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News and Updates from
DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council

February 4, 2020  Volume 1: Issue 9

Hello Supporters

In case you don’t get our Facebook posts, here’s what we posted after last week’s House Delegation meeting:

2020 Legislative Report Week 2
The General Assembly was not in session last week, so this is the second true week of the 2020 session.  The first meeting of the House Delegation was held today, and to no one’s surprise Ethics legislation was top of mind for most of those attending the meeting. 

Delegation Chair Karla Drenner appointed Rep. Scott Holcomb and Rep. Viola Davis as co-chairs of the House contingent to a joint House/Senate Ethics Task Force Special Committee.  Other House appointees include Rep. Bee Nguyen and Rep. Renitta Shannon.  Rep. Drenner assured all House members that they would have an opportunity to have input to the committee. She also expressed hope that the committee would have the matter resolved ASAP and sent to the Senate.

After this announcement, Representative Matthew Wilson presented LC 28 9493 for its first reading, a bill to change the manner of appointment and terms of office of the members of the Board of Ethics.  This is a “clean” bill that only addresses the appointment process, the constitutional issue that needs to be fixed. 
While Chair Karla Drenner did read the bill and assigned it to the Ethics Task Force Special Committee, she scolded Rep. Wilson publicly for surprising her with this bill.  He responded that he had sent the bill to all members of the delegation on December 16 with an email telling them of his plan to file the bill on the first day of the session, and inviting them to contact him directly to discuss the bill further. He stated that even though he is a Freshman legislator, his constituents expect him to work on getting the Board of Ethics back up and operating quickly, and he is taking their expectations – as well as those of the DeKalb voters in the November referendum – seriously.

Further discussion ensued about the Delegation’s bylaws and historic procedures in dealing with bills.  According to the bylaws, the committee needs to report back to the Delegation within a week and then potentially the bill is open for signatures.  It takes nine signatures to move the bill on.  There then ensued further discussion on this feature in the bylaws, with Rep. Drenner saying she would consult with Legislative Counsel.  Additional discussion about the role of “process” ensued with Rep. Shannon, Mitchell, Carter, Kendrick, and Oliver commenting.

We will be watching the process of this bill and the discussions of the ethics Task Force Special Committee discussions.  Let’s hope committee members and the entire Delegation can move beyond politics to gain consensus on the board appointment process and pass a “simple fix” bill out of committee soon.  As we keep reminding them, other issues or concerns about the Ethics process can be discussed after this one fix is made.
Here is a link to the WSB coverage of the meeting:

If you are constituent of any members of this special committee – Reps. Davis, Holcomb, Nguyen, Shannon and Sens. Parent and Anderson – please email them to encourage them to consider acting quickly to fix the Ethics Board appointment process before discussing and acting on any other ethics-related legislation. 
Upcoming: DeKalb House Delegation Town Hall Tuesday, Feb 18, 6:30 p.m.
The House Delegation is having a Town Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 18th at Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the meeting is scheduled from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Please put this on your calendar.  We need supporters of the “simple fix” concept to show up and speak out about the need for the Delegation to pass such a bill so the Board of Ethics can operate. 
Other Upcoming Town Hall Meetings
Rep. Becky Evans is holding a town hall on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Scott Candler Library, 1917 Candler Road.  Again, supporters for the Simple Fix bill need to show up.
Additional Comment
Should the November vote carry any weight in the State Delegation’s ethics deliberations?
One DeKalb state representative seemed to call the ethics referendum vote into question due to the small turnout.  An experienced political journalist reported to DCAC that this past election most paralleled the November 2015 election, which included cityhood votes for LaVista Hills and Tucker and two special legislative races for House District 92 (Doreen Carter) and Senate District 43 (Tonya Anderson), in addition to the referendum on the 2015 Ethics Act. 

The fact is, people who vote in off-year elections (elections held in a year when a presidential election does not take place) are typically well informed, consistent voters, and their opinions matter a great deal to others. 

Speaking of small turnouts ….. the results for those two state seats were as follows:
SH 92: Doreen Carter won, receiving 383 votes out of a total of 662 total votes counted.
SS 43: Tonya Anderson won, receiving 876 votes out of a total of 1,497 total votes counted.
DeKalb Citizens is dedicated to keeping voters well informed regarding county issues and will continue to play that role into the future.
How You Can Help:

Send an email or written note to the CEO, your county commissioners, and your state legislators expressing your support for the points outlined below. 
  1. Time is of the essence:  The appointment process must be dealt with NOW in order to get the Ethics board working again as soon as possible
  2. We expect a simple fix that would correct the Ethics board appointment process.  Going beyond this fix is what gets ethics legislation in trouble. Additional issues can be dealt with by a DeKalb County charter review or by separate legislation.
  3. We expect legislators to undertake a transparent process in their deliberations.   
  4. It would be our hope that we could convey to County residents that the process was transparent and that we are in support of the resulting legislation.
Before sending the email, please review these instructions first:
  1. Always add your name and street address; legislators want to know you really are in their district.
  2. If you decide to email all the DeKalb legislators and not just your own, it’s important to email each one separately; we have been advised that emails written to several legislators don’t get the same attention as one sent separately. 
  3. If you email more than your legislator, it’s important to say who your legislator is and why you are writing to someone who isn’t yours.  (Ex: “We need all of the legislators to work together as a team to get this work done.”)
Share your communication with your DeKalb friends and contacts.  Ask them to communicate their support.  We want a wave of public opinion to wash over our legislators so they stay focused on doing the right thing:  fixing the board appointment process in a timely manner.

Join our Facebook Page: DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council. 

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