Political Notes: Ups, Downs and In-Betweens
Winners: Nearly two weeks after Election Day, Republican Brian Kemp was certified as the winner of the governor’s race, defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams by nearly 55,000 votes and avoiding a statewide recount. Two days after the election, Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel conceded to her 6th District opponent, Democrat Lucy McBath, in a major upset.
Among the clearest winners were the brunch bills that saw resounding victories in Metro Atlanta. Voters in a number of cities and counties overwhelmingly approved measures to allow an earlier start for restaurants’ Sunday alcohol sales.
In Memoriam: Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines was killed in an automobile accident in early November, just weeks after he had retired from the court.
Gov. Nathan Deal called Hines, “a brilliant legal mind and devoted public servant.”
And, the chair of the powerful state House Rules Committee, John Meadows (R-Calhoun), died of stomach cancer on the eve of last month’s special legislative session.
House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) said of Meadows, in a statement, “His public service, both as a Marine and a state representative, was grounded in trying to ensure his children and grandchildren saw a better tomorrow.”
No More Gag Clauses: President Donald Trump signed into law legislation sponsored by Georgia’s 1st District Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) that prohibits so-called “gag clauses” for pharmacists who are advising patients on their medications and costs.
Prior to the new law, some drug companies were able to include provisions in their contracts with pharmacists that forbade them from providing information on cost-saving measures.
Carter, who is the only pharmacist in Congress, said in a statement, “I know firsthand how important it is for pharmacists to have the ability to work with patients to figure out what is in their best interest. Banning ‘gag clauses’ will help ensure that is possible.”
Award for Isakson: Georgia’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Johnny Isakson, received the 2018 Harry S. Truman Award from the National Guard Association of the United States. It is the group’s highest honor, given to the senator in recognition for his work on behalf of veterans. Isakson is chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, executive director of the association, noted in a statement that past award recipients include presidents, congressional leaders and four-star generals. “Their common thread is a significant and enduring contribution to our nation’s defense and security. Sen. Johnny Isakson belongs in this distinguished group of patriots.”
First Lady Hits 900 Mark: Georgia’s First Lady Sandra Deal chalked up her 900th Georgia school visit since 2011 to promote childhood literacy and encourage reading.
The visit took place this fall at Rowland Elementary in Stone Mountain. Deal, a former schoolteacher, has been to schools in all of Georgia’s 159 counties and in its 181 different school districts.
“My goal has been and continues to be encouraging children to want to learn to read,” she said in a statement. “Reading is the gift that keeps on giving, and education is essential for any student to achieve lifelong success. Knowledge is power, and when we teach students to love reading at an early age, we give them the confidence to acquire that power for the rest of their lives.”
First Amendment Honors: Cobb County Senior Judge James Bodiford was honored with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation’s Charles L.Weltner Freedom of Information Award in recognition of his career-long commitment to open courtrooms to provide access for the public and the media.
Bodiford presided over a number of high-profile trials, including that of attorney Fred Tokars, convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his wife in 1992, and Brian Nichols, convicted of murders at the Fulton County Courthouse in 2005.
In remarks at the presentation dinner, Bodiford said he learned early on that judges need the confidence of the public. “The more they know, the better they’ll feel about it.”
The award is named after the late Georgia Supreme Court Justice and one-time Congressman Charles Weltner.
Ray to Federal Bench: Former state legislator, Gwinnett County judge and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Billy Ray has won U.S. Senate approval for a seat on the U.S District Court in Atlanta, appointed by President Donald Trump. The court has 11 judges and presides over the Metro Atlanta area and counties in northwest Georgia. He joins another Georgian, Michael Brown, who was also appointed to the court by Trump.