Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
February 13, 2016


We have completed Day 20 of our 40 day 2016 General Assembly Session, and are due to Sine Die March 24. Half way! You are invited to follow our House Sessions at the Capitol live stream on the General Assembly web site, and to watch most of our committee meetings, also live.   And, please feel free to join us in person---I very much enjoy visitors from House District 82! Often I can arrange special tours and gatherings, and if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you will get a daily report.  Thank you for your interest.

Rep. Scott Holcomb and Rep. Michele Henson and I will be hosting a Town Hall meeting this Thursday from 7:00 to 8:30 for a Legislative update and discussion of the proposed Chamblee annexation. Please join us at the Lakeside High School auditorium. 

Mary Margaret   
DeKalb News


At the half way mark, the following local issues may be of interest to you: 


1. Annexations--The City of Decatur does not intend to request any additional annexations this year, and neither does Avondale. 


There is a movement from the citizens who supported a new City of LaVista Hills to be annexed into the City of Chamblee.  Although Chamblee citizens do not get a chance to vote on possible additions to their city, the Chamblee Mayor and Council members are having public meetings to gauge the wishes of existing citizens.  House District 82 includes the neighborhoods of Dresden East and Montclair within the Chamblee city limits based on an annexation vote of the area citizens several years ago. 


The area of House District 82 that is subject to the map for possible annexation into Chamblee is primarily the Hawthorne Precinct, the area northeast of Briarlake Road.  The map drawers are attempting to add neighborhoods to Chamblee that voted for LaVista Hills, and most of the LaVista Hills proposed area in House District 82 is not included in the Chamblee annexation map.  The  areas sought would approximately double the size of Chamblee if the local bill goes forward, the Chamblee City Council approves, and the voters approve.  The response I have received to this new  annexation thus far is mixed.




How would you vote on the annexation of 30,000 North DeKalb residents into the City of Chamblee per the above map?


Take survey. 




2.  Elimination of the CEO Form of Government


I am co-sponsoring, with Representative Scott Holcomb, a bill to eliminate the DeKalb County CEO form of government, to be replaced with a County Commission Chair and a county manager format.   This bill requires the majority of the DeKalb delegation's votes, and we are working on gathering the necessary support.  In a past newsletter survey you voted over 90% for this action--thank you for your interest.


3.  HB 711--Local and Statewide interest


I introduced HB 711 early in the Session to close the pension legacy loophole, and we have had two sub-committee hearings working toward an agreement with the  County Commission Association and the Georgia Municipal Association.  Quantifying the unpaid pension obligation of citizens in the new cities of Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and Tucker for DeKalb employees serving prior to cityhood is an actuarial task, and not easy.  But we are making progress--stay tuned!





Fiscal Year '16 and '17  Budget Hearings
The only required action of the General Assembly each year is the passage of two balanced budgets, which fill two statutory "rainy day" funds, and do not exceed a 10% constitutional limit on debt.  I serve on the Human Services sub-committee of the Appropriations Committee, and we have conducted two public hearings on the Amended Fiscal Year '16 budget and two public hearings on the Fiscal Year '17 Budget.  Two hearings are for advocates, the public, and anyone who wants to speak, and two hearings are for state agency leaders and budget officers.  There are  additional countless hours spent with advocates seeking additional money for services, and ongoing negotiations carried out all over the Capitol.   After both the House and Senate pass a budget, then three members of the House and three members of the Senate are appointed to a Conference Committee, and a final budget is negotiated.  We are about half-way through this process, and this week, some final decisions may be made on the Amended Fiscal Year '16 Budget.


Religious Freedom Legislation


The 2016 Session is spending much time on what is referred to collectively as religious liberty protections, and at present there are eight bills, and I expect the list to grow.   This activity is immensely time consuming, hyper-partisan, and mostly opposed by the business community and the Chambers of Commerce across the state.  The fear from the business community, which is rational, is that legislative acts that appear to discriminate against gay citizens generate intense national  negative reactions to the convention business and hospitality industry.  The issues are based on perceptions there is  a problem of religious freedom and theories of a remedy.  For some, the United States Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage creates a  real  threat on how they worship. For many of these people, the beliefs and emotions are sincere.   For others, the debate is pure opportunistic partisan politics. 


What do you think?  Is your religious freedom threatened today by government? Are these bills necessary?  


Take survey. 



Foster Care Drivers' License bill - HB 974


I served this past year on the Child Welfare Reform Commission, and part of our discussions related to barriers for children in foster care to apply for drivers' licenses.  The current statute requires that a "parent or guardian" sign the minor's application for a license, but foster care teenagers have neither  parent or guardian.  HB 974 solves this obstacle by allowing a DFCS staff person to sign the application, and we are also working with Drivers Services on rule changes.  Sometimes filing a bill will generate a quicker bureaucratic response to problem solving.  But, either way, we intend to solve the problem, and eliminate a barrier that prevents an eligible teenager in the state's custody from living a more normal and productive life. 



Activities at the Capitol and in the 82nd District
February 13 -- 1:00 pm Meeting at Decatur City Hall to review homestead tax exemption legislative options for older citizens to be submitted to 2016 Legislature.

February 18--Town Hall Meeting at Lakeside High School on Chamblee Annexation issues, plus other concerns.  7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.

Important visitors to the Capitol this week including this year's Emory Scholars who I recognized in the House gallery and with a privileged resolution and last week a  DeKalb County group of retired Educators.  I  enjoyed visiting with winning art students from DeKalb and Gwinnett and viewing their art gallery at the Twin Towers and with Advanced Practice Emory nursing students. 

I recently spoke with a group of Emory women who are interested in running for office--we need them!   A program called ELECT HER is sponsored by the American Association of University of Women. And, this week we hosted in the Capitol Rotunda a Naturalization citizenship ceremony in partnership  Refugee Services advocates--very moving.

The DeKalb delegation meets every Monday at noon, usually in Room 230 of the Capitol--always open to the public.  Join us! (This Monday, the 15th, we are not in Session, so please skip this week).


 Welcome to Christian Russell, our newest intern. Christian lives in the 82nd District, is a graduate of Lakeside High School and a May graduate of Guilford College. He has an interest in politics and civic involvement and we are lucky he found us. Welcome, Christian. 




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
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