State Rep. Barbara Massey Reece, D-Menlo, is being challenged for the seat she’s held since 1999 by Republican Eddie Lumsden, a former Floyd County commissioner.
Reece, a retired teacher, voted against the Legislature’s measure that put the charter school question on the ballot.
“Floyd County is a charter school system by choice, by agreement of the community … and the elected school board,” Reece said. “The amendment creates a separate level of oversight, appointed, which will bypass the locally elected school board.”
Lumsden co-owns an insurance agency with his wife, Teresa, a former school board member. He’s backed by the state Republican leaders who pushed the bill, but voiced a cautious opposition.
“The problem is, not all places in Georgia are doing as well as Floyd County,” Lumsden said.
“The purpose of this referendum is to address that problem through competition. The drawback is, it takes money out of local school systems, so I have a problem with the funding mechanism,” Lumsden said.
Georgia health care expansion
Republican Mitt Romney has grounded his presidential campaign partly on repealing the Affordable Care Act championed by President Barack Obama.
Reece said the bill contains many important protections lawmakers owe it to citizens to provide. The prohibition against denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and parents’ new ability to keep their children on their policies through age 25 were among the provisions she cited.
“And coverage is very expensive for our self-employed,” she said. “I look forward to this lowering the cost.”
Lumsden agreed there are a number of provisions worth keeping, but said he’s a “free market capitalist” who believes the private sector would do a better job managing health care.
“The government can not give to you anything it does not take from someone else first,” he said.
He added that he backs Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to reject ACA funds to expand Medicaid coverage for poor Georgians next year, saying he thinks the state will get stuck with the bill.
The legislation calls for the federal government to pay the full cost for the first year and 90 percent after that.
Reece said many elderly, mentally ill or developmentally disabled residents have no coverage and the expansion is needed.
The state House District 12 covers all of Chattooga and western Floyd counties.