Political Notes: Ups, Downs and Inbetweens
New House Minority Leader: State Rep. Bob Trammell Jr. (D-Luthersville) is the Democrats’ new leader in the House, succeeding Stacey Abrams, who resigned to run for governor. Trammel, an attorney, was elected in 2014; he won the leadership post by defeating Rep. Carolyn Hugley of Columbus and Rep. Winfred Dukes of Albany.
Student Conduct Policy Changes: The University System of Georgia’s (USG) Board of Regents has adopted revisions to its policies on student sexual misconduct and conduct investigations. Key changes, according to a USG press release, include increased oversight, a single process for all student conduct cases, and additional prevention and education efforts.
The enhanced oversight requires that institutions notify the USG office of any cases involving alleged conduct violations that could result in suspension or expulsion; the system will have its own investigators to assist institutions; and all investigations will follow a consistent process. The policy revisions include specific penalties for students filing false reports.
“The goal of these policy updates is to improve campus safety to ensure consistency and quality in student conduct investigation across the university system,” said Chancellor Steve Wrigley.
In Memoriam: Peyton Samuel Hawes, a former state legislator and member of the state Department of Transportation Board, died last summer in Elberton. He was 80. While he was in the legislature, Hawes, an attorney, was chair of the Fulton County delegation and a founder of the Urban Caucus; he served as chair of the Georgia Democratic caucus. Hawes retired from public service in 1980.
Atlanta Mayoral Race: A dozen candidates, including several with strong name recognition, will vie to succeed Kasim Reed as Atlanta’s mayor in the Nov. 7 election
The best-known are: Peter Aman, who served as the city’s COO; Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves; Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell; council members Mary Norwood, Kwanza Hall and Keisha Lance Bottoms; former council president Cathy Woolard; and State Sen. Vincent Fort.
Other candidates are Rohit Ammanamanchi, Carl Jackson, Michael Sterling and Glen Wrightson.
A run-off is likely.
New Medicaid Chief: Blake Fulenwider is the new deputy commissioner, Georgia Medicaid chief, succeeding Linda Wiant. He is a former Georgia director of Total Spectrum, a healthcare legislation consultancy group, and previously served as deputy commissioner of the Department of Community Health (DCH) and worked in Washington with Gov. Nathan Deal when Deal was in the House of Representatives.
The Medicaid Division is the largest within DCH and administers Medicaid and the PeachCare for Kids programs.
New Forestry Commission Head: State Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) is Georgia’s new Forestry Commission director, succeeding Robert Farris, who retired.
Big-time Impact: The University System of Georgia’s impact on the state was a whopping $16.8 billion for fiscal year 2016, according to a study conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at UGA’s Terry College of Business.
That represents a $1.3-billion, or 8 percent, increase over the previous year’s numbers.
The university system says the impact is a measure of direct and indirect spending and that most of the $16.8 billion figure consists of initial spending by the system’s colleges and universities for salaries and benefits; operating expenses and other budgeted expenditures; and spending by students at the schools.
The study indicated that the system generated nearly 157,967 full- and part-time jobs, or 3.6 percent of all jobs in the state.
The system’s top employers are the University of Georgia, 25,215 jobs; Georgia Tech, 24,213 jobs; and Georgia State University, 21,277.
MLK Capitol Tribute: Georgia’s Civil Rights icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is now memorialized on the grounds of the State Capitol in the form of an eight-foot-tall bronze statue. The monument was unveiled at a ceremony attended by state politicians and members of the King family, including Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal and longtime Georgia House Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who helped raise money for the statue, and MLK’s daughter Bernice King.
“Much progress has been made toward the realization of Dr. King’s dream,” Deal said at the ceremony, “but much yet remains. Our actions today here symbolize the evolved mindset of our state, as we continue to reconcile our history and our hearts.”