Early Voting Underway in Sixth District

Early voting has begun in the hotly contested race to replace new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Georgia’s sixth district. Eleven Republicans, five Democrats and two independents are hoping to win on April 18 and make a runoff scheduled for June 20th. Democrats seem to have coalesced around Jon Ossoff as local and national supporters hope to turn dissatisfaction with President Trump into grabbing a seat normally reserved for Republicans into a shocking blue pick-up. The last time the district was represented by a Democrat was in 1978 by Rep. John J. Flynt, Jr., once a staunch segregationist and signer of the Southern Manifesto. Newt Gingrich took the seat and its been in firm Republican hands ever since. Tom Price won the district 62% to 38% in the fall before his appointment. However, Donald Trump only won the district by 1.5%. Democrats are undoubtedly looking to tie any Republican to the president while the Republicans, whose party members mostly still support the president. A Quinnipiac poll last week found that more than 81% of Republicans approve of the job the president is doing, although that is down from 91% three weeks ago. Overall, the president’s job approval in the Quinnipiac poll is 37%. Democrats in Georgia’s sixth are hoping that number can drag them over the finish line. A recent Vox article highlighted how normally a Democrat would raise about $20,000 for this seat. Right now, the Ossoff campaign has raised somewhere around $3 million. Reportedly, more than 7,000 people have volunteered for his campaign. On Monday, apparently in town filming a project, actress Alyssa Milano...

Georgia Allies Pave Way for Smooth Perdue Confirmation

After weeks of waiting, President Trump’s pick for agriculture secretary, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, got his hearing on Thursday. With Rep. David Scott (D- GA 13) and former Senator Saxby Chambliss (and former Agriculture Committee Chairman) at his side, Perdue got a warm welcome from Agriculture Committee Chairman Senator Pat Roberts (R- Kansas). Rep. Sanford Bishop (D- GA 2) was also present for the hearing offering his support. Chambliss’ testimony focused on his long-time relationship with Perdue, including their campaigning together in 2002 as Chambliss ran for his first Senate election the same year Perdue ran for governor. “Sonny has been a leader in everything he’s been involved in doing. As a farmer, he was a leader in the field of agribusiness in our state. As a member of the state senate, he was elected by his peers to be the President Pro Tem of the senate. And as governor, he was chairman of the Republican Governors Association.” Rep. Scott, after a subtle jab from Chairman Roberts thanking him for appearing before “the upper body”, said he was honored to have the opportunity to stand with his “dear friend” Perdue. “I’m here to explain to you that indeed Sonny Perdue is the right person at the right time to do the absolute best job.” During his time in the state senate, Scott was chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and worked closely with Perdue while he was President Pro Tem. Scott wanted to be sure the record was set straight for Perdue and with that Scott faced the Confederate flag issue head on. This had been one area...

State Takes Another Step Opening Up Alcohol Laws

Day 36 at the Gold Dome saw the passage of Senate Bill 85, relating to malt beverages (some of which are known as beer) and also distilled spirits, “so as to provide for the limited sale of malt beverages at retail by manufacturers (sometimes known as craft brewers) of malt beverages.” The bill passed the Senate and House nearly unanimously, by votes of 49-2 and 147-14, respectively. In layman’s terms, the bill, if signed by the governor, would allow for direct sales from craft breweries and distilleries. Sponsored by Senator Rick Jeffares (R- 17 McDonough), it significantly alters the three-tier system of the supplier selling to a distributor and the distributor selling to retailers, who then sell to consumers. It ends the game of purchasing a tour and tasting and provides no daily limit for on-site sales. There is a limit of a case per day, per person and a limit of 3,000 barrels (93,000 gallons) annually for the brewery. There is a limit of 500 barrels per person. For distilleries of spirits, the limit is three 750ml bottles per day. The bill is the result of discussion and compromise between the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild (GCBG) and the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association (GBWA). This is a change to a couple years ago when the The Executive Director of the GCBG, Nancy Palmer, said earlier this year, “With suggestions championed by both brewers and wholesalers, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell (R- Dallas), and Senator Jeffares have provided guidance to create this legislation. Their commitment to...

House Hectic With Five Days To Go

On Friday, we looked at a few of the under-discussed bills in the Senate as we head into the home stretch for the final five legislative days this year. Today, we take a quick look at some of the House bills on the calendar for Monday and what to watch. HB 32, sponsored by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R- 105 Grayson), would close a loophole in the existing law of school employees having sex with students. In a high profile case last year, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned a conviction of a Cherokee County wrestling coach, Robert Morrow, who had been arrested and charged with sexual assault of a student. The conviction was overturned, unanimously, because the current rule only applied to teachers – Morrow was a paraprofessional and not actually a teacher. HB 32 would prohibit sexual contact between all school employees and students enrolled at such school. This bill has not seen an appearance in the Senate and is unlikely to pass the full legislature this year – barring some last minute maneuvering, which is always possible. SB 46 relates to torts, and specifically as to how they would apply to…space flight facilitation in Georgia. If you’re going to have a private space program, presumably some liability laws have to ironed out first. Sponsored by Senator William Ligon (R- 3 Brunswick), the bill is another piece of the effort to attract the space industry to Georgia’s coastal region. The bill would limit the liability of space flight companies related to injuries “sustained by participants who have agreed in writing to such a limitation after being provided with certain...

Headed Into Home Stretch, Senate Gets Busy

With just five legislative days left in this year’s session, the state senate is busy reviewing house bills for passage. Committees are moving bills out and they are hitting the floor with the typical seasonal regularity. Monday’s edition will feature a bevy of bills concerning education, mining and drilling, health care, crosswalks, minimum wage and, like a bad penny, the ad valorem tax. HB 148, an example of some of the seemingly rare bipartisanship under the Gold Dome was referred out of the Senate Education and Youth Committee on Tuesday. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Glanton (D- 75 Jonesboro) – also Reps. Amy Carter (R- 175 Valdosta), Dave Belton (R- 112 Buckhead), Darrel Bush Ealum (D- 153 Albany) and House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D- 89 Atlanta) – the bill would officially designate the Depart of Education to establish a “unique identifier” for students who has a parent or guardian that is an active duty military service member and whose parent is a member of a reserve component of the armed forces or National Guard. The idea is to be able to “allow for disaggregation of data for each category” in order to better track the educational outcomes of Georgia’s students related to the military. The bill passed the House unanimously 168-0 so expect this one to breeze through the Senate. HB 198 also passed nearly unanimously, with only frequent “Nayer” Rep. Matt Gurtler (R- 8 Tiger) and Rep. David Stover (R- 71 Newnan) voting against passage. The bill would require local school systems to provide information on immunization, when other health information is provided, specifically for meningococcal meningitis disease...

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