How did Athens’ state representatives vote?
• Red rows indicate a bill sponsored by Republicans only.
• Purple rows indicate a bill with sponsors from both parties.
(If you’re wondering why there aren’t any blue rows, it’s because without Republican support, bills have no chance of passing in this state.)
• Votes (yes or no) colored red indicate that most people who voted that way were Republicans, with few or no Democrats voting with them.
• Votes colored blue indicate that most people who voted that way were Democrats, with few or no Republicans voting with them.
• Votes colored purple indicate that many members from both parties voted that way.
Thumbs up means APN supports the bill.
Thumbs down means APN opposes the bill.
Athens’ legislative delegation
State House District 120 – Houston Gaines (R)
State House District 121 – Marcus Wiedower (R)
State House District 122 – Spencer Frye (D)
State House District 124 – Trey Rhodes (R)
State Senate District 46 – Bill Cowsert (R)
State Senate District 47 – Frank Ginn (R)
A closer look: 2023 legislation in Georgia
Expanding TANF Benefits (HB 129)
This bill allows pregnant women to apply for and receive benefits via the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program before actually giving birth and starting a family. Unfortunately, due to work requirements and a restrictive income cap, very few women are likely to qualify for the help.
HB 129 was signed into law.
Lowering Prescription Drug Costs (HB 343)
The final day of the Georgia Legislative Session was extremely chaotic and a number of important bills were left on the chamber floor. First among them is a bill that would have lowered prescription drug costs by requiring pharmacy benefits managers to pass any discounts they get from drug manufacturers along to consumers.
Hopefully legislators will pick this bill up again next year.
HB 343 passed the House, but not the Senate.
Renter Protection Act (HB 404)
Dubbed the “Safe at Home Act,” this bill would protect renters by ensuring rental properties are “fit for human habitation.” It also adds some protections against eviction.
HB 404 passed the House, but not the Senate.
Limit Construction Moratoria (HB 514)
This bill would have put a cap of 180 days on local construction moratoria, taking away some local control over building construction. Currently, construction moratoria can be continued almost indefinitely by local governments.
HB 514 passed the House and the Senate, but the two chambers could not agree on a compromise bill.
Mental Healthcare Reform (HB 520)
This bill would have expanded on last year’s Mental Health Parity Act. It “aims to address the statewide shortage of mental health providers, understand the capacity for in-patient mental health and substance use treatment, streamline the ways that state agencies involved in behavioral health can share data, and address the needs of so-called “familiar faces” (people that cycle between homelessness, jails, and hospitals due to serious mental illness),” in the words of the group Georgians for a Healthy Future.
Unfortunately, this important bill will have to wait until next year before it can be considered by the Georgia Senate.
HB 520 passed the House, but not the Senate.
Impose Mandatory Minimums (SB 44)
This “tough on crime” bill forces judges to give a mandatory 10 years in prison to anyone convicted of recruiting minors into a gang, and increases penalties for other gang-related activities.
SB 44 was signed into law.
Require Cash Bail (SB 63)
This bill would have required cash bail (eliminating signature bonds) for just about all crimes, including misdemeanors like trespassing.
SB 63 passed the House and the Senate, but the two chambers could not agree on a compromise bill.
Oversee Prosecuting Attorneys (SB 92)
This bill, co-sponsored by Athens’ own Senator Bill Cowsert, will create an oversight commission to review the work of District Attorneys and Solicitors General and discipline them if they are found to be performing below standards. The bill was likely targeted at District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez and other progressive prosecutors around the state.
The ACLU of Georgia opposed this legislation:
“The ACLU of Georgia recognizes the necessity of keeping prosecutors in check, but this authority is already vested with the State Bar of Georgia. We have opposed this bill as an unnecessary, and politicized review of what prosecutors choose to prioritize. This authority is best placed with the voters to determine how public safety is maintained in their community.”
SB 92 was signed into law.
Ban Gender-Affirming Treatment (SB 140)
This anti-LGBTQ legislation bans gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy on minors.
Following the bill’s passage, Georgia Equality issued the following statement:
“We are saddened by the Senate passage of SB 140 today. Parents, working in collaboration with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care, should be able to make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare. With an amendment attached to SB 140 that would criminalize medical providers for following established standards of care, this legislation sets a dangerous precedent by putting politics over scientific fact. By targeting medical professionals for doing their jobs, SB 140 threatens an already serious shortage of healthcare workers. For the safety and well-being of our state, Governor Kemp must veto this harmful legislation.”
SB 140 was signed into law.
Private School Vouchers (SB 233)
This legislation would have given certain students in under-performing public schools vouchers which they could use to attend private school. The effect of the bill, had it passed, would have been to divert money from school districts serving poor, under-performing students towards private schools.
This bill was very narrowly defeated in the House, and we’ll likely see some version of it again next year.
SB 233 passed the Senate, but not the House.