From Campus Carry to Medical Marijuana expansion, the Peach State has had one eventful year. Analyzing our home state, we seek to breakdown the top stories from everything including the recent Atlanta Mayoral race to recent education legislation in the State House.
Recent State Elections
A flurry of special elections (and maybe a flurry of snow this weekend) took place over the last month. Democrats had a surprising amount of success in these elections, flipping two deeply red districts, including the seat formerly held by gubernatorial candidate Hunter Hill. Jen Jordan was the winner of that seat, and her victory ends the GOP super-majority of the State Senate.
Democrats also found success in the Athens area earlier this month. Jonathan Wallace, the first Democratic challenger for House District 119 in 13 years, won convincingly. The more competitive race in the area was for House District 117, which saw Deborah Gonzalez defeat recent UGA grad Houston Gaines.
The rest of the races were intra-party contests for Democrats. Bee Nguyen defeated Sachin Vargese in House District 89, Nikema Williams defeated Linda Pritchett in Senate District 19, formerly Vincent Fort’s seat, and Kim Schofield defeated De’Andre Pickett in House District 60.
It remains to be seen if these Democratic victories are part of a larger trend going into 2018. Democrats are certainly energized, but turning that into electoral success is another matter entirely. Republicans still have strong majorities in the House and Senate, and it will likely remain that way. Regardless, 2018 looks set to be an interesting election year.
Noteworthy State Legislation
The two most contentious bills of the year met different fates. Campus Carry, previously vetoed by Gov. Deal in 2016, was watered down and signed into law this year. It ended up being more symbolic than anything, as the legislation is extremely limiting. Regardless, it still faced significant pushback from universities.
The bill that did not pass was the notorious religious liberty bill. Deal vetoed a bill with similar language in 2016 after a wave of pressure from businesses that threatened to leave the state if it passed. The bill would have allowed businesses to turn away same-sex couples. This is certainly not the end of this legislation though, as all of the Republican candidates for Governor have said they will sign the measure into law if it reaches their desk. Governor Deal rebuked them for this promise, as he is trying to convince Amazon to build their HQ2 in Georgia.
Medical marijuana was also expanded, but it remains limited. Patients with alzheimer’s, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, and Tourette’s Syndrome, along with patients in Hospice Care, now have access to the low-potency cannabis oil allowed in the state.
Rural hospitals received a boost from the state legislature as well. Private contributions to rural hospitals are now 90% tax deductible, which will encourage more donations. These hospitals are in desperate need of the increased funding, as already astronomical healthcare costs continue to rise.
Preparing for 2018: Races to follow
Currently, in the Atlanta race for Mayor, Norwood(I) and Bottoms(D) are awaiting a re-count on Saturday, December 9th to determine the winner. Bottoms has already claimed victory and it looks like she will become the next mayor of Atlanta. Norwood would be the first white mayor of Atlanta in 40 years if she wins.
Earlier this year, Karen Handel beat Jon Ossoff for Tom Price’s open Congressional seat in District 6. The campaign drew national attention as it was used to predict how candidates will fair in 2018 in Trumpland. Democrats outperformed their usual for this District but that is often attributed to the District being mainstream conservative and anti-Trump.
Big races in 2018 include the race for Georgia governor. The Republican frontrunners seem to be Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. The Democrats have Former Minority House Leader Stacey Abrams followed by State Rep. Stacey Evans. Stacey Abrams looks like the Democrats best shot.
For Georgia Secretary of State, Former Congressman John Barrow(D) has entered the fray facing off against a host of other candidates like Former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler(D), R.J. Hadley(D), Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle (R), State Rep. Buzz Brockway(R), State Sen. Josh McKoon(R), and State Rep. Brad Raffensperger(R). John Barrow will be the candidate to watch as he won multiple times as a Democrat in a red congressional district.
For Georgia Attorney General, current AG Chris Carr is running unopposed in 2018. However, a few candidates, State Rep. B.J. Pak and State Sen. Josh McKoon, have been rumored as potential contenders. If they did announce their candidacy it would be an uphill battle against a popular Carr.
Your Congressional Representatives
District 1: Congressman Buddy Carter (R)
Recent sponsored legislation includes: H.R. 4431: Correcting Miscalculations in Veterans’ Pensions Act; H.R. 3570: Transportation and Trailer Modernization Act of 2017; H.R. 3330: Ensuring Quality in the Unemployment Insurance Program (EQUIP) Act. Carter sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
District 2 : Congressman Sanford Bishop (D)
Recent sponsored legislation includes: H.R. 538: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act; H.R. 333: Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act. Bishop sits on the House Committee on Appropriations. The majority of his legislation involves the military and national security, public lands, and our natural resources.
District 3: Congressman Drew Ferguson IV (R)
Recent sponsored legislation includes: H.R. 4372: Help Students Repay Act; H.R. 3586: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Inspection Integrity Act; H.R. 3055: Freedom from Union Identity Theft Act. Ferguson sits on the House Committee on the Budget, House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The majority of his sponsored legislation deals with labor and employment issues.
District 4: Congressman Henry “Hank” Johnson (D)
Recent sponsored legislation includes: H.R. 4332: Grand Jury Reform Act of 2017; H.R. 4330: Cooling-Off Period Elimination Act of 2017; H.R. 4331: Police Accountability Act of 2017. Johnson is on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and House Committee on the Judiciary.
District 5: Congressman John Lewis (D)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 4353: Missed Opportunities in Public Health and Biomedical Research Act of 2017; H.R. 4350: Missed Opportunities in Jobs Act; H.R. 4358: Missed Opportunities in Low Income Housing Act of 2017. Lewis, a civil rights legend, sits on the House Committee on Ways and Means and is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight.
District 6: Congresswoman Karen Handel (R)
Rep. Handel recently was elected back in June of this year to fill Tom Price’s seat. She sits on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the House Committee on the Judiciary. She hasn’t missed any votes and almost always votes along party lines.
District 7: Congressman Rob Woodall (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 2547: Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act of 2017; along with about six other bills related to tax, finance, and the economy. Woodall serves on the House Committee on rules, House Committee on the Budget, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
District 8: Congressman Austin Scott (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 3546: End Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act of 2017; H.R. 2591: Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act of 2017; H.R. 1722: Protecting American Jobs Act. Scott serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Armed Services.
District 9: Congressman Doug Collins (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 3718: International Communications Privacy Act; H.Res. 645: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 38) to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a means by which nonresidents of a State whose residents may carry concealed firearms may also do so in the State. Collins is a former chaplain who holds the 5th highest ranking position among House Republicans. He ascended to that position in 2016.
District 10: Congressman Jody Hice (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 4467: Strengthening Aviation Security Act of 2017; H.R. 3739: Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017; H.R. 2945: Congressional Personal Safety Act; H.R. 1668: Bureau of Land Management Foundation Act; H.R. 1364: Official Time Reform Act of 2017; H.R. 1149: Nuclear Family Priority Act. Hice serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
District 11: Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 3555: Exchange Regulatory Improvement Act; H.R. 2705: Truck, Trailer, and Transport Efficiency Act of 2017; H.R. 2359: FCRA Liability Harmonization Act; H.R. 1347: ALERT Act of 2017. Loudermilk sits on the House Committee on Financial Services, the House Committee on House Administration, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
District 12: Congressman Rick Allen (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.R. 1105: Stop WOTUS Act; H.R. 640: Transparency and Accountability of Failed Exchanges Act; H.R. 641: BARN Act; H.R. 4903 (114th): To prohibit the use of funds by the Internal Revenue Service to …; H.R. 4262 (114th): Transparency and Accountability of Failed Exchanges Act. The majority of Allen’s bills involve Health and Immigration. He currently serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, and House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
District 13: Congressman David Scott (D)
Recent Legislation includes: H.Res. 495: Recognizing the seriousness of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and expressing support for the designation of the month of September 2017 as “PCOS Awareness Month”; H.R. 52: Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training, and Apprenticeships for African-American Young Men Act; and many more that deal primarily with Health, Agriculture and Food, and Civil Rights Issues. Scott serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Financial Services.
District 14: Congressman Tom Graves (R)
Recent Legislation includes: H.Con.Res. 92: Recognizing the deep and abiding friendship between the United States and Israel; H.R. 4036: Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act; H.R. 3280: Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2018. The majority of Graves’ bills involve Finance and the Economy, along with Health. He sits on the House Committee on Appropriations.
Contributors: Michael Rummel