David Ralston Talks Education and Politics in Ellijay

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David Ralston visits the Ellijay Church of Christ to speak with the Retired Teacher's Group of Gilmer

ELLIJAY, GA – Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston visited Ellijay on Wednesday, September 13, to speak with the Retired Teachers Association.

Before holding a regular meeting, the Association received Ralston with a lunch reception and a meet and greet with the members. As he began his remarks, Ralston noted he was returning to the capital the same day to continue working through Georgia’s recovery of Hurricane Irma.

Speaker David Ralston offers comments to the Gilmer Retired Teachers Group about the State's progress in Education and Growth.

Speaker David Ralston offers comments to the Gilmer Retired Teachers Group about the State’s progress in Education and Growth.

Taking a moment to recognize those involved, Ralston praised workers and volunteers who continue to clean up and restore Georgia in the aftermath. “I have never been prouder of the response that our state has had to what has been a tremendous storm. Hurricane Irma has really brought a lot of destruction to our state,” said Ralston.

Ralston continued his remarks speaking on the state’s budget. He said, “I tell people, there is only one thing we have to do every legislative session, and that’s pass a budget. We have passed a balanced budget in Georgia with no tax increases for the seven years that I have been honored to hold this position.”

Saying they had managed this in a conservative and responsible way, Ralston continued telling those in attendance the number one spending item in the budget every year is Education. According to the Speaker, last years $24.9 billion budget held 62% of new revenue budgeted for K-12 Education. This included $162 million for a 2% adjustment to state teachers salary.

The Teachers Retirement System (TRS), holding 218,000 active members and 118,000 retired members, was a focus of Ralston as he spoke about strengthening the system, protecting pensions against ideas of certain candidates for governor, and maintaining his “covenant” with teachers for their future and the future of their careers. Continuing in the financial aspect of education, Ralston commented, “I insist on a very strict actuarial study of what works and what don’t, between what is sound and what is not.”

The Speaker also talked of Georgia as a whole saying the state has added almost 600,00 new jobs in the private sector over the last 6 years. We are one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. Businesses are leaving other states in order to move here to Goergia. He continued, “We are now the number two state in the nation for the entertainment industry.”

Taking a moment to recognize complaints on the film tax credit, Ralston noted the $60 million a year credit generates over $9 billion a year saying, “Sometimes we have to invest a little to gain a lot, and I think strategic investment is a good thing.”

In an effort to spread the growth that Georgia is experiencing, he began speaking of the the challenges of rural Georgia. The Speaker spoke of a new two-year initiative called the ‘Rural Development Council.” The council’s plan is to examine every component of rural Georgia’s economy through education, healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, and more.

Ralston closed his comments thanking the teachers present for what the mean to the community and for the honor of representing the area in Atlanta.

However, before leaving, the Speaker took time to answer a few questions including one about the concept of Casino gambling in Atlanta saying, “I think the casino companies are a whole lot more interested in it than the members of the General Assembly.”

He went on to say there were several issues at play such as the general question of “Do you favor the expansion of gambling?” But if yes, more questions arise of “How many do you allow in the state?” “Do you allow one big one and one small one?” Ralston went further to say the next issues then would be about the tax rate and the distribution of proceeds.

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An Excellent Essay – Re: Charlottesville, Va.

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MEDIA ADVISORY — “Released” Premier

State & National

Casey Cagle’s Reprehensible Acts, The Michael Williams Press Conference that missed the Target

Featured, Politics

“The Die Has Been Cast”

Swing and a miss, strike two.  State Senator Michael Williams now has two strikes against him with the media in his quest to be the next Governor of Georgia.

Williams’ first strike was at the State GOP convention when he announced in a speech that a member from  Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s campaign team approached him backstage and offered him a deal to get out of the Governor’s race.  In his speech at the GOP convention Williams claimed in front of 1500 people that he was offered the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee if he would get out of the race.  He never named the individual with Cagle’s team who made the offer in the backroom deal.  An accusation with no name leaving the media hanging. Strike one.

Williams’ press conference last Thursday at the Capitol was strike two.

Williams sent out an invite last Wednesday announcing a press conference he would be holding at the Capitol Thursday afternoon. The invitation stated he would be revealing the reprehensible acts of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

The press conference was scheduled for 2PM and Williams was 30 minutes late.  The press conference only lasted twelve minutes.  I attended this press conference and from memory the only thing I got out of it was ‘campaign Casey, a member of Casey Cagle’s team, offered him a committee chairmanship to get out of the race.  Angered that Cagle may have out maneuvered him on minimum wage for Sheriff deputies, Willams directly asked Cagle to get out of the race and something about “tying shoes”.

The media pressed Williams to give the name of who from Cagle’s team offered him the chairmanship. Williams’ only response was, ‘not at this time.’  I asked him the final question of the press conference, “did you not say that it was a member of Cagle’s team?” Williams said, “correct.”  And I asked, “and you’re not prepared to give us who that is”?  Williams: “no”.  Williams then told everyone to have a nice day and walked off taking no more questions.  

Williams held up a copy of SB 254 entitled: Minimum annual salary for each deputy appointed by each Sheriff; provide; Local Law Enforcement Officer Compensation Commission.  

Senators Greg Kirk and Josh McKoon co-sponsored the bill along with Williams.  Williams claims that Cagle is the reason the bill went nowhere during the past legislative session.  Maybe Williams thought this would be his strongest campaign issue. This could show he is the true friend of law enforcement in the campaign.

In May Cagle announced along with Greg Kirk the Compensation of Police and Sheriffs Task Force.  Statement released by the Lt. Governor’s office, “The service and dedication of our law enforcement officials is nothing short of heroic,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “We must make every effort to ensure local compensation packages are both competitive and fair to those who protect and serve. COPS will help local governments identify ways to maximize their support for the men and women who bravely protect our communities and neighborhoods.”

Kirk, one of Williams’ co-sponsors gone and with the other Josh McKoon running for Secretary of State he may not have any backup concerning his claim that Cagle killed the bill.

Recently Cagle commented about a possible sheriff deputy minimum wage.  He has not gone into any detail though.

This week is the Sheriffs’ Association’s Summer Conference where each candidate will get a chance to address the Association.  

Brian Kemp, Hunter Hill, Michael Williams and Casey Cagle will have their chance to make their pitch.  You can forget this week which one is the true conservative, cause this week all you will hear is ‘I am the true friend of law enforcement’, {no} ‘I’m the true friend of law enforcement,’ {no}  ……

My suspicion is that the Sheriffs’ Association will support whomever they think will be best able to get something done for them when it comes to minimum wage for deputies.  If that turns out to be Cagle then that may mean  Williams has been totally out maneuvered on the issue and SB 254 could turn out to be, as a campaign issue for Williams, no more than good initiative/poor judgment.

You can understand Williams’ frustration.  If Cagle gets almost every Sheriff in the state to actively campaign for him that is big.  Really big.  Maybe that is the ‘reprehensible’ act.

But, Williams’ shoe tying comment directed toward Casey Cagle was a ‘low blow’ no pun intended.  Williams experienced several personal attacks especially during his first State Senate race.  The rumors are already flying and emails being sent concerning Williams’ past.  Maybe Williams’ comment was a subtle warning not to go personal.  It’s disappointing this early in the campaign that things are taking a dirty turn rather than  staying focused on the issues.

The voters of Georgia may want to hear about issues like casino gambling, rural economic development, tax reform, healthcare, infrastructure…… not who can tie their own shoes.

I feel Williams’ gets one more strike with the media.  I can only speak for myself.  If he calls another press conference I will attend. Williams has to make good on his claims of reprehensible acts by Cagle soon or that will be strike three and he will lose his credibility. It’s a long time until election day and Williams will need the media to take him serious to help get his message out.

Kemp and Hill have not commented on the Williams’ attacks of Casey Cagle.  They both seem to be able to keep their campaigns focused on the issues and not the dirt for the time being.  Odds are they will have to join the mud pit before the race is over.

Michael Williams was the first Georgia politician holding a state office to support Donald Trump for President.  Williams is attempting to run a Donald Trump-style campaign.  There’s only one problem, he is not Donald Trump.

Trump never held public office. He had no legislative voting track record.  He could run against Washington D.C. and the Media.

Williams has a State Senate voting record. During his first two years in the State Senate his voting record looks like he was working well with the Republican Establishment.  His third year looks more like someone preparing to run for governor.

I am not questioning Williams’ conservative credentials, just the direction his campaign is headed.  If you going to demand Casey Cagle  get out of the race, it’s time to give the reason why with the facts.

 

 

 

Governor Signs House Bill 146 in Gilmer Fire Station

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Nathan Deal Signing Bill 146

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”

Micah Gravley - District 67 RepresentativeJoined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”

Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”

Speaker David Ralston - House Bill 146The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”

FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”

Governor Nathan Deal - House Bill 146Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”

More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”

 

For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:

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Special Election Georgia State Senate District 54

GMFTO

The (little over) 30 day rush to find a new State Senator for the 54th. District after Governor Nathan Deal appoints State Senator Charlie Bethel to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Deal: Georgia will not accept Syrian refugees

Featured
November 16, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that he will not accept Syrian refugees in Georgia and called upon President Obama to suspend the resettlement program in the United States. Since 2012, Deal has demanded that the federal government limit the number of refugees sent to Georgia.

“In light of the terror attacks in Paris, I’ve issued an executive order directing state agency heads to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia,” said Deal. “Further, I call upon the Obama administration to work with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security to confirm the backgrounds of the 59 Syrian refugees recently resettled to ensure they do not pose a security threat to our citizens. Until the federal government and Congress conducts a thorough review of current screening procedures and background checks, we will take every measure available to us at the state level to ensure the safety of Georgians.”

. Deal’s letter to President Obama is attached. Read the executive order here.

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Georgia ranked No. 1 state in U.S. for business

Featured, News
Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia has been named the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business for the third consecutive year by Site Selection magazine, a leading economic development trade publication.
“Once again, Georgia has been named the top state in which to do business, reflecting our success in strengthening Georgia’s economic environment and creating a top-notch workforce,” said Deal. “Through collaborative public-private sector efforts, we have created hundreds of thousands of jobs for families, invested millions in our local communities and improved the overall quality of life for our citizens. This ranking is not only a testament to our strong business climate, but it also speaks to the commitment and support from our industry partners, communities and the people of Georgia.”
Each November, Site Selection releases rankings for the top states in which to do business. Georgia has been ranked among the top 10 states in Site Selection’s business climate rankings throughout the last decade, holding the top spot for the last two years.
“Georgia is a regular top finisher in our annual analysis of state business climates,” said Site Selection editor-in-chief Mark Arend. “But three consecutive first-place finishes in this ranking is a pattern. It says the state clearly has in place the business-attraction attributes most required by companies expanding and establishing new facilities.”
The rankings are determined by a survey of corporate site selectors paired with an index of tax burden criteria according to the Tax Foundation and KPMG’s Location Matters analysis and performance in Conway Data’s New Plant Database, which tracks new and expanded business facility activity.
“Site Selection’s third-time No. 1 ranking speaks volumes to our business-friendly environment, world-class infrastructure network, top-notch academic institutions, nationally-ranked training programs and vibrant socioeconomic culture,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr. “We provide companies looking to locate or expand here an experience that they cannot find anywhere else, and we will continue to work hard with our partners from around the state to maintain this reputation.”
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