WABE's Week In Review: Georgia lawmakers take up mental health overhaul, limiting abortions and banning CRT

Georgia State Capitol

Georgia State Capitol Building (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has unveiled a massive bill to overhaul mental healthcare in Georgia. 

Led by Republican House Speaker David Ralston, the “Mental Health Parity Act” touches on everything from how insurers cover mental health treatment to training more providers and creating mental health response teams around the state.

What teachers can teach

State Sen. Bo Hatchett, a Republican from Cornelia, filed Senate Bill 377 on Jan. 26. (Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit public schools from kindergarten all the way through colleges and universities to teach “divisive concepts.”

Senate Bill 377 comes after the mobilization from some to ban or limit the teaching of race in schools or critical race theory. The bill describes “divisive concepts” as teaching that describe the United States or Georgia as fundamentally or systemically racist. It also prohibits teaching that an individual is inherently racist or oppressive.

The bill would also allow the state Board of Education to penalize schools that it deems in violation of the broad concept.

The bill does not explicitly mention the controversial concept of critical race theory … which Gov. Brian Kemp promised to eliminate from classrooms in his 2022 legislative priorities. (Georgia K-12 schools currently do not teach critical race theory.)

Lawmakers are not only censoring necessary classroom discussions, but they are taking the expertise of classroom educators completely out of the equation, according to Lisa Morgan, who heads the Georgia Association of Educators. The group has vowed to take up a lobbying effort against any curriculum controlling bills at the Capitol this legislative session.

In-person only…

Abortion pills by mail

A Nurse Practitioner works in an office at a Planned Parenthood clinic where she confers via teleconference with patients seeking self-managed abortions as containers of the medication used to end an early pregnancy sits on a table nearby. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Republicans in Georgia have introduced a bill that bans the delivery of abortion pills by mail. It would require anyone who wants to use abortion pills to visit a doctor in advance and then return to pick up the pills.

The lawmakers also want to require women to undergo physical exams including ultrasounds, and then sign an extensive consent form at least 24 hours before doctors provide the pills.

Also in this episode…

Lisa Rayam and the “Political Breakfast” crew looked at the Buckhead cityhood movement and glowing reception so far for new Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

–Molly Samuel told us about a mapping project that looks at all the junk that makes up Georgia’s artificial reefs, including sunken World War Two cargo ships and New York City subway cars.