Political Notes – Deal pushes new job training program

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday the launch of a new job skills program aimed at expanding the state’s supply of trained workers: Georgia WorkSmart.

The program will involve the cooperative efforts of the Workforce Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, and the Technical College System of Georgia.

It also will incorporate apprenticeships, internships and cooperative education opportunities at private companies that agree to participate.

“Georgia WorkSmart is another step in ensuring our current and future workforce is prepared to meet employer needs,” Deal said at the news event at the King’s Hawaiian food processing plant in Flowery Branch.

Another Obamacare repeal vote

The U.S. House of Representatives, with the support of Georgia Republicans, voted for at least the 56th time last week to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

The Obamacare repeal vote was 240-189, largely along party lines.

House Republicans are hopeful that the measure can be handled under budget conciliation rules when it reaches the Senate. That would mean the resolution could not be blocked through a filibuster and would require only 51 votes to pass.

“Today’s vote addresses America’s spending problem while also closing shop on the most damaging and intrusive aspects of the President’s health care law,” said Rep. Rob Woodall, a Gwinnett County Republican.

“While there is much more to do, I’m proud of the steps the House took today, and with only 51 votes needed in the Senate to overcome filibuster, am confident we can move this important legislation to the President’s desk,” Woodall said.

“For too long, efforts to repeal Obamacare have been blocked by obstructionists in the Senate,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler). “This legislation is critical to break this logjam and get these measures to the President’s desk for the first time.”

If Senate Republicans are able to pass the measure as well, it will go to President Barack Obama, who has already said he will veto it.

Another try at Medicaid expansion

Several Democratic lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation that would expand Georgia’s Medicaid coverage by having the state accept as much as $3 billion a year in federal funds that are available through the Affordable Care Act.

The odds are against the legislators, since Gov. Nathan Deal and the Republican majorities in the General Assembly oppose Medicaid expansion – but they are continuing the discussion.

As reported in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

More than 65 people joined state Rep. Debbie Buckner in Columbus Council Chambers Wednesday for a Medicaid Expansion Town Hall meeting as part of the House Democratic Caucus.

Stacey Abrams of House District 89 said legislation will be introduced in the General Assembly next year for Medicaid expansion just as lawmakers passed a transportation tax this year.

“Georgia can’t afford not to expand,” said Abrams of Atlanta. “We have 15 rural hospitals that are in jeopardy in north and south Georgia that are facing ruin if we don’t step up. We have millions of dollars we can generate for this state and thousands of jobs. Democrats and Republicans have to stand up.”

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, leader of the local delegation, said the task of getting Medicaid expanded is more difficult after the Gov. Nathan Deal gave that authority to the General Assembly.

“The General Assembly would have to institute a Medicaid expansion, which would make it very difficult,” Smyre said of the Republican controlled General Assembly. “They are throwing the ball into another court.”

The lawmakers found support for the action from Dr. Cathy Cook of Cook Dental Care; Laura Colbert, a community outreach manager Georgians for a Healthy Future ; Tim Sweeney, deputy director of Policy Georgia Budget and Policy Institute; Tripp Layfield, senior vice president and general counsel for Columbus Regional Health; and Paul Morris, health services manager at the Muscogee County Jail.

Onward to Cuba

State Sen. David Lucas (D-Macon) and former House speaker Terry Coleman were part of a contingent that visited Cuba last week in hopes of discovering some business opportunities that might be feasible with the resumption of diplomatic relations.

As reported in the Macon Telegraph:

Among the other members on the trip to Havana were the dean of the Mercer University School of Medicine, former speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives Terry Coleman, and Lucas’ wife, Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas.

While setting up the trip, Lucas got in touch with Coleman, who had built relationships with some people in Cuba over the years. While they were not able to meet with government leaders, the group met with people such as a retired Cuban government employee, a college professor, business owners and other Cuban residents.

The cost of the trip did not involve taxpayer money.

William Bina, dean of Mercer’s medical school, said there could be numerous ways the school can work with medical schools in Cuba and the nation’s Ministry of Health.

He estimates about 50 percent of Mercer’s medical students are interested in a global health experience, as they’re eager to learn how to treat different cultures.

Bina described the Cubans he met on the trip as “proud, creative and energetic.”

“I think we need to take a long-term view and develop the relationships that would allow a exchange of ideas and certainly with education in the medical field,” Bina said.

Executive appointments

The governor’s office announced these appointments to state boards and commissions –

Georgia Commission on the Holocaust: Chuck Berk of Atlanta, the president of BCR Properties; Dr. Claire D’Agostino of Sandy Springs, a past president and current board member of Temple Sinai; Evan M. Jacobs of Brookhaven, a speech language pathologist at Lakeside High School and the wife of State Court Judge Mike Jacobs; Sara Kogon of Sandy Springs, the founder of West 44, LLC; and Lisa Olens of Marietta, who works in the economic development division for Georgia Power and is the wife of Attorney General Sam Olens.

Georgia Commission on Child Support: Lisa Rambo of Americus, the juvenile court judge for the Southwestern Judicial Circuit.

Georgia World War I Centennial Commission: Samuel Friedman of Atlanta, the founder and chairman of AFCO Realty.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Cuba , David Lucas , Nathan Deal , Obamacare repeal , Terry Coleman , workforce training