July 20, 2023

Summer 2023

I thoroughly enjoyed participating on June 24th at the Carter Center weekend program on mental health and the legacy of Rosalynn Carter— a mental health reform leader for over 50 years. More about that and more summer updates!


I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! Here are photos from the daytime and evening festivities in Decatur (source: Decaturish - Dean Hesse, photographer) and the flag off of my cabin porch in Fightingtown Creek.


I want to share with you a letter I have received on gun violence from Dr. Wendy Little and 37 other pediatric emergency medicine physicians. It is a powerful message. All of us read the daily headlines about increasing mass shootings and deaths of children from multiple neighborhoods around us. Ongoing conversations for solutions are hard, but I will keep trying.

The tragic murders of four Hampton residents this past weekend, as well as the shooting of three law enforcement officers, was initiated by an individual who was a veteran treated for PTSD and psychiatric trauma. His mother spoke of her efforts to get help for him and her fear of his potential proclivity towards violence. This weekend's tragedy, resulting in five deaths, is another clear example of the need for a red flag law.

Read the July 16th AJC article Hampton shooting spree began with peaceful morning before 4 were killed

Read the July 5th AJC article ‘Senseless act’: 2-year-old paralyzed from waist down after DeKalb shooting


An Open Letter From Concerned Physicians to Georgia Lawmakers Regarding Gun Violence and Children

Please note: The views and sentiments expressed are those of the signed individuals and are not intended to represent our employers or affiliated institutions.

Dear Georgia Lawmakers:

We are pediatric emergency medicine physicians in Georgia. We have committed our professional lives to caring for each and every child that comes through the door of our emergency departments. In recent months, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of children presenting with gunshot wounds. Our hearts break along with their families for the loss of life, health and promise these children experience.

In Governor Kemp’s election campaign, he posed with a gun in what he and staffers might maintain was “joking” about threatening teenage boys courting the governor’s daughter. Other politicians have also brandished weapons in campaign ads and materials. But we would like to share with you what we see too often when boys and girls are actually shot – whether by accident or intention.

First, there is the alert about an incoming patient. Often the information is limited to the approximate age of patient and some hint as to their condition:

"awake and alert”


“CPR in progress”

The team forms up in the trauma room. Donning gloves, goggles and plastic gowns. Lead physician and nurse assigning roles:

“Do we have blood ready?”

“We will want a quick Xray”

“Set up the chest tube tray”

“Who will work on IV access?”

As everyone gets into position the words "they are pulling up" are following by an expectant pause, a brief moment of quiet. Each person with their own thoughts and prayers:

“please let me do my job the best I can”

“please let the team function well”

“please, please let the patient be ok.”

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) pushes the stretcher into the room. Sometimes the patient is crying in pain; more often they are quiet in stunned shock-- pale and sweaty skin, asking for water as their body tries to replace the life blood they are losing. Or the worst of all, they are unresponsive, and already efforts are in progress to breathe for them, pushing on sometimes very tiny chests trying to circulate what little blood is left in their hemorrhaging bodies.

Now the expectant pause is over. Everyone is busy – cutting clothing off the patient, placing or checking IVs. The physician leader trying to manage this chaos while assessing the patient. ‘Where are the injuries?’ We quickly inspect the patient looking for the telltale holes.

It is amazing just how small those holes in the body can be. Not much bigger than a penny sometimes.Those tiny holes on the surface only hint at the damage done inside the body. The blood pooling where it should not – around the heart and lungs impairing their function, in the abdomen where it can be hard to detect until too much is lost, into the skull compressing the brain and causing increasing pressure and damage.

We push fluids and transfuse blood. We stabilize airways. The sickening “pop” of a chest tube being pushed between a child’s ribs, followed by a rush of blood and air, is hard to forget. We obtain X-rays trying to determine the extent of the damage.

“Is the patient stable for CT scan?“

“Are we going straight to the operating room?“

“Push another unit of blood.”

“Start chest compressions.”

...or the worst, “stop chest compressions. Time of death...”

The family arrives, stunned, sometimes in bloody clothing from where they clutched their child while awaiting help. The chaplain sits with them, offers a gown. The physician speaks with them as soon as we are able, and we do our best to answer and comfort:

“Will my baby be ok?”

“Will he walk again?”

“When can I see her?”

We give what information we know:

“your child is in the CT scanner”

“your child is going to the operating room now”

...or the heart-wrenching, “I’m so very sorry, we did all we could, but your child has died.”

We return to our jobs, to the other patients waiting. The trauma room is cleaned of blood, bandages and cut-off clothing, and prepared for the next patient. We finish our shifts and we head home. We shower and change. We hold our families close and try not to think about the loss of life, of potential, we witnessed at work. But our lives-- and those of our patients and their families--are forever changed.

Guns are not a joking matter. Our children are suffering and dying from firearm injuries. We implore you to show leadership in making this world safer for our children. We plead with you to support and implement laws to keep our children safe, including safe gun storage requirements, universal background checks and “red flag” laws to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people. Most importantly, we beg you to use your influence to stem the celebration of gun culture, and model care and concern for our children.


Wendalyn Little MD, MPH

Maneesha Agarwal MD

Kelsey Allen MD, MPH

Bola Akinsola MD

Yvonne Atherly-John MD

Tal Berkowitz MD

Reena Blanco MD

Rebecca Burger MD

Sofia Chaudhary MD

Jacinta Cooper MD

Brian Costello MD

Karli Okeson MD

Alesia Fleming MD

Kiesha Fraser Doh MD

Michael Greenwald MD

Majura Gujarathi MD

Peter Gutierrez MD

Sherita Holmes MD

Ruth Hwu MD

Shobhit Jain MD

Naghma Khan MD

Sonya Kheshti MD

Joseph Langham MD

Sarah Lazarus DO

Jeffrey Linzer MD

Lauren Middlebrooks MD

Alexandra Monroe MD

Claudia Morris MD

Brittany Murray MD

Katherine Nicholson MD

Christopher Rees MD

Tamar Robinson MD

Jennifer Rosario MD

Beth Schissel MD

Lekha Shah MD

Carmen Sulton MD

Deborah Young MD

Ronine Zamor MD


As you will read below, the Georgia House and Senate are conducting a public conversation and study on tax credits. All of the committee meetings are livestreamed, and you can follow the discussion if you wish.

The Georgia Department of Audit does an analysis every year on the economy. That audit states that the film industry in Georgia does not make money for the state. In order to maintain the Georgia Film Tax Credit, the state arguably taxes every Georgian $100, including children, not just individuals who pay taxes. Georgia offers more than one billion dollars a year in tax credit to the film industry. Below is an updated review of the state audit as well as reporting on said audit.

AUDIT: https://www.audits.ga.gov/ReportSearch/download/28730

GPB: https://www.gpb.org/news/2022/11/01/whats-wrong-picture-state-auditors-give-georgias-movie-tax-credit-mixed-reviews

11ALIVE: https://www.11alive.com/article/entertainment/audit-georgia-film-tax-credit/85-ff32e6c4-c09e-472e-822a-c9f70312c502

CAPITOL BEAT: https://capitol-beat.org/2022/11/bean-counters-give-georgia-film-tax-credit-mixed-review/


As you are reading in the local news, there is ongoing conversation regarding Woodland Hills and Toco Hills neighborhood efforts to be annexed into the city of Brookhaven. These issues are being argued among a variety of folks, and relevant procedural issues relating to the process of annexation are being raised. Much discussion revolves around the 60/60 law, where "at least 60% of property owners plus at least 60% of the resident electors must sign a petition in favor of annexation," as stated by Rough Draft Atlanta. From this example of annexation efforts using the 60% method that allows property owners and voters to petition, we need proposals to ensure transparency and greater clarity defining tax and service responsibilities.

Statement from DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond on July 19th: “On behalf of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, we are pleased that Mr. Howard Ginsberg has chosen to withdraw his Brookhaven annexation application. This decision will promote transparency and protect the due-process rights of DeKalb residents.”

Questions you are asking: Who is entitled to seek annexations and who is entitled to object? How can citizens who are impacted by the process of annexation learn about their options?

Read about the 60/60 law here.

Check out these articles if you are interested in learning more about the Brookhaven annexation saga.

Rough Draft Atlanta, July 19th

Fox 5 News, July 19th

Decaturish, July 19th


As you know, after nine years, Political Rewind has been canceled by Georgia Public Broadcasting, and you have shared your feelings of sadness and anger with me. I was a guest on Rewind on June 20th for the last time, and I thanked Bill Nigut for all his skills and kindness to me. I hope I also communicated to his young and competent production staff my gratitude. I have spoken out on TV, radio, and with anyone who will listen that this decision of GPB is terrible, and is exercised, I believe, by Republican leadership who do not support a balanced, honest, and bipartisan conversation about the politics of the day. This turn of events is very sad and a loss for us all, regardless of party. I will no longer donate to GPB, and will transfer my gift to WABE. I hope Rewind and Bill Nigut will find a new media home. Again, I thank Bill for all his excellent work.


This summer, there are two House Study Committees ongoing that address major issues. I anticipate that both study committees will result in recommendations. I am following these study committee meetings, attending in person or via zoom, and will report on progress.

The Study Committee on Tax Credits, Chaired by Representative Shaw Blackmon, has become more controversial in recent years, and there are apparently different views between the House and the Senate. We may be most familiar with the $1.7 billion in tax credits extended to Hyundai for the car manufacturing site in Bryan County, as well as for the $1.5 billion in tax credits extended to Rivian in Walton County.

In addition to these major new projects, the $1 billion in tax credits extended to the film industry will also be reviewed. The annual $1 billion in tax credits, making Georgia number one most of the year in movie production, arguably costs each of the 10+ million citizens of Georgia $100 each. Audits have been conducted by most of the tax credit proposals, and the results generally show that the tax credits are a wash.

The Certificate of Need Reform Study Committee reviews the history and the current viability of Georgia's CON Law, a certificate of need planning statute. CON laws were mandated by the federal government in the early 1970s, but the mandate was repealed in the late 1980s. The 50 states offer a wide variety of examples of whether certificate of need laws reduce cost of healthcare and serve patients. This important study effort is shared by Butch Parrish, and we are communicating about the committee's activities.

The House website contains all the materials for the CON study from the first committee meeting on July 13th, and can be reviewed at https://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/CertificateofNeedModernization.aspx

The Tax Credit Study Committee also has materials that might interest you. Learn more at https://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/JointTaxCreditReview.aspx


In addition to my participation in the Carter Center program honoring Rosalynn Carter, as pictured below in the Out and About section, I am having daily conversations regarding behavioral health, and just this week met with the Carter Center regarding the enforcement of parity provisions in HB 1013. Workforce issues continue to be a priority, and I will report any updates to you as they develop.


I am proud of my summer intern, Isaac Delaney!

Isaac T. Delaney is a rising undergraduate student at Dartmouth College and will study Government modified with Economics and Philosophy. Isaac is an Atlanta native and a recent graduate of North Springs High School in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He graduated as a math and science magnet student and was recently honored as a Horatio Alger Scholar by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. After Dartmouth, Isaac intends to pursue law school and eventually become a child advocacy attorney. He is ecstatic to be working with Representative Oliver this summer, and is looking forward to learning more about the legislative process and some legislative priorities in the upcoming session such as Certificate of Need reform and budget hearings.


On July 19th, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hosted a conversation with Maureen Downey and U.S. Education Secretary McGill Cardona. I was very glad to attend and appreciated the frank discussion of the severe challenges facing children and schools. Another panel with education experts, including Tracey Nance, former Georgia Teacher of the Year, was particularly impressive to me. Thank you, Agnes Scott, and the AJC for this very helpful program.

Thanks to the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association for hosting me along with DeKalb County Commissioner Michelle Long Spears at their membership meeting on July 10th.

July 4th-Beautiful quiet end of the day! Congratulations to all the Peachtree runners!


Rocky Mountain National Park is a privilege to visit! I had a wonderful trip, complete with a snowy climb to 12k feet, wildlife, and hot sulphur soaks! The turkeys made their way up the hill to our cabin each evening to roost.

I thoroughly enjoyed participating on June 24th at the Carter Center weekend program on mental health and the legacy of Rosalynn Carter— a mental health reform leader for over 50 years. Rose Scott was our moderator and did a fabulous job!!

The new diversity of the House showed up on June 20th to greet the Ambassador from Pakistan. Two of our House members are from Pakistan, plus Chinese, Nigerian, Korean, Hispanic, and Vietnam members, one of which is a South Georgia cotton farmer with a Georgia Tech degree. At present there is one billion in trade between Georgia and Pakistan—-technology and agriculture mostly.

On June 17, I attended an excellent program presented by the Georgia Advocacy Office and service providers for the adult developmentally disabled population. We learned about the benefits of technology that help young adults become more independent. All legislators in the expanded metro area were invited, but no Republicans attended. Governor Kemp’s removal of a wage salary increase for daily service providers of this adult disabled population has been devastating—one example of the impact of the Governor’s weakening mental health reform efforts. Frustrating.

I attended a talk by Senator Jon Tester of Montana on June 8th. So cool—three excellent U.S. Senators in Druid Hills, helping each other to do the right thing for all of us! I welcomed Senator Tester, a farmer from Montana, to Georgia!

I loved the Carter Center discussion on May 30th with Stacey Abrams about her new book, Rogue Justice. Sell out crowd!

May 27th - a beautiful sunny morning on Fightingtown Creek with infinite shades of green! Plus, a new neighbor and new mountain bike trails—- all good.

Every year I meet with the law students interning over the summer with Juvenile Court Judges and other child welfare professional groups, and at the end of the summer I learn about their experiences— very interesting. On May 25th, I presented a legislative report to the Supreme Court Commission on Children.


Thursday, July 27th - MARTOC Committee Meeting

Thursday, August 3rd - Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) meeting, focus on homelessness

Friday, August 4th - Atlanta History Center program Let The World See on Mamie and Emmett Till

Thursday, August 10th - North Atlanta Rotary Club presentation

Tuesday, August 22nd - Emory Delegation lunch


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.