Things are starting to move! This week was full of activity as the House Rules Committee had its first meeting, we cast our first votes on legislation on the House Floor, and several House committees held meetings.
Seeking Suggestions for Honoring Late Leaders in our Community
Are there roads, bridges, or roundabouts you think should be named for someone in Ansley Park, Brookwood, Brookwood Hills, Garden Hills, Lenox Park, Lindberg/Morosgo, Lindridge-Martin Manor, Midtown, Morningside, Old Fourth Ward, Peachtree Hills, Piedmont Heights, Sherwood Forest, or Virginia Highland? Please submit your suggestions to my chief of staff, Kennedie McClung at [email protected]
Virtual Town Hall – Tuesday!
My first town hall for this session will be on Tuesday, January 30th from 7:00-8:30 PM. State Senator Sonya Halpern and I will bring you the latest news from the Gold Dome and answer your questions. Please register for the event here.
Special Visitors at the Capitol
This week I had the pleasure of having Mitzi Short serve as my legislative page. Mitzi is a student at The Paideia School and is considering a career in law and/or baking. I vote for both!.
Supporting and Protecting Georgia Mothers
On Tuesday, House Democrats observed Maternal Health Awareness Day. Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. That sounds bad, but what does it actually mean? Here’s what: our maternal mortality rate is twice that of the national rate, 50 deaths for every 100,000 live births versus 30 deaths for every 100,000 live births on average in the rest of the country. Black mothers in Georgia are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white mothers.
This is unacceptable. Georgia has taken steps to try to make things better in recent years—expanding Medicaid coverage for women for a year after childbirth, for example. But we need to do more. Women—MOTHERS—are dying, never to see or care for their infants. Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is an urgent state of emergency. Georgia House Democrats put together a report outlining solutions to maternal and infant mortality. I hope my colleagues across the aisle will join us in making progress to save lives and protect families.
Mayor Dickens addresses Homeless Encampments
Mayor Andre Dickens signed an executive order on Wednesday morning, allocating $4.6 million towards the expansion of shelters, sites, services, security, and warming centers for those experiencing homelessness in Atlanta. Thank you, Mayor Dickens.
These funds will help address the problem of homeless encampments across our city. There are several in HB 57 and there have been several fires at these encampments, several that have caused major infrastructure damage to bridges. This is not only dangerous for those in the encampments, but also creates problems for our neighborhoods, snares traffic, and increases the cost of construction and repairs of our roads and bridges.
This is a pressing issue for our district, and I’m glad that I was able to address it during our Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation meeting this week. I had the opportunity to question the GDOT commissioner. I appreciate that GDOT is committed to working with the City of Atlanta to address the problem. While the most recent fire was on Cheshire Bridge, which is a city street, we all know that the fires are occurring on roads and bridges under state authority as well. We are in this together. You can watch my conversation with the commissioner below.
New State Elections Board Chair Appointed
The House confirmed the Governor’s appointment of John Fervier as the new Chair of the State Elections Board. He is the current Vice President of Risk Management and Security at Waffle House, where he has worked for over 35 years. This appointment comes ahead of the 2024 presidential election, where Fervier will oversee investigations of election fraud and irregularities carried out by the board. This appointment was confirmed unanimously..
Movement of Bills I have co-sponsored
HB30 received final passage from the House and Senate this week and now heads to Governor Kemp’s desk to be signed into law. This bill addresses antisemitism in our state by defining antisemitism for purposes of hate crimes prosecution and cases of discrimination. Under HB 30, the internationally recognized definition of “antisemitism,” as adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), would become part of state law. This bill would require all state agencies that enforce criminal or noncriminal laws or regulations that prohibit discrimination to consider the definition of antisemitism during that enforcement. I am thrilled about the passage of this bill and was proud to be a co-sponsor.
HB686 passed the House Judiciary Committee this week. This bill would raise the homestead exemption that homeowners can claim to avoid losing their primary residence in a bankruptcy filing. Georgia has not raised this exemption amount in over a decade. I am thrilled it passed through the committee, especially at a time when home prices across our city are skyrocketing. This bill was special to me because a classmate of mine from UGA Law (go Dawgs!), Jason Braswell, who practices bankruptcy law in Athens, brought the problem and idea to me and I worked with another classmate of ours, Representative Matt Reeves, to introduce the bill. I look forward to it getting to the House floor and beyond.
Other Bills this Week
HB434 would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to establish criteria for licensure and licensure renewal for radiologist assistants, as well as establish rules and regulations related to the qualifications, scope of practice, and supervision of these healthcare workers. Radiologist assistants work alongside radiologists, and their work assists in improving efficiency and productivity for radiologists. By creating this licensure, this legislation would help to recruit and retain the healthcare workforce in Georgia, while also improving healthcare delivery and shortening patient wait times. I voted yes.
HB502 or the “Georgia Cosmetic Laser Services Act” would update the definition of “cosmetic laser services” in state law due to the development of new dermatological procedures not encompassed in the previous definition, including energy-based medical procedures using ultrasound, cryolipolysis, microwave, or radio frequency devices. In addition, HB 502 would revise the supervision requirements by allowing cosmetic laser practitioners at the assistant laser practitioner level to practice without the on-site supervision of a senior laser practitioner; however, a senior laser practitioner would still provide a supervisory role to these assistant laser practitioners. I voted yes.
HB804 would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue two distinct license plates to ambulance and hearse owners: one for ambulances that indicates “Ambulance” and one for funeral vehicles that indicates “Hearse.” Currently, the license plates issued for both vehicles reads “Hearse/Ambulance.”
It is important to remember that in the past, African Americans were only transported to the hospital in hearses. By making this distinction, we are erasing a remnant of the past and confirming the separate roles that ambulances and hearses serve. I thank my colleague Representative Carolyn Hugley for pointing this out during our House Floor debate. This bill passed unanimously in the House this week.
SB35 would provide coverage for continuous glucose monitors under Medicaid. I voted yes.
Friends don’t let friends be uninformed
Help your neighbors stay informed and encourage them to subscribe to the newsletter. You can check the boundaries of District 57 here to find friends who may want to keep up with the goings on under the Gold Dome. Anyone (in the district or not) can subscribe to this newsletter by visiting my website and filling out the form on the front page. Each one reach one!
As always, it is an honor to represent you under the Gold Dome. Please continue to reach out to me with your questions and thoughts on legislation. Also, please remember I’m here to help with issues you may encounter with state agencies.