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 …

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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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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 …

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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, …

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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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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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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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The rebirth of Fort McPherson

Moderated by Rick Badie

Some say redevelopment of the Fort McPherson Army complex, which closed in 2005, could be Atlanta’s Next Big Thing. An official with a state authority charged to oversee the rebirth of the 486-acre complex offers an update on what’s transpired so far. Meanwhile, a real estate executive questions the snail’s pace of progress in comparison to a tech-focused project in New York City.

Base to become a vibrant community

By Jack C. Sprott

Atlanta was 50 years young when Fort McPherson was established in 1885 on five tracts of land several miles south of town. The location was rural and disconnected from the economic activities of the railroad hub to the north.

Over the past 129 years, the city of Atlanta has expanded its boundaries. Expressways and heavy rail now serve the local transportation needs of our citizens. Fort McPherson is no longer isolated. This historic 486-acre property is completely within the city limits, on a MARTA line and just four …

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Streetcar boom

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Today, we hear from a major Atlanta Streetcar sponsor, who’s feeling good about the capital investment the project is bringing downtown — even before the vehicle does its test runs. An executive from Siemens, the company building the streetcars, writes how rail is reinventing U.S. city centers. We also reprise comments from critics who have weighed in on what they say is the streetcars’ ineffective mobility and outlandish expense. Note: There are three columns today.

Commenting is open.

Downtown growth sparked by streetcar

By A.J. Robinson

As the last of the Atlanta Streetcar rail is laid, the project has already attracted significant interest and investment to the corridor. Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District have been leveraging the streetcar by encouraging redevelopment along its route. As a co-funder, the Downtown District expects the project to do much more than just improve transportation mobility and …

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