Political Insider

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

Tom Glavine to speak up for bill to ‘ungamble’ fantasy sports contests

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine will be at the state Capitol this morning on behalf of the forces behind House Bill 118, the bill that would declare Internet-based fantasy sports contests to be games of skill rather than chance.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, passed out of the Senate regulated industries committee on Monday.

Consider Glavine’s appearance as a sign that the bill, now in a Senate Rules Committee chaired by Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, is on its way toward a quick floor vote.

By constitutional ban and legal precedent, critics say fantasy sports contests currently are considered gambling. HB 118 is part of a nationwide state-by-state effort by the industry to reclassify the contests.

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board and the Faith and Freedom Coalition are among the bill’s opponents. On her Facebook page, Virginia Galloway, regional director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, noted the yeas and nays from Monday’s committee meetings.

No votes were sourced to Jack Hill, R-Reidsville; Josh McKoon, R-Columbus; David Shafer, R-Duluth, and John Kennedy, R-Macon.

Missing were Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athen, and Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega.



Former Gov. Sonny Perdue is hoping an old Democratic friend from his days in the General Assembly can help boost his bipartisan credentials during his confirmation hearing later this week.

Perdue and his team have tapped current U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, to introduce him ahead of his testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday morning. It's akin to an in-person reference at a job interview -- one with C-SPAN cameras, about two dozen interviewers and countless reporters on the sidelines.

The two served as Democrats together in the state Senate for eight years before Perdue switched to the GOP in 1998. They spent four more years working together after that.

Team Perdue is hoping that Scott’s public endorsement will show senators that he’s got friends on both sides of the aisle and is willing to work with others to get things done as head of the sprawling Department of Agriculture. The Republican has already won the endorsement and kind words of many Senate Democrats.

Scott, a senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said he plans to talk about his work with Perdue in the legislature and what the former governor’s appointment could mean for the ag world. “He’s the right person at the right time at the right place,” Scott said Monday.

As an African-American, Scott would also be just the person to field any questions about the flap over Georgia's 1956 state flag and its Confederate battle emblem. Gov. Roy Barnes' decision to haul it down in 2001 became a crucial part of Perdue's successful 2002 bid to become the state's first Republican governor in modern Georgia history.

Perdue’s hearing begins at 10 a.m. Thursday and can be live-streamed on agriculture.senate.gov. Check back to Political Insider for updates. Catch up on the latest about Perdue’s confirmation process here.


The head of the state's child welfare services raised some eyebrows when he said controversial changes to an adoption measure could endanger “millions of dollars” in funding the agency received from the federal government.

Gov. Nathan Deal cited those comments from Bobby Cagle, the director of the state Division of Family and Children Services, on Monday when he announced his opposition to a measure that could let some private adoption agencies refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Cagle's office pointed us to a Justice Department memo he handed out to Senate Judiciary Committee members before the vote on the addition. It said the law's Title VI provision is an "overarching anti-discrimination statute that applies to the programs and activities of all entities receiving federal financial assistance."

The changes to House Bill 159 were done over the objections of its sponsor, state Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta. The addition to the measure has ignited a new debate over legislation pushed by some religious conservatives after lawmakers sidelined a broader “religious liberty” proposal.


Almost as soon as Republican Bob Gray's campaign confirmed he hired a rival's former top aide after he quit her campaign, our inbox started getting full of reports of the staffer's criminal history.

Jack Melton, the former aide for Amy Kremer who now works for Gray, confirmed he was charged in Florida for writing bad checks, but said the charges were quickly dismissed. He said the checks were written while separated from his now ex-wife and that the accounts were "pending" at the time.

"This campaign isn't about me," he said, "it's about electing the best representative for the Sixth District."


Democrat Jon Ossoff is attracting some star power in his bid to win Tom Price's seat:


We missed an interesting nugget from Health and Human Secretary Tom Price’s Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” Here is how the former Roswell congressman responded when asked about ProPublica's eyebrow-raising report that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was investigating Price's stock trades before he was fired:

"I have -- know nothing about that whatsoever."


Speaking of Price, he has reportedly tapped a former colleague to be one of his deputies at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Former U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., is a onetime physician and founding member of the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus who was forced to vacate his House seat after losing the GOP primary to succeed David Vitter in the U.S. Senate last year. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that he'll serve as deputy assistant secretary for health technology.


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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.