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Dear editor,

As a Christian and an economist, it isn’t rare to struggle with finding inner agreement between these two thought processes. As a Christian, I am called to look at the world through a moral lens that is to guide my life. As an economist, I am told to leave morality at the door and only see what the data shows me. Let me assure you that there are very few times when these two schools of thinking are in agreement. When I find those situations where being a believer and an economist lines up, it is very comforting. Usually, when my two schools of thought merge into harmony it is due to seeing human suffering, and I know that there is something that can be done about it. This is how I know that the politics that we have seen with our state government with HB1, Haleigh’s Hope Act, is devious at best and morally reprehensible at worst.

Nothing surprises me in politics. Let me say it again - NOTHING surprises me in politics! With that said, the political maneuvering, which we witnessed at The Gold Dome this week concerning HB1, is shocking to say the least. For those that may not have heard of it yet, HB1 is a bill that is before the state legislature that would legalize non-hallucinogenic cannabis oil which has shown to help many medical conditions, but especially those who experience multiple seizures. Though promises were made to families in Georgia to make this legislation the top priority during this session to help families that have left the state to help their children, we have seen support from the Governor dissipate.

This is one of the reasons that I hate politics. In spite of overwhelming support by the citizens (86% in one poll), politicians are getting cold feet about doing something versus the usual nothing that they have become accustomed to doing. My question becomes why? How much more do these politicians need to see to act? Should we, as citizens and taxpayers, have to raise millions of dollars to combat the special interest money that is seemingly creating the barrier to pass this bill in its original form?

When Allen Peake came to Newton a few weeks ago, I was amazed to see some of the families that came out to see him speak about HB1, the bill he sponsored. First, I would like to thank Representative Peake for all he has done and will continue to do with this legislation. Secondly, I ask Mr. Peake to please submit this bill in its original form, rather than the watered down version that the Governor Deal is seeking. If the Honorable Peake introduces the bill in its original form, with in-state cultivation and production, there is an army of people that will stand with you. Remember Representative, we have your back! We need bravery in our state capital right now, not the usual go-along-to-get-along nonsense that we have seen again and again in Atlanta.

While this legislation won’t help everyone, it will undoubtedly help the ones who need it the most. These children are dying, and their families are suffering extreme hardships while our elected representatives play political games in order to protect a select group of donors. So, I ask this. What will you do to help make sure that there is a call heard all around our great state? Will you pick up the phone or email your state representative? Would you call the Governor’s office? Will the people of Georgia send a message that we want to see these families helped by passing a law that will help them today? Or, will we sit idly by while these families suffer knowing that there is something that may help their children and continue to let political games be played under The Gold Dome?

J. Aaron Brooks