Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

In SB 1, Georgia may have its first hate-crime bill -- but of a different sort

Georgia has its first “hate crime” bill in the works – that is, a measure that raises the ante on a crime based on the motivations inside the head of the accused.

Senate Bill 1, which safely passed the Senate last week and is now in the bosom of the House, would refine the definition of “domestic terrorism.”

Although they have in the past resisted spotlighting crimes that are based on racial antipathy, or those that target gays and lesbians, lawmakers have added at least one new measure to “domestic terrorism”: I.e., whether the criminal act “is intended to advance, further, or effectuate any ideology or belief whether committed alone or as part of a command structure involving an identifiable set of other individuals.”

The Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has taken issue with the legislation. A note from Andrea Young, executive director of ACLU Georgia, includes this:

In addition to our overall concerns with the bill's expansion of the government's surveillance and security apparatus, we are especially troubled by its apparent attempt to target political expression, which is protected by the First Amendment. The ACLU of Georgia will oppose any effort to curb the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech and expression.

Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.”


From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent. The proposals come after a string of mass protest movements in the past few years, covering everything from police shootings of unarmed black men to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the inauguration of Trump.


The Savannah Morning News tells us that former state lawmaker Burke Day died at his Tybee Island home on Sunday. He was 62:

Day retired to his Tybee Island home in 2010, after 16 years of service in the Georgia House of Representatives. He also served on the Tybee Island City Council from 1991-1994.


Tucked into a Washington Post article on President Donald Trump's angry weekend is this tidbit about former congressman Tom Price that suggests he might not be the point man we thought he was the administration's effort to repeal and replace Obamacare:

With Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the road with Vice President Pence, a decision was made: Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, would become the point person, though officials insisted Price had not been sidelined.

On Friday, Mulvaney convened a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with top administration officials and senior staff of House and Senate leaders to hammer out the final details of the proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act...

On Capitol Hill, Price is seen by some Republicans as more knowledgeable about health-care policy than Mulvaney, given his experience as a physician and his time as chairman of the House Budget Committee. But Mulvaney benefits from the close relationships he has forged with Trump’s top advisers and with the House’s conservative wing.

Over at Axios, David Nather points out that it's too early to count out Price:

Keep in mind that Price is the health care expert in the group, and that (House Speaker Paul) Ryan has been making a point of saying their legislation will be modeled on "the Price plan."


Georgia Democrats are already rumbling about challenging a GOP plan to redraw the district boundaries for eight Republicans and one Democrat in court.

The measure passed 108-59 on Friday over the objections of opponents - including the sole Democrat whose territory will now be redrawn - who argued it was a blatant bid to help vulnerable Republicans.

Among the responses to the measure was this tweet from Marc Elias, a campaign attorney for John Kerry and Hillary Clinton who has won a string of redistricting cases.

House Speaker David Ralston told us the bill is far from unprecedented.

“With all respect I would remind them the last time they drew a map it was declared unconstitutional by a federal court,” Ralston said, referring to an early 2000s reapportionment process when a Democratic-led Legislature drew maps rejected by the courts.


The state Senate will now take up House Bill 271, which would change the way state authorities figure out how closely construction can occur to the Georgia shoreline. In the Savannah Morning News, Chester Jackson, assistant professor of geology at Georgia Southern University, says that lawmakers are making it much more complicated than it needs to be:

Georgia could define the jurisdictional area by looking at where the water actually goes on a day when high tide is at its greatest extent, a king tide. Just fly the coast that day using infrared aerial photography, then trace that line on a map that gives GPS references, Jackson said. One such data set already exists from a U.S. Department of Agriculture flight at high tide.


“That would be your starting point,” he said. It would be a fixed one unlike the moving targets in the bill. Dunes are constantly shifting and the ordinary high water mark is creeping landward with sea level rise.


Jackson suggests using erosion rates to gauge how far back from the photo-documented high tide line the state needs to exert its influence. Hotspots on the coast see erosion of up to about 3 feet per year. If the state plans for the period typically covered by a mortgage, 30 years, that puts the line 150 feet landward of the high water line.


Congressional candidate Bruce LeVell picked up the support of another Donald Trump stalwart in the race for Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

LeVell, a Dunwoody jeweler who chaired Trump's national diversity initiative, is running as a staunch ally of the president. And now he'll be able to boast the endorsement of Kayleigh McEnany, another Trump surrogate and TV personality.


Less than a week after U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson held a telephone town hall and managed to avoid much of the political hostility that's roiled other in-person events, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, now has one on the books.

The call is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Thursday: https://vekeo.com/repdougcollins/

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.