The blog.

24
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 24, 2017

Homer

Homer is a 6-month old male American Foxhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Bhodi

Bhodi is a 1-year old male Basset Hound and German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Eddie Gwinnett

Eddie is an 11-week old male Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

24
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 24, 2017

On March 26, 1734, the British House of Commons voted £10,000 to subsidize the Georgia colony, down from £26,000 the previous year.

The British Parliament closed the Port of Boston on March 25, 1774, passing the Boston Port Act in retaliation for the destruction of $1 million worth of tea in the Boston Tea Party.

On March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise, the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published. The author was 23 years old.

Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia. She would come to be recognized as one of the greatest American fiction writers. O’Connor graduated from the Georgia State College for Women, now called Georgia College and State University. She returned to Milledgeville in 1951, living at the family farm, called Andalusia, until her death at age 39 in 1964.

At GCSU, the Flannery O’Connor Room is located in the GC Museum, the Flannery O’Connor Collection includes manuscripts, and the College includes a program in Flannery O’Connor Studies.

O’Connor died of Lupus, which also killed her father.

Horton Smith won the first Masters tournament on March 25, 1934.

On March 25, 1937, Governor E.D. Rivers signed legislation creating the Georgia Department of Labor; in 1945, the Commissioner of Labor was upgraded from statutory office to Constitutional.

Governor E.D. Rivers signed a resolution on March 24, 1939, calling for the return of “General” locomotive made famous in the Great Train Chase from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Georgia. It currently resides in The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia. The other locomotive involved in the chase, The Texas, is displayed at the Atlanta Cyclorama in Grant Park  until late last year, when it was removed for restoration and will be displayed in the Atlanta History Center beginning in fall of 2018.

Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army on March 24, 1958.

On March 24, 1970, Gov. Lester Maddox signed legislation naming the Largemouth Bass the Official State Fish.

On March 26, 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Washington, DC for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the design approved a couple weeks earlier was by 21-year old Yale architecture student Maya Lin.

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – LEGISLATIVE DAY 38

8:00 AM REAPPORTIONMENT AND REDISTRICTING 307 CLOB

8:00 AM >FULL HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS 341 CAP

8:30 AM REGULATED INDUSTRIES AND UTILITIES 310 CLOB

9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM FLOOR SESSION (LD 38) HOUSE CHAMBER


SENATE RULES CALENDAR

HB 437 – Agricultural Education Advisory Commission; recreate (ED&Y-50th) Dickey-140th

HB 222 – HOPE; members of Georgia National Guard and reservists meet residency requirement; provide (Substitute) (H ED-46th) Blackmon-146th

HB 88 – Superior courts; qualifications for judges; revise (Substitute) (RULES-23rd) Fleming-121st

HB 340 – Alternative ad valorem tax; motor vehicles; change manner of distribution of proceeds (Substitute) (FIN-52nd) Blackmon-146th

HB 338 – Education; system of supports and assistance for low-performing schools in the greatest need; provisions (Substitute) (ED&Y-37th) Tanner-9th

HB 341 – Crimes and offenses; mandatory terms for trafficking individuals for sexual servitude; provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-45th) Reeves-34th

HB 290 – Ad valorem tax; definitions related to exemption of certain agricultural equipment; revise (FIN-7th) Watson-172nd

HB 261 – Penal institutions; certain individuals sentenced between March 18, 1968 and October 31, 1982; allow to petition court for first offender status (JUDY-19th) Werkheiser-157th

HB 510 – Alcoholic beverages; population and measurement of certain distances; repeal certain provisions (RI&U-15th) Smyre-135th

HB 221 – Commerce and trade; powers of attorney to a uniform Act; update and conform provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-18th) Efstration-104th

HB 202 – Public officers and employees; annual salary for the Governor; change provisions (Substitute) (APPROP-4th) Powell-171st

HB 153 – Council on American Indian Concerns; attach to Department of Natural Resources (NR&E-20th) Rogers-10th

HB 192 – Banks, trust companies, and corporations; responsibilities and standard of care of directors and officers; change provisions (B&FI-18th) Beskin-54th

HB 224 – Quality Basic Education Act; military student may attend any school in local system; provide (ED&Y-6th) Belton-112th

HB 452 – Georgia Bureau of Investigation; publicly post certain information to extent permitted by federal law; require (Substitute) (PUB SAF-6th) Petrea-166th

HB 241 – Cove’s Law; enact (H&HS-51st) Hawkins-27th

HB 210 – Health; certain specimen collection stations and blood banks are not considered clinical laboratories; provide (H&HS-17th) Lott-122nd

HB 134 – Sales and use tax; special district mass transportation; provisions (Substitute) (FIN-21st) Epps-144th

HB 234 – Motor vehicles; drivers stop at crosswalks with user activated rectangular rapid-flash beacons; require (PUB SAF-50th) Frye-118th

HB 253 – Special license plates; dog and cat reproductive sterilization support program; increase the proportion of moneys derived from the sale (Substitute) (PUB SAF-54th) Willard-51st

HB 257 – Local government authorities; register with Department of Community Affairs; require (SLGO(G)-7th) Tankersley-160th

HB 506 – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Act of 1965; award certain contracts involving concessions; provide for vote by Board (TRANS-21st) Taylor-79th

HB 154 – Dental hygienists; perform certain functions under general supervision; authorize (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Cooper-43rd

HB 117 – Sales and use tax; certain voluntary contributions; exclude from definition of retail sales (FIN-56th) Watson-172nd

HB 205 – Mining and drilling; regulate exploration and extraction of gas and oil; provisions (Substitute) (RI&U-52nd) Meadows-5th

HB 453 – County law library; board of trustees; add chief judge of magistrate court (SJUDY-42nd) Dreyer-59th

HB 481 – Aviation; unmanned aircraft systems; provide for preemption (TRANS-21st) Tanner-9th

HB 67 – Crimes and offenses; entering a motor vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony; provide for increased punishment (Substitute) (JUDY-30th) Boddie-62nd

HOUSE RULES CALENDAR

Modified Open Rule
HR 462 – House of Representatives; commitment to strengthening military installations located within state; reaffirm (D&VA-Belton-112th)

SB 8 – “Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act”; health insurance; provide consumer protections; definitions (Substitute)(Ins-Smith-134th) Unterman-45th

SB 117 – Georgia Technology Authority; definition of the term “agency”; change; establishment of certain policies and standards used by all agencies; provide (Substitute)(GAff-Rogers-10th) Martin-9th

SR 229 – Public Property; granting of non-exclusive easements for the construction, operation, and maintenance of facilities, utilities, roads; authorize 10 counties (Substitute)(SProp-Pirkle-155th) Jones-25th

Modified Structured Rule
SB 153 – Hearing Aid Dealers and Dispensers; exempt certain activities (Substitute)(RegI-Ehrhart-36th) Brass-28th

SB 219 – Motor Vehicles; definitions; operation of motor vehicles with automated driving systems on certain public roads; provide (Substitute) (Trans-Kelley-16th) Gooch-51st

Note: I would guess that more Senate Bills will be added to the House Rules Calendar at the 9 AM House Rules Committee meeting.


Governor Nathan Deal earlier this week appointed Jeffery N. Osteen as State Court Judge of Liberty County. Osteen previously served as Solicitor General for Liberty County, which opens that seat up.

Nineteen-year old Spelman student Mary-Pat Hector, whose candidacy was challenged on account of her age, reached the runoff election for Stonecrest City Council against first-place finisher George Turner, Jr.

Voters in two counties passed referendums to dedicate public funding to keep local hospitals open.

Voters in Monroe and Jefferson counties Tuesday approved tax increases to help preserve their rural hospitals, which are in financial danger.

[T]he Tuesday vote in the hospital referendums in Monroe County, just north of Macon, and Jefferson County, in east Georgia, had many in the health care industry breathing sighs of relief. It followed similar success in Cook County, in South Georgia, where commissioners, hearing from residents and businesses, voted to approve funding to build a new hospital there.

Jefferson County residents, in a nonbinding referendum, voted to let commissioners raise the county millage rate by up to 3 mills to support operations at Jefferson Hospital. Three mills is the equivalent of $1.2 million, the Jefferson Reporter newspaper said.

Monroe County voters also easily approved a tax increase to keep the local hospital open. County officials in January had voted to begin a shutdown of Monroe County Hospital pending the outcome of the vote.

Ronnie Ridley was elected to the Haralson County Commission, winning the seat vacated up the death of his twin brother, Donnie Ridley.

“I promise them I’ll do a good job, not just for those who voted for me, for everybody,” Ridley said.

Last week, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation secured an arrest warrant for him and 10 other people as a result of a commercial gambling investigation. The bureau had executed search warrants at several businesses in Carroll and Haralson counties in January as part of the investigation. Ridley had turned himself in on Thursday. He was released on $15,000 bond.

Mary Layton, a supporter of Ridley who was at the after party and also the subject of one of the warrants, said the timing was bad, and she had worried that it might affect the election. She was excited about the win.

Speaking of commercial gambling, yesterday a House subcommittee heard testimony on the Destination Resorts Casino Gambling bill previously declared “mostly dead.”

Thursday Rep. Ron Stephens, R -Savannah, presented an updated “destination resort” bill to the House Regulated Industries Committee.

The House Bill 158 substitute expands the maximum number of state-licensed casinos from two to four, which Rep. Stephens believes could garner it more statewide support.

“We’ve eliminated the opportunity for certain places around the state to even be part of the game, if you will.  No pun intended,” said Rep. Stephens.

“Casinos are a net loss for the state,” said Dave Baker, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia.  “They bring addiction, bankruptcy and crime– that includes human trafficking.  And we work to fight so many of these things in so many other bills to bring casinos to the state is just moving completely in the wrong direction.”

But that meeting may have been a distraction from the Fantasy Sports betting legislation, which was tacked onto other legislation by Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody). From a Facebook post by Senator Millar,

My SB 156 that limits how the DeKalb Splost can be spent (no government complex, etc) has been “improved” in the House. Fantasy Sports bill and Yacht Repair bills have been added. I previously indicated I would be voting no on the Fantasy Sports bill but will have to vote Yes on SB 156 because I want to make sure DeKalb spends $300 million on the right projects over the next five years.

Senate Bill 156 is “must have” legislation for DeKalb County homeowners.

Senate Bill 8 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) is on the House floor today in the form of a dramatically reworked version by House Insurance Committee Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus).

The House Insurance Committee on Monday passed revamped legislation to reduce “surprise billing,’’ in which patients using hospitals in their insurance network may still get unexpected bills from doctors who are not in the network.

The new version of Senate Bill 8 is vastly different from the original proposal that passed the state Senate unanimously.

The previous version relied on a percentage of charges from a national database as the tool to resolve billing situations disputed by patients. The substitute legislation sets up a new formula for out-of-network reimbursement for emergency services, but does not have a similar setup for scheduled patient care by other hospital-based physicians, such as anesthesiologists.

The revamped legislation drew praise from the health insurance industry, with the Georgia Association of Health Plans saying the proposal mirrors a federal formula for out-of-network ER reimbursement.

But physician groups favored the previous Senate Bill 8, which called for the medical provider to be paid at a rate that’s 80 percent of benchmark charges for a particular procedure in the ZIP code where the service was delivered. And on Monday, doctors’ organizations said they oppose the new version, calling it “one-sided.”

Smith, a Republican from Columbus, said he has told MAG that “you’ve got some rogue doctors out there’’ responsible for much of the surprise bill problem. “It’s that small group out there that’s generating this conversation.”

If Senate Bill 8 passes the House, the two chambers must settle the differences between the original and revised versions in a conference committee.

Senate Resolution 258 by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) would, among other property conveyances, renew the lease of the Western & Atlantic Railroad to the CSX Railway. It has been amended in the House, purportedly to allow its use for public transit in conjunction with CSX’s operations.

The Western & Atlantic Railroad has been running since 1851. It passes through four of Cobb’s six cities and behind Cumberland Mall, which could make it a perfect path for business commuters or travelers seeking to come to and from SunTrust Park.

Some rail advocates worried about Senate Resolution 228, which would extend rail company CSX’s lease on the 137 miles of rail until 2070.

CSX or its predecessors have been subject to multiple lease agreements for the rails for about the past 100 years, but there were fears that the new lease would grant exclusive rights to CSX trains on the railroad line. That would put the kibosh on passenger rail service in Cobb County for over 50 years.

“The (House Rules) committee initially decided not to add any language to SR 228, but since then, evidently our testimony had more weight than we thought,” [Sierra Club lobbyist Neil] Herring said. “They have added language into SR 228, the Rules Committee added language to it that says in a general way that nothing in the new lease will impede the right of the state, the county or any other legitimate public agency from providing public transportation.”

State Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-Cobb) writes about the rail transit issue in The Marietta Daily Journal.

The Seventh District Georgia Republican Party is hosting the Zellner-Jennings Dinner on Friday, April 21, 2017.

2GAGOP7-INV

23
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 23, 2017

Rudolph

Rudolph (top, chocolate nose) is an 11-week old male Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Henry County Humane Society in McDonough, GA.

Jaden

Jaden is a young male Husky mix puppy who is available for adoption from Praying For Paws Inc in McDonough, GA. He gets along well with other dogs and is playful.

Coraline

Coraline is a young female Husky mix puppy who is available for adoption from Praying For Paws Inc in McDonough, GA. She is very sweet and playful.

23
Mar

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

Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Convention in Richmond on March 23, 1775, stating,  “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

On March 23, 1861, the Georgia Secession Convention adopted a new state Constitution to be submitted to a referendum of the voters on the first Tuesday in July and then adjourned.

On March 23, 1972, in the case of Gooding v. Wilson, the United States Supreme Court held that a Georgia statute, OCGA § 26-6303, which provided: “Any person who shall, without provocation, use to or of another, and in his presence . . . opprobrious words or abusive language, tending to cause a breach of the peace . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,” was unconstitutionally vague and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan called for the development of an anti-missile system that would come to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEETING SCHEDULE

9:00 AM HOUSE NAT’L RES & ENV’T 403 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE GAME, FISH & PARKS 403 CAP

11:00 AM HOUSE REGULATED INDUSTRIES 506 CLOB

12:00 PM House Energy Sub Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE REGULATED IND & UTIL – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY – CANCELED 307 CLOB

1:00 PM WAYS & MEANS 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SVCS Time & Room Change – 515 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE BANKS & BANKING 341 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES & TELECOM 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE RULES 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE SCIENCE & TECH 310 CLOB

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SVCS – CANCELED

2:00 PM House Transportation Sub Resolutions 506 CLOB

2:15 PM HOUSE TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION – CANCELED 310 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE REAPPORTIONMENT AND REDISTRICTING 450 CAP

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

 

 

 

 

22
Mar

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

King George III approved of the passage of the Stamp Act legislation on March 22, 1765 designed to pay for some of the costs the UK incurred in protecting the colonies, but it would lead to the movement that culminated in the American Revolution. No word on where the Myrmidons were on this.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act on March 22, 1933, allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages, and later that year, the federal Prohibition was ended.

The first Masters golf tournament began on March 22, 1934 in Augusta, Georgia.

The state prohibition on all alcoholic beverages ended on March 22, 1935 with Governor Eugene Talmadge’s signature of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.

The United States Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment on March 22, 1972; it would fail to garner enough state ratifications.

Pixies released Surfer Rosa on March 21, 1988.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – LEGISLATIVE DAY 37

8:00 AM SENATE SLGO – CANCELED MEZZ 1

8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE 403 CAP

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES 341 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE SESSION (LD 37) HOUSE CHAMBER

12:30 PM SENATE RULES – UPON ADJ’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE NAT’L RESOURCES & ENV’T 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE GOV’TAL AFFAIRS 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE NAT’L RESOURCES & ENV’T 403 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE JUD’Y NON-CIVIL 132 CAP

1:30 PM HOUSE GAME, FISH AND PARKS 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE FINANCE 450 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS DEV 606 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE AGRICULTURE MEZZ 1 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE BANKING 310 CLOB

3:00 PM SENATE SLGO – CANCELED MEZZ 1

3:00 PM House Regulations Sub Regulated Ind 406 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE SPECIAL RULES 515 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE VETS, MILITARY & HOMELAND SECURITY MEZZ 1

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB


CLICK HERE FOR THE SENATE RULES CALENDAR

CLICK HERE FOR THE HOUSE RULES CALENDAR


Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski will stump for Bruce LeVell in the Sixth District Special Election. Click here for free tickets.

Here’s my 50-cent political analysis of the following election results, which show tax hikes passing overwhelmingly across Georgia. With polls showing the highest levels ever recorded of distrust of politicians by voters, you might expect tax hikes to fail. But historically, voters have tended to trust their own elected officials, while disdaining politicians generically. These SPLOST and other tax referendums were extremely local affairs, with elected officials you might run into at the park, the high school football game, or the grocery store.

Georgia voters appear to be following the example of state legislators, who last year voted to reform gasoline tax collections to fund infrastructure repairs. There is an understanding that deferred maintenance and expansion plans have come due, and Georgia residents are voting with their wallets (and their neighbors’ wallets) to fund infrastructure projects, and the more local and identifiable, the better.

I neither approve nor disapprove of this, but it’s worth noting that I haven’t yet seen any local tax measures that failed yesterday.

Nearly 74% of Cobb County voters yesterday approved the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST).

A total of 25,106 voters or 73.9 percent approved the referendum, according to unofficial numbers posted by the Cobb Board of Elections.

About 7.7 percent of eligible voters turned out for the special election.

The 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax will span from January 2019 to December 2023.

Fulton County approved a SPLOST for infrastructure by 70-30 percent margin.

Bill Edwards and Benny Crane will vie for Mayor of South Fulton in a Runoff Election and all seven City Council seats will also be decided in a runoff.

City of Marietta voters elected Kerry Minervi to the Board of Education.

Minervini received 206 votes or 52.4 percent in Tuesday’s special election, according to unofficial numbers posted by the Cobb Board of Elections.

About 8.7 percent of eligible voters turned out for the election.

Roswell voters elected to move two candidates into an April 18 runoff for City Council.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office show Lori Henry leading the pack at 41.43 percent, or 2,421 votes. She holds a narrow lead over Marie Willsey, who has received 41.09 percent, or 2,401 votes.

Monroe County voters will return to the polls on April 18 in a Special Runoff Election for County Commission District 2.

Chris Ham and Eddie Rowland emerged Tuesday from the six candidate battle for the seat left vacant after the death of Commissioner Jim Ham. They’ll face each other again on April 18 after no candidates received at least 50 percent of votes during Tuesday’s election.

Chris Ham received 553 votes, 36 percent, followed by Rowland with 428 votes, or 28 percent, according to unofficial election results.

Monroe County voters also approved a property tax hike to support its local hospital.

There were 2,631 votes supporting the property tax increase compared to 1,090 against the 1-mill tax increase to fund Monroe County Hospital. County officials voted in January to begin a controlled shutdown of the hospital pending the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

Like many rural hospitals, Monroe’s has faced recent financial struggles. The medical facility is now under the management of Navicent Health. Hospital leaders have said they’re developing strategies to run a more efficient hospital.

Houston County voters overwhelmingly approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) by a 2,837 to 656 vote margin.

The tax is projected to collect $145 million over six years. The SPLOST will be collected from Oct. 1, 2018, until Oct. 1, 2024. That’s $10 million less than the current SPLOST, which has fallen behind projections.

It would put $38 million for transportation, $31 million for public safety, $30.6 million for recreation, $15.9 million for general capital obligations, $13.6 million for public buildings, $9.2 million for water and sewer improvements and $6.5 million for economic development.

Baldwin County extended the existing SPLOST.

The vote was 1,171 in favor, to 446 ballots cast against the measure. That’s a victory margin of just over 72 percent.

The tax is expected to raise about $40 million over six years.

Voters in Pulaski County also renewed their SPLOST.

There were 327 votes in favor of the special purpose sales tax referendum, while 75 people voted against the measure. The SPLOST is expected to bring in about $6 million of revenue over six years.

Fayette County will have a SPLOST for the first time in more than a decade after voters overwhelmingly passed the ballot measure.

Wilkinson County approved an E-SPLOST.

The vote was 721 in favor of extending the current special purpose local option sales tax earmarked for education, compared to 109 votes against it. That’s nearly 87 percent in favor of the initiative.

About $7.5 million is expected to be raised over five years.

Buford municipal voters passed a bond referendum to raise $20 million for the new high school.

Buford Commission Chairman Phillip Beard said the general obligation bonds, also known as GO Bonds, were backed by 153 of the 157 people who voted in the special election.

Read that again: 157 people decided the election that will results in issuing $20 million in GO Bends backed by local taxes.

Loganville voted to allow Sunday package sales of beer, wine, and liquor.

Butts County voted favored an E-SPLOST and expanded inventory tax exemption.

The E-SPLOST was approved by a vote of 753 to 122, or 86.06 percent in favor. The freeport exemption expansion passed 630 to 225, or 73.68 percent in favor.

The E-SPLOST continues the 1-percent sales tax in place for education and will be collected for five years beginning July 1. The referendum authorized the collection of up to $25 million but school officials estimate the tax will bring in less than that — approximately $18 million.

With the freeport exemption for e-commerce, Butts County development officials are hoping to make the county a more attractive place to locate order fulfillment centers.

The tax break applies to goods stored in Butts County destined to be shipped directly to consumers. It is an expansion of an exemption that already applied to traditional inventory of goods produced in the state of Georgia and goods used in the production process.

“Expanding freeport will allow us to be more competitive and attract clean industry and quality jobs to our community,” Butts County Development Authority Executive Director Laura Sistrunk said.

Coffee County and Colquitt County in South Georgia easily passed SPLOST measures.

Coffee County residents overwhelmingly approved a SPLOST referendum 731 to 56.

Those in Colquitt County made a similar decision.

The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax there passed 703(y) to 121(n).

Colquitt County officials said voter turnout was low.

Thomasville passed two Sunday alcohol sales measures.

Miller County voters will have a second bite at the apple in the Sheriff’s race, as two candidates advance to a runoff.

Candidates Scott Worsley and Robert Grier will face each other in that contest.

Jason Lary will take office as the first Mayor of the new City of Stonecrest.

Lary, a 25-year health care executive, led the Stonecrest YES group that pushed for Stonecrest’s cityhood. The race featured three candidates of diverse backgrounds but was shrouded in controversy in the closing days as a flyer mailed by a mysterious group claimed that one of the candidates was mentally ill.

Also in Tuesday’s vote, two people were elected to the City Council, while the other three seats will be decided next month.

Jimmy Clanton won the council race for District 1 while Jazzmin Cobble won the District 3 post, both with 66 percent.

The elections office said 4,222 or about 13 percent of the Stonecrest voters went to the polls.

The three remaining Stonecrest City Council seats will be decided in an April 18 runoff.

Full Stonecrest municipal election results are available here.

Rubinell McDonald was elected to the Lake Park City Council in a special election.

Cheryl Walters resigned as Mayor of Meigs in Thomas County.

Blueberry crop losses in South Georgia may top $200 million after a combination of an early spring and a late hard freeze.

The City of Sandy Springs will end a controversial ban on adult toys after years of litigation.

Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas apologized for partying too hard at St. Patrick’s Day.

Photographs of Savannah District 6 Alderman Tony Thomas taken during the St. Patrick’s Day parade Friday prompted Mayor Eddie DeLoach to call a news conference Tuesday afternoon to address concerns about the alderman and let constituents know that Thomas has apologized for his behavior.

The photographs — taken Friday morning in the lobby of the Hilton Savannah DeSoto hotel on East Liberty Street — show Thomas slumped in a chair with a drink in his hand. Another photo shows a police officer helping Thomas either in or out of his chair.

Thomas apologized on his personal Facebook page earlier this week:

“This past St. Patrick’s Day, I overindulged while celebrating on Friday afternoon. Yes, I don’t deny it and I take full responsibility for my action. This may have offended some of my supporters and to them, I truly apologize for drinking too much while celebrating with friends on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. Many of my detractors and a couple of obsessive hate sites have worked themselves into a frenzy over this. While I cannot change the minds of those who commit to such hate and misguided energies of perpetuating it, I do hope that my supporters and well-wishers know that I take responsibility for my slip and ask for your forgiveness.”

 

22
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 22, 2017

Stretch

Stretch is a young male Bullmastiff mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Baby Pixel

Baby is a 13-month old female Golden Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Pixel Fund in Macon, GA.

Looking at this little girl you would never know she’s a Golden Mix! Her stunning personality and love for life burst through and just glow. This sweet pup is on her way up in life, after some freshening up, a bit of medical treatment, she’ll have a mane and coat that will shine in the spring sunlight.

Babydoll

Babydoll is a 3-month old female Schnauzer mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Pixel Fund in Macon, GA. Her favorite activities are wrestling with her mates, pulling at your shoelaces, stealing the blankets and snuggling for a good nap after a long day of fun.

Cheyenne Alexis

Cheyenne Alexis is a 9-month old female Golden Retriever and Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Pixel Fund in Macon, GA.

Full of fun, lots of kisses, Cheyenne Alexis will be the star of your neighborhood. If it’s love at first sight, don’t wait, she’s an awesome sweetheart. Apply today.

21
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 21, 2017

The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville is raising money to expand and improve play areas for their resident dogs.

Executive Director Julie Edwards is asking people to donate a $35 foot of fence to help the group reach its goal. Just a few weeks ago, an anonymous donor also agreed to match every donation up to $10,000, turning the total into $40,000 if the goal is met.

“With the extra money, we hope to add some things to make the area more enriching for the dogs and more attractive. So colorful flowers, sun canopies, agility equipment, toys, etc.,” Edwards said.

Click here for the Humane Society’s fundraising page.

Star

Star is an adult female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

Pancho

Pancho is a young male Pit Bull mix (or Lab?) puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA. Several of his siblings are also available for adoption.

Digit

Digit is a young male Pit Bull (or Lab?) mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

21
Mar

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

Lyman Hall was elected to the Continental Congress on March 21, 1775 from St. John’s Parish; the next year he would sign the Declaration of Independence as a representative from Georgia.

On March 21, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation establishing the Eastern Standard Time Zone as the only Time Zone in Georgia. Prior to that, Georgia observed two different time zones.

On March 21, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 3000 protesters in a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

On March 21, 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Georgia Governor and United States Senator Herman Talmadge died on March 21, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Coweta GOP

Tonight, I’ll moderate a debate in Fayetteville among the four candidates for Georgia Republican Party Chairman. It will be from 6:30 to 8 PM at the Fayette Event Center – 174 Glynn St N, Fayetteville, GA 30214.

Jon Richards, whom many of y’all may know from his work on behalf of the Gwinnett and Georgia Republican Parties, will move into hospice care.

“He’s always good for a conversation or two regarding trends and topics, and what was going on politically, as well as everything else,” Gwinnett County Republican Party Immediate Past Chairman Rich Carithers said.

Gov. Nathan Deal honored Richards on Twitter after Harper broke the news about his condition.

“Jon is a good man and a great friend,” Deal wrote.

Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, reminisced about Richards on the social media website as well while he reflected on both the news and the fact that legislative session is heading into its final hectic days.

“As we enter the last four days of session, we are still one big family under the Gold Dome and Jon helped to instill this characteristic,” Riley wrote.

Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus Executive Director Liz Flowers wrote “My heart is heavy” on Twitter after hearing the news.

Note this is probably the first time in Georgia politics that Gov. Deal and Liz Flowers were both quoted in the same article saying nice things about the same person. That’s the kind of guy Jon Richards is. Please join us in praying for his comfort.

Cobb County voters will decide today on renewal of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST).

If approved by voters, the sales tax would bring in up to $797 million for Cobb schools and $62.5 million for Marietta schools to build new schools, replace old ones, repair buildings and increase technology and security in schools. The program would run from January 2019 to December 2023.

Cobb voters have approved four education sales tax cycles since 1998.

A section of Marietta will also vote to choose a new school board member. Real estate agent Kerry Minervini and Patricia Echols, a co-owner of a private investigation firm, are vying to fill the Ward Six seat vacated by Tom Cheater.

Ward Six covers the northeast section of Marietta stretching from a section of Cobb Parkway up to the Sandy Plains Exchange at the intersection of Sandy Plains Road and Scufflegrit Road and is the same area that is represented on the Marietta City Council by Michelle Cooper Kelly.

Stonecrest and South Fulton will elect their first Mayors and City Council members today.

Residents in two new cities, South Fulton and Stonecrest, will cast ballots Tuesday for their first mayors and council members as voters across metro Atlanta go to the polls for local elections.

Dozens of candidates are running in the inaugural elections for South Fulton and Stonecrest. Voters approved referendums creating the two southside cities last November.

In South Fulton, a city of about 100,000 people, nine candidates are vying for the mayor’s seat, while more than 60 are running for seven council seats.

With so many candidates, most, if not all of the races, are expected to go to a runoff. Runoff elections are scheduled for April 18.

In Stonecrest, which includes 50,000 residents in DeKalb County, three candidates are running for mayor and 17 others are seeking five council seats.

Roswell voters will decide today between four candidates in a special election for City Council.

There are four candidates in the race to fill the vacant Post 4 seat: Lori Henry, Shelley Sears, Marie Willsey and Shawn Wright.

[P]olls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 21 throughout the city. A runoff, if needed, is scheduled for April 18.

For more information about the election and required documents for voting, visit www.fultonelections.com or call 404-612-7020.

Newton County voters will decide on a SPLOST sales tax today.

As of Friday afternoon, according to the Newton County Board of Elections, fewer than 800 people had voted on the measure. At this same juncture in 2011, more than 1,000 votes had been cast. The 2011 SPLOST was approved with 54 percent of the vote.

The 2011 vote was the smallest margin of victory for the tax. The 1995 SPLOST passed with more than 78 percent of the vote, while the 2000 SPLOST passed with 62 percent of the vote. In 2005, 64 percent of Newton County voters voted to approve the tax.

Fayette County voters will also choose in a SPLOST referendum today.

Tuesday, March 21, voters who haven’t already voted early will be asked to approve a referendum for a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) aimed at helping the county and its municipalities fund a number of needed improvements in transportation, stormwater infrastructure, public safety, and facilities.

The SPLOST is touted as a way to let our neighbors help foot the bill for improvements to infrastructure that they use. While a property tax is only paid by property owners in the county, a SPLOST would see anyone who shops or dines in the county helping chipping in. All counties surrounding Fayette currently have a SPLOST, meaning Fayette residents contribute when they shop out of the county, but not the reverse. Currently, Fayette has one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state at six cents. Of those six cents, four go to the state, one goes to the school system, and one goes to the county.

If approved, the six-year SPLOST would bring in an estimated $141,014,157 in tax revenue to be divvied up between the County and municipalities based on population. Fayette County would take the largest share at $64,646,530, followed by Peachtree City at $45,472,835, Fayetteville at $21,098,538, Tyrone at $9,102,463, and Brooks at $693,791.

Without a SPLOST, a significant property tax increase and/or cuts in services would be needed in order to fund the same projects. For the county, 37 percent of its share would go towards stormwater infrastructure projects. The need to catch up years of stormwater maintenance was highlighted by the December 2015 floods that washed out portions of three roads. The County would also spend 30 percent of their allotment on transportation projects, including road replacements and multi-use path projects, and 28 percent to upgrade an outdated public safety radio system for the E911 system.

Wilkinson County goes to the polls today on their E-SPLOST for education.

The sales tax would allow the Board of Education to spend $7.5 million over five years.

Superintendent, Aaron Geter, says they need a new ESPLOST to help pay off the debt from the new school.

“We pay $1.2 to $1.3 million a year into a fund to pay back the $16.5 million we borrowed from the federal government,” says Geter.

Geter says he is asking people to vote yes on the new ESPLOST that would raise up to $7.5 million from sales tax over five years to help pay off the school and other projects, like larger buses.

If it does not go pass, Geter says they would have to increase people’s property taxes. He says the increase would be at least 3 mills.

Laurens County will also vote on a SPLOST today.

Madison County will decide on an E-SPLOST today.

The one-cent sales tax referendum extends the current one-cent sales tax and if approved, will fund continued bond payments on the recent high school construction and renovations at Comer Elementary.

Superintendent Allen McCannon told the board of education Tuesday night that by using the E-SPLOST funds for capital improvements, the millage rate on property taxes has remained stable at 16.99 since 2007.

He said based on current projections the majority of the funds will have to be used to continue paying for previous construction, not new construction. He said any additional funds collected over the bond payments could be used for items that will be listed on the ballot (such as a fine arts center).

“Based on current projections, the chance of generating substantial funds over the required payments is unlikely,” he said.

McCannon said if the E-SPLOST is not approved, the school system would have to find additional revenue, likely through an increase in property taxes.

Baldwin County voters are being asked to approve a new SPLOST.

Houston County voters will cast their ballots on renewing their local SPLOST.

Decatur County voters will weigh-in on an E-SPLOST today.

[Decatur County Schools Superintendent Tim] Cochran said ESPLOST is very important to the school system. It has funded the building of the new high school, Jones Wheat and West Bainbridge  Elementary Schools. No property taxes are used for the construction. He pointed out the constant need for upgrades to the other facilities. Five buildings are 50 plus years old, while three are 61 years old.

Cochran stressed that all SPLOST money stays here in the county. Visitors to Bainbridge and area help fund it when they make purchases here.

The term is for five years, with the current one expiring the end of June. This is not a new tax, but a renewal of the current one. The continued 1cent will provide for Decatur County by making payments on the high school debt, ongoing facility upgrades and repairs system wide, purchase technology for all schools, purchase of new school buses and for transportation equipment and maintenance equipment.

He pointed out that if the ESPLOST fails to renew, there will be no solution but to raise property taxes.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has endorsed Republican Bruce LeVell in the 6th Congressional District special election.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will campaign next week for Republican Bruce LeVell, as he burnishes his pro-Trump credentials in the race to represent the suburban Atlanta district.

LeVell, a Dunwoody jeweler who headed Trump’s diversity coalition, said Monday that Lewandowski’s March 29 appearance in Alpharetta is an indication the “Trump team is rallying around my campaign.”

“Corey and I have been brothers-in-arms fighting for President Trump since June of 2015,” he said.

In the 18-candidate April 18 special election, LeVell is positioning himself as Trump’s biggest ally in the race. But he’s facing stiff competition from other pro-Trump Republicans in the race, including former Johns Creek councilman Bob Gray, whose TV ad featured him with a water pump prepared to drain a swamp.


LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR

8:00 AM HOUSE NAT’L RES & ENV’T 606 CLOB

9:30 AM HOUSE JUD’Y NON- CIVIL 406 CLOB

10:00 AM HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS-CANCELLED 403 CAP

11:30 AM SENATE RULES 450 CAP

1:00 PM SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY 307 CLOB

1:00 PM SENATE INSURANCE & LABOR – CANCELED 310 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS 406 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE JUD’Y CIVIL 132 CAP

1:00 PM MARTOC 515 CLOB

1:00 PM House Telecom Sub Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE ECON DEV & TOURISM – CANCELED 125 CAP

2:00 PM SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 450 CAP

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 606 CLOB

2:00 PM House Energy Sub Energy, Util & Telecom 403 CAP

3:00 PM SENATE TRANSPORTATION 310 CLOB

4:00 PM SENATE JUD’Y 307 CLOB

SENATE RULES CALENDAR

Yesterday, the Senate Rules Committee met in the morning, and pulled all legislation from the previous Rules Calendar, replacing it with seven House Bills. View the updated calendar of what the Senate considered here.

Kathleen Foody and Ezra Kaplan of the Associated Press write about legislation considered yesterday.

A bill to grant the state more power to intervene in Georgia’s struggling schools is one step closer to a vote in the Senate.

The chamber’s education committee on Monday approved the bill creating a “chief turnaround officer” to work with low-performing schools.

The committee maintained a key portion of the bill, which would make the State Board of Education responsible for hiring the new official. Education groups instead want the elected state superintendent to hire the new official because board members are appointed by the governor.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital would be able to request the right to purchase a gun before the end of the standard five-year ban under a bill approved by a House committee.

A proposal collecting sales taxes on trips through ride-hailing services including Uber and Lyft and another to force online retailers to collect sales taxes also were on the committee’s agenda, but didn’t receive a vote. The Senate Finance committee may take up the bills Wednesday.

The AJC has more on the committee passage of House Bill 338.

A key Senate committee on Monday passed House Bill 338, now named the First Priority Act instead of “plan b,” the informal moniker by which it has been known around the Capitol.

The bill has been slightly modified since it passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, but must return there for ratification of the Senate’s changes. That’s assuming the full Senate approves the measure before the legislative session ends next week. After approval Monday by the Senate Education and Youth Committee, it goes to a committee that schedules Senate floor votes.

The House Insurance Committee voted for passage of Senate Bill 8 to reduce “surprise medical billing.”

The House Insurance Committee on Monday passed revamped legislation to reduce “surprise billing,’’ in which patients using hospitals in their insurance network may still get unexpected bills from doctors who are not in the network.

The new version of Senate Bill 8 is vastly different from the original proposal that passed the state Senate unanimously.

Both Sen. Renee Unterman, the bill’s sponsor, and Rep. Richard Smith, chairman of the House Insurance Committee, called the bill ‘’a first step’’ toward solving the billing problem. Smith said that about one in five hospital ER patients nationally receive bills from non-network doctors.

Unterman, a Buford Republican who’s also a nurse, said many teachers needing emergency care in her county, Gwinnett, find that ER doctors at Gwinnett Medical Center hospitals are out of their insurance network.

Rep. Darlene Taylor, a Thomasville Republican, said health care is not a free market. “Doing nothing [on surprise billing] helps no one,” she said.

If Senate Bill 8 passes the House, the two chambers must settle the differences between the original and revised versions in a conference committee.

House Bill 425 by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) passed the Senate by 44-9.

Students will have a clear right to refuse to take state tests in schools without being punished if Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation approved by the Georgia Senate Monday.

House Bill 425 says schools cannot punish students who refuse to take standardized state tests and encourages state and local school boards to let students take the tests with paper and pencil rather than on a computer.

Deal vetoed similar legislation, Senate Bill 355, last year.

House Bill 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) passed the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation Monday that could mean a $200 million a year tax hike for used-car buyers.

Supporters of House Bill 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire – which is backed by new-car dealers – view it as cleaning up a loophole that currently allows used-car dealers to get an unfair competitive advantage on taxes and to sometimes scam the system.

State estimates say that by fiscal 2019 — the first full year the law would be in effect — the proposed changes in how used cars are taxed could mean an extra $237 million in title fee payments. That could rise to $268 million by 2022.

Another part of the legislation would lower the bill on the same tax to those who lease cars, cutting their tab by up to $74 million in 2019, a number that could grow up to $106 million by 2022.

The new-car lobby says the bill would merely force used-car buyers to pay the tax under the same system that governs new-car buyers.

The Georgia Ports Authority reported the fourth consecutive month of record breaking growth.

Griff Lynch, the authority’s executive director, said Monday the Savannah and Brunswick seaports handled 2.94 million tons of cargo in February — up nearly 10 percent from the same month last year. It was also their second-highest monthly tonnage ever. That record was set in January.

Containerized cargo moving through Savannah is driving the growth.

Lynch said the Panama Canal, which finished a major expansion last summer, is increasing container volumes “a little faster and stronger” than expected.

City of Gainesville education administrators approved spending nearly $17.5 million to build a new school called Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

The Lake Lanier Association will hear from Brad Carver about efforts to reclaim parts of Georgia mistakenly ceded to Tennessee.

Carver, who couldn’t be reached for comment, “has invested considerable time and effort on issues surrounding the transfer of a small amount of water from the Tennessee River into the watershed that feeds Lake Lanier,” states a Lake Lanier Association invitation about the event at Port Royale Marina in Forsyth County.

The Lowndes County Board of Education is holding a Stakeholder Meeting on March 29th at 4 PM at the Lowndes County Board of Education, 1592 Norman Drive in Valdosta.

The Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority will hold a public meeting at 9 AM today at the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, 100 S. Hamilton St, in Dalton.

Lula City Council member Lamb Griffin has been hospitalized at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Warner Robins City Council passed an ordinance restricting drone flights inside the city limits.

411 revelers were arrested during the St. Patrick’s Day period in Chatham County.

20
Mar

Glynn County GOP Passes Resolution Against Casino Gambling

Here’s the text of the resolution approved at the Glynn County Republican Party on Saturday.

RESOLUTION OPPOSING CASINO GAMBLING

WHEREAS, Georgia Republican legislators have introduced legislation that would allow for casino gambling in Georgia; and

WHEREAS, the gambling bills now mask the negative connotations of casino gambling by referring to casinos euphemistically as “destination resorts”; and

WHEREAS, the usual arguments for opening the state to gambling continue to be, “this will create jobs” and “it is for the children” because it will generate revenue for Pre-K and for the HOPE scholarship, and

WHEREAS, these reasons fail to overcome the substantial societal costs of gambling, which include (1) the break-up of families because gamblers are twice as likely to divorce as non-gamblers, (2) an increase in local crime by at least ten percent within five years or less after the establishment of a casino, including an increase in prostitution; (3) local job loss because local citizens change their spending habits, (4) an increase in bankruptcies, and (5) an increase in child neglect and domestic violence; and

WHEREAS, all taxpayers, including non-gamblers, end up paying higher taxesfor these publicly borne social costs; and

WHEREAS, the proposed establishment of the gambling industry in Georgia violates free-market principles by instituting a politically protected industry that will drain customers from legitimate businesses not similarly protected; and

WHEREAS, once the gambling industry is allowed to operate legally in the state, its lobbying power will grow and increase its influence over legislators and local community officials; and

WHEREAS, once the State of Georgia allows Class III gambling, this would open the door for any Indian tribe to “venue shop” for property to open casinos on land that would be taken out of the governance of the State and off the local tax digest; and

WHEREAS, the State should not have a vested interest in predatory activities such as gambling for the sake of filling State coffers at the expense of ruined lives and broken families;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, we, the Delegates of Georgia’s Chatham County Republican Convention, urge the members of the Georgia Legislature to cease and desist with any efforts to open the State of Georgia to casino gambling;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Secretary of Georgia’s Chatham County Republican Party Convention is directed to immediately transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to the Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and to all elected Chatham County Republican officials in the Georgia Senate and in the Georgia House; to the Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor of the State of Georgia, the Honorable Casey Cagle, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Georgia; and to the Honorable David Ralston, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

 

 

20
Mar

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for March 20, 2017

Ranger Girl

Ranger Girl is a 4-6 month old, 20-pound Labrador Retriever & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. She is very sweet and playful.

Mocha

Mocha is a 4-6 month old female Hound & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. Mocha is good with other dogs and kids. She is still adjusting to shelter life and has not yet mastered the art of walking on a leash, but she makes improvements every day.

Emerald

Emerald is a 4-5 year old, 60-pound female Black-and-Tan Coonhound who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. Emerald is sweet and affectionate and good with dogs and children.