Recently, I’ve seen a lot of attacks and accusations from my Republican opponent about my voting record. I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight about my votes on some key bills last session. None of my votes were taken lightly; I stand by them all.

HB 838

I voted no. This bill sought to give extra protections to police officers, which is a great and noble idea. It’s just that the legislature already passed SB 106, the Back the Badge Act, back in 2017. This bill already provided special protections for police officers. Passing a duplicate bill, instead of amending an old one, often causes unintended bad consequences. In this case, civil rights groups pointed out that this bill could actually wind up leading to SHORTER sentences for people convicted of harming a police officer.

Frankly, this was a bill that was rewritten at the very end of the legislative session and received inadequate examination in committee. Any time that I don’t feel we’ve had an opportunity to thoroughly vet a bill, I vote against it. It’s far easier to perfect a bill and try to pass it again than it is to repeal a bad bill.

You can read more on this bill here:

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/georgia-hb-838-what-is-it-why-do-civil-rights-groups-oppose-it/85-a6f1e1ff-c2b4-42b1-88c5-8bf74ac41858

SB 402

I voted no. This bill was a misguided attempt to punish Fulton judges for trying to deal with a jail overcrowding crisis that they didn’t cause. The outgoing DA of Fulton County, Paul Howard, made overzealous charging decisions that caused our jails to be overcrowded with people awaiting trial, who are innocent until proven guilty. Instead of addressing this overcrowding problem directly, SB 402 forces judges to use cash bail to crowd our jails even further, making the problem WORSE. I support cash bail when appropriate, but no one should have to stay in jail because of a jaywalking charge.

The bill is so punitive, in fact, that it likely will force judges to lock up people charged with those low-level crimes and misdemeanors that the judges do not think pose any risk to public safety—simply because these people cannot afford to post cash bail. I don’t support bills that criminalize poverty.

Nor do I support bills that allow the state to dictate how judges run their cases. SB 402 limits judicial discretion simply because the sponsors wanted to line the pockets of the bail bond industry.

In short, SB 402 was never about public safety, and I’m proud to have voted against it.

You can read more about SB402 here:

https://theappeal.org/criminal-justice-advocates-say-new-law-undermines-georgias-efforts-at-bail-reform/

HB 720

I voted no. This is another bill where the state tried to tell judges how to run their courtroom by imposing mandatory minimum sentences on sex offenders regardless of other circumstances.

I wasn’t alone in voting against this bill – while it passed the House, it never even made it out of committee for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one who had concerns.

HB 994

I voted no. This bill, known as the Anti-Gang Bill, was very divisive in the House. During committee testimony, both a Republican and a Democratic District Attorney testified that the additional anti-gang penalties were unnecessary and might even make it harder to win convictions under certain circumstances. Meanwhile, critics of the bill worried that it defined “gangs” too broadly and would result in unfair sentencing and greater incarceration of young people. According to the director of the GBI, Georgia already had the toughest anti-gang laws in the country.

I believed we needed to step back and re-examine the potential consequences of this bill, as well as discuss more adequate funding for prosecutors, police officers and community programs that can help curb gang activity in young people before it escalates.

You can read more about HB 994 here:

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/getting-tough-on-gangs/85-29644f8e-f6ce-49b5-b36e-3e1a3f1411bf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>