The Jolt: Baseball boycott? What would Hank Aaron say?

Truist Park in Atlanta pays tribute to Hank Aaron, the Atlanta Braves legend and beloved community member, on January 23, 2021. (Megan Varner/Getty Images/TNS)
Truist Park in Atlanta pays tribute to Hank Aaron, the Atlanta Braves legend and beloved community member, on January 23, 2021. (Megan Varner/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

If homerun legend Hank Aaron were alive, what would he think about the state’s new election restrictions law -- and the push to punish Georgia for adopting the measure by moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta?

The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz posed that question to the late Hammer’s grandson Raynal Aaron, who offered this:

“He would be disappointed. He would try to find a peaceful way around the situation before it escalated, and I know he would say baseball needs to try to do something to help and educate more people about the situation.”

The Braves have declined comment since the Boston Globe reported that the head of baseball’s powerful player’s union left open the possibility of moving the game out of Atlanta this summer.

Schultz also talked to former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who told him that Aaron “would be the first one” to point out how the law could hurt both Atlanta’s sports scene and its economic climate.

“You can write this because nobody realizes it: The Atlanta economy is larger than Israel’s or South Africa’s,” said Young. “We’re the 44th largest economy in the world -- and, you can quote me, I don’t know why anybody wants to f-- with that.”

***

Under the Gold Dome:

  • The House and Senate are in recess until Wednesday, Mar. 31, which will be the Legislature’s final day of the 2021 regular session.

***

Lawmakers picked up the pace Monday in a frenzy of votes to get their bills across the finish line before Sine Die Wednesday at midnight.

Among the bills that saw action (and the AJC’s incredible state team reported out):

  • The House passed Senate Bill 100, which could eventually switch Georgia to year-round Daylight Savings Time. SB 100 is headed back to the Senate;
  • The Senate approved House Bill 479, legislation to overhaul Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute. That now goes back to the House;
  • The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 255, which would create a tracking system for rape kits from initial collection to receipt, storage and analysis. That’s headed to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature;
  • The Senate passed Senate Bill 47, expanding the state’s private school voucher program to include students with special needs. That now goes to Kemp to be signed;
  • The Senate passed House Bill 534 to crack down on drag racing. That is ready for Kemp’s signature, too.
  • Kemp may have to sign those bills all by himself. He announced yesterday he’s self-isolating after being exposed to COVID-19.

***

File this under, “The Georgia General Assembly may surprise you.” Lawmakers yesterday passed a final version of paid family leave for all of Georgia’s state employees, including the state’s 245,000 school teachers.

The 3-week paid benefit was a top priority for Speaker David Ralston and will be available to all employees for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child and applies to parents regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

Including same-sex couples, gay single parents, or any non-traditional family structure may come as a surprise for people who watched last year’s fight over a Senate bill to allow religious adoption agencies to refuse placing children with same-sex couples. (That bill died in committee.)

A spokesman for House leadership said the new state employee benefit was designed to include all potential families “regardless of demographics.”

***

Two weeks after the spa shootings in the Atlanta area that left eight dead, the Georgia Senate signed off on a bill Monday loosening gun laws, the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu reports:

“Canton Republican Rep. Mandi Ballinger initially proposed HB 218 to make it legally easier for travelers to bring their guns into the state.

“Senators amended the legislation during the committee process to allow probate judges to process gun carry licenses and license renewals online. Currently, applicants must go to the court in person. The legislation also prohibits the governor from closing weapons manufacturers or shooting ranges during a public emergency."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Senate also added language sought by Gov. Brian Kemp to prohibit a governor from forcing houses of worship to close during a public emergency.

The House and Senate must still come to a final agreement before it hits Kemp’s desk.

***

The state House and Senate begin each day with a message from the chaplain of the day. They are typically lawmakers’ own pastors and rabbis, or special guests or constituents.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan introduced Monday’s pastor of the day in the Senate, “Have you ever met one of those people and the day you met them you feel like you’ve known them your entire life?”

That’s how Duan said he felt about the speaker, Beau Dugan, who is the majority leader’s son. The younger Dugan had a message for the chamber that was well timed after a long and often combative legislative session-- to love your enemy as yourself.

***

Sit down for your full serving of irony for the day. Lin Wood, the longtime Georgia attorney who was the loudest voice in every room pushing fact-free, pro-Trump election conspiracies, is running to lead the South Carolina Republican Party.

Wood tells The State newspaper, “These people are patriots, they love freedom and they’re unhappy with the November 2020 election, and they are unhappy that the present leadership of the South Carolina Republican Party was not more aggressive in attacking the legitimacy of the 2020 election.”

According to the State, Wood has purchased 2,000 acres of property in Beaufort County, S.C., in three separate “multi-million dollar plantations.”

And Wood’s new congressman is U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the Democrat whose timely endorsement of Joe Biden was seen as the moment that began Biden march to the White House -- and ousted Donald Trump.

***

It’s about to be high season for campaign announcements, but here’s some early word we’re picking up:

Democratic state Rep. Matthew Wilson is expected to launch a bid for Insurance Commissioner against incumbent Republican John King. If the Brookhaven attorney wins, he would be the first openly LGBTQ person elected statewide in Georgia.

(King was appointed to the post in 2019 by Gov. Brian Kemp after Jim Beck, who was elected months earlier, was accused in a 38-count indictment of scheming to steal $2 million from his former employer to help finance his election campaign.)

And, as we reported earlier, state Sen. Bruce Thompson is set to challenge Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, a fellow Republican who is under fire for a glut of delayed jobless benefits during the pandemic.

***

A newly launched conservative outfit called the Coalition to Protect American Workers is starting a nationwide pressure campaign targeting key Democrats to oppose new taxes.

And guess who the group’s initial targets include? U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who have both pledged to back President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

The president is expected this week to outline a proposal for $3 trillion in new spending and potentially an additional $1 trillion in tax credits and other incentives that would be financed partly by raising taxes on some making more than $400,000 a year.

The group’s overall line of attack: “At a time when our economy is starting to recover from a once in a lifetime pandemic, an increase in taxes will only harm hardworking Americans.”

***

Georgia may soon have company among GOP-led states passing new, controversial voting laws. NBC News reports that Florida legislators are also considering a similar ban on groups providing food or water to people waiting in line to vote.

The Florida proposal prohibits giving anything to voters or interacting with them inside of a 150-foot zone surrounding any polling location.

The Georgia law allows for “self-service water from an unattended receptacle,” but prevents anyone other than election officials from offering voters water in line.

***

Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus traveled to the sites of the three spa shootings in the Atlanta area over the weekend.

Joined by Democratic members of Georgia’s congressional delegation and the state legislature, the group honored the eight victims, six of which were Asian women, and met with some of their family members.

U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, a California Democrat, called on the Department of Justice to prosecute the Georgia killings as a federal hate crime.

On Tuesday, several members of the CAPAC and Georgia’s delegation introduced a resolution to condemn the Atlanta shootings and reaffirm Congress’s commitment to addressing anti-Asian violence.

Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, along with Reps. Lucy McBath, Nikema Williams and Carolyn Bourdeaux, joined Chu as original sponsors of the resolution. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and Reps. Sanford Bishop and Hank Johnson co-sponsored the measure.

In Other News