Fact checks focused under the Gold Dome

The Miss Freedom statute sits atop the Gold Dome of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Jason Getz / AJC
The Miss Freedom statute sits atop the Gold Dome of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Jason Getz / AJC

Expect a flurry of new claims to begin once the Georgia Legislature reconvenes Monday in Atlanta.

Transportation, religious liberty, medical marijuana and education funding and reform are expected to be big issues.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will publish its annual legislative preview Sunday. A primer on how to navigate the Gold Dome – from tracking down lawmakers to finding the bathrooms – is already online.

And PolitiFact Georgia has already tackled some of the early claims on headline-grabbing issues such as transportation and medical marijuana.

A study committee spent months last year studying the state’s gas tax and road woes before issuing a report  in late December that said the state needs to raise at least $1 billion more a year to repair bridges and highways and tackle congestion.

But before that, one of the committee’s members, former state Rep. Edward Lindsey of Atlanta pointed out the challenge of changing the gas tax.

He claimed the $19.3 cents Georgia motorists pay in excise and sales taxes on every gallon of gas is one of the lowest in the nation yet one of the highest in the region.

PolitiFact Georgia found data from the American Petroleum Institute that confirmed Georgians pay less at the pump than motorists in most other states but the third highest in the south.

But the same data showed that Georgia could double its 7.5 cent excise tax and still be third-highest in the south (or right in the middle of our neighboring states).

We rated Lindsey’s claim Mostly True.

A push to legalize medical marijuana is returning this session, after the Legislature came close to allowing the use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions last year.

The House appears primed to pass that same measure this year, though a broader bill – allowing ingested and smokeable forms of the drug – is also up for consideration.

PolitiFact Georgia checked a claim by the cannabis oil bill sponsor, state rep. Allen Peake-R-Macon, that the drug in his version cannot get users high.

Our research showed the cannabis oil would be made from a strain of marijuana that is high in a compound known to be an antioxidant and low in one known for creating a "high."

Medical research on the drug has been limited, given marijuana’s inclusion of the Schedule I list of "the most dangerous" drugs. Limited studies, however, confirm that the cannabis oil is non-psychoactive.

We rated Peake’s statement True.