APN Issues Legislature Scorecard for Metro Atlanta for 2014
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta Progressive News has compiled a legislative scorecard for State Representatives and State Senators representing areas wholly or partially in Fulton and/or DeKalb Counties.
The Scorecard is available as a Google Spreadsheet here: bit.ly/1kpZ1Bq
The Scorecard grades legislators on ten specific votes during the 2014 Legislative Session. APN plans to add to the Scorecard in the coming months to include past votes of importance from previous sessions.
APN attempted to identify votes that not only split the Legislature across party lines, but votes that split the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
While most Democrats tended to have higher grades, and most Republicans tended to have lower grades, there are distinctions within the parties, that will continue to be defined as previous years’ votes are added to the Scorecard.
In 2009, APN unveiled its first scorecard of elected officials, for the Atlanta City Council. This scorecard that included four votes went on to include over forty votes by 2013, and became a defining document for voters to hold Councilmembers accountable during the 2013 Municipal Elections.
APN Scorecards are transparent as well as substantive; the primary goal of the Scorecards is the same as the primary goal of APN: to empower our readers to make a meaningful difference in the democratic process. While we believe our editorial positions, which inform the scoring of the votes, reflect progressive principles of justice, readers are free to use the data underlying the Scorecards to develop their own grades.
What follows are a listing of the State Senators and their grades, in order from highest grade to lowest grade; followed by a similar listing for State Representatives; followed by a listing and explanation of the ten votes included in the Scorecards.
Butler, Gail Democrat-55 Stone Mountain A (100)
Davenport, Gail Democrat-44 Jonesboro A (100)
Fort, Vincent Democrat-39 Atlanta A (100)
Henson, Steve Democrat-41 Tucker A (100)
James, Donzella Democrat-35 Atlanta A (100)
Jones, Emanuel Democrat-10 Decatur A (100)
Orrock, Nan Democrat-36 Atlanta A (100)
Ramsey, Sr., Ronald Democrat-43 Riverdale A (100)
Tate, Horacena Democrat-38 Atlanta A (100)
Carter, Jason Democrat-42 Decatur B (87.5)
Millar, Fran Republican-40 Atlanta F (33.3)
Beach, Brandon Republican-21 Alpharetta F (22.2)
Hill, Judson Republican-32 Marietta F (12.5)
Shafer, David Republican-48 Duluth F (12.5)
Albers, John Republican-56 Roswell F (11.1)
Crane, Mike Republican-28 Newnan F (11.1)
Hill, Hunter Republican-06 Atlanta F (11.1)
Kaiser, Margaret Democrat-59 Atlanta A (100)
Beasley-Teague, Sharon Democrat-65 Red Oak A (100)
Fudd, Virgil Democrat-64 Tyrone B (88.9)
Haigler-Dawkins, Dee Democrat-91 Lithonia B (88.9)
Mosby, Howard Democrat-83 Atlanta B (88.9)
Thomas, “Able” Mable Democrat-56 Atlanta B (88.9)
Anderson, Tonya Democrat-92 Lithonia B (87.5)
Holcomb, Scott Democrat-81 Atlanta B (87.5)
Mayo, Rahn Democrat-84 Decatur B (87.5)
Brooks, Tyrone Democrat-55 Atlanta B (86.4)
Abrams, Stacey Democrat-89 Atlanta C (77.8)
Bell, Simone Democrat-58 Atlanta C (77.8)
Bennett, Karen Democrat-94 Stone Mountain C (77.8)
Drenner, Karla Democrat-85 Avondale Estates C (77.8)
Henson, Michele Democrat-86 Stone Mountain C (77.8)
Jones, LaDawn Democrat-62 Atlanta C (77.8)
Jones, Sheila Democrat-53 Atlanta C (77.8)
Stephenson, Pam Democrat-90 Atlanta C (77.8)
Waites, Keisha Democrat-60 Atlanta C (77.8)
Bruce, Roger Democrat-61 Atlanta C (75)
Gardner, Pat Democrat-57 Atlanta C (75)
Kendrick, Dar’shun Democrat-93 Lithonia C (75)
Mitchell, Billy Democrat-88 Stone Mountain C (75)
Oliver, Mary Margaret Democrat-82 Decatur C (75)
Williams, “Coach” Democrat-87 Avondale Estates C (75)
Mabra, Ronnie Democrat-63 Fayetteville D (62.5)
Moore, Sam Republican-22 Ball Ground F (44.44)
Willard, Wendell Republican-51 Sandy Springs F (28.6)
Wilkinson, Joe Republican-52 Atlanta F (25)
Jacobs, Mike Republican-80 Brookhaven F (22.22)
Rice, Tom Republican-95 Norcross F (20)
Jones, Jan Republican-47 Milton F (16.67)
Dollar, Matt Republican-45 Marietta F (14.29)
Golick, Rich Republican-40 Smyrna F (14.29)
Martin, Chuck Republican-49 Alpharetta F (12.5)
Taylor, Tom Republican-79 Dunwoody F (12.5)
Dudgeon, Mike Republican-25 Johns Creek F (11.11)
Geisinger, Harry Republican-48 Roswell F (11.11)
Lindsey, Edward Republican-54 Atlanta F (11.11)
Riley, Lynne Republican-50 Johns Creek F (11.11)
APN included ten specific votes, as follows:
(1) HOUSE BILL 60 – GUN BILL – PASSED
The “guns everywhere” bill started out as HB 875 but was amended as a separate bill, HB 60, and this version passed the House and Senate. It still allows guns almost everywhere, but the new version allows church leaders to decide if they want guns in their sanctuaries. It excludes guns on university campuses, but school employees are allowed to carry a gun. It allows silencers for hunting. Good luck to Bambi and people walking in the woods.
The bill eliminates fingerprinting requirements for renewing a gun carry license.
Georgia Carry, a guns rights organization, supported the bill and almost everyone else including church leaders, universities, and municipalities opposed the bill. Governor Nathan Deal has signed HB 60 into law; it becomes law on July 1, 2014.
(2) HOUSE BILL 990 – NO MEDICAID EXPANSION – PASSED
The proposal to block Governor Nathan Deal from expanding Medicaid coverage in the State of Georgia, reserving that right to the Legislature only, passed the House and the Senate, and was signed by the Governor.
Prior to this bill, with the stroke of a pen, Gov. Deal could have extended basic health benefits to more than 600,000 of the poorest Georgians. As Marie Antoinette would say, “Let them eat cake.”
(3) HOUSE BILL 891 – REDUCE EARLY VOTING PERIOD – FAILED
This proposal to reduce the early voting period for municipalities passed the House. The bill was amended to give municipalities flexibility over whether they wanted to keep with the current 21 day voting period or to accept the shorter six day early voting period.
There was a flaw in the language of the bill but a substitute fixed the loophole that would have eliminated early voting altogether. The House failed to take action on the Senate version, so it failed.
(4) HOUSE BILL 772 – DRUG TESTS FOR CERTAIN FOOD STAMP AND TANF RECIPIENTS
This bill allows the State of Georgia to require a drug test of certain food stamp and Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) recipients deemed to be likely drug users. This bill seeks to differentiate itself from other similar laws that have been declared unconstitutional by requiring “reasonable suspicion” of drug use before a drug test can be required.
However, “reasonable suspicion” under this bill is arguably still unconstitutionally broad and may be struck down by the courts.
(5) SENATE BILL 98 – DENIAL OF ABORTION COVERAGE IN INSURANCE PLANS – PASSED
This bill would prevent any qualified health plan in Georgia from providing abortion coverage. This applies to all insurers in Georgia regardless of how the health plan was created. Medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act would not be allowed to provide abortion coverage in Georgia, even if federal law allows the plan to provide abortion coverage.
The bill makes no exception for rape or incest, only allowing consideration of a medical emergency involving the life of the mother.
(6) SENATE BILL 270 – CITY OF LAKESIDE – FAILED
The proposal to allow a voter referendum on the City of Lakeside, to include parts of unincorporated DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, passed the Senate but did not come up for a vote in the House Government Affairs Committee.
There are numerous reasons for opposition to the City of Lakeside, including competing movements to create a City of Tucker and a City of Briarcliff.
(7) HOUSE BILL 704 – CITY OF SOUTH FULTON – FAILED
The proposal to allow a voter referendum of the City of South Fulton, to include part of unincorporated Fulton County, passed the full House on February 20, 2014.
The bill was referred to the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee and was recommitted to the State and Local Governmental Operations-General Committee. It passed out of committee and was sent to the Senate where it was eventually tabled on March 18, 2014.
Concerns about creating a City of South Fulton included whether or not to include all of the remaining unincorporated parts of Fulton County, even if doing so would create non-contiguous islands; and whether to allow more time for other cities, like the City of Atlanta, to annex parts of South Fulton.
(8) HOUSE BILL 885 – MEDICAL CANNABIS OIL – FAILED
This is the only bill that was unanimously passed by all committees and the House and Senate, but failed the last hour of the last day. This bill would have legalized medical cannabis oil for children with rare and uncontrolled seizures.
The bill failed because Sen. Renee Unterman attached the language of HB 885 to a Senate bill that had previously failed to pass the House because of insurance concerns.
Sen. Unterman said if her bill was not passed then HB 885 would not pass and that is exactly what happened. Sen. Unterman played politics with children’s lives.
(9) HOUSE BILL 943 – NO STATE HELP WITH AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – PASSED
This bill would bar any state or local governments, agencies, or employees from advocating for Medicaid expansion. It would also bar the University of Georgia and any other state organizations from running health insurance navigator programs to help Georgia consumers buy insurance on the federally run Health Insurance Marketplace.
The original bill, HB 707, ran into problems in a Senate committee, but supporters managed to get much of the language inserted into HB 943, which deals with oral cancer medications.
(10) HOUSE BILL 714 – UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS – PASSED