Political Notes — New water act should mean more $$$ for Savanah harbor project

[private]The U.S. House and Senate gave final passage Saturday to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which is expected to result in additional federal funds for the expansion of the port of Savannah.

No dollar figure is available as of yet, but the new law will require the federal government to pay 75 percent of the costs for projects such as the dredging of the Savannah River, rather than the current level of 50 percent.

“For nearly two decades, the federal government has put up barriers and failed to match the commitment of the state to fund this critical project,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler).

“With the WIIN Act, the federal government will finally be held accountable to support SHEP (Savannah Harbor Expansion Project) moving forward,” Carter said.

Georgia so far has committed $260 million for the dredging project, which is estimated to cost more than $706 million to complete.

Another opinion on the Ralston reprimand

We reported last week on the Georgia Supreme Court’s signoff on a public reprimand, a relatively light penalty, for House Speaker David Ralston’s admitted violations of two rules of professional conduct for lawyers.

The violations resulted from a case Ralston handled several years for Paul and Shanda Chernak, a couple who were suing for damages resulting to Paul Chernak from an auto accident.

Ralston and his attorneys in this case pronounced themselves satisfied with the outcome.

The Chernaks’ current attorney, Barbara Cole of Gainesville, was not pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling, sending this statement to Greg Land of the Daily Report:

“My clients have been forever harmed by Ralston’s actions. Ralston failed my clients, the bar failed my clients and now the Supreme Court has failed them as well. Everyone’s interest was served with the exception of the Chernaks. Politics have prevailed over justice and all those involved should be ashamed that they have allowed this to happen.”

Insurance policy service announced

State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said his department is offering a free service to help Georgia consumers locate a deceased relative’s unclaimed life insurance benefits.

“There are many Georgians who don’t know where to begin when searching for a lost life insurance policy,” said Commissioner Hudgens. “The life insurance policy locator streamlines and simplifies the process for consumers.”

The NAIC’s “Life Insurance Policy Locator” provides nationwide assistance with finding life insurance policies and annuities. An estimated $1 billion in benefits from life insurance policies go unclaimed, says Consumer Reports.

Requests for assistance in locating a policy are encrypted and secured to maintain confidentiality. Participating insurers will compare submitted requests with available policyholder information and report all matches to state insurance departments through the locator. Companies will then contact beneficiaries or their authorized representatives.

Harris is new GVRA deputy

Kevin Harris has been appointed deputy executive director of the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA). Harris has worked for the agency since its creation in 2012, serving as the external affairs director.

“Kevin is without a doubt the best person to help me lead this organization towards an even further expansion of services, with the goal of helping any Georgian who wants to work and build a career,” said Executive Director Sean T. Casey.

Harris earlier was executive director of the Georgia Republican Party and the political director for Gov. Nathan Deal’s first gubernatorial campaign.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Buddy Carter , David Ralston , GVRA , Kevin Harris , life insurance policies , Ralph Hudgens , Savannah port expansion