LaGrange Sued for Restricting Access to Utilities

A lawsuit representing the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Troup County NAACP, Project South, and seven residents of LaGrange was filed in Atlanta Thursday, alleging that the city illegally restricts access to basic utilities with policies that unfairly target African-Americans and Latinos. The city of LaGrange, the sole provider of utilities in the area, disconnects utilities for consumers with outstanding court fines and refuses service to those who cannot provide a Social Security Number and a photo ID issued by the state or federal government. It is also a crime in LaGrange to open a utility account on behalf of someone without proper documentation.

LaGrange has been using the court fees policy as a stream of income because, unlike many other Georgia cities, it does not collect property tax. The problem: In a review of individuals affected by the policy in 2015, 90 percent were African-American, though African-Americans only make up 49 percent of the population. This violates both the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and Georgia state laws regarding discrimination, according to the lawsuit.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“There are enough collateral consequences associated with a criminal conviction,” said Atteeyah Hollie, one of the lawyers in the case. “Being threatened with water or electricity disconnection shouldn’t be one of them.”

Governor Deal signs bill to Strengthen Sex Trafficking Laws

Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) issued the following statement after Governor Deal signed House Bill 341 into law:

“House Bill 341 becoming law brings us one step closer to properly prosecuting those who engage in sex trafficking or soliciting victims,” said Sen. Unterman. “Fighting for sex trafficking victim’s rights remains a top priority for the Georgia General Assembly and everyone who works outside the capitol year-round to ensure the issue of sex trafficking continues to be addressed. Passing and enacting legislation like HB 341 solidifies our efforts and assures victims and their families that we are doing something to address these horrible acts.”

Under HB 341, changes are made to provisions in Georgia law relating to sex trafficking. Currently, a person commits the offense of sex trafficking when they knowingly subject an individual to, or maintain an individual in sexual servitude. This includes recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining by any means a person for the purpose of sexual servitude. HB 341 adds that a person may also commit the offense of sex trafficking if they solicit an individual to perform anything related to sexual conduct when the person they solicit is being trafficked.

A Runoff for You! And a Runoff for You! Everyone Gets a Runoff!

I was reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last Wednesday night when I came upon the realization that there will be two different runoff elections within the next two months. More accurately, I was reading Jim Galloway’s “Ahead of Georgia’s Sixth District contest, a May 16 test vote,” which alerted me to the fact this was happening. Having spent time working for the Representative from Alaska, I came to like the fact that there were no runoff elections in that state. I wrongly believed until this week that North Carolina didn’t have runoffs, either, because I didn’t see one in the two years I lived there as the requirement to trigger one is that no candidate reaches a 40 percent threshold in a general, primary, or special election. (They used to require candidates to reach a majority, but changed the law in 1989.)

Here, however, we have runoffs all. the. time. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Before I go any further with this, I want to emphatically say while an article about the current races for state senate district 32 and congressional district 6 prompted me to look into the cost and turnout of Georgia runoff elections, this post is not intended to be for or against any particular candidate in those two races, nor am I advocating changing the rules midstream. Rather, I hope to start a conversation about the reasoning behind why our elections process is the way it is and whether or not we should look at making changes for future elections. Continue reading “A Runoff for You! And a Runoff for You! Everyone Gets a Runoff!”

Drug Treatment Tourism Isn’t The Type Of Tourism We Had In Mind

Drug treatment centers, colloquially known as methadone clinics, have popped up across northwest Georgia.  The clinics have a purpose: to treat those with a drug dependency of heroin and other opioids by treating with methadone.  Methadone replaces the drug the person is dependent on and is seen as an effective treatment.  It’s also a controversial treatment.  I’m not a doctor, so I won’t speak to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the treatment.  If there are any doctors in the house, feel free to opine in the comments.

That’s not really the issue.  The issue is the number of, as an AP article that discusses this matter, “tourists” that these clinics bring to north Georgia.  According to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, one in five people treated at a Georgia methadone clinic last year was out of state.  In the same time frame, every two out of three people who visited these clinics in northwest Georgia were from out of state.

Continue reading “Drug Treatment Tourism Isn’t The Type Of Tourism We Had In Mind”

You Can’t Have a Hospital Because We Don’t Get to Build It

In the continuing saga that is the building of a hospital in Columbia County, The Augusta Chronicle reports today that the Georgia Court of Appeals has voted to send the case Doctors Hospital filed against the Georgia Department of Community Health back to Fulton County Superior Court. Doctors Hospital had asked for a judicial review of the GDCH’s decision to award Augusta University Medical Center a Certificate of Need (CON) through an exemption in 2014, and somehow, all the documentation for the review did not make its way to the Appeals Court. Specifically, Doctors Hospital had asked that some documents be added to the file, and they weren’t for whatever reason. Fulton County was supposed to send those documents within 10 days of the request back on November 8, 2016.

They missed the deadline by 154 days as of this morning.

Now, they have been ordered via ruling to submit the complete review to the Appeals Court, where it will be re-docketed for the next term. Yes, it’s a paperwork error, probably just an oversight from someone who earnestly made a mistake and had no ulterior motives, but Columbia County residents have been held hostage by this drama for almost four years already. Continue reading “You Can’t Have a Hospital Because We Don’t Get to Build It”

Dear Medical Association Of Georgia: Do Better

Hello MAG. It’s time we had a little chat.

You guys come to the capitol every year, and talk about reducing the burden of regulation on your physicians so they can be free to practice medicine. It’s a worthy goal, one I’m usually sympathetic to. Or at least, I have been.

Do you know where bad regulations come from? They come from upset voters who complain to legislators after having bad experiences. They come from people who feel powerless to stop bad practices and bad management, and want the government’s help to level the playing field.

You guys have some very bad practices. If you’re not careful, you’re going to get more – not less – regulations. Continue reading “Dear Medical Association Of Georgia: Do Better”

Rep Bert Reeves Pulls No Punches On Senate’s Failure To Pass Adoption Bill

The following is a Facebook post from Representative Bert Reeves, (R-Marietta) and is posted with his permission.  (I’ll note that I reached out to him after reading it, he did not request it.)  Reeves was the primary sponsor of HB 159, an effort to streamline Georgia’s adoption process and update Georgia’s code and procedures for the first time in 27 years.  You can read background on the politics involved from Jim Galloway at the AJC here.

Reeves pulls no punches in the text below after a few introductory paragraphs on the session in General.  There’s apparently more to come.  In the mean time, understand that there are quite a few legislators and others under the gold dome that aren’t terribly happy that some decided to play 2018 politics early, using foster children as pawns in their game of ambition.

Post Legislative Session Recap (Take 1, with more to come…)

Facebook friends, I’ve taken a few days to cool down and let the dust settle before writing this. Many of you have called, texted, emailed, and messaged, so I wanted to put this out there for now, then completely unplug myself politically and enjoy a much needed spring break with my family. I will write again, probably sometime next week, with many more details and on some things that I believe need to be said, regarding my adoption bill and how and why it died around 1 AM on Day 40. Continue reading “Rep Bert Reeves Pulls No Punches On Senate’s Failure To Pass Adoption Bill”

Federal District Dismisses Challenge to Georgia’s Voter Roll Maintenance Law

On Friday, a federal district court dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Georgia’s voter roll maintenance law is illegal and unconstitutional. Judge Timothy Batten, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006, ruled that the law is legally permissible and does not run afoul of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) nor the First Amendment.

The Georgia Conference of the NAACP and Common Cause, a government watchdog typically associated with left-leaning causes, filed suit in 2016, alleging that Secretary of State Brian Kemp was using the law to throw voters off the rolls ahead of the 2016 elections. They claimed that Kemp used the law to remove nearly 400,000 voters between 2012 and 2014, violating the portion of the NVRA that says states cannot remove persons from the voting rolls solely because of a failure to vote. They also claimed that the law violates the First Amendment right to not vote (a right which has not been legally recognized). Continue reading “Federal District Dismisses Challenge to Georgia’s Voter Roll Maintenance Law”

Cobb mom gets her man

What would you do if one day you found out an older male wrestling coach was attempting to coerce your young son into a sexual relationship? A very good friend of mine faced this dilemma a few years ago after her son was targeted and decided to take action. Little did she know how difficult it would be to expose this pedophile preying upon juvenile wrestlers in East Cobb.

After years of tireless effort, she finally got charges brought against the habitual abuser in Pennsylvania. Ron Gorman, a volunteer wrestling coach most recently at Life University in Marietta faces over 250 counts relating to his sexual advances toward young wrestlers under his tutelage. Here is a story from the Marietta Daily Journal that provides details – CLICK HERE.

According to my friend who has requested anonymity, Gorman followed the classic pedophile technique of ‘grooming‘ his targets by contacting them via phone, text and social media. In the linked article, Dr. Phil explains the 5 stages of ‘grooming’ – 1> Identify 2> Gather info 3> Fill a need 4> Lower inhibitions 5> Initiate abuse. Continue reading “Cobb mom gets her man”

Trump Nominates Gorsuch For SCOTUS; GA Senators Respond

President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Georgia’s Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue released the following statements on the nomination:

Senator Isaskon:

“I have consistently said that the next Supreme Court justice should be someone who understands and values the Constitution of the United States of America, who will rule based on the law and who will not legislate through activist judicial decisions,” said Isakson. “I know that the president shares this view and based on his previous rulings, Judge Gorsuch shares the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s commitment to starting all constitutional analysis with the actual text of the Constitution. In addition, Judge Gorsuch’s distinguished service on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals provides vital, relevant experience for service on our nation’s highest court.

“As I argued following the untimely death of Justice Scalia last year, the American people deserved to have a voice in the process of selecting our next Supreme Court justice by allowing the next president to select Justice Scalia’s replacement. That day has arrived and the American people have spoken. President Trump’s nominee deserves fair and thorough consideration and an up-or-down vote by the Senate, and I look forward to Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation process.”

Senator Perdue: Continue reading “Trump Nominates Gorsuch For SCOTUS; GA Senators Respond”