Political Notes – It seems like everyone wants a piece of the Savannah project

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Gov. Nathan Deal, the state Department of Transportation, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed the final papers Wednesday for the dredging of the Savannah River, a $706 million state-federal project.

The finalization of the Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) between the state and the Corps clears the way for contracts to be let for the dredging, which is a key component in GPA’s plans to expand the Savannah Harbor.

Judging from the flurry of news releases that were sent out Wednesday afternoon, it seemed that everybody in state politics – even Deal’s current opponent in the general election — wanted a piece of this action.

Deal called the river deepening “a project that is vitally important for economic development and job creation not only in the Southeast, but nationally as well.”

Attorney General Sam Olens, whose office’s responsibilities are to shuffle papers rather than shovel dirt or dredge rivers, nevertheless sent out his own news release declaring the harbor project “a momentous day for the state of Georgia.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who is thought to be a Democrat, was invited to attend the contract signing along with numerous Republican elected officials.

Reed lauded the harbor project as one that would “create well-paying jobs and make us more competitive in the global economy. After nearly two decades of disruption and delay, I am proud to have been part of the bipartisan effort that got us to this point.”

State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Carter), who is running against Deal for governor, was not among those invited to the ceremony but sent out a news release anyway: “I am pleased that after 20 years, the Savannah Harbor deepening can finally move forward. All Georgians share in this good news. We’re in this position because our Congressional delegation was able to work across party lines to deliver for Georgia.”

Balfour’s farewell

Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) is the longest-serving Republican in the Georgia Senate, a distinction that goes away at the end of the year when he steps down from the Legislature (Balfour lost his Republican primary race).

He released a statement Wednesday about his tenure in Senate, saying in part:

“My time in the Senate provided me with many fond memories, whether passing legislation on the Senate floor, interacting with my constituents or watching Georgia Gwinnett College blossom into the great institution it is today.

“Throughout my tenure at the Capitol, you have become friends, colleagues, advisors, teachers and confidants; this is a blessing that I do not take lightly. I fully realize the great opportunity I have been awarded in serving you, and am truly appreciative to have the chance to get to know each and every one of you. Being entrusted as your state senator to represent the values that we believe make this country the best country in the world is one of my proudest accomplishments . . .

“I thank you for the chance to be your representative in the arena.”

Pharmaceutical settlement

Georgia has joined with several other states and the federal government to settle allegations that Shire Pharmaceuticals conducted off-label marketing campaigns that improperly promoted the drugs Adderall XR, Vyvanse, Daytrona, Lialda and Pentasa.

Shire, a Pennsylvania-based company, will pay the states and the federal government $56.5 million, with $48.1 million of that set aside for the Medicaid programs.

The payments will resolve civil allegations that the company unlawfully marketed these drugs and caused false claims to be submitted to the Medicaid programs. Georgia’s share of the settlement is about $1.78 million, Attorney General Sam Olens said.

Adderall XR, Vyvanse and Daytrona are approved by the FDA for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Lialda and Pentasa are approved for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Army Corps of Engineers , Don Balfour , GPA , Jason Carter , Kasim Reed , Nathan Deal , off-label drugs , pharmaceutical settlement , Sam Olens , Savannah River dredging