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Newton County’s first-year lawmaker talks 2021 session
Sharon Henderson
District 113 State Rep. Sharon Henderson of Covington stands with Chief Justice Harold Melton and Melton's wife, Kimberly. (Special | Sharon Henderson)

COVINGTON, Ga. — When cheers of “Sine Die!” rang throughout the State Capitol on April 1, it marked the end of Rep. Sharon Henderson’s first Georgia General Assembly session as a lawmaker.

Henderson, D-Covington, was sworn into office on Jan. 11 after defeating five-term incumbent Rep. Pam Dickerson for the District 113 seat in the June 2020 Democrat Primary. Henderson is the lone Newton County legislator that resides within the county. She represents portions of Newton and Rockdale counties.

“[The session] ended; however, it does not end for me serving my constituents in the community,” Henderson said in a statement to The Covington News. “I will always be there for my constituents voicing issues of concern for the betterment of our community.”

The 2021 session was relatively quiet for the freshman representative, having only sponsored or co-sponsored two pieces of legislation — one of which never reached the House floor.

Henderson, among three other Newton County legislators, co-sponsored House Resolution 442, which recognized and celebrated Newton County’s bicentennial. It was read and adopted in the House on March 22.

The single bill Henderson drafted and sponsored was House Bill 547, which aimed to allow student-led prayer in public schools during the time period dedicated each day for when students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill stalled in the House Second Readers, never making it to committee or the House Floor for consideration.

Henderson has been somewhat vocal in her opposition of the state’s Election Integrity Act of 2021. She posted a video message to her Facebook page, in which she called the bill a way “to keep people from voting and to suppress our votes.”

Henderson declined a request from The Covington News for additional comments on the issue.

The local pastor served proudly on three different committees — Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight, which is responsible for holding hearings to monitor the spending programs within the state’s budget; Game, Fish and Parks, which hears legislation that impacts Georgia’s wildlife, state parks, and its other natural resources; and Retirement, which is a committee that oversees the Teacher and State Employee Retirement System.

One of the highlights of the session for Henderson did not pertain to any legislation, she said, but rather when she and other lawmakers heard former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton’s final State of the Judiciary address.

“During his speech, Chief Justice Melton reflected on his upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court, where he has served for the last 16 years,” Henderson stated. “He also announced that the Supreme Court unanimously voted to name presiding Justice David Nahmias, who also joined us for the address, as the next chief justice. 

“Throughout the pandemic and the Statewide Judiciary Emergency, the courts have remained open to address essential functions and critical cases, such as domestic abuse restraining orders, criminal bond hearings, mental health commitment hearings and cases where an immediate liberty or safety concern was present,” she added. “Under the direction of Chief Justice Melton and the state’s Judicial Council, state courts and the Supreme Court have transitioned to video conferencing as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings, among other necessary rule changes to get our courts to a fully functioning capacity during the pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, criminal and civil jury trials have been suspended for most of the last year due to the number of people involved and the length of such trials.”