Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:


April 21

The Brunswick News on Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to allow some businesses to reopen:

Gov. Brian Kemp, understandably eager to restart Georgia’s sagging economy, is relaxing the rules governing commerce and consumer movement during the COVID-19 outbreak. Beginning on April 24, certain businesses that have been virtually shut down for weeks will reopen, though only under certain conditions.

Whether you agree with Gov. Kemp’s decision or disagree with it, or are unsure where you stand, please exercise caution and common sense in the days ahead. Stay clear of crowds, keep a safe distance from others and follow the other safety tips often repeated by health officials.

And whether you operate one of the businesses that will open on April 24 or next week, adhere to the rules. Don’t wander from them, not even by an inch. While the coronavirus may not be as prevalent as it once was, and that remains an iffy conclusion, it still exists. It’s still out there.

The governor’s timetable for reopening the state, dubbed one of the most aggressive in the nation, is divided into phases. In the first phase, which starts April 24, gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons and tattoo parlors can once again begin taking on customers. Owners are required to abide by strict guidelines, including following the social distancing policy and proper hygiene.

To help hospitals, some of which are worried about their financial health, Gov. Kemp is giving a greenlight on elective medical procedures. That’s sure to be good news to Southeast Georgia Health System, which operates the hospitals in Brunswick and St. Marys. It recently bemoaned the loss of better than 40 percent of its annual revenue due to its preparation and readiness for a heavy outbreak of the virus at home.

More businesses get to return to near-normal on April 27 in the next phase. They include movie theaters and restaurants, currently limited to takeout orders and curbside services. They, too, must continue to follow certain rules.

Gov. Kemp is taking a chance that all will go well.

His plan runs counter to advice trumpeted by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top authority on infectious diseases. He continues to warn that the wrong timing on reopening could result in a spike in the coronavirus.

The governor is aware of the doctor’s position but insists his plan “is the right approach at the right time.”

For everyone’s sake, we certainly hope so. Many of us have dual fears or competing concerns. We’re concerned about our own health and the safety of loved ones, and, at the same time, we’re apprehensive about our businesses, jobs and financial future.

Say a prayer Gov. Kemp’s plan works.


April 20

Savannah Morning News on voting in the state's June primary:

Georgia’s sad voting reality is we can’t have an election without plenty of partisan hullabaloo over the ballot-casting process.

As we creep closer to the spring primary and nonpartisan elections, recently rescheduled for June 9, political agitators are again sowing confusion and uncertainty around the logistics of mail-in voting.

Georgians should ignore the rhetoric.

The themes are all too familiar by now: Voter fraud and voter suppression. Only instead of arguing voting machines vs. paper ballots or bemoaning voter roll purges, photo IDs and precinct locations, the rabble-rousers are exaggerating the potential for ballot harvesting or that a 55-cent stamp constitutes a poll tax.

Hence our state now has an absentee voting fraud task force and our courts are considering a lawsuit alleging a poll tax.

Both initiatives qualify as political theater.


A first-class stamp is the latest boogeyman voter suppression watchdogs see hiding in the shadows.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is encouraging mail-in voting to limit potential coronavirus exposure at polling precincts, yet both the absentee ballot request form and the mail-in ballot call for postage. Critics call that an unconstitutional 55-cent poll tax.

Without question, absentee ballot documents should be postage prepaid. Not making them as much is a tremendous gaffe by the Secretary of State’s office. Voting is a right, not a privilege, and even 55 cents is an affront to the democratic process.

Yet Georgia voters need not feel stressed by this blunder — the U.S. Postal Service will deliver election-related mailings with or without a stamp.

“The Postal Service is steadfast in our commitment to support democracy,” USPS Spokeswoman Martha Johnson said. “We will not deny a voter their right to vote by delaying a time sensitive ballot because of insufficient postage.”

Spreading the word about the free mailings should be a major focus of elections officials going forward.

Voters can also cut the postal service out of the process by scanning or taking a photo of completed documentation and emailing it to their county board of elections. For Chatham County voters, that email is

Elections officials may further ease the mail-in voting process by installing ballot drop boxes at locations around the county. Like mailboxes, these receptacles would be placed in convenient locations.

This option was approved by the State Elections Board last week and local officials are researching the feasibility of drop boxes, potential locations and other details. The placing of at least one ballot drop box outside the Chatham County Board of Elections on Eisenhower Drive is highly likely.


As one faction focuses on stamps, another fixates on voter fraud.

Election integrity is paramount. The electorate must trust in the one-person, one-vote nature of ballot casting.

Georgia’s Republican leaders have aggressively enacted voter protections over the last two decades: Georgians must show a photo ID to vote in person and the Secretary of State’s office regularly purges voter rolls.

A significant uptick in mail-in ballots makes those fearful of fraud uneasy and has led to the creation of an absentee voter fraud task force. The worry is nefarious political operatives will illicitly collect absentee ballots and cast votes in the names of others.

Yet the reality is Georgia is not a state plagued by voter fraud. A series of fraud investigations over the last decade yielded little evidence of misconduct and resulted in charges so flimsy they were later dropped.

Some will credit those anti-fraud policies for curbing ballot mischief. But the continued outcry — in this case a task force — in the absence of fraud also lends credibility to claims that the goal is to create an atmosphere of fear and distrust in the system.

More than 21,000 Chatham County voters have already requested mail-in ballots for the June 9 election. All should feel confident that neither voter suppression nor voter fraud threaten the integrity of this election.



April 18

The Augusta Chronicle on investing in solar energy:

The list keeps growing and growing. More aspects of American life are taking crippling hits from the effects of the coronavirus. Business, manufacturing, schools, sports, food - just about everything under the sun.

Now it includes the sun.

Solar energy’s growth might dim in the coming months, but it’s showing sunnier promise as a stable investment. While crashing oil prices have provided record lows at the gas pumps, clean-energy proponents must not let coronavirus troubles kill the industry’s forward momentum.

Solar energy has been enjoying a surge across the country in general and in Georgia in particular. But a connection to China and fragile supply chains spelled trouble. Practically since the first person started coughing from COVID-19 in Wuhan, the American solar industry started worrying about its own future.

Asia is the world’s main producer of solar panels and other related technology, and the virus began its spread at a time when residential solar installers were looking forward to a banner year. Summer was supposed to bring a high demand for solar. Now Americans are grappling with more pressing concerns.

“People are not going to sign up for a 20-year lease or pay $20,000 for a rooftop system if they don’t know whether they’re going to be able to pay their mortgages in two or three months,” Gordon Johnson, an analyst at GLJ Research, told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re looking at a drawn-out recession.”

Even with the solar sector topping natural gas as the nation’s top new power source, COVID-19 is hurtling solar into crisis.

“Morgan Stanley projects U.S. residential-solar volumes may plummet 48% year over year in the second quarter, 28% in the third quarter and 17% in the fourth quarter. It says customers have indicated ‘they will delay or cancel home renovations,’” the Times continued.“Wood Mackenzie, a research firm (that) had projected 10% residential growth nationally this year, now thinks the market could decline as much as 34% from 2019.”

Elsewhere, forecasts were sunnier. Just days before the Times story, the nonprofit Solar Foundation released its annual National Solar Job Census, and it was filled with good news for Georgia. Georgia ranked second in the nation for solar job growth last year and first in percentage growth from 2018. In total job increase, Georgia trailed only Florida.

“We are very encouraged by the growth of solar in Georgia. The Georgia PSC is leading with a conservative approach and the solar industry is beginning to thrive,” said Theresa Garcia Robertson, executive director for Conservatives for Clean Energy Georgia. “All over the state, we are seeing the innovative ways that solar is increasing jobs and improving our quality of life. Georgia is a model for showing the rest of the country what a conservative approach to clean energy can do for growing jobs and improving the economy.”

A group called “Conservatives for Clean Energy” might sound odd to the ear — a bit like “Vegetarians for Steak.” But it makes perfect sense. Solar power has made tremendous strides since it was being pushed in the 1970s almost exclusively by barefoot environmentalists. Back then it was a tougher sell because of the prohibitive cost. Even today there are still skeptics feeling snakebitten over Solyndra - the clean-energy startup that was a darling of the Obama administration, propped up by a massive U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. But it collapsed into a $500 million bankruptcy.

Now, however, as stated in Conservatives for Clean Energy’s platform: “Saving energy and taxpayer resources aligns perfectly with the goals of fiscal conservatism. Conservatives can and should lead on energy efficiency, as it matches our core values.” Now that the cost of solar panels is dropping, solar energy can now compete head-to-head more successfully with more traditional energy sources.

Georgia has been making its successful solar strides without using tax subsidies as a crutch, and without shouldering the crushing burden of federal mandates. Last year, according to the CCE, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved 30% more solar than ever in Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan, which introduces a wider variety of energy sources to further wean off of environmentally-hazardous coal-fired power plants.

And there’s more sun peeking through the coronavirus clouds. While new solar projects likely will be put on hold because of COVID-19-spurred supply and manpower issues, existing projects are looking more attractive to investors.

The same trend developed after the 2008 financial crisis, “when investors seized on the projects as safe-harbor investments with yields in the mid-single-digit percentages,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Wind and solar farms have contracts to sell their electrical output to utilities and companies with good credit ratings for a decade or longer, making their returns stable and relatively low-risk.”

And since it lacks the volatility of, say, oil and natural gas markets, renewable-power generation “may well be one of the first assets classes to unfreeze,” said Kieth Derman, co-head of Ares Infrastructure and Power at Area Management Corp.

When America emerges from the other end of the coronavirus pandemic, an increased reliance on and investment in solar energy could — and should — provide exciting economic opportunities and a cleaner future.