Update on Hurricane Irma Cleanup and Relief Efforts

State & National

ATLANTA (September 18, 2017) | On Thursday, September 14, 2017, Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)  joined Governor Nathan Deal, local elected officials and first responders for a press conference in Habersham County  to address Hurricane Irma cleanup and relief efforts.

“First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to the first responders and volunteers who are helping the ongoing recovery efforts in our local communities and throughout the state,” said Sen. Gooch. “It is an honor to join Governor Deal, our local elected officials, first responders and citizens in any and all efforts to get our state back up and running. Our citizens are resilient and I am confident that by working together, we can help those in need and rebuilt each and every community that was impacted. It was very uplifting to witness the outpour of assistance from the hundreds of employees of utility companies from all over the United States.”

On Monday, September 11, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Georgia leaving around 1 million citizens without power. The impact from Irma was felt from the coastal plains to the north Georgia mountains. The state of Georgia saw unprecedented damage caused by the tropical storm force winds that reached more than 400 miles from the storm’s center. Relief efforts are ongoing and first responders, power companies, state agencies, volunteers and citizens are working around the clock to rebuild and restore power.

Governor Deal and the federal government responded quickly and declared a state of emergency in Georgia so that funds could be appropriated to help with the financial burden of the storm. Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) is coordinating their efforts with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state agencies and local authorities to ensure recovery, rebuilding and cleanup is completed in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Additional information can be found on the GEMA and FEMA websites:

http://www.gema.ga.gov/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.fema.gov/

Severe Weather Expected for Fannin County

News
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Hurricane Irma, Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham

BLUE RIDGE, GA- The latest models of Hurricane Irma’s path show that Fannin County could be in for severe weather beginning early Monday morning.

Hurricane Irma has brought with it unpredictability, but the current path shows severe weather in most of the state of Georgia.Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Hurricane Irma, Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham, State of Emergency, Governor Nathan Deal

Governor Deal, at a press conference Friday, stated, “Just because the weather appears to be calm now, don’t take that for granted.” After his latest briefing, Deal expanded the state of emergency to include all 159 counties in the state of Georgia.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City issued a Flash Flood Watch for Fannin County beginning Monday morning and remaining in effect until Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 8:00 A.M.

Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham said that flooding is one of the major threats related to this storm. Recalling when Hurricane Opal hit our area in 1995, Graham said “There was widespread flooding along with power outages due to downed trees.”

The National Weather Service is putting Northern Georgia at a high risk of heavy rain, with rainfall amounts between 3-7 inches.

Along with the Flash Flood Watch, Fannin County is also under a Tropical Storm Watch. We should expect to see sustained winds of 25-35 M.P.H. with 60 M.P.H. gusts.Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Hurricane Irma, Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham, State of Emergency, Governor Nathan Deal

Graham also said the wind could be an issue. “We will be seeing the Northeast quadrant of the storm. This is the more active side.” Graham has “saw teams”, responsible for the removal of downed trees, on standby to immediately address the safe removal of these trees when conditions are stable enough to reach the problem area.

The National Weather Service currently ranks our area at a moderate risk for isolated tornadoes.  Graham acknowledged that there is a higher risk for tornadic activity on the front side of this storm.

Residents of Fannin County welcomed evacuees seeking refuge and are now bracing for Irma’s effects themselves. Grocery stores are reporting that there has been a run on the necessities such as bread and bottled water, but other food items such as canned goods are well instock.

Fannin County Schools and Government have announced closures for Monday, September 11, 2017 in anticipation of severe weather and are watching Irma’s track closely to see if there is a need for further closures or delays.

EMA Director, Graham said that he will have “extra personnel on duty monday evening” and that his team is prepared for the latest severe weather predictions.

Deal Expands State of Emergency to Include ALL 159 Counties

News, State & National

Acting on a recommendation from the state’s Emergency Operations Command and ahead of heavy rains, strong wind and potential flooding from Hurricane Irma, Gov. Nathan Deal today expanded the emergency declaration to include an additional 65 counties. The state of emergency now includes all 159 counties in Georgia. State government will be closed Monday and Tuesday for all employees except essential personnel.

Following a briefing from officials and visit with emergency responders, Deal will hold a media avail tonight at the State Operations Center at 6 p.m.

Follow this link to read the executive order.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency website.

Karen Handel Welcomes Trump to Campaign with Her in the 6th District

Politics

(R) Karen Handel seems to be doing exactly what is necessary to get out the Republican vote in the 6th district. (D) Jon Ossoff has to spend the next two months convincing the Democrats just to go back to the polls. On the other hand Handel has to get every registered Republican vote she can; regardless of who they voted for last week or in the Presidential primary election. Within the next two months it won’t be hard to bump into a well known Republican in the 6th district. Handel has received endorsements from almost every single Republican. From her one time rival Governor Nathan Deal to what some consider controversial President Donald Trump.

BKP questioned last week what Karen Handel would do concerning Donald Trump voters. Would she embrace President Trump during her campaign or listen to the media and turn down the possibility to campaign with The President?

During an interview on CNN, Handel shared her conversation with The President stating “He just called to say congrats and encourage me and let me know as we go into June 20, it’s all hands on deck for Republicans.” When asked if she thought Mr. Trump might come down and campaign with her, Handel responded, “I would hope so,” adding, “I don’t think this is about any one person.”

The 6th Congressional district race could set the tone for the 2018 midterms. For Republicans the 6th district will look like a real “who’s who.” But who will the Democrats send to help Jon Ossoff in this important race; Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or maybe even Maxine Waters.

 

  

Georgia Speaker of The House David Ralston Talks About Rural Georgia Issues, Health Care…

Featured, Politics

Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.

Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.

Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill.  We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.  

Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?

Morning Monologue 3/29/16

Opinion

Governer Deal Caves to Business Pressure.

Author

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to Veto HB 757 “Religious Liberty Bill”

News

Transcript: Deal HB 757 remarks

March 28, 2016

The following is a complete transcript of Gov. Nathan Deal’s remarks regarding HB 757, delievered at a news conference on March 28, 2016.

The decision surrounding HB 757 has generated more intense feelings that most legislation, perhaps because it has highlighted the concerns of many in our religious communities regarding the actions of federal courts, especially the United States Supreme Court in its 5-4 opinion last summer which legalized same sex marriage. (Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ____(2015)).

HB 757 enumerates certain actions that religious leaders, faith-based organizations and people of faith shall not be required to take or perform. These include solemnizing a marriage, attending such marriages, hiring church personnel or renting church property when such acts would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs. While most people would agree that government should not force such actions, there has not been a single instance of such taking place in Georgia. If there has been any case of this type in our state it has not been called to my attention. The examples being cited by the proponents of this bill have occurred in other states that have very different laws than Georgia.

One example that is used is the photographer in New Mexico who refused to photograph a same sex marriage (Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, 309 P. 3d53 (2013)).  That state has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but it was not applicable. It was the New Mexico Human Rights Act that determined the results in that case. Georgia does not have a Human Rights Act.

The second case that is cited is that of the bakery in Colorado that refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple. There the court ruling was based on Colorado’s Public Accommodation Act which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation (Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc. ____ P 3d_(2015)). Georgia does not have a Public Accommodation Act.

Therefore, as I have examined the protections this bill seeks to provide to religious organizations and people of faith I can find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia. It is also apparent that the cases being cited from other states occurred because those state had passed statutes that specifically protected their citizens from adverse actions based on their sexual orientation. Georgia has no such statutes.

HB 757 appeared in several forms during the recent session of the Georgia General Assembly. I had no objection to the “Pastor Protection Act” that was passed by the House of Representatives. The other versions of the bill, however, contained language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination. I did have problems with that and made my concerns known as did many other individuals and organizations, including some within the faith based community.

I appreciate the efforts of the General Assembly to address these concerns and my actions today in no way disparage their motivations on those who support this bill, Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it will allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate on something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment of the United State Constitution. That may be why our Founding Fathers did not attempt to list in detail the circumstances that religious liberty embraced. Instead, they adopted what the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia referred to as “negative protection.” That is, rather than telling government what it can do regarding religion, they told government what it could not do, namely, “establish a religion or interfere with the free exercise thereof.” They had previously proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that Man’s Creator had endowed all men “with certain unalienable rights,” including “Liberty” which embraces religious liberty. They made it clear that those liberties were given by God and not by man’s government. Therefore, it was unnecessary to enumerate in statute or constitution what those liberties included.

In light of our history, I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should need the “hands-off” admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take.

Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character. Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state. I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do.

As I’ve said before, I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia of which my family and I are a part of for all of our lives. Our actions on HB 757 are not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia. This is about the character of our State and the character of its people. Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people. Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings. Our people work side-by-side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.

For that reason, I will veto HB 757.

 

 

Will Governor Nathan Deal Sign HB 757 “Free Exercise Protection” Religious Freedom / Pastor Protection?

News

Senator Steve Henson Democratic Leader District 41. Henson said the bill allows for discrimination and it’s the wrong message for Georgia to send the world.

(Scroll to the bottom to read the entire amended Bill)

On the afternoon of March 16th, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge, District 7) did what many of his critics said he would never do, allow a religious freedom bill to come to the floor for a vote.

 

The original sponsor of HB 757 “The Pastor Protection Act’ now known as the “Free Exercise Protection Act” Kevin Tanner (R – Dawsonville District 9) presented the amended version of the bill to the House for a vote.

 

Randy Nix (R – LaGrange District 69) and Allen Peake (R – Macon District 141) spoke in support of the bill as they shared with the House they have gay family members.

 

The original version of HB 757 passed the House with unanimous support from both parties but the Democrats did not show the same support for the amended version.

 

Karla Drenner (D – Avondale Estates District 85) said that if she would have known she was going to vote on this bill when she left the house this morning she would have worn a black suit, “The Bill is a license to discriminate.”

Taylor Bennett (D – Brookhaven District 80) shared that his mom is gay and has been married to her partner since 2014.

Stacy Abrams (D – Atlanta District 89) “Bill makes it lawful to discriminate.”

After House debate closed, the bill passed 104-65 and was sent to the Senate.

When Senate Democrats unsuccessfully attempted three amendments to the bill, Kirk gave a brief description of the bill before the vote.

The Senate passed the bill 37-18.

Senator Josh McKoon (R – District 29) released the following statement “After three years of speeches, meetings, town halls, debates, amendments and forums — many miles on the highways and byways of this state — final passage at last of a REAL religious freedom bill. Thank you to all who have been on this journey with us.”

 

The bill now ends up on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk. Will the governor accept the bill as a good compromise or feel it discriminates and will cause economic backlash against the state?

house

Free Exercise Protection Act Adopted in the house 3/16/2016 Ayes 104 Nays 65

Senator Vincent Fort Democratic Whip District 39. We will be endorsing a boycott of the state.

Senator Harold V. Jones II District 22 Democrat. What day and time did you become a heterosexual person? God made you that way. God made someone gay there is no difference. What difference does any of it make. There is nothing wrong with liking someone the same sex. This is not a proud day in the state of Georgia.

Senator Greg Kirk District 13 Republican. Sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act. Kirk said this is a great compromise and encouraged the Senate to pass the House amended version of HB 757.

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