The far more likely scenario at the state Capitol are measures to loosen gun restrictions. Rep. Mandi Ballinger’s House Bill 218 would recognize concealed carry licenses from states without requiring gun owners to get a license in Georgia, among other changes.
The proposal from the Republican from Canton has passed the full House and a Senate committee.
And while there’s no guarantee HB 218 will get a vote on the Senate floor, it’s a prime example that while proposals to tighten gun restrictions are getting the attention, legislation to do the opposite is getting the action in the Georgia General Assembly.
Under the Gold Dome:
- 8:00 am: House and Senate committee meetings begin;
- The House and Senate floors are in recess until Thursday.
“Local control” is an often cited principle in the General Assembly, but the New York Times writes that Heritage Action, the Washington-based conservative think tank, took an early and significant role in crafting many of the changes proposed for Georgia’s voting laws.
It’s part of a nationwide GOP effort and is just getting started:
“In late January, a small group of dedicated volunteers from the conservative Heritage Action for America met with Republican legislators in Georgia, delivering a letter containing detailed proposals for rolling back access to voting. Within days, bills to restrict voting access in Georgia began flooding the Legislature.
“Of the 68 bills pertaining to voting, at least 23 had similar language or were firmly rooted in the principles laid out in the Heritage group's letter and in an extensive report it published two days later, according to a review of the bills by The New York Times.
“The alignment was not coincidental. As Republican legislatures across the country seek to usher in a raft of new restrictions on voting, they are being prodded by an array of party leaders and outside groups working to establish a set of guiding principles to the efforts to claw back access to voting."
- New York Times
The Wall Street Journal editorial board opines on Georgia’s election proposals in its lead editorial today, “Jim Crow is not on the ballot”:
“The battle over voting rules is erupting again, and Georgia is back as political ground zero. It’s “a redux of Jim Crow, in a suit and tie,” says Democrat and media favorite Stacey Abrams with her usual understatement. The actual proposals that have passed either the House or Senate are more prosaic, and we thought you might like to hear the facts.”
The board calls bills to require identification for absentee voting and reduce drop boxes “a non-nefarious grab bag” of fixes.
As always, where you stand on these proposals has everything to do with where you sit.
Closer to home, and set to be directly affected by the proposed changes, Democrats at the state Capitol held a press conference Tuesday denouncing Senate Bill 202, the new comprehensive voting bill that will be up for debate in the House Thursday.
“We are totally opposed to Senate Bill 202...we want to say that categorically,” said state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus. “We stand to ensure that all voters, particularly voters of color, have full, meaningful, and non-burdensome access to the one fundamental right, and that’s the right to vote.”
We have a new potential entrant in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is vacating his northeast Georgia district to challenge Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
We’re told Ames Barnett, a businessman from Oconee County, is exploring a bid for the seat and hopes to make a decision within the next week.
Barnett is a former mayor and city councilman of Washington, Ga., and owner of Barnett Southern Corp., a contractor. If he runs, he’d join a field that could soon grow crowded.
Among the potential candidates: State Sen. Bill Cowsert; state Reps. Houston Gaines and Jodi Lott; and trucking executive Mike Collins.
We don’t read much into early GOP U.S. Senate polls, particularly with the likelihood of Donald Trump endorsement shaking up the field. But a survey by GOP consulting firm OnMessage Inc. holds good news for Doug Collins.
The former Georgia congressman led a two-way race for the GOP nod over former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, his once-and-perhaps-future rival, by a 55-36 margin.
And his 35% share was enough to lead the field in a prospective four-way race against Loeffler, Herschel Walker and far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
One more name for your radar in the Lieutenant Governor’s race: pro-Trump Republican and business woman Jeanne Seaver.
Seaver’s hometown paper, the Savannah Morning News, writes up her entry into the race, including the choice all Georgia Republicans may have to make between the former president and the current governor.
“Seaver herself is caught between these two right-wing ideologies: she led the local chapter of Women for Trump and also campaigned with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who drew the ire of Trump following the 2020 election, with the president branding him as “hapless,” a “fool,” a “clown,” a “RINO” (Republican in name only) and called for his resignation after Kemp refused to overturn Georgia’s election results...
“Geoff Duncan doesn’t feel that we are essential, and that we’re a bunch of crazies, so I decided that we deserve better representation than that,” she said.
Hoping to improve seniors’ access to coronavirus vaccinations, U.S. Reps Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, have filed a bill that would allow Medicare recipients to get free transportation to and from their vaccination appointments.
The legislation filed by Bishop and Carter would temporarily extend the benefit to 30 million Medicare enrollees.
We’ve seen first-hand that many seniors in rural Georgia not only have no internet access to sign up for appointments, they have no transportation to get to their appointments once they’re scheduled.
“This bill will help senior citizens get a ride to and from their vaccination appointments, even at drive-through, mass vaccination sites,” said Bishop.
Carter said seniors are the highest-risk group for coronavirus complications and making sure they get vaccinated is a high priority.
“To end this pandemic, Americans need to get vaccinated, and transportation issues should not stand in the way,” he said.
Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have joined several colleagues in opposing a potential change in how cities are classified, which could affect the federal funding that comes to several of the state’s mid-size towns.
The potential change would increase the population threshold for cities to be classified as metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. As a result, the following cities in Georgia would lose the designation: Albany, Brunswick, Dalton, Hinesville, Rome and Valdosta.
The change was proposed last year, but Warnock, Ossoff are among a bipartisan group of roughly two dozen senators who sent a letter Friday asking for reconsideration. They say allowing the redesignation could reduce the money these towns receive for housing and transportation. Leaders in the affected Georgia towns have also spoken out.
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, signed onto a letter to the Office of Management and Budget last week opposing the proposed change.
And the tweet of the day goes to state Sen. Michelle Au.