Raw Milk Sans Social Unrest

Georgia has a raw milk bill!
Representative Scot Turner (along with co-sponsor Reps Allison, Brockway, Caldwell, and Spencer) filed HB 718 on Monday.
Currently, raw milk is technically not illegal in Georgia but it can only be purchased for animal consumption (pets, livestock, etc) and you can’t sell it. You see what they did there?

If you’ve ever had raw milk, you understand that the consistency is a bit difficult and it smells like cow, but this issue isn’t about flavor. This also isn’t about the gross process of pasteurization and homogenization to get that “safe” gallon you buy ever week. This is about government overstepping it’s bounds and the legislature finally offering a remedy. Currently, we look to an organization that says alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs are “safe” but the possible dangers of raw milk are so horrific, it must be heavily regulated on the state and federal level. So allow me to articulate a few arguments in favor of raw milk:

  • Raw milk is not dangerous for you because you don’t HAVE to drink it. Certainly there is an assumed risk in consuming any type of food/drink, but we cannot fully be “protected” by any government entity. I am allergic to peanuts. They can make me very sick but peanuts are not illegal.
  • On the premise that raw milk should not and will not be illegal, citizens of Georgia should have the freedom to trade, barter, consume, sell and purchase goods and services.
  • If consumers are willing to accept the risk, they should have the freedom to choose what kind of milk they want to drink. Right now, state law forces people to take raw milk to the black market (yes, people, our government over-regulation has taken us to the black market for milk) where the “all or nothing” mentality actually allows more health and safety concerns.
  • The current law criminalizes a behavior that has been legal since the dawn of time. It’s only been in the recent progressive decades of reliance on government to tell us what is and isn’t okay that the raw milk ban has congealed (Again, see what I did there?) People survived for hundreds of years on raw milk.

This issue is about personal responsibility and making your own decisions. If you rally for lower taxes, limited government, and less regulation, raw milk legalization should be on your radar. Don’t be scared. The best thing about raw milk is that if it terrifies you, you can simply get in your vehicle, drive to Publix and purchase the milk of your choice from the grocery. Choices are good. So, we can infer that choosing to support HB718 is an excellent choice if we want more choice and less government interference. :)

Judges, Doctors Trumping Legal Contracts?

I will admit that sometimes I forget to keep up with news. Many days I rely solely on Facebook and Twitter for my ‘headlines’ and then go find out what’s going on. I don’t recommend this plan for information as you will generally miss out on many “non-trending” newsworthy items. So if, like me, you hadn’t been closely following the Jahi McMath case, you likely haven’t mulled over the legal ramifications of what is actually happening in the case.

A quick overview of the Jahi McMath illustrates a truly devastating case of a 13-year old girl put under for basic removal of adenoids and tonsils. After surgery, she began bleeding and went into cardiac arrest. She was later declared “brain-dead” by two physicians and one court-ordered physician (where this court-ordered physician came in, I’m still researching). Her heart and lungs continue to operate but she lacks brain activity. These functions are how cessation of life is determined and are also the cause of the conundrum in this case.

Little Jahi has been living (according to her family) in a ‘dead’ (according to medicine) state for 26 days (as of publishing). During a time when her family is not only grieving the damage to their daughter, they are amidst a legal battle which includes a restraining order [which is actually set to expire today at 5pm] against the Children’s hospital at which Jahi was originally admitted. She has since been transferred to an undisclosed location and is receiving intravenous nutrients as you read this.

I remember the Terry Schiavo case, though I was young for much of it, and I remember the legal battle and the slaughtering of both involved parties in the news for years and years. The problem then and the problem now is a moral one, not a legal one…and we ALL know you cannot legislate morality. Life care, medical decisions, these have personal consequences. And when no formal arrangements are made for their care, these things happen. Of course loved ones are going to hold on for as long as they possibly can. Parents have the right to do this for their minor children. Husbands and wives have the right to make these decisions, too. Any one designated as the ‘medical power of attorney’ has the right to do this. It is essentially a legal contract.

At the present time, the McMath family is not costing the California any money, either. Because Jahi was declared ‘dead’, insurance will not cover medical costs, however, pro-life and Catholic organizations as well as the Terry Schiavo Foundation have all funneled money to help cover costs.

My final concern doesn’t really warrant too long of an explanation but it is one of the most important questions we must ask: If the practiced religion of the McMath’s prohibit the removal of life support measures, should a Judge have the discretion and power to override that?

And what about the right to privacy?

It makes sense that this is one of the reasons the Affordable Care Act is so frightening. Any type of government intervention –on any level, for any reason– is a slippery slope. Where do we draw the line? Court ordered out-patient counseling? Judicial supervision and mandates for in-patient rehabilitation? Sterilization? Refusal of care against familial wishes that ultimately determine life or death?

I don’t know about you but I struggle with the desire for a legal responsibility and legal contract to be upheld and the complete insensitivity on behalf of the courts to demand people ‘pull the plug’. You cannot ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation because every case has different circumstances, emotions and religious beliefs that come into play. The question here is simple, but not simply defined: How much State is too much State?

Commuted Sentences by Executive Order?

It’s no secret that I believe Barack Obama to be the worst president of my life time. And while I’m young and often times cynical about his decision making skills, I’ll give credit where credit is due. Just last week I commended him for switching from pleated pants to flat front pants. These are positive strides.

Also last week, which I will admit I missed when it was ‘news’, was the announcement of commuted sentences for 8 convicted felons by President Obama. One of the gentleman, Jason Hernandez, was sentenced to life in prison for a drug conspiracy charge when he was 18 years old on a charge that occurred when he was 15. According to a full story by Huffington Post, Hernandez was convicted when the disparity between crack charges and cocaine charges was much more vast (100-1 versus today’s 18-1). For these reasons, I believe the commuted sentence was proper, but it does give rise to three very separate issues:
1) Despite being explicitly stated in the Constitution, does the role of the executive circumvent the judiciary by commuting sentences?
2) Do we really support the idea of commuted sentences through executive power even if it is under the right circumstances?
3) The ridiculousness of victimless crimes and the subsequent sentences is ever so present.

I’ll start with the first one. Obviously my first reaction is that the sentence is simply outrageous and even with several “priors” as a juvenile, previous charges and convictions do not compile the same way some states apply “three strikes” laws or point systems for adults.
I also believe the justice system should exemplify its name…it should be just.
Executive orders and sentence commuting seem to circumvent the justice system and though we are a system of checks and balance, I struggle with whether or not this type of action is an overreach.
According to the US Department of Justice Pardon Attorney website:

Under the Constitution, the President has the authority to commute sentences for federal criminal convictions, which are those adjudicated in the United States District Courts. In addition, the President’s clemency power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. However, the President cannot commute a state criminal sentence. The President’s clemency power includes the authority to commute, or reduce, a sentence imposed upon conviction of a federal offense, including the authority to remit, or reduce, the amount of a fine or restitution order that has not already been paid. This form of clemency is different from a pardon after completion of sentence.”

The list of of commuted sentences and pardons which should not have occurred is more than likely long. Commuted sentences can illustrate significant discretion but that discretion is not stemming from the judiciary. Is that fair and just? Bleeding into #2, the issue arises on equality. Every case has its own facts and circumstances but at what point is it just for one person to have a commuted sentence and not another? The justice system is flooded with mistaken facts, wrongful accusations and improper trials. Certainly each and every case can’t be examined by the Pardon Attorney. Is this an efficient avenue to ensure justice? If the idea is based on principle, consistency is key.

Number three goes a lot deeper, and victimless crimes could span a whole series of blogs, but to keep it short and simple…conspiracies surrounding drug crimes do not warrant life in prison. Who was harmed? Does a lifetime in jail offer retribution to society on behalf of Mr. Hernandez? Does the punishment fit the crime?
The way in which these questions are answered calls for further evaluation of the laws on the books, not necessarily review by the executive branch. It also brings to the light the problems associated with minimum mandatory sentences and the ambiguity that stems from such statutes. Life in prison. Based on minimum mandatory sentences and victimless crimes. Life. In. Prison.

So to sum up firm position between a rock and a hard place…
I believe Jason Hernandez’s sentence was unreasonable, unwarranted and unjust, however, I question the justification for use of executive authority by the president to commute this sentence (and others). And I simply don’t know how to go about fixing any of it.

Discuss.

We teach our kids that if you skip class, you’ll fail…

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the growing trend of unrepresentative and unaccountable regionalism in Georgia. If you missed it, you can catch up by reading this.

Now we move along to part 2, detailing the attendance of such members of this wonderful taxing authority with eminent domain privileges. To properly illustrate such atrocities, I present to you the following graphic:
regionalism2
The number of members on the Atlanta Regional Commission fluctuates with election cycles, appointments and the tide of political relationships but the above chart is not comprehensive of the total board. As noted, it simply details the ARC members who neglect their responsibilities the most.

One of my favorites is the row detailing the attendance of one of regionalism’s biggest proponents– Kasim Reed, who managed to miss at least 50% of the meetings every year (and up to 70% in 2012). You should also note that attendance records aren’t getting any better. While there has been some turnover in ARC membership, there has not been some improvement of attendance.
Anita Thomas of Fulton County missed 4 meetings in 2012. She was only on the board for 4 meetings in 2012. What gives? Some folks missed all the meetings and then stepped off of the board, like Mickey Thompson and Aaron Turpeau. Why bother, folks?

If all of these people are missing all of these meetings, who IS there to do the work? Essentially, because of low attendance to these not-so-public meetings, a few select members –even fewer than the glorious group of self-selected non-elected officials– are making important developmental decisions for all of metro Atlanta. Part 3 [forthcoming] will detail the incestuous occupations of such members of the Atlanta Regional Commission and the direct benefits for each member based on approved developmental projects.

Isn’t regionalism sounding a little more shady with every chart see you see? (See what I did there?)

Abortion? That’s Extra

File this under “Not a War on Women”. From the Detroit Free Press: “A controversial initiative requiring women to buy additional insurance if they want abortion coverage in their health insurance plans passed the Legislature Wednesday afternoon and will take effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn for the year.” If signed into law, women would have to purchase a rider if they believe they will possibly have an abortion in the future.

Liberals and activists alike are up in arms over the recent legislation. Democrats believe it’s an issue that should be put forth to the voters to decide and claim Right to Life went “way too far”. I am somewhat surprised to see a measure such as this come out of a state like Michigan but it seems to be a trending perspective for conservatives and religious activists who adamantly prefer not be on the hook for abortions through new ACA regulations. The argument is that one cannot know if they could encounter a horrible experience, such as a rape or incest, that would, based on their argument, require coverage. A simple response would be that, just as they exist today, women have options for such circumstances.

From my perspective, this doesn’t seem like too big of an issue. You pay extra for dental, chiropractic and women (prior to the ACA) had different coverage parameters than men based on needs. It’s also a true political divide. Those who are pro-life need not purchase the rider and those who are pro-choice will have the opportunity to purchase the plan, or pay out of pocket. I can’t help but giggle a tad as this type of legislation gives liberals a taste of their own medicine. They will now purchase a rider on the premise that they may or may not use the option. It’s kind of like men paying for pregnancy coverage under new ACA guidelines. Or group insurance plans used to “balance” the good and bad.

We cannot plan for everything in life. Sometimes our deductibles are too high when an emergency arises or we didn’t purchase dental insurance the year you need two root canals. The reality is that health insurance cannot, and never will, be one size fits all. Additional “opt-in’s” are a better way to ensure coverage and cost is catered to the person. It also appears to offer a glimmer of hope for businesses that will be required to offer health benefits but don’t want to finance things of this nature, since it would be a premium” (for lack of a better word) package. Paging Hobby Lobby.

Electronic Location Tracking: An Opportunity to Limit Warrantless Searches

spying

That pesky Constitution. It really is stirring up some controversy these days and slipping back into legislation across the states.

I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines. We all have. “Cellphone data spying. It’s not just the NSA” and “DC, Maryland and Virginia cops spying on cell phone data” or more recently “Reports: NSA and GCHQ are spying on virtual worlds, gathering data on gamers“. Private entities are speaking out against the measures, too. They’re everywhere. Literally. Every day it seems we wake to another breaking story about privacy infringements and agency tracking tactics with only stagnant blank stares from legislators on the federal level. Frustration ensues but nothing happens.

So I present to you HB699 authored by State Representative John Pezold (R-Columbus). HB699 essentially details “relating to searches with warrants, so as to narrow the circumstances of when location information for electronic devices may be disclosed without a search warrant; to provide for definitions; to provide for exceptions; to provide for a civil penalty and enforcement; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes”. You can read the full text of the bill here, but HB 699 essentially tightens the reins on the out-of control location spying and tracking by law enforcement without a warrant. My favorite part of the bill is the part where it provides punishment parameters for the government entities that violate the statute and allows for suppression of such evidence in court. (I will agree that there is no ‘price’ for our freedoms being compromised but this bill certainly does more to protect our liberties than current practices by law enforcement agencies.)

There is a slight problem, though. As of pre-filing on November 25th, it was a lonely Mr. Pezold and Rep. Scot Turner (R-21) as official signers on the bill.  I find it interesting that a bill like HB41, dealing with water and sewer fees, has more signers than one that strengthens our Constitutional rights and it’s perplexing to me that 1) there aren’t more bills to protect our 4th amendment rights, and 2) that fellow legislators aren’t calling Representative Pezold to help with the initiative. Personally, I want to know where every elected official stands on this, through the House and Senate and up to the Governor. And you should want to know, too. If they don’t support it…primary. It’s time to stop foregoing liberties because “everyone else” is doing it. The justification for “security” that is most often used in these instances is not applicable. A warrant suffices- and they’re not that hard to get, but at least it’s through a process. HB 699 will cease the circumvention of our 4th amendment rights when it comes to location tracking on electronic devices.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already said the use of such devices does constitute a search.  Montana has similar legislation too HB699 and other states have worked to push electronic privacy initiatives, but we’re a long way from where we should be. It’s time for Georgia to step up. Call your legislators. Tell your friends to call their legislators. It matters. It’s not often that we get good bills anymore and HB699 needs support. This bill is a #McWin.

Regionalism: Unrepresentative, Unaccountable and Hardly Elected

After the recent Braves debacle, and yes, regardless of what side you were on, it truly was a debacle, regionalism has once again been brought to the forefront in our state. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand regionalism, if they’ve even heard of it before. They fail to see the unconstitutional premise of the initiative and the failed outcomes stemming from the increased level of bureaucracy and unaccountability.

The concept of regionalism, while the term seems rather self-explanatory, is actually quite complex due to its continuous evolution. Beginning in 1998, legislators began working to formally structure government on a regional level by implementing HB 1650 and establishing a 21-member Regional Advisory Council (RAC) which was refined with different ‘region lines’ the following year. In 2008, the legislature, through HB 1216, again reorganized and divided our state into 12 regions with elected and appointed representatives which were to be limited to one county commission chair and one mayor for from each region. In 2010, this project was expanded by HB 277 to include another 12 regional transportation councils which would have taxing authority and eminent domain privileges and a self-selected executive round table. In addition, a citizen review panel is appointed for each region, yet they have little authority to control the actions of the councils or roundtable. The Atlanta Regional Commission, known as ARC, was created on the premise of uniting 10 metro counties and is now the trailblazer for many of the tragic development projects we hear about every year in Georgia and dates back to 1947 but has evolved significantly since.

Arc.2013Sure is pretty, isn’t it?

It’s true that most people support counties working together and it’s true that most counties enjoy ‘sharing’ costs. It’s also true that many voters want to see their elected officials working as zealous advocates for their communities. But most wouldn’t support the concept if they knew it was mandated and involuntary. Counties are forced to work together to support initiatives and share funds that may never offer any benefit to their citizens or businesses. Essentially, regionalism reduces local control, circumvents the Georgia Constitution (Article IV, Section IV), reduces (and sometimes eliminates) transparency, diminishes accountability, redistributes wealth, creates an unnecessary [4th] level of bureaucracy and applies a one-size-fits-all approach to development that allows appointed members of a board to evade the whole ‘representative’ aspect of governing. Elected officials bring in vested ‘friends’ as appointees and the commission quickly becomes a one-way (light-rail, of course) train headed to Spendersville at our expense.

“We have a significant number of “citizen” members on the ARC Board who have absolutely no accountability to the voting public at all,” says Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown. “The thought of a mandated regional governance and taxation structure producing the likes of the regional T-SPLOST and Concept 3, by unanimous votes, no less, is a worrisome proposition.”

Regionalism isn’t all that popular, either- mostly because Georgia cannot execute the necessary engines, if you will, correctly. Maria Saporta of Maria’s Metro (who is very pro-transportation spending) recently said, “Regionalism is about investing in regional assets that serve the entire 10-county or 20-county region”. While this, like most things, sounds like a sound solution to so many local problems, regionalism requires county participation and an intermixing of funds that most taxpayers don’t even know about. It allows governance by an unelected, unchecked board with no recourse for voters, citizens or taxpayers.

Earlier this year, the GA GOP voted in favor of a resolution rejecting regionalism as a whole and supporting legislation that would repeal applicable measures. Americans for Prosperity has shed a critical light on issues surrounding regionalism and their own Matt Roy summed up an exemplary explanatory article asking, “When has more or bigger government resulted in an efficient outcome?”

Proposed remedies are lacking. Representative Ed Setzler currently has HB 195 in the hopper, which allows regionally cohesive projects without the mandate by allowing forthcoming initiatives to be at the discretion of the voters in the affected counties. Cooperation would no longer be mandatory, and elected officials would again be accountable to the people who elected them to work on projects that are in the best interest of their area. Wouldn’t that have been nice with the Braves stadium? And wasn’t that a more representative way to decide the fate of the T-SPLOST?

We don’t need regionalism. We see often why these things don’t work. A government close to home is the most effective, the most accessible and the most responsive. It’s the same reason the states don’t team up by region to accomplish things. Cooperation isn’t a bad thing and as Andre Jackson of the AJC stated, “Such cooperation where it’s mutually desired is in keeping with current best practices”. Arranged marriages are nice, but everyone usually ends up happier when you get to pick your own spouse.

Innocence Denied in a Victimless Crime

It’s that icky topic that makes you cringe when you even hear the term: child molestation. It’s a devastating and disgusting crime, one that society condemns so much, we often convict the accused in our hearts and minds before we even hear the evidence. Often times these are just and sound assertions, but what about the times when it is not?

What would you do if the police showed up at your door and accused you of child molestation? What would you do if you were then arrested for charges that spawned because of the actions of someone else? And how would you handle being incarcerated for two years with 18 left to serve? And after conviction, would you find faith to push forward to continue to fight for your freedom and the vindication of you and your innocence? And one last thing to ponder: how would you cope if you were denied a new trial after the evidence used to convict you was found to be false?

If we were to fog bubble back in time to 2011 when this whole debacle began, we would meet a gentleman named Scott Dean. Scott and his wife Renee had a quiet (as political ones can be), quaint life in Columbia County where Dean served as a Harlem City Council member before being elected as a County Commissioner. Dean and his wife had two biological sons and five adopted children from Guatemala. Life was simple and though Dean had some indiscretions at work, Dean was well-liked in the community and a charitable man of faith. Cue mirror-shattering moment.

In February of 2011, Dean was accused of exposing himself by dropping a towel (though the accuser did later state she wasn’t sure if Dean even saw her in the room when he dropped the towel) and inappropriately touching his adopted teenage daughter. He was charged with child molestation. (The link to the child molestation section of the Georgia code is here. It is worth reviewing so you may analyze the “parallel” between code terminology and the acts asserted in this case.)

From the get-go, it was evident the State was on a one-track mind. The prosecutor made it known that he planned to introduce evidence of “similar acts” from the past. ADA Parks White referenced a supposed 1984 Virginia incident (when Dean was just 14 years old and two young females (age 12) with a group of other young females) that was never pursued or prosecuted. No charges were ever filed. The prosecutor presented this information to the public before the Judge ever ruled on the admission of such at trial. It was ultimately permitted at trial but what went ignored were the “similar acts” of the victim and her prior false claims against another guardian, as well as her use of similar allegations to have her and her sister removed from their home in Guatemala. It seems the young lady simply used false allegations to leave a home whenever she was unhappy…and she was truly unhappy with her adopted mother, Renee Dean.

In 2011, Scott Dean was convicted of two counts of child molestation of his adopted teenage daughter based on her statements and the ‘inappropriate act’ as a 14 year old boy with a 12-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison (the maximum) followed by 20 years probation.

A few months after the conviction (but prior to the sentencing), daughter Silda Dean told a DFCS worker that the allegations were a lie. The social worker informed her supervisor and DFCS legal counsel but no further action was ever taken. In March of 2013, Dean’s adopted daughter formally recanted (in a letter) her statements claiming he sexually assaulted her, admitting everything was a lie. Testifying in early October that her allegations were indeed false was legally not enough to grant a new trial.

Scott Dean made a couple bad decisions. He chose to wonder outside of his marriage and away from his wife in an inappropriate relationship with a county employee and he chose to rub some folks the wrong way as a politico in Augusta, but neither of these acts render the incessant persecution of a man for such heinous crimes. We utilize due process and the presumption of innocence for a reason. When we allow a case to spiral out of control without discretion and checks, lives are destroyed. The Court of Appeals claimed that “Absolute Proof” isn’t required. Instead, the judges believe that the testimony of the two witnesses met that burden of proof. That testimony has since been retracted. Now what?

There is still an opportunity to rectify the situation. We must question the District Attorney, the Judge, the Courts and demand an answer as to why, in light of such vindicating, game-changing evidence, a man still sits in prison with no hope and no chance of a new trial. If a now ADULT victim, freely and willingly admits that no improper acts occurred , why is a man in prison? How can a man be charged with a serious, life-changing felony with no victim? I charge you to consider if this man was your husband, your brother, your father. At a minimum, you would want a fair and just trial with the pertinent evidence. If the prosecution’s case is airtight, a second trial should yield the same result.

Keep in mind that if the Courts fail to seek justice, even just once, the wheels will eventually fall off wagon for the entire legal system. While you mull that over, Mr. Dean waits in Georgia State Prison in Reidsville.

I Can Spend! Spend! Spend!

shopping-bags

When I was 18, I applied for a credit card because I was told that’s how you build credit. “No credit is worse than bad credit” they say. So I applied and received a $500 credit line on the first try! I was ecstatic. I filled up on a tank of gas using my card and the next month they raised it to $1,000 with a “Congrats!” letter. This was excellent news considering that was about the amount I made monthly at my rinky-dink church job while in college. Even though I was an adult and knew everything at a mere 18 years old, my mom always cautioned “Don’t run it up! But don’t pay the whole thing off either. Just keep a “very, very low” balance”. So I did.

Over the next year or so, I made a valiant effort to ‘make smart decisions’ with my $1,000.00 credit line and didn’t use it much at all. Fast forward to age 20 and my car unexpectedly needs new tires. (I am a female and don’t normally give any vehicle the attention it needs. Truth is, it probably needed tires for a while) I put a whopping $700 on the card and the next  month, I had a big credit increase –$4,000! Congrats!! Paid off the tires completely and it doubled again…$8,000 with yet another congratulatory letter.

I’m not sharing this credit information because I’m proud. I’m sharing it because I am absolutely appalled. I managed to hold steady at the $8,000 limit for a couple of years but yesterday I logged in to pay my bill and found that my limit had been extended to a colossal (to me!) $11,200. I am 25 years old. I have no business having a line of credit like that. Whether I’m making $25,000 or $100,000 a year, we are talking about AT LEAST 10% of income dedicated to credit card debt. With so many people my age unemployed, a majority of millennials carrying a massive amount of student loan debt and  the whole ‘well, we don’t really give a rootie-pa-tootie about personal responsibility”…we are headed down a dark road of personal and economic destruction and everywhere we turn, there is a crutch to put of the debt for just a little while.

Now, I will say, I struggled with this internally because I certainly don’t want younger people to be discriminated against or denied anything because of their age, but there has to be some benchmark for credit. It’s just like the mortgage bubble and the student loan bubble. Not everyone needs a credit card. Not everyone needs the same credit line. Not everyone needs the same perks. In that capacity, the responsibility is on the company. Stricter income-to-debt ratios? Or maybe don’t increase the credit limit unless someone asks? I never once asked for a credit line increase, the company just did it for me. And for goodness sakes…can we please stop rewarding people for spending on someone elses dollar? My credit score went up over 50 points when I took out my student loans.

I don’t want more regulation for private companies who are lending out the credit, but it comes back around when we, as taxpayers, have to bail them out again- not to mention, we don’t know where this ‘loaned’ money is actually coming from.  We preach and preach and preach about the national debt and say ‘Americans live off of what they earn, why won’t the government?” but in reality, we’re perpetuating a cycle of transferring debt to different boiling pots that are all about to overflow. Credit cards aren’t sexy and neither is debt. It’s time we start characterizing spending a little differently and stop being so careless.

Don’t Take My Power, That’s Mine!

From my article originally posted on Peach Pundit:

As the 2014 legislative session approaches, we’re all gearing up for the “hot button” issues that will rise to the forefront and be the buzz for all the bloggers. With the possible May election, it would be a surprise to no one to see session shortened in an effort to get back to important things, like fundraising. Legislators will hopefully evaluate meticulously in selecting the legislation they choose to push, which will likely include several recommitted bills from 2013.

HB 100 in particular, relating to the state-level executive powers of firearm confiscation during a state of emergency caught the attention of many but dwindled quickly amongst the campus carry drama. Representative Delvis Dutton (R-157) introduced HB 100, which is more comprehensive and thorough than previous legislation of the same nature, in what has been a growing trend since the unconstitutional seizure of firearms following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Specifically, HB100 states,

“No official or employee of the state or any political subdivision thereof…,while acting during or pursuant to a declared state of emergency, shall: temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize the seizure of any firearms or ammunition…prohibit possession of any firearm or ammunition or any component thereof…prohibit any license holder from carrying any weapon…or require registration of any firearm.”

In also adding a few definitions and procedural matters, HB 100 would essentially protect second amendment rights during a declared state of emergency when rules and rights are often skirted.

HB 100 had, and continues to have, extensive support. Currently there are 47  House signers, both Georgia Gun Owners and Georgia Carry support the measure and it falls in line with similar NRA-backed legislation that has been enacted across the nation. Organizations like ALEC and NAGR have jumped in to help with legislation in several states, including, but not limited to, Oklahoma, Virginia, Missouri, Maine and even Michigan and California…but somehow HB100 did not wiggle down the pipeline in Georgia.

Interestingly assigned to the House Judiciary Committee (and not Public Safety or Judiciary Non-Civil), HB100 passed through subcommittee and full committee with bipartisan support but did not make it out of Rules by day 30 even after requests by multiple Representatives. The rumor is that Governor Deal, and his minute-men, worked to stop this bill from the beginning and plan to do the same in 2014.

It is a tad surprising that following Sandy Hook, Aurora and tragedies of the like, when responsible gun owners are literally clinging to their guns AND in a season of a contested primary, Governor Deal still has not come out in full support of our second amendment rights and HB 100. Gubernatorial candidate David Pennington, when asked about his position on such legislation, said he is “100% adamantly opposed to any bill or behavior that restricts our freedoms” and would support legislation that would remove the executive power to confiscate firearms. Calls to Governor Deal’s office regarding this issue were not returned. John Barge for Govenor also chose not to offer a position on the issue, but I imagine he is busy with his spelling flashcards.

::cue Liberty Drum::