When the state Legislature returns next month, House Democrats will have a new leader, now that former Atlanta Rep. Stacey Abrams has left to run for governor.
Bob Trammell is from Lutherville, southwest of Atlanta, between Atlanta and LaGrange. He joined host Denis O’Hayer on “Morning Edition” to talk about Georgia Democrats’ priorities for the 2018 legislative session.
On the Democrats’ main focus for next year’s session
The No. 1 issue that we’re going to talk about every chance that we get is Medicaid expansion. Georgia is one of only 18 states in the country that has opted not to expand Medicaid, and that’s a decision that has enormous consequences to 600,000 Georgians who fall in a coverage gap where they cannot get health insurance coverage. So, for us as Democrats, that’s a moral issue.
On considering alternatives to a full Medicaid expansion like block grants
For us, Medicaid expansion is the right answer. At the end of the day, what we need to do is to provide the policy alternative that provides the most coverage for the largest number of Georgians possible.
On making health care policy in Georgia while Obamacare faces an uncertain future in Washington
We have to be proactive. There’s without doubt Congress has created uncertainty in the health care space, but we can’t afford to sit back and let citizens go uncovered. [We need to] do everything we can to make sure that if there are state legislative solutions that we need to implement that we do that.
On legislative leaders appointing subcommittees to study sexual assault at the Capitol with few female lawmakers
I do think that the composition of the committees and input in that committee needs to be broader. I asked our [Democratic] caucus chairman to solicit interest from anyone who is interested in weighing in into that conversation. So, we’re in the process of forming a committee in the caucus to help guide us through that conversation, both for recommendations to the House about policy but for the caucus itself.
On whether there should be mandatory sexual harassment training for all members of the Legislature
I think that’s a good idea.
On what consequences should be set for sexual harassment in the Legislature
I do think that we need to clearly delineate what consequences would be for given offenses. What we really want to do, I think in addition to looking at the consequences side, is make sure that we’ve got a clear reporting process where people are comfortable coming forward and know how to come forward without repercussions to them, and then we have to follow the facts.
On whether local governments should be allowed to remove or alter Confederate monuments
Democrats are for the concept of home rule generally. In this context, I think restoring home rule and allowing local governments to make these decisions is probably an inappropriate step in the right direction. That said, I’m sure there’ll be lots of legislation in this space, and we’ll take a look at what comes out.
On adding more historical context to Confederate monuments
I think that’s a reasonable approach, but I think where you’re talking about local governments that it’s appropriate to let locals decide what they want to do. Now, whether that be empowering the local governing authority or whether that be empowering the local citizenry through a referendum, I think those are all issues to work through.
On how Democrats can reach out to African-American voters
I think voters are looking for policies that are going to help them, and the issues are the same. They want to know that they’re going to be able to go to the doctor. They want to know that they’re able to have a good job that they can support their family and make a better life for themselves. What we have to do as Democrats in the General Assembly is make sure that we’re spending time as the Legislature talking about those big conversations and talking about those issues.
On succeeding a highly visible leader like Stacey Abrams
You rely on the caucus, and you spread the labor. The fact is we’ve got some very talented members in our caucus. And it’s a team effort, and it would be folly to try and do that: put that all on one person to carry forward. I think you’re going to see some of our members stepping up and taking high-profile roles.