Iowa: And So It Begins

As you know, we strive to be a site that specializes in Georgia politics.  That’s different than the politics of Georgians, which opens up all discussions to the national talking points of the day.

That said we’re also a community, and we understand that you fine people still want (for some of you need) to talk Presidential politics.  From time to time we’ll open up a thread or two to let y’all relieve this pressure.  We are, after all, only a month away from Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary.  I would ask that y’all remember the goal is to be civil when asserting that your candidate was personally chosen by God and whomever you are arguing with is obviously damned to hell for eternity for asserting otherwise.  Or better yet, please try articulating and persuading using logic and reason rather than bolding asserting divine superiority.

With that said, here’s an open thread to discuss Iowa and all things Presidential Primary.  All parties/candidates fair game.

I’ll start with a mostly non-prediction: Continue reading “Iowa: And So It Begins”

Rules Committee Holds Brief Hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act

The Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act this morning, although they took no action on the measure. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Greg Kirk, has been criticized by some for being unconstitutional, or worse.

The short hearing consisted of one witness in addition to Sen. Kirk. Cathy Woolard, a lobbyist for Georgia Equality which advocates for LGBT issues, brought up a number of concerns, including that the definition of a person includes corporations, that FADA could possibly make local anti discrimination ordinances unenforceable, and that because the Act only protected a speccific religious viewpoint, it might amount to an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Senator Steve Henson brought up concerns expressed by Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson that a First Amendment Defense Act should be dealt with uniformly at the federal level. Sen. Kirk responded that he had asked Isakson about his opinion when the senator visited the Gold Dome last week, and was told that passing the measure at the federal level might take too long, and even if it was passed there, the courts could rule, as they did with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that the law did not apply to the states, but only to federal action.

In the end, no vote was taken on the measure, nor was one promised. That there was a hearing at all, and that it was brought up on such short notice, raised some eyebrows. Some fear that the hearing might be an attempt to rush the bill through the committee and to the Senate without amendments, while others wonder if the rush hearing is an attempt to bury the bill “after giving it a fair hearing.” Only time will tell its fate.

Are College Men Targeted On Campuses?

Last week, Representative Earl Ehrhart, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee On Higher Education, had much to say about due process in collegiate judicial proceedings involving students, or lack thereof. Chairman Ehrhart’s criticism of the school’s judicial proceedings is actually completely legitimate.

Sexual assault allegations should be taken very seriously. It’s a problem plaguing many college campuses and in the past has been overlooked by campus officials (especially in cases of athletes). But now it’s 2016; society is outraged by sexual assault on college campuses and demands action be taken to protect victims. Great–it’s about time. Colleges are banning entire fraternities, suspending students, and taking legal action.

This all begs the question: At what point does the accused become a victim? Hear me out. Continue reading “Are College Men Targeted On Campuses?”

Problems In The GAGOP Ahead of SEC Primary

It has not been a good few days for the Georgia Republican Party. I take no joy in the following two items, as I invested so much time, energy, and money into the GAGOP over the last decade. I also have people that I admire, respect, and share a friendship with that are in the midst of each one.

GAGOP Finances

As we have posted here before, the GAGOP is going through a period of financial difficulty. The AJC added to the story today that the GAGOP Executive Committee will have an emergency meeting on Saturday, February 13 to discuss those financial issues.

Justin Tomczak, longtime Republican activist (used with permission by Mr. Tomczak):

“It’s good to see the District Chairs calling for an accounting of what has taken place over the past 3 years. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted with little to nothing to show for it. I am hopeful that this meeting will result in significant changes as we head towards the Presidential Election.”

While some may be hoping for the worst, it is my hopes that the ship can be righted.

Issues in the Newton County GOP after the break

Continue reading “Problems In The GAGOP Ahead of SEC Primary”

A Republican Short Story: Penguins, Primaries, Trump & The Soul of The GOP

Trump primary

The following, of course, is merely a recounting of an anxiety nightmare last night on the eve of the 2016 Republican primary season. After all, who would spend a year taking a census of penguins and how could anyone imagine the Republican Party nominating Donald J. Trump for President? Right?

A cold early February wind blows through the opening door as a  staunch Republican friend walks into the bar. My keen sense of perception alerts me from his appearance — scruffy beard, spear, and fur parka — that we have clearly lost touch. I sheepishly ask him where he has been and order a couple of beers.

“Antarctica,” he replies as he sits down. “Twelve months taking the census of penguins. Have I missed anything politically? I figured I am back just in time for primary season.”

“You are right,” I reassure him as the waitress hands us our drinks and I fight off the urge to ask him why counting penguins required a spear. Regaining my concentration, I add, “It is finally here – the 2016 Presidential Primary Season. Over the next few weeks – or months – we are going to decide who will follow Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan and others as our presidential nominee.”

“Great,” he exclaims while peeling off his gloves and then raises his glass. “This is going to be a great year for the GOP!”

“Maybe. Maybe not,” I reply as I image my friend standing in a frozen landscape tabulating penguins. “I have a bit of a shocker for you. A leading contender for the Republican nomination is real estate tycoon Donald J. Trump.” Continue reading “A Republican Short Story: Penguins, Primaries, Trump & The Soul of The GOP”

Brian Strickland Fights Discrimination In High School Athletic Memberships

On Thursday, State Rep. Brian Strickland, a Republican representing District 111, filed a bill that prohibits discrimination within high school athletic memberships.

House Bill 870 targets the Georgia High School Association’s restriction of certain private schools from participating in athletic events with other private and public schools, as well as addresses associations that prohibit religious expression on clothing.

Rep. Strickland explains his reasoning behind the bill in a press release from the Georgia House:

“Parents in Georgia should not have to choose between extracurricular involvement and an education when deciding what is best for their child,” said Rep. Strickland. “With HB 870, we are simply confirming that the Georgia High School Association can no longer pick and choose which schools it wants to give the opportunity to participate in athletics. These decisions should be made by the individual schools rather than a larger private entity.”

The bill proposed would prohibit any high school in Georgia that receives state funding under the “Quality Basic Education Act” from participating in, sponsoring, or providing coaching staff for athletic events under associations that prohibit religious expression of student athletes, other than what is required for safety or rules of the particular event.

It would also prohibit the participation in athletic events conducted under associations that do not allow member schools to play scrimmages, matches, or other competitions with schools outside of the association, even if both schools have already committed in writing to compete and are both in compliance with athletic code.

Religion and discrimination in schools have been issues debated for decades, although many of us do not think of it in the realm of high school sports. Rep. Strickland’s bill is an attempt to prevent the discrimination by taking away the decision-making power from larger private associations.

Straight Outta The Carpet Capital

Hey there, GeorgiaPol world. I’m a new intern that you’ll be hearing from, and I couldn’t be more excited to begin working with such a great and talented team.

My name is Nicole Hammett, and I was born and raised in the Dalton area, a city in Northwest Georgia which you may recognize as the “Carpet Capital of the World”. It’s an interesting title, I know.

I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in journalism and political science. When I’m not studying or running around with my sorority sisters, you’ll probably find me at the nearest Mexican restaurant or nose-deep in a book.

I’ve had a love for writing for as long as I can remember, but my interest in politics began soon after entering my freshman year of college. I never thought of pursuing either as a career until I joined the UGA College Republicans and multiple journalism clubs and societies. Getting more involved in what I was interested in opened my eyes to the many possibilities and experiences that can come from writing and being engaged in politics. Continue reading “Straight Outta The Carpet Capital”

Breaking: Georgia Supreme Court rejects undocumented students’ tuition lawsuit

This morning, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously turned back a lawsuit brought by undocumented immigrants against the Board of Regents demanding in-state tuition. While the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the students’ tuition claim, it did uphold both the Fulton County trial court and Appeals Court decisions. Both lower courts dismissed the students’ lawsuit on the ground that sovereign immunity shields the Board of Regents from lawsuits requesting damages or injunctive relief. The Court noted that while relief is unavailable to the students by suing the Board of Regents itself, they could sue members of the Board in their individual capacities.

Three Georgia Legislators Get Perfect Scores in American Conservative Union 2015 Rankings

The American Conservative Union is out with its annual ranking of the Georgia legislature for the 2015 session. The organization looked at 14 Senate votes and ten House votes, giving points to legislators who voted the way the ACU prefers. A vote for HB 170, the Transportation Funding Act, whether in the House or in the Senate didn’t get any points. Votes in favor of the Opportunity School District (SR 287), fireworks sales (HB 110) or direct sales by small breweries (SB 63) were supported by the American Conservative Union, But, a legislator got no credit for supporting tax subsidies for Mercedes Benz (HB 202) or Savannah redevelopment (HB 308).

In the Senate, the average score was 59% overall, with Republicans at 68% and Democrats at 40%. Getting top scores were Hunter Hill of Atlanta and Josh McKoon of Columbus, both with perfect scores, Marty Harbin of Tyrone (93%), and Lindsey Tippins of Marietta with 91%.

The House fell short of the Senate in the eyes of the ACU. The overall average score was only 44%, with Republican members averaging 51% and Democratic members averaging 32%. Woodstock’s Michael Caldwell earned a perfect score of 100%, while Heath Clark of Warner Robins, Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga and Scot Turner of Holly Springs each scored 90%. Continue reading “Three Georgia Legislators Get Perfect Scores in American Conservative Union 2015 Rankings”

Georgia Prepares for Primary: Registration Numbers Soaring

Set for March 1st in Georgia, the presidential primary is fast approaching. Today is the deadline for Georgians to register to vote in the primary.

Georgia residents in Gwinnett County especially have been taking action by registering to vote in significantly increased numbers. The Gwinnett Daily Post has quite a lot to say about the increase in voter registration in an article featuring Elections Director Lynn Ledford:

[according to Ledford, Gwinnett County] has seen an average of about 1,000 or more new registered voters a day over the last week and a half. As of Thursday, the county had 485,940 voters who are eligible to participate in the March 1 primary.

Statewide, elections officials are seeing an increase in voter registrations as the deadline approaches, according to Ledford. She said Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office sent out a notice to local elections offices across the state that on one day alone recently, the state saw 12,000 new voters registered.

In the article, Ledford also provides resources for those needing to register. Registration is available at the Georgia Secretary of State website. Those who have personal records on file with the state through a driver’s license may register online directly. Residents without the necessary records on file must register by mail. Ledford also recommends that voters check Georgia’s My Voter Page (MVP) website page for election information.

With twelve Republican candidates and three Democratic candidates in the running, this election is the first in eight years to lack an incumbent presidential candidate.