Halftime & Third Quarter

The last two weeks (Week 6 and 7) were so busy we have to put them all in one Newsletter! In a Joint Session, we had the State of the Judiciary Address. We also voted on over 40 bills, including the controversial Voting Machine Bill and the FY 2020 Budget Bill. We are full steam ahead to Crossover Day, which will be this Thursday. But for now, here’s a look at the last two weeks...

Two Weeks. One Newsletter. 

A Visit From Chief Justice Melton. The recently appointed Chief Justice, Harold D. Melton delivered his first State of the Judiciary address before a joint session on Tuesday. This annual address recounts theaccomplishments of Georgia’s judicial branch and the challenges it will face in the year ahead. Due to the great relationships built between the judiciary branch, the state legislature and the executive branch, Chief Justice Melton reported that Georgia’s judiciary branch stands sturdy, stable and strong and is poised to meet the inevitable changes that lie ahead.

HIV Legislation. After the joint session dissolved on Tuesday, the House unanimously passed House Bill 158, legislation that would give HIV-positive individuals on Medicaid access to the mosteffective antiretroviral medications on the market. This bipartisan legislation would require that all individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, whether in the state drug program or on Medicaid, receive the same antiretroviral drugs, including single tablet regimens. The cost to treat an individual with HIV/AIDS under the state drug program is $338,000, whereas, the cost perindividual without this program is $1.7 million. Our state has an extremely high number of new HIV diagnoses per year, and the proposed legislation seeks to ensure the health and well-being ofall Georgians while combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS in our state. This is one of several HIV bills proposed this session, including HB 133, which I sponsored earlier this session.

Voting Machines. This past week my colleagues and I fought against HB 316 and I gave a speech on the House floor about why it is a bad bill for Georgia. HB 316 attempts to force Georgia to use Ballot-Marking Devices (BMD) for voting machines and prevents any possible chance of Hand-Marked Paper Ballots (HMPB). I support the concerns and statements of countless cybersecurity experts and studies on why these present vulnerabilities to being hacked and offer no good option for auditability. Additionally, I have concerns that the bill would force Georgia taxpayers to pay much more over time for the upfront cost and maintenance of these machines while estimates show that HMPB would be much cheaper. Unfortunately it passed the House, but it is not finished yet and we  still have time to defeat it in the Senate.

The Budget. The most important job of any Legislator is passing the State Budget, and so I fulfilled my duty by passing HB 31 on Thursday. The FY 2020 budget is set at $27.5 billion, an increase of $1.05 billion, or 3.95 percent, over the previous year’s budget. The House version of the budget highlights women’s and children’s issues including maternal mortality; education, including funding the largest pay raise in the state’s history for teachers and certified personnel; and additional funding for our most vulnerable Georgians, including the elderly and foster children. There are many other aspects of the budget that I do not agree with, and my decision to vote yes came with a lot of reflection and introspection. All-in-all I chose to vote for the good instead of voting against the bad, and believe that voting yes was the right thing to do for my constituents. The budget  passed the House in a 155-13 vote, and is now headed to the Senate.

My First Floor Debate

HB 316 is a bad bill, and last week I had the opportunity to tell my colleagues why they should vote no. I delivered my first floor speech to a bill, and injected a bit of science as well. You can watch the whole speech  here

Should We Lower the Voting Age?

On Thursday I was honored to help introduce and co-sponsor HR 345 with Representative El-Mahdi Holly. HR 345 would create a referendum that would ask the voters of Georgia if they would want to lower the age to vote from 18 to 17 years old. The measure would bring countless young people into the political process and improve our Democracy. If passed, it would become an Amendment to the Constitution of Georgia. We hope that this Resolution will pass and we will see it on the Ballot in 2020.

Pictorial Review of Week 6 and 7

Upcoming events

Early voting for the MARTA Referendum has begun. See infographic for more information about satellite voting and more.

Copyright © 2019 Jasmine Clark for Georgia State House District 108, All rights reserved.

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