Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
March 22, 2019

Dear Friends,


The 2019 General Assembly Session has completed 35 of its 40 days constitutionally allowed, and we will Sine Die April 2, a week from Tuesday.  In the meantime, all of the major issues of the Session must be resolved, and as of this writing, the Senate, House, and Governor's Office are at loggerheads  on many central discussions, partly on partisan issues and regional interests, partly on pure political theater.  In addition to the major issues, there are 50 to 100 smaller bills that are yet to be passed, and are still in line before the House and Senate Rules committees for calendaring of floor votes.  Each year, and it is true again now, the House and Senate are in a "stand off" passing few bills sponsored by legislators from the opposing Chamber----"you Senate must  pass House bills, and House will then pass Senate bills".  It is a very frustrating process, and patience is required.  This year, I find myself less patient than usual  with good bills I care  not passing, and very bad bills taking up time and emotion. 




HB 481-- Abortion restrictions.  Governor Kemp campaigned on passing the nation's most restrictive abortion bill, and HB 481 does just that.  It passed the House 93 to 73, a three vote margin for passage, and on March 22, 2019, the Senate voted 34 to 18 for passage.  Because the Senate made some changes, the bill must come back to the House for final action.  HB 481, unlike any other state, attempts to modify federal census and tax laws by requiring the census taker to count a fetus as a person, and to grant a tax deduction  to any  pregnant woman.  Last week, the Kentucky "fetal heartbeat" bill, which similarly to HB 481 bans abortion after about 6 weeks, was declared unconstitutional.  The votes in both Chambers are cast along party lines, with one exception. 


At no previous time in my service, has security in the Capitol been as visible, emotions as high, or demonstrations as prevalent.  The HB 481 debates have been personal and painful, and you can review all the speeches online.  I voted no on HB 481, and will continue to do so when it comes back to the House for final action.


SB 106, the Governor's Medicaid Waiver bill passed the Senate and is  now before the House, and I have been involved in attempted negotiations with Governor Kemp's floor leaders to expand  and clarify the opportunity to extend medical coverage to the 1.3 million Georgians currently uninsured.  The talks have not yet resulted in any progress to convince the Governor that his current waiver proposal will cost more and cover fewer people than a simpler expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Healthcare Act, what we no longer call Obamacare.  I am a co-sponsor of an Amendment to SB 106 to create a waiver for "Peachcare for Adults", and cover individuals on a sliding scale up to 138% of the poverty rate.  The Amendment was not allowed in the Committee that moved 106 to the House Rules Committee.  I hear rumors that possible resurrection of the defeated CON (Certificate of Need) legislation may become part of the Medicaid Waiver bill to gain more votes.  Uncertain future for both measures.


SB 77 to Protect Southern Monuments passed from the Governmental Affairs sub and full committees, and is awaiting House calendaring for Floor debate.  I offered Amendments in both Committees that were defeated on party lines  to include provisions for local control for cities and counties to make their own decisions on what to do about monuments on their land, usually the courthouse squares.  I voted NO, signed the Minority Report, and will speak on the bill when it  comes for debate. 


The state budget for 2020 that begins July 1, 2019 is currently in negotiations, and is the only task/bill we are required to pass each Session.  The two proposals I added to the budget for increases in the relative per diem rate for foster care children and clarification to the Children's Trust Fund are still in discussion.  Bills that I previously carried but were introduced this year by Republicans to unshackle children in Juvenile Court and eliminate adult prosecution of 17 years olds did not pass out of committee --the new sponsor did not ask for a vote, and took no action to the move the bills.  


Please call me anytime about any other bill that interests you.  The remaining days will be crammed with activities, and I need your input! 


Status of Local Legislation

Local Legislation SB 89 for Decatur to annex the Decatur Methodist Children's Home  has not moved yet for House passage, and the Special Chair appointed to review the bill with the Decatur Representatives has not called a meeting.  SB 7 to make changes to the DeKalb County Ethics Commission was discussed today, and may or may not have the votes to pass before Sine Die.  Expanding homestead exemptions for Chamblee and Brookhaven have or will pass on the local House calendars,  and the voters of those two cities will decide by referendum whether to increase exemptions.



Survey Results 
In our last newsletter, we asked if you supported SB 131 which would allow to take over Hartsfield Jackson airport from the City of Atlanta. You answered:
                       YES    25%
                        NO   75%
Sample comments:
"This is a blatant power grab..."
"Graft and corruption are rife at the airport and is a black eye to the State of Georgia."
"City of Atlanta is doing just fine managing the airport."
"What a colossal, racist power grab by Georgia Republicans!"
"If it ain't broke don't try to fix it."

What is Going On?

The House honored my good friend, Wendell Willard, former Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, with a Privileged Resolution.
Kevin Abel was elected the new DOT commissioner for the 6th Congressional District .
My pastor, Rev. Simon Manwaring , from All Saints Episcopal Church, was invited by fellow parishioner, Sen. Elena Parent, to be Preacher of the Day in the Senate. I listened to him in the Senate Chambers with my other fellow parishioner, Rep. Matthew Wilson. Coincidentally, a group of All Saints' parishioners were down at the Capitol the same day doing advocacy work and we all joined for a picture outside the Senate Chambers.

And let's not forget Henry.  He was a little befuddled when two other bassets showed up at HIS dog park and stood sentinel up on Fightin' Town Creek keeping the critters at bay.
Please contact me any time with your questions or comments. Visit my website at the link below and  follow me on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links below. Also, please consider how you might want to volunteer and join me in the 2019 Session--would your child like to page, would you like to follow a particular committee or bill for me?   Would you like to visit with me as my guest on the House floor? 

I look forward to working with you again during the  2019 Georgia General Assembly.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST!
Mary Margaret
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265
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