It’s prefile time! That means legislators are submitting their first batch of bills, ahead of the 2017 Legislative Session.
And the priorities so far? Not promising.
Rep. Jason Spencer already proposed (and withdrew) a bill that would have effectively banned women from wearing burqas and niqabs while on public property, including roads and parks.
Thankfully, it drew a lot of criticism very quickly, and Rep. Spencer had to withdraw the bill.
“I don’t see the need for a law that specifically targets Muslim women.” Aisha Yaqoob of Georgia Muslim Voter Project told WSB-TV. “It’s frustrating. I was hoping not to have an issue like this come up so soon.”
Women, particularly marginalized women, are going to be targeted with this and more legislation designed to chip away at their rights and freedoms. At both a state and national level a deadly new normal is being established, one where white supremacy and xenophobia feel right at home, one where reproductive rights are entirely up for debate. No one feels safe right now.
But before everyone get buried in fighting against terrible legislation designed to curtail rights and punish folks who don’t represent or uphold the status quo, it’s important to remember what this state can be.
Georgia can be a place where every person and every family has full, equitable access to the things we all need to live healthy, fulfilling lives. We no longer have to be the state of high rates of childhood hunger, staggering lack of access to health care (especially in rural areas),and wages so low families can’t afford to pay rent and bills even with full time work.
When you spend time with loved ones over the holidays, don’t just talk about the very real fears surrounding a Trump presidency, don’t just get buried in ugly state policy already emerging. Talk about the Georgia you want to live in. A Georgia with quality public education. A Georgia that is safe for LGBTQ people. A Georgia where everyone person has enough food and a safe place to live. How does your neighborhood look different in this Georgia? How does your workplace look different? How does your government look (and operate) differently?
Imagine a Georgia that does not start from a place of fear, targeting women, people of color and immigrants with atrocious laws designed to curtail their rights and freedoms.
Even as many gear up for a legislative session that is sure to be bruising, a different Georgia is still possible. Maybe this session, maybe not. But it’s still important to answer the question: What do you want that state to be? What can this state be?