The details of Gov. Nathan Deal's inaugural plans are taking shape. But we may not know until after the festivities key details such as the major contributors funding the bash or the cost of the celebrations.
The governor's inaugural committee has been busy at work on a packed schedule to ring in Deal's second term. It includes two volunteer events, a swearing-in ceremony at a new park next to the statehouse and a soiree at the Arena at Gwinnett Center featuring country crooner Alan Jackson.
Georgia ethics rules don't require the disclosure of inaugural committees, though most recent administrations have released key details. Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber said there was no timetable yet on the release of the information, but said they will be outlined in required tax forms.
While we don't know the names of the inauguration's key funders, we can bet Georgia's corporate titans are ponying up. Case in point: Coca-Cola on Tuesday is set to announce it will produce an 8 oz. glass bottle made specially for the bash.
What remains of Georgia's Democratic delegation in Washington is making clear it is none too happy about the controversial demise of a contract between Atlanta's Grady Health System and the powerful Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia insurer.
Reps. John Lewis, David Scott, Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop sent a note last month to Grady's chief and Blue Cross' president urging an end to what one AJC writer called a "kind of health insurance holy war."
"While we understand that negotiations for a new agreement are ongoing, we hope both parties can come to a speedy and fair resolution regarding this serious matter," wrote the four representatives.
Blue Cross, the state's largest insurer, and Grady, Georgia's biggest hospital, parted ways in November after lengthy negotiations fizzled. Thousands of Blue Cross customers found that Grady was suddenly "out of network" - which meant significantly higher bills for them.
The new Congress will be sworn in Tuesday, but their terms officially began Saturday -- as the law says Jan. 3.
So new Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, got a jump on the D.C. festivities by staging his own ceremonial swearing in at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah on Sunday.
All five of Georgia's new lawmakers will be partying with friends and family in Washington, but Cassville's Barry Loudermilk might have the state's biggest cheering section. His office organized a bus trip for supporters.
Jack Kingston, meanwhile, is on his way out. In an exit interview with the Savannah Morning News the lawmaker left the door open for a return to politics, as long as the race doesn't look like the one for U.S. Senate he just lost:
“I haven’t made any decisions. I’m still looking and exploring options. I would, under the right circumstances, consider going back into politics. I have enjoyed it. I love the state of Georgia. Although I don’t know if I’d want to jump into a multi-candidate slugfest with self-funders.”
The 2016 presidential race continued apace over the weekend. A second Republican former Southern governor, Arkansas' Mike Huckabee, made formal moves toward jumping in by quitting his Fox News show.
And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bear-hugged Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the owner's box after the Cowboys won a playoff game. We suspect that move wasn't poll tested.
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