Tag Archives: Georgia legislature

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
  3. A21.org
  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.

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Paging the Heartless Conservative

Disclaimer: The following blog is not in defense of current law. I fully understand the concept of disobedience to unjust laws. While reading, please keep in mind that good policy stems from laws that are applied equally and across the board. No law, positive or negative, should target a specific group of people.

Today there is a Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Meeting for House Bill 965, the 911 Medical Amnesty Bill. You can read the bill here, but essentially, HB 965 (which is what I like to call a “heart-string bill”…tug tug) would provide protection against arrest for drug or alcohol-related charges for people who call 911 on behalf of those facing a life-threatening overdose and would in turn allow expanded access to medication used to halt overdose reactions. Representative Sharon Cooper is the primary sponsor of this bill.  Currently, 16 other states (and D.C.) have similar laws and 13 other states are considering 911 Medical Amnesty laws.

I’ll be frank: I don’t like the bill. I don’t particularly care for laws that would help (or hurt) a certain group of people. We call these laws unjust. Similar to Haley’s Hope Act (the medical cannabis legislation), which privileges a very specific group of people with access to a different type of healthcare while excluding a plethora of other diseases, HB 965 limits legal ramifications for those who over-consume. Some may argue that this is because of use and/or possession, not the sale of such drugs. Regardless, this legislation specifically limits legal prosecution of some simply because they used too much of a certain illegal substance.

Proponents of the bill claim that people should not have to choose between death and legal repercussions for their loved ones in the chaos of an overdose. This argument can play for both teams. Certainly one would agree that survival is the first priority, but are we really trying to take the road less traveled to tell friends and family that you didn’t call 911 when you encountered someone who overdosed because you were afraid of the legal ramifications? I’ll also note that if, as conservatives, we value life as much as we claim we do, we shouldn’t use fear of legal ramifications as a driving force for decision making.
I could make the same argument for self-defense. “I was scared to shoot the man rummaging through my home, holding a knife, because it’s illegal to kill someone.” There could be legal repercussions from actions taken in those situations, yet, people still make the choice to defend themselves.
Another argument is that anyone who legally takes opioid medication (like Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Methadone, Lortab, etc) could benefit from this legislation as well. Unfortunately, this logic is flawed. If someone is prescribed a medication, the likelihood of failing to call 911 over legal ramifications is next to zero. In fact, a large portion of overdose cases from these types of medicines come from legal prescriptions and legal dosage levels.
(Also, point of personal privilege: The word “Amnesty” has horrific connotations due to immigration reform. One would think that conservatives could come up with a better word to use in the title of the bill..yes? no? maybe?)

Now, I understand that many times drug overdoses are directly correlated to addiction and disease, but the role of the legislature is not to enact laws that categorize to what groups of people the law is applicable. Addiction is a sickness and painful for everyone involved but we cannot discredit current laws on the books. We don’t need another feel-good, tug-at-your-heart-strings law. If the law is good for one, it should be good for all and should be applied equally and justly.  Sometimes good intentions make bad policy. This is one of those times.

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?)

Virginia & Arizona Nullify NDAA, Georgia Legislature Nullifies Legitimacy

Last week, the State of Virginia did a tremendous thing: they nullified the NDAA. Arizona followed suit yesterday. The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) is an unconstitutional act just recently passed by our lovely Congressional representatives. Each year, Congress authorizes the NDAA but this past year is far scarier. The law effectively “empowers the Armed Forces to engage in civilian law enforcement and to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus, as well asother rights guaranteed by the 5th and 6th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, for terror suspects apprehended on U.S. soil.” You may say, hey! This is a good thing! NO. IT. IS. NOT. It is the first time since 1950 that our country has codified the power of indefinite detention into law. Have you ever thought about how discretionary the word ‘terror suspect’ is? Have you ever thought of what is truly defined as ‘terrorism’ (the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes) and what other kinds of things can be included in that category? And tell me, regardless of WHO IT IS, this is the United States and we have a Constitution for a reason. Offenders on U.S. soil and U.S. citizens should demand those rights. This law can be used by authorities to detain (forever) anyone the government considers a threat to national security and stability – potentially even demonstrators and protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.

Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson both voted in favor of the 2012 NDAA. So did Jack Kingston, Lynn Westmoreland, Tom Price, Rob Woodall, Austin Scott, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey. The only GA Republican to vote no? Tom Graves. Even 2 Democrats were smart enough to vote ‘No’, but our Republican leadership, this is how they are leading us. –You can read more about why the NDAA is unconstitutional here.–

Virginia and Arizona both established protection for their people, invoking the 10th amendment. But Georgia did not.

But do you know what the Georgia Legislature did do during the 2012 Legislative Session? THEY PASSED 500 BILLS!!! Sure, 300 of them were local and many of them had to do with the redistricting maps, but all of them had to be voted on by EVERYONE and you certainly cannot convince me that every Representative and every Senator knows what is in each and every bill that was passed in those 40 days.

Some of their wonderful accomplishments include:
John Albers’ welfare drug testing bill, which has received harsh criticism for its’ unconstitutionality and lack of good research could actually COST Georgia taxpayers money when it is challenged in court.
HB 247: Requiring fingerprinting and investigation of emergency medical personnel.
HB 253: Allowing to sell or trade surplus vehicles.
HB 398: Fulton County Board of Education -pension and retirement, correct typographical errors (Should we even have to do this in the first place??)
HB 785: Provide Insurance limitations on licensure requirements for certain health care providers (so very important).
SB 183: Education; school health nurse programs; revise provisions
SB 515: City of Americus, provide for a date of expiration of office for terms of councilmembers and the mayor
These may be important to SOME people, but are they more important than our personal freedoms and protections from the NDAA?

Through the Facebook grapevine, I found that a few Georgia Senators who hosted a Town Hall told constituents that there ‘simply wasn’t enough time’ and they didn’t know enough about the NDAA to craft legislation regarding it. Oh, wait. Then why do you represent us? Your lack of knowledge and concern for time could prove quite dangerous. We may not have until the next year. And if the people vote right, you won’t be around for the next Legislative session.

So let’s talk priorities. You (being Senators and Representatives of the State of Georgia) thought it was more important to create more government oversight through drug testing to save a mere $103,000/year, to create licensure requirements for insurance companies, to allow trading of surplus vehicles and to edit school nurse programs but you didn’t think protecting one of our CORE FREEDOMS was important enough? I guess some of you are too busy getting your shoes tied.

I encourage you to call your Senators and Representatives and ask them why they aren’t protecting you and WHAT is more important. If they tell you they didn’t have time, I suggest you get on their opponents campaign team. Contact information can be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx