Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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State Senate leads on Georgia’s big issues

By Casey Cagle

During this year’s 40-day session, the State Senate delivered real results for the people of Georgia in a way that should make every Georgian proud. Together, we balanced the budget, dramatically increased our investment in education, defended Georgia values, and began the process of providing better care for our state’s most vulnerable children.
Unlike the politicians in Washington, we managed to balance our budget without raising taxes while focusing our resources on the state’s most critical needs, like education. Specifically, this year we added over $300 million to our education budget in order to eliminate teacher furloughs, provide a full 180-day school year for every system in Georgia, and raise teacher salaries. We also continued our efforts on behalf of charter school systems and college and career academies to give local communities the flexibility they need to innovate and design an educational environment that meets the needs of their …

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Obamacare deadline

Moderated by Rick Badie

You’d think Georgians would sign up in droves for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, given this is a high-needs state with an uninsured population of roughly 20 percent. Today, Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius and a local advocate urge residents to sign up before open enrollment ends on March 31. Meanwhile, a state lawmaker wants to “quarantine” the new law.

Sigh up today for an insurance plan

By Kathleen Sebelius

If you or someone you care about does not have health care, it’s not too late to sign up for affordable coverage. But you’ll want to act today. The deadline to get insurance is March 31. After that, you’ll have to wait until November.

Many of the people I’ve met told me they were surprised at how affordable marketplace insurance can be. An Atlanta family of four earning $50,000 a year can get covered for as little as $138 per month. A 27-year-old earning $25,000 can get covered for as little as $105 per …

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Time to stop gun rights madness

By Vincent Fort

The madness of promoting the use of guns and allowing firearms everywhere at any time has reached a fever pitch at the state Capitol.

As the legislative session comes to a close this week, there are three versions of the “guns everywhere” bill circulating at the state Capitol. All versions will make Georgians less safe, not more safe.

HB 875, as amended in the Senate Judiciary (Non-Civil) committee, would allow guns in churches, bars, and schools. Then there is SB 60, onto which the House of Representatives grafted the original version of HB 875.

Rep. Sam Moore introduced HB 1046, which would allow Georgians the right to shoot police officers serving no-knock warrants. Moore backed off that proposal, but even its introduction reflects that the time has come for legislators and citizens to demand commonsense gun safety legislation.

If HB 875 is a political measure, the Republican Party is being held hostage by its extreme, fringe elements who …

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Gun rights and responsibilities

At this point, the broad Second Amendment right of Americans to bear arms is a pretty settled matter.
The same can’t be said at the state level. The issue of gun rights and concurrent responsibilities arouses powerful passions on all sides. Which is understandable, since words in a law can result in lives being spared or lost on our streets.
The latest chapter in how all that works in Georgia will be written later this week in the final, harried days of this legislative session. Lawmakers are picking over various writings of concealed weapons laws. Their work will, among other things, determine how firearms laws affect the mentally ill, or carry of weapons into government buildings, schools, or houses of worship.
Although the House and Senate should have worked out their sizable differences on this issue long before now, lawmakers’ dithering reflects a sound, underlying instinct. The value of human life demands no less than painstaking, sober, commonsense and clear-eyed …

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HB 875: Safeguarding 2nd Amendment rights

By Rick Jasperse
With the Second Amendment, in a mere 27 words, our Founding Fathers empowered the citizens of this nation — for as long as it should stand — to retain the right to keep and bear arms and that this right shall not be infringed.
The rights enumerated by the Second Amendment speak to the importance of the preservation of a limited government and cannot be overstated. In my capacity as a state legislator, I am often reminded by my constituents that their right to keep and bear arms is both sacred and immutable. It is not simply that they fear the encroachment of government into their lives — it is that they recognize that, unfortunately, we live in a dangerous world.
While I cannot begin to explain the reasons for which someone might seek to take the life of another, I believe wholeheartedly that, should Georgians wish to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their families, they should have that option.
Currently, our state allows Georgians …

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