Atlanta/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 15, 2024
Southern States' Young Legislators Convene in Atlanta for Future Caucus, Focusing on AI, Incarceration, and BipartisanshipSource: Google Street View

The political crystal ball came out in Georgia this weekend as Gen Z and Millennial state leaders from across the Southern states convened in Atlanta for a summit aimed at cutting-edge issues. The lawmakers, attending panels on artificial intelligence and mass incarceration among other topics, represented the state chapters from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and North Carolina. According to a report by WABE, the event was part of the Future Caucus’ efforts to foster bipartisan cooperation among legislators 45 and younger.

While the focus was on the future, attendees also aimed to address hot-button issues of today including Medicaid expansion and gun safety. The summit, running from Thursday to Saturday, saw a notable absence of Republican co-chair Rep. Steven Sainz, who was reportedly needed back in his district. An exclusive group, the Georgia's Future Caucus boasts about two dozen members, primarily Democrats, with co-chairs from both major political parties.

In an exclusive gathering that demonstrated bipartisan aspirations but underscored unilateral action, only Democratic members turned up to share their insights during Friday’s session. Rep. Jasmine Clark of Lilburn, the Democratic co-chair, remained optimistic about the progress made in the current session, pointing out that Medicaid expansion and safe gun storage had received more attention than in the past. Clark lamented the lack of bipartisan presence, stating, "I do appreciate many of my Georgia Future Caucus members being here today, but sadly it’s only one side of the aisle here, and I wish that were not the case," in the dialogue obtained by WABE.

On the issue of technology and governance, Atlanta Democratic Rep. Park Cannon highlighted the generational gap in legislative expertise, recalling the challenge when taxing ride-sharing platforms that were unfamiliar to older lawmakers. The future of artificial intelligence, a sector heating up, is particularly expected to infiltrate every legislative committee, according to Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick of the House Technology Committee. Despite hardwiring modern policy discussions with tech-savvy awareness, the Senate recently let a House-passed bill on deepfake political ad disclosures die before becoming law, as reported by the WABE.

Young legislators, showing a readiness to bridge divides of understanding across generations and party lines, emphasized the importance of being rooted in their communities while grappling with futuristic challenges. "Republican lawmakers of every age are equally committed to the policies that are strengthening Georgia," Sainz told the Georgia Recorder, stressing the vibrancy of young GOP members working on issues such as public safety, the economic pressures of inflation, and democratic process integrity. Similarly, Rep. Clark voiced a poignant hope that the ascent of younger lawmakers heralds a shift towards more congenial dialogue and action: "I think we’re moving in the right direction, and I think the children will save us," she imparted to WABE.

The Future South conference, deemed a "neat concept" by Rep. Sainz, has yet to bloom fully into the bipartisan vision it advocates, but its recent assembly sends a resonant message – tomorrow’s policymakers are already here, steering debates and maybe, indeed, shaping the South's legislative landscape. For more detailed accounts of the summit and its discussions, readers can refer to the full coverage by WABE.