The 2011 General Assembly marked my seventh year as a legislator. Every year, I learn something new or am reminded of something along the way. This year certainly was no different. Here are a few things I either learned or was reminded of:
We invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban was harboring Al-Qaeda members and allowing them to train fighters who were willing to kill Americans. Now, 10 years later, we are still there but I don't think Al-Qaeda is. We now are fighting the Taliban, which, I admit, is a bad group, but not the correct target. We appear to be fighting the Taliban because the Afghans are unable to put together a sufficiently trained army to defend themselves. It is time for us to leave.
Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed into law SB 36, the Patient Safety Act of 2011, making Georgia one of the last states in the nation to implement a prescription drug monitoring program to combat the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.
For at least a week now, it's been a barrage of commercials and sale flyers for Memorial Day. I don't have a problem with any merchant or business capitalizing on holidays or anyone getting a good deal on a new car or mattress, but I'm concerned that we lose the real meaning of Memorial Day every May.
Almost all military spouses can be divided up into two categories: passive and active. Recently I've experienced some confusion about which category I belong in. I've always considered myself rather passive when it comes to my position as the soldier's other half. I'm not much into Family Readiness Group meetings - although I probably should be - and I rarely find myself worrying about my husband's upcoming promotions.
For many of us, the observance of the fourth Monday in May has taken on special significance during our lifetimes. The long-term conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular, have affected so many families and individuals right here in our community. Memorial Day also rekindles memories of our past, not only the aftermath of more dated conflicts, but also of customs observed during our childhood and beyond.
All over Liberty County - and most of the country, for that matter - folks are striking up grills for backyard barbecues, hitting stores for holiday sales and reveling in the fact that they don't have to go to work Monday.
• One of the greatest singing voices I ever heard and one of the most talented people I ever knew died last week and, yes, he was a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket through and through. Josh Powell lost his battle with multiple myeloma at the age of 70. He was an outstanding basketball player - a part of Tech's first NCAA tournament team in 1960 and captain in 1962. He was an Emory law graduate who spurned the profession to work with kids through the Josh Powell Summer Day Camp, which he began in 1972 and still is in operation today ...
I checked my pocket this morning and the only change that I could count on was two dimes and three pennies. Forget looking in my wallet. All that I have there are two $1 bills and family photos.
For years, the charter-school movement was thwarted in Georgia by local school districts that turned down application after application. Many of those denials were for cause. Other charter school applications, however, were turned down for myriad other reasons.
We all produce trash that must be managed and disposed of in a manner to protect human health and the environment. I am Steve Harbin, a professional engineer with 29 years of engineering experience, 28 of which have included a primary focus in the planning and implementation of more than 300 solid waste projects, including design of more than 40 municipal solid waste landfills.
The regular session of the 2011 Georgia General Assembly was a mixed bag – some good, some bad, some rancor over both. But the heated partisan debates over things like immigration and tree-cutting end up looking like garden parties compared to what lies ahead in August.
Georgians don't just need access to affordable health care; Georgians need greater access to meaningful health care. The free-market principles of competition can help drive down costs, provide for greater accessibility and provide Georgians with more health care options.
I was watching this television program on the human brain the other night where the brain was described as a computer that processes lots of information. There is a theory that everything one has ever experienced resides in the human software and can be recalled with the right stimulus.
Attention, political junkies, policy geeks and pajama-clad denizens of the blogosphere: Georgia Secretary of State might just have become your new best friend.
In politics, you must take advantage of windows of opportunity. Sometimes good ideas are sidetracked by unfortunate events, a bad economy or even personality conflicts among political leaders. Given the risk of delaying decisions, Georgia needs to address its transportation shortfall quickly and practically.
My fellow Georgians: In order to keep my national certification as a modest and much-beloved columnist, it is required that I submit to you at the first of every year my State of the Column message. (Yay! Clap! Clap! Clap!) I do that gladly today. For one thing, this will be a lot shorter and less boring than the State of the Union address (Boooo!) and, also, we don't have to endure a bunch of fawning politicians trying to be seen on national television. (Yay! Ha! Ha! Ha!)
Editor, Since Georgia's own Sen. Johnny Isakson voted for discriminating against pre-9/11 veterans and later against ending this discrimination, I've penned and sent the following to then-Senate Veterans' Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who introduced the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013:
It happened the other day. It's funny how things so simple can remind us of things so meaningful, of those sweets that are tucked inside our hearts and unknowingly treasured.
Two weeks ago, my husband, daughter and I struggled to come up with a fun way to pass a Sunday afternoon. My mother-in-law had just been staying with us, and she left that morning to head back to Florida. Since I'd given our house a good, thorough "pre-mother-in-law-visit" cleaning before she arrived, I was completely caught up on chores and housework.
With major policy decisions on transportation, education, health care and tax reform on the legislative agenda, Georgia should think beyond the traditional approach of spending more money as the solution for every problem. Focusing on ways to enhance economic opportunity and empower individuals beats doubling down on the status quo.
Editor, On behalf of Bryan County Children's Fund, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere appreciation to everyone who helped to support the program this year. We were able to provide Christmas gifts to over 400 disadvantaged children in our county. This would not have been possible without collaboration and assistance from local churches, businesses, schools, social-service agencies and many others. The communitywide response was overwhelming. We are exceptionally thankful to The Good Ol' Boys, who raised funds through the annual Santa Scramble Golf Tournament and to Pembroke Advanced Communication for use of their space ...
Editor, I read Mr. Bruce McCartney's letter to the editor regarding the Wounded Warrior Project. He is totally correct. The project is top-heavy with a greedy group of executives. The top 10 officers have a compensation package from $150,000 to $333,000 a year. The remaining funds are disbursed to over 40 distribution organizations with similar management configurations.
Allen Peake is a man on a mission. The five-term Republican state representative from Macon is the driving force behind proposed legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia. He may succeed this year after suffering a setback in 2014 when the House and Senate got into a bit of political brinksmanship at the last minute and failed to pass his bill, which had sailed through the House with only four negative votes.
My parents, according to the world's definition of "cool," were not. Neither drank, nor did either ever possess a credit card. Groceries and clothing were paid for in cash, utilities paid by check, and the only monthly payments they ever allowed themselves were a mortgage for a house, a short-term loan for another farm, and a couple of cars bought, over time, and paid for quickly.
When thinking about the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last month, one might ask, "What does Congress have against conservation?"
Dear Cameron Charles Yarbrough: For the past 15 years, I have taken the opportunity at the beginning of the New Year to share some advice - first with your dad and his cousins and now with you, my great-grandson. I hope you don't mind and will bear with me. You probably would rather be playing with your Legos and I understand that but maybe something in this letter might make a difference in your life in years to come. I pray that will be so.
Editor, I've been seeing a lot more commercials for the Wounded Warrior Project on television recently, requesting that I send in my $19 per month.
A few years ago, the magazine I have long loved - Southern Living - changed. Like most Southerners, I have an aversion to change, which is why our traditions have such stranglehold. We never let go.
There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned road trip to ensure that good parenting habits and ground rules are not only broken, but stomped to smithereens and tossed out of a (moving car) window.
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