Sine Die, the fortieth and last day of the legislative session, started off quietly last Monday. I had the special treat of bringing my kid along for the first few hours, and we capped off the morning with a touching tribute to Representative Calvin Smyre, the dean of the House and longest serving member in the chamber. After 48 years of service to the people of Georgia, the Dean is retiring, leading to an emotion-filled speech and portrait presentation. As the day dragged on, updated versions of bills continued to fly across our desks. We voted final passage for the state budget after the lunch break. The Governor appeared around 10:00 pm to urge us to continue working.
While plenty of bad bills had made their way through the chambers, it truly felt like Sine Die was shaping up to be a pretty moderate day . . . until just after midnight, when HB1084 came back to the House for an agree/disagree vote. Essentially, it’s a time for the House to vote on the bill a second time if it was amended or changed in the Senate. HB 1084 was already a contentious bill as it limits how “divisive concepts” can be taught in schools. But that wasn’t the strange thing – the strange thing was that we didn’t have a copy of the amended bill on our desks, and the presenter did not say what the amendment included. Thankfully, a few representatives had been tipped off by Senate colleagues a few minutes earlier, when the exact same thing happened in that chamber. Language to potentially ban transgender girls from sports had been added to the bill – an issue we thought had been killed and wouldn’t come to the floor for a vote. Members desperately hit their buttons to request to speak and cried out “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker!!” but to no avail. No one was allowed to speak to the bill, and it passed the chamber. Not long after, we adjourned for the evening.
It was a crummy way to end what was otherwise a low-key last day of session. On my drive home, the song Dear Mr. President by Pink and the Indigo Girls came on my iTunes. And while that’s a song about different political leadership from a different era, I still broke down in tears. My heart breaks for the gay and trans youth in our community who are hearing messages that it’s not okay to be who they are. I can only hope we start the work to repair this next year.
Speaking of next year, it’s that time again – my seat representing House District 54 will be up for re-election in November. Stay tuned for more information about campaign activities and ways you can get involved!
The Good Bills
- The Mental Health Parity bill passed, delivering a massive overhaul of mental health care in Georgia. This bill ensures that insurance companies treat mental health and substance abuse treatment the same as any other kind of medical care. Gov. Kemp signed it into law on Sine Die.
- The budget included raises for teachers and state employees.
- Postpartum Medicaid was extended from six months to one year.
- Juneteenth is now a paid state holiday for state employees.
- Recess is now mandatory for K-5th grade students.
- Victims of labor or sex trafficking can apply for their misdemeanor or felony convictions to be immediately vacated if their crimes were a direct result of trafficking.
- “Gap” funding grants are now available for students who find themselves in need of additional funding to finish college.
The Bad Bills
- Teachers cannot teach “divisive concepts.”
- It’s easier for parents to ban books at schools.
- It’s easier to stop transgender kids from playing school sports.
- Parents can opt out of mask mandates.
- You no longer need a permit to conceal carry a gun.
- Local redistricting maps diluted the voting power of minorities in rapidly diversifying districts, and were drafted without the support of their local delegations and without public input.
- The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has subpoena power and the ability to initiate election cases without a referral from the Secretary of State’s office.
- There was a massive expansion of tuition subsidies for private schools, by doubling the cap on tax credits for contributions to the Georgia student scholarship program.
The Bad Bills That Did Not Pass
- Restricting access to abortion pills
- 10 out of 12 anti-education bills
- Two bills to attack bail reform and criminalize protest in Georgia
- Elimination of ballot drop boxes
- Buckhead City legislation
Now that session is over, I am free to resume fundraising! I do have an opponent for the November election, and my lack of support for the Buckhead City initiative has painted a bulls eye on my back. No safe is seat – not even mine. I appreciate your support for my re-election campaign.
What District Am I In?
A few weeks ago, I qualified to run for re-election as State Representative for House District 54! However, due to redistricting that happened this November, District 54 looks very different now. I may not be on your ballot come November.
To find your district, log into the Georgia My Voter Page, where your new district is now listed.
Roughly speaking, the new district has a southern boundary of E. Wesley Road, an eastern boundary of the county line between Fulton & Dekalb, a northern boundary of I-285, and a western boundary of Lake Forest Dr & Roswell Road.
Here is a Google Maps version of the new district.
And a pdf version of the old district.
If you are in HD 53, Kelly Coffman is the Democrat running for that district.
If you are in HD 57, Stacey Evans is the incumbent, and is running unopposed.
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