Editorial roundup: Views from around Georgia

Brunswick News: Opponents to state’s voting legislation are misguided

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., thinks politicians in Washington, D.C., know better than the states how to safeguard their elections. In fact, the chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee is doing everything in her power to prove it and is eager to trample all over state rights with the heavy foot of the federal government.

Klobuchar has convinced herself that the 50 states need Congress to babysit them when considering new laws. Poor dears, she is thinking, what states need most right now is federal voting legislation. Democrats tried once but failed when their measure hit a solid Republican wall built upon the belief that states are capable of handling and managing their elections.

A former Democratic candidate for U.S. president, Klobuchar is unwilling to let that defeat go and is joining the state chorus of fellow politicians, including Georgia’s own two senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, in declaring the Peach State’s new election laws discriminatory and rotten. The men and women Georgians elect to the General Assembly apparently lack the motivation, decency or intelligence to protect the integrity of elections, Klobuchar would have the nation believe.

It matters not to her, Ossoff, Warnock or other critics of this state’s revised voting procedures that the new law covers everyone who votes in the Peach State. It is not limited, as those three and others might have everyone else think, to one particular race or group of people. Everyone must follow the new rules. Everyone.

What the new law does is make it harder for anyone to cheat. That includes Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

One part of the new voting legislation opponents harp on and on about has to do with the inability of campaign workers or anyone else to hand out water and food to voters standing in line for extended periods of time. Water will be made available to long lines of voters by official poll workers when necessary or requested. And those who think they might get hungry between the time they leave their home or apartment and cast a ballot should think ahead and take a snack. Of course, they always have the option of mailing in an absentee ballot if they don’t wait until the last minute to request one.

That’s the trouble with the nation’s leaders today. They focus on the trivial or non-issues and ignore the country’s real problems or pretend they do not exist.

Valdosta Daily Times: Press must be protected, not spied on

An open, free and unfettered press is a cornerstone of democracy and part and parcel of our liberty.

Government must never impede the work of journalists and that includes spying on reporters.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said his justice department will not spy on journalists or seize their tape recordings, notes or cellphone records except in exceptional cases.

To be perfectly clear, both Democrat and Republican administrations have had embattled relationships with the press and seized the records of journalists, and it has always been wrong.

Of course, the federal government should protect classified information, but the fear is that “stopping leaks” is more often than not just a ruse used to justify the seizure of both professional and personal records of journalists.

The First Amendment enshrines the principles of a free press.

The First Amendment prohibits the government from impeding or harassing the press.

The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

It should not take action or a public statement by a sitting U.S. Attorney General to say the press will not be spied on and essentially harassed by the very government it is working to hold accountable.

The place of an open, free and unfettered press must not depend on the whims of whatever administration happens to hold power.

Congress must simply honor its creed: the First Amendment.

Federal lawmakers have introduced pieces of legislation to protect reporters against the actions of the state and we would absolutely welcome any such protections. While criminalizing the acts of government when it spies on journalists is warranted, we do already have this clear language enshrined in the Bill of Rights that protects the freedom of the press.

Ironically, it seems, the First Amendment is not enough.

Thomasville Times-Enterprise: The COVID-19 pandemic is still here — so is the opioid crisis

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic’s ravaging toll through society, one plague hasn’t gone away.

In fact, it may have gotten worse.

Our nation was in the grip of an opioid crisis before the novel coronavirus brought our way of life to a halt. It went unnoticed as the priorities shifted to combatting COVID-19.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drug overdoses in the country were on the rise before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics showed there were approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths from June 2019 to May 2020. According to the NCHS, it was the largest number of drug overdoses ever recorded for a 12-month period.

The primary driver for the increase in drug overdose deaths, the CDC said, was synthetic opioids. More than 70% of overdose deaths involved opioids, and nearly 73% of those deaths stemmed from synthetic opioids.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that more than 130 people die each day in the U.S. after overdosing on opioids. Those opioids include prescription pain medication, heroin and fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control notes the economic burden of opioid addiction and abuse is $78.5 billion annually.

Georgia was 27th in the number of opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 people, at 9.7, per 2017 figures, or a total of 1,014 people. West Virginia had 49.6 opioid-related deaths per 100,000.

The Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency because of the opioid crisis in 2017 and unveiled a five-point strategy to curtail the use and abuse as a result.

• Improve access to recovery and treatment services.

• Promote use of overdose-reversing drugs.

• Strengthen the understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance.

• Support cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.

• Advance better practices for pain management.

All of those efforts need to be continued. The pandemic is still here. And the opioid crisis is too. While finding ways to curtail and rid the world of COVID-19 have taken precedence, our leaders need to keep in mind the danger of opioids is still with us.

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