This past week the House took up the mantle of Voting Machines, HB 316. This bill is a byproduct of the SAFE Commission and many articles, discussions and meetings. The bill provides for the state to purchase a new voting machine with specifications for said machines, edits exact match, increases ratio of voters to machines, provides for a potential audit trail, allows poll workers to help voters in certain situations, etc The bill does provide some benefits that voters can look forward to. For example HB 316 allows for more assistance from poll workers and many local election officials came throughout the hearings to show their support. While the bill does not explicitly select a specific voting machine, it does favor a system similar to what we have called the Ballot Marking Device (BMD). This allows voters on election day to key in their selection, prints the selection, and then the voter scans the printout through an optical scanner. There are differences between vendors. Some use barcodes to scan, some print on receipt paper like you receive at a store, and some read the words printed. There was great floor debate, but the vote ended along party lines with Democrats voting 72 against and Republicans voting 101 for. The Democrats preferring a hand marked paper ballot before scanning rather than BMD.
HB 31:FY 2020 Budget
We also tackled the budget for the next fiscal year. While there was great disappointment about the lack of funding for Medicaid Expansion, there were good line items in the budget. Feel free to look through this Google Doc that breaks the budget down. I have highlighted some notable changes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YXhJ-z55dLT_ZBAwFjp9F-ZeXy-y4WW_BjVV3Y77PBM/edit?usp=sharing
There is an increased focus on maternal morbidity and maternal mental health. As a member of the Health Appropriations Subcommittee, I advocated for funding for an Emory program to provide telepsychiatry services to women suffering from postpartum depression, a program to create a center of excellence at Morehouse medical School, and additional resources to continue the research on maternal morbidity. We were also able to get $500,000 for permanent supportive housing for the mentally ill in Fulton County/Atlanta area.
As Legislative Day 28: Crossover Day comes, please continue to contact me about issues.