Voting machine bill passes Georgia Senate


ATLANTA — State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) must have been pleased when he heard the Georgia Senate passed a bill Wednesday to purchase new voting machines that will print paper ballots, something he has worked hard for.

The bill passed 35-21, along party lines and now goes back to the House, which passed a previous version of the bill. It is expected to pass there then move to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office for his signature.

The new machines, which will print paper ballots for the voter to review for accuracy before being inserted into a scanner for final tabulation, will cost taxpayers $150 million.

Tanner, who worked hard to get the bill passed in the House, said recently the voting machines were, “the most controversial issue from a partisan view that we have taken up this session. There has been a lot of talk by everyone on changing how our voting machines work.”

Tanner said the House Governmental Affairs Committee held a number of “very contentious, very, very long and well-attended meetings. “I can tell you that everyone in elected office in Atlanta has felt a whole lot of pressure from their constituents to make a change in the voting process – Democrats and Republicans.”

Debate in the Senate Wednesday was no less combative as lawmakers held an intense three-hour debate before voting.

Tanner has said the new voting machines could be in place for Georgia’s 7 million registered voters in time for next year’s presidential primary election.



Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at



Rep. Kevin Tanner talks issues at Saturday breakfast meeting


DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) returned to Dawson County Saturday morning to treat constituents to breakfast at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and to share news from the General Assembly.

Key topics included the current fiscal year amended budget, the proposed new budget, education, health care and transportation.

Tanner’s subcommittee is working on the amended budget that will “true up” revenue and expenses for the current fiscal year.

“One of the things we look at is what did we estimate revenue to be last year and what it is actually coming in at,” Tanner said. Until the two can balance, the proposed budget for the next fiscal year is set aside.

Legislators are trying to deal with Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign promise to give Georgia’s teachers a $3,000 annual pay raise. “We’re working through that now,” Tanner said. “That is an impact on the local budget also. Locally in Dawson County, that will be somewhere over $300,000 local officials will have to pay.”

During his state of the state address two weeks ago, Kemp discussed how rural hospitals are hurting and the need for an effective healthcare plan.

“I would anticipate seeing the details of Gov. Kemp’s healthcare plan early next week,” Tanner said.

He also touched on the importance of mental healthcare.

“There is a need for us to address mental healthcare issues, not just in Georgia, but all across the country,” he said.

“We closed all the mental health hospitals when there were a lot of lawsuits around mental health facilities due to inhumane treatment of people. There were legitimate cases of abuse. But instead of fixing the problem, we closed all the hospitals down. What happened was that population ended up on the streets where they didn’t necessarily need to be.”

Tanner has drafted legislation, along with the governor and House Speaker David Ralston to create a 17-member mental health commission which would include four legislators while the balance would include mainly mental health care professionals.

“It’s very much a bi-partisan effort,” Tanner said. “No matter what part of the state you live in, no matter who you are… rich, poor, most all of us know somebody or some family who is affected by mental illness.”

Tanner talked about the creation of a Department of Mobility and Innovation.

“When you get outside the metro area, (transit) is very disjointed and dysfunctional,” he said. “If Dawson County wants to provide service, they have to deal with three state agencies and three separate boards.”

By placing transit under the Department of Mobility and Innovation, Tanner says citizens can expect better service.

Tanner holds weekly breakfast sessions every Saturday to update constituents on what is happening at the state capitol. Next week he will host the meeting at Wagon Wheel in Dahlonega.


Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at









Dawson County Earns “Certified Literate Community” Title


Sandy Lipkowitz (l) and Annaliza Thomas at R.E.A.D. award ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Denise Ray).


DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County is one of only 39 of Georgia’s 159 counties to be designated a “Certified Literate Community” and as State Representative Kevin Tanner said, that’s a big deal.

“It’s a lot more than an award or a road sign,” Tanner said at the recent award ceremony. “It is a sign of progress for more jobs and better jobs. Better salaries allow for nicer homes, a financially sustainable community and more services can be made available. Education is a gift that gives back for a lifetime.”

The event was hosted by Reading Education Association of Dawson County (R.E.A.D.) which coordinated the effort. Community leaders like County Commissioner Julie Nix, R.E.A.D. Executive Director Sandy Lipkowitz, Board Chairman Billy Nickerson and Dawson County’s former Certified Literate Community Director Billy Izzard were on hand when CLCP Director Annaliza Thomas made the announcement.

Lanier Tech President Dr. Ray Perren (Photo courtesy of Denise Ray)

Thomas had high praise for Dawson County’s R.E.A.D. program, calling its application one of the best we have ever seen. She and Izzard evaluated the program and agreed that when it came to community collaboration, Dawson County exceeded all others.

Lanier Technical College President Dr. Ray Perren called it a great day for Dawson County. “The work you are doing, as you already know, is not only changing lives today but its changing lives for generations that are not even born yet.”


Council to Decide Mayor’s Fate at 3 p.m. Meeting; Controversial AMP Hearing Scheduled for 7 p.m.


DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The City of Dawsonville will hold two important meetings Monday. At 3 p.m., the council will conduct an up or down vote on the removal of Mayor James Grogan from office for allegedly violating the City Code and Charter. At 7 p.m. there will be a public hearing on a highly controversial request by Atlanta Motorsports Park to relax lighting, noise and hours of operation restrictions.

Grogan was the subject of a city-wide investigation to decide what, if anything, should be done to ensure city officials are in compliance with the charter. The conclusion was that Mayor Grogan should be removed from office.

At last week’s meeting, Gainesville City Attorney Abbott Hayes, who led the investigation, reported that Grogan had been paid for meetings not authorized by city council, charged alcohol and gasoline to his city-issued credit card, allowed a state representative to pay the lower residential rate for water, sewer and garbage for a business instead of the appropriate commercial rate and that he authorized lower fees for rezoning applications than those set by council.

In responding to the charges, Grogan said, “I’m disappointed in council and what they have laid out. A lot of things they have pointed out go back five years and we’ve made a lot of policy changes since then. I didn’t do anything wrong. This is the result of a witch hunt that has been conducted by two city council members against me for the last year and a half.”

Hayes report alleges that in 2015, when State Rep. Kevin Tanner complained about paying the higher commercial rate for city water, sewer and garbage on behalf of Tanco Investments, LLC, Grogan unilaterally allowed him to pay the lower residential rate instead.

Between 2013 and 2015, Hayes said, Grogan approved donations to nonprofit organizations, including golf tournaments in which he participated as a player. When the City Attorney pointed out that donations to nonprofit organizations by the City violates the gratuities clause of the Georgia State Constitution the payments stopped.

The City Charter provides for the mayor to be paid a monthly compensation of $2,000 plus $100 “for each specially called city council meeting, work session or other meeting that has been pre-approved by the council. But Hayes alleges that Grogan charged the city for meetings that were not pre-approved by council.

Finally, Hayes alleges that in Nov. 2014, Grogan instructed city employee Sara Beachem to purchase four bottles of alcohol for him to give as a door prize at a regional government dinner. The report states that the Mayor’s unilateral decision to purchase alcohol for use as a door prize without approval of the city council violated the City Code and Charter.

Section 5.15 of the City Charter provides the mayor shall be subject to removal for any one or more of the following causes: Incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance in office; Abandonment of office or neglect to perform the duties thereof or Failure for any other cause to perform the duties of office as required by this Charter or by law.

The 7 p.m. public hearing is expected to draw a standing-room-only crowd as council votes on modifications to the current provisions at Atlanta Motorsports Park that include changes to lighting, sound restrictions, hours and addition of condominiums.

A March 13 Planning Commission hearing on the issue drew a packed house, made up mostly of angry citizens who live near the track and say the noise has already destroyed the tranquility and quality of life in the area. Despite community objections, planning commission voted 2-1 (Stan Worley in opposition) to recommend the modifications.

City council tabled the issue so council members could visit AMP and experience the noise levels firsthand.

The land where AMP was built was annexed from Dawson County and county commissioners wrote a letter to city council requsting council reject the changes on behalf of the citizens who live nearby.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at



Will Governor Nathan Deal Sign HB 757 “Free Exercise Protection” Religious Freedom / Pastor Protection?


Senator Steve Henson Democratic Leader District 41. Henson said the bill allows for discrimination and it’s the wrong message for Georgia to send the world.

(Scroll to the bottom to read the entire amended Bill)

On the afternoon of March 16th, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge, District 7) did what many of his critics said he would never do, allow a religious freedom bill to come to the floor for a vote.


The original sponsor of HB 757 “The Pastor Protection Act’ now known as the “Free Exercise Protection Act” Kevin Tanner (R – Dawsonville District 9) presented the amended version of the bill to the House for a vote.


Randy Nix (R – LaGrange District 69) and Allen Peake (R – Macon District 141) spoke in support of the bill as they shared with the House they have gay family members.


The original version of HB 757 passed the House with unanimous support from both parties but the Democrats did not show the same support for the amended version.


Karla Drenner (D – Avondale Estates District 85) said that if she would have known she was going to vote on this bill when she left the house this morning she would have worn a black suit, “The Bill is a license to discriminate.”

Taylor Bennett (D – Brookhaven District 80) shared that his mom is gay and has been married to her partner since 2014.

Stacy Abrams (D – Atlanta District 89) “Bill makes it lawful to discriminate.”

After House debate closed, the bill passed 104-65 and was sent to the Senate.

When Senate Democrats unsuccessfully attempted three amendments to the bill, Kirk gave a brief description of the bill before the vote.

The Senate passed the bill 37-18.

Senator Josh McKoon (R – District 29) released the following statement “After three years of speeches, meetings, town halls, debates, amendments and forums — many miles on the highways and byways of this state — final passage at last of a REAL religious freedom bill. Thank you to all who have been on this journey with us.”


The bill now ends up on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk. Will the governor accept the bill as a good compromise or feel it discriminates and will cause economic backlash against the state?


Free Exercise Protection Act Adopted in the house 3/16/2016 Ayes 104 Nays 65

Senator Vincent Fort Democratic Whip District 39. We will be endorsing a boycott of the state.

Senator Harold V. Jones II District 22 Democrat. What day and time did you become a heterosexual person? God made you that way. God made someone gay there is no difference. What difference does any of it make. There is nothing wrong with liking someone the same sex. This is not a proud day in the state of Georgia.

Senator Greg Kirk District 13 Republican. Sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act. Kirk said this is a great compromise and encouraged the Senate to pass the House amended version of HB 757.

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