Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
January 21, 2018

 

 Dear Friends,

 

Snow!  Every year there will be weather issues that interfere with the work of the General Assembly, and the distances that the 236 Senators and House Members have to travel to the Capitol mean that many members were absent this week.  But, since our calendar is set by a Joint Resolution and votes of both the Senate and House, it is not changed based on snow or leadership preferences, and the General Assembly met  this week, and has completed six of the constitutional 40 days.  Some Committees were cancelled but not days in Session. 

 

Appropriations Committee

 

Last week Governor Deal presented his last budget to the House and Senate, and gave his last State of the State message.  He was emotional in looking back over this two terms as Governor, and was reflective.   His Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which begins July 1, 2018 and ends June 30, 2019, offers no pay raises for state employees, but seeks to fill all the statutory "rainy day" funds, to maximize our states reserves to $2.3 billion.  The state budget proposes to spend $26 billion, and without guidance from Congress, and the current federal budget shutdown, planning for next year's budget is impossible/difficult.  For instance, when/if will Congress reinstate funding for Children's Health Care or CHIPS, Georgia's Peachcare funds?

 

I serve on the Human Resources Subcommittee of Appropriations, and on Monday, January 22, beginning at 2:00 pm in Room 341, we will meet to review the budget proposals of both the Supplemental and Fiscal Year 2019 for the Departments of Behavioral Health, Human Resources, Veterans Affairs, and Vocational Rehabilitation, each of which is a separate state agency.    One obvious gap in the DFCS budget relates to the promised increase in foster care payments to foster parents.  Last year, the Governor promised a $10 dollar a day increase, with the first payment of $5 being in FY 2018, and the second $5 coming in 2019--whoops, the second $5 is only $2.50 .  Governor's budget bill was revealed last week in his State of the State message, and  can be reviewed here 

Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee
 
 I am co-chairing with Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick the House Democratic Caucus Committee on Sexual Harassment.  Dar'shun and I have introduced HB 662 on sexual misconduct to amend the House Ethics Rules, and we will have a press conference on January 29 at noon to present our report and recommendations.  I have had multiple conversations with reporters, and have only talked on the record thus far about reasons women do not come forward to discuss their own stories of sexual harassment.  I was interviewed for  this article on WABE. Thus far, our committee conversations have been detailed and helpful, and I hope our report will expand awareness and offer solutions or at least guidance.

MMO Bills from 2017 Session

 

The 2018 Session is the second year of a two year term, and all bills introduced in 2017 are held over for possible action in 2018.  My bills from 2017 include:  HB 10 prohibiting the sale of Assault type weapons, HB 52 relating to TANF eligibility, HB 53 to move jurisdiction of Juvenile Court to include 17 year-olds accused of crimes, HB 244 DeKalb's pension fund analysis, and HB 630 for Probate Court procedural updates. All of these bills can be read on the General Assembly web site.   I anticipate positive actions on HB 52 and 630, and will be working on other bills also, and will report in the future on progress. There are serious opportunities to improve Juvenile Court processes for 17 year olds that might move forward.  Avoiding a criminal record for the 5,000+ 17 year olds who are arrested each year for those committing minor offenses is one of my goals. 

 

  

 

 Pre-filed bills Now Officially Introduced

 

As reported earlier, I prefiled HB 650 and 651 and both were officially filed for the 2018 Session this week.  

HB 650, requested by the City of Decatur and DeKalb County, returns the authority to cities, counties, and authorities to make local decisions on Confederate Monuments, and was assigned to the Government Affairs Committee.   

HB 651, prohibiting Bumpstocks, was assigned to Public Safety, and I will be requesting hearings on both bills.  Could be uphill, but mush on. 

 
Adoption Reform  HB 159

 

As you have probably read in the press, the initial tough conflict between the House and Senate is over HB 159 relating to adoption law updates, and the contest is painful and 95% political based on an agenda of religious freedom.  I am a co-sponsor of HB 159,

and last night  I appeared on Lawmakers with Jim Galloway and Senator McKoon to discuss the present status.  Much more to come on this important issue.  Stay tuned. 

 

 

 Survey results and new question

Our last newsletter asked two questions:
 
What will be the final score of the UGA-AU National championship game?
 
Do you support any new city or cities in DeKalb County?
 
Unfortunately, Georgia did not win the game as many of you predicted and we didn't have anyone pick the final score correctly, but we had five respondents who were very close (one apologized for picking AU) and we will be inviting them down to the Capitol.
 
The respondents to the City question voted 34% YES  and 66% NO. A sample of their comments:
 
"They are an unnecessary layer of gov and taxes."
 
"I feel strongly that local control is a good thing."
 
"Let's fix DeKalb County instead of inserting another level of government."
 
"Let's wait and see how some of the recent municipalities fare before we create more."
 
This week's survey question:
 
 Would you vote for HB 673, which requires drivers to use cell phones only with a "hands free" device which allows the driver to make or receive calls without holding the phone? This bill is a recommendation from the Distracted Driver Study Committee.
 
Click here to respond to the question 
 

 

 

Activities 

 Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms met with the Atlanta Delegation, of which I am now a member due the Emory annexation--many newly elected women! Welcome to all. (I did get a chance to ask the Mayor about the $2.5mm that the City and Atlanta Public Schools owe the DeKalb School system. She said she would look in to it. I will stay on it.)

 

MMO Schedule for Citizens--Join Us!

 

January 21, 1:30 PM--Druid Hills Civic Association Annual Meeting at Fernbank Museum

 

January 22, 2:00 PM--Present HB 630 to Judiciary Sub Committee for action

 

January 24, 7:00 PM--CAN meeting at Mack Love Center on McConnell Dr.

 

January 26, 9:00 AM Emory Lavista Parents Council, Henderson Middle School

 

January 28, 2:00 PM--EmpowerMap at Mack Love Center on McConnell Dr.

 

January 29, noon--Sexual Assault Committee press conference at Capitol 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Please contact me anytime with your questions or comments and visit our website at the link below and  follow me on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links below. I look forward to working with you during the  2018 Georgia General Assembly, and I need your help and your support!!  In the meantime, I will continue to report on issues that may interest you, and welcome your suggestions on how this newsletter may better serve you.
  


Mary Margaret

mmo@mmolaw.com
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265
http://marymargaretoliver.org/
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