Capitol Corner

A Minimum Wage That Doesn’t Cover the Minimum Costs

Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15, but for most employment in Georgia, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).[1,2]  This wage is even lower if one is considered a tipped employee, decreasing the number to $2.13.[3] This is also possible due to the fact that Georgia does not […]

Addressing Immigration

Immigration has been a long-standing controversial issue throughout American history, let alone the world. A touchy subject in the House and the Senate, the U.S. has not had too many bills and laws regarding immigration. One particular bill created massive change for the future of immigrants, especially during its time, the Immigration Reform and Control […]

A Mother’s Touch: The Case for Extended Paid Maternal Leave in Georgia

The health of a newborn depends on the health of the mother. This was the finding of research conducted by the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.[1] The study investigated the associations between maternal health both during pregnancy and up to 15 months from childbirth and children’s health outcomes during infancy and adolescence.[Ibid] The results of […]

Adequate Composting Infrastructure in Georgia

Imagine a world where every business in Georgia was to replace its single-use plastics with biodegradable and compostable alternatives. Imagine that all containers and to-go cutlery were made of plant-derived plastic. Although it would be easy to assume that the change would be advantageous for the environment, such a situation could lead to an increase […]

Taxation Without Benefits: Lowering the Annual EV Registration Fee

Georgia has one of the highest annual taxes on electric vehicles (EVs) in the nation. Currently, the fee for non-commercial alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) is $210.87 and $316.40 for commercial AFVs.[1] These fees are determined based on a formula that changes annually, and has continuously increased over the past couple of years. These steep prices […]

Adequate Staffing and Funding for Correctional Facilities

A radio, a set of keys, and a baton. For most corrections officers in Georgia, these three items are the only resources they have during their shifts in state prison units.[1] According to the Department of Justice, the federal baseline inmate-to-corrections-officer ratio is 15:1. In the state of Georgia, some understaffed prisons are experiencing a […]

Fellow Spotlight: Ashton Sellers

  This week’s fellow spotlight goes to Ashton Sellers! Ashton is a third year from Ellijay, Georgia, majoring in English and minoring in Political Science and International Affairs. Ashton has been a member of the UGA Young Democrats, active in the community through canvassing, and involved in several volunteering opportunities at the local ACC jail […]

How Tele-health Can Prevent Maternity Care Deserts

Currently, fewer than half of the rural hospitals in the nation have maternal units. More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age across 1,119 US counties live in maternity care deserts without hospitals offering obstetric care or birth centers.[1] The rapid closure of rural hospital maternity wards in 2023 is exacerbating the issue with mothers […]

How Walkable Cities Can Save Lives and Transform Communities

As pedestrian fatalities surge to an unprecedented high, it is time to critically examine the measures required to transform Georgia cities into walkable communities. A 2023 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimated that approximately 7,500 pedestrians had been killed while commuting on U.S. highways.[1] This number represents a 40-year peak in nationwide […]

Tackling Affordable Childcare and Its Gender Related Discrepancies

Who pays the price when childcare is hard to come by? Georgia’s failure to adequately support working families in need of affordable childcare options hurts the economy and drives women out of the workforce.   In the state of Georgia, affordable childcare options are hard to come by as early childcare professionals and staffers continue […]

A Case for Tuition-Free Technical Schools in Georgia

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. economy experienced a rapid rebound that few had expected. [1] People clamored for goods and services that had been put on hold to slow the transmission of COVID-19; however, consumers would be kept waiting.  The shortage of skilled workers was already on the rise; however, the […]

Adopting Full Medicaid Expansion in Georgia

As one of ten states that have not adopted full Medicaid expansion, Georgia leads as one of the country’s top states for uninsured rates. While the uninsured rate in Georgia has seen a downward trend over time, the trend has been too slow to account for the critical necessity for immediate action.[1] Today, 1.2 million […]

Rural Healthcare Providers in Georgia

Healthcare in rural Georgia is in desperate need of a change because due to limited access. 89 Georgia counties have been identified as Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas.[1] More specifically, as of 2020, 9 counties had no physicians; 82 counties had no OB/GYN physicians; 65 counties had no pediatric physicians; and 90 counties had […]

Addressing Mandatory Minimums, Non-Violent Drug Offenses

America has a prison problem. As of 2020, nearly one out of every 100 Americans were incarcerated [1]. Nearly 63% of those incarcerated are serving sentences equal to or longer than ten years [2]. The issue of mass incarceration in America is due to many complex and intertwined factors and policies, with one such policy […]

Schedule F Civil Service Appointments and Their Potential Effects

In October 2020, then-President Trump signed Executive Order 13957, creating a new federal job classification known as Schedule F appointments. In simple terms, Schedule F was designed to make it far easier for political officials to fire and discipline non-political policy-focused government workers. While the legal basis for the executive order originates from an interpretation […]

Reforming Georgia’s Cash Bail System

A terrible new trend has taken over America’s prison systems in the past fifty years. Mass incarceration, or the exponential growth in this nation’s prison population, first started to become an apparent problem in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, this trend was only further inflamed by political pressure aimed to combat the uptick in crime by adding […]

Cybersecurity Challenges in Georgia’s Elections

Georgia’s elections have become heavily scrutinized. After Joe Biden won the presidency due to a narrow lead in Georgia, and the senatorial election of Raphael Warnock determined control of the Senate, the state’s role in national politics cannot be ignored [1]. Recently, former President Donald Trump, and 19 other defendants, were charged by a grand […]

Adequate Funding for Public School Transportation

For many public school students, the school day starts by riding on the bus. Indeed, adequate school transportation is essential for the 932,693 students in Georgia who ride the bus daily.[1] Unfortunately, to the detriment of these students and school transportation employees, the Georgia General Assembly has consistently underfunded transportation costs for decades and the […]

Addressing Police Brutality

It has happened again. On Friday, January 27th, a disturbing video was released of the violent arrest of Memphis resident Tyre Nichols. According to a statement from the Memphis Police Department, twenty days prior to the video’s release Nichols was returning back to his home in Memphis when he was pulled over for reckless driving […]

Long-Term Care in Georgia

As the population of the United States ages, the need for long-term care services will continue to grow, placing more strain on the current system. The Association for Community Living estimates that 70% of individuals over the age of 65 will need to access some form of long-term care services.[1] Long-term care facilities include nursing […]

Automatic Sealing of Eviction Records

Within the context of the current housing crisis, evictions have become an even more salient issue among Georgians and hold far more lasting consequences than anticipated. Over the past year, nearly 3.5% of the residents that constitute the five counties in the metro Atlanta region have had evictions filed against them.[1] Though this percentage may […]

Re-Evaluating QBE Funding

Proper funding for our schools is of utmost importance. Students must have access to all the resources they need to succeed in life. Georgia’s current system for funding public education is based on the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE). Initially passed in 1985, this formula remains responsible for “distributing nearly $11 billion to…1.6 million public […]

Mental Health Resources in School

In the past few years, the number of middle and high school students dealing with mental health issues has increased. Teachers cannot successfully teach if mental health is not being addressed. Kids’ basic needs being met needs to be prioritized.    The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many mental health struggles for all age groups. Children suffering […]

Food or Rent? Tackling Georgia’s Housing Crisis

When one thinks of Georgia, they typically envision the “Empire State of The South” where almost everyone has a roof over their head, incomes remain high, and there is a sense of overall economic well-being. For middle and higher-income individuals in the state, this is indeed true, but for lower-income individuals, the ability to buy […]

Addressing Food Insecurity in Athens

One in every five people in Athens-Clarke County is experiencing food insecurity.[1] In the past decade, many local Athens organizations and nonprofits have made individual efforts to reduce this problem. However, despite a common goal, no system has been able to unite these actors’ work. One solution to this problem is establishing a “Food Policy […]

ICE Facilities in Georgia

During his campaign, President Biden vowed to end all privately-run detention facilities, including immigration detention facilities.[1] The United States immigration system uses detention facilities to keep individuals suspected of visa violations, illegal entry, or any kind of immigration violation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has two detainment offices: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), […]

The Potential for Clean Energy in Georgia

As carbon dioxide levels on our planet continue to increase, many states have enacted legislation to reduce gas production. Although a state with a massive opportunity to produce clean power instead of carbon dioxide, Georgia has fallen behind in the race to decrease carbon dioxide levels. Data recorded in 2019 by the U.S. Energy Information […]

Progressive Prosecution as a Solution to Georgia’s Incarceration Rate

Georgia has the fourth-highest prison incarceration rate in the country. In 2021, Georgia’s prison incarceration rate was 968 inmates per 100,000 people — well above the national average of 664 per 100,000.[1] Furthermore, in both jail and prison incarceration, ethnic disparities can be observed, with Blacks and Latinos being overrepresented while Whites are underrepresented.[2] On […]

The Recent Threat to Affirmative Action

The use of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in college admissions has been the subject of criticism, mainly for using race as a positive factor in the admissions process. Despite the clear necessity for diversity throughout this country’s education system, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA), filed suit against the University of […]

School-to-Prison Pipeline

A national trend is pushing students who misbehave out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) is a result of the objective application of harsh disciplinary measures and the overuse of referrals to law enforcement that set up vulnerable students for failure. These policies include zero-tolerance school […]

Importance of Telehealth and Telemedicine Services in Georgia

A 2019 study by the Commonwealth Fund ranked Georgia 42nd for state healthcare system performance with the biggest problems being affordability and accessibility of healthcare statewide.[1] A large portion of Georgians, especially those residing in rural communities, lack access to quality, affordable healthcare.[2] Telehealth and telemedicine have the potential to provide immediate access to a healthcare […]

The Possibilities for Rail Expansion in Georgia

The United States is on the brink of a major expansion in freight and passenger rail lines.  Thanks in part to a $66 billion rail investment in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Georgia lawmakers have the opportunity to pursue new statewide rail projects.[1] In the past 10 years, Georgia’s population grew by over […]

Continuums of Care

Homelessness has chronically plagued Georgia’s urban areas, but with the efforts of non-profit organizations and increased funding allocations, homelessness numbers in Atlanta have dropped 38% since 2020.[1] Unfortunately, surrounding rural areas cannot say the same. As of 2018, one-third of those experiencing homeless on a given night live in rural Georgia.[2]   The Department of […]

Closing the Homework Gap with Chromebooks

The “homework gap” is a term FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel used to describe students’ difficulty getting online at home to complete school assignments.[1] With 93% of students participating in some form of virtual education during the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue was thrust into mainstream conversation.[2]   The homework gap stems from a lack of internet […]

“Constitutional Carry”: An Alarming Step Towards Increasing Gun Violence

This past March marked one year since the shooting of three Atlanta-based spas, which led to the deaths of eight individuals, of whom six were women of Asian descent. [1] That same year, 2021, the state of Georgia was ranked 9th in the nation for its high rate of gun violence.[2] Despite the continued increase […]

The U.S.’s Response to Ukraine

In just a month, the entire state of the world has changed. Russia has invaded and started a gruesome war with Ukraine. Many countries worldwide have been responding with caution to avoid another world war with the fear of mutually assured destruction. Being one of the Western countries on which Ukraine relies, the US’s response […]

Obstacles to Obtaining Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

A privilege that many Americans often take for granted is the ability to obtain a driver’s license. In fact, most of the U.S.’s infrastructure is so dependent on a car-based transportation economy, that obtaining a driver’s license has become a near-mandatory rite of passage for teenagers. However, the right to a driver’s license is not […]

Equalization Across Georgia Districts

Georgia’s schools are unfairly funded throughout the state. Public education is funded predominantly by local tax revenue, which includes money derived from property taxes within districts. Oftentimes, districts with greater property wealth raise significantly more than districts with less, leading to districts with a great population of lower-income residents having fewer resources for their schools. […]

Giving Credit Where It Is Due: How Carbon Cap-And-Trade Could Help Georgians

Janisse Ray, in her autobiography “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood,” discusses her childhood growing up in south Georgia, surrounded by the towering longleaf pines of the South. Through stories of her family and of Georgia’s natural history, she describes the significance of the Georgia landscape to her. Though many of Ray’s cherished longleaf pine forests […]

Georgia Aims to Criminalize Teaching American History

On March 8th, 2021, Senator Carden Summers of the 13th District introduced Senate Bill 613, also known as the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act.”[1] The bill claims that an increasing number of private and nonpublic schools in Georgia have “embraced curricula and programs based in critical race theory,” which has caused these schools to […]

New Report Discusses the Rise of Electric Vehicles in 2022

A new report from Bankrate discusses the rise of electric vehicles in the past several years, while addressing common concerns about electric vehicles. As the article explains, electric vehicles sales have increased by 40% annually in the past several years. Currently, there are 59 electric vehicle models available for Americans to purchase. This falls behind […]

Getting Georgia Online: The Importance of Broadband Expansion

Broadband has become an essential infrastructure for Americans, which means accessibility and affordability is a critical issue facing politicians. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) defines broadband internet as a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed, the time it takes to receive data such as loading a web page, and 3 Mbps upload […]

Georgia Assembly Aims to Silence Georgia Schools

The Georgia Assembly is aiming to silence schools that acknowledge and discuss the ongoing presence of racism and oppression present in the United States. In the 2021-2022 Georgia Legislative Session, House Bill 888 was introduced and assigned to the Education House Committee. This bill is sponsored by Powell (32nd), Leverett (33rd), Jasperse (11th), Washburn (141st), […]

Safe Schools For All: How Georgia Fails to Protect LGBTQ+ Students

On January 21, 2022, a student at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens had their artwork, which featured a pride flag, removed after a parent complained and compared the artwork to hanging a Nazi flag.[1] This local incident is reflective of the issues LGBTQ+ students face across the state and the nation. LGBTQ+ students in […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Keegan Cardman

Keegan Cardman is a third-year political science major with a minor in international affairs. She was first motivated to enter politics after meeting her Representative on a school trip to D.C. in 8th grade. Through the Fellowship, she aims to gain a robust understanding of the political sphere, from the policy-making process to communications. By […]

A Systemic Failure: The Child Care Crisis

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to ravage the United States and schools moved online, parents were left with an immediate crisis and an important decision to make: how to care for their children while providing economic stability for their families. While exacerbated by the sudden changes caused by the pandemic, this impossible […]

CVS v. Doe: Ensuring Access to Life-Saving Medication for All

Equitable access to healthcare, especially medication, is a right all Americans should enjoy. Those living with diseases such as HIV, in particular, deserve the same protection afforded to those unafflicted. The United States Supreme Court is currently preparing to hear a case regarding this kind of protection in CVS Pharmacy Inc. v. Doe. The respondents, […]

The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color

As of early October, over 700,000 Americans have died as a result of the coronavirus.[1] While the average number of COVID-19 related deaths in the state has decreased since the introduction of vaccines, Georgia was home to five out of ten counties in the nation with the highest numbers of COVID-19 related mortalities just last […]

Revisiting Georgia’s Three Strikes Laws

The three-strikes law is a law for habitual offenders that imposes mandatory sentences for people convicted of their third felony.  In 1993, the state of Washington passed the first three-strikes law in the United States, followed by California in 1994.1  That same year, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, […]

A New Encampment to Provide New Hope for Athens’ Unhoused Community Members

Growing up in Athens, it was not unusual to pass tents when driving near the 10 Loop and Highway 78. We always called it “Tent City.” It has been years since I have seen tents pitched on that hill. Recently, I heard this name again as it was mentioned by a friend. I was unaware […]

Food Deserts Starve the State and Its Residents

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately affect low-income communities, the lack of proper access to food only serves to worsen this disparity. Food deserts occur where there is little access to healthy food, typically due to limited public transportation. These deserts are prevalent in low-income and rural communities. Since there is a lack of […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Gitzel Anguiano

Gitzel Anguiano is a third-year at the University of Georgia studying international affairs and public relations with a minor in French. She is also pursuing a public affairs communication certificate. Gitzel is involved in a number of organizations on campus including Speak Out for Species, Hispanic Student Association, Young Democrats, Student Government Association and the […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Catie Gelting

Catie Gelting is a fourth-year at the University of Georgia studying international affairs and philosophy with a minor in political science. She is a member of the philosophy club and a non-religious member of the Bahai’i Student Association. Catie is also the Historian for UGA’s Demosthenian Literary Society, where she keeps records of meetings, historic […]

The Toll of COVID-19 on Women in the Workplace

“We can do it!”––the iconic poster of Rosie the Riveter looms over girls and women in schools and workplaces alike. But can they really do it? Even as higher education and male-dominated industries have become more accessible for women, the pillars of the patriarchy stand tall with the wage gap and the glass ceiling. This […]

The Student Loan Crisis Plaguing America

The Student Loan Crisis The student loan crisis is a predicament millions of Americans face daily. In the wake of the Russians’ launch of Sputnik, the American government introduced student loans with the aim of increasing enrollment in institutions of higher education and retaining American competitiveness in the space race. Today, however, America has failed […]

Gun Reform: A Sensible Response to Growing Tragedy

Following recent tragedies such as the Atlanta spa shootings and the Boulder shooting, gun control advocates are once again calling for new federal and state legislation on guns. The Atlanta spa shootings were a series of attacks on three spas in metro Atlanta that resulted in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian women. […]

Private Influence in the University System of Georgia

In 2014, the University System of Georgia became the laboratory for what one Savannah newspaper called “one of the nation’s largest experiments in privatized college dorms.”[1] The “experiment” in question is what is known as a public-private partnership, or P3, between the University System of Georgia and a company called Corvias Property Management. Under this […]

Mobile Health Clinics: Georgia’s Next Big Advancement in Healthcare

As Georgia has faced unprecedented challenges over the past year managing the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes are on healthcare institutions and the efforts they are making to ensure the health and wellbeing of Georgians. One relatively new concept is the idea of mobile health clinics. These new mobile health clinics have been assisting in not […]

Protecting Georgia’s Workers Must Be Our Top Priority

The past year has been tough on all Americans. There have been lockdowns after lockdowns, quarantines and separations from loved ones and many have been left in complete isolation. However, many Americans have stepped up and taken action to continue to provide for and support our communities. These essential workers have endured constant COVID-19 exposures […]

Georgia’s Assault on Reproductive Justice

Introduction On May 7, 2019, Governor Brian Kemp signed HB 481, also known as the “heartbeat bill”, into law. The bill prohibited physicians from offering abortion services to pregnant women if a fetal heartbeat is present, which typically occurs at the six-week mark. Although many women do not even know that they are pregnant at […]

Georgians Sue the Georgia Department of Labor Over Unemployment Benefits

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Georgians are still out of work with no end in sight. As of December 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate is 6.7% and Georgia’s is 5.6%, down from 5.7% in November and a high of 12.6% in April. The initial economic shutdown […]

Painful Lessons: Corporal Punishment in Schools

Young people spend most of their time in school. As a result, it is essential to ensure that schools are a nurturing environment that cultivates informed and active citizens. However, this vision of a safe, productive environment does not always match up with reality. Many students have fallen victim to the school-to-prison pipeline which disproportionately […]

Health Care Access in Georgia

Georgia currently holds the sixth-highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country, with almost one out of five Georgians lacking health insurance.[1] Even Georgians who currently have health insurance are affected by the state’s infamous ranking. When insured Georgians go to the hospital and are unable to pay, the cost of their visit is largely […]

Emergency Response Hindered in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In early March of 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was already striking large cities, namely New York. The effect of the strained American health care system on people’s access to medical care during the worst health crisis in modern history was evident. Legislative aid packages in the first few months of lockdown narrowed […]

Can Blockchain Voting Restore Trust in Our Democracy?

From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 7, 2018, Ontaria Woods waited in line at the polls in Snellville, Georgia. The governor’s race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams was neck-and-neck, but statewide there had been voting machine malfunctions, shortages of batteries and power cords, and problems reading and processing ballots. Staggeringly long […]

What a Second Impeachment Means for Former President Trump

On Jan. 9, 2021, the House of Representatives made history when they impeached former President Trump for a second time, making him the first president impeached twice in U.S. history. This unprecedented decision was made after President Trump’s involvement in the US Capitol riot, which took place on Jan. 6, 2021. On Jan. 6, Congress […]

Georgia Owes Its Youth More

“Despite hundreds of student requests for science-based programs and several parent-led initiatives for curriculum change, abstinence-based programs still dominate Georgia schools.”[1] The state of Georgia has a responsibility to inform and protect its young adults- a responsibility that is not being upheld to the highest degree. Instead, the controversy surrounding the implementation of sex education […]

The Truth Behind Dairy: How the Georgia’s Agriculture Needs to Grow

Georgia’s dairy industry has been a key area of development in the last few decades and embodies the issues facing Georgia’s broader agricultural sector. Large supply chains, technological advancements and market volatility all loom over the sector, forcing change upon traditional methods of farming. Large Supply Chains Over the past few decades, the dairy industry […]

Veterans’ Silent Battle with Mental Health

Veteran health care has long been an issue in Georgia. The Atlanta Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Decatur has struggled with unstable leadership and faltering quality, with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs giving it a 1-star rating. The Atlanta VA Medical Center is part of a larger network that receives the lowest patient satisfaction […]

Georgia is Failing its Non-Citizen Students

Introduced on February 5th, 2020, Georgia House Bill 896 could have changed the lives of Dreamers in Georgia in the near future. This legislation allowed non-citizen immigrants to pay in-state tuition at any of Georgia’s public colleges and universities.[1] Many public universities that allow undocumented students on their campus mandate that they pay out-of-state student […]

The Policy of Black Lives Matter

This past summer, legions of people took to the streets of their cities, tense, masked, and six feet apart. They gathered to protest the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, as well as the other unarmed Black people who have died at the hands of law enforcement. Gathering under the general […]

How Standardized Testing Fails Georgia Students and Teachers

The Georgia education system faces a real threat as teachers are flocking away from the profession and students battle test anxiety and learning loss. These problems stem from one issue: standardized testing. The System Georgia’s standardized test is the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which tests students in elementary, middle and high school over the core […]

Voting Rights Aren’t Always Guaranteed in Georgia

Georgia garnered national attention this recent election cycle for its newfound status as a battleground state, but the state also cycled through election headlines for another reason— problematic voting practices. During the June 2020 primaries, long lines and faulty machines plagued Georgia’s voting landscape. Many voters waited for hours to cast their vote and the […]

Modern American Eugenics: The Fight for Reproductive Justice Continues

Compulsory Sterilization in ICE Detention Centers The United States has a treacherous history with eugenics that continues to specifically endanger Black, Hispanic, and Native American women. Last month, an ICE whistleblower brought forth allegations of forced mass hysterectomies performed on detainees, unearthing America’s ongoing perpetuation of the abuse of immigrants’ rights. On Sept. 14, Project […]

Child Mental Health Interventions in Georgia Schools

During the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 80,000 Georgia students in sixth through 12th grade considered attempting suicide, according to the School-Based Mental Health report.[1] The report also finds that nearly 40% of children have trouble accessing the mental health treatment they need. Undoubtedly, greater access to mental health resources at schools would be beneficial for […]

When You Lose Your Right to Vote

Fifteen Percent Fifteen percent of the population of Georgia faces sanctions on their right to vote. While the right to vote constitutes an essential part of a functioning democracy, the promise of “liberty and justice” is, unfortunately, not “for all.” Human rights should not be subject to terms and conditions, yet certain felons in the […]

How Georgia Fails to Protect Transgender Youth

Georgia lawmakers are creating legislation that targets, dehumanizes and terrorizes its transgender community. On June 26, 2020, the Governor signed into law HB 426, more colloquially known as the Hate Crimes Bill.[1] Georgia was one of the last states to adopt a hate crimes bill. While this bill was a step in the right direction […]

A Dirty Taste of “Clean” Energy

Two biomass power plants in northeast Georgia have led to enormous fish kills, environmental investigations, legal battles, and adverse health effects for residents of Franklin and Madison counties, just northeast of Athens [1]. These wood-fired plants burn creosote-treated railroad ties to produce what is supposed to be clean energy [2]. The plants, owned by Alabama-based […]

A Better Reality for Dreamers

Georgia’s sizable immigrant population greatly contributes to the state’s social and economic prosperity. Ten percent of the state’s population was born in another country, and 1 in 13 Georgians is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. Foreign-born residents comprise 40% of such agricultural occupations as foresters, fishers, and farmers in Georgia […]

How a Virus Could Threaten Your Right to Vote

As the novel coronavirus continues to take its toll on America, the debate surrounding mail-in voting has grown increasingly prevalent. Though the option protects the health and safety of Americans, it presents a long-standing issue in American history: voter suppression.  Mail-in, or absentee, voting can protect both voters and poll workers alike come November. For […]

What Governor Kemp’s Executive Order Means for You

The Georgia Department of Public Health has determined that implementing restrictions is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 [1]. Starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020, all residents and visitors to the State of Georgia will be required to shelter-in-place while practicing social distancing and sanitation in accordance with the guidelines published […]

Unpacking the COVID-19 Relief Package

WHAT IS IT?  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020 by President Donald Trump. The bipartisan bill is meant to provide emergency aid to individuals, families, businesses of all sizes, as well as hospitals and state governments [1].  The […]

Athens Transit – A Model for Mid-Sized Municipalities

Athens has been ranked the 4th most used transit system in the nation that follows only the New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. areas [1]. Athens-Clarke County is a leader in transportation services by efficiently serving all members of the Athens community including, but not limited to, those who are disabled or mobility-impaired, […]

What Athens Residents Need to Know About COVID-19

As COVID-19, commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, continues to spread, over 300,000 cases have been confirmed in the world [1]. The local, state and federal governments have announced and implemented plans to keep citizens safe. As of March 22, there were nine positive cases confirmed in Athens-Clarke County [2]. The Mayor and Commission unanimously […]

Benefitting Communities One Trail at a Time

Community trails will help create many social, economic and health benefits for Georgians throughout the state.  Socially, trails create a safe and enjoyable environment for those who reside near the trail and those who visit the area. They can provide a space for group meetings, walks, bike rides and other communal activities In some cases, […]

Dual Enrollment: A Program Worth Preserving

Slashing dual enrollment funding and opportunities will hurt Georgia’s high school students and future workforce. Dual enrollment, a program with an enrollment of 52,000 students in fiscal year 2019 [1], is essential for increasing the number of high school and college graduates in Georgia, allowing more low-income students to obtain a college degree and benefitting […]

The State of Adoption Laws in Georgia

The adoption and foster care system in Georgia is caught in a tug of war between the past and the future. While some areas of adoption and foster care laws have improved in the state, others are in danger of regressing.  Kin Based Placements  Currently, anyone over the age of 25 in the state can […]

The Democrats are Coming to Georgia

After about a year of campaigning, the Democratic presidential primaries are happening now. The Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses have shown just how much of a toss-up this election could be. What once was a field of 29 candidates has now become just eight. Each candidate has increasingly stepped up their game […]

More MARTA: Closing the Coverage Loop

When MARTA hit its 40-year birthday in 2019, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms unveiled a new expansion plan, the “More MARTA” project. In a city that is projected to grow by millions of people over the next decade, it is vital that the city adapts its transportation network so that everyone can reap the benefits of […]

Georgia’s Path to Healthcare Coverage

Background Since its establishment in 1965, the government-funded healthcare assistance Medicaid, has been the subject of much praise and criticism. Though it has changed significantly since the 1960s, Medicaid continues to be a valuable resource for low-income citizens obtaining health services. In its current form, Medicaid is funded jointly by both the state and federal […]

Transparency through the Lens of Impeachment

In 2019, President Donald Trump withheld $250 million in aid to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative [1]. It was later discovered that senior officials in the Trump administration requested that Ukrainian officials investigate the dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine. These actions, as well as increasing pressure, led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to […]

Proposed Budget Cuts Risk Georgia’s Future

Overview Each January, the Governor proposes two separate budgets. The first is an adjusted budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year based on tax revenue from the first six months. This is the adjusted FY 2020 budget, which will be in effect until June 30, 2020. The second proposal is the FY 2021 […]

More Than Numbers: 2020 Census

It’s that time of the decade. Every ten years, the US Census Bureau sets out to complete a seemingly impossible task – to gather basic demographic data on everyone living in the United States. During the last census, in 2010, the effort employed 635,000 people to help collect data [1]. That number is expected to […]

Mothers Matter: Maternal Mortality in Georgia

The United States is failing mothers. Over the past few decades, maternal mortality has been on the rise. Between 1987 and 2016, the number of deaths per live birth has more than doubled in the United States [1]. With an estimated 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, the United States now has the worst maternal mortality […]

Voter Purging in Georgia

Since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, various states have instituted policies and systems such as voter ID laws, poll closures, voter intimidation and gerrymandering that have limited the voting ability of many U.S. citizens [1]. Currently, one of the most significant threats to voting rights in Georgia is the ongoing efforts of public officials to […]

Sustaining Georgia’s Growth

Georgia is a highly competitive business environment. CNBC ranks Georgia as the 6th best place to do business in 2019,[1] and Site Selections has ranked Georgia as the top business climate for seven years in a row.[2] The drivers of this success include an attractive cost of living, a strong logistics infrastructure and steady growth in metro […]

Georgia’s Difficult Fight Against Human Trafficking

Human trafficking can be defined as an exploitation of human rights by way of “compelling or coercing a person’s labor, service, or commercial sex acts. [1]“ It is a broad term that describes two different types of trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. This covert crime happens all over the globe and in each state in […]

Repealing the Tampon Tax: The Monetization of Periods

As of November 2019, 33 states tax menstrual hygiene products as “non-essential goods,” whereas other hygiene products are generally granted tax exemptions due to their necessity. The sales tax imposed on period products is commonly referred to as the “tampon tax,” and it applies to all menstrual hygiene products, such as pads, tampons and other […]

Education & Poverty: A Joint Issue

WHAT’S THE ISSUE?  The link between poverty and education has consistently proven to be a deeply intertwined relationship. Studies show that high levels of poverty and lack of access to education can prohibit proper social, physical, and intellectual growth in the youth.[1] In Athens-Clarke County, the poverty rate is currently 28.3%, which translates to approximately 11,000 […]

Crime and Consequences: Felon Voting Rights in Georgia

On April 2, 2019, the Georgia Senate passed SR 153, designated as a Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders.1 The committee will spend the rest of the year considering Georgia’s policies on felon voting and present their conclusions in December 2019. This is a step towards a less stringent approach […]