Capitol Corner

Athens’ New Mayor: Kelly Girtz

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

Senate Bill 77: What does it stand for?

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

A Firm Response to HB 481

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Vouchers

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 […]

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 […]

The Evolution of Georgia Adoption Laws

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

How Investing in Teachers Today Makes for a Better Georgia Tomorrow

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

Upcoming Gun Legislation

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

Affordable Housing Crisis

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

Food Insecurity in Athens

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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:…

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. …

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. …

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….