2018 Legislative Session
The legislative achievements that I am most proud of include fully funding our public schools for the first time since 2002, while providing one of the single largest state tax cuts to Georgians in the history of our state, reforming our cash bail system that had led to the criminalization of poverty, and passing a transportation bill that will finally tackle our traffic issues in the 13-county metro-region.
We also made significant strides with respect to medical marijuana by legalizing its use for sufferers of PTSD and chronic pain.
Here are the some of the bills or resolutions that I sponsored during the 2018 Legislative Session:
Pre-existing conditions and medical coverage in short-term health plans
My Senate Bill 474 would strengthen protections for those with preexisting conditions under short-term health plans. These plans are exempt from the rule established by the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination against those with preexisting conditions. Because of this we need laws that will protect consumers wrongfully being denied coverage for medical care when they need it most.
Banning bump stocks
My Senate Bill 454 would make it unlawful to possess and use “bump stocks.” These gun modifiers make semi-automatic firearms fire faster and were used in the tragic 2017 Las Vegas Shooting. I discussed this bill on the Lawmakers television show (starting at minute mark 2:19):
Preventing domestic abusers from possessing guns
What we know is that perpetrators of mass shootings and gun violence usually have some history of abusive behaviors or were previously found guilty of domestic violence. I introduced Senate Bill 472 to prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of family violence – or those subject to family violence protective orders – from receiving, possessing, or transporting a firearm.
Public transportation and a regional transit approach is a critical component of economic development and quality of life. House Bill 930, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, will help to build an effective transportation network for the 13 county metro-Atlanta region. With a projected addition of another 2.5 millions residents to the Atlanta-metro area by 2040, we had to provide a framework for providing real transportation solutions for Georgians.
Property Tax Reduction
The most significant piece of legislation that I passed – Senate Bill 485 – will give Atlanta homeowners a chance to increase their homestead exemption for the educational portion of their property tax bills – from $30,000 to $50,000 – for the first time in many years. This was necessary due to the past failures of the Fulton County Tax Assessor to manage property tax assessments in the years leading up to the 2017 digest. We need a system that strikes a balance between providing more certainty and tax equity to homeowners while retaining the revenues necessary to provide adequate services at the local level.
One bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support but was the victim of the midnight adjournment requirement on sine die was SB 486, my companion bill to SB 485. It would have created a $100,000 homestead exemption for seniors in the City of Atlanta. Getting it passed will be job one next January.
This past Session, consumers were at the top of my agenda. I introduced Senate Bill 345 which prohibits credit reporting agencies from imposing fees for freezing or unfreezing a consumer’s credit. This was eventually passed as SB 376. This is needed more than ever in light of recent data breaches.
Sponsoring Dyslexia Day at the Capitol
Thanks to my 13-year-old son, I am well-versed in the challenges faced by those with dyslexia, and am equally well-versed in the unique skills and perspectives they possess. I firmly believe that we should push for early screening, early diagnosis, and early remediation for all Georgia students with dyslexia.
You can see my full speech from Dyslexia Day here: Speech on Dyslexia Day and Lawton IV.
I co-sponsored Senate Bill 313, legislation that would empower victims of sexual harassment to report without fear of retaliation. It also increases the scope of sexual harassment training – a much needed resource at the State Capitol.
Sex Trafficking Awareness Day
I co-sponsored Senate Resolution 789 to create a Sex Trafficking Awareness Day, drawing attention to one the scourge of human trafficking which is, unfortunately, prevalent throughout our state.
I was pleased to sponsor Senate Bill 356, a bi-partisan bill that created a Holocaust memorial in Sandy Springs.
The State Capitol no longer has antiquated gender roles; women serve just as much as men. In support of working mothers, I introduced Senate Bill 483 to provide a lactation room for women who work in the Capitol.