January 8, 2016 Radio Commentary

2016 Session Convenes Next Monday

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, January 8, 2016 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Next Monday our senators and representatives report to work at 10:00 o’clock to begin this year’s 40-day legislative session. Among the legislators will be eight new representatives and two new senators, who won special elections since last session.

If I were a new legislator, I would be astonished to learn that 786 bills and resolutions are still alive from last year’s session and I would be even more astonished to know how critically important some of those bills are.

For example: If I were a new representative, I might ask Representative Ron Stephens why he waited until the last week of last session to introduce two highly controversial bills. One is H.R. 807 that would change the State Constitution to authorize the building and operation of six resort casinos in Georgia. The other is his 127-page H.B. 677 that would legalize and regulate those six resort casinos. Then, I would ask him why he thinks Georgia needs an industry that charges a half-million-dollars to simply apply for a license. If the application is accepted, the license will cost the applicant $25,000,000 or $10,000,000 depending on where the casino will be located. Even if the application is turned down, the half-million-dollars won’t be refunded. Continue reading

March 1, 2015 Newsletter

Marijuana: House Passes H.B. 1 Authorizing
Use of Schedule I Narcotic

Schedule I Narcotics have [a] “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, [b] a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and [c] a high potential for abuse. Examples of Schedule I Narcotics: heroin, LSD, marijuana, peyote, methaqualone and 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy).”
– Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control

H.B. 1, pre-filed November 17th by Representative Allen Peake (R), was debated on February 23rd in Representative Rich Golick’s Non Civil Judiciary committee that amended it twice before voting to give it a “do pass” recommendation. The House passed it 158-2 on February 25th, and sent it to the Senate. That vote is available online as House Vote #80.

The committee refused to close a major loophole that allows card-holders to possess 20 ounces of marijuana oil with no oversight by the Drug Enforcement Administration. So, registered card-holders would not be under DEA jurisdiction for possessing or using a Schedule I drug.

A House floor amendment to H.B. 1 added sickle cell to conditions1 that qualify patients for treatment with marijuana oil. If this passes, within the Department of Public Health would be established a Low THC Oil Patient Registry for patients and caregivers deemed eligible for a card authorizing the use of low THC oil. Since federal law prohibits the prescribing of marijuana, physicians would not prescribe, but would “certify” patients for treatment. It is unclear (a) who would dispense the oil, or (b) how it would be secured, or (c) regulated.

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January 30, 2015 Radio Commentary

Horse-Racing: Where the Money Goes

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, January 30, 2015 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Over the years bill after bill has been introduced to legalize horse racing and pari-mutuel betting in Georgia. Thankfully, none of them passed. But here we go again! On November 17th, Representative Harry Geisinger pre-filed H.R. 1 for consideration in the 2015 legislative session. It would add horse-racing and pari-mutuel betting to the lottery section of the State Constitution and nullify current constitutional language that prevents pari-mutuel betting and casino gambling in Georgia.

If H.R. 1 were to pass, legislation would be needed to regulate the races and race tracks, the horses, satellite feeds, the veterinarians, and whatever staff deemed necessary to create and maintain another gambling industry in Georgia. That’s where H.B. 2 comes in. On November 17th, the same day he pre-filed H.R. 1, Representative Geisinger introduced H.B. 2 as a regulatory bill for H.R. 1. Those regulations would provide oversight, administration, funding and distribution of whatever proceeds are left after gamblers collect their winnings and over-head expenses are paid.

If H.R. 1 passes the General Assembly, voters would be asked on the next General Election ballot whether they want a licensed racetrack and pari-mutuel betting in their county or municipality. In locations where a majority of voters say, “Not in my back yard (NIMBY),” proponents of horse-racing and pari-mutuel betting could depart and look for greener pastures (no pun intended). So, ultimately, voters could decide whether horse tracks and gambling descend upon their community. However, the same ballot question mentions that a percentage of the proceeds would be used for higher education, voluntary pre-kindergarten programs and funding of certain medical services. Continue reading

December 12, 2014 Radio Commentary

Horse Racing & Pari-mutuel Betting would Expand Government

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, December 12, 2014 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Are you ready to create another government agency? If not, we have a battle on our hands. On November 17th Representative Harry Geisinger pre-filed H.R. 1 to make horse racing constitutional in Georgia. At the same time, he pre-filed his 38-page H.B. 2 to make it happen. But those 38 pages go beyond horse racing. They outline a system for pari-mutuel betting to be controlled by a seven-member all-expenses-paid horse racing commission to license racetrack facilities and schedule at least 60 live racing days in Georgia every year. The races would be simulcast to satellite facilities throughout the state and Internet betting would be set up to accommodate online gamblers.

They expect to collect a ton of new revenue, but let’s look at the facts. First, it’s never cheap to expand government and hire new people. Second, gambling is extremely harmful to gamblers and families. Average pathological gamblers pay about $1,200 a year to treat their habit, although they might never be cured. A fourth of habitual gamblers lose their jobs; 28 percent file for bankruptcy or owe $75,000 to $150,000 gambling debts; players with incomes under $10,000 lose nearly 10 percent of the family income at casinos and do three times more betting in lotteries than those earning over $50,000. 28 percent of pathological gamblers are either separated or divorced, nearly double the non-gambler rate and one in five commits suicide, a rate 20 times higher than non-gamblers. Continue reading