Every day brings constituents to the Capitol. I joined these Decatur students expressing their views on pending education bills that would hinder what and how teachers teach. I spoke to the large, engaged group, saying, "Thank you for being here, and please vote and get your friends to vote!" So proud of these young people, who are very clear they want freedom to learn all history, good or bad.
MENTAL HEALTH BILL COMES TO FLOOR
Presenting HB 1013
Rep. Todd Jones, R- Forsyth, and I are co-sponsoring HB 1013 to bring Georgia in compliance with federal mental health parity law. Here we are before one of the three hearings.
Since December I’ve been spending many hours a week working on Speaker Ralston’s HB 1013, Georgia’s Mental Health Parity Bill. Representative Todd Jones, Republican Forsyth, and I were charged by the Speaker with getting this signature bipartisan bill through the House.

Since the bill was dropped on January 26, we have talked daily, met with many stakeholders from all over the state, carefully reviewed more than 50 written comments, and discussed changes to this nearly 80 page bill. We have appeared three times before the House Health and Human Services Committee, each time bringing amendments to the bill based on all the feedback. Archived Videos of Hearings 2/16, 2/23.

I am happy to report the bill received a unanimous vote out of Committee on Wednesday and we presented it to the Rules Committee this morning. Rules controls what goes to the House floor. Archived Video of Rules Presentation 3/4. The bill successfully came out of Rules today and will be on the House floor for debate and vote on next Tuesday, March 8.

I look forward to the Senate discussion and to bringing our state in line with the federal parity and minimum spending requirements for Care Management Organizations, and most importantly, to expanding services for patients in crisis.

This is the most important and substantive bill with meaningful relief for Georgians that I have worked on in years.
Above and below: waiting our turn and then presenting to the Rules Committee this morning.
POLL RESULTS AND NEW QUESTION

Results from last poll about the DeKalb Board of Commisioners:
75% of you supported maintaining the current district structure of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners (BOC) at 5 one commissioner districts and 2 at large super districts. 18% liked the idea of 7 one commissioner districts. 6.7% had other ideas.

The DeKalb Delegation approved the map submitted by the DeKalb BOC maintaining the 5/2 district arrangement. That bill was approved in the House and Senate and has already been signed by the Governor.

The map offered by the DeKalb Board of Education for its districts (for electing members to the Board, not for local school districts) was approved in the House and is now in the Senate.

New Question!
HB 1378 excludes houses of worship from those places that can ban weapons or long guns. This bill passed out of committee and may come to a vote next week. Do you agree that houses of worship should not have the ability to ban guns? Take my survey HERE.
UPDATE ON OTHER LEGISLATION
Many of you and others across the state regularly write to me with your concerns about bills. Here is a sampling of those on which I have received the most mail. Some of these bills have already come to the floor.

HB 1349 Acreage for Hunting

Extends the time period the Department of Natural Resources has to prevent net loss of land acreage available for hunting opportunities on department managed state owned lands. 

Passed by the House 3/3/22.

Mail: Yes
MMO Vote: YES. I received more mail on this than on any other bill (except HB 1013) this Session. Thank you to those hunters who called this to my attention. 
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HB 1289 Surface Mining in Okefenokee

Would protect from surface mining an area known as Trail Ridge adjacent to the Okefenokee Swamp between the St. Mary's and Satilla Rivers.

In House Natural Resources Committee, where Chair Lynne Smith refuses to give it a hearing.

Mail: Yes
MMO: YES. I am a co-sponsor and advocate for the protection of this natural resource.
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HB 1093 Prevents local restrictions on single family rental 

Relating to local government, so as to prohibit certain use restrictions on residential dwellings- would prevent cities from restricting the construction of single family rental properties.

In House Judiciary Committee (I am a member).

Mail from both sides.
MMO: NO. I was asked by the City of Decatur and other cities to oppose this bill.
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HB 1450 Safe Outdoor Dog Act 

To provide protections for dogs kept outdoors, such as adequate food, shelter, water, and movement.

In Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Mail: Yes
MMO: YES (I am a co-sponsor).
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HB 1301 Landscape Equipment and Agricultural Fairness (LEAF) Act 

To prohibit rules and regulations related to gasoline-powered leaf blowers except by general law; as amended would prevent local governments from regulating gas powered blowers differently from other leaf blowers.

Favorably reported by substitute from Governmental Affairs.

Mail: No
MMO: NO

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HB 1150 Right to Farm Act

To limit the circumstances under which agricultural facilities and operations may be sued.

Passed by the House 3/3/22.

Mail: No
MMO Vote: NO because this would protect farming operations from lawsuits alleging pollution or nuisance.

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HB 1083 The Georgia Cogeneration and Distributed Generation (Solar Power) Act of 2001; change

Would remove the cap on monthly net metering and require utilities to fairly compensate energy producers like homeowners, small businesses and schools.

In Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications.

Mail:Yes
MMO: YES
_____________________

HB 1147 Hunting Raccoon and Possum

Would authorize year round hunting and trapping of raccoon and possum.

Passed the House 2/15/22.

Mail: No
MMO: Voted NO
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HB 1137 Board of Corrections Subject to Review

Would remove an exemption so that the Board of Corrections and penal institutions would become subject to administrative review

Favorably reported out of Judiciary.

Mail: Yes
MMO: YES
COMING UP THIS WEEK!

Monday at 9:00 a.m., I will present my HB 923 to the House State and Local Government subcommittee of the House Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill would cap the per diem allowance available to directors of Development Authorities. You can watch the proceedings.

Tuesday evening after the vote in the House on the Mental Health Parity Act, Rep. Jones and I are scheduled to be the full half hour program on Lawmakers. Tune in on your Georgia Public Broadcasting station.
IN THE HOUSE AND OUT AND ABOUT
Over 100 of you joined the Town Hall I hosted Feb. 10 with Sen. Elena Parent and Rep. Becky Evans. You had many and good questions. We are always glad to be with you and to hear your thoughts. Thank you!
(L to R.) Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D- Smyrna), Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera, Interim MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood, and David Matthews, General Manager of the Kroger Fulfillment Center (at Fort Gillem ) and I cut the ribbon on an innovative MARTA/Georgia Tech project. REACH is a ride-sharing app exclusive to MARTA, designed to conquer the first mile/last mile gap between MARTA trains and buses and your destination. The app is believed to be the first of its kind for public transportation in the United States. An example of partnership - congratulations to everyone involved! It was also great to catch up with former representative Bert Reeves, now Vice President of Institute Relations at Georgia Tech. For more on this: Tech News Article
An important part of my legislator job is to appear on conference panels for groups interested in legislation and the Session. On Feb. 19, I appeared with Bethany Sherrer, General Counsel of the Medical Association of Georgia, and Judge David Sweat from Athens-Clarke County to talk about parity with Georgia psychiatrists. Thanks to the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association!
New Americans Day
The Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies came to the Capitol on Feb. 10 for the 9th Annual New Americans Celebration.
DeKalb Delegation hears from CEO Thurmond
The DeKalb County Joint House and Senate Delegation heard from DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond about the impact of COVID and his priorities going forward.
Kirby Smart comes to the House
The championship trophy and Coach Kirby Smart visited the House. Under House COVID rules, our only guests to the floor this year have been Coach Smart and Mayor André Dickens--two great Georgians!
A few more pictures from the hearings on HB 1013. Here I meet the press.
Here are Rep Jones and I with some of those advocating the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act. L to R-- Jeff Breedlove, Ga Council on Substance Abuse; Helen Robinson, Mental Health Program, The Carter Center; Darlene Lynch, The Center for Victims of Torture--Georgia; Sydney Cleland, my chief of staff; Kim Jones, Executive Director and Linda Hamrick, lobbyist, for The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
With advocates after presenting to the Joint House and Senate Mental Health Caucus. The Caucus has no authority but was formed by legislators of both parties to hear from experts and gain better understanding of the issues. (This was on Ash Wednesday, so some of us have the sign of the cross in ashes on our foreheads.)
COVID STILL WITH US...
At the Capitol, we are tested twice a week and required to wear masks on the House Floor. I hope you and your loved ones are staying well. Please take advantage of these resources to keep yourself and other safe.


THANK YOU!
I appreciate your interest and advocacy. Please reach out to me by email or phone to let me know your thoughts about proposed legislation or community concerns.

I look forward to meeting with you virtually on Wednesday night!

QUICK LINKS FOR YOU
You can search for and track bills, watch the House (or Senate) in Session, watch committee hearings, monitor legislation by committee, and find contact information —- all on the revamped General Assembly website. Here are quick links:


Make your views known. Write to the leaders:

Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square, Suite 604
Atlanta, GA  30334
404-656-0265