Two Georgia senators have proposed legislation to reconstitute Gwinnett County’s Board of Commissioners and Board of Education. The bills, sent to the State and Local Operations Committee yesterday, were the subject of a public hearing this afternoon.
Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis
They’re at it again.
Republican legislators are rushing through bills that directly impact Black and Brown communities – without adequate public notice or public input.
Yesterday, brand new bills to reconstitute Gwinnett County’s Board of Commissioners and Board of Education were referred to committee. Today, the Committee held a hearing on both bills and even voted to approve one of them.
During today’s hearing, one of the bill’s sponsors testified that he had been working on these proposals for five years. Yet the public is just now hearing about them, during a special session that is supposed to be focused on drawing legislative district lines.
Gwinnett County is one of the most diverse counties in the entire country, with a 30 percent Black and 13 percent Asian American Pacific Islander populations, and where 22 percent of residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin. Because legislative leadership is rushing these bills through, all of those people of color are effectively blocked from having their voices heard on legislation that would completely remake their county government.
These bills are an insult to the voters of Gwinnett County. They are completely contrary to the principle that Gwinnett County voters should be able to govern themselves.
This “Voters don’t matter” attitude is the same arrogance that we’ve seen too many times before with this Legislature. It’s why we and other groups have urged that the Open Meeting Law be amended to cover the General Assembly.
Our legislators are supposed to answer to us, the voters. This is ‘the people’s business’ they’re doing — and we shouldn’t be locked out of it. Voters deserve adequate notice of what bills our Legislature is about to pass. Voters deserve adequate notice of Committee hearings. Voters deserve the opportunity to have our voices heard on matters that affect us.
Voters don’t deserve to be kept in the dark for five years — and then shut out of legislation that directly affects our ‘government by the people.’
Voters deserve more respect than we are getting from the leadership of this Legislature.