Archive for March, 2014

Protected bike lanes for Atlanta?

Rebecca Serna is executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

Rebecca Serna is executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

A national bicycle foundation recently chose Atlanta to participate in a two-year project to help build “protected” bike lanes — those separated from traffic by planters, curbs or posts. A People For Bikes spokesman tells why Atlanta was selected for its Green Lane Project; he cites Memphis as a role model for how a Southern city can become bike-friendly. Atlanta Bicycle Coalition chief Rebecca Serna writes about how her group targets local streets to make them safer.

Commenting is open.

New Southern stereotype: great cities for biking

By Michael Andersen

Some Atlantans are perhaps familiar with the phenomenon in which people make sweeping generalizations about the American South. “Braving the Deep, Deadly South on a Bicycle,” The Atlantic magazine shuddered in a headline last month.

In some sense, true enough. Georgia, for example, ranks 42nd of 50 states in estimated bike …

Continue reading Protected bike lanes for Atlanta? »

Another bend in the river for Savannah Port

Keep it moving. That is the best way to ensure Georgia’s long-in-coming effort to deepen the Port of Savannah eventually gets done, even while every entity involved seemingly agrees the necessity for the work is, or should be, a foregone conclusion.
Metro Atlanta, the state that surrounds it and, arguably, the greater Southeast and even the rest of the U.S. will see economic benefits from making Savannah’s harbor more accessible to a larger class of oceangoing ships that already are hauling the products of commerce.
Such optimism provides the most productive lens through which to view the latest bureaucratic logjam that earlier this month delayed once more the final — really final — funding for the project. In truth, this latest event is but one more riverbend encountered in what’s been a long, tiring voyage. Election-year sloganeering by both the red and blue teams should not obscure this big-picture point.
Understanding all that helps interested parties — a group …

Continue reading Another bend in the river for Savannah Port »

Deal: Georgia has waited long enough

By Nathan Deal

The deepening of the Savannah Harbor ranks as the No. 1 economic development pro-ject in the state of Georgia, and we’ve already waited far too long for action from our federal partners.
We faced another setback this month when the president unveiled his proposed budget without any construction funding for the port. Georgia already has allocated $266 million for the project — the totality of the state share — and I’ve ordered state agencies to use that money to do everything we can under current federal law to get the project under way. As we continue to wait for final congressional authorization and funding, I want to get as much done as possible in the meantime so we don’t fall even further behind schedule.
We’ve spent $45 million on studies, we’ve received every environmental permit needed and our congressional delegation succeeded in passing legislation to let us get started. Unfortunately, the Obama administration, which promised last year to …

Continue reading Deal: Georgia has waited long enough »

On The Record

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, from a March 11 speech at the Commerce Club: “The most important conversation about the port is the WRDA (Water Resources Development Act) bill. If the WRDA bill doesn’t pass, everybody needs to panic. And what the WRDA bill means is that the port will be funded in 2014 dollars instead of 1996 dollars. So if the president had put in a big appropriation prior to WRDA funding, we would have still had a $200 million gap.
“The port of Savannah is one of the four most successful ports in United States of America. We need to maintain our bipartisan focus because this stuff is hard, you all. When’s the last time anybody gave you $400 million?
“The point I’m making is this, you all, we’re gonna get it done. Doing hard things is hard. We will finish this and it’s going to take us to where we’re going, which is being one of the leading cities of the world.”
From a March 6 letter from Georgia’s congressional delegation to the director of …

Continue reading On The Record »

Teen pregnancy in Georgia

Good sign: teen birth rate declining

By Jane Fonda, Melissa Kottke and Kim M. Nolte

Public health professionals, educators, clinicians, parents and the community cheered recently when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new teen birth data for 2012. The teen birth rate is declining dramatically in Georgia.

In fact, in just one year (2011-2012), Georgia saw an impressive decline of 12 percent, the second-highest decline in the country and the highest decline our state has ever seen. The state’s teen birth rate has plummeted more than 50 percent since 1995.

Bottom line: Fewer teens are having sex, and for those who are, there’s a sharp increase in the use of contraceptives, thanks to the hard work several organizations do to keep the issue front and center.

All of us should be excited about this news for several reasons. Teen childbearing costs Georgia taxpayers more than $465 million each year. It is the No. 1 reason girls drop out of high school; only 2 …

Continue reading Teen pregnancy in Georgia »

medical marijuana

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

One of the stranger turns of the recent legislative session found lawmakers holding hostage and suddenly defeating an immensely popular “medical marijuana” bill. The bill’s sponsor writes today about the positives of allowing cannabis oil to treat children with seizures, and hopes Gov. Nathan Deal might find a way to help through executive action. In our second column, the mother of a young girl who would benefit from cannabis oil criticizes the political process she holds responsible for denying relief to her child and others.

Commenting is open.

Families deserve chance at medical cannabis

By Allen Peake

When the 2014 General Assembly session began ten short weeks ago, the odds of a medical cannabis bill passing this year would have been longer than having a perfect March Madness bracket in Vegas, because no one was crazy enough to take that bet.

But by the time the last day of the legislative session arrived, the issue of legalizing cannabidiol …

Continue reading medical marijuana »

A Capitol debate on the Ten Commandments

Moderated by Rick Badie

A lawmaker defends his legislation that would allow placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state Capitol. Meanwhile, I interview a legal scholar who says such a display likely would be struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, the lawmaker who sponsored legislation that, likewise, allows for a privately funded statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. states the case for the honor.

Monument reflects religious liberty

By Greg Morris

Are Ten Commandments displays constitutional?

The General Assembly passed House Bill 702, a billed I sponsored, to allow private funding for a monument on the Capitol grounds to display the Ten Commandments, the Georgia Constitution’s preamble and part of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Some contend this is a groundbreaking religious statement that violates the Constitution.

While the Georgia Supreme Court has no recent ruling on religious displays, Georgia has a long …

Continue reading A Capitol debate on the Ten Commandments »

Transatlantic Trade Agreement

Moderated by Rick Badie

The prospect of a Transatlantic Trade Agreement between the United States and the European Union might provide additional export opportunities for Georgia businesses. Today, an international chamber official touts the economic benefits of the trade agreement now under negotiation, while a local chamber executive highlights the 2014 Atlanta Science Festival.

Trade agreement grows jobs

By Martina Stellmaszek

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a trade agreement being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the United States. The negotiations began in July 2013 and will continue in 2014. If the agreement passes, it will remove trade barriers, create jobs and potentially affect millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic.

The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States helps to promote the economic and business interests of entities that work to develop and/or preserve ties between this region and the …

Continue reading Transatlantic Trade Agreement »

MARTA and the gas tax

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Georgia General Assembly recently passed a bill that allows MARTA a bit more flexibility in planning its future. Today, the transit agency’s leader writes about the various ways that components of that bill can help MARTA build on its mission, perhaps even to Clayton County. In our second column, a group of transportation and business leaders talk about the importance of finding an alternative to dwindling motor-fuel tax revenues, in order to keep state and national highways and bridges safe for drivers.

Commenting is open.

Some tools to build with

By Keith T. Parker

When Georgia lawmakers approved most of MARTA’s 2014 legislative agenda last week, it seemed to signal a hopeful vote of confidence in the progress we’re making to ensure metro Atlanta’s transit system continues to improve.

H.B. 264, better known as “the MARTA bill,” included key initiatives the agency wants to implement but which first required legislative action. Overall, …

Continue reading MARTA and the gas tax »

Showmanship trumps substance

For a legislative session that was supposed to be short and focused on the basics, the final days of the annual ruckus at the Gold Dome reverted to the usual wrangling, arm-twisting and backroom maneuvering.
In a state with a solid, one-party lock on both chambers of the legislature, there’s no sound reason why Georgians have to each year live with the less-than-optimal aftermath of the 11th-hour scrum that passes for lawmaking. Too often, as a result, the people’s business is left undone, or accomplished in a haphazard, slipshod manner.
Given all the substitutions and amendments bandied about that’re not yet fully available for examination, it’s not possible yet for this Editorial Board – and likely many lawmakers themselves – to duly assess just what all was wrought during this session. That caveat voiced, we offer here our first-cut opinion on some of the legislation that was in the limelight.

Privatization of foster care
Shuddering to a rough halt in the last …

Continue reading Showmanship trumps substance »