Just as promised last week, Week Six, was full of ups and downs.
Throughout this Session, we’ve seen a constant assault on “home rule.” “Home rule” is the idea that local delegations should control the fate of legislation that affects only a certain local area of the state. For example, the idea that only legislators who represent Fulton County should decide issues relating only to Fulton County.
So far this Session, we’ve seen the erosion of home rule for the local redistricting maps for Gwinnett and Cobb counties. This week it was Augusta-Richmond county. Enough is enough and I took to the well to discuss why this precedent is so wrong: it disrespects the voters.
Senate Bill 458
SB 458 specifically creates a new board of education map for Augusta-Richmond County. This map is not the map that was developed by a bipartisan working group from the area and supported by the majority of the legislative delegation. The map was introduced and sponsored by elected officials who represent only eight out of 72 precincts contemplated by the maps. This seriously undermines the value of the voter in Richmond County. While this particular bill was about Augusta-Richmond County, the point is we must respect home rule. The voice of the voter matters, no matter who holds the majority. Watch my speech on home rule below
Expand Broadband Access
I recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Saporta Report regarding the lack of broadband access in Georgia. Access to broadband was already as necessary to basic life and commerce as water and electricity, but this is even more apparent with the virtual demands of the pandemic. You can read more about the current status of this issue and my plea to Congress to do more here.
Other Votes this Week
HB 893 extends the time period that funds collected from hazardous waste generators, solid waste tipping fees, and various fines for violations will be dedicated to support the Environmental Protection Division. Currently these fees amount to $2 million per year. I voted yes.
HB 1134 provides that prosecuting District Attorneys and the Attorney General have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute criminal gang activity. Currently this jurisdiction lies only with District Attorneys. This bill tramples local control. It is unnecessary because local District Attorneys can already seek help from the Attorney General and GBI if they need extra resources on cases. This bill would do nothing to make our communities more safe. I voted no. If I believed it would made us safer, I certainly would have voted yes.
SB 437 redefines Fulton County Commission districts. This is a substitute map and is different than the one that passed the Senate and was signed by the majority of the Fulton Legislative Delegation (now that map will not be voted on). I voted no.
SB369 provides that future elections for the Gwinnett County Board of Education will be non-partisan. I generally support non-partisan school board elections (just as I do for county commission and judicial races), but if we are going to take this action as an entire state legislative body, it should be implemented statewide and not just in one county (especially when it is opposed by the majority of the local delegation). I voted no.
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!
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.