Summary of recent Georgia newspaper editorials

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Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

April 12

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on Beer Jobs Bill:

What goes for bread also goes for beer, sometimes called "liquid bread" — half a loaf is better than no loaf.

Savannah's craft brewers are hoping that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will sign a measure that will relax some of the overly burdensome restrictions on beer sales in the Peach State, even though it falls short of what they originally wanted.

So should the public. That includes citizens who lift a pint, and those who don't.

This issue is less about drinking a cold brew and more about creating new jobs in Georgia.

Senate Bill 63, which passed both the House and Senate this session, is tagged as the Beer Jobs Bill. This is one of those times where there's truth in labelling.

Carly Wiggins, co-founder and marketing director of Southbound Brewery, a Savannah-based production facility, said the bill would go a long way toward helping the growing industry.

"If we get it passed, we'll be able to create hundreds and hundreds of new jobs," she said.

Georgia is one of just four states with restrictions that don't allow retail sales at breweries and brew pubs, Wiggins said. That puts the Peach State at a big disadvantage with other states in the Southeast that are promoting beer tourism — something that Savannah should be able to immediately tap into, given its reputation as a tourist destination.

The bill as passed seems to provide the right balance. Breweries would be allowed to capitalize on their products, yet not undercut bars, package shops and other establishments that feature the same offerings.

In this case, the bill won't allow people to come in and pay directly for beer. But it would add new tour levels, which visitors pay for, to match different volumes of beer — say, a souvenir pint glass or to-go, 32-ounce growlers.

The measure permits breweries to increase the amount they can pour on site to 36 ounces. It allows customers to take 72 ounces to go — the equivalent of a six pack or two growlers.

Industry observers believe the Beer Jobs Bill will be of bigger help to smaller breweries, such as Savannah's Southbound, Service Brewing and Coastal Empire Beer Co., than the bigger breweries like Terrapin Beer in Athens and Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta. Neither brewery needs help in packing in visitors for tours and tastings.

Relaxing the rules should help create more consumer demand. If people like what they taste on a brewery tour, they're likely to look for the same beer elsewhere.

Wiggins said the measure lacks the sweeping changes that would've put Georgia's breweries on a level playing field with competitors in South Carolina and Florida. But it's better than nothing.

"We want people to come through, see the place and get a six pack ... so when they go back to their vacation cottage on Tybee, they'll pick up a six-pack there," she said.

Let's raise a glass to putting people to work and to promoting products made in Georgia.


April 15

The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on bonds for battling urban blight:

It seems so easy -- just ask the Urban Development Authority and the Industrial Authority to issue $28.3 million in bonds. It's hardly noticed by the general public. Would the taxpaying resident pay more attention if it was stated that the Macon-Bibb County government was headed to the bank to ask for a $28.3 million loan? We get caught in a cycle that's neither all good or all bad, but our friends to the south, Houston County, carry no debt -- none. While $14.3 million of this proposed bond issue will be used to pay off older loans because today's terms are better, we'll still be in debt.

There are things the county wants to do that can only be financed through bonds and special purpose local option sales tax initiatives. For elected officials, bonds are easier to propose because, generally, taxpayers aren't paying attention, and they have no idea how much debt the government might be in. It's only when a new SPLOST is proposed and part of the proceeds are to be used to pay off some or all of the debt is there a clue.

Most of the rest of the proceeds ($10 million) will go to the battle against blight. Actually, the beginning of the battle. An additional $2 million will go to the Beall's Hill neighborhood, a collaboration that has been ongoing for more than a decade. Another $2 million will purchase and clear properties on Wise Avenue, just off Riverside, that will make room for athletic fields for Bibb County's newest charter school, Macon Charter Academy, that will open in August.

Once the bonds are approved, it's up to residents to make sure they stay engaged with the process. Blight can befuddle. There is no real roadmap or how-to guide. Each community, even section of town, is different. And while $10 million seems like a lot of money, it can quickly disappear if the right initiatives, with the right care, are not employed.

The first order of business will be a systematic way of discovering just how many blighted properties we have in Bibb County. That data can be used not only to address current blight but prevent future blight. And there are a number of methods to mitigate dilapidated homes and empty lots. Some of those ideas will work in some sections of town and not so well in others. And what roles can Habitat and Rebuilding Macon, two organizations that have been on the front lines of housing, play in the efforts? All good questions that need to be answered before too much of the money is spent chasing our blighted tails.


April 12

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on abortion procedure restricted in Kansas:

The pregnancy-terminating procedure most commonly known as "dilation and evacuation" goes by another name - dismemberment abortion.

That's because doctors who perform it - usually during the second trimester - dilate the cervix to remove the unborn with forceps, clamps, scissors and other instruments, often in parts.

Fortunately, a new law in Kansas prohibits doctors from performing such ghastly procedures in most instances. The state's Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act makes it the first in the country to bar the procedure, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of abortions.

The law takes effect July 1 and bars Kansas practitioners from doing the procedure unless the woman's life is in danger. Similar measures have been introduced in Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

While abortion-on-demand advocates shout that the ban would limit women's access to abortion, the law has no effect on medically induced abortions or vacuum procedures that primarily are used in the vast majority of abortions performed during the first trimester. Kansas already bans abortions in the third trimester.

There's nothing radical about the new law. A 2014 Gallup poll shows the nation is as much opposed to abortion as it is in favor, with 47 percent describing themselves as pro-choice and 46 percent saying they were pro-life. A poll of 1,000 adults released recently by Vox/PerryUndem suggests the public has an even more complex view: Thirty-nine percent said they don't identify themselves decisively as pro-life or pro-choice; 21 percent said neither; 18 percent said both.

Questions over dismemberment abortion were not addressed in the polls, but we can't imagine too many of those polled actually being in favor of it. Congratulations to Kansas for bringing a gruesome, life-ending procedure to an end in the state.


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