The following is a Facebook post from Representative Bert Reeves, (R-Marietta) and is posted with his permission. (I’ll note that I reached out to him after reading it, he did not request it.) Reeves was the primary sponsor of HB 159, an effort to streamline Georgia’s adoption process and update Georgia’s code and procedures for the first time in 27 years. You can read background on the politics involved from Jim Galloway at the AJC here.
Reeves pulls no punches in the text below after a few introductory paragraphs on the session in General. There’s apparently more to come. In the mean time, understand that there are quite a few legislators and others under the gold dome that aren’t terribly happy that some decided to play 2018 politics early, using foster children as pawns in their game of ambition.
Post Legislative Session Recap (Take 1, with more to come…)
Facebook friends, I’ve taken a few days to cool down and let the dust settle before writing this. Many of you have called, texted, emailed, and messaged, so I wanted to put this out there for now, then completely unplug myself politically and enjoy a much needed spring break with my family. I will write again, probably sometime next week, with many more details and on some things that I believe need to be said, regarding my adoption bill and how and why it died around 1 AM on Day 40.
By all accounts, I had a great session. I passed some very important Human Trafficking legislation in our ongoing battle to end sex slavery in GA. I was privileged to work with the Attorney General of Georgia on this matter, and this change closes many gaps in our laws. I also had the chance to have my hands all over what was one of the strongest measures the General Assembly has ever passed as it relates to protecting our police and public safety officers.
Once Senate Bill 160 reached the House, it came to the sub-committee I chair, and I took the opportunity to pull together all the various police protection bills (including my HB116, which I filed in response to situation where a Marietta Police Officer was shot (and survived) at point blank range, but a Cobb Juvenile Judge inexplicably blocked this individual from being tried as an adult) and put them into one bill, SB160, carried it to passage in the House, which now heads to the Governor’s Desk. I’m very proud of this work.
But despite these successes, this session represented a tremendous amount of heartbreak and disappointment. Probably best summed up by saying – Politics is brutal. As many of you know, I’ve worked for two years on a very important bill to rewrite and modernize Georgia’s adoption laws, which are lagging behind the rest of the country in many significant ways. This bill stood to make an immediate impact on the 1000’s of Georgians who are seeking to adopt, and the 12,000+ foster children in our State who need a permanent home. I poured my heart and soul into this effort.
I will go into more detail at a later time, but unfortunately a few Senators, instead of filing their own bill to pursue an independent policy that had nothing to do with the way I was attempting to improve the adoption process in Georgia, attached some very controversial provisions to my bill, and even after urging the passage of my bill, as I authored it, by the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and also many State Senators – the language and the controversy it caused ultimately killed my bill and all my efforts to get a Senate vote on the bill I authored. It is a long story filled with political drama and theatre and it represents why so much is wrong with politics. And I will tell it, another day.
But what is sad is that it did not get done, and Georgia needed it now. I’ve been told by the culprits that “this is how our system of government works”. Well – I don’t accept that, because attaching this new and previously unintroduced language to my bill, an hour before what I expected to be the final hearing in Committee, without my knowledge, involvement, or input – is wrong. Especially when I later learned how long this “plan” had been in place.
I left everything on the field, and did all that I could, up until 1 AM on the last evening of Day 40. I am proud of the way I fought and stood up for what I believed was right. A former State Rep from Cobb County once said, when you are on the side of angels, you stand on the mountain top and scream it. In this matter, I was, and am, on the side of angels, and I intend to stand on that mountain top and wear my voice out over the next year, to try and get done what is right.
Thank you – everyone – for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement you’ve offered me the last few weeks. I also want to take a moment and say that Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal fought the hardest fight for me that I could ever ask for. They were champions on this, as was the entire House of Representatives and many State Senators.
One of my favorite quotes, which I first heard it at North Cobb High School, has taken on a new meaning to me:
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
That quote sums up how I feel right now. But my head is held high. I am proud to serve to my District and Georgia, and will continue to fight for what I believe is right and best for Georgia.