By Virginia Galloway –
It wasn’t that long ago that Georgia’s GOP was the minority party, chomping at the bit to lead. Members of the Georgia House and Senate vowed that taxes would be lower, government would be leaner and more transparent, and people of faith would have a voice again. Big election wins in the last decade started the momentum towards today’s near super-majority in both chambers.
After more than a decade of Republican majority, one might expect lower taxes, leaner, more transparent government, and maybe at least a bone thrown to the faith crowd. Think again.
Instead, it looks like this session under the Gold Dome may bring us results that look more like what Democrats would deliver than Republicans who promised a different day in Georgia. For example:
- A state budget that spends $1 billion more than last year.
- Higher taxes for transportation projects that still are undefined and show no cost-benefit.
- A proposed law to forbid smoking in cars when children are passengers.
- A so-called “medical” marijuana proposal to allow children to become guinea pigs for the use of medical marijuana in drug trials.
While lawmakers were courting expansion of government, they were taking steps to prevent more freedom in our state including rejection of a school choice measure known as Education Savings Accounts that would allow parents to decide if they want to use tax dollars to send their child to private school or use the money for other educational services.
They also rejected another bill to protect Second Amendment rights and a highly-contentious piece of legislation that would add religious freedom protections to those under attack by the forces of political correctness.
Transportation projects are a legitimate government function. Roads and bridges are expensive to build and maintain, yet essential. Georgia requires a balanced budget, but revenues have seen a steady rise over the last few years. So if we legitimately need $1 billion for high priority road projects, why don’t we dedicate that new billion in revenue to those projects? Why increase gasoline taxes and spend surplus state revenue?
Then there is House Bill 1. It begs the question, Is this a step toward full legalization of marijuana or are lawmakers being used by those who want just that? This proposal is a slippery slope toward just that. While exploiting sick children to gain sympathy for their plan, lawmakers created a bill that goes far beyond the original idea – it now would apply to anyone at any age, include five times more THC potency and for eight medical conditions – none of which have credible research proving marijuana oil’s effectiveness.
The Senate passed its own version which would only allow Georgia children in supervised medical trials and decriminalize possession of marijuana oil, but the House vowed to fight for its own version. Meanwhile, a bill is still pending to criminalize smoking tobacco in a car with children. By this reasoning, parents can medicate their children, unsupervised, with untested pot derivatives, but don’t subject those kids to that other evil weed, tobacco.
While we are okay with damaging young brains with THC, we are not okay with having them in “failing schools.” The state may step in and correct the local system. Unless of course, only the parents knows that the school is failing their child, in which case they want to make no rash moves like approving Education Savings Accounts. ESA’s would cost the state no extra funds and would expand educational options. But the state has the power over your child’s school and don’t you forget it.
Now, your religious liberties – that’s something the House would prefer you did forget. House Speaker David Ralston can’t understand how we need this religious freedom bill passed in the Senate – despite Georgians losing their jobs because of their Christian faith.
Maybe if it was one of the family member of a representative in the House was ostracized on a college campus or lost a job for standing for their faith, those same state legislators busy directing their energy to fighting for psychoactive drug legalization would instead stand for your religious rights.
Republican legislators, I waited four decades of my life for your glorious ascension. I don’t mean to be rude, but your priorities are showing. They are neither admirable nor conservative. This is your time to prove that you can lead using the principles you espoused and Georgians voted for – right side up.
Galloway is regional field director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.