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ACTION ALERTS: Legislative Day 39 and Day 40 (Sine Die)

The following bills are expected to receive a vote on one of the final days of the 2021 legislative session. If you have a few minutes to help us try and stop a few bad bills, please contact lawmakers and let your voice be heard. 

SB 174 – EXPANDING CASH BAIL  

SB 174 is yet another attempt to punish poor people by requiring cash bail for pretrial release. SB 174 requires judges impose cash bail for 12 additional offenses (9 misdemeanors and 3 felonies). SB 174 mandates that people without financial resources remain in jail, while those with money – charged with exact same offense – can purchase their release. If SB 174 passes, poor people will be forced to remain incarcerated while others similarly charged can go free, taxpayer dollars will be wasted, bail bond companies will see increased profits, and racial disparities in the state’s criminal legal systems will worsen.   

Who to Call: House Leadership  

Title  Name  Phone   Email Address  
Speaker  David Ralston   404.656.5020  [email protected]   
Speaker Pro-Tempore  Jan Jones  404.656.5072  [email protected]   
Majority Leader  Jon Burns  404.656.5052  [email protected]se.ga.gov   
Majority Whip  Trey Kelley  404.656.5024  [email protected]   
Majority Caucus Chair  Matt Hatchett  404.656.5025  [email protected]   
Majority Caucus Vice-Chair  Micah Gravley  404.656.5025  [email protected]    
Majority Caucus Secretary/Treasurer  Bruce Williamson  404.656.5024  [email protected]   
Majority Caucus Chief Deputy Whip  Mark Newton  404.656.0254  [email protected]  
Minority Leader  James Beverly  404.656.5058  [email protected]    
Minority Whip   David Wilkerson  404.656.5058  [email protected]  
Minority Caucus Chair  Billy Mitchell  404.656.0126  [email protected]  
Minority Caucus Vice-Chair  Erica Thomas  404.656.7859  [email protected]    
Minority Caucus Secretary  Park Cannon  404.656.7859  [email protected]  
Minority Caucus Treasurer  Mary Robichaux  404.656.0202  [email protected]  
Minority Chief Deputy Whip  Debra Bazemore  404.656.0202  [email protected]  

Please also call your own representative! Find out who your state representative is using your home address here, and find their contact information by clicking on their name here.  

What to Say:   

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] [MENTION IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT]. I’m calling with a message for [NAME OF REPRESENTATIVE or HOUSE LEADERSHIP]. I’m calling to demand that the House vote NO on Senate Bill 174, which will force burdensome costs on local governments, punish poor people, and not keep us any safer. Bail should never be about financial resources. Instead, it is about whether a person who has been accused but not convicted will pose a risk to the public if released and whether he or she will return to court. SB 174 furthers wealth-based detention by treating people who are similarly charged differently based on their access to financial resources. SB 174 allows privileged people to purchase their freedom even though studies have proven cash bail does not increase public safety. Please vote NO on this harmful and discriminatory piece of legislation. Thank you.”   

You can save time and click here to send an email to all members in House Leadership.  

Other Talking Points:   

  • SB 174 will force burdensome costs on cities and counties, which should not be forced to spend potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars jailing people unnecessarily.   
  • SB 174 criminalizes poverty because many poor people will be forced to stay in jail simply because they cannot pay for release, while others with money who are similarly charged walk free.   
  • SB 174 perpetuates profiteering because the bail bond industry will enjoy increased profits when judges are forced to impose financial conditions on additional offenses.  
  • SB 174 compromises public safety because people who can return to their jobs, families, and communities are less likely to be rearrested.  
  • SB 174 denies the presumption of innocence because bail only impacts people who have not been convicted of a crime and therefore should be treated as innocent until proven guilty.  
  • SB 174 will have racially-biased implementation because cash bail disproportionately punishes Black and Brown people – communities that disproportionately have less access to wealth.  
  • SB 174 violates the constitution because it is unconstitutional to jail people solely because they cannot afford to purchase freedom. 

HOUSE BILL 194 – LIFETIME SENTENCES FOR CERTAIN SEXUAL OFFENSES 

HB 194 prohibits judicial discretion and imposes mandatory sentences for more than a dozen offenses. Despite a 2019 Senate Study Committee recommendation to increase judicial discretion in sexual offenses cases, under HB 194, a judge is required to sentence a person convicted of a second sexual felony to life in prison or a split term that includes incarceration and lifetime probation under electronic monitoring. By mandating an identical sentencing scheme for a wide range of conduct, HB 194 eliminates judicial discretion and leaves no room for a judge to consider the unique characteristics of the person convicted, the nature and circumstances of the specific crime that was committed, and any actual benefit to the community that could result from lifelong incarceration or monitoring. 

Please call or email the Senate Leadership in the list below and ask them to vote NO on HB 194. Feel free to use the script. You can find more talking points below. 

Title Name Phone  Email Address 
Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan 404.656.5030 https://ltgov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-lt-governor   
President Pro-Tempore Butch Miller 404.656.6578 [email protected] 
Majority Leader Mike Dugan 404.656.7872 [email protected]  
Majority Whip Steve Gooch 404.656.9221 [email protected] 
Majority Caucus Chair John Kennedy 404.656.0045 [email protected] 
Majority Caucus Vice-Chair Larry Walker 404.656.0095 [email protected] 
Majority Caucus Secretary Dean Burke 404.656.0040 [email protected] 
Democratic Leader Gloria Butler 404.656.0075 [email protected] 
Democratic  Whip Harold Jones 404.656.0036 [email protected]  
Democratic Caucus Chair Elena Parent 404.656.5109 [email protected] 
Democratic Caucus First Vice Chair Lester Jackson 404.463.5261 [email protected] 
Democratic Caucus Secretary Nan Orrock 404.463.8054 [email protected]  
Democratic Caucus Vice Chair for Campaigns and Fundraising Jen Jordan 404.656.6446 [email protected] 

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME]. I’m calling with a message for [NAME OF SENATOR or SENATE LEADERSHIP]. I’m calling to demand that the Senate vote NO on House Bill 194, which prohibits judicial discretion and imposes mandatory sentences for more than a dozen offenses. Not only is HB 194 inconsistent with the recommendation of the Senate Study Committee that studied this issue in 2019, but it compromises public safety by applying a “one size fits all” approach to every case. Lawmakers should trust elected judges who are in the better position to consider the unique characteristics of the person convicted and the nature and circumstances of the specific crime that was committed to determine the appropriate sentence. Thank you.” 

Other Talking Points 

  • HB 194 is inconsistent with the recommendation of the Senate Study Committee on Protections from Dangerous Sexual Predators to give judges discretion.  
  • HB 194 will unnecessarily require extremely long prison and supervision sentences which will cost taxpayers millions of dollars and compromise public safety.  
  • HB 194 will increase the number of people under correctional control in Georgia and exacerbate our probation rate – which is already the worst in the nation.  

House Bill 534, the Governor’s overly punitive street racing legislation.

Update: HB 534 is now headed to the governor’s desk for signing. This bill is an effort to increase penalties for people who participate in street racing events, which will cause harm to Black and Brown communities by: creating new criminal offenses, declaring certain vehicles to be contraband and requiring forfeiture, and requiring the suspension of driver’s licenses for convictions of reckless stunt driving. While HB 534 may be intended to deter unsafe conduct, the punitive approach upon which it relies will have no deterrent effect and instead will result in greater rates of incarceration, an especially harmful outcome during the current pandemic.  

  • HB 534 will further criminalize drag racing which will be ineffective and similar efforts to curb drag racing have already failed in other jurisdictions around the country.  
  • HB 534 will disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities, which are already at a significant disadvantage in every stage of our criminal-legal system.  
  • HB 534 will increase jail populations, which is particularly cruel and dangerous during the global pandemic. 
  • HB 534 allows the forfeiture of vehicles which will create significant barriers for entire families who rely on one car to get to work, school, doctor’s appointments, and other necessary activities. 
  • State lawmakers should support local communities to direct resources towards creating or encouraging the use of legal and safe racing areas.