Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
October 18, 2016




AND ENDS NOVEMBER 4, and for most of us in House District 82, the best early voter locations will be the Tucker Recreation Center, 4898 LaVista Road, and 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300. Beginning October 31, we may also vote at the Clark Harrison Building in Decatur, 330 West Ponce De Leon. 





Senator Parent and I visited with the new President of Emory recently--Congratulations to Claire Sterk!  And, said goodbye and job well-done to outgoing President Jim Wagner.


Also, I visited with another important group this week--Girl Scout Troup 14565 at Briarcliff Methodist Church to help them with their Government Badge!  These successful young ladies mostly attend the Globe, Hawthorne, and Sagamore Schools.




There are 4 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot on state issues, and one DeKalb County Amendment to extend the  existing Homestead property tax assessment freeze until 2022.  I am voting YES on this local property tax freeze.


Amendment One--the Opportunity School District  Amendment 1 is a constitutional amendment that would allow the creation of a statewide school district to provide for state interventions for low-performing schools.  The OSD Superintendent would be appointed by the Governor and would have powers to improve the schools in one of four ways:  1.  direct management by the state OSD Superintendent; 2.  shared governance with a local school district; 3.  conversion to a charter school; or 4.  close the school.  The OSD is limited to select 20 schools statewide the first year, and 100 totally from the about 2000 local schools across the state.  


DeKalb County currently has a list of about 23 local schools that are on the possible "takeover" list, but since the Governor announced his plan to create a OSD  the DeKalb School District has focused its local resources intensely on the listed schools--good!   How many will come off the Governor's proposed low performance list is unknown.  But, at a minimum, whether the Constitutional Amendment passes or not these DeKalb schools are getting additional positive attention.  Similar local efforts are being made for children in poor neighborhoods and low performing schools in the Atlanta Public Schools.  We may see good results from these new efforts.


Education politics have changed significantly since the beginning of my legislative career, and Amendment 1 is very controversial, based primarily on a perceived loss of local control, and hyper-partisanship.  Georgia has the highest poverty rate for children in the top ten highest population states.  Title I monies have not worked well enough for the children in poor schools, and neighborhoods have  not improved  to minimize the toxic obstacles of poverty.   I am ready for the state and the Governor to step forward to  do better for the 500 to 1000 thousand children in a few local schools he may select to manage out of the 100,000 children in the DeKalb School District.  Research on similar proposals in other states is mixed, and the OSD experiment may not work, but I believe it is worth the additional resources and changes in governance or those children most in need,  and I am voting YES. 


Amendment 2--Safe Harbor  I am also voting YES on Amendment 2 which, if passed,  creates dedicated source of state funding for victims of human trafficking to support housing, counseling, and medical treatment.  This proposed bill came through the Juvenile Justice Committee where I serve, and proposes to fund the  required services by fines on convicted traffickers and an annual fee of $5000.00 or 1% of gross annual revenue on adult entertainment establishments--strip clubs.  In the Committee hearings we discussed at length the nexus between the adult entertainment industry and trafficking.  I predict the voters will approve the Amendment, the strip clubs will sue based on lack of a proven nexus, and the fines and fees will be upheld by the Courts.  Bring it on.  Please vote YES.


Amendment 3--Judicial Qualifications Commission Reform    The recent history of the Judicial Qualifications Commission is a total mess.  As of today, the Commission has no Executive Director, no Chairman, no investigator, the last two Chairs of the Commission have resigned under clouds, and the Commission rules have never been updated since its creation in 1973.  All 50 states have a similar entity that monitors and sanctions judges ethical behaviors, but does not review legal decisions.   It serves an important and essential function, and today in Georgia is totally flawed.  Part of the recent internal conflict relates to personal behavior of the Commission members which easily could have been avoided, but at present demands intervention.  For the Commission to be reformed to comply with the American Bar Association recommended structure and rules, Amendment 3 must pass.


I have served on the Judicial Qualifications Commission Study Committee this fall, and have heard many hours of testimony on proposed improvements in structure and process.  These reforms are essential, and to be accomplished the Amendment 3 must pass, so I am voting YES.

Sometimes, and the JQC problems are an example, I am asked to spend considerable time on issues that I did not choose, issues that are controversial and messy , and where there is a conflict that is not honestly being evaluated. This year's ongoing JQC debacle is very bad for the legal profession and the taxpayers, but progress is being made and I am hopeful the Amendment will pass and the JQC  can get back to work on its important mission.


Amendment 4--Fireworks Tax Revenue to Trauma Care, Fire Protection and Public Safety

Amendment 4 dedicates the proceeds from a general excise tax on fireworks to support funding for fire protection services, trauma care, and public safety.  The intent is to establish a permanent revenue source, and even if the money may not be very much and today the amount is unknown,  I am voting YES.






Ban on Assault Type Weapons Bill


I am working on a renewed effort to ban high velocity assault type weapons and amunition, and will be pre-filing legislation to get a head start on the discussion for the 2017 discussion.  Please mark your calendars for November 29 for a gathering at the state Capitol, Room 341, beginning at 1:00 pm to discuss the new bill and our strategy to bring a rational discussion on curbing gun violence to Georgia.  Thank you!

Study Committee Appointments for 2016

I am serving on three Study Committees this fall: 


Mental Health and Law Enforcement and our second hearing will be October 25, Room 606, in the Coverdale Legislative Building.  Our first  hearing from local sheriffs focused on the very high percentage of jail inmates who have serious mental illness diagnoses-- 40% to 50%.  How do they receive treatment and what is the most cost effective method of protecting both them, their families and the public.  I was very impressed with the Presenters.


Judicial Qualifications Reform --Chaired by Judiciary Chair Wendell Willard, the committee held four hearings at the State Capitol, and as with most of our pubic hearings, you can watch the testimony of the live tapings on the General Assembly web site.  We heard from Commission members, judges, lawyers, former Executive Directors, and the public. 


From my visit to Little Cumberland Island


Camden County Space Port  Camden County is pursuing with the Federal Aviation Administration a permit to build a space launch pad on a former county industrial site now owned by Union Camp and Bayer Industries.  The process is very intense and complicated and we visited the proposed site and  heard from the "for" and "against"  local voices. I also had the privilege of visiting Little Cumberland Island, next to the National Seashore Cumberland Island, that is in the path of the launch trajectory along with Cumberland Island. A magical place. 



And, like you probably, I am ready to vote and for this election to be over!  Elections matter regardless of how unpleasant the competition might be.






Please contact me anytime with your questions or comments and visit our website at the link below and  follow me on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links below.  If re-elected. I look forward to working with you during the  2017 Georgia General Assembly, and I need your help and your support!!  In the meantime, I will continue to report on issues that may interest you, and welcome your suggestions on how this newsletter may better serve you.

Mary Margaret
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