Georgia is getting about 11,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine per day, according to state Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta. At that rate, it will take more than a year to vaccinate the entire state.
“In an age where I understand a lot of things are political, this is frankly not political,” Reeves told Cobb lawmakers and officials during a meeting between the Cobb Legislative Delegation and Cobb Board of Commissioners Friday morning. “Everybody on this call and every leader in this county needs to be on the same page and understand — we can prioritize individuals all day long, but we have a supply issue.”
Reeves said he was working with Gov. Brian Kemp to find a way to get public school teachers vaccinated faster.
Vaccines were among a number of topics raised during the meeting, a yearly tradition where the county’s governing board and department heads meet with state lawmakers who represent Cobb to talk wants and needs.
The meeting is typically held in December, before the beginning of the legislative session, said state Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, chair of the Cobb delegation. But with a new slate of elected officials in countywide posts, he thought it best to host the meeting after they took office Jan. 1.
Newly elected county Chair Lisa Cupid, the first Democrat to serve in that role since the 1980s, had several requests for lawmakers, among them that the Cobb Board of Commissioners has a seat at the table as lawmakers begin the redistricting process this year; that the county be granted permission to spend SPLOST revenue on cloud-computing software; that lawmakers provide money for the renovation of Gritters Library in north Cobb; and that they equalize pay among district commissioners. (During his 12 years in office, former east Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott would regularly decline raises to which he was entitled, Wilkerson explained, and Ott’s successor, Democrat Jerica Richardson, will make less than her colleagues without action from state lawmakers.)
The redrawing of political lines within counties has, historically, been the responsibility of counties’ legislative delegations, Wilkerson said. He predicted the process in Cobb would be bipartisan, given the Cobb delegation’s 11-to-10 partisan split.
“We’ll definitely reach out to the commissioners and the school board, but really, it falls on the legislative delegation to draw those maps,” Wilkerson said.
Cobb Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Leonard asked that lawmakers consider letting his court set a $5 technology fee that would not apply to indigent defendants.
The Cobb Superior Court “looks nothing today like it did a year ago,” Leonard said, citing the technological upgrades spurred by the pandemic. Many of those upgrades were made possible by federal pandemic relief, he said. But that relief did not go far enough, in his telling: continually updating the technology the court now relies on is expensive, and some basics, like laptops for employees forced to work remotely while they quarantine, are unavailable.
Ultimately, county officials agreed to first consider alternative ways of funding the court’s technological needs, such as through the county’s budget, rather than a special fee.
Newly elected south Cobb Commissioner Monique Sheffield asked whether lawmakers would address the proliferation of short-term rentals, such as those offered by AirBnB and Vrbo, which she described as a growing problem in her district.
State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, said it was unlikely the legislature would address short-term rentals, given the mammoth tasks of redistricting, crafting the state budget and a looming fight over election laws.
Cupid said the board could likely address issues regarding short-term rentals with amendments to the county code.
Toward the end of the meeting, west Cobb Commissioner Keli Gambrill asked for an update regarding Dobbins Air Reserve Base, one of the county’s economic pillars. State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-east Cobb, said a much-feared BRAC —short for Base Realignment and Closure — was unlikely.