Like all Sessions of the Georgia General Assembly, the 2023 session was a mixed bag of good and bad actions. For me, although I can point to some positive budget items, it was a bummer---more politically correct--I was disappointed in many ways and I remain irritated by the effort that was spent on issues that did not move forward.
After the passage of HB 520 in the House with an overwhelming vote of support (163-3), we waited for over a week to receive the sub bill from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. On Tuesday night, Representative Todd Jones and I went on GA Lawmakers with Donna Lowry to explain one final time why the bill is so important for the state of Georgia.
Crossover Day, day 28 of the General Assembly 2023 40-day Session, ended at approximately 11:40 PM on March 6th after 14 hours of legislative action. As usual, it was a day of drama and unknown strategies and resolutions.
The Georgia Assembly has completed 23 days of our 40 day Session. The pace is increasing dramatically. Normally, by the end of the first 20 days of the session, we will have completed about 20 percent of the work product. 80 percent of the work we have to do will happen in the last 16 days. My main focus in these remaining days will be our second-year comprehensive mental health bill, our state budget, housing improvements and tenant law, and an assortment of local legislation disputes or improvements.
Celebrating Mental Health Day gave us an opportunity to review our progress from 2022 HB 1013 and to highlight the proposals that will be incorporated into the 2023 bill to continue our efforts for reform. I am working daily with Commissioner Kevin Tanner, advocate groups, Governor Kemp's Health Policy teams, and Legislative Counsel on the new draft.
Greetings from the Georgia Capitol! As of January 26th, we have completed nine days of the 40-day session and three full days of budget hearings. The budget is our only required duty and is our most important legislative action. The full 394-page budget document can be reviewed here. I was present every day of the hearings, and I serve on the Human Services Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee that met separately during the budget week.
This early cooperation on the calendar, along with non-contested elections in both the House and the Senate for all leadership positions, stand in strong contrast to the chaos of the federal Congress and the 15 ballots that were required to elect Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
I wish you all happy holidays, and I look forward to working with you in the 2023 General Assembly session! Safe travels, and let us give thanks for all our blessings. I also want to thank you all for voting for Senator Warnock. WHEW!
The Democrat Caucus is now about 2/3 women, most of whom come from the metro Atlanta area, and they have advanced degrees and successful professional careers-—lots of new talent!
There is still time for early voting! You may vote early at multiple DeKalb County locations from 7am until 7pm, including at the Memorial Drive, Emory University and Tucker locations. Click here for more information on where to vote.
EARLY VOTING STARTED OCTOBER 17th! Election Day is November 8th. Join me and Stacey this week for early voting! I plan to vote this Thursday at the Emory Early Voting Site at 1599 Clifton Road. Please make YOUR plan, too!
Georgia elections take place in five weeks—NOVEMBER 8th! Get your yard sign today through the website or email me your address at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need your help in securing an election win for Democrats in Georgia. What issues are most important to you?
Get your yard sign today! Sign up at our website or email me your address at email@example.com. A few voter plan important dates — Voter registration ends October 11th. You may request a vote-by-mail ballot now, and it will be mailed to you beginning Monday, October 10th.
We launch our 2022 campaign for House District 82 today! It is a privilege to work everyday for the people of Georgia and House District 82. Your support allows me to continue representing the interests of Georgians under the Gold Dome. We're launching our campaign this week and we need your help to make a splash!
I am most happy with the Mental Health Parity Act because this will truly help people. I am proud I voted NO on every piece of legislation that would limit teachers’ ability to teach. I’m most disappointed that we failed to authorize a distribution system to get medical cannabis to those who need it, and I am embarrassed we did not get it done because many families have waited too long to legally fill medical marijuana prescriptions. This failure is our biggest and most visible mistake of 2022.
Over the past 18 months, I have drilled down on analyzing and understanding the impact of development authorities. This work resulted in the passage Tuesday of HB 923. I feel good about this effort to bring greater transparency and accountability to development authorities. HB 923 adds two provisions to the existing law:
Presenting the Mental Health Parity Act on the House floor. It passed 169-3 on Tuesday, March 8, and we have had three hearings before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and its subcommittees. Hearings four and five are planned for next Monday and Wednesday.
I preview bipartisan legislation that I hope will make an actual difference to you and other Georgians.
On Wednesday, November 10, I took the well to speak in opposition to HB 1 EX, the Republican redistricting map for the House. We have finished the Special Session the Governor called for reapportionment and redistricting, and the Governor's signature will soon be on laws creating new maps of Georgia senate and house districts and federal congressional districts.
In the past week, the first redistricting map was released by state Senate leaders Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Sen. John D. Kennedy, and the real mathematical and political work now begins with the 2020 Census data being entered into computer databases using sophisticated algorithms to plot potential districts.
I enjoy connecting with constituents between sessions. This summer, I have met with groups and helped constituents who have reached out about a wide variety of topics. Please invite me to meet with your group at the Capitol or your location or on Zoom.
We are in a once a decade frenzy over how you will be represented at the federal and state levels when the General Assembly gathers in the fall to engage in reapportionment and redistricting. These two terms are used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different processes.
Passage of Senate Bill 202 election restrictions dominated our work and performance in the 2021 session, and as a result many good efforts were left undone. I am already thinking about the 2022 session and work left on the table for legislation which should be passed but perhaps more importantly, budget decisions delayed or not even discussed.
In many ways, Sine Die 2021 was typical: chaos, conflict, and last minute surprises before the ritual tearing and tossing bills at the end. But this year, there was an unusual level of tension, extra security, and protestors around the voting bill and Rep. Park Cannon's arrest (photos below). All those created some logistical obstacles as well as heightened conflict on the floor and off. The anger from many was authentic and expressed.
We have passed a budget for FY 2022. There are still major gaps—such as Georgia's refusal to participate in Medicaid funding that would help so many Georgians. Very disappointing. Highlights from the House Budget and Research Office.
For over three hours Monday, with over 1,000 people watching on livestream, the House debated HB 531-- the Republican omnibus bill trying to 'fix' nonexistent voting problems. The idea that we should pass laws to give our voters "more confidence" is predicated on two false premises: that Mr. Trump won in Georgia and the discredited, unproven claim that there was fraud.
Last Monday, my bills HB 23, 24, and 66 received a hearing before the House Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on State and Local Government. I was glad to have testimony in favor of the bills from DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, DeKalb County Board of Education member Marshall Orson, Kathleen Bowen of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and Martha Gross, a citizen from Brookhaven.