Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
May 14, 2015
The 2015 General Assembly adjourned Sine Die at midnight, April 2, and the Governor has had 40 days from adjournment to either sign or veto any legislation that passed.  I was pleased with many aspects of the 2015 Session, and was happy to attend Bill Signing Ceremonies for HB 17, the "Hidden Predator Act, SR 7 and SB 8, "Rachel's Law" and the DeKalb Blueprint bills creating a reformed county Ethics Commission, and Independent Auditor, and a new Procurement Process, HB 597, HB 598, and HB 599.  I spent lots of time on all these measures during the Session and I am pleased with the final results. 
Thank you for all your interest in these and many other bills!  If you want to read these bills that passed, or any others, you may do so on the General Assembly web site  here.
The  General Assembly passed, as general bills, bills allowing DeKalb County voters who live within  proposed maps for a new city of Tucker and a new city of LaVista Hills.  to vote for or against a new city.  The referendum is scheduled for November 3, 2015, and only citizens within the proposed boundaries of the new cities are allowed to vote, not other citizens of the County.
The Local Legislation filed by Representative Pat Gardner to allow citizens of DeKalb County adjoining the City of Atlanta, including Druid Hills, and the school zones of Fernbank and Briar Vista Elementary Schools, to be annexed into Atlanta, did not pass this year.  The Together in Atlanta group for annexation into Atlanta will continue to work for support and possible passage next year .
Local bills for annexations by City of Decatur and City of Avondale did not pass. Discussions are continuing on these proposals for 2016 possible actions, and for more limited annexations based on other legal methods of annexation.
All bills filed in 2015 will be held over and are available for action in the 2016 Session.   I anticipate the Atlanta annexation efforts, and proposed new DeKalb cities of Green Haven and Stone Crest will be active over the interim, and  will hope also to  win passage in the future. I believe what decisions the voters make for or against  Tucker and LaVista Hills will be very relevant to future annexations and new cities. 
All of the annexation and new city advocates have web sites, with detailed maps for your review as you consider how you may vote in November.  I anticipate there will be active campaigns for and against the referendums. and hopefully there will be a good turnout of informed voters. 
Because of an almost uniform dissatisfaction with the process of creation of new cities and annexations, both the Senate and the House passed legislation for Study Committees that will meet a specific number of days before the 2016 Session to make recommendations for improvements in the process.  I hope to be appointed to the House Study committee on these issues.   

Transportation Funding --  HB
As you know, the 2015 General Assembly passed HB 170 to generate significant new money for transportation projects--almost one billion dollars for transportation progress.  Also, MARTA receives new benefits on operational freedom, and new funding opportunities. For the first time, and with bipartisan leadership, Georgia's numerous transit programs along with MARTA are part of a coordinated transportation plan and funding. 
To create new money, among new bonds, and revisions of the sales and excise gasoline taxes, HB 170 eliminated Delta's tax benefits for fuel consumption, totaling about $25 million, and eliminated tax credits for electric cars.  Electric car drivers will pay an annual $200 fee for road usage, and an additional $5 per day shall be added to hotel bills.  The proposal to tax rental car contracts was not included in the final bill.

I am interested in how you would have voted on these issues. Click here
to take the following survey:
  1. Would you have voted for HB 170?
  2. Would you have taxed rental cars instead of hotels?
  3. Should owners of electric cars receive tax credits, or should they pay a fee?

Thanks for giving me your input. 

Religious Freedom - HB 129
I was named to a special subcommittee of Judiciary committee on legislative proposals to "protect religious freedom".  I participated in every hearing, totally about 15 hours of testimony and debate, and was pleased that none of the efforts moved forward. All the votes were close.   The debate was difficult, very intellectually and politically challenging, and will be back in the 2016 Session. 
I appreciate and celebrate small and large victories in politics, and the 2015 Session provided many satisfying votes.   Efforts to limit cities from banning plastic bags, particularly Tybee Island, were defeated.  Conflict and definitions of marshland barriers and protections were resolved with agreements and compromises.  The Board of Pardons and Paroles, for the first time, will have transparency on votes and processes. These examples are not small, but there are many other examples, particularly in Child Welfare (SB 238), and Criminal Justice Reforms, where I am pleased with the Session votes. And, the Billboard industry enjoyed no further victories.  
I will not list my disappointments in this newsletter--perhaps another day---but the vote to allow sale of fireworks in Georgia was a very bad day for me.  This measure, which I named "Blow the Child's Hand Off Bill" , was defeated for many years, and in 2015, the advocates in opposition were absent or the forces of the fireworks industry prevailed.  Bad result, bad policy. 



Since Sine Die  


Each year after Sine Die, I am invited to give legislative wrap-ups, and to visit with groups to discuss what  passed and did not pass.  I appreciate the invitations and feedback. Please let me know if you would like me to visit your neighborhood or club to discuss the 2015 Session.


----For fun,  I visited the Shallowford Presbyterian Pre-K class to read "Pete the Cat" and immediately afterwards attended Presiding Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines' Commission on Justice for Children.  


I was proud to receive the Pioneer Award from the DeKalb Bar Association. The annual award honors DeKalb County lawyers who have a history of significant contribution to the county. Thank you to the DeKalb Bar Association!



---- I talked to the Family Law Section of the DeKalb Bar Association on legislation impacting family law practitioners, and next week, I am presenting at the Family Law Institute on Constitutional Parameters of Parental Rights----I had to write a paper for the seminar. 


---- This week, I will attend the YWCA Salute to Women of Achievement luncheon as a former awardee.   This past Monday, I spoke to the Druid Hills Kiwanis Club. 




----This weekend, the Woodland Hills Neighborhood enjoys its spring  BBQ on Saturday at Briar Vista Elementary School, and Mason Woods Civic Association gathers on Sunday for for its picnic at Thompson park.


CONGRATULATIONS to my colleague Mike Jacobs who was named this week by Governor Nathan Deal to the DeKalb State Court, and to J.P. Boule, also nominated by the Governor to the DeKalb Superior Court.  I am very pleased with these two appointees--thank you Governor Deal!









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  2016 Georgia General Assembly, and I need your help!!  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
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265
Like us on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter