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 get a degree from Allegheny College in Allegheny, PA 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”

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.

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.


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.

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”

Guest Post – Optometrists in Favor of SB 153

The Georgia House is scheduled to take up Senate Bill 153 tomorrow, Friday, March 24. The bill would allow licensed optometrists in Georgia to use specific injections to treat eye diseases and conditions for their patients.

Dr. Benjamin Casella, President of the Georgia Optometric Association, has provided the following guest post in support of the legislation.

Headline: Georgia Lawmakers Can Easily Increase Access to Eye Care Services

Georgia lawmakers have the opportunity this session to increase consumer access to needed eye care services and enable highly-skilled medical professionals to use the patient care techniques they were trained to provide.

SB 153 (Brass, Mullis) would enable Georgia to join with the 15 other states, including neighboring Tennessee, that authorize doctors of optometry to perform limited injections to areas near the eye.

As the training for doctors of optometry continues to increase to keep up with advancing technology, it is essential for state law to keep up as well. SB 153 makes that possible.

While those opposed to the legislation prefer to deal in alarmist statements, your readers may be interested to know that in nearby Tennessee, which has allowed doctors of optometry to perform injections for 20 years, leaders of the Southern College of Optometry, which has trained doctors of optometry from 47 states, including those practicing in Georgia, say every graduate of SCO since 1995 has received injections training.

Continue reading “Guest Post – Optometrists in Favor of SB 153”

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?



Sonny Perdue Testifying In Front Of Senate Agriculture Committee’s favorite First Republican Governor of Georgia Since Reconstruction is in D.C. this morning starting the process to become America’s Secretary of Agriculture.

C-SPAN is livestreaming all the glory that is Sonny Perdue’s testimony and you can watch the feed here. Let us know what sticks out to you in the comments below.

Perdue seems likely to sail through the nomination process.