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Political Notes

Price To HHS: Georgia’s 6th District Congressman Tom Price, an orthopaedic surgeon, is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Price, an outspoken foe of the Affordable Care Act, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate; but that should be easily accomplished.

Price, who was first elected to Congress in 2004, said in a statement, “It’s an honor to be nominated to serve our nation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. There is much work to be done to ensure we have a healthcare system that works for patients, families and doctors.”

There’s no shortage of candidates anxious to fill the sixth district seat. Early speculation included the names of State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) and Congressman Price’s wife, State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell).


Legislative Preview: Looking ahead to the 2017 General Assembly session, which begins Monday, Jan. 9, lawmakers will likely consider casino gambling and debate another attempt at passing so-called “religious liberty” legislation, which passed last year but was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Another bill, HB 9, sponsored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), would criminalize “upskirting,” or videotaping via a camera aimed up a woman’s skirt in public. A State Court of Appeals ruling last year found that this odious practice was not actually covered by any existing law.

Already dead in the water is HB 3, a measure introduced and subsequently withdrawn by Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) that would have barred Muslim women from wearing certain types of religious head coverings while posing for a Georgia driver’s license photo or driving. The bill sparked widespread opposition.


Collins In Leadership Role: Georgia’s 9th District Rep. Doug Collins is the fifth-ranked Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, following his election as vice chairman of the Republican Conference. In this capacity, he will sit on two committees that determine members’ assignments and the GOP’s agenda. Collins was first elected in 2012.


BOR Officers: C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., M.D., is the 2017 chair of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. He is a physician in private practice in Griffin who is board-certified in orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic sports medicine; he was appointed to the board in 2010.

“The University System of Georgia plays a critical role in preparing students to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce, as well as to help develop our next generation of leaders,” says Hopkins. “I am excited about the opportunities ahead next year.”

Regent Jim Hull is the 2017 BOR vice chair. Hull, a resident of Augusta, is managing principal of Hull Property Group. He was first appointed to the board in 2013.


New Commissioners: Frank Berry is the new commissioner of the Department of Community Health (DCH), appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to succeed Clyde Reese III, who was named to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Berry was previously commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (GBHDD).

Judy Fitzgerald is the new GBHDD commissioner; she has been the department’s chief of staff.


In Memoriam: One-time State Sen. Roscoe Dean, 80, died in Jesup after an illness. Dean was first elected to the senate in 1963, when he was in his twenties. He gained a reputation as a colorful character during his years at the Capitol, but his political career came to an end in 1980 when he was convicted in federal court of conspiring to import marijuana. He served time in prison and tried unsuccessfully in 1990 to regain his old Senate seat.


Recognition for Niles: Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles was honored by the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia with the 2016 Martha K. Glaze Award.

The award was given to Niles for “his outstanding leadership to develop and maintain a close agency relationship with the courts and the community helping initiate Georgia’s juvenile justice reforms,” according to Senior Juvenile Judge Cliff Joliff.

The council is made up of judges of courts with jurisdiction over juveniles. The award is named for Judge Glaze, who was Clayton County’s first full-time juvenile court judge, serving from 1977 to 1999.


Award-winning Senators: State Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) was honored by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council, a unit of the state board of regents, with its award for legislative advocacy, recognizing outstanding efforts in archives and records work.

State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) received a Legislative Service Award from ACCG, Georgia’s county association, for her work as chair of the Senate Study Committee on Annexation, Deannexation and Incorporation.

State Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) has won a Champion of Georgia’s Cities Award from the Georgia Municipal Association for his work during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions.


Chandler Prevails In Recount: State Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) won her bid for re-election, after a recount confirmed her win over Democratic challenger Donna McLeod.

Chandler received 50.38 percent of the votes to McLeod’s 49.48 percent – winning by a total of 222 votes.

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