Vocal protests call for last-minute legislative action at Ga. Capitol

ATLANTA -- Backers of causes with little or no traction at the Georgia Capitol held vocal protests on Tuesday.

One group wanted Georgia to agree to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. In three separate incidents, backers chose to get arrested, saying that the expansion of Medicaid would qualify low income Georgians for health insurance.

"This is really a small price to pay given there are a lot of people who are handcuffed to poverty and unable to get basic health care in the richest country in the world," said Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church as he was being led away.

A total of 39 people were arrested supporting the Medicaid expansion, according to the Moral Monday Georgia group.

State leaders say the state can't afford the expansion.

Across the Capitol, conservatives lobbied for an all-but lost cause of their own, one which would harden the state's position against the Affordable Care Act by making it illegal for the state to provide any assistance using it.

"I mean, we have states rights," said Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party. "This would effectively gut Obamacare in Georgia.

Meantime, the high profile health care bill that has a chance of actually passing -- which would legalize medical marijuana --- was getting increasingly low marks from some of its most ardent backers.

"I don't see how House Bill 885 will deliver the medical marijuana that they're seeking," said bill backer James Bell, who said he still wanted it to pass "because it's a step forward."

Backers hoped that there would be a vote on HB885 on Tuesday night.

Also on Tuesday, some lawmakers noticed in the new state budget that millions of dollars were allocated for a new parking deck for the Atlanta Falcons stadium scheduled to open in 2017.


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