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Legislators in Georgia may loosen the restrictions on felons seeking to regain voting rights. Currently, Georgia felons may not resume voting unless they have paid off all fines and until their probation or parole is done.

Bipartisan talks start in Georgia on expansion of felon voting

A bipartisan group of state senators has begun reviewing Georgia's rules about voting by convicted felons, with a target of deciding on possible changes in times for next year's legislative session.

The panel was convened last month by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, with a deadline to make recommendations by year's end.

Currently, Georgia felons may not resume voting unless they have paid off all fines, and until their probation or parole is done. This is the situation in most states, but a move has been underway to loosen the restrictions – especially the one about paying off fines, an economic burden that can keep felons disenfranchised for years after they reenter society.


"There are good people – not necessarily innocent people – in our jails and prisons that plan on doing good things when they get out," GOP state Sen. Randy Robertson, the chairman of the study committee and a former sheriff's deputy, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I'm looking forward to hearing about what a nonviolent felon is and listen to the groups impacted by the issue."

Convictions prevented about 250,000 Georgians from voting in the last presidential election, four out of five of them because they were still on probation or parole, according to the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group that studies racial disparities in sentencing.

Democratic state Sen. Harold Jones, another member of the panel, predicted the likeliest outcome would be reinstating voting rights more quickly – perhaps as soon as after release from prison – for nonviolent felons who have been convicted of crimes such as drug possession and shoplifting.

Georgia is among 22 states where felons lose the franchise for some time after their release from prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Felons lose their voting rights only while incarcerated in 14 states.

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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.

Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez still discussing revolving door bill

Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?

To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."

The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.

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But in general, young adults have a lot more trust issues than their elders

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