Morning Reads – Thursday, January 14, 2016

On this date in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to fly in an airplane while in office. He flew from Miami to French Morocco where he met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss World War II.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

Georgia Found to have Made Most “Racial Progress” in America, Seventh Most-Integrated State

The well-known bastion of sociological expertise,WalletHub, crunched numbers from all 50 states in our union and the District of Columbia to evaluate racial progress and the increase of integration in our states and D.C. Georgia, for all her warts, has fared excellently. We’re no. 7 for integration and no. 1 for racial integration.

What does that mean? Well, integration should be straight forward but the conclusion was reached evaluating a variety of metrics based on education, poverty levels, voter participation and more. Racial progress is “measured by calculating the difference between whites and blacks for a given metric, using the oldest available data and the most recent. Based on the result, we calculated the percentage of progress for that specific metric in the analyzed period.” Oh… kay.

You can see that the rest of the methodology is quite a bit thin, shall we say. But, the point of the study is still valid and should be celebrated because we don’t need semi-serious studies to tell us what we already know: “America has certainly come a lot closer to realizing Dr. King’s vision.”

GA Tax Revenues Up 3.6% In December

An announcement was made today by Gov. Deal stating that Georgia’s net tax collections for December, 2015 totaled over $2.04 billion, an increase of about $67.7 million (3.6%) from December, 2014. This brings the final net tax revenue collections to $10.44 billion for the 2016 fiscal year, which is up $834.2 million (8.7%) from last year.

In addition, $67.0 million was generated for transportation in December due to changes implemented by House Bill 170.

The following is a breakdown of the December, 2015 revenues in comparison to December, 2014:

Description Amount Collected Change From Dec., 2014 Percentage Change
Individual income taxes $1.11 billion $27.1 million 2.5%
Gross Sales & Use Tax $830.9 million -$3.0 million -0.4%
Net Sales & Use Tax $426.3 million -$4.7 million -1.1%
Corporate income taxes $200.8 million $13.6 million 7.3%

A copy of the December, 2015 financial report can be seen below the fold. Continue reading “GA Tax Revenues Up 3.6% In December”

A Democrat Enters the Race for SD-6

“Medium beige head atop hazy copper body.” That’s how a reviewer on RateBeer.com described the Five Seasons Westside’s Hunter Hill IPA, which boasts a respectable 3.5 out of 5.0 rating. Senator Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna) is a friend to Georgia’s beer industry, and represents Senate District 6. SD-6 spans the top end of I-285, and includes most of Smyrna, Vinings, north Buckhead, and Sandy Springs.

SD-6 was represented by Doug Stoner, a Democrat, until Hill unseated him in 2012 with 53% of the vote (Stoner was elected to the Smyrna City Council in November 2015 and began representing Smyrna’s Ward 6 earlier this month). Smyrna leans Democrat – typically, by around 50-55% – so it’s not surprising that another Democrat from Smyrna is interested in the seat, and this morning Jaha Howard announced his candidacy. Howard is a pediatric dentist with a busy practice in Vinings, and he is perhaps best known in the community for launching the Smyrna Wave of Excellence, a grassroots Facebook group that has played a large part in reinvigorating participation and engagement between the community and Smyrna’s public schools. The group also dabbled its toes in politics during the school board election for the Cobb County School District’s Post 2 in 2014 when Susan Thayer, who eventually won the seat, defeated incumbent Tim Stultz in the primary.

It will be interesting to see how this race evolves. Hill can’t fundraise during the session, but that won’t be a problem after late March, when the Legislature is predicted to adjourn. Hill supported the “Guns Everywhere” bill in 2014 despite lackluster support for the measure from the Republican base in his district, but beer makes for a better talking point than bullets, and the Fulton part of SD-6 leans around 60-65% Republican.

Georgia Democratic Congressmen Weigh In On SOTU

We heard from several Republican elected officials last night, but we wanted to be fair and share some Democratic views from our Georgia delegation. Below you will find statements from Rep. John Lewis (D, GA-5), Rep. Hank Johnson (D, GA-4), and Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D, GA-2).

Rep. John Lewis (D, GA-5):

“Tonight President Obama appealed to the very best in the American people. He suggested we all have a responsibility, as members of Congress and as participants in our democracy, to come together to serve the greatest and highest good. He encouraged us to us to lay aside whatever divides us and find ways to move forward on common ground , knowing that doing so benefits all of us, including those who depend on our leadership around the world.

He spoke with great faith about the dignity of the countless and nameless Americans who are the lifeblood of our democracy. It is those ordinary men, women and children who are the true keepers of the American flame. He reminded us that our vision of a fair and just society can only be realized when we participate as citizens. He charged us to vote, to speak out and speak up as we face the challenges that lay ahead.

He appealed to us to open up the political process and let everyone come in. We cannot fear a change that is inevitable. We must embrace the calling of the 21st century. He encouraged us to take the money out of politics so that the people select us through their votes as their representatives, not party politics, gerrymandering or, big money interests. As a nation and as a people, we must find a better way.

Most importantly, I think President Obama made it crystal clear that the union is strong. Some politicians who are running for president make it appear that the country is weak, in service to their own ambitions. They want us to believe that the American dream is no more. But President Obama said tonight, that even though our nation is challenged by change, it is still strong. It is still vibrant, and it is still the most powerful nation on earth. And I believe the history books will show, that President Barack Obama left this nation much better shape than he found it.”

Reactions from Reps. Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop are below the fold. Continue reading “Georgia Democratic Congressmen Weigh In On SOTU”

GAGOP Finances Run Low

Greg Bluestein and James Salzer at the AJC released a story yesterday that shone the light on some financial issues with the Georgia Republican Party. From their story:

“The Georgia GOP filed an end-of-the-year report showing it had $11,403 cash on hand and was $231,000 in debt, in a startling revelation for a party that commanded millions just a few election cycles ago.

[T]he party’s bank account has steadily depleted over the last six years. It had $2 million in the bank at the start of 2010, $844,000 in early 2012 and $425,000 in 2014.”

From the Federal and State reports, which you can see by following the links below, the Federal balance on hand was $19,005.10 with a debt of $125,050.46 and the State balance on hand was $11,403.28 with a debt of $231,162.96.

FEDERAL REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS

STATE REPORT

From Party spokesman Ryan Mahoney:

“Under the leadership of Party Chairman John Padgett and Foundation Chairman Jack Kingston, the GAGOP continues to raise money and strengthen relationships with key donors throughout the state and country. Thanks to their hard work and the continued support of so many Georgia Republicans, we will have the resources in place to implement the Party’s 2016 Victory program, protect our U.S. Senate seat, and win back the White House in November.”

Please feel free to speculate, pontificate, and prognosticate in the comment section.

Updated: Pastor Protection Act is Filed by Rep. Kevin Tanner

** Update **

A bill filed in the Georgia House exempts some small businesses from having to serve a customer if such service would violate the religious beliefs of the business owner. According to someone involved in developing the bill, this language would have the effect of allowing a baker or florist with strong religious beliefs to deny service to a same sex wedding couple. The exact details of House Bill 756 bill are unknown, including any restrictions on company size or ownership in order to be covered by the bill. It is also unknown whether the measure has the support of Speaker Ralston, as the Pastor Protection Act does.

Original Post

State Rep. Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville dropped the Pastor Protection Act this morning. The bill, which will be HB 757, is seen by some as an alternative to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act proposed by Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus, features three provisions designed to protect freedom of religion.

The first provision protects ministers and other religious practitioners from being forced to solemnize marriages in violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of religion under the Georgia or U.S. Constitutions. While this right is widely recognized already, this portion of the bill further protects pastors from a possible breach in the wall between church and state.

The second major provision of the bill relates to the use of property owned by a church or religious organization, and protects that property from being used for a purpose the organization objects to. The measure applies to tax exempt organizations which are “a church, a religious school, an association or convention of churches, a convention mission agency, or an integrated auxiliary of a church or convention or association of churches.” An example of where this section might apply would be if a LGBT couple wanted to use a church facility as the site of a marriage, even if that marriage would be performed by someone not affiliated with that facility. Continue reading “Updated: Pastor Protection Act is Filed by Rep. Kevin Tanner”

Governor Deal To Deliver State of the State

Governor Deal delivers the 2015 State of the State speech.  Photo: Jon Richards
Governor Deal delivers the 2015 State of the State speech. Photo: Jon Richards
The Georgia House and Senate will gather in the House Chamber at 11 this morning to hear from Governor Deal. The speech is expected to last about an hour, and it is believed the governor will focus on education.

We will be tweeting the speech on Twitter, so follow along at @GeorgiaPol_com. You can let us know your reaction in the comments.

What Do You Want?

No, this isn’t a post about what makes you outraged and the “one thing that will save America”.

This is a post asking what you want out of this site?

Consider it a limited open thread to the general topic of GeorgiaPol.com:

1) Are there technical features you would like (keeping in mind this is and will remain a shoe string operation)?

2) What content would you like to see?

3) What should be avoided?

These are very broad and general questions on purpose. This is a site in progress. For it to be relevant it always will be. But now that we at least have the lights on, we can start at least considering the tweaks both on the platform side and the content side that get us closer to whatever it is that we’re going to be.

Also while this should be a separate post, give a shout out to the IT team. The site looks great and the glitches have been minor and quite controllable. This doesn’t happen by accident, and is something that is well beyond my skill set. The quality of this effort needs to be recognized.

Zippy Duvall Elected Next President Of American Farm Bureau Federation

Zippy On The Farm Photo by Jon Richards
Zippy On The Farm
Photo by Jon Richards

Yesterday, Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall was elected to become the next president of the American Farm Bureau Federation at it’s 97th annual meeting in Orlando, FL.  From the Southern Farm Press:

“This election is not about policy. It’s about the style of leadership you want,”Duvall told the delegates. “I’m going to get up every day and work hard. We are the strength and the hope for this country and all around the world because we will provide the nourishment.

“There’s no human right more precious than the right to eat. We should be proud to be American agriculture,” he added.

Duvall will succeed outgoing AFBF President Bob Stallman from Texas who has served since 2000.  Agriculture is still a large component of our state’s economy (a $72 billion contributor according to statistics found from the Georgia Farm Bureau).  We wish President Duvall well and hope his leadership will lend to the growth of the agriculture industry.