Ga. lawmakers start outlining legislative agendas for 2022

Georgia Legislature
Georgia Legislature(WRDW)
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 11:48 AM EST
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ATLANTA (WGCL/CBS46) - Leaders at the state Capitol are beginning to outline plans for the upcoming legislative session.

While the Democrats are the minority in the Georgia House and Senate, they hope to build in the state that has shown increasing Democratic turnout in the last year. They’re focusing the next legislative session on health care through Medicaid expansion, education, mental health and jobs.

“We have to improve the Quality Basic Education,” said House Minority Leader of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus Rep. James Beverly.

“That formula hasn’t been changed in years. In rural areas some students didn’t have broadband. In urban areas, we had students going to school using a cellphone. I think we really need to focus on what does it look like to educate a student now coming out of a pandemic,” Beverly said.

He says the party also wants mental health parity and will be pushing for insurance companies to cover mental health as they would other health needs.

The Department of Labor is also a point of focus.

The agency has come under fire for the slow pace of processing unemployment claims, a problem that was especially noticeable at the height of the pandemic.

“Let’s adjudicate the claims from the Department of Labor and get it back up and running the way things need to go for all Georgians,” Beverly said, adding that the lawmakers will work to make a “gig economy” pivot to more permanent work.

Voting rights and election laws will be an unavoidable topic in what’s slated to be a high-profile and closely watched election year.

Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller is running for lieutenant governor. His first agenda item is drafting a bill to eliminate ballot drop boxes in Georgia.

“Clearly, drop boxes are the weakest link in our voting system,” Miller told CBS46. “Drop boxes were not intended to be with us forever; they were intended for emergency purposes.”

Miller says he believes the election of 2020 and 2018 caused Georgians to doubt the system despite the Secretary of State’s office debunking myths of election fraud in Georgia.

“Most Georgians believe there were problems in the election,” Miller told CBS546. “We just don’t know how big those problems were because we don’t’ have the video. We don’t have the evidence. We don’t have the data,” Miller went on.

The Democrats are planning to again push back on voting restrictions.

“His voter suppression tactics to ban the box, moving forward, I think people are going to have the option to choose what they want moving forward. Georgia is not about that anymore,” Rep. Beverly said in response to Miller’s new bill.

Miller says overall, the conservative-led state Senate will focus on maintaining conservative values. He says he’ll be working to end state income taxes

“Conservatism works,” Miller said. “One of the big legislative agenda items would be abolishing the state income tax,” he added.

Both parties will be strategizing through a busy election year with dozens of new seats up for grabs in both chambers.

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