For instance, more people in rural areas got coverage by the Obama administration’s expansion of Medicaid than in cities, said Bruce Bowden, a National Association of Counties health care lobbyist.

Also raising concern among rural health care providers is House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to cut costs by expanding Medicare Advantage.

That program, which funnels Medicare funds to private insurers, does not pay hospitals as much as traditional Medicare, said Jason Barb, partner of BKD, an accounting and consulting firm that works with rural hospitals.

Eighty rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and another 673 are considered vulnerable, according to the Rural Health Association.

Republicans in Congress said at the conference that repealing the Affordable Care Act is a chance to fix the problems.

“Increasing choice and competition is the key to lowering cost and increasing access to care,” said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Firefighters with cancer may be getting a boost under legislation that passed the State House.

A renewed effort to change that is gaining traction under the Gold Dome. A measure that would require local governments to provide insurance benefits to firefighters with certain cancers easily cleared the House on Tuesday.

It must still, however, be approved by the Senate and Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed a different version of the proposal last year.

The new proposal offers aid through insurance, although the sponsor, Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, has also revamped last year’s failed proposal.

Attorney General Chris Carr is filling his campaign coffers with the help of Georgia power brokers in advance of a 2018 election after his appointment to the position.

Attorney General Chris Carr raised nearly $250,000 in the two months since he was appointed the state’s top attorney with the help of corporate powers, establishment Republicans and at least one potential adversary.

One of the first donations he received was a $1,000 check from Sen. Johnny Isakson, his mentor and former boss.

Georgia Power and its executives pumped nearly $10,000 into his campaign, and the Alston & Bird law firm, the Altria tobacco and food giant and several leaders of the Georgia Wholesale Co. beer distributor each maxed out with $6,600 campaign contributions.

So did former state Rep. BJ Pak, an ex-federal prosecutor who was considering a campaign for Attorney General before Carr’s appointment. He shifted $6,600 from a legislative campaign account to Carr, and several attorneys in his law firm ponied up as well.

Atlanta Mayoral candidates not named Vincent Fort posted stout fundraising totals for the election later this year.

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell’s campaign said he raised $1.26 million in his quest to replace Reed while former Atlanta COO Peter Aman said early Wednesday that he has raised $1.039 million since announcing his candidacy in early 2016.

Cathy Woolard, a former Atlanta City Council President, reported raising nearly $600,000 during the filing period that ended Jan. 31. while City Councilwoman Mary Norwood reported raising $400,000 in the first 100 days of her campaign from more than 1,000 donors.

State Sen. Vincent Fort released his fund-raising numbers on Tuesday, raising a reported $250,000, aided greatly by the backing of his candidacy by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Josh McKoon’s Senate seat is drawing some interest from potential 2018 candidates.

Qualifying, set for March 5-9, 2018, is still more than a year away. The primary is scheduled for May 22, 2018, and the General Election is in November 2018.

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley, LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, state Rep. John Pezold, Columbus attorney Mark Post, Columbus attorney Ted Morgan and former congressional aide Theresa Garcia Robertson were the names most mentioned. All of them are Republicans.

Thornton, a first-term LaGrange mayor and local attorney, is up for re-election in November.

“This wasn’t on my radar,” Thornton said Monday of the Senate race. “But now I am thinking about it. I would call this an unexpected wrinkle.”

In the May 2016 Republican primary, the vote totals showed that Troup County holds a lot of influence in the four-county district that includes southern Troup, northern Muscogee, Harris and Meriwether counties.

McKoon was unopposed in the primary, but 10,429 votes were still cast for the incumbent state senator. Of that total, 3,624 came from Troup County, 3,241 from Muscogee, 2,371 from Harris and 1,193 from Meriwether.

“I have no plans to run for Senate District 29,” said Pezold, a north Columbus McDonald’s franchise owner who currently represents a House District that sits in the heart of the soon-to-be vacant Senate district.

The AJC looks at the large number of candidates to be elected Mayor and City Council in the new City of Stonecrest.

Gainesville City Council renamed Touchdown Drive to Deshaun Watson Way.

Tybee Island City Council continues to debate a partial alcohol ban.

The City Council on Thursday is set to hold the second and final reading of an ordinance that would prohibit residents and visitors from drinking beer, wine and liquor on the island’s beaches and beach side parking lots from March until the first Saturday in May. The council narrowly approved the ordinance at its first reading last month, with the six members split down the middle and Mayor Jason Buelterman casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the alcohol restrictions.

If it comes down to it again this week, the mayor indicated Tuesday he’s still willing to break the tie in favor of the ordinance. After discussing the impact similar measures have had with officials in the resort communities of Panama City Beach, Fla., and Gulf Shores, Ala., Buelterman said he thinks it would improve safety on the island during spring break and the unsanctioned beach party known as Orange Crush.

Macon-Bibb County will not change garbage billing to annual billing on property tax bills.

Former Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph plead guilty to filing false campaign reports.

Ralph, who served on the Board of Commissioners from 2004-12, received 24 months of probation and 100 hours of community service under the First Offender Act.

“As elected officials, we have a duty to be stewards of the Rule of Law and ensure our offices operate with the utmost transparency,” [Attorney General Chris] Carr said. “Mr. Ralph knowingly violated the Ethics in Government Act, and for that, he must face the consequences.”

Ralph is accused of filing numerous false reports between 2011 and 2012. Over that time, Ralph received approximately $142,000 in campaign contributions; however, he is charged with only reported contributions of approximately $37,000.

South Georgia Conservatives will rally to  Make America Great Again on February 25th from 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM at the Fairgrounds in Waycross ,GA.

Dalton City Board of Education members say that closed-door sessions were protected by an exemption from the state’s Open Meetings law.

Dalton City Council members need more information before deciding whether to support passage of the March 21 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST).

“A lot of my constituents tell me they are sort of on the fence,” said council member Denise Wood. “They don’t want to see their property taxes go up, and they think the sales tax is a fairer way to fund these things. But it’s still going to be coming out of someone’s pocket.”


Adoptable “Official” Georgia Dogs for February 7, 2017

Archie and the gang are ready to find their forever families! These beautiful babies lost their mommy when they were only three weeks old. They had to be bottle fed, and required a ton of TLC to blossom in to the hefty, healthy pups they are now.

Supposedly the mom was a Hound/Heeler mix, which means the pups will likely be on the large end of medium size (50ish lbs?) when they are full grown. These little characters have been well socialized with humans and other dogs, so they are off to a great start. Get more info and/or apply to adopt at


Archie is a young male Hound and Heeler mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Society of Humane Friends of GA Inc. in Lawrenceville, GA.


Betty is a young female Hound and Heeler mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Society of Humane Friends of GA Inc. in Lawrenceville, GA.


Moose is a young male Hound and Heeler mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Society of Humane Friends of GA Inc. in Lawrenceville, GA.

Veronica is a young female Hound and Heeler mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Society of Humane Friends of GA Inc. in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 7, 2017

On February 7, 1733, the first Georgia colonists had been here a week and they finished building a hand-operated crane to move heavy supplies and livestock from their boats to the top of the forty-foot high bluff where they were building a settlement.

In December 2016, the Port of Savannah moved 292,172 twenty-foot equivalent units of freight.

The newest cranes at the Port of Savannah, delivered in December 2016, are 295 feet high and each weighs 1,388 tons and measures 433 feet wide.

On February 7, 1990, the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union agreed to a proposal by Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev that is should give up its political monopoly.

The response from the United States was surprise and cautious optimism. One State Department official commented that, “The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It’s mind-boggling.” Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger indicated that he was “personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot.” President George Bush was more circumspect, merely congratulating President Gorbachev for his “restraint and finesse.”

Ironically, the fact that the Communist Party was willing to accept political challenges to its authority indicated how desperately it was trying to maintain its weakening power over the country. The measures were little help, however–President Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1991.

Men who are married or in a relationship: this is your seven day warning to make plans for Valentine’s Day before it is too late. You are welcome.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gainesville lawyer and former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell was sworn in as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State.

Bell will be working in public affairs, making sure foreign policy that is led by President Donald Trump and executed by Secretary Rex Tillerson is clear and accurate to citizens, Bell said. He will work with maybe two or three other Special Assistants specifically in public affairs. Bell is also back on as a government employee Monday for the first time since he was on Hall County Commission.

“I haven’t actually been in government since I was on the Hall County Commission, but I can say that I learned a lot of lessons there – how to make government work, understanding that government closest to the people is the most important and we’re going to make sure that what ever we do is clearly and effectively communicated to the people on the ground, who actually have to carry out the policy,” said Bell. “That’s a valuable lesson I learned in Gainesville and I look forward to expounding on that knowledge here in Washington D.C.”

Bell was appointed by President Trump for the position. ““It’s an incredible opportunity to be appointed by a president in any role but this one in particular is something I’m very excited about,” Bell told AccessWDUN. “Being able to work closely with the new administration to continue to build out the state department with the people who are going to make sure that foreign policy is communicated effectively around the world with clarity and I’m excited about being a part of that team.”

Legislative Committee Meetings


8:00 AM Reeves Sub House Jud’y Non-Civil 403 CAP




12:00 PM SENATE RULES – Upon adjournment 450 CAP



1:00 PM HOUSE Ways & Means Ad Valorem Sub 133 CAP






2:00 PM HOUSE Ways & Means Sales Tax Sub 133 CAP

2:30 PM Kelly Sub of House Jud’y (Civil) Comm 132 CAP




3:00 PM Setzler Sub of House Jud’y Non-Civil 506 CLOB


4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y Group A Sub 307 CLOB


SB 4 – “Enhancing Mental Health Treatment in Georgia Act”; Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force; establish (Substitute) (H&HS-Unterman, 45th)

SB 14 – State Income Taxes; rural hospitals income tax credit; clarify the amount of an exemption for certain entities under the contributions (Substitute) (FIN-Burke, 11th)


Modified Open Rule
HB 14 – Courts; sheriff to collect and deposit certain fees; provide (Judy-Jones-167th)
HB 88 – Superior courts; qualifications for judges; revise (Substitute) (Judy-Fleming-121st)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 146 – Fire departments; purchase and maintain certain insurance coverage for firefighters; require (Substitute)(Ins-Gravley-67th)(AM 25 1388)

The state “little” budget and hospital provider fee bills are both on track for likely passage this week, according to Dave Williams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s $24.3 billion mid-year budget request will go before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, having already cleared the House of Representatives. The House made few changes to the governor’s recommendations, and the Senate is likely to follow suit.

The mid-year budget, which covers state spending through June 30, represents a 2.5 percent increase over the fiscal 2017 budget the legislature adopted last spring, or $606.2 million.

While the Senate deals with the mid-year budget, the House likely will act on legislation renewing the “bed” tax on Georgia hospitals for another three years. The General Assembly first levied the tax in 2010 to shore up the Medicaid program, then renewed it three years later.

The tax would raise $311 million a year in state revenue, which would be used to draw down another $600 million in federal funds.

After a day off on Monday, the legislature will pick up with Day 13 of the 40-day session on Tuesday.

Surprise Medical Billing will take center stage today in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting at 2 PM. From the AJC:Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 6, 2017

Peanut Bainbridge

Peanut is an adult female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Bainbridge – Decatur County Humane Society in Bainbridge, GA.

Peanut is about 35-40 lbs and 5 years old and deserves way better.

Bear and Teddy

Bear and Teddy are adult male Hound mixes who is available for adoption from Bainbridge – Decatur County Humane Society in Bainbridge, GA.

Bear And Teddy are 2 VERY handsome brothers that were turned in when their owner no longer could care for them. They are shy and have not had much socializing. With a little love these boys should be ready to go to their new homes soon. Teddy has more white fur. Both are sweet and about a year old at the Bainbridge, Ga shelter.

C pups

The “C Pups” are three female Hound mix puppies who are available for adoption from Bainbridge – Decatur County Humane Society in Bainbridge, GA.

This adorable trio was brought in by animal control. Charis is the wht/blk female. Charles is the blk/wht male. Carlie is the brown/wht female. All three would love great homes to call their own! ADORABLE and 8 weeks old as of 1/31/17 at the Bainbridge, Ga shelter. ID#30030. 1-229-246-0101.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 6, 2017

Georgia and American History

The House of Assembly, Georgia’s legislative body, held its second meeting after statehood on February 6, 1788 in Savannah.

On February 6, 1952, Governor Herman Talmadge signed resolutions of the General Assembly that included:

A resolution calling on Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and instead allow a maximum rate of 25 percent on any federal income, transfer, gift, or inheritance tax.

A resolution urging U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell to run for the presidency.

On February 6, 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of  the Georgia General Assembly, asking their support for House Resolution 1185, which introduced the idea of “interposition,” in which the State of Georgia would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 and 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decisions “null and void” in Georgia. That day Griffin also signed a raft of legislation for his “massive resistance” agenda against integration of state schools.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. In 1980, Reagan would be elected President of the United States, beating incumbent Jimmy Carter. When he was born, his father said, “he looks like a fat little Dutchman.  But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.”

On February 6, 1985, Reagan gave the State of the Union. During the speech he announced what would be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

Reagan began his foreign policy comments with the dramatic pronouncement that, “Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God’s children.” America’s “mission” was to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.” More specifically, Reagan declared that, “We must stand by our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He concluded, “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

With these words, the Reagan administration laid the foundation for its program of military assistance to “freedom fighters.”

Throwback Thursday comes early this week, thanks to Florida Deputies, who arrested a Georgia man for running moonshine.

Alachua County deputies said they arrested a man who was heading south with a load of moonshine in the trunk of his car.

Deputies said Joe Edwards III, Georgia, was headed south on Interstate 75 when the Domestic Highway Enforcement Task Force investigators pulled him over.

Upon searching Edwards’ Kia, they found 24 gallons of moonshine called ‘white lightning’ in the trunk, hidden in water bottle boxes.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Legislative Committee Meetings


1:30 PM HOUSE Ways &a Means Sub Tax Reform 133 CAP


State Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) aims to do for the music industry what Georgia did for the film industry.

“As a huge music fan, I want to see the music industry in the state of Georgia thrive the way that the film industry has,” said state Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, author of House Bill 155, a bill that proposes tax credits for some music industry spending in Georgia.

Carter’s bill aims to boost the number of records, tours and, ultimately, jobs that come from the music industry in Georgia. The bill offers tax credits of up to 25 percent of qualified spending in the state. The bill has the support of state House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

State Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) and State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta)  have each introduced legislation to increase the cap on tax credits for donors to private school scholarships.

“The program’s $58 million cap has been exceeded on the first day of applications for the past three years, and this year it was more than double. To the parents who have contributed to this program: we have heard you loud and clear. You absolutely want more school choice for Georgia’s kids,” said state Rep. John Carson in a written statement about his House Bill 217. His bill would raise the tax credit in steps to reach $180 million in 2022.

State Rep. Sam Teasley, in his similar House Bill 236, would raise the cap to $150 million and subsequently build in automatic increases.

But the program they are trying to expand is the subject of a lawsuit. Lawyers for a group of taxpayers told the state Supreme Court in January that the tax credits are unconstitutional because they’re essentially tax money being spent on religious institutions, in this case religious private schools.

The opioid addiction and overdose crisis is addressed in at least three pieces of legislation this year.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, is sponsoring a bill that expands the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which aims to prevent doctor hopping and weed out physicians who are overprescribing. The bill also makes permanent an emergency order issued by Gov. Nathan Deal last year that legalized over-the-counter sale of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Two other bills address the rising rate of fentanyl abuse.

The synthetic opioid is relatively easy to manufacture and can have various chemical structures. Lawmakers want to add new language to existing laws to help law enforcement and prosecutors keep up with the various versions of fentanyl.

Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, introduced a bill that would regulate the 70 methadone clinics already operating in the state. According to federal records, Georgia has more of these clinics than any other state in the south including neighboring Florida, which has twice the population.

State Senator Renee Unterman introduced Senate Bill 118, which would change the age limit from six years of age to 21 for patients receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorder under insurance plans.

Senate Bill 118 will be introduced next week but still faces an uphill battle at the Capitol, where insurance and business advocates have long opposed expanding mandates they say can be costly. Unterman, however, said she is ready to battle, noting that Gov. Nathan Deal over the past few years has also backed broader coverage.

The Senate push comes two years after the chamber won a compromise with passage of the state’s original mandate requiring private insurers to cover autism services for children up to the age of 6. Advocates are scheduled later this month to hold their annual “Autism Day” to lobby at the state Capitol.

Proposals to increase access to dental care by broadening the scope of practice for dental hygienists is moving forward in both legislative chambers.

Dentists are scarce here, as they are all over rural Georgia, and current state law says hygienists can only practice with a dentist in the same building.

[Turner County dentist Michael] Dent said freeing up hygienists to clean teeth without direct supervision would help solve that problem.

This year, state lawmakers are considering two measures to make that possible. One bill is sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

“It’s so simple, and it sounds so logical that you would not have to have a dentist in a brick and mortar building to be able to deliver care to people who desperately need care,” Unterman said when introducing the legislation in December.

This year, the Georgia Dental Association supports [HB 154 by State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta)] that would free up hygienists.

It would block private practice, but it’s a bit more specific when it comes to safety and privacy requirements. Capaldo said he’s hopeful the measure will pass.

Georgia Democrats seek to tap angst over the Trump Administration for political purposes.

State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, started a “Georgia Resists” website through her caucus devoted to challenging Trump at every turn. It has attracted more than 2,800 subscribers and 260 volunteers since launching hours before the president was sworn in.

At meetings across the state, Abrams has promoted what she calls “relentless incrementalism.”

“We have to know that every year is an election year, and we are always campaigning,” Abrams said. “There are 160 municipal elections this year, and they are a chance to stand up and show who we are. That’s how Republicans took this state. They started with city council races, with soil and water conservation posts most of you skipped.”

The size and scope of the movement has stunned even longtime Democratic activists who have seen the ebb and flow of movements such as the Moral Monday protests. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, who has been in elected office for 25 years, has “never in my long political career seen this kind of energy.”

“People keep saying that Trump is a new form of president,” said Oliver, whose inbox is full of messages from voters who want to get involved. “Well, people are responding in a new form now, too.”

Georgia’s WIN List, a pro-Democratic political action committee geared toward electing more women in public office, has seen a more than 50 percent increase in the number of attendees at the “house parties” it holds after each election.

New Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins sat for an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

Baldwin County deputy coroner Ken Garland made his Super Bowl debut in an ad for Synovus.

Grantville municipal elections are moving from even-years to odd-years after state legislation consolidate local election dates.

The Moultrie-Colquitt Public Library is seeking state funds for a renovation.

The Moultrie-Colquitt County Public Library is No. 2 on a list of recommended projects the Georgia Public Library Service sends to state legislators, according to library Director Holly Phillips. The legislators will now decide which projects on that list will get funded as part of the state budget.

“Our representatives have been really supportive and really excited about this project,” Phillips said. “Even some people who don’t represent us are talking it up.”

In addition to Reps. Sam Watson of Moultrie and Jay Powell of Camilla, who each represent part of Colquitt County, Phillips praised Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville, who represented part of the county until the redistricting following the 2010 census.

The Friends of the Library has begun an advocacy project, urging local residents to contact influential legislators on the House Higher Education Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee, the two panels with the most impact on which projects get funded. Powell and Houston both serve on the Appropriations Committee — as does Rep. Ed Rynders of Albany, who also represented a portion of the county prior to the most recent redistricting.

Angie Patteson, president of the Friends of the Library, said she’s asking everyone she’s contacted about the issue to reach out to legislators by Feb. 8. First, no one can say when the decision will be made, so a quick deadline helps ensure people don’t wait too late; and second, having several calls and emails within a short time period will make an impact on the legislators, she said.

Richmond County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Greg Meagher died on the job after being exposed to liquid nitrogen.

The Gainesville Times writes that cash remittances to Mexico are declining.

Carrillo’s 2 at 503 Atlanta Highway also runs a money transfer service where many of her customers come to pay their utility bills, buy money orders and wire money back to their loved ones in Mexico.

In 2016, a record $27 billion was sent home to Mexico by migrants living abroad, according to a recent Central Bank report. The Bank said almost all the money was sent to Mexico by electronic transfers, and the remittances surpass the $15.6 billion Mexico earns from oil exports and $17.5 billion in tourism income.

Carrillo said she’s also noticed a slowdown in money transfers, and the transfers being made are for lesser amounts than what she’s accustomed to seeing.

Vanesa Zabala, a cashier at Mexico Transfers, a money wiring service at Westside Plaza, 425 Atlanta Highway, said foot traffic at the business has slowed down to a trickle.

“It started slowing down after Trump was elected,” Zabala said. “Now we’re seeing 10 to 15 customers a day when we used to see triple that amount.”

Gainesville city officials held a retreat to plan their priorities for 2017.

Dale Holland was appointed by the Democratic Party to serve on the Dawson County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

The Hall-Dawson CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program is opening its training program to train volunteers to represent minors.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 3, 2017

Max the Golden Retriever puppy, a Canine Assistant in training, picked the Falcons to win the Super Bowl.

The future Canine Assistant sat on the 50-yard line in front of two helmets: one for the Packers and another for the Falcons. Max quickly made up his mind and ran toward the Falcons helmet.

While there may have been a few treats placed near the Atlanta helmet, we still know Max is truly a Falcons fan at heart!

Baby Falcon

Falcon is a male German Shepherd Dog mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Society of Humane Friends of GA Inc. in Lawrenceville, GA.

He is about 10 weeks old and appears to be part German Shepherd and part who-knows-what.He is already about 25 lbs, so he’s going to be a very large dog when full grown. Right now he is still the perfect size to sit in your lap and watch the Super Bowl.!Falcon is looking for a home where his person or family has the time, patience and energy that all pups need to help him grow up to be a great dog. If you’d like to adopt him, please apply at Thank you!

Matthew Okefenokee

Matthew is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.

Ryan Rescue Me

Ryan is a young male Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Rescue Me Ga Inc in Dunwoody, GA.

Ryan is a spunky little shepherd mix who was rescued wandering around on his own. He was born in mid-December 2016, and will be available for adoption the first week in February. Isn’t he a cutie??

Matty Ice

Matty Ice is a young male Corgi & Shepherd Mix who is available for adoption from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, Inc. in Alpharetta, GA.

“I’m a 2 year old lowrider weighing in at 40lbs. Before the Angels rescued me, someone hurt me pretty bad and my right eye had to be removed. Now I’m healing nicely and am living life large at my foster home. Just arrived here so I’m a little reserved until I get to know these folks. I hear other dogs but haven’t been allowed to meet them yet until I’m fully healed. I’ll get back to you on how I feel about living with other dogs, cats and kids. Can anyone help me learn more about Matt Ryan? Guess I was named after him and since a name is kinda important, I’d like to know more about this guy. Hope he is like me with strength and ice in his veins but a kind heart!”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 3, 2017

On February 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.

On February 3, 1887, Congress adopted the Electoral Count Act to clarify how Congress was to count electoral votes.

Electoral vote counting is the oldest activity of the national government and among the oldest questions of constitutional law. It was Congress’s first task when a quorum appeared in the nation’s new legislature on April 6, 1789. It has happened every four years since then. Yet, electoral vote counting remains one of the least understood aspects of our constitutional order.

The Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA) lies at the heart of this confusion. In enacting the ECA, Congress drew on lessons learned from its twenty-five previous electoral counts; it sorted through innumerable proposals floated before and after the disastrous presidential election of 1876; and it thrashed out the ECA’s specific provisions over fourteen years of sustained debate. Still, the law invites misinterpretation. The ECA is turgid and repetitious. Its central provisions seem contradictory. Many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long. Proponents of the law admitted it was “not perfect.” Contemporary commentators were less charitable. John Burgess, a leading political scientist in the late nineteenth century, pronounced the law unwise, incomplete, premised on contradictory principles, and expressed in language that was “very confused, almost unintelligible.” At least he thought the law was constitutional; others did not.

Over the nearly 120 years since the ECA’s adoption, the criticisms faded, only to be renewed whenever there was a close presidential election. Our ability to misunderstand the ECA has grown over time. During the 2000 presidential election dispute, politicians, lawyers, commentators, and Supreme Court justices seemed prone to misstate or misinterpret the provisions of the law, even those provisions which were clear to the generation that wrote them. The Supreme Court, for example, mistakenly believed that the Supreme Court of Florida’s erroneous construction of its election code would deny Florida’s electors the ECA’s “safe harbor” protection; Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s hasty submission of his state’s Certificate of Ascertainment was untimely under the Act; and Democratic members of Congress framed their objections to accepting Florida’s electoral vote on the wrong grounds. Even Al Gore, the presidential candidate contesting the election’s outcome, misread the federal deadline for seating Florida’s electors.

Only the United States Congress could so obfuscate a matter as seemingly simple as counting that its Act remained undecipherable for more than one hundred years.

The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Delaware on February 3, 1913, giving the Amendment the requisite Constitutional supermajority of three-fourths of the states. The text of the Amendment reads, in its entirety,

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

President Woodrow Wilson died on February 3, 1924 in Washington, DC. Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia (pronounced Stan-ton) and spent most of his youth to age 14 in Augusta, Georgia. Wilson started practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia in 1882, leaving the next year to pursue a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. His wife, Ellen Louise Axson, was from Savannah, and they married in Rome, Ga in 1885.

On February 3, 1959, a chartered Beechcraft Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed near Mason City, Iowa, killing all aboard.

Jimi Hendrix recorded Purple Haze on this date in 1967.

A new exhibition at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA explores the historic role of African-Americans in the development of railroading.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal Falcons Jersey

Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed February 3, 2017 as “Falcons Friday” ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl LI  between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. The governor encouraged state employees and all Georgians to show their support by dressing in their favorite Falcons attire tomorrow. Read the proclamation, also attached, below:Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 2, 2017

K Mac

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

“I am a handsome Shepherd/Pit mix. I am very friendly. I don’t get many people who stop at my kennel and visit me. I don’t know why. I love going on walks and would make a great companion for someone. Please visit me and help me find a home to call my own.”

Baby Boy

Baby Boy is a young male Border Collie mix who is available for adoption from Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

“I am a sweet young puppy. I am a Border Collie mix so you know I am smart and lots of fun. I hope that you will come visit me. I would really love a home of my own.”


Caramel is a young female Catahoula Leopard Dog & Pit Bull Terrier Mix who is available for adoption from Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

“I am kind of shy at the shelter. I know that i am a good girl. I just need someone to come and spend some time with me. Will you come visit me?”