As we hurtle towards the end of the legislative session, tensions are rising and days are getting longer. Last week, we met for days 36, 37 and 38 with two committee days to continue moving bills forward.
Thursday was the most eventful day under the Gold Dome, when the House passed the omnibus voter suppression bill SB 202. Keep in mind, SB 202 originally passed the Senate as a two-page bill about absentee ballots. The bill was completely transformed with amendments in House committee until it was a bloated 95-page bill. The House committee that reviewed it received next to no notice of the meeting or the changes. THEN, the bill was heard on the House floor less than a day after it was made available to the public. After passing the House, the bill was immediately transmitted to the Senate for an agree/disagree vote – again, this happened in a matter of hours when it would normally happen at least a day later.
After passing the Senate again, this enormous bill was not even reviewed by the governor’s legal counsel, as most bills are. Instead, Governor Kemp immediately signed the bill in a closed door ceremony (see the photo below). The changes in this bill happened quickly, with little review, no opportunity for public comment and with haste rarely seen during the legislative session. Regardless of your thoughts about the contents of this bill, I think we can all agree that legislation deserves due process.
To top it all off, when my colleague Rep. Park Cannon knocked on the door of the room where the bill signing was taking place, she was arrested for willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence (a felony) and preventing or disrupting general assembly members sessions or other meeting of members (third offense) – all for knocking on a door. A vigil was held outside the Fulton County Jail until she was released five hours later.
My Voting Record
SB 218 creates the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission, which shall have the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of appointed or elected district attorneys or solicitors-general. This bill passed the House with my NO vote. I voted no because I disagree with the premise that a partisan commission can remove legally elected district attorneys. This is why we have elections. Please note that SB 218 now contains the contents of HB 411, which passed the House with my NO vote, but failed to make it out of committee on the Senate side.
SB 47 expands the SB210 Special Needs Scholarship, a school choice program available for special needs students attending Georgia public schools who are served under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The bill expands eligibility to include students who have 504 plans – 504 plans are used to provide accommodations to students who do not qualify for an IEP. This bill passed the House with my NO vote. I was concerned about the inequity afforded to this scholarship money – students in rural areas often don’t have access to private schools authorized to participate in the program. For students who do have access, the amount of money awarded does not come close to the cost of private school tuition.
SB 75 allows victims of stalkers to terminate his or her lease without penalty. This bill passed the House with my YES vote.
Bills to Watch
HB 290 passed the House with my no vote a few weeks ago. This legislation prohibits hospitals and nursing homes from instituting any policy during a declared public health emergency that limits patients’ abilities to be visited by designated family members. Today, in our Fulton County Delegation meeting, we heard from executives at Grady Hospital, who spoke about the unintended consequences for this legislation. The bill would require Grady to allow visitors to the psychiatric ward to visit someone suffering from homicidal ideation, or to the Ebola virus ward, or to visit survivors of sexual trafficking, or impede the work being done to save casualties of a mass terrorist incident. This bill is now in the Senate, and if it passes, will return to the House for another vote. The bill is being changed in committee on the Senate side, but I stand by my stance that the state should not tell hospitals how they should best ensure the health and well being of their patients.
SB 236 will allow restaurants to sell mixed drinks for off-premises consumption. That’s right – if this bill passes, you’ll be be able to order a margarita with your Mexican takeout! It has passed the Senate, but has yet to come to the floor of the House for a vote.
You have two chances left to join me for a Listening Session!
This Sunday, March 28th, at 4 pm! Register for the Zoom link here:
If you haven’t attended yet, this is an informal conversation – it’s not recorded, it’s not broadcast live on Facebook, and it’s a great chance to ask questions and actually engage with your elected official.
Thursday, April 1st, at 7 pm (no fooling!)! Join me and Rep. Shea Roberts for a Legislative Wrap-Up Listening Session. Register for the Zoom link here:
EVERY GEORGIAN 16 AND UP IS NOW ELIGIBLE FOR A COVID-19 VACCINE
The faster you get vaccinated, the faster we get to herd immunity and things go back to normal!
There are multiple ways to get your vaccine – they are consolidated on the Georgia.gov COVID Vaccine site.
Or call the Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line:
VaccineSpotter finds pharmacy vaccination appointments for you based on your location.
Problems scheduling a vaccine? Email my Chief of Staff at email@example.com and she’ll try to help.
Jessica Corbitt from the Fulton County Government updated the Fulton County Delegation this week on the how the vaccine is rolling out in Fulton County. One third of the county has gotten their first dose, which puts us in the same category as Alaska, the state leading in percentage of its population vaccinated. They are also rolling out mobile vaccination units, in order to provide outreach to vulnerable populations, and partnering with faith organizations, senior centers, and Latinx organizations to provide vaccinations to all who want them.
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 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