We are halfway through the year and it has been a busy one in Georgia politics.
So far, many political issues have been highlighted, including a controversial abortion bill, new voting machines and multiple visits from presidential candidates.
GPB's Stephen Fowler sat down with Morning Edition host Leah Fleming to recap all the action as we enter the second half of 2019.
On a slow start to the legislative session:
Things started out with a little bit of trepidation. You had a new governor, Brian Kemp, and new Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan who oversees and shepherds the state Senate. There was a little bit of a feeling-out-the-power situation and questioning what the legislative priorities would be.
But then they dove into some big policy issues, such as health care, education and teacher pay raises in the budget and starting the process for selecting new voting machines. By the end of the session, residents saw some of the other higher-stakes priorities for the governor such as the abortion bill.
On Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Nikema Williams and Georgia Republican Party David Shafer disagreeing on Georgia's approach to health care:
Well, specifically, what we're talking about with healthcare here is the Patients First Act. It allows Gov. Kemp and the state to seek out exceptions, or waivers, from the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to find Georgia-centric, personalized healthcare initiatives to cover certain parts of the population that don't really have that much coverage.
In the minds of David Shafer and the Republicans, this is a win because they say that Medicaid is a broken system. They argue it's expensive, it's costly and it doesn't really do its job. But from what Sen. Nikema Williams is saying, it's an 'F' because Democrats argue that for less money, they could expand Medicaid coverage and cover more people and provide more health care. Depending on your perspectives about Medicaid and the cost and the effectiveness of it, that's where you get this grading scale. On the biggest political issue that could impact the 2020 elections in Georgia:
Last Friday, the ACLU of Georgia, Planned Parenthood and other groups filed a lawsuit challenging the big abortion bill. The personhood provision, the part of the bill that says an embryo or fetus is considered a person once a heartbeat is detected, is being challenged as violating the 14th Amendment.
You have Democrats and Republicans and outside groups targeting legislators next fall to say, based on the way they voted on this bill, "we are going to try to vote you out of office."
I think one of the biggest things you're going to see in these races is women's reproductive rights and reproductive health care being a huge driving factor in getting people to the polls next November.