Political Insider blog 

AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns

Deal outlines two paths to medical marijuana in Georgia

  • 2:20 pm Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

Medical marijuana won’t be legalized in Georgia any time soon. But Gov. Nathan Deal outlined two plans to begin moving that way ahead of next year’s legislative session.

The first option would involve the expanded use of clinical trials for children with epileptic disorders through a private drugmaker, GW Pharmaceuticals, and Georgia Regents University.  The second would bring a state clinical trial led by Georgia Regents using cannabis oil obtained from federal regulators in Mississippi.

Deal’s aides have been working with federal regulators for weeks after medical marijuana legislation failed to pass amid GOP infighting. You can find the backstory [More]

Medical marijuana changes on tap today

  • 6:00 am Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal’s staff has quietly worked on a plan to allow the limited use of medical marijuana since lawmakers scuttled a legislative push to do so last month. He is ready to unveil that proposal later today.

Deal will hold a press conference this afternoon to outline his plan that could allow some families to use a form of cannabis oil to treat debilitating seizures. He also will discuss a separate idea to create a pilot program to start privatizing the foster care system.

Both are part of a larger strategy of taking executive action where lawmakers failed. It’s led to [More]

Nathan Deal: Georgia ‘needs to address’ medical marijuana fix

  • 3:14 pm Monday, March 24th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

The effort to legalize limited use of medical marijuana petered out in the legislative session’s final hours last week amid infighting between Republicans over an unrelated bill to mandate autism coverage for children.

Now Gov. Nathan Deal says he’s exploring an executive order or other steps that could allow Georgia families to use cannabis oil to treat certain seizure disorders until legislators return to Atlanta next year.

Deal, who has tread warily on the issue, told reporters Monday that some sort of administrative action on medical marijuana is “on my radar screen.” Said the governor:

“All of us were moved by [More]

An autism bill swims against the tide

  • 7:00 pm Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

If SB 397 were an animal, you would have to classify it as a salmon, making its implausible way upstream against a preposterous current.

The state Capitol has gushed anti-Obamacare legislation this session. Republicans have damned the Affordable Care Act and government intervention in health care with an intensity that has been stunning in its breadth and imagination.

Just to name two efforts: Gov. Nathan Deal has green-lighted HB 990, the effort to chip away at executive branch authority by ceding to the Legislature the right to expand Medicaid rolls. HB 707 would bar even a city dogcatcher from referring [More]

Legislative tip sheet: Fake pot versus the real (non-intoxicating) thing

  • 7:41 am Monday, February 10th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

With the threat of another winter storm in the offing, the House and Senate gavel in at 10 a.m. today.

But all eyes will be on Gov. Nathan Deal, who has a noon presser to go over preparations for the ice that could hit this evening – and Tuesday as well.

Monday is Cannabis Awareness Day at the state Capitol. To celebrate, the House is likely vote to ban new forms of synthetic pot (and meth) in the morning — consider allowing use of the real thing (for medical reasons) during an afternoon committee meeting.

Also on tap for House floor debate: the [More]

White House sits down with black lawmakers over judicial picks

  • 11:12 am Thursday, February 6th, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, said to have the ear of the Obamas more than anyone else in Washington, met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday morning to attempt But the White House is giving no indication of backing off Georgia’s six-judge slate, negotiated over a multi-year period with Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, to the chagrin of Georgia’s House Democrats.

The White House communications team on Wednesday kept the spin on with a social media-friendly graphic touting the president’s commitment to judicial diversity by the numbers. It mentions Eleanor Ross, the only African-American [More]

On defense, GOP candidates for Senate all over the map

  • 12:33 pm Monday, February 3rd, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Maybe it was the result of cabin fever after a week of immobility, maybe it was the calendar. Either way, the second state GOP-sponsored debate of U.S. Senate candidates on Saturday night was a much-attended event. More than 600 showed.

Offering a play-by-play on every question is impossible. – U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey’s shout-out to the crowd, asking who was willing – in the name of tax reform – to give up their exemptions on home mortgage interest and charitable giving. Perhaps five hands went up in the auditorium on the Kennesaw State University campus.

– The debut (before a large GOP [More]

A surprising, mad dash to legalize medicinal pot in Georgia

  • 9:00 am Saturday, February 1st, 2014 by Jim Galloway

You’ve seen the magazine ad: “You can save this child, or you can turn the page.” And the TV spots with the caged, abused puppies: “The situation is urgent, so we’re asking you to join in the next 10 minutes.”

State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, has drafted the legislative equivalent — a bill that will brook no delay, lest you be overwhelmed with guilt. Peake wants medical marijuana made legal in Georgia within the next several weeks.

Not a blue-ribbon panel. Not a study commission, as has been pitched by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus.

House Bill 885 would be the real thing: [More]

State lawmaker: ‘Some’ rural Georgia hospitals need to close

  • 10:28 am Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

The state’s failure to grasp the billion-dollar offer of Medicaid expansion from the federal government could cause more than a dozen hospitals in rural Georgia to close their doors, some have estimated.

One prominent state lawmaker says that may indeed happen — and perhaps should.

“When your census is that low and you have hospital administration and you have to have 24 hour-a-day care and you have to have a pharmacy and all the other things that go with a hospital and your census runs at just minute number of patients then I think it’s time to look at the fact [More]

Legislative tip sheet: Guns, kids and pot

  • 10:27 am Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Jim Galloway

After a three-day weekend, the state Senate will be back in session at 10 a.m. today. The House convenes at a more leisurely 11 a.m.

The calendars are light, but committees will begin this week to hear and move bills. We’re on the lookout for a revised gun bill which may contain a compromise on the issue of campus carry.

We also expect to see details emerge on a plan to privatize foster care. Advocate groups are meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the plan and legislation could be introduced this week.

Also, look for supporters of a bill to make medical marijuana legal [More]