Jon Richards: 61 Years Young

Jon Richards (on the right, of course) Waves Sine Die. Photo by the AJC’s Ben Gray

Jonathan Blair Richards, (November 27th, 1955-March 26, 2017) died today after a brief battle with cancer. In this overview of his life we ask that you not focus on the years cut short, but the fact that Jon made the most of the years he had with us.

Jon was born the son of the late Glenn Richards and Caroline Richards, now of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the brother of Amy Richards of Pasadena, California and Anne (Andrew) McFall of Sarasota, Florida. He was most proud of being the uncle of Cal, Matthew, and Stuart McFall, for whom he was often the designated pumpkin carver and the official distributor of presents found under the tree on Christmas morning.

Uncle Jon and Matthew, as official distributor of Christmas Presents found under the tree.

Jon graduated from Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati, OH and then went on to Allegheny College in Allegheny, PA where he graduated in 1977 with a degree in Communications. Shortly thereafter, he followed a friend who had advised him Atlanta was the place to be, and he eventually settled in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He had the good fortune to move next door to Pat and Danny Dobbs. They began Jon’s long history of amassing Georgia friends and planting roots now firmly entrenched in Gwinnett and Georgia civic and political circles. Continue reading “Jon Richards: 61 Years Young”

A Resolution Honoring Jon Richards

A resolution was placed in the Senate hopper on Friday in recognition of Jon Richards.

Senate Resolution 539

By: Senators Unterman of the 45th, Martin of the 9th, Shafer of the 48th, Butler of the 55th, Henson of the 41st and others


Recognizing Jon Richards; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, Jon Richards became a Georgian by moving to Lawrenceville, Georgia, after graduating from Allegheny College and having been born in Cleveland, Ohio; and

WHEREAS, Jon Richards has been a great family man as son to his mother, Caroline, and his late father, Glenn; his sisters Amy and Anne; his brother-in-law Andrew; and his nephews, Cal, Matthew, and Stuart, for whom he is an experienced pumpkin carver and the official distributor of presents found under the tree on Christmas morning; and

WHEREAS, Jon Richards is an accomplished businessman, having sold several enterprises in the emerging tech world to allow for an early and comfortable retirement; and Continue reading “A Resolution Honoring Jon Richards”

HB 510 Might Simplify A Few Things in Hall County (Now With 100% More Muscogee County!)

House Bill 510, which passed the House on March 3, had its first reading on the Senate floor this morning. Sponsored by Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), the bill is succinct – and a little vague:

Article 2 of Chapter 3 of Title 3 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to 8 prohibited acts regarding alcoholic beverages, is amended by repealing and reserving 9 subsection (d) of Code Section 3-3-21, relating to sales of alcoholic beverages near churches, 10 school buildings, or other sites.

The Georgia Municipal Association offers a little more insight:

This bill would repeal a section of the alcoholic beverages code dealing with distance requirements in counties with populations between 175,000 and 195,000 residents. This bill would bring said counties under the same distance requirements as the rest of the state.

Right now, state law precludes anyone from serving liquor within 100 yards of a school, and 200 yards of a church, and beer and wine within 100 yards of any school or college campus (that’ll keep those rowdy college kids from getting their hands on a keg!) I have no idea why counties with populations within 175,000 and 195,000 had such specific ways to measure these distances – but if HB510 makes it through the Senate, Hall County, the only county to fall within that population range, will be just like Georgia’s other 158 counties.

Updated at 5:20 PM — A reader inquired why I referenced Hall County if all of HB 510’s sponsors are from Muscogee County. Candidly, I didn’t do a deep dive into the background of this bill. I skimmed a list this morning’s bills on the Senate floor and HB 510 caught my eye because distance requirements (and how they are measured) are an issue that come up regularly in municipal zoning issues. The county population requirement in subsection (d) of Code Section 3-3-21 was so specific that I wanted to find out which counties this bill impacted and from what I saw from the 2015 census numbers, HB 510 only impacted Hall.

Let’s get more specific, though. Subsection (d) specifies that its distance requirements are only for “counties having a population of not less than 175,000 nor more than 195,000, according to the United States decennial census of 1970 or any future such census.” According to the 2015 numbers I linked to above, Hall County was the only county to have a population that fell between 175,000 and 195,000 (if anyone knows why this came to be back in 1970, please share in the comments). Also in 2015, Muscogee County is listed as having a population of 200,579.

However, if you read the code’s language as specifying decennial census numbers, HB 510 only considers the numbers from the 2010 census, where Hall had a population of 179,684, and Muscogee’s population was 190,545.

So, if you’re looking at the most recent census estimates, HB 510 only impacts Hall. If you’re looking at the decennial 2010 census numbers, however, HB 510 impacts Hall and Muscogee Counties.

New Fox 5 poll has Ossoff leading Handel with a 2-1 lead

In an exclusive poll by Fox 5 | Opinion Savvy, Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff is currently leading Republican candidate Karen Handel at 40% with Handel behind him at 20%.

Next up are former Johns Creek City Councilman Bob Gray and State Senator Judson Hill of Marietta, tied at 10%. Former State Senator Dan Moody of Johns Creek is at 8%. The rest of the candidates totaled 6%. There are 18 candidates in total.

According to the Fox 5 release:

In an Ossoff/Handel runoff, Handel has 41%, Ossoff 42%, and 17% are undecided.

In an Ossoff/Gray runoff, Gray has 42%, Ossoff 44%, and 14% are undecided.

In an Ossoff/Hill runoff, Hill has 45%, Ossoff 44%, and 11% are undecided.

In an Ossoff/Moody runoff, Moody has 43%, Ossoff 46%, and 11% undecided.

The poll conducted by Opinion Savvy surveyed 462 registered voters in the 6th District, and has a margin of error of 4.5%.

The poll also asked voters in what historically has been a Republican district about the job President Trump is doing.

The poll shows an approval rating of 53% for the President, disapproval at 46%, and only 1% unsure.

The election for the open Congressional seat is April 18th, with the top 2 vote getters facing off in a June 20th runoff.

Senator Michael Williams Making Rounds In Trump Territory

Senator Michael Williams (R-Cumming) was one of the, if not *the*, first elected officials to hitch his wagon to the #TrumpTrain.  His loyalty hasn’t earned him a cabinet position, but perhaps he’s banking that the #TrumpTrain will have a stop somewhere over on West Paces Ferry Road.

Earlier this week, Mike Hassinger mentioned how Duane Chapman, a.k.a Dog the Bounty Hunter, has been hounding Georgians to back Senator Williams’ SB 254 that (as of legislative day 38) is stuck in committee.

It’s been speculated that the Senator is aspiring for higher office of some sort.  The “some sort” has been assumed to be governor, but nothing concrete…until this picture from yesterday afternoon popped up on Facebook:

Continue reading “Senator Michael Williams Making Rounds In Trump Territory”

Senate to vote on “General Supervision” Clause for Dental Hygienists

I love having my teeth cleaned. It’s actually probably more of an obsession for me. I can’t help it. I was born to a dentist and dental hygiene ranked right up there with making my bed.

As the kid of a dentist, I am well aware of the rules that exists for dental hygienists. If we were the first patient after lunch and Dad wasn’t in the building yet, we couldn’t start our cleaning until he got back. There are policies and checks and balances that help to keep everyone safe. And I am ok with that.

However, while good dental hygiene is important to me and my family, as well as being easily accessible, that is not the case for everyone. 1 in 4 children in the state of Georgia do not receive preventative dental care. According to SB 12:

…nearly one-third of older adults have untreated tooth decay and nearly 25% of older adults 65 to 74 have severe gum disease. Statistics also show that significant percentage of lower income children in Georgia do not have adequate access to dental care, putting them at significant risk of developing tooth decay and other oral health issues.

The bill would allow dental hygienists can clean teeth and apply flouride and sealants without the dentist present in the office.  This is already the case in 47 states. It would add approved safety net settings for charity care clinics, federally qualified health centers, long-term care facilities (nursing homes), school-based health centers, and would add private practice settings to the list of places where dental hygienists can perform their duties with only “general supervision” from a dentist.

It sounds cheesy, but a confident smile goes a long way, no matter who you are. Basic preventative dental care allows for dental hygiene education to occur, which not only provides a foundation for the importance of life long dental care, but can save lives.


HB 234: Drivers, Don’t Run Over People; Pedestrians and Bicyclists, Don’t Press That Button Unless You Mean It

I believe the title of my post, though lengthy, sums up the proposed effects of HB 234.  Basically, if you’re a driver and you see a flashing crosswalk sign, as pictured above from the Federal Highway Administration site about those signs officially called “Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFB)”, you need to stop and let the pedestrian or bicyclist cross the road.

There’s also a provision of the bill that tells pedestrians and bicyclists to not push it unless they really intend to cross:

No pedestrian or bicycle rider shall manually activate or intentionally cause to be activated a rapid-flash beacon or similar device at a crosswalk unless such pedestrian or bicycle rider intends to cross such roadway.

So, I guess you would get a ticket if you pressed the button, watched the cars stop, and laughed maniacally as you walked away from those 15 or 30 seconds of inconveniencing people on a busy thoroughfare.

In all seriousness, I’m not sure how rampant of a problem balking at a crosswalk is, but it looks like this updating OCGA to codify that drivers do in fact need to stop at crosswalks with RRFBs when they’re activated and that people using RRFBs don’t activate them unless they really are going to cross.

Cove’s Law to be Considered Today in the Senate

The Senate is set to consider Cove’s Law (HB241) today. The legislation seeks to provide an option, but not a mandate, for parents to screen their newborn for Krabbe Disease at a cost to the parents of between $3-5.

The proposed legislation is named after Cove Marie Ellis. She was diagnosed with Krabbe Disease in February, 2016 at the age of 7 months. Her parents discovered after her diagnosis that the disease could have possibly been treated at birth if a screening had been performed. The most common treatment is to transplant stem-cells from cord blood to the newborn.

Krabbe disease is the same disease that took the life of eight year old Hunter Kelly, the son of Football Hall of Famer and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly.  According to an article at ESPN, Krabbe Disease is “an inherited degenerative disorder of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The disease hinders development of the myelin sheath, a fatty covering that protects the brain’s nerve fibers.” This leads to the deterioration of the brain and nerves and eventually death.

The House previously passed the bill unanimously, but it has not come without detractors. Georgia Health News reports that some doctors are concerned that testing is not at the level it needs to be and there is the possibility of false positives. Further, some experts are concerned with the fact that some children do not survive the transplant treatment.

According to the Georgia Health News article, Dr. William Wilcox,  a professor of human genetics at the Emory University School of Medicine, stated:

“Everyone wants to do the right thing for kids. The testing is being pushed with the wrong information. They’re doing real harm. When there is better testing and treatment, we will support screening for all babies.”

Emory expressed in a statement that they are capable of performing the testing on newborns and desire to do so. The bill would allow for other testing laboratories located in Georgia to perform the test if licensed and authorized to do so. Out-of-state laboratories would have to be approved by The Department of Community Health.

HB 615 & SB 292: Proposal For A Walker County Board Of Commissioners

Proposed Walker County Commission Districts as drawn by the Legislative Apportionment Office

Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), with SB 292, and Representatives Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) and John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain), with HB 615, are moving legislation to bring the opportunity to give citizens in Walker County to decide if they want to keep the current sole commission form of government or opt for a multi-member board.  The district commissioners would be part-time drawing a $12,000 annual salary with the full-time drawing a salary of the highest paid elected county official plus an additional $500 with an amount that doesn’t exceed $100,000 per year.

This has been a touchy issue for the past 6 or so years with people from LaFayette seeming leading the charge.  Under the law as proposed (which will probably end up passing by Sine Die), voters would directly elect a commissioner from their district and the at-large, full-time commission chairman.  Currently, voters in Walker County directly elect the sole-commissioner thereby having a 100% affect on their local government.  If the proposal is approved in 2018, voters would cede 60% of their current power in favor of directly electing 2 out of 5 members of county government in order to have a more representative county government.

Continue reading “HB 615 & SB 292: Proposal For A Walker County Board Of Commissioners”

Lt. Governor Cagle: The Prescription for Obamacare

This is an op-ed from the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle. 

This week marks seven years since Obamacare was signed into law. Leading up to the passage of the 2,700-page legislation, Nancy Pelosi announced: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Although much has been made of Pelosi’s dismissive remarks, it’s true that it took years for Obamacare to take root. The prognosis is now painfully clear: Obamacare is failing Georgia.

Over the past seven years, the federal government has imposed mandate after mandate to socialize our health care system. In fact, several thousand pages of regulations have been issued to support its misguided directives.

Along with the billions of dollars in tax increases shouldered by consumers, the law has failed to keep its promises. Year after year, our families are subjected to double-digit premium increases, with rising deductibles and increasingly fewer choices. In my hometown, Gainesville’s insurance market has seen annual premiums rise by up to 22%. Obamacare has ultimately led to a deteriorating health care system and runaway costs.

Under its restrictive requirements, small businesses have been penalized – and even threatened with bankruptcy. I often hear from small business owners who’ve been forced to shift full-time employees to part time schedules or reduce their wages to comply with Obamacare’s complex web of regulations. Continue reading “Lt. Governor Cagle: The Prescription for Obamacare”