Capitol Corner

Athens’ New Mayor: Kelly Girtz

National and state politics are at the forefront of media coverage. News feeds are flooded with the daily chaos of congressional and executive affairs. While federal policy dictates a large facet of our lives, local officials focus on the details. In government, there are no small parts. The Rep. Spencer Frye fellows were given an […]

Senate Bill 77: What does it stand for?

 The protection and acknowledgement of Confederate monuments has long been a divisive issue both in Georgia and throughout the country. Georgia Senate Bill 77 amends the Official Code of Georgia annotated to actively protect all government statues and monuments, meaning that it prohibits the removal of monuments of Confederate War leaders or figures. The bill […]

A Firm Response to HB 481

On March 11, Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick announced her “testicular bill of rights” in response to Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” HB 481. The legislation has five points:  1. Require men to get permission from their sex partner before getting prescription for Viagra or any erectile dysfunction medication  2. Ban all vasectomy procedures and punish those who perform […]

Fellow Spotlight: Marnagee Scott

Marnagee Scott is a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in Political Science with a minor in Communications and a certificate in Applied Politics. On campus, Marnagee is an active member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service sorority, and Phi Kappa Phi, an honor society. She has an impressive academic record, considering she […]

A Better Alternative: Self-Grown Plants

In wake of current controversy, the topic of medical marijuana has made its way to the state of Georgia. We have already seen some previous legislation begin to take effect in Georgia. The city of Atlanta has decriminalized possession of marijuana under a certain amount. Moreover, the state of Georgia has legalized medical marijuana or […]

Fellow Spotlight: Monique Sholeh Alavi

Monique Sholeh Alavi is a Sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs with minors in Spanish and Criminal Justice. Monique published a book, Ameerah, through Amazon’s CreateSpace Publishing. She also conducted a comparative study on the correlation between the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Iraqi Refugee Crisis during high school. Currently, she […]

Analyzing House Bill 340

Last year, the state legislature made great strides in bail reform in our state by passing a bipartisan bill requiring judges to consider an individual’s ability to pay when setting bail. This happened around the same time as Atlanta’s city council restricted cash bail on low level offenses. However, all of this progress is under […]

Fellow Spotlight: Hannah Weeg

Hannah Weeg is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in Public Relations. During her time at UGA, she raised a guide dog for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and has also held multiple leadership positions for her sorority (Delta Gamma). In the summer of 2016, she studied abroad in Tanzania where […]

Election Security in Georgia

Following an election that was shadowed with allegations of voter suppression, upholding the integrity of the Georgia’s elections and ensuring that all voters’ voices are heard was of utmost importance at the start of a new legislative session. Georgia gained nationwide attention after hour long lines were seen at some of the most populous polling […]

Hate Crime Legislation

On March 7, a potentially historic bipartisan bill passed the Georgia House of Representatives, bringing it one step closer to possibly becoming law. This legislation, HB 426, would allow Georgia to finally join the ranks of 45 other states that have officially codified laws banning hate crimes.  ​Although the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill outlawing hate crimes in 2000, the law was […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Rachel Thornton

Rachel Thornton is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in Public Health with a minor in Global Health. Outside of the fellowship, Rachel has been a dedicated UGA Miracle member as well as a Phi Mu Recommendations Chair. During her time at UGA, she took part in the prestigious Washington Semester Program and […]


House Bill 301 would give state money to cover the tuition and associated fees of some students whose guardians want to send them to private school. In short, it’s a voucher bill. It’s legislation that will take public tax dollars and divert them to private institutions. Any student that has been in one of Georgia’s […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Emily R. Martin

Emily R. Martin is a senior at the University of Georgia double majoring in Political Science and International Affairs. Emily is an integral part of the legislative team for the Representative Spencer Frye Fellowship and enjoys engaging with the local Athens community through the fellowship. On top of being a diligent student, Emily was also […]

Upcoming Legislation on Domestic Violence

Representative Spencer Frye has decided to revive House Bill 786 from the 2017-2018 legislative session. This bill will expand discrimination protections in the insurance realm to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Under current Georgia law, insurance companies are able to raise rates on these victims by classifying them as more risk-averse because of […]

Citizens United

For years now corporations have been deciding who is going to be in office and who is going to hold the power. In 2010, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was taken to the Supreme Court. The now-landmark ruling declared that under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the government cannot limit corporations […]

Fellow Spotlight: Josh Hudson

 Joshua Hudson is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in Political Science along with a Public Affairs Professionalism certificate. Joshua has left a prominent mark at UGA considering he was a SGA Senator, FACS Ambassador, DSASAB Representative, Facilities Program Assistant for the Department of Recreational Sports, and he was also on the Sports […]

The Evolution of Georgia Adoption Laws

According to Georgia’s Division of Family and Children services, adoption is “social and legal process whereby an individual joins a family, earning the same rights and status as those born into that family.” It’s realistic to think that as long as the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and responsible, it should be a fairly easy […]

How Investing in Teachers Today Makes for a Better Georgia Tomorrow

An excellent teacher can alter the course of any child’s life.  The wisdom teachers give to their students stays with them over the course of their lives, and helps them solve problems in their community. Therefore, it is vital for states like Georgia to equip teachers with everything they need to succeed. When a teacher […]

Upcoming Gun Legislation

In the state of Georgia there have been 10,146 acts of gun violence since 2014, over 650 of these involved minors.1 The Democratic Caucus in the Georgia House of Representatives is dedicated to stopping this epidemic by promoting common sense gun legislation. For this reason they’ve formed the Democratic Caucus Public Safety Committee. This Committee, chaired […]

Affordable Housing Crisis

By: Marnagee Scott Last week, the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity Gala took place at the Foundry in downtown Athens. For several years, Habitat for Humanity has helped build and renovate homes for residents of Athens for less than $300 a month. In 2018, the average cost of rent per month for a three-bedroom apartment in […]

Fellow Spotlight: Lauren LaMar

Lauren LaMar is a master’s student at the University of Georgia studying Educational Administration and Policy. She dedicates much of her time giving back to the community by volunteering for the Humane Society, multiple soup kitchens, and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She also created a food bank for Indiana County to decrease food insecurity. […]

Food Insecurity in Athens

By: Ali Elyaman Merriam Webster defines hunger as “a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient”, but the causes and effects of hunger goes much further than a feeling. Lasting hunger and food insecurity is a problem that has plagued Athens-Clarke County for years; 21.6% of our community members classifies as food […]

Fellow Spotlight: Gennifer Allen

Gennifer Allen is a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs with a New Media Certificate. On campus, she is involved with Student Alumni Council as the New Member Chair, SPIA Survey Research Center as a Research Analyst, as well as the New Media Institute. She currently serves on the Public Relations […]

Savannah Harbor Expansion Project

By: Mathilde Carpet In early 2015, construction was started to expand the Savannah Harbor. Currently, the harbor has a depth of 42 feet below mean low low-water. This means that at low tide, the Savannah River has an average depth of 42 feet. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP, would deepen the harbor and […]

Fellow Spotlight: Mathilde Carpet

Mathilde Carpet is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs with minors in Spanish and Political Science and certificates in Global Studies and Applied Politics. On campus she is involved with Young Democrats and Delta Phi Epsilon. Not only is she heavily involved on campus academically and socially, but she also […]

Athens Inaugurates a New Mayor

On January the 8th, the city of Athens inaugurated Kelly Girtz as its new mayor. Girtz won the mayoral election this past May with a majority 60.5 % of the vote, beating his opponents former commissioner Harry Sims and businessman Bobby Knight by an outstanding margin (Aued 2018). This is not his first position in […]

Fellow Spotlight: Annefloor de Groot

Annefloor de Groot is a senior at the University of Georgia double majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies with a pre-law intent. As Chief of Staff for the fellowship, Annefloor coordinates efforts among public relations and legislative teams while also managing three directors and twenty-five fellows in performing political outreach, policy research, campaigning, community […]

The Case for Medicaid Expansion

“Medicaid expansion” has become a buzzword throughout Georgia and around the country as people are demanding more options for affordable health care services. But what exactly would “Medicaid expansion” entail? Medicaid is a federal-state program, meaning it gives individual states the jurisdiction over how to structure their designated Medicaid funding, and in 2012 the Supreme […]

K-12 Education

One policy issue that Georgia is consistently concerned with is quality education in the K-12 education system. The Georgia Department of Education is focused on the curriculum in state schools. Legislation has sought a mandate that state schools provide a comprehensive K-12 curriculum, which is tailored to all students. This mandate also aims to implement […]

Fall 2018 Special Session

This last week, the current Georgia state representatives and senators got together for one last time before the end of the year to review the annual fiscal spending plan. The primary focus of this special session was to help Georgia after the loss many suffered due to Hurricane Michael this past October. The hurricane made […]

Fellow Spotlight: Josie Feron

Josie is a senior at the University of Georgia double majoring in Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in Spanish. Throughout the course of her undergraduate career, Josie has been heavily involved on campus. She participated in the prestigious UGA Washington Semester Program as a member and Research Assistant. While in DC, she […]

Analyzing the 2018 Midterms

Although not a presidential election year, 2018 has been a big year for politics. Earlier this month, voters across America went to the polls and participated in the 2018 Midterm Elections. Citizens of Athens voted in twenty different categories, ranging from governor to state superintendent to four amendments and two statewide questions. Now, a few […]

The Epidemic of Homelessness in Athens

As a University of Georgia student, whenever I think of “Athens,” the first word that pops into my head is “college town.” To be able to harbor this notion of Athens has made me exceedingly privileged. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that even though we may believe that Athens is a college town […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ali Elyaman

Our next Fellow Spotlight goes to Ali Elyaman! Ali is a junior at the University of Georgia triple majoring in History, Political Science, and Religion with a minor in Public Policy and Management. Ali is heavily involved on campus by holding multiple leadership positions including Vice President of Administration for UGA Campus Kitchen, Dean of […]

Racial Disparities in Education in Athens-Clarke County

Often times when we speak at the University of Georgia about disparities in education, we don’t always think of Athens, Georgia. Many of us are privileged enough to attend the flagship institution and receive an education from the 13th top public national university according to U.S. News & World Report 2019. As I spent more time in Athens […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Taylor Nchako

Taylor Nchako is a Presidential Scholar and pre-law student at the University of Georgia double majoring in Public Relations and International Affairs with a minor Fashion Merchandising. While on campus, she has served as Infusion Magazine’s graphic designer as well as Pandora yearbook’s graphic designer and Twitter manager. Outside of campus, she supports the Spencer […]

Plant Voglte: Worth It To The Ratepayer?

The construction process for the nuclear power reactor, Plant Vogtle, has been anything but simple. One of the utility partners of the project, Oglethorpe Power, had until September 26that 5:00pm to decide whether or not they would continue to support the plant’s construction.[i]The building of Plant Vogtle has become controversial between the businesses involved and […]

Fellow Spotlight: Amy Pan

Amy Pan is a junior at the University of Georgia studying Political Science with minors in English and Communication Studies. She is a member of the Honors College, the Undergraduate Mock Trial Team, and the Student Government Association. She is also a part of the Georgia Political Review and is a Head Mentor for the […]

Fellow Spotlight: Mehak Gillani

Mehak Gillani is a junior at the University of Georgia studying International Affairs with a minor in Global Health. While at UGA Mehak has been involved with the Athens Land Trust and AIESEC. Through AIESEC she had the opportunity to intern abroad for 6 weeks at an NGO that provided aid to Afghan Migrants and […]

Fellow Spotlight: Danielle St. Amand

Danielle St. Amand is a sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in French and Political Science. On campus Danielle serves on a committees for Camp Kesem and is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority. After college she hopes to go to law school, and in the big picture Danielle aims to change […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome

Many interesting things have been happening during this phenomenal, productive Capitol Session! To begin, there was an electric car conference to ensure that environmental sustainability was prioritized throughout the state with many representatives including Representative Spencer Frye. This conference was about electric car sales plummeting in the state of Georgia. During the conference, it was […]

Just say NO to ICE

In Athens-Clarke County there’s currently a very public controversy over whether to comply with requests for detention from ICE (the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) and if so, to what extent? A couple of weeks ago I released a blog post noting that only notification of ICE appears to be mandated by the Georgia […]

Athens is a Sovereign City

There’s been a lot of press over the last few months about the Athens-Clarke County Sheriff’s Office holding people on behalf of the US Dept. of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, or ICE. The Athens-Clarke Police Department, on the other hand, does not perform such detentions. The Sheriff’s Office says it’s just following […]

Fellow Spotlight: Maisha Imam

Maisha Imam is a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs and Political Science and minoring in Spanish with Pre-Law intent. On campus she is involved in International Student Life, WUOG 90.5 FM, Leadership UGA, the Office of Institutional Diversity, and the Muslim Student Association. Maisha plays the violin in the Athens […]

Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in School Discipline in Georgia

Racial and socioeconomic disparities in school suspension among school-age children in Georgia and in the United States generally adversely influence the outcomes of individual students and contribute to the persistence of the achievement gap. According to the Department of Education, African-American students are suspended at more than three times the rate of their white classmates. […]

Fellow Spotlight Alexandria Pinckney

Alexandria Pinckney is a sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish. On campus, she is currently involved in the Spanish Immersion Program, the Thomas N. Lay Mentorship Program, and works as a tour guide at UGA’s Visitor’s Center. Alexandria was recently accepted into the Summer 2018 Honors in […]

Voting Inaccessibility in Georgia

In today’s increasingly dynamic, modern, and progressive era, one might be surprised to learn that accessibility to the voting booth is still not a reality for some. Unfortunately, the state of Georgia is not immune to this situation. Georgia’s experience with limiting accessibility to the polls dates back to when the state passed one of […]

Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Session has started, and there are a multitude of bills that have become the focus of attention for Georgians. One piece of legislation that has been in the public eye centers upon campus sexual assault and rape. This has continued to be a controversial topic for some time. Last year’s House Bill 51, written by […]

Fellow Spotlight: Vaibhav Kumar

Vaibhav Kumar is  a second year student at the University of Georgia and is double majoring in International Affairs and Political Science with a minor in statistics. He is most passionate about education legislation and is involved on campus with the Georgia Political Review. When he is not in class or traveling to the dome […]

Fellow Spotlight: Josh Hudson

Josh Hudson is a fourth year student at the University of Georgia double majoring in Political Science and Consumer Foods with an Applied Politics Certificate. On campus, he is involved in the Division of Student Affairs Student Advisory Board, the Department of Rec Sports, and serves as a FACS Ambassador. Internationally, he took a Nutrition […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 1

This week, the Georgia State House of Representatives began its 155th session. After a year full of special elections, the structure of the House has shifted since its past meeting. In 2017, Georgia voters successfully flipped two House districts, neighboring Athens districts 117 and 119. Representative Frye represents the 118th district of Georgia, and he […]

Food Insecurity

Every holiday season, I have dreams about all the delectable foods that I plan to gorge on with my family; from the turkey and dressing, to my grandmother’s peach cobbler, I absolutely love holiday food. With football playing on the television and the multitude of options that my family is fortunate enough to put on […]

Campus Carry

On July 1, 2017, House Bill 280, nicknamed the campus carry bill, was put into effect. This law will allow individuals to conceal carry a gun on the campuses of public Georgia colleges and universities. Those eligible to carry a gun are people who own a firearm license and are 21 and over. Under this […]

Biomass Energy in Georgia

Blanketed in over 24 million acres of forest, Georgia is an ideal source for harvesting a renewable energy source called biomass1. Biomass energy is derived from wood pellets made from low-grade wood waste. The pellets are burned to generate electricity and steam. As the largest source of commercial timberland in the United States, Georgia produces […]

Foster Care in Georgia

As we follow our nation’s debate regarding our “Dreamers” and recipients of DACA, it makes me think of where our friends, family, and community members could end up in the very near future.  A bit closer to home, however, it makes me think of children who might not know where they’ll end up tonight or […]

Fellow Spotlight: Zach Banov

Zach Banov is a fifth year student at the University of Georgia majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He currently runs the Emerging Leaders Program for Georgia Bio, a non-profit organization that promotes the growth of the life sciences industry in Georgia. Zach is particularly interested in the connection between scientific research and the policy created using […]

October Fellowship Retreat

Saturday in Athens entails waking up early, brewing some coffee, and preparing for the big . . . volunteer event? On Saturday, October 7th, Representative Spencer Frye’s Fellowship team, comprised of University of Georgia students, embarked on a unique beginning to their weekend by partaking in the Fellowship Retreat. The purpose of the Fellowship team […]

Issues In Focus: A Visit to Athens Transit

Last week, the Fellowship team had the pleasure of meeting with Athens Transit director, Butch McDuffie. After learning more about Athens Transit’s unique citizen engagement and incredibly efficient service, there was no doubt from any of us that Athens Transit indeed deserved its 2016 Urban Community Transit of the Year award. In addition to describing […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Alex Estroff

Meet Alex Estroff Graduation Date:  May 2017 Majors or Areas of Study:  Political Science and Journalism Hometown: Marietta, GA Community & Campus Involvement: Peabody Awards Student Honor Board, head mentor for the Thomas Lay afterschool program, writer for the Georgia Political Review, and member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity Interesting fact about yourself?: I climbed the […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Julia Ricciardulli

Meet Julia Ricciardulli Graduation Date: December 2019 Majors or Areas of Study:  International Affairs, Economics, Political Science Hometown: Alpharetta, GA Community & Campus Involvement: I currently serve on the Student Government Association’s Policy Research Board. Additionally, I am a disk jockey at WUOG 90.5FM and the Political and Economic Correspondent for the Athens Journal. Interesting fact about […]

Issues in Focus: the ACCA and ageism

This week the Spencer Frye Legislative Research Fellows met with Eve Anthony and Erin Beasley, the CEO and Director of Operations respectively, of the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) to learn more about the aging adult community within the city of Athens and the public services provided to them. Engaged in all levels of […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome

With session being almost half-way complete, bills are making their way to the House floor to be voted on. New legislation is introduced every day, and as we will see, it can make direct impacts on the lives of Georgians. Continue reading below to learn about some of the important topics that have been coming […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ishana Ratan

Graduation Date: May 2017 Majors or Areas of Study: Double Major in  International Affairs and Economics, Minor in Spanish Hometown: Chennai, India Community & Campus Involvement: I wrote for the food column for UGA’s Ampersand Magazine, am a tutor for Economics classes at UGA, and have been part of the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program for a year. Interesting fact […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Evan Katz

  Graduation Date: Spring 2019 Majors or Areas of Study: Political Science, International Affairs Hometown: Atlanta, GA Community & Campus Involvement: Georgia Political Review, American Founding Group, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Interesting fact about yourself?: I’ve played the piano for 13 years. What interested you most about the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program?: The ability to […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Annefloor de Groot

Graduation Date: May 2019 Majors or Areas of Study: Political Science and Communication Studies Hometown: Peachtree City, GA Community & Campus Involvement: UGA Miracle, Phi Mu Sorority, and UGA Young Democrats Interesting fact about yourself?: I was born and raised in The Netherlands until the age of eight. This experience has taught be to be open-minded to […]

Issues in Focus: Opportunity School District

This election season in Georgia there are four amendments for the voters to decide upon.  Amendment One, also known as Opportunity School District (OSD) garnered much controversy and debate throughout the state.  OSD was created by Senate Bill 133 and would allow the government to take over “chronically failing” schools and inject various policy changes […]

Issues in Focus: Public Transportation

Georgia, known for its great weather, good food, and recent economic boom, is also known for its terrible traffic problems. The most recent survey by INRIX, a traffic information leader, ranks Atlanta as the 9th worst U.S city for traffic, with 59 hours per commuter wasted annually. This is due, in part, to the neglect […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Alanna Pierce

Graduation Date:  May 2017 Major:  Theatre Hometown: Athens Other Community & Campus Involvement: Demosthenian Literary Society, UGA Theatre Department, Athens Anti-OSD What interested you most about the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program? What interested me was how much the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program gives to the community.  I really like how the fellows are given opportunities to gain experience […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Luke Boggs

Fellow Spotlight: Luke Boggs Graduation Date: December 2015 Majors or Areas of Study: Political Science and History Hometown: Saint Marys, Georgia Community & Campus Involvement: Demosthenian Literary Society, Young Democrats of Georgia What interested you most about the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program? I first became interested in the program because of how varied and deep […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Sine Die

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Sine Die Time during the final day of the 2016 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly expired on Sine Die. While lawmaking is technically supposed to end at the stroke of midnight on the 40th day, legislators found themselves voting into the early morning of March 25, what […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week Ten

With only two legislative days remaining, Rep. Frye is still working hard in the General Assembly to have a strong finish.  Keep reading to see what happened this week under the Gold Dome. Religious Liberty Bill Passes On Wednesday night, the religious freedom bill passed the Georgia state legislature. In order for the bill to […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Eleanor Traynham

This week we caught up with Eleanor. Read more here to learn a little more about her experiences as a fellow. Fellow Spotlight: Eleanor Traynham Graduation Date: May 2017 Majors or Areas of Study: Public Relations and Political Science Hometown: Macon, GA Community & Campus Involvement: I’m a member of Phi Mu where I previously […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 9

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week Nine The Georgia General Assembly had another busy week as the 2016 session quickly approaches an end.  With only a few legislative days left in the session, the House and the Senate both passed several bills, and a number of other bills are working their way through the […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Anna Beth Smith

This week we talked with Anna Beth Smith about her experience as a FACS intern and fellow for Rep. Frye. Graduation Date: August 2017 Majors or Areas of Study: Human Development and Family Sciences and Political Science Hometown: Macon, GA Graduation Date: August 2017 Majors or Areas of Study: Human Development and Family Sciences, Political Science Community […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 8

With Crossover Day in the rearview mirror, work in the Georgia General Assembly is now overflowing across the halls. Bills passed in the House of Representatives will now need to be approved in the Senate, and the same goes for bills that received the Senate’s approval that await a decision in the House. There are […]

State Route 316

Learn more about how Rep. Frye is supporting Georgia State Route 316 improvements here:

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 7

Today marks day 30 under the Gold Dome! On day 30, also known as Crossover Day, any bill that has not passed its original chamber will not continue in the legislative process. However, there are creative ways to amend bills that have survived by inserting the legislation that did not pass, thus keeping the idea […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Kristyn Hicks

Fellowship Spotlight: Kristyn Hicks Graduation Date: May 2017 Majors or Areas of Study: Public relations, Political Science and New Media Hometown: Dallas, Georgia Community & Campus Involvement: Public Relations Student Society of America, Rep. Spencer Frye Fellowship What interested you most about the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program? I was interested in the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program […]

House Bill 1032

House Bill 1032 could be a step towards positive change regarding public transportation. Rep. Frye is proud to co-sponsor a bill that would provide more public transportation and help relieve some of the frustrating Atlanta traffic. Learn more about HB 1032 and some of the potential beneficial outcomes here.

Save Yourself Some Green…We Mean Money and the Environment

Save Yourself Some Green…We Mean Money and the Environment What is House Bill 877? House Bill 877 clarifies what it means for a vehicle to use alternative fuel, clean fuel or electricity by plugging-in. This bill also proposes income tax credits for the next three years for vehicles that uses alternative energy. “I thought we […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 6

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week Six This week was a busy one for the Georgia General Assembly.  With just a few legislative days remaining, every single day brings us closer to reaching decisions that impact the community. Continue reading below to see what Rep. Frye accomplished during week six. Cutting the Cost HB […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Karsyn Kendrick

This week we caught up with Karsyn Kendrick, a senior at UGA with a passion for helping others and a special interest in the German language and culture. Graduation Date: May 2016 Majors or Areas of Study: International Affairs and German Hometown: Augusta, Ga Community & Campus Involvement: Spencer Frye Fellowship, Pi Sigma Alpha member […]

House Bill 877

Legislation from the 2015 session removed some of the benefits of purchasing environmentally friendly vehicles. Rep. Frye is working with other representatives this session to win those incentives back. HB 877 will bring back the income tax credits for low-emission and plug-in vehicles that were lost. Learn more about the legislation here.  

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 5

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week Five Another week has passed, and the Georgia General Assembly has officially reached the halfway point in the session.  With 20 days left to create new legislation this session, continue reading here to see what Rep. Frye has accomplished so far under the Gold Dome. At the Crosswalk […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Kalin Wilson

Fellowship Spotlight:  Kalin Wilson Today we talked to Kalin Wilson for our Fellowship Spotlight. Kalin shared some of her future goals and plans as well what she is learning during her time as a legislative fellow with the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program. Graduation Date: May 2016 Majors or Areas of Study: Economics/Pre-law Hometown: New York […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 4

As the Georgia General Assembly presses onward towards March 24 and Sine Die, here’s a look at the issues Rep. Frye discussed this week under the Gold Dome. Early Voting Starts Monday Advance voting for the 2016 presidential preference primary started Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, at the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections located at 155 […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week Three

Another week under the Gold Dome has passed, and the Georgia General Assembly is beginning the 13th day of the legislative session this morning. During week three in Atlanta, Rep. Frye fought for many issues that will have direct and significant effects back home in the 118th district. Carry On Campus Debate Reappears A session […]

Issues in Focus: “Marijuana: The Overlooked Outcomes”

According to the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group for criminal justice reform, the United States currently holds the largest incarceration rate of any country in the world with 2.2 million people in prison. Of those 2.2 million people, 55 percent of those federal prisoners are placed in prison for non-violent drug offenses. This […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Elizabeth Hall

Fellow Spotlight: Elizabeth Hall Today we talked to Elizabeth Hall for our Fellowship Spotlight. Elizabeth shared some of her favorite places in Athens as well as what she is looking forward to during her time in the public relations department with the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program. Graduation Date: Spring 2017 Majors or Areas of Study: […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 2

During the second week of the legislative session, Rep. Frye continued to build positive proposals to address issues affecting the district and the state. While he worked, several controversial issues were discussed. Let’s Talk About Taxes Senate Bill 280 is a proposal to lower the state income tax. Dubbed the “Tax Relief Act of 2016,” […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome

The 2016 presidential election is the most explosive campaign in recent memory. Everyone seems to have an opinion about whom should win the primaries or ultimately be president. But while this talk consumes the media, lawmaking with direct results is actually taking place. The 2016 Georgia General Assembly convened for its first day of business […]

Efforts to End Domestic Violence and Help Victims of Sexual Assault

The Spencer Frye Fellowship team recently had the opportunity to visit The Cottage, an Athens-based non-profit devoted to child advocacy and combating sexual assault.  While there, we had the opportunity to hear about the organization’s work, recent changes in the services it provides, and possible challenges it may face in the future. Through our visit, […]

November Policy Snapshot

As Thanksgiving draws near, and as one lucky bird eagerly awaits a presidential pardon, the Spencer Frye team is here to highlight three political stories that are sure to “gobble up” any awkward pauses in your Turkey Day family arguments discussions. Forget Bay of Pigs – what about “Bay of Chickens”? While we’re on the […]

The Earned Income Tax Credit: A Bipartisan Tool to Fight Poverty

Over the last several years, Americans have been paying more attention to the growing problems of poverty and income inequality. However, there is broad disagreement across the political spectrum about how to address them. Among Democrats, popular positions include expanding social programs (funded by raising taxes on wealth or capital gains) and raising the minimum […]

Community Connections: Ensuring No Need Goes Unmet

Founded in 1978, Community Connection serves 13 counties in Northeast Georgia, and its mission is to “strengthen the individuals and organizations of our region to ensure that no need goes unmet”. This last week, the Spencer Frye Legislative Fellows had the opportunity to meet with Julie Farmer, the Referral Manager for Community Connection. During our […]

On the Docket: Fundamental Tax Reform in Georgia?

Months in advance of the next legislative session, attention is already turning to tax reform. Legislators typically pass a few tax bills every year, but substantial overhaul hasn’t happened since 2012. This year might be different though; a new tax overhaul bill was introduced last session that appears to have the support of many lawmakers. […]

Habitat for Humanity: Building a Better Future for Athens-Clarke County

On Friday, October 16th, the Spencer Frye Fellowship Team visited the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity. Our visit involved a conversation with Representative Frye on the organization’s operations and their positive impact on the community. This discussion helped us examine the challenges that face Athens and the ways in which those challenges are being addressed. […]

What We Talk about When We Talk about Women’s Reproductive Health: A Look into the Planned Parenthood Controversy and its Implications for Georgia

This July, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a secretly recorded video in which Planned Parenthood executives discussed providing fetal tissue to medical researchers. This video has prompted a raging debate over women’s reproductive rights and government funding of Planned Parenthood. Despite the great degree of noise about these issues, with a presidential candidate […]

October Policy Snapshot

October Policy Snapshot As lawmakers continue to gear up for the spring session, and as policy wonks wait for the political fireworks to start at the Golden Dome, the Spencer Frye team is here to bring you up to speed on 5 important policy developments from the past month.    1. Craft Beer Blues During […]

Fellow Visit: Casa de Amistad

At the intersection of multiculturalism, community outreach, religion, and Athens lies a small nonprofit with a big heart. This organization, Casa de Amistad, seeks to address the needs of Athens’s Latino community and assists over 300 Latino families each year. On Wednesday September 23rd, the members of the Spencer Frye Fellowship team visited Casa at […]

The Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has become an idol of the modern business world, with the success of companies in this field suggesting that the sky is the limit. Room-sharing service Airbnb is projected to rake in over $900 million this year, while ride-sharing facilitator Uber is expected to net around $2 billion. Beyond its expanding profits, […]

What the Supreme Court’s Decision Means for Me

After last week’s Supreme Court decision in King vs. Burwell, the Affordable Care Act remains intact, preventing hundreds of thousands of Georgians from losing access to the financial assistance they need to maintain good health. The plaintiffs’ argument, based on a narrow interpretation of the law, sought to have subsides removed for states, like Georgia, […]

June Policy Snapshot

Although the legislature is not in session, policymakers across the state are hard at work dealing with the important problems and preparing for next session. Over the summer we’ll deliver monthly policy updates to keep you informed on the latest in Georgia’s policy debates. Here’s June’s top 5: *Update*: Friday morning saw another historic victory […]

Fellow Spotlight: Victoria Ward

This week we talked with Victoria Ward for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Victoria’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2015 Majors or Areas of Study: Public Relations and Marketing Hometown: Augusta, […]

Fellow Spotlight: Breyuana Smith

This week we talked with Breyuana Smith for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Breyuana’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2016 Major or Area of Study: Public Relations Hometown: Lawrenceville, […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Sine Die Edition

The legislative session for 2015 came to an end late in the evening on Thursday. Here is a recap on what made it through the legislative gauntlet this year including Spencer’s crosswalk bill, new transportation funding, and a plan to take over schools perceived to be failing. Spencer’s Legislation: Although Rep. Frye was actively involved […]

Fellow Spotlight: Kaylee Maxwell

This week we talked with Kaylee Maxwell for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Kaylee’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2016 Major or Area of Study: Law Hometown: Bainbridge, GA […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Sine Die Draws Near

The pace at the Gold Dome picked up last week as the end of the 2015 Session nears. Dozens of bills worked their way towards the end of the legislative process including legislation impacting our schools, the civil rights of Georgians, our environment, and our beer. House Approves Opportunity School District, Decision Will Go To […]

Fellow Spotlight: Samantha Keitt

This week we talked with Samantha Keitt for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Samantha’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2017 Major or Area of Study: Public Relations | Minor: Political […]

Opportunity School District Falls Short of Meeting Needs of Georgia’s Most Disadvantaged Students

During his State of the State Address, the Governor signaled his intentions to file a plan with the legislature to provide greater state oversight for schools deemed “failing” based on standardized assessments. By February, this plan was introduced in the form of Senate Bill 133 and Senate Resolution 287. His proposed constitutional amendment, modeled after […]

Fellow Spotlight: Blake Feldman

This week we talked with Blake Feldman for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to him about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what his best experience has been so far, and what some of Blake’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date:  May 2015 Major or Area of Study: Law School Hometown: Newton, MS […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Crossover Day Edition

Athens was a little quieter this week as students were away for spring break, but debate under the Gold Dome was loud as members of the General Assembly made their final push to get bills to the opposite chamber before Crossover day. Crossover day, the 30th day of session, is the final day for bills […]

Fellow Spotlight: Emma Cramer

This week we talked with Emma Cramer for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Emma’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2016 Major or Area of Study: Public Relations, International Affairs Hometown: […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Roads, Rails, and Crosswalks

The House made it closer to the home stretch of session last week by voting on one of Georgia’s most important challenges. Check out the all transportation edition of This Week Under the Gold Dome. Transportation Funding Clears House On Thursday, the House passed legislation injecting almost $1 billion into Georgia’s roads and bridges. The […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 7

Despite the weather, last week was a busy week as the House made progress on some of the more visible legislative proposals during this session. The House passed the budget for fiscal year 2016, discussed minority participation in transportation projects, and approved medical marijuana legislation after a two-year effort. House of Representatives Votes to Approve […]

Fellow Spotlight: Leah Blackman

This week we talked with Leah Blackman for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Leah’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2018 Major or Area of Study: Political science and international […]

Issues in Focus: Raising the Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage, or the existence of a minimum wage at all, is one of those topics that nearly everyone you meet will have some opinion on. Some will argue that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs because employers won’t be able to employ the same number of persons at a higher salary. […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 5

Transportation Update This week the Transportation Committee passed House Bill 170 by committee substitute. As it was passed by committee substitute, the bill has seen many changes since its original version. One of the new amendments allows local governments to create a 1.25 percent sales tax instead of the 1 percent allowed by current law. […]

Fellow Spotlight: Andrew Stoehr

This week we talked with Andrew Stoehr for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to him about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what his best experience has been so far, and what some of Andrew’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: I will graduate in May 2017. Major or Area of Study:I am […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 4

House Votes to Facilitate Residential Use of Solar Power Athens is a city on the front lines of conservation and concern for the environment. From the recycling bins across UGA’s campus to the recycling pick-up that occurs in many of your front yards, Athens is a town that knows our current resources are finite, and […]

Fellow Spotlight: Sezi Erdin

This week we talked with Sezi Erdin for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Sezi’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: Spring 2016 Major or Area of Study: Political Science and International Affairs […]

Square One: Medical Marijuana

On this edition of Square One, we take a look at the increasingly important issue of medical marijuana, including how it can help children suffering from debilitating diseases and why everyone in Georgia seems to be talking about it. Legalizing medical marijuana is an issue that frequents all forms of media and conversation, but what […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Transportation, Education, and Medical Marijuana

The legislators were back to work last week with discussions on some of the biggest challenges the state faces like transportation and education. While we wait for the bills to start hitting the floor, check out the latest from the Dome this week. Tracking Transportation The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 has been out a […]

Fellow Spotlight: Elizabeth Holland

This week we talked with Elizabeth Holland for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to her about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what her best experience has been so far, and what some of Elizabeth’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: Spring 2016 Major or Area of Study: Political Science and Public Relations […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 2

While the days may be cold, business under the dome is heating up. Through the budget discussions, the transportation debate and new legislation, Spencer has been advocating for you on these major issues. Revised Budget When lawmakers allocate money for next year’s budget, the total amount of the budget is based on an estimate. The […]

Fellow Spotlight: Gary Ashcroft

This week we talked with Gary Ashcroft for our profile series Fellow Spotlights.  We discussed what was appealing to him about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what his best experience has been so far, and what some of Gary’s favorite things about Athens are. Graduation Date: May 2016 Degree/Standing: 2L at UGA Law Hometown: Cochran, GA Community/Campus Involvement: […]

Issues in Focus: Georgia Breweries

Fairness. It’s a quality we cultivate in this country and this state. This quality extends to small businesses trying to compete in today’s competitive world. However, in Georgia, one group of businesses is not treated with the same fairness the rest of our state’s industry enjoys: Georgia’s Brewers. Craft breweries are breweries that make specialty […]

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Budget Week

Welcome back to This Week Under the Gold Dome, our weekly rundown of events at the Capitol and here in the Athens community. Spencer Hosts Affordable Care Act Enrollment Event: Spencer’s vision of a stronger Georgia begins with you and the community he serves. Representative Frye never loses sight of this vision while working for our […]

A Letter to My Constituents: True Solutions

Tomorrow marks the first day of the 2015-2016 legislative session, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back to the Gold Dome. During the last two years, we have made significant progress for our state. In 2013, we eliminated red tape to allow for a grocery store in downtown areas like Athens. This secures […]

Fellow Spotlight: Laura Pontari

Check out the latest of our Fellow Spotlights on Laura Pontari. Find out what she loves about the Spencer Frye Fellowship program, what her favorite part of the experience has been, and the things Laura loves about Athens….

What We’re Reading: Monday, October 13th

Check out what we’re reading this week, including two op-eds covering the state of standardized testing in our schools, education at the center of the AJC editorial page, and early voting dates and times!…

Fellow Spotlight: Caitlyn Todd

Check out the first of our Fellow Spotlights. Each week, we’ll be profiling our hard-working State Representative Spencer Frye Fellows. Learn more about Fellow Caitlyn Todd and what led her to apply for our program! …

Square One: Education in Georgia

Education is one of the most important issues that our community, our state, and our nation deals with each year. Whether its funding for schools, teacher evaluations, or graduation rates and poverty, education policy is made up of many facets that are critical to our children and our state. Learn more about what makes up Georgia’s education system here. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, September 29th

Check out an all-education edition of what we’re reading this week including reports on the Clarke County Schools new resolution on the teacher evaluation system, a report from the AJC that Georgia seeks to delay the impact of that evaluation system, and a few blogs from around education circles about the impact of testing in schools. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, September 8th

Check out what we’re reading this week including driverless car testing at the University of Michigan, the AJC’s report on the impact of UGA ending their ACA Navigator program, a new pilot program to track student education outcomes across state lines, and more!…

Square One: Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform has been a pretty active issue at the state and federal level over the past few years. Reforms have been passed to focus on rehabilitative practices over jail time for both adult and juvenile offenders of drug related crimes. Have we done enough? …

What We’re Reading: September 2nd

Check out what we’re reading this week including Pennsylvania expanding their Medicaid program, schools cutting PE and recess requirements, Georgia football is back, and the latest from the Bitter Southerner….

What is an Investment?

Spencer and his team talk a lot about investments in public and through this blog. But what do we really mean by investments, and what does that look like in reality? Learn more about the long-term impacts of the decision in the 1980s to expand Medicaid to pregnant women as a way to ensure better health for children. How long that better health lasts might surprise you….

Square One: Health Care

There has been a lot happening with health care lately. It is likely you have heard or seen news about Obamacare, doctor shortages, the end of Medicare as we know it, and all the partisan battles that typically accompany these subjects. But what does it all mean? Is everything as horrible as it can seem? Here is an overview of how Georgians get their health insurance, what the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is, and what questions remain regarding health care. …

What We’re Reading: August 25, 2014

Check out what we are reading this week including a second UGA student getting hit by a car in the early weeks of classes (be careful out there!), a rundown on Athens Transit issues from Flagpole, a review of how the state legislature’s decision to bar UGA from employing Navigators impacts health reform, the passing of UGA legend Dan Magill, and the revival of the T-SPLOST to address transportation funding shortfalls….

Profiles in Service: Nuçi’s Space

Last week, our summer fellows got the opportunity to meet with Nuçi’s Space to talk about their work in the Athens community. Executive Director, Bob Sleppy was kind enough to take some time to speak to us about the work Nuçi’s Space does to address issues of mental health within the Athens music community. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, July 28th

Check out what we’re reading this week while you wait to find out if the bachelorette and bulldog are a match made in television. Clarke County Schools move to a charter school district, all Georgia schools are implementing Georgia Milestones, insurers are paying $11 million in rebates to Georgians, Georgia’s economy hasn’t recovered middle-wage jobs, and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan releases a plan to enable states and localities to address poverty. See the details here. …

What We’re Reading: July 21, 2014

Check out what we’re reading on this election eve including all you need to know to cast your ballot tomorrow, an article describing the pressures on teachers in the standardized testing era, Myra Blackmon’s thoughts on Clarke County Schools becoming a charter district, and a report from Sunday’s ABH on Athens becoming the home to a new refugee center. …

Spencer Frye Selected to Serve on Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority

Last week, Spencer was selected by Mayor Nancy Denson and the Athens Clarke County Commission to serve on the Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority. The Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority is a multi-county group comprised of officials from Athens-Clarke, Barrow, Oconee and Gwinnett counties charged with exploring opportunities for biotechnology growth along the Georgia Highway 316 corridor. Connecting Athens to Atlanta, the 316 corridor links the local economic and educational infrastructure of Athens with comparable resources found in the Atlanta metropolitan area. …

Profiles in Service: Project Safe Inc.

Earlier this month, the Summer Fellows visited Project Safe, a local non-profit committed to ending domestic violence through prevention and educational programs. Project Safe brings together advocates, donors, volunteers, community partners, allied organizations and supportive individuals who are committed to ending domestic violence. The organization works with Athens homeless and animal shelters and other UGA organizations to provide their clients and community with a wide range of services and resources. Their services are confidential and free….

Profiles in Service: Interfaith Hospitality Network

Last week, our summer fellows got the opportunity to sit down with Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) to talk about their work in the Athens community. Executive Director, Ken Sherman was kind enough to take some time out of his day to explain how IHN of Athens strives to address the crisis of homelessness that many families face in the Athens area. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, July 7th

This week, we are reading the Bitter Southerner about the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Flagpole about the Varsity as a setting for Athens integration, Pre-K sign ups, donations for school supplies, the challenge that lay before Clarke, Oconee, and Madison counties as they plan road construction, and the heartbreaking story of a couple married over 30 years who separated to maintain health insurance. …

Profiles in Service: Action Ministries

It may surprise people to find that Action Ministries, nestled in a corner building on Lumpkin Street, is responsible for leading many people out of poverty. Solomon Smothers, the program bshinholseristrator at Action Ministries, says that they try to accomplish this through “hunger, housing, and education solutions.” In order to meet the clients’ needs, Action Ministries provides meals to the people of Athens 7 days a week, 364 days a year through a program called Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen. This program is one of the largest offered by Action Ministries. Solomon and the rest of the staff share these meals with the participants. In an interview, he explained why. “Something very special happens when you share a meal with someone. That special bond gets multiplied when you consistently share a meal with someone. We believe that one of our greatest gifts to this community (and one of the greatest gifts the community gives us) is to eat with people…with anyone…and form real, authentic bonds.” After speaking with Solomon, I became very aware of the passion he feels for the people he works with and his desire to improve their lives through Action Ministries. …

Spencer Frye Receives Clean Water Champion Award from Georgia Water Coalition

Last week, I was honored to be the recipient of a Clean Water Champion Award from the Georgia Water Coalition. The Georgia Water Coalition is a group of more than 200 organizations that works tirelessly across the state to ensure plentiful, clean water for us, our kids, and generations of Georgians to come after us. I want to thank the Coalition for their efforts and the people who took time away from their work and families to paddle the river for seven days to raise awareness about water issues. …

What We’re Reading: Tuesday, July 1st

This week on What We’re Reading: Dr. Jack Crowley has more on downtown development, ABH has reports on the primary runoff early voting and free meals being served this summer for kids, AJC’s Bill Torpy describes the embattled position of DFCS chief, and the Supreme Court rules on the Hobby Lobby and Unions cases. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, June 23rd

On this week’s edition of What We’re Reading: Pictures from Athfest, chain retailers and restaurants are increasingly finding a home downtown, Athens non-profits are pioneering Community Platform software, the Port of Savannah is booming, and President Obama hosts a summit on working families. Plus a World Cup bonus meant to look on the bright side of a gut-wrenching 2-2 draw with Portugal Sunday night. U.S. chances of moving to round two are still pretty good. …

Profiles in Service: Casa de Amistad

Today, we are excited to bring back Profiles in Service. Throughout the summer, we’ll be connecting you with the organizations and individuals making a positive impact in the Athens community. This week our Summer Fellows visited Casa de Amistad, a local organization that works to address the needs of the Athens-Clarke County Hispanic and greater immigrant population. …

Affordable Care Act Providing Affordable Market for Uninsured

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report showing that Affordable Care Act Marketplaces are providing some of the cheapest premiums in the nation to Georgians. After tax credits, the average monthly premium paid by consumers on Georgia’s Marketplace is $54, second only to Mississippi’s $23 monthly premium. The report also showed that 79% of Georgians enrolled in Marketplace plans with tax credits are paying $100 or less for their health insurance. …

Spencer Appointed to Georgia Film Industry Study Committee

This week, House Speaker David Ralston announced assignments to the 10 House Study Committees scheduled to meet during the 2014 offseason. Study committees allow legislators to get together, typically on a bipartisan basis, to study issues related to pending legislation or challenges our state faces. This year, the House approved 11 study committees to study issues ranging from the Georgia alcoholic beverage code to Georgia-based film and post production. House Members will also serve on six joint study committees with members from the Senate and will be studying issues like property taxes and education funding, emergency relocation of abused adults, and sources for transportation funding. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, June 16th

On this week’s edition of What We’re Reading: Job Fairs in Augusta and Atlanta, a recap of this weekends celebration on the Hot Corner, standardized test scores, Atlanta’s rebound to sprawl, and the growing national influence in local political races. …

Port of Savannah Funding Signed by President Obama

On Tuesday, President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, a legislative package that included $12.3 billion in funding for 34 infrastructure projects to improve the nation’s ports and waterways. The package authorized $440 million for the dredging of the Port of Savannah, clearing the final funding hurdle on a project in the works since 1999. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, June 9th

This week on What We’re Reading, see the review of the winners from the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation Preservation Awards, a report on the rise of Greenville, SC and what Athens can learn from our Upstate neighbors, a report on Cedar Shoals JROTC who marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, a report showing bike lanes increase bikers, and a rundown on President Obama’s proposed EPA rules he issued last week. …

Capitol Corner 3.0: Lets Take it Back to Square One

During the election of 2012, our team started this blog to communicate directly with you about the latest in campaign events and issues, and our staff explained why we have supported Spencer since the beginning. After the election, we used the blog as our primary tool for reporting the news under the Gold Dome. We have also found other ways to use the blog as a platform to celebrate the work of community organizations in our Profiles in Service and to discuss our views on some of our most pressing policy challenges in our Issues in Focus. Today is the beginning of another step forward as we continue to learn and try new things in an effort to communicate with you. …

Square One: Georgia’s Transportation and Infrastructure

Have you read the news recently and seen stories on the drying up Federal Highway Trust Funds or the confirmation that the Port of Savannah will be deepened in the next few years? Feel like you need some context to understand what all these stories are about (and why it could matter to you)? Check out the first in a series of explainers on Georgia’s transportation and infrastructure here. …

Federation of Neighborhoods: Georgia Legislative Review Forum

Monday night, Spencer joined Representatives Regina Quick and Chuck Williams and Senators Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn at Cine for the Federation of Neighborhoods’ Legislative Review. Each of the legislators was given an opportunity to provide an opening statement summarizing their activities during session. The legislative panel then engaged in a Q&A with attendees on a variety of issues. Finally, the attendees were given the opportunity to make suggestions and raise issues to the legislative panel during the final part of the program. …

What We’re Reading: Monday, June 2nd

Welcome to What We’re Reading, a brief summary of articles and resources that have caught our eye related to investing in our community or the things that make Athens great. This week’s articles include a story on pedestrian safety issues, how climate change is impacting water issues in the Oconee River, exciting news that Mrs. Hughes from Hilsman was chosen to go to Tanzania, a piece from Paul Tough in the New York Times, and the latest update on the Downtown Master Plan from Dr. Jack Crowley. Check out the stories here. …

2014 General Assembly Session Legislative Review

The 2014 legislative session came to a frenetic end on March 20th as the House adjourned at midnight. While several headlining bills hit procedural snags and failed to pass both the House and the Senate, the legislature did fulfill their constitutional obligation to pass a budget and passed several bills that strengthened educational opportunities, enabled low- income families to work towards home ownership, and celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Here is a review of the session….

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Health Care Takes Center Stage

We’re getting close to crunch time in the 2014 legislative session as today marks Day 35 and the next-to-last week before Sine Die. Here is a recap of Crossover Day and the 8th week of the General Assembly….

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Crossover Day Edition

The annual tradition of Crossover Day is today, and it continues into the night as we share this week’s update with you. Crossover Day marks the final day of the legislative session that bills must pass out of the chamber that they originate in (either the House or the Senate) and crossover to the other chamber for consideration. Lawmakers were in session for nearly nine hours last year. After lunch and dinner breaks (and lots of coffee!), the House stayed in session until 9:00 pm. Here are the early highlights for today’s Crossover Day and last week….

Issues in Focus: Hunger and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Georgia

The supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), more commonly known as the food stamp program, provides financial assistance for food purchasing for low and no-income people across the country. SNAP is arguably the most important and effective anti-hunger program in the U.S. While it is federally funded, states are responsible for distributing benefits and share the cost of bshinholseristration with the federal government, usually through their department of children and family services. Recently, states have been transitioning from using food stamps to EBT cards, which look like debit cards and are preloaded monthly with the predetermined amount for which recipients may only purchase certain food items. However, during the economic recession SNAP took and continues to take quite the hit. …

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Budgets, Guns and HOPE

As we near Crossover Day, many of the most prominent issues discussed this session are beginning to come across the desks of House members. Last week was the first of what is likely to be a frenetic sprint to the finish. Here are the week’s highlights:…

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 4

Week 4 flew by with testimony on Spencer’s HB 750, Habitat for Humanity Day at the Capitol and several bills passing through the chamber. Check out the rundown for this week here….

Issues in Focus: What Iowa’s Medicaid Expansion Plan Means for Georgia

Much of President Obama’s signature domestic legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, officially took into effect January 1st of this year. One of the most significant reforms of the ACA includes the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to individuals and families with incomes up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, a critical step to providing access to healthcare for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. Yet as reported last legislative session, Georgia, along with 22 other states, has chosen to opt out of receiving the federal funds to implement the expansion and appears no closer to changing its position. For most of these states, the main concern in carrying out the Medicaid expansion provision lies in the costs incurred for individual states after the initial three years of implementation, during which the federal government will begin tapering its funding of the program from 100% to 90% after 2021. Even so, due to increased scrutiny from healthcare and consumer advocacy groups, several states are employing plans that would enable them to accept federal Medicaid funds on their own terms, including Arkansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Utah….

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Snow Jam 2014

What a week! Tuesday night, President Obama began his State of the Union Address by saying, “Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.” The President probably didn’t realize how true those words were for teachers, bus drivers and staff in metro-Atlanta who answered the calling in incredible ways. More than 10,000 Atlanta-area students were stranded in schools and on school buses as roads iced and became impassible on Tuesday evening. Teachers and bshinholseristrators stayed with children overnight, entertaining kids with movies and basketball in gyms trying to make the best of a tough situation….

Issues in Focus: Green Transportation

Electric cars have become increasingly popular in recent years with more than 50,000 completely electric and plug-in hybrids sold in 2012 and only slightly less in 2013. Of the many reasons for switching to electric cars, one upside rests in the gas savings. Electric cars can save the average driver thousands of dollars a year on fuel costs. Unlike gas powered vehicles, electric cars “top off” rather than fill up, and the cost of this top off is normally around two to three dollars. This discount is appealing considering the astronomical price of a full tank of regular unleaded at pumps today….

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 2

The second week under the Gold Dome was a quiet one compared to the first week as legislation begins to ramp up in committee and work on the Amended Fiscal Year 2014 Budget concluded in the House. Here is the rundown for week two:…

Guns on Campus Off the Table in 2014

Spencer is happy to report that a legislative provision allowing guns on college campuses is off the table for the 2014 session. Introduced in 2013, House Bill 512 would allow gun owners to carry their weapons on college campuses as well as in churches, bars and some courthouses and government buildings. Two of the bill’s leading sponsors announced today that this legislation would no longer include the campus carry provision. …

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week One

If you are a follower of politics in Georgia you have heard a few dozen times by now that this session will be one of the fastest in recent memory. The first week of the legislative session lived up to that billing as the legislature scheduled their first nine legislative days consecutively (with the exception of the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. Day today) and budget hearings were trimmed from three days to one afternoon. Here is a rundown from the first week:…

A Letter to my Constituents: Three Foundations for our Future

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the second year in my first session as your Representative, and I am incredibly excited and honored to get back to work. Throughout the first year, we learned a great deal about the legislature and the policies that impact your family and improve our state. We cleared legal barriers for a grocery store in downtown Athens so that families living near downtown would have easy access to healthy foods. We exempted school districts from fuel taxes to help their budgets and authorized schools to stock “EpiPens” to treat rapid allergic reactions. Finally, we supported legislation to lower the GPA requirement for HOPE Grant Scholarships and improve the oversight on tax breaks in Georgia. All of these things represented a great start to moving Georgia forward, but our work is far from done. …

Profiles In Service: Athens Justice Project

Athens-Clarke County has one of the highest rates of poverty in the state, and poverty is often linked with drug addiction, crime, and recidivism. The Athens Justice Project’s mission is to break that cycle. AJP is a non-profit organization that provides legal representation, counseling, and employment enhancement opportunities to criminal offenders who struggle with addiction. Through these services, AJP helps individuals to become self-supporting and law-abiding citizens which in turn alleviates some of the effects of poverty in our community and makes Athens-Clarke County a safer and more opportunity-rich place for all residents….

Profiles In Service: Project Safe

Project Safe, a local nonprofit dedicated to eliminating domestic violence in Athens and the surrounding area, began in the 1970s as a small network of volunteer safe houses in Northeast Georgia. It incorporated as a nonprofit in 1990 and today employs 23 staff. Experience has shown that there exists no one single solution to ending domestic violence. Project Safe therefore employs several methods in combating domestic violence and providing aid for its survivors. The most well-known component of Project Safe is its emergency crisis shelter. This shelter proves a safe space for people fleeing abusive homes where they can stay until a more permanent solution is found. Last week, I spoke with Joan Prittie, the executive director of Project Safe, to find out more about her organization….

Issues in Focus: Georgia’s Pre-K Program

In 1992, Georgia Governor Zell Miller started a pilot program to educate 750 at-risk four-year-old children in twenty schools across Georgia. Three years later, the pilot program became one of the first universal Pre-Kindergarden (Pre-K) programs in the nation funded by the Georgia Lottery. Since then, Georgia’s Pre-K program has become one of the most recognized programs in the country earning recognition from the National Institute for Early Education Research, Harvard University, the Ford Foundation and the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement. Despite the accolades, Georgia’s Pre-K program has faced challenges related to funding and access that threaten to negate the positive impact of the program. To ensure that all children are ready to learn, we must meet these challenges directly and find solutions that will ensure Georgia’s Pre-K program is truly universal and continues the record of excellence in student achievement built over twenty-one years. …

Profiles In Service: Stonehenge Youth Association

Melvin Hayes is a retired IT professional that worked for the University of Georgia for 30 years. While Mr. Hayes is retired he still maintains a busy schedule focusing on giving back to the Athens community through various youth outreach programs. Mr. Hayes is one of the founders of the Stonehenge Youth Association which offers underprivileged youth an opportunity to play organized sports and spend time with positive role models. Mr. Hayes is a sports fanatic and coaches one of the four Stonehenge football teams. He also hosts a radio show about Athens area sports. This past week I was able to spend some time with Mr. Hayes and ask him about the work that he has been doing within the Athens community. …

Profiles in Service: Athens Land Trust

Recently, I spoke with Heather Benham, Director of Operations of Athens Land Trust, and Christina Hylton, their Community Agriculture Program Director. Athens Land Trust (ALT) is a non-profit founded in Athens in 1994 that works to preserve land, increase access to energy efficient housing, and revitalize neighborhoods. We discussed ALT’s role in the community and the Athens Heritage and Urban Agriculture Festival they are sponsoring this Saturday, November 2nd. …

Profiles in Service: Georgia Options

Georgia Options is a local nonprofit organization that provides care and companionship to over forty men and women in the Athens region who suffer from an array of mental disabilities. Georgia Options first began in 1992 by a few local families and similar advocates who were concerned with the way people with disabilities were living in the community. Since then, they have helped well over a hundred different individuals through their own unique style of care….

Profile In Service: Keep Athens Clarke County Beautiful

Keep Athens Clarke County Beautiful is an organization active in our community working to keep Athens a beatiful place for Athenians to live and for others to visit. I sat down with the Stacee Farrell, Executive Director of Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, to discuss her organization and learn more about how they keep Athens so beautiful. …

Profiles in Service: Bike Athens

As the weather gets warmer, more people choose to walk or bike to class, work, or wherever they might be going around town. While Athens is a great town for walking and biking, there is always work to be done to provide people with the resources to use whatever method of transportation they choose, and to do so safely….

Profiles in Service: Whatever It Takes

Tuesday night, I met with Tim Johnson, the Executive Director of Whatever It Takes. Whatever It Takes is an initiative through the Family Connection-Communities in Schools of Athens organization that works to connect schools, neighborhoods, community agencies, families and students together to provide a network of support for children from before they are born to when they finish post-secondary education. This network aims to meet the health, safety, and educational needs of all children so that they have all of the tools they need to be successful both during and after school. …

Georgia Alternative Fuel Vehicle Road Show

Environment, Economics, and Energy. Which of these E’s is the most important? That’s the question people have been asking for the last three decades with environmentalists, economists, and energy advocates fighting each other at every corner. The environmentalists fight for clean fuel sources, economists fight for the cheapest fuel source, and energy advocates fight for energy independence. With every battle though, the most recent being the Keystone pipeline, a dialogue is opened between these competing parties and progress can be made towards a common goal. That goal is clean sustainable energy that is economically viable and produced in the United States. It sounds like a fairytale if you listen to media outlets, however huge strides are being made in this field. Evidence of this progress was on display at the Georgia Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Road Show in Athens last Monday hosted by Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols….

Local: Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation Historic Preservation Awards

Monday night, Spencer attended the 44th annual Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation Historic Preservation Awards. Held at the Historic Morton Theatre, this ceremony brings together citizens in our community committed to the preservation of some of the oldest homes and buildings for the next generation of Athenians. Awards are given out to organizations and individuals for Outstanding Achievement, Grassroots Preservation, Outstanding New Construction, Outstanding Publication, Outstanding Rehabilitation, and Outstanding Stewardship. There is also a President’s Award and a semi-annual Phinizy Spalding award named after the former UGA Professor who sparked historic preservation in Athens by establishing the Historic Cobham foundation. He was also a leader in the Georgia Trusts for Historic Preservation and the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation….

Profiles in Service: Books for Keeps

This is the first in our series “Profiles in Service” where we hope to connect Athens with the community organizations that are making a difference. Tuesday night, I spoke on the phone with Melaney Smith, the founder and executive director of Books for Keeps. Books for Keeps is a children’s literacy organization that works within five Clarke County elementary schools to give each child twelve books to take home and read over the summer to combat the “summer slide” or lost time where children who aren’t engaged academically fall behind peers who are engaged. …

Athens Legislative Delegation holds forum at Federation of Neighborhoods Meeting

Last week, the Federation of Neighborhoods invited Athens citizens to engage in a Q&A session with the Athens Legislative Delegation. In attendance were State Senators Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn as well as Representatives Chuck Williams and Regina Quick. Representative Spencer Frye was unable to attend. The meeting began with statements from legislators reviewing this year’s legislative session….

Capitol Corner 2.0: Profiles in Service

As we enter the enter the summer offseason, legislative news occurs less frequently. However, here in Athens there are passionate volunteers and great organizations that work all year to make Athens the community it is. To highlight their work we are launching Capitol Corner 2.0: Profiles in Service Edition. Along with our normal legislative updates and policy primers we will be sharing the stories of Athens’ volunteers and organizations. …

UGA’s Dr. Crowley Presents Downtown Master Plan at Public Forum

Tonight, the Classic Center in Athens hosted University of Georgia Professor Jack Crowley and his team of graduate students for a public forum regarding the future of the Downtown Athens Master Plan. Dr. Crowley and his students have been tasked with building a development plan for Athens from now until 2030, soliciting public input and developing funding proposals that will be presented to the Mayor and the Commission for approval. The plan seeks to improve the entire experience of visiting downtown as well as entice more development and growth in the future. I attended the meeting tonight and wanted to provide you with a recap and information for how to get involved. …


At 2:50pm on a brisk afternoon in Boston, Massachusetts, a deafening bang and bright flash engulfed the sidewalk of Boylston street at the finish of the Boston Marathon. For ten eternal seconds, hundreds of people looked on in horror and disbelief until another bang and flash sprang from the ground one block down the street. For a generation of Americans haunted by the fall of two towers on a September morning a dozen years ago, on-lookers were most certainly met with the terrifying notion that they may be standing witness a similar tragedy. But like those in New York in 2001, witnesses to this tragedy overcame a momentary feeling of horror with courage and resilience as runners, policemen, firefighters and others ran towards the destruction searching for those in need….

Courage and Integration: Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball

Since April 3rd, we have learned of the efforts of students at Wilcox County High School in Wilcox County, Georgia to host the first integrated prom in the county’s history. These students are courageously leading their community into a new era of respect for one another and their bravery in doing so is admirable. Their story reminded me of another great story of leadership in breaking barriers of race: the story of Jackie Robinson….

2013 General Assembly Session Legislative Review

March 28th was the final day of the forty day legislative session in Georgia. Legislators voted on proposals related to guns, the HOPE Grant Scholarship, ethics reform and the annual requirement, the state budget. Here is a summary of the legislative accomplishments by the General Assembly in 2013. …

Keep Building: A Review of the Progress We Made and How We Continue to Grow

March gave us a surprisingly optimistic jobs report for the overall American economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 236,000 jobs were added and private-sector pay rose 0.6% as people worked more hours and earned a slightly higher hourly wage. Positive revisions of previous reports also indicated that the economy is performing a little better than expected since the beginning of 2013….

Take a ride on the Megabus!

Wednesday, Spencer and I took advantage of some public transportation options to get down to the Capitol. One of the little known options for getting from Athens to Atlanta is the Megabus. Megabus is a low-cost, daily express bus with routes from Athens to Atlanta and fares that start at as little as $1 each way. From the end of the Megabus route, Spencer and I jumped on a MARTA train to the Capitol. After a great experience, we wanted to take the opportunity to discuss this and other transit options in both Athens and Atlanta….

Let the Sunshine In

Recently, Spencer signed onto House Bill 503, a bill establishing portfolio standards for renewable energy production by Georgia’s energy companies and creating a Renewable Energy Credits Trading program. The program will allow companies who efficiently produce energy with renewable resources to sell that energy and help other companies meet their renewable energy portfolio goals….

The Medicaid Expansion: Georgia’s Missed Opportunity

Earlier this week, Florida’s Republican Governor announced that he would be accepting the federal expansion of medicaid that would provide healthcare coverage to one million new Floridians. After much political resistance, Governor Scott joined seven other Republican Governors in embracing a key provision in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act….

Black History Month

This week I had the honor of taking part in a very special moment on the House Floor. Each legislative day during February, a morning order is dedicated to a moment in black history. Last Tuesday, Representatives Earnest Smith and Ronnie Mabra came to the well of the House to speak about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball and a native of Cairo, Georgia….

Budget School

Today, Spencer and his staff were joined by staff from Representative Stacey Evans’ office at Budget School on the campus of the University of Georgia. Alan Essig, Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, gave a presentation on how to read and understand the Georgia budget. Check out the details here…

This Week at the Gold Dome: Mid-Week Update

The last week and a half has been very busy for Spencer and our team as we begin to settle in at the Gold Dome. At the end of last week, Spencer and the House cast their first three major votes of the session on House Bill 55, House Bill 57 and Senate Bill 24. Here is an update on those votes:…

This Week at the Gold Dome: Budget Hearings

The second week of this legislative session was all about the budget. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the joint appropriations committee met to receive budget overview presentations from different agencies in Georgia’s government. Each agency sent a representative to review their budget proposals and answer questions from lawmakers. Here are some of the overviews from both the Governor’s Amended FY 2013 budget (the budget from July 2012 to July 2013) and the Governor’s proposed FY 2014 budget (July 2013 to July 2014)….

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, First Week at the Gold Dome and Budget Hearings

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This Monday, January 21st, is a day that we honor one of the icons of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the most influential leaders in American history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr….

Thank You

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve you, the city of Athens and the State of Georgia in the capacity of State Representative of House District 118….

Why Our Interns Support Spencer Frye

Tomorrow is the end of a journey for our team of interns. Over the last two months we have knocked on over 4,500 doors and made nearly as many phone calls. We have helped set up fundraisers, done research, and managed social networks. We have brought our time and talents to help spread Spencer’s message of defending Democratic principles and the values Athenians hold at the Gold Dome. Without our team none of this would be possible….

What Can Be Done To Bring Jobs To The District?

In short, we need to unleash the potential we already have. With our employment rate, there’s no reason why we should still have such high poverty….

What does it mean to fully fund education?

One of the most important issues facing Georgia in the upcoming General Assembly session is how to reverse the trends of education funding. Over the past decade, we have seen the state contribute less and less each year to the funding of our schools. This has put more stress on local school districts to make up the difference and it is having an effect on the quality of education we provide to children in Georgia….

Why is this election so important?

Right now, the 118th House district is the last Democratic seat in Athens-Clarke County. We have 2 Republican Senators, 1 Republican Congressmen with the potential for a 2nd, 2 Republican State House members and 2 Republican State Senators. We cannot afford to elect another Republican who would vote to weaken education, sacrifice our environment, restrict voting access, and raise utility rates in a recession while record-high dividends are paid out to shareholders….

A Message from Spencer

Athens is unique – known statewide, nationwide, and even worldwide for arts, academics, technical innovation, agriculture, and a vibrant fabric of urban lifestyle side-by-side with a preserved rural environment. Our city is renowned throughout the state for its distinctive combination of progressive thinking with traditional Southern charm….