Sen. Chuck Hufstetler: Named Healthcare Access Champion by Georgia Watch

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From Senator Chuck Hufstetler 

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Sen. Chuck Hufstetler Named Healthcare Access Champion by Georgia Watch

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R- Rome) was awarded the Healthcare Access Champion at Georgia Watch’s 2014 Consumer Champion Gala on Thursday, September 18th.

While an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Hufstetler nonetheless, supported studying Medicaid expansion in Georgia.   “Sending our tax dollars to other states is not in the best interest of Georgia,” stated Sen. Hufstetler.  “The true conservative approach is to treat issues such as diabetes and hypertension upstream where the cost is pennies on the dollar.  (more…)

Carter has a point on uncollected taxes, but context missing |

The word you meant to use is “piqued,” not “peaked.”

Carter, who voted for those three budgets, is promising that, if he’s elected, he will increase education spending through a three-pronged approach that involves growing the economy, cutting government waste and going after tax cheats.

The latter proposal peaked the interest of our fact-checkers.

via Carter has a point on uncollected taxes, but context missing |

The top 12 governor’s races of 2014 – The Washington Post

11. Georgia (R): The good news for Gov. Nathan Deal (R): He has led in the last four nonpartisan public polls of this race. The bad news: Three of them showed him leading state Sen. Jason Carter (D) by just one point. We continue to give Deal a slight edge because this is a red state, but this race got competitive early this year and has stayed that way. (Previous ranking: 12)

via The top 12 governor’s races of 2014 – The Washington Post.

Tech company pressured for donation to DeKalb CEO Ellis,… |

An employee of a company that handled tech consulting for DeKalb County is testifying that DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis haggled her for a political contribution and wouldn’t let up.

Joanne Wise, who worked for Ciber Inc., said she told Ellis in March 2012 that the company wasn’t going to do business with DeKalb County anymore because of a disagreement over contract terms.

“He said that’s a good thing, because you weren’t going to get more business anyway,” Wise told a jury.

Wise said Ellis grew angry and rude when she wouldn’t return his phone calls, and he threatened to report her for poor customer service.

“And then he said, ‘and you call yourself a good mom,’” Wise said.

Under questioning from defense attorneys for DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, a government employee acknowledged that Ellis said a meeting with a county vendor wasn’t about campaign contributions.

But the employee, DeKalb Community Development Director Chris Morris, said she didn’t believe Ellis. Ellis had told Morris he was concerned about the vendor returning his phone calls.

via Tech company pressured for donation to DeKalb CEO Ellis,… |

Higher health insurance deductibles giving workers pain |

When workers across Georgia crack open their annual employee benefits packages this fall, many will likely feel immediate relief. Premiums for their employer-provided health insurance will be up, but not as much as in the past.

If they read a little bit closer, though, they might be agitated. Their deductible has probably risen again, increasing their out-of-pocket costs for treatment. That may lead some to decide whether to risk their health by skipping care, or their finances by getting services.

That unappealing choice comes as employers shift a bigger portion of health care costs to employees. In a nation bent on health care reform, where a key goal is to make sure there is quality care for those who need it, that can result in unintended consequences.

via Higher health insurance deductibles giving workers pain |

Georgia slow to invest new funds in businesses |

A state plan adopted last year to attract more investment dollars for local startup companies has lacked one crucial component: a way to spend the money.

The Invest Georgia Fund was seen as a way to forge a new, if riskier, path that allows the state to fund innovative firms. The tech community, in particular, hailed the bill’s April 2013 signing as a way to entice emerging firms to stay in Georgia rather than flee to startup hubs where seed money flows more freely.

Elected officials, though, have lagged in appointing members to a five-person board set to oversee the fund. And without that oversight, the University System of Georgia says it can’t do anything with the one-time $10 million initial investment it has set aside for the fund.

via Georgia slow to invest new funds in businesses |

UPDATED: Developers’ purchase of Doraville plant imminent |

A deal is nearly complete for a development group to buy the shuttered General Motors plant in Doraville.

Representatives for the purchaser, a joint venture known as IMS, jumped the gun Friday morning with an announcement that said the group had closed on the deal. But in a statement later Friday, GM officials said the closing isn’t final.

The delay in the closing is not a sign of trouble for the property sale, an IMS representative said.

IMS, a development team that includes Atlanta-based firms The Integral Group and Macauley+Schmit and Houston-based financial partner CAMS, declined to disclose the purchase price of the 165-acre property. GM also declined to provide a purchase price, but the automaker has previously said its asking price was about $60 million.

The 2008 closing of the GM plant near the Perimeter and I-85 wiped out more than a third of Doraville’s employment base. The hulking plant has been seen as both a shadow over the north DeKalb city of about 8,500 people and a tantalizing redevelopment site near two interstates and MARTA rail.

Previous attempts to sell the site to developers haven’t panned out.

The property has been under contract since July 2013, and Integral has been in discussions about the site for about two years. The developers will announce a planner later this month, and demolition of the structure will take about eight months, according to a news release.

via UPDATED: Developers’ purchase of Doraville plant imminent |

Georgia’s unemployment rate, jobs data tell two stories |

It is something of a puzzle: The slide into recession-level unemployment comes against the backdrop of falling layoffs, rising tax revenue and the silhouettes of construction cranes against the skyline of Atlanta.

“A rising unemployment rate does fly in the fact of common sense,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, N.C. “There is no doubt that Georgia’s economy is improving.”

As evidence, he noted the sight of construction crews and the sound of hammers. Backing that up is the feds’ survey of payrolls that shows the state added 88,700 jobs in the past year — 42,600 since April.

But wait: there is another federal survey, the “household” survey used to calculate the unemployment rate. And that one says the number of employed people has dropped by 52,784 since April.

Is one survey utterly wrong? Or can they both be right? Experts start by shaking their heads.

“I don’t know what is going on with Georgia — it’s a big ol’ black box,” said M. Melinda Pitts, the director of the Center for Human Capital Studies at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. “There are lots of discrepancies between the surveys. You have them going in different directions at the same time.”

via Georgia’s unemployment rate, jobs data tell two stories |

Georgia lobbyist spending |

The General Assembly’s decision to carve out a sun-splashed exception to limits on big-money lobbyist spending resulted in a hectic beach convention season for lawmakers this summer.

There was plenty of mingling, beach time, golf and cocktails to go around, even though many lawmakers were also busy running for re-election.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis shows lobbyists reported spending more than $100,000 hosting lawmakers and state officials at about two-dozen conferences, conventions, meetings, and “educational” trips, most along the Georgia, Florida and South Carolina coast, during June and July.

That spending is up about 35 percent from 2012, the year before lawmakers passed historic legislation putting limits on how much lobbyists could spend wining and dining members of the General Assembly and other state officials, while preserving spending on conventions.

The numbers may be a bit skewed this year because they include Google’s lobby spending thousands to bring lawmakers to California to look at its high-tech innovations.

via Georgia lobbyist spending |

Jurors sympathize with alleged victim of DeKalb CEO Ellis |

Jurors in the trial of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis nodded their heads and smiled in agreement Thursday with an upset businesswoman who recounted “demeaning” pressure from Ellis to give a campaign contribution.

Trina Shealey, the co-owner of National Property Institute, told jurors she believed Ellis was threatening to pull her company’s $1 million contract with the county unless she donated.

A defense attorney tried to get Shealey to concede that Ellis merely wanted the courtesy of a return phone call, but she insisted he was after one thing: campaign cash. She said Ellis wasn’t calling about the company’s contract to rehab foreclosed homes in Dekalb.

“It would be like the CEO of General Motors calling someone who works in one of the factories and telling them what to do,” she said. “There are so many layers between us and the CEO. There’s no reason for us to be talking to the CEO.”

Ellis has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he illegally mixed political activities with county business by intimidating companies that didn’t financially support his re-election in 2012. Ellis’ fight against extortion and bribery charges puts him at the center of metro Atlanta’s biggest corruption trial since former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was convicted in 2006.

via Jurors sympathize with alleged victim of DeKalb CEO Ellis |