Are we eliminating ‘transgenders’ from our society?

It seems that ‘transgender news’ has been through the roof lately. Whether that’s because there is growing number of people actually switching genders or just an increase in folks publicly discussing their journey, it really doesn’t matter. What we’re facing is a moral standoff that is causing a great divide while dealing with a governmental structure that is well behind what has become somewhat of a societal norm.

With all due respect, this isn’t about whether your faith commands you to tolerate these “types” of people and it isn’t about your personal beliefs. No, we are far past that. With a government that regulates and controls just about everything we do, we find ourselves in a great predicament. It’s becoming extremely litigious as well. Businesses without policies find themselves at the center of discrimination suits, like Barnes & Noble and a blood bank.

This is about the fact the transgender people, regardless of how you feel, are now a part of our society and we have to address the realities of that. For decades, we have ignored the shift and turned our backs.

To many, it seems cut and dry. I’ve heard countless people say that transgender – or even cross-dressers – should use the restroom based on ‘what they were at birth.’ But those statements have consequences.

While the Bruce Jenner jokes have been in abundance, the issue has touched home plate in our states more than once, recently.  Just last week, Rutgers announced they would be adding additional mascots to the team to be more inclusive and story after story highlights parents allowing their children to be vocal about changing genders – which trickles into public school operations. The crux of the issue has arrived.

In Virginia, parents and pastors are vehemently opposing a public school policy change to be more accepting of transgender students. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education is threatening to pull funding if a change is not made.

And Georgia has had to sort out a very complicated situation which forced the U.S. Justice Department to intervene. A young man, who was in the process of changing sexes but was already living life as a female named Ashley Diamond, was arrested for robbery and sentenced to several years in prison. Ashley Diamond was transferred to a mens prison facility where she was disallowed from receiving her hormone therapy medications despite the fact that Georgia has a ‘freeze frame’ policy, meaning, hormone therapy can be continued while in the Georgia Department of Corrections but not increased or progressed while in custody. Ultimately, the Justice Department strong armed Georgia into administering the drugs and Diamond is now up for a transfer to a woman’s facility.

These concerns aren’t just in the public restrooms or the gym locker rooms or the high school prom. They’ve expanded to our tax code, our jails, our court systems, our schools, and so much more. It is no longer something we can ignore. We don’t live in a bubble where some people can operate under one guise and the rest of us under another.

No one should ask you to sweep your beliefs under the rug, but in the same vein, can you ask society to omit an entire group of people from classification? We can continue to resist, but it will only put off the inevitable. It’s already here.

Presidential Field Too Green?

Remember in 2008, when Barack Obama starting making headway and everyone shouted from the rooftops that he was too young, too inexperienced, too green? I’m not sure if that was the argument because people actually believed it or if they had grown too concerned with appearing ‘racist’ in an election cycle that was a constant racial attack from the Left. Either way, it left me cringing when some of our GOP counterparts rose through the ranks over the last few years and we went far beyond overlooking it.

In fact, I am currently wondering why we are not relieving that right now. Consider the announced GOP field as of today:

  • Marco Rubio
  • Ted Cruz
  • Rand Paul

The were all elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, meaning, they are just wrapping up their first term. Neither Paul nor Cruz had served in public office before, something I personally believe should happen before being elected as a U.S. Senator (or President) and my belief is that we simply ‘lucked out’ with them. But I digress.

If you consider their political resumes, Barack Obama’s is technically more diverse.

Presidential Seal

Carly Fiorna and Dr. Ben Carson also have legitimate supporters and encouragement to run. Neither of them have served a day in public office before. There are people that love that about them.

Then, there are gubernatorial candidates who have only served a little over 4 years in office. And serving as a Governor presents different experiences. Walker, Jeb Bush, Christie, Jindal and all the others bring very different backgrounds to the table.

So how much experience is enough experience? The arguments of executive branch picks versus otherwise are abundant. The number of years they have served…too much versus not enough. The reasons are endless.

In our own state, we saw last fall that ‘absolutely none’ was a level of experience many Republicans wanted to see in their elected officials with the election of Senator David Perdue and Congressmen Jody Hice (GA-10) and Rick Allen (GA-12). Whether that works for us still remains to be seen, but we won’t know unless we test it.

Regardless of what you believe about these Presidential candidates (or soon-to-be candidates) ability to win, their supporters, their fundraising tactics, and their match-up against Hillary, you still have to admit it: They’re all green in some capacity. None of them have ever served as President of the United States before.

Our country continues to evolve. The challenges we face will continue to evolve as well, and with that, so will the electorate as we decide who can best arrange the deck chairs on this already sinking ship.

My question is this: Is there a trend toward newbies or are we just hypocrites? Is it now politically expedient to support these greenies or were we wrong before? I’m okay with either, but we should probably be prepared to message that when things heat up.

Anyone Can Run for Office?

I suppose my idealism takes me off the reservation a little too often, but with the primary for 2016 just 13 months away, we’re starting to see candidates announce. So of course that got me thinking…

I will preface with the fact that I am of the belief that incumbents should be challenged. Often.Uncle Sam The good ones and the bad ones. Primary challenges ensure that our elected officials hold to the values of their district. Heck, it just puts elected officials IN the district to have interaction with their constituents – something some of them wouldn’t do otherwise.

We gripe and groan after every controversial vote and complain that “S/He should go home!” “[X] needs a primary!” We’ve seen the episode but the season finale is always the same: when a small town, no-name candidate announces, we gawk and point fingers at their unprofessionalism, their lack of funds, or the small to non-existent campaign team.

It just so happens that nine times out of ten, it is the no-name political junkie who announces a challenge. Our more “seasoned” candidates will wait for an open seat, so these primary challenges for our bigger incumbents always bring about a different breed. They’re Joe-Schmoe who has been enraged in his day-to-day for the last 10 years and finally wants to do something about it.

Because our seats were created for the little people.

This happens a lot. We get them from city council to U.S. Senate but the higher offices seems to make ‘looking legitimate’ a whole lot harder because of the whole fundraising thing. In 2013, running for U.S. Senate cost, on average, $10,476,451. That’s $14,351 per day in spending. It actually cost Elizabeth Warren over $42 million to defeat Scott Brown. Additionally, House candidates who won in 2012 raked in an average of $1,689,580 in campaign contributions. That’s about $2,315 each day.

Here in Georgia, we have people spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaigns for State Senate, a position that pays less than $25,000 per year. We see the same for county commission seats and even our city council and mayoral races force fundraising numbers over what many people are paid in a year. The burden to run for office is high and it’s also become the ‘legitimacy ranking.’

But our seats were created for the little people.

When I was working on a campaign in the 12th district, the primary discussion for the Republican primary focused on 4 candidates, but there were actually 5. A lady by the name of Diane Vann campaigned across the entire district. She was everywhere and worked really hard with the resources she had. She said some things that were a little kooky and she didn’t have much money at all, but she ran for Congress because she wanted to run for Congress and she believed the message she was sharing was the right one.

Why do we not support this? We complain about incumbents. Congress – and many of our elected officials all the way down to city council – have devastatingly low approval ratings. We want someone who will stand up and talk about the issues. We want someone new. We expect others to do what we ourselves are unwilling to do. And then when that person shows up, we slam the ‘You don’t belong here!’ door in their face.

I’m not saying that every candidate with a lot of money is bad. That certainly isn’t the case.  And I’m also not saying we HAVE to support the grassroots candidate because sometimes the person serving is already doing a great job. I’m not naive enough to think that everyone is qualified to serve, either.

What I am saying is that people run for office because they believe they are serving a purpose. If someones kooky campaign gets a few new people involved in the game of politics, shouldn’t we support that?

Our seats were created for the little people.


Oh…The Humanity!

It happened. All of my frustrations from a ridiculous election season followed by an even more absurd legislative  session culminated into one, giant hate-filled implosion. But before we get to the “fixing,” let’s start with the “causing.”

I went into this session excited, which is surprising considering this was not my first. But my excitement quickly crumbled into little bits of ‘what the hell?’ when an entire group of people I trusted abandoned what I knew of them – a complete toppling of conviction in this mess of politics because of ego and greed.

I couldn’t take one more second of the blow hards on Facebook pretending that ‘their’ elected official was somehow ‘immune’ to the ridiculousness and still had ‘pure tendencies.’ The lies, the backstabbing, and then my phone was changing “Amen” to “amendment”. I couldn’t even end a prayer without thoughts of politics. I had had enough.

I left work early on Wednesday mad as hell. I went home, walked the dogs and headed to the
gym. Except that made it all worse. The lady three treadmills down from me was talking on her phone and I could hear her entire conversation over the ever-so-timely Cee Lo Green song on my headphones. I was about ready to march off my machine, yank her cord right out of the socket, and rip her a new one when I actually made eye contact with her. I felt this overwhelming guilt consume me because I didn’t hate the lady on the treadmill. I hated that all of the hate had consumed me and I no longer recognized myself. I…hated it.

I’m not sure if you know this, but I too am a human. Despite the disparaging blogs, the sassy, IMG_1842 sarcastic comments, and the sometimes anti-political tirades, my heart is still pure. I am a grateful cheerful person. I like wine, pizza, puppies, and babies who aren’t weeping – just like everyone else. And despite the hype, I am not as bad as some make me out to be. Like everyone else, I pick my battles and burn bridges, but I do so carefully. If you look back over 4 years of writing, I’ve only lit the match for 2 bridges: the one connecting me to Sen. John Albers and the other to Rep. Christian Coomer.

Why does this matter? Because I had a heavy heart over the people who did not see my tenacious effort to discuss things, not people. And then I realized, it isn’t my fault that elected officials take their job so seriously that a criticism of their work kills any conversation and most of the time, all friendships. It isn’t my fault that their pursuit of ‘what is right’ does not look like mine. It isn’t my fault that they have a problem with me.

But the humanity.

This humanity thing, it keeps us immune to many things, like melting and time travel, but not from the hatred we see amongst us in politics. Not the hurt of finding that a mutual contributor who writes alongside side you says horrible, nasty no-good things about you’ and tells people they want nothing more than to see you fail.

Humanity does not make you immune to the deafening silence of no one around when you’ve been raked over the coals. It does not keep you warm in the ice-cold reality of knowing those you depended on won’t be there.

Humanity does not make you immune to recognizing that just about every legislator, or citizen for that matter, from Gwinnett county is trying to make your life a living hell because you don’t like a few of their ‘concepts.’

Humanity does not keep us from hating people back because they hated us first.

Humanity does not make you immune to the pain of a defeat, no matter how small.

Humanity does not make you immune to the fact that the ‘minority’ in this state is not a party or a race, but a group of people who have nothing to gain from this vicious, cyclical game that most of us cannot escape.

I’ve been called a lot of things in the last 90 days – some under the Gold Dome and some from those people on Maple Avenue. Pro-predator, someone who supports human trafficking, just about every curse word you can imagine, and of course, someone who has ‘close ties to the adult entertainment industry.’ But I am none of these things.

What I am is “green.” Even after 5 years. I’ve never been in situations where people hate others. High school was a pretty easy time in my life and most of my jobs have yielded friends, not enemies. I have a few weird family members, but I am told that is normal.

In politics, there is no shoulder to cry on. In fact, there isn’t really a time, place, or purpose for crying at all. And unless you’re married to someone in politics – which I thankfully am not – you go home to find that what you feel is even harder to explain to someone on the outside. Your mom will just want to “fix it” and if she can’t, she’ll want to fight those battles for you. Your friends just want you to have a glass of wine and forget about it.

Then social media complicates things. When you aren’t consumed with the political rants, your feed is bombarded with wicked skinny witches who are leaving the maternity ward with skinny bird legs that are still somehow smaller than yours at your own birth and that pesky, annoying person from high school who has received yet another promotion. There is no escaping humanity.

But the truth is: I don’t want to be immune from the humanity.

You see, the “me” in this isn’t just me and all the “I…” is really just the voice of a lot of other people like me. The people who see no appeal in the actual game. The people who want to make a difference. The people who have nothing to gain. Replace “Jessica” in this article with the person you can’t stand and want to see fail. Ask yourself if you’re forcing them to face unnecessary battles.

Sometimes we all need slack and understanding. Sometimes we need a break to restore ourselves to the softness of which we know of ourselves to embody. Sometimes we forget that we are dealing with living, breathing human beings. We forget that human beings, by nature and the grace of God, have feelings.

The biggest problem is that we forget that we all got into this because we had ‘some feelings’ about ‘some issue’ at some point. We suffer when we forget what those feelings are. Personally, that is my new daily task and it will take nothing short of a valiant effort.

In the meantime, I implore you to look at how you treat those around you. Specifically, those you find yourself disliking and hating the most. Ask yourself how much better off you’ll be by putting someone else down. It’s time we start distinguishing between the people who truly hurt our cause and our progress from those who, much like ourselves, are fighting the battles for the things they believe to be right. We need to make a concerted effort to not destroy PEOPLE because their POLICIES do not look like ours.

Most people in politics are terrible people. Those of us who cling to our purity should not succumb to being like ‘most people.’

“Where Did You Come From?”

The question I get most frequently in the realm of politics is ‘Where did you come from?’ or rather, why am I the way I am? Don’t worry, this isn’t the beginning of an Eminem song.

Like any person, my direct route from day 1 to present is full of twists and turns.  So many experiences mold us into who we are, but for many people, it is difficult to pin point the exact moment in time when they became who they are. I don’t have that problem.

I have always had an argumentative streak and my 11th grade history teacher at Centennial High School, Mr. Porter, did no disservice in allowing me to speak my mind early and often despite his love of Abraham Lincoln and his first edition Toyota Prius. In 2004, I was still the cookie cutter solid suburban (R) who would defend the party until I was blue in the face, and God bless him, he had to deal with me in an election year. It served us both well and prepped me for college and graduate school where I continued to evolve.

But my life changed the day I met Andrew Wordes, the Roswell Chicken man. A man of small stature and a unique voice you could pick out of any crowd, I met Andrew at a campaign event in 2009. He was kind and gracious and wanted to know what, as a young person, drove me to get involved in politics. “It was an accident,” I told him. But he shrugged it off, said that was impossible, and went on to show me pictures of his dog, pigs, and of course, his chicken. I entertained the conversation because I couldn’t believe he had chickens in the ‘burbs.

Over the next few months, I saw Andrew several times and eventually, someone filled me in on his battle against the City of Roswell. I was mortified to learn about his years-long debacle. The man withstood a retroactive vendetta ordinance, lawsuit(s) against him by the City (an unprecedented act in the State of Georgia), the grading of the land around his home by the City without permission and notice, pressure to submit to eminent domain far below FMV, multiple nights in jail due to police harassment, city employees meddling with his mortgage holder, and the poisoning of his animals which caused the death of over half of them, yet some how some way, the man managed to get up every day to see another fight and volunteer to help others.

I was enamored by his lengthy story and asked him if I could document it on my blog. Of course he said yes and we began talking almost daily so he could fill me in on updates between the lawsuits and the police casing his home.

He sometimes appeared angry, but that was mostly out of frustration of people not listening. He wanted to be heard. He was often characterized as ‘crazy’ but that was purely because he was unwavering and was doing things no one had ever done. He had compassion and showed complete devastation when his animals were poisoned and dying – he held them and nurtured them in their suffering. He was never short on emotion and I adored that about him.

He was a man of controversy because he challenged his government, bucked the system, mouthed off, often stood alone, and never gave up. He ultimately took his own life under pressures many of us will be lucky enough to never face. He made some mistakes and he wasn’t always the most eloquent man, but he was a man of conviction and principle. He loved his freedom, his country, and his God.

Tomorrow, March 26th, marks the 3 year anniversary of the death of my sweet friend Andrew Wordes. I still have a page on my blog dedicated to highlighting his stories. Three years and I can’t take it down, despite that fact that it highlights my reel of immature and unrefined elementary writing skills. I still have a voicemail on an old phone from Sunday, March 25th, 2012 from Andrew. He told me things were “good” and he was expecting things to turn around. He said we would talk tomorrow so we could plan our next course of action to keep fighting. Session was in and he wanted to go down and talk to his State Senator who wouldn’t take his calls.

He died the next day but left a fire in us all that reminds us we can’t just fight our own battles and we can’t always choose the big “flashy” battles. He left behind an inspired and an enraged league of Liberty-lovers who don’t forget to mention his story. He didn’t win his battle, but he’s winning the war because every day someone, somewhere inches closer to awakening on an issue and someone new gets involved. He taught others to further this and to do so with conviction and emotion – so as never to come across as disingenuous.

I don’t believe in coincidences. It was no accident that I met Andrew on my very first campaign at the very first event. It’s no accident that Andrew’s story was one of the first controversial blogs I ever penned – an extreme illustration of government overreach that went largely unnoticed by the media – two things I stomp and raise a ruckus about now.  It’s no coincidence that –right or wrong- even the drama surrounding the incident of Andrew taking his own life was a political statement that continues the conversation.

I have no doubt that I documented Andrew’s story on my own blog, not for his benefit, but for mine.  So that when I felt like giving up, I would have a written journal of what he encountered and a shiny mirror of reflection illuminating the fact that he never relented. A staunch reminder that I was taught to stand tall and loud even when I’m alone and to never withhold my emotion and passion from a cause – no matter how small.



10 Worst Bills to Pass the House by Crossover

The 2015 legislative session has been rather…interesting. Between the slow start over what would actually happen with Transportation and the Budget to the abrupt ending which halted just about every piece of pending legislation that had a ‘NO’ vote attached to the transportation tax, most of us have been spending our days that it will just hurry up and be over. Despite that, however, the House has still managed to pass some pretty awful legislation. Trending in the ‘Top 10 Worst’ are 1) expanded powers for the Governor, 2) creation of new Commissions, and 3) strengthened mandates for individuals and small businesses.

10. The AMENDMENT presented by Rep. Ed Setzler to HB 429 – (Ron Stephens)
The bill makes sure that if you’re given a diagnosis of 2 years or less to live, your insurance company cannot deny you the use of a drug if your doctor deems it necessary and appropriate. The amendment disallows people from traveling to other states for the purpose of assisted suicide and then requesting the insurance company cover such costs.
So, in the same passage, we mandate that a company cannot deny coverage while also mandating a certain type of coverage that cannot be covered. Together these two concepts do not make sense. The amendment passed 105-61. The bill passed 170-0.

9. HB 418 – (Rep. Bert Reeves)
This bill disallows anyone in alternative sentencing programs (first offender, diversion, etc.) Crying_little_girlfrom serving on a grand jury as they would had they been convicted of a felony. Arguments in favor of the bill say it is a conflict of interest as these people may (if they live in the same county as their sentencing) be reporting to the District Attorney. On the contrary, these programs are supposed to be classified as ‘not a felony,’ so what is the purpose if we are still going to rescind rights? Further, these alternative sentencing programs are similar to those that have not yet been convicted. We are setting bad precedent.
HB 418 passed the House 139-40.

8.  HB 416 – (Rep. Carl Rogers) 
The “Consumer Information and Awareness Act” demonstrates just how cumbersome the legislature can be. This mandates that all health practitioners wear name badges of ‘sufficient size’ font. With little room for enforceability or true need, ‘common sense’ was cited with regard to how to determine ‘sufficient size.’  The problem? At some point, consumers assume a risk and if they are concerned about the legitimacy of their health care provider, perhaps they should find another one. HB 416 passed the House 151-21.

7. HR 395: (Rep. Gerald Greene)
boy cry
In an effort to waste as much time and money as possible while documenting more ‘per diem’ days, a study committee was created to evaluate Georgia-Alabama relations to address regional issues. Somewhere, we must have outlawed telephones and emails if this is necessary. Passed 164-2.

6. HB 288: (Rep. Katie Dempsey)
This bill adds two members appointed by the Governor to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, a council on which he already has 3 appointed members. Why don’t we just repeal the Board and have it directly under his discretion?
This bill passed the House 161-7.

5. HB 3 – (Rep. Barry Fleming)
This bill, revised from it’s original form with a $25,000 fine and a felony charge, now only makes Little-Girl-Cryingit illegal to enter into a transaction with a student athlete which would damage their eligibility or revoke their scholarship eligibility. These contracts would otherwise be legal and are only prohibited under the regulation of the NCAA. The bill also tips the scales to the person on the other side of the transaction, not the student athlete – providing an unbalanced punishment. This isn’t how contractual agreements should be managed. HB 3 passed 145-27.

4.  HB 296  – (Rep. Randy Nix – 69th)
This bill allows children classified as ‘refugees’ under federal law to qualify for ‘special needs’ scholarships if they have ‘limited proficiency’ in English. While this may not seem so bad on the surface, the precedent for classifying ‘limited proficiency in English’ as a special need is a very dangerous precedent – especially with concerns over immigration.
HB 296 passed the House 155-16.

3.  HB 310: (Rep. Alan Powell)
Another change from the Office of the Governor is the creation of  the Board of Community project-365-fall-seven-20100913Supervision and the Department of Community Supervision. In a 119-page explanation of what the bill actually does, the bill includes language to expand executive power to “be liberally construed so that its purposes may be achieved” (huh?!), expands powers formerly held by the Department of Corrections, and creates a new layer of bureaucracy overseen by the executive branch, essentially creating a new police force.
HB 310 passed 164-5.

2.  HB 315 – (Rep. Chad Nimmer)
The name change of Georgia’s Technical School System to ‘The Career College System of Georgia.’
Putting the enormous administrative costs and the burden on Technical Colleges to re-brand aside, we are still left with a lack of ‘need’ to actually do this. The technical colleges do not want it and the new name sounds like a headquarters for home economics. Students and employers alike thrive off of the name ‘technology’…an actual buzz word across industries.
This legislation, stemming from the Office of the Governor, seems to be more of a power grab to better position schools within the Board of Regents than anything that will benefit the students or the technical schools. HB 315 passed the House 122-40.

1. HB 170: (Rep. Jay Roberts) – The Transportation Tax
Each point from increasing the motor fuel tax to 29 cents per gallon and the diesel tax to 33 cents per gallon, to including the locals in the mess when they aren’t properly allocating funds to transportation, is bad news. This is one of Georgia’s largest tax increases in state history. It also raises the hotel/motel tax, which will negatively affect tourism, without substantial explanation or justification. The only positives coming from the bill are the repeal of the Delta tax credit and the electric car tax credit, both of which were addressed in standalone legislation.

A bill that divided not only the House, but also the Republican caucus has low-end estimates of $700 million in tax increases. Representatives from across the state have publicly condemned the action of ‘taxing first’ and assessing later. Supporters of the bill consistently struggle to distinguish between ‘need’ and ‘the end game,’ saying they simply couldn’t get there without taxing despite the overwhelming number of sales and income tax exemptions that could have been repealed. Their closing argument? You should have attended the meetings around the state in 2014. Unfortunately, these meetings were aimed at the ‘Why?’ not the ‘How?’
Passed 123-46.

Not much commentary is appropriate or needed. #EverythingIsAwful. We’ve been told over and over that ‘they’ll fix it in the Senate,’ but that hasn’t exactly worked out well in the past and it isn’t an example of good governing.

Is This What Freedom Feels Like?

On the calendar today for a vote is a bill to reduce the restrictions with regard to ‘consumer fireworks.’ HB 110 seeks to expand the definition of consumer fireworks, as described in the bill, include:

“any small fireworks devices containing restricted amounts of pyrotechnic composition, designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, that comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission”

Whatever that means.

Currently, Georgia is one of the few states in the Southeast to have such restrictive laws for consumer purposes which usually send Georgians across state borders for purchases. Many of our bordering states, including Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina, allow for the sale of consumer fireworks, with licensing procedures and oversight.

The bill does the following:

  • Adequately defines ‘consumer fireworks’ and what is not a firework, such as model rockets fireworks and sparklers
  • Outlines that consumer fireworks cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18 and in any form other than a face-to-face sale
  • 16 & 17 year-olds can possess consumer fireworks so long as they are aiding an adult to a nonprofit or licensed group
  • Sale of consumer fireworks are lawful with license from Safety Fire Commissioner and the Fire Marshal is the enforcer
  • Buildings/tents selling consumer fireworks must comply with NFPA 1124 (federal) standards
  • To obtain a license as a corporation, you must pay a $5,000 license fee PER COMPANY, PER LOCATION. Renewals are $1,000 annually.
  • Temporary licenses for nonprofit organizations are for 90 days and $200 per location
  • You cannot obtain a license and sell fireworks unless:
    • you’ve NOT been convicted of a felony (an interesting parameter, but in line with other states)
    • Have liability and product  insurance of at least $2 million
  • Subject to excise tax
  • Violations are civil penalties with $10,000 fine.

That’s a lot of government, and much is federal guidelines, but $5,000 is very steep for a corporation to pay a licensing fee. Alabama requires $2,000, while South Carolina permit permanent stands for just $200. Tennessee can require up to 4 different permits, but none exceed $350 so you’re still not looking at more than $1,400. The fee is paid to the Safety Fire Commissioner, but the bill as written doesn’t indicate where the money goes. (Perhaps transportation?!)

Does this expand the size and scope of government with a new agency or commission? No. But there isn’t much wiggle room to say it feels free.

Does it still largely prohibit certain groups and organizations from selling consumer fireworks in Georgia? Yes.

Will people still travel to other states for purchase? Probably not.

This firework legislation is indicative of everything we are facing under the Gold Dome: overreaching federal guidelines, special interest groups watering down bill language, restrictions on what should be the free market.
Here, we are starting with a ban, and this bill seeks to remove the band and impose strict oversight with several things Liberty-minded people oppose. But on the flip-side, the revenue will stay here. So what do you do? Do you take the inch even though you asked for a mile? Is some better than none? I guess it depends on how much you love the sound of freedom.


So far in Georgia, not a single bill has failed in the Republican-led House or Senate in 23 legislative days. And it’s not because we have chambers just oozing with Liberty-minded reform or ideas full of resounding restoration of state sovereignty that will loosen the grip of the federal chokehold. For the last two months, I’ve watched the legislative session and each day, I wonder if our elected officials are even aware that there are two buttons on their desk: the one that is for ‘YES’ and seems to be worn down, and one fairly shiny one which is used for ‘NO.’

Contrarily, as a whole, Republicans are often characterized as ‘The Party of No.’ Whether it’s nocoming from our party meetings or from under the Gold Dome’s around the country, we seem to back ourselves into a corner as being anti-this and old-timer-that.

“No, you can’t be a Republican if you’re gay or have had sex before marriage,” says a GOP in South Carolina. “No, you’re not the right type of Republican,” say our GOP leaders.

“No, you won’t be guaranteed due process and equal protection under the law,” say many of our legislators who want to expand practices like civil forfeiture and no-knock warrants.
“No, you can’t dissent in a public forum because I have an (R) next to my name, so take a hike.”
“No, we won’t protect your privacy because public safety.”
Also in that category, include property rights and the Second Amendment. Don’t get greedy.
“Just move the ball down the field.”
“Come back next year.”


We are embracing the wrong kind of ‘No.’ Some of us kind of like the word ‘No.’
Now, I know I’m muddying the waters between political gain and party principles here, but daily I deliberate where we draw the line. The two do intertwine.


We are the party of individualism – at our monthly meetings and in our legislatures. As an individual, I no longer care what a study says or what other states are doing. I am not interested in federal guidelines or ‘how it’s always been done.’ I am unimpressed by your vote which enables you to come back and ‘ask for something’ later. Un-im-pressed. I’m interested in someone who understands the use of discretion and the power of the word No. The command of the word, the negated color red, whether you’re standing alone or with a group of 50.

No, you will not advocate to expand the size and scope of government. Not for economic development and not for raccoons.
No, you will not vote to usurp local control.
No, you will not pander to the children. Or vote to tell someone how to parent.
No, you will not press YES for your own personal advancement.
No, you will not silence the individual.

I still consider myself a Republican. Some days begrudgingly, but I do. And as Republicans, we should pressure our fellow conservatives to say ‘yes’ to the word ‘no.’
If something provides a legitimate business model which in turn provides for personal accountability and responsibility, it’s fine by me. Our answer should be ‘No, don’t inhibit them.’
If a solution, medical or non-medical, approved or not approved, mainstream or not, works for just one person, it’s fine by me. Our answer should be ‘No, don’t inhibit them.’
If something satisfies someone else and largely doesn’t affect me or my everyday life, it’s fine by me. Our answer should be ‘No, don’t inhibit them.’

But maybe the problem is me. Maybe I have the wrong understanding of what our principles mean and what our Party stands for…at the local meetings and under the Dome. Someone is wrong, though, because No. We can’t all be right.

I’m Tired.

This article is for all my Republican and Democrat party member friends who complain that government is broken, but believe the folks they elect somehow *already* know what the ‘right thing to do’ is. It’s for my Libertarian and Anarchist friends who spout off on social media and leave it at that. A brief reminder, if you will, that none of you are doing enough. 

It’s hard not to be negative. When you’re an idealist like me, it’s even harder. A couple of people have texted me since session started and asked, “Seriously – how hard is it for you to work at the Capitol?” It’s really freaking hard because I’m not just advocating for or against one bill, but a general reform of government and the process. Daily. So, generally, I opt for being snarky to mask the complete loathing for the process and the system. And most of you all.

To be perfectly blunt, I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of the laziness. I’ve noticed, especially advocating for the opposition of HB 244/SB 8 table flipthat I’m not alone in my opinions, but that means so very little. People make up every excuse as to why they don’t have time or why they can’t do something. I can lay out the email addresses with what to say so all you have to do is copy-paste. We see this with petitions for FreedomWorks and grassroots organizations trying to mobilize people to lobby their elected officials. Uber. Craft Beer. Transportation. Everything you need within 3 clicks. And people won’t do it.

I’m tired of people thinking a once-a-month dinner social or happy hour is sufficient for activism. Or the people who think the political parties are the end-all, be-all. If that is your mindset, I can’t even begin to tell you everything you’re missing. How did you affect change this month? What do you have to show for progress?

I’m tired of the lack of prioritization. We all need an outlet, but obsessing over the The Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, House of Cards, The Bachelor, fighting over whether or not ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is the demise of our society, and losing friends over football games? None of these things change our lives. They don’t. Yet they consume us.

I’m tired of people not recognizing that we have it easy. We live in an information age that allows us to instantly share information with the click of a mouse. We should be the most educated generation, we should know all the ways we’re failing our brand and The People…and yet, we fall short because we are sharing videos of Bostonians running around in the snow with only swim trunks and the latest BuzzFeed article that tells us “Which Disney Duo You and Your BFF Would Be”

I’m tired of pet issues and people not recognizing that every bill that passes through actually does affect them. If it’s not you this time, that only means it’ll be you next time. What reason have you given the state for it not to be?

I’m tired of people not understanding perpetuity. Every time we pass something, it is precedent. It is permanent. It might, maybe, if-we-try-really-hard one day be repealed but that’s just a strike through. It stays on the books. Nothing is erasable. Everything will be referenced at a later date.

I’m tired of being disappointed by the people I’m surrounded by because they don’t realize that by not paying attention to why we are afforded such a lovely life, it won’t be long before we no longer have such a life. Actually do something – today. Oh, and the stones you occasionally throw when something blatantly affects you…you’re throwing them from the cheap seats.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Google Search Confirms HB 244/SB 8 Falsities?

I wrote extensively last week about the Georgia Republicans waging a war on adult entertainment establishments and expanding civil forfeiture practices in our state with no data to back up their legislative premises.  I have a hard time understanding why a $5,000 OR 1% gross revenue annual fine is necessary for these establishments without cause. And why only the adult entertainment industry?

So, I did a little Google search last night. I spent a significant amount of time sifting through sex trafficking articles. Below is a list of industry-related examples and sources:

You’ll note that none of the above are industries included in the legislation. House Bill 244 and Senate Bill 8 both exclusively call for adult entertainment establishments. Wrongfully and dishonestly. There’s no doubt it sometimes happens in these establishments. But what about every other industry?

70% of child victims are sold over the internet.  Every day. Read that again. 70%. An exceeding majority of sex trafficking is known to originate over the interwebs (and the private sector is already targeting this issue) but we are going after one teeny, tiny industry. That is despicable.

The bill also calls for what some might consider a “government-organized charity.” So I wanted to see what types of 501(c)3 non-profits were already out there operating:

  1. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center
  2. The Polaris Project
  4. The Not-For-Sale Campaign
  5. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
  6. Out of Darkness
  7. Coalition Against Traffic in Women
  8. Daughters Rising
  9. Slavery No More
  10. Love146

And considering Google returned 1,450,000 results, I can say with certainly that there are plenty more. The industry to help and counsel these women and children is alive and thriving. We don’t need our state government to set up another fund and commission to do so.

Utah seems to be taking a much more reasonable approach, where they are removing a current requirement for prosecutors to prove fraud or coercion for a conviction. North Dakota is increasing penalties for convictions and statute of limitations for victims. Same with Texas. These other states aren’t waging a war on businesses.

A judge in India, where human trafficking is painfully prevalent, said this is a social issue, not a legal one…one that the courts cannot solve. “Implementation of guidelines is in the hands of enforcement agencies.” I could not agree more.

Click here for background and resources to contact House committee members about this legislation.