Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
February 10, 2018

In the dead of Winter, we passed the Amended Fiscal 2018 Budget with camellias from my yard adding a Spring like feel.


Dear Friends,


The 2018 General Assembly Session has completed 18 of 40 days, and major bills are beginning to be revealed and debated.  As anticipated, the 2018 election year politics are at play every day in the State Senate, and the aggravation of one Chamber against the other started early, and continues to accelerate.  The substance of this tension is hard to define, but is an obstacle to the positive bills that deserve debate. 

Adoption Bill Passes

The best news of the Session thus far is passage of the Adoption bill, HB 159!  Compromise is painful, and a variation of the authority of a parent to transfer custody of a child to a third party by a Power of Attorney remained in the bill, but oversight provisions were included, including the requirement of a criminal background check of the new custodian.  In addition, public filing of the Power of Attorney is required, and "notice" to DFCS of the custody transfer is added.  As with all bills and resolutions, you can read the fully passed  legislation on the House website.  THANK YOU to all the adoption advocates and lawyers, and particularly to the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School.  And, I also give special credit to the primary sponsor Rep. Bert Reeves and the House leadership for fighting for the right position and working for excellent news and editorial support.  HB 159 is a big deal, and will help families grow, and rescue vulnerable children.

Local Issues  


The House DeKalb delegation meets every Monday, and the Atlanta delegation meets every Friday, both at noon.  All meetings are open, and David Dreyer frequently live streams the Atlanta meeting--you are always welcome to attend. Local legislation proceeds to the House floor based on the votes of local delegations, and the rules of the cities in DeKalb require a unanimous vote of members who represent a part or all of the city.   County legislation requires a majority of elected House members' votes.


Welcomed DeKalb Realtors and Stone Mountain friends to the Capitol



The City of Decatur is seeking an increase in the hotel-motel tax from 7 to 8 cents, consistent with other cities, and the City of Brookhaven wants to create a Facilities Authority in order to issue bonds to pay for the Peachtree Creek Greenway construction.  DeKalb County Commissioners and the CEO are seeking a pay raise through local legislation. The City of Atlanta is working on issues raised by the Fulton County tax assessment debacle, and expanding the homestead exemption. 


More local legislation drafts are anticipated.  What do you think about any of these proposals? 

Survey results and New Question


In the last MMO legislative newsletter I asked if you support HB 673 that requires only hands free use of phones in the car while driving-- the distracted driving bill.  You voted 84% YES!  Strong.  I am a co-sponsor, and hope this bill passes this year. Sample comments:


"I am not in favor of the use of cellphones under any circumstances while operating a motor vehicle..."


"I would vote for a bill that allows answering the phone "hands free" but not making calls while car is in motion..."


"... I am a cyclist and I experience inattentive drivers every day." 




The change in federal tax law appears to create a windfall in tax collection for the State of Georgia. Many will pay less in Federal taxes, but more in State taxes. The Governor is proposing legislation to return this windfall to the taxpayers. Should this windfall be returned to taxpayers or used to provide funding for needed services and programs? Click here to take the survey.  








I have introduced two new bills  since my last newsletter.  


HB 738 expanding the definition of "interested person" who may probate a will was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, passed through Sub-Committee and Judiciary full committee this week, and I will be asking that it be calendared for Floor debate by the Rules Committee.  This bill is typical of the work I am asked to do from practitioners, or State Bar,  or fiduciary lawyers, and part of what I consider  my job--routine adjustments to the law that make  court process more efficient and just. 


HB 837 was filed to give more notice and rights to sexual assault victims while their cases are investigated and moving through the criminal trial process. Part of this bill comes from work done by Scott Holcomb's  legislation and funding of rape kits, and  follows national leadership of Actress Mariska Hargitay of "Law and Order SVU".   After the TV show focusing on sexual assault victims began airing, Ms. Hargitay received so many letters and messages from victims, she needed to respond, and founded a foundation, Heart Strong.   HB 837 has been assigned to the Non-Civil Judiciary Committee, and I have asked for a hearing.  It includes Republican women co-sponsors.




Very busy the last two weeks.


Made my annual visit for a Legislative update to Glenn Memorial


Spoke at the press conference outlining the Democratic Caucus' sexual harassment at the Capitol position


Was proud to be in attendance as Emory Law School  honored its own, Chief Justice Harris Hines.




Was happy to speak to the Emory Lavista Parents Council 
Enjoyed hearing Emmett Bondurant speak at a conference addressing the need for redistricting changes 

Welcomed Kurt Vogle to the Capitol. Kurt is a student at Georgia Tech and advocating for a new program for college students with unique needs. 
And last, but not least, was happy to welcome a great group from my parish, All Saints Episcopal, when they came down to the Capitol to do a little lobbying 







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
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265
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