Political Notes — Deal’s a little uneasy about offshore drilling

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t sound so convinced that the Trump administration’s call to drill for oil and gas off all coastlines is such a great idea.

The reason: the potential threats it would bring to Georgia’s tourism industry.

“We don’t want to destroy whatever tourist trade we have, and it is a sizable tourist attraction along the coast of Georgia,” Deal said. “We want to make sure that it continues to offer those opportunities for our state.”

“I doubt that the coastline of the state of Georgia would be a profitable place for offshore drilling, and I think if it is considered to be so, we need to have a lot of discussions about that,” he added. “My preference would be that nothing be done that would interfere with our tourism industry and our prime tourist attractions.”

Deal made the comments during the annual Tourism, Hospitality & Arts Day at the capitol, where he touted the estimated $60 billion impact of tourism on the state’s economy

Deal has made common cause here with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who asked that his state be exempted from the offshore drilling plan because of its tourism impact. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke granted the request.

Working group moves cannabis bill

The House Medical Cannabis Working Group has given a favorable vote to HB 645, a bill that would establish a system for the cultivation and dispensing of low THC oil in Georgia.

The House group headed by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) voted Wednesday to move HB 645 on to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee for further consideration.

The bill provides that the Department of Public Health would be in charge of licensing the cultivation of cannabis to produce low THC oil and the dispensing of the substance within the state.

Public colleges would have the right of first refusal to be licensed as a production facility. If no college exercised the option, the department would put the licenses up for competitive sealed bids.

Pridemore to replace Wise

Gov. Nathan Deal has confirmed what had long been speculated around the capitol: he will probably appoint his longtime political ally, Tricia Pridemore, to replace Stan Wise on the Public Service Commission.

Wise is formally stepping down from the regulatory agency on Feb. 20, but when he first announced his plans to retire early last fall, Pridemore promptly filed the papers to run for his seat.

Chris Vachovetz of Marietta has also filed to run for Wise’s seat.

© 2018 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Allen Peake , low THC oil , Nathan Deal , offshore drilling , tourism industry , Tricia Pridemore