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 …

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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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Is religious liberty threatened in Georgia?

JOHN OVERMYER/NEWSART

JOHN OVERMYER/NEWSART

Moderated by Rick Badie

A bill that supporters say would have expanded protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was denied a floor vote during the 2014 General Assembly. That decision, notes a conservative activist, has given proponents of the so-called religious liberty bill more resolve to explain its purpose to the public. Our other guest writer calls the idea for such a law discriminatory and unnecessary because religious liberty isn’t under attack in Georgia.

No threat to religious liberty

By James Graham

When Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act 20 years ago, supporters intended the bill to be a shield for religion, not a sword to harm others. But today, people are using it to take away protections, rights and benefits of others.

If we are going to pass a religious freedom bill in Georgia, we must make sure it is not used to trump non-discrimination laws or deny women basic medical services, such as access to …

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Ga. aerospace firms soar

Moderated by Rick Badie

Aircraft and aerospace parts and productsAnsulNewsArt97k are one reason Georgia’s export sales are soaring. Today, the head of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace writes about exports, job growth and the state’s international standing in the industry. Elsewhere, a financial executive notes the importance of educating young people about the economy, enterprise and free market.

Ga. aerospace firms thrive

By R. Steve Justice

Last month, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Georgia’s record year in international trade for the fourth time, both in exports and imports. The state exported $37.6 billion in goods, the highest annual total in its history. And for the second year in a row, aerospace-related products led the way as Georgia’s largest international export.

Aircraft, aircraft parts and aircraft engine exports grew to $7.85 billion in 2013, up from $6.71 billion in 2012. Georgia now ranks third in the U.S. for aircraft engines and parts, exporting $1.29 …

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Pedestrian dangers

A dangerous stretch of Pleasantdale Road.

A dangerous stretch of Pleasantdale Road.

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Pedestrian deaths in metro Atlanta are rising, with nearly half the fatalities occurring near transit stops. Today, a local activist lists some reasons for the alarming fact that 29 people on foot have died already in 2014. On the flip side of this trend, we’ve seen a steady decrease in highway fatalities in Georgia. A state official attributes that success to several developments, but adds that motorists need a greater share-the-road mentality regarding bicycles and pedestrians.

Commenting is open.

Alarming death rate

By Sally Flocks

Think about it. Transit is the middle leg of two walking trips. Pedestrians who travel regionally use transit for much of their cross-town travel. Rather than walk between activity centers, people walk to transit, take trains or buses and walk to destinations. In 2010 a regional survey showed that some three-fourths of transit trips begin and end with walking.

Yet many …

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The Editorial Board’s opinion: A necessary investment

Dean Rohrer/NewsArt

Dean Rohrer/NewsArt

The problems of troubled young males are well known to society. New, and existing, initiatives hope to make a difference in problems that affect us all. Some say the solutions are, in some cases, well within our grasp.

In February, President Barack Obama announced a new White House initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper.” Its purpose: To improve the lives of black and Hispanic males, and help them overcome challenges and reach their full potential. It’s a noble objective to help these at-risk young men of color, an effort numerous businesses, individuals and organizations undertake in our region.

One example: The Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc., founded and overseen by Norma Joy Barnes. The six-year-old nonprofit hosts workshops, mentoring programs and other events in an attempt to combat what she says are almost insurmountable odds — a vulnerable gap between youth and manhood experienced by many males, but disturbingly so for …

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The lingering hurt of colorism

By Naeemah Clark

Every woman of color knows she has to dig through the department store shelf in hopes of finding hosiery that matches her skin tone. Nude pantyhose aren’t made for her. This form of colorism happens all the time, so I should be used to it. But I’m not. Instead, it’s death by a thousand cuts.

The pain of colorism is magnified when we look at media representations of African-American women.

I was reminded of the hurt colorism can cause when one of my students cried when she saw a magazine cover featuring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o, like my student, is fabulous with her rich chocolate-brown skin and her short natural hair.

For her, Nyong’o’s appearance was a reminder of how rare it is to see a dark-skinned actress as a beauty on the big screen.

Hollywood has long considered lighter-skinned women, from Lena Horne to Halle Berry, to be acceptable images of African-American beauty. Nyong’o recently admitted that as a child, she wished that …

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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” …

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The myth of missing black dads

Moderated by Rick Badie

The myth of the absentee black father may be just that. So says new data by the National Center for Health Statistics. Turns out, black dads who live with their children are just as involved as other fathers who live with their kids. Or even more so. I tackle the topic in a column, while a conservative offers a counterview. Meanwhile, a professor who has researched black fatherhood admonishes society to stop trying to identify “bad dads” and work to uplift them all.

Note: There are three columns today.

Commenting is open.

Fatherhood is tough, vital work

By Rick Badie

On Father’s Day 2008, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama delivered a speech before a church congregation in which he criticized black fathers for being uninvolved, or completely missing, from their children’s lives. “Too many fathers are M.I.A., too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes,” he said at the time. “And the foundations of our families are …

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Congress: Act on Immigration Reform

Moderated by Rick  Badie

President Barack Obama says Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure before he leaves office in 2017. Businesses that need workers can’t wait that long, notes the president of a Georgia-based poultry-processing plant, so Congress must act now. Meanwhile, an executive for a nonpartisan public-interest group says there’s a surplus of idle workers, but employers prefer foreigners who work for less. Finally, a Gainesville attorney outlines the path to citizenship, or lack thereof, for Mexicans.

Congress: Act on Immigration Reform

By Tom Hensley

Immigration reform is too important to put off another year.

We are a chicken producer and processor in northeast Georgia. We have about 4,700 full-time employees and help sustain jobs in a broad range of businesses in the local economy. A significant number of our processing plant folks are Mexican or Central American. Few U.S. workers apply for these jobs. Those who do don’t stay long. …

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