Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Newnan Times-Herald on a terrorism bill that Gov. Nathan Deal signed:
One of the measures signed into law at the deadline received little notice but is still worthwhile for the new protections it offers. It makes public information on violent immigrants and gives the state tools for fighting terrorism.
The new law is the result of House Bill 452 and requires the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to maintain an online registry of all undocumented aliens who are released from prison after serving time for a violent crime or from federal immigration detention, a figure supporters of the bill put at more than 10,000 since 2011.
GBI already receives the information from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now Georgia sheriffs and local law enforcement will have it, too.
Granted, the Trump administration is working to top its predecessor’s record deportation of criminal aliens, but until the job is done, the new registry is an important safeguard.
Georgia has an estimated 375,000 undocumented immigrants. The fact that they broke the law by being undocumented in the first place is reason enough for many Georgians to feel unease, even though illegal immigration is only a misdemeanor.
Since it’s hard to work, have a bank account, drive or participate in other tasks of daily life without documentation, the assumption is they would have to keep breaking laws to function in modern American society. Some people can overlook that, but even the biggest-hearted among us cannot condone violent crime.
The state Senate strengthened the underlying legislation by adding provisions making domestic terrorism a state crime, including chemical or bioterrorism, and authorizing the attorney general to prosecute it. There will be a database for cataloguing tips from concerned citizens that any investigator in the state can access to supplement local intelligence resources. Plus, officers certified by the state will now be trained in techniques for spotting potential terrorists and for combatting them.
These provisions close loopholes in state law while ensuring greater cooperation with federal terrorism efforts.
No one knows why Deal took so long to sign it, but it’s a good thing he finally did.
The Brunswick News on military in Georgia:
The delegation from more than 15 military communities in Georgia who met with U.S. Sen. David Perdue recently stressed the importance of installations in our state.
Their impact is felt on many levels.
The first of which, national security, was noted by Perdue and Paul Andreshak of Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter.
“The state’s location makes it the ideal rapid development hub for any crisis arising north, east or south of the United States with inter-modal facilities rivaled by none,” Andreshak said during the meeting.
“Maintaining our national security is one of the most important jobs we have in Congress. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am proud of the role our state plays in providing for our national security,” he said.
The other primary impact is economic, something we know well here in Coastal Georgia. Locally, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay had an estimated total economic impact of $1.14 billion in direct and indirect revenue and purchases in 2016, according to the Camden Partnership. Roughly $855 million of that came in direct revenue. Estimates are that when direct and indirect factors are considered, more than 8,800 jobs are created by Kings Bay.
Georgia saw roughly $12.6 billion in defense spending in 2015, which shook out to about 2.6 percent of its GDP and more than 129,000 jobs for people in the state, according to a February report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Clearly, ours is a state which greatly values its military assets for many reasons.
We applaud the group’s efforts in meeting with Perdue this week to ensure our legislators in Washington are well aware that we have no plans of seeing the presence of the military in our communities diminish.
With new political leaders and legislators suggesting new ideas every session of Congress, there is always a chance military and defense spending can be cut. If and when that happens again, it is comforting to know we have a group with a strong voice fighting for the important mission of Georgia’s military installations and the many, many people who serve there and support their families there.
We hope Perdue took what he heard in Kingsland this week to heart.
The Savannah Morning News on Georgia’s craft breweries:
Georgia’s burgeoning craft brewing industry got a needed shot from Gov. Nathan Deal who signed a legislature-approved bill into law last week that allows breweries and distilleries to sell directly to consumers.
This measure will help local producers sell and market their products, which translates into more jobs in Savannah and elsewhere across the state. The new law takes effect Sept. 1.
Previously, local brewers like Savannah’s Southbound Brewing Co. were restricted by how much beer they could serve or sell on premises after brewery tours, which have been growing in popularity. That put them at a competitive disadvantage with craft brewers in other states with more flexible rules and were in a better position to spread the word about their home-grown products.
Such word-of-mouth is important as it creates consumer demand, which translates into more sales and more jobs on the production end.
This measure had faced some initial opposition from those on the distribution end of the beer and liquor industry who feared a loss in business and revenue. Fortunately, all sides were able to work out their differences and agree on a compromise measure, which the governor signed last week.
That frees Georgia from a so-called three-tier system in which beer must go from the producers to distributors before reaching the store shelf or the barroom. That practice dates back to the Prohibition era when alcohol was illegal. After the ban was overturned, states wanted to make sure they got their cuts out of the sales revenue.
Under the new law, breweries can sell up to 3,000 barrels of beer per year and distilleries can sell up to 500 barrels. That will be a big help to small businesses who wanted a way to let consumers buy and take home a six-pack or a bottle after taking a tour. It’s unlikely to change the buying habits of most consumers, who will likely opt for the convenience of purchasing their beverage at their neighborhood stores, as opposed to driving to a brewery or distillery.
Carly Wiggins, the marketing and sales director for Southbound Brewing, rightly called the passage and signing of Senate Bill 85 “a historic moment.”
“It’s wonderful that everyone understands the importance of this law change and the positive impact it’s going to have on every aspect of the Georgia craft industry,” she said.
Cheers to that, as beer is becoming like liquid gold.
According to a recent study by the Brewers Association, breweries with tasting rooms see significantly more growth overall than breweries without. Breweries with tasting rooms that produced between 1,500 and 4,999 barrels in 2016 had a 33.7 percent year over year growth increase compared to 18.8 percent growth of the breweries that didn’t have a tasting room, the study states.
Ms. Wiggins said it takes millions of dollars to open a production facility. Without being able to have a tasting room to bring in additional income, operators are digging themselves out of a financial hole that can take years.
That’s a big reason why breweries opening in the surrounding states are 2.5 times more profitable than ones in Georgia, she added.
Don’t discount the importance or the clout of this heady industry.
According to the Brewers Association, the South is one of the fastest growing regions of the country for breweries and brew pubs. The group said that four states: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas — each saw a net increase of more than 20 new breweries in 2015. Combined with existing producers, the new businesses provided an additional 6,000 jobs.
“Small and independent brewers are a beacon for beer and our economy,” said Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist. “As brewers continue to open and volume increases, there is a strong need for workers to fill a whole host of positions at these small and growing businesses.”
This is one time where big things can come in small packages. Take Asheville, N.C., where the craft beer scene is at a fever pitch and the city markets itself to tourists and visitors as “Beer City USA.”
That city’s industry started back in 1994, when a retired engineer Oscar Wong moved to town and opened his own brewing company in the basement of a downtown pizzeria. Today, Wong’s Highland Brewing is one of the fastest growing breweries, in terms of sales in the country.
And a toast to Gov. Deal for giving this industry a needed shot and for his ongoing efforts to keep Georgia as the top state in which to do business.