Big field lines up for state Senate seat

  The race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District may have garnered national attention, but it’s not the only contest on the ballot in Cobb County on April 18th.  An 8 person field is competing for the seat of former state Sen. Judson Hill, who vacated the position earlier this year to run for Congress. There are five Republicans and three Democrats running in the heavily right-leaning district, where Republican Hill ran without any opposition in his previous three reelection campaigns.  As in the Congressional race having such a large field seems likely to result in no candidate getting 50%+1 of the vote, thereby sending the top two vote-getters to a runoff on May 16th. With less than a month to go before election day, let’s take a look at the candidates. Republicans:  Hamilton Beck – The young consultant doesn’t have a campaign website, which doesn’t seem to bode well for his chances at taking the seat. Matt Campbell – With the unusual background of railroad conductor Campbell also boasts legislative experience, serving as State Legislative Director for SMART Transportation Division Legislative affairs for five years.  One of the biggest parts of his platform, unsurprisingly, is improving the district’s transportation infrastructure. Roy Daniels – One of three doctors in the race, Daniels also runs a financial advisory firm and serves on the Cobb County Board of Health and Cobb County Community Services Board.  He is a member of the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute class of 2017.  Daniels is a harsh critic of Obamacare and wants to help Georgians with healthcare costs at a state level. Kay Kirkpatrick – Another doctor, the former president of Resurgens...

Ga. 6th Congressional District GOP Forums

  The 6th District Republican Party organization will conduct three forums with the “top five” Republican candidates for the U.S. congressional seat that was held by the resigned Dr. Tom Price. The five selections will be determined by current polling, according to Chairman Michael Fitzgerald. The special election for the seat is April 18. “Admission is free and open to all Republicans, Independents, and Democrats interested in hearing our leading candidates’ positions on the issues,” a party statement says. The following dates and locations are: 1) SUNDAY March 26, 2017 – Indian Hills Country Club 6:00 PM ADDRESS: 4001 Clubland Drive, Marietta, GA 30068 (Cobb County) Debate MODERATOR: Kyle Wingfield of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2) SUNDAY April 2, 2017 – Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter 4:00 PM ADDRESS: 111 Perimeter Center West, Atlanta, GA, 30346 (DeKalb County) MODERATORS: Ginger Howard & Chuck Berk 3) SUNDAY April 9, 2017 – The Metropolitan Club 6:00 PM 5895 Windward Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (Fulton County) MODERATOR:...

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...

Atlanta ponders marijuana decriminalization; Victory for Georgia brewers as SB 85 passes House

  As the state legislature fights its own battles over the use of medical marijuana by Georgians, the Atlanta City Council is preparing for its own vote on decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana within city limits. City Councilwoman Kwanza Hall on Tuesday proposed an ordinance that would drastically reduce the penalty for individuals caught with under an ounce of marijuana.  Currently that crime is a misdemeanor carrying up to a $1000 fine and 6 month confinement.  Under Hall’s proposal, being caught with under an ounce would be a mere $75 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. Possessing any amount of marijuana would remain illegal under state as well as federal law. Earlier this year Democrat state Senator Harold Jones introduced SB 105 which would have similarly reduced punishments for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  That bill failed to make it out of the Senate Rules Committee. The City Council will vote on the proposal at their meeting next week. See the full text of the proposal HERE. Big win for Georgia brewers The craft beer industry rejoiced Wednesday as the Georgia state Senate voted 52-1 in favor of SB 85, a bill which allows among other things direct sale of alcohol to consumers by breweries.  The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal, who is expected to sign it into law. SB 85 has been a multi-year process as Georgia breweries sought to ‘level the playing field’ with surrounding states, most of which already allow direct sales and food service on site.  Alcohol distributors, a major lobbying force under the Gold Dome, had to be...

District 6 update: Ossoff extends lead, GOP dogfight for second place

  A poll from Clout Research and zpolitics released Friday shows Democrat Jon Ossoff with a strong lead over a crowded field in the race to replace Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. With 41% of the vote, Ossoff has extended his lead from the last round of polling where he had 32% of the vote.  Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) remains in second place at 16%, followed closely by fellow Republican and former Johns Creek Councilman Bob Gray at 15.6%.  Cobb County’s Judson Hill, a former state Senator, was third among Republicans at 9%, followed by Dan Moody (R) and Ron Slotin (D). On the Democratic side Ossoff’s big polling lead has liberal mouths watering, wondering if a major get-out-the-vote push could drive him up and over that 50% mark he would need to avoid a runoff.  His Democratic rivals could throw a wrench into that plan, however. With former Democratic state Senator Ron Slotin sitting at 2.6%, we could see a scenario where he and the other remaining Dems in the race steal just enough of Ossoff’s votes to keep him under 50% on April 18th.  That would be a devastating blow for a party that has come together for a candidate more than any we’ve seen in Georgia in recent years. Even with Ossoff’s big money and big support from both local and national Democratic figures, he would be a major underdog in a special election in a district that sent Tom Price back to Washington with over 60% of the vote in his most recent race. For the GOP an arms race has developed...

Pollen spike hits after cool snap

  Atlanta’s pollen count spiked this week, but last week’s cool snap and lower pollen levels will play their share in bringing misery to those with allergies. Dr. Stanley Fineman of  Atlanta Allergy and Asthma said up-and-down pollen levels can lead to a condition called priming, where the body basically is primed for an allergy attack. When the levels go back up, the attack hits, and it usually is a more severe attack.  Pollen counts began to climb earlier this year than in the past, but, until this week, March’s counts were lower than a year ago.  On Tuesday, the count spiked to 1,549, with most of that from trees. And trees, according to Fineman, are the worst for allergy sufferers. “Right now, people are complaining about tree pollen allergies,” he said. “Hardwoods are most of the problem, Pine will be coming up in the next week.”  Tree pollens usually are not an issue until around the first of April, but Georgia’s overall warm winter has trees putting on leaves ahead of schedule.  “It is earlier than normal, no question about it,” Fineman said. “It started in February this year.” Fineman said there is no way to predict how high the pollen count will go, but pollen during a Georgia spring is pretty much a given.  His practice released a statement Tuesday saying the number of patients reporting symptoms was following the pollen count up. “Patients are reporting that their symptoms of nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes are a real problem this week,” the clinic said. “The ‘priming’ effect — high pollen exposure in February, followed by very...

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