Political Insider

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

The Jolt: Get AC/DC on the line. Doug Collins has some news.


It might be 195 days until the election, but we suspect this could be one of the biggest days of Congressman Doug Collins’ 2018.

Members of the House are slated to advance two of the top items on the Gainesville Republican’s agenda, the culmination of years of work that will undoubtedly bolster the three-term lawmaker as he angles for a major promotion next year.

The first is a prison reform package that isn’t dissimilar from the anti-recidivism programs championed by Gov. Nathan Deal at the state level in recent years. That initiative faces some headwinds in the Senate but has backing from the White House and some prominent House liberals.

Then comes a House vote on the pet bill that has won Collins glowing write-ups in the pages of Billboard and Variety and even kudos from Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.

It’s weedy, but the Music Modernization Act essentially seeks to change the way online streaming sites such as Spotify pay royalties to songwriters. Many of the laws governing music licensing were written decades ago, long before the internet or modern recordings, and Collins and his allies argue that the outdated statutes have resulted in music creators being grossly underpaid.

“The simple theme of these reforms is fairness: Songwriters deserve the opportunity to obtain fair rates for the use of their musical works, and music providers should be able to compensate creators with transparency in a way that makes sense for the 21st century,” Collins and colleague Judy Chu, D-Calif., wrote in a recent op-ed in Variety.

The bill has backing from industry and party leaders, as well as Georgia colleagues Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, and Republican Johnny Isakson in the Senate. 

We’re told Collins is a big fan of ‘80s rock, and particularly AC/DC. Wonder how thunderstruck they’ll be about passage of this bill. 

***

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the GOP front-runner in the race for governor, has long opposed an expansion of the medical marijuana program even while another rival, Clay Tippins, has made it a focal point of his campaign. 

At a campaign stop in Covington when he was asked about the issue, he elaborated on his stance: 

“There’s clearly a move afoot to get cultivation of marijuana in the state that will clearly lead to medical marijuana. If we are talking about parents and kids with autism or seizures and I can find relief for them, I get that. You can take cannabis oil. But to use that as a crutch to get us to recreational marijuana - that is a danger.”

***

Stacey Abrams addresses her more than $200,000 in debt in a column in Fortune Magazine. 

The AJC revealed she owes about $54,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and has another $170,000 in credit card debt and student loans. 

Her Democratic rival in the race for governor, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, has not swiped her over the financial problems. But Republicans seem sure to seize on the issue if she wins the nomination. 

In the Fortune column, Abrams aims to get ahead of the debate. She writes that she helped her struggling parents care for her niece after her youngest brother and his girlfriend struggled with drug addiction. Their illnesses added to her financial burden. 

From the piece: 

Paying the bills for two households has taken its toll. Nearly twenty years after graduating, I am still paying down student loans, and am on a payment plan to settle my debt to the IRS. I have made money mistakes, but I have never ignored my responsibilities; I will meet my obligations—however slowly but surely.

 I suspect my situation will sound familiar to others who are the first in their families to earn real money. Money dictates nearly step of social mobility from the very first moments of life. How much our parents make often determines whether we go to college. It affects the jobs we get offered and the ones we can afford to take. If the goal is entrepreneurship, good luck getting access to the capital you need to build a business. Even with a well-paid job, we often live paycheck to paycheck.

***

Abrams is also getting some more financial firepower to cover her race for governor. Records show a pair of pro-Abrams PACs combined for more than $1 million in ad buys to support her campaign. A group called Women Vote! is spending $715,000 on broadcast and cable spots in metro Atlanta. And BlackPAC bought up $300,000 worth of airtime in Savannah and Macon.  

***

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has pumped the brakes on the confirmation process for Ronny Jackson, the Trump administration’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, after allegations swirled about his leadership as the White House physician. 

The Georgia Republican, who leads the Senate VA Committee, announced Tuesday that the panel would delay Jackson’s confirmation hearing, initially scheduled for today. “We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review,” Isakson said in a joint statement with Jon Tester, the committee’s top Democrat.  

Isakson was a backer of ousted VA chief David Shulkin and has kept his distance from Jackson ever since Trump nominated him. But on Tuesday he stopped short of publicly calling for Jackson to withdraw his nomination. More from CNN

Two sources with knowledge told CNN that Isakson called the White House at one point in the past few days to outline the depth of the concern raised about Jackson in the allegations. Those sources told CNN that while there was no explicit demand to pull the nomination, it was their understanding that message was intended. Isakson's office denied the senator ever directly suggested or intended to convey to the White House that they consider pulling the nomination.

***

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told President Donald Trump that the U.S. should consider rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 11-country trade deal Trump abandoned shortly after arriving in Washington. The former Georgia governor told senators Tuesday that the agreement “forms a united front with our allies in an effort of tariff reduction that excludes China, to our benefit and not to their benefit,” according to the Washington Post. 

***

Also in the pages of the Post, former Georgia U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn offers his advice for how the Trump administration should approach its upcoming nuclear talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Democrat and his former colleague Richard Lugar advise current officials to take lessons from the early 1990s following the breakup of the Soviet Union. 

***

Brian Kemp rolled out a list of endorsements for his gubernatorial campaign that included former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins and state Reps. Earl Ehrhart, Tom McCall and Terry Rogers. 


Reader Comments