March 20, 1854 saw a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin that is generally considered the founding of the Republican Party.
[F]ormer members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.
The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
The Georgia State Capitol was completed on March 20, 1889. Ron Daniels, the Poet Laureate of GaPundit, has written an ode to the Gold Dome:
Well I guess it was back in eighteen eighty nine,
When a couple of boys in Dahlonega went down in a mine,
And found it was slap full of gold.
Then these folks in Atlanta wanted to keep growing,
So they told the legislature the Capitol had to be going,
And so those politicos said “Good Bye Milledgeville! Our attorneys will be in touch.”
Now the Capitol had been moved before,
Savannah, Louisville, and more,
They’d even moved it down to Macon on an overloaded poultry wagon.
Atlanta sure wanted to lend the State a hand,
Giving the legislature plenty of land,
Hammers started swingin’ and, boy howdy, they sure were buildin’.
The architect of this here building was feeling bold,
Covering the building’s dome all in beautiful gold,
Leaving the gold mine empty, and leaving someone with the shaft.
Well, Governor Gordon was slap full of delight,
When his eyes did recognize that impressive sight,
On March 20, 1889, a completed Capitol building.
He grabbed the keys and a few words he spoke,
The words he uttered were no joke,
“Boys when you’re hot, you’re hot! Now thanks a lot.”
On March 20, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation authorizing a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution and make the Public Service Commission a Constitutional agency.
On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson notified Alabama Governor George Wallace that Alabama National Guard troops would be called up to maintain order during a third march from Selma to Montgomery. Within five months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress.
On March 20, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation designating the Brown Thrasher the official state bird, and the Bobwhite Quail the official state game bird.
Happy birthday to Georgia-born actress Holly Hunter (1958) and film director/actor Spike Lee (1957).
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Baldwin County Voters head to the polls tomorrow to decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to 13WMAZ.
“A one cent sales tax is already existing, so we’re asking our voters to extend it for another six years,” [County Manager Carlos] Tobar said.
Tobar says they use SPLOST funds to help improve the infrastructure.
“Water, sewer lines, road bases, resurfacing, airport improvements, public safety improvements, parks and recreation,” he said.
“In my opinion, it’s the fairest way to get the resources we need for public safety and to protect the community,” [Baldwin Fire Department’s Lt. Kevin Meek] says.
Election day will be held at the Baldwin County Government building from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Voters in Twiggs and Jones counties are also voting Tuesday on extending their penny sales tax.
Jones County wants to raise $23 million over the next five years for schools.
Also headed to the polls are Clayton County voters, who will decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) according to the AJC.
Clayton residents will vote on the SPLOST on Tuesday as part of a special election that will also choose a new sheriff and the county’s District 75 state House representative. If approved, the county’s 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax for education would be collected for five years.
Unlike past referendums, however, the school system is asking residents to approve the issuance of $435 million in district bonds to pay for the $350 million in projects. Ronick Joseph, the district’s chief capital improvement officer, said Clayton historically has been a “pay as you go district” and that seeking bonds would allow the school system to get funding quicker.
Like many districts, Clayton is seeking the new funding while the most recent SPLOST, which will expire on Dec. 31, 2024, is still in effect.
[Interim Clayton County Schools Superintendent Anthony] Smith said the district has about $30 million in its account balance from past SPLOSTs.
“This is how you pay for capital improvements in a school system,” he said during the town hall. “The federal government doesn’t come in and build all this stuff for you. The state has a minimum role. It’s the local taxpayers, the ones who really provide for the bulk of the funding for this stuff.”
On the Clayton County election for Sheriff, from the AJC:
Five current and former Clayton County law enforcement officials are competing to fill the remainder of former Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill’s four-year term in office.
Levon Allen, Clarence Cox, Terry Evans, Dwayne Fabian and Chris Storey have been crisscrossing the south metro Atlanta community for the past several months hoping to persuade voters that they can lead the Clayton sheriff’s office and jail, which has been embroiled in controversy for more than a decade because of Hill.
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to select a new sheriff, a state house District 75 representative and the issuance of $435 million in bonds for the construction of new schools, school buses and early learning centers for pre-K students.
Mableton will have a chance to elect their first Mayor and City Council tomorrow, according to the AJC.
Turnout was low during the three-week early voting period in the new city of Mableton, where residents are electing their first mayor and council.
In total, 2,518 people voted early in person in the March special election and 112 returned absentee ballots so far, according to unofficial results from the elections department.
In comparison, over 18,500 people voted early in person at the two advanced voting locations in Mableton during the November election; turnout in general elections is typically much higher than in special elections.
The city’s first mayor and council will be responsible for establishing the municipal government, creating a budget and determining what services the city will provide. During the roughly two-year transition period, city leaders will work together with the county to establish service provision and other governing essentials.
While residents consider who those first leaders will be, one group of residents has been pushing state lawmakers to remove them from the city completely, citing concerns over how the cityhood movement was conducted.
At the same time, they are supporting a slate of candidates in six of the seven elected offices, meaning those backed by the de-annexation movement could potentially form a majority on the council.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is advertising in Georgia for its abortion services, according to the Augusta Chronicle via the Savannah Morning News.
New York City rolled out a new phone line, the Abortion Access Hub, in November. The hub would be confidential, and connect callers to abortion providers within the five boroughs. It would be funded with $1 million dollars and staffed 12 hours a day, six days a week, with bilingual staff.
In the coming months, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began advertising the hub on multiple platforms and in multiple languages. But they also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising the hub hundreds of miles away in three other states — Georgia, Florida and Texas.
“The Dobbs decision may have been the Supreme Court’s latest attack on human rights and health care, but New York City will continue to be a safe haven for anyone seeking to access a safe, legal abortion,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams at the time.
“This is the biggest waste of government resources since Andrew Cuomo’s trip to Savannah to lecture us on Covid,” wrote Garrison Douglas, press secretary for Gov. Brian Kemp, in response to an inquiry about the program.
Internal records show the Health Department contracted for a 36-billboard campaign to run in January. Billboards were set up in Augusta, Martinez and Atlanta in Georgia, along with Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. A signed contract with Lamar for the billboards shows a total cost of $138,370 for the advertising.
At the same time, the department planned to spend $371,000 on Google and Snapchat adds to run from Jan. 3 to the end of June, bringing the total estimated cost of the out-of-state advertising more than $500,000.
The Department of Health spokesperson confirmed the advertisement buy through Snapchat in Florida, Georgia and Texas because those states have abortion restrictions. They also confirmed that they had not bought ads in surrounding states, including Alabama and Tennessee, where abortion has been completely banned. No further explanation was provided for why particular states were targeted.
Zombie Season has begun in the State Capitol, according to the AJC.
No bill is ever truly dead at the Georgia Capitol during a legislative session — not when it can rise like a zombie at any moment.
Without warning, a bill that would have honored a southeast Georgia soap box derby suddenly transformed last week into legislation to legalize sports betting across the state.
An elections bill abruptly gained several sections that had previously fallen short, requiring more audits and clarifying wording on absentee ballot applications, just before a final committee vote Wednesday.
It’s the time of the year when Georgia lawmakers cut and paste language from bills that previously failed into legislation that has survived, a practice that avoids public scrutiny, vetting and transparency in the rush to make laws before midnight on the final day of a session.
But these kinds of legislative machinations are allowed as long as the new bill fits into the same section of state code as the original.
It doesn’t matter whether a totally different bill passed one chamber. Leaders in the the other chamber can change it, without a requirement for public comment or debate. Both the House and Senate ultimately must vote on the same version of a bill for it to become law.
Replacing the language of a bill to include new ideas avoids the General Assembly’s internal deadline for measures to pass their first chamber, either the state House or Senate, by the 28th day of the 40-day legislative session.
During the last days of this year’s legislative session, any bill can rise from the grave.
All it takes is leaders in the state’s Republican majority to write it into a completely different bill, followed by approval in the House and Senate.
Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 36
TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP
8:00 AM HOUSE Education Policy Sub – 506 CLOB
8:00 AM HOUSE ENERGY, UTILITIES & TELECOM – 403 CAP
9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 36) – House Chamber
10:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 36) – Senate Chamber
1:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC HEALTH – 606 CLOB
1:00 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL – 132 CAP
1:00 PM Cancelled – Senate Agriculture & Consumer Aff – 450 CAP
1:00 PM Senate Transportation – Mezz 1 CAP
2:00 PM HOUSE TECHNOLOGY & INFRA – 406 CLOB
2:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION – 506 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Gov’t Oversight – 307 CLOB
2:00 PM Senate Health & Human Services – 450 CAP
3:00 PM HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE – 606 CLOB
3:00 PM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP
4:00 PM HOUSE WAYS & MEANS – 406 CLOB
4:00 PM Senate Judiciary – 307 CLOB
4:00 PM Senate Appropriations: Compensation Sub – 450 CAP
Governor Brian Kemp signed Executive Order #03.17.23.02, calling a Special Election to be held May 16, 2023 in State House District 68 to fill the vacancy created by the death of State Rep. Letitia “Tish” Naghise.Continue Reading..