Huge changes in unemployment benefits could be in the works when the General Assembly convenes in January. The state owes $418 million – and ranks 17th among a list of 32 debtor states – for money borrowed from Uncle Sam to cover payments to the jobless.
State Sen.-elect Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, was interviewed by Lori Geary with Channel 2 Action News:
Millar said that total grows to $1.1 billion by the end of 2013 if the state does not make changes to taxes or how it pays benefits.
“Most of your elected officials, certainly in the General Assembly, I don’t think have a clue about the magnitude of this obligation,” said Millar.
“We need to be talking about fixing it; we need to be talking about fixing it right now.”
The fixes aren’t easy. If Georgia’s current 10 percent unemployment rate doesn’t improve then tax hikes for employers and benefit cuts for the unemployed must be on the table, according to Millar.
Kennesaw State University’s most famous student, Jessica Colotl, on Wednesday dropped in to listen to a campus lecture on illegal immigration given by Phil Kent, the local conservative provocateur.
Colotl, the daughter of illegal immigrants, set off a furor over the presence of undocumented students at universities when she was arrested earlier this year for driving without a license. She was convicted and sentenced to 48 hours in jail.
From this morning’s Marietta Daily Journal:
During the lecture, Colotl remained silent, but her friend, KSU sophomore and journalism major Alisen Redmond, 21, challenged Kent on his talking points, calling his statistics “flawed.”
My AJC colleague Bob Keefe in Washington last night noted the House leadership positions won by a pair of Georgia Republicans:
Rep. Tom Price of Roswell was elected chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, which helps draft Republican legislative initiatives. That makes him the fifth-highest-ranking Republican in the House when the 112th Congress convenes in January.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County was named to the Republican Steering Committee, which will help decide committee assignments for members of the next Congress.
This morning, Keefe sends word that Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, who defeated Democrat Jim Marshall of Macon, has been elected president of the House freshman class.
Shawn Hanley, chairman of the Fulton County Republican party, announced Wednesday that he’s a candidate for chairman of the state GOP. The election is next spring. The current chairman, Sue Everhart, hasn’t announced whether she’ll seek a third term.
Hanley offered her a hint in his press release:
It is expected that Everhart will continue the tradition established by her predecessors, and not seek re-election for a third term.
Democrats will have an election for their state chairmanship in January. Like Everhart, the current Democratic chair, Jane Kidd, has yet to offer her intentions. But candidates must submit their names by Dec. 16.
Two political candidates were slapped for questionable campaign behavior on Wednesday. From the Rome News Tribune:
The State Elections Board accepted a consent order Wednesday that closes the books on a complaint of voting irregularities by state Rep. Barbara Massey Reece during the 2006 election.
The Menlo Democrat agreed to a $2,500 fine and public reprimand for assisting five disabled Chattooga County voters with their absentee ballots. State law allows assistance for physically disabled or illiterate voters, but Reece failed to sign the required affidavit.
She was unopposed for re-election that year.
In a Wednesday phone call from Washington, D.C., Reece said she waived her right to a hearing in order to concentrate on her constituents and the upcoming Georgia General Assembly session.
And from Blake Aued of the Athens Banner-Herald:
The State Elections Board referred to the attorney general allegations that Athens mayoral candidate Glenn Stegall broke the law when he offered a contest for an iPad.
The board voted unanimously Wednesday to ask the attorney general’s office to negotiate a settlement with Stegall or take the case to an administrative law judge who will hold a hearing on the facts and recommend an outcome. The board voted after hearing a brief report from Chris Harvey, inspector general for Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Stegall, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Georgia, held a contest on his campaign website for the tablet computer. One way contestants received points was if they were registered voters. Among 30 other ways were to shake his hand or post a message on Facebook.
However, Georgia law prohibits offering payment for voting or even registering to vote.
Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia will be in the room today when President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet to discuss how to proceed on START treaty ratification.
Among the other attendees will be Secretary of State State Hillary Clinton; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and ranking Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, James Baker, and Henry Kissinger; former Secretaries of Defense William Cohen and William Perry; former National Security Advisor General Brent Scowcroft, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider