Policy Work

SPARK’S 2020 Legislative Priorities
[CLICK HERE FOR THE PDF VERSION OF THIS DOCUMENT]

SPARK is committed to the promotion of legislation that advances a just and equitable society for Trans and Non-binary folx in Georgia.

Our focus will be rooted in how we can SHIFT THE NARRATIVE:

Shifting the narrative to center the experiences Trans and GNC folx in policy
Shifting the narrative of what it means to be civically engaged
Shifting the narrative to uplift Trans folx survival and happiness instead of trauma

SPARK is proud of the ways in which our community and partners mobilized against HB481, the abortion ban, during the 2019 legislative session. This year we commit to shift our energy away from prioritizing a response to policies rooted in violence in order to support those that enrich our community. We are still dedicated to the tracking of and dissemination of information related to regressive bills, but we will not permit white supremacy to dictate the work we do and the ways in which we move.

SPARK utilizes the Reproductive Justice framework which applies an intersectional analysis to social issues, it demands recognition of the full context of a person’s life and the unique social conditions we each navigate and live within. SPARK defines Reproductive Justice as a social justice movement rooted in the belief that individuals and communities should have the resources and power to make sustainable and liberatory decisions about their bodies, genders, sexualities, and lives.

Obstacles to an individual’s self-determination, including, but not limited to, gender and racial discrimination affects their reproductive freedom.Therefore, dignity for incarcerated folx, HIV decriminalization, housing equity, and resources for immigrants are reproductive justice issues and will be the focus of SPARK’s 2020 legislative priorities. We are cognizant that these injustices are tied to larger systems such as capitalism and settler colonialism. That’s why our training, conversations, and materials disseminated during session will include information on how specific policies are tied to larger systems

 

2020 Legislative Priorities

As of Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Since it is the second year of a two-year session in Georgia, lawmakers have the ability to revive legislation that failed to pass during the 2019 session by the time they adjourn in 2020. Legislation could also be revived this year if lawmakers find opportunities to add their bills onto legislation that has already passed, which is permitted if they are in the same code section of state statutes.

Bills marked * were introduced during the 2019 legislative session.

SPARK supports the following:

H.B. 719 – HIV Decriminalization
This legislation provides for the modernization of HIV related laws to align with science to ensure that laws and policies support current understanding of best public health practices for preventing and treating HIV, scientific evidence about routes of transmission, and the public health goals of promoting HIV prevention and treatment.
Status – Introduced on January 13, 2020.

H.B 745 – Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act
Would require evidence based implicit bias training for perinatal facilities as well as the compilation and tracking of data on severe maternal morbidity and pregnancy related deaths.
Status- House Second Readers January 16, 2020; House Health and Human Services Committee

S.B. 324 – Maternal Health
Would extend Medicaid coverage to twelve months for pregnant folx.
Status – Introduced January 29, 2020

S.B. 286 –  Combating Hair Discrimination
Addresses what is considered “professional” at work, school or when seeking housing and bans institutions from discriminating based on how hair is styled.
Status – Introduced January 27, 2020

*H.B. 19 – State Civil Rights Act
The act would create nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and in public spaces mirroring the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, familial status or national origin.
Status: The act was introduced during the 2019 legislative session and stalled in the House Judiciary committee without a hearing, but may be revived during the 2020 session.

*H.B. 133 – Quality Basic Education Act
This legislation requires any course of study in Sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention to be medically accurate.
Status – Introduced in 2019, but may be revived during the 2020 session.

*H.B. 158 – Medicaid/ADAP formulary sync
Introduced during the 2019 legislative session, this bill would require Medicaid to follow the Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) formulary for HIV medicines. This legislation would remove delays in accessing HIV medication for folx living with HIV due to differences in the formularies.
Status: This bill passed the House and ultimately stalled in the Senate. However, the Department of Community Health, which oversees the state Medicaid program, has pledged to accomplish the same goal through creating rules and regulations.

*H.B. 475 –”Dignity Behind Bars”
This legislation is referred to as “Dignity Behind Bars” and would allow more access to menstrual care products for all incarcerated persons as well as more assistance with pumping for parents who have just given birth in order to get their breast milk to caregivers.
Status: This bill was introduced during the 2019 legislative session and was not given a hearing.

*H.B. 580 – Conversion Therapy Ban
This bill would ban conversion therapy in the state of Georgia
Status: This bill was introduced during the 2019 legislative session, but may be revived during the 2020 session.

*H.B. 634 – Wage Transparency & Economic Justice
This bill would make it mandatory for employers to be transparent with all employees about salary information.
Status: This bill was introduced during the 2019 legislative session, but may be revived during the 2020 session.

*H.B. 636 – Police Accountability and Criminal Justice Reform
This bill would make reporting the use of force by officers mandatory for all police departments.
Status: This bill was introduced during the 2019 legislative session, but may be revived during the 2020 session.

 

SPARK Opposes the Following:

H.B. 747 – Opposing Trans athletes in collegiate sports
Would prohibit public universities in the state from hosting athletic competitions in which “a person who is not biological male is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for males or a person who is not biological female is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for females.”
Status – Pre-filed in the House on December 19, 2019

H.B. 1060 – Criminalizing gender affirming care for minors
Summary – This legislation would make it a felony for medical professionals to assist minors with gender transition. Under current law, parental consent is required for minors to obtain gender affirming surgery or medication. The legislation would effectively criminalize private medical decisions made between families in consultation with medical and mental health professionals. Young folx must be given the autonomy to make decisions regarding gender identity, including gender affirming care.

Similar  legislation has been proposed in at least fourteen other states since the start of the 2020 legislative session. This wave of anti-Trans legislation comes after a national backlash derailed most state efforts to enact “bathroom bills” that would require folks to use sex-segregated facilities that correspond to their sex assigned at birth.

Bills restricting Trans minors’ access to gender reassignment treatments, including surgery and hormone therapy range from making the practice illegal for physicians to administer the treatment, while others would classify the act as child abuse. Many of the bills proposed utilize nearly identical language, which is proof of a national effort to restrict access to hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery for minors.

Status – The bill was introduced on February 27, 2020.

S.B. 368 – Permitting adoption agencies to deny prospective parents on religious grounds
Summary-  The bill would allow agencies to refuse to place children with same sex couples or those whose religious beliefs do not align with the organizations’  mission. The bill would permit agencies to refuse to work with couples that violate “certain religious or moral convictions.”
Status – The bill was introduced on February 5, 2020.

*S.B. 221 – “Religious Liberty” legislation
Summary – Allows for businesses to refuse services to Queer and Trans customers and gives tax-payer funded agencies a license to discriminate. This year, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has said he will sign a RFRA bill if passed if it is a copy of the federal legislation.
Status Stalled in Senate Judiciary committee without a hearing, however, the unresolved bill could resume progress during the 2020 session.

 

2020-2021 Budget

According to the Georgia Constitution, passing the state budget is the only thing lawmakers are mandated to do annually. Lawmakers will spend a significant portion of the 2020 session reviewing and deciding on Governor Kemp’s proposal to cut 10% in spending over the next two-years. They will also decide whether to cut the state’s income tax rate for the second time in three years – from 5.75% to 5.5%, which would mean further spending cute for state agencies.


Atlanta, GA, Tuesday, May 8, 2019

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc. responds to the signing of HB481 in Atlanta, Georgia
[Click here for PDF version of this statement]

In considering GA’s extremely inferior and detrimental health crisis, especially amongst Black women and Queer, Trans and nonbinary folks, SPARK is dedicated to pursuing  proactive ways of advancing our healthcare systems, practices and outcomes. Unfortunately, our legislators have decided to play politics with Georgians and we are now here to discuss how the government has inserted itself in our personal and private life decisions by enforcing an abortion ban. To be clear, this abortion ban is a ban on health care.

It is forced pregnancy bill that denies a person their right to self-determination and bodily autonomy. This is a critical public health issue and if this ban is put in place, it will become an injurious public health crisis for this state. We can not afford this! Georgia already has the worst maternal health outcomes and maternal morbidity AND mortality rates in our nation, comparable to the maternal health outcomes of underdeveloped countries.

Georgians deserve policies and laws that eliminate systemic and structural barriers to adequate reproductive and comprehensive care, and provide universal and meaningful access to quality healthcare.

Put simply, when people lack access to safe abortion services, they die. Period. History, our current stories, and public health research/data proves that. Complications of unsafe abortions are among the leading causes of maternal illness and death. Lack of access –and now restriction of access — will not result in people not having abortions. This will only result in an increased amount of unsafe abortions. This is a critical reproductive justice and public health issue specifically for Black, brown, indigenous, Trans and Queer folks who already have severe limitations to access to affordable and affirming reproductive and sexual health services and healthcare coverage.

SPARK and our partners will continue to do the work of ending white supremacy, patriarchy and attacks on bodily autonomy. Please do not be discouraged, stay engaged and stay vigilant! We will continue to work with our legislative champions, as well as, community leaders to put forth a proactive Reproductive Justice agenda that aims to save lives and uplift our shared liberation.

For more information on SPARK and how to stay civically engaged contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman
Executive Director
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc
info@sparkrj.org
www.sparkrj.org


Atlanta, GA, Monday, April 1, 2019

Georgia General Assembly Passes Nation’s Most Restrictive Abortion Ban
[Click here for PDF version of this statement]

Leaders and members of reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations and community-based initiatives and projects based in Georgia Vow to Continue Working to Advance Reproductive Justice for All Georgians

We are appalled by the actions of the Georgia legislators who voted to advance one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws, effectively banning all abortion procedures after 6 weeks — before most people even know they are pregnant. These legislators have spent the last three weeks ignoring testimony from doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers, and midwives; queer, trans, and non-binary folks; parents, women, and young people; and countless others who have spoken out against this bill. They have ignored our voices, dodged us at the ropes and in the hallways of the Capitol, and failed to show up and be accountable to their constituents.

This bill is not only unconstitutional, but it is fiscally irresponsible and flies in the face of best medical practices. By passing this bill our legislators not only risk losing millions of dollars in revenue but have also committed our state to wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars — money that would be better spent decreasing our abysmal maternal and infant mortality rates, expanding access to healthcare, addressing food insecurity, and fostering wider educational opportunities — in pointless litigation that has been defeated time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.

Throughout our work at the Capitol we’ve been met with increased capitol police presence, last-minute changes to hearing times and room assignments, threats of arrest, and — on the day of the Senate floor vote — the largest police presence we have ever seen. If our legislators are so scared of facing their constituents, they should not have pushed through this bill.

We are saddened but resolved. All Georgians deserve access to quality health care, including access to abortion and other reproductive health services. We stand together working in coalition; with the legislators who worked with us against this bill; with the medical professionals, lawyers, and clergy who provided expert and compelling testimony; and with the brave Georgians who shared their own stories.

To our members, volunteers, and supporters —Thank you for your work. We see you and stand with you.

The fight is not over. Let’s take some time to center ourselves, organize, and resume our important work. HB 481 may have passed, but our partners are already moving forward with legal action against it. We look forward to advancing reproductive justice for all Georgians in the rest of this year, in 2020, and beyond.

Access Reproductive Care (ARC)-Southeast
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
Feminist Women’s Health Center
NARAL Georgia
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Georgia Chapter
Planned Parenthood Southeast
SisterLove, Inc.
SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc.
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Women Engaged


Atlanta, GA, Monday, April 1, 2019

Currently, SPARK is supporting the following:

HB 475 – This legislation is referred to as “Dignity Behind Bars” and would allow more access to menstrual care products for all incarcerated persons as well as more assistance with pumping for parents who have just given birth in order to get their breast milk to caregivers.
UPDATE: THIS BILL HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN A HEARING.

HB 345– This is anti-shackling legislation- currently incarcerated pregnant persons can be shackled during labor and this bill aims to end this practice.
UPDATE: THIS BILL HAS PASSED, WAITING ON A FINAL VOTE BEFORE IT GOES THE GOVERNOR’S DESK.

HB 188– This is the culmination of the work that SPARK has been doing throughout 2018 around Crisis Pregnancy Centers aka Fake Clinics. This legislation would end the $2 million dollar grant program that takes from our Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to give to Fake Clinics who are unregulated and give misinformation around abortion and reproductive healthcare such as claims that abortion causes breast cancer and that condoms don’t work. The money would go back to the Dept. of Health in order for them to do the great work around STI’s, HIV, and Maternal Mortality that is sorely needed at this time in Georgia. UPDATE: This bill has not been given a hearing.

SPARK is working with our partners to fight back against these anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ bills:

HB 546 – This legislation is known as a “trigger” ban and it means that if Roe vs. Wade (the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion) is overturned, then abortion would be immediately outlawed in Georgia.
UPDATE: THIS BILL HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN A HEARING

SB 221 – This legislation has been at the statehouse before, it’s an anti-LGBTQ bill masquerading as “Religious Freedom”. It would make it legal for public facing businesses to refuse service to people whom they do not agree with for Religious reasons.
UPDATE: THIS BILL DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB 481 – This legislation is known as the “heartbeat” bill and would make abortion illegal after a heartbeat can be detected which can be as early as 6 weeks; a time frame during which most people don’t know yet that they are pregnant.
UPDATE: THIS BILL HAS PASSED, WAITING ON A FINAL VOTE BEFORE IT GOES TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK.

Please use www.legis.ga.gov to follow the legislation.

Please reach out to your State Representatives to praise them and encourage them to pass our proactive legislation and tell them to stop these anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ bill.
Go to openstates.org and put in your address to find out your State Representatives.


Atlanta, GA, Friday, March 1, 2019

HB – House Bill, meaning it originated in the State House of Representatives
SB- Senate Bill, meaning it originated in the State Senate

Bills have to pass both chambers before they are sent to the Governor.

Please use www.legis.ga.gov to follow the legislation!

Currently, SPARK is supporting the following:

HB 475– This legislation is referred to as “Dignity Behind Bars” and would allow more access to menstrual care products for all incarcerated persons as well as more assistance with pumping for parents who have just given birth in order to get their breast milk to caregivers.

HB 280– This is anti-shacking legislation. Currently incarcerated pregnant persons can be shackled during labor and this bill aims to end this practice.

HB 188 – This is the culmination of the work that SPARK has been doing throughout 2018 around Crisis Pregnancy Centers aka Fake Clinics. This legislation would end the $2 million dollar grant program that takes from our Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to give to Fake Clinics who are unregulated and give misinformation around abortion and reproductive healthcare such as claims that abortion causes breast cancer and that condoms don’t work. The money would go back to the Dept. of Health in order for them to do the great work around STI’s, HIV, and Maternal Mortality that is sorely needed at this time in Georgia.

SPARK is working with our partners to fight back against the following anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ bills:

HB 546 – This legislation is known as a “trigger” ban and it means that if Roe vs. Wade (the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion) is overturned, then abortion would be immediately outlawed in Georgia.

SB 221 – This legislation has been at the statehouse before, it’s an anti-LGBTQ bill masquerading as “Religious Freedom”. It would make it legal for public facing businesses to refuse service to people whom they do not agree with for Religious reasons

SB 218/HB 481 – This legislation is known as the “heartbeat” bill and would make abortion illegal after a heartbeat can be detected which can be as early as 6 weeks; a time frame during which most people don’t know yet that they are pregnant.

Please reach out to your State Representatives to praise them and encourage them to pass our proactive legislation and tell them to stop these anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ bills.
Go to openstates.org and put in your address to find out who your State Representatives are.


Atlanta, GA, Monday, February 11, 2019

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc. is excited to announce that our work around Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs)—aka Fake clinics—is moving forward with HB 188; which will put an end to the grant program that gives 2 million dollars from our state budget to unregulated CPCs.

These clinics exist to shame people away from making the decision of obtaining an Abortion, as well as, give misleading information around Abortion, Sexual and Reproductive Health. State Representative Renitta Shannon —who is a Reproductive Justice champion—has sponsored the legislation and we look forward to working with her to move this piece of legislation forward.

A link to access HB188 is posted below.
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/HB/188

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