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The Jolt: A needs-based supplement to the HOPE scholarship, in the name of Shirley Miller

Former Gov. Zell Miller and former first lady Shirley Miller are introduced in the balcony during the second inauguration of Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com
Former Gov. Zell Miller and former first lady Shirley Miller are introduced in the balcony during the second inauguration of Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

When the HOPE scholarship began in 1993, at the instigation of Gov. Zell Miller, the program was aimed in large part at helping families who otherwise couldn't afford paying for a child's college education.

It offered two years' worth of tuition to students who graduated high school with a "B" average and had an annual family income of less than $66,000.

The success of the Georgia lottery, which financed HOPE, allowed legislators to expand the income cap in 1994 to $100,000. In 1995, the income cap was abolished altogether. Moreover, save for a few students, the HOPE no longer covers the cost of tuition, which has risen rapidly over the past decade.

On Wednesday, the Zell Miller Foundation announced the launch of a new scholarship program named after the late governor’s surviving spouse.

“The Shirley Miller Scholarship awards qualified HOPE Scholarship recipients an annual supplement that pays the difference between their current HOPE award and the cost of tuition,” wrote Bryan Miller, executive chairman of the foundation and Zell Miller’s grandson. The aim is to restore the original vision of full tuition -- and more. Need will once again matter. From the foundation’s website:

Until fully funded, the Zell Miller Foundation will prioritize applicants based on the following criteria:

-- Applicants who are Black, Asian, or Hispanic;

-- Applicants enrolled in a public Historically Black College or University (HBCU);

-- Applicants whose annual household income is below the median household income in Georgia;

-- Applicants who are first generation college students;

-- Applicants who are in their senior year.

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Because it is funded with public money, Bryan Miller said that neither he nor his grandmother support returning the HOPE scholarship to its original needs-based roots. But the Shirley Miller Scholarship will be privately funded -- and that makes a difference, Bryan Miller said.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ body will arrive today in Atlanta, his adopted home and final resting place. The late congressman’s casket will arrive at Dobbins Air Reserve Base about noon, then will be driven to the state Capitol for a fifth and final public viewing.

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President Donald Trump didn’t join the crowd of dignitaries who paid respects to the late Rep. John Lewis, who lied in state at the Capitol on Monday and Tuesday.

But he found time to take a meeting with state Rep. Vernon Jones, a former DeKalb County chief executive who alienated fellow Democrats earlier this year when he endorsed the Republican president.

“Why the hell not? I totally support him, and should, too,” Jones said. “He’s opening up America, restoring law and order, while on the heels bringing a vaccination to the American people.”

Some of Lewis’ top deputies, meanwhile, didn’t seem to mind Trump’s snub. Andrew Aydin, who was Lewis’ policy adviser, wrote on Twitter that his former boss would be “100% fine with this.”

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Andrew Aydin was also U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ writing partner for the “March” trilogy, a series of graphic novels. A sequel is in the works, he says.

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Qualifying for a short stint as a member of Congress from the Fifth District opens today and will extend until noon Friday. The special election is Sept. 29, and the runoff – which could be likely, if there are a large number of candidates – would be Dec. 1.

The term expires weeks later. Democratic leaders have named state Sen. Nikema Williams to replace the late John Lewis on the November ballot, a race for a full, two-year term that will begin in January.

Whether Williams will enter the Sept. 29 special election is unclear. But one candidate has surfaced. Jeff Hullinger of 11Alive put out this Tweet late Tuesday:

Frm Atl. Mayor & Buckhead Czar Sam Massell (92 yrs) called me after 6pm @11AliveNews. “Jeff, I have an exclusive for you.” I responded, Mr. Mayor? “Qualifying in the 5th begins tomorrow, I would like to fill the seat for 30 days and then walk away. Kindness is my platform.”

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Atlanta-based journalist Patricia Murphy has a column in Roll Call today that begins by taking note of a popular Houston watering hole called Bombshell – “think of it as a cross between Hooters and ‘Top Gun’” -- that won $5.4 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program funds this spring.

The elementary school down the street hasn't been so lucky. Her point:

So, Bombshells is open, schools are closed, and we have Congress and the White House to blame after they spent trillions of dollars this spring to rescue companies and local economies, but failed to give public schools anywhere near enough money to operate this fall in a pandemic. The CARES Act flooded companies with $660 billion of PPP money, but allocated just $13.2 billion to K-12 schools.

Washington somehow managed to socialize American business by moving the financial risks to taxpayers, but also privatize public education by pushing the costs of safely educating children on to the parents who can afford it this fall.

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***

The reinforcements are coming for Sen. David Perdue. The latest tally of outside spending we received showed about $24 million worth of ads have been booked on his behalf for his race against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Libertarian Shane Hazel.

By contrast, there appears to be no outside spending booked on behalf of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who faces a tough challenge from fellow Republican Doug Collins in the November special election.

That could change. We are hearing rumblings some of Gov. Brian Kemp’s allies are readying a super PAC to boost her campaign.

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Sparks flew at the U.S. House Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday as Democrats questioned Attorney General William Barr about the federal government’s response to Black Lives Matter protests in certain cities, election issues during the coronavirus pandemic and whether the Trump administration is interfering with the work of prosecutors.

CBS News wrote a play-by-play of all the action, but here are some Georgia-related highlights: U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, told Barr, “Your opening statement reads like it was written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone.”

He went on to accuse Barr of being a puppet for President Donald Trump, saying it was Trump’s influence that led him to recommend lighter prison sentences for Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Barr rejected the accusations.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the Gainesville Republican, asked Barr to weigh in on Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s decision to charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks with felony murder.

“I said that I would have preferred that he had used the grand jury and waited until the Georgia Bureau had completed its investigation,” Barr said.

That was what Collins wanted to hear. He has suggested the federal government investigate Howard’s conduct in the case.

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In endorsement news:

-- No surprise here, but Stacey Abrams has endorsed fellow Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the Seventh District congressional race.

-- Teresa Tomlinson, former U.S. Senate candidate and Columbus mayor, has endorsed Democrat Raphael Warnock’s campaign for Georgia’s other Senate seat.

-- Seventh District congressional candidate Rich McCormick released a list of 120 people who have joined a “Faith and Renewal Coalition,” backing his campaign and anti-abortion platform. Among the Republican’s coalition members are Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, Forsyth County Commissioner Dennis Brown and state Rep. David Clark, R-Suwanee.

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The Democratic candidate in the 14th District congressional race says there are fishy doings afoot -- including a forged letter that appears to be from an official with the Floyd County Democratic Party. That letter shares inaccurate information about how to register to vote and cast ballots in Georgia, Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal said.

Ausdal will face off against either Marjorie Taylor Greene or Dr. John Cowan in November, depending on which Republican wins the runoff. Voters in the 14th District are deeply conservative, and it is considered unlikely that a Democrat could win that seat.

Ausdal’s news release doesn’t say which opponent he believes is behind the letter.

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