Capitol Corner

Addressing Police Brutality

It has happened again. On Friday, January 27th, a disturbing video was released of the violent arrest of Memphis resident Tyre Nichols. According to a statement from the Memphis Police Department, twenty days prior to the video’s release Nichols was returning back to his home in Memphis when he was pulled over for reckless driving […]

Long-Term Care in Georgia

As the population of the United States ages, the need for long-term care services will continue to grow, placing more strain on the current system. The Association for Community Living estimates that 70% of individuals over the age of 65 will need to access some form of long-term care services.[1] Long-term care facilities include nursing […]

Automatic Sealing of Eviction Records

Within the context of the current housing crisis, evictions have become an even more salient issue among Georgians and hold far more lasting consequences than anticipated. Over the past year, nearly 3.5% of the residents that constitute the five counties in the metro Atlanta region have had evictions filed against them.[1] Though this percentage may […]

Fellow Spotlight: Caroline Oliver

This week’s fellow spotlight goes out to Caroline Oliver! Caroline is a third-year Health Promotion student, and it is her first year with the fellowship. Caroline is originally from Sandy Springs, GA. Beyond the fellowship, she has held leadership positions in Pi Beta Phi and worked with UGA Miracle and Oasis Tutoring. Caroline had an […]

Re-Evaluating QBE Funding

Proper funding for our schools is of utmost importance. Students must have access to all the resources they need to succeed in life. Georgia’s current system for funding public education is based on the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE). Initially passed in 1985, this formula remains responsible for “distributing nearly $11 billion to…1.6 million public […]

Fellow Spotlight: Isabel Archer

Isabel Archer is a third-year from Atlanta, Georgia. This is her second year with the fellowship. We are happy to have her back, especially because she is super involved! Isabel is a Political Science major with minors in Women’s Studies and Law. Additionally, she recently completed the Applied Politics Professional Certificate. On top of her […]

Fellow Spotlight: Wally Stover III

Wally is a second-year Political Science & International Affairs double major. It is Wally’s first year with the fellowship, and he is also involved with Young Dems at UGA. Wally is originally from Ellijay, Georgia where he is a member of the Ellijay Lions Club. Wally’s talents include playing both the piano and guitar, as […]

Mental Health Resources in School

In the past few years, the number of middle and high school students dealing with mental health issues has increased. Teachers cannot successfully teach if mental health is not being addressed. Kids’ basic needs being met needs to be prioritized.    The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many mental health struggles for all age groups. Children suffering […]

Fellow Spotlight: Riley Batz

Next up on our fellow spotlight series is Riley Batz! Riley is a second-year at UGA majoring in Economics and double-minoring in Political Science and Law, Jurisprudence, & the State. In addition to the Fellowship, Riley is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity! She is also involved […]

Fellow Spotlight: Juliana Hartley

This week, we are highlighting Juliana Hartley! Juliana is a second-year at UGA studying Political Science and Economics and is also pursuing a certificate in Data Analytics and Public Policy. In addition to these rigorous studies, Juliana is an active member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She is also a staff member for Strike Magazine […]

Food or Rent? Tackling Georgia’s Housing Crisis

When one thinks of Georgia, they typically envision the “Empire State of The South” where almost everyone has a roof over their head, incomes remain high, and there is a sense of overall economic well-being. For middle and higher-income individuals in the state, this is indeed true, but for lower-income individuals, the ability to buy […]

Fellow Spotlight: Paige Graham

Paige Graham is our fellow spotlight of the week! Paige is a fourth-year International Affairs and Spanish major. She is also pursuing a Master’s of International Policy through the Double Dawgs program. It is Paige’s first year with the fellowship, and she has already made her mark by becoming a Capitol Fellow. Paige is originally […]

Addressing Food Insecurity in Athens

One in every five people in Athens-Clarke County is experiencing food insecurity.[1] In the past decade, many local Athens organizations and nonprofits have made individual efforts to reduce this problem. However, despite a common goal, no system has been able to unite these actors’ work. One solution to this problem is establishing a “Food Policy […]

ICE Facilities in Georgia

During his campaign, President Biden vowed to end all privately-run detention facilities, including immigration detention facilities.[1] The United States immigration system uses detention facilities to keep individuals suspected of visa violations, illegal entry, or any kind of immigration violation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has two detainment offices: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), […]

Fellow Spotlight: Carlos Lopez Ramirez

Carlos Lopez Ramirez is a fourth-year at UGA majoring in Computer Science, Psychology, and Cognitive Science. It is Carlos’ first year with the fellowship. Carlos is from Cumming, GA. Outside of the fellowship, Carlos is involved in Corsair Society UGA, which is a group for business students to connect them to alumni. Additionally, Carlos works […]

The Potential for Clean Energy in Georgia

As carbon dioxide levels on our planet continue to increase, many states have enacted legislation to reduce gas production. Although a state with a massive opportunity to produce clean power instead of carbon dioxide, Georgia has fallen behind in the race to decrease carbon dioxide levels. Data recorded in 2019 by the U.S. Energy Information […]

Progressive Prosecution as a Solution to Georgia’s Incarceration Rate

Georgia has the fourth-highest prison incarceration rate in the country. In 2021, Georgia’s prison incarceration rate was 968 inmates per 100,000 people — well above the national average of 664 per 100,000.[1] Furthermore, in both jail and prison incarceration, ethnic disparities can be observed, with Blacks and Latinos being overrepresented while Whites are underrepresented.[2] On […]

The Recent Threat to Affirmative Action

The use of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in college admissions has been the subject of criticism, mainly for using race as a positive factor in the admissions process. Despite the clear necessity for diversity throughout this country’s education system, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA), filed suit against the University of […]

School-to-Prison Pipeline

A national trend is pushing students who misbehave out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) is a result of the objective application of harsh disciplinary measures and the overuse of referrals to law enforcement that set up vulnerable students for failure. These policies include zero-tolerance school […]

Importance of Telehealth and Telemedicine Services in Georgia

A 2019 study by the Commonwealth Fund ranked Georgia 42nd for state healthcare system performance with the biggest problems being affordability and accessibility of healthcare statewide.[1] A large portion of Georgians, especially those residing in rural communities, lack access to quality, affordable healthcare.[2] Telehealth and telemedicine have the potential to provide immediate access to a healthcare […]

The Possibilities for Rail Expansion in Georgia

The United States is on the brink of a major expansion in freight and passenger rail lines.  Thanks in part to a $66 billion rail investment in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Georgia lawmakers have the opportunity to pursue new statewide rail projects.[1] In the past 10 years, Georgia’s population grew by over […]

Continuums of Care

Homelessness has chronically plagued Georgia’s urban areas, but with the efforts of non-profit organizations and increased funding allocations, homelessness numbers in Atlanta have dropped 38% since 2020.[1] Unfortunately, surrounding rural areas cannot say the same. As of 2018, one-third of those experiencing homeless on a given night live in rural Georgia.[2]   The Department of […]

Closing the Homework Gap with Chromebooks

The “homework gap” is a term FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel used to describe students’ difficulty getting online at home to complete school assignments.[1] With 93% of students participating in some form of virtual education during the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue was thrust into mainstream conversation.[2]   The homework gap stems from a lack of internet […]

“Constitutional Carry”: An Alarming Step Towards Increasing Gun Violence

This past March marked one year since the shooting of three Atlanta-based spas, which led to the deaths of eight individuals, of whom six were women of Asian descent. [1] That same year, 2021, the state of Georgia was ranked 9th in the nation for its high rate of gun violence.[2] Despite the continued increase […]

The U.S.’s Response to Ukraine

In just a month, the entire state of the world has changed. Russia has invaded and started a gruesome war with Ukraine. Many countries worldwide have been responding with caution to avoid another world war with the fear of mutually assured destruction. Being one of the Western countries on which Ukraine relies, the US’s response […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Khushi Mehta

Khushi Mehta is a second-year Fellow majoring in economics, international business and political science. She is also pursuing a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Legal Studies. She was motivated to get involved in politics through her involvement with her city’s youth council in high school as this experience showed her how much politics […]

Obstacles to Obtaining Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

A privilege that many Americans often take for granted is the ability to obtain a driver’s license. In fact, most of the U.S.’s infrastructure is so dependent on a car-based transportation economy, that obtaining a driver’s license has become a near-mandatory rite of passage for teenagers. However, the right to a driver’s license is not […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Julia Hawkins

Julia Hawkins is a fourth-year Fellow pursuing a major in Public Relations, a minor in political science and a public affairs communications certificate. As she became increasingly aware of the integral role that politics plays in everyday life, she was motivated to be more involved. Through the public affairs communications certificate, Julia has been able […]

Equalization Across Georgia Districts

Georgia’s schools are unfairly funded throughout the state. Public education is funded predominantly by local tax revenue, which includes money derived from property taxes within districts. Oftentimes, districts with greater property wealth raise significantly more than districts with less, leading to districts with a great population of lower-income residents having fewer resources for their schools. […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ciera Thomas

Ciera Thomas is a fourth-year Fellow majoring in microbiology with minors in Spanish, international affairs and global health. Through politics, she aims to improve the lives of individuals who identify as members of marginalized communities. She has been able to work towards this goal through the Fellowship by gaining insights into the policy creation process […]

Giving Credit Where It Is Due: How Carbon Cap-And-Trade Could Help Georgians

Janisse Ray, in her autobiography “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood,” discusses her childhood growing up in south Georgia, surrounded by the towering longleaf pines of the South. Through stories of her family and of Georgia’s natural history, she describes the significance of the Georgia landscape to her. Though many of Ray’s cherished longleaf pine forests […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Kate Thompson

Kate Thompson is a fourth-year Fellow majoring in international affairs with certificates in global studies and public affairs professional in applied politics. She is also a Double Dawg pursuing a Masters’ of Public Administration at UGA. This is Kate’s third year with the Fellowship. Throughout her time as a Fellow, she has learned about the […]

Georgia Aims to Criminalize Teaching American History

On March 8th, 2021, Senator Carden Summers of the 13th District introduced Senate Bill 613, also known as the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act.”[1] The bill claims that an increasing number of private and nonpublic schools in Georgia have “embraced curricula and programs based in critical race theory,” which has caused these schools to […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Jaiden Dosani

Jaiden Dosani is a fourth-year economics major minoring in sociology and philosophy. As a fellow, he aims to be more involved in the community and learn from the Fellowship community. His biggest takeaway has been how important it is to go outside the campus bubble and engage with the Athens community. Jaiden was motivated to […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ansley Hatcher

Ansley Hatcher is a third-year Senior Staffer majoring in political science and minoring in criminal justice studies. She has been with the Fellowship since 2020 and was motivated to join to gain experience analyzing legislation, strengthening her policy research skills and building relationships with other Fellows. Throughout her time with the Fellowship, she has learned […]

New Report Discusses the Rise of Electric Vehicles in 2022

A new report from Bankrate discusses the rise of electric vehicles in the past several years, while addressing common concerns about electric vehicles. As the article explains, electric vehicles sales have increased by 40% annually in the past several years. Currently, there are 59 electric vehicle models available for Americans to purchase. This falls behind […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Susannah Long

Susannah Long is a third-year Fellow majoring in International Affairs and Economics with a minor in French. She was motivated to get involved in politics because of the significant impact it can have on people’s lives. Through the Fellowship, she hopes to gain experience in politics, form friendships with other Fellows and see how impactful […]

Getting Georgia Online: The Importance of Broadband Expansion

Broadband has become an essential infrastructure for Americans, which means accessibility and affordability is a critical issue facing politicians. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) defines broadband internet as a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed, the time it takes to receive data such as loading a web page, and 3 Mbps upload […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Caroline Solomon

Caroline Solomon is a third-year Senior Staffer majoring in Environmental Economics and Management and Russian with a minor in Studio Art. She was motivated to join the Fellowship to be involved at the place where change is happening. This is her second year with the Fellowship, and throughout this time she has learned the diversity […]

Georgia Assembly Aims to Silence Georgia Schools

The Georgia Assembly is aiming to silence schools that acknowledge and discuss the ongoing presence of racism and oppression present in the United States. In the 2021-2022 Georgia Legislative Session, House Bill 888 was introduced and assigned to the Education House Committee. This bill is sponsored by Powell (32nd), Leverett (33rd), Jasperse (11th), Washburn (141st), […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Inaara Lalani

Inaara Lalani is a third-year Fellow majoring in international affairs. Her background as the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and an Ismaili Muslim motivated her to get involved in politics, as she feels the minority experience is one that is often not included in politics. She has seen minorities having to depend on the majority to […]

Safe Schools For All: How Georgia Fails to Protect LGBTQ+ Students

On January 21, 2022, a student at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens had their artwork, which featured a pride flag, removed after a parent complained and compared the artwork to hanging a Nazi flag.[1] This local incident is reflective of the issues LGBTQ+ students face across the state and the nation. LGBTQ+ students in […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Keegan Cardman

Keegan Cardman is a third-year political science major with a minor in international affairs. She was first motivated to enter politics after meeting her Representative on a school trip to D.C. in 8th grade. Through the Fellowship, she aims to gain a robust understanding of the political sphere, from the policy-making process to communications. By […]

A Systemic Failure: The Child Care Crisis

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to ravage the United States and schools moved online, parents were left with an immediate crisis and an important decision to make: how to care for their children while providing economic stability for their families. While exacerbated by the sudden changes caused by the pandemic, this impossible […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Matthew Curlee

Matthew Ryan Curlee is a fourth-year international affairs major pursuing the master of public administration at the University of Georgia. He was initially motivated to enter politics because of his desire to see his community grow and prosper, and he hopes to pursue a career in management in local government or humanitarian non-profit organizations. Through […]

Press Release: Rep. Spencer Frye Releases Proposed Athens-Clarke County Commission District Map

PRESS RELEASE   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Betsy Theroux Tuesday, January 18, 2022 (404) 656-3996   Camille Taylor   (404) 656-0305   Rep. Spencer Frye Releases Proposed Athens-Clarke County Commission District Map   ATLANTA – State Representative Spencer Frye (D-Athens), who is a member of the Athens-Clarke County Legislative Delegation, today […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Riley Grube

Riley Grube is a third-year Senior Staffer majoring in political science with a minor in international affairs. This is Riley’s second year with the Fellowship and she has been motivated to continue her involvement so she can gain experience conducting research and analyzing legislation as well as getting to know other Fellows. Through her experience […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ashni Patel

Ashni Patel is a second-year majoring in international affairs and economics with a minor in statistics. She was motivated to get involved in politics by Stacey Abrams’ 2018 run for governor, which taught her the importance of working to elect politicians that represent her values and the power that we have to make that change […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Isabel Archer

Isabel Archer is a second-year political science major with a minor in women’s studies. As a Legislative Fellow, she hopes to learn about the behind-the-scenes of politics, particularly what it is like to campaign and be a part of the legislative session. Throughout her experience in the Fellowship so far, Isabel has learned the importance […]

CVS v. Doe: Ensuring Access to Life-Saving Medication for All

Equitable access to healthcare, especially medication, is a right all Americans should enjoy. Those living with diseases such as HIV, in particular, deserve the same protection afforded to those unafflicted. The United States Supreme Court is currently preparing to hear a case regarding this kind of protection in CVS Pharmacy Inc. v. Doe. The respondents, […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Katie Roth

Katie Roth is a fourth-year political science major with a minor in communication studies and a certificate in applied politics. Through the Fellowship, she hopes to gain a better understanding of the bill drafting and legislation writing processes while also strengthening her political research and public communication skills. Her biggest takeaway from her time in the […]

The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color

As of early October, over 700,000 Americans have died as a result of the coronavirus.[1] While the average number of COVID-19 related deaths in the state has decreased since the introduction of vaccines, Georgia was home to five out of ten counties in the nation with the highest numbers of COVID-19 related mortalities just last […]

Revisiting Georgia’s Three Strikes Laws

The three-strikes law is a law for habitual offenders that imposes mandatory sentences for people convicted of their third felony.  In 1993, the state of Washington passed the first three-strikes law in the United States, followed by California in 1994.1  That same year, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ellie Wilson-Wade

Ellie Wilson-Wade is a third-year political science major with minors in women’s studies and law, jurisprudence and the state. This is her second year serving as a Legislative Fellow. Throughout her time in the Fellowship, she has gained leadership skills while learning more about the legislative process, service, community work and mutual aid. Before joining […]

A New Encampment to Provide New Hope for Athens’ Unhoused Community Members

Growing up in Athens, it was not unusual to pass tents when driving near the 10 Loop and Highway 78. We always called it “Tent City.” It has been years since I have seen tents pitched on that hill. Recently, I heard this name again as it was mentioned by a friend. I was unaware […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Daniel Schultz

Daniel Schultz is a second-year political science major with minors in cognitive science and statistics. Daniel is currently serving as a Senior Staffer with the Fellowship and previously served as a Legislative Fellow during the 2020-2021 school year. Through the Fellowship, he hopes to gain a holistic understanding of policy development while working alongside legislators […]

Food Deserts Starve the State and Its Residents

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately affect low-income communities, the lack of proper access to food only serves to worsen this disparity. Food deserts occur where there is little access to healthy food, typically due to limited public transportation. These deserts are prevalent in low-income and rural communities. Since there is a lack of […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Gitzel Anguiano

Gitzel Anguiano is a third-year at the University of Georgia studying international affairs and public relations with a minor in French. She is also pursuing a public affairs communication certificate. Gitzel is involved in a number of organizations on campus including Speak Out for Species, Hispanic Student Association, Young Democrats, Student Government Association and the […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Catie Gelting

Catie Gelting is a fourth-year at the University of Georgia studying international affairs and philosophy with a minor in political science. She is a member of the philosophy club and a non-religious member of the Bahai’i Student Association. Catie is also the Historian for UGA’s Demosthenian Literary Society, where she keeps records of meetings, historic […]

The Toll of COVID-19 on Women in the Workplace

“We can do it!”––the iconic poster of Rosie the Riveter looms over girls and women in schools and workplaces alike. But can they really do it? Even as higher education and male-dominated industries have become more accessible for women, the pillars of the patriarchy stand tall with the wage gap and the glass ceiling. This […]

The Student Loan Crisis Plaguing America

The Student Loan Crisis The student loan crisis is a predicament millions of Americans face daily. In the wake of the Russians’ launch of Sputnik, the American government introduced student loans with the aim of increasing enrollment in institutions of higher education and retaining American competitiveness in the space race. Today, however, America has failed […]

Gun Reform: A Sensible Response to Growing Tragedy

Following recent tragedies such as the Atlanta spa shootings and the Boulder shooting, gun control advocates are once again calling for new federal and state legislation on guns. The Atlanta spa shootings were a series of attacks on three spas in metro Atlanta that resulted in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian women. […]

Private Influence in the University System of Georgia

In 2014, the University System of Georgia became the laboratory for what one Savannah newspaper called “one of the nation’s largest experiments in privatized college dorms.”[1] The “experiment” in question is what is known as a public-private partnership, or P3, between the University System of Georgia and a company called Corvias Property Management. Under this […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Shahrzad Roshan

Shahrzad Roshan is a third-year at the University of Georgia studying international affairs. She is the co-president and co-founder of Undocumented Student Alliance (USA). USA is an advocacy group on the UGA’s campus that advocates for und(er)documented students in Georgia, participates in community service to serve the und(er)documented community in Athens and conducts political action […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Adia Aidoo

Adia Aidoo is a fourth-year at the University of Georgia studying public relations and sociology with a certificate in Public Affairs Communications. Outside of the Fellowship, Adia is involved in IMPACT UGA where they work with external organizations to provide aid to a variety of causes, such as HIV/Aids and environmental justice. She marches trombone […]

Mobile Health Clinics: Georgia’s Next Big Advancement in Healthcare

As Georgia has faced unprecedented challenges over the past year managing the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes are on healthcare institutions and the efforts they are making to ensure the health and wellbeing of Georgians. One relatively new concept is the idea of mobile health clinics. These new mobile health clinics have been assisting in not […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Dinah Gorayeb

Dinah Gorayeb is a first-year student at the University of Georgia studying International Affairs and Economics. Along with the Fellowship, she is also a member of an on-campus organization called Period, where they have weekly meetings to learn more about periods and period poverty, and packing parties to create period kits and distribute them to […]

Protecting Georgia’s Workers Must Be Our Top Priority

The past year has been tough on all Americans. There have been lockdowns after lockdowns, quarantines and separations from loved ones and many have been left in complete isolation. However, many Americans have stepped up and taken action to continue to provide for and support our communities. These essential workers have endured constant COVID-19 exposures […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Madison Greer

Madison Greer is a second-year public relations and marketing major. Madison serves as the Vice President of Member Relations for Women in Media at UGA. She runs the mentorship program for the Women in Media and helps plan their yearly A Seat at the Table event. Previously, she was a staff intern at Gwinnett Daily […]

Georgia’s Assault on Reproductive Justice

Introduction On May 7, 2019, Governor Brian Kemp signed HB 481, also known as the “heartbeat bill”, into law. The bill prohibited physicians from offering abortion services to pregnant women if a fetal heartbeat is present, which typically occurs at the six-week mark. Although many women do not even know that they are pregnant at […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Taylor Wilhelm

Taylor Wilhelm is a political science, international affairs and criminal justice major with a certificate in Public Affairs Communications. She is a sister of Sigma Kappa where she volunteers and raises money for the Alzheimers Association. She is also a member of UGA Miracle where she volunteers and helps raise money for Children’s Healthcare of […]

Georgians Sue the Georgia Department of Labor Over Unemployment Benefits

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Georgians are still out of work with no end in sight. As of December 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate is 6.7% and Georgia’s is 5.6%, down from 5.7% in November and a high of 12.6% in April. The initial economic shutdown […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Maeve Breathnach

Maeve Breathnach is a second-year Legislative Fellow pursuing an A.B. in International Affairs, an A.B. in Economics and minors in Spanish and Social Work. Seeing first-hand the inequities across her home county in high school led Maeve to intern at a legal aid society last summer. She joined the Fellowship to gain a better understanding […]

Painful Lessons: Corporal Punishment in Schools

Young people spend most of their time in school. As a result, it is essential to ensure that schools are a nurturing environment that cultivates informed and active citizens. However, this vision of a safe, productive environment does not always match up with reality. Many students have fallen victim to the school-to-prison pipeline which disproportionately […]

Health Care Access in Georgia

Georgia currently holds the sixth-highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country, with almost one out of five Georgians lacking health insurance.[1] Even Georgians who currently have health insurance are affected by the state’s infamous ranking. When insured Georgians go to the hospital and are unable to pay, the cost of their visit is largely […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Prisha Nandakumar

Prisha Nandakumar is a second-year Legislative Fellow majoring in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Health Policy & Management. With aspirations of going to medical school, Prisha has gained experience on the clinical and medicinal sides of her field and saw the Fellowship as an opportunity to pursue the policy and legislative side. She […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Richy Wagner

Richy Wagner is a third-year at the University of Georgia, studying Political Science, Sociology and Criminal Justice. He is also a theatre minor and has a certificate in Applied Politics. On campus, Richy is involved in Young Democrats. Through the Fellowship, he hopes to enact change in our government through climate advocacy, criminal justice reform […]

Emergency Response Hindered in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In early March of 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was already striking large cities, namely New York. The effect of the strained American health care system on people’s access to medical care during the worst health crisis in modern history was evident. Legislative aid packages in the first few months of lockdown narrowed […]

Can Blockchain Voting Restore Trust in Our Democracy?

From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 7, 2018, Ontaria Woods waited in line at the polls in Snellville, Georgia. The governor’s race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams was neck-and-neck, but statewide there had been voting machine malfunctions, shortages of batteries and power cords, and problems reading and processing ballots. Staggeringly long […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Isabella Ristuccia

Isabella Ristuccia is a fourth-year student majoring in Political Science and English. She is the Site leader for IMPACT, whose mission is to engage University of Georgia students in an affordable, substance-free, service-learning experience that facilitates the understanding of pressing social issues in an effort to develop active citizens. Isabella also works as a TA […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Ellie Wilson-Wade

Ellie Wilson-Wade is a second-year at the University of Georgia, majoring in Political Science and Journalism. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and hopes to attend UGA Law School to work in criminal justice after graduation. Through the Fellowship, Ellie hopes to gain professional skills, as well as learn more about the […]

What a Second Impeachment Means for Former President Trump

On Jan. 9, 2021, the House of Representatives made history when they impeached former President Trump for a second time, making him the first president impeached twice in U.S. history. This unprecedented decision was made after President Trump’s involvement in the US Capitol riot, which took place on Jan. 6, 2021. On Jan. 6, Congress […]

Georgia Owes Its Youth More

“Despite hundreds of student requests for science-based programs and several parent-led initiatives for curriculum change, abstinence-based programs still dominate Georgia schools.”[1] The state of Georgia has a responsibility to inform and protect its young adults- a responsibility that is not being upheld to the highest degree. Instead, the controversy surrounding the implementation of sex education […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Natalie Navarrete

Natalie Navarrete is a second-year International Affairs, Spanish, and Russian major with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies. In addition to the Fellowship, Natalie is an attorney and team captain for UGA’s nationally ranked Mock Trial competitive team. She is a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society and provides defense counsel for students […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Kate Thompson

Kate Thompson is a third-year student majoring in international affairs with a minor in public policy and management. She is currently enrolled in the MPA Double Dawgs program and is pursuing a global studies and applied politics certificate. Kate is on the Executive Board for UGA Miracle as a Campus Outreach Co-Chair. Kate is also […]

The Truth Behind Dairy: How the Georgia’s Agriculture Needs to Grow

Georgia’s dairy industry has been a key area of development in the last few decades and embodies the issues facing Georgia’s broader agricultural sector. Large supply chains, technological advancements and market volatility all loom over the sector, forcing change upon traditional methods of farming. Large Supply Chains Over the past few decades, the dairy industry […]

Veterans’ Silent Battle with Mental Health

Veteran health care has long been an issue in Georgia. The Atlanta Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Decatur has struggled with unstable leadership and faltering quality, with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs giving it a 1-star rating. The Atlanta VA Medical Center is part of a larger network that receives the lowest patient satisfaction […]

Georgia is Failing its Non-Citizen Students

Introduced on February 5th, 2020, Georgia House Bill 896 could have changed the lives of Dreamers in Georgia in the near future. This legislation allowed non-citizen immigrants to pay in-state tuition at any of Georgia’s public colleges and universities.[1] Many public universities that allow undocumented students on their campus mandate that they pay out-of-state student […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Zarah Punjwani

Zarah Punjwani is a second-year marketing and international business major with a minor in French. After graduation, she hopes to work in the tech industry as a marketing director or creative brand manager. As a Public Relations fellow, Zarah aims to gain experience, memories and lifelong friends. Before joining the fellowship, Zarah served as a […]

The Policy of Black Lives Matter

This past summer, legions of people took to the streets of their cities, tense, masked, and six feet apart. They gathered to protest the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, as well as the other unarmed Black people who have died at the hands of law enforcement. Gathering under the general […]

How Standardized Testing Fails Georgia Students and Teachers

The Georgia education system faces a real threat as teachers are flocking away from the profession and students battle test anxiety and learning loss. These problems stem from one issue: standardized testing. The System Georgia’s standardized test is the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which tests students in elementary, middle and high school over the core […]

Voting Rights Aren’t Always Guaranteed in Georgia

Georgia garnered national attention this recent election cycle for its newfound status as a battleground state, but the state also cycled through election headlines for another reason— problematic voting practices. During the June 2020 primaries, long lines and faulty machines plagued Georgia’s voting landscape. Many voters waited for hours to cast their vote and the […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Micah Nix

Micah Nix is a second-year political science and international affairs major pursuing a public affairs professional certificate in applied politics. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in public service and government. On campus, Micah serves as a SPIA Ambassador where she serves on the mentorship committee and the diversity and inclusion committee. She […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Riley Grube

Riley Grube is a second-year political science major with a minor in international affairs. She joined the fellowship to learn how to conduct policy research and write legislation, which will be vital to her career goal of earning a Master’s in Public Administration and becoming a policy analyst. In addition to the fellowship, Riley is […]

Modern American Eugenics: The Fight for Reproductive Justice Continues

Compulsory Sterilization in ICE Detention Centers The United States has a treacherous history with eugenics that continues to specifically endanger Black, Hispanic, and Native American women. Last month, an ICE whistleblower brought forth allegations of forced mass hysterectomies performed on detainees, unearthing America’s ongoing perpetuation of the abuse of immigrants’ rights. On Sept. 14, Project […]

Child Mental Health Interventions in Georgia Schools

During the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 80,000 Georgia students in sixth through 12th grade considered attempting suicide, according to the School-Based Mental Health report.[1] The report also finds that nearly 40% of children have trouble accessing the mental health treatment they need. Undoubtedly, greater access to mental health resources at schools would be beneficial for […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Charley Claudio

Charley Claudio is a fourth-year international affairs and economics major. This is her second year working as a legislative fellow. She was motivated to return to the fellowship to build upon her work helping Georgians. In addition to the fellowship, she is also involved with Women in Economics at UGA and has interned with Tradesecure, […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Caroline Solomon

Caroline Solomon is a second-year Russian and environmental economics and management major with a minor in environmental design. She is involved with a variety of organizations on campus, including the Roosevelt Institute, Model United Nations, Catholic Center at UGA and the French Language Community. After graduation, Caroline is interested in pursuing a career as a […]

When You Lose Your Right to Vote

Fifteen Percent Fifteen percent of the population of Georgia faces sanctions on their right to vote. While the right to vote constitutes an essential part of a functioning democracy, the promise of “liberty and justice” is, unfortunately, not “for all.” Human rights should not be subject to terms and conditions, yet certain felons in the […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Vanisha Kudumuri

Vanisha Kudumuri is a second-year economics, international affairs and political science major with a minor in women’s studies and a certificate in legal studies. After graduation, she would like to pursue a career in women’s rights or reproductive rights law, potentially working for a public interest organization. As a Legislative Fellow, she hopes to learn […]

How Georgia Fails to Protect Transgender Youth

Georgia lawmakers are creating legislation that targets, dehumanizes and terrorizes its transgender community. On June 26, 2020, the Governor signed into law HB 426, more colloquially known as the Hate Crimes Bill.[1] Georgia was one of the last states to adopt a hate crimes bill. While this bill was a step in the right direction […]

A Dirty Taste of “Clean” Energy

Two biomass power plants in northeast Georgia have led to enormous fish kills, environmental investigations, legal battles, and adverse health effects for residents of Franklin and Madison counties, just northeast of Athens [1]. These wood-fired plants burn creosote-treated railroad ties to produce what is supposed to be clean energy [2]. The plants, owned by Alabama-based […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Jalise Black

Jalise Black is a senior at the University of Georgia double majoring in International Affairs and Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is a UGA Presidential Scholar. Jalise has served as Vice President of the Black Affairs Council and an Involvement Advisor with the Involvement Ambassadors. She has also receive an executive […]

A Better Reality for Dreamers

Georgia’s sizable immigrant population greatly contributes to the state’s social and economic prosperity. Ten percent of the state’s population was born in another country, and 1 in 13 Georgians is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. Foreign-born residents comprise 40% of such agricultural occupations as foresters, fishers, and farmers in Georgia […]

How a Virus Could Threaten Your Right to Vote

As the novel coronavirus continues to take its toll on America, the debate surrounding mail-in voting has grown increasingly prevalent. Though the option protects the health and safety of Americans, it presents a long-standing issue in American history: voter suppression.  Mail-in, or absentee, voting can protect both voters and poll workers alike come November. For […]

What Governor Kemp’s Executive Order Means for You

The Georgia Department of Public Health has determined that implementing restrictions is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 [1]. Starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020, all residents and visitors to the State of Georgia will be required to shelter-in-place while practicing social distancing and sanitation in accordance with the guidelines published […]

Unpacking the COVID-19 Relief Package

WHAT IS IT?  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020 by President Donald Trump. The bipartisan bill is meant to provide emergency aid to individuals, families, businesses of all sizes, as well as hospitals and state governments [1].  The […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Dionne Wareham

Dionne Wareham is a senior majoring in International Affairs and minoring in French at the University of Georgia. She is a Cine Film Critic and a LEAD Diversity Fellow. Dionne serves as the Director of Volunteer and Alumni Experience at Designated Dawgs. As an Education Abroad Ambassador, she also serves as Vice President of Campus Outreach. […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Madeline Moore

Madeline Moore is a third year pre-law international affairs and political science double major at the University of Georgia. She is a member of the personal development-focused sorority Delta Zeta and participates in UGA Young Democrats. Last summer, Madeline engaged in a service-learning Maymester at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Upon graduation, Madeline hopes to […]

Athens Transit – A Model for Mid-Sized Municipalities

Athens has been ranked the 4th most used transit system in the nation that follows only the New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. areas [1]. Athens-Clarke County is a leader in transportation services by efficiently serving all members of the Athens community including, but not limited to, those who are disabled or mobility-impaired, […]

What Athens Residents Need to Know About COVID-19

As COVID-19, commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, continues to spread, over 300,000 cases have been confirmed in the world [1]. The local, state and federal governments have announced and implemented plans to keep citizens safe. As of March 22, there were nine positive cases confirmed in Athens-Clarke County [2]. The Mayor and Commission unanimously […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Charley Claudio

Charley Claudio is a third year International Affairs and Economics double major at the University of Georgia. Charley has been recognized as a Public Outreach Scholar and interns at the Carl Vinson International Center. She is involved with Women in Economics, a professional development organization in the Terry College of Business. Charley is also president […]

Benefitting Communities One Trail at a Time

Community trails will help create many social, economic and health benefits for Georgians throughout the state.  Socially, trails create a safe and enjoyable environment for those who reside near the trail and those who visit the area. They can provide a space for group meetings, walks, bike rides and other communal activities In some cases, […]

Dual Enrollment: A Program Worth Preserving

Slashing dual enrollment funding and opportunities will hurt Georgia’s high school students and future workforce. Dual enrollment, a program with an enrollment of 52,000 students in fiscal year 2019 [1], is essential for increasing the number of high school and college graduates in Georgia, allowing more low-income students to obtain a college degree and benefitting […]

The State of Adoption Laws in Georgia

The adoption and foster care system in Georgia is caught in a tug of war between the past and the future. While some areas of adoption and foster care laws have improved in the state, others are in danger of regressing.  Kin Based Placements  Currently, anyone over the age of 25 in the state can […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Buket Urgen

Buket Urgen is a sophomore International Affairs and Social Work double major at the University of Georgia. She is a member of Young Democrats at UGA as well as the Undocumented Student Alliance, a service and advocacy organization. Buket also serves as a Social Work Ambassador. Over the summer, Buket hopes to participate in a […]

The Democrats are Coming to Georgia

After about a year of campaigning, the Democratic presidential primaries are happening now. The Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses have shown just how much of a toss-up this election could be. What once was a field of 29 candidates has now become just eight. Each candidate has increasingly stepped up their game […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Katie Morris

Katie Morris is a senior International Affairs major minoring in Spanish at the University of Georgia. She is a recipient of the Hope and Zell Miller scholarships and has been honored on the Dean’s List. Katie has interned with Congresswoman Lucy McBath as well as Honduras Outreach Inc. in Atlanta. She is a member of […]

More MARTA: Closing the Coverage Loop

When MARTA hit its 40-year birthday in 2019, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms unveiled a new expansion plan, the “More MARTA” project. In a city that is projected to grow by millions of people over the next decade, it is vital that the city adapts its transportation network so that everyone can reap the benefits of […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Saarah Amer

Saarah Amer is a senior Political Science major at the University of Georgia with a Public Affairs Certificate in Applied Politics. She is a Hope Scholar, a Clarke County Mentor, and a middle school tutor. Saarah has participated in IMPACT, a service program dedicated to fulfilling community needs. She has also directed political science research […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Caroline Taylor

Caroline Taylor is a senior International Affairs major at the University of Georgia. Caroline has served as a School of Public and International Affairs Ambassador. She is also a member of the political student organization Young Dems and the sorority Delta Gamma. Upon graduation, Caroline hopes to work in Washington, D.C. in policy.

Georgia’s Path to Healthcare Coverage

Background Since its establishment in 1965, the government-funded healthcare assistance Medicaid, has been the subject of much praise and criticism. Though it has changed significantly since the 1960s, Medicaid continues to be a valuable resource for low-income citizens obtaining health services. In its current form, Medicaid is funded jointly by both the state and federal […]

Transparency through the Lens of Impeachment

In 2019, President Donald Trump withheld $250 million in aid to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative [1]. It was later discovered that senior officials in the Trump administration requested that Ukrainian officials investigate the dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine. These actions, as well as increasing pressure, led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Jaaie Varshney

Jaaie Varshney is a second year Anthropology and Political Science double major at the University of Georgia. She is an Honors student, a Foundation Fellow and a member of the Dean William Tate Honor Society. Jaaie has served as a research assistant at Emory’s Center for Reproductive Health Research in the Southeast. She is also […]

Proposed Budget Cuts Risk Georgia’s Future

Overview Each January, the Governor proposes two separate budgets. The first is an adjusted budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year based on tax revenue from the first six months. This is the adjusted FY 2020 budget, which will be in effect until June 30, 2020. The second proposal is the FY 2021 […]

Fellow Spotlight: Luke Chandler

Luke Chandler is a third year Economics major minoring in Political Science at the University of Georgia. He is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the first professional business fraternity in America. Luke is also involved with Young Democrats of UGA. Upon graduation, Luke plans to attend law school.

More Than Numbers: 2020 Census

It’s that time of the decade. Every ten years, the US Census Bureau sets out to complete a seemingly impossible task – to gather basic demographic data on everyone living in the United States. During the last census, in 2010, the effort employed 635,000 people to help collect data [1]. That number is expected to […]

Fellow Spotlight: Willie Daniely

Willie Daniely III is a third year Journalism and Political Science double major at the University of Georgia. He is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, where he serves as public relations director for the UGA chapter. Willie is also a member of the DiGamma Kappa Professional Broadcast Society. In the summer, […]

Mothers Matter: Maternal Mortality in Georgia

The United States is failing mothers. Over the past few decades, maternal mortality has been on the rise. Between 1987 and 2016, the number of deaths per live birth has more than doubled in the United States [1]. With an estimated 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, the United States now has the worst maternal mortality […]

Fellowship Spotlight: Elena Gilbertson Hall

Elena Gilbertson Hall is a high school senior at Clarke Central High School dual enrolling at the University of Georgia. Elena has been recognized as a Georgia Junior Champion Journalist, a Georgia High School Mock Trial Outstanding Attorney, and a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. She is president of the CCHS Young Democrats, editor-in-chief of the […]

Voter Purging in Georgia

Since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, various states have instituted policies and systems such as voter ID laws, poll closures, voter intimidation and gerrymandering that have limited the voting ability of many U.S. citizens [1]. Currently, one of the most significant threats to voting rights in Georgia is the ongoing efforts of public officials to […]

Fellow Spotlight: Ayah Abdelwahab

Ayah Abdelwahab is a second year at the University of Georgia with majors in International Affairs and Geography and a minor in Arabic. Ayah is a Presidential Scholar and a CURO Honors Scholar. She serves as a Public Service and Outreach student scholar and a staff writer for the Georgia Political Review. Ayah excels in […]

Sustaining Georgia’s Growth

Georgia is a highly competitive business environment. CNBC ranks Georgia as the 6th best place to do business in 2019,[1] and Site Selections has ranked Georgia as the top business climate for seven years in a row.[2] The drivers of this success include an attractive cost of living, a strong logistics infrastructure and steady growth in metro […]

Fellow Spotlight: Anna Milukas

Anna Milukas is a third year political science major at the University of Georgia. She is involved in UGA Mock Trial and the Demosthenian Literary Society. Through the DLS, Anna serves as Alumni Relations Chair and has been awarded best inter-society debate speaker and most improved speaker. Anna will pursue a Double Dawg master’s in […]

Georgia’s Difficult Fight Against Human Trafficking

Human trafficking can be defined as an exploitation of human rights by way of “compelling or coercing a person’s labor, service, or commercial sex acts. [1]“ It is a broad term that describes two different types of trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. This covert crime happens all over the globe and in each state in […]

Fellow Spotlight: Sophia Tarragó

Sophia Tarragó is a senior Economics and International Affairs double major at the University of Georgia. She serves as President of Habitat for Humanity and Director of Community Service of Alpha Gamma Delta, where she received the Dr. Tricia Barber Award. She is a member of the International Affairs Honor Society, Sigma Iota Rho. Sophia […]

Repealing the Tampon Tax: The Monetization of Periods

As of November 2019, 33 states tax menstrual hygiene products as “non-essential goods,” whereas other hygiene products are generally granted tax exemptions due to their necessity. The sales tax imposed on period products is commonly referred to as the “tampon tax,” and it applies to all menstrual hygiene products, such as pads, tampons and other […]

Fellow Spotlight: Vivian Bridges

Vivian Bridges is a junior Economics and Political Science double major at the University of Georgia. Her academic excellence has been recognized through the Dean’s list, the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society and the French National Honor Society. Vivian serves on the Finance Committee of UGA Mock Trial and is a member […]

Fellow Spotlight: Mennah Abdelwahab

Mennah Abdelwahab is a sophomore International Affairs and Journalism double major at the University of Georgia. She is involved in the Student Government Association, the Georgia Political Review, the Public Service and Outreach program. Mennah also writes for Infusion Magazine, a multicultural publication at UGA. As a Dean of Students Ambassador, Mennah is recognized as […]

Education & Poverty: A Joint Issue

WHAT’S THE ISSUE?  The link between poverty and education has consistently proven to be a deeply intertwined relationship. Studies show that high levels of poverty and lack of access to education can prohibit proper social, physical, and intellectual growth in the youth.[1] In Athens-Clarke County, the poverty rate is currently 28.3%, which translates to approximately 11,000 […]

Crime and Consequences: Felon Voting Rights in Georgia

On April 2, 2019, the Georgia Senate passed SR 153, designated as a Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders.1 The committee will spend the rest of the year considering Georgia’s policies on felon voting and present their conclusions in December 2019. This is a step towards a less stringent approach […]

Fellow Spotlight: Jessica Pasquarello

Jessica Pasquarello is a fifth year Double Dawg at the University of Georgia. She is pursuing a bachelor’s in Economics and International Affairs with minors in Arabic, Religion and Spanish and a master’s in Political Science and International Affairs. Jessica is highly involved at the University; she is a Student Government Association Senator-at-Large, a Carl […]

Casino Gambling: The Downside to Positive Revenue

States around America are growing increasingly lenient on gambling. Along with online gambling, casino gambling has become more popular. The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report discussing the social and economic effects of gambling in the United States. While casinos and other forms of gambling can bring in revenue and create […]

Fellow Spotlight: Kate Thompson

Kate Thompson is a sophomore International Affairs major at the University of Georgia. She serves as assistant chair on the UGA Miracle High School Outreach Committee. UGA Miracle raises money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Kate also sits on the New Member, Scholarship and Retention committees of Phi Mu, the second oldest female fraternal organization […]

The Case of Aimee Stephens and Georgia LGBTQ+ Discrimination

Note: The following article contains language that some readers may find transphobic, homophobic, sexist, or otherwise offensive. Arguments and facts presented in this document intend to provide a complete account of the Stephens case and Georgia law and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author nor Spencer Frye. Discretion is advised.   R.G. […]

Fellow Spotlight: Julianna Isbitts

Julianna Isbitts is a sophomore at the University of Georgia double majoring in economics and political science with a minor in history. As a School of Public and International Affairs Student Ambassador, Julianna has served as director of the SPIA Student Mentorship Program. Julianna hopes to obtain an internship this summer. After graduation, she aims […]

Better Education for A Better Future

Every year, taxpayers’ dollars invest in the future by funding public education. The educational system, particularly high school, is intended to help students enter college or begin their choice career. However, a 2018 report from the Georgia Department of Education’s College and Career Ready Performance Index gave the Clarke County school district a D grade […]

Fellow Spotlight: Richy Wagner

Richy Wagner is a sophomore double majoring in political science and theatre at the University of Georgia. He is a presidential scholar and a member of Phi Alpha Delta, the largest law fraternity in the United States. Richy is also a member of the UGA organization Young Democrats. Richy Wagner hopes to attend law school […]

The Georgia Heartbeat Bill’s Battle to the Supreme Court

The fetal heartbeat bill signed into law in early May has shaken up Georgians and the rest of the nation. Now, a new chapter to the saga takes place, as federal Judge Steve Jones blocked the law on Oct. 1. What It Is  Georgia was the fourth state to enact a fetal heartbeat bill law […]

Fellow Spotlight: John Tierney

John Tierney is a senior Finance and Political Science major with a minor in Classical Culture at the University of Georgia. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the United States. John has been involved with Relay for Life and UGA HEROs. HEROs helps children affected by HIV/AIDS. […]

CBD’s Flawed Victory: The Georgia Hemp Farming Act

The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 213, also known as the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, last April. The bill legalizes the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp which creates products such as CBD oil, but only those licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) can do so. These licenses will be distributed when […]

Fellow Spotlight: Jeffrey Parmet

Jeffrey Parmet is a sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in Political Science with minors in French and Geography and an Urban and Metropolitan Studies certificate. Jeffrey is involved with the Demosthenian Literary Society where he operates as Hall Administrator and has received the Demosthenian Speaker’s Key. Jeffrey has also received the SPFFA Scholarship […]

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

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 Athens was $613. […]

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

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 insecure. That’s 26,340 […]

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….