Political Notes: June 2013
Reader-in-chief: First Lady Sandra Deal
Kid’s-Eye View: In a luncheon speech to the Atlanta Press Club, Gov. Nathan Deal said that First Lady Sandra Deal, who spends a lot of her time in public schools reading to young students as part of the Read Across Georgia initiative, had shared a comment from a little boy based on a book called What I’d Like To Be that she frequently reads to Pre-K, Kindergarten and first-grade classes.
The young man wrote, “I’d like to be the governor. He gets to put people in time out.”
Deal said he could envision parents explaining his action suspending six DeKalb School Board members as “putting them in time out.”
Looking Ahead: At the same Press Club appearance, Gov. Nathan Deal celebrated the juvenile justice reforms enacted by the General Assembly this year and even thanked the press for helping get the word out. Elected officials, he said, “don’t have a bully pulpit unless you give us a megaphone.”
He indicated, though, there is still work to be done to improve the juvenile system. In particular, he hopes to make it easier for juveniles in the system to get a high school diploma or a GED. He called it “the right thing to do,” to help them on their way to marketable skills and a better future.
Each bed in a juvenile facility costs the state $90,000 a year, he said, and one of every two juveniles incarcerated currently comes back in the system, often as an adult.
GPA Change: Among the bills passed by the General Assembly during the 2013 session and now signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal is HB 372, which reestablishes a 2.0 GPA requirement for the Hope Grant, a separate program from the HOPE Scholarship for students in the state technical college system. The requirement was upped to 3.0 two years ago, when budgets were tighter. A news release from the governor’s office notes that the higher GPA requirement resulted in a significant drop in technical college enrollment and that recent growth in lottery revenues will cover the additional $5 million to $8 million the change will cost.
“For some students enrolled in a technical school, the loss of scholarship money put higher education out of reach,” Deal says. “This law will provide greater access to school and to a brighter career for thousands of Georgians.”
The bill had bipartisan support and was backed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
Drum Major: House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who represents the 89th District, was awarded the Drum Major for Justice Award, given by the SCLC/Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now.
The award takes its name from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 “Drum Major Instinct” sermon and is given to those who make significant contributions in advancing social justice in their fields.
Abrams is the first woman and first African American to be a party leader in the House of Representatives.
Award To Adams: Dr. Mike Adams, retiring president of the University of Georgia, is the 2013 recipient of the Elridge McMillan Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the University System of Georgia Foundation. The award, says Regent Ken Bernard, who is chair of the foundation, “is the crowning achievement for a pioneer in Georgia higher education.” Adams was singled out for his leadership and advocacy of the state’s flagship university and for higher education in Georgia.
Guard Honor: The Georgia Army National Guard was selected by the U.S. Army chief of staff as the overall winner in the 2013 Army Commun-ities of Excellence awards competition for the National Guard Special Category.
A release from the governor’s office says the award recognizes the guard for good business practices and dedication to efficiency, effectiveness and customer care.
Deal singled out Adjutant Gen. Jim Butterworth and Brigadier Gen. Joe Jarrard for their leadership.
Coastal Georgia President: Dr. Gregory F. Aloia will assume the presidency of the College of Coastal Georgia July 1, according to the University System of Georgia. Aloia, now president of Concord University in Athens, W. Va., succeeds Dr. Valerie Hepburn.