Archive for the ‘HOPE scholarship’ Category

Your daily jolt: Senate Dems to push back on ethics, abortion, HOPE and foreclosures

On Feb. 5, when the south Georgia contest to replace John Bulloch is completed, Republicans will have 38 members in a 56-member state Senate.

That will give the GOP a super-majority of two-thirds. Which means Democrats will be a super-minority.

Nonetheless, Senate Democrats this morning intend to push out their agenda for this year’s legislative session. Much of it is blue-skying, but here’s a quick rundown of the new legislation they’ll attempt:

– A bill to eliminate all distinctions between the Zell Miller scholarship and other HOPE grants, and to require colleges universities and tech schools to accept HOPE payments as full tuition. Sponsor: Curt Thompson of Tucker;

– A bill to reduce GPA requirement for HOPE grants to 2.0. Sponsor: Jason Carter of Decatur;

– A prohibition on the use of handheld devices while driving. Horacena Tate of Atlanta;

– Repeal of the “fetal pain” bill that the Legislature passed last year, reducing the period during which a woman can seek an …

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A rare word from Zell Miller: ‘I had a late life conversion’

Buford, Ga. – There was no mistaking the man who walked through the glass doors of the hotel complex on the shores of Lake Lanier.

The trademark shock of white hair remains neatly groomed. The hawk-like nose still juts out over a tight jaw. The eyes are clear and bright. But the stride is gone. Zell Miller walks gingerly now, always with a cane.

The former governor and U.S. senator describes himself as an 80-year-old man with 100-year-old legs. “I very, very seldom go anywhere,” Miller said in an interview.

Former governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller autographs copies of his 2005 book "A Deficit of Decency" at a Buford fundraiser for 9th District congressional candidate Doug Collins on Friday/SPECIAL

Former governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller autographs copies of his 2005 book "A Deficit of Decency" at a Buford fundraiser for 9th District congressional candidate Doug Collins on Friday/SPECIAL

In fact, Miller’s appearance on Friday was a rare return to a world he once commanded. He’d come down from the hills of Young Harris as the featured attraction at a fundraiser for state Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, now a Republican candidate in the 9th District congressional …

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The mystery of the Republican casino question

Ladies and gentlemen: With this post, I’m taking a few days off. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

The mark of a successful political convention is an absence of surprises.

By the time thousands of Republicans fled Columbus last weekend, the forces of Ron Paul had been routed with a heavy hand. Not a surprise.

Delegates to the annual state convention had rebuked the GOP-controlled Legislature for refusing to get serious about ethics reform. Important but predictable, given the anger of tea partyists.

And the Republican party’s executive committee, just before delegates jumped into their cars, had announced the five non-binding questions that will be placed before GOP voters on the July 31 primary ballot.

Topping the list: ‘Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?”

Boom.

The very topic stunned the highest-perched Republicans in the land. “The casino question was a shock coming out of the convention — given the prominence of social conservatives in the …

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Casino gaming, not just ethics, to be placed on GOP ballot

COLUMBUS, Ga. — More from the state Republican convention: We’re headed for a very newsy July 31 ballot.

My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin told you a few hours ago that the GOP executive committee had approved the placement on this summer’s primary ballot a non-binding referendum on a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers.

But we’ve also been told that, for the first time, Republican voters will be asked their opinion on casino gaming in Georgia – a potent issue given a study on the topic produced by the Georgia Lottery Corporation last fall.

Another topic: A “personhood” question on whether every embryo should be accounted an individual with legal rights — much pushed for by Georgia Right to Life.

These questions would only appear on GOP ballots. But if Democrats could be persuaded to adopt those first two – GRTL has little sway in that party — we could have a genuine sense of the state. On issues aside from the transportation sales tax, I mean.

- By Jim …

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Your morning jolt: Chip Rogers snags support from Brandon Beach’s 2010 campaign manager

Oh, this fight for Senate District 21 up in Cherokee County and north Fulton is going to be lively.

In response to local chamber president Brandon Beach’s announcement that he would challenge Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers in the July 31 GOP primary, Rogers let it be known late Thursday that he’ll have the support of Beach’s 2010 campaign manager: Rusty Paul.

Says Paul, in Rogers’ emailed press release:

“I’ve worked with Sen. Rogers for over a decade. While some people claim to be conservative, he’s the walking, talking, living, breathing real thing. Plus, he’s a committed problem-solver who is unbelievably adept at developing workable solutions that get the job done without chewing up taxpayer dollars in the process”

Paul is a former state senator and former chairman of the state GOP, and directed Beach’s campaign for Senate District 56 against John Albers – narrowly won by Albers. But Paul is also a lobbyist at the state Capitol – and one senses he was between a rock …

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A lottery-fueled gambling complex in Norcross?

This just arrived from Greg Bluestein and the Associated Press. Charlotte Nash, the chairman of the Gwinnett County Commission, said she is “intrigued” by the proposal:

A developer is betting that Georgia residents are ready for a gambling facility, and he’s unveiled plans to build a sprawling new complex near Atlanta that he hopes can give a jolt to the state’s economy and infuse the popular HOPE scholarship program with much-needed cash.

Dan O’Leary [said] Tuesday he wants to build a $1 billion entertainment complex near Norcross that includes a towering hotel, a spacious theater and a game floor with 7,500 video lottery machines.

Gambling proposals have emerged in recent years in Georgia and other states hard-hit by the economic downturn. It’s been a tough sell in Georgia, where conservative groups and legislators fear it could erode family values and lead to increases in crime and divorce.

O’Leary said the development could funnel $350 million each year to the struggling …

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African-Americans make up 3.6 percent of 2011 Zell Miller Scholarship recipients

Democrats in the state Senate, led by Jason Carter of Decatur, continued their badgering of Republicans on the future of the lottery-fueled HOPE scholarship today.

They’ve got a website, of course. Everyone does. This one is called Vanishing HOPE.

More important, they have some demographic breakdowns of HOPE recipients, produced by the Board of Regents, that show what could be the start of a troubling trend:

– Of the 8,721 high school graduates who were awarded a full-ride, Zell Miller Scholarship at state universities last fall, only 320 were African-American. That’s 3.6 percent. Georgia’s black population was measured at 30 percent, according to the 2010 census. Asian-Americans accounted for 897 Zell Miller Scholarships, or 10 percent.

See the university-by-university breakdown by clicking here.

– Of the 74,278 high school graduates who received the lesser HOPE scholarship and attended a state university in the fall of 2011, only 12,724 were African-American – 17 percent.

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Your morning jolt: Local votes on video gaming machines?

It worked last year for the Sunday sale of alcohol. Maybe the local-vote option will work for those who want to see lottery-driven gaming machines in Georgia. From the Savannah Morning News:

Hoping to overcome Gov. Nathan Deal’s objections, state Rep. Ron Stephens is tweaking his plan to add video games to Georgia’s lottery.

The Savannah Republican’s goal: A politically acceptable way to bail out the state’s ever-more-financially strapped HOPE scholarship program.

His new wrinkle is to let the state allow lottery video games in communities where the governing bodies seek them.

As an incentive, Stephens says local governments could negotiate a piece of the proceeds.

***
On the presidential front, Newt Gingrich ran away to join the circus on Tuesday. Or something close to it. From the Associated Press:

For all the big ideas, Gingrich’s campaign still has something of an improvisational feel. He ventured to the San Diego Zoo on Tuesday without bringing or notifying the reporters …

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On returning to a needs-based HOPE scholarship program

Early last month, during one of an infinite number of committee meetings at the state Capitol, a group of House and Senate members were handed an official estimate of future HOPE scholarship payouts.

It was a breath-taking experience. Literally. Members of the audience could hear the gasps of lawmakers.

Only last year, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Republican-led Legislature, with some Democratic cooperation, revamped the HOPE program in a highly publicized effort to save it, resulting in reduced grants for most students.

The figures handed to lawmakers in January indicated that the program will limp along until the fall semester of 2013 – when HOPE payouts again will have to be reduced to meet the growing number of students who seek and qualify for the scholarships.

But that was only one part of the shock. What really may have knocked the wind out of legislators was the realization that, in coming years, they may be forced to cast vote after vote to reduce the HOPE payout. Not …

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Your morning jolt: Debate leaves Newt Gingrich moonstruck

Yes, the big hit that Mitt Romney leveled at Newt Gingrich in last night’s GOP presidential debate was about immigration.

But the ridicule of Gingrich’s dreams of establishing a permanent colony on the moon may have been a greater shock to the former U.S. House speaker’s image as a man of grandiose ideas:

From Romney, ridiculing Gingrich’s plan to privatize a lunar settlement: “I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.’”

The problem is that Gingrich points to John F. Kennedy’s vow in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade as a mark of American optimism and its instinct for exploration.

But in truth, the race to the moon was a Cold War competition. We spent billions of dollars to beat the space-minded Soviets. That was the source of our political will — though we may now prefer to believe otherwise. The question that …

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