We had a packed week at the Capitol with legislative days 20 through 24 flying by. Session met every day this week, and we voted on many bills – most of which are not that interesting to talk about!
However, tensions are rising as HB 531, the omnibus voter suppression bill (see below under Bills to Watch), passed out of committee, passed out of Rules, and is now slated for a vote on Monday. While there are more than 90 election-related bills currently circulating in the legislature, HB 531 is by far the most worrisome.
I joined protestors in front of the Capitol on Thursday as they rallied to oppose the bill. On Friday, a handful of protestors gathered in the Capitol rotunda once session was in recess. Capitol police dispersed the protestors, despite the fact that they were gathered inside legally. In the process, an unmasked officer grabbed Rep. Park Cannon by the arm to forcibly move her out of the way. This was unacceptable – as an elected official, Rep. Cannon had every right to be there. I was standing only a few feet away from her, and no one tried to forcibly remove me. I joined several colleagues for a sit-in to protest the treatment of the protestors in general and Rep. Cannon in particular.
My Voting Record
This week, I voted no on two bills that would restrict the ability of municipalities from making their own decisions. I believe strongly that the state should not be telling cities, counties, or any type of municipality what to do, especially before they’ve even done it. Local government should have local control.
HB 150 would prohibit local governments from creating building codes that are based solely on the type of energy used. I stand by local governments and their power to protect the health and environment of their communities. The state should not limit the ability of cities to make local decisions that impact energy choice.
HB 286 restricts the ability of county governing authorities from reducing funding for their county police departments by more than 5% per year. Are counties reducing funding from their police departments? They are not. Again, the state should not be mandating how counties spend their money.
Bills to Watch
HB 531, the omnibus voter suppression bill introduced by Rep. Barry Fleming, passed out of the Special Committee on Election Integrity, and will reach the House floor on Monday.
As a reminder, this bill will mandate absentee ID, reduce drop box availability, set earlier deadlines for requesting absentee ballots and disqualify ballots cast in the wrong precinct, among other voter suppression measures.
What can you do? Email and call Speaker Ralston and ask him not to bring the bill to the floor of the House for a vote: email@example.com, (404) 656-5020.
If you have friends and relatives who are not represented by Democrats, ask them to contact their legislators as well!
The following two bills passed out of Senate committee and could be heard in the Senate next week:
- SB 69, which ends automatic voter registration when you get your driver’s license, and
- SB 71, which ends no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia.
Contact Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan at 404-656-5030 about these bills.
SB 241 will be heard next week in the Senate Ethics committee. This bill is another restrictive omnibus voter suppression bill, and would severely limit who is eligible to vote by mail, require applications to be made under oath with additional ID requirements and require some ballots to have a witness signature and include a photocopy of ID to be counted.
Contact the members of the Senate Ethics committee here: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
COVID-19 Vaccination Update
We are still vaccinating Phase 1A only:
- Healthcare workers (physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, EMS personnel, environmental services, etc.)
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Adults aged 65+ and their caregivers
- Law enforcement, firefighters, first responders
Beginning March 8, 2021, the following groups will also be eligible for COVID vaccine:
- Educators and staff (Pre-K, K-12, DECAL licensed or exempt childcare programs)
- Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers
- Parents of children with complex medical conditions
If you are eligible for either group, you may pre-register here. You may also register on the site to receive email updates and to learn when you will be eligible.
Join me this Sunday, February 28th at 4 pm for another Listening Session!
I will be holding Listening Sessions most Sundays at 4 pm over Zoom until the end of the Legislative Session. The next sessions are scheduled for March 7th, March 14th, and March 21st.
Registering once will automatically register you for every Zoom, but feel free to only attend the ones you want!
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, 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.
When this is all over, 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