The General Assembly has been adjourned all week, as it has focused on budget hearings. The House will reconvene on February 18th.
The Fulton County Delegation focused on elections and voter access during our Friday meeting. As you may have heard, Georgia is introducing new voting machines for use this year, and the first test of the new machines will be the Presidential Preference Primary in March.
Nicole Robinson from the ACLU and Andre Fields from Fair Fight separately addressed the delegation regarding their concerns about the new machines and election readiness in general. Among the issues raised was a lack of training on the new equipment for poll workers (which is managed at the county level), a lack of privacy with the machines’ large screens, a lack of preparedness for additional power and space needs, and a lack of preparedness for high turn out. The machines require more steps to complete a ballot, so there is concern that this could contribute to longer wait times at polling places. Both voting advocates cited early voting as a critical way to combat some concerns, asking for as many early voting days and locations as possible.
Representatives from the Fulton County Board of Elections then took the floor to talk about ways our county is preparing for the upcoming elections. Poll workers are currently being trained, in person, on the new equipment. The county has implemented a “Track My Mail” program to better monitor the return and processing of absentee ballots. The county has also increased the number of polling places on Election Day, from 183 sites to 198. And there will be 33 early voting locations operating in Fulton county.
The Presidential Preference Primary is on March 24. I highly recommend confirming your voter registration and polling place now to make sure you can vote without any hiccups!
Bills to Watch
HB 444 (Dual enrollment) limits the number of credit hours that high school students can take to 30 credit hours, and also limits the program to junior and seniors, with few exceptions. Because the program has been hugely popular, funding for the program has increased over 325% over the past two years. These changes would likely impact rural students the most, who have less access to high school Advanced Placement courses. The bill was passed by the Senate on January 28th.
HB 842 (Gracie’s law) avoids organ transplant discrimination against people with disabilities in Georgia. It’s named after Gracie Joy Nobles, a young girl with Down’s Syndrome, who would not be able to receive an organ donation if she needed one. Only 12 states have laws to prevent organ donation discrimination.
SB 150 (stripping firearms from those convicted of domestic abuse) failed in the Senate last year, but was reintroduced this session. In 2018, there were 143 domestic violence fatalities in the state of Georgia, and 72% involved a firearm.
The last day to register to vote for the 2020 Presidential Primary is Monday, February 24th, 2020. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Friday, March 20, and the deadline to return the ballot is Monday, March 23. The 2020 Presidential Primary is on March 24th, and early voting is March 2nd – March 20th.
Register to Vote
Check your voter status
Fulton County will also be hosting a mock election on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, from 10 am – 4 pm. The closest location to District 54 is at Chastain Park Gym, 140 West Wieuca Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30342. A full list of locations is available here.
Applications for the Fulton County Homestead Exemption are due April 1. View more information here.
Meet & Greet: Coffee with your Legislator
Join me for coffee on Saturday, February 15th, 10 am, at Dancing Goats Coffee, 3167 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30305 (in the Trader Joe’s shopping center). Come chat with me and share your feedback!
If you haven’t already, please browse my website, betsyforgeorgia.com.
As your Representative, your concerns are important to me. Please 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.
To stay updated, follow me on Twitter and Facebook (click on links at the bottom of this email), and 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 is located at:
18 Capitol Square, SW
409-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