“The Georgia chamber commends members of the general assembly for their broad-based support from both sides of the aisle to enact legislation that enhances our state’s competitiveness,” chamber president and CEO Chris Clark said in a statement.
Chamber members assigned scorecard status to eight House and Senate bills – HB 176, 958, 643, 714, 809 and 697 and SB 125 and 213 – concerning economic development, legal reform, business and industry, environment and energy, and education.
Legislators were assigned final grades of A, B, C, or U – for Unsatisfactory, or below 70 – based on their votes for each scorecard bill.
District 38 State Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta, and District 39 State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, both earned final grades of U.
Both voted against HB 643, which was tabled in the Senate and did not pass into law, and HB 714, which passed with a Senate vote of 36-20.
“Let me say, as far as I’m concerned, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is an adjunct of the Republican Party,” Fort said. “They collaborate with Republicans. The results of their scorecard are not a surprise.”
He said HB 714 punished the very workers who went above and beyond protecting children during the winter’s twin snowstorms.
“HB 714 shows how right-wing these people are,” Fort said. “It takes away the abilities of contract workers at educational institutions – pre-K workers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers – to get unemployment benefits. Up until the Republicans took over, if you were a bus driver and did not work in the summer, you could get unemployment benefits.”
Clark said in a statement HB 714 “prevents some private educational service contractors from abusing the unemployment insurance system…providing uniformity for unemployment benefit qualifications.”
He also said HB 643 would have “[protected] companies that are too often forced to make a choice between spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or settling cases in which they have done no wrong.”
Fort said the bill would give deep-pocketed companies too much advantage over individuals.
“It puts people who are trying to sue, who is a regular citizen, who sues a company for product liability or a car accident, it makes it more difficult for them to get information regarding the case before a trial,” he said. “It would lead to denial of regular citizens getting justice in the courts.”