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State Rep. defends current lobby laws

Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, has figured out something many of his colleagues in the General Assembly seem unable to grasp: If you disagree with something I say, tell me so and give me your side of the story.

Wilkinson called after my column advocating limits on lobbying expenditures to say that he believes the current laws are working just fine. A member of the General Assembly since 2001, Wilkinson has served as chairman of the House Ethics Committee for the past eight. It is not the most fun job in politics.

March 07, 2012 | By Dick Yarbrough For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Some things surprise me

Surprises come in many categories and degrees. Some are sudden and may be astonishing, some develop gradually and some are just there to be discovered as one becomes aware.

On the Saturday morning of the annual meeting of Dawson County Homeowners Civic Association, Feb. 25, I received one of the sudden variety. I was truly astonished when Association President Jane Graves presented me with the "Mike Brown YOU CARE" award.

March 07, 2012 | By Helen Taylor For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

The supreme decision: State-run charter schools

Education reform has taken center stage recently with the passage of HR 1162 in the Georgia House, which would create a constitutional amendment to expand educational options for Georgia's students.

This bill was precipitated by a Supreme Court ruling that deemed the Georgia Charter Schools Commission unconstitutional.

March 07, 2012 | By Steve Gooch For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Cut-and-run approach to school issues

Dear public school teachers: The "school choice" crowd in the General Assembly is after you again. I am beginning to think this is all your fault.

Evidently, you did something to them in their prepubescent period that has scarred them for life.

February 29, 2012 | By Dick Yarbrough For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Decreased revenues require reassessment

Just when you believe that everything is under control, something will jump up and bite you.

Fiscal Year 2011 revenues were well ahead of FY 2010, and for the first six months of this year, revenue collections were running about 4.5 percent ahead of FY 2011.

February 29, 2012 | By Amos Amerson For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Budget sees adjustments

Each year, the General Assembly is constitutionally mandated to pass a balanced state budget.

On Thursday, we were one step closer toward fulfilling this goal with the passage of the Senate's FY 2012 amended budget.

February 28, 2012 | By Steve Gooch For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Assembly reaches halfway point

The General Assembly is at a critical juncture as we mark the midpoint of the 2012 Legislative Session. With many bills still being reviewed and debated in committees, there is a growing sense of urgency to pass legislation prior to Crossover Day.

One bill in particular that I would like to highlight this week is SB 292, also known as the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act.

February 22, 2012 | By Steve Gooch For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Laws should make you mad

I seem to have an innate ability to make folks mad. Usually, it is the humor-impaired and special interest twits.

Today, I hope to make everybody mad, no matter your race, creed, color or university affiliation. This diatribe is for all.

February 22, 2012 | By Dick Yarbrough For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Do we need a constitutional amendment on education?

Over the past two weeks, I have received at least 200 e-mails pertaining to HR 1162 (a proposed constitutional amendment on public education) and its companion legislation, HB 797. The e-mails are split about 50/50, with most of those asking for a "no" vote being from school teachers and most of the "yes" votes coming from parents.

This begs the question: Why does Georgia need a constitutional amendment on public education this year?

February 22, 2012 | By Amos Amerson For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

HOPE scholarship back on track after restructuring

As we've discussed in previous columns, Georgia is currently one of the most generous providers of merit-based financial aid in the nation. However, the HOPE scholarship is currently under attack by opponents who have proposed an income-based salary cap for students whose families make more than $140,000 per year.

When HOPE was originally created, eligibility was partially based on family income levels; this restriction was removed in 1995. No other state lottery restricts eligibility based on family income; every state lottery scholarship is set up to be a merit award program.

February 15, 2012 | By Steve Gooch For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Some people have been ‘ready for doing’

There was a time at my (Methodist) churches when we regularly stood in line to go kneel at an altar, be served communion, and then hear the minister announce, "Let these retire and others take their places."

We are doing it somewhat differently now: Going to the altar individually (after communion) rather than in groups. But whenever I learn of someone retiring from a public position, I remember that phrase and often wonder what will happen when "others take their places."

February 15, 2012 | By Helen Taylor For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Why not a signing for non-athletic achievements

Knock! Knock!

"Come in."

February 15, 2012 | By Dick Yarbrough For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Legislative Session is moving ahead

The 2012 Legislative Session is moving forward at a rapid pace under the Gold Dome as we begin to move bills through the legislative process. In just a few short weeks, we've already made great progress toward passing legislation that responds to our citizens' needs.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with commissioners of the Union, White and Dawson County delegations at the Association of County Commissioners Legislative Conference where we discussed issues relevant to the county's needs.

February 08, 2012 | By Steve Gooch For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

FY 2012 amended budget passes by unanimous vote

A miracle took place in the House of Representatives last week. For the first time in recorded history, a budget passed without a single dissenting vote on either side of the aisle.

Last January Gov. Nathan Deal conservatively estimated state revenues of $18.3 billion for Fiscal Year 2012.

February 08, 2012 | By Amos Amerson For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

It’s time for annual State of the Column

In order to keep my national certification as a modest and much-beloved columnist, I am required to submit annually a State of the Column message. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please stand and applaud if you hear something that floats your boat or look bored if you don't. You may be on television.

"My fellow Georgians, ladies and gentlemen and significant others, I am pleased to tell you the state of this column has never been better. (Applause.)

February 08, 2012 | By Dick Yarbrough For the Dawson Community News | LETTERS/COLUMNS

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Articles by Section - LETTERS/COLUMNS

Tea Olive brings fragrant fall flowers

One of my absolute favorite fall-flowering plants is the Fragrant Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans). Given its name, you'd be right to assume this plant ...

October 19, 2016 | | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle lays out his vision for public education

Once upon a time, there was a lieutenant governor in Georgia who later became governor. He had a vision for improving public education in the ...

October 19, 2016 | By Dick Yarbrough | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Keep your family safe this Halloween

There is an old adage which states, "With age comes wisdom."

October 19, 2016 | By Jeff Johnson | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Bank’s ethical lapses could be costly for all business

There is nothing more important than your good name.

October 12, 2016 | By Dick Yarbrough | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Drought affecting fall garden plans

The severe lack of rainfall so far in 2016 has had a major impact on North Georgia.

October 12, 2016 | By Clark MacAllister | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Whose opportunity is it?

This fall Georgia voters will go to the polls not only to elect a new President, but also they will be asked to vote on ...

October 12, 2016 | By Terry Ryan | LETTERS/COLUMNS

It's all about education

When strangers in a doctor's waiting room chide me for failing to write columns, maybe there are more than my loyal friends who are ...

October 12, 2016 | By Helen Taylor | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Who has spoken out against Amendment 1?

As we get closer to Election Day, it is important that voters learn about what is on the ballot besides candidates.

October 12, 2016 | By Conrad Scohier | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Pansy planting

Pansies are the quickest and easiest way to add color to a dull fall landscape.

October 05, 2016 | By Clark MacAllister | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Amendment could have negative impact

This November, there is a proposed amendment to our state's constitution that, if passed, will likely impact our local schools negatively. It will read ...

October 05, 2016 | By Brian Roberts | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Family humbled by support

Saying "thank you" just doesn't seem enough. You go to bed one night as normal and you wake up to your world never being ...

October 05, 2016 | By Richard and Debbie Ridings | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Sizing up what makes Georgia the place to be

Today's topic will not include commentary on a bunch of immature multi-millionaires who play a kid's game and who are being goaded by ...

October 04, 2016 | | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Is this bed-wetting liberal really a right-wing redneck?

Oh, great. I have just been outed. It turns out that I am a bed-wetting liberal redneck. You were sure to find that out sooner ...

September 28, 2016 | By Dick Yarbrough | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Former teacher and coach inspired successful blood drive

In his long career as a teacher and coach in Dawsonville, the late Charles Finley inspired thousands of students, and his memory inspired a blood ...

September 28, 2016 | By Toni Holmes | LETTERS/COLUMNS

Trees for shady locations

Many homeowners ask me about recommendations for certain plants that will fit their landscape. Since many of us have wooded lots, a question I often ...

September 21, 2016 | By Clark MacAllister | LETTERS/COLUMNS

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