Gold Dome Tea Newsletter #5

Your weekly source of fresh tea poured out of the Gold Dome! 

February 23, 2019

Welcome back Tea Sippers! 

This is our fifth edition of the 2019 Gold Dome Tea newsletter. We brought the tea so we hope you brought your cups, as we will be giving you the inside scoop of all the most juicy things that happened in this week under the Gold Dome! 👀

In this week’s issue of Gold Dome Tea we will tackle:
🔹Piping Hot Issues – Quick rundown of the piping hot issues that will surely stir the pot.    
🔹The MARTA Referendum– The vote to expand MARTA into Gwinnett County is starting on Monday.   
🔹Call to Action –Annual Young People’s Day of Change: Mark your calendars and come lobby with us! 

Piping Hot Issues
The madness under the Gold Dome continues this week as we are getting closer and closer to the halfway point of the session a.k.a Crossover day. The committees meetings are getting longer and many bills are being rushed through by legislators. But fear not, as we will make sure to keep you updated. We are now at 433 bills in the House and 159 bills in the Senate. Here are some of the bills making the most buzz 🐝:

  • HB 316: Elections & Voting Machines 🗳This bill is a comprehensive voting rights bill and one of its focuses is to replace Georgia’s existing voting machines with new ones that print out machine-marked paper ballots. The problem with this is that it has been proven time and time again that human-marked paper ballots are safer and more cost efficient. The proposed change to machines will cost 150 million dollars of our tax money, and that is astronomical compared to the 30 million for the human-marked system to guarantee a fair election. Another negative aspect is that they are using this new tech to justify reducing the number of voting booths from 1 per 200 people to 1 per 250, a 20% reduction! Under-served communities will bear the biggest negative impact, as we saw in the last midterm election. Their goal was to rush this bill through as it was submitted last Thursday at the end of the day, made public last Friday, and had its first committee meeting immediately after the three day weekend. Even though it took three days and close to 10 hours of public testimony, the Governmental Affairs committee passed the bill 13-6 along party lines and it is up for House vote next. It has a moderate high probability of passing. Call your representatives and tell them to vote NO on HB 316!🔗Read more here: https://bit.ly/2E81qTh
  • HB 255: Right to Vote for Those in Jail ✊
    This bill aims to give those in custody the right to participate in elections. The goal is to provide absentee ballots to “certain” persons in jail. Right now the bill is not clear on who these “certain” people are, but it does say how the process will work: the absentee ballot of an elector who is in custody can be mailed or delivered by any employee of that jail. The bill is bipartisan so it has a moderate probability of passing. The bill is currently in its second reading and it is waiting to be assigned to the Governmental Affairs committee. Call your representatives and tell them to vote YES on HB 255!
    🔗Read more here: https://bit.ly/2tpqfoK
  • SB 15: “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” 🙄
    This bill aims to increase student safety in schools by establishing new positions called “school safety coaches,” volunteers who are defined in the bill as “former members of the armed forces, a law-enforcement agency or a fire department.” Multiple studies have found that the presence of police officers in schools does not make students safer. Black and Brown students and their presence will fuel the school to prison pipeline. The bill takes into account all security measures for the building, but does nothing to actually help students. SB 15 passed the Senate Public Safety committee and has a high probability of passing. Call your representatives and tell them to vote NO on SB15!
    🔗Read more here: https://bit.ly/2U3prl9
  • SB 92: Professional licenses and Defaulting on your student loans 👏Two weeks ago, we talked about HB 42 and now the Senate is doing a mirror bill. This bill would prevent the state from suspending the state-issued professional licenses of those who default on government-backed student loans. The bill sponsor said that “this is a really terrible way to collect debt…we should not remove somebody’s ability to earn a living if they fall behind on their student loans. Then they will not be able to pay their student loans.” This should be obvious as it is a debtor’s prison without bars. However currently in Georgia there is a law that specifically allows the state to suspend the professional licenses of those who fall behind on loan payments. HB 42 passed the House Higher Education committee and has moderate probability of passing. On the other hand, SB 92 probably won’t move from the Senate Higher Education committee and has a low probability of passing. Call your representatives and tell them to vote YES on HB 42!🔗Read more here: https://bit.ly/2U5ZX6E

The MARTA Referendum 🚇

Early voting starts for it starts on Monday! As we told you last week, one of the more important referendumsin the history of metro Atlanta is around the corner! Early voting on whether to extend MARTA into Gwinnett County begins on Feb. 25 and Election Day is March 19.

  • The ballot question: Voters will see the ballot question phrased this way when they go vote: “Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved? YES __ NO __”
  • What it means: A yes vote would allow MARTA to take over Gwinnett’s current transit services and greatly expand them. 
  • Key dates: Election Day is March 19. Advance in-person voting starts Monday at the Gwinnett elections office (455 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville) and will be held there every day through March 15, including on weekends. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A successful referendum in Gwinnett may ignite action for more mass transit in other metro Atlanta counties that have long been resistant to the idea, so this vote will be historic for years to come. 

So mark your calendars Gwinnett peers and go vote! 

🔗Read more here: https://on-ajc.com/2tBA8Q4

Call to Action 📣

Join us on Wednesday, March 7th as we host the Inaugural Young People’s Day of Change! Join us as we change the face of politics on Crossover Day! 
We will host you all day, or in four hour blocks, with food, tshirts, trainings, help you talk to elected officials, and much more! You MUST RSVP though at the following link: bit.ly/2019YoungPpl
Once you RSVP we will send you parking details and confirm your spot. We look forward to seeing you there! 
#YPDayOfChange
✅ RSVP and get more information on the event here:  bit.ly/2019YoungPpl
There is no sign of slowing down, especially with Crossover Day in the horizon, so hold on for the ride because the next weeks will continue being hectic and full of surprises!  

If you enjoyed this tea time we shared together, then subscribe here to get more piping hot tea poured fresh every Saturday during the legislative session! 🐸☕️
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