The Jolt: A ‘push poll’ is aimed at protesting residents of Juliette

Residents of Juliette visited the state Capitol on Monday to connect with lawmakers and ask them to support bills that would require coal ash to be stored in lined landfills at Georgia Power plants across the state.
Caption
Residents of Juliette visited the state Capitol on Monday to connect with lawmakers and ask them to support bills that would require coal ash to be stored in lined landfills at Georgia Power plants across the state.

Credit: Nedra Rhone

Credit: Nedra Rhone

News and analysis from the AJC politics team

Infuriated residents of the small community of Juliette, who have been locked in a battle with state lawmakers over a leaky coal ash pond, are on the receiving end of a push poll that appears to originate with supporters of Georgia Power.

On Monday, about 70 residents of the Monroe County enclave came to the state Capitol with “Save Juliette” T-shirts, bottles of discolored water, and a petition signed by 2,000 residents that they delivered to Gov. Brian Kemp.

They’re demanding legislation that would require the coal ash be stored in lined landfills, as household trash is. At Plant Scherer, 16 million tons of coal ash sit pits without liners that would prevent toxic waste from leaching into the groundwater that feeds the wells.

On Tuesday evening, via text and email, residents were hit with a survey that, after querying residents about top Republican officials, asked a series of questions that appeared to be intended to dampen enthusiasm for more environmental restrictions.

One asked whether they would be more likely to vote for legislators who feel this issue has been “safely handled for over a century and believes the legislature should focus on local issues that matter to Georgians.” Another warned that environmental costs could “result in less activity at the plant.”

“I was shocked when I got it. People are sick and dying,” said Andrea Goolsby, a Juliette resident who received the poll via text. “They shouldn’t be spending time polling, they should be spending it getting clean water. How much more data do they need?”

Click here to read the entire poll, or stroll through it below:

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You have to wonder if a legislative session struggling with budget cuts just got a little more complicates. From our AJC colleague Michael Kanell:

Georgia's economy will likely take its first hit from the coronavirus very soon, with shipments into the state's ports dropping up to 40% in March and April, according to projections by the agency that manages that traffic.

Cuts and closures in Chinese production since the outbreak of the virus about six weeks ago has not yet been felt here, but that is about to change, according to Griffith Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.

Virtually all of that anticipated drop is linked to China, Georgia's largest trading partner. Last year, the state imported about $102 billion in goods from China, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

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Long overdue: Gov. Brian Kemp and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black will appear at a press conference this morning to trumpet a new round of relief funding for Georgia farmers who were smacked by Hurricane Michael more than 500 days ago.

Black told a Senate committee earlier this week that the federal grant program will total $347 million, and it's expected to focus on crops like timber, pecans and poultry that are typically excluded from other federal aid programs.

The money comes from the $19 billion disaster relief package Congress passed last summer after nearly a year of partisan brinkmanship.

Aid money so far has been slow to reach southwest Georgia, multiple farmers have told our colleague (and former Insider) Tamar Hallerman. She'll be at the Kemp presser and will have more details about the new program at 11 a.m.

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On a similar topic, click here for Tuesday evening's column on the dynamics behind House Bill 545, a bill intended to offer more lawsuit protection for large-scale livestock operations in Georgia. The measure is stalled in the state Senate.

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Former congressman Max Burns announced Tuesday that he'll seek the southeast Georgia state Senate seat being given up by Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro. A Republican, Burns served a single term in Congress, winning in 2002 – but suffering defeat in 2004 at the hands of Democrat John Barrow.

Prior to his congressional stint, Burns was a professor at Georgia Southern University’s College of Business Administration.

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The Marietta Daily Journal reports that state Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, a floor leader for Gov. Brian Kemp, has picked up Democratic opposition in the form of Priscilla Smith, a 63-year-old veteran actor who often appears at protests as a female version of President Donald Trump. From the MDJ:

"I made Donald Trump into Donna Trump," Smith explains. "I wear a skirt-suit, and I tie my red tie very long, and you know, I'm an actor, so I do a lot of impersonating anyway. I'm afraid it was altogether too easy for me to look like Donald Trump."

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Lynne Homrich has joined the growing ranks of GOP contenders in Georgia painting White House hopeful Bernie Sanders as the face of the Democratic party.

The Seventh District congressional candidate launched an ad Wednesday that opened with an image of the U.S. senator before flashing to clips of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

“That’s the best they can do in Washington?” the former Home Depot executive asks in the ad, which ends with a split screen with her and President Donald Trump. The mantra: “Lynne Homrich hates politics, loves Trump.”

Records show she's putting about $50,000 behind the spot to start, though the ad buy will likely ramp up ahead of the jumbled May primary for the open Gwinnett-based seat. Watch the ad here. 

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Supporters of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler are happily noting that U.S. Rep. Doug Collins voted on a spending bill in 2015 that didn't zero out funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Republican congressman has repeatedly attacked Loeffler, who co-owns a WNBA franchise, for a league initiative that gave fans an option to donate a portion of ticket sales to the influential abortion rights group.

The spending measure was also supported by Georgia Republican poohbahs, including Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, as well as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing Loeffler’s bid.

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The organizers of the conservative CPAC event inform us that U.S. Rep. Doug Collins will address the influential gathering. His November rival, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, is not on the agenda.

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A new Club for Growth ad attacking U.S. Rep. Doug Collins delves into his years in the state House, dinging the Republican for supporting a "bed tax" on Georgia hospitals that allowed the state to draw down more Medicaid dollars. Watch it here.

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Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday took largely symbolic votes on two anti-abortion measures.

One would have banned nearly all abortions after 20 weeks. The other would impose criminal penalties on physicianswho fail to treat babies born after abortions.

Democrats used the threat of a filibuster rule to block both bills, but allowed Senate Republicans like Sen. Kelly Loeffler to burnish their anti-abortion credentials. From the New York Times:

The two measures, which both fell short of the 60 votes necessary to advance, were doomed from the start, having already failed in the Senate. But the action on Tuesday, scheduled by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, was engineered to energize social conservatives and put centrist Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns in a difficult spot with an issue that plays to deep cultural divides in the country.

"Today every senator will be able to take a clear moral stand," Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said, adding, "At a minimum, elective abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy."

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The U.S. House is expected to approve legislation today that classifies lynching as a federal hate crime. Democrats say the Emmett Till Act is long overdue as part of a national reckoning over the Jim Crow era practice of public killings as tools of racial intimidation.

“One hundred and two years ago, Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer of Missouri introduced the first anti-lynching legislation to pass the House, but tragically, that bill would die in the Senate,” U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said. “However, with today’s announcement, we are one step closer to finally outlawing this heinous practice and achieving justice for over four thousand victims of lynching, including Emmett Till.”

Georgia’s 594 recorded lynchings was the second highest in the nation during the years 1877-1950, according to an analysis by the Equal Justice Initiative.

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