Georgia Legislation to Suspend Compensation of Indicted Public Officials Passes out of Committee

Members of the Georgia State Senate Government Oversight Committee this week passed two pieces of legislation that they said will restrict public officials from certain privileges if and when any court officials indict them on felony charges. State Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) sponsored both bills, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s website.

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Georgia House Passes State Budget with Five Percent Spending Increase

The Georgia House approved a $27.2 billion state budget for fiscal year 2022 on Friday, representing a 5.2% increase in spending over the current fiscal year’s original budget.

The proposal restores funding for education and other reductions lawmakers made to protect state coffers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The House plan also increases spending on health care and behavioral health and adds funding for new state positions and raises.

The House approved the measure, 136-31.

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Georgia Senate Passes Business and Religious Institution Protection Act

Members of the Georgia State Senate Friday passed SB 200, which would, if enacted into law, protect businesses and churches against government shutdowns during a COVID-19-like pandemic or other health emergency. Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) emailed a press release Friday and said this bill “provides businesses and churches with common-sense protections against government shutdowns.”

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Georgia Bill Would Give State Election Board Greater Powers to Replace Election Superintendents

A new bill in the Georgia General Assembly would provide the State Election Board with greater powers to suspend, appoint, and replace superintendents who oversee elections at the city or county level. The Georgia General Assembly’s website identifies State Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) as the sole sponsor.

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Georgia House Members Pass Tax-Cutting Legislation

Members of the Georgia House of Representatives this week passed four pieces of legislation that they said will cut taxes for Georgia families and businesses and create jobs and expand economic opportunity across the state. These measures include the Tax Relief Act of 2021, the Georgia Economic Recovery Act of 2021, the Georgia Economic Renewal Act of 2021, and the reauthorization of the House Rural Development Council.

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Georgia Bill Would Make Certain Noncitizens Eligible as In-State for Tuition Purposes

  A Georgia legislator has filed a bill that would provide that students — other than nonimmigrant aliens — are classified as in-state for tuition purposes. State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), sponsored the bill. Carpenter’s bill also, if enacted into law, would authorize the state Board of Regents and the…

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Georgia Gov. Kemp Says He’d Back Trump in 2024 Despite Election Tiffs

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto Wednesday night that he will support former president Donald J. Trump in 2024, if Trump decides to run for president again and becomes the Republican Party nominee. 

“Absolutely, I’m going to support the nominee,” Kemp said. “As I said, again, I worked very hard for the president. I think his ideas … will be part of our party for a long time in the future. And Republicans, we need to have a big tent. I mean, there’s a lot of great ideas out there.”

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Georgia Senate Introduces Bill Making It a Felony to Block Traffic During a Protest

After a summer of rioting nationwide, Georgia lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it a felony to block a sidewalk or a street after being directed to disperse by a police officer.

According to the text of SB 171, “purposely or recklessly obstructing any highway or street in such a way as to render it impassable without unreasonable inconvenience or hazard and fails or refuses to remove the obstruction after he or she receives a reasonable official request or the order of a peace officer to do so,  shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by an imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years or a fine of not less than $1,000.00 nor more than $5,000.00, or both.”

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Georgia Lawmakers This Week Propose Additional Ways to Reform State Elections

Officials at the Georgia General Assembly this week proposed what they said were new methods to reform Georgia’s elections. House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) proposed that the Georgia Department of Driver Services offer state ID cards, free, to all eligible Georgians.

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Four Months After 2020 Presidential Election in Georgia No Chain of Custody Documents Produced for 404,000 Absentee Ballots Deposited in Drop Boxes; Fulton County One of 35 Scofflaw Counties

Four months after the November 3, 2020 presidential election, state and county officials in Georgia have failed to produce chain of custody documents for an estimated 404,691 vote by mail absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes and subsequently delivered to county registrars for counting.

As of March 3, only 56 of Georgia’s 159 counties have provided ballot transfer form data to The Georgia Star News. The number of absentee by mail ballots delivered to registrars in those 56 counties total only 195,309, or 32.5 percent, of the estimated 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and delivered to county registrars and counted in Georgia’s 2020 presidential.

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Georgia Voter Integrity Bill at Standstill in State Legislature

Georgia State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) has defended voter integrity legislation she’s filed that would require non-U.S. citizens to have “BEARER NOT A U.S. CITIZEN — NOT VOTER ID” printed on their driver’s licenses, permits. This, even though Georgia officials said at an Election Integrity Committee hearing late last week that they already have a system in place to stop illegal immigrants from voting.

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Georgia House Passes Bill to Bolster Absentee Ballot Laws

Georgia’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill Monday aimed at making elections more secure, specifically in the way of absentee voting.

House Bill 531 passed Monday with a 97-72 vote, and along with sweeping reforms related to absentee voting, strips the Secretary of State from his role as chairman of the State Elections Board. That person will, if the bill passes and is signed into law, be chosen by the General Assembly.

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Georgia State Senate Democrats Want Washington, D.C. Statehood

Democrats in the Georgia General State Senate have proposed certain resolutions for this current session, all of which support politically left-leaning causes, one of which cites influence from the United Nations. Georgia State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) and 15 other state senators filed a resolution that urges the U.S. Congress to grant statehood to Washington, D.C.

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Georgia Chamber of Commerce Influences David Ralston in Ways Average Georgians Won’t Like, Former Legislator Says

A former state representative said the Georgia Chamber of Commerce influences the agenda of House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), even though that agenda favors large corporate entities and  sometimes frustrates average Georgians’ best interests. As The Georgia Star News reported last week, former State Rep. Jeff Jones said “the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is not the friend of the average Georgia citizen.”

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Georgia Nonprofit Owner Arrested for False Statements After Allegedly Letting Criminals off the Hook

A Marietta man has been charged after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said his Atlanta-based nonprofit was scamming the criminal justice system. 

“On Thursday, February 25, 2021, Derek ‘Al’ Sneed, age 39, was arrested in Marietta and charged with one felony count of false statements and writings,” GBI said in a press release. 

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Measure Blocking Local Efforts to Defund Police Clears Georgia House

The Georgia House has approved a bill that would block local governments from cutting local police funding.

House Bill 286 bans counties and municipalities from reducing their police department budgets by more than 5% unless they are facing revenue shortages or other budget strains.

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Georgia Bill Would Regulate People Who Pass out Absentee Ballot Applications

Six members of the Georgia House of Representatives filed a bill last week that would regulate third party entities who distribute absentee ballots applications. The Georgia General Assembly’s website identifies State Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) as the primary sponsor.

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Georgia State Rep. Bonnie Rich Benefits from Chamber of Commerce PAC Donations

Georgia’s chamber of commerce interests have donated $4,250 to Georgia State Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee) since 2018, shortly before she took office. As reported this week, Georgia State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) said she suspected members of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber are working behind the scenes to kill Byrd’s Voter ID legislation. She said Rich is working to block Byrd’s legislation in a Special Committee on Election Integrity subcommittee.

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Use of Mobile Voting Facilities Violated Intent of Georgia Law, State Senator Says

A 1998 Georgia law authorized the state to have mobile voting facilities, but voters in the Peach State’s most recent presidential election who voted at such places acted against that law’s original intent. State Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) said this Thursday as he spoke to members of the State Senate’s Ethics Committee. Dugan said this as he discussed a new bill he’s sponsoring to reform the state’s election systems.

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Former Georgia Legislators Say Chamber of Commerce ‘No Friend’ to Average Peach State Residents

Two former state legislators said Georgia Chamber of Commerce members, not unexpectedly, have tremendous influence at the State Capitol, but those two men also said Chambers’ members sometimes work against political conservatives’ best interests.

Former State Rep. Jeff Jones, who represented District 167 from 2015 until last month, told The Georgia Star News this week that he never hesitates to speak freely, and he didn’t even when he held office. And he said he won’t hold back now.

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Georgia Senate Approves Election Reform Package, Including Absentee Ballot Signature-Match Overhaul

The Georgia Senate approved four measures Tuesday that make changes to the election process as a response to November’s presidential election.

Georgia gained national attention after a close presidential election prompted three recounts and lawsuits and threats from former President Donald Trump’s campaign and supporters. Several questions and allegations arose from Georgia’s absentee-ballot process.

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New Georgia Bill Would Limit Secretary of State’s Ability to Enter into Consent Agreements

Georgia legislators filed a bill this week that, among other things, would limit the ability of the State Election Board and the secretary of state to enter into certain consent agreements. “The State Election Board, the members thereof, the Secretary of State, and any of their attorneys or staff shall not have any authority to enter into any consent agreement with any other person that limits, alters, or interprets any provision of this chapter without obtaining the approval of the General Assembly through a joint resolution,” according to the language of the bill.

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Despite Filing, Perdue Won’t Run Against Warnock

Despite filing to run with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), former U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) says he will not mount a comeback bid against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in 2022.

“After much reflection and prayer, Bonnie and I have decided that we will not enter the race for the United States Senate in 2022,” Perdue said in Tuesday press release. “This is a personal decision, not a political one. I am confident that whoever wins the Republican primary one next year will defeat the Democrat candidate in the General election for this seat, and I will do everything I can to make that happen.”

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Doug Collins to Debut and Host Political Talk Show out of Georgia Next Week

Former U.S. Republican Congressman Doug Collins is scheduled to launch his own talk radio program Monday, March 1, and the show will feature guests local to Georgia as well as guests who hold national stature. The Doug Collins Show will broadcast from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday on the Georgia-based WMLB (1690 AM). People outside of the Atlanta-listening area may also listen to the show through the John Fredericks Radio Show app.

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Georgia Business Interests Suspected of Trying to Kill Voter ID Legislation

Georgia State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) said this week that she suspects certain of the state’s business interests are working behind the scenes and trying to kill her Voter ID legislation. As The Georgia Star News reported Tuesday, that legislation, if enacted into law, would require non-U.S. citizens to have “BEARER NOT A U.S. CITIZEN — NOT VOTER ID” printed on their licenses, permits and/or identification cards. Byrd said State Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee) is working to block Byrd’s legislation in a Special Committee on Election Integrity subcommittee.

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Loeffler Founds Voter Registration Group in Georgia

In what is being viewed as an attempt to counter the efforts of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Republican former U.S. Senator from the Peach State has founded her own voter outreach group.

“Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler is starting a voter registration and outreach group called ‘Greater Georgia,’ in her first major public move since losing her Senate seat to Democrat Raphael Warnock in a Jan. 6 runoff,” Fox News reported Monday. 

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Georgia Voter ID Bill Could Die as Republican Legislator Stalls Moving it Forward

Georgia State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) said Monday that a Republican colleague is holding up Voter ID legislation that Byrd said will help prevent fraud in the state. As reported, that legislation, if enacted into law, would require non- U.S. citizens to have “BEARER NOT A U.S. CITIZEN — NOT VOTER ID” printed on their licenses, permits and/or identification cards.

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Feds Threaten to Remove Work Requirement from Georgia’s Partial Medicaid Expansion

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could decide in a matter of weeks whether it will remove the work or activity requirement in Georgia’s partial Medicaid expansion plan.

The CMS said the plan, which was approved by former President Donald Trump’s administration in October, does not “promote the objectives of the Medicaid program” and would be impossible to accomplish because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New Georgia Bill Would Demand More Detailed Vote Reporting System from Secretary of State

Georgia legislators have submitted a bill that would require the secretary of state create a far more detailed election reporting system for general primaries, general elections, and runoffs from general primaries and general elections. “Such system shall provide for the entry of the number of ballots cast by type in each precinct, the results of state and federal races by precinct, the number of absentee ballots issued and returned, the number of absentee ballots certified, the number of absentee ballots rejected, the number of provisional ballots cast, and such other information which the Secretary of State deems relevant and useful to the citizens of this state,” according to the language of the bill.

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Georgia Democrats Push for Law to Bypass Nation’s Electoral College

Sixteen Democrats in the Georgia State Senate have filed a bill calling on Georgia to enact the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote. According to the language of the bill, this agreement calls on states “to join together to establish an interstate compact to elect the president by national popular vote.”

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Georgia to Provide More Than $550M in Rental, Utility Assistance

Georgia will provide $552 million in rent and utility assistance to landlords and tenants, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday.

The federal government provided the COVID-19-related aid through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and it will be paid directly to landlords and utility companies.

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Georgia Bill Would Provide Hearings for People Denied Right to Vote

Five state senators in the Georgia General Assembly filed legislation late last week that would, if enacted into law, provide people the right to a hearing when government officials challenge whether they may legally vote. The Georgia General Assembly identified State Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) as the bill’s primary sponsor.

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Georgia Launches COVID Vaccine Registration Website

This week, Georgia rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination registration website, as the state gears up to begin vaccinating more residents. 

“COVID-19 vaccines continue to arrive in Georgia in extremely limited supply,” the site’s homepage says. “As we await additional vaccine supply from the Federal Government, we urge currently eligible Georgia residents to pre-register today.”

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New Bill Would Mandate That Absentee Ballots Go Only to Registered Georgia Voters

Georgia legislators have filed a bill that would require that government officials mail absentee ballot applications only to registered voters. The Georgia General Assembly’s website identified State Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania) as the bill’s primary sponsor.

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Georgia Bill Would Honor Certain Out-of-State Professional and Occupational Licenses

A new bill in the Georgia General Assembly would, if enacted into law, help individuals who relocated from out-of-state obtain a license to practice certain professions and occupations. State officials could grant expedited licenses to those people — other than dentists, physicians, and osteopaths. This, according to a bill that 12 Georgia legislators filed late last month.

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New Georgia Legislation Would Let Churches and Businesses Stay Open During Health Emergency

Georgia State Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R – Dallas) this week introduced legislation that he said supports a church and a business owner’s rights to keep their establishments open during a pandemic like COVID-19 or other health emergency. This, only if the business can abide by all of the mandated safety precautions that local and state governments issue, Anavitarte said.

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REPORT: 270-Hour Observation of Fulton County Elections Revealed Extensive Chain of Custody, Absentee Ballot Processing Issues

A Fulton County elections report revealed extensive problems occurred with chain of custody and absentee ballot processing during the general election. The State Election Board contracted Seven Hills Strategies (SHS) to monitor Fulton County from its pre-electoral processes through the recent runoffs. An SHS monitor synthesized 270 hours of observation into a 14-page report, published last month. The monitor was careful to emphasize that they didn’t witness any fraudulent activity such as ballot stuff or double-counting.

In addition to multiple reports of absentee ballots sent to incorrect addresses, the monitor reported that the absentee ballot processing was “extremely sloppy” and rife with chain of custody issues. The monitor cited one example of the headquarter building functioning as both the additional voter verification area and a holding room for ballots between the mail room and another processing room. The monitor stated that it witnessed staff members attempting to move unverified absentee ballots into a stack headed for State Farm Arena to be scanned and counted.

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Two Election Integrity Bills Headed Towards Georgia Senate Floor

Two bills to help ensure election integrity in Georgia are one step closer to the Republican-controlled Senate floor, according to Tuesday reports. 

“Senate subcommittee votes 3-2 to end at-will absentee voting in Georgia, making it only available to those over 75, a doctor’s note or out of town. SB71 advances to full committee,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Niesse said on Twitter. 

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Georgia Bill Would Restrict Local Government’s Power to Defund the Police

Six members of the Georgia House of Representatives have responded to the “Defund the Police” movement and filed a bill that would prohibit local governments in the state from cutting more than 5 percent of their police budgets. State Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), the bill’s primary sponsor, said Tuesday that his legislation would, if enacted into law, exempt local governments that lose more than 5 percent of their budget revenues.

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Georgia Driver’s Ed Students Would Learn Proper Ways to Interact with Law Enforcement, Under New Bill

Georgia State Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) has filed legislation that would provide an instructional course and educate drivers on how best to interact with law enforcement officers, especially during traffic stops. According to the language of the bill, members of the Georgia Department of Public Safety would offer the lesson.

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Fulton County Election Board Votes to Fire Its Elections Director over 2020 Elections

The Fulton County Registration and Elections Board fired its elections director, Richard Barron, during a special meeting on Tuesday. Barron had served the role since 2013. 

Members of the public and the board in favor of firing Barron cited a variety of issues concerning the events at State Farm Arena, chain of custody, rejected ballots, record-keeping, security of ballot transportation, and the dismissal of whistleblowers such as Bridget Thorne. In December, The Georgia Star News interviewed Thorne about her affidavit and subsequent dismissal by the elections officials.

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Georgia State Senators Want to Make it a Crime for Someone Under 17 to Access Firearms

Georgia State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) has filed legislation that would, if enacted into law, make it a crime for an adult to knowingly have unsecured or unsafely stored firearms around minors. Six other state senators are co-sponsoring Parent’s bill, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s website.

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Georgia State Senators Push for Council to ‘Reform’ the Way State Collects Taxes

Nearly 40 Georgia state senators from both political parties might change certain aspects of the state’s tax system, and whatever they agree to may force you to pay higher taxes on certain commodities. Those state senators filed a bill late last week to create a Special Council on Tax Reform and to also create a Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure.

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Georgia Legislature Approves $650M Spending Increase in Amended State Budget

The Georgia General Assembly approved a more than $650 million increase in spending for fiscal year 2021 on Thursday after lawmakers in the Senate and House came to agreement on an amended budget.

Lawmakers approved a plan that restores 60% of K-12 school funding and adds spending for public health, state employee raises, broadband internet expansion, higher education and state vehicles. The bill now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp for final approval.

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Georgia Legislators Propose Increasing Penalties for Voter Fraud

Eight members of the Georgia General Assembly have filed legislation that would, if enacted into law, increase penalties for election fraud within the state. Specifically, the bill would make it illegal to “tamper with, alter, destroy, modify, or falsify the electronic data constituting the official returns or votes cast in a primary, election, or runoff.”

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New Bill Proposes Georgia Grand Jurors Investigate Election Fraud

  Exactly 25 Georgia legislators have proposed adding an amendment to the state constitution that would create a state-wide panel of grand jurors to investigate or indict people for alleged election law violations. This, according to a bill that primary sponsor State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) introduced Thursday. Under the…

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New COVID-19 Bill Waives Legal Liabilities, Angers Georgia Democrats

Members of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus are displeased that their colleagues in the state house passed a bill that waives liability for employers if and when an employee contracts COVID-19. State house members passed the bill, HB 112, this week by a vote of 99 to 69.

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