2/8/2021 - It was good to see a few folks from our community at the Capitol this week. It has been so quiet under the Gold Dome, since groups of kids and interested parties are not here. I miss the visitors from all over Georgia. The building isn't closed at all; just with Covid and all, folks are not coming. But that hasn't stopped folks from emailing or calling, which is fine. I was answering email on Saturday night catching up.
The most important Committee to be meeting right now besides our appropriations budget committee’s is the Speaker's Special Committee on Election Integrity. These 14 people have a lot on them, and the committee is bipartisan, if you were wondering. They are listening to us give them our ideas, as we are listening to you giving us ideas. The good thing for all of us, is these meetings are online and you can watch them. If you are interested in getting on the notification list for when these meetings are, email or call me, and I will get you on the list. Some of the ideas are that all of Georgia’s 159 County Board of Elections need uniformity in the way elections are operated, monitored, and secured, and authority given to the State Election Board to suspend and replace, as needed, to ensure accuracy and integrity to the election process. Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties should operate the same as Pickens, Gordon, and Murray counties. Absentee ballots should be checked for accuracy, including proper identification and proof of residency. All facets of elections should be spelled out and enforced through statute, so as to prohibit legal challenges determined by the Judicial system. Constitutional laws, as written, should be adhered to and enforced. Drop boxes eliminated or manned as they are in Florida. Defining poll watchers’ rights and responsibilities and others. Right now, there are 30+ different bills that they are working with and evaluating and getting input from all of us on.
It’s the time of the year when special interest groups get their email machines rolling, because they don’t like a bill or do like a bill. I will have to tell you these mass emails have little impact. A personal email/letter/call from you on your opinion has plenty of impact. It doesn’t have to be long to make a point, say what do you like, or don’t like, and suggestions if you have any; be sure to identify yourself as my constituent, so that I will focus on you.
Local legislation is coming through. Cities and counties have a lot of power given to them by the Legislature. We regularly name roads, and change rules for Boards, City Charters, and local Authorities. Recently-elected Pickens County Commission Chairman Kris Stancil asked me to review the current laws regarding the boards he appoints. Due to the volume of work that our legislative council is under right now, I picked a few: Airport Authority, Library, and Elections boards. I should hear back from them any day, as I asked a few weeks ago for their opinion. What I will do then if changes are needed, is to notify the Commissioner and create local legislation to do what our legal counsel recommends to keep everything right. Remember that in the past few years, we redrew local School Board district lines to keep representation equal and legal.
Those are the quick highlights, as I am limited in space. If you want details, I can provide them it you; you just have to ask! As important bills come up for debate, please call on me to fill in the blanks that are not reported. I like doing that a lot. Either call my Capitol office 404-656-7153 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to answer your questions or concerns.