Last week, a constituent thanked me for my regular updates because before he got them, he thought what happens at the Capitol seemed “secret.” What we do is open and public, but we still have to be on high alert for things that aren’t as transparent as they should be. Right now, we have to be especially vigilant on healthcare, which is the most important issue being considered this session. Two intertwined bills have been introduced that will shape healthcare delivery in Georgia for many years to come.

Our legislative process endows all legislators and the public the right to weigh in on important decisions about our state. Instead, Governor Kemp introduced SB106, which he calls “The Patients First Act.”  It would allow the Governor to pursue various Medicaid waivers without legislative approval. His bill would pay consultants $1 million to come up with new limited expansion “options” that will cover fewer people and might even cost more.

We don’t need to waste taxpayer money studying an already well-studied issue. The research shows that full-scale Medicaid expansion works to increase healthcare access, decrease insurance premiums, create jobs, and put people back to work.

Democrats filed bills in the House and Senate to fully expand Medicaid that we could pass tomorrow if we only had the political will. It’s not an exaggeration to say that lives are being lost every day we don’t expand Medicaid.

Meanwhile, another healthcare issue that has been flying under the radar is the Republican effort to eliminate the Certificate of Need (CON) program. This program currently requires that hospitals and healthcare systems prove they are needed before they can build facilities in new communities. CON prevents healthcare companies from “cherry picking” the most lucrative locations and markets, and CON results in a more balanced and equitable distribution of care.

Why get rid of it? Healthcare providers want to make more money. Plain and simple.

Republicans introduced bills in both the House (HB198) and Senate (SB74) to eliminate Georgia’s CON program. They argue that introducing more competition throughout the state will drive down healthcare costs and add more providers in rural Georgia.

But healthcare isn’t the same as other markets. We can’t shop around for health services based on price and healthcare prices shouldn’t be at the mercy of market fluctuations. Without a CON program, for-profit specialty, stand-alone medical centers can flood the market.

Having a heart attack? If you can pay for it, you will be able to go to a small specialty center. If you can’t afford it, you may not be able to find anywhere to go.

Need to choose a place to deliver your baby? Maybe you will have to choose between an hour or two drive if you don’t live in a community with a birthing hospital.

These issues already have cropped up in rural hospitals, which are closing at alarming rates, because they don’t have enough insured patients in their communities to cover their expenses.

The specialty medical centers also are not required to follow the same quality standards as hospitals, and they can charge more without patients knowing it, both of which can have a devastating impact on patients.

When was the last time you looked at your medical bill and could understand that the cost was “about right”? We don’t get to negotiate our medical bills now. A unregulated approach will only serve to encourage profit-driven providers to make their costs even less transparent. And that also means that they can price underinsured or uninsured populations out of their services without a second thought. No company competes for the uninsured.

What the new Health and Human Services Committee Chair Dr. Ben Watson ( R ) and other conservative lawmakers also won’t say is that some of them stand to benefit financially by allowing more specialty outpatient services to open.

These are intertwined issues — limiting Medicaid expansion and the elimination of CON regulations — and they will impact private-pay patients too.

Expanding Medicaid to some Georgians, but on a limited basis, will still leave plenty of unpaid medical bills that will ultimately translate to higher healthcare prices for all of us.

In addition, it would be irresponsible to eliminate the CON program without a system of universal healthcare in place.

What can you do? Be loud. Spread the word to inform others. Call and email the Lt. Governor (404) 656-5030 and your own representatives. We all need to hear from you so we can demonstrate that our constituents believe healthcare is a human right. Tell us your stories and struggles accessing care. Tell your lawmakers that you believe every Georgian deserves access to healthcare.

I’m fighting for you down at the Capitol. But as Georgia citizens, you and your voice play the most powerful role in our democracy. We all have to fight together. Our lives and our futures are at stake.

This week, I filed my legislation, SB50, repealing the “Campus Carry” law that allows licensed gun owners to bring guns onto Georgia’s public college campuses. “Campus Carry” was a very controversial bill that legislators on both sides opposed, and Governor Deal originally vetoed. Yet, despite the broad reservations against “Campus Carry,” the law went into effect in July 2017.

SB 50 to Repeal Campus Carry

Governor Deal made a strong case for his veto in 2016. He stated, “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”

Governor Deal’s veto recommended alternative legislation that would have increased the penalties for unauthorized possession of a firearms on campuses. In addition, he had particular concerns about vulnerable populations on campuses such as Dual Enrollment high school students and daycare centers. To appease these concerns the second time around, the legislature came up with twisted legal verbiage stating where guns can be carried and where they can’t. Sadly, Governor Deal ended up signing the amended law despite the arguments he had made against it.

Campus Carry was never about making our college campuses safer. Nor was the law about preventing hunters from hunting or a woman from owning a handgun to protect herself.

Campus Carry was about the gun lobby and the NRA’s strategy to reduce any kind of gun reform in light of increasing rates of mass murders using guns. The NRA loses money and power if people start to agree that military assault-style weapons are more likely to be used to commit mass murder than they are to protect a citizen from government encroachment.

Gun reform has been stymied time and again by gun lobbyists because they see this issue as all or nothing. They believe guns should be allowed everywhere (including in day care centers) or else they fear, irrationally, that guns suddenly will be allowed nowhere. I encourage you to read this article about how effective Florida’s gun lobby has been over the years, and tragically, how that success allowed 17 children and staff members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to be murdered in their classrooms.

During New Legislator Orientation at the State Capitol, we covered the protocol for an active shooter situation. A state Trooper warned us not to allow people to piggyback through security at Capitol entrances. “Even if the person wanting in is a lobbyist you know very well – you never know when a lobbyist is going to have a bad day, and you don’t want them to have a gun in the Capitol.”

That image of a stressed out lobbyist losing it with a gun in the Capitol sticks in my mind as I think about how stressful college life is, and how it’s well documented that the executive function of young adult brains is not fully developed, resulting in increased risk-taking and impulsivity.

We know, too, as Georgia Tech and other campuses continue to increase mental health support for students, that the availability of guns has been shown to increase suicides.

Finally, during my campaign numerous parents, students, and professors told me that they feel less safe at school since Campus Carry became law.

There is such a thing as middle ground. And that’s exactly what the repeal of Campus Carry is – the removal of a law that doesn’t promote freedom and only opens our campuses up to a terrible tragedy.

Let’s find a rational, reasonable solution to keeping everyone safe. Campus Carry isn’t it.

It’s time for a repeal. Stay tuned for updates on the bill’s progress.

Resistance: the refusal to accept or comply.

For the past 20 months, we have seen time and time again the Republican Party put forth an agenda and push for policies that harm people, exclude those different from themselves, and make our society less physically safe and less financially secure for the majority of people.

Where does that leave those of us who want to fight the corruption, the racism, and the injustice of these actions?

We must resist, or else we enable this oppression to continue.

In Georgia, we had many examples of how low conservatives will go to suppress votes and push their extreme agenda.

In each of these cases crowds of people rose up in resistance and stopped bad policy before it could be made law.

But there is more work to be done:

Either we resist or we enable.

We resist so we can expand Medicaid so no one has to go without healthcare. We resist so we can protect the voting rights of minorities. We resist so we can adequately fund public schools to provide a safe and quality education to every Georgia child. We resist so we can develop a world-class and clean energy public transportation system so our children can have a future.

We resist because we refuse to be enablers. All over the United States, in communities large and small, people are resisting, registering voters, and helping new leaders get elected. Do your part.

Donate, Volunteer, and Vote.


Republican state legislators have taken to the airwaves claiming they finally got around to fully funding public education. But these legislators would benefit from going back to school themselves, to study their own legislative record. Since 2003, when Sonny Perdue (R) took office, they have cut $9.2 billion from our public schools. It will take years for our schools to recover from these losses.

My children grew up in DeKalb county, starting school in 2005, and are now preparing to graduate. Parents and kids of this generation can tell you how budget cuts have impacted their day-to-day lives. Kids have been forced to ride on school buses standing in the aisles because there aren’t enough seats. Classroom trailers have proliferated behind school buildings. Track and football fields are unusable due to lack of maintenance. And during the Great Recession of 2008, teachers were required to take unpaid furlough days.

Now, in 2018, Republicans are patting themselves on the back because for once, in a year when they are all up for re-election, they didn’t gut the education budget. Fran Millar has focused his campaign on education. Take a minute to let that sink in. A Republican state senator who, as chair of Education and Higher Education Committees many years, voted for $9.2 billion in education cuts is now trying to get re-elected to fix a system he helped break.

I’m sorry, but we aren’t that easily fooled.

At the same time that $167 million in austerity cuts were restored to the 2019 budget, legislators also redirected $100 million in taxpayer dollars from public schools to private school scholarships and an additional $18 million to for-profit charter schools. There’s no denying that transferring tax funds to private and for-profit schools is intentional slaughter of our public school system.

I’m fighting to win in Georgia State Senate District 40 because I believe the American Dream starts with high quality public education from pre-K to college. While Republicans quibble over whether teachers carry guns or teach evolution, I’m going to fight for universal pre-K so that every child can attend pre-K at their neighborhood school, for increased teacher pay to attract and keep the best teachers, and to lower the cost of technical school and college so that all Georgians can get a debt-free and high quality education that prepares them for the jobs of the future.

It takes a village to raise a child, they say, and it’ll take your support for me to get back in the General Assembly fighting for safe, free, quality public schools. Help me flip Georgia State Senate District 40 so we can invest in a more prosperous future for all of our children.


Have you heard about the effort to purge more than half a million registered voters from voting lists? The reason? The voters haven’t voted in three years.

Let’s call this what it is: partisan and racist voter suppression, and a violation of every Georgia citizen’s rights.

But purging the voter rolls is only a small part of the GOP effort to limit voting. Just this year Senate Bill 363 tried to reduce poll hours, end Sunday voting, and limit Saturday voting. All designed to reduce the voice of minority voters in DeKalb and Atlanta.

These antics aren’t new. Only a couple of years ago, Fran Millar was quoted in national media saying how he didn’t want black voters to show up at the polls.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that almost every day I have to explain to my children what politics and government used to be like, and why the behavior of our politicians and would-be leaders is unacceptable.

We must resist and reject the GOP’s efforts to normalize prejudice and oppression in Georgia. We must enshrine the values of equality, integrity, justice, and economic dignity that had started to take hold in our state. We must go back to the days when we expanded Medicaid, lowered class sizes, reduced college costs, and removed a racist state flag. We were never perfect, but we certainly were better than this.

We can increase early voting hours and locations, including weekend voting. We can get rid of racially motivated voter ID laws and registration purges. We can fix our districts so all voters have an equal voice in choosing our representatives.

We can do this together. We must take back our state from extremists. We must protect our democracy.

Will you join us? Give today. Volunteer. Vote Tuesday and vote in November!


Reading this week’s heartbreaking headlines, I am so ashamed at how easy it is for some to dismiss the pain of innocent children, especially when they are strangers to our country.

It’s not the first time our public servants have sanctioned terrible sins against people of color. Many of us aren’t surprised to hear of yet another example of our government’s long history of racist policies and practices. Yet, we continue to be shocked by how our government seems to have a regressive mandate to openly flaunt bigoted and callous policies.

And, I’ll admit, I have trouble finding any common ground with leaders who twist the meanings of sacred texts to justify their immoral acts as Attorney General Sessions did.

It’s hard for me to want to live in community with those of my neighbors who believe that the internment of children is justified because their parents are “criminals.”

And as we watch what is happening in Texas, I realize with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that we are not far from similar policies here in Georgia. How many immigrant families here already are terrified of an ICE raid destroying the productive and peaceful lives they are trying to build? If it took weeks for Trump to agree to stop ripping families apart, what new torture could families here face?

I believe in loving my enemy as myself, and teaching forgiveness instead of hate.

And no matter who you are or whether you can vote, I believe that everyone has basic human rights that our government should never be empowered to take away from you.

Some of our nation’s greatest moral breakthroughs have happened when we choose love. Love has combined our strengths and lessened our weaknesses. Love has given us hope for a better future.

Perhaps our leaders could “make America great” if they truly learned to love our neighbors as ourselves.


Are you ready to tell the Gold Dome that big change is coming?

I’m ready too.  I’ll tell you why.

Our community is diverse and thrives on embracing diversity. And yet, our legislators put forward legislation that threatens immigrants and makes it harder for minorities to vote.

Our community values the freedom to live our lives without discrimination. And yet, our State Senate voted to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ families who foster and adopt children in Georgia.

We cherish our children. And yet, our legislators have made it clear that they consider the murder of our children an acceptable sacrifice for their freedom to carry AR-15s — weapons of war — into schools, bars, churches, and businesses.

How has our leadership become so out-of-touch with humanity? Why do they ignore our voices when we say we want change?

Extreme partisan gerrymandering has pushed our democracy into dysfunction.

We need to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and into the hands of a non-partisan commission. We need to restore integrity to our elections by demanding a paper trail of our votes and making voting easier, not harder, for working people.

We must address our country’s wealth inequality by ensuring affordable housing and childcare, jobs that pay a living wage, and debt-free higher education that can be paid for with a minimum wage job.

Every single K – 12 school needs the resources to provide a safe, quality education no matter the neighborhood it serves.

We need to expand Medicaid to include more families, and create a public option buy-in that allows anyone to purchase government healthcare when the cost of their private policy jeopardizes their financial well-being.

We need to end the War on Drugs, decriminalize marijuana, and stop the gravy train for for-profit prisons by rolling back mass incarceration.

We need leaders who will call out systemic racism, and work to address inequalities.

We need leaders who will say that Black Lives Matter!

Mine is not the only candidacy seeking to repair the extraordinary damage that Sen. Fran Millar and other pro-Trump politicians are causing. Candidates all over the state have stepped up to win this fight.

Why? Because we refuse to let our leaders drag our laws back in time to the pre-civil rights era. We don’t all come from the same backgrounds or share the same challenges. We don’t all start life on the same playing field. If elected to represent you in the Georgia Senate, I promise you this:

I will work for you. I will ask hard questions to keep the promise of equality and progress that our people value. I will demand that your representatives treat you with respect, and address your fears.

Above all else, I will stand up and fight systemic oppression – including the lack of action in the face of the massacre of our schoolchildren. I will not stand for miscarriages of justice, where poor citizens are treated like the enemy. I will fight the denial of basic rights, like those of our citizens to vote. I will not accept the inattention and lack of compassion for the needs of women, children, and the elderly.

Together, we can achieve healthcare for all. We can raise the minimum wage. We can end the War on Drugs. We can provide affordable education. We can prevent school shootings.

We say “no more” to the far-right and to Fran Millar. We say it’s time for a change. We are ready to help Fran Millar box up his office at the Capitol.

We have some work ahead of us. If you can, make a donation and/or sign up to volunteer today to help us hit the ground running.


A campaign supporter, Cherish, who lives in a north Atlanta suburb, shared this story with me as we discussed access to affordable healthcare on Facebook. Sadly, it isn’t the first and it won’t be the last example of how many in our community are frustrated, scared, and feel a little trapped by the failure of Piedmont and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia to negotiate their contracts:

“My family is now impacted by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont feud which made everyone out-of-network as of April 1st. I went to Piedmont Hospital today for my mammogram and walked out before having it. I had abnormalities last year and followed up at the Doris Shaheen Center for a few months with advanced testing to eventually get an all clear to resume normal annual visits.

Now, Piedmont is out-of-network, which not only means the Shaheen Breast Center is out-of-network, but also my triplet’s pediatrician, my gynecologist, and also our internist. The boys have to get tested for cancer every three months and are thankfully, tested at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, but these orders are submitted through their Piedmont pediatrician.

Piedmont is offering 60% discount for those abruptly impacted with out-of-network fees, but it still would have cost me hundreds of dollars in extra out-of-pocket. They advised that I ask BCBS to submit Continuation of Care letters for every Piedmont doctor our family visits to allow in-network charges without switching doctors.

I ran into one of our kids’ nurses in the elevator at Piedmont, and she advised to wait a month before switching all our doctors. She said this happens every time the contracts are up and assured me it will get resolved. I can’t believe we could face having to either pay out-network rates (UNACCEPTABLE) or change ALL OF OUR DOCTORS in our family. I am so livid and disgusted at BCBS. This greed may very well cost lives, and BCBS of GA would be to blame!”

With everything Cherish has to deal with between her own health issues and those of her children, you’d think it’s enough to just manage her and her family’s doctors’ visits and budget for her bills. But we all know that isn’t the reality.

Surprise medical emergencies can cost thousands of dollars, and the uncertainty of getting insurance to cover preexisting conditions remains a big concern for many Georgians.

And this contract between BCBS and Piedmont? Without it, half a million Georgians (including many in our district) face my friend’s situation – having to pay much more to see their regular doctors, or find new care providers as soon as possible.

This isn’t right.

It shouldn’t be up to lawyers and accountants whether you can go to the doctors you have trusted for years. And no one should have to choose between paying for an emergency room visit and paying their mortgage.

Our legislators haven’t done much to try to fix this situation. But, they sure have talked a lot about “personal responsibility.”

I’d argue that by allowing lawyers and accountants to interfere with access to medical care, we are taking away a person’s ability to be responsible for their own health.

Let’s stop blaming people who are sick and in need of our compassion and support. And let’s start helping people get the care they need so they can be healthier and contribute more fully to their families and their communities.

I made healthcare one of my top policy priorities because I believe it IS our government’s responsibility to provide access to affordable, quality healthcare. A strong government can support a growing economy without trampling basic human needs.

As your representative in the Georgia Senate, I will vote my values, and I will fight for a single payer system to make sure everyone in Georgia is covered. No one should have to fight their insurance companies while fighting for their health.


There’s something awesome about the collective feeling of everyone going to vote on the same day. We see old friends, we visit, and we feel a sense of community.

The problem with this experience is that it leaves people out. I recognize that not everyone has the freedom to be able to vote within that single day. People work long hours. Children get sick and must be cared for. Traffic gets in the way of voting before or after work, and workplaces are too far from voting precincts to vote during lunch.

Early voting makes voting accessible for more people. Since voting is fundamental to democracy, why would anyone be against this?

You might be against it if you know you’re becoming outnumbered by the majority and want to retain your power.

Enter Georgia Republicans. There’s a Senate bill making its way through the legislature that seeks to remove Sunday voting in the city of Atlanta and shorten the number of hours polls are open. This disproportionately suppresses minority vote, which typically favors Democrats.

This issue hits home in Senate District 40, as our current senator, Fran Millar, has a long history of speaking out against making voting more accessible. In 2014, when DeKalb county added Sunday voting hours in a predominately African American neighborhood, Sen. Millar stated, “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”

Senator Millar was among the majority of Republican senators who supported this year’s bill when it came up for a vote on the Senate floor.

So, let’s call it like it is. The Republicans don’t want your vote — they don’t want you to vote at all unless you look like them, think like them, or donate money to them.

We can fight this way of thinking and win back our power and voice. There’s an election coming up on May 22. Go vote and encourage others to vote. We live in a democracy, but only so long as we protect our right to vote by exercising that right.


Have you heard the news today? Fran Millar and other GOP legislators are considering voting down a tax break for Delta because Delta doesn’t want to offer discounted fares to NRA members. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, chief among the conservatives in national news today, made his position very clear: if you “attack conservatives,” you should expect them to “fight back.”

When I read that, I thought of the children in Parkland, Florida who were returning to school this week. I got angry. Georgia’s GOP isn’t fighting to protect our children from gun violence. Republican legislators here are fighting to protect the NRA.

And at what cost?

Here, in Georgia, you can carry a gun almost anywhere – onto a college campus, at a public concert, at a nightclub, into a school. We know from Virginia Tech, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Sandy Hook, that more guns in more places result in more loss of life.

Last week, I rallied with Moms Demand Action at the Gold Dome (video). Few Republican legislators would listen to our calls for common sense gun laws.

Instead, these same representatives are now seeking to punish one of our state’s largest corporations for terminating a relationship with the NRA.

What does that mean for other international companies, including Amazon, who are considering establishing headquarters offices here or bringing more jobs to our state? Will the Gold Dome next require CEOs to get NRA approval before companies can relocate to Georgia?

Our state government should be in the business of creating infrastructure, boosting our economy, and helping Georgians build more secure futures – not fighting for the rights to carry weapons of war. We shouldn’t be worrying about whether our children will return home from school alive each day.

Our representatives are so focused on the interests of one organization, the NRA, that they have forgotten their sworn duty to support the interests and priorities of their own constituents. It’s time for new leadership.