Georgia State Senate Members Want Political Candidates to Spend Campaign Expenses on Personal Childcare

 

Sixteen Democrats and two Republicans in the Georgia State Senate filed legislation this week that would, if enacted into law, allow political candidates to use campaign funds on childcare and other caregiving expenses.

Senator Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson) is the primary sponsor of the bill, SB 523. On Thursday she did not return The Georgia Star News’ requests for comment.

According to the language of the bill, “caregiving services” means direct care, protection, and supervision of a child or other person with a disability or medical condition for whom a candidate has direct caregiving responsibility.

Only two of the bill’s 18 sponsors made themselves available to speak Thursday.

One, Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), said childcare is a necessary campaign expense.

“All sorts of staffing are met by these campaign expenditures,” Orrock said.

“You hire people to do this. You hire people to do that. You have people put up signs. You hire people to make phone calls. You can also hire a driver.”

Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), meanwhile, said this bill applies to women as well as men and is thus “gender-neutral.”

“Women are the primary caregivers in the family, and, disproportionately, child-rearing responsibility falls on their shoulders. A mother who is at home should not be precluded from running for office because she feels an added burden of having to care for her child. That could apply to some men as well,” Jones told The Star News.

“Sometimes they [women] are not the primary wage earner in the family. Our purpose is to encourage as many people as possible to run for office and not erect barriers to keep them from doing so.”

Jones also said that, under this bill, political candidates could only use this money for childcare as they’re running for office.

Senator Brian Strickland (R- McDonough) and Senator Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) are the only two Republicans co-sponsoring this legislation.

Orrock and Jones said they have not researched the bill well enough to know if legislators in other states have passed similar bills into law.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]

 

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