The blog.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 29, 2018

On January 29, 1779, British forces captured Augusta, Georgia.

Walter F George Vienna Georgia

Walter F. George was born on January 29, 1878 in Preston, the county seat for Webster County, Georgia. Ron Daniels has a brief bio of the United States Senator who gave his name to a Law School, a courthouse, and a lake. The photo above is a bust in the town square of Vienna, Georgia, in Dooly County, where George made his home.

On January 29, 1892, the Coca Cola Company was incorporated in Georgia in Fulton County Superior Court.

On January 29, 1955, Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation granting the power to take land needed for the Stone Mountain Park through condemnation if negotiations to buy it fell through.

On January 29, 1977, Congressman Andrew Young resigned his seat to accept the nomination by President Carter as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

On January 29, 1998, a bomb exploded in a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing a police officer. Eric Rudolph would later admit to setting that bomb, along with the Centennial Park bombing in 1996, and the bombing of a Sandy Springs abortion clinic and an Atlanta bar in 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flu deaths in Georgia have doubled, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The number of flu-related deaths in Georgia has more than doubled, climbing to 25 from 12, state health officials reported late Friday. The Department of Public Health also said there were 115 hospitalizations in the metro Atlanta area due to influenza infection during the week of Jan. 14 through Jan. 20. The week before, there were 40 hospitalizations in metro Atlanta due to flu.

There have been 671 hospitalizations in the region so far this flu season. Nationally, flu activity has remained widespread in 49 states from coast to coast for three weeks in a row. The number of people getting the flu is still increasing, as is the hospitalization rate. The latter – a predictor of the death rate – is now on track to equal or surpass that of the 2014-2015 flu season, the New York Times reported. Like that year, the main strain of flu circulating this year is the H3N2 strains, which tends to cause more illnesses and deaths.

Wellstar Health System, which has 11 hospitals, is seeing a 30 percent spike in flu patients this month compared to last January, WABE reported. “I just think that because we’ve had the cold snap, we were all together in our homes and our kids were out of school that we will see another increase in the flu volume,” said Freda Lyon, vice president of emergency services for WellStar.

Officials at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta said its ER is seeing about 40 patients a day with the flu or flu-like symptoms, WABE reported.

The Albany Herald reported that Southwest Public Health District Director Dr. Charles Ruis said, “We are concerned about the amount of illness and the number of hospitalizations throughout our 14-county district, and we are now investigating the possibility of the first flu death in the district.”

**Stay home from work or school if you’re sick, so you don’t spread the flu. Before returning to school or work, flu sufferers should be free of fever (without the use of a fever reducer) for at least 24 hours.

** If your doctor prescribes antivirals, take them.

** If you’re not sick, stay away from people who are.

** Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently to help guard against the flu. If soap and water are not accessible, the next best thing is to use alcohol-based sanitizing gels.

** Cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue, or cough or sneeze into the crook of the elbow or arm.

** Avoid touching your face, as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Health officials say there are common sense flu prevention techniques — frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water. (If water is not available, alcohol-based gels are the next best thing.) If you are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue that is then discarded. Also, don’t go to work, and don’t have your children go to school, when sick.

Dr. Cherie Drenzek, state epidemiologist with the Georgia Department of Public Health said if you do get sick and think you may have the flu, contact your health care provider right away, particularly if you or family members are at high risk for serious flu complications — young children (under the age of 5), those over 65, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or asthma. Even young, healthy adults should call their doctor if symptoms don’t improve or get worse after three to four days of illness.

There are antivirals such as Tamiflu or Relenza that can help reduce the duration of flu symptoms but the medication needs to be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be most effective. GoodRx ( is a website that can help people find availability at area pharmacies and find the cheapest place to obtain the medication.

House and Senate both convene today at 10 AM.


Upon Adjournment SENATE RULES 450 CAP





2:00 PM Kelley Sub House Jud’y (Civil) 132 CAP


3:00 PM Fleming Sub House Jud’y (Civil) 132 CAP


Criminal justice reforms led by Governor Nathan Deal have resulted in lower numbers of African-Americans being imprisoned.

The number of African-Americans sent to state prisons in Georgia has declined by 30 percent in the past eight years — the result of historic reforms in the state’s criminal justice system.

Black prisoners still make up far more of Georgia’s prison population than white prisoners, after decades of mass incarceration by the state. But the numbers are turning around. Overall, the crime rate is down. But the state has also made large reductions in the number of nonviolent offenders sent to state prisons, in part by creating dozens of “accountability courts” around the state.

Drug offenders now are often diverted from prison and sent to drug courts, where they spend about 18 months receiving counseling, job training and frequent drug tests.

The State Budget process will dominate the legislature this week.

The House Appropriations Committee will meet earlier to go over the proposed supplemental budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which runs through June 30. The Legislature revises the state budget annually, after getting an update on needs and the revenue stream.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, has a 7:30 a.m. meeting scheduled for the Human Resources appropriations subcommittee she chairs.

Among the spending increases they’ll consider recommending are an additional $2.4 million for crisis services for autistic children and $15 million for child welfare services, to accommodate the increased number of children in state custody.

Dempsey also is expected to hold a subcommittee meeting Wednesday to discuss the proposed “big budget” that sets agency priorities for the 2019 fiscal year, from July 1 through June 30, 2018.

Over in the other chamber, two bills supported by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, are scheduled for first readings and assignment to committees today.

He’s among the co-sponsors of SB 357, which would create a health innovation center and a council to oversee its activities. The measure is a top recommendation of the Health Care Reform Task Force he’s serving on.

Hufstetler is sponsoring SB 359, which is another try at addressing so-called “surprise billings” that occur when patients receive services from out-of-network providers.

Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) legislation for a state authority to govern Hartsfield airport may be grounded by opposition from Gov. Deal’s administration.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration has effectively joined the effort to ground a state takeover bid of Atlanta’s busy airport before it can take flight.

As word of Republican state Sen. Burt Jones’ measure to give the state oversight of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport percolated under the Gold Dome, the director of a key state agency penned a memo harshly critical of his plan.

The memo by Diana Pope of the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission warned that adding a layer of state oversight “will cast a negative perception that could negatively impact credit ratings because of the potential disruption in services and the uncertainty of how it may impact existing and future business relationships.”

She also cautioned that there is nothing simple about creating a state oversight board. The airport authority has accumulated more than $3 billion in outstanding debt, and an overhaul could require the state to refund bonds because of recent tax changes.

With the memo, though, Deal’s administration may have signaled it doesn’t want the takeover bid to jeopardize another prized asset: The state’s AAA bond rating. We’re told the governor’s top aide, Chris Riley, recently reinforced the point in a meeting with state Senate leaders.

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education says that poverty and community factors are affecting education outcomes.

The partnership was founded in 1992 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association. It consists of business, education, community and government leaders.

The state’s Department of Education’s official action plan includes steps to improve educational equity, but success depends on responses at the community level, according to the Partnership report.

“Teachers and school leaders need resources and support to help overcome the harmful impacts of poverty and adverse neighborhood factors. It is rare that a school can outperform its community,” the report states.

Georgia has the third-largest rural school population in the nation, Rickman noted as she explained the issues facing rural schools.

Access to health care is one of the most urgent issues facing rural schools, especially when poverty is also an issue, Rickman said.

Cobb County Commissioners seeking legislative approval for an additional sales tax ran into questions at the Capitol.

[Commission Chair Mike] Boyce described the legislators as noncommittal to the tax proposal.

“We had two major questioners. (State Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb, and state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) both had concerns,” he said.

Cooper’s concern was if public safety is funded by a sales tax and a recession hits, the funding could be in jeopardy. Yet Boyce said he told lawmakers that while there are some issues with the tax proposal, the beauty of it is everyone has nine months to make their arguments before voters decide whether to approve it or not.

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, said he did not know of any support for drafting the tax law among Cobb legislators either.

“It was nothing to do with public safety. It’s really a budgetary issue. It’s not a public safety issue. They have a big budget gap, and they’re trying to close that, and it’s being advertised as public safety, but it’s really more a budgetary issue,” Wilkerson said.

State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-east Cobb, was also skeptical.

“Let’s just say I have a lot of concerns, especially since commissioners seem divided on it,” she said.

Setzler said while he appreciated the “warmth and candor” of Wednesday’s discussion, “at the end of the day, this is a new revenue scheme for the county, and although it’s being presented as being about public safety, it’s really about spending and other things.”

Three State Representatives introduced legislation to bring back the tax credit for electric vehicles.

On Wednesday, state representatives Spencer Frye, Todd Jones, and Allen Peake announced the introduction of House Bill 98 for the 2018-2019 legislative session.

While the text of the bill apparently hasn’t been posted to the Georgia Legislature’s website, the bill would create a $2,500 credit for buyers of electric cars within the state, presumably starting sometime in 2019.

While that previous credit was in effect, Nissan frequently cited the greater Atlanta area as one of the top regions for sales of its Leaf electric car.

When the credit was ended as of July 1, 2015, however, sales of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars in Georgia plummeted to little more than one-tenth the June 2015 level.

Jim Galloway of the AJC raises the historic question of whether the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah is really named the Talmadge Bridge.

Within the next few weeks, state Rep. Ron Stephens will likely begin a delicate debate over Georgia culture and history with this assertion: The Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savannah isn’t really the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

It never has been.

Yes, the name of the segregationist governor has been physically attached to the graceful suspension bridge for 27 years now, but that was accomplished through bureaucratic fiat, Stephens’ research is expected to show.

Not by a proper act of the Legislature.

And because the bridge lacks an official name, his fellow lawmakers should feel free to bestow one chosen by the local community, Stephens will argue. The Republican prefers that the bridge bear the name of Juliette Gordon Low, a Savannah native and founder of the Girl Scouts.

It’s a fascinating story worth reading in its entirety.

Cobb County hosted the Georgia Sheriff’s Association Winter Training Conference.

“The Georgia Sheriff’s Association and visiting sheriffs were very appreciative of the training and thankful for the hospitality provided by Cobb County,” said Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren in a statement. “We have a lot to be proud of in Cobb County and having the chance to involve our great staff during the conference was a privilege. Between the excellent training and impressive list of speakers … it is going to be hard to top this event!”

The visiting sheriffs received training in topics including procedural updates from state agencies, adult mental health issues, legal and legislative issues as well as court security standards. They also had the opportunity to see the latest in law enforcement equipment and technology during a vendor fair.

The Glynn County Republican Party hosted four of the five GOP candidates for Secretary of State.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, introduced a constitutional amendment resolution Jan. 11 in the Senate that would, if the amendment was approved, set English as the official state language. The Senate Rules Committee favorably reported the resolution Thursday.

“We’re going to fight the attempts of the left to force counties and municipalities around this state to print ballots in foreign languages,” McKoon said. “That’s just wrong. You have to learn English to become a citizen through the naturalization process. Why would we print ballots in foreign languages?”

Additionally, McKoon touted his experience as a private attorney, handling election law issues and arguing those issues in court.

State Rep. Brad Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek, laid his intentions on the line up front.

“My name is Brad Raffensperger, and I’m running for secretary of State to make sure only American citizens can vote in our elections, to make sure Georgia is a great place to find a job, but also a great place to build a business,” Raffensperger said.

Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Richard Steele rolled out two self-service car tag renewal kiosks.

Tax Commissioner Richard Steele announced two new self-service tag renewal kiosks have been added at the Lawrenceville and North Gwinnett tag offices. While the kiosk at the Lawrenceville office will have a limited schedule — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays — the North Gwinnett office’s kiosk will be open 24 hours a day, every day.

“I am constantly looking for ways to make tag renewal more convenient for Gwinnett taxpayers. The after-hours kiosks will offer a new option in addition to paying online, mailing in payment or visiting a tag office.” Steele said in a statement. “We are also looking forward to adding additional kiosks in other county locations in the future.”

County officials said residents must have a valid Georgia driver’s license and the address on their renewal notice must be correct to use the kiosks. Officials also said a state-run system must proof of the resident’s insurance and they must have a valid emission inspection on file as well.

Residents who use the kiosk to renew their vehicle registration will receive their current license plate decal immediately at the kiosk. They can use Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express to pay their renewal fees.

County officials also said residents can also renew their vehicle registrations at self-service kiosks that are located in Kroger stores in DeKalb, Walton, Hall, Clayton and Fulton counties.

Democrat Zahra Karinshak announced raising $135k in her campaign for the Senate District 48 seat being vacated by Sen. David Shafer’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

The Valdosta Daily Times profiles candidates in the February special election for House District 175.

Four candidates vie for [former State Rep. Amy] Carter’s unfinished term. They are:

• Treva Gear, Democrat, Valdosta, educator.

• John LaHood, Republican, Valdosta, business owner.

• Bruce Phelps, Republican, Lowndes County, who lists his occupation as emergency medical technician.

• Coy Reaves, Republican, Quitman, self-employed.

The Valdosta Daily Times asked the candidates to introduce themselves and answer a series of questions.

A contested judicial election between Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt, Jr. and challenger Melissa Hice could prove a “blood sport.”

Melissa Hise, 49, announced last week she will run against Ralph Van Pelt Jr., a Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit superior court judge since 1996. Hise denied her run has anything to do with the fight between Van Pelt and one of the country’s most famous lawyers; she said she simply wanted to provide voters with a fresh face.

“I want you to finish your two years remaining on your term and to qualify for re-election — if you have the stamina and resolve!” Cook wrote in a letter to Van Pelt in October 2016. “There is nothing so interesting as a Northwest Georgia election where politics for generations has been a ‘blood sport.’”

Hise could have run against Judge Don Thompson, whose term is up this year. But she said Thompson will help move the judicial circuit forward. Appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016, Thompson started to oversee the circuit’s new drug court last year. That is a rehabilitative program that aims to keep non-violent, addicted offenders out of jail.

“Judge Van Pelt has held his seat for quite a while,” Hise said. “If you’re looking for a change and something different, you’re looking at his seat.”

Van Pelt said he has never resisted change in the circuit. He added that his experience makes him more qualified. Before taking the bench, he worked as a private lawyer and the circuit’s district attorney. Though he hasn’t kept a tally, he says he has worked hundreds of jury trials. Hise said she has never been the lead attorney on any jury trials.

“Making an inexperienced mistake can cost taxpayer money and lots of grief to people involved in a case,” Van Pelt said.

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit covers Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties. The election for Van Pelt’s seat is May 22.

Allene Magill, Executive Director of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators has died.

“The PAGE family is overwhelmed and saddened today with the passing of Dr. Allene Magill, our leader and executive director,” said Craig Harper, director of communications. “Allene was a tireless advocate for educators and public education in Georgia for many decades with her most important work occurring over the past 14 years with PAGE.”

“Allene was a visionary leader who saw great potential in people and helped all with whom she worked to do even more than they thought they were capable of doing,” Harper said. “She never stopped striving to ensure educators had the support they needed to develop professionally, and to provide the best instruction in the classroom and the highest level of leadership, regardless of position.”

At 93,000 members, PAGE is Georgia’s largest professional association for educators. Magill was the executive director since July 2003, following superintendent positions in Paulding, Forsyth and Dalton.

The Muscogee County Board of Education will vote today on make-up dates for snow days, including whether to hold classes on Presidents’ Day.

According to the school district, four days of classes have been missed, two for Hurricane Irma on Sept. 11-12 and two for snow and ice on Jan 17-18.

And while school districts may miss up to four days without the state requiring them to be made up, Lewis is recommending that classes be held on Monday, Feb. 19, a scheduled holiday.

The board will vote on making the move which effectively changes the school calendar.

In an email to MCSD employees, Lewis wrote, “These four canceled days of school represent a concerning amount of local instructional time for our students. My reasoning is that Presidents Day is typically not considered a major travel day.”

Patrick Anderson will run for Hall County Board of Education Post 2, which is being vacated by incumbent Brian Sloan.

Anderson told The Times in an email that he had corresponded with Sloan in recent weeks and met him personally at a board of education meeting last Monday.

“I’m very excited to run for the South Hall school board position, especially after attending the meeting and seeing what a great leadership team we have in Superintendent (Will) Schofield and the board,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he wants to see schools do a better job teaching students about healthy living habits, life skills, job hunting and relationship challenges and preparing young men and women for life’s little but important responsibilities, like living on a budget, saving money, understanding insurance options and building credit.

“Personally, my passion for education is to prepare students for success after high school with life and job skills,” he said. “One thing that is missing everywhere, I think, is that we just teach to the test or textbook and not to real life.”

Georgia state climatologist Bill Murphey said that 2017 was the warmest year on record for Georgia.

The annual average statewide temperature for 2017 was tied with 2016 for the warmest on record with 65.8 degrees as the average mean temperature, Georgia state climatologist Bill Murphey said.

Atlanta broke records throughout the entire year, as it had the third warmest winter and spring on record, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. For the city, 2016 and 2012 were the No.1 and No. 2 warmest years, respectively.

There were many factors that could have contributed to Georgia’s warm year, including very warm overnight low temperatures, the clouds which affect infrared radiation cooling, and evaporation, Murphey said. A La Niña period occurred from about Apr. 2016 until about June 2017, he also noted.

“Recall how dry it was in Georgia, especially during the fall and winter La Niña event of 2016, with all the north Georgia wildfire activity,” he said. “In fact annual average temperatures for 2016 for Atlanta were the warmest on record … The annual average statewide temperature for 2017 was tied with 2016 for the warmest on record.”

South Dakota is considering repealing Marsy’s Law, whose supporters are making a push for passage in Georgia. From US News & World Report:

Some South Dakota legislators want to repeal a voter-approved constitutional “bill of rights” for crime victims, citing unintended consequences like high costs to counties and protections they say have actually hampered investigations.

South Dakota is the first state to seek to repeal “Marsy’s Law” of the six that enacted it, said Gail Gitcho, a spokeswoman for Marsy’s Law for All. Montana‘s Supreme Court recently tossed the constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2016, citing flaws in how it was written.

South Dakota House Speaker Mark Mickelson said Thursday that lawmakers would be seeking to strengthen victims’ rights provisions already in state law before asking voters to repeal the Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment they passed in 2016.

“We’re going to strengthen South Dakota victims’ rights,” Mickelson said. “Part of that is removing the unintended consequences of Marsy’s Law from the constitution.”

But Mickelson said he and others are trying to fix unintended consequences from Marsy’s Law that have degraded victims’ rights. Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said his office depends on the eyes and ears of the public to help the Sioux Falls-based department solve cases, but the amendment has limited the information they can provide.

“We struggle sometimes being able to share enough information with the public to have them help us in solving crimes,” Milstead said.

The Marsy’s Law repeal proposal would go to voters in the November election, potentially with replacement language saying that victims have the “right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and the right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 26, 2018


Rusty is an eight-week old male Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.


Kenickie is a ten-week old male Labrador Retriever and Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.


Brandy is a seven-year old female Boykin Spaniel who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA. She’s new enough to the rescue group that she’s not on their website yet, but you can fill out your application to adopt her. The Boykin Spaniel is the official state dog of South Carolina.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 26, 2018

On January 28, 1733, Georgia’s first colonists celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their safe arrival in Savannah and Chief Tomochichi’s granting them permission to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.

On January 27, 1785, a charter was approved by the Georgia legislature for the first publicly-supported state university in America.

The Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting on January 26, 1846 at Talbotton, Georgia.

John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.

On January 27, 1941, Delta Air Lines announced it would move its headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia. It was an interesting case of public-money-fueled economic development.

In 1940, the city of Atlanta and Delta had signed an agreement whereby the city agreed to contribute $50,000 for construction of a new hanger and office building for Delta if it would move its headquarters to Atlanta. In turn, Delta agreed to pay the remaining construction costs and then assume a 20-year lease for the new facilities. On Jan. 16, 1941, Delta had secured a $500,000 loan from Atlanta’s Trust Company of Georgia, thus allowing it to make a public announcement of the move.

On January 28, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed a joint resolution of the Georgia House and Senate amending the Georgia Constitution to make the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia a constitutional board and reduce the power of the Governor over the Regents.

The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.

On January 27, 1965, the Shelby GT 350 was unveiled.

Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” was released on January 27, 1965, seven weeks after his death.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.

Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.

On January 26, 2001 a new state flag, first designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander, passed out of committee in the General Assembly by a 4-3 vote and would be voted on later that week. Click here to view the floor debate from 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, the General Assembly adopted Senate Resolution 631, which lays out the schedule for the remainder of the legislative session with Sine Die scheduled for no later than midnight on Thursday, March 29, 2018. Crossover Day is February 28, 2018.

Monday, January 29, 2018 Legislative Day 11
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 Legislative Day 12
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Legislative Day 13
Thursday, February 1, 2018 Legislative Day 14
Monday, February 5, 2018 Legislative Day 15
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 Legislative Day 16
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 Legislative Day 17
Thursday, February 8, 2018 Legislative Day 18
Monday, February 12, 2018 Legislative Day 19
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 Legislative Day 20
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Legislative Day 21
Thursday, February 15, 2018 Legislative Day 22
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 Legislative Day 23
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Legislative Day 24
Thursday, February 22, 2018 Legislative Day 25
Friday, February 23, 2018 Legislative Day 26
Monday, February 26, 2018 Legislative Day 27
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 Legislative Day 28
Thursday, March 1, 2018 Legislative Day 29
Monday, March 5, 2018 Legislative Day 30
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Legislative Day 31
Thursday, March 8, 2018 Committee Work Day
Friday, March 9, 2018 Legislative Day 32
Monday, March 12, 2018 Legislative Day 33
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 Legislative Day 34
Thursday, March 15, 2018 Legislative Day 35
Monday, March 19, 2018 Legislative Day 36
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 Legislative Day 37
Thursday, March 22, 2018 Committee Work Day
Friday, March 23, 2018 Legislative Day 38
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 Legislative Day 39 “Rat Stomp Day”
Thursday, March 29, 2018 Legislative Day 40 “Sine Die”

The AJC has a little squib on why the specification of “no later than midnight” is important.

When the clock strikes midnight on March 29, the Georgia General Assembly will have to be finished with its work for the year.

The state Senate and House approved an resolution Thursday that adjourns the 2018 legislative session no later than midnight on its 40th business day, restoring a tradition that was broken in 2015.

During the past three legislative sessions, there wasn’t as much urgency to pass bills before midnight. Lawmakers continued their work into the morning.

The return of the midnight deadline could restore the drama that has at times gone missing in recent years.

Federal tax reform legislation could lead to a windfall in additional state revenue because of ties between federal deductions and the state income tax.

That’s largely because the federal tax law touted by President Donald Trump and Congress limited or eliminated some of the deductions Georgians have used when figuring their state taxes in the past and made it far more likely that ratepayers will use the standard federal deduction, rather than lowering their state taxable income using itemized deductions.

So while many Georgians may pay less in federal taxes, they will wind up with bigger state tax bills.

State leaders across the country are trying to figure out what to do with the extra money: spend it on state programs or cut taxes. Georgia is likely to do neither, at least initially.

“There is a significant assumption that there is going to be a big windfall for Georgia, particularly in 2o20 and moving forward,” [Gov. Deal's Chief of Staff Chris] Riley said. “It’s hard to get real concrete data on how this is going to play out.”

Deal won’t make plans to spend the windfall by putting it in the state budget, in large part because he doesn’t know how big it will be.

“The last thing we want to do is have a special session in the fall and raise taxes or cut the budget,” Riley said. “Georgia prides itself in the fact that we are not one of the 29 states this year that had to go back in and cut its budget, nor are we one of the 22 states that had to raise taxes to have a balanced budget.”

[Speaker David] Ralston’s spokesman, Kaleb McMichen, said: “Speaker Ralston was briefed on the estimate, and his initial reaction is to agree with the governor that a cautious approach to the projections is best. He will continue to review the information and consult with his leadership team … as the budget process moves forward.”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) spoke about concentrating on expanding rural broadband at an event hosted by the AJC.

“Broadband is really foundational to so many of the things we’re talking about, whether it’s health care, telemedicine, education or business,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said during the Politically Georgia discussion sponsored by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You’re going to see a number of approaches out there, so what ultimately is approved this year remains to be seen.”

About 16 percent of Georgians lack access to high-speed internet service.

Ralston said internet service could be extended to rural areas by making it easier for internet companies to use power poles.

He downplayed other proposals to build out internet. He said an idea by Sen. Steve Gooch, R- Dahlonega, to run fiber optic cables along Georgia’s interstate system would be expensive.

He didn’t discuss the concept of charging a telecommunications tax to subsidize construction of internet lines in the country. Legislators on the House Rural Development Council had suggested the state could raise money by taxing satellite TV, internet phones and possibly internet streaming services.

Georgia Conservation groups are preparing a push for House Bill 332 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) which would fund state conservation efforts.

The measure, House Bill 332, struggled to gain traction during last year’s legislative session. But conservationists are marshaling forces this year in hopes the plan can land on the November ballot. They released a poll Friday suggesting a broad majority of voters back the idea.

“This is an investment in an economic engine that’s really important to the state of Georgia,” said Robert Ramsay, the head of the Georgia Conservancy. “And we have that opportunity because Georgia’s been so blessed with natural resources.”

The legislation would dedicate 75 percent of the existing state sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to a conservation fund to buy new parkland, protect water and wildlife, and improve existing green space.

The fund would be overseen by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and financed from existing taxes for equipment purchased for camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports. The annual amount would be calculated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and it would not include any tax dollars from sales of boats, motor homes and four-wheelers.

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition say that a private poll shows eight of ten voters would support the measure.

Eight in 10 Georgians agree that a portion of the existing state sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment should be constitutionally dedicated to land conservation according to a recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition. The coalition is comprised of the state’s leading conservation organizations.

“Georgians understand the important role that land and natural resources play in their quality of life, from clean drinking water to places for children and families to be outside,” said Robert Ramsay, president of the Georgia Conservancy. “We are excited about this proposed solution that would have a generational impact on land conservation without raising or creating any new taxes.”

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (HB332) would dedicate 75% of the existing state sales and use tax on outdoor recreation equipment to the protection of the state’s land, water and wildlife. Funds generated could be used to protect lands critical to water quality, maintain and improve access to parks, and address the conservation program defined in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan. The shift from appropriated to annually dedicated funding would also allow the state to attract more private and philanthropic investment.

“Georgia’s outdoor economy, which includes hunters and anglers as well as those who simply enjoy the outdoors, has an annual economic impact of $27 billion and supports nearly 240,000 direct jobs. We believe this proposal will not only protect this significant industry sector, but allow it to grow. With dedicated funding, the state could better protect not only the habitats of game and non-game wildlife, but also the beaches, rivers, and lakes that outdoor enthusiasts enjoy ,” added Mike Worley, president and CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

The Georgia constitution requires the dedication of any taxes for a particular purpose to be approved by the voters. If passed by the required two-thirds of the General Assembly, the measure would be on the ballot in November 2018.

“Our state has benefitted from a legacy of leaders willing to invest in our land and natural resources. We are hopeful that the General Assembly will agree with their constituents who overwhelmingly support this proposal that this is a viable approach to preserve our state’s natural beauty, ensure access to land and greenspace for both rural and urban communities, and protect critical resources including our water supply,” concluded Thomas Farmer, executive director of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition.

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition is comprised of The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and the Trust for Public Land. For more information, visit

Cobb County School Board members voted unanimously to issue $40 million in tax anticipation notes against SPLOST proceeds.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said because construction costs increase an average of 4 to 5 percent each year, short-term loans allow the district to lock in bids for SPLOST projects at lower prices, saving the district money in the long term.

The practice was something the district did regularly ahead of the recession, he said, and he plans to ask board members to approve a similar agreement at the beginning of 2019 to secure funding for next year’s SPLOST projects.

Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley announced he will seek reelection this year.

“My goal is to see that all parties involved in any type of litigation are treated fairly and equally. I strive to ensure that all parties coming before the court are permitted to be fully heard so that one never feels that they have not been afforded a full and fair opportunity to present their case,” Bagley said. “At the conclusion of every case, I want to be comfortable that I have arrived at the right decision which complies with the law and is just and fair.”

The election will be held on May 22, the same day as primary elections in the state.

Bagley has served as a judge in the county for more than 20 years and was appointed as State Court Judge by Gov. Zell Miller in 1997. He became Chief Superior Court Judge in 2003.

In 2004, he founded the county’s drug court and continues to run the court’s accountability program. The program is made up of felony drug offenders and includes “extensive treatment and rehabilitation including a strict drug testing regimen.”

“Since the first graduation in 2005, 328 persons have graduated from the drug court, the majority of which have gone on to live successful and sober lives,” Bagley said.

Two candidates announced they will run for Columbus City Council this year.

Regina “Reggie” Richards Liparoto, a longtime Columbus resident who worked as a local broadcaster for many decades, is running for the Columbus Council District 9 seat.

The Rev. Gregory Blue, founder of Columbus-based Body of Christ Church International, is running for the District 1 position.

The two candidates are among the latest in a growing list of potential candidates for the May 22 election.

The mayor’s seat and all odd number council district seats are up for grabs.

Hall County commissioners Kathy Cooper and Scott Gibbs announced they will run for reelection this year.

Cooper represents South Hall and Gibbs North Hall. The commissioners announced their intentions at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday.

Their two seats are the only ones up for election this year. Both said they feel like they’ve accomplished much in their time on the commission and have more to do before stepping down.

Cooper was first elected to the commission in 2014, and Gibbs has been a commissioner since 2011.


Adjournment Resolution




Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 25, 2018

Pen190 Candy

Candy is a 10 month old female Pit Bull mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Pen194 Camembert

Camembert is a 5-month old male Belgian Malinois mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Pen 213 is a 3-month old male Belgian Malinois mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 25, 2018

On January 25, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the first national momument commemorating the Revolutionary War.

Emory Window 628

On January 25, 1915, a charter was issued in DeKalb County Superior Court to Emory University.

On January 25, 1943, Georgia Gov. Ellis Arnall signed legislation eliminating the governor as an ex officio member of the State Board of Education, State Board of Regents, Department of Public Safety, and State Housing Authority, as part of a proposal to reduce the Governor’s power over education.

On January 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy held the first live televised press conference.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

LTBT copy

“Let Trump Be Trump” authors Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie will appear at the Marietta Fish Market on February 15, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in support of their New York Times best-selling book. General Admission tickets are free. For $25 you can get a signed book and $45 gets you a book and photo op.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed John Herbert Cranford Jr. as the new District Attorney for the Coweta Judicial Circuit. The Coweta Circuit comprises Carroll, Troup, Meriwether. & Coweta Counties. Pete Skandalakis retired as Coweta Circuit District Attorney effective January 4, and Monique Kirby served as interim D.A. until Cranford was appointed.

The Senate and House convene today at 10 AM for Legislative Day 10.




11:00 AM House Tags and Titles Sub of Motor Veh. 510 CLOB – Upon Adjournment











Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle is supporting a move from electronic ballots to some form of paper ballots.

“I think it is important that we have a paper ballot trail that ensures that accuracy is there, and that there are no games that potentially could be played,” Cagle, a Republican candidate for governor, said in an interview with WABE.

Georgia is one of just a few states that exclusively use voting machines without a paper trail. Cybersecurity experts agree it exposes the system to potential doubt, hacks and glitches.

“I’m super excited to have Lt. Gov. Cagle on board,” said Republican Rep. Scot Turner, the lead sponsor of a bi-partisan bill in the House that would require the state move to a paper ballot system, which could be audited.

State Sen. Bruce Thompson, chair of that chamber’s Science and Technology Committee, will sponsor a bill similar to Turner’s.

“It will not be identical to the one that’s in the House, but very, very similar,” Thompson said.

Cagle’s support of Thompson’s legislation means it’s likely to pass the Senate.

“The fact of the matter is our elections are very, very vulnerable,” Thompson said.  “This is our state, we should be able to protect our voting and our process.”

Rome City Commission is urging legislators to ensure that funding source created for a specific purpose are actually dedicated to funding that purpose.

The Rome City Commission is getting behind a push to force state lawmakers to spend specialized fees on the programs they were intended to fund.

Levies such as the $1 tire replacement fee — meant to clean up illegal tire dumps — and super-speeder fines for trauma centers, are often diverted to pay for other services.

Mayor Jamie Doss said the board intends to formally urge passage of House Resolution 158, which would ban the practice except in the case of a financial emergency. The Georgia Municipal Association is asking all its members to do the same.

“It sets up a vote on a constitutional amendment, so fees earmarked for a specific purpose are used for that purpose and don’t go into the general fund,” Doss said.

Rome-based Coosa River Basin Initiative and other members of the Georgia Water Coalition also have renewed their support of the legislation. HR 158 was introduced last year by Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, and co-sponsored by Republican Rep. John Meadows of Calhoun.

It was poised to pass the House in 2017 but supporters couldn’t round up the 120 votes needed by Crossover Day, the deadline for bills to get through at least one chamber or be tabled. This is the final year of the two-year session, however, and if it doesn’t pass this time it will die.

The Senate Rules Committee passed Senate Resolution 587 by Sen. Josh McKoon, which would create a referendum to Amend the Georgia Constitution and designate English as the official language of state government.

By a non-unanimous voice vote, the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday approved Sen. Joshua McKoon’s proposed constitutional amendment to name English as the state’s “official language.” State law already contains that designation, but McKoon, a Columbus Republican, said the law is not being properly enforced and the issue needs to be cleared up by revising the state constitution.

More than 30 states have designated English as their first language, McKoon has said. But only about a third of those states have amended their constitutions to make English their official language.

Constitutional amendments require two-thirds approval in both chambers and voters’ approval in a statewide election.

An identical measure passed the Senate in 2016 but died in the House.

The Georgia State House Medical Cannabis Working Group voted to recommend passage of House Bill 645 by Working Group Chair Allen Peake (R-Macon). From the Macon Telegraph:

Macon Republican state Rep. Allen Peake wants the state to issue up to two licenses to grow cannabis and manufacture a liquid from it. State law allows Georgians who have a doctor’s recommendation and a state medical marijuana card to possess that oil for the treatment of symptoms of any of several diagnoses, including late-stage cancer.

“What we’ve attempted to do in House Bill 645 is do what 30 other states have done, which is enact infrastructure for growing of marijuana for medicinal purposes only,” said Peake, so that the roughly 3,400 Georgians who are registered can get it.

In a unanimous voice vote on Wednesday, the House Medical Cannabis Working Group sent HB 645 to the state House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. Hearings and approval from that committee would be the next step toward a full floor vote.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has endorsed medical marijuana cultivation. But this January, ahead of the session, he recommended a federal strategy.

“I’ve been supportive of the initiatives that have gotten us to this point,” Ralston said, “but at some point we have to sort of confront the realty that as long as federal law is what federal law is, that there’s only so far that we can go. So I’ve encouraged the proponents of medical cannabis oil that maybe it’s time that the emphasis be put on Washington as opposed to the state level and hopefully they will do that.”

House Bill 731 by State Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City) would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes.

The advocacy group, Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us), estimates that the tax paid on those products adds up to $10 million a year.

The bill spells out some of the products to be exempted as “tampons, menstrual pads” and others.

The legislation, House Bill 731, was proposed by Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City. Four of her first five co-sponsors are Republicans, members of the majority party in the General Assembly.

Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said he signed on because the products should have been exempted years ago along with groceries and medical devices.

“I think there’s a valid argument that it’s a medical necessity,” Peake said. “There were some constituents of mine who approached me about it, some ladies in my area. The more they explained to me, the more it made sense.”

State legislators are working on a transit bill for Metro Atlanta.

The next “big lift” for the state in terms of transportation is mobility and transit, said state Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, speaking to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s State of Transportation breakfast Wednesday.

Tanner is chairing the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, a closely watched panel put together by House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, last year. Ralston has cited a strong economic development argument for efficient transit and possibly state funding toward it.

Tanner said in the next few weeks, he anticipates rollout of major legislation for a regional governance structure for transit, along with “innovative ideas” for local governments to raise money in new ways, and new funding options from the state. Now, the state spends vanishingly little on transit, save a $75 million in bonded projects awarded in 2016.

“I’m also hopeful that we can for the first time in a long time have a significant expansion of our rail service into some other counties in the state,” Tanner said.

The transit commission will work for at least two years, but this session they’ll focus on metro Atlanta, rather than other areas.

From the Dalton Daily Citizen:

“The state traditionally has been probably about fifth lowest in the country for funding transit services in metro areas. We want to change that,” Tanner said to elected officials and business leaders who gathered Wednesday for a panel discussion sponsored by the Georgia Transportation Alliance, which is affiliated with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The north Georgia lawmaker said a proposal will likely include bonds to pay for transit projects, as well as a push for better coordination among existing transit operators so riders can have a smoother experience.

“One of the things that is important for us is to get away from is silo mentality,” he said, referring to the 11 separate transit systems that exist now in 13 metro Atlanta counties.

But Tanner was mum on other details Wednesday, such as what the cost would be to expand transit and make other improvements.

State Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) is introducing legislation to limit costs borne for construction at Plant Vogtle.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, a Republican, introduced what he calls a “reasonable” solution to ease some of the burden customers have felt from the troubled project, which has been delayed by at least five years and could potentially double its initially estimated cost of $14.3 billion.

“This is a very fair bill,” Hufstetler said. “It doesn’t stop Plant Vogtle. It doesn’t stop the overruns from being paid. But it does set some limits on it. I’m hoping that it will be looked at reasonably.”

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 355, would cause Georgia Power to change the formula it uses to bill customers, which builds in an automatic profit, Hufstetler said. Ratepayers would continue to pay for cost overages, but none of that money could be used to create a profit for the energy company.

“The way things are set up now, the more (Georgia Power is) over budget, the more profit they make,” he said.

Seventeen Georgia Mayors visited the White House to discuss infrastructure, urban development and the opioid crisis.

The mayors of 17 Georgia cities, including Atlanta, Sandy Springs and Loganville were on hand for various outreach events with Trump administration officials throughout the day.

It all culminated in a 15-minute speech from President Donald Trump in the East Wing. Trump previewed his administration’s upcoming infrastructure plan and said his wanted to empower local governments.

“You bring safety, prosperity and hope to our citizens,” Trump said. “My administration will always support local government and listen to leaders who know their communities best, and you know your community best.”

Metro Atlanta mayors who were slated to attend the day’s events included: Boyd Austin of Dallas; Michael Bodker of Johns Creek; Steven Edwards of Sugar Hill; Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta; Rey Martinez of Loganville; Rusty Paul of Sandy Springs; Vanessa Rogers-Fleisch of Peachtree City; and Vince Williams of Union City.

Cherokee County Superior Court Chief Judge Jackson Harris announced he will not run for reelection this year.

Harris, who sat down with Patch Wednesday afternoon in his office at the Cherokee County Justice Center, said he felt it was time to focus on traveling, visiting the country’s National Parks and spending time with his children.

““I knew I would be coming up for re-election this year, so I’ve been pondering the decision,” Judge Harris said when asked why he chose to step aside. “I guess it just came together recently…that this is probably a better path for me. I’ve enjoyed my time here.”

“Everybody who comes to court is here because they really don’t want to be and I think if we treat them all as individuals and not just case numbers, then we are doing our job,” he said. “I’ve also enjoyed working with the people here in the county and in the courthouse.”

One of the most striking changes Harris reflected on is how Cherokee has transitioned from a “rural/suburban court to a suburban/urban court,” a movement that has no signs of slowing down due to the growth. That change, he added, doesn’t particularly show up in the number of cases coming through the system, but in the type of crimes judges and prosecutors are tasked with adjudicating.

Rhonda Barnes, who serves as Executive Legal Assistant to Gov. Deal, will run for Spalding County Clerk of Superior Court.

She’s seeking a post vacated by Marcia Norris, who was suspended by Deal after a state probe found she was “willfully not fulfilling her duties.”

Barnes is a familiar figure under the Gold Dome. She’s been an executive legal assistant for the governor’s office since 2005, and has been the go-to for organizing and processing executive orders and coordinating key records in the office for all of Deal’s tenure.

She kept a tally of the paperwork she’s handled in 13 years in the office: More than 200 judicial appointments, nearly 6,000 executive orders and nearly 1,000 Open Records Act requests handled expeditiously.

Barnes said she’ll bring those skills to the clerk’s office, with plans to clear lengthy backlogs and modernize the county’s outdated computer systems.

“I truly believe that the experience I have gained while working in the Office of the Governor has prepared me to operate the clerk’s office in a manner that will make my friends, family and the citizens of Spalding County proud,” she said in a statement.

Coastal Georgia waters are now closed to shrimping because of low temperatures.

The shrimp harvest means a lot for the economy of the Golden Isles and Coastal Georgia, but the recent record cold had its impact on area shrimp, so officials ordered federal waters off the Georgia coast closed for shrimp trawling.

The state Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division sent out a notice late Tuesday afternoon announcing trawling for brown, pink or white shrimp was no longer allowed in federal waters as of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

State waters, which were set to close at the end of 2017, were allowed to remain open through Jan. 15. State waters typically reopen between May 15 and early June, while federal waters tend to remain open all year unless something happens.

The closure, according to officials, was necessary to protect shrimp spawning, and in this case, specifically the white variety.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 24, 2018


Ryder is a young male Labrador Retriever & Doberman Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from Special Needs Rescue, Inc. in Grantville, GA.

This handsome 3-year-old fellow is Ryder who spent another birthday in boarding (this makes three whole birthdays) without a home. But, the good news is that Ryder has been working with a trainer and getting more social, play, and work time.

Ryder loves playing with other dogs, but gets rather rowdy. He’s a pleaser, however, so a dog-experienced, authoritative type could easily guide his interactions. Ryder comes with FREE LIFETIME Training. Adopters can drop in anytime to group classes in Decatur/Kirkwood.

He weighs 50 lbs. and is great with people and good with some same-sized dogs (must correct rowdy play); just no cats! Ryder is crate-, potty-, and obedience trained. He’s neutered, up-to-date on vaccines, and heartworm negative.

WinnieSpecial Needs

Winnie is a young female Terrier & Rat Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Special Needs Rescue, Inc. in Grantville, GA.

Winnie is a lively little Terrier mix who was heartworm-positive in Texas and scheduled to be destroyed. We felt she deserved another chance and brought her here. Now, she is spayed, up-to-date on all vaccinations, and heartworm-free. She is ready to find her forever home. Winnie is about 1 years old.

Winnie gets along well with other dogs and is always up for play or mischief. She is quite intelligent and learns easily. She is housebroken and rather fastidious about her cleanliness. She usually doesn’t like to get dirty. She would make a good companion for older children or adults.


Sally is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Special Needs Rescue, Inc. in Grantville, GA.

Sally is an outgoing dog who gets along well with other dogs and mostly ignores cats. She loves to play and romp, and because she sometimes forgets herself and jumps up, she probably would work best in a home with older children.

Sally loves to go for rides in the car and walks. She needs a fenced in yard because she likes to explore. She does not dig nor is she destructive.

Sally would love a family of her own and she promises to be a very nice girl! She could easily go into a home with another dog as a companion.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 24, 2018

Jekyll Island

On January 24, 1915, the first transcontinental telephone call was placed from Jekyll Island, Georgia.

January 24, 1933 saw the first sales tax in Georgia proposed to fund schools and aid for farmers.

On January 24, 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr. became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, sharing the pulpit with his father.

On January 24, 1987, some 12,000 to 20,000 civil rights protesters marched in Forsyth County, a week after a smaller protest. From the New York Times reporting:

CUMMING, Ga., Jan. 24— This small town in Forsyth County was overwhelmed today by civil rights marchers, members of the Ku Klux Klan and their sympathizers and an army of National Guardsmen and law-enforcement officers who kept the opposing groups separated.

Guarded by what a spokesman for the Governor’s office called ”the greatest show of force the state has ever marshalled,” a crowd of marchers estimated at 12,000 to 20,000 funneled slowly into Cumming, where a week earlier counterdemonstrators, throwing stones and bottles, disrupted an interracial ”walk for brotherhood” prompted by the all-white county’s racist legacy.

As the marchers headed into Cumming, which has a little more than 2,000 people, they found waiting for them, behind a stern-faced force of 2,300 guardsmen and police officers, a group of hundreds if not thousands of white, mainly young, rural men and women, repeatedly shouting, “N***er, go home!”

Whatever the final figure, the march was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations since a 1965 rally that followed a march from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery. The rally, led by Dr. King, drew 25,000 people.

Seriously, read the Times report.

On January 24, 2001, the Georgia House of Representatives approved legislation changing the state flag to the Barnes design with the state seal on a blue background and a banner depicting five previous flags that flew over Georgia.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the annual Tourism, Hospitality & Arts Day yesterday.

Industry representatives presented Deal with a check representing the $3.1 billion in state and local tax revenue generated by tourism-related expenditures.

“With a record economic impact of $60.8 billion, Georgia’s tourism industry is a powerful economic development tool for local communities and our state as a whole,” said Deal. “This impact goes well beyond direct spending by visitors, as the industry provides job opportunities for more than 450,200 Georgians, accounting for approximately 10.6 percent of the state’s non-farm workforce. As this industry continues to grow, this success reflects our state’s status as a world-class tourism destination and once again affirms that Georgia is on the minds of travelers around the globe.”

Deal also unveiled the cover of the official 2018 state travel guide, which features Georgia-native Jason Aldean, the reigning Academy of Country Music “Entertainer of the Year.” The cover photo was taken in Macon, Aldean’s hometown, at The Big House Museum where original members of The Allman Brothers Band lived and wrote some of their first songs.

“Being from Georgia is something I’m really proud of,” said Aldean. “A lot of my influences as an artist come from its musical history and it will always be a big part of who I am.”






1:30 PM House Ways & Means Sub Pub. Fin. and Policy 133 CAP







The AJC Political Insider reports that Gov. Deal will likely name Tricia Pridemore to a vacancy on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

“It is my inclination at this point to appoint Tricia Pridemore, but we’re not at that stage of the game yet,” he said. “We’ll wait and see when the actual opening occurs, but that is my inclination.”

The seat will be vacated by Stan Wise, the PSC chair, who said last week in a letter to Deal that he will step down on Feb. 20. The Cobb County resident had previously announced he won’t be seeking re-election in 2018 after serving 23 years on the commission.

Democrat Doug Stoner, a former state senator, is among the likely candidates for the office.

Democrats hope to gain a foothold in the PSC, which regulates Georgia’s utilities, by highlighting the panel’s unanimous vote to allow construction to continue on two nuclear reactors at Georgia Power’s embattled Plant Vogtle despite billions of dollars in cost overruns.

Former Democratic State Senator Vincent Fort is considering a run for Lieutenant Governor.

The Atlanta Democrat said he’s discussing with advisers whether to jump into the contest to succeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor.

The statewide race for lieutenant governor would be a much bigger and costlier race for Fort, who struggled to raise cash and gain traction in the mayor’s election.

He also won’t have a clear path. Several Democrats are already in the race, including political newcomer Sarah Riggs Amico, a logistics executive. And three leading Republicans are in the race: Former state Rep. Geoff Duncan, ex-state Sen. Rick Jeffares and state Sen. David Shafer.

And while endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Gov. Roy Barnes helped him raise cash, it couldn’t keep pace with the millions of dollars his rivals collected for their runs. Ditto for his union support, whose force of door-knockers couldn’t overcome other get-out-the-vote machines.

A Fort bid could set up an awkward situation for the party. He’s a critic of another Democrat who is running for a spot on the top of the ticket: Stacey Abrams.

Former Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam will run for the State Senate District 27 seat being vacated by the incumbent.

Tam was commissioner of Forsyth County District 2 from 2005-16 and selected as board chairman in 2011.

In February 2016, Tam announced he would not seek re-election for the seat and said the time was a “good stopping point.” On Monday, he said there were still some things he wanted to see happen in the county.

“I think there is work to be done,” Tam said on Monday. “I want to continue the relationship that I built with the Georgia Department of Transportation, as far as getting the necessary funding for our roads in here in Forsyth County, and I want to continue to work toward getting funding for new schools in the county.”

Tam is the second candidate to publicly announce he would run for the seat. Candidate Greg Dolezal — a local businessman who has part of several Forsyth County boards and committees, including planning commission and comprehensive plan steering committee — announced his candidacy for the seat in June 2017.

Democrat Donna McLeod will kickoff her campaign for House District 105, currently represented by Republican Rep. Joyce Chandler.

The Democrat will formally announce she is running again for the seat during the kickoff event, which will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday at Jay’s Caribbean Cuisine, 150 Hurricane Shoals Road in Lawrenceville. McLeod narrowly lost the seat to incumbent Rep. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, in 2016 in a race that was close enough that a recount was needed.

State Sen. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, will host the event. State Reps. Brenda Lopez, D-Norcross; Pedro Marin, D-Duluth; Dewey McClain, D-Lawrenceville, and Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville, are expected to address attendees as well, according to the McLeod campaign.

Savannah-area legislators will introduce legislation to rename the Talmadge Bridge.

Rep. Ron Stephens, the dean of Chatham County’s legislative delegation, informed the Savannah City Council on Monday that he intends to introduce legislation to rename the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge after Savannah native and Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, as requested by the organization.

Stephens’ support for the change comes after Girl Scout representatives informed the mayor and aldermen earlier this month of their intention to ask state legislators to rename the bridge after Low, who started the Girl Scouts with an inaugural gathering of just 18 girls in Savannah. The Girl Scouts adopted the name change as a national policy at their convention in October and officials said the city would benefit financially by attracting Girl Scouts and their families from around world to the national convention and other events in Savannah.

Named for a former state governor and staunch segregationist, the Talmadge Bridge’s renaming was one of the Savannah City Council priorities Stephens and other state lawmakers discussed with the mayor and aldermen at the state capital during the meeting this week.

The city council had submitted its own resolution to rename the bridge The Savannah Bridge as a way to avoid any more controversies surrounding public figures, but Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he is not opposed to Stephens’ proposal.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is trying to get a name change, so if that’s a fallback that will bring someone along I don’t have a problem with it,” DeLoach said. “Anything but Talmadge.”

Cobb County Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution to move forward with a sales tax for public safety.

Commissioner Bob Weatherford’s proposal to ask Cobb voters to increase the county’s sales tax from 6 to 7 percent would generate an estimated $130 million a year. After Cobb’s six cities were given a cut of the revenue, the county would be left with $96.2 million to use toward public safety.

That amount would cover the $71 million in public safety expenses paid using the county’s general fund with the exception of the Cobb Sheriff’s Office.

Instituting the new tax requires three steps. First, the county commission will send its resolution to state lawmakers asking for a bill to create a referendum on the issue. Then, the Legislature would need to approve the bill. Lastly, the measure would come before voters for a final say.

Commissioners on Tuesday night approved step one of the process, with Weatherford, County Chairman Mike Boyce and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell in favor of the resolution and commissioners Bob Ott and Lisa Cupid opposed.

Hall County will study the costs of implementing bilingual ballots for local elections.

“We’ve looked at it every which way, and you’re talking signs, duplicate ballots, Spanish-speaking staff,” Bill Moats told The Times in late 2017. “For a large election like we had in 2016, it was north of $150,000.”

On Monday, the county called that figure a “very rough estimate.”

“The Elections Board’s decision to form a committee to further research those costs in greater detail should help give the county a better and more thorough understanding of the costs associated with bilingual ballots,” said Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley.

Craig Lutz, a Republican member of the board, sponsored the vote to scrap bilingual ballots in Hall County. He also moved to create the committee charged with studying the cost of Spanish-language ballots, saying earlier this month that the county needed to research the issue to see what the costs would be and also research whether voters were being disenfranchised with English-only ballots.

Voting rights advocates supporting bilingual ballots have said that county demographics — especially given that more than a quarter of its population is Latino — means it will be forced by the federal government to adopt Spanish-language ballots in the next few years under federal elections law.

Floyd County Commissioners are considering joining a lawsuit by Rome and other local governments against opioid manufacturers.

The board officially labeled the growing effects of overuse as a public nuisance Tuesday in a resolution that points the finger at pharmaceutical companies.

However, commissioners softened the language adopted by the city of Rome Monday to say they may sue, instead of they shall sue. Commissioner Scotty Hancock asked for the change until the medical community can weigh in.

“I feel we need to bring these groups to the table and get feedback before we commit to a lawsuit,” he said.

“We 100-percent agree it is a nuisance, and we need to do something about it,” Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said.

The discussion followed a presentation from attorneys Bob Finnell and Andy Davis, who are putting together a case for a group of cities and counties in Georgia.

DeKalb County Commissioners are working on a proposal to lower penalties for marijuana possession.

Georgia law gives municipalities the freedom to create local rules for drug-related violations. Now DeKalb wants the General Assembly to give counties the opportunity to create ordinances related to pot possession.

Commissioners said Tuesday that taxpayer dollars are wasted and lives negatively affected when people are prosecuted for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

[Commissioner Mereda] Johnson, a Democrat, received a commitment from fellow Commissioner Nancy Jester, a Republican, to work together on the measure.

Although the full DeKalb commission won’t sign off on the proposal for another two weeks, five of seven members were present at Tuesday’s committee meeting where the proposal received an initial vetting. They directed their lobbyist to float the issue among legislators and law enforcement officials to gauge initial reaction.

As the proposal is written now, any county in Georgia would be allowed to create local rules for possession of less than an ounce of pot. But language could be added to make it applicable only to DeKalb if members of the General Assembly indicate that would be more palatable.

Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak will speak at the 13th annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum August 27-28 at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.

Muscogee County School Board members Frank Myers and John Thomas announced jointly that they will not run for reelection.

“To accomplish anything with the school board, there must be five votes,” Thomas wrote. “Frank and I have evaluated our tenure on the board to this point, and looking ahead to the future, we have done the math. We will not have five votes on any of the issues that are most important to us.”

Thomas, an IRS agent, represents District 2. Myers, a self-employed lawyer, represents District 8.

Hall County Board of Education member Brian Sloan announced he will not run for reelection.

“With the wonderful blessing of the rapid growth of the church in which I serve … and the additional responsibilities that come along with hundreds of additional people coming has made me seriously evaluate my time and priorities,” Sloan said.

Sloan is currently serving his third term on the board representing South Hall and was last re-elected in 2014, narrowly defeating Mark Pettitt.

“I think I still have a strong support base and would like to think I would be re-elected if I entered the race,” Sloan said. “However, that is just not the wise thing for my family, Chestnut Mountain Church, the Hall County School District or me. It is my strong belief that there is someone out there who can take this position and give it the time and attention in the next four years that I would not be able to give.”

Three candidates announced plans to run for seats on the Savannah-Chatham County School Board.

Alfreda Goldwire has announced she will run for the District 6 Savannah-Chatham County school board seat.

The seat is currently held by Larry Lower. Lower has announced he will run for board president.

Jolene Byrne currently holds the president’s post. She has not yet indicated if she intends to seek another term.

District 5 board member Irene Hines also announced she will run again.

David Lerch filed a declaration of intention to accept campaign contributions for the school board president post in August of 2017.

The non-partisan general election will be held on May 22. Qualifying begins on March 5.

The Georgia Ports Authority will break ground on its Mason Mega Rail project.

Georgia Ports Authority Board members approved a budget increase this week of $5.8 million for the port’s Mason Mega Rail project. The money will cover work to integrate American parts into large cranes for the project being manufactured in Finland.

GPA was approved in 2016 for a $44 million grant for the overall project cost from the federal government’s FASTLANE program, designed for infrastructure projects supporting growth of the economy and encourages use of American-made products through its Buy America clause.

The federal funds are to be used for design, delivery and commissioning of eight rail-mounted gantry cranes as part of the project that will connect the Mason and Chatham rail yards at the Garden City Terminal. The overall mega rail project cost is $126.7 million.

The mega rail project will double on-dock rail capacity and open service to inland markets, including Chicago. The new rail terminal will allow 10,000-foot trains to be loaded at the terminal with containers double-stacked. Those trains will increase the capacity from 500,000 container lifts per year to 1 million. Eighteen new railroad tracks will also be built, adding 97,000 feet of new rail.

Groundbreaking for the project is expected in February, with an official GPA board event being held in March.

A federal tariff on imported solar panels may slow the industry’s growth in Georgia.

The Trump Administration announced Monday that imported solar panels will be subject to a 30 percent tariff, a result of the recommendation of the International Trade Commission in its decision on a case filed by Georgia-based, foreign-owned Suniva. The trade tariff is expected to go into effect Feb. 6.

The Georgia Solar Energy Association predicts the tariffs will slow the growth of what has been a booming business in Georgia, with utility-scale solar being the hardest hit.

“While these erroneous tariffs may cause short-term headwinds to Georgia’s thriving solar industry, it will only strengthen our resolve to continue moving forward into a clean energy future,” said Don Moreland, chair of the Georgia Solar Energy Association.

Georgia ranks ninth among states with about 1,500 megawatts installed, enough to power about 170,000 homes. The state’s 238 solar companies employ about 4,000 people, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who supported solar energy when he served in the state legislature, said solar will play an important role in energy independence in the U.S. But he wasn’t ready to praise or condemn the tariff.

“I am still reviewing the administration’s proposal, but President Trump is focusing on America first. He is serious about addressing trade imbalances and market dumping in the international market,” Carter said. “President Trump is working to rebuild and invigorate our manufacturing industry and manufacturing jobs. His goal is to put American workers and companies first, and I absolutely support that.”

The University of Georgia is working with Pulaski County to address healthcare needs in the rural county.

Before the [Taylor Express Care] clinic opened in June 2016, Pulaski County residents had nowhere to go for immediate care except the emergency room at Taylor Regional Healthcare, the local hospital. A Community Health Needs Assessment, or CHNA, facilitated by faculty and students at the University of Georgia showed that the county needed an alternative.

Today, the clinic averages about 15 patients a day and emergency room visits are down almost 23 percent, from nearly 6,000 annually before Taylor Express Care opened to just over 4,600 in the past year.

“It was greatly needed,” said Bailey Lanier, a nurse practitioner on duty during a chilly November morning. “Before you just had the ER, and that was it. We’ve opened doors to people who didn’t have health care, who just didn’t know who to go to.”

Helping with the CHNA, required of all hospitals to receive federal funding, is just one of the many ways that the University of Georgia has helped Pulaski County address critical health care issues, a common problem for rural Georgia communities.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 23, 2018

Roxy Clayton

Roxy is a small adult female Cockapoo who is available for adoption from the Clayton County Humane Society in Jonesboro, GA.

Maximus Clayton

Maxiumus is a male Beagle & Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Clayton County Humane Society in Jonesboro, GA.


Linus is a male Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Henry County Humane Society in McDonough, GA.

Linus is a precious Beagle mixed pup. He gets along well with all his doggie friends and is very fond of toys. He is gentle and polite, Linus would love a home of his own, he has a lot of love to share. He will need a securely fenced yard or strict leash walking for potty time.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 23, 2018

On January 23, 1775, the Georgia Commons House elected three delegates to the Second Continental Congress.

On January 23, 1861, Georgia’s members of the United States House of Representatives resigned following passage of the Secession Ordinance; her Senators had resigned earlier. The next day, the secession convention in Milledgeville elected ten delegates to a conference of Southern states in Montgomery, Alabama

On January 23, 1923, Georgia ratified the Twentieth Amendment to the US Constitution, which ended Presidential terms on January 20th following an election and those of Congress on January 3d.

On January 23, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon announced that terms had been reached to settle the Vietnam War, a document known as the “Paris Peace Accords.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Senate and House both convene at 10 AM today.

1:30 PM HOUSE Ways & Means Ad Valorem Sub 133 CAP

Most of Georgia’s Congressional Delegation voted to reopen the federal government.

The compromise to reopen the government was spearheaded by a bipartisan group of nearly two-dozen senators, including Republican U.S. Sen Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

“It’s an agreement to do our jobs,” Isakson said in an interview. “So we’ve got the shutdown out of our system and hopefully we won’t have any others.”

Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue also backed the bill, as did the state’s 10 House Republicans, who framed Monday’s vote as a clear-cut win for the party.

“The House (GOP) did exactly what we said we were going to do. We stayed unified,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, the House’s No. 5-ranking Republican.

The state’s two more centrist Democrats, U.S. Reps. David Scott of Atlanta and Sanford Bishop of Albany, supported the proposal, citing the shutdown’s impact on the military and Georgia’s economy more broadly….

“This is something that we have an obligation to take up,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said of language protecting so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He voted against the proposal, as did Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a frequent sparring partner of President Donald Trump’s.

Furloughed federal employees reported to work yesterday in order to be formally furloughed.

Thousands of federal employees across the Peach State were sent home Monday morning without pay before the Senate and and then the House both approved the budget deal, which would fund the government through Feb. 8.

Richard Norris got his furlough notice when he reported for work in the morning at Fort Gordon. A tactical satellite instructor living in Augusta, Norris wondered whether he would be able to pay his bills on time and take a long-planned beach vacation in the spring. Then the Senate took its vote early in the afternoon. The U.S. Army veteran saw it as a glimmer of hope. But Norris is still worried he and other federal employees will be right back in the same place next month.

Dwight Rice got the same furlough notice Monday at Fort Gordon, where he works as a telecommunications specialist. Like Norris, the Grovetown resident wants Congress to eliminate the uncertainty he and other federal workers are grappling with and pass a budget, not another short-term spending plan.

At Robins Air Force Base, about 4,000 of the military installation’s roughly 12,600 employees were furloughed Monday.

“Employees reported to work Monday morning to carry out orderly shutdown activities,” Robins spokesman Vance “Geoff” Janes said in an email. “These shutdown activities may include receiving and acknowledging furlough notices, completing any required time and attendance, setting email/voicemail out-of-office notifications, securing files, and other activities necessary to preserve the employee’s work.”

Eighteen Georgia Department of Labor staffers were also furloughed Monday. Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said most of his agency’s funding comes from the federal government, and that he warned staffers about the impact Friday. Butler said the 18 staffers do statistical reporting for the agency. Among other things, they compile and report unemployment data.

Meanwhile, the shutdown forced the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cancel training for about 60 officials from Henry County and its various cities. Henry was one of two counties that received a grant to send people to a weeklong integrated emergency management course this week in Emmitsburg, Md. The program helps prepare communities for coordinated attacks.

“We are hoping to get it rescheduled this fiscal year,” Henry County spokeswoman Melissa Robinson said. “That will be up to FEMA and Homeland Security when they want to do that.”

FEMA will reimburse the county for the unused airfare and the prepaid cost for meals, Robinson said, though she did not provide details on those expenses.

Politico asks whether Georgia will turn blue in 2018, proving that they learned nothing from asking the same stupid question in 2014, 2016, and 2017.Continue Reading..