Your morning jolt: Forced purchase of insurance? Not for Mennonites, say GOP lawmakers

It has been fashionable these last few weeks to draw a particular line in the sand.

“In this America that we all grew up in and love, forcing people to purchase things they don’t want to purchase, I think, violates a constitutional right that they have,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said last week.

So House Republicans on Friday must have had mixed emotions as they passed HB 656, a bill to exempt Mennonites in Georgia from a state law requiring the purchase of private automobile insurance.

On a federal level, the group has had itself exempted – on religious grounds – from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

At the close of an epic 30th day of the legislative session on Friday, the House failed to take up a measure to allow the formation of an independent Milton County out of north Fulton County. The movement didn’t have the votes.

HR 21 was sponsored by House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Alpharetta. Among the opponents were state Rep. Ed Lindsay (R-Atlanta).

Which prompted this headline at – a news site that unabashedly trumpets secession from Fulton: “Buckhead Ed” And His Unholy Liberal Alliance Snuff Out Milton County.

Lindsey explained himself in a letter to constituents on Saturday:

Judging from my e mail in box, my constituents are relieved and my friends in North Fulton are furious. (I might add that a few of the angry writers could use an anatomy lesson because what they recommend is just not physically possible.)

I want to take a moment to explain once again my view on the matter and begin the discussion of where we go from here….

First, it is simply unfair to my constituents. HR 21 is likely to lead to higher taxes for those of us living in Buckhead. I agree with proponents of Milton County that the Fulton County Government is fundamentally broken.

However, dissolving our county and recreating one north of Atlanta will leave my community — which is just as mistreated as our neighbors to the north — behind with the same county political leaders in charge who have created our governmental quagmire through their bloated fiscal policies and blind opposition to needed reforms.

In short, Buckhead should not be left alone and stuck with the bill in this dispute.

Read the entire Lindsey letter here.

The New York Times this weekend followed several congressmen home to see what kind of reception they received following their votes on health care. One of them was U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah), who voted against the measure:

At constituent meetings in three rural towns, every white speaker, save one, commended Mr. Barrow for his vote. Each black speaker conveyed a deep sense of betrayal, often after talking about hypertension or diabetes that had gone untreated for lack of insurance….

Mr. Barrow emphasized at his meetings that he liked much in the new law. He voted no, he said, because he thought it was too expensive and would exacerbate the shortage of doctors who accept Medicaid.

“I hope all of you know,” he volunteered in Milledgeville, “that I ended up voting against a lot of the things I believe in.”

Mr. Barrow, 54, bemoaned a politics that does not allow for nuanced positions on such multifaceted legislation, but rather defines lawmakers as “either all good or all evil.”

“Don’t think I’m aligning myself with these people who spat on Emanuel Cleaver, these folks who called John Lewis slurs that haven’t been heard in public places in 30 or 40 years,” he said, referring to actions against black House members outside the Capitol the weekend of the House vote. “They make me sick.”

The Center for Education Reform in Washington says Georgia faces long odds in its chase for nearly $500 million in federal education grants. The winner in the “Race to the Top” competition will be announced today.

Here’s how the Center handicapped Georgia’s entry, in faux race-track form:

Owners and trainers paint a pretty picture, but Georgia Peach has a lot of rough edges; charters have limited options and inequities abound; good teacher evaluation plans from the top are mired by political opposition and low LEA buy-in could mean trouble; likely no winner’s circle appearance. Odds 10:1 Pays: $462,288,921

It came as no surpise, but state Rep. Clay Cox (R-Lilburn) was endorsed Friday by Speaker David Ralston and other House leaders in the 7th District congressional race.

In the 9th District congressional race, qualifying for the May 11 special election to replace U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal opens today.

Libertarian blogger Jason Pye has a podcast interview with Karen Handel, a Republican candidate for governor, that can be found at

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

25 comments Add your comment

Deal Real Steal

March 29th, 2010
9:40 am

How much is the special election going to cost the tax payers of the 9th? Deal attacked Handel when she resigned, which didn’t require a special election, then he resigns when he starts dropping in the polls. Deal, Real, Steal, go back to Washington, you fit in better there.


March 29th, 2010
9:40 am

So if a car full of drunk Mennonites runs into me it’s OK. Who will pay for my loss? Those crooks in the legislature have hit a new low.


March 29th, 2010
9:41 am

the name says it all..


March 29th, 2010
9:46 am

Perhaps all the Tea Party folks will join the Mennonites? Or better yet, the Amish? I can just the the buggy traffic jam on the roads into Searchlight, NV.

Road Scholar

March 29th, 2010
9:47 am

????: By the Repub parties mantra…you are. Now how is that for peronal responsibility?

Jim, did the transportation legislation go forward after this past crossover day? The electronic AJC said yes, but the print version yesterday said no? Which is it?

The Snark

March 29th, 2010
9:57 am

“In this America that we all grew up in and love, forcing people to purchase things they don’t want to purchase, I think, violates a constitutional right that they have,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said last week.

So, I guess we can expect to see a bill to abolish mandatory automobile insurance very soon?


March 29th, 2010
10:14 am

I assume that because we as single persons are forced to pay for schools that are built for children we don’t have, we won’t be forced to purchase educational tools we don’t use? I think we should examine what Belle Isle running for State Senate in Roswell is saying: God Bless the Rich, They feed us. Clearly, only the rich need to pay for things, the rest of us will sit here jobless, reaping their rewards. The folks representing themselves as Republicans are so out of control at this point, I am left wondering how we will compare to Detroit and if the “rich” really buy into this malarkey?


March 29th, 2010
10:21 am

Driving a car is a privilege, not a right. Car insurance is a nessecaty of that privilege. If you dont want to pay it you have every right to chose not to drive a car. Take Marta (ha who wants to do that), ride a bike, buy a scooter, or you could even walk. The possibilities are endless. With the new Heathcare bill you can either buy insurance, go to jail, or die……or be a Mennonite, which I may have to look into. No social security of medicare tax either! Wow, do they have a religious mandate that they cannot be involved in the democrats vote buying schemes….


March 29th, 2010
10:27 am

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with BS. Sonny has excellent insurance paid by the taxpayer so he doesn’t care about the people that need it but can’t get it. I would suggest that he take that silver spoon he was born with and eat crow.


March 29th, 2010
10:47 am

“The Snark
So, I guess we can expect to see a bill to abolish mandatory automobile insurance very soon?”

I don’t see anyone forcing you to buy a car in the first place. If you want to use a car though, you have to pay all of the associated costs, includ gas & taxes, car tag tax, and yes insurance. All of these are voluntary, since you don’t have to buy a car.


March 29th, 2010
10:50 am

Nice to see someone vote no on a bill that was unnecessarily complex. Like he said, he wanted to vote for most of this, but because Washington insists on playing all or nothing games, we’re never left with the best solution, just one side winning and one side losing.

Sadly, we’re on the lose/lose outcome of the prisoners dilema. That’s a sad statement to make, but our executive and legislative branches just cannot work together.

Just A Grunt

March 29th, 2010
11:03 am

Certainly looks like the Mennoites are having the last laugh. They weren’t forced into paying into a federal Ponzi scheme, that just this last week ran out of money, but unfortunately they have no experience with Medicare so they don’t know just how bad federal healthcare is.
So how can I become one of these Mennoites and quit sending my money to our Imperial Federal Gubmint?


March 29th, 2010
11:13 am

So… Mennonites in Georgia get “special rights,” but our gay citizens cannot enjoy “equal rights.” Got it.


March 29th, 2010
11:41 am

So forcing Mennonites to purchase insurance is a violation of their freedom of religion?

Well, wouldn’t prohibition of marijuana violate the religion of a follower of Rasta Fari?


March 29th, 2010
11:53 am

Exactly who doesn’t need health insurance? And if they don’t have it and get sick, who pays? Don’t say the emergency room.


March 29th, 2010
12:19 pm

I do not want one penny of my hard earned tax dollars going to pay for medical expenses of any freeloading deadbeat that “opts out” of the responsibility for providing health insurance for themselves or their family.

These republican politicians are a hoot. Always looking for a way of protecting the deadbeats who want a government handout (free medical service at the emergency room) in lieu of being fiscally responsible.

My wife works with one of the “deadbeat” families. Both husband and wife work but “choose” not to insure their family against medical costs. They will leave next week for their second family trip to Disney World in less than four months. Yes sir, nobodies going to tell them to buy health insurance because the republican deadbeat politicians will protect them from doing the responsible thing.

I’ll get my chance to “reward” these republicans this fall.

Dr. Altheus King

March 29th, 2010
12:36 pm

John Barrow is a two-faced Tea Bagger. A Republican too cowardly to wear the name. The only thing worse than a traitor, John, is a hypocrite. You are both. I urge all people who believe in civil rights and equality to send Mr. Barrow back to his wealthy, white Mama’s boy, good ole boy roots where he belongs. People like Rush Limbaugh are dangerous and destructive. People like John Barrow, who say one thing to our face, but then vote with Rush Limbaugh, are even more dangerous. It is time to send John Barrow a message and send him home.

The Snark

March 29th, 2010
12:37 pm

Matt and ugaaccountant:

The distinction between being required to buy auto insurance and being required to buy health insurance is not an unreasonable one. (I would argue that in both cases, taxpayers end up footing the bill for a lot of the expenses incurred by the uninsured.)

But the Gov didn’t make that distinction. He just went for the sound bite and said “gummint shouldn’t make you buy anything you don’t want to buy.”

Big Daddy

March 29th, 2010
12:39 pm

I keep my own personal Mennonite in a box in the basement, bound and ball gagged. I only bring him out for special occasions. Excellent law…my Mennonite does not need health insurance.

Marlboro Man

March 29th, 2010
12:44 pm

Bunk, all cults should be treated the same Babtist, Methodist, Mennotnits, Buddist, Jews. All the same. Everyone pays thats the rule, get over it.

March 29th, 2010
6:41 pm

Is anyone able to explain to me why Mennonites are exempted? I know its for religious religions but specifically? Is there a rule stating that something ominous will occur if you are forced to buy something? If so, I am now creating a new religion that makes it morally right for me to drive a car without a liscense :P . (But in all seriousness will someone please explain this to me. And this comment was not intended to offend any Mennonites.)

ACC 12 Booster

March 29th, 2010
9:16 pm

As for Rep. Ed Lindsey and his Buckhead constituents being opposed to and standing in the way of the secession of North Fulton from Atlanta and South Fulton and the reformation of Milton County. If Buckhead doesn’t want to have higher taxes and get stuck with the bill for supporting what remains after North Fulton secedes, which looks to be just possibly a matter of time, depending on which way the political winds end up blowing, then why doesn’t Buckhead consider seceding from the City of Atlanta and joining the newly re-created Milton County?


March 29th, 2010
10:56 pm


I know that a jerk like you would want to reivise and twist the car insurance issue. I ask the question yet again, why am I paying car insurance? Show me in the constitution where I have to pay for that, no one has to pay for it because it’s not in the constitution. Stop being a hypocrite JERK.

Art Vandalay

March 30th, 2010
12:52 am

ACC you are an idiot, end of story. Do you think life in north fulton would be so good without Atlanta? Ok you can have milton county but you have to take away every benefit you have from being part of Metro Atlanta, hmmm, funny why isn’t it Metro Roswell or Metro Alpharetta? Get your farming equipment out because with Atlanta you’d just be in a little rural hick town probably growing tobacco or cotton, oh yeah and your own food because ya know that Whole Foods wanted to be there because it was part of the ATLANTA market. Also, better get on building an airport…redneck morons.

Cant Get Right!

March 30th, 2010
1:51 am

Mr Vandalay, you forgot to mention that they will have to agree NOT to use Fulton Co Police, Sheriff, Fire Fighters, water, sewer, etc, they must get their own. I was floored when Sandy Springs, Johns Creek and Milton pulled that crap and used Atlanta resources for a year. I say, if they are not happy, then go, but fend for yourself. What is it the Wingnuts love to say, no handouts, stand on your own and fend for yourself! Oh, that’s only if they are talking about somebody else…….. Milton County, go, take care, see ya!