When I was sworn in on January 10, 2011, I couldn't have imagined I had so much to learn about the formal and informal rules on Capitol Hill. Committee assignments are based on votes for the Speaker and seniority and office assignments are much the same way. There is an endless supply of food throughout the Capitol and throughout the Session that makes for the need for a disciplined exercise routine. The legislative process is slow and deliberate but can speed up fast – very fast. But the most important thing I learned was the immense value of relationships, not only with those that have identical interests but those that do not. I am prepared to take the 2012 General Assembly Session head on, now that I understand the process.
Here are just a few of the bills we worked on this year:
HB 388 was the amendable version of the ominous tax bill that was the subject of controversial provisions such as the "grocery tax", "Girl Scout cookie tax" and "satellite tax". HB 385, the non-amendable version, was never brought to the floor for a full vote and neither was HB 388 after the House Democratic Caucus questioned the facts and figures supporting the bill.
SB 79 allows the Governor to remove and appoint school board members that are under probation by SACs to have their county's accreditation be taken away. SB 79 also decreases the size of school boards that receive certain TSPLOSTs from 9 members down to 7 members, including DeKalb County which is part of my District. I voted "no" as I felt that this bill contained local provisions that should have went through our local legislative process but did not.
HB 87 was the much talked about immigration bill. This bill is similar to Arizona's immigration bill and gained protests and support from both sides of this issue. Only time will tell the repercussions of the passage of this bill. To date, the Governor has not signed the bill but it is speculated that it will be signed. I voted "no" for this bill as I felt that the measures contained in the bill would stifle economic growth and prosperity in the state at a time when our state's economy was already suffering.
SB 10 is the Sunday alcohol sales bill. This bill would allow local governments to place, as a referendum, the question of whether alcohol should be sold on Sundays. It passed the House overwhelming and as well as supported by the Georgia Chamber. I voted "yes" on this bill to give local governments and constituents the option of allowing Sunday alcohol sales and the ability to collect the revenues from such sales.
HB 47 allows for interstate sale of health insurance, i.e. insurance from out of state that will not have to include Georgia's mandatory provisions about women's health screenings, cancer screenings, etc. Advocates of this bill believe that it will allow more options for individuals to receive health insurance. Opponents, including myself, believe this bill will allow insurance companies to offer sub-par services to disadvantaged or vulnerable Georgians. I voted "no."
HB 326 is the HOPE scholarship which has already been signed by the Governor. Under the new state, students with at least a 3.0 grade point average will receive annual awards based on lottery revenue. Students with at least a 3.7 GPA and 1200 SAT reading and math, as well as salutatorians and valedictorians, will receive 100 percent of their tuition each year.
Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick represents District 95. She can be reached by phone at 404-656-0109 or by e-mail at Darshun.Kendrick@legis.ga.gov