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ACTION ALERTS: NO to HB 286, HB 289, & HB 534

In the coming days, the Senate will consider 3 particularly harmful pieces of legislation: HB 286 and HB 289, which both limit local government’s authority to defund the police and reallocate funding to more effective services, and HB 534, which unnecessarily increases penalties for people who participate in street racing events.

We are asking our network to call their senators and Senate leadership NOW and ask them to oppose HB 286HB 289, and HB 534. Senate leadership contact info is below. You can find your senator’s name here and their contact information here. We have heard that lawmakers’ email inboxes are inundated right now, so we encourage you to make phone calls if you are able to do so, to ensure your message gets through.

Lieutenant GovernorGeoff Duncan(404) 656-5030
Majority LeaderMike Dugan(404) 656-7872[email protected]
Rule Committee ChairJeff Mullis(404) 656-0057[email protected]

House Bill 286 & House Bill 289:

HB 286 and HB 289 both block the movement to defund the police and reallocate resources to more effective community services.

  • HB 286 prohibits city and county governments from reducing police budgets by more than 5% in a single year or during a rolling 10-year period, except in limited circumstances.
  • HB 289 punishes local governments for reducing police budgets by more than 30% in a single year, by withholding state funds and state-administered federal funds from those local governments.

In addition to limiting local authority to make budgeting decisions, HB 289 unnecessarily targets protestors, trampling on the First Amendment: 

  • Creates new felony offenses for certain conduct during an assembly, even though the conduct is already outlawed
  • Pressures local governments to violate the First Amendment rights of protestors by imposing civil liability for local governments in cases where a person has been injured during an assembly
  • Authorizes violence against protestors by creating an affirmative defense for a person who harms another person while fleeing an assembly

What to Say: 

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m calling to ask [SENATOR’S NAME] to vote NO on HB 286 AND HB 289. [If you live in this person’s district, say that you are a constituent.] Both HB 286 & HB 289 are unfunded and unprecedented mandates that interfere with local budgeting authority.  These bills do not prioritize public safety, despite what lawmakers have said.  If lawmakers wanted local government to spend money in a way that makes communities safer, these bills would promote increased funding for mental health services, affordable housing, high quality education, and greater economic opportunities. Instead, HB 286 and HB 289 limit cities and counties from being able to reallocate funding to these vital services which are proven to make communities safer.  Additionally, HB 289’s anti-free speech provisions antagonize the Black Lives Matter movement and the thousands of Georgia protesters who demonstrated for racial justice throughout the summer and fall last year. For these reasons, please vote NO on HB 286 and HB 289. Thank you.”

House Bill 534:

As a reminder, HB 534 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.

What to Say:

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m calling to ask [SENATOR’S NAME] to vote NO on HB 534, which increases penalties for street racing. [If you live in this person’s district, say that you are a constituent.] We of course all want solutions that will make our communities safer, but this legislation does not provide any. In fact, there’s been no evidence offered to suggest that increasing penalties will have any deterrent effect on street racing and laying drags. Instead, this response will only lead to more young Black and Brown people in jail. Lawmakers should explore less harmful and more effective solutions to deter this activity as well as engage the car enthusiast community to find new and safe spaces for car-related activity. We need real solutions, not more punishment. Thank you.”