Political Notes: May 2013
Gold Dome Winners, Losers: The 2013 Georgia General Assembly passed ethics legislation, in the form of HB 142, which caps individual lobbyist gifts to legislators at $75. There was much haggling over the cap or no-cap issue, and there are loopholes aplenty; but there were audible sighs of relief from legislators that something ethics-related had passed. Georgia voters had made it clear they wanted such reform.
Legislators also gave control over video gambling to the Georgia Lottery Corp., which will get a share of the profits; stores that offer video gambling still can’t pay out cash, however.
Lawmakers were not able to pass sweeping gun legislation that would have increased the number of places licensed gun owners could carry their weapons. The sticking point was the issue of guns on public college campuses. The State Board of Regents and Chancellor Hank Huckaby were strongly opposed to more guns on campuses, and they prevailed.
Legal Food Frenzy: The second statewide food drive competition among lawyers in Georgia winds up May 3, following nearly two weeks of intensive efforts to collect food and funds for the state’s seven regional food banks.
The food drive is sponsored by Attorney General Sam Olens, the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division and the Georgia Food Bank Association.
“The Legal Food Frenzy is a great opportunity for Georgia lawyers to challenge each other outside the courtroom for a noble cause – reducing hunger in Georgia,” Olens said in a press release.
Last year’s competition provided the equivalent of more than 612,000 pounds of food. The legal office that raises the most food and funds receives the Attorney General’s Cup.
New UWG Prez: Dr. Kyle Marrero will be-come the seventh president of the University of West Georgia July 1, re-placing Dr. Beheruz Sethna, who is retiring. The announcement comes from Board of Regents Chair Dink NeSmith.
Marrero is currently vice president for university advancement at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, where he also serves as artistic director of the Pensacola Opera. He has bachelor and master of music degrees and a doctorate of musical arts from the University of Michigan.
Late Arrival: Newnan Republican David Stover was sworn in as state representative for District 71 in early March, just in time to participate in the end-of-session excitement. Stover, a Tea Party activist, was the top vote-getter in a special election to replace Robert Stokely, who won election in November then resigned to become a magistrate judge before ever being sworn in. Stover’s vote total was short of the majority required, so he and fellow Republican Robert Clymer faced each other in a runoff.
Compensation For Iran Hostages: Georgia’s Sen. Johnny Isakson has introduced legislation to compensate the 52 victims of the Iran hostage crisis who were captured in 1979 and held for 444 days. Compensation would come from fees that are collected from violations of the Iran sanctions and could amount to about $4.4 million each. Three of the former hostages live in Georgia.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumen-thal, a Democrat, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
As part of the deal between the United States and Iran that released the hostages, they were prohibited from suing Iran.
“It is unacceptable that this group has not received meaningful compensation for what they went through,” Isakson said in a press release.
Mitchell Honor: Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell was selected by The Aspen Institute for membership in the 2013 Class of Henry Crown Fellows. The fellowship is a two-year program that seeks to engage the next generation of community leaders.
New Vice Chancellor: Mark F. Lytle, who directed the Georgia Centers for Innovation for the Georgia Department of Economic Develop-ment, is the new vice chancellor for economic development for the Uni-versity System of Georgia.
He will serve as liaison between the business community and the university system.
Gingrey Makes It Official: Georgia’s District 11 Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) has an-nounced that he will run for Saxby Chambliss’s U.S. Senate seat next year. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate ever since Cham-bliss announced his retirement. He will be running against fellow Con-gressman and fellow conservative Paul Broun (District 11) in the Republican primary, and they are likely to have company in the race – District 1 Congressman Jack Kings-ton, for one.