February 11, 2024

General Assembly 2024: Good News and Bad News

Polling question from last newsletter: Would you vote to support sports betting in Georgia to raise additional funds for Georgia’s lottery beneficiaries of HOPE and PreK? Learn how people voted and more updates from the 2024 session.




Yesterday's NAACP Black history program was about the last 60 years of school desegregation in DeKalb County. As always, the personal stories were the most important. Thank you all.


HB 370: I have joined many legislators and other advocates to protect the coast line and marshes of Georgia from House Bill 370. HB 370 fundamentally changes the way property owners can earn, use, and develop marshlands for which they claim title. This bill had been in Rules, and I was preparing my floor speech against it. We learned on Friday that it has been re-committed to the Judiciary Committee for "further work." This is good news, and I hope more than a temporary victory. https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/64281

HB 1176: A Republican legislator is preparing legislation to mandate insurance coverage, specifically payment of mammograms, for women younger than 40 who have genetic identifiers for breast cancer vulnerability. In addition, breast cancer survivors, who have had a mastectomy and have given birth to children, will be granted funds for infant formula and supplements. These provisions recognize changing science in relation to younger women having breast cancer and I'm happy to be a co-sponsor of both of these provisions. https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66771

HB 1073: The AJC recently reported on legislation the General Assembly passed in 1998 that I did not remember voting on. Specifically, we passed a law that created additional obstacles for substance abuse treatment centers to obtain proper zoning. The statute in my view is in violation of the American Disability Act -- see the link below. I am happy to be a co-signer on HB 1073 to repeal this provision and remove unnecessary barriers to substance abuse treatment centers.https://www.ajc.com/news/investigations/advocates-say-ga-law-hampers-efforts-to-open-drug-treatment-centers/FA6CRU2AZVFFJIFXGNJAW622QE/

HB 1128: Bad news. Entitled the "Georgia Women's Bill of Rights," this anti-trans bill is showing up in state legislatures across the country. This bill could appear in front of the House Judiciary Committee, where I am a member. I will fight against this blatantly political and unnecessary piece of 'legislation.' https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66657

SB 63: SB 63 unfortunately passed on a totally partisan vote. It increases the number of offenses where cash bond will be required, and is totally contrary to the progress we have made on criminal justice reform. I was not allowed to ask the following question: should the legislator sponsor of this bill pay the cash bond for a 17-year-old foster care child who is arrested, treated as an adult under Georgia law, and in jail with a required cash bond? Or does the sponsor of this bill prefer that the foster care parent pay the cash bond to release a 17-year-old from a jail? Very bad bill. https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/63873

SB 344: This bill offers tax breaks for 11 days each year on guns and ammunition. It has 21 co-sponsors and has already passed the Senate. I will vote against this every chance I get. https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65980


I will be a guest on WABE's Politically Georgia at 10am on Monday, February 12th. Please tune in at 90.1FM or listen here online!


Decaturish 2/1/24 - Georgia Legislature considering new rules for creating cities - by Zoe Seiler

"State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D – Decatur) told Decaturish that the bill is a good combination of previous discussions about the financial impact new cities have, what would be required if there is a fiscal impact and proposals that have been previously introduced.

She added that the rules of the committee are adopted every two years.

“The bill right now is getting extra attention. There’s going to be a new draft presented and a new discussion at the committee, and it’s an important discussion,” Oliver said. “The bill has got a lot of substance to it, a lot of specific provisions, and I’m happy to participate in these discussions and I hope it’s passed.”



Once again, the Carter Center has come to the Capitol to support enforcement of parity provisions in HB 1013 and to support further action on HB 520. Most significantly, the Blank Foundation has made a significant donation to the Carter Center for the purpose of mental health parity progress. With this support, there is activity across the state to raise awareness of parity, enabling patients to enforce their rights under HB 1013 for equal treatment by insurance carriers for mental health services. The press conference and seminars all demonstrate the Carter Center's continued leadership and help with mental health reform. We are working daily on passage of the provisions of HB 520 that were stopped in 2023 by the Senate. I anticipate that we will be successful and I will be reporting on further progress.


STATE AFFAIRS 2/9/24 - Lawmakers and advocates see movement on mental health reform - by Jill Jordan Sieder "Oliver said budget discussions led by Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kevin Tanner have yielded $205 million in new mental health services in the governor’s proposed amended 2024 and 2025 fiscal year budgets, adding that “we’re seeking and advocating for additional monies” through the appropriations process this session.

"Oliver also said she’s collaborating with other lawmakers on separate bills regarding student loan forgiveness, alternative discipline procedures and licensure reform for behavioral health practitioners, all aimed at recruiting and retaining the mental health and addiction workforce." https://stateaffairs.com/georgia/healthcare/mental-health-reform-expansion/


Polling question from last newsletter: Would you vote to support sports betting in Georgia to raise additional funds for Georgia’s lottery beneficiaries of HOPE and PreK?

604 of you answered:

Yes - 54.5% (329)

No - 45.5% (275)


The House and Senate have made an agreement about modifications of tax credits for businesses based on the study committee that was active during the summer and fall of 2023. Specifically, new legislation will impose limits on film tax credits and eliminate tax credits for data centers. Both of these tax credit histories were examined closely in the study committee and were controversial. Question: Do you believe film tax credits should be modified in a way that they are more limiting? Second Question: Do you believe tax credits for data centers should be eliminated totally?

For more information on the subject, read Rodney Ho's excellent 2/8/24 AJC article Film, TV tax credit House bill, if passed, would be biggest changes since 2008.


Olivia Davis is a second-year law student at Emory University School of Law, also pursuing a concentration in Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution. Prior to attending law school, she completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Alabama, graduating summa cum laude. An aspiring public interest attorney, Olivia has worked alongside both the Volunteer Clinic for Veterans and the Barton Public Policy and Legislative Advocacy Clinics during her time at Emory — completing over 60 pro bono hours thus far in her legal education. Outside of the classroom, she is involved in the leadership of organizations such as the Student Bar Association, American Constitution Society, and Georgia Association of Women Lawyers. Her passions include marrying a love of policy reform, litigation, and advocacy while actively fighting to improve systemic issues affecting the Deep South.


The DeKalb County House Delegation meets every Monday at noon or following adjournment of Session. We will make every effort to stream every meeting live on Facebook. Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeKalbStateDelegation


I was very happy to meet all of DeKalb County’s Star students on Friday at Decatur Rotary. Nearby students honored were Gordon Lichtstein from Decatur High, Micah Burton from Druid Hills, and from Chamblee Charter Paul Frilingos—congratulations all! Lots of happy parents there to celebrate!

Very good end of a busy legislative week, plus an inspiring concert at Emory from St. Olaf’s Choir! The Carter Center reported on its important work to enforce HB 1013 parity provisions — and thank you to the Blank Foundation for new funding for the efforts. Progress!

I was pleased to sponsor a Privileged Resolution honoring the 75th Anniversary of the Georgia Lions Club Lighthouse Foundation, which has provided vision services and education to Georgians who do not have health insurance.

Lots of activity last week—Passage of ‘24 Supplemental Budget, and State of Judiciary message from Chief Justice Boggs! I always attend the student led Emory Public Interest awards ceremony to be inspired myself. And, visits with advocates from the child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters. Thanks to them for their good work.

Every year the women legislators of the House wear red to support heart health in Georgia.

Great crowd for the Legislative Town Hall at Glenn Memorial! SRO— thank you, and all the folks on Zoom for joining us to talk about the good and bad of the 2024 General Assembly Session!

Rep. Panitch and I helped welcome the Magistrate Court and Probate Court Judges to our Capitol! Leading their groups were Chief Magistrate Judge Carlotta Sims Brown and Probate Judge Kelli Wolk, along with DeKalb Judge Beryl Anderson and Probate Judge Bedelia Hargrove— welcome!

Very sad and unnerving morning on the House floor—-Governor Kemp joined us to recognize Rep. Richard Smith, Chair of the House Rules Committee, who died suddenly on January 30th from the flu. We are not promised tomorrow.

HB 71 has 94 co-sponsors but Chair Lynn Smith will not allow a hearing on the bill that will protect the Okefenokee Swamp from destructive mining operations. Maybe the stuffed alligators and press conference will be convincing — and please call Lynn Smith at 404-656-7149 and ask that she schedule a hearing for HB 71. Thank you!

Thanks to Voices for Georgia's Children for inviting me to be part of their GA-CALL 2024 Voices panel.

I enjoyed meeting Hudson Pollack and Henry Fonder-Kristy, both of whom served as my official House Pages on Wednesday, February 7th.

In and around political events I escaped with guests to Fightingtown Creek for a beautiful winter weekend. Henry’s special guest was Ruthie, a gorgeous mean girl Springer Spaniel.


Monday, February 12th - WABE's Politically Georgia

Monday, February 12th - Greg Bluestein book event at Decatur Baptist Church - Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal an American Election

Tuesday, February 13th - Speaker for Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies (CRSA) Day at the Capitol

Monday, February 26th - DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond book event at DeKalb History Center - James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia: A Founder’s Journey from Slave Trader to Abolitionist

Wednesday, February 28th - DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond book event at Atlanta History Center

Thursday, February 29th - Crossover Day at the Capitol

Thursday, March 28th - SINE DIE


I am on the following legislative committees. You can watch live every time they meet. Click on the links below for livestreams, agendas, archives and more.



  • Appropriations - Human Resources
  • Governmental Affairs - State and Local Government
  • Judicial - Leverett (two)

You can search for and track bills, watch the House (or Senate) in Session, watch committee hearings, monitor legislation by committee, and find contact information —- all on the revamped General Assembly website. Here are quick links:

Make your views known and tell me what issues interest you the most.