Archive for April, 2010

Nathan Deal says he’d implement Arizona-style immigration laws

Arizona just took its place in the Georgia race for governor. This from a press release issued by the Republican campaign of Nathan Deal, the former congressman:

“I agree with the Arizona governor and Legislature that the federal government has failed miserably at protecting our borders and enacting sensible solutions that would protect our states, counties and cities from bearing the enormous costs associated with illegal immigration, from emergency room visits to public schools to the criminal justice system,” said Nathan Deal. “As governor of Georgia, I’d work to pass and sign similar legislation.”

The necessary background from the Associated Press:

Under the new Arizona law, immigrants unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the U.S. could be arrested, jailed for up to six months and fined $2,500. That is a significant escalation of the typical federal punishment for being here illegally — deportation.

People arrested by Arizona police would be turned …

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Isakson strategist: Austin Scott should run for Congress against Jim Marshall

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s chief political strategist is calling on state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton) to shun a GOP primary challenge to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, in favor of a party-backed attack on Jim Marshall, the Democratic congressman from Macon.

A primary challenge to an incumbent lieutenant governor, said long-time Isakson associate Heath Garrett, Scott would benefit Democratic candidate for governor Roy Barnes, and “could potentially hurt the Republican ticket as a whole.”

“I believe and am urging Austin Scott to seriously consider challenging Jim Marshall in the 8th congressional district, where the entire Republican party can rally behind him,” Garrett said in a phone interview.

Scott is currently a back-in-the-field candidate for governor with a platform focused on opposition to taxes and increased ethics in government. But last week, Scott said several GOP voices had urged him to consider the race for lieutenant governor.

Cagle would be a tough opponent – he reported …

Continue reading Isakson strategist: Austin Scott should run for Congress against Jim Marshall »

Filling Bobby Baker’s shoes at the PSC

No doubt you’ve heard about Republican Bobby Baker’s decision not to seek re-election to the state Public Service Commission.

Here’s the lead of this morning’s piece by my AJC colleague Margaret Newkirk:

The longest serving member of the state Public Service Commission – and the commission’s best known advocate for utility consumers – won’t be running for re-election this year, the AJC has learned.

Commissioner Robert Baker will leave the regulatory body at the end of the year, after 18 years as a watchdog over Georgia’s utility companies.

You have to know that a half-dozen lawmakers are drooling over the last-minute opening. A legislator’s part-time salary is about $17k. The PSC post pays $117,000, with a free car and phone. But an Athens area residency is required.

One name we’ve heard: Former Athens mayor Doc Eldridge, currently president of the Athens-Clarke County Chamber of Commerce.

Updated at 12:50 p.m.: Other names have since joined the mix, all Republican:

– Tim …

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Your morning jolt: Drink and pack heat – at the same time

Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson, his wife Diane by his side, signs up for re-election on Monday. AP/John Amis

Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson, his wife Diane by his side, signs up for re-election on Monday. AP/John Amis

The Georgia State Patrol and your insurance company may frown upon drinking and driving.

But the state of Georgia may be about to let you drink and carry. Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph has pieced together this from SB 308, a much-amended overhaul of the state’s concealed-carry laws:

State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh was asked about this Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee and he said that, yes, licensed carriers will be able to drink a bar while carrying a gun, if the owner has OK’d carrying in the bar.

He said Georgia doesn’t have a blanket prohibition against drinking and carrying and “We’ve not had issues with that.”

But in case you’re worried that someone who’s just downed six margaritas will take permanent issue with the fact that you’ve dipped your chip in the wrong salsa bowl, Fain adds this:

There is, though, a blanket prohibition against firing a gun …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: Drink and pack heat – at the same time »

An uprising of young Turks within the Georgia GOP?

One wonders whether we’re watching a young Turks movement building within the Georgia GOP, around an anti-tax/pro-reform platform. A wayward state senator from Rome has just told his GOP caucus that he’s running for statewide office.

My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin has filed this:

State Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) will run for attorney general, taking advantage of a recent surge of publicity over his battle with party elders over a proposed tax increase.

Smith is the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said in a news release Monday that he will file paperwork tomorrow to run for attorney general, joining former Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens and former prosecutor Max Wood in seeking the GOP nomination.

Smith lost his committee chairmanship this month after refusing to back a new tax on hospital profits. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, also a Republican, and other Senate Republican leaders said the GOP caucus took a position to back the bill. HB 307 …

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Your morning jolt: NAACP rescinds endorsement of anti-abortion bill

The Georgia chapter of the NAACP has formally rescinded its endorsement of SB 529, a bill that would bar physicians from performing abortions in cases where the fetus has been targeted because of race or gender.

The measure, intended to challenge Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, could come up for a House floor vote on Tuesday. The statement from Edward DuBose, chapter president:

Earlier this month, the Georgia NAACP submitted a letter to support Senate Bill 529. We now fully understand the intention of this legislation and wish to retract our support for it.

At the time, we were of the understanding that this bill would work to benefit the women in our community. However, after many conversations with membership and constituents, we now realize that this is nothing more than using women’s health as a political tool.

Women of color in Georgia need more than divisive messages and deserve better access to health care.

We look to the Georgia General Assembly to support …

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Behind the transportation bill was the shoulder of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

After four years of effort, our Republican-controlled Legislature last week passed a transportation funding bill. As if it were a billion-dollar kidney stone.

Sweat-stained relief, rather than elation, is the dominant emotion at the state Capitol.

Though the money from a yet-to-be-approved sales tax won’t show up for three years, metro Atlanta at least has been offered a means of ending the drought of people-moving cash — whether for road or rail — that has threatened to turn us into Birmingham.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed/Special

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed/Special

The margin of victory on Wednesday, 43-8 in the Senate and 141-29 in the House, belies the pain and drama of the delivery.

Republicans and business leaders give Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed much of the credit for passage of HB 277. The former state lawmaker crossed the street from City Hall and broke through a wall of opposition thrown up by his fellow Democrats.

It was by far the riskiest move of his early mayoral career.

“I think he put his personal …

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Six GOP candidates gather in Roy Barnes’ backyard

Six Republican candidates for governor gathered down the street and around the corner from Roy Barnes’ house on Friday, for a forum before the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club.

It was an outdoor affair, on the edge of a golf course with a spectacular view.

Former state Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah declared that he’s the only one who can beat the former Democratic governor seeking to regain the seat he lost in 2002. State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine poached on Johnson’s issue of school vouchers.

Former secretary of state Karen Handel declared that her five rivals have already had their chance to fix things in the state Capitol.

Yours truly was the moderator, so here’s a slice of Jon Gillooly’s piece in today’s Marietta Daily Journal:

In an apparent dig at other candidates whose questionable ethical engagements have been duly noted by the media, state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton) said he’s welcomed the press to look into his history and any ethical issues …

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A baseline Rasmussen poll: Johnny Isakson, 51%; Michael Thurmond, 35%

Rasmussen Reports has just posted its first (automated) poll on the U.S. Senate race in Georgia between Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson and Democrat Michael Thurmond:

Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson finally has a major Democratic opponent in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate, but the first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the race finds the incumbent holding on to more than 50% support.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of likely voters in the state favor Isakson in a match-up with State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond who earns 35% support. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and eight percent (8%) remain undecided.

A month ago, Isakson posted a 52% to 31% lead over an unnamed generic Democratic candidate. Thurmond just entered the race on Wednesday.

Opposition to the recently-enacted national health care plan runs slightly higher in the state than it is nationally, which plays to Isakson’s advantage…

Isakson gets 83% of the votes of …

Continue reading A baseline Rasmussen poll: Johnny Isakson, 51%; Michael Thurmond, 35% »

A brief jolt: Tax-reform panelist says dropping sales tax on food was a mistake

Last month, a measure that would allow Gov. Sonny Perdue and a hand-picked committee to take a stab at rewriting the state tax code was introduced.

There were clues – the attempted inclusion of former governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller on the panel, for instance – that a restoration of the sales tax on food was being targeted.

HB 1405 received final passage on Tuesday.

Walter Jones of Morris News Service was there when, two days later, another shoe dropped off the centipede:

An economist who’ll serve on the state’s special tax-reform panel said Thursday that ending the tax on groceries contributed to the violent swings in tax collections that have triggered dramatic cuts in the budget.

“The consequence of that is we took out of our tax base one of the most stable components of our sales-tax collections,” said Roger Tutterow, an economics professor at Mercer University in Atlanta..

The General Assembly just passed next year’s budget Wednesday which included cuts and …

Continue reading A brief jolt: Tax-reform panelist says dropping sales tax on food was a mistake »