March 22, 2022

Abrams off and running

With former Sen. David Perdue engaged in a bruising fight with Brian Kemp for the Republican nomination for governor, you’d think that the sole Democratic candidate, Stacey Abrams, would kick back until the Republican primary is over. Not a chance. Abrams was in Coastal Georgia’s Liberty County on Saturday, part of a multi-stop tour to whip up enthusiasm for the battle royale to come—a.k.a., the November general election.

Key points:

To rebut Republican claims that she would be Georgia business community’s worst nightmare as governor, Abrams talked up her experience as a small business owner.

Having lost to Kemp by a shade under 55,000 votes out of 3.94 million votes cast in 2018, Abrams is determined to campaign in even relatively sparsely populated counties such as Liberty and Glynn. Any Democratic vote is a good vote, whether it’s in greater Atlanta or “Notlanta,” the campaign says….Don’t take the youth vote for granted, cautions an 18-year-old high school senior at the rally. ““I will make sure my friends vote,” she said. “But I just don’t know about lots of others.”

Coastal Georgia Democrats rally for Stacey Abrams in Midway on March 19. Credit: Craig Nelson / The Current

Watson touts Coastal Georgia budget successes

With the Georgia State Assembly deciding the fate of the 45 bills that cleared the Senate and the 60 that cleared the House before its scheduled adjournment on April 4, Sen. Ben Watson, a Republican representing Coastal Georgia’s First District, indicated Friday that it was too early to assign a final grade to legislature’s legislative accomplishments.

The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will get funds to expand capacity for the Research Vessel Savannah. Credit: UGA

But Watson underscored budget successes for coastal Georgia, though, including an additional $80 million for the completion, renovation and expansion of the Savannah Convention Center on Hutchinson Island, $2.1 million The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will receive some $2.1 million to expand the capacity of its 92-foot research vessel, Savannah, and $720,000 for the Savannah Technical College’s culinary institute. Public school teachers and state employees are also getting overdue salary raises.

Of Perdue’s recent comments to Chatham County Republicans about the Kemp-Perdue contest, Watson said, “I was impressed that David Perdue said win or lose — and if he loses — he’s going to support Brian Kemp.”

Speaking of crunch time at the Dome

Joining Watson in praising the legislature’s mental health initiatives this session was Jon Burns, a Republican representing District 159 in the Georgia House of Representatives In its FY2023 budget, the House bolstered funding for mental health coordinated care and law enforcement systems with $148.9 million in fresh funds, Burns said.

A poll watcher, designated by the yellow badges, interacts with a Chatham County elections worker during the state ballot audit in November 2020. Credit: Laura Corley/The Current

Additional legislation to restore confidence and transparency in our electoral process also drew Burns’s praise. House Bill 1464, Burns says, “grants the non-partisan Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigative power into elections issues, opens paper ballots to public inspection, institutes strong chain of custody requirements, mandates meaningful access for poll watchers, and restricts outside private money from influencing our elections.” All of this, of course, needs to be hashed out with the Senate by April 4.

Georgians for a Healthy Future urged passage of House Bill 1013, the “Mental Health Parity Act,” which requires private health insurers and public health insurance providers to treat mental health and substance abuse disorders the same as physical health. The bill has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Georgians for a Healthy Future says on its website that its goal is access for all Georgians to “the quality, affordable health care they need to live healthy lives and contribute to the health of their communities.”

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