Tyler Perry is Atlanta’s most prominent figure in the film industry, playing the roles of actor, director, developer and overall movie mogul. He’ll have a new item on his resume Nov. 20: host of the Democratic presidential debate, to be held on one of the stages at his 330-acre studio complex on what was Fort McPherson. (W.A. BRIDGES JR./STAFF)
Photo: W.A. Bridges Jr.
Photo: W.A. Bridges Jr.

Capitol Recap: Is timing behind Tyler Perry’s stage success?

Back in April, after the Georgia Legislature passed the anti-abortion fetal cardiac bill and Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law, multiple entertainment figures called for a boycott of the state’s $2.9 billion film and television industry.

Tyler Perry was not among them.

It was a notable silence.

Atlanta’s most prominent figure in the film industry waited until Sept. 25 to express opposition to House Bill 481, which would outlaw most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity in the womb, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant. Less than a week later, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect Jan. 1.

“I don’t believe any man should be able to tell a woman what she can do with her body or reproductive organs,” Perry told The Associated Press.

Even then, the actor, director, developer and movie mogul opposed any form of film boycott of Georgia.

“Atlanta has been the dream. It has been the promised land,” he said. “So when I got here, this whole state and city has been amazing to me and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Also, I put $250 million in the ground here and in the studio. So when you have a quarter of a billion dollars sat down in the ground, you can’t just up and leave.”

A better option for the law’s opponents, he said, is the ballot box.

“What I know about this industry is that there are 94,000-plus or 98,000 people who are in this industry and who are benefiting from it greatly,” he said. “And that’s a lot of votes. I’m in a wait and see moment right now. But that’s a lot of votes. That’s a lot of votes that can determine an election.”

A few weeks ago, Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Rodney Ho asked Perry why he waited as long as he did to make his feelings known about HB 481.

“I just didn’t feel it was time to talk about it,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take a step back, calm down, wait a minute and see what happens and see how this goes.”

So here are a couple of things that could have happened or actually did happen.

In the category of “could have happened,” Perry just hosted a black-tie gala to unveil the new Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre filming complex on what was Fort McPherson, and he has said he wants to buy the remaining 145 acres at the former Army post. Kemp, an ardent supporter of HB 481, has the authority to appoint several members of the state board that oversees that acreage.

And what “did happen”? Democrats have chosen one of Perry’s stages as the site of the party’s presidential debate on Nov. 20.

Perry’s films often require a suspension of disbelief — Madea, anyone? — but fewer things are harder to believe than Democrats picking a Perry property for its next big campaign event without him declaring his opposition to an anti-abortion measure.

Actively check: The secretary of state’s office this past week released a list of 313,243 people whose voter registrations could soon be canceled, either because they moved away or haven’t participated in elections for several years.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has launched a campaign urging voters to make sure they’re not on the purge list before the cancellations are expected to be completed in December.

The ACLU offers this advice to make sure your voter registration is active, using the secretary of state office’s mobile app.

1. Download the Georgia Secretary of State App on your smartphone

2. On the home page, click on “Am I registered to Vote.”

3. Click again on “Am I registered to Vote?”

4. Enter the initial of your first name; your last name; the county you live in and date of birth.

5. Click “Submit.”

6. Your voter information should appear. Check that your address is accurate and your status is “Active.”

It’s important to check. When Ohio conducted a similar purge this year, its Republican secretary of state — like Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did in this case — released a list of potential cancellations. It turned out that about 1 in 5 on that list shouldn’t have been there.

Election officials will send letters next week to the last known addresses of voters whose registrations could be canceled, according to a new state law. Similar notices weren’t sent before the last large-scale cancellation two years ago, when about 534,000 voters were removed from the rolls.

More kids, less insurance: More of Georgia’s children are lacking coverage for health care.

In 2018, the uninsured rate for Georgia children was 8.1%, Andy Miller of Georgia Health News reports. That’s up from 6.7% two years ago.

Tennessee, with a 1.5 percentage point increase, is the only state to see faster growth over that time in its uninsured rate.

An estimated 217,000 Georgia children lacked medical coverage last year, according to a report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Georgia’s uninsured rate for children ranks fifth in the nation.

Poll data: A new NBC/Survey Monkey poll of Georgia registered voters had some good news for Kemp and not as good news for President Donald Trump.

Kemp got an approval rating of 63% in the poll, which had a margin of error of 3.6%.

Trump’s approval rating was 48%, and his disapproval rating was 51%.

On the question of impeachment of the president, 49% identified themselves as supporters, while 50% were opposed.

A bit of warning: This was an online poll, which analysts view as less reliable than surveys conducted over the phone. The AJC will soon publish a poll conducted by the University of Georgia that will shed more light on the mood of the state’s electorate.

Here’s how Georgians weighed in on a couple of other issues in the NBC/Survey Monkey poll:

— Georgia voters strongly supported the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion. About 58% of voters said they didn’t want the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, while 39% want it thrown out.

— About twice as many Georgia voters strongly oppose removing Confederate monuments and statues from public spaces as those who strongly support the idea.

A look at the books: Ethics watchdog William Perry wants to see the paperwork involving a $100,000 loan that Republican Nicole Rodden made to her campaign in the 6th Congressional District.

Perry, who heads Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, originally filed a complaint with federal campaign finance regulators about the loan, which was in the name of Rodden’s husband, Robert. Spouses’ contributions are limited to $2,800.

The Federal Election Commission then contacted Rodden's campaign, seeking an explanation.

Rodden’s lawyer, Doug Chalmers, responded that the loan was “made almost entirely from personal funds of the candidate Nicole Rodden” and not her husband. He said Rodden, making her first run for office, initially transferred the money from a personal investment account that was in her name only, and that her husband loaned the campaign less than $1,500. The campaign later filed an amended report showing the candidate loaned her campaign $98,500.

Perry said he filed his complaint before seeing the amended report, but he still wants documentation.

“I honestly feel that since a mistake was made involving $100,000 (not just $100), and it was only corrected after a regulatory authority requested more information, that the proof should be made public, or at the very least, some form of proof that the FEC confirmed the source of the funds,” he wrote on his blog.

The AJC examined Rodden’s financial statements and the campaign’s accounting appears to check out.

Three who said no: The U.S. House voted 403-16 Wednesday to impose sanctions on Turkey in response to its recent invasion of northern Syria.

Three Georgia Republicans — U.S. Reps. Rick Allen of Evans, Drew Ferguson of West Point and Barry Loudermilk of Cassville — were among the 16 who said nay.

Loudermilk said Turkey should be held accountable for its actions in Syria and its partnership with Russia, but he added that it’s “premature to pass legislative sanctions while the president is actively negotiating with the actors in that region.”

“The events over the past several days have proven that the situation in Syria is very fluid, with many moving parts,” he said. “I don’t think it is wise to move forward with legislation that could tie the hands of the president, especially when we have troops on the ground in Syria.”

Loudermilk and Allen voted a week earlier for a House resolution that rebuked the White House for withdrawing U.S. forces from northern Syria and called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “immediately cease unilateral military action.”

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— Former Georgia U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden has endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson. Darden is also supporting Democratic state Sen. Zahra Karinshak’s campaign in the 7th Congressional District.

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