With the legislative session squarely behind him and the bill-signing period over, Gov. Nathan Deal now heads out on the campaign trail. And he’s going to have to defend the measures he signed as well as those he vetoed.
Tuesday is the last day Gov. Deal can veto or sign bills into law. And some of the most controversial bills from the legislative session are still awaiting his signature. These include a bill that would make Georgia the first state in the nation to force welfare and food stamp recipients suspected of drug abuse to submit to drug tests. There’s also a bill that would allow officials to erect a monument to the Ten Commandments at the state Capitol, which the legislature’s counsel cautions might result in a lawsuit. Another bill on his desk governs how private probation companies oversee Georgia prisoners.
Gov. Nathan Deal has directed his community health commissioner to do something for rural hospitals, nine of which have closed in Georgia since 2000, leaving whole communities without quick access to emergency care.
Hundreds of protesters met outside Governor Nathan Deal’s office Tuesday morning to present a petition calling for Deal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The group is part of a movement called “Moral Mondays,” which started in North Carolina with a similar goal. The Georgia group organized several events during this the legislative session, but this protest was the first one since lawmakers adjourned. GPB reporter Claire Simms has been following Moral Mondays Georgia activities since this year’s session. She joined All Things Considered host Ellen Reinhardt to discuss Tuesday’s protest.
The second-to-the-last day of the 2014 state legislative session kicked off with protests in the Senate gallery over Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid. The disruption was part of a rolling series of civil disobedience acts to urge lawmakers not to pass a bill that would bar a sitting governor from adding enrollees to Medicaid.
The Huffington Post recently compiled a list of several ways the South is struggling. “These 9 Maps Should Absolutely Outrage Southerners” is a breakdown of current health and economic issues affecting the region. First, the list took a look at the poverty level in the South, compared to the rest of the nation. A 2012 study from the USDA reported the South has the highest poverty rate in the U.S, with more than 17 percent of its residents living below the poverty level.
The issue of Medicaid expansion drew its first full-scale 2014 General Assembly hearing Wednesday. As expected, the arguments reflected the passions surrounding the Affordable Care Act. A House Judiciary subcommittee voted to pass HB 990, which would require the Legislature to approve any expansion of Medicaid here, rather than leaving the decision up to the governor alone.
Sen. Vincent Fort hinted that his arrest Monday for occupying Governor Nathan Deal’s office wouldn’t be the last clash in his efforts to convince Georgia’s top official to expand Medicaid. The Atlanta Democrat has pledged to hold events each week that he’s calling “Moral Mondays.” And in an interview Tuesday, he reiterated his belief that Deal’s decision not to expand Medicaid to the 650,000 Georgians without health insurance is immoral.
State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) and nine other Moral Monday Georgia supporters were arrested inside Gov. Nathan Deal’s office Monday after refusing repeated police orders to leave. The demonstrators wanted Deal to accept their letter urging him to expand the state’s Medicaid program.