Political Notes — There’s no dilution of fees for these water attorneys

[private]The dozens of lawyers who are working on Georgia’s case in a federal water allocation lawsuit won’t have to worry about getting their fees.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order last week transferring $5 million more from the Governor’s Emergency Fund “to cover costs associated with water litigation.”

That’s in addition to the $11.06 million that Deal transferred from his emergency fund last April for the same stated purpose — “to cover costs associated with water litigation.”

In all, the state has spent an estimated $40 million over the years to handle lawsuits that involve the question of how much water Georgia should be taking from the Chattahoochee River.

The most recent lawsuit, which was filed by Florida in 2013, alleges that Georgia is drinking too deeply from the Chattahoochee and is harming the Apalachicola River as a result. The U.S. Supreme Court appointed Maine attorney Ralph Lancaster as special master to try to work out a resolution to the lawsuit.

Negotiations have not produced a settlement, however, and the case is scheduled for trial Oct. 31 in federal court in Portland, Maine.

In anticipation of that trial, Judson “Jud” Turner stepped down as director of the state Environmental Protection Division in April to work on the water litigation team as a special assistant attorney general.

Georgia a battleground? Not quite yet

One of the key money people in the race for president says Georgia is still not quite a battleground state, but could be up for consideration in the coming weeks.

Guy Cecil is chairman of the super-PAC Priorities USA, which is trying to raise $200 million to be independently spent in support of Demcratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Cecil said Priorities USA has aired ads in nine states so far but is looking to expand the field:

I do think Arizona is an intriguing proposition: you have a competitive Senate race there, you obviously have a rapidly growing Hispanic community, you now have the [Joe] Arpaio race that I think will be a huge motivator. That’s an intriguing state for us, and one we’re going to take a look at over the next month or six weeks to make some decision about investment there. I’m skeptical beyond that, but certainly we continue to poll and make sure we’re not missing opportunities and that we’re not taking anything for granted.

I think Georgia and Indiana are the next two states that we poll in pretty regularly and are taking a look at. Part of this is just having resources, and if we have the opportunity to raise more than we expect then we’ll look at additional states. But right now our focus is in making sure we’re doing everything we can in the nine states we’re advertising in — which are essentially the nine closest Obama states.

Economic developments

Cordele Intermodal Services (CIS), the state’s first inland terminal, will team up with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) to handle as many as 30,000 TEU containers annually that will supply the Kia manufacturing plant in West Point.

KMMG will move auto parts via rail from the Port of Savannah to the Cordele terminal and then to West Point via trucks.

“Working with our state partners, as well as our suppliers, in this way not only benefits KMMG, but also increases efficiency, which adds value to the end product, ultimately benefiting our customers,” said Stuart C. Countess, chief administrative officer of KMMG. “We see this as another example of our company philosophy of continuous improvement.”

In a separate economic development announcement, Voxpro, a customer service and technical support firm, will spend $4 million by 2020 on a new facility in Athens-Clarke County.

Voxpro, which is headquartered in Cork, Ireland, has more than 1,700 employees worldwide that provide customer support services for businesses that include Google, Airbnb and Nest.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: battleground state , economic development , legal fees , Nathan Deal , Priorities USA , water lawsuit