Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower want you to think they’re moderates, but the most recent bill they’re cosponsoring strips budgeting control from the Athens-Clarke County Commission. House Bill 286 says that county governing authorities would be unable to reduce the budget of their police force by more than 5 percent over a period of TEN years. Obviously, this likely unconstitutional, grandstanding bill is designed to kneecap ideas like the 50/10 Plan to Reimagine Public Safety, which would redirect money from the ACCPD to city services that would have a far greater effect on combatting crime.
Two of the bill’s other four co-sponsors also represent counties that have their own police force, which makes this bill a transparent attempt by the general assembly to assert control over local jurisdictions when they don’t like what those communities are doing with their budgets. Whether or not you agree with calls to defund the police (we do!), this kind of overreach should be concerning. Gaines and Wiedower are supposed to represent their constituents, not overrule them. Whether or not this bill is likely to pass, it is dangerously antidemocratic, and you should let them hear about it. You can reach Gaines’ office at (404) 656-0298 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wiedower is at (404) 656-0325 and email@example.com.
Here’s a suggested script:
Dear Rep. Gaines/Wiedower:
I am deeply concerned by your sponsoring HB286, which attempts to strip control over local budgets from their governing bodies. Whether or not you agree with calls to defund the police, this bill is a dangerous precedent because it removes control over an important aspect of city/county governance from duly elected officials in those communities. Please think about how you would feel were the shoe on the other foot and redirect your attention to legislation that your constituents have requested.