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Government & Politics Blog

A glance at county, state & federal government services, decisions, and issues that effect East Cobbers.

Cobb Republicans host annual egg hunt

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The Cobb County Republican Party will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 4, at Laurel Park, 151 Manning Rd SW, Marietta.

The Easter egg hunts begin at 11am and end at 11:30am. There will be two: one for 3-4 year olds and one for 5-9 year olds.

Refreshments will follow. Enjoy cookies, lemonade and lots of Easter eggs! The Cobb County Young Republicans will be selling hot dogs and sodas.

For more information, please contact the Cobb County Republican Party at cobbgop@gmail.com.

 

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CERT program beneficial for Cobb residents

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program provides an opportunity for Cobb County citizens to gain knowledge about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their areas and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhoods or workplaces following events when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

Read this month’s CERT newsletter here.

 

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Don’t miss Tim Lee’s town hall Thursday in East Cobb

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Tim Lee will be hosting a town hall meeting in District Three from 6:30 – 8 pm on Thursday, March 19 at East Cobb Senior Center, 3332 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta. This is a good opportunity to share information.

Lee’s next town hall will be April 29 in District Four. For more information, call770-528-3305.

 

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Join chairman at town hall in District Three

In order to keep residents informed and share information, ideas and input, Chairman Tim Lee is hosting town hall meetings around the county this year. The next meeting will be held in District Three 6:30-8 p.m., Thursday, March 19, at East Cobb Senior Center, 3332 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta. The next town hall will be held in District Four on April 29.

For more information, call 770-528-3305 or visit cobbcounty.org/lee.

 

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Watch interview with District One’s new commissioner

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District One Commissioner Bob Weatherford recently sat down with Government Access Channel TV23 staff to share how he’s adjusting to being a new commissioner and happenings in the district.

He also discusses his plan to continue smart growth and about his background in law enforcement and business. To view the segment, click here.

 

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Legislative Update from Rep. Don Parsons

March will be a busy month at the Capitol, as the House Rules calendar has accumulated many bills that have passed through the committee process and are available for consideration of a floor vote.

Outlined below are some highlights of legislation that has recently passed the House, and other proposals the legislature we will continue working on:

HB 1: Haleigh’s Hope Act
This legislation would allow for the use and production of medical cannabis in Georgia. The bill would only allow for the use of non-smoking medical cannabis, in the form of liquid, pill, or injection, and the bill explicitly states that the intent is not to legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Additionally, the bill would decriminalize the possession of medical cannabis oil in Georgia for those patients who legally obtained the medicine in another state.The bill is named after 6 year old Haleigh Cox who suffers from a seizure disorder.

HB 76: Fiscal Year 2016 State Budget
Last week, we passed HB 76, the $21.7 billion state budget plan for Fiscal Year 2016. In the budget, 55 percent of state revenues are designated for education, 22.2 percent to health and human services agencies, and 8.7 percent to public safety agencies. The budget plan is now in the hands of the Senate where it will undergo consideration before reaching Governor Deal.

HB 170: Transportation Funding Act of 2015
This bill will provide nearly $1 billion in much needed funding for Georgia’s transportation infrastructure. The proposal is revenue-neutral, as it plans to eliminate sales tax on motor fuel and increase the excise tax. There will be new fees for alternative fuel vehicles; $200 for personal vehicles and $300 for commercial vehicles. In addition, the proposal issues $400 million in bond debt to address the state’s most pressing needs, including deficient bridges.

HB 57: Solar Financing Bill
This bill recognizes the importance of renewable energy sources by allowing financing of solar panels for both residential and commercial customers. We passed HB 57 with unanimous support in the House, as it allows for solar development in a responsible, cost effective way and does not burden non-solar customers.

HB 63: Georgia Employer GED Tax Credit Act of 2015
HB 63 would revise the amount and training requirements of the adult basic skills education program tax credit for employers who help employees obtain their GED. It would increase the current tax credit of $150 per employee to a possible $1,200 for each employee who takes the proper training classes and successfully passes the skills education test.

HB 406: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention
This bill is designed to prevent child sexual abuse by educating elementary school students and training school personnel to respond to signs and reports of abuse. At least 19 states have enacted legislation requiring states to develop age-appropriate child sexual abuse identification and prevention curricula to help children, teachers and parents recognize and identify child sexual abuse. Commonly known as “Erin’s Law”, named after Erin Merryn, a victim of sexual abuse as a child and prominent activist in the effort to further prevent child sexual abuse.

HB 434: Cooper’s Law
In light of recent tragedies experienced in Georgia and across the United States, this bill protects those breaking into a hot car to save a life. HB 434 specifies anyone who spots a child or an elderly person trapped in a car, can break in if they feel it is an emergency situation. Immunity will only be granted to good Samaritans in situations where car doors are locked, a child or elderly person is believed to be in imminent danger, and the individual calls police and waits until authorities arrive. Cooper’s Law is named in honor of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, who died in a hot car in Cobb County last June.

In less than two weeks, we will reach “Crossover Day,” meaning that any bill or resolution that has not been voted out of its chamber of origin is no longer eligible for final passage in 2015.

 

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Don’t You Just Love Cobb County?

I love Cobb County. We all have a lot of reasons to love Cobb County!

That was the essence of my State of Cobb County address last month (which can be viewed on TV23:
Video On Demand: Special Presentation) at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. That’s because in Cobb, we
have every right to feel very good about a number of accomplishments, from our rare, Triple-A rating (now going on 18 consecutive years), to our strong school system. Everything our 4,500 county employees do, every day, is done to provide the best services possible to our citizens and visitors. They do what they do so you get your money’s worth from the taxes you pay – still among the lowest in metro Atlanta, by the way – and so you can, frankly, brag to others about where you live!

Here’s what you, as a Cobb County resident or business owner, have to brag about:

• a citizenry invested in the county’s future
• excellent quality of life
• low cost of living and/or doing business
• low taxes
• strong employment
• effective public safety
• excellent educational opportunities
• ongoing improvements in transportation
• local commitment to parks and recreation
• a county with 18 years of Triple-A ratings from all three credit-rating agencies
• a water system also with a triple, Triple-A rating
• a fiscally conservative government with a healthy budget surplus
• favorable and competitive business conditions
• steady local leadership
• a county with strong relationships with its cities.

That’s a pretty impressive list, don’t you think?

These are on the wish lists for most anyone searching for a place to live or a place to do business. It’s normal; people want to a local government that’s working on their behalf. They want a government that empowers them – through its own efficiency and responsiveness – to accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Cobb County does that. Our employees do a phenomenal job executing beyond expectations and  delivering more for less. Their accomplishments are many, but the rewards are ours.

I love that.

If you love it too, then please tweet #iLoveCobb.

(Reprinted from Commissioner Tim Lee’s e-newsletter 1/19/2015)

 

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Cobb Public Safety: Getting the word out to the public

 

When public information officers for Cobb County Public Safety do their jobs, they always have an audience.

And it’s an audience the size of metro Atlanta.

Both Cobb County police and fire departments have their own PIOs on call 24 hours a day. When there’s a crisis or an incident, the media immediately contact them to find out what’s happening—whether it’s a car wreck, robbery or house fire.

“It’s a big challenge to shuffle all the cards at once,” Cobb Fire and Emergency Services PIO Denell Boyd said of the numerous press inquiries. “Obviously, they all want to be the first one to report it … [We’re] trying to gather the information and disseminate it in a timely manner.”

Public Safety Director Sam Heaton said public information officers are an important part of his agency, since they keep the community informed about ongoing public concerns.

PIOs also allow incident commanders to concentrate on emergencies without the distraction of media phone calls, texts and interview requests, he said.

“They are a crucial piece of our operation,” Heaton said. “[PIOs] have spent years building relationships with the local media groups and are superb at representing our departments in a professional and courteous manner.”

Police and fire together get an average of more than 450 contacts each month, ranging from resident inquiries to press e-mails.

Because of the size and impact the county has on the region, media inquiries aren’t just limited to the local newspaper.

“When anything is happening in Cobb County, we get media calls from every outlet in metro Atlanta,” Police PIO Sgt. Dana Pierce said.

Pierce, who has worked in public affairs and crime prevention since 1996, said PIOs from various county departments work closely together when a situation or inquiry comes under someone else’s purview. E911 and Cobb County Government also have public information officers.

“We all work hand-in-hand,” he said.

Crime and accident scenes, depending on their severity, can sometimes result in impromptu press conferences on the roadside or in parking lots. Even phone interviews with media outlets are quickly disseminated to their intended audience, sometimes before the incident is even resolved.

Both Boyd and Pierce come from the ranks of their departments. Boyd, who has worked as a PIO since 2006, said it helps to be a firefighter and EMT who can provide an expert point-of-view without having to ask elsewhere for the information.

“You really know every aspect of it,” she said. “There’s a lot of things I know that a civilian would not know.”

Pierce said public information officers help fulfill the county’s efforts to be transparent with the public.

“It’s important because the citizens desire that connection with county government, he said. “They want to know what’s going on.”

East Cobb Rep Introduces the More Take Home Pay Act

State Representative John Carson (R-Marietta/East Cobb) this week announced the introduction of the More Take Home Pay Act, or House Bill 445.  The More Take Home Pay Act reforms Georgia’s tax system by broadening the tax base and moving toward a more consumption-based model.

“Georgia’s tax system is long overdue for commonsense reform,” said Rep. Carson. “The More Take Home Pay Act empowers Georgians to make more personal choices with their hard-earned income, shifting the power away from the state and toward the kitchen table. Ultimately, this bill answers the need for an updated tax system that is flatter, fairer, and puts our families first.”

“Representative Carson is continuing one of the General Assembly’s most important discussions and I look forward to an open, inclusive debate on this proposal,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge).  “We need a tax structure that encourages families to save and businesses to invest so that Georgia can remain competitive with our neighboring states.  This bill will go through the committee process and, as always, constructive input is welcomed.”

The More Take Home Pay Act is the result of an in-depth, comprehensive study of Georgia’s current tax system and how it impacts the average household.  Rep. Carson explained the provisions of the bill as follows:

  • Cuts the income tax burden on Georgia families by over $2.5 billion
  • Households making $29,500 or more will see an increase in take home pay
  • Households bringing in $48,000 (the median Georgia household income) will keep $400 extra annually
  • Reduces income tax rate to 4% over a period of three years (2016: 4.5%, 2017: 4.25%, 2018: 4.0%)
  • Keeps itemized deductions and personal exemptions while doing away with many special interest loopholes
  • Raises general state sales tax by 1% on January 1, 2017, which will raise from the current 4% to 5% and includes digitally-delivered goods (Downloadable software, e-books, music and movies, video games, and apps) that are taxed in many other states
  • Phases in a grocery state sales tax over a four year period (2016: 0%, 2017: 3%, 2018: 4%, 2019: 5%) with each 1% contributing $130 million to state budget. Food stamp purchases will be exempt from grocery tax
  • Implements a flat, fair communications service tax beginning on January 1, 2016: State telecom: 5%, State cable: 5%, State direct broadcast satellite (DBS): 7%, Local telecom: 1.25%, School telecom: .75%, Local cable: 2%
  • Increases the current cigarette excise tax over three years (2017: $0.45, 2018: $0.55, 2019: $0.65)

HB 445 was filed in the House on Monday, February 23.  The bill will now go through the committee process, and the proposed figures listed above are subject to change as the bill goes through the legislative process.  If approved by the House, it would then go to the State Senate for consideration.

 

Winter Storm Warning for Cobb County

2.11.14

Cobb County is under a Winter Storm Warning. County staff are preparing for the arrival of up to several inches of snow between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning. 

Residents are encourage to check their preparedness for winter weather. A good resource is Ready Georgia.

Cobb County DOT crews will begin working 12 hour shifts on Wednesday and will continue until the weather event is over. Road problems can be reported to Cobb DOT at 770-528-1600 or cobbdot@cobbcounty.org.

County Police, Sheriff, Fire and 911 have been working in coordination on responding to potential problems caused by the winter weather. Motorist should use caution and check conditions before driving.

Get the latest weather updates from NOAA.

 

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