The Porch Press

Serving the Historic Atlanta Neighborhoods of Grant Park, Ormewood Park, East Atlanta, Benteen Park, Glenwood Park, and environs

Nan Orrock and the 2022 Legislative Session, a Commentary

By Paul Bolster

She is proof that some people get better with age. Maybe at just a few things. Nan Orrock was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1986. She was elected to the Georgia Senate in 2007 and is still there. That is a total of 34 years of experiences under the Gold Dome. She is currently Secretary to the State Senate Democratic Caucus and Chair of the City of Atlanta Senate delegation. She was an early supporter of Andre Dickens, which shows her finger is on the pulse of Atlanta politics. All that time, she has lived on Delaware Avenue in Ormewood Park and can be found at nan.orrock@senate.ga.gov or 404-463-8054.

The 2022 legislative session in underway and will be shaped by how the State spends its large surplus and the election stories each party will need for the November election. The Governor is passing out money to most people in the state: Pay raises for teachers, state employees, and retirees. Restoration of cuts to K-12 and the universities. An income tax refund for all who file that will takes $2.2 Billion. There is $600 million for a new prison, renovations of prisons and purchase of a private prison. It looks like the end of criminal justice reform will not be part of the election message this fall. It is back to “lock em up.” Makes you wonder if we will see the Kemp shotgun again. Some Republicans want to free concealed weapon carriers from any permit requirements. 

So far there is nothing for people who lack health insurance. Kemp says no to Medicaid Expansion and the feds have said no to his Expansion Light and its work requirement. According to Orrock he has not given a reason this year. “Hard to say it is too expensive in a surplus year when the Congress made it cost free for the first three years.” The expansion would cover 500,000 people and be the largest economic development project (50,000 jobs) in the history of the state. 

On the local level, the battle for Buckhead is on. Democrats got help from Lt. Governor Duncan when he put the first Buckhead bill into the Senate Urban Affairs Committee where Orrock serves with 7 other Democrats. The Buckhead City advocates didn’t show to the hearing Orrock organized and she is sure it “won’t get out of our committee, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over.”

Despite the looming election, there could be some bipartisan action. Improvements to the State’s mental health system have garnered support from Speaker of the House Ralston. “This area of State services has lagged behind for decades, and the pandemic has shown the need for action,” says Orrock. She is also working on a bipartisan measure to help small businesses offer retirement plans to employees. The bill would give the business access to the administrative capacity of the State of Georgia Retirement System. For some years Orrock has worked with Republicans to create need-based financial support for university and community college students who do not qualify for HOPE awards. “So far no movement on that front.”

Orrock is keeping close tabs on the neighborhood’s effort to improve the safety of Moreland Avenue. “I am glad GDOT is going to resurface the road but that is the least of our problems. We need a new approach to state highways that run through urban neighborhoods.”  She sits on the Senate Appropriation Committee and is in a good position to ask the hard questions.