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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 23, 2017

President elect Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, DC on February 23, 1861.


On February 23, 1945, United States Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the Pacific island Iwo Jima.

This first flag-raising was photographed by Marine photographer Sgt. Louis R. Lowery. On Lowery’s way down Mt. Suribachi, he ran into AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and two other Marine photographers, PFC Bob Campbell and PFC Bill Genaust, who was shooting movies, informing them that the flag-raising they were looking for had already occurred, but encouraging them to check out the view from the top of the hill. The three men continued up the volcano.

Once atop Mt. Suribachi, Rosenthal attempted but was unable to find the soldiers involved in the first flag-raising, deciding instead to photograph the second flag-raising, which featured a much bigger and more photogenic Stars and Stripes. Lowery’s film was sent back to military headquarters for processing via ordinary army post–and took a month to arrive. Rosenthal’s film was sent by seaplane to Guam, and sent from there via radio-photo to the United States. The photograph so impressed President Roosevelt that he ordered the men pictured in it to return home for a publicity tour. Rosenthal later won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo, but for years was forced to deny erroneous reports that he personally staged the second flag-raising and attempted to pass it off as the original.

Although the famous photograph has long led people to believe that the flag-raising was a turning point in the fight for Iwo Jima, vicious fighting to control the island actually continued for 31 more days.

Today, the first and second flags flown atop Mt. Suribachi are held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.

On February 23, 1954, the first children in the U.S. were inoculated against polio using a vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 23

8:00 AM APPROPRIATIONS – Criminal Justice & Public Safety Sub 450 CAP

8:00 AM SENATE APPROP – Insurance Sub 341 CAP







12:00 PM SENATE RULES- Upon Adjourment 450 CAP



1:00 PM House Reeves Sub Jud’y Non-Civil-CANCELLED 415 CLOB

1:00 PM House Transportation Special Sub 515 CLOB











2:00 PM House Driver’s Safety and Services Sub 403 CAP

2:00 PM House Regulations Sub Regulated Ind 514 CLOB





3:00 PM House Resource Mgmt Sub 515 CLOB


3:30 PM House Energy Sub 403 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE APPROPS – Education Sub 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Higher Ed 341 CAP


4:00 PM House Env’tal Quality Sub 515 CLOB

4:30 PM House Telecommunications Sub 403 CAP


SB 88 – ‘Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act’ (Substitute) (RI&U-53rd)
SB 108 – Veterans Service; maintenance of a women veterans’ office by the commissioner of veteran services; require (VM&HS-20th)
SB 128 – Drivers’ Licenses; Department of Natural Resources; limited purposes; allow for the sharing of personal data (NR&E-50th)
SB 137 – Child Support Recovery Act; federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005; require the obligor to pay the full fee (H&HS-13th)
SB 141 – Carnival Ride Safety; engineering evaluation with a carnival ride permit application; require (RI&U-14th)



Modified Open Rule
HB 162 – Income tax; transfer of setoffs by the Administrative Office of the Courts; revise procedures (Judy-Price-48th)
HB 246 – Elementary and secondary education; annual fitness assessment program; repeal sunset provision (Substitute)(Ed-Cantrell-22nd)

Modified Structured Rule
HB 153 – Council on American Indian Concerns; attach to Department of Natural Resources (NR&E-Rogers-10th)
HB 205 – Mining and drilling; regulate exploration and extraction of gas and oil; provisions (Substitute)(EU&T-Meadows-5th)
HB 222 – HOPE; members of Georgia National Guard and reservists meet residency requirement; provide (HEd-Blackmon-146th)
HB 239 – Low-voltage Contractors, Division of; require continuing education; authorize (RegI-Hawkins-27th)
HB 305 – Domestic relations; category of third parties who may be awarded custody in certain circumstances; add stepparents (JuvJ-Beskin-54th)

Structured Rule
HB 93 – Sales and use tax; no interest shall be paid on refunds; provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Corbett-174th)
HB 134 – Sales and use tax; special district mass transportation; provisions (Substitute)(W&M-Epps-144th)

The AJC Political Insider writes that the Casino Gambling Destination Resorts bill by Sen. Brandon Beach is likely to be heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee today. I’m betting (a) against it being on the agenda; and (b) against it passing. At the time of this writing, no agenda for the Regulated Industries Committee has been published on the legislative website.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle gives a low chance of success to Senate Bill 233 by Marty Harbin.

Supporters of this year’s bill, sponsored by Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, are hoping that simply adopting the federal law regarding “government burdens on the free exercise of region” will be a sufficiently narrow approach to get the bill through the General Assembly and back to the governor’s desk.

However, there’s no sign the opposition to religious freedom legislation in any form in Georgia is any less than last year. In fact, a coalition of Georgia businesses worried about a convention and tourism boycott of the state if lawmakers adopt a religious freedom bill is growing.

The bill faces long odds this year. For one thing, being introduced just more than halfway through the 2017 session leaves little time for supporters to steer it through the committee process successfully. Also, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has vowed not to let his chamber take up the legislation, even if it does get through the Senate.

Senate Bill 6 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) passed the Senate and would create a Georgia Regional Transit Council.

“No longer can we have people sitting in their cars two to three hours a day,” Gooch said. “That’s time they could be at work. They could be more productive. They could be at home with their families.”

Gooch pointed to a report by transportation analysis firm Inrix that ranked Atlanta as the eighth most congested city in the world.

“We’ve got to get people moving,” he said.

The council would look at road congestion relief and dependable trip times for commuters.

The council would present its findings to the general assembly by the end of next year.

House Bill 37 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart fixes the pressing problem of sanctuary campuses.

Private colleges that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities would lose state funding for scholarships and research under a bill approved by the Georgia House.

The chamber voted 115 to 55 on Wednesday, sending the bill to the Senate.

No schools in Georgia have embraced policies connected to the “sanctuary campus” label, but students at several metro Atlanta schools petitioned administrators following President Donald Trump’s election. Trump issued a series of immigration measures in January, including a crackdown on cities that don’t cooperate with authorities.

Senate Bill 98 by Sen. Elena Parent addresses unfilled pre-K slots by allowing greater flexibility in the use of some state funds.

“Part of the problem is that there aren’t the available classrooms to house the program,” said State Senator Elena Parent, D-Decatur.

Under current state law, school systems can only use capitol funds for kindergarten through 12 grade expenditures. That means, unless they already have a pre-kindergarten classroom, they cannot spend money to build or retrofit one for students.

Sen. Parent filed Senate Bill 98, which would allow school systems to voluntarily use capitol money for pre-kindergarten space if they desire.

House Resolution 158 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would place a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in November 2018.

This year’s proposed amendment, sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, would let lawmakers dedicate fees to go to specific funds and causes for up to 10 years, when they would come up for renewal.

If the state faced a financial emergency, lawmakers could suspend the dedication of the fees and the money could go into the government’s general fund to be spent where it’s needed.

The measure has been a kind of pet project for the powerful Association County Commissioners of Georgia, which has been critical of not being able to get the fee money sent back to local governments to fix problems such as leaking landfills.

The resolution is co-sponsored by House Rules Chairman John Meadows, R-Calhoun, and House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.

“This is something we’ve been discussing at least since I have been in the Legislature,” said Powell, who joined the state House in 2009.

House Bill 116 by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) would allow youth who shoot law enforcement officers to be tried as adults, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

[Current s]tate law allows a district attorney to determine whether to try a juvenile as an adult if the juvenile is charged with one of eight offenses: murder, murder in the second degree, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and armed robbery if committed with a firearm.

State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, wants to add two more crimes to that list when committed against a police officer: aggravated assault with a firearm or aggravated battery.

“No matter how old you are, if you’re going to shoot a police officer or pull a gun on a police officer, you’ve sailed beyond juvenile treatment and you will potentially face charges as an adult,” Reeves said.

Reeves’ bill to make that happen, House Bill 116, has taken a step toward becoming a law, passing out of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Wednesday.

The Final Frontier

Senate Bill 46 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) passed, filling the hearts of science fiction nerds everywhere with the possibility of a spaceport in Camden County, Georgia.

Senate Bill 46, which passed 49-2 and now moves to the Georgia House of Representatives, would set a stricter legal standard for a plaintiff injured while riding a spacecraft to collect damages in a lawsuit.

Georgia’s fledgling commercial space industry is generating $50 million in economic impact per year, said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, the bill’s chief sponsor.

The industry is poised for much greater expansion if Georgia matches other states that have adopted legislation requiring plaintiffs to prove “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” in order to collect damages, a tougher standard than “ordinary negligence,” Ligon said.

The proposed Spaceport Camden could create more than 2,000 jobs in an economically stressed part of Georgia, while at the same time serving as a catalyst for companies involved in the commercial space industry in metro Atlanta.

“We have the resources in this state to attract this growing industry,” Ligon said. “[The bill would be] a signal to the industry that we’re open to them and want to encourage this activity in our state.”

This is what I envision when I hear about a “spaceport.”

Enterprise Space Port900px

Speaking of aliens, House Bill 452 by State Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) would require the GBI to publicly post the names of aliens who have been arrested or convicted of crimes and subsequently released from federal custody in Georgia.

I assume the Intergalactic Chamber of Commerce will soon be wringing its hands publicly about how this discriminates against criminals from other planets.

The Democratic National Committee will meet in downtown Atlanta this weekend. Let me know if you’re interested in protesting them. I figure we’ll start with brunch and mimosas.

A tight race between front-runners Tom Perez, a former labor secretary, and Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman, marks the first heavily contested battle to run the organization in recent history. The contest comes with Democrats facing a power deficit in Washington and around the country after years of losses in Congress, governor’s mansions and statehouses, while also having no unifying national leader since former President Barack Obama left the White House.

Perez, who was encouraged by Obama administration officials to run for the post, has emerged as the apparent front-runner, with independent Democratic strategists tracking him at about 205 votes. But it’s not yet clear whether Perez or Ellison – or one of six other long-shot candidates – is positioned to capture the required majority of the 447-member national party committee.

Ellison, backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters, has the support of about 153 members, the strategists said. Ellison spokesman Brett Morrow blasted the count as “totally inaccurate” and said his camp remains “incredibly confident.”

State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) continues his quest for more transparency in state government.

He said of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers, the Georgia Senate is one of just 26 that does not broadcast its committee meetings on video and one of just 18 that does not broadcast on either video or audio.

“That means unless you are able to attend these committee hearings yourself, you don’t know what was said,” he said.

McKoon said another way in which the Senate lacks transparency is that it takes five senators to request a recorded vote on many measures. If five don’t request such a vote, senators vote by raising their hands. That leaves no official record of how they voted, and McKoon said senators will sometimes step underneath the balcony to vote so that TV cameras, which do record the Senate floor, can’t record them. Again, those who are not there can’t easily see how senators voted.

“I believe that the people who elected me have a right to know how I voted,” he said.

He said he is looking at either running for one of the “power positions” in state government or backing someone who will. He noted that he was married just a few months ago and the decision to run for higher office “is not just mine now.”

McKoon’s quest for government transparency paid off at the local level.

Coweta County has settled a lawsuit brought by four Cowetans who accused the Coweta County Board of Commissioners of violating the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

A settlement agreement in the case, which stemmed from the May 2015 approval of a retirement agreement for a former deputy fire chief, was approved at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.

Under the agreement, the county will pay $12,500, which goes to the plaintiff’s attorney, Josh McKoon. Coweta County does not admit any wrongdoing, and the plaintiffs agree not to file new suits or make other claims related to the commission’s approval of the retirement agreement.

McKoon said, after Blackmon’s ruling, that the county could eliminate the main reason for the lawsuit by putting the retirement agreement back on a meeting agenda and allowing public comment. That happened at the Dec. 8, 2016 commission meeting, and it was approved by the same 3-2 vote.

Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb says the county saw a 7% decrease in serious crimes in 2015.

Water War

North Florida Congressman Neal Dunn is opening a new front in the water war between Georgia and Florida.

North Florida Congressman Neal Dunn wants to throw out a federal plan that would reduce freshwater flowing into the struggling Apalachicola Bay. The move comes after a Supreme Court-appointed lawyer ruled against the state in the decades-long water war with Georgia.

“With my friend and fellow congressman Al Lawson I have introduced legislation to nullify the newest water control manual and send it back to the Corps for rewriting,” Dunn said.

Florida suffered a blow earlier this month when Supreme Court Special Master Ralph Lancaster ruled against the state’s interest. Lancaster says the state didn’t adequately prove what’s at the heart of the bay’s struggle: drought, over-harvesting, or the water use regulations set by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Florida has not met its requirement to show by clear and convincing evidence that its injury can be redressed by increased flows during non-drought conditions,” Lancaster wrote.

No word on whether the University of Georgia will attempt to nullify its last game against Florida because they didn’t like the outcome.

Florida’s U.S. Senator Bill Nelson will try a similar measure in the Senate.

Nelson, who visited Florida A&M University and the state Capitol, said he and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will support Senate legislation similar to an effort in the U.S. House led by Rep. Neal Dunn, who represents the Apalachicola Bay area. Dunn has said he will file a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to permanently block a Corps’ rule that regulates water releases in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.

Dunn, who announced details of his legislation Tuesday in Apalachicola, has said he wants to block the Corps rule and allow Florida and Georgia officials to come “to an equitable agreement” on water use in the region.

The action by the U.S. senators and Dunn follows a decision by a U.S. Supreme Court-appointed special master who recommended last week that Florida should be denied relief in a lawsuit that alleges Georgia is taking too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint system and is damaging Apalachicola Bay. The special master said a settlement could not be reached without the Corps’ involvement.

The Lake Lanier Association has released a statement on Floridians’ interest in our water.

“Lake Lanier is under pressure from numerous directions, not the least of which is the threat that the next lawsuit or bill may result in a win for those who want to use Lanier for purposes for which it was never intended,” the Lake Lanier Association said in a statement. “It is a limited resource for growing demands.”

Lake Lanier Association officials said Nelson’s plan wouldn’t work for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint watershed though. The group said the senator’s plan would include basing a new Water control Manual on the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s study on freshwater flows, requiring peer review by the National Academy of Sciences and approval from multiple federal agencies.

The association is calling on Georgia’s representatives in the U.S. House and Senate to fight the bill, citing previous successful efforts to defeat similar legislation from members of Alabama’s congressional delegation.

Grady County Commissioners imposed a moratorium on solar panel installations.

County Administrator Carlos Tobar said the reason for the discussion was an out-of-state firm approached the county about submitting a proposal for a solar panel farm.

Tobar added a constituent would lease land to the firm for the farm. The projected scale of the solar panel farm would be between 100 to 500 acres, according to Tobar.

Commissioner Keith Moye questioned how Grady County would benefit from solar panel use.

According to Tobar, property tax value could increase, based on what a commissioner from a different county said.

The prospect of enacting a moratorium also was discussed.

“You (the board) just need to define the parameters,” Cauley said regarding a moratorium, adding if he knew the specifics, he could draw up a moratorium draft.

The board unanimously approved enacting a 60-day moratorium.

A less-generous soul might consider such a move “benighted.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 22, 2017

Apollo Bulloch

Apollo is an adult male Labrador Retriever & Great Dane mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.

Missy Bulloch

Missy is a senior female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.

Buddy Bulloch

Buddy is an adult male tri-colored Hound mixwho is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.

Bonnie Bulloch

Bonnie is a small adult female Feist mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 22, 2017

The British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act on February 22, 1766.

Georgia’s first Governor Archibald Bulloch died mysteriously on February 22, 1777.

[Bulloch] became a leader in the state’s Liberty Party and was elected to the Commons House of Assembly in 1768, to the post of speaker of the Georgia Royal Assembly in 1772 and finally to the Continental Congress in 1775.

On June 20, 1776, Bulloch was elected the first president and commander in chief of Georgia’s temporary government, posts he held until February 5, 1777, when Georgia adopted its state constitution. Just over three weeks later, on February 22, 1777, Georgia faced a British invasion, and the state’s new government granted Bulloch executive power to head off the British forces. A few hours later, Bulloch was dead. The cause of his death remains unknown but unsubstantiated rumors of his poisoning persist.

[H]e is also known as the great-great-grandfather of America’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.

The first Georgia state law allowing divorce was signed on February 22, 1850 by Governor George Towns.

The Cyclorama painting of the Battle of Atlanta went on display on Edgewood Avenue on February 22, 1892. The Atlanta History Center recently began the process of moving the Cyclorama to a new building from its long-time home in Grant Park.

On February 22, 1976, a series of U.S. Postage stamps commemorating the Bicentennial was issued, featuring the state flags.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


7:30 AM SENATE APPROP – Human Dev, Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, and Public Health Sub 341 CAP

8:00 AM SENATE APPROP – Judicial Sub 307 CLOB

8:00 AM House Transporation Subc State Highways 515 CLOB



12:00 PM SENATE RULES- Upon Adjourment 450 CAP




1:00 PM HOUSE Education Sub Education Admin & Planning 606 CLOB


1:00 PM HOUSE Local Gov’t Sub Gov’tal Affairs 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Public Finance Sub 133 CAP



1:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Income Tax Sub 133 CAP






2:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Tax Reform Sub 133 CAP

2:30 PM HOUSE Resource Management Sub 515 CLOB






3:30 PM HOUSE Ways and Means Sales Tax Sub 133 CAP


4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y -Subcommittee B 307 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – General Welfare Sub MEZZ

4:15 PM HOUSE APPROP – Criminal Justice and Pub Safety Sub – CANCELED 123 CAP


SB 102 – Emergency Medical Services; emergency cardiac care centers; designation; Office of Cardiac Care within Department of Public Health; establishment (Substitute) (H&HS-49th)

HB 42 – Elections; election superintendents to correct mistakes and omissions on ballots for a primary or election; authorize (Substitute) (ETHICS-52nd) Lumsden-12th

SB 73 – Recorder’s Court of Chatham County; chief judge; revise the responsibilities (SLGO(G)-1st)

SB 47 – Physicians; visiting sports teams’ physicians; provide for licensure exemption; requirements; limitations; agreements with other states (Substitute) (H&HS-52nd)

SB 6 – Georgia Regional Transit Council; definitions; membership; powers; duties; create (Substitute) (TRANS-51st)



Modified Open Rule

HB 40 – Evidence; confidentiality of certain medical information of animals within a veterinarian’s care; provide exception (A&CA-Turner-21st)

HB 41 – Architects; allow certain students to take examination; change qualifications (Substitute)(RegI-Harrell-106th)

HB 168 – Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority; abolish Upper Oconee Resource Management Commission (NR&E-Quick-117th)

HB 224 – Quality Basic Education Act; military student may attend any school in local system; provide (Ed-Belton-112th)

HB 262 – Insurance; standalone dental plans; exempt from requirement of printed directories for certain entities (Ins-Lumsden-12th)

HB 303 – State Commission on Family Violence; terms and qualifications of members; change provisions (GAff-Ballinger-23rd)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 37 – Education; private postsecondary institutions in Georgia shall not adopt sanctuary policies; provide (HEd-Ehrhart-36th)

HB 86 – Domestic relations; definition of sexual abuse; expand (JuvJ-Oliver-82nd)

HB 150 – State Road and Tollway Authority; failure to pay tolls; place hold on motor vehicle registration (Substitute)(Trans-Powell-32nd)

HB 243 – Minimum wage; require additional pay to employees based on schedule changes; preempt local government mandates (I&L-Werkheiser-157th)

HB 268 – Elections; time period for certification of election officials; provide (Substitute)(GAff-Fleming-121st)

Structured Rule

HB 238 – Ad valorem tax; use of property for solar power generation; provide exception to a breach of covenants (W&M-Hatchett-150th)

HB 247 – Sales and use tax; machinery used to mix or transport concrete; exempt (Substitute)(W&M-LaRiccia-169th)

HB 290 – Ad valorem tax; definitions related to exemption of certain agricultural equipment; revise (W&M-Watson-172nd)


House Bill 205 by House Rules Committee Chair John Meadows (R-Calhoun) passed out of the Energy Subcommittee of House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications, and would regulate the practice of fracking.

Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun, says his bill seeks to put in place protections for the state’s water resources — before the oil and gas industry starts using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break up rock and free natural gas or oil underground,

“Until the price of gas goes up, there won’t be any drilling for gas,” Meadows said at a recent committee meeting.

But that day, he said, is likely to come.

“We’ve been at high gas prices before. We’ll be at them again some day,” he said.

Legislators are weighing-in on the question of tax proceeds from an area that is subject to a border dispute between two counties.

State lawmakers are getting into the border dispute between Macon-Bibb and Monroe counties.

A new bill would keep tax money from the disputed area in escrow — held by a third party — until the yearslong dispute is settled.

“I hope it brings the sides to the table to compromise and negotiate because it’s all about the money,” state Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, said just after he filed the bill.

Dickey said the bill covers both property taxes and sales taxes from a wedge of land that Macon-Bibb now counts as a piece of its territory on the northwest edge of the county. Monroe County has argued through several courts that the true county line is a little farther southeast, giving Monroe a little part of the Bass Pro Shops property as well as some houses and other properties on both sides of Interstate 75.

House Bill 324 by Rep. Alan Powell would place the phrase “noncitizen” on some driver’s licenses.

A House subcommittee discussed the bill on Tuesday but didn’t vote.

Rep. Alan Powell, a Hartwell Republican, said he’s willing to consider another phrase. But Powell said the state’s current approach is too vague.

People in the country illegally are not eligible to receive driver’s licenses in Georgia. But state officials have said Georgia must grant temporary licenses for people granted “deferred action status.”

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley opposes changes to state law to permit campus carry.

“With respect to ‘campus carry,’ we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses,” said Steve Wrigley, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, before a committee of mostly Republican lawmakers friendly to expanding gun rights.

“This position is supported by our presidents and campus public safety departments who are closest to the day-to-day realities and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities. We therefore respectfully oppose any change to current law,” he said.

The university system also opposed a “campus carry” bill passed by the state Legislature in 2016. It was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal after he requested lawmakers tweak the measure, which legislative leaders refused. Last year’s measure said guns wouldn’t be allowed in dorms, fraternities, sororities or sporting events.

Senate Bill 233 by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) would apply the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to Georgia state government actions.

The federal law requires that governments being sued prove that a law meets a “compelling” interest and doesn’t substantially restrict someone’s ability to practice their religion. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the law didn’t apply to states, prompting a wave of state-level legislation that picked up again in recent years.

Deal, who was in the U.S. House before running for governor, voted for the federal law. Supporters of the bill hope this year’s approach will convince him to sign off, said Mike Griffin, public affairs director for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. The organization has been among the chief supporters of previous legislation and vowed to try again this session.

“The (governor’s) veto of the 2016 legislation has just caused us to work even harder at trying to pass minimum standards of religious liberty like he voted for in Congress,” Griffin said. “We feel this is the best bill we can give him.”

Officials with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Metro Atlanta Chamber issued a joint statement on Tuesday indicating opposition.

“Gov. Deal clearly stated in his veto statement last year why this type of legislation was already a constitutional right, unnecessary and would distract from our strong performance in creating new jobs in our state,” the statement said. “While there’s no new evidence to suggest this legislation is needed to strengthen a right guaranteed by our constitution, there is plentiful data other states have suffered and will continue to suffer long-term economic harm for enacting a law that many see as discriminatory.”

The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform reported to Gov. Deal on the results of criminal justice reform and recommended further steps.

State officials are recommending changes to help reduce what they say is the highest rate of felons on probation in the country.

In a report submitted to Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform said doing so would have several positive results, including reducing heavy caseloads for probation officers and allowing the officers to focus more on higher-risk offenders.

Currently, the council’s report noted, probation is widely employed in Georgia as a sentence, either in lieu of or combined with imprisonment. Georgia also imposes relatively long felony probation sentences, the report says.

The report notes positive results of policies implemented in previous years, including a decrease in the prison population from 54,895 in July 2012 to 52,962 at the end of last year. It also highlights a change in the type of inmates who are in prison, with the most serious offenders now making up 67 percent of the state’s inmates, versus 58 percent at the start of 2009.

Accountability courts, which numbered 139 across the state at the beginning of this year, have seen a 147 percent increase in new participants from 2013 to 2016, the report says.

“In implementing these common sense reforms, we are taking steps to preserve families, address the underlying issues associated with incarceration and provide offenders with meaningful second chances,” Deal said.

Governor Deal visited Macon yesterday to recognize Navicent Health for its verification by the American College of Surgeons as Georgia’s only Level I trauma center.

The Medical Center is the only Level I trauma center in the state, and the only one of 17 hospitals in the Southeast, to achieve this national recognition. Of 185 hospitals in Georgia, 30 are trauma centers, according to the hospital.

“This is indeed a very special occasion,” Gov. Nathan Deal said to about 100 people, mostly hospital personnel, gathered near the outside of the emergency center. “You are in a unique category and the people of this part of Georgia should be extremely proud of what you’ve done to achieve this certification.”

“Health care is one of those great challenges,” he said. “It is a challenge at the federal level. It is also a challenge at the state level, and as we go through the delivery to new approaches to the delivery of health care which I know we’re going to be doing in the next couple of years in particular, there are going to be challenges that we all face. … Your work will go a long way toward improving the quality of life for our entire state.”

Navicent Health President and CEO Ninfa Saunders said the trauma center serves about 3,000 patients annually with about one-third of those patients being transferred from other health care facilities. Last year, the hospital’s trauma center cared for 91 of Georgia’s 159 counties, she said.

Congressman Buddy Carter held a Town Hall meeting in Savannah yesterday. From the Savannah Morning-News.

“Obamacare is collapsing,” the Savannah Republican said at Armstrong State University, prompting shouts from the crowd asking him to refer to the 2010 health care law by its formal name, the Affordable Care Act.

Many of the constituents who packed the meeting wore T-shirts bearing slogans in support of Planned Parenthood, and Carter’s answers during the hour-long meeting often drew jeers from the crowd. Occasional chanting could be heard from an overflow crowd of dozens waiting outside the at-capacity auditorium where the meeting was held. There were also people who showed support for Carter’s comments, and audience members frequently shouted at each other to sit down or wait their turn to ask questions.

When the meeting concluded, Carter left through a side exit with staff rather than meet the crowd, which at the time was chanting for him to come out — something he attributed to safety concerns and the need to get to a scheduled dinner event.

“I would have liked to have stuck around, but security was concerned about the safety,” Carter said in a phone call after the meeting. “I regret that. I was really happy about the turnout. Everyone has the right to speak, and I want to give them that right. I wish we could have been more cordial.”

Local Options

Federal investigators seized items in an Atlanta City Hall office as part of an ongoing bribery investigation.

Atlanta’s chief procurement officer was fired on Tuesday, escorted out of City Hall and had items in his office seized by federal agents.

A terse, two-sentence statement from the mayor’s office said Adam Smith had been “relieved of his duties.” A spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed later said Smith’s was a “normal termination,” that includes being led out of the building by city personnel.

The seizure of items from Smith’s office appears to be an escalation of the federal investigation into bribes paid by contractors to obtain business with the city. A law enforcement source told Channel 2 Action News that a subpoena was served and that items taken from Smith’s office included a computer and phone.

A representative of the FBI, which conducted Tuesday’s operation, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The Augusta Commission will rewrite the waste management plan to include a new landfill.

The Augusta Commission voted 6-2-2 to begin the revision process, with commissioners Ben Hasan and Andrew Jefferson opposed and commissioners Sammie Sias and Marion Williams abstaining.

The proposal is opposed by Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson as a drain on revenue with a potential wide impact on how Augusta manages waste. Johnson was the chief author of the existing 2008 waste management plan, which requires all waste to go to the city landfill near Blythe.

Attorney Wright McLeod pitched the proposal to commissioners last week on behalf of Kirk Laney, who obtained the 150-acre former inert landfill on Dixon Airline Road from Jeffrey Harris in 2015.

Augusta University Medical Center’s Center for Rural Health Support and Study is working to expand its services to rural providers through the use of telemedicine.

Catherine Clary, just beginning her third week on the job, was headed to Atlanta on Monday to see about $250,000 in funding to help the center provide more services to struggling rural hospitals. The Georgia House of Representatives has already approved the money in its version of the budget, and Clary was to meet with Senate leaders to ensure it makes their version, too.

One of the programs it would support is a swing bed program with rural providers, in which patients from rural areas who are being discharged from the hospital but are too sick to send home directly can be transferred to a rural hospital to finish out their care.

“On our end, we want to free up the bed here because we are a tertiary (highly specialized care) hospital, but then that also builds revenue for the rural hospitals,” Clary said. “Studies have found that patients do much better when they are closer to family and they have the pride of being back in their home hospital. We feel like it helps our hospital, it helps the rural hospitals and it also helps the families and the patients in keeping them close together.”

The health system also has a new affiliation with Washington County Regional Medical Center to staff its Emergency Department and to provide a hospitalist for inpatient coverage. The center is working to help set up a general surgery rotation through the Sandersville hospital, too, Clary said.

Through the College of Allied Health and College of Nursing at Augusta University, the center is hoping to set up rural rotations for physician assistants and advanced practice nurse practitioners and could have something set up within the year, she said. Those providers can deliver care in rural areas that often struggle to attract physicians.

Warner Robins City Council is stewing over the question of whether to allow backyard chickens.

In 2015, the City Council voted down allowing chickens. Elijah Lewis, a leading supporter of urban chicken keeping, approached the council at Tuesday’s meeting with a different idea that seemed to have some traction.

He asked the council to consider allowing a referendum on the issue, and some who had opposed it before were agreeable to that idea. If the council approves it, the referendum would be on the ballot for the city election in November.

Seriously, folks, a chicken referendum.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources has introduced an incentive system for hunters of coyotes and opponents are howling.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources wants hunters to kill more coyotes from March to August, and it’s offering them an incentive to do so.

The “Georgia Coyote Challenge” allows trappers to turn in up to five carcasses a month for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license.

While the contest runs for the next seven months, there is no closed season for the harvest of coyotes in Georgia because they did not historically live in the state, according to the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division.

But the Atlanta Coyote Project, a group of scientists who research coyotes in the area, contends that’s an oversimplification.

“While it is true that coyotes are relatively recent immigrants into the southeastern U.S., they are here because humans eliminated native wolves,” the organization said in a Facebook statement rejecting the “killing contest as both inhumane and unwise.”

Also opposing the “Georgia Coyote Challenge”? This guy:


Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk is not prioritizing immigration enforcement.

Paulk made it clear that Lowndes County is not a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, but he said he’d rather go after active criminals as opposed to undocumented immigrants who make an honest living and don’t cause trouble.

“Do you want to concentrate on the criminals, who are doing the shooting and everything else, or go out and try to get people out in the fields picking vegetables?”

He added that rounding up illegal immigrants could lead to steep jail costs for the county while the immigrants await deportation.

“If (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) comes out with some warrants, yeah we’ll help them. But if you were to go out and make a sweep, put 50 of them in jail … it’ll cost you $2,500 a day (to hold them),” Paulk said.

“I’m not saying we’re a sanctuary, but we’ve got more important things to do as far as cleaning up this county.”

Howard French will serve as the next Chairman of the Board of Directors for Chatham Area Transit.

Chatham County Commissioners will consider adoption of a new 20-year Chatham County-Savannah Comprehensive Plan.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter remains embattled by partisan Democrats criticizing a Facebook post.

Gainesville City Council finalized the renaming of Touchdown Drive to Deshaun Watson Way.

Lou Byars will serve as the new Superintendent of Rome City Schools.

University of North Georgia students urged a boycott of some local businesses over a KKK sign.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 21, 2017

Pop Tart

Pop Tart is a female Doberman Pinscher & Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends, Inc. (AARF) in Stone Mountain, GA.

Pop Tart is now happy and healthy and ready to find her forever home. The rescue group’s guess is that she is a red Doberman / pit bull mix, which means she is incredibly athletic, sweet and snuggly and very loyal. Pop Tart seems to be a little too interested in cats and other small critters, so would do best in a home without small furry friends. She needs an active family, one that up for daily playtime and some adventures! Pop Tart is completely house and crate trained and already knows ‘sit’ and ‘shake’. She loves to play, but also enjoys a good snuggle on the couch in the evening.


Chocolatte is a 2.5-year old male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends, Inc. (AARF) in Stone Mountain, GA.

He, his sister Lissy and his mom Nanny Duck were found in a junk yard, starving and scared. Now, Choco is a big lovebug! He is a big guy and is very active. He loves to play and does well with most other dogs, even little dogs. After a day of playing, he loves to snuggle on the couch with his people. He has passed a basic obedience class and loved it, and would do well in continuing classes. He would prefer a home without little children, because he doesn’t know how big he is. Choco is neutered and up to date on vaccinations.

Miss Lissy

Miss Lissy is a 2.5-year old female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends, Inc. (AARF) in Stone Mountain, GA.

She and her mom and brother were found in a junk yard, starving and scared. Now, Lissy is a happy and healthy girl! She can be a little bit shy with new folks, but is very friendly when she knows her people. She does well with other dogs and has some basic obedience training. She has been spayed, has all of her vaccinations and has completed a basic obedience class.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 21, 2017

The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885.

Happy Birthday to Congressman John Lewis, who was born on this date in 1940 in Pike County Alabama. In 1963, Lewis became President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, based in Atlanta. In 1981, Lewis was elected to an at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to Congress, defeating Julian Bond in the Democratic Primary.

On February 21, 1958, Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation creating the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to oversee construction and operation of a Confederate memorial and public park at the site.

On February 21, 1998, Julian Bond was selected as Chairman of the NAACP. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but the House initially refused to seat him due to his opposition to the war in Vietnam. The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled against the House and Bond was sworn in on January 9, 1967, serving there until his election to the Georgia State Senate. In 1986, Bond left the Senate to run for Congress.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


8:00 AM SENATE APPROPS – Fiscal Mgmt & Gen’l Gov’t Sub 341 CAP

8:30 AM SENATE HEALTH & HS – Scope of Practice Sub 310 CLOB


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






1:00 PM HOUSE Driver’s Safety and Services Sub 403 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Professions-Boards-Commissions Sub Regulated Ind 606 CLOB

1:00 PM Education Sub Early Learning & K-12 415 CLOB


1:30 PM SENATE FINANCE – Income Tax Sub 123 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE – Tax Reform Sub 125 CAP





2:00 PM HOUSE Sub A Public Safety &HS 605 CLOB


2:00 PM Elections Sub Gov’tal Affairs 505 CLOB


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


3:00 PM HOUSE Env’tal Qualtity Sub Natural Res & Env’t 515 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE Energy Sub Energy, Utilities, and Telecom 403 CAP



3:30 PM SENATE FINANCE – Finance & Public Policy 125 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE APPROP – Community Health Sub 341 CAP




SB 50 – “Direct Primary Care Act”; definitions; provide direct primary care agreements are not insurance (Substitute) (I&L-6th)

SB 71 – Bankruptcy; list of property that is exempt; add assets in health savings accounts and medical savings accounts (JUDY-23rd)

SB 106 – Pain Management Clinics; health care professionals who must be on-site; revise a provision (H&HS-13th)

SB 125 – Physician Assistants; authority to prescribe hydrocodone compound products; authorize a physician to delegate to a physician (H&HS-17th)


Modified Open Rule

HB 174 – Insurance; insurer’s medium of payment of policy or contractual obligations; expand (Substitute)(Ins-Lumsden-12th)

HB 206 – The Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights; certain audits conducted by the Department of Community Health; remove exception; provisions (H&HS-Kelley-16th)

HB 210 – Health; certain specimen collection stations and blood banks are not considered clinical laboratories; provide (H&HS-Lott-122nd)

HB 257 – Local government authorities; register with Department of Community Affairs; require (Substitute)(GAff-Tankersley-160th)

Modified Structured Rule

HB 250 – Foster homes; employee with satisfactory fingerprint records check in past 24 months exempt from additional background check; provide (JuvJ-Ballinger-23rd)

HB 254 – Emanuel County; Board of Education; provide nonpartisan elections for members (IGC-Parrish-158th)


Competing approaches to medical cannabis will meet in the Georgia General Assembly as each chamber prepares its own legislation.

A committee in the Georgia House is set to meet this week to weed out the good, the bad, and the ugly in HB65. The bill would add PTSD, HIV, AIDS, chronic pain, and autism as qualifying conditions to access medical cannabis oil.

State Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus) is working on a similar bill in the senate. Kirk says the senate is taking a more conservative stance on the issue of medicinal marijuana in any form. The senate’s version would add solely autism to the list of current qualifying conditions. Another point of compromise centers around lowering the legal concentration of cannabis, or THC oil, from 5% to 3%. Kirk underscored how experimental this piece of legislation would be.

“There’s not a whole lot of scientific evidence behind this,” Sen. Kirk said. “So we’ve reached out and gotten ahead of the FDA and others. And we don’t have a lot of scientific data to back up what we’re doing. That’s what makes this bill so difficult, and that’s why we’re taking such a cautious approach on the senate side.”

House Bill 65 by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) will be heard today in the House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee at 1 PM.

House Bill 65 … expands the list of qualifying conditions for access to medical cannabis oil.

The proposal would add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, AIDS, HIV, chronic pain, and autism to the list of qualifying conditions.

House Bill 73 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) would offer tax credits to spur redevelopment of small towns in Georgia.

“The rural bill targets downtown areas that are suffering from difficult economic times,” said state Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, the author of House Bill 73.

The measure offers state tax credits for three steps of investing in a qualifying area: for buying real estate, for rehabbing it and for employing people there.

“You don’t get to take any of these tax credits until you have two full-time employees” or equivalent part-time employees, Houston said on the House floor recently.

Many Middle Georgia cities would meet the first criterion in the bill to be a “revitalization zone:” the population must be less than 15,000 people.

But the place must also have a concentration of commercial buildings that are at least 50 years old, among other rules. And the local government must also prove “economic distress.” That’s something the state will determine based on poverty rate, downtown vacancies or blight.

Casino interests roll the dice in Senate Regulated Industries this week.

The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee is expected to decide on Thursday whether to move an “enabling” bill accompanying the constitutional amendment to the Senate Rules Committee, which then would determine whether to send it to the floor for a vote.

The enabling bill contains the details of how casino gambling would work in Georgia. The legislation would limit the initial presence of casinos to two “destination resorts,” a primary facility in metro Atlanta that would require an investment of at least $2 billion and a smaller project outside of the metro region but in an urban area with a population greater than 180,000.

To ensure a high-quality mixed-use development, the bill would require at least 60 percent of the resort’s income to be derived from non-gambling sources, including shops, restaurants, a hotel and a performance venue.

If the statewide referendum passes, any city or county interested in hosting a casino resort would have to hold a local referendum before the project could become reality.

House Bill 364 by Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) would reduce taxes on hotels and motels in Muscogee County.

A Columbus state representative with family ties to the hospitality industry is a co-sponsor of a bill in the House that would eliminate the $5 per room hotel/motel fee charged in Georgia.

Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, along with 15 cosponsors including Rep. John Pezold, R-Columbus, filed House Bill 364 last week that would repeal the $5 per night hotel fee that was passed with a statewide transportation bill in 2015.

Pezold, who is the son of Valley Hospitality owner Jack Pezold, said one of the reasons he signed onto the legislation is because Columbus has the highest room occupancy tax in the nation, nearly 23 percent per night.

“Georgia is the only state in the country that charges a flat dollar fee per night for a hotel room,” Pezold said on Monday. “That alone jacks the rates up.”

House Bill 434 would allow local governments to turn over properties taken through eminent domain more quickly when seeking to eradicate blight.

Right now, local governments are required to hold onto property for 20 years for public use, if it was acquired using eminent domain. House Bill 434 would allow a local government to immediately sell property it has acquired for blight eradication purposes.

There is a process the city would have to go through before acquiring and selling the property, however.

First, the government will have to petition Superior Court to determine the property is blighted and then the city would have to petition the court to condemn the property. Both court processes would require notices to interested parties and hearings. Any property acquired under the process must retain the same land use that was last applicable to the blighted property before the condemnation for a period of five years.

he Savannah City Council included the change as one of the city’s legislative priorities in December after staff said state law has made neighborhood revitalization efforts difficult since more stringent restrictions were enacted about 11 years ago.

Democratic National Committee members will convene in Atlanta this weekend to elect a new DNC Chair.

After suffering major losses in last year’s presidential and congressional elections, the party will elect a new chair on Saturday at the conclusion of its three-day winter meeting at downtown’s Westin Peachtree Plaza.

This week’s meeting begins on Thursday, Feb. 23, with council and committee meetings. On Friday, the party’s numerous caucuses will meet, with officer elections beginning at 10 am on Saturday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) writes in the Gwinnett Daily Post about the future of Obamacare in a Republican Congress.

I am asking you to join me and the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare and go back to the drawing board — together. What does going back to the drawing board mean? Greg Walden, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care, says it means, “mak(ing) sure that people with pre-existing conditions continue to get covered.” I agree. New Health and Human Services Secretary and former U.S. Rep. Tom Price says it means not “pulling the rug out from under anybody.” I agree. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it means “there will be a stable transition period, and once repeal is passed we will turn to replacement policies that cost less and work better than what we have now.” I agree.

It won’t be easy, but Congress will work to breathe life back into local health care markets, particularly in that one-third of America’s counties that have only a single insurance company remaining in the Obamacare exchange. Congress is committed to repealing the failed vision of “government knows best” and replacing it with the proven model of “family knows best.”

That means fewer federal mandates and more individual choices. Some Americans are asking for better access to Health Savings Accounts for their families. We can do that. Others are asking for the flexibility of tax credits to enable them to afford the plan of their choice that will provide the most value. We can do that. Other Americans believe state-based risk pools will be the best solution for their needs. We can do that. All of these ideas have been developed. They exist in state legislatures across the country, and they are already in Obamacare alternatives in the U.S. House like the American Health Care Reform Act, the Empowering Patients First Act, the Health Care Freedom Act and the House Better Way proposal.

With a new President, we now have a real opportunity to turn these ideas into tangible solutions for American families. It won’t happen overnight, but we can restore choice and opportunity to the marketplace. It won’t happen overnight, but we can bring back the opportunity to choose a plan based on your family’s needs rather than Uncle Sam’s. It won’t happen overnight, but we can free those American families trapped in the current “death spiral” of rising costs and shrinking choices in a government-run system, and we can put patients back in control.

Lula, Georgia adopted a liquor by the drink ordinance that will require at least 51% of sales come from food.

Coweta County Commissioners will consider outsourcing residential inspections.

Republican candidate David Abroms will ante up $250k of his own money toward his campaign for the 6th Congressional District, according to the AJC.

“I achieved financial success, and it taught me a lot about working together and what I can do when I put my heart and soul into something,” said Abroms. “It’s not always about fighting or one-upping your opponent. I think you can stick by your principles and still have a meaningful discussion.”

In a solidly-Republican district that only supported Trump by a whisker in November, Abroms said he’d be willing to defy Trump. He doesn’t back his now-sidelined immigration ban, and he said he would vote to “secure the border” while stopping short of endorsing Trump’s plan for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I’m running for the people of the Sixth District. Trump is not going to be my boss and neither is Speaker Ryan,” he said. “I don’t have to be doing this. I’m 33 years old and I’ve been extremely blessed. But I’m doing this for the right reasons. I’m not worried about political backlash for standing up for my beliefs.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 20, 2017


Shamrock is a young female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.


Ireland is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.


Leprechaun is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.


March is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 20, 2017

On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, creating the United States Postal Service.

The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The order authorized the Secretary of War to designate military areas from which all persons could be excluded. On March 9, 1942, Roosevelt signed Public Law 503, which authorized the evacuation from the West Coast and internment in prison camps of Japanese and Americans born of Japanese ancestry.

On February 20, 1970, Georgia ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.The Amendment states:

Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Seriously. 1970. Luckily ratification occurred when Tennessee approved adoption of the Amendment on April 18, 1920.

Interestingly, the only case in which the United States Supreme Court has addressed the Nineteenth Amendment arose in Georgia. Breedlove v. Suttles was a suit brought in Fulton County Superior Court concerning the poll tax. Here’s an excerpt:

The tax being upon persons, women may be exempted on the basis of special considerations to which they are naturally entitled. In view of burdens necessarily borne by them for the preservation of the race, the state reasonably may exempt them from poll taxes.

The laws of Georgia declare the husband to be the head of the family and the wife to be subject to him. To subject her to the levy would be to add to his burden. Moreover, Georgia poll taxes are laid to raise money for educational purposes, and it is the father’s duty to provide for education of the children. Discrimination in favor of all women being permissible, appellant may not complain because the tax is laid only upon some or object to registration of women without payment of taxes for previous years.

Privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.

It is fanciful to suggest that the Georgia law is a mere disguise under which to deny or abridge the right of men to vote on account of their sex. The challenged enactment is not repugnant to the Nineteenth Amendment.

Bless their hearts.

On February 20, 1974, Reg Murphy, an editor for The Atlanta Constitution was kidnapped and held until managing editor G. James Minter delivered $700,000 in ransom. I’m not sure if they’d pay 700 cents to get any employee back nowadays.

In Augusta today, the boyhood home of President Woodrow Wilson will be open for tours today in honor of President’s Day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today, the Georgia General Assembly is in recess, though several House Committees will meet at the Capitol.

10:00 AM Kelley Sub of House Jud’y (Civil) Committee 132 CAP

11:00 AM Sub 2A of Public Safety & Homeland Sec’y 406 CLOB


Governor Deal had some things to say about Richmond County Public Schools.

 As Gov. Deal signed off on a $50 million Cyber Innovation and Trainng Center in Augusta, he spoke of his enthusiasm for the area’s institutions of higher learning. He was less kind to the Richmond County School System.

“They have too many chronically failing schools,” Deal said. “In order to have the pipeline for workers and students who will be able to take advantage of this…if you want those to be local students, they have to have an underlying good education.”

“People do notice,” he said. “The military takes note of that.  And I would point out to you that as we had our meeting with them several weeks ago, they pointed out that they have more of the children of those who are working in their facility that go to Columbia County to go to school than go to Richmond.”

Deal is now supporting a new House bill that would also allow the state to take over schools.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer compared House Bill 338 to last year’s Opportunity School District legislation.

▪ The OSD superintendent, appointed by the governor, could have been somebody without any work experience in education. HB 338 calls for the Georgia Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor, to appoint a Chief Turnaround Officer. The CTO would need at least 15 years of work experience in K-12 education and an advanced degree in K-12 education, and to have been a principal or higher in a public school system for at least three years with “extensive experience” in turning around failing schools.

▪ The CTO would recommend Turnaround Coaches, approved by the state school board, to “assist schools that are identified as in the greatest need of assistance.”

▪ The OSD proposal specifically defined which schools would qualify for state takeover. But the draft of HB 338 is vague. It says the schools in greatest need would be “based on the number of years such schools have received an unacceptable rating and any other factors deemed appropriate by the Chief Turnaround Officer.”

▪ After implementing the turnaround plan for two years, a school that hasn’t improved enough, as determined by the CTO, could be subject to the following actions from the CTO: appoint a school master or management team to direct the principal; remove any school personnel; convert the school to a charter; completely reconstitute the school and hire all new staff; allow parents to move their children to another public school in the system; completely restructure the school’s governance; turn the school over to a “successful” system; turn the school over to a private nonprofit entity; or establish “any other interventions or requirements deemed appropriate” by the CTO and the state school board.

▪ If one-half or more of the schools in a local school system receive an “unacceptable” rating for five or more consecutive years, the governor could suspend the local school board members.

The Ledger-Enquirer also spoke to local school superintendents for their reactions to the House Bill.

Al Hackle of The Statesboro Herald looks at Senate Bill 85, which would ease restrictions on direct sales by brewpubs and distillers.

Senate Bill 85, which passed the Senate on a 49-to-2 vote Feb. 2 and has now been given a substitute version by a House committee, would allow a brewery to sell up to 3,000 barrels a year of malt beverages directly from its taproom. A beer barrel is defined as 31 gallons, so that’s 93,000 gallons a year, enough to quench many a thirst. The beer and ale would be sold by the glass, bottle, can or other container, not literally in barrels.

After that, craft brewers might seek further changes in the law in response to market changes that will inevitably occur, said Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.

“But in the broad stroke, we are over the moon about this compromise and this legislation, and I anticipate that … assuming that it passes, this will be a huge step for Georgia breweries and we’ll be able to sit back and watch this industry grow in an exciting and healthy way for several years,” Palmer said Friday.

[Eagle Creek Brewing Co. owner Franklin] Dismuke has been following the bill’s progress and has contacted area legislators about it.

“This will be a major, major win for the brewing industry in Georgia,” he said, adding that there will probably be “a lot more breweries opening up in the state.”

Augusta could hit the jackpot with changes to casino legislation that would allow a potential non-Atlanta location.

Rep. Brian Prince, D-Augusta, said a bill being sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, would license two areas of the state for casino gambling – Atlanta and either Augusta, Savannah, Macon or Columbus.

“Augusta is in the mix,” and ideally suited for casino gambling, Prince said.

“What’s great about Augusta is we’re not just drawing from the state of Georgia. We have South Carolina right across the bridge and North Carolina less than two hours away,” he said.

Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta, said casino gaming packs “tremendous economic potential for Augusta” and expected the legislation to leave open the possibility of casinos obtaining more than two licenses in Georgia. Jones said in order to be successful, the casino “has to be something that attracts persons from at least the southeast.”

The AJC looks at other changes in the Senate’s version of the casino bill.

Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, said Friday that his Senate Bill 79 will see its first vote in committee on Thursday. Also, Beach on Friday introduced Senate Resolution 249, the proposed amendment to the state Constitution legalizing casinos. This latest version of SB 79:

• Would license up to two “destination resort” casinos in Georgia. One in either Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett or Clayton counties and one outside that region. The second casino, however, would have to be located within 30 miles of a major convention center.

• Would levy a tax of 20 percent on casino proceeds.

• Would send 30 percent of those tax revenues to the HOPE scholarship program, 30 percent to a needs-based college scholarship, 15 percent to help provide rural healthcare, and 15 percent to help provide rural trauma care. The remaining 10 percent is still being negotiated, [Senator Brandon “Dice”] Beach said.

State Rep. Dewey McClain (D–Lawrenceville) introduced House Bill 315 to raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“This is good news for all working Georgians,” McClain wrote in the letter. “Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15 an hour but many of the state employers pay the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. In many instances workers earning these wages cannot afford the basic necessities of life and end up receiving food stamps so they can eat.

“This amounts to an indirect government subsidy of the firms which employ these people, is a burden on the workers and is not fair to the tax paying public.”

Georgia Sheriffs are seeking state help to provide raises for their officers, according to The Macon Telegraph.

The sheriffs have been telling lawmakers that counties will lose good officers if pay doesn’t rise.

A jailer starts work, on average, at about $25,300 per year, according to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. Average deputy sheriff pay starts at $29,900.

But sheriffs have another number on their minds: since a 20 percent raise for officers at state agencies went into effect this year, state troopers’ base pay now tops $46,000.

The state has long paid better than local agencies, said Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese. But the troopers’ raise is high enough that he said he and other sheriffs are worrying more about recruiting and retaining staff.

“We’re going to be losing the best of our best. That’s a concern of ours,” said Deese, who’s also president of the board of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said his department pays more than some others but that “all of us are having issues finding good people.”

But state legislators don’t set pay for deputies. That’s been up to counties.

“If we were to do something different, then this would be a substantial change from how things have always been regarding how we compensate our county-level employees,” said state Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, who is a retired state trooper and a former county commissioner. He said he’s heard some ideas from sheriffs, but not any that he thinks would have broad support under the Gold Dome.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation may receive $35 milion dollars for construction of a new regional crime lab in South Georgia.

Currently, the Coastal [Regional crime] lab reviews evidence from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in 23 southeast Georgia counties and provides forensic biology services for another seven counties.

And while it’s the largest — and oldest — regional crime lab in the state, Ross Butler, director of the Coastal lab, said it’s no longer adequate to keep up with the workload of the facility’s three main services: firearms, forensic biology and drug testing.

Meanwhile, a growth study conducted recently by the Georgia Institute of Technology indicated that Coastal Georgia’s population will increase by anywhere from 1 million to 1.5 million people by 2030, and with the added population the agency expects added crime.

Dr. George Herrin, director of the GBI Crime Lab, said plans for the new facility will carry the regional lab through the next few decades.

Herrin said the new lab is being designed to handle cases from the 23-county region for the next 20-30 years. And if the spike in cases the area has seen in recent years is any indication, he said, it’s going to be needed sooner, rather than later.

“(The case load) is increasing a little bit each year,” he said. “For instance, in the last year or so, we’ve seen anywhere from a 10 to 50 percent increase in our service requests. We’ve seen a lot more officer-involved shootings in the last year. There’s a lot more emphasis on DNA — and not just from violent crimes, but crimes like burglaries and carjackings.”

Columbus State University will receive $2.5 million in construction funding under the FY2018 budget.

Guyton Mayor Jeff Lariscy is seeking the ouster of Police Chief Kelphie Lundy at a City Council meeting on March 9, 2017.

Hall County could get a new vineyard and winery if the Hall County Planning Commission approves plans.

Gainesville protesters are holding a vigil to support immigrants.

Ellen Gerstein of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services will join a 12-member national advisory committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The City of Sugar Hill is seeking to create a building authority for its downtown.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan will deliver the State of the City address tomorrow at 5:30 PM at the Justice Center on Queen City Parkway.

Rooster down, hens up, in Marietta, as a new ordinance will allow up to four chickens but no roosters.

Trump Country

Homer in Banks County, Georgia is still Trump Country, according to the AJC.

Virtually no other place in Georgia was as supportive of Trump as Banks County, a sparsely populated area where nearly 9 out of every 10 residents voted for the Republican.

It’s hard to find a Democrat here. It’s even harder to find a Trump supporter who regrets his or her vote. And interviews with two dozen Banks County residents as the president approaches his one-month anniversary in the White House on Monday quickly revealed a few constants.

Most residents here brush off reports of chaos in the White House and reject the narrative that his administration is sinking into scandal and ineptitude. They feel his attacks on the media are justified. And they are somewhat concerned — if bemused — that he remains the same say-anything Trump he was on the campaign trail.

Trump notched a 5-point victory in Georgia in November despite losing most of metro Atlanta in part because of counties such as Banks, an overwhelmingly white, working-class and rural area where he ran up the score.

Support for GOP candidates here has crept from the high 70s in 2004 to nearly 90 percent in 2016, and no Democrats even bothered running in countywide elections last year.

Dalton State students spoke to NPR’s Marketplace about immigration issues.

Also still Trump County is South Georgia, though I hope the Administration has no plans to drain the Okefenokee Swamp.
Trump Rally


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 17, 2017

Cassie Meeker

Cassie Meeker is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Douglas County Animal Shelter in Douglasville, GA.


Pleakley is a male Chihuahua & Yorkshire Terrier Yorkie mix who is available for adoption from Douglas County Animal Shelter in Douglasville, GA.

Adopt this dog should you.


Honey is a brindle-coated young female Boxer and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Douglas County Animal Shelter in Douglasville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 17, 2017

On February 17, 1739, Thomas Jones wrote to the Georgia Trustees in London of the appalling conditions in Savannah.

“The profanation of the Lord’s Day. When at church in the time of divine service, can hear continual firing of guns by people that are shooting at some game, others carrying burdens on wheelbarrows by the church door.

“The uncommon lewdness practiced by many and gloried in.

“The negligence of officers in permitting several in this town to retail rum and strong liquors, unlicensed, who have no other visible way of livelihood, where servants resort and are encouraged to rob their masters… .

“I need not mention profane swearing and drunkenness, which are not so common here as in some other places, and few are notorious therein, besides Mr. Baliff Parker, who I have seen wallow in the mire….

The Georgia legislature, on February 17, 1783, passed legislation granting land to veterans of Georgia militia who served during the Revolutionary War.

On February 17, 1784, the Georgia legislature passed a bill to increase an earlier formula for settling the state, allotting 200 acres to each head of a family, plus 50 acres for each family member (including up to 10 slaves) up to a maximum of 1000 acres.

Thomas Jefferson was elected Third President of the United States on February 17, 1801. The election was deadlocked for three months between Jefferson and his running-mate Aaron Burr.

On November 4 [1800], the national election was held. When the electoral votes were counted, the Democratic-Federalists emerged with a decisive victory, with Jefferson and Burr each earning 73 votes to Adams’ 65 votes and Pinckney’s 64 votes. John Jay, the governor of New York, received 1 vote.

Because Jefferson and Burr had tied, the election went to the House of Representatives, which began voting on the issue on February 11, 1801. What at first seemed but an electoral technicality–handing Jefferson victory over his running mate–developed into a major constitutional crisis when Federalists in the lame-duck Congress threw their support behind Burr. Jefferson needed a majority of nine states to win, but in the first ballot had only eight states, with Burr winning six states and Maryland and Virginia. Finally, on February 17, a small group of Federalists reasoned that the peaceful transfer of power required that the majority party have its choice as president and voted in Jefferson’s favor. The 35th ballot gave Jefferson victory with 10 votes. Burr received four votes and two states voted blank.

On February 17, 1820, the United States Senate passed the Missouri Compromise to govern the admission of new states as either slave-holding or not.

On February 17, 1854, Georgia Governor Herschel Johnson signed legislation by the Georgia General Assembly placing on the ballot for the next generation the question of whether to move the state capital from Milledgeville to Atlanta.

Alexander Stephens, who was born in Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, was inaugurated as Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861. Stephens graduated from Franklin College, later known as the University of Georgia, and served in the Georgia legislature. Stephens opposed Georgia’s secession. One year later, Georgia’s delegation to the Confederate Congress, numbering ten members, was sworn in.

Ina Dillard was born on February 18, 1868 in Oglethorpe County Georgia. She married Richard Russell, who served on the Georgia Court of Appeals and as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Their son, Richard B. Russell, Jr., would be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker and became the youngest Governor of Georgia in the 20th Century. In 1932 he ran for United States Senate and was elected.

In 1936, Russell was elected to his first full term in the Senate over former Governor Eugene Talmadge. In 1952, Russell ran for the Democratic nomination for President and he was an early mentor for Lyndon B. Johnson, who later served as President. Russell served on the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy.

Russell served as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee for many years. Russell was an acknowledged leader within the Senate, and especially among Southern members, and he led much of the opposition to civil rights legislation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

On February 19, 1953, Governor Herman Talmadge signed legislation creating the Georgia State Literature Commission to investigate and refer for prosecution anyone selling obscene materials. In 2014, the Washington Post wrote about the State Literature Commission.

Georgia created the nation’s first censorship board.

The vote was unanimous. The Georgia State Assembly approved House Bill 247 on Feb. 19, 1953, with no dissent, establishing the Georgia Literature Commission. Despite being born into controversy, it lived on for 20 years surviving legal and legislative challenges until the administration of then-Gov. Jimmy Carter defanged it, setting off its slow death.

After years of support, then-Gov. Jimmy Carter cut the commission’s annual appropriation by about 20 percent in 1971, while simultaneously fighting a public battle against pornography. His administration then implemented zero-based budgeting, in which each governmental organization had to justify itself, which had become increasingly hard to do for the commission.

The first portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to hang in the state capitol was unveiled on March 17, 1974 and was replaced in 2006 by the current portrait.

On February 19, 2014, Elana Meyers (now Elana Meyers Taylor) from Douglasville, Georgia, won the Silver Medal in bobsled in the Sochi Olympics. Her father Eddie Meyers was a standout running back at the Naval Academy who served six years in the Navy and signed with the Atlanta Falcons after his service.

The Newnan Times-Herald writes about the real “Sister” Schubert, whose rolls are at most holiday dinners in our home.

Patricia “Sister” Schubert Barnes says women should find their passion and follow it with enthusiasm.

“I do believe I was put on this world to bake bread,” she told a mostly female crowd of about 130 on Feb. 5 at the Carnegie Library’s upstairs meeting room. Barnes’ talk was part of the 2017 Edgar B. Hollis Distinguished Speaker Series, sponsored by the Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation.

Barnes opened her talk with a short prayer. She reflected on the story of how her grandmother’s Everlasting Bread recipe grew from a family favorite into a national staple.

“I did take a recipe, a family recipe that I made those for years for my family and turned that into a business,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been successful because I found my purpose.”

She said her bread brings families together in the kitchen and around the table. “I believe our world needs a lot more of that, don’t you?,” she asked.

Amen, Sister.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed David L. Mincey III to the Superior Court for the Macon Judicial Circuit, filling the vacancy created when the Governor appointed Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self, III to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Under the Gold Dome

Committee Meetings – Legislative Day 20Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for February 16, 2017


Hainey is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Second Chance Animal Rescue in Cairo, GA.


Haizel is an adult female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Second Chance Animal Rescue in Cairo, GA.

Kona Guiness

Kona (left, female) and Guiness (right, male) are 7-week old Shepherd mix puppies who are available for adoption from Best Friends Dog Rescue in Cairo, GA.