Legislative days 9-11 flew by last week. In addition to debating and voting on legislation, we celebrated visits from the Girls Scouts, wore red in recognition of Women’s Heart Health Awareness Month and welcomed Chaplain Angel Berrios from Fort Benning as our Chaplain of the Day.
The Higher Education Committee met to hear from the Department of Audits on the Student Access Loan program, and the Fulton County Delegation gathered for a report from Fulton County Schools. Take a look below to see what else we accomplished this week.
Why Are We Still Redistricting?
During the special session in November, I’m sure you saw lots of news coverage and updates about the redistricting process. Every ten years, the maps for state house, state senate, and U.S. Congressional seats are redrawn based on the new census numbers. We adjourned before Thanksgiving, but we’re still not done redistricting! Now, we need to redraw the districts for county commissions, schools boards and city councils, based on those population shifts.
These decisions are made by local delegations. A local delegation is comprised of only the House or Senate members that represent that area. For example, I am a member of the City of Atlanta delegation AND the Fulton county delegation, because my district resides in both of those areas. These delegations are responsible for drawing district maps, but also make decisions on things like school board pay or homestead exemption.
All local bills are added to the Local Calendar – we vote on these bills as a group, and they often pass, because we trust local legislations to make the best decisions for their communities. This is what we call local control.
However, this year, the leadership in the House has taken unprecedented action to change this process of local control. The local bill from the Gwinnett county delegation, redrawing its county commission lines, was removed from the local calendar and rewritten without the support of the delegation. It then came to a vote on the floor of the House outside the local calendar, and passed, with almost every member of the Gwinnett delegation voting AGAINST it.
This flies in the face of the principle of local control, and is unprecedented. This maneuvering is designed to improve the chances of Republicans winning county commission seats in the heavily Democratic county of Gwinnett. Similar maneuvers seem likely for the local maps coming from the Cobb County delegation, in response to the fact that Democrats won a majority on the Cobb County Commission in the 2020 election.
My Voting Record
HB 752, the “Psychiatric Advance Directive Act,” allows a competent adult to express their mental health care treatment preferences and desires directly through instructions written in advance. Additionally, an adult can appoint an agent to make mental health care decisions on their own behalf. I voted yes on this bill.
HB 867, the Truth in Prescription Pricing for Patients Act, will lower prescription drug costs for consumers by addressing how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) calculate the price for prescriptions that individuals and their health coverage plans pay in a way that is more transparent to consumers. I voted yes on this bill.
HB 218 is a reciprocity bill that allows gun license-holders in other states to carry their guns here in Georgia. This means that if someone is licensed to carry a gun in another state with more lax gun laws than Georgia, that person can also carry here. I voted no on this bill.
Buckhead City Update
On Wednesday, February 2nd, I delivered the closing remarks at “The Future of Buckhead: A Candid Conversation.” The presenters were former State House Representative Ed Lindsey and State Senator Brandon Beach (Alpharetta), moderated by Tharon Johnson & Cory Ruth.
The discussion is archived here.
Reproductive Rights Resolution
Along with other Democratic lawmakers, I signed onto HR 669, affirming our strong commitment to the protection of reproductive health, rights, and justice, which includes the right to access and legal abortion, something supported by a clear majority of Georgians.
COVID Testing Update
We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and the numbers are still high. Georgia’s ICU beds are currently at 88.9% capacity. Please test yourself if you’ve been exposed or are experiencing symptoms – stop the spread!
Fulton county has established two new mega-testing sites:
Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
1 Backyard Way, Atlanta, GA 30313
Wednesday – Monday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.
620 Morgan Falls Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30350
Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sunday – 8:30 a.m. – Noon Closed Saturdays.
A list of all Fulton county testing sites is available here.
Don’t forget that you can order four free at-home COVID tests delivered to your home here!
Join me on Sunday, February 13th at 4 pm for another Listening Session! Register here for the Zoom link to attend.
If you haven’t already, please browse my website, betsyforgeorgia.com.
As your Representative, your concerns are important to me. Please contact me at email@example.com 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.
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