Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

The Political Vine is the home of political news, satire, rants, and rumors.

Are You “Pro-You” or “Pro-State?”

by Bill Simon

Two pieces of legislation in the Georgia General Assembly have recently caught my eye (and my mind) and stirred me up to conceptually ponder that perhaps we need to stop analyzing proposed laws based on the party affiliation of the lead sponsor and co-sponsors, and, instead, crystallize the analysis down to whether the proposed legislation meets one (and only one) of these two criteria: Is it Pro-State, or is it Pro-You?*

Let me explain what is in my mind when I use these terms. Being pro-State (with a capital “S”) means the legislation is necessary to enable to State to have more and more power over your (and your fellow inhabitants’) daily life. By “State”, I do not merely mean the State of Georgia, but any government, whether it is federal, state, county or city.

Being pro-You (with a capital “Y”) means the legislation is concentrated on increasing your rights of freedom and protecting you from the abuses of the State.

The writers of our U.S. Constitution knew the dangers of having too strong of a State. That is why they amended the Constitution with the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights are all pro-You.

Obama’s and the national Dems’ goal for nationalizing healthcare is all about Pro-State, and quite anti-You.

And, by the way, in the construct of Pro-State vs, Pro-You legislation, the terms “conservative”, “liberal”, “Republican”, “Democrat”, etc. have absolutely no meaning. It may take some time to figure out what a piece of legislation does, and what category it fits in, but you can no longer rely on the political affiliation of someone to know if the vote was right or wrong. One would need to go deeper than who voted for what bill to determine if it was a “good” bill just because “so-and-so” sponsored it.

Now, this categorization in my mind is what developed after I read and pondered bills like SB 318 and HB 842.

*Note: Granted, there is likely some legislation that cannot easily be placed in either of these buckets. I’ll propose two other possible categories if need be in my new construct of legislation analysis: Miscellaneous and the WTF CategoryTM.

Discussion of SB 318 (Pro-State)

When I read the text of SB 318, it reads as a pro-State measure.  SB 318 puts forth the notion that, apparently, law enforcement personnel should be (essentially) allowed to beat, maim, or, perhaps, even kill you, as long as it is within their “discretionary realm” of duties..and if you (or your loved ones if you happen to be deceased from this police action) desire to file legal action against the officer(s), you have to follow a carefully designed path of requirements of time constraints and specific actions.

One of those requirements is that you have to obtain an affidavit of an “expert witness” who is willing to testify as to whether the law enforcement officer violated the law in the exercise of their duties.  I’m not sure what the qualifications are for such an “expert witness” as the term was neither defined in this legislation, nor is it defined in the section of OCGA it wishes to amend. When originally introduced, SB 318 specified the modification of OCGA 9-11-9.1.  This section currently spells-out the requirements for civil action torts against professional occupations  who are licensed by the state (e.g., doctors, attorneys, podiatrists, accountants, etc.).  If you want to sue these occupations, you need to produce an affidavit from an “expert witness” who can verify that you were, indeed, directly harmed by the actions of the professional.

I recall that the original reason for the “expert witness affidavit” as it applies to suing people who are engaged in the business of providing professional services was so that there would be a reduction in the number of frivolous lawsuits.

However, there is a distinct difference in the professionals who provide services for a fee, and law-enforcement officers.  What is that distinction? Clearly, this: Law enforcement personnel act on behalf of the State’s interests, not your interests.

You do not pay taxes that pay for law enforcement to treat you or enforce the law for your benefit as you do when you hire a professional accountant, professional doctor, or any other “civil” professional.  The police officers are not looking out for “your” best interest, but the laws of the State.  (And, if anyone wants to claim that all “laws” are for the good of “everyone”, then you need to scrub-off that rose-tint on those glasses of yours, and go get a reality-check.)

So, the original intent of SB 318 was to make law enforcement officers fall under the same category of civil, fee-for-services rendered professionals.  The Senate Public Safety Committee re-tasked 318 to modify OCGA 35-1, and added an entirely new section designed to make it very difficult for citizens who are wrongly treated by law enforcement officers to sue those officers in civil court.

Now, I realize that since I am a Republican, I should be all for “law and order” and anything law enforcement needs is good and pure.  Except, I have a long memory that protects me from such pat political viewpoints.

The memory I have is of Kathryn Johnston, a little old black lady who lived in Atlanta in 2007 in her own home. She may have actually been a Republican since she owned a gun.  She used that gun against City of Atlanta police who knocked-down her door on the basis of information they supposedly received from a drug informant that her house was being used to deal drugs.  There was no drug activity at all, and the officers had no warrant.

She was shot dead by the police.  In the ensuing aftermath, the police officers responsible for this were charged and prosecuted and all that.  But, a year after Johnston’s murder, the family of Johnston sued (according to this Wikipedia article) “…”…the city of Atlanta, the police chief, and five other officers, accusing them of false imprisonment, civil rights violations, racketeering, and other violations. The suit claims that officers used unreasonable and deadly force and that Johnston’s constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.”

It is this last part that I have bolded that concerns me the most about SB 318.  Because, in effect, the sponsors of 318 wish to make as difficult as possible (by making it as costly as possible) to obtain some “expert witness’s” viewpoint on whether an action taken by law enforcement violated someone’s US Constitutional right to due process.  Those types of determinations should be left up to a court of law, not some arbitrary requirement decided by a Georgia legislator to protect bad behavior, or unconstitutional acts, by a member of the State’s law enforcement branch of government.

And, I also believe that it is the primary intent of the writer of SB 318 to specifically ignore the concept of due process required under the laws of this state and country, and make it as difficult as possible for anyone who may have had their due process rights ignored by a member of law enforcement to be compensated for having the crap beaten out of them if such an act occurred.

Who cares about your piddly rights?  Not the State, you can count on that.  The State only cares about protecting its rights, and anyone who works for the State’s benefit is way more important than you and your life.  THAT is how SB 318 reads to me.  And that is why SB 318 should be brought-up for a vote on the floor of the senate, and then demolished by the members of the senate who actually believe you have the right to be protected from the acts the State takes against you when you might be acting perfectly in your right to do so.

Who are those senators?  I would hope at least one would be Preston Smith.  He demonstrated last year that he had some common sense when he spoke-out against last year’s Prescription Drug Monitoring legislation (which has come up again this session, and is the same old pro-State bill it was last year).

There should be other senators.  If not, then, surely, someone…somewhere will get a clue that this bill, in and of itself, creates an unconstitutional barrier to any citizen’s rights to file a civil claim against a law enforcement officer if they have been unlawfully harmed by that member of law enforcement.  Any Republican who actually votes in favor of this bill is either very ignorant, or very much the statist (i.e., believes the State and its employees are all more important than you and your rights).

And, perhaps this bill will be a good test for figuring out which of our state senators actually knows what it means to “look out for your best interest” and which of them do not have a freaking clue.

Discussion of HB 842 (Pro-You)

The purpose of HB 842 is to allow the citizens of Georgia to engage in the private act of growing their own food for their own consumption without being either prohibited from doing so, or being required by any municipality to obtain any kind of permit designed to impede someone from using their own property for their own use.

HB 842 is referred to as the Right to Grow Act. It adds the following language to OCGA:

“(a) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) ‘Crops’ means fruits and products of all annual or perennial plants, trees, and shrubs.

(2) ‘Milk goat’ means a doe kept for the purpose of producing milk and any unweaned kid goats.
(b) No county, municipality, consolidated government, or local government authority shall prohibit or require any permit for the growing or raising of food crops or chickens, rabbits, or milk goats in:

(1) Home gardens, coops, or pens on private residential property so long as such food crops or animals or the products thereof are used for human consumption by the occupant of such property and members of his or her household and not for commercial purposes; and

(2) Community or cooperative gardens, coops, or pens on any portion of any private lot made available for such purposes by the occupant thereof so long as the total lot size is not more than 2.75 acres and the food crops or animals or the products thereof are used for human consumption by the growers and raisers and members of their households and not for commercial purposes; provided, however, that the slaughter of goats kept pursuant to this Code section shall be prohibited.

(c) This Code section shall not prohibit or impair:

(1) The authority of a local governmental entity to abate a public nuisance;
(2) Any cause of action brought by a private citizen to abate a private nuisance under Code Section 41-2-4; or
(3) Any private covenant or other private agreement restricting the use of real property.”

And, while I realize there will some who scoff at this concept (especially you city-folk statists out there), there are people who would rather be able to work and grow their own food under their own watchful eye, rather than be beholden to always buying from the grocery store, or having the Department of Agriculture have to “watch-out” for their own good.

Now, whoever comes out against this bill, know this: They will claim all sorts of “worst-case” scenarios of What if this? and What if that?

Section (c) in this bill provides all protections to both the municipality and the neighbors for nuisance issues.

Now, I suspect the following entities will come out against this, and why they will:

Ga Department of Agriculture will oppose it because, if they do not, they will lose their State power to control everything you might consume for food.

The lobbyists for the grocery store chains will oppose it because if you have your own chickens, you won’t need to buy their eggs.

ACCG and GMA will oppose it because they, literally, cannot fathom any kind of world in which you are not regulated for your every act on your own property (county commissioners, especially, distrust your ability to make the right decisions about your own property).

Elitist-Statist Republicans will oppose it because they think it is silly for you to want to express your freedom and liberty in this fashion.

Now…perhaps someone like the Governor may actually be interested in supporting this because, after all, it reflects the self-starter mindset of every Georgia farmer: the desire to grow things with your own hands and sweat to feed your own family.

This is a pro-You bill. You may not actually personally be interested in this bill, but, if you oppose it, on what other grounds than State-knows-best mindset can you possibly claim a valid (i.e., not silly, and not capricious) opposition to it?

6 Responses to “Are You “Pro-You” or “Pro-State?””

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  3. Edwin Gravitt Says:

    Bill, you’re analytical and reporting prowess is beyond comprehension. However, to answer your question: am I pro-state or Pro You (as in Pro-Me)? I am straight laced Pro-You (as in Pro-Me)! The federal, state and local governments in our once great Republic have gone completely off their rockers with their opinions that, they know what is best for us. Now, I don’t know about anyone but you and me, but I’m totally convinced that, we are very capable of doing the right thing for ourselves and our fellow creatures. And, by the way, I planted part of our annual vegetable garden in our back yard on our own 3 acres yesterday. And I did it without getting the government’s permission. Okay?!

  4. Bill Simon Says:

    Edwin! Great to hear from you, my friend!

    But…now that you’ve disclosed what you’re doing on 3 acres of former government property (some time a lonnng time ago, it was government property), I’m certain there will be some government entity out there that will, if they find you, tell you that you are doing something wrong. 🙂

  5. Edwin Gravitt Says:

    Good to hear from you Bill. Actually, the 3 acres I alluded to is still government property. I just pay them about $1000/year for the use of it. But what the heck, the deer will probably eat up my garden anyhow. Of course, then the government will probably tell me it’s wrong to feed the deer, huh. Keep your garden green and your powder dry my friend. Things are getting tight. (:o)

  6. Edwin Gravitt Says:

    Well Bill, that garden I planted is up and growing with corn about a foot tall, green beans about to bloom, squash, okra, cantelopes and tomatoes on their way, and still no deer and no Dept. of Agriculture interfering. But give them time, the tax assessor will probably come snooping around and tell ol’ Tommy Irvin about it. Just thought you might like to know that my friend.

Today's Deep Thought

Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at the word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words: 'mank' and 'ind.' What do these word mean? It's a mystery and that's why so is mankind.


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