HB 452 sees ‘needless changes’; GBI info sharing delayed by Senator Harper

HB 452 by Rep. Rep Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, would require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to share with Georgia sheriffs and the public information it has been receiving from the federal Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) for at least 18 months on the release of criminal aliens.  Supporters say the good news is that it passed out of the state Senate Public Safety Committee. But they worry that it passed with needless tinkering with the already well-written language and some very concerning incidents. As Mark Krikorian reported in National Review on Tuesday in a piece featuring Petrea’s bill, “ICE shares information nationwide, through a system called Enforcement Integrated Database (EID) and Law Enforcement Notification System (LENS), when it releases criminal aliens who have been convicted of “violent or serious crimes” like “certain felonies and misdemeanors – such as homicide, rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, and kidnapping.” Georgia activist D.A. King, who has been working on this bill for almost two years, says he is “appalled at Public Safety Committee Chairman Tyler Harper’s uninformed changes, which insert additional, subjective language qualifying which criminal aliens will be subject to the legislation.” “Senator Harper proved that he knows zero about the EID/LENS program,” says King, who testified at Tuesday’s hearing. “On the criminal aliens who will be covered by the bill, Harper has inserted ‘and have committed violent or serious crimes’ into what we hope will become law. This was already the stated policy of the feds. Is Harper afraid that the feds will expand the reporting system to share information on criminal aliens to ‘unserious’ violent crimes?” He concludes: “The amateurish, needless language added to HB...

A GOP Aquarium Gala– and the Dems Fire a Shot at Brian Kemp

Hundreds of GOP donors packed a downtown Atlanta Georgia Aquarium fund-raiser on Monday night to hear from Gov. Nathan Deal, new Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Fox News TV personality Judge Janine Pirro. The Nov. 8 victory of President Donald Trump was cheered by the party faithful and the grassroots gains the Georgia GOP is making, in the words of state Chairman John Padgett, “are keeping Georgia Republican.” Numerous donor sponsors ranged from Waffle House, Altria and the Georgia Association of Realtors to the Georgia Healthcare Association, Waste Management, the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association and SunTrust Bank. Deal touted the exemplary fiscal management and economic progress of the state under GOP leadership, McDaniel cited the Trump appeal to many blue collar workers that helped elect him (Mitt Romney is her uncle but she was an early Trump supporter) and Pirro delivered a fiery speech on how illegal immigration is a danger to our country and why so-called “sanctuary cities” harboring illegal criminals “are an insult to America.” The news circulating among many of the attendees dealt with GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s announcement that he’s running for governor in 2018.  Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is also in the  running and House Speaker David Ralston last week sent up a gubernatorial trial balloon. Also last evening, state Democratic Party Chairman DuBose Porter sent out a blast email immediately attacking the Kemp candidacy. “Brian Kemp needs to assure us that our voter systems are safe and secure. He has yet to do so.” Porter’s criticism is a reference to a breach of election data that recently occurred at...

Cowsert Again Derails ‘Sunday Brunch’ Bill

  It is alternately called “the brunch bill” or the “mimosa mandate,” but officially it is Senate Bill 17 by state Sen. Rene Unterman, R-Buford. It would correct an injustice that the author, the Georgia Restaurant Association, and many restaurant owners have complained about for several years. The proponents say: “Change brunch on Sundays.” S.B. 17 would allow for local municipalities to opt-in to allow their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 am on Sundays. Currently, state-owned facilities such as the World Congress Center and Lake Lanier Islands Resort are permitted to serve alcohol starting at 10:30 am on Sundays— but all other privately-owned restaurants must wait until 12:30 pm. For the third year in a row, the legislation was blocked by state Sen Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who claims it would upset a “compromise” between legislative leaders and church leaders over allowing an alcohol sales on a Sunday morning.  Unterman and other legislators, however, felt that was not only a bad compromise at the time, it was also unfair. So S.B. 17 missed the “Crossover Day” deadline for a bill to pass and transfer over to the House chamber. And Cowsert remains the No. 1 “villain” of the Georgia Restaurant Association and, according to polling, probably much of the public....

Appeals Court to Rule on Illegal Alien In-State Tuition Ban

  Georgia’s attorney general is appealing Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan’s ruling granting in-state college tuition to so-called “deferred action” illegal immigrants. The plaintiffs are seeking in-state tuition for undocumented students covered by DACA, but so far everything is in limbo. (President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2012 creating the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” illegal immigrant category, or DACA.) Several weeks ago, the state Court of Appeals transferred the case to the state Supreme Court based on jurisdictional concerns. But yesterday the Supreme Court issued an order transferring the case back to the Court of Appeals and confirming that court has proper jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Samuel Burch, Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and secretary to Georgia’s Board of Regents, says that “current policies regarding in-state tuition will continue to remain in effect. …” That means the Regents’ ban on in-state tuition for the illegals remains for now. It will be up to the Court of Appeals to ultimately decide. By the way, new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was asked at his confirmation hearing whether he would persuade President Donald Trump to overturn the Obama DACA executive order. In response, Sessions said DACA is “very questionable, in my opinion, constitutionally” so he doesn’t believe the Department of Justice would object to repealing it. “It would certainly be constitutional, I believe, to end that order,” he said. But so far Trump hasn’t signaled any repeal effort. The DACA program allows children of illegal immigrants who are under the age of 31 and have been in the country before age 16 to remain...

Casino Bill Being Reworked — Again

State Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, says the “destination resort” legislation he is pushing in the Senate is being reworked by changing its population stipulations to “two regional designations” to allow a casino operation. Beach and other lawmakers fear that stipulating resorts in areas narrowly defined by city or county population numbers could be deemed unconstitutional. Beach says the enabling legislation will now be written to allow for two regions. “The first destination resort could be located within a five-county metro Atlanta area and the second could be located  anywhere outside of the first region.”  “The main stipulation for the second region,” he says, “is that the location has to be outside of a city with a 125,000-square-foot convention center within 30 miles of the destination resort.” Beach says he expects the enabling legislation to receive a positive vote out of committee on Tuesday in the House, and then receive a positive vote out of committee on Thursday in the Senate. How much HOPE Scholarship coffers would receive under this legislation may still be up in the air. A previous draft said HOPE would receive a 50 percent share of revenues. That may be lowered to 30 percent so that other revenue streams could go to rural healthcare and trauma centers (thus picking up the votes of more rural...

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