By Erick

Why Georgia Beer Laws Need Reform

This is going to be a fight in the legislature and it should be. Lobbyists and beer wholesalers, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy off legislators, have stymied reforms that all but three states have.

The only kickstarter program I have ever funded was the Synek Beer system. Take a look at this:

The system allows you to go to a brewer or craft beer store, fill a type of bio-safe plastic bladder with beer on tap, and it keeps fresh for THIRTY DAYS! So if you are having a party, you can get it filled and serve your friends beer on tap of your choice.

But it is hard to do in Georgia. The bladder is 128 ounces, or two growlers worth.

In Georgia, if you took this to your local brewery, it would be illegal to fill up. It would also, under revenue rulings in Georgia, be illegal for the brewery to tell you the name of a store where you could fill up.

The entire system of beer laws in Georgia is designed to protect incumbent campaign contributions from wholesaler lobbyists. It breeds corruption and stifles innovation.

The Synek System is revolutionary. But there are few places around Georgia to be able to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, states bordering us are thriving.

This should be a very public policy fight in the legislature in 2016. Breweries should be able to sell 128 ounces on premises. It promotes their product without cutting into store purchases. The wholesalers entire argument is that they cannot let a single law change for fear that long term something will happen to them.

I had a law professor who frequently said, “It is only a slippery slope if you slide down it.” We do not have to slide down the slippery slope in letting breweries sell 128oz of beer on premise. The wholesalers, out of fear, are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

It is time for a change and the overreaction of the Department of Revenue at the behest of the wholesale lobby should show the legislature they need to force that change now.

Free the beer in Georgia.

I’d Like To Know Why The Department of Revenue Wants My Voter File

I was talking to a source at the Department of Revenue today about the DOR completely screwing local craft beer brewers at the behest of the Georgia Beer Wholesale Association. The source, by the way, completely agrees even though he works for DOR.

But in the conversation, the data breach at the Secretary of State’s office came up. He told me that the data had more likely than not been prepped by the Elections Division for the Department of Revenue. He specifically said that the Department of State will hand over the voter records and State will include the social security number, birthdate, and driver’s license number for DOR.

I understand interagency collaboration, but it seems that if voting is such a right, the state probably shouldn’t be using it for purposes other than voting, including letting DOR use it.

By the way, two other people confirm to me that in fact DOS was making all this data available to DOR, including the social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers.

Yep. It’s True.

When Clayton and I started Peach Pundit, one of the cool things about it was the idea that we should put both Democrats and Republicans on the front page who were willing to write openly and frankly about their own sides. It was not intended to be a site that took a particular view, but rather took the view that we should cover what was happening within our respective parties as objectively as we, with known biases, could.

We timed it perfectly in that state blogging was really taking off and we cornered the market here in Georgia with independent blogging. If you look at Florida, South Carolina, Iowa, and several other places, what you find is that a lot of political consultants have started blogs and the opinions of the people they write about rise and fall corresponding to payments into the bloggers’ consulting businesses. People write nice things about people and positions hoping to curry favors, open doors, and shape agendas.

To be sure, that happens some in Georgia, but I like to think Peach Pundit forestalled the wider expansion of this phenomenon just given the level of readership and the insistence that we cover our own partisan side as objectively as we could — again knowing we had stated biases.

Part of that came with accountability. In that vein, Charlie’s title change yesterday was in every way accurate and, as I said in the email in which I endorsed Alex Johnson, I will not be at the State Convention.

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Happy Easter

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12 (ESV)

Happy Easter to each and every one of you.

Good Friday 2015

crucified-christ-1896

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.  And sitting down they watched him there;  And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.  And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The Gospel of Matthew 27:35-37, 45-53

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Governor Deal and Beer

Earlier today I interviewed Governor Deal. I asked him about S.B. 63, the legislation by State Senator Hunter Hill reforming beer laws in Georgia.

In particular, I asked Governor Deal how voters could be assured the legislation will get a fair shake when the Governor and Lt. Governor are the two biggest recipients of money from the Georgia Beer Wholesaler Association in 2014.

You can hear his answer below. The long and short of it is that he has no position on SB63 presently, but when he was in the state legislature he supported the same reforms for wineries and does not see how the brewery reforms are different.

Our Opponents Are Not Our Enemies

David Barlow, a Fayette County Commissioner, has welcomed Pota Coston to the Fayette County Commission is a way that’d make anybody wonder if they’re welcome. Coston is the first black person to be elected to the Fayette County Commission. Barlow’s welcome refers to the Democrats as “Demoncrats” and calls them “evil.”

I am unsure if he next intends to burn a cross to keep Commissioner Coston warm in the Commission chambers.

This is really horrific coming from an elected official. Commissioner Barlow may be surprised to know, but the GOP did better with black and hispanic voters this year than any time in the past. His comments go a long way toward telling everyone that black and hispanic voters are not welcome with the Republican Party.

Equally troubling, Mr. Barlow says “conservative Christians have been unmercifully attacked by liberal demoncrats.” Note his spelling.

Jesus tells us to do under others as we’d like them to do to us. Does Commissioner Barlow want to be called a rethuglican? Oh wait . . . Republicans are. But Jesus said to turn the other cheek. Paul and Peter said to not seek revenge or to behave toward others in the negative ways they behave toward you.

We’re all sinners. We all like sheep go astray. But Commission Barlow could have set a great, Christian tone for this historic milestone in Fayette County. Instead, he behaved in the very way he is attacking others for behaving. He stooped to the level he accuses others of stooping.

I may not agree with Commissioner Coston on issues. We have never met. Being a Democrat, I doubt there is a lot we do agree on. But democratic organizations depend on respect between members of function properly for those they represent. Saying he prayed with the new commissioner really does not absolve Commissioner Barlow of the statement.

I hope he will apologize.

And perhaps Commissioner Barlow might want to take a deeper course in evangelizing, both politically and religiously. Christ said to go forth. Maybe Commissioner Barlow should go forth into Commissioner Coston’s district, spend time together, and understand the lives of others that do not look like him.

Holly LaBerge’s Lawyers Raise Money for Jason Carter

Holly LaBerge claims Governor Nathan Deal’s staff and lawyer pressured the State Ethics Commissions. You have to hand it to the Democrats. This has been a very well coordinated roll out of accusations against the Governor and much of the response from the Attorney General and the Governor’s team has been muted due to legal ethics rules. The Attorney General, in particular, represented the State Ethics Commission and Holly LaBerge in her official capacity. So Sam Olens can’t say much.

We now have some data pointing to just how coordinated the LaBerge complaints are. Her lawyers are holding a fundraiser for Jason Carter at their office. LaBerge is represented by A. Lee Parks and his law firm, Parks, Chesin & Walbert P.C., is holding a fundraiser for Jason Carter on Monday, July 28th.

You can see the invitation here.

Easter 2014

Resurrection

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12 (ESV)

Happy Easter to each and every one of you.

Good Friday

crucified-christ-1896

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.  And sitting down they watched him there;  And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.  And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The Gospel of Matthew 27:35-37, 45-53

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Captain Herb

Over the weekend, my friend Herb Emory died. We referred to him as Captain Herb. If any of you have spent any time in Atlanta in the past several decades, you have probably heard Captain Herb on the radio. He was the voice of Atlanta traffic. For more than two decades, his voice has been on WSB radio getting you to work in the morning and home in the evening.

Captain Herb was brilliant at what he did. He coined terms for roads in Atlanta that every other traffic reporter in the city picked up and used. He was generous with his time too. He made over eighty personal appearances last year just because someone asked him to.

He was also a connoisseur of greasy spoons and various meat and three restaurants in the metropolitan area. He and I had shared more than one grilled pimento cheese sandwich together. I think every police officer in the metro area knew him. He volunteered at food banks, animal rescue facilities, for the Toys 4 Tots program, and more.

Captain Herb was a celebrity, but he was also a servant leader. He put others before himself. He did so Saturday when he called in a wreck, went to make sure everyone was okay, then helped direct traffic before succumbing to a heart attack.

Anyone who knew him knows how fitting it was that Captain Herb’s last act was helping others. Our loss is Heaven’s gain. The angels on Jacob’s Ladder now know how much gridlock there is and all the alternate routes.

The Georgia Life Alliance

We had hoped to sit back and make it through this weekend, but opponents are attacking us as “the establishment” trying to weaken the pro-life cause. In fact, in an email from a reporter, I was asked about us having a less hard line position than the other organization.

I’m talking about the Georgia Life Alliance, of which I am a part and will be on the board. This weekend we are asking National Right to Life to affiliate with us, which would mean ending their relationship with Georgia Right to Life (“GRTL”).

I have been calling for a new pro-life organization in Georgia since GRTL sided with Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups to oppose the 20 week abortion ban in the U.S. House of Representatives. GRTL has held its head up and said it took a hard line position and suggested other pro-life groups were going soft.

In fact, as I said then and repeat now, life is too precious and important for political gamesmanship. And I believe GRTL took that position for other political purposes instead of joining every other pro-life group in America to advance the life agenda down the field.

I have been saddened over the last few years with what I perceive as an organization too mired in political machinations to actually be effective any more.

A pro-life organization should support privatizing our adoption and foster care system because the state has proven itself incompetent in both.

A pro-life organization should support a mother’s right to a birth certificate when her child is still born.

A pro-life organization should support school choice because there can be no pursuit of life, liberty, or happiness if a child is forced into a failing government school with no way out.

A pro-life organization’s agenda should not stop at the womb, but should advance to protect, promote, and foster the lives of those made in God’s image as they enter the world and strive to glorify God in life.

Without knowing who we are or what positions we will take, critics allied with GRTL are attacking GLA — trying to abort our effort before we are even standing — by accusing us of being compromised, moderate, or weak.

At RedState, one must be pro-life to be a front page writer. To my knowledge, we are the only site on the right that requires that. I have fought for that rule and been willing to lose my position here in order to keep that rule.

I am neither a pawn nor tool of the establishment. I just happen to think it is time for a pro-life organization in Georgia that holds the line on life for the unborn, but continues to support pro-life policies for those once born. And I believe life is too precious for political games. We must do everything possible to advance our cause and unite to protect life.

The critics attacking the Georgia Life Alliance are attacking me and friends of mine who, though we may disagree in other ways and on other issues, are adamantly committed to the cause of life, all of which is sacred and should be protected.

A Question About Chris Irvin

Can somebody answer this one for me?

Chris Irvin is running as the Democrats’ candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.

O.C.G.A. § 2-2-2 states that “[t]he department shall be under the control and management of the Commissioner of Agriculture, who shall be a practical farmer“.

Irvin, when he qualified, listed himself this way:

SMALL BUSINESS OWNER / HOME BUILDER / CONTRACTOR

Likewise, on his “about” page on his campaign website, Irvin states, “In 1999, I started my own business of Deercourt Enterprises focusing on construction and development.”

In other words, he is very clearly not a “practical farmer” and does not claim to be a “practical farmer.” So how can he be qualified under Georgia law to be Commissioner of Agriculture.

Any idea?

Alan Powell’s Anti-Uber Legislation Could Screw Good Samaritans

It is pretty telling that the Atlanta taxi cab industry is not asking the legislature to deregulate itself to be competitive against Uber, but rather wants to regulate Uber and Lyft out of existence.

Rep. Alan Powell is leading the charge as Jason mentioned earlier. The legislation, HB 907, however could put you in an awkward spot against the law.

Consider the definition Powell and the lobbyists came up with to shut down Uber, Lyft, and other services:

‘Transportation referral service provider’ means any person or entity that books, refers clients to, collects money for, or advertises transportation services provided by limousine carriers or taxi services by telephone, through cellular telephone software, through the Internet, in person, by written instrument, or by any other means.

So if your friend is out drunk and calls you to come get him and you call a cab instead, you might be in trouble.

In fact, Uber and Lyft are becoming regular go to services for the college set looking to get home after a night on the town. This legislation is needless anti-competitive regulation.

Again — the tax industry is demanding that others be regulated as much as they are, not that they be deregulated to be competitive. That’s protectionist. It’s also idiocy.

Cecil Staton’s Departure

Cecil Staton’s election to the State Senate was the first race I ran on my own. He really got me into political consulting. I’d helped with his congressional race in 2002, expanding my role over the year of that race. We made it to the runoff, but lost. Two years later, Cecil asked me to take the reins on my own for his State Senate race.

This morning, as Buzz noted, he is announcing his retirement from the State Senate.

Cecil, and his wife Catherine, are good friends. Over the last decade, Staton led a number of efforts in the state legislature, including the 2005 voter identification law. Here in Middle Georgia, he was fairly instrumental in helping the Mercer Medical School continue to get money from the state to fund rural doctors.

Cecil was not a natural politician. The aw-shucks baby kissing that comes so easily to others wasn’t really his thing. He is a policy guy. He is a small businessman. He understands those issues and excelled at working on the policy and legislation around those. I consider Cecil Staton a friend and I want to publicly thank him (for better or worse) for giving a kid a break and getting me into politics in a way I had not previously been involved. I’m not the only one out there who benefited from his generous spirit.

The race he leaves behind already has two challengers — Spencer Price, a doctor from Thomaston, and John Kennedy, a lawyer from Macon. Both were in the race before Staton’s departure. Kennedy is actually a good friend of mine. With Cecil not in the race, I’ll definitely be supporting John Kennedy. He has already raised over $50,000.00 and has been working really hard behind the scenes reaching out across the district.

Suddenly the 18th district becomes a serious race. And I hear it won’t be the only Senate district in play due to a retirement.