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 E. Washington St.  To avoid long lines and frustration on election day, voters may stop by the Board of Elections any time between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Those who wish to cast their ballot early should bring a driver’s license or a government issued form of photo identification. Rep. Frye strongly encourages  citizens’ participation in their democracy to ensure their voices are heard.

The Growth of MARTA

Even as MARTA is recognized as the ninth largest transit system in the United States, public transit expansion has failed to occur in the state of Georgia for the past 15 years. A piece of legislation on the table currently would allow voters to make a funding decision for MARTA through a referendum.  This referendum would ask voters to decide if they want to pay an additional half-penny sales tax in DeKalb and Fulton counties which would be directed towards funding projects for MARTA, and this new revenue would then be used to build three new rail routes. Over time, this increase in funding could help with the expected $8 billion expansion of the transit system. Supporters of this referendum argue MARTA expansion is necessary to keep Georgia competitive with economic and job expansion in the future. This issue will continue to be debated as the 2016 legislative session progresses.

Lifetime Ban on Food Stamps for Drug Offenders

Georgia is one of three states that currently has maintained a ban that prevents convicted drug offenders from receiving food stamps.  This ban has caused the state to miss out on an estimated $10.4 million in federal food stamp benefits each year for Georgians that would otherwise be eligible and their families.  Food stamps are a federal program that issue a voucher to those with low incomes in exchange for various approved products. Those who are in favor of lifting the ban argue that the difficulties associated with getting necessities like food after leaving prison further compound the problem of getting back on the right path when drug offenders return to society. If Georgia decides to lift the ban, after convicted drug offenders serve their sentence and comply with parole terms for an unstated amount of of time, they will be eligible to receive food stamps. Additionally, in other states that have lifted the ban, there are other requirements such as mandatory drug testing that must be complied with to qualify for reinstatement.

For more information on what’s happening at the Capitol, keep following Rep. Frye and what he’s working to accomplish for you and the district under the Gold Dome each week.