Rep. John Lewis Hosts Productive Annual Legislative Luncheon
ATLANTA – On Monday Rep. February 27 Rep. John Lewis hosted his annual Legislative Luncheon at the Georgia Depot. Every year Lewis brings members of the Georgia State House and Senate together with city officials and local legislators to discuss issues facing the Fifth Congressional district. Legislators share concerns, ideas, build alliances, and develop collaborative strategies to help address the district’s problems.
“What legislators discover in the forum,” said Rep. Lewis, “is that many of them are concerned about the same issues, and some of them are even strategizing around the same approaches. Mayors, city councilpeople and state legislators are so busy they rarely have a chance to come together to simply talk and brainstorm. This luncheon gives them the room to do that.”
The meeting is always a closed-door session which allows legislators to openly and freely communicate. This year foreclosure was at the top of every participants’ list of concerns. They wanted to be briefed on details of the settlement the Obama Administration made with five banks and understand how it affects Atlanta metro area residents who are still struggling to save their homes, facing eviction and concerned that they may be the victims of fraud.
Education was next on the agenda. They discussed the under-funded mandate of No Child Left Behind and the impact on teaching standards. “So many studies show,” said Lewis, “that the teacher is the game-changer in the classroom. The teacher-student connection is the key to excellence. These legislators wanted to know how to reinforce the work of teachers so that Atlanta students can learn.”
Transportation was another top issue. There was a discussion of the controversial Surface Transportation bill, the impact on MARTA funding as well as other infrastructure projects necessary to the district—noise barriers and streetscapes among them. Some of these items had been included in amendments Rep. Lewis offered to the bill which were not allowed to come to a vote by House leadership. Participants were also concerned about healthcare for seniors, pushing for reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, and wondering how to alleviate the healthcare problems seniors are facing.