On the ground: Day 2 of the Georgia special legislative session 

House Minority Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, testified at the House redistricting committee meeting on Nov. 30, 2023. (Credit: Jill Jordan Sieder)

House Minority Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, testified at the House redistricting committee meeting on Nov. 30, 2023. (Credit: Jill Jordan Sieder)

It's crunch time for state lawmakers tasked with meeting a Dec. 8 deadline for creating new electoral maps for the Georgia General Assembly and U.S. Congress, also known as redistricting. 

Our senior investigative reporters, Tammy Joyner and Jill Jordan Sieder, are at the state Capitol for the special legislative session. Joyner is following the Senate proceedings, while Sieder is following the House proceedings. They will be your eyes and ears during the eight-day session, which means you will find a variety of stories and live updates on what's happening inside and even outside of the Capitol. 

We’d love to hear from you — our readers. If there’s something you would like us to report on during the special session or just have a question about what’s going on, shoot us an email at [email protected].

Here are some of the highlights of Thursday’s session.

Quote(s) of the day:

“Don’t take life for granted.”

Sen. Rick Williams receives a standing ovation from his peers after conveying his ordeal getting medical help in his rural community following a  Nov. 3 heart attack.

“Do the right thing here, people, it’s not that hard.”

            — Community organizer Michelle Sanchez

Biggest thing that happened today: 

After some heated exchange, the Senate Reapportionment & Redistricting Committee approved its proposed map, rejecting the Democrats’ plan. The 7-5 vote fell along racial and party lines, with the committee’s five Black members voting in favor of the Democratic-drawn map. Sen. Gloria Butler, who presented the Democratic plan to the committee, expressed concern about the way the process was handled regarding the two maps.  The map now goes to the Senate floor.

“Yesterday [when the Republican plan was presented], the committee didn’t ask questions. Today, the committee members got to ask questions. All of the public did not get an opportunity to express themselves but they did yesterday. So in my view, that’s two processes. We need to be consistent,” said Butler.

Interesting observation inside the Capitol:

Gift for senators from Lt. Gov. Burt Jones. (Credit: Tammy Joyner)

Senators arrived for the afternoon session to find two books wrapped in a bow at their chamber desk. One book was photos of the lawmakers during the 2023 session. The other book was “Unlimited” by Benny Tate. The books are an early holiday gift from Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, president of the Senate. Tate is senior pastor of Rock Springs Church in Milner, where Jones attends services.

Happening while lawmakers are in session:

Unlike Wednesday’s opening session when community activists, school children and other visitors swelled the hallways of the Capitol, Thursday’s special legislative session was rather low-key.

What’s for lunch?

Senators had a catered lunch of chicken and steak fajitas from On the Border.

— Tammy Joyner

[email protected]


Quote(s) of the day:

“The truth of the matter is that we have delivered a map that we’re sure complies with the judge’s order. Y’all have not. There is a remedy. If we were to look at the area south and west of Atlanta, there’s one representative that you’re trying to save, but that one representative that you save is going to cost us all in the end. If you accept our map, then one representative may be eliminated. That’s the will of the voters. If you don’t accept our map and the judge has to do a special master, then every last one of us, 180 of us, are in jeopardy. Y’all have some big decisions to make.”

House Minority Leader James Beverly 

Biggest thing that happened today: 

In the House Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee meeting, Republican members rejected an alternate House district plan proposed by Democrats and the committee voted 9 – 5 along partisan lines to approve the Republican chair’s plan already submitted.

House Minority Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, and civil rights attorney Bryan Sells presented the Democrats’ proposed plan. Sells said it cures a problem in the Republicans’ plan, which “unravels or dismantles two protected coalition districts” with majority minority voters, which he said would likely cause a federal judge to find the plan in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, who has served in the Legislature for 25 years, told the redistricting committee she was shocked to learn her House District 82 in Dekalb County has been redrawn in a way that tears apart a growing coalition district of diverse minority communities. She called the changes a “glaring violation” of voting rights law that Judge Jones is likely to take issue with, and offered to help GOP lawmakers to remedy the plan.

Interesting observation inside the Capitol:

During their morning session House members watched a 120-second time-lapse video of the renovation work performed inside the Capitol over the summer and fall, which included painting virtually all the walls, columns and balconies in the building. After watching the blur of scaffolding, ladders and workers transform several spaces, members applauded all of the workers responsible for the transformation. 

https://twitter.com/GaHouseHub/status/1730347934338666868

Happening while lawmakers are in session:

There was nothing of note happening outside the Capitol today.

What’s for lunch?

Members of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee enjoyed Jersey Mike subs today, including roast beef, turkey, Italian and club sandwiches.

— Jill Jordan Sieder

[email protected]

Our stories explaining what’s behind the special legislative session: 

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