FOUR DAYS LEFT IN 2016 SESSION--Tuesday, March 15 is Day 36 of the 2016 Session. I want to list some remaining tasks for this year for House District 82. The final days of competition for bills to pass is chaotic and procedurally dangerous--stay tuned! Thank you for your interest, and please let me know of any other issue that concerns you.
After Sine Die, I will be visiting with you on my campaign trail for re-election, and asking how you think we did this year -- the good and the bad. I hope for many good conversations and suggestions!
1. From my seat on the Judiciary Committee, I will be active to derail further efforts to pass "Religious Freedom" legislation. Most of these bills come through the Judiciary Committee, and although the Governor, Speaker, and Democrats are consistent in their opposition to bills that send a message of discrimination against gay citizens, there will be more efforts to pass some version of these bad proposals. One of the important lessons I have learned is the Session is never over until the final gavel bangs.
2. This week in the Government Affairs Committee, where I also sit, we will learn if the Chair will allow any of the Elena Parent's Senate Study Committee Reforms on Cityhood and Annexation to have a hearing and vote. Thus far, the Senate Sponsors have received no encouragement from the Chair, and tomorrow's agenda does not include SB 375. SB 375 contains the important language I am following and attempting to expand on pension legacy obligations for new cities contained in HB 711, the bill I introduced early in the Session.
3. I am the second signature with Chair Wendell Willard on several bills to reform the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and there are active negotiations with Senate leadership to move this effort forward. This is not a high profile effort, but is important, and I am involved on a daily basis.
4. I was moved this week that so many older Decatur citizens came to the Capitol to advocate for SB 343 which gives needed property tax relief.
There has been a positive response, and I thank my colleagues who took time to meet with my constituents on the local bill that has been agreed to by all the Decatur participants. Representative Beskin, from Buckhead, who unilaterally stopped a vote on SB 343, refused to meet with the Decatur senior citizens, telling them to "send her an email." I am hopeful SB 343 will pass this year, which it needs to, but there are daily procedural skirmishes. Frustrating, based only on partisan politics, not merits.
5. A little noticed bill, SB 345, was on the Judiciary Committee for the third time today,
to "revise and clarify" state constitutional law on church property ownership when a congregation splits or divides. This is an interesting and complicated issue, relating to real, not imaginary conflicts, and I helped organize the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and other denominations for committee presentations. I oppose the bill as unnecessary. It did not pass the sub-committee today, and I can tell you why if you want to message me with questions.
6. The Fiscal Year '17 Budget is now in final House and Senate negotiations, and I am following closely the appropriation items that were recommended by the sub-committee I serve on - DFCS, Mental Health, Aging, and Veterans Affairs. The annual balanced budget is the most important bill passed every year. Our sub-committee made recommendations for expanded services in several areas, and I want these additions to be in the final document.
7. There are additional skirmishes ongoing initiated by Senator Millar relating to his version of the CEO Change in DeKalb County government format, and the competing proposal for a Study Committee on Reorganization offered by Senator Parent. This morning I worked, and will continue to do so, to combine these bills in an acceptable format.
Everyday of the final four days will be busy, and I will be there from start to finish, working through the committee, floor debate, and "back and side door" negotiation processes. Experience with both procedure and substance, combined with work ethic, matter the most in these final days. There are many more items on my task list, and I ask you to come visit, and help me represent your voice! THANK YOU!