Lawmakers Hear About Possible Military Base Closures

The Georgia House Military Affairs Study Committee was told there is no time to waste for preparing for the next round of military base consolidation and closing that could occur as soon as 2019. The study committee, headed by Rep. Dave Belton, has a mission of determining what can be done to protect the Peach State’s military bases when, as expected, the government begins its Base Realignment and Closure process.

As reported by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, committee members heard from Anthony Principi, who chaired the BRAC round in 2005 and is working as a consultant to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Principi urged the study committee to do anything it could to stay off the initial list of potential base closures.

“The history of the previous four BRAC rounds also reveals to you that if an installation in your state makes the Defense Department’s list of closure or realignment, there’s an 85 percent chance your base is going to be closed or realigned,” he said. “So your key is to stay off the list.”

Principi said the current climate within the federal government has become more about cost savings, with excess infrastructure a big target for budget cutters. That’s why the Columbus area and other cities around Georgia should start doing everything they can now to demonstrate their value to the military and its evolving missions. School systems, utility systems, affordable housing and other criteria could have a significant impact on decision makers, he said.

“I would also strongly recommend that you not assume you’re safe, that you not assume that Fort Benning is safe,” the consultant told the lawmakers. “Assume that every base in the state of Georgia is at risk. I’ve seen bases in 2005 where hundreds of millions of dollars were invested by the taxpayer, and those bases were on the list for closure or major realignment. So it could happen anywhere.”

Georgia has a significant military presence which contributes substantially to the state’s economy. Fort Benning has an economic impact of $4.75 billion and employs roughly 40,000 full time employee equivalents, according to a witness at the hearing. Other military installations in Georgia include Robins and Moody Air Force bases, the Kings Bay Submarine Base, and forts Stewart and Gordon.

On Monday, the study committee met at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. Next month, it plans to meet at Fort Gordon near Augusta, with additional meetings planned near military installations around the state.

Morning Reads that are Amazing, So Amazing

The college football kicks off in earnest this weekend at the Dome. Of course I am referring to when Georgia’s premier team (the Panthers of Georgia State) take on the much-vaunted Pride of Indiana (the Cardinals of Ball State).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out you can have two picks in our College Pick ‘Em Challenge (which you should all join, bee tee dubs). 

“Amazing” by Kanye (those of us old enough to remember GSU’s first season will recall this as that season’s anthem).

  1. GSU poised to make another March Madness run.
  2. Related–GSU in play for one of the country’s 50 best b-ball recruits.
  3. 54% of GOPers say Trump “was not GOP’s best option.”
  4. Trump Said he Could Put Several Blue States in Play. It’s Clear He Hasn’t.
  5. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.
  6. An interactive display of the “at least 110 Republican leaders” who aren’t supporting the DT.
  7. Atlanta housing prices up 5.8% in June. 
  8. “Central banking is in a brave new world” says Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed (AKA: best fed prez)
  9. Thursday is the day we find out if Atlanta can hold 1m folks inside the city limits. 
  10. AKA: buy your ITP property now.
  11. Is there anyone surprised that Southern can’t do anything right? No? Weird. 
  12. Thirty-nine hate groups are active in our fair state.
  13. Georgia Tech grad has a really weird societal view; likes sucking fun out of things. 

Isakson: Zika Funding Is Not A Political Game

A guest Op-Ed by Georgia’s Senior Senator Johnny Isakson, as originally published in the Savannah Morning News:

Georgia’s beautiful coast, temperate climate and scenic outdoors beckon to folks worldwide to visit our state and are prized by those of us who call the Peach State “home.”

Unfortunately, those geographic factors also lure the most unwelcome of guests: mosquitoes. While mosquitoes have long been known to spread disease, the latest virus they are spreading, known as Zika, is a more serious threat. It not only infects individuals via direct contact, but can be spread person-to-person, and to future generations in the form of severe birth defects.

Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also located here in Georgia, is among the most important research and medical facilities in the world. The CDC has made incredible advances in eliminating terrible diseases such as Ebola. Now the Zika virus is in the CDC’s crosshairs.

In its own backyard, the CDC identified early that the Zika virus was a serious threat to public health and requested emergency funding from Congress for additional research on necessary preventative measures, treatment and the development of a vaccine. Continue reading

Atlanta Named Top City for Startups

A recent study by Teleport.org names Atlanta as the best city for founding a business.

The study was based on the evolving priorities of start-up owners. According to the article, most studies only consider a few traditional factors when determining the best startup locations, chiefly the quality of both the startups and funding already available in the area.  However, Teleport’s study took into account the evolving needs of a good start-up location.

Teleport’s list included the classic qualities of what is considered a good founding location:

  • Lively startup scene
  • Low cost of living
  • Low pollution
  • High safety
  • Simple taxes

It also took into account some more specific qualities:

  • Venture capital score
  • Rent rates (both home and office)
  • Web speed
  • Lack of labor restrictions
  • Airport accessibility
  • Time it takes to open a business (amount of bureaucracy)

When researchers considered all of these factors, Atlanta comes out on top, followed closely by Chicago, Berlin, Dallas, and Bengaluru. The study breaks down each major criteria, available here.

Senator Perdue Speculates on the Priorities of a Trump Presidency, and How They Would Affect the Federal Budget

When the U.S. Senate reconvenes after Labor Day, there will be three weeks remaining before the start of the 2017 fiscal year on October 1st. Because Congress has only passed three of the dozen spending bills required to fund the government, Georgia Senator David Perdue, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, predicts there will be a continuing resolution passed, followed by an omnibus spending measure to get the country through the inauguration of the next president, followed by creating a spending plan for the remainder of the fiscal year that would reflect the priorities of the new president.

In an interview with GeorgiaPol over the weekend, Senator Perdue, who chairs Donald Trump’s Georgia campaign leadership team, was asked how that 2017 funding bill might look under a Donald Trump administration. After pausing for a minute, Senator Perdue pointed to some things he believes would be priorities in a Trump administration that could affect the budget.

First on the list would be defense spending. Senator Perdue believes President Trump would drive an effort to fully fund the military, a major GOP priority. The second thing that would happen would be a repeal of Obamacare. While previous attempts by GOP legislators to eliminate the Affordable Care Act have been vetoed by President Obama, Trump has promised to sign veto legislation is he was presented with it.

Also likely to occur would be the approval of the long-delayed Keystone Pipeline, whether by legislation or via executive order. A President Trump would also likely undo many of the executive orders and executive actions that affect regulations that in turn, slow the economy.

How would all of this impact the budget? Senator Perdue sees the military getting additional funding, while domestic discretionary funding would remain flat in the short term. In the long term, he sees a Trump administration working with Congress to develop a ten year spending plan that would get the budget under control. Longer term, Senator Perdue sees a goal of tying debt to a percentage of gross domestic product, and then developing a road map to get there.

Isakson Knocks DoD on A-10 Thunderbolt Divestment Plan

Senator Johnny Isakson weighed in on the military readiness debate on Monday following the release of a Government Accountability Office report that questioned the Department of Defense’s decision to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II. The report found that the consequences of “premature divestment” have not been adequately studied by the Air Force and that it was unclear if the divestment would create “capacity or capability gaps.”

Here is an excerpt from Senator Isakson’s press release:

“The A-10 is an important mission at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga., and plays a crucial role in support of our national defense. The findings in this report validate what I have been arguing since the first announcement that the A-10 fleet would be divested. The close-air support provided by the A-10 is unmatched by any other aerial platform, and to divest of this aircraft without a fully operational alternative would put U.S. troops at increased risk in current and future conflicts.”

The DoD and the Air Force have been trying to retire the A-10 fleet since 2012 in order to transition resources to the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced in February that the A-10s would be around until at least 2022, but the Air Force might start whittling down the fleet as soon as 2018. Continue reading

Morning Reads for Tuesday, August 30

Good morning!

Unsolicited Advice For College Students

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Students across the state have returned to school. “Summer” is now over in Georgia by early August for public school students and for college students by late month. Alas, by my old-school standards, college hasn’t started until the University of Georgia is playing football. As kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 this Saturday in the relic we know as the Georgia Dome, it’s time for advice for college students disguised as this week’s column.

1) Call your mother and your father.

Your parents actually do want to hear from you (other than your calls where you ask for money). You won’t want to admit this, but you need to talk to them too. Leaving for college is a time when independence is asserted at a new level that is difficult for all parties involved. That doesn’t mean you need to pretend that you can do it all yourself. Their advice is better than you want to admit right now, and you still need them (beyond the money you’re still going to ask for). Don’t be too big to let them know that from time to time.

2) Find your career placement office now, and use it.

You will never have the opportunity to chart your future on a blank canvas again like you have right now. Whether you know what you want to do or are currently “finding yourself”, get to know the folks who are the link between you and future employers. “Who is hiring?”, “What are employers looking for for the job I want?”, “What is the starting salary range for graduates in my major?”, and “What is the placement rate for graduates with my major?” are basic questions to start with. They can also help you find internships and other opportunities even before you graduate.

3) Make a budget. Continue reading

Secretary of State Calls Out Feds on Overreach

Secretary of State Brian Kemp addresses the UGA Republicans on August 24th.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp addresses the UGA Republicans on August 24th.

Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, spoke with the University of Georgia College Republicans about a broad range of issues. One in particular that has caught national attention. Recently, the issue of security when it comes to the nation’s voting systems has been raised following multiple cyber-attacks including the ones on the Democratic National Committee. The Department of Homeland Security is currently trying to take action to increase security for the electronic voting process. Mr. Kemp says their plans are overreaching and there are constitutional concerns. This issue is highlighted in a recent Politico article.

Running and regulating elections has always been a power of the states, but the Department of Homeland Security has expressed its desire to work with states on voting security. The Secretary of the DHS, Jeh Johnson, has even suggested that it “should carefully consider” the matter of reclassifying the voting system as “critical infrastructure.” Such a move would give unprecedented federal authority over the nation’s election system, and Secretary Kemp contends it would allow the government to subvert the states’ ability to run elections effectively federalizing the system. Mr. Kemp had this to say:

“It seems like now it’s just the D.C. media and the bureaucrats, because of the DNC getting hacked — they now think our whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian’s going to tap into the voting system…And that’s just not — I mean, anything is possible, but it is not probable at all, the way our systems are set up.”

“The question remains whether the federal government will subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.”

Electronic voting in Georgia is a closed system and does not use the internet. Plus the machines undergo inspection and are sealed when not in use. Georgia and other states also already work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Election Assistance Commission. Following a conference call with Secretary Johnson and other Secretaries of State, Kemp believed that this was a regulatory push that had “been in the works.”

In the end, Mr. Kemp said he would accept help from the DHS if all they did was identify threats and warn the states, but he still argues that the media and federal bureaucrats are just raising unnecessary fears and alarm. He contends that it is highly improbable that the voting systems could be comprised to the point of swinging an election.

Democrats Will Focus on GOTV Efforts in Georgia

At a meeting with Athens Democrats on Saturday, Richard McDaniel, the Georgia political director for Hillary for America, told attendees that their focus should be getting out the vote for Clinton, not trying to convince supporters of Donald Trump to vote for her, according to a story in the Athens Banner Herald. McDaniel was accompanied by Democratic Party of Georgia Field Director Max Doty, who told attendees,

“I don’t want anybody in here talking to a Trump supporter,” Doty said.

Doty told the group that, at this stage of the presidential race, with a little more than two months remaining until the Nov. 8 general election, most people have decided who they’ll support in the presidential race.

As a result, Doty said, it makes little sense for Democrats to argue with Trump supporters, because they’ll be wasting time that could be better spent in urging people with a history of voting for Democratic candidates to make their way to the polls.

Despite the requests of some in attendance for material that could be used to counter anti-Clinton arguments, the two emphasized the importance of getting out the vote in November, claiming that there were “hundreds of thousands” of Democratic voters who failed to go to the polls in 2004 and 2012.