Friday, April 12, 2013

“Documenting the Undocumented” Thank you very much!


“Documenting the Undocumented” Thank you very much!


Last night was the opening reception for our exhibit “Coming Out of the Shadows: Documenting the Undocumented”. Although the show is still opened until April 26th, this reception marked the zenith in of the work we put these months to get this show together. The reception was a success, counting with most of the participant artists, media coverage by AP and Mundo Hispanico, and a great audience from GSU, Agnes Scott University and the community at large. All of this despite the nasty weather we had last evening. Huge thanks to all of you artists that graciously borrowed your hard work to make this exhibit possible. Special mention to:
  • to the dream team of GLAHR, who not only created a piece that encompasses the essence of being an immigrant GLAHDIADOR in their collective “Aves Migratorias”, but also were able to ignore the exhaustion of organizing a huge march just the day before, and joined us in big numbers at our reception last night;
  • to Ingrid Cruz, whose work with Freedom University and for immigrant rights is so present throughout the Southeast, who took a bus from Mississippi all the way to Atlanta just to be with us;
  • to Juan Macias, Ricardo Ortiz, and Angel Alonso, whose pieces full of raw emotion and wild intensity enriched our show, who sacrificed family and working time to join us in times the economy suggests otherwise;
  • to Yehimi Cambron, who not only gifted the walls of our exhibit with her skill and prolificacy, but also worked long hours at the most disparate times to make it possible.
  • to Rodrigo Cervantes “Cascajo”, Luis Castañeda, Viviana González, Rubi G. González, Carolina Valdivia, and Diana Valdivia, whose beautiful work completed our exhibit.
  • to Georgia State University for its facilities, and to the chapter of Amnesty International for sponsoring this whole event and for working to the wire to make this event happening, and to all of you whose presence and support made this evening the success it was.

The exhibit is still going to be open until Friday April 26th. Do not miss the opportunity to visit it, you will not regret it.

One of the albums of the exhibit here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200916262968192.1073741840.1213930115&type=1

Information related to the show: undocuart@gmail.com





Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 40: Sine Die. An amended SB160 passed the GA Capitol. Urge Governor Deal to veto SB160. Gun Bill SB101 did not make it out of Conference Committee.


Day 40: Sine Die. An amended SB160 passed the GA Capitol. Urge Governor Deal to veto SB160. Gun Bill SB101 did not make it out of Conference Committee. 

Thursday 03/28/2013. Sine Die, last day of the Georgia Legislative Session 2013. After a slow session compared with other ones, Sine Die ended in long day with hectic last 4 hours. Among the bills that we were campaigning against, an amended version of SB160 passed both chambers less than 30 minutes from midnight, after being discussed in an informal Conference Committee, between votes and other bills, which lasted more than 4 hours. The only questioning against SB160 in the House came once again from the relentless voice of Rep. Pedro Marin, and the bill just went straight to vote in the Senate, with not even an option to questioning by the Lt. Governor. SB160 was voted Y=113 N=54 in the House and Y=43 N=9 in the Senate. As the time I am writing this, the final language of SB160 is not online yet. However, we can check on the hardcopy that we got that the final language of SB160 does not prevent DACA recipients of getting Driver Licenses. This new version also removed the problem with Homestead Exception, and Tax Credits. It did keep the language referred to the passports. The next step is to get the analysis of the full bill by our attorney friends, and to draft the veto campaign.

So for starters, we need to contact governor Deal. It is true that Gov. Deal has a story of supporting immigration bills like this. Nonetheless, we cannot allow that attacks like this go without resistance; it would only encourage them to produce more bills like this in the future.

Gov. Nathan Deal
Phone (404) 656-1776
Email http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-domestic-form
Message: “VETO SB160”

Thanks for your hard work. More updates regarding the veto campaign coming.

In a happier note, the SB101, a bill that got attached several parts of the HB512, did not make it out of Conference Committee. Congratulations to the friends that worked on that campaign.



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 39: MESSAGE FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW: “OPPOSE SB160”


Day 39: MESSAGE FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW: “OPPOSE SB160”

Tuesday 03/26/2013. Thirty-Ninth Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. Last day before Sine Die this Thursday. So in preparation for the final day of session, there were several bills both passed by the House and the Senate that are going to go to Conference Committee. Thanks to your calls and resilient work, we are down to only one bill, SB160. As we mentioned, the House passed a version an amended version of SB160, in which added the harmful language of HB125 referred to block Driver Licenses for DACA recipients, invalidate the use of international passports as IDs unless they have a I94, and requires full immigration status for Homestead exemption tax benefits. As we expected, the Senate rebate this amended version, so SB160 goes to a Conference Committee to come out with the last definitive version of the bill the last day of the session, tomorrow Thursday 03/28.

Given it is literally the last day, the clerks are going to be getting many calls regarding several different bills. Ergo, we keep our message short and simple for Wednesday and Thursday. Call these three party leaders, as they have power to influence the turn out of the Conference Committee:

Call:
Gov. Deal (404) 656-1776
Lt. Governor Cagle (404) 656-5030
Speaker David Ralston (404) 656-5020
Message: “OPPOSE SB160”

Session ends tomorrow. We have a shot to stop the nonsense. Please spread the word. Home stretch you all.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 38: Conference Committee for SB160


Day 38: Conference Committee for SB160

Monday 03/25/2013. Thirty-Eighth Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. The plenary of the House passed the amended SB160. Once again, Rep. Pedro Marin was the single voice in the well in opposition to this anti-immigrant legislation. Remember that when you come to the Capitol to celebrate heritage days. Now the process continues with the bill returning to the Senate for agree or disagree to the changes made. We are hoping and expecting the Senate to disagree. And next will come the appointment of the Conference Committee since the chambers do not agree. We still need leadership to help shape the compromise that would come out of the Conference Committee. So for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the message and the people we need to call remain the same:

Call:
Gov. Deal (404) 656-1776
Lt. Governor Cagle (404) 656-5030
Speaker David Ralston (404) 656-5020
Message: “Please support ONLY the original versions of HB 125 and SB 160. Let’s not divide Georgia again by debating anti-immigrant proposals.”

The 2013 session end this Thursday. 3 more calendar days.

Pic by Jason Getz from the AJC.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 37: “Support ONLY the original versions of HB125 and SB160”


Day 37: “Support ONLY the original versions of HB125 and SB160”

Friday 03/22/2013. Thirty-Seventh Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. While Larry is working in the strategy for the final week at the Capitol, I had the opportunity to be in Washington DC and do some lobbying for a national comprehensive immigration reform. As we mentioned in the previously, keep calling:

Governor Nathan Deal (404) 656-1776
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (404) 656-5030
House Speaker David Ralston (404) 656-5020

“Support ONLY the original versions of HB 125 and SB 160. Let’s not divide Georgia again by debating anti-immigrant proposals.”



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 36: Now HB125 is SB160 and SB160 is HB125


Day 36: Now HB125 is SB160 and SB160 is HB125

Thursday 03/21/2013. Thirty-Sixth Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. New mess at the Georgia Capitol. As we mentioned, the Senate repealed the version of HB125 that came from the House, and converted pretty much in their SB160, in other words, the current version of HB125 (LC 29 5674ERS) fixes the problem of the Secretary of State, and it is pretty much as good bill. Everything good until now.

However, also as we mentioned, the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee took SB160. Sadly, they just did what we expected too, they added changes to SB160 (LC 29 5682S), and converted it pretty much in HB125.

So now, in their current versions, HB125 (LC 29 5674ERS) is good and SB160 (LC 29 5682S) is bad. What comes now is a back-and-forth between the House and the Senate to make a version they both agree upon, in which leadership is going to take a crucial part on it. Most likely there is going to be very different versions of both bills from now all the way to the end of Sine Die. Ergo, this is our message for lawmakers’ leadership:

Governor Nathan Deal (404) 656-1776
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (404) 656-5030
House Speaker David Ralston (404) 656-5020

“Please support ONLY the original versions of HB 125 and SB 160. Let’s not divide Georgia again by debating anti-immigrant proposals.”

One more week. End of session is this Thursday 28th. Home stretch now.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 35: anti-immigrant HB125 rejected in the Senate. SB160 scheduled to be in House Committee Thursday March 21st 1:30pm CLOB 415


Day 35: anti-immigrant HB125 rejected in the Senate. SB160 scheduled to be in House Committee Thursday March 21st 1:30pm CLOB 415

Wednesday 03/20/2013. Thirty-Fifth Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. Today, the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee of the Senate rejected HB125, which was added to the agenda of the committee late yesterday as we mentioned, giving clear preference to its SB160 as an alternative to fix the dreadful paperwork created for the HB87 two years ago. This is direct result of your calls, emails, petitions, and work in general to persuade the Senate to oppose HB125 in support of SB160. Congratulations for such a successful effort. However, the session is not over yet. As we mentioned before, now SB160 is on the hands of the same committee that altered HB125, and made it the dreadful bill we fought for these past weeks. An announcement for a meeting by this very same committee was released as soon as its Senate counterpart was done with HB125. As it can be imagined, SB160 is on the agenda. There is a no brainier that this is a direct reaction of the reject to HB125. The meeting is at 1:30pm at CLOB 415. Be ready for updates and upcoming calls of action of what comes out of this committee.

In case you are available, there is a press conference tomorrow Thursday 21st at 10am in Opposition to anti-immigrant Legislation in Georgia in the steps of the Capitol at Washington Street. Then you can have lunch and heat to the hearing of the House. Great job everybody, just 5 more legislative days, keep it up.




Monday, March 18, 2013

CALL OF ACTION: URGE THE GA SENATE TO OPPOSE ANTI-IMMIGRANT HB125 WHILE PROTECTING SB160


CALL OF ACTION: URGE THE GA SENATE TO OPPOSE ANTI-IMMIGRANT HB125 WHILE PROTECTING SB160

Two more calendar weeks until the end of the 2013 Georgia Legislative Session. As you all know, we are working against anti-immigrant HB125, while urging the Georgia Senate to PROTECT SB160. This is sort of an actualized summary of what we need to keep doing to pursue that:

Keep calling/emailing/lobbying the Governor, Lt. Governor and these Senators urging them TO OPPOSE HB125, and PROTECT (DO NOT CHANGE) SB160. If you have time to elaborate, you can go all the way to “The Senate got it right with SB 160, which reads like the original HB 125, and must say NO to the current HB 125.” (All these Senators, The Governor and the Lt. Governor need to be called. Please make an effort to get to each and every one.):

Governor Nathan Deal (404) 656-1776
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (404) 656-5030
Sen. Butch Miller, Majority Caucus Chair (404) 656-6578
Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rules Committee Chairman (404) 656-0057
Sen. Jesse Stone, Chairman Senate Judiciary Non-Civil (404) 463-1314
Sen. William Ligon, Jr., Vice Chair (404) 656-0045
Sen. Josh McKoon, Ex-Officio (404) 463-3931
Sen. Charlie Bethel, Member (404) 651-7738
Sen. Hunter Hill, Member (404) 463-2518


Sign and blast far and while this petition opposing HB125, and supporting SB160:

Just 6 more legislative days scheduled in the upcoming two weeks. Keep it up.



Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 34: anti-immigrant HB125 losing momentum. Do not let SB160 become another HB12, PROTECT SB160



Day 34: anti-immigrant HB125 losing momentum. Do not let SB160 become another HB125, PROTECT SB160

Thursday 03/14/2013. Thirty-Fourth Day at the Georgia Legislative Session.
6 more days for the end of session. Busy day at the Capitol. We got a press conference from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in the morning against HB512, and a another one in the afternoon supporting Marihuana Law Reform.

Regarding immigration, very late on Wednesday we got the word that there was formed a subcommittee chaired by HB87 author Rep. Matt Ramsey to review SB160 in the House. As we mentioned before SB160 is the Senate version of the original HB125 before it was high jacked by, once again, Rep. Matt Ramsey. The subcommittee meeting was cancelled at the very last minute. Your strong response to the very last minute calls of action can be definitely the reason for that. Thank you very much, keep up the good work. Nonetheless, the formation of that subcommittee shows a clear intention of altering SB160, especially now that HB125 is getting so much heat.

Ergo, the calls of action stay focused on OPPOSING HB125, and we can add PROTECT SB160. If you have time to elaborate, you can go all the way to “The Senate got it right with SB 160, which reads like the original HB 125, and must say NO to the current HB 125.”

Governor Nathan Deal (404) 656-1776
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle  (404) 656-5030
Sen. Butch Miller, Majority Caucus Chair (404) 656-6578
Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rules Committee Chairman (404) 656-0057
Sen. Jesse Stone, Chairman Senate Judiciary Non-Civil (404) 463-1314
Sen. William Ligon, Jr., Vice Chair  (404) 656-0045
Sen. Josh McKoon,  Ex-Officio (404) 463-3931
Sen. Charlie Bethel, Member (404) 651-7738
Sen. Hunter Hill, Member (404) 463-2518


Day 35 Wednesday March 20th
Day 36 Thursday March 21th
Day 37 Friday March 22th
OFF Saturday 23th & Sunday 24th
Day 38 Monday March 25th
Day 39 Tuesday March 26th
OFF Wednesday March 27th
Day 40 Wednesday March 28th


Also, we got today a visit of this cute group of children from a Muslim School in Lawrenceville.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 33: Anti-Immigrant Bill HB125 did not come out in committee today. Stay put for upcoming updates and calls of action.


Day 33: Anti-Immigrant Bill HB125 did not come out in committee today. Stay put for upcoming updates and calls of action.

Wednesday 03/13/2013. Thirty-Third Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. Despite the fact that HB125 was referred to a committee, it did not come out in its meeting today. We certainly should price ourselves and take credit for this turn out. Nonetheless, as I mentioned before, this battle is far from over. Tomorrow is Day 34 of the session, and then a long break until Day 35 next Wednesday 20th. Stay put for upcoming updates and calls of action. Thank you very much for your hard work.

Also, we got word that we are going to have updates related to SB160 tomorrow Thursday, March 14th. SB160 is the Senate version of the fix for the damages HB87 created. The current version SB 160/CSFA/2 is a good one, ergo does not affect us. However, SB160 is been referred to the very same committee that high jacked HB125, and made it what it is now. So we need to be very cautious to what comes out from them. Be on the look for updates related to this and keep up the good work.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 32: Lobbing Opposing Anti-Immigrant Bill HB125. CALL/EMAIL/LOBBY/SIGN PETITION to the Georgia Senate


Day 32: Lobbing Opposing Anti-Immigrant Bill HB125. CALL/EMAIL/LOBBY/SIGN PETITION to the Georgia Senate

Tuesday 03/12/2013. Thirty-Second Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. As we mentioned yesterday, today was the ACLU lobby day against anti-immigrant bill HB125. We had a good turn out, and participants did a great job explaining the problems of the anti-immigrant HB125, bill that hurts immigrant families (DACA recipients) and foreign visitors (passports). Thank you very much!

Nonetheless, this battle is by no means over. There are 8 more legislative days in this 2013 Georgia Legislative Session (about 3 more weeks including the current one). WE NEED TO KEEP WORKING. These are some actions we need to keep doing against the bill:  

1.   CALL/EMAIL/LOBBY the Lt. Governor and Senators, especiallymembers of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee of the Georgia Senate. Urge them to OPPOSE ANTI-IMMIGRANT HB125.
   
   Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (404) 656-5030
   Sen. Butch Miller, Majority Caucus Chair (404) 656-6578
   Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rules Committee Chairman (404) 656-0057
   Sen. Jesse Stone, Chairman Senate Judiciary Non-Civil (404) 463-1314
Sen. William Ligon, Jr., Vice Chair (404) 656-0045
Sen. Curt Thompson, Secretary (404) 463-1318
Sen. Josh McKoon, Ex-Officio (404) 463-3931
Sen. Charlie Bethel, Member (404) 651-7738
Sen. John Crosby, Member (404) 463-5258
Sen. Vincent Fort, Member (404) 656-5091
Sen. Hunter Hill, Member (404) 463-2518
Sen. Ron Ramsey, Sr., Member (404) 463-2598


3. Support SB160. This is a tricky one though. The current version SB 160/CSFA/2 is a good one, ergo worth support. However, SB160 is been referred to the very same committee that high jacked HB125, and made it what it is now. So we need to be cautious to what comes out of this committee.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 31: Oppose Anti-Immigrant Bill HB125. CALL/EMAIL/LOBBY/SIGN PETITION to the Georgia Senate


Day 31: Oppose Anti-Immigrant Bill HB125. CALL/EMAIL/LOBBY/SIGN PETITION to the Georgia Senate

Monday 03/11/2013. Thirty-First Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. As we mentioned before, anti-immigrant HB125 passed the plenary of the House last week. There are 10 more legislative days in which the bills that made CrossOver can be approved by the other chamber. Ergo, we are going to see HB125 in the Senate, first, at the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. These are some actions against the bill.

1. CALL/EMAIL/LOBBY the Lt. Governor and Senators specially members of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee of the Georgia Senate. Urge them to OPPOSE to HB125.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (404) 656-5030
Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rules Committee Chairman (404) 656-0057Sen. Jesse Stone, Chairman Senate Judiciary Non-Civil (404) 463-1314
Sen. William Ligon, Jr., Vice Chair (404) 656-0045
Sen. Curt Thompson, Secretary (404) 463-1318
Sen. Josh McKoon, Ex-Officio (404) 463-3931
Sen. Charlie Bethel, Member (404) 651-7738
Sen. John Crosby, Member (404) 463-5258
Sen. Vincent Fort, Member (404) 656-5091
Sen. Hunter Hill, Member (404) 463-2518
Sen. Ron Ramsey, Sr., Member (404) 463-2598




4.   Support SB160. This is a tricky one though. The current version SB 160/CSFA/2 is a good one, ergo worth support. However, SB160 is been referred to the very same committee that high jacked HB125, and made it what it is now. So we need to be cautious to what comes out of this committee.




Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 30: CrossOver Day. Immigration Enforcement Review Board endorses HB125. ‘Guns anywhere’ HB512 passes the House with a threat by Rules Chairman John Meadows.


Day 30: CrossOver Day. Immigration Enforcement Review Board endorses HB125. ‘Guns anywhere’ HB512 passes the House with a threat by Rules Chairman John Meadows.

Thursday 03/07/2013. CrossOver Day at the Georgia Legislative Session. As I mentioned before, we went from babysitting the session to work on HB125. HB125 went from fixing excessive paperwork to become HB87 and more, courtesy of HB87’s author, Rep. Matt Ramsey. To make things even more clear on this matter, The Immigration Enforcement Review Board, that hybrid  created by HB87 to enforce state immigration laws held a meeting on Thursday as well. Among the much nonsense expected (from ‘how about is we create a bounty hunter system’, and ‘if we put the 600 organizations that do not comply with HB87 in a hat, and draft one so to make an example of it?’) Committee Members showed much enthusiasm for HB125 and its ability to target ‘undocumented passports’ (whatever that means). They also arrived to the conclusion they need more power and money, so after the meeting they went straight to the Capitol to talk with HB125 author Rep. Dustin Hightower so to ask for more power enforcement and the double of their current budget. Enough evidence to do all we can to block HB125 in the Senate. HB125 was referred to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee in the Senate. For starters, our friends of the ACLU are going to focus their next ‘For the People’ Lobby Day to HB125. This is taking place this Tuesday March 12th starting with training at 9am at the CLOB room 415. If you cannot make it at 9am, stop the Capitol any time after 10am, most likely we are going to be there for a while.




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 29: HB125, bill invalidating passports as ID passed the House. Aiming for the Senate next week.


Day 29: HB125, bill invalidating passports as ID passed the House. Aiming for the Senate next week.

Tuesday 03/05/2013. Twenty-Ninth day of the Georgia Legislative Session.
Among the most interesting, we had the “Keeping Families Together Tour”, in which we had the opportunity to visit the offices of US Rep. Rob Woodall and David Scott, US Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson to urge them to support and immigration reform with a path to citizenship and to stop the destruction of families by massive deportations. Pics attached. This was a contrast for what happened on Monday on the floor of the House with the passage of HB125. I am going to quote the testimony of a fellow legislative advocate friend:

Update HB 125- The Speaker just called up the bill. After a short and deceptive presentation by the author Rep. Dustin Hightower, the Speaker noted that there were a lot of questions from other House members. He cut them off, called a vote and the bill passed. It was 116-49 with 47 Democrats, 1 Republican and 1 Independent voting NO. A bill needs 91 to pass. Small consolation that 46 is the highest number of no votes on any of the bills yet today. But there should have been a lot more. Several people said they didn't want to vote for the anti-immigrant part of the bill but they were pressured to vote to correct the problem causing the Sec. of State the backlog problem. Well, why wasn't there a bill that only fixed the SOS problem? Because they wanted to sneak in the anti-immigrant stuff. Isn't that like blackmail? I urge everyone to do two things right now: to see how bad the bill was hijacked, read the details at http://musingsonimmigration.blogspot.com/ then watch the video of the bill being presented on the floor when it is available on the state website. The deception you will see is why people don't trust politicians. Next steps? We are going to be fighting this in the Senate. There probably will be a committee hearing in about a week. Watch for information about the fight to kill this bill in the Senate. You know we CAN!!”

While the country is finally working on a comprehensive immigration reform, Georgia still insists into look for sneaky ways to stop what is unstoppable. This visceral stubbornness not only talks horrors of Georgia and its political leadership, but makes even question its motives and sources of expertise at the moment to develop law.

HB125 has been referred to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee in the Senate. Also, stay put for upcoming calls of action. For starters, the ACLU will focus its next For The People Lobby Day to this bill.



Day 28: Guns everywhere Bill (HB512) Passed Committee. It is ready to go to the floor of the House on CrossOver Day.


Day 28: Guns everywhere Bill (HB512) Passed Committee. It is ready to go to the floor of the House on CrossOver Day.

Monday 03/04/2013. Twenty-Eighth day of the Georgia Legislative Session.
Very long day with many bills on the floor, among them, that infamous HB125 that we discussed over the weekend. Check the report on Day 29 for an update related to HB125.

Also HB512 was presented by Committee as we mentioned on the post of Day 27. HB512 passed Committee after a long session that ended passed 8:30pm. There are many things that are wrong about the way this bill is been treated:
The bill was in the system Friday and in committee Monday.

I could still going, but what matters now is that HB512 can be very well to vote in the floor of the House tomorrow. Therefore: CALL/EMAIL/FAX/ etc.

And URGE THEM ALL TO OPPOSE HB512.

Thursday March 7th is CrossOver Day, the last day HB512 can pass the floor of the House. We have to show opposition to it as much as we can. If you can, come to the Capitol so we can lobby the bill together.

HB512 would allow guns in:
  • Bars (yes, bars)
  • in government buildings (if these are not protected with security)
  • in technical schools, colleges and universities (except in games)
  • plus HB35 



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 27: Bill would allow guns in churches, bars, schools, colleges, universities, etc. In the system Friday 3/1. In committee this Monday 3/4.


Day 27: Bill would allow guns in churches, bars, schools, colleges, universities, etc. In the system Friday 3/1. In committee this Monday 3/4.

Friday 03/01/2013. Twenty-Seventh day of the Georgia Legislative Session. We have seen many bills related to gun control this session. On Thursday afternoon, three days before Cross Over day, we heard the introduction of  HB512 by Rep. Jasperse (R-Jasper), so what HB512 does?

At first sight you would think it is a joke. Sadly it is not, and the fact that the bill is moving so fast for first readers to Committee shows that it comes with the support of the powers that be to make it pass before Cross Over Day.


If you cannot make it to testify, PLEASE contact the Chairman and the members of the committee and urge them to ‘VOTE NO’ to HB512. Their contact info is below. Click on their names for their contact information and profile. Also contact the author of the bill, Rep. Jasperse (click here for contact info) and urge him to drop HB512.


Committee Members
Powell, Alan Chairman
Taylor, Darlene K. Vice Chairman
Atwood, Alex Secretary
Cooke, Kevin Member
Neal, Jay Member





Day 26: It is official (once again). Georgia does not like immigrants.


Day 26: It is official (once again). Georgia does not like immigrants.

Thursday 02/28/2013. Twenty-Sixth day of the Georgia Legislative Session.
Few days ago I mentioned that I was glad the way immigration issue was addressed on this session. Today I stand corrected, I talked too fast. HB125 is a bill introduced by Rep. Hightower (R-Carrolton), initially meant to fix the tons of extra paperwork created by HB87 couple of years ago regarding of people proving citizenship every year when they renew their commercial and professional licenses. As it can imagined, this created a major clog during the renewal season, especially in small counties.

We reviewed the original version of the bill, 6-page long, and we checked with colleagues as well regarding potential negative impact. It cleared everybody. Now, all the sudden, in the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee hearing of Wednesday, the bill has sprouted 7 extra pages. Those resemble a bad copy of lose parts of HB87, plus adding denying benefits that are already denied. The language is a big convoluted of back-and-forth references to the Georgia Code Annotated and the US Code, which is quite hard to follow, and to determine its intentions and consequences. If anything, it is worth to mention that the author of HB125, Rep. Hightower thanked Rep. Ramsey (HB87 author and member of this committee as well) for his support and mentorship all the way on the ‘improvement’ of this bill.

As the bill is written right now, it does nothing but to confuse and complicate passport carriers that just came to Georgia, reduces the discretion of the Secretary of the State on licenses, and the discretion of the Board of Regents to rule on education as well. Altogether, this bill shows just a mean intention, and very little knowledge on immigration law, and it is just another jewel from our legislators to the world to show once more how paranoid Georgia is towards immigrants. Visceral bills like this just reflect resentment beyond reason, and mock efforts to bring international investment to Georgia. Really sad indeed.




Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 25: Fulton County bills moved forward with Republican push


Day 25: Fulton County bills moved forward with Republican push

Wednesday 02/27/2013. Twenty-Fifth day of the Georgia Legislative Session. Today was the committee hearing of the bulk of the Fulton bills I mentioned before. There was more bills added to this already long list, among them a batch that dealt with the judicial system of Fulton. Given that these are local bills, the chair of the Intragovernmental Coordination Committee Rep. Chuck Sims (R-Ambrose) mentioned that these bills were not to be debated in the floor of the House, so the presentation in this committee was all the ‘debate’ there was going to be of these bills. Moreover, given that these bills fulfilled the requisites of the local bill, he can just sign them and considered them passed, which meant there was not even a need for debate.

Most of the presentation of the debate was held by actual Representatives of Fulton (quite unusual), among them freshwoman Rep. LaDawn Jones (D-College Park), Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague (D-Red Oak), Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone), which did a great job presenting with both passion and fact their positions, and why they were against all these bills, which when put together, just have the objective of weaken the County Commission of Fulton, and give more power to its wealthy north portion. All the bills were voted to a 6-6 tie, being the same members voting for their same positions, Democrats against, and Republicans in favor. It is worth to mention that Democrat Rep. Bell and Jones requested meetings of the Fulton Delegation with its Chairwoman and co-signer of most of these bills Rep. Riley (R-Johns Creek) several times to discuss them, but their requests were never addressed. The tie was broken by Chair Sims always in favor of the bills. The bills need to be reviewed by the State Department before can be effective.

In the almost 2 and a half hours meeting, these are some paraphrasing of the testimonies that showed you what happened:

HB171
It changes the current form of the Board of Commissioners from 5 Commissioners and 2 at large to 6 County Commissioners to 1 at large. Nobody has a problem with adding an extra commissioner to the north part of Fulton. The problem is the way the south part is being redrawn. There was a Resolution by the current County Commissioners against this bill.
“This bill reshapes the south part of Fulton with no respect for the communities’ integrity, and would make three current Board Commissioners to run against each other. This is nothing more than gerrymandering over people. This is doing what is best for the party, not what is best for the citizens” (Rep. LaDawn Jones, D-College Park).
“They are trying to destroy Fulton County” (Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague, D-Red Oak).
“There was a proposal of redistricting by the county board of commissioners. It was denied” (Rep. Fludd, D-Tyrone).
HB171 passed with a vote of 7-6 and it is going to the local bill calendar for Friday.

HB347
Bill that has for objective to remove the power of the Board of Commissioners to elect or appoint the Election Board. The argument in favor of the bill was that this past elections the Election Board has done a controversial job. Therefore the Board of Commissioners should not have the discretion of choosing them.
HB347 tied 6-6. Chairman Sims broke the tie and passed the bill. HB347 is going to the local bill calendar for Friday.

HB346
It changes the Tax Commissioner of Fulton from an elected position to be appointed or elected by the Board of Commissioners.
“So we just said that the Board of Commissioners should not choose the Election Board, but now we want them to choose Tax Commissioner” (Rep. Patty Bentley, D-Reynolds).
HB346 tied 6-6. Chairman Sims broke the tie and passed the bill. HB346 is going to the local bill calendar for Friday as well.




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 24: Trayvon Martin rally


Day 24: Trayvon Martin rally

Tuesday 02/26/2013. Twenty-Fourth day of the Georgia Legislative Session. Today was the rally remembering Trayvon Martin organized by Senator VincentFort (D-Atlanta). It was a great event, and it counted with a wide array of participants going from Legislators to students from the University Center.

Regarding legislation, I got the chance to see some bills presented in committee. Couple of bills that caught my attention were HB324 by Representative Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) and SB122 by Senator Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta).

I reported HB324 when it was introduced, given that it was also cosponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), author of the HB87 of 2011, and what I heard regarding Rep. Dollar. After inquiring around about it, the current version of this only would reduce the paperwork for financial aid, which is not bad. It is worth to mention that the Board of Regents had to create a whole new system to check this in 2010 to address the fear of some legislators (among them Matt Ramsey) of undocumented students “sucking tax payers’ dollars”, despite the fact that undocumented students are not eligible to any kind of financial aid or even in-state tuition since 2007. Given that, undocumented students (the very few that still are in the University System of Georgia) pay out of pocket money for their out-of-state tuition, which covers fully and more the expenses of their education. It was interesting to observe Rep. Dollar and Rep. Ramsey talking about this bill, and yet looking for a way to avoid mentioning where this whole paperwork mess came from. Keeping an eye on HB324, you never know when anybody would try to add something to it, and can make it go from harmless to something totally different.

SB122 proposes to give a temporal license to people that are in theprocess to renew their immigration paperwork. No bad neither. On the presentation of the bill, the discussion focused on the fee that this temporal license would cost.

I am happy the way this session is addressing immigration. Hope stays like that until the end. Keep you posted.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 23: Ethics Bill clear the House. Still allows trips, does not have limits for lobbyist gifts, and proposes that everybody at the capitol to be a registered lobbyist


Day 23: Ethics Bill clear the House. Still would allow trips, does not have limits for lobbyist expenditures, and proposes that everybody at the capitol has to be a registered lobbyist.

Monday 02/25/2013. Twenty-Third day of the Georgia Legislative Session. Among the most relevant thing today was the vote in the floor of the House of HB142 and HB143, the attempts of ethics reform in the House by Speaker David Ralston(R-Blue Ridge). So after much discussion and amendments in committee, both bills passed with overwhelming majority vote. HB142 is the more controversial,as it is the one that refers to the lobbyist registration and lobbyist gifts to legislators. HB143 is referred to the disclosure reports and campaign donations.

After the long campaign by organizations such as Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform, the proposal of speaker Ralston does not included any limit gifts like we saw in the rules of the Senate introduced at the beginning of the session, it still would allow trips as the one that ignited all this campaign (although lobbyists cannot pay for the fly tickets), legislators still can receive game tickets for the Georgia University System sponsored games (UGA, GATech, etc.) and now also requires that anybody that wants to talk with Legislators to support or oppose legislation at the Capitol or Coverdell Legislative Office Building (office building next to the Capitol that holds most of the offices of the legislators) has to be a registered lobbyist ($25 annual register fee).

After all the controversy and secrecy that covered this attempt of reform (the online versions of the bill were not close to the one being worked in the subcommittee/committee, advocate groups were not consulted for suggestions regarding the proposal, but even avoided to talk about it) one cannot help but wonder what is the reform this bill is really supporting, and whether is only a save face for the scandals we have witnessed this past year regarding lobbyist gifts.

HB142 and HB143 now go to first readers on the Senate where it will be referred to a committee.