GOP gaming bill sponsors make an opening bid for Democratic help

Legislation to permit casino gaming at high-end resorts in Georgia is set to be unveiled on Wednesday. But last night, the two Republican sponsors, state Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and Rep. Ron Stephens of Savannah, shared some of the details contained in the measure on GPB’s “The Lawmakers.”

Watch the entire episode here. We’ll focus on just one aspect.

Also on the evening program was state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, who has become something of a champion for getting more low-income students into Georgia’s public universities.

Georgia is one of the few states that offers no needs-based scholarships. Aid that comes via the Georgia Lottery is merit-based.

However, to pass their casino measure, Beach and Stephens will need Democratic help, in both the House and Senate. Stephens was ready with a very public pitch:

“To that end, we talked about the needs-based piece. In the bill itself, the bill that will be presented Wednesday, we’re starting the conversation with 30 percent going to needs-based. And it could change. But 30 percent is our floor. And we’ve both committed to that.


“I think all of us at this table agree that there’s a huge void in the needs-based piece, and that will be 30 percent of all of the money that comes out of this.”

Scott Slade, the host, asked Evans if she were tempted by that opening bid. Said she:

“I’m encouraged by these conversations, and I think a lot of Democrats will be as well.”

Click here for more background on the upcoming gaming push.


Today will be Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price’s second and final stint in the Senate hot seat – and this is the one that counts.

The Roswell Republican has a 10 a.m. date with the Senate Finance Committee, the 26-member panel that will ultimately decide whether his health and human services nomination should be considered by the full Senate.

We hear Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a member of the committee, will be doing the ceremonial duty of vouching for Price at the beginning of the hearing, just as he did last week.

If last week’s confirmation hearing is any indication, senators will be bitterly divided over Price’s nomination along partisan lines, but he should have enough Republican support to advance and ultimately be confirmed.

You can stream the confirmation hearing here. Follow along on the Political Insider blog for updates and analysis.

Meanwhile, a few dozen progressive activists plan to protest outside of Price’s Roswell office in the afternoon. The demonstration is being led by the North Fulton group Needles in a Haystack.


Democrats haven’t given up on trying to turn Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter into a symbol of GOP overreach.

The recently-reelected Republican drew national headlines last week when he called Georgia Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig,” and he attracted a groundswell of opposition from local Democrats who protested him at last week’s meeting.

They’ll be back again tonight, per a notice from the Gwinnett County Democratic Party urging supporters to bring a “Hunter Must Go” sign with them.

“Our work is not finished,” read the dispatch from the party. “Tommy Hunter really does not understand that it is not OK to call other public officials names in any forum.”


Anti-abortion protestors held their annual gathering to mark the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision 44 years ago. Details can be found here. The benediction at the rally was offered by former Athens congressman Paul Broun, who lost his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2014. He told us that he’s “looking for a way to get back into the fight.”


Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s fight for his agriculture secretary seat won’t be just partisan lines. It will be along regional ones.

The Republican is the first Southerner tapped to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture since the early 1990s, and some politicians from the Midwest are seething.

Consider this guarded reaction from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican who openly advocated for his state’s agriculture commissioner to get the gig:

“Understanding and having an appreciation of the institution of the family farm like we have in Iowa and the Midwest, which is the strength of American agriculture, is important,” he said after Perdue’s formal nomination.

And Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, voiced a similar concern:

When asked in an interview last week about his regional ties, Perdue sought to downplay the concerns.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for America,” he said. “Georgia is a diversified agriculture state, but there are a lot of places across the country and I’m looking forward to learning about everything from coast to coast.”


A roundtable President Donald Trump convened yesterday with business leaders, including Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, will be a regular meeting, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer. From his first press briefing:

“The breakfast was an opportunity for the president to hear directly from America’s top business leaders about the challenges they’re facing and take some suggestions about what policies and action can be taken to help them create jobs and grow our manufacturing base. The meeting included a really great exchange of ideas and the president has decided to reconvene the group in a month and then have them meet on a quarterly basis.”

Eagle-eyed readers of this blog will recall that this isn’t the first time Hewson has met with Trump. She journeyed to Trump Tower earlier this month after the then-President-elect took to Twitter to blast the company’s F-35 stealth fighter for “tremendous cost and cost overruns.” The plane’s center wing is built in Cobb County.


U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is meeting one-on-one today with David Shulkin, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Isakson, the chairman of the Senate VA Committee, has known Shulkin, one of the department’s top officials under the Obama administration, for more than a year. He had nothing but glowing reviews for Shulkin in a recent interview:

“He was our choice at the VA to straighten out some problems with the delivery of health services to veterans, which he did. He’s a very accomplished physician himself, understands the physician-patient relationship, is a very loyal American and veteran. I think he’ll do a very good job at the VA.”


In case you were wondering whether U.S. Rep. John Lewis’, D-Atlanta, popularity has taken a hit since his feud with President Donald Trump, consider this tweet that floated across the interwebs Monday afternoon:

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