The Jolt: The GOP’s ‘Big Tent’ Crossover Casualty

Dozens of DREAMers, most of them Deferred Action beneficiaries and together with members of Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA) rallied in April 2014 at the University of Georgia in Athens. They tried to convince UGA president Jere Morehead to intercede for them and act against state policies denying them enrollment in the university. (Miguel Martinez, MUNDO HISPANICO)

Dozens of DREAMers, most of them Deferred Action beneficiaries and together with members of Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA) rallied in April 2014 at the University of Georgia in Athens. They tried to convince UGA president Jere Morehead to intercede for them and act against state policies denying them enrollment in the university. (Miguel Martinez, MUNDO HISPANICO)

Georgia Republicans talk a big game about “big tent” politics. But even as House lawmakers voted unanimously to rewrite a citizen’s arrest law with deep racist roots, they balked at another measure that could help win over immigrant and Latino voters.

State Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, has been a tireless advocate for legislation that would allow young immigrants who have been granted a reprieve from deportation to pay in-state tuition at Georgia colleges and universities.

The measure, House Bill 120, had bipartisan support last year but never reached a full vote over concerns from nativist Republicans. Carpenter hoped he had the juice to muscle it through this session, a non-election year.

It wasn’t to be. The measure never landed on the House calendar on Crossover Day, a key legislative deadline, despite a new approach from Carpenter and other allies pitching it as a “workforce development matter.”

We’re told a group of about 30 Republicans vehemently opposed the measure, and that it never whipped with a majority of the caucus. That’s in part due to intense pushback from critics, including conservative pundit Phil Kent, who claimed it would offer incentives to “attract illegals.”

It wouldn’t. The measure specified that for students to be eligible for in-state tuition they must be younger than 30, have been in the United States since at least 2013, have graduated from a Georgia high school or obtained Georgia GED diplomas.

Another provision makes clear: “Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to require in-state tuition classification for individuals not lawfully present in Georgia.”

Hours before lawmakers went home, Carpenter seemed resigned to the fact that his legislation was going nowhere. At least not yet.

“The last time I checked, the Legislature stopped at day 40 and not day 28,” he said. “Any time Phil Kent wants to know the truth about the bill he can call me.”

Kent responded that it should be up to Congress to hash out the debate and claimed Carpenter was promoting a “pandering philosophy.”


As Rep. Kasey Carpenter suggested, Crossover Day is an arbitrary deadline, and measures that don’t make the cut can sometimes be resuscitated. But as it stands now, plenty was left on the cutting room floor, including:

  • The House version of a measure to allow sports gambling;
  • A Senate measure that would ban transgender girls from competing in girls’ high school sports leagues;
  • A constitutional amendment to limit Congressional terms to 12 years;
  • A push to hike pay for Georgia’s 180 House members and 56 senators. The Senate defeated a measure while the House never brought its version of the legislation to a vote.
  • A House bill to significantly rein in a governor’s emergency powers by requiring legislative approval to renew them after 30 days. Gov. Brian Kemp threatened to veto the measure if it passed.


Georgia corporations have faced intense criticism for their guarded approach to election restrictions. The Metro Atlanta Chamber stepped out on Monday, drawing a first line in the sand.

Said Dave Williams, the Chamber’s senior vice president:

“We continue to advocate for balanced legislation that makes voting more accessible and more secure. Repealing no-excuse absentee voting does little to make the process more secure, and does so at great risk to participation.”

But Cliff Albright, a cofounder of Black Voters Matter, wasn’t impressed.

“SB241 passed by ONE vote,” he said on Twitter. “Imagine if @atlchamber or ANY of its members had truly spoken against the bill BEFORE the vote! This bill could’ve been killed! But now it’s 1 step closer to passage. We don’t need empty statements; we need action!”


Under the Gold Dome (Legislative Day 29):

  • 8:00 am: House and Senate committee meetings begin;
  • 1:00 pm: After a late night Monday, the House convenes;
  • 1:00 pm: The Senate gavels in.


Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene led conservative U.S. House members in derailing Monday’s floor agenda, CNN reports.

Greene and the other members of the House Freedom Caucus called for individual votes on about a dozen bills that were on the “suspension” calendar. Suspension bills generally are noncontroversial, have bipartisan support and are voted on as a bloc. If Greene and her crew had their way, that would have meant spending 10 hours considering bills that could have been disposed of all together in 45 minutes.

Instead, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer put all 13 of the bills on ice and said he would work with Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to figure out when or how to bring them back to the floor.

CNN reported the reaction from GOP lawmakers to Greene’s power move was mixed.

According to one aide to a senior Republican official, rank-and-file GOP members are starting to grow frustrated with Greene's fruitless delay tactics.

“Her act is starting to wear thin," said the aide.

But some Republicans rushed to her defense. GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a high-profile member of the House Freedom Caucus, told CNN he had nothing to do with the effort to force the roll call votes but he had no problem with Greene exerting her rights as a member of Congress.

“I think (Greene) is just doing her committee work," said Jordan, referencing the fact that Greene was stripped of her committee assignments by House Democrats earlier this year. “That is her committee work."



Stacey Abrams is featured on the cover of April’s Marie Claire magazine, which calls Abrams, “the country’s most famous political organizer.”

Interesting tidbits include details of how Abrams connected with her right-hand woman, Lauren Groh-Wargo, after Groh-Wargo cold-emailed her, along with Abrams’ reaction to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Ultimately, Abrams doesn’t break any big news: she refused to say if she plans to run for office again.

Speaking of Abrams, her “All In: the Fight for Democracy” documentary is on the shortlist for an Oscar. Voting is underway ahead of the April 25 ceremony.

The Producers Guild of America ruled that Abrams herself is Oscar-eligible and, if the movie wins, will take home her own personal statuette, The Hollywood Reporter said.


U.S. Senate Democrats held firm against a Republican attempt to remove funding in the Coronavirus relief bill for farmers of color. Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock led the campaign in favor of including the $5 billion in debt relief for Black and brown farmers as part of the $1.9 trillion package.

The GOP amendment that would have removed the money failed in a party-line vote on Saturday. Democrats went on to approve the entire package without any Republican support.

The Washington Post’s front page calls the measure “the most significant legislation for Black farmers since the Civil Rights Act.”

But after the vote, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott wrote an editorial on his website criticizing the funding because white female farm owners are not eligible. In it, the Tifton Republican called out a group of 20 food and beverage corporations, including the Coca-Cola Company, which signed a letter in support of Warnock’s debt relief proposal. Scott mocked the Georgia-based beverage giant as “Woke Coke.”


In a sign that the state is still bullish on the convention business, Gov. Brian Kemp has given the greenlight to begin construction on the expansion of the state-owned Savannah Convention Center, the Savannah Morning News reports.

The paper also details the serious money that lawmakers have already put toward the project, including in this legislative session:

“The Georgia General Assembly initially approved $3 million in funding in 2017 to start designing the expansion and began working with Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates of Atlanta and Hansen Architects of Savannah, the team that designed the original building.

“In 2018, the assembly approved an additional $6.3 million to continue the design and engineering process. The board accepted the schematic and development designs and Clark Construction was hired by the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.

“In 2020 the state issued $70 million in bonds. The governor's proposed 2021-2022 budget includes $90 million for the project. The remaining $91 million is expected in the 2022-2023 budget. The Georgia House has approved the 2021 budget and Smith believes it will have full legislative approval soon."

- Savannah Morning News


POSTED and noted: Our colleague Vanessa McCray writes today that Fulton County Schools has reported its largest enrollment decline on record.


The system enrolled 90,376 students for the 2020-2021 school year, down 3,572 students, or roughly 3.8%, from the prior year, according to documents released in advance of today's school board meeting.

The district noted the decline was below enrollment projections, and it signaled “the largest population decline on record."

“This substantial drop in enrollment can be attributed to implications caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic," a district report stated. “Projections were developed pre-COVID which did not include assumptions for social distance and enrollment anxieties and fears associated with the pandemic."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While lawmakers at the Capitol have spent weeks debating everything from voting to Daylight Savings Time to drag racing, they’ve spent comparatively little time addressing the potential crises for schools with lower enrollment and children who have been out of their classrooms for nearly a year.

Today’s news is a reminder that the challenges for schools and the children they’re serving could last long after the pandemic ends.