Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
 
May 21, 2020
 
Covid Continues...But Important Work Goes On!

As always, I hope you and your families and friends are healthy and not suffering from the Covid-19 virus or its many economic effects. I have been fortunate to continue my law practice and to visit my cabin on Fightingtown Creek with Henry for several long weekends. I have enjoyed some extra gardening, and --drum roll-- cleaned out the garage! This spring has been exceptionally beautiful, hasn't it?    
 
A beautiful spring day on Fightingtown Creek.


This Friday, I will be back on the radio program 
Political Rewind. 
Tune in at 9:00 a.m. on GPB 88.5.
 

Survey Results and New Survey

On April 20, Governor Kemp began reopening the state.  As you know, I strongly disagreed with this order as premature.  Thanks to the large number of you who responded to our informal survey. Most of you also disagreed, feeling it was too early to reopen and the decision did not rely on the best science available. Some who agreed expressed concerns about financial hardships from not working. Results:

Responses: 282 
Agreed: 7.4%
Disagreed: 91.4%
203 Comments

My new question is, what are you doing now that there has been some reopening? If you have been sheltering in place, are you still limiting your activities? Or have you been reopening your business, returning to work, socializing more, or traveling for vacations? Take this new survey and check all that apply to you by using this LINK.
 
I enjoy container plants on my deck. Henry stands watch around the pond.

RETURNING TO THE CAPITOL

Committees are meeting virtually, and we are receiving information about returning to the Capitol on  June 11 -- a rumored date that has not yet been confirmed, perhaps because the House and Senate are not yet in agreement. We have received extensive explanation and discussions are ongoing about how the Capitol will be "cleaned," how social distancing might be achieved on the House floor, and how voting can take place -- hard to imagine in that setting. Just t his week, I received a letter from Georgia Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey concerning Covid testing all legislators before we return.  

Ahmaud Arbery Case and Hate Crimes Legislation

As we prepare to return to the Capitol, in addition to  budget concerns, there is new energy to pass a Georgia hate crimes bill, ending Georgia's distinction as one of only four states without such a law. The tragic Ahmaud Arbery case in Glynn County has generated a painful and extensive discussion about many issues and revived interest in the bipartisan Hate Crimes Bill passed by the House in 2019 and which I supported. I'm talking with multiple and varied groups about influencing a positive vote in the Senate, which has refused to take up the bill for over a year. 
Read  HB- 42   HERE  and read the latest AJC article on Ahmaud Arbery HERE.

State Budget

I have participated in three virtual hearings on the budget. These discussions are complex with many unknowns concerning state sources of revenue, state expenses (departments have been asked to cut budgets by 14%) and federal assistance (we await action on Congressional package #4). We are working to get hard numbers.

As I discussed in detail in my recent AJC opinion piece, we need to take full advantage of the multiple federal stimulus programs. We also must consider how much of our rainy day reserves will be used to fill budget holes. Still, I anticipate layoffs of state employees and that current open positions will not be filled.



To give you an idea of our task, here are some pertinent slides as well as the whole deck from the National Conference of State Legislatures, one of our sources for data. I'll report further and with more detail as we get closer to Session. 







VOTING

Election Information

Due to Covid-19, this is an unprecedented election year. Georgia's Election Day was postponed twice and is now set for
Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Here are some facts and links that may help answer your questions.

Over 1.44 million absentee ballots have been requested (and more may be requested); 1.25 million have been delivered; and by May 18 over 360,000 completed absentee ballots already had been submitted. 

Questions and/or Concerns
Answers and Information
I voted before Election Day was rescheduled. Will my vote count?
Yes.
I am not registered to vote. Can I still register?
The last day to register to vote in this election was May 11, 2020. BUT you can still register to vote (and should!) before October 5, 2020 to vote in the General Election on November 3, 2020.
Is it too late to request an absentee ballot? How do I do that?
It is not too late.You may request a ballot until Friday June 4 at 4 p.m. (but that is pretty late). 
I requested an absentee ballot and have not received it. How can I track the status of my ballot? 

First, go to the Secretary of State link below, log in, and click to determine your ballot status. If your ballot was issued more than 7 days prior, then contact the DeKalb County Elections Office.They are required by law to send you an affidavit to sign that you have not received your ballot before issuing you another ballot.
I requested and received an absentee ballot. What do I do next?
Complete the ballot, seal and sign the envelope, and mail (you have to add a stamp), fax, email (as attachment), or drop off the ballot at your county election office. DeKalb County has set up two outdoor drop off boxes at the county complex at 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, 30032. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. June 9 to be counted. (Overseas/Military: postmarked by June 9 and received by June 12.)

NOTE: All ballots should have one exterior mailing envelope and one interior envelope for the ballot. BUT, instead of the interior envelope some have only a white sheet of paper marked "Official Absentee Ballot, Ballot Must Be Enclosed". If you got the paper instead of an envelope, you must put the ballot inside that paper before putting it in the mailing envelope. Do not tape or staple shut - that may damage the ballot.
  
NOTE: your signature on the ballot must match the signature on your voter registration file.

How will I know if there are problems with my ballot? 
Under a recent lawsuit settlement, the county elections office must notify you by phone, email, and letter within 3 days of rejecting your ballot or at least 11 days before June 9. 
I want to see a sample ballot. 

Go to the link below and log in. In the top left box of the next page your information will appear. Click to see a sample ballot. 
I want to vote early in person. 
Check the list on the link below. Note that times and dates differ across the locations. Most are open on Saturday, May 30 from 9 to 4. 
I may have accessibility concerns. Where can I find information? 


Due to the overwhelming requests for absentee ballots, the State Elections Board ruled this week that counties can open the ballots beginning June 1. Just as with early in-person voting, ballots will be scanned into the system but not tabulated until polls close at 7 p.m. June 9. There are still questions about whether we will have final results overnight on June 9 or later. 

Endorsements

During election seasons, I'm frequently asked which candidates I support. I always answer when asked this by you individually, and if you have specific questions, please email me. 

This year, I'm happy to be endorsing and working with Teresa Tomlinson to unseat David Perdue on this ballot and Rev. Raphael Warnock in the race against Kelly Loeffler (which will be on the ballot in November).

For the Georgia Supreme Court, I am endorsing incumbents  Justices Charlie Bethel and Sarah Warren.

And for the DeKalb County Commission, Super District 6 position held by the retiring Kathie Gannon, I have endorsed Emily Halevy.
COVID UPDATE

Testing and Reporting Data

As you've seen elsewhere, testing and reporting data continue to be issues of concern. Many constituents tell me they have taken a test but cannot get results for 10 days to 2 weeks. There is continued discussion about lack of data and some controversy about how it is reported. 

Recognizing there may be errors and delays in reporting, I still review the daily status report on the Department of Public Health Website. At this time, these numbers and the current science about the virus provided by the CDC and other major health organizations are our best options for determining a sensible course for public policy.
 

Testing Centers in DeKalb:

Decatur Armory
3736 Durham Pard Rd.
Decatur, GA 30032 
Notes: For appointments, please visit  www.augustaexpresscare.org

The following 2 will be open starting May 20th.

Beulah Baptist Church
2340 Clifton Springs Rd.
Decatur, GA 30034

Rehoboth Baptist Church
2997 Lawrenceville HWY
Tucker, GA 30084

Notes:  Testing is free and open to everyone. Registration is REQUIRED. To register, visit  dekalbhealth.net  or call the DeKalb County Board of Health's COVID-19 Call Center at (404)294-3700.

Clinical Trials

Emory University is conducting clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine and for Remdesivir, a drug to treat hospitalized patients with Covid-19. I believe in participating in clinical trials. In another context, my father and I volunteered for an Emory clinical trial. Look for further posts on this. You may have an opportunity to volunteer. 

IN THE NEWS

Lynching Memorial Marker Installed

Remembrance Project Committee Chair Dee Smith and NAACP DeKalb County President Teresa Hardy at the marker installation.

Remembrance Project Committee Chair Dee Smith and NAACP Dekalb County President Teresa Hardy at the marker installation.

The NAACP DeKalb County Remembrance Project in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, has erected a historical marker at the DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Decatur. The marker recognizes at least four documented lynchings that occurred in DeKalb County, only a few of the hundreds that occurred in Georgia between 1877 and 1950. I hope you will visit this important painful reminder of our history. 

Medicaid Expansion

On Wednesday I joined a virtual panel discussion on how Medicaid expansion could impact our state. In case you missed it, I have posted the Zoom session hosted by Georgia WIN List on my Facebook Page. 

For more information on my thoughts regarding Medicaid expansion, read the opinion I wrote for the AJC  HERE.




THANKS AND STAY SAFE

How we respond to Covid-19 changes daily. What does not change is the nature of the virus, about which we are still learning. Until we are well past this crisis, I hope everyone will join me in following these guidelines: 
  • Remain at home as much as you can.
  • Wear face masks in public.
  • Remain a distance of 6 feet from people in public.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when washing is not available.
As always, thank you for your support. Virtually everywhere, I see optimism and a belief that we can and will emerge stronger. We will see where our strengths are and where work continues to be. 

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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