October 6, 2017 Radio Commentary

Two Study Committees: Homelessness and Growing Marijuana

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, October 6, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

You may be interested to know that our state senators will be formally studying homelessness in Georgia as authorized by S.R. 352 that passed last session with only two dissenting votes. The 15-member committee includes two appointees of the governor, three senators appointed by the Lt. Governor and ten state agency commissioners.

To learn how much homelessness costs the state, the committee will require input from three of those agencies – the Departments of Human Services, Community Health, and Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Their discussions will include the many factors that may contribute to homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, a shortage of supportive housing and family wage jobs, domestic violence, high debt, substance abuse, mental illness, access to affordable healthcare, and release of individuals from institutions.Already, private businesses and individuals, charities, philanthropies, and all levels of state and federal government are helping the homeless, and trying to prevent an increase in their numbers, but the goal of S.R. 352 is to find a long-term solution that eradicates the situation.

The Committee’s three remaining meetings are set for October 17th, November 7th, and November 27th, in Room 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building from 10 ’til noon. Meetings are open to the public.  For more information, call Senator Unterman at 404 463-1368*.

A Medical Cannabis Working Group of eleven state legislators will meet for the first time on October 24th from 10 ’til 2 in Room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building across the street from the Capitol.  Chairman of the group Representative Allen Peake will focus on ways to pass H.R. 36 that he introduced last January 23rd to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana in Georgia.  H.R. 36 proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would authorize farmers and contractors to go into the marijuana business – wholesale or retail.

If the proposed constitutional amendment passes, the General Assembly would be authorized to pass regulations for the production of cannabis, and the sale of medical cannabis for medical usage by certain individuals.  However, the bill does not prohibit other usages of marijuana.  If H.R. 36 passes the House and Senate next session, voters will face it as a referendum on the 2018 General Election Ballot.  The most direct and quickest way to defeat it is in the General Assembly.  To express your opposition, please call the committee chairman, Representative Peake, at 404 656-5132, leave a message if he’s not there, and try to attend the meeting, yourself.  For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.