Archive for the ‘Quality of Life’ Category

What’s wrong with food stamps?

Jo Ann de la Moriniere, 73, of Ball Ground is one of many who have had problems with the food stamps call-in center. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Jo Ann de la Moriniere, 73, of Ball Ground is one of many who have had problems with the food stamps call-in center. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia faces losing up to $76 million in federal funding due to its huge backlog of food stamp applications. It must fix a system plagued by understaffing, antiquated technology and a call-in center that cannot handle all the calls that come in. Today, an analyst on the right suggests a number of reforms, while one on the left writes that the state should hire an adequate number of workers to handle the overload that began mounting with the Great Recession.

Commenting is open.

Reform is the real answer

By Rachel Sheffield

Georgia’s food stamp program is making headlines—and not the kind you like to see.

Tens of thousands of applications are backlogged. The state Department of Human Services blames it on a rapid, recession-induced increase in caseloads, combined with a decrease in administrators and a poorly …

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Breakthrough for online registration

John Spink/jspink@ajc.com

John Spink/jspink@ajc.com

Georgia voting – there’s an app for it

By Brian Kemp

One of my main goals as Georgia’s Secretary of State has been to increase efficiencies and decrease costs by using technology.

Of all of the innovations that the office has made over the years, I could not be more proud of the state’s ability to offer online voter registration and the My Voter Page (MVP) mobile app. These tools truly accomplish both goals.

Recently, I had the opportunity to share this with citizens all over Georgia. I was most struck by one particular encounter.

At the Savannah Armory, I visited with members of our National Guard and talked to them about Georgia’s new online voter registration system and MVP app for mobile devices. It was one of the most positive experiences I have had since I began serving as Georgia’s Secretary of State in 2010. We had a great dialogue about the challenges of military voting. One young man told me that he always wonders whether his vote really …

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Governor Deal and ethics

Former state ethics commission director Stacey Kalberman, center, hugs friend Terri Cohen after giving testimony April 3 claiming she was dismissed for trying to investigate Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Former state ethics commission director Stacey Kalberman, center, hugs friend Terri Cohen after giving testimony April 3 claiming she was dismissed for trying to investigate Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Last week, a Fulton County jury sided with the former director of the state ethics commission when it ruled she was forced from her job for investigating Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign, throwing the troubled commission into deeper turmoil. State officials had argued that Stacey Kalberman’s departure had nothing to do with her wanting to issue subpoenas for records pertaining to Deal’s 2010 campaign. In the wake of that decision, the governor today writes about his plan for overhauling the commission, while Democrats detail their push for a more independent watchdog.

Commenting is open.

New commission will ensure fairness

By Nathan Deal

Throughout its troubled history – dating back long before I took this office – …

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Compromise on Religious Freedom Act?

JON KRAUSE/NEWSART

JON KRAUSE/NEWSART

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Senate Bill 377 — the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act — failed to get traction this year, as companies such as Delta and Home Depot said it would hurt business and cost jobs, presumably because it would have allowed private businesses to decline on religious grounds to serve gay people. But discrimination was not the intent, sponsors said. Today, two lawyers look at a compromise solution, and an author parses the definitions of discrimination over the years and, on this issue, makes his case.

Commenting is open.

Expand freedoms for all

By Robin Fretwell Wilson and Anthony Michael Kreis

In the closing hours of Georgia’s legislative session, sponsors of the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” Senate Bill 377, made one final attempt to pass it. That attempt failed. It is surprising that the sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon, even made such a last-ditch effort.

SB 377 had reportedly died after a “massive public backlash” against it …

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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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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 oil …

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New debate over Dunwoody cityhood

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The creation of new cities in metro Atlanta remains in the news. Efforts to carve cities out of Lakeside and Tucker died in the recent legislative session. Today, a longtime resident of Dunwoody, which became a city five years ago, criticizes leaders for an urban agenda that isolates voters. The mayor says the city must look forward and take control of its growth.

Commenting is open.

Cityhood: Be careful what you wish for

By Jim Dickson

More than five years ago, Dunwoody became a new city with the objective of wresting control from DeKalb County and establishing a local government to better represent the interests of Dunwoody citizens. It has not worked out that way. We have been betrayed by politicians and associates who play inside political baseball.

The latest episode of this saga is recent legislation to change the Dunwoody city charter and eliminate the necessity for a citywide vote to fund the takeover of fire and ambulance services from DeKalb; …

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Medical marijuana in what form?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia legislators are currently considering a rapidly changing bill that would improve access to a form of “medical marijuana.” Today, a local House representative emphasizes the need for research before creating any law that could open the floodgates of a “pot mill” epidemic. In our lead column, a local teenager suffering from Crohn’s Disease writes about the need to allow the  afflicted to use marijuana to help alleviate pain. Stay tuned. Things could change in a hurry.

Commenting is open.

Let’s think of the suffering

By Eli Hogan

I am 17 years old and I suffer from severe Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. I have struggled with this disease for two years now, and spent my Christmas vacation at Scottish Rite in Atlanta full of IVs, being fed through a catheter run under my bicep into my chest cavity, in agonizing pain, losing blood, and on the verge of needing a total removal of my colon. I dropped from …

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No reason not to participate

Primary voting is crucial

By JoEllen Smith

Imagine competing in a doubles tennis match but the rules have changed. The winner is no longer chosen by points earned, but by a vote of only one participant. Sound preposterous? Well this is how our elected officials are often chosen. Approximately 25% of registered voters choose nearly all of our local elected officials.

You may doubt me because you’ve waited in line to vote in November. Well, the majority of candidates are actually chosen during the summer, when the Republican and Democratic parties hold their primary elections. These primaries are open to all voters and have multiple candidates on the ballot. Most districts in Georgia are heavily represented by only one political party or the other so, quite often, the opposition party doesn’t even have candidates running. The result is that many primary winners will face no opposition in November.

Smaller “down ticket” races are the most important ones affecting your life. Do …

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Guns on campus

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Georgia House of Representatives has passed legislation that, technically, leaves the current ban on weapons on college campuses intact but makes it tough to enforce. HB 875 also legally introduces firearms into churches, mosques and temples. School districts could also empower civilian personnel to use firearms in k-12 schools. Today, a Fulton County leader opposes the bill and a college student supports it.

Commenting is open.

Gun bill a huge step back for Georgia

By John Eaves

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech: These are names we now associate with a horrifiying image — students fleeing schools as their peers are gunned down by disgruntled loners or, more frighteningly, by their own classmates.

Price Middle School and Ronald E. McNair Academy are institutions much closer to home where we recently experienced near misses: A Jan. 2013 shooting at Price wounded a 14-year-old boy; and last August, a gunman barricaded himself in McNair offices and …

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