Committees, Caucuses and Legislation Update

 

 

Being in session is just part of what I do as your representative.  A lot of the work is carried out in committee and caucus meetings. Here is a list of the committees and caucuses I am currently a member of.  In addition you will find below the legislation I am a author of, co-sponsor of, or signatory to.  This will be updated as the session progresses. I put all the links I could find.

 

 

Committees

Caucuses

 

Legislation Authored/Co-Sponsored (for updates see http://bit.ly/2EJygMu)

 

Legislation Signed Onto

 

 

 

Legislative Week 3 (Jan. 22 – 28, 2018)

Hello HD117. Part of the reason these weeks feel hectic, even though sessions have been lasting only about an hour, is the fact that there is so much else going on at the Capitol. I try to give you just a taste but to be honest, I don’t always remember everything I did or everyone I met. Yes I try to document (photos, write on the back of business cards, etc.) but when I get to the weekend when I have a chance to organize, things have slipped away. This week is a great example. Here we go.

Rep. Wallace and I with the Moms Demand Action

Monday, January 22, 2018. My energy is at its highest on Monday mornings, partly because I get to sleep a bit over the weekend and partly because the weekend events are always with my constituents who inspire me each time. Two of the causes of the day were GA Moms Demand Action (http://every.tw/2nF2F40) and Veteran Suicide Prevention (http://bit.ly/2xMXWBH).   Most of the organizations set up tables in the Capitol lobby offering information and opportunities for legislators to learn about the cause and ask questions. The legislative session was followed by a discussion held by the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society of Women Educators (www.dkg.org) where they asked a group of representatives and senators what the status was regarding K-12 education issues, and provided insights into their concerns. The last meeting of the day was with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (https://www.accg.org). The conversation focused on one of the greatest concerns for sheriffs in District 117 – the use of county jails as primary mental health treatment centers, even though they lack the resources (funding and expertise) to appropriately attend to the needs of the mentally ill. I was pleased to hear that this issue is a priority for them and that they have set up a task force.

Here I am with both Staceys, Rep. Brenda Lopez, and President of the GHCC Santiago Marquez.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 began with an early ride into Atlanta to make the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast (https://ghcc.org). I spoke as part of the Latino Caucus regarding why we should oppose the English-only resolutions coming out of the Georgia Senate (SR587 http://bit.ly/2BTRyt5 and SR613 http://bit.ly/2EEzkPd). My view is that these bills set up an unwelcoming environment for business, especially for those businesses founded or run by individuals who speak multiple languages (e.g. Amazon). They also make it more difficult for individuals to be as productive as possible within their communities as they master the English language. English is already the official language of Georgia. So there is no reason not to offer certain documents in other languages – as Georgia has been doing for decades – if it means safer roads and residents getting their kids to school and themselves to work.

The causes for Tuesday were Georgia Tourism Day and Georgia Arts Day at the Capitol. Ok, I’m a bit partial to these. it was so great to see members from the Athens and Oconee Convention and Visitor Bureaus (https://www.visitathensga.com and https://visitoconee.com). Tourism is an economic driver in District 117 – from music to sports, from academic conferences to community plays – people visit HD117 all year round. One of the other hidden gems in District 117 is the visual arts scene. I highly recommend doing a Saturday afternoon art scavenger hunt in any of our towns – murals in Athens, public sculptures in Oconee, historic landmarks in Jackson and Barrow – add museums, galleries, and artist homes, and you’ll never be at a loss for ways to get your visual fill.

Finally got to meet Grace Sterling in person. We are here with Rep. David Dreyer

Tuesday afternoon marked a significant moment for many who have been watching the unfolding of HB51, a bill introduced in the 2017 session by Rep. Earl Ehrhart and then-representative Regina Quick (http://bit.ly/2BT0rmJ). This bill was so controversial because it required mandatory reporting to law enforcement of a sexual assault regardless of the desires of the victim as well as put restraints on universities and colleges as to when they could take which actions once a complaint has been filed – for example, no action until a conviction is made. After hearing testimony of the three higher education associations – Board of Regents, Technical Colleges of Georgia, and Private Institutions – the Chair of the Higher Education Committee made a point of saying he did not see why mandatory reporting should be required and since the Federal government still needed to issue guidelines regarding the matter (as Secretary DeVos had rescinded the Obama guidelines) the bill would be tabled for this session. This means that HB51 isn’t dead forever, but it is in a coma for now. You can watch the recording of the hearing here: http://bit.ly/2nFSnR3.

 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 was a slower day for me because I was trying to fight off a cold (hopefully not the flu) since the night before. After a short session I went to my first Rural Caucus meeting where issues important to country communities are highlighted and discussed. On the agenda were rural broadband and a brief report from the House Rural Development Council (http://bit.ly/2DZ7Dnc). I look forward to being part of this caucus to ensure all residents of HD117 have the services they require to thrive.

 

Rep. Renitta Shannon

A new advocacy activity started on Wednesday called Woke Wednesdays (http://bit.ly/2FFRBec) – a lunchtime set aside where members of advocacy groups can come together, share lunch, and discuss important legislative issues. The first topic centered on Women’s Reproductive Rights and the speaker was Rep. Renitta Shannon (http://renittashannon.com). I am proud of Rep. Shannon’s courage in sharing her story and she exemplifies why most of us choose to serve in the general assembly – for the people of our districts.

Important to note is that this Wednesday was also Electric Vehicle Day – Georgia used to have a tax credit for purchasers of electric vehicles but that credit program was discontinued (http://bit.ly/2s6PzSv). This is an issue some of my constituents have emailed and Facebook messaged me about so I am keeping an eye on it. Alternative fuels offer a cleaner, environment-friendly option for transportation in HD117.

They call us the Super 6.

 

Thursday, January 25, 2018 was another early day – this time it was the GA Win List Breakfast. I am part of what the GWL calls the “Super 6” – GWL-endorsed women who got elected during the special election season in 2017. We shared lessons learned with those in attendance. I spoke about sexual harassment at the legislature and the need for continued support from the greater community for female candidates (and don’t forget us once we are elected).

 

 

 

Rep. Schofield, I and a National Guardsman.

 

 

It was National Guard Day and Rep. Kim Schoefield and I enjoyed a walk around the displays in the lobby. The GA Working families Caucus offered a debriefing on the 2018 and 2019 Governor’s Budgets by Chairman Terry England (http://bit.ly/2BWOEE8). The GA Assembly has one required job to do – pass a budget. It is not as easy as it sounds since there is a lot to decipher and so many interests in conflict with each other. These debriefings help legislators better understand what the numbers mean and where the priorities are. You can view the 2018, 2019 budgets and other financial documents on the Govenor’s Office of Planning and Budget website: https://opb.georgia.gov.

 

 

 

Thursday was a very proud day for me as I made good on one of the promises on my campaign platform – to fight for Medicaid Expansion. I was thrilled to co-sponsor a bill, along with Rep. Trammel, Rep. Park, Rep. Wallace, and Rep. McGowan called the “Expand Medicaid Now” bill. You can view our Medicaid Expansion Press Conference here: http://bit.ly/2E0BVBS.

 

At the ARLS READ Poster Photo Shoot

 

Friday, January 26, 2018 had no session. But that doesn’t mean I get the day off. Friday is my District Day (as long as we are not in session) so I can meet with constituents as well as attend other district-area events to ensure I stay in contact and in touch with what is going on in HD117. But there was some fun this Friday. The Athens Regional Library System (http://www.athenslibrary.org) had asked me to participate in their “READ” Poster series, so this Friday was the photo shoot. The biggest problem for me (besides fly away hair) was what book to select to pose with. I finally decided on three of them – all relating to a specific area of my life. Be on the lookout for the posters coming out soon.

 

 

Dr James Porter and UGA Office of Sustainability Director Kevin Kirsche

 

Saturday, January 27, 2018 was divided into two specific areas of concern for my district – the first, environmentalism and conservation were highlights at the Greenlife Expo (http://bit.ly/2s6bPMu) and the screening of the Chasing Coral documentary (http://www.chasingcoral.com). The second issue of adult literacy was the focus of the Barrow Literacy Ball (https://adultliteracybarrow.org). So proud to support both of these efforts. PS – folks in Barrow County really know how to party – although I didn’t win any raffle prizes I did have sore feet after all the dancing with my husband.

 

 

Pat Priest and others.

 

Sunday, January 28, 2018. I cannot tell a lie. I took a nap today. It felt so good to just be able to take an extra little break and catch up on some sleep. But the best part of this rainy Sunday was the New Friends for the New Year Event sponsored by the Oconee Progressives and the Oconee County Democratic Committee (http://bit.ly/2EguGJq). This non-partisan event was set up a bit like speed dating where participants changed partners every 4.5 minutes answering questions and getting to know each other. I look forward to the next one.

 

 

 

Aida Taina and Valeria Bell from the ARLS.

So Week 3 has come and gone. But we still have 30 more Legislative Days to go. Who will introduce what bills? What bills will never make it? What will happen? Stay tuned for the next episode of “How the GA Legislature Turns.”

I hope that my session updates will help you to stay informed on legislative matters that impact our community and state as a whole, as well as my comings and goings on your behalf. The House website, www.house.ga.gov, has several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session: a live stream of House proceedings, live and archived committee meeting videos and detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.

 

Call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) 509C, across form the Capitol, my office phone number is 404-656-0220, and I can be reached via email at deborah.gonzalez@house.ga.gov. My District Office is at the Butler Building, 337 S Milledge Ave., Suite 224, Athens, GA 30605.

 

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

 

Deborah

 

Which reminds me – don’t forget you can keep up to date on what’s going on, who I am meeting with, what legislation I’m working on and other news by Liking our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DG4GA.

 

 

Democracy for America

Screen Capture of Democracy for America Gonzalez Page

Screen Capture of Democracy for America Gonzalez Page

Endorsements are a part of the political campaign process.  When an organization or individual endorses a candidate they are saying they agree with what the candidate stands for and that the candidate is aligned with their values.

Democracy for America is considering endorsing Deborah.  Part of their process is to make sure the candidate has community support.

If you would like to show your support of Deborah’s candidacy please click below and let DFA know.  It will also list information about why Deborah is running and what positions she holds on certain issues.

Thanks!

Democracy for America

http://www2.democracyforamerica.com/endorsement_applicants/1083-deborah-gonzalez-for-georgia

 

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Why am I running for office?

Cardboard fan with logo on it with blue tinsel on the side.

Photo of candidate with Wonder Woman on shoulder
There are two questions I am asked as soon as someone finds out I am running for office – “Why?” and “Why now?”

Both questions are valid and even though I know the answers in my gut it is a bit more difficult to put them into words so that they can be easily understood.

Why?

The simple answer is because someone needs to run and it is not easy to make that commitment. We need to be at the table. We need our voice to be strong and clear. We need to do this. We need to have representatives that truly listen to those in their districts and stand for the issues and concerns of their constituents, the people who elect them.

But not everyone can run – it takes the right person in the right circumstances to put aside their life and make the commitment to something greater than themselves – to their community. I am a military daughter. As I watched my father in his service – first in Vietnam and then the National Guard and Army Reserve, I was taught that when our country calls, we answer in the way we can. And the way I can answer right now is by running, winning and serving.

So many decisions concerning our lives in this country and state are being made without consideration of all citizens. Everyone needs to be heard. We need to work together to make the changes that need to be made – especially regarding how we take care of our citizens – from healthcare to education to economic prosperity.

Why now? 

For some very rare and special people they know what they want to do with their lives at a very early age and they follow a path and do it.  I admire them for that.  For others, the path has a lot of twists and turns because the end point is not always so clear.  I was one of the latter.

At the beginning of my career I needed to provide for my children, many years as a single mother.  Later I needed to continue to provide while going to college and then law school at night and on the weekends. I took various positions in academia and corporate America and finally reached the point of opening my own legal practice.

I enjoy my work as an attorney – helping my clients protect the value of what they create and the businesses they start-up.  But I realized it hasn’t been enough. I wanted to be more involved in the community.  I wanted to make a difference.

As I looked at the numbers, researched the district, and listened to many in the communities I came to a realization. I’ve always told my clients and colleagues I will not ask them to do anything I was not willing to do. So here it was. What could I do? I could run. I could do this for all of those who could not. I also learned that I could win – with supporters who have come out and continue to raise their hands, roll up their sleeves, help me with the campaign work, open their wallets, introduce me to others, and say “Count me in!” I learned I was not alone – not in what I was thinking or feeling or in my desire to change the relationship between government and its citizens for us here in Georgia.

Now what?

So now here I stand, asking you to join me in this journey – the first steps of a long path to design and develop the future we owe our children, our state, ourselves. With your help – we can do this together.

~ Deborah

Note:  This blog has been edited to try to clarify points based on questions and comments I have received.  But things that are written can sometimes be misunderstood or as they say “clear as mud.”  So if you have a question, comment, or want to discuss an issue or concern you have please reach out to me and the campaign on the Contact Us page.  As I will be your representative I really want to hear from you.