Senate bill could close off passenger rail service to Cobb and beyond

The state  Senate Transportation Committee meets at 3 p.m. today. Among the House bills it will take up is HB 160, a measure that could create the outline of a regional transit system in metro Atlanta – the beginning of a GOP-backed shift away from cars to something else.

But some key decisions may already be underway to pre-empt that future. The Legislature is poised to make a key decision on the Western and Atlantic rail line that runs from Atlanta to Chattanooga.  From today’s Marietta Daily Journal:

On Friday, the Georgia Senate passed SR 228. Buried in that resolution was a clause that would allow Georgia to enter a lease with CSX for the next 50 years in return for the rail company paying the state about $12 million a year.


There’s just one caveat.


CSX would have exclusive use of the railroad, ending any possibility for those tracks to be shared with a passenger rail line.


Betsy Watts, editor and publisher of the Pike County Times, sends word that the remains of Robert Eugene Oxford, an Army Air Corps lieutenant from Concord, Ga., are headed home, 73 years after the bombardier’s plane went down in the Himalayas during World War II. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducted a recovery mission in India’s Himalayan Mountains in the Arunachal Pradesh region in 2015, she writes.

The B-24 Liberator had a crew of eight and went down on Jan. 29, 1944. So far, Oxford’s remains are the only ones identified. Details of the return of the remains to the lieutenant’s hometown have yet to be determined. Oxford was 24 when he died.


You didn’t ask, but here are a few morning Tweets from President Donald Trump:

News agencies are already pointing out that the vast majority of releases occurred under President George W. Bush.

That’s the first sign that Trump and House Republican leadership are on the same page – despite opposition from some members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Within this Tweet is the president’s admission that Russia in fact invaded the Ukraine – a position that he’s been fuzzy on before.


So we told you Monday of former state Sen. Dan Moody’s entry into the Sixth District congressional sweepstakes with a minute-long ad portraying his rivals — “some completely missing the president’s great ideas” — as manure-producing zoo inhabitants who will require “a bigger shovel.”

But we didn’t tell you about the elephant with pearls:

The ad is the work of Fred Davis, and the pearls are a reference to one of Moody’s GOP rivals, former secretary of state Karen Handel. Who has been known to wear an occasional strand.

Davis was the TV ad man for David Perdue in 2014, when Handel was one his competitors in the race for U.S. Senate. Davis portrayed Perdue’s rivals as a crowd of crying babies – including this one. With pearls:


U.S. Sen. David Perdue today has another meeting with President Donald Trump on today’s agenda, this time a more private gathering where legal immigration is expected to be the topic.

Georgia’s junior senator is scheduled to huddle with the President and Republican colleague Tom Cotton of Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. for a “policy discussion.” No other details were available, but it’s pretty safe to assumed the trio will discuss Perdue and Cotton’s legislation that would halve legal immigration levels.

This is Perdue’s second huddle with Trump in less than a week and shows his newfound clout in Washington as a key ally of the president in the U.S. Senate. Read more about Perdue and Cotton’s bill here.


The Atlanta Press Club will host the first Sixth District congressional debate on April 5 at the Georgia-Pacific auditorium in downtown Atlanta. All 18 candidates have been invited. That’s right — 18. The program is two hours long.


Take this with the requisite grain of salt, but a poll released Monday of likely 2017 special election voters found a neck-and-neck race to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price.

The poll of 6th District competitors, by the Trafalgar Group, put Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel at 18 percent in the April 18 special election. Republican Bob Gray had around 13 percent of the vote, followed by fellow GOPers Judson Hill and Amy Kremer. The rest of the 18 candidates polled in the race hovered beneath 3 percent support.

Surprisingly, for a district that Donald Trump won by a whisker, the poll showed the Republican was surprisingly popular. About 51 percent of voters in the 6th District, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb, approved of Trump, while 41 percent disapproved. About 7 percent had no opinion.

The poll surveyed more than 450 respondents and had a margin of error of 4.5 percent. You can find the details and methodology here.


More than 600 Georgia attorneys signed a letter addressed to Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson urging them to stand up to President Donald Trump. Here’s a snippet of the letter, by way of The Daily Report:

History tells us that undermining public faith in the courts is a potential first step down the path to forms of government much less appealing than the representative democracy we now enjoy. We urge you to exercise whatever influence you have to stop our country from taking any further steps down this path.


Let’s just say Gov. Nathan Deal’s staff hasn’t softened its position on U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

After Rubio formally endorsed former state Sen. Judson Hill’s bid for Congress, Deal chief of staff Chris Riley invoked Rubio’s decision last year to wade into the water wars drama on Capitol Hill.

Rubio took the Senate floor in April 2016 to blast the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing water, echoing his state’s lament that Georgia is draining too much water for metro Atlanta at the expense of its neighbors.

Riley hasn’t forgotten.


Speaking of the water wars, this got a little lost in the shuffle when it was first introduced last month, but a freshman congressman from Florida dropped a bill in the U.S. House that seeks to strike one of Georgia’s recent regulatory victories.



Rep. Neal Dunn’s, R-Fla., bill would nullify a December ruling from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that ensured metro Atlanta would get virtually all the water it needs from the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier through 2050. The ruling was a key victory for Georgia in its decades-long water rights war with its two neighbors, Alabama and Florida, a skirmish that’s cost tens of millions of dollars and made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Signed off on by a dozen members of the Florida delegation, the bill would kill the rulemaking through a special procedure that allows Congress to retroactively do so for up to 60 legislative days. GOP leaders have been using this tactic to gut other Obama-era regulations for the last several weeks.

Dunn said his bill would “allow the states involved to continue working towards an equitable agreement” on water rights. The legislation has yet to advance.

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