Next month, Gwinnett Republican Rob Woodall will become the first Georgian in some time to join the 61-member House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

From Woodall:

We will have an incredible opportunity in the 114th Congress to make real progress on our nation’s big issues and I’m thrilled to partner with Chairman Shuster and the members of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to enact common-sense, conservative solutions for these needs.  Our successes here can be a model for the nation, and the nation can help to address our challenges locally that still remain.  The Seventh District represents one of the most economically vibrant and travelled  regions of what is the largest economy in the southeastern United States, and it’s a privilege to serve as a voice for those who work to grow jobs and the economy every day.

Received wisdom suggests that transportation will be the hottest issue in the state in 2015. At the federal level, Congress is expected to reauthorize surface transportation, aviation, and passenger rail programs before the end of the fiscal year. Veterans of the crusade to deepen the Savannah Port report that the lack of a Georgian on this crucial committee proved a huge disadvantage. Add to that Woodall’s interstate-dependent Gwinnett and Forsyth district, and this appears to be an excellent appointment for both the congressman and the state.

{ 4 comments }

In the wake of a string of controversies involving no-indictments of police officers from grand juries, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) has introduced H.R. 5830, the “Grand Jury Reform Act.”

The relatively simple bill, which Johnson pitched in a Huffington Post editorial, would prevent a secret grand jury process specifically for those cases involving “a law enforcement officer who uses deadly force against a person.”

Using federal funding as an enforcement mechanism, the bill would also require governors to appoint a special prosecutor in such cases to present evidence of probable cause on behalf of the state at a preliminary hearing.

These hearings and the evidence presented would now be open to the public, preventing the kind of secret proceedings that caused so much controversy in the the judicial proceedings of Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

“The protesters demand an end to what is perceived as unequal justice, and that those who are responsible for the use of excessive force be brought to justice,” said Johnson. “They do not trust a secret grand jury system that is so clearly broken. My bill will help restore that trust.  No longer will communities have to rely on the secret and biased grand jury process.”

Johnson plans to introduce the legislation formally early next year.

{ 21 comments }

The Senate still has to do it’s part, but it appears that most of the government will be up and running until September 30th, the end of fiscal 2015. The $1.1 trillion spending package only funds the Department of Homeland Security until February, when conservatives hope they can defund the President’s executive action on immigration.

Getting the bill passed brought together some strange bedfellows, with Barack Obama, John Boehner and Harry Reid pushing for passage, and Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi and Tea Party representatives in opposition. You could see the same pattern in the Georgia vote, where the vote was ten yeas and four nays, with dissenting votes coming from Republicans Paul Broun and Austin Scott, and Democrats Hank Johnson and John Lewis.

Find out what Georgia’s Representatives had to say after the vote was taken below the fold.

[click to continue…]

{ 51 comments }

Good morning, Georgia! Here’s to a great Friday!

Morning Riddle: What is as light as a feather, but even the world’s strongest man couldn’t hold it for more than a minute?

Georgia

Amurica

Important

{ 7 comments }

In yesterday’s Daily Jolt by the AJC Political Insiders, it mentioned that outgoing Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA-10) is looking to be hired to begin his post-congressional endeavors. He’s said that he’d be interested in a paid board position of a corporation or even a leadership position in an existing organization if it is offered to him. If not? He’d be willing to go it alone and create another TEA Party-type organization:

If an organization doesn’t offer me that opportunity then I’ve begun the process of even starting my own – Restoring Liberty in America.

He went on to say that he’d be willing to join on in a leadership position for existing TEA Party-type organizations like FreedomWorks or Americans for Prosperity.

Congressman Broun has a passion for liberty and freedom, but does Georgia need yet another TEA Party/Liberty organization? The organizations, in my mind, have the same goal, but have different faces and names.

This isn’t critical of the passion or objective of the movement, but at what point do you stop and ask yourself “how many TEA Party meetings and organizations do I need to belong to in order to prove that I liberty enough?”

Serious talk though since we will see plenty of these booths surrounding the vestibule of the halls of the state convention.

Of course, the cynics in the crowd may point to the fact that he hasn’t ruled out a run for office in the future, and that him leading a TEA Party/Liberty-type organization will keep his name out there…at least, among those of his supporters and folks who follow the inside baseball of politics, but not necessarily the voters at-large.

{ 17 comments }

2015 could be the year we see some significant improvement in metro Atlanta and Georgia’s economy, according to Kennesaw State University Professor of Economics Roger Tutterow. Tutterow was the keynote speaker at a Tuesday conference presented by Partnership Gwinnett, the economic development arm of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Economist Roger Tutterow addresses the Gwinnett Economic Summit on Tuesday, December 9th.

Economist Roger Tutterow addresses the Gwinnett Economic Summit on Tuesday, December 9th.

Despite the fact that the recession that began in late 2007 was declared over in June 2009, economic growth has been slow to increase. Since 2009, the economy has grown at about a 2% annual rate, compared to more typical 4% annual increases seen following previous recessions. Things appeared to be turning up in late 2013, as manufacturers boosted inventories, however output fell by 2.1% in the first quarter of 2014, partially due to poor weather, but more because of manufacturing cut back following an inventory buildup in the second half of 2013.

According to Tutterow, this year’s poor first quarter means 2014 annual GDP growth will run at 2.4%. For 2015, he predicts better news with economic growth of 2.6 to 2.7%. That’s slightly less than a growth rate of 3% predicted by Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart, who addressed the annual meeting of the Council for Quality Growth on Monday.
[click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

U.S Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have issued a joint letter to South African President, Jacob Zuma. This letter warns President Zuma that South Africa’s continued refusal to eliminate unfair duties on American poultry could threaten its continued eligibility for trade benefits available under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is up for Congressional reauthorization in 2015.

From the letter:

The antidumping duties South Africa has levied on U.S. poultry have been in place for fourteen years, effectively blocking our companies from accessing your market…We understand that our trade officials recently discussed the ongoing negotiations regarding poultry, as well as other market access issues for other U.S. exports to South Africa. We strongly encourage you to pursue solutions expeditiously that guarantee market access for U.S. poultry.

The letter further states:

As you know, Congress is in the process of considering reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)…We urge you to ensure that conversations continue to make progress towards eliminating the antidumping duties on U.S. poultry and that this issue is resolved before Congress takes up AGOA reauthorization, which could be early next year. We will need to reconsider the extension of duty preferences under AGOA for South Africa if this situation is not resolved.”

The full text of this joint letter to President Zuma is available in PDF format here. While Senator Isakson currently serves as the Ranking Member of the International Trade Subcommittee on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Coons serves as the Chair of the African Affairs Subcommittee on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Both these Subcommittees are expected to have an influence on the reauthorization process of AGOA come 2015.

Additionally, it is important to note the significance of this issue to Georgia. The Georgia Department of Agriculture deems poultry to be Georgia’s largest agricultural commodity. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Georgia produces 24.6 million pounds of chicken and 14 million eggs on an average per day. Moreover, the statewide economic impact of the industry is an estimated $13.5 billion annually. Hence, Senator Isakson’s efforts to ensure more market access for American poultry is of direct significance to Georgia’s economy.

{ 0 comments }

Received via press release:

Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) will officially pre-file legislation in the Georgia Senate to further the protection of child victims on the morning of Thursday, December 11. The “safe harbor” legislation will address inconsistencies in the prosecution of human trafficking cases at the state level, impose harsher punishments on those convicted of this terrible crime, and create a funding mechanism to provide for the care and rehabilitation of child sex trafficking victims.

“It has been a long four-year journey of advocacy, education, and sincere determination explaining to Georgia citizens exactly what is happening to vulnerable children in the child sex trafficking trade. House Bill 200, authored by former state Rep. Ed Lindsey, was a historic change to Georgia law that punishes criminals who prey on children by selling them for profit in the sex trade. This bill increased criminal penalties with prison terms and fines, as well as allowed confiscation of assets and affirmative defense,” said Sen. Unterman.

Current state law fails to recognize that victims are not ready or conditioned to not identify their traffickers. This leads to a problematic situation where human trafficking victims are punished because prosecuting attorneys do not realize the depth of the case. The legislation proposed by Sen. Unterman would offer immunity to minors who are forced into human trafficking, as well as proper medical treatment, counseling, and other assistance programs for victims. The legislation will add requirements that are compatible with HB 200.

A Candle Light Vigil will be held tonight in honor of victims of human trafficking:

Sen. Unterman will host a press conference and candlelight vigil at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow evening at North Avenue Presbyterian Church (607 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta) in support of the legislation. The event is being held with the assistance of several advocacy groups, including Street Grace, Wellspring Living, youthSpark and Georgia Cares.

The agenda for the press conference and candlelight vigil is as follows:

7:00 p.m. Opening Remarks and Prayer, Rev. Dr. Scott Weimer
7:10 p.m. Legislation Announcement and Explanation, Sen. Renee Unterman
7:30 p.m Supporting Remarks from Legislative Colleague, TBD
7:45 p.m. Moment of Silence, Sen. Renee Unterman
7:50 p.m. Remarks and Prayer, Rabbi David Spinrad
8:00 p.m. Closing Remarks, Rev. Dr. Scott Weimer

{ 6 comments }

Members of several Tea Party and other good government groups paid a visit to Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall’s Lawrenceville office on Wednesday, asking that the congressman vote no on a spending bill that would fund most government spending through the end of the 2015 fiscal year on September 30th.

The Gwinnett Daily Post reports that Gwinnett Tea Party co-chairs David Hancock and Steve Ramey want Woodall to vote against the $1.014 trillion spending measure if it includes funds to support President Obama’s recently announced executive action to allow some five million illegal immigrants to remain in the country and receive work permits. In addition, the pair hope Woodall would not vote for the measure until it had been public for 72 hours so it could be read.

Woodall was in Washington, but he told the Post in an email,

What we have done in this ‘Cromnibus’ is cement a lot of good policy for the remainder of the fiscal year — like preventing a bailout for the Obamacare risk corridor program, reining in regulatory overreach, preventing any new spending for Obamacare, and much more — while only funding the Department of Homeland Security for the short-term. This enables us to narrow the funding conversation in February to this one department, and the House, with a willing partner in the Senate having been sworn in, can stop this President’s actions the right way.

As conservatives, we have all been very frustrated by what we’ve seen from the Obama Administration. There is a misconception, however, that if the government shuts down it takes away his ability to act in these ways. It doesn’t. His actions are funded with money that he raises through fees, and until we are able to pass a bill that the president signs in order to change the way that he uses those fees, he will continue down this road.

Defunding the so-called “Executive Amnesty” cannot be done through a rider attached to the appropriations bill, according to a report issued Monday by the Congressional Research Service. Because the operation of Immigration Services is funded through fees paid by applicants and not an annual appropriation, a separate law, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, would be required to defund the program.

Head counts conducted by the AJC’s Daniel Malloy have Georgia Reps. Lynn Westmoreland, Tom Price, and Woodall as Yes votes, with Reps. Jack Kingston and Doug Collins leaning towards Yes. Reps. John Lewis and Paul Broun are planning to vote No, and Rep. David Scott is unsure.

A vote on the omnibus could come as soon as today.

{ 8 comments }

On this date in 1816, Indiana was admitted to the Union as the 19th American state. Happy American state birthday, Indiana.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweat Tea

None for you today.

Liberty Drum

{ 19 comments }

From the floor of the U.S. Senate today, retiring U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss gave a farewell speech to his fellow Senators, both past and present. He also thanked the Senate staffers, the citizens of Georgia, and those that have served in the U.S. Military. He took time to recognize his family, including his wife of almost 48 years, Julianne.

Chambliss served in the U.S. House from 1995 to 2003 and has been serving in the U.S. Senate since 2003. He is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the former Chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

Sen. Johnny Isakson also gave a 2 minute farewell to his friend Saxby Chambliss. They have been friends since their time together at UGA in the early 1960’s. They have served together in Congress since 1999 and have been in the Senate together since 2005.

The text of and video link to Isakson’s farewell to Chambliss can be found after the break.

Click here for Isakson’s remarks

{ 22 comments }

Georgia’s First District Congressman Jack Kingston was the first congressman to appear with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report’s “Better Know a District.” Tuesday evening, he became the last congressman to appear on Colbert’s Comedy Central gig, as Colbert will be moving to CBS to replace David Letterman.

 
 
One must wonder if Congressman Kingston has a future on television.

{ 0 comments }

“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Time Magazine made an excellent choice this year in selecting as its 2014 Person of the Year the Ebola Fighters. In dark and confusing times, it always uplifts the heart to witness brave people rush to the front line of a crisis and lend a helping hand to their fellow man.

As a local connection to the story, recall that it was Phoenix Air out of Cartersville that flew the first two medical workers who came down with Ebola out of Liberia for treatment at Emory Hospital. The story of their evacuation from Africa to Emory can be found here.

{ 2 comments }

There were a number of moments during Tuesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the transparency failures of ObamaCare. Republican members took turns grilling Jonathan Gruber, the economist who worked with the Obama administration to craft the law, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administration Marilyn Tavenner.

Toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) got his chance to question Gruber, who has come under fire in recent weeks for calling voters “stupid” on a few different occasions. Unlike many of colleagues, Collins didn’t spend much his limited time grilling him. Instead, he spent under a minute with a short but pointed statement to Gruber.
[click to continue…]

{ 21 comments }

Better Knowing Jack Kingston, Again

December 10, 2014 10:30 am

by Charlie · 0 comments

A farewell chat between Stephen Colbert and Jack Kingston as they both prepare to move on to what’s next.

{ 0 comments }