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Press Releases

November 3, 2023

Georgia-Israel Legislative Caucus Hosts’ Bring Them Home’ Event for Israel Hostage Families

On Monday, Oct. 30, the Georgia-Israel Legislative Caucus, represented by Senators Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell), Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) and Jason Esteves (D-Atlanta), held a ‘Bring Them Home’ event advocating for the release of Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza.

Sen. Goodman denounced the actions of Hamas and emphasized the need for action. “Hamas terrorists have no regard for human life, as they have made clear through their violent acts of war across Israel,” said Sen. Goodman. “After seeing the destruction to the region with my own eyes, I know that it is imperative our Nation does its due diligence to ensure that hostage families are returned to safety quickly and efficiently. I pray for those who are still trapped by these vile terrorists and look forward to the day they are brought back home.”

Sen. Kirkpatrick spoke of a united front in the face of terrorism. “We stand united in our commitment to justice and the safety of innocent lives,” she declared, underlining the universal importance of resolving the hostage situation. “The release of hostages held by Hamas is not just an Israeli concern, but a global imperative. We must work tirelessly to ensure the safe return of those who have been unjustly detained and send a powerful message that terrorism will never prevail over the values of freedom and humanity.”

Sen. Halpern highlighted the dire nature of the issue and its relevance to American principles. “The heinous situation involving hostages taken by Hamas demands our collective attention and diplomatic efforts,” she said, invoking a comparison to potential terrorist attacks in Georgia to illustrate the gravity of the situation. “To put this in perspective as a member of the Georgia Senate, think about how our state would respond if terrorists attacked coastal Georgians down near Savannah in the same way they brutally inflicted violence and terror on Israeli and American citizens last month. Israel has the right to exist and defend itself through aggressive efforts to bring home its hostages and deter future potential attacks. We must work together to uphold the principles of justice and humanity, standing firm against terrorism.”

Sen. Esteves made a bipartisan appeal for the hostages’ liberation. “It is imperative that we unite, across party lines, to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages held by Hamas,” he remarked, acknowledging the distress of the hostages’ families. “I pray for their safe return home so that they could be reunited with their loved ones and communities. We must also remember that the families of the hostages are enduring unimaginable pain and uncertainty during this time.”

The event demonstrated solidarity against terrorism and a resolute stance on bringing the hostages back to safety.

September 18, 2023

Georgia Legislator Seeks Best Practices in Education on Tour of European Union Countries

This week, State Senator Sonya Halpern is traveling to the European Union countries of Finland and Estonia as a member of the esteemed Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows program hosted by The Hunt Institute. Sen. Halpern’s mission is to uncover the secrets behind the extraordinary educational success of these nations.

 

The prestigious Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows program, now in its ninth cohort, is dedicated to cultivating leadership and informed policy development in the field of education. Senator Halpern’s selection as a Fellow underscore her dedication to fostering a dynamic, globally competitive educational system in Georgia.

 

“Given the achievements in educational equality and excellence acknowledged in Finland and Estonia, I am eager to explore their educational models to gain invaluable perspective and scalable solutions to bring back to the Peach State,” said Halpern. “As the sole elected official from Georgia on this trip, I appreciate the opportunity to represent our state and gain knowledge that could prove valuable in crafting new legislation or policies to help young people in Georgia.”

 

The tour begins in Finland, a nation that has undergone a remarkable transformation of its education system. In just 15 years, Finland has received international acclaim for its exceptional performance in mathematics, science, and reading on global assessments. What especially sets Finland apart is its ability to meet the diverse needs of its student population, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, effectively creating one of the world’s smallest academic achievement gaps. Finland has also elevated teaching to a prestigious and highly competitive profession, attracting an impressive number of applicants for each available teaching position.

 

The next leg of this journey unfolds in Estonia, where substantial strides have been taken to bridge the achievement gap between the wealthiest and most underprivileged students. These efforts have yielded a workforce that is more skilled, educated and globally competitive. The Estonian leg of the tour promises profound insights into tackling educational challenges within a diverse population.

 

Senator Halpern’s European tour for innovative educational policy exemplifies her commitment to propel education in Georgia to new heights and create a globally competitive system that prepares all students to excel in an ever-changing world.

 

Founded in 2001 and affiliated with Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, The Hunt Institute is a leading voice in the movement to improve public education. The institute collaborates with a nationwide network of partners to build visionary leadership and drive strategic action for better educational outcomes. For more information, visit http://www.hunt-institute.org/

 

The Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows was launched in the fall of 2014 and collaborates with senior-level politicians to develop effective education policy at the state level. Named for renowned education governors Jim Hunt, a Democrat from North Carolina, and Tom Kean, a Republican from New Jersey, the nonpartisan Fellowship aims to help leaders cultivate a vision for educational improvement. For more details, visit http://www.hunt-institute.org/hunt-kean-leadership-fellows/

July 17, 2023

Senators Jason Anavitarte and Sonya Halpern Serve as Panelists for Solar Forum at Georgia Tech Kendeda Building

Last week, Senators Jason Anavitarte and Sonya Halpern took part in two panels at “The State of Solar in Georgia: A Policy & Economic Forum,” hosted at the Kendeda Building on the campus of Georgia Tech. The Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association and Conservatives for Clean Energy Georgia sponsored the event.

During the discussion, both Sen. Anavitarte and Sen. Halpern highlighted their sponsorship of Senate Bill 210, a comprehensive initiative aimed at enhancing and expanding community solar in Georgia while updating specific aspects of the law related to net metering. SB 210 seeks to broaden community solar opportunities for governments, nonprofits, and churches, while also modernizing net metering regulations. The bill’s key objectives are to expand consumer energy choices, foster a thriving market for Georgia businesses, and increase the adoption of clean energy on the grid. Notably, SB 210 does not apply to electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) or municipal electric utilities.

“I was honored to take part in the discussion at the Kendeda Building. Solar energy has been an amazing benefit to Georgia,” said Senator Jason Anavitarte. “Georgia is top 10 for solar production and there are solar facilities in over 80 counties bringing jobs, economic development, and low-cost solar energy to local communities. Solar energy is also the lowest-cost energy source per kilowatt in Georgia. The problem is that there is a limited ability for residential homes, governments, nonprofits, and churches to access solar here. The real trick will be using our legislative authority to bring all the energy stakeholders together. The large utilities are hesitant to share market profits with competitors when they have a massive advantage already. That’s not fair to Georgia’s small businesses and bad for our family budgets.”

“The Kendeda Building’s solar forum was instrumental in illuminating the critical areas we need to address as we carve our energy future,” stated Sen. Halpern. “With Georgia in a phase of rapid growth, our imperative is to harness optimal resources to bolster our energy output, ensuring affordable rates and thriving families. Furthermore, Senate Bill 210 stands as a critical step in this pursuit. Its implications are far-reaching and vital for Georgia’s small businesses and families. It represents a vision where expanded energy choices drive down consumer costs, fortify the market for Georgia’s small solar businesses, and bolster our transition to cleaner, sustainable energy sources. The crux of Senate Bill 210 is about enabling more Georgians to access the most affordable and cleanest energy option available. This is a shared vision, a universal cause that we can all rally behind.”

Additional panelists at The State of Solar in Georgia: A Policy & Economic Forum included Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, Dr. Matt Oliver from Georgia Tech, Bob Sherrier representing the Southern Environmental Law Center, John Szoka, CEO of Conservative Energy Network, Elizabeth Van Holt from the Coalition for Community Solar Access, Scott Thomasson, Georgia SEIA consultant, Richard Gruber from Georgia Tech, Barton Lowrey from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and Tully Blalock, CEO of SolAmerica Energy.

Read the full text of SB 210 here.

June 1, 2023

Sen. Sonya Halpern to Present Outstanding Georgia Citizen Awards to Georgia Jazz Artists

Today, Senator Sonya Halpern (D – Atlanta) expressed her excitement in honoring four distinguished jazz artists from Georgia, namely Mike Phillips, Kathleen Bertrand, Jorel “JFly” Flynn, and West Byrd, in celebration of African-American Music Appreciation Month.

“It is a privilege to join Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in bestowing one of our state’s highest honors on these exceptional individuals,” stated Sen. Halpern. “Georgia holds a proud and rich history of jazz music, with an emphasis on the fusion of musical traditions and influences, such as blues, gospel, ragtime and swing. This cultural diversity and fusion have contributed to Atlanta and Georgia’s distinctive jazz identity, celebrated through events and institutions like the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the Clark Atlanta University Jazz Orchestra. As proud Georgians, it is imperative that we demonstrate our appreciation by presenting those who continue to carry this identity with the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award and a resolution from the Georgia State Senate. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Raffensperger, Director of Constituent Services to Lt. Governor Burt Jones, Denese Sampson and Atlanta Councilwoman Marci Overstreet for joining me to celebrate these extraordinary individuals.”

The African-American Music Appreciation Month event, hosted by Sen. Halpern, will take place on June 30, 2023, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, at the Georgia State Senate Chamber. During the ceremony, in addition to receiving the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Awards, the honorees were presented with commendation letters, City of Atlanta Proclamations and Senate Resolutions.

Press Releases

October 12, 2021

Sen. Sonya Halpern Completes Leadership Program for Select Southern State Government Officials

ATLANTA (Oct. 12, 2021) | Sen. Sonya Halpern (D – Atlanta) recently completed the Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS) program in Little Rock, Arkansas. Inaugurated in 2007, CALS is the annual leadership program of the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments.… READ MORE

August 4, 2021

Sen. Sonya Halpern Appointed to Serve on Joint Study Committee on Airport Infrastructure and Improvements

ATLANTA – Sen. Sonya Halpern (D – Atlanta) has been appointed to serve on the Joint Study Committee on Airport Infrastructure and Improvements. "Not many people know that Georgia has over 100 public airports, all of which are impacted by decisions we make at the legislature... READ MORE

May 18, 2021

Gov. Brian Kemp Signs Bill to Change the Corporate Boundaries of the City of South Fulton

ATLANTA – On Monday, May 10th, Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 445, a bill to change the corporate boundaries of the city of South Fulton, into law...  READ MORE

May 14, 2021

Sen. Sonya Halpern, Along with Rep. William Boddie and other Elected Officials from the Tri-Cities Area, to Host Press Conference Discussing New Era of Infrastructure

ATLANTA – Sen. Sonya Halpern (D – Atlanta) along with several other elected officials, will host a press conference today, May 14, 2021, at 12:30 p.m., to discuss House Bill 160, which was signed into law on Monday by Gov. Brian Kemp...  READ MORE

March 17, 2021

Senator Sonya Halpern Honors Historically Black Colleges and Universities at Georgia State Capitol

ATLANTA – Sen. Sonya Halpern (D – Atlanta), along with Gov. Brian Kemp, hosted the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Heritage Day at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday, March...  READ MORE

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