GCO reflects on the passing of Rep. John Lewis

GCO reflects on the passing of Rep. John Lewis

GCO reflects on the passing of Rep. John Lewis

 

 

By Georgia Center for Opportunity

 

The Georgia Center for Opportunity team was saddened to learn of the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis on July 17. Rep. Lewis served Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until the time of his passing this year. Rep. Lewis was a crucial figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s—during the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, he was beaten so badly by police that he was hospitalized.

 

Even though Rep. Lewis’ policy prescriptions did not always align with those of GCO, we commend his years of service fighting for equal justice and the chance for all Americans to thrive and prosper. Here are selected reflections from GCO staff members on the life and legacy of John Lewis.

 

Randy Hicks, president and CEO: “John Lewis was a warrior for justice, frequently calling America to live up to its lofty, well-articulated principles. We join with so many others across the state of Georgia and the country in mourning the loss of a man who committed his life to making America better.”

 

Joyce Mayberry, vice president of family formation: “The way civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis lived his life was the epitome of impact. He forever changed my life and the lives of so many others. While I never got the chance to personally thank him, hopefully my personal decision to serve my community daily is an action that would have received his approval. Rest in peace, sir.”

 

Buzz Brockway, vice president of public policy: “I am sad that John Lewis passed away. He had courage to stand for what he believed in, even when he knew he would be beaten and he was putting his life in jeopardy. It’s easy to say we have that kind of courage, but he proved it. I’m glad I got the chance to shake his hand. Prayers for his family and friends.”

 

Jamie Lord, director of government affairs: I met John Lewis only once. Though shorter in stature, he loomed large. He was a sort of North Star in the moral quest for justice and equality. Before he was even born, I bought my son Congressman Lewis’ graphic memoir, March. I can only hope Lewis’ story helps inspire my son as it has inspired me. I hope he comes to live, as Lewis did, demonstrating a love of others, a commitment to justice and the bravery to put his very life on the line standing up for what is right. He really was one of the best of us and even in his passing he challenges me to be better, to do more.”


Highlighting Legislation Passed in the 2020 Georgia Legislative Session

Highlighting Legislation Passed in the 2020 Georgia Legislative Session

Highlighting Legislation Passed in the 2020 Georgia Legislative Session

By Buzz Brockway

 Ordinarily, the Georgia Legislature would have wrapped up its 40-day legislative session by the end of March. But 2020 is no ordinary year. As the pandemic spread, the Legislature suspended its session in mid-March with no return date announced. Eventually, lawmakers reconvened with 11 legislative days left to address a plethora of issues.

 

Looming large was the fiscal year 2021 budget, and as you can imagine, the budget outlook was much different in June than in March. State revenues plunged due to the shutdown and budget writers scrambled to decide the best path forward. After tapping into the state’s rainy-day fund, lawmakers passed a budget with 10 percent  cuts, approximately $2.2 billion smaller than originally proposed. No state department was spared, but some departments—like education—received smaller cuts than other departments. 

 

Apart from the budget, perhaps the issue that garnered the most attention was a hate crimes bill, HB 426. The murder of Ahmuad Arbery in Brunswick, GA, as well as the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, created a political situation where ignoring this issue was impossible. Georgia previously had a hate crimes law that was declared unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court. HB 426, now signed into law by Governor Kemp, provides sentence enhancements after a person has been convicted of certain crimes motivated by bias against defined groups of people.

 

Two pieces of legislation we at the Georgia Center of Opportunity actively supported passed both houses and await the Governor’s signature. SB 288 allows a person convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors, who have kept a clean record for a specific length of time, to seek to have those records restricted. This will allow these folks to have a better chance of employment. Another bill meant to assist people obtaining a job is HB 914. This bill will provide a temporary occupational license to spouses of members of the armed forces who move to Georgia. Georgia has a large number of military installations, so many people will benefit from this bill.

 

Other legislation of interest includes HB 888, which seeks to prevent “surprise billing.” A “surprise bill” occurs when an out-of-network physician treats a patient. These bills can become quite large. It is hoped this legislation will prevent this situation from occurring again. 

 

More progress was made in the fight against human trafficking as HB 823 and SB 435 passed.  HB 823 would prevent a truckdriver convicted of human trafficking of ever holding a commercial driver’s license again in Georgia. SB 435, known as the “Debbie Vance Act,” would allow a person convicted of trafficking to have their conviction vacated if they can prove they were a victim of human trafficking. 

 

Foster parents will be allowed to arrange for short-term babysitting under HB 912, which awaits the Governor’s signature. 

 

Government transparency and accountability got a boost with the passage of HB 1037. This bill would require audits on production companies seeking to take advantage of Georgia’s film tax credit. An audit earlier in the year revealed oversite problems in this very large tax credit. Price transparency for non-emergency medical services is the subject of SB 303, which was sent to the Governor’s desk. Empowering patients with pricing information can help lower costs for shopping of these non-emergency services. 

 

Despite the strange nature of the 2020 Legislative Session, many things were accomplished. The Georgia Center for Opportunity will continue to work hard to advance legislation to increase educational opportunity, knock down barriers to employment, and strengthen families. We look forward to continuing this effort in the next legislative session. 

 

 

 

We are driven by a belief – supported by experience and research- that people from all walks of life are more likely to flourish if they have an access to quality eduction, fulfilling employment, and live within healthy families. See what policy issues we’re working on to break down barriers and create pathways for all Georgians to flourish. 

Visit our Policy Solutions Initiative

Reopening and Welfare Cliffs | VIDEO

Reopening and Welfare Cliffs | VIDEO

Reopening and Welfare Cliffs | VIDEO

GCO’s Vice President of Public Policy, Buzz Brockway goes over the data to discuss the impact the reopening is having on the general population. He also discusses the data around welfare cliffs. How do we help those in need without hurting their chances to grow their income?

Education In Georgia Is About To Change | VIDEO

Education In Georgia Is About To Change | VIDEO

Education In Georgia Is About To Change | VIDEO

GCO’s Vice President of Public Policy, Buzz Brockway is joined by GCO’s Jamie Lord to discuss the ways education will be impacted in the coming years. The state of Georgia faces new struggles both financially and with renewed expectations of what education is.

How and will the state meet the need of public education in the coming year? 

Reopening and Welfare Cliffs | VIDEO

Georgia is reopening | VIDEO

Georgia is reopening | VIDEO

This week the Governor of Georgia announced that he would be rolling back some of the restrictions on businesses. While the “reopening” has drawn a lot of criticism, VP of Policy, Buzz Brockway discusses the details that many may have overlooked.

Watch Buzz’s weekly update:

WSAV – Georgia’s May primary could get postponed again

WSAV – Georgia’s May primary could get postponed again

Humanitarian issues are the basis behind some concern that Georgia’s already postponed presidential primary election may get postponed a second time.

The issue was brought up again after Governor Kemp’s order to shelter in place. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger postponed the election in March when concerns mounted with confirmed cases of coronavirus….

“God willing, May 19th, we’ll be back to normal and then there won’t be any problems,” said Buzz Brockaway, a former state legislator and vice president for public policy at Georgia Center for Opportunity. “But we don’t now that yet. So I think it’s entirely appropriate to have those types of conversations.”

 

Read the full article here