AP file/John Locher
Photo: AP Photo/John Locher, File/012319 biz gun shifts
Photo: AP Photo/John Locher, File/012319 biz gun shifts

The Jolt: The ‘no’ vote in the House just doubled

Though the lift never would have been an easy, the odds against a bill to allow concealed weapons to be carried without a permit just got a good bit slimmer.

On Wednesday, the state House cast its 15th vote of a slow-starting session, passing a resolution to name a new judicial building after Nathan Deal – a nod to the former governor’s emphasis on criminal justice reform.

House Resolution 1 was carried by Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and was passed on a not-quite unanimous 159-2 vote.

One of the naysayers was state Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, who has earned a chamber reputation as Dr. No – to the point that Ralston and other House GOP leaders contributed to his primary opponent last year.

Keeping Gurtler company on Wednesday was a young freshman sworn in only in January: Colton Moore, a north Georgia truck driver and auctioneer who can now add irrelevant state lawmaker to his list of occupations.

You do not cross the House speaker, a man of your own party, on an innocuous bit of legislation with the expectation of future rewards.

Right about now, you’re wondering what this has to do with the “constitutional carry” bill that now rests in the House public safety committee.

The first two signatures on HB 2 belong to Gurtler and Moore.

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But never mind guns. This stunning news from our AJC colleague Scott Trubey is what everyone in the state Capitol will be talking about:

Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks and southeastern rival Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T said Thursday they will merge in a $66 billion all-stock combination to create the sixth-largest bank in the U.S., a marriage that will cost Atlanta a Fortune 500 headquarters.

The combined company, which will merge under a new name, will be based in Charlotte, while Atlanta will be home of the new company’s wholesale banking operations.

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Gov. Nathan Deal’s longtime aide has registered as a lobbyist. Chris Riley will be advocating for Pruitt Health, the nursing home firm led by longtime Deal ally Neil Pruitt. Riley and Deal started a consulting and lobbying firm - Deal, Riley & Associates - shortly after the governor left office.

But when he walked out of the state Capitol offices of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan on Wednesday, Riley was on business of an older nature, we’re told. Last week, Duncan declared that dozens of appointments that Governor Deal made to state boards and commissions in his final weeks in office were invalid. A new list of appointees that require Senate approval are to come out today -- issued by Gov. Brian Kemp.

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Call it a fixation with fighting the last war, or repeatedly closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

On the first day of the current session, the state Senate adopted a much-criticized set of rules governing sexual harassment complaints – clearly a reaction to Senate colleague David Shafer’s defeat in last year’s GOP primary runoff for lieutenant governor. A harassment complaint lodged against Shafer last spring, quickly dismissed as likely “fabricated,” nonetheless became fodder for a dark money campaign waged against him.

Another Senate figure defeated in a GOP primary runoff last year was Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, whose gubernatorial ambitions were thwarted in part by a secretly recorded conversation he had with Clay Tippins, a rival defeated in a first round of voting.

On Wednesday, Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, introduced a bill to make illegal the one-party recording of conversations. From our AJC colleague Maya Prabhu:

Georgia law requires one person to know when someone is “intercepting a wire, oral or electronic communication.” Mullis’ proposal, Senate Bill 59, would require all parties to give “prior consent” to being recorded.

It’s something that Georgia First Amendment Foundation President Richard T. Griffiths said would be “very bad for the public.”

Not only would it have an impact on investigative journalism, it would keep people from being able to pursue legal action against people trying to commit fraud over the phone, Griffiths said.

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The Brunswick News tells of a Wednesday press conference in the state Capitol that was both bicameral and bipartisan, and featured state lawmakers from districts along Georgia’s coast in opposition to oil and gas exploration off Georgia’s touristy coast. Mirror pieces of legislation, SR 88 and HR 48, are the vehicles for the protest.

***

Chuck Williams of WRBL-TV says former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, long talked about as a potential Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate or governor, is working with well-known Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. Most recently, Trippi worked on Doug Jones' successful U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama.

***

President Donald Trump is sticking by his assessment of the power dynamic behind last year’s race for governor. In an Oval Office interview yesterday with the AJC and several other regional news outlets, Trump echoed past comments about Stacey Abrams’ celebrity endorsements and what he saw as Brian Kemp’s trump card. 
“She had Oprah, she had Michelle Obama and she had President Obama,” Trump said of Abrams. [Michelle Obama never campaigned for Abrams, but the rest did.] “And that was a big job for them. They were out there a lot for Stacey Abrams, and all Brian Kemp had is Donald Trump. And we won. Fairly easily, ok? We won.”
Sorry, Jake. You didn’t matter.

***

Congrats to Tom Willis, the former campaign manager to Gov. Nathan Deal who took a job as vice president of Arena Communications, a prominent direct mail advertising firm. Brandon Waters, an executive with the company, said Willis was hired because of the “dedication and sound political counsel Tom provides to his candidates.”

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