November 17, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving! Redistricting session begins November 29th at the State Capitol.

We will show up again, and hopefully negotiate with the Republican leadership a just and fair plan for maps for Georgia's Congressional districts, State House districts, and State Senate districts.



On October 26th, United States District Court Judge Steve Jones issued a 516-page Order declaring the redistricting plan adopted by the Georgia General Assembly in 2021 to be in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Judge's order directed the General Assembly to meet and draw new redistricted lines for Congress, the State House, and the State Senate no later than December 8, 2023. In response, Governor Brian Kemp called for a Special Session to begin November 29 at the State Capitol. We will show up again, and hopefully negotiate with the Republican leadership a just and fair plan for maps for Georgia's Congressional districts, State House districts, and State Senate districts.

Judge Jones specifically directed that the House draw five additional majority-black districts, review the Congressional Sixth and Seventh districts, and add two additional State Senate districts in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The House districts are in the north and western counties outside 285, and the Congressional districts focus on the area that eliminated Carolyn Bordeaux's Congressional district in Gwinnett County. The Republicans have appealed the Order, but have not sought a stay or delay of the Georgia General Assembly Special Session that meets right after Thanksgiving.

I participated as Vice-Chair of the Reapportionment Committee following the litigation challenging Governor Roy Barnes' 2002 multi-member district redistricting plan. I anticipate that our 2023 Special Session will also be difficult, contentious, and dynamic. However, I believe that the Republican leadership intends to protect its majority power position in the House while complying with Judge Jones' order as best they can. They do not want Judge Jones to reject their redistricting plan again as violating the Voting Rights Act and then appoint a Special Master to draw a map under his specific supervision independent of the General Assembly leadership. An appointment of a Special Master means the Republican majority loses control and power over the maps, weakening their opportunity for more gerrymandering.

A redistricting map is prepared like any other legislative bill. The Reapportionment Committee will conduct hearings, and all proceedings will be live streamed and available for you to watch from home. The bill will progress from the House to the Senate with floor votes after committee passage and then be presented for Governor Kemp's signature, the same process for all bills.

Other committees will also be meeting during the Special Session, including study committees on tax credits and Certificate of Need. I will give you reports on our daily work and urge you to email me with any questions or suggestions. THANK YOU as always for your interest!

Below is Governor Kemp's Executive Order convening a Special Session, and here is a link to Judge Jones' full decision:


On October 24th, and as Chair of the Workforce and Systems Innovation Subcommittee of the Behavioral Health Commission, I conducted a Subcommittee to prepare for the 2023 Behavioral Health Commission report. The full commission will meet December 4th. You may watch the live stream as we make legislative suggestions for the 2024 Session. As you remember, the Senate did not pass most of our recommendations set forth in House Bill 520. We will be going back to the Senate for reconsideration of their initial opposition. I expect progress, and hopefully will be giving you a positive report as the Session progresses.


Representatives Billy Mitchell, Omari Crawford and I met with the Executive Director of the Stone Mountain Memorial Authority recently and discussed the proposals made in House Bill 794 to remove references to Confederate memorabilia and Confederate memorial designations from Stone Mountain Authority Park. We are having discussions, and I am hopeful that at least some of our suggestions will be adopted by the Stone Mountain Authority Board. I asked you in our last newsletter if you would vote on the issue of changing the names of streets honoring Confederate heroes in the park, and 636 of you responded. 78% agree that the street names for Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and John B. Gordon should be changed, and I reported this result to Stone Mountain Authority Board.


Question from last newsletter: Should Stone Mountain Park Authority change the names of its streets honoring the Confederacy?

Yes - 78% (496 votes)

No - 22% (140 votes)


When visiting an elementary school in Winder last month, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones said that he wanted to pay teachers $10,000 a year to carry guns to school. Jones stated, “We feel like this is the best way to prepare faculty, but also prepare law enforcement and the system however we can.” The Lieutenant Governor also wants teachers and other school staff to take firearms training and have the state pay for their annual firearms training certificates.


I was honored to receive the Charles Weltner Award from the Georgia First Amendment Foundation on October 26th! I am deeply grateful. My long time friend Dubose Porter introduced me, and Mike Luckovich drew a cartoon of me—-Many blessings! Steve Farrow came to cheer me on. Thank you all for attending!


Congratulations, Decatur! I look forward to celebrating the Bicentennial of the city of Decatur December 8-10.

"Get celebrate Decatur’s Bicentennial with the launch of our 200 stories project, an early morning race, a walking/driving tour, a community parade and float contest, a community celebration on the square with plenty of music, food, games, activities, face painting, stilt walkers, 200 cupcakes, and a 200th celebration light show and much more." Fun! To learn more, go to


The first annual Symposium to Address the Maternal Health Crisis in Georgia will be held Wednesday, November 29th from 9am to 3pm. The conference will take place at the Emory Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta, and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, will speak, as will maternal health leaders. Advocacy groups and others will join with members of the public for presentations, a networking luncheon and an afternoon panel discussion. If Governor Kemp had not called a Special Session for November 29th, I would be there! Please register at


On Wednesday, November 15th, I enjoyed attending a reception with my House colleagues, Mayor Patti Garrett, Decatur City Council members and the City Schools of Decatur School Superintendent Gyimah Whitaker.

Fabulous! Congratulations to Decatur High School Girls' Cross Country champs! Read all about them in Decaturish at

I love Tybee on a wind-blown November morning.

On October 30th I was very pleased to introduce some of my political friends to Representatives Jasmine Clark and Ruwa Romman, both new legislators from Gwinnett County. These women are stars, and they represent how we are going to move Democrats into leadership positions. As the redistricting session begins again on November 29th, we will be focusing on opportunities just outside the perimeter. Stay tuned for more progress!

We had a great turnout on October 24th at Decatur Presbyterian Church for a legislative forum - and 70+ participants on zoom! Thanks to Ellen Williams for great organization and Thomas Wheatley of Axios Atlanta for moderating. I enjoyed participating with my colleaguesRepresentatives Omari Crawford, Saira Draper, Karla Drenner and Becky Evans and Senators Kim Jackson and Elena Parent.

I enjoyed attending an Autism Speaks event at the Marcus Autism Center, a not-for-profit organization and subsidiary of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Todd Jones and I visited the 130-year-old Hillside Treatment Center in Morningside, formerly an orphanage and now a residential psychiatric treatment center that serves many of Georgia's foster care youth.

I love this!!! Congratulations to Agnes Scott senior Madison Jennings for being named as a Rhodes Scholar. You make us all proud!

Thanks to Rep. Becky Evans for hosting the DeKalb House delegation on Sunday, October 1st. Also in attendance was Rep. Dr. Jasmine Clark's daughter!

Very beautiful and peaceful morning on Fightingtown Creek - I love North Georgia!

Henry and I showed up for the dog costume contest on October 21st for the Open Streets Emory Village celebration. I’m sure we would’ve won if the contest had not been canceled. Bummer. There’s always next year!

During the week of October 9th, I heard Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste, in Decatur and Heather Cox Richardson, author of Democracy Awakening, at the Carter Center — plus Decatur resident Cam McWhirter talked about his new book American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15. A great week for great authors!

PreK week at the Clifton School on the Emory campus! I read Pete the Cat, and even sang—fun! I also learned there is a one year waiting list for the infant room, and the weekly rate is $356 for babies. Wow.

On October 7th, Todd Jones and I received the Legislators of the Year from the Academy of Pediatrics for the privilege of working for mental health reform. Thank you to the Academy, and also to David Ralston, may he rest in peace.

The Chanticleer Chorus in Schwartz Hall on October 5th was fabulous! Such a treat!


Tuesday, November 28th - Emory Village Alliance event fundraiser at Double Zero

Wednesday, November 29th - Maternal health event at Emory Conference Center and breakfast with President Fenves

Friday, December 1st - Emory Chorus Lessons and Carols at Glenn Memorial Church

Monday, December 4th - Lighting of Capitol Christmas Tree hosted by Governor and First Lady Marty Kemp

Thursday, December 7th - State Bar Advisory Committee on Legislation

Friday, December 8th - Georgia Supreme Court Justice for Children Commission Meeting

Saturday, December 9th - City of Decatur Bicentennial Celebration events

Sunday, December 10th - Decatur High School musical theater production of Once Upon a Mattress


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.