March 25th marks Day 36 of the 40-day session of the General Assembly.
REMINDER: You have until April 1st to file for the Fulton County Homestead Tax Exemption. If you qualify, please file this week. Information can be found here.
One controversial bill continues to dominate coverage in the press and conversations at the Capitol – HB 481, the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” that would essentially outlaw abortion in Georgia. The bill passed the Senate on Friday on a party line vote — 34 to 18.
Because it has been amended since it left the House, HB 481 must now come back to the House for a full chamber vote again before it can reach Governor Kemp’s desk.
I wholeheartedly oppose this bill.
- It puts women’s lives at risk.
- It further weakens our struggling maternal healthcare system.
- It ignores Georgia’s 8,000 doctors who oppose the bill.
- It imposes the non-medically trained judgement of legislators into the most intimate, personal and painful decisions that should instead be made by women in consultation with their partners, their doctors, and their faith.
- It is driving new businesses and talent away from Georgia.
Other Bills to Watch This Week
As if that isn’t enough, I anticipate several other contentious bills to hit the House floor this week:
- SB 77 seeks to remove local control over the display of Confederate monuments and increase penalties for removing or defacing them. This is an about-face from Republicans’ typical vigorous protection of local control.
- HB 447 now has a similar posture as SB 77 in that it preempts local control of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport with an attempted state takeover. You may remember that a bill designed to allow a state authority to take over management of the airport from the City of Atlanta passed the Senate, but it has stalled in the House Rules committee. Word is Speaker Ralston said he hasn’t yet heard a compelling reason for the state takeover. But the takeover language has now been grafted onto HB 447 — a bill exempting jet fuel tax — which is very important to airlines operating in Georgia. The airlines quietly oppose a state takeover of the airport while supporting the fuel tax exemption, which puts the fate of HB447 into question.
- HB 68 also became an unwitting vehicle for school vouchers last week. The voucher proposal would funnel millions of dollars in taxpayer money to private schools or families who home school. The original school voucher bill (SB 173) was voted down in the Senate, but a freshman senator attached the voucher language onto a House bill making its way through the Senate chamber. I oppose this school voucher measure because it would harm our public schools and likely raise our property taxes to make up for the diverted funds.
- SB 106 is Governor Kemp’s Medicaid waiver bill. It will be voted on by the full House chamber today. While it’s a step in the right direction, it still does not cover all Georgians who fall into the “insurance gap.” Instead, it leaves about 220,000 working poor Georgians (e.g. a family of 4 making between $25,100 – $34,638) without coverage. Also, it gives the Governor the ability to change some of the ACA guidelines on things like requiring insurers to cover preventative care and pre-existing conditions. Full Medicaid expansion would be a far more effective, financially responsible, and compassionate approach.
Protect Our Care Georgia Press Conference
Speaking of healthcare, Wednesday I participated in a press conference celebrating the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sponsored by Protect Our Care Georgia. I joined elected officials including U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson, State Senator Nan Orrock, and State Representatives Erick Allen, Pat Gardner, Mary Robicheaux and House Minority Leader Bob Trammel.
We lauded the progress obtained through the ACA, including prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to remain on their parents’ insurance plans for longer.
We also expressed ongoing concern that, by not expanding Medicaid, Georgia continues to leave billions of federal dollars on the table while still allowing over 200,000 Georgians to go without healthcare coverage. This has led to the closure of hospitals and medical practices, especially in rural Georgia. More than half of Georgia counties lack a practicing ob/gyn, and almost as many lack a practicing pediatrician. Georgia’s refusal to expand Medicaid damages citizen’s health and the state’s economic growth.
North Buckhead Civic Association
I was honored to speak to the North Buckhead Civic Association on Tuesday and update residents about the goings-on in the State Legislature. I was joined by other elected officials, including Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore and Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris. The engaged crowd asked plenty of great questions.
Fun in District 54
Finally, I joined other families in the district at the Garden Hills Garden Club Spring Fling on Sunday. It was a great opportunity to relax with members of our community and enjoy the neighborhood’s newly renovated field. I’d show you a few photos but my kiddo took a spill and I had to take him home and tend to his minor injuries. Good news: all is well and he’s feeling fine!
Hope you all had a great weekend and that you got a chance to get out and enjoy the beauty that is springtime in the South.
Stay in Touch
If you haven’t already, please visit my website at betsyforgeorgia.com.
Also, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-656-0116 with questions, concerns, or solutions you may have regarding legislation or other happenings in District 54.
For updates on the House proceedings, follow the Georgia House of Representatives @GAHouseHub on Twitter. Additionally, in-depth information regarding current bills, Georgia’s annual and supplemental budgets, committee meetings, and livestreams from the General Assembly can be accessed via www.legis.ga.gov.
I encourage you and your family to visit our State Capitol and my office, where all constituents are welcome. I look forward to connecting with you!
My office address is:
18 Capitol Square, SW
490-B, Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.
Representative Betsy Holland
GA House District 54