July 14, 2020
DEAR FAITHFUL FRIENDS,
The 2020 Georgia General Assembly session has finally completed this historic session
on June 26, 2020, after an unprecedented three month hiatus caused by the
coronavirus pandemic. This was an important session for Presbyterians for a Better
Georgia with significant wins on hate crimes, extended health coverage for low
income women postpartum, and fair housing amendments, and more.
The Governor has 40 days from the end of the session to sign or
You can still make an impact ...
Please read our legislative Advocate's legislative summary to learn what items we are still addressing! Deadline is August 5, 2020! Click here, or on the image to read Elizabeth's Summary.
The 2019-2020 Legislative Session is coming to a close....
From Hate Crimes to Budgets: YOU can call your Senator or Representative and ask them to vote YES on the Senate Rules Committee version of HB 426--The Hate Crimes Act. You can read that bill here.
The legislature has one requirement before they adjourn--pass a budget. Speak up for a budget that improves the lives of the most vulnerable.
Isaiah 10 declares woe to those who make,
“Laws that make misery for the poor,
that rob my destitute people of dignity,
exploiting defenseless widows,
taking advantage of homeless children.” (The Message)
Budgets are moral documents. Hard decisions are being made, and the cuts will create misery in many ways. Some movement to reduce the cuts, commit reserve funds is occurring. Nevertheless, the reductions are severe.
P4BG is grateful for:
1. the recommendation to raise the tobacco tax and continues to urge the increase be adopted,
2. the passage of surprise billing legislation protecting patients and urges Governor Kemp to sign it without delay,
3. the passage of HB 1114 increasing post-partum care for Medicaid eligible mothers to 6 months, which will reduce maternal mortality, and urges Gov. Kemp to sign it.
P4BG is ADVOCATING for
1. HB 1035 (affordable housing development and rehab) without a cap. The proposed amendment will cap funding for low income state housing credit at 50%. This would mean a loss of $13 M per year in funds that are the only state money available to fund development and rehabilitation of affordable housing in the state,
2. HB 793 to be funded at the highest rates possible protecting housing options for people with disabilities, seniors, and reentry short-term housing for those newly released from prison.
P4BG respects the difficulty of budgetary choices and urges those responsible to look for avenues of revenue increases in order to diminish necessary cuts.
We can do more together, as one state, than we can in scattered neighborhoods, communities, cities, and counties. Let us be one Georgia for all Georgians.
House and senate Conferees to contact regarding Budget Cuts:
Rep. Terry England firstname.lastname@example.org (404) 463-2245
Rep. Jan Jones email@example.com (404) 656-5072
Jon Burns firstname.lastname@example.org (404) 656-5052
Sen. Blake Tillery email@example.com (404) 656-0089
Sen. Mike Dugan firstname.lastname@example.org (404) 656-7872
Sen. Butch Miller email@example.com (404) 656-6578
THANK YOU-- all you Presbyterians for a better Georgia -- for all you do to make Georgia better,
from your partners,
The Board, Mission Council, members and Your Advocate, Elizabeth Appley, Esq.
P4BG Supports Extension of Consumer Insurance Protections Against Cancellations
P4BG joined our partners in sending a letter to the Commissioner of Insurance urging him to extend his order providing consumer protection against loss of health coverage due to inability to pay premiums, for 90 days after the end of the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration. Mr. King's current order expires at the end of this month. At present, the Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency expires June 12, so an extension could provide protection for an additional three months after that ends. To read the letter click here.
Click image for background letter.
P4BG Supports Hate Crime Legislation
Georgia is one of only five states without a hate crimes law. The events of recent weeks highlight the danger of allowing violence motivated by hate to go unpunished. Presbyterians for a Better Georgia encourages you to support passage of the Hate Crimes legislation this session by contacting state leadership and your State Senator. Every call from a constituent makes a difference—they work for you!
For backgrounds and links to contact your Senators, the Governor, and the Committee Chairperson, click here.
PBG Policy Advocate Invites Faith Community to Education and Advocacy at the Capitol
November 14, 2019
PBG Public Policy Advocate, Elizabeth Appley, Esq., shares an important message for faith leaders and coalition partners heading into 2020.
We hope you'll make plans to join Presbyterians for a Better Georgia in partnership with Central Outreach and Advocacy Center for our annual Advocacy Training and Day at the Capitol! Click here to learn more.
Former Georgia Attorney General Voices Support for Hate Crimes Legislation
July 17, 2019
Former Attorney General Sam Olens recently published an opinion piece on HB 426, the bill in support of hate crime legislation. Presbyterians for a Better Georgia along with other coalition partners sucessfully lobbied for its passage in the House, although it did not move in the Senate. "All Georgians deserve hate crimes legislation. However, Georgia is one of only four states that does not have a hate crimes law," said Olsen. Click here to read more.
Victory! PBG Celebrates Signing of HB 346 into Law with Healthy Housing Georgia Coalition
May 10, 2019
PBG celebrates this victory! PBG was an early supporter of the Healthy Housing Georgia coalition that successfully passed HB 346. This law will give GEORGIA families that rent their homes protections in securing repairs that meet health and safety standards.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
"Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure, House Bill 346, into law Wednesday.Supporters say it empowers renters to remain in their homes and punishes landlords who don't fix housing problems. Under the new law, landlords who wrongfully try to evict tenants are responsible for paying them one month’s rent, plus $500 and legal costs.“This is giving people who are in the worst circumstances just a little bit of standing,” said state Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Republican from Marietta who sponsored the bill. “It sends a message that we're not going to tolerate” unhealthy housing conditions." Click here to read more.
From Georgians for a Healthy Future:
"Georgia will [finally] join the ranks of forty-one other states that have already implemented similar legislation to protect tenants against retaliatory evictions." Read more here.
PBG Delivers Wrap-Up Report Highlighting 2019 Legislative Wins and Misses, Outlook for 2020
April 18, 2019
The 2019 Georgia General Assembly session completed its 2019 session at midnight on April 2, 2019. This was an important session for Presbyterians for a Better Georgia with significant wins, losses and near misses. Since this was the first of the two year 2019-2020 term legislation that remains alive at the end of the session but did not achieve final passage in identical form by the House and Senate was returned to the last substantive committee where it was heard and remains alive for action in 2020. The Governor has 40 days from the end of the session to sign or veto legislation.
In addition, the FY 2020 Budget as amended and approved by the House and Senate is now before the Governor who has until May 12, 2019, to sign the Bill.
Click here to download the full report, including key updates on access to healthcare, access to affordable housing, gun reform, hate crimes, and other PBG priorities.
Gov. Kemp Proposes FY 2020 State Budget; Senate Vote Scheduled Today
March 25, 2019
Governor Kemp proposed the Budget, the House and Senate Committee have passed it with changes, and now the FY 2020 Budget is on the Senate Floor for a vote on Monday, March 25. The Budget is the only bill the legislature is constitutionally required to pass each year. Click here to read a full update on the budget highlights aligned with PBG priorities.
Presbyterians for a Better Georgia partners with Central Outreach and Advocacy for a Day at the Capitol, Advocacy Training, Lobbying with State Representatives
February 8, 2019
Presbyterians for a Better Georgia (PBG) joined Central Outreach and Advocacy for a Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. The event was hosted by Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA, and included a morning of advocacy training and issue briefing, followed by lobbying at the state capitol. Speakers included Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-Riverdale), Cathryn Marchman, Esq., Executive Director of Partners for H.O.M.E., and Elizabeth Appley, Esq., PBG Lobbyist and Legislative Advocate. Approximately 100 people were in attendance to receive updates on important legislative changes regarding healthy housing, homelessness, and access to healthcare.
In the Senate chambers, the group heard from Rev. Dr. Tony Sundermeier who was the Pastor of the Day. Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) graciously welcomed and introduced Rev. Dr. Sundermeier, and filed a resolution commending his work. A video from his speech can be seen below, beginning at the 26:00 minute mark. Click here for a to read the resolution from Sen. Williams.
In addition, the group met with several legislators to discuss pending legislation and request support for the organization's key priorities in 2019, which include healthcare, housing, and criminal justice reform. "I'm not sure if we've ever had a more effective day of legislative contacts. Showing up face to face matters the most," said Co-Chair Rev. David Lewicki.
Photos from the day's activities are available below.
Presbyterians for a Better Georgia, Others Address Criminal Justice Reform in Letter to Gov. Elect Kemp
January 2, 2019
Presbyterians for a Better Georgia was among the 23 organization to publish an open letter to Governor-elect Brian Kemp, imploring the new governor to continue the work of his predecessor on criminal justice reform in Georgia. Citing the need for change, the letter points toward some of Gov. Deal's previous work and makes specific requests, including one to tour "the most desperate places where we house our mentally ill, elderly and infirm inmates". Organizations who also helped craft the letter include the Georgia NAACP, Faith in Public Life, the National Incarceration Association, and the ACLU of Georgia. The letter was delivered to Kemp's incoming Chief of Staff, Tim Fleming. A full transcript is provided below and is available here for download.
P4BG Advocates for Governor to "tap the brakes."
In cooperation with Presbyterians from across the state, Presbyterians for a Better Georgia requests Governor Kemp to "tap the brakes." The letter reads in part, "As a community of churches, we hold the freedom to worship as one of our highest values. But it is not higher than the life, health, and safety of our members and our neighbors. We will choose to continue to worship online and refrain from public gatherings until our public health experts tell us it is safe to do so. We ask you to express these same
priorities in your leadership of the people of Georgia."
To read the entire letter click here.
PBG Supports SNAP Policy Options during COVID-19 Challenges
March 20, 2020
From the letter sent to DFCS Director Tom Rawlings:
"We recognize that Georgia faces a crisis of unknown dimensions due to COVID 19. We are eager to help you extend SNAP benefits to the many Georgians who are expected to need them in the coming weeks and months. Drawing upon the Georgia Food Stamp Work Group’s decade-long history of collaboration between state SNAP administrators and nonprofit community partners, the Policy Subcommittee offers the following list of policy options for your consideration."
To read the full letter, click here.