Yesterday, I picked up my copy of Governor Kemp’s proposed budget. Over the next few days, I’ll study it in more detail. And next week I’ll attend budget hearings to hear State Department Heads testify on behalf of their budget priorities.

My initial reaction is mixed. Thursday, in a joint session of the House & Senate, the Governor gave his “State of the State” speech. He proposed a $3,000 pay increase for teachers and a 2% raise for state employees — which is great, but I didn’t hear anything about updating our 30-year-old funding formula for public schools. Additionally, the Governor proposed $150 million for new voting machines, which would allow Georgia to purchase the most expensive, state-of-the-art voting machines. But it seems our leadership favors a barcode receipt that can’t be read by voters. Hand marked ballots read by scanners can be procured for only $30 million, providing an audit trail for a “real” recount. I support a system that gives voters full confidence. We owe that to Georgia voters, especially after this last election.

I’m also relieved to see $8.4 million proposed for mental health services for our high schools, but we must do more for healthcare overall. Medicaid expansion would provide healthcare to 500,000 more Georgians, primarily funded with Federal dollars that Georgia taxpayers have already sent to Washington.

Finally, school safety is a major concern for everyone. The Governor recognizes this and proposed $30,000 in grant money for each Georgia school to use for school security updates. But our kids and their teachers won’t truly be safe until we address gun reform wholistically, which so many of you told me is a top priority. My Democratic colleagues and I plan to introduce legislation for gun reform, voter rights and Medicaid expansion this session, as well as many other bills aimed at improving the lives of Georgians.

–Sally

Yesterday the Lieutenant Governor and the majority party leaders released the list of Senate committee assignments. Today, the women of the Senate responded.

When asked about why there was so little gender diversity in the committee leadership, Lt. Gov. Duncan claims that they actually have increased the number of women chairs from 2 to 4.

It’s important to note though that there are 27 committees, so even with this doubling of women chairs, we are still only 15% of the total leadership, and three of those four committees see very few bills. These are essentially “fake” committees where they pack Democrats, women, and people of color, to dilute their influence by not letting them do any legislative work. For example, “Special Judiciary”, chaired by a woman, handled just six bills in the last two years, while “Judiciary” handled 135 during that time. Women also chair “Science and Technology” and “Interstate Cooperation”, which handled just seven and three bills each.

Thousands of Georgians voted this past election to bring more diverse and progressive candidates to the State Senate. We are disenfranchising millions of voters when we prevent their legislators from playing a role in how bills that impact their communities are heard.

And that’s something I want to change. I will be serving on the Higher Education, Ethics, and Natural Resources Committees. I promise to do what I can wherever I can to support greater diversity in my committee work, and to look for opportunities to allow others to leverage my roles to stop suppression of progressive voices.

–Sally

Did you hear what happened in the Georgia Senate today?

One of the first things the new State Senate does is vote on the rules of procedure we must follow. Sometimes there are changes or additions. But whatever we change becomes a critical part of how we do the business of the people.

This year, Republican leadership suggested amendments to our rules and procedures, but didn’t give the minority party enough time to actually read them.

As our friends and family watched from the floor and the galleries, a historic day turned contentious.

The Republican majority leader wanted these rules changes to be “engrossed” – that is, to be voted on without the opportunity for modification during debate. The President Pro-Tem of the Senate issued a 5-minute recess during which time State Senators on both sides of the aisle had to scramble to read over a dozen pages of legal text as fast as possible and find any possible problems.

As Minority Leader Steve Henson said, “This isn’t the kind of thing you read and consider in the amount of time it takes to get a Diet Coke.”

One Republican State Senator called the lack of information “unprecedented.” Legislators requested at least the night to review them and vote on them the next day.

But the vote was held. The new rules were adopted 33 to 22 – along party lines.

What was in those changes? Why was this standard procedure no longer so “standard?” Some of the new rules provided more leeway for leadership to call the Capitol police if they felt someone peaceably objecting was too much of a distraction.

Another rule forces sexual harassment and other ethics complaints against Senators to be filed within two years (there had previously been no statute of limitations on such complaints).

Another changed the way committee assignments are made, and another changed “crossover day”. Some changes were small, some were big. None of them were seen by the Democratic senators before this morning.

This is just day one.

We must be vigilant. We must stand together. We must show our leaders that we are not going to stand silent while they abuse their power.

Tomorrow, we continue the fight to live up to our state motto: “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.”

–Sally

Sally Harrell’s Senate Campaign Video Highlights Newborn Hearing Screenings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: press@sallyharrell.org

Chamblee, Ga. (Sept. 22, 2018) – September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month. In recognition, Georgia Senate District 40 Candidate and former State Rep. Sally Harrell has released two videos (https://youtu.be/bmjXyDJwunE and https://youtu.be/c0BbCEV897s) highlighting the importance of newborn hearing screenings and their effect on Georgia families.

Today, we take newborn health screenings for granted, but when Rep. Harrell took office in 1999, only 37 percent of Georgia hospitals were screening newborns for hearing. The former executive director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies knew that had to change. With backing from pediatricians, she sponsored House Bill 717 to set up standards for statewide screenings.

Speaking from the well for the first time, Rep. Harrell told her colleagues, “Former Gov. Zell Miller grabbed the nation’s attention when he announced that every newborn would receive a classical music CD to stimulate early brain development. Unfortunately, we don’t know which infants can actually hear the music.”

She explained that if hearing loss is not detected before a newborn is discharged from the hospital, diagnosis is often delayed until the child is 2½ years of age. “Because language skills are highly developed by this age,” she said, “the window of opportunity for early intervention is lost. For some children, early diagnosis is the difference between speech and no speech.”

HB 717 passed unanimously and was a great success. Georgia soon reached its goal of screening 95 percent of newborns for hearing. Since then, thousands of Georgia families have benefited.

Carianne Muse, the mother of two children who are deaf, recently reached out to thank Harrell for her efforts and told her how important her legislation had been. Her second daughter, Ella, was born in 2009 with profound hearing loss. Early diagnosis gave her parents options for early intervention. Today, thanks to early treatment, Ella speaks without missing a beat, performs well in school, and plays guitar. “My favorite sound is a bird chirping,” she said.

“(HB717) made a huge impact on my family and many others,” her mother said. “The best thing was having an early diagnosis. Getting the diagnosis, we could get on a fast path to success. We’re incredibly grateful. I don’t think we would be where we are without this legislation.”

Harrell noted the danger if parents don’t take negative test results seriously. Failure to get early treatment can result in loss of both speech and learning ability for a child. “But if you take care of this early, you can have good outcomes,” she said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure kids don’t fall through the cracks,” Harrell said, “I’m ready to go back to the Capitol and get that work done.”

For more information on Sally Harrell’s campaign for Georgia State Senate District 40, visit SallyHarrell.org.

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I’m pleased to share with you that Eric Holder, former attorney general of the United States and chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, has endorsed my candidacy for Georgia State Senate District 40. Here’s what he said:

“I’m proud to support Sally Harrell for Georgia Senate District 40. She will be a champion for fair maps and will help ensure the citizens of Georgia are able to vote in fair elections for the next decade. If we are going to fix the Republican gerrymandering that has plagued our democracy, we need to ensure Democrats have a seat at the table when new maps are drawn in 2021. Sally will work on behalf of all Georgians to make sure their voice and their vote counts.”

–Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee
https://democraticredistricting.com/state/georgia/

If elected, I will work to undo years of voter suppression practices installed by Republicans like Fran Millar, not just related to gerrymandering: I will support voting on Sundays, extending voting hours, and make sure we provide enough resources to secure our voting systems.

These efforts are needed now, more than ever, as we have experts telling us our democracy in Georgia is at serious risk.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this month against Georgia suggests that there are multiple issues with the electoral process in our state, from 16-year-old machines breaking down, to no paper trail, to people being directed to the wrong polling places, to potential voter fraud.

And who is in charge of making sure these issues are addressed — Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Governor. Kemp and his staff insist there is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, he put off changing the voting systems until 2020, well after the election he hopes to win.

These assaults on our democracy have to end. As we have seen, the Republican Party doesn’t care if Russia is hacking our state and national electoral systems. They don’t care if voters of color are denied their rights to vote. They aren’t concerned whether they actually represent you where you live – they only want to win and to stay in power.

It’s time we took back our democracy.

Georgia State Senate District 40 can be a force for fair elections in our state. We need your support. We need your investment in change, and it starts in the Georgia Senate. Give $100 and help me get to the table when redistricting begins.

Sally

There are only 99 days until the General Election. There is much to do and many voters to reach. We’re committed to listening to all of the citizens in GA State Senate District 40, but this effort needs people power and financial contributions.

We have 200 volunteers already working on our campaign — all of these people have given their time and talent in specific ways to help out. And we’ve met over half of our goal of having 500 donors each contribute $100.

On this day, marking 99 days from the election, how will you contribute?

Will you give $99? Donate what you can – every bit helps us reach more voters!

Or can you sign up on our volunteer page to give some of your time at a meet and greet, helping call voters, or participating at a postcard party?

Winning this district is within reach. We can lessen the power of Georgia’s far right – one district at a time.

Will you join us? Are you ready to find strength in numbers and a shared purpose?

Sally

For the first time since Senate 40 was drawn, Democrat primary ballots outnumbered Republican ballots, and it wasn’t even close! The spread was 18 points — 59% to 41%

Looking at these primary results, it’s clear that voters are increasingly dissatisfied with Republican leadership, and they are ready to do something about it.

In the May primary, Democratic statewide turnout doubled from the last midterm. But here in Senate 40, we more than tripled the Democratic turnout.

We have shown that our plan and approach works, and we can deliver the votes. We have also shown without a doubt that this district should have a Democrat Senator and that it can be won — if we can get our message out to enough voters.

The June 30th Campaign Finance deadline is around the corner and sets the tone for November’s general election. We need 500 people to give an average of $100 each so we get our message to 50,000 voters. Or give less and check the “recurring donation” box. We need everyone to be part of the solution!

Take action today to ensure that we change the players at the Gold Dome. It’s the only way we can change the policies.

Please click “Donate” at https://sallyharrell.org and make your $100 contribution today.

Sally


Our hard work has paid off. Results came in slowly last night, but by the early morning hours it became clear we had won — with 67% of the vote! And Democrat turnout shattered all expectations, pulling far ahead of Republicans in the district.

And we did it with a team of over 100 volunteers. Data analysts, communication specialists, fundraisers, canvassers, phone bankers, postcard writers, meet & greet hosts, and social media specialists, to name a few. And we had fun doing it!

Winning the primary is just the beginning. Now we will regroup and set our strategy to win in the most flippable State Senate district in Georgia.

Thank you to everyone who helped, including all who have donated money and/or time.

Sally

I’m Ready!

Monday, my campaign reached a milestone. I officially qualified to run for State Senate 40, Georgia’s most flippable Senate district! The primary will be May 22nd; the general, November 6th.

I’m ready for a very busy 2018!

I’ve missed being a part of public service in the legislature, and I’ve been preparing for this moment for a very long time. I’ve studied public policy, worked as a nonprofit executive, served three terms in the Georgia House, and lived and raised children in my local community.  For the past year, I’ve been building the grassroots infrastructure needed to launch a campaign to reinstate effective, compassionate, and inclusive governance in our state.

It felt a bit like a homecoming for me to return to the Georgia Capitol to once again run for office, but I also enjoyed seeing the process through the eyes of one of my campaign volunteers. Here’s what she had to say:

“I know that politics is a process of relationships, and I’ve been walking behind Sally for two to three hours. There are people on both sides of the aisle who are walking up to her with great affection and explaining how much they would like to see her back. She can step in and won’t need one minute of training. She’s ready. –Karen Langford, retired teacher

Yes, Karen, I’m ready!

Sally

Dear Supporters,

They say, “it takes a village.” The adage certainly applies to political campaigns!

This week we filed our formal January 31 campaign finance disclosure. Our report says that, together, we have raised more than $115,000 to challenge incumbent Fran Millar in State Senate 40, Georgia’s most flippable senate district. To say this is a big milestone is an understatement! It shows both broad and deep support for our mission and our approach.

Successful campaigns never really stop until the last vote is cast on election day, but I’d like to pause a moment to say thank you to all of you who are working so hard with us.

It’s overwhelming to flip through my ten page document of individual donors — hundreds and hundreds of people — seeing the names of everyone who has given to this campaign. But this list of donors doesn’t even come close to representing what has been given in time and talent to this effort. This IS what democracy looks like!

Campaigns are expensive. And while I wish we could use that $115,000 to buy a homeless family a little house, I realize we are investing in something much bigger. We are working to create a government that reflects our values of inclusiveness, fairness, and equality. And that is worth the money!

So thank you, everyone, who has given time, talent, and money. We have an incredibly robust start and we’ll continue to grow as 2018 unfolds. I look forward to doing that with you.

Sally