Oconee County’s three legislators in the Georgia General Assembly last week voted in favor of House Bill 316, which selects new voting machines and responds to allegations that voters last year were denied access, absentee ballots were not counted and vote tallies were incomplete.
The vote on the House bill was partisan, and Sen. Bill Cowsert from the 46th District, Rep. Houston Gaines from House District 117, and Rep. Marcus Wiedower from House District 119, all Republicans, sided with the Republican majority.
Oconee County’s two representatives in the Georgia General Assembly cast their votes late Thursday night with the House majority in favor of a bill that prohibits most abortions after a doctor can detect a heartbeat in the womb and with the minority against a hate crimes bill.
House Bill 481, officially called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, passed narrowly at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday with 93 representatives, almost all Republicans, voting in favor, and 73 voting against.
House Bill 426, which would amend existing Georgia Code to provide criteria for imposition of punishment for defendants who select their victims based upon certain biases or prejudices, also passed narrowly with 96 voting in favor and 64 voting against.
Photo Credit: Lee Becker
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night will consider transferring the county’s economic development activities to the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.
The action comes in the form of a memorandum of understanding that would convey $100,000 annually to the chamber and give it responsibility for providing economic development services for the county, including attracting and recruiting new businesses and industries.
The Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee of the Georgia House of Representatives voted 6-5 Wednesday morning to pass House Bill 302 prohibiting local governments from regulating building design of one or two-family dwellings.
The vote followed a discussion of more than an hour that was dominated by the building industry in the state, with speakers strongly favoring the bill and criticizing local regulations of residential housing.
Representatives of the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia spoke against the bill, as did Lilburn Mayor Johnny Crist. Lilburn is in Gwinnett County.
Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell and Commissioner Chuck Horton attended the meeting and asked to speak, but Committee Chair Tom McCall called for a vote before they could do so.
Photo Credit: Lee Becker
Brian Kemp, the governor-elect of Georgia, was not invited to and did not attend the pre-legislative session held late last year by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners for the county’s delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.
But Kemp’s presence at the gathering was strong nonetheless.
In closing the session, Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert said “the most interesting thing about this session” is going to be seeing how the personalities of Kemp, newly elected Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan,and House Speaker David Ralston “mesh” and how their goals “match.”
Republican Brad Raffensperger got 67.1 percent of the vote in Oconee County in the runoff for secretary of state on Tuesday, up just slightly from his 66.8 percent vote on Nov. 6.
Democrat John Barrow received 32.9 percent of the vote in Oconee County on Tuesday, up from the 30.7 percent he received in the three-way contest on Nov. 6.
Democrat Lindy Miller received 31.9 percent, up from the 27.3 percent she received in the three-way race on Nov. 6.
Oconee County voting on Nov. 6 showed little variation by election contest, suggesting that most ballots were cast along party lines.
No Republican got more than 74.6 percent of the vote or less than 66.8 percent in Oconee County, and no Democrat got more than 30.7 percent of the vote or less than 25.4 percent, an analysis of the certified results shows.
The Georgia Water Coalition has named the planned withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River for an expanded Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir on its 2018 Georgia’s Dirty Dozen list.
The coalition labeled the proposed Apalachee River water intake “an exercise in overbuilding” and called on the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to turn down the current requests for the intake.
The Georgia Water Coalition is an alliance of more than 200 organizations, including the Greater Apalachee River Community, a group of Oconee County and Morgan County residents that organized this year to represent the interests of the Apalachee River.
“For the Apalachee, the aquatic wildlife it harbors and the people who live along and play in it, this proposed withdrawal creates other problems simply because it is super-sized for such a small river,” the report states.
At the end of early voting on Friday, 11,709 Oconee County residents had cast a ballot, representing 42.5 percent of the county’s 27,530 active, registered voters.
Four years ago at the end of early voting, only 24.4 percent of the county’s then 22,526 active registered voters had participated, indicating final turnout for Tuesday’s election almost certainly will exceed by a considerable amount turnout four years ago.
Marcus Wiedower, Republican candidate for the 119th House District seat, raised more than $80,000 from July 1–Sept. 30, topping all six candidates for Clarke and Oconee counties' seats in the General Assembly.
Rep. Jonathan Wallace, the incumbent Democrat in House District 119, raised
Rep. Deborah Gonzalez, the Democrat incumbent in House District 117, raised $68,381—more than $20,000 above the $47,987 raised by her Republican challenger, Houston Gaines.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert raised $61,575, while his Democratic challenger, Marisue Hilliard, raised $33,459.
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