Georgia lawmakers set to re-affirm conservative values

It looks like Georgia is following the lead in some respects of Florida.

Legislation has been filed for the Georgia General Assembly to consider requiring “In God We Trust” to appear on all Georgia licenses plates and to require families applying for federal assistance to submit drug tests before receiving benefits.

The drug-test mandate would apply to anyone applying for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The program provides temporary financial help to low-income families with children who cannot meet basic needs. The federal government provides grants to individual states to run the program.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, sponsored the bill and has said state taxpayers should not have to subsidize “drug addiction” among the program’s applicants.

Separately, the call to a higher power — at least among vehicle owners — follows a kerfuffle last spring. The state was forced to re-do a public contest to pick a new license plate design after the Revenue Department’s website showed entries with the “In God We Trust” motto, without making clear it was not a permanent part of each design.

Motorists can already purchase a sticker with the motto for $1. The sticker can be placed over the usual county name decal Georgia license plates currently sport. Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, filed the proposal to reverse that order. He proposed the motto would be the default on any license plates manufactured after July 1 but motorists could buy a county decal sticker to cover it if they wanted.

According to Atlanta Progressive News, H.B. 668 has the backing of State Reps. Alex Atwood, Charlice Byrd, Penny Houston, and Paulette Rakestraw-Braddock, and Wendell Willard while S.B. 292 has been supported by Sens. Buddy Carter, Steve Gooch, William Ligon, Chip Rogers, and David Shafer.

From APN:

The press release issued by the Georgia House, dated November 10, says the legislation would only affect TANF.  However, in the Media Advisory meeting, Sen. Albers said the Senate version would require TANF as well as Medicaid recipients to get a mandatory drug test in order to receive benefits.

The Georgia Department of Human Service would conduct the drug tests.  The applicant would pay for the urine analysis, but would be reimbursed by the State if the test proved negative.

Under the proposed HB 668, any TANF applicant who fails the drug test will be ineligible for TANF benefits for one month after their first positive result.  If an applicant fails the drug test for a second time, that person will be ineligible for the benefit for three months.  Any person failing the test three or more times will become ineligible for TANF benefits for three years, unless the applicant successfully completes an approved substance abuse treatment program at their own expense, which will reduce the ineligibility period to one year.

Think it can’t get any more offensive that this?

Well, Georgia Public Broadcasting is reporting a personhood bill is in the works, despite the resounding defeat Mississippi voters gave its referendum last week.

Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, and Rep. Rick Crawford, D-Cedartown, have both supported similar legislation previously declaring that life begins at fertilization and seeking to ban abortion.

Loudermilk said he is looking at re-introducing the bill with modified language omitting references to fertilization and cloning — words that proved problematic in the failed Mississippi ballot issue.

Crawford said despite being a member of the minority party in the state, he shares the conservative views of his constituents. He says the amendment is “an invitation to discussion” on the issue of abortion and being pro-life.

Crawford to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway his reasoning behind working on rolling back women’s rights.

“I’m from rural Georgia,” he said. “I have to be well in step, and people have to trust me to represent their interests. It’s not a surprise to anyone that I’m pro-life. This is a discussion that is appropriate for us to have.”

An excerpt from Crawford’s H.R. 212, cleverly titled the Sanctity of Human Life Act:

the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood

Glad to see my good ol’ state of Georgia pick up where Mississippi and Florida has failed left off.

I can’t be surprised, though. Georgia is led by social, pro-life conservatives who believe it’s in the best interest of the state to drain education and other agencies in the hopes to fill a budget gap. They also believe it’s in the best interest of the state to bog down the four-month long legislative session with bills that won’t further the welfare and health of the state.

Part of me would like to believe that Georgia Democrats and Republicans will rise up against the nonsense of approving a personhood amendment for voters to consider. Part of me would like to believe that Georgia politicians would disregard these attempts to create a sideshow with legislation aimed at the state’s poor and women voters instead of tackling larger issues such as transportation, a longstanding water battle with Alabama and Florida, a rising childhood obesity crisis, among other things.

Unfortunately, Georgia Republicans have proven themselves to all too willing to advance their causes at the expense of the women, minorities and the poor. Unfortunately, many of our Republican politicians are facing re-election in November and their efforts to pander to the far-right Republican wing of the party won’t come as a surprise.