Democracy In Georgia Needs Your Voice – Rapid Response


NB: As volunteers in the Georgia civic space, we try to pull together actions that will have impact based on conversations with partner organizations, elected officials, and others as well as the time we have to volunteer to do this work. That which we share is our best understanding of what will be heard and where the bills are heading in the amount of time we have available to give to this effort. In the days and hours leading up to Crossover Day, Monday, March 6th (when bills pass from one house to the other) rapid response is needed. If you call and find that a bill is no longer in play, please still voice your opinion. Your voice matters and your calls and emails are recorded.

In many ways, the bills on the table this week in the Georgia legislature are bills that undermine democracy. Whether it is subverting the will of voters (Cobb County redistricting bill), weakening our public schools by turning over our hard earned tax dollars to moneyed interests, or to build avenues to remove district attorneys in local jurisdictions. The theory that there are those in the MAGA wing of the Republican party that believe in local control is a manufactured lie. The bills we’ve listed today are good examples of that lie. Please spend time today to let these lawmakers know where you stand and support those who stand on the side of democracy.

Voucher Bill in Committee on 2/28

(Note that the day of the week for coming to the capitol is Tuesday not Wednesday as stated here). Please read through this call to action from our friends at Fund Georgia’s Future. Their call to action will help you call or show up. We must push back on this bill with diligence.

Dangerous Bill – Alleged District Attorney Oversight

Recent elections have resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of elected District Attorneys who are women and/or People of Color. It is hard to believe that HB 229, HB 231 and SB 92 are NOT a reaction to increased diversity in the ranks of elected DA’s in Georgia. Reportedly, HB 231 was prompted, at least in part, as a result of the DA’s actions in murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick. What may have begun with good intentions has morphed into a partisan attempt to control and intimidate prosecuting attorneys across the state. HB 229, introduced by Rep. Houston Gaines, mandates that elected District Attorneys, review all cases with “probable cause” for prosecution and failing to do so would result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal from office. The bill is thought to be aimed at Deborah Gonzales, the Athens-Clark Co DA, who has introduced alternatives to incarceration in her work. The bill also lowers the threshold for a recall petition of District Attorneys from 30% to 2%. All DA’s exercise prosecutorial discretion and they can be held accountable by their constituents if that discretion runs afoul of community standards. This is purely a power grab by the MAGA-GOP.

Contact your House member and members of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee to oppose this bill.

tyler.smith@house.ga.gov, deborah.silcox@house.ga.gov, clint.crowe@house.ga.gov, mandi.ballinger@house.ga.gov, james.burchett@house.ga.gov, charlice.byrd@house.ga.gov, sharon.cooper@house.ga.gov, chuck.efstration@house.ga.gov, barry.fleming@house.ga.gov,, joseph.gullett@house.ga.gov, stan.gunter@house.ga.gov, soo.hong@house.ga.gov, darshun.kendrick@house.ga.gov, rob.leverett@house.ga.gov, tanya.miller@house.ga.gov, farooq.mughal@house.ga.gov, yasmin.neal@house.ga.gov, matt.reeves@house.ga.gov, shea.roberts@house.ga.gov steven.sainz@house.ga.gov

HB 231 and SB 92 both call for the creation of a Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission, the purpose of which would be to review and remove District Attorneys and Solicitors. The members of such a commission would be chosen by the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and one member appointed by the Senate Committee on Assignments—all very partisan. DA’s and Solicitors are elected by voters in their jurisdictional areas and can be removed by those same voters if and when their actions violate community standards. HB 231 is assigned to the House Judicial Non-Civil Committee and SB92 is assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Contact your personal Representative and Senator as well as members of the respective committees to which the bills are assigned to oppose this bill.

House Judiciary Non-Civil
tyler.smith@house.ga.gov, deborah.silcox@house.ga.gov, clint.crowe@house.ga.gov, mandi.ballinger@house.ga.gov, james.burchett@house.ga.gov, charlice.byrd@house.ga.gov, sharon.cooper@house.ga.gov, chuck.efstration@house.ga.gov, barry.fleming@house.ga.gov,, joseph.gullett@house.ga.gov, stan.gunter@house.ga.gov, soo.hong@house.ga.gov, darshun.kendrick@house.ga.gov, rob.leverett@house.ga.gov, tanya.miller@house.ga.gov, farooq.mughal@house.ga.gov, yasmin.neal@house.ga.gov, matt.reeves@house.ga.gov, shea.roberts@house.ga.gov steven.sainz@house.ga.gov

Senate Judiciary Committee
brian.strickland@senate.ga.gov bill.cowsert@senate.ga.gov mike.hodges@senate.ga.gov steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov bo.hatchett@senate.ga.gov harold.jones@senate.ga.gov john.kennedy@senate.ga.gov michael.rhett@senate.ga.gov ed.setzler@senate.ga.gov ben.watson@senate.ga.gov

Shifting Redistricting Power in Counties Subverts Voices of Voters
The hearing on SB 124 – Heard and Passed Out of Committee 2/27/2023 – Please continue to contact committee members listed below and call your state senator.

Sen. Setzler’s bill SB 124 was heard and passed out of committee. This is a bill that will “restate constitutional limitations on the authority of county governing authorities to reapportion or redistrict their elections districts. (lines 2-3). 

SB 236 is a carbon copy of the redistricting bill signed into law last March. It was not heard in committee but is still assigned to the committee and could still be heard.

Background: In 2022 Cobb county was one of four counties (Gwinnett, Richmond, Chatham) that were taken out of the local process and passed redistricting maps without the consent of the majority of the delegation. The GOP Maps were adopted and signed into law. However, in 

October 2022 the Cobb Board of Commissioners followed the “home rule” process and passed the district maps as drawn by the delegation. 

Facts: 

1) The Legislature approved maps would have moved a sitting commissioner out of her district in year 2 of a 4 year term. 

2) The Commission approved the new maps ONLY to ensure that a block of voters were not completely disenfranchised and their 2020 votes nullified by redistricting. 3) The Commission approved maps were sent to the Secretary of State and approved without dissent and are currently the maps being used. 

4) In January, at a Cobb GOP meeting, Sen. Setzler admitted to the audience that the SOS and AG were not going to fight the Home Rule Maps in Cobb County. 

5) Also in January, a private citizen filed a case in State Court to have the home rule maps overturned and reverted back to the Legislature approved maps. THIS CASE WAS WITHDRAWN BY THE PLAINTIFF. 

6) Last Friday, a new case was filed by a sitting commissioner (R- Kelly Gambrill). So now a Commissioner is suing herself and her county. 

Impact:  If SB 124 and 236 are allowed to become law it will set a horrible precedent. We fear this will become a weapon to draw out sitting elected officials; thus giving the legislature the power to reverse vote outcomes and force duly elected officials out of office. Call/write committee members ASAP and ask them to oppose SB 124 and SB 236.

Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee

Shelly Echols, 404-463-3931 shelly.echols@senate.ga.gov

Bo Hatchett, 404-651-7745 bo.hachett@senate.ga.gov

Bill Cowsert, 404-463-1366 bill.cowsert@senate.ga.gov

Jason Anavitarte, 404-656-0085 jason.anavitarte@senate.ga. gov

Tonya Anderson, 404-463-2598 tonya.anderson@sentate.ga. gov

Brandon Beach, 404-463-1378 brandon.beach@senate.ga.gov

Gloria Butler, 404-656-0075 gloria.butler@senate.ga.gov

Greg Dolezal, 404-656-0040 greg.dolezal@senate.ga.gov

Steve Gooch, 404-656-9221 steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov

Ed Harbison, 404-656-0074 ed.harbison@senate.ga.gov

Harold Jones II, 404-656-0036 harold.jones@senate.ga.gov

John Kennedy, 404-656-6578 john.kennedy@senate.ga.gov

Michael “Doc” Rhett, 404-656-0054 michael.rhett@senate.ga.gov

Randy Robertson,404-656-0045 randy.robertson@senate.ga.gov

Blake Tillery, 404-656-5038 blake.tillery@senate.ga.gov




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