Two Things Gov Deal Should Consider Before Signing Campus Carry

HB 280, better known as Campus Carry, came out of a conference committee with new clauses and exceptions that are said to be straight from Governor Deal.  If true, that should make him more likely to sign the legislation that he vetoed last year.

But here’s a couple things he should consider before making that decision. One of his dealbreakers*, as indicated by his public statements on the issue and indicated by lawmakers who were privy to his demands, was an exemption from the bill for faculty and administrative offices. Those on the conference committee and the bill sponsors said they gave it to him. But did they? Here’s the exception:

(v) Not apply to faculty, staff, or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted

At first glance, it may seem that is a double clause, serving to do two things. 1) remove “faculty, staff, or administrative offices” and then 2) remove “rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.”

Sadly though, it may not. Because to do that you would need to have a comma after offices. Without that comma, it’s just two clauses both modifying “offices or rooms.” This reading becomes even more persuasive when you consider that both of these area exceptions, if they were meant to be separate, could, and perhaps should, have been put into different clauses. That’s how “Move on When Ready” and career academies were handled in the same bill. Continue reading “Two Things Gov Deal Should Consider Before Signing Campus Carry”

Adoption Bill To Return to Senate minus RFRA

But will it remain unencumbered?

It is widely accepted that Georgia’s adoption code is antiquated and cumbersome. It takes, on average almost 3 years to complete an adoption in this state. In other states it’s about a year.

This means that kids in foster care in this state must remain there while their prospective parents navigate the byzantine system that keeps kids from finding a family and enjoying the love and care it provides.

Out of state adoptions are a nightmare as well. Representative Bert Reeves has undertaken the Herculean task of updating the code. Things were going fine until RFRA landed on it in committee and the Governor weighed in and effectively marooned that bill in committee.

But, in this sine die episode of the Walking Dead, it has come back in the form of Senate Bill 130. What reception shall it have in the Upper Chamber?

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”

HB 51 Fails Survivors and Fails Ourselves

This is a guest post from Elliot Beckham, a Democratic Senate staffer who has closely watched the process of House Bill 51, which seeks to address the way all felonies are handled on campus, and specifically sexual assault.

In the ceaseless and toxic whirlwind of our national politics, it’s easy to forget that just a few short months ago a video was released in which our president bragged about committing sexual assault. We all know what followed: the left crying bloody murder over this misogyny, the right throwing back charges of hypocrisy over a previous president’s offenses, the parading of survivors, the onslaught of additional accusations, 24/7 both-sides cable news coverage, talking points and thinkpieces.

In short, sexual assault became just another issue to pick sides on, back your opinion up with your own facts, and argue over. It’s great for the media, great for the politicians who cleave the fabric of our society and use those divisions to get out their voters, but horrible for everyone else.

Back in reality, sexual assault is a tragically common and life-changing crime. Anyone touched by it knows this all too well; those accused lose their reputation and, sometimes, their freedom. Those assaulted lose even more. PTSD, substance abuse, and attempted or completed suicide rates for victims of sexual assault are drastically higher than for the average American. Survivors report depression and emotional instability nearly uniformly, sometimes for years. Recovery is an often lengthy and painful process that can disrupt communities, families, and friends.

Continue reading “HB 51 Fails Survivors and Fails Ourselves”

Stacey Evans Considering a Run for Governor

This is big news.

Stacey Evans has long been considered in Democratic circles as the type of candidate who could unlock our demographic box and appeal to the type of varied constituency that is needed to win a statewide race. In polls, her negatives are almost non-existent (though her name ID is low), she is heavily linked with protecting the HOPE scholarship, which remains the most popular government-related anything among Georgians.

The mantle of the HOPE scholarship and who protects it is battled for in every Georgia governor’s race, and on whose shoulders it comes to rest has marked the winner in every race since Zell Miller propelled himself to victory on its mere concept.

A different Stacey, Abrams, is widely rumored to be running for Governor, and a Stacey vs. Stacey matchup would give Georgia Democrats a sharp contrast in style and story. Who will voters identify with? Who will be their champion? With polls suggesting that a Trump presidency means a Georgia that is in play, which one of these women is most likely to become Georgia’s next Governor?

 

 

HB 159: Harming Children in the name of Religion

This is a guest post from Anthony Kreis, once Georgia’s legal champion of all that is right and fair, has returned in a limited engagement to voice his thoughts on HB 159, a one time adoption law reform bill, that is now a vehicle for religious freedom:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends! With another year, comes the inevitable– another unnecessary and contentious religious discrimination bill.  This year’s target is vulnerable children and the loving families who want to care for them.

HB 159 was initially a laudable, bipartisan attempt to revamp Georgia’s adoption laws. That was the case at least until the Senate had the chance to hijack the process and add a poison pill amendment.

As amended, HB 159 would permit taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective adoptive or foster parents if those agencies have a religious objection to placing children in the care of those families because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), or for anything else about them— if they’ve been divorced, if they practice a particular religion— that conflicts with the agency’s religious beliefs.  The bill would also permit these agencies to discriminate against children if they have religious objections to serving those children.

Continue reading “HB 159: Harming Children in the name of Religion”

Senator Isakson Comes Out Against Campus Carry

Senator Johnny Isakson did two Telephone Town Halls last week and was impressive in both. He took on all questions, showed his depth of knowledge and commitment to Georgians in all his responses. It is worth your time taking a couple hours to listen to the both in their entirety, even if you disagree with some of his positions.

Especially notable was his statement on the campus carry bill making its way through the legislature at current. He was asked about a US Senate bill regarding reciprocity of concealed carry permits, which he supports, but he added, and reiterated later, how opposed he was to Campus Carry:

You’ll note that he addresses proposals in the state legislature that would put guns in schools. Though he doesn’t say “Campus Carry” that’s the only real possibility.

His opposition to guns on campus is in line with that of Governor Nathan Deal, who vetoed the bill last year, and the people of Georgia, who in poll after poll, decline to support the initiative.

House Bill Seeks to Draw New District Lines in Violation of Constitution

Most people know that redistricting is a required process in the Georgia Legislature, generally undertaken every 10 years following the release of the U.S. Census. But what many do not know, is that sometimes the members of the legislature start trading homes and voters with each other in the middle of the decade.

This year though, they’ve brought a bill (HB515) that isn’t mere neighborhood realignment, it is a naked attempt to prevent voters from ousting their representatives. Rich Golick represents a district where the voters have increasingly been moving into the Democratic column. So does Brian Strickland. As a politician, you have at least two options: 1) you could change the way you represent the district, or 2) you could change the district you represent.

The second one only works if you can be pretty sure you are pulling your opponents out of the district and getting supporters in. If you don’t have sub-precinct data, you either have to take out entire precincts or divide them by the only metric you can be sure of: race.

HD 111 Race

HD 40 Race

But that leads to another problem. Shaw v. Reno and its progeny make it very clear, as they did in Miller v. Johnson that you can’t use race as the predominant factor. Here’s the court in Miller talking about Georgia’s attempts to create a majority-minority district:

“As race was the predominating factor motivating the Georgia General Assembly’s assignment of black voters to the Eleventh District, an equal protection claim was stated. Furthermore, as this racial classification could not withstand strict scrutiny analysis, it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”

Strict scrutiny, you say?

Not sure what the communities of interest argument could be here, but I am sure one will be made. But the real problem is this idea that legislators should be shuttling around voters and creating octopus shaped districts just to try to keep their jobs. That the method for so doing is apparently race-based just taints the process more.

This bill is slated for the House Supplemental Rules calendar this afternoon and for the House floor this evening. This entire maneuver, by the way, was created this week. Dropped on Tuesday night as a placeholder, then found this form on Wednesday afternoon after the committee met and immediately passed it out, over the objections of the only House member who testified.

 

Morning Reads for Wednesday, the 22nd of February, 2017

On this day in 1980, the US Olympic Hockey Team downed the Russians in the semifinal, in one of the greatest upsets in sports. In less great news for our nation, Spain ceded Florida to the US on this day in 1819.

  • If Not Darwin, Who? An alternative history of the great ideas of science. (Nautilus)
  • Rally to save ACA in Georgia sparked by those who had healthcare reliance (AJC)
  • John Oliver Takes on the Trump Era (Rolling Stone)
  • Take a guess, who’s America’s Shakespeare-a? (National Affairs)
  • Tom Brady, 4.8-time Super Bowl champion: but for a silly coin flip Atlanta might have beat us (Economist)
  • Spielberg: The Inner Lives of a Genius (New York Review of Books)
  • Meet the man responsible for third-wave coffee — and Frappuccinos. (Lucky Peach)
  • Get excited: Thursday will see the first vote on casinos! (AJC)
  • Woolly mammoth on verge of resurrection (the Guardian)
  • Scenes From the Westminster Dog Show, or Best Dog Detection (the Atlantic)
  • The Man Who Broke Ticketmaster: The most infamous ticket scalper of all time used bots to buy millions of tickets. Now he wants to stop them. Alternative title: Why You Couldn’t Get a Ticket to see A Flock of Seagulls (Vice)
  • Terrorists are building drones and France is destroying them with eagles (Wapo)
  • How DNA Editing Could Change Life on Earth (New Yorker)
  • GEMA Director increases his (Butter)worth (AJC)
  • Along with San Paolo and Shanghai, Atlanta among most difficult to go back and forth (WSB)
  • But good news! Because of this, they are going to fix North! (WABE)

Sally Yates, former Deputy AG, currently and forever DGD

When Sally Yates was selected by President Obama for her position in the Department of Justice she required Senate confirmation. She was questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions.

In it she is asked, and encouraged, if she will stand up to the White House when they propose to do something unlawful. Senator David Perdue implored her to do the same during his questioning. And what did she say? “My duty is to the law and to the Constitution.”

And she has done exactly what they asked her to do. And she was fired because of it.

Yesterday, in her position as Acting Attorney General (because Jeff Sessions has not yet been confirmed), Sally Yates defied the Trump administration and declared that under her watch, the Department of Justice would not defend Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration in court:

“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts,” she said in a letter. “In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

And that has made her a hero to everyone who feels that President Trump’s Executive Order does not reflect the values of this country. Which, it turns out, is a tremendous number of people. Speculation in Democratic circles here in Georgia immediately turned toward the possibility of Yates as a gubernatorial or senatorial candidate.

Yates’ litany of doting letters from Georgia’s top Republicans is well earned (Isakson+Chambliss, Deal). Matched with a decade of prosecuting corrupt politicians in Atlanta, it’s hard to understate her appeal to the elusive 3-5% of moderate, OTP white votes Democrats have been aimlessly chasing since “Boot Barnes” was a main stay on bumpers down in Perdue Country.

Could this Damn Good Dawg be the key to a Democrat winning statewide?