Representatives need to hear from you

When messaged Sunday evening and Monday morning about possible interviews, our area’s two state legislators — House Speaker David Ralston and Sen. Steve Gooch — were eager to talk to the Times-Courier about the issues they see facing the 2019 General Assembly that convenes Monday.

Some of the issues we’re familiar with, and another comes as a result of legislation passed two years ago. Right off the bat, however, Ralston zeroed in on the budget. Unlike our federal government, Georgia requires a balanced budget each year. Any bill that raises revenue or deals with the budget must originate in the House. Ralston, therefore, as head of the body that handles appropriations, is keen on getting it right up front.

It’s been almost two years since our local hospital began openly having troubles that forced the closing of its emergency room first, and then the facility itself. We’ve learned much about the state’s Certificate of Need law in that time. Gooch brought another facet to the debate that will crank up soon, that being that CONs protect hospitals that are still able to provide surgical needs and procedures. He noted clinics can move into an area and offer less expensive medical procedures, cutting a local hospital’s income. 

The coming CON debate will be “bloody,” Gooch believes, with lobbyists — belying big money — in the fray.

The lawmakers also discussed a bill advocating for the cultivation of marijuana, which is being promoted since the state’s medical cannabis oil legislation of 2017 seems to have fallen short.

Our legislators are open when talking with the newspaper, and will listen to you, as well. So how do you feel about some of the issues they addressed in our lead story this week? Would you be for the state allowing cultivation of marijuana? How about expanding Medicaid to cover more than a half-million uninsured or underinsured Georgians?

Look for their addresses, emails and phone numbers on these editorial pages, and become part of the conversation that could result in new or revised laws. And don’t be shy.

You can participate in our online poll question regarding medical marijuana on our home page, www.timescourier.com.

Times Courier

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Ellijay, GA. 30540

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