Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
 
June 11, 2020

VOTING OBSTACLES, ELECTION RESULTS, AND RECONVENING OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE REMAINING 11 DAYS!
 

I will be on GPB's Political Rewind 
Friday, June 12th 
Tune in at 9 a.m.!


It is impossible for me to absorb the videos of George Floyd's and Ahmaud Arbery's deaths, followed by the painful failure of the President to respond appropriately, along with the logistical debacles suffered by voters on Tuesday in Georgia's Primary Election. This week has been too difficult on too many levels for positive civic engagement in ways other than marches and protests. These difficulties are partly defining my mood and preparation to return to the Capitol on Monday for the final 11 days of the 2020 General Assembly Session. There is an enormous amount of work left to do, and the logistics of operating under virus social distancing rules will be difficult. Today I received instructions on where I might sit while the House is in session, and it might be in the gallery! Masks will be mandatory, and no pages, interns, or aides will be allowed.

I am grateful for your participation in various campaigns, and I hope the candidates you supported did well! I am also grateful for my re-election without opposition this year and will continue to work for your interests in every way possible. Thank you!



ELECTION DAY DEBACLES

I believe everyone can agree that Tuesday's rollout of the new election machines, new absentee ballot procedures, and logistics for voting in precincts under COVID-19 rules did not go well---to say the least. I was very pleased to vote at Druid Hills High School on election day where there was no line, no wait, and social distancing was observed, but this was not the experience of everyone. 

In response to the many election day obstacles, Speaker David Ralston has called upon the House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the visible failures on Tuesday, and hearings will begin next week at the Capitol for possible solutions. I am a senior Democrat on the Committee and in conversation with the Committee Chairs Shaw Blackmon from Houston County on how we proceed and learn from voters' experiences. These hearings will all be broadcast live and you are invited to join us.

My focus will be what happened that can be fixed before run-offs and the general in November to protect our election integrity and help voters. Voting should be simple and convenient, and we should be able to trust that our votes are counted. Why is that so hard?


RETURN TO THE GOLD DOME

Budget for Fiscal Year 2021

Our only statutory requirement to complete the 2020 Session is to pass a budget for the Fiscal Year 2021 that begins July 1, 2020. I am on the Appropriations Committee, and have unanswered questions before we can complete this essential work:
  1. What additional revenue will Georgia receive from the currently debated federal stimulus package in Washington?
  2. What economic recovery will Georgia experience in June? We are counting our tax receipts and revenue every day, and particularly our new revenue from the collection of internet sales tax.
  3. Will we increase the tobacco taxes up to the national average? Or the average of the southern states? I support the increase of tobacco tax for all tobacco products including vaping, up to the national average.  
  4. What will we use from the reserve funds to reduce the painful budget cuts that include furloughs of employees and huge cuts in services?
  5. Will we amend our Medicaid Waiver to increase Medicaid expansion to cover COVID costs and other unfunded medical care?
What do you think we should do to protect state services?

Hate Crimes and Repeal of Citizens Arrest Law

The House voted to pass the Hate Crimes Bill, HB 426, in 2019, and I voted YES. The Senate has held the bill for over 400 days, and there is conflict within the Republican leadership about how to proceed -- their internal politics. I would prefer the bill to be stronger, but I will vote for what the Senate passes that is not a step back - if they pass anything. Georgia is still one of the last states that have not passed a form of Hate Crimes legislation.

I support repeal of the Georgia law that allows citizen arrest - there is no reason for this law, which is being used as a "defense" to the Ahmaud Arbery's death. A terrible policy that encourages vigilantes in my view.  Also, I am working on SB 477 relating to domestic violence protections that will have a hearing early next week in the Juvenile Justice Committee. 




THANKS AND STAY SAFE

On a happier note with schools coming to a close, I wanted to say congratulations to all the graduates as well as the valedictorians and salutatorians.

CONGRATULATIONS


Cross Keys High School
Valedictorian Kristy Nguyen
Salutatorian Kitty Leung

Decatur High School 
Valedictorian Reagan Borland 
Salutatorians Ava Posner, Haley Rose, and Nayeli Shad

Druid Hills
Valedictorian Theodore Shepherd
Salutatorian James Orson

Lakeside High School
Valedictorian Hanna Baniassad
Salutatorian Jared Chen

I cannot wait to see and hear about your amazing, future accomplishments. 

Stay safe and keep in touch, everyone!
 

Mary Margaret

mmo@mmolaw.com
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265
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