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Atlanta Business Chronicle publisher urges: kill religious liberty bill for economy’s sake

<em>Atlanta Business Chronicle</em> publisher urges: kill religious liberty bill for economy’s sake
1 year ago

Atlanta Business Chronicle publisher urges: kill religious liberty bill for economy’s sake

The publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle wrote Wednesday on the newspaper’s website that a religious liberty proposal under consideration by the General Assembly “threatens to undo so much of the progress our region has made.”

David Rubinger, who was named publisher of the weekly business paper last year, said the giants of Atlanta history—”[l]ast names like Woodruff, Hartsfield, Russel, Abernathy, and King”—would be “appalled” by the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow for persons and non-profits to deny service on the grounds of sincerely held religious beliefs.

Critics of the legislation maintain it will enable discrimination against gays and lesbians, single mothers, unmarried co-habitating couples, and divorced persons.

Already some businesses have said they intend to leave the state in protest, like the Decatur-based telecommunications startup 373k, and some fear that the film and entertainment industry will boycott the state if it is perceived as a discriminatory environment.

“Most Atlanta business and civic leaders believe that this bill should never have gotten to this point,” Rubinger wrote. “Now the business community is rallying to speak as one voice, protecting Atlanta from the potential public relations damage this legislation could have on future business growth, convention business, and sporting events like the Super Bowl.

“If Gov. Nathan Deal and the Speaker of the House David Ralston are unable to untangle this mess that the General Assembly has created, then it is much more than the LGBT community that suffers,” he said. “We will all suffer is business, conventions and major events decide to leave our city over this debate.”

The bill passed the state Senate last week and awaits final consideration by the House of Representatives. Read More

Parents of sick kids to risk jail in protest over medical marijuana bill
1 year ago

Parents of sick kids to risk jail in protest over medical marijuana bill

More than 100 Georgia families say they are willing to face federal drug trafficking prosecution in a show of mass civil disobedience after a House committee gutted legislation that would have allowed for in-state cultivation of a non-euphoric form of medical marijuana.

The General Assembly last year approved the use of cannabis oil, a marijuana derivative with low levels of THC, for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions. But because that legislation stopped short of green lighting in-state cultivation, those wishing to use the substance must risk violating federal law that prohibits the transportation of the oil across state lines.

Republican Rep. Allen Peake, who muscled the initial legalization proposal through the General Assembly last year, introduced legislation this session that would regulate the growth and production of the substance within the state.

But the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee stripped the marquee provision from the bill on Monday and instead moved only to expand the list of conditions whose sufferers qualify for treatment.

Now, parents who say their children desperately require access to the treatment are willing to be arrested in protest of the bill’s demise.

“Cultivation is the only thing that gives everybody and equal footing, and it’s fair and equitable to the entire state – not just the well-connected, not just those that have protection from lawmakers,” Dale Jackson, whose seven-year-old son is severely autistic, told Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA. “We’re sick and tired of it. And today is the day the governor is going to have to answer the question, ‘Am I willing to allow Georgian citizens to risk breaking federal law, publically? ‘Am I going to stand up as governor to protect these families against the feds?’

“Is he willing to deal with that storm coming upon his state?” Jackson asked. “Because we are prepared, with over a hundred families that are willing to go public with this, across the entire state of Georgia. We are not playing around.”

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Ga. House committee nixes marijuana cultivation
1 year ago

Ga. House committee nixes marijuana cultivation

Legislation to allow for the in-state cultivation of a non-euphoric form of medical marijuana was neutered by a House committee this week, stripping the bill’s marquee provision and instead only expanding the number of conditions whose sufferers may qualify for treatment.

The General Assembly last year approved the use of cannabis oil, a marijuana derivative, for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions. But because that legislation stopped short of greenlighting in-state cultivation, those wishing to use the substance must risk violating federal law that prohibits the transportation of the oil across state lines.

State Rep. Allen Peake, who muscled “Haleigh’s Hope Act” through the legislature last year, had hoped to clear that final hurdle this session, but the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee gutted the provision on Monday.

The bill faced opposition from Governor Nathan Deal and law enforcement groups, who testified against it in committee hearings earlier this month.

Peake, who is favored to win reelection from his middle Georgia district, told reporters that he intends to reintroduce the legislation next year. Read More

Judge won’t block Georgia’s citizenship requirement for new voters
1 year ago

Judge won’t block Georgia’s citizenship requirement for new voters

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a petition by a handful of voting and civil rights groups to block Georgia and three other states from requiring new voters demonstrate citizenship.

The Georgia NAACP and the League of Women Voters had sought an injunction to prevent the four states—Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and Kansas—from using new voter registration forms that require proof of citizenship. The policy had been previously approved by federal officials at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent agency created in 2002.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon denied the group’s requests for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, writing that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate the new policy would cause “irreparable harm.”

“Given that the registration deadlines for the Alabama and Georgia primaries and for the Kansas Republican Caucus had already passed at the time this TRO motion was filed … and that the effects of [the federal] actions on the ongoing registration process for the Kansas Democratic Caucus and the plaintiffs’ rights and efforts thereto are uncertain at best, plaintiffs have not demonstrated they will suffer irreparable harm before the hearing on their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction,” Leon wrote in a Tuesday order.

The judge set that hearing for March 9, a week after Georgia voters will head to the polls in the state’s presidential primary. Read More

Clinton super PAC launches direct mail, radio ad blitz
1 year ago

Clinton super PAC launches direct mail, radio ad blitz

The primary super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton this week launched a significant radio advertising and direct mail campaign to lift the former secretary of state ahead of Georgia’s March 1 presidential primary.

Priorities USA Action, established in the last presidential contest to support the reelection of President Barack Obama but retooled within the last year to support Clinton, has purchased $389,000 worth of radio time across the state and spent another $164,000 on a direct mail campaign, according to federal disclosures.

The 60-second spot features Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, one of Obama’s most visible surrogates in 2012 bid, who says voters can trust Clinton because the president did. Listen after the fold. Read More

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