You Know POTUS, SCOTUS And maybe FLOTUS – How About WOTUS?

In these times of “lol”s, “brb”s and “fwiw”s*, most everyone has come to learn the acronyms often used for the president, POTUS, and maybe some others but there may be one ‘OTUS’ you haven’t heard – WOTUS. And now Rep. Rick Allen (R- GA 12) wants to get rid of that one altogether. WOTUS stands for the Waters of the United States Rule. It was issued under the Clean Water Act by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers and was issued to define and clarify the scope of waters under the EPA’s purview. In effect, it was designed by the Obama administration to help downstream waters from upstream pollution. “This rule will provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable,” said then-President Obama. The rule broadened what qualified as under federal regulatory authority and critics say it was far too broad. According to Allen, it included nearly all bodies of water, including creeks, streams, and groundwater as well as drainage ditches, irrigation pipes and farmland ponds. Ranchers and farmers and others with significant land holdings were particularly upset with the legislation. The Farm Bureau expressed its concerns with the regulation and its uncertainty. “The final rule provides none of the clarity and certainty it promises. Instead, it creates confusion and risk by giving the agencies almost unlimited authority to regulate, at their discretion, any low spot where rainwater collects, including common farm ditches, ephemeral drainages, agricultural ponds and isolated...

Senate Weighing the FAST Act to Streamline Business Creation

Early in this year’s legislative session, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, along with Senator Mike Dugan (R- 30 Carrollton), Chairman of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, announced their sponsorship of Senate Bill 2 – the FAST Act. It’s less brevity-inclined title is “The FAST Act – Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency – Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed.” Besides Dugan, the bill has some heavy hitters from the Republican-led Senate. It’s pretty much a who’s who of Senate leadership as the bill is part of the Senate Majority Caucus’ six legislative priorities. President Pro Tempore David Shafer (R- 48 Duluth), Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R- 46 Athens), Majority Whip Steve Gooch (R- 51 Dahlonega) and Majority Caucus Secretary John Wilkinson (R- 50 Toccoa) are all lead sponsors. Judson Hill, who resigned his state Senate seat when he qualified for the 6th District Congressional race on Monday, had also been a sponsor of the bill. According to the Cagle’s office, the “pro-business, pro-job creation legislation will address and remove the costly hassles placed on Georgia’s small businesses by creating a more efficient and transparent permitting process.” If it passes, the bill would require government agencies that issue licenses or permits to establish a fee schedule that includes processing times. If the agency failed to meet that schedule, the fee would be reduced by 10% for every ten days beyond the deadline. Agencies will also be required an expedited processing option for an extra service charge, which can be no more than twice the original fee. The Act would also establish a “Building and Infrastructure Transparency Score” (BITS) system to rank...

VIDEO: Dahlonega Hosts GOP Chair Candidate Debate

  On Saturday, some politically committed souls spent their Saturday night listening to the pitches of four candidates for the Georgia Republican Party Chairmanship. Alex Johnson, Michael McNeely, John Watson and Mike Welsh laid out their experience and strategy for the GOP going forward. One of the issues that came up frequently was fundraising. The state party is currently hampered with some fundraising challenges. The party currently has about $38,000 in the bank and nearly $320,000 in debt. The past year’s politics have perhaps been rough on the state party. Many Trump voters that could potentially be donors to the state party believe the party is too “establishment” and some Republicans who are dismayed with the rise of Trump may be reluctant to give to a party that is, in effect, run by him. Johnson has been a candidate for chair previously and has run for state senate in a heavily Democrat district. He started his political career with the Oglethorpe University college republicans. He has been heavily involved with DeKalb County Republicans for a number of years. Johnson is concerned about the lack of the presence of the party in Georgia. The elections in 2016 showed some gains by Democrats in a few areas and Johnson doesn’t want to see the Republicans continue to lose ground. Johnson believes the party needs to build a stronger grassroots effort and not just spend money on mail and consultants. McNeely has been the First Vice Chair for the state party for a couple years. He is from the Augusta area and was a police officer for 14 years while serving in...

Macon Legislator Sponsoring Marsy’s Law

State Senator John F. Kennedy (R- 18 Macon) introduced Marsy’s Law last week, a resolution that would give crime victims certain constitutional rights. The bill is touted by California billionaire Dr. Henry Nicholas, whose sister Marsalee was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after her death, he and his mother were confronted by the killer in a grocery store, who had been freed on bail without their knowledge. California became the first state to pass Marsy’s Law in 2008 and Nicholas has taken his campaign across the country. North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois all recently passed the bill and Kentucky and Nevada are considering similar legislation to Georgia. Nicholas’ group, Marsy’s Law for All, provides expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations across the country and helps in the advocacy for the bill. According to the Marsy’s Law for Georgia group, Georgia is one of only fifteen states without constitutional protections for victims of crime. “Marsy’s Law for Georgia would bring us in line with what the vast majority of the country is already doing, and we have no evidence from these other states that constitutional rights for crime victims interfere with or overly burden the criminal justice system,” said Kennedy. “Since 2010, Georgia has had rights for crime victims outlined in state law. We already have the systems in place to provide these protections that we all support. Elevating these rights to the constitution gives them teeth, meaning victims would now have recourse if their rights were neglected.” Marsy’s Law would require victims or their families to receive information about available services, notification...

Atlanta and London to Host Annual FinTech Conference

In December, Insider Advantage highlighted the latest news about Atlanta’s recognition as a global fintech (financial technology) leader. Forbes writer Tom Groenfeldt called Atlanta “the unsung – so far – leader in financial technology.” This past week, Atlanta put another notch in its fintech belt. British and American government, business and other influential leaders officially announced the formation of the “P20” and its inaugural meeting to be held in the fall in London. The annual meeting will rotate between London and Atlanta. The P20 will bring together 20 of the most influential leaders in the payments industry, as well as top government leaders and regulators, to discuss fintech and the world economy, the central role played by Atlanta and London and to provide a formal Transatlantic partnership to promote the growth of the industry globally. “I am proud to support the P20 initiative to strengthen the ties between the City of Atlanta and the City of London. Atlanta is home to a strong and diverse workforce, and processes more than 70 percent of all payments in the United States each year,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “Our two cities are major international financial technology hubs, and building stronger relationships between government and business leaders here and in the United Kingdom offers tremendous potential for the exchange of ideas, as well as trade and investment opportunities.” The gathering will allow stakeholders to debate and discuss improving regulatory frameworks, economic development, innovation, financial inclusion and overall cooperation. The meeting is a response to the need for “greater regulatory clarity, consumer security, and innovation collaboration as it applies to the payments industry...

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