Thoughts on the 2017 Session
Every Session is different. For 2017, I was surprised at how little was accomplished, and the variety of issues that received serious attention, but did not pass. High profile issues relating to the "Fair Tax", improving car tax and Uber issues, private school scholarships, coal ash deposits, 911 management and oversight, mandatory E-filing of court documents, among others, did not pass. All these bills had sophisticated advocates, hard working legislators and committee attention and progressed very close to Sine Die, but then failed.
My biggest disappointment was in the 12:45 am, Day 41(?) failure of the Adoption Code reform to pass, HB 159. There was very bad behavior by the Senate that derailed three years of work by adoption law experts in a feckless effort to amend HB 159 to include "religious freedom protections". The Senate sacrificed high quality work of pro bono advocates to assist new parents and children languishing in foster care create new families. Very bad, very disappointing, but not over. HB 159 will be back with more advocates and more positive attention in 2018.
Work Plans for the Summer and Fall--Preparing for the 2018 Session
I have been appointed by the Governor to the Court Reform Commission, chaired by Attorney General Chris Carr, and we begin meeting May 23 in the Banc Room of the 47 Trinity building. I have also been asked by Speaker Ralston to serve on HB 848 House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding--a major issue.
I will periodically report on these activities, and other work, and as always invite your opinions and participation. All commission and committee meetings are open to the public. Meeting schedules can be found on the House website.
Bills that I sponsored in 2017 that did not pass this Session are automatically held over until 2018, and I will focus much of my time on HB 53, raising the age for Juvenile Court jurisdiction for criminal offenses from 17 to 18. Georgia is one of six remaining states that criminally prosecutes 17 year olds as adults.
I also look forward to visiting with you in your neighborhoods over the summer and fall. Please invite me to any of your gatherings--pot lucks, parades, swim meets! Have a good summer, and thank you for the privilege of serving you.