Archive for January, 2013

Contraceptive mandate?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

A university professor makes the following argument: Georgia law requires insurance plans that offer prescriptions to include contraceptives. The new Affordable Health Care Act requires all plans to include prescriptions. Thus, some religious institutions’ coverage must provide birth-control drugs they find objectionable. Health care advocates argue that contraceptive equity is important for women, and that it’s a medical — not religious — issue.

Commenting is open below Leola Reis’ column.

Mandate unfair for state employers

By Joseph M. Knippenberg

Georgia’s legislators ought to confront the fact that our churches and other religious institutions are at the moment less free to act conscientiously than most of their counterparts across the country.

The reason? For more than a decade, Georgia law has required all health insurance plans that offer prescriptions to include contraceptives in their coverage. With the advent of Obamacare, every plan in the …

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A call for stronger gun control

By Rick Badie

State Rep. Paul Battles, of Cartersville, has proposed legislation that would allow school administrators to undergo annual state peace officer firearms training and be certified to carry weapons on campus. Though he supports HB 35, a guest columnist says state law already allows administrators to possess firearms on campuses. A retired pediatrician suggests addressing gun control in a multifaceted manner.

Existing law allows armed principals

By John Monroe

GeorgiaCarry.Org agrees with the general proposition ensconced in HB 35, that our schools would be safer if responsible citizens could be armed on campus. GeorgiaCarry also agrees that firearms training is a good idea for everyone, even those who do not own or carry firearms. The specifics of HB 35, however, make the bill difficult to incorporate into existing law.

HB 35 would permit school boards to designate certain school administrators to undergo state Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) …

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Deficit, debts and pro-growth policies

Moderated by Rick Badie

President Barack Obama and Congress struck a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, but who are the real winners and losers in the last-minute deal? Not the middle class, laments Bernie Marcus, Home Depot co-founder and philanthropist. Ditto for job creators, he writes today. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson says the plan protects the middle class and, among other things, requires the wealthy to pay a fairer share of taxes. And an Atlanta accountant highlights tax changes for 2013.

Job creators need pro-growth policies

By Bernie Marcus


Middle-class workers may be puzzled this month as they open smaller paychecks. Few knew their payroll tax holiday expired in the fine print of the “fiscal cliff” deal recently reached in Washington. Now the average worker will pay an additional $1,000 in annual taxes, erasing any meager wage gains he or she saw in the past year.

Still, President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders proudly congratulated themselves for saving …

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Keep driving toward ethics reform in Georgia

The people are waiting — and watching.
Members of the Georgia General Assembly must remember that as the matter of ethics reform jerks and clatters along legislative assembly lines.
The end result should be, finally, a solid, enacted package of ethics reform. Its cornerstone should be a ban on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers.
Georgia’s made starts at this before, with some incremental fixes. In 2013, legislators should tie all the loose ends into a comprehensive law that ends a suspect way of doing business at the Gold Dome. The antics that are forcing change have battered citizen confidence in government. With good reason.
Yes, complaining about all things public is an old American pastime. There’s a bright distinction, though, between grousing about the sausage-grinding of representative democracy and harboring a fundamental distrust of, and distaste for, same.
It is now up to the Legislature to give citizens a reason to begin rethinking their currently dour attitudes toward …

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What it takes for authentic ethics reform

By Josh McKoon

Our governor, Nathan Deal, summed up the challenge that faces us on adopting ethics reform in his State of the State Address. He said we “can build the strongest foundations … upon which our state government will rest; but if the citizens of Georgia don’t trust us, it will all be in vain… .”
Leaders in our state have taken steps toward ethical governance. Gov. Deal implemented a $25 gift cap to set a standard for ethical behavior in government. Our speaker of the House, David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, first ran for speaker when many knew ethical lapses had been committed by the incumbent speaker. Few were willing to voice them, let alone stand in opposition.
Speaker Ralston and House leadership have imposed tough rules on committee chairmen who fail to timely file their required disclosures. The new Senate president pro tempore, David Shafer, sponsored a $50 gift cap as a floor leader for Gov. Sonny Perdue and co-sponsored my comprehensive ethics legislation. …

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On the record on ethics

From Gov. Nathan Deal’s Jan. 17 State of the State address: I will conclude my remarks on a topic that does not require the recitation of statistics, but is one that is recognized in both the public and private domains as a cornerstone of success – that is ethics. We can build the strongest foundations of frugality, efficiency and competitiveness upon which our state government will rest; but if the citizens of Georgia don’t trust us, it will all be in vain, for the vibrations of distrust will crack even the strongest foundations. There will always be those in the media and elsewhere who thrive on sowing the seeds of doubt and distrust and who will never recant their sinister innuendos and malicious accusations even when they are vanquished by truth. And while you will never silence those voices of discord, nor should you try to do so, you can bolster the confidence of the public that might be tempted to listen to them by simply establishing clear rules under …

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Health care vs. disease care

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Commenting is open below.

By Kenneth Brigham and Michael. M.E. Johns

The current trajectory of Medicare costs cannot be sustained. Politicians propose a variety of solutions, all of which intend to cut the cost of care for people who have a disease. While some of those solutions are creative and might work in the short run, there is a major flaw in the rationale: The cost of disease care will continue to increase. We cannot afford disease care for all who will need it unless we can decrease their numbers. Halving the incidence of chronic disease would save over a trillion disease-care dollars.

To accomplish that, we must change the paradigm. The concept of “predictive health” — health rather than disease and prediction of health status rather than diagnosis as the focus — is a radical shift that can decrease the burden of disease. Much of the knowledge, science and technology that make this possible exists, and more is on the way. The barriers are the …

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Police responding to residents?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Nothing disrupts our quality of life on a personal level more than problems in our neighborhoods — noise pollution, junk collection, rude residents. In a large city, the frustrations are magnified and can become explosive, especially when police are not present. Here is a story from a teacher coping with his urban landscape, and the Atlanta Police Department’s response.

Commenting is open below George N. Turner’s column.

Residents deserve police response, too

By Anthony Elder

I am growing tired of living in the city of Atlanta. My decision to move to the Vine City neighborhood six years ago was motivated by the fact that I work in Coweta County and my wife works in Alpharetta, so downtown was a viable location considering our respective commutes.

From a logistical standpoint, Vine City is an attractive place to live. It is less than 10 minutes from the interstate, directly across the street from the Georgia World Congress Center. I can walk to various …

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Georgia General Assembly: Ethics reform takes a front seat

Moderated by Rick Badie

Georgia lawmakers took the first step toward ethics reform when the Senate passed a gift cap as part of the chamber rules on the first day of the General Assembly. The rule bars lobbyists from spending more than $100 on any one senator. The new rule doesn’t apply to the state House; a broader bipartisan ethics reform package is expected from the Legislature this year, something watchdogs like today’s writers promote.

Ban sports tickets as gifts

By Kay Godwin

Lobbyists are hired to influence legislators to support legislation favorable to their clients. Logically, it follows that the lobbyist’s primary tool of persuasion would be facts that prove a proposed bill is in the best interest of a client. If the merit of legislation is of primary concern to a legislator’s decision to either support or to oppose a bill, then the question that should be asked is this:

Why do lobbyists give gifts of sports tickets to legislators, and for what …

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Public money for privately-owned Falcons

Moderated by Rick Badie

A recent statewide poll conducted by the AJC showed 72 percent of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed using hotel/motel tax collections in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County to help finance construction of a new Falcons stadium. Today, a guest writer says opponents of using that revenue to help fund the venue misunderstand the tax’s purpose. A businessman suggests, as an option, courting a “backup tenant” for the Georgia Dome.

Tax designed to create economic benefits

By Mike Hassinger

Polls show Georgians and Atlantans don’t like it. Georgia Common Cause opposes it, as does the tea party and several people I know. They’re all wrong on this deal to replace the Georgia Dome with a new stadium.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority has the legal power to issue bonds (about $200 million worth) to fund things related to the GWCC Georgia World Congress Center campus, which includes the Congress Center, Centennial Olympic Park and …

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