James Jan-Feb 2021 web - Flipbook - Page 48
parties related to interpersonal safety, basic COVID-19
protocols may consume the pre-session discussions and
even set the tone for the ensuing session. If protocol is
established, we may hear discussion of federal relief and
policy measures focusing on the state’s economy and
protecting its most vulnerable population.
Right out of the gate, election reform will put Democrats in watchdog mode as Republicans propose changes
to voting laws viewed as attempts to unduly shrink and
suppress voter participation. Policies expanding signature
verification, requiring additional ID for absentee ballots
and reducing the means to cast a vote will spark heated
debate over disenfranchisement and voter suppression.
Redistricting can be a brutal process that has no permanent friends and no permanent enemies— just fleeting
alliances. Given the decade-long implications for political
district lines and party control, Democratic leadership will
insist on an open and transparent process. Democrats will
also work vigorously to ensure fair and reasonable maps
are drawn. Without pre-clearance by the feds, the stakes
will be even higher than what the state’s shifting political
demographics already portend. The result? A protracted
and contentious redistricting fight.
The Fiscal Year 2022 budget will provide a look to the
future and a glance at the past. Given the nature of cuts
made in 2020 to minimize the impact of the pandemic,
Democrats will seek to restore budget reductions impacting Georgia’s most vulnerable population including youth
and seniors. As such, funding for education and healthcare will get much attention. Democrats will also use the
budget process to advance transportation, justice reform,
environmental and immigration policies.
The state’s reserves are strong and hopes are high
for a gradual but robust economic recovery. Thus, with
a modest measure of bipartisanship, perhaps Democrats
will be as hesitant to cut potentially useful tax incentives
for certain business sectors, as Republicans are reluctant
to slash funding for social and economic relief programs
for distressed individuals and families. If that happens,
who knows what wonderful and amazing things may be
in store in 2021.
Ceasar Mitchell is a partner at the Dentons law firm and served as president
of the Atlanta City Council from 2010 to 2018.
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