Week Four is in the books. More legislation made it to the House Floor this week—some good and some bad.
I’m particularly disappointed at the open assault on “home rule,” deference to local delegations to control local issues. Georgia is a big state and unless the entire state would be adversely affected, we should allow local delegations to control what goes on close to home.
If you haven’t signed up for my first town hall for this session, please do so below to hear the latest from the Capitol and get your questions answered.
Reminder: Town Hall Thursday!
My first town hall for this session is February 10, 2022 from 7:00-8:30pm. State Senator Sonya Halpern and I will bring you the latest news from the Gold Dome and answer your questions. Please register here for this virtual event.
Votes this Week
HB 752 also known as the “Psychiatric Advance Directive Act,” will allow 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. This bill provides individuals an opportunity to direct their own care with greater specificity, and grants the ability to appoint in advance an agent to assist in making decisions related to mental health. The directives offer medical providers with insight into treatment preference as well as the medical history of mental health patients. This legislation is the result of over a decade’s worth of work, and I am proud of the bipartisan efforts that led to the passage of the Psychiatric Advance Directive Act in the House Chamber this week. I voted YES.
This legislation is part of the priority this year on improving mental health care services in our state. I have to give a shout out to my predecessor Pat Gardner who championed this issue during her many years of service. I’m glad this initiative is moving toward law. Thank you Pat! On to the Senate.
HB 873 is a Gwinnett County commission redistricting map. Normally county redistricting maps are decided by legislators from those counties. Here, however, a few republican members of a majority democratic county delegation hijacked the legislation and inserted their own preferences over those of the majority of the locals. This was a disappointing power grab by Republicans. Unfortunately I don’t think this will be the last time we see efforts like this. I voted NO.
HB 385 attempts to address the shortage of teachers we are facing here in Georgia. This bill would allow retired certified pre-K and K-12 teachers who have obtained 30 years of creditable service to return to the classroom full-time while still receiving the full retirement benefits they have already earned. Under this bill, the state would conduct a performance audit on the value, necessity and impact of retired teachers returning to our classrooms full-time to measure the effectiveness of the legislation. I voted YES.
HB 867 or the Truth in Prescription Pricing for Patients Act, attempts to lower prescription drug costs for consumers. This bill would specifically address how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which are third-party administrators of prescription drug programs for health insurance plans, 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.
HB 218 provides “reciprocity” to 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. This is bad policy and means we in Georgia give up our authority to decide what is safe or not. This bill was introduced last year, passed the House, but stalled after republican leadership (rightfully) became concerned about the optics of expanding gun access after several tragic mass shootings in our backyard. But now the bill is moving again. I voted NO.
New Legislation I’ve Sponsored
I recently co-sponsored two bills:
HB 1095. This bill provides local police departments with the ability to destroy firearms after they are needed for any evidentiary purposes in criminal cases. Currently the only option is to sell or hold. As a result, many police departments are holding thousands of firearms, many of which are altered in ways that they cannot be sold on the open market. This is an unworkable situation.
HB 1085. This bill would allow cities to opt for rank choice voting for their local elections. This would allow more local control and avoid costly runoff elections for our cities. (You may recall I co-sponsored a bill that would allow this option for counties and cities, and this bill is just another option to move rank choice voting forward.)
If you haven’t seen the video explaining how the process of rank-choice voting works, you can watch HERE.
As you know, this year is a big election year—we will vote on a U.S. Senate seat, all statewide offices, legislative seats, and many local races. Make sure you know all the relevant deadlines to cast your vote—whether in person or absentee.
Join the Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council for a job fair!
Pre-register at: bit.ly/februaryjobfair
Nominate an Energy Champion
Strategy Blue in partnership with Commissioner Tim G. Echols is hosting the 2022 Inaugural Energy Matters Awards! I would like to recognize the accomplishments of energy and sustainability in Georgia. I will be nominating constituents to Commissioner Tim Echols, who will reach out to finish the application. The award categories are
- Best sustainability project by a city
- Best sustainability project by small company (under 50 employees)
- Best sustainability project by large company
- Best sustainability project by faith community
- Best sustainability project by transportation related company
- Best sustainability project by manufacturing company
- Best sustainability project by hospitality industry
- Best sustainability project by educational institution
- EV implementation award for large company
- EV implementation award for small company
- EV implementation award for institutions
- EV autonomous award
- Best municipal energy efficiency award
- Best institutional energy efficiency award
- CNG implementation award
- Best fleet transition award
- Best recycling/reuse award
If you or someone you know qualifies please reach out to me at [email protected] and I will pass forward your nomination. Nominations will be submitted through March 31st.
You can now request free at-home COVID-19 tests here. You can order four at-home tests per household that will be delivered by the USPS.
How to find a vaccine?
Health Department Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line
Monday – Friday 8 AM – 8 PM ET
Saturday – Sunday 8 AM – 5 PM ET
Health Department Vaccine Schedule Web Portal: https://gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/en-US/
Vaccine Finder: https://www.vaccines.gov/
CORE Vaccination Pop-Up Events: https://www.coreresponse.org/covid-19/atlanta-ga
DPH Case Dashboard: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report
DPH Vaccine Dashboard: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/3d8eea39f5c1443db1743a4cb8948a9c
DPH Testing Locations: https://dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting
As always, it is an honor to represent you under the Gold Dome. Please share your thoughts on legislation and let me know if you need help with any state agency.