The last three days of the Georgia Assembly are action packed but not always for the good of the people of Georgia. Some lawmakers may feel pressure to push for terrible bills by people or by contributors to their campaign. We make no secret of our concern about the direction of the state Republican party and their willingness to engage in culture wars over policy that would make the lives of hard-working Georgians a little easier and offering real protections from real threats – not made up lies. The people of Georgia are having our pockets fleeced by those who should be standing between us and exploitative businesses and companies.
Things move fast. We suggest sending your emails as soon as you are able and do not worry about where things stand on the floor. Elected officials need to hear from you.
*When making your calls/sending emails be sure to include the bill number.
HB 231 would create a partisan Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission with the authority to discipline or remove District Attorneys or Solicitor Generals, ostensibly for cause. There is also a provision lowering the threshold of signatures needed to initiate a recall of these elected officials. It’s hard not to view these bills as retaliation for the increase in women and minority individuals in these county positions. The membership appointment process is highly partisan, allowing the Governor, LG, and Speaker of the House to appoint 4 out of the 5 members of the investigative panel themselves. The fifth member is appointed by the Senate Committee on Assignments, which is also highly partisan. The grounds for removal are vague, leaving prosecutors at the mercy of a committee of political appointees. The Board is empowered to entertain a complaint based on a ‘plausible’ allegation that a prosecutorial decision was based on ‘undue bias or prejudice against the accused’ or ‘factors that are completely unrelated to the duties of prosecution. “Plausible’ is not a standard in law. Such a flimsy standard serves to chill investigations of the powerful and goad prosecutors into indicting lawmakers’ political foes. If legislators don’t like a prosecutor’s priorities, then they, not the voters, get to remove him or her. It is a recipe for politicizing the administration of justice and is a move taken directly from the authoritarian or authoritarian-wannabe playbook.
For a more in-depth explainer, see this from The Current.
The professional organizations representing both District Attorneys and Solicitor Generals have made statements opposing this bill. HB 231 is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. Please contact the members of that committee and ask that they vote NO:
You may copy and paste this block of emails into your email address field. Senate Judiciary Committee:
firstname.lastname@example.org – Ex-Officio
Senate Bill 92 would also create a prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission with authority to discipline or remove DA’s or Solicitor Generals. SB 92 crossed-over to the House and was approved by a House committee by substitute (Check tracking on the House website for those changes from the original bill). This bill could reach the floor of the House on Monday, 3.27.23. Please contact your Representative to oppose this bill. Find your representative at https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Our country has a long tradition of independent local prosecutors, elected by the people and authorized to hold those in power accountable—that is, until now. In the same vein as a national GOP effort to pass anti-trans laws, GOP-controlled legislatures across the country are passing laws to lessen the authority of locally elected prosecutors. Currently the respective State Bars can and do discipline attorney, including elected prosecutors. Creation of a Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission, filled with partisan appointments, is a direct assault on prosecutors’ authority and a way of curbing prosecutorial discretion—which all prosecutors’ exercise. The grounds for removal from office are vague, leaving prosecutors at the mercy of a committee of political appointees. This is yet another indication of the GOP’s overreach and a subversion of the will of the people.
Do not be fooled by the tabling of the school voucher bill! Zombie bills are famous during the last few days of the session. Read about those here.
SB 233 could still surface before the session ends, but the bill debate ended Thursday without a vote in the House. It passed the Senate after changes, and the clock is running out. The bill would allow parents to take students out of public schools and place them in home or private school with a $6,500 stipend.
The analysis from Georgia Policy and Budget Institute: The voucher bill – note the big losers in this deal would be rural schools.
Here’s a wrap from Georgia Recorder.