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ANDERSON: Newton senator recaps last two weeks of session
Tonya Anderson
State Sen. Tonya Anderson - photo by Special Photo

This is an opinion.

As week eight in the Senate comes to a close, I would like to update you on all the work we have accomplished during the past eight legislative days. These past two weeks were busy, passing numerous bills and holding lengthy committee meetings. As always, the work I do in the Senate is to represent the interests of my constituents and I am always proud to do so.

On Feb. 25, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus met to honor the life of Ahmaud Arbery, one year after his senseless murder. We also announced our support for House Bill 45, which would end the practice of citizen’s arrest in Georgia. We believe that it is time to create a Georgia that reflects the true diversity of this great state and protects all of its citizens. These outdated laws only further serve to divide us, and we are ready to move towards a move progressive Georgia. 

On that note, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus met again to speak against the election bills introduced this legislative session that are a clear attempt to restrict the right to vote for millions of citizens. I am vehemently against the four election bills passed including Senate Bill 67, Senate Bill 89, Senate Bill 1854, Senate Bill 188 and Senate Bill 241, which all seek to “fix” a system that is not broken. In reality, these provisions make voting more difficult for essential workers, minimum wage workers and those in the Black and Hispanic community. They seek to do this by limiting who can vote by absentee, requiring identification when requesting absentee ballots and shortening hours for voting locations. This is textbook voter suppression and we will continue to fight against these bills and ensure that every Georgian has access to voting.

In addition to fighting against these bills, I have been proud to support legislation that aims to do the opposite and increase people’s ability to vote in this state. Last week, Senate Bill 40 passed, which would allow registrars and absentee ballot clerks to begin opening and processing absentee ballots ten days before an election. This bill passed unanimously, as it would enable election offices to provide election results faster. We should be passing legislation that makes it easier for people to vote and more manageable for our election offices to conduct elections. I will continue to support legislation that does this.

Over the past two weeks, we have also seen the passage of numerous Education and Youth bills to provide Georgia children with access to quality education. The first set of bills, Senate Bill 28 and Senate Bill 107, offer greater protection and education opportunities for our children in the foster care system. SB 28 aims to improve the foster care system by redefining the term “child abuse,” revising code regarding mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse, adjusting training requirements for juvenile court intake officers and allowing the use of hearsay evidence in court cases regarding the foster care system. We also passed Senate Bill 107 which would waive tuition and fees, including mandatory rooming and board fees, for qualifying foster and adopted students attending schools in the Technical College System of Georgia. These bills allow us to protect and uplift some of the most vulnerable children in our state. 

 As always, I am proud to serve as your senator from the 43rd District. As we approach Sine Die, I am committed to ensuring the legislation we pass is in your best interest. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

 Tonya Anderson is a Democrat from District 43, serving DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties in the Georgia Senate.