Political Notes – First Zika case confirmed in Georgia

[private]The state Department of Public Health has confirmed the first travel-related case of the Zika virus in Georgia.

A non-pregnant individual traveled to Colombia between the end of December and the first of January and has made a full recovery. DPH said. Tests are still being conducted on specimens from several other Georgia residents with travel history to areas where there are Zika virus outbreaks.

“It is extremely important that individuals who have traveled to countries where there are on-going Zika virus outbreaks keep guard against additional mosquito bites,” said Cherie Drenzek, the state epidemiologist for DPH.

DPH is cautioning travelers, especially pregnant women, traveling to countries where Zika virus has been reported: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others.

A Senate victory for NRA caps

The Georgia Senate voted for a change in the state’s election laws that is intended to define more clearly what you can and can’t wear when you go to your precinct on election day – such as an NRA cap.

Senators voted 39-15 to pass SB 199 and sent it on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough) said the bill was introduced because of an incident in 2014 where a Douglas County resident wearing a National Rifle Association cap was told to take off the cap before he would be allowed to vote. State election law says you can’t bring campaign material into a polling place.

SB 199 more specifically defines “campaign material” as printed matter or paraphernalia that refers to the name of a candidate, a referendum issue, or a political party. It would exempt organizations like the NRA.

Senate Republicans voted to engross the bill prior to debate, which means no amendments could be offered to the measure. That stirred up Democrats, who said they were being disenfranchised of their right to vote on a bill affecting voters.

Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said the bill also could affect senior citizens who might want to take a list of candidates and issues with them into the voting booth. Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) said the law change would not apply to that.

DOT board member reelected

Legislators who represent parts of the Fourth Congressional District on Wednesday reelected Robert Brown, a DeKalb County architect, as the district representative to the State Transportation Board.

Cagle’s spokesman

Adam Sweat, who formerly worked in the Senate Information Office, is the new press spokesman for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, replacing Ben Fry, who left the lieutenant governor’s office late last year.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Adam Sweat , DOT board , election laws , public health , Rick Jeffares , Robert Brown , Zika virus