Morning Reads for Friday, March 24, 2017

Please continue to remember Jon in your prayers.

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”

Out Of State Professors Duel Over Georgia’s Adoption Bill

On Monday, Stefan posted a guest editorial from our former Contributor, Dr. Anthony Kreis. Yesterday I received a rebuttal piece from Dr. Robin Fretwell Wilson. Dr Wilson is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and the director of the Program in Family Law and Policy and The Fairness For All Initiative at the University of Illinois College of Law. More notably for the context here, she’s also a professor for which Dr. Kreis once served as a research assistant. According to her biography, Wilson recently worked with Utah state lawmakers to pass nondiscrimination legislation that balances LGBT rights and religious liberty. I offer this piece as part of our commitment to presenting opposing viewpoints, and to ensure that all corners of the Illinois academic legal community are able to weigh in on how Georgia makes our laws.

HB 159: The Hard Questions Facing Georgia on Adoption
by Robin Fretwell Wilson

Controversy swirls again around Georgia and “religious liberty”, now over HB 159, which would allow adoption agencies to make placements based on “mission.”

The bill does not mention religion but has become controversial for allowing agencies to refuse placements with LGBT couples if they “have a religious objection.”

What would the bill actually do?

If the state cannot place a child with one agency, it must immediately “refer … to another child-placing agency.” This might occur for neutral reasons, i.e. an agency may not place special-needs children because those placements require special skill.

The real debate is around which families agencies place with. If HB 159 becomes law, the state could not “take any adverse action against” agencies that follow their “missions.”

Patently, HB 159 is not a religious-liberty protection. This prohibition binds the state even if an agency acts for secular reasons—like being anti-gay. The Georgia legislature should dial this back. Continue reading “Out Of State Professors Duel Over Georgia’s Adoption Bill”

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. 

Welcome To Reality Politics

Way back in 1988, the Writers Guild of America went on strike for 155 days -the longest strike in that organization’s history. The work stoppage screwed up what used to be called “the fall lineup” and forced television networks to rely on a mix of re-runs, specials, sports programming and unscripted original series such as COPS. Whether or not the strike led directly to the creation of the “reality” TV genre is disputed, but with the election to the presidency of Donald Trump, a reality TV star for 11 seasons on “The Apprentice,” there’s no doubt that an outsized personality combined with an extraordinary (or weird) concept and constant exposure on television can be combined to create a powerful political force.

Which explains a remarkable press release from State Senator Michael Williams, R-Forsyth, who’s looking to seek statewide office next year. (Exactly which office is unknown, although there is persistent and deliberate speculation that he may try to skip a few rungs on Georgia’s traditional political ambition ladder and seek the keys to the mansion on West Paces Ferry Road right out of the block.) Williams has won the support of Duane Chapman, a five-time married felony convict who’s most famous as the star of the A&E television series “Dog The Bounty Hunter.” Given Chapman’s tumultuous past, and, err… striking appearance, it’s a type of alliance not to be found among traditional political tactics. But tradition and precedent are so 2014. Welcome to the age of reality politics.

Continue reading “Welcome To Reality Politics”

Morning Reads – Thursday, March 23, 2017

On this date in 1880, John Stevens patented the grain crushing mill. The mill increased flour production by 70 percent.


Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea


DeKalb and Clayton Sheriff’s Offices Singled Out on ICE Policies

Two counties in Georgia were singled out by President Trump for policies that are non-compliant with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  cases that deal with illegal immigrants that are violent offenders. In two reports by 11Alive and Atlanta Business Chronicle, DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffery Mann is quoted saying,

 “Our office complies with all federal and state laws regarding the detention of “alien” criminal suspects.

“To the extent that this agency can, we will continue to employ our limited, taxpayer-supported resources to assist ICE with its efforts to secure and detain “alien” criminal suspects in our community by providing advance inmate release notification. However, federal case law has determined that detaining inmates beyond lawful release without sufficient probable cause or a judicial warrant from ICE is a violation of constitutional law.”

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill did not respond to 11Alive’s request for comment, but the report from the White House showed the county as a “jurisdiction that has enacted policies that limit cooperation with ICE.”

The policies of both agencies fall into a gray area. In addition to ICE being a federal law enforcement agency that works daily with local agencies, in this case, they are specifically dealing with violent offenders. Both Sheriff’s offices are asking for the documents provided by ICE and additional warrants from local Superior Court Judges. Both the DeKalb and Clayton Sheriff’s Offices are tying up the court system further and providing opportunities for known dangerous criminals to be released from jail.

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”