Political Notes – State parks are once again safe for Gideon Bibles (and other books too)

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The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has quietly implemented a new departmental policy that will allow the placement of not only Gideon Bibles but other books as well in the rooms of state lodges and park facilities.

The policy provides that any organization wishing “to donate reading material for use by individuals patronizing the Department’s lodging facilities and cabins” can do so by contacting the manager of the DNR facility and providing enough copies to distribute to all cabins and lodging rooms.

“All reading material must be hard bound, and no material can exceed 10 inches by 8 inches by 2 inches,” the policy states. “Any reading material not meeting these standards will be rejected.”

No items “that are obscene or pornographic” will be allowed in DNR facilities, the policy adds.

DNR put the new literature policy in place last week, shortly after the Bibles had been removed from state lodges when a guest complained about religious literature being provided at a government-owned facility. The Bibles were quickly restored to the state parks upon the orders of Gov. Nathan Deal.

“These Bibles are donated by outside groups, not paid for by the state, and I do not believe that a Bible in a bedside table drawer constitutes a state establishment of religion,” Deal said. “In fact, any religious group is free to donate literature.”

After the media reported on the removal and restoration of Bibles at state lodges, American Atheists, an organization advocating the separation of church and state, said it would donate atheist-themed books for placement in DNR facilities.

Since the policy was implemented, however, DNR has not received any offers from private organizations to provide reading materials, agency spokesperson Lauren Curry said.

“There have been lots of reports in the media about organizations interested in providing materials, but no one has approached us yet with definite plans,” Curry said.

New giants at Savannah port

The Georgia Ports Authority is beefing up its cargo-moving equipment at the Garden City Terminal, bringing in four electric-powered cranes this week that will be used to unload ships calling at the terminal.

The four giant cranes, designed by Konecranes of Finland, cost a total of $40 million, weigh 1,388 tons apiece and are 433 feet wide by 185 feet tall. They bring to 25 the number of electric-powered container cranes at Garden City, the most of any single U.S. port terminal.

“Combined with the largest single container terminal in North America and two Class I railroads on site, these cranes will make the customer experience even smoother,” GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz said.

AT&T will hire more

Sylvia Russell, the state president for AT&T, said the telecom giant plans to hire as many as 600 more people for its state operations in several business, customer and operational areas. The company already employs more than 21,000 people in Georgia.

Some of the new hires will happen through AT&T’s Project Velocity IP, a three-year plan to expand the company’s national IP broadband networks.

“As AT&T continues to invest in our network and expand our customer base in Georgia, we’re committed to providing excellent customer service,” Russell said.

Olens pitches internet awareness

Attorney General Sam Olens has taped a public service announcement with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, promoting the causes of online privacy, bullying prevention, and general internet safety for young people. (The PSA is viewable here.)

“Our young people today are fortunate to have the advantage of exploring the world at their finger tips through the internet, but they must be aware of the risks involved and take steps to ensure online privacy and security,” Olens said.

The PSA provides suggestions on how to manage the information that children and teenagers share both on Facebook and on the internet.

Chamber salutes lawmakers

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has picked Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) and House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta) as its “Legislators of the Year,” while singling out Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) as “Freshman of the Year.”

Chance was recognized in part for “earning an A+ on the last three Chamber scorecards,” while Lindsey was spotlighted because of his bills reaffirming Georgia’s right to work laws, “which serve as a vital economic development tool for the state.”

Hill, a first-termer in the state Senate, was commended for supporting the passage of HB 188, which establishes an expedited occupational licensing process for military veterans.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: AT&T , DNR , Ed Lindsey , Facebook , Georgia Chamber of Commerce , Georgia Ports Authority , Gideon Bibles , Hunter Hill , internet privacy , Ronnie Chance , Sam Olens