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Legislature


Campus rape bill opposed by victims advances

Georgia moved a step closer to restricting the ability of its public colleges to independently investigate and punish rapes on campus on Monday as a House committee passed legislation aimed at providing better protections to those accused of sexual assault. The House Appropriations Committee approved the so-called campus rape bill 35-10 as students opposing it looked on in a packed meeting...
Georgia Casino bill dead for 2017

Georgia Casino bill dead for 2017

Legislation that would have allowed casino gambling in Georgia is dead for the year, the bill’s sponsor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, said he does not have the votes to get Senate Bill 79 out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. “I am not discouraged,” Beach said. “I will double down and plan to crisscross...
Bill would let DeKalb vote on MARTA expansion this year

Bill would let DeKalb vote on MARTA expansion this year

A House bill introduced Thursday would give DeKalb County voters a chance to vote on a MARTA expansion as soon as this year. Senate Bill 251 would allow the county’s voters to decide whether to levy a sales tax of up to .5 percent for MARTA. DeKalb could hold a referendum this year if the Board of Commissioners authorized it by June 30. MARTA would need to submit a list of proposed projects...
Eight candidates qualify to replace former state Sen. Judson Hill

Eight candidates qualify to replace former state Sen. Judson Hill

Eight candidates — five Republicans and three Democrats — have signed up to replace former state Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, who left his seat earlier this month to run for Congress. The Republican candidates are Hamilton Beck, Matt Campbell, Roy Daniels, Kay Kirkpatrick and Gus Makris. The Democratic candidates are Christine Triebsch, Exton Howard and Bob Wiskind. Qualifying for...
House panel kills bill that pit optometrists vs. ophthalmologists

House panel kills bill that pit optometrists vs. ophthalmologists

A Georgia House committee on Friday narrowly defeated a bill that would have allowed optometrists to inject patients’ eyes in limited cases.  The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 13-14 on House Bill 416, the second time this year the bill failed to gain the panel’s blessing.  All is not lost for the optometrists, however. A similar measure, Senate Bill 221, is...
Bill would require carnivals to pass inspection before operating

Bill would require carnivals to pass inspection before operating

In August, a carnival ride in Bartow County collapsed after one of its legs broke. None of the riders, which included six children, were injured, but it was an alarming moment for attendees. Upon examination, state Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, found cause to amend existing state codes to prevent similar incidents in the future. “Structurally, the ride had problems,” he said. “In...
Georgia House supports tax credits for video game companies

Georgia House supports tax credits for video game companies

Entertainment companies that develop films and video games and complete postproduction work in Georgia could be eligible for tax credits under legislation the House passed Friday. House Bill 199, the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, would offer a 20 percent tax credit to companies pursuing film, video or digital work in the state that promotes the Georgia logo and edits those projects...
Senate backs new police safety effort that some worry hurts protesters

Senate backs new police safety effort that some worry hurts protesters

The Georgia Senate approved a package of bills Friday extending protections for law enforcement officers assaulted in the line of duty, despite questions over whether some of the measures may curb Georgians’ right to protest. The biggest, Senate Bill 160, would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for criminals convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated battery against a public safety...
Capitol Recap: ‘Religious liberty’ bill runs into early trouble

Capitol Recap: ‘Religious liberty’ bill runs into early trouble

For a few days, “religious liberty” looked like it might have a chance to dominate discussion for a fourth straight legislative session. But then Gov. Nathan Deal delivered a first-round knockout. Deal said Thursday that he had “no desire or appetite to entertain” Senate Bill 233, a piece of legislation proposed by state Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, that would require that...
Bill to allow driverless vehicles in Georgia gets a rewrite

Bill to allow driverless vehicles in Georgia gets a rewrite

Legislation that could pave the way for driverless cars on Georgia roads may have cleared a key hurdle Thursday, as lawmakers rewrote the bill to make it easier for some of the industry’s biggest players to participate. House Bill 248 would allow pilot projects for “autonomous vehicles” on public roads in certain areas. As originally drafted, critics said it would give one company...
Proposal advances to cut top rate on Georgia income taxes

Proposal advances to cut top rate on Georgia income taxes

Georgia House leaders are moving to lower the state’s top income tax rate in what could be an important first step toward significant reductions in how much Georgians pay. A new report said the first step, House Bill 329, would save Georgians about $154 million a year, with three-quarters of that savings going to those earning more than $97,000 a year. The state’s calculations put the...
Kempner: Atlantan not a movie guy, but now has Oscar connection

Kempner: Atlantan not a movie guy, but now has Oscar connection

Nelson Burke is more surprised than anybody that an Atlanta guy like him is in the movie business and has ties to a production up for an Oscar on Sunday. It’s become kind of routine. But he tells me he often gets a worrisome twinge. It’s not his back; it’s Georgia legislators. What if the folks at the Capitol get some kind of goofy idea to kill the tax credits that have made...
Bill requires free speech on campus for all

Bill requires free speech on campus for all

Georgia’s colleges and universities would be required to expand areas designated for free speech under legislation filed in the state House on Thursday.  House Bill 471, by Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, says public colleges and universities may not “limit or restrict a student’s expression” or discipline a student because others oppose the student&rsquo...
Georgia governor opposes new ‘religious liberty’ bill

Georgia governor opposes new ‘religious liberty’ bill

Gov. Nathan Deal was unequivocal in his opposition to a revived “religious liberty” measure on Thursday, signaling he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk. “I didn’t want there to be any confusion about where I stand on the RFRA bill: I have no desire or appetite to entertain that legislation,” Deal said. He was referring to a one-page proposal introduced this...
Bill boosting transit funding passes Georgia House

Bill boosting transit funding passes Georgia House

Legislation that allows counties and cities to levy incremental sales taxes to pass for special projects passed the Georgia House on  Thursday.  House Bill 134, sponsored by Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, continues current law that allows local governments to enact up to 1 percent in transportation special purpose local option sales taxes (known as TSPLOST) in increments .05 percent...
Georgia Senate backs creation of women’s veterans program

Georgia Senate backs creation of women’s veterans program

The Georgia Department of Veterans Service has long sought to create a program for the state’s growing population of women’s veterans. On Thursday, state Senate unanimously backed the idea, too. Senate Bill 108, sponsored by state Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, seeks to address the unique needs of a population that numbers to about 100,000, or about 15 percent of veterans in Georgia....
Fracking regulation bill passes Georgia House

Fracking regulation bill passes Georgia House

The last time Georgia regulated the practice of fracking in 1975 the state collected a fee of $25 for the right to search for underground natural gas.  Legislation approved in the state House on Thursday would create the first new fracking regulations in a generation.  The House voted 162-1 to approve House Bill 205, sponsored by House Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows, R-Calhoun...
Good Lord: Georgia lawmakers are recognizing “Kumbaya”

Good Lord: Georgia lawmakers are recognizing “Kumbaya”

State lawmakers are not kidding, Lord: They’re recognizing “Kumbaya” on Thursday as Georgia’s first state historical song. Senate Resolution 293, sponsored by state Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, seeks to highlight what historians say are the song’s roots in the Gullah and Geechee culture on the Sea Islands of Georgia. Robert Winslow Gordon, who would eventually...
Senate casino hearing cancelled; bill’s future in doubt

Senate casino hearing cancelled; bill’s future in doubt

Today’s planned Senate committee vote on a bill to allow casino gambling has been cancelled leaving the bill’s future in doubt.  Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, notified members of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee late Wednesday that today’s planned 1 p.m. hearing will not happen.  Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, the sponsor of Senate Bill 79, confirmed...
Bill to slash state income tax rate moving through the Georgia House

Bill to slash state income tax rate moving through the Georgia House

Georgia House leaders are moving to lower the state’s top income tax rate in what could be an important first step toward significant reductions in how much Georgians pay. A new report said the first step, House Bill 329, would save Georgians about $154 million a year, with three-quarters of that savings going to those earning more than $97,000 a year. The state’s calculations put the...
Bill offering insurance to firefighters passes Senate committee

Bill offering insurance to firefighters passes Senate committee

Legislation that would offer firefighters special insurance polices to treat work-related cancers passed its first Senate committee hearing Wednesday with a unanimous vote. “This is a great story, and it’s one that should be told to our children and our children’s children,” said State and Local Government Operations Chairman John Albers, R-Alpharetta, who sponsored a previous...
Cancer hospital wants new deal from state lawmakers

Cancer hospital wants new deal from state lawmakers

With a new wave of advertising and a new bill at the Georgia General Assembly, Cancer Treatment Centers of America has re-ignited its ongoing turf war with the rest of Georgia’s hospitals. The “destination cancer hospital” is again seeking to change the terms of a 2008 legislative deal that permitted the cancer-only hospital to come to Georgia, arguing that more in-state patients...
House passes bill that strips funding from ‘sanctuary campuses’

House passes bill that strips funding from ‘sanctuary campuses’

The Georgia House on Wednesday approved a measure that would cut off state funding to Georgia colleges that declare themselves “sanctuary campuses” that would defy President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. The House voted 112-57, largely along party lines, to approve state Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s proposal to ban colleges from receiving state funds if they aren’t complying...
Georgia’s latest ‘religious liberty’ bill sparks a fight in the Senate

Georgia’s latest ‘religious liberty’ bill sparks a fight in the Senate

Georgia’s latest “religious liberty” bill may have only been introduced Wednesday in the state Senate, but members of the chamber quickly signaled it would be met with a fight. Members had a rare early floor debate on Senate Bill 233 after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the chamber, assigned the legislation to the powerful Rules Committee, a move that gives an...
Bill to crack down on toll lane abuse passes state House

Bill to crack down on toll lane abuse passes state House

Drivers who use toll lanes or benefit from a Peach Pass without providing payment could face increased consequences under a bill that the state House passed Wednesday. House Bill 150, recommended for passage by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, would place holds on motor vehicle registration for drivers who fail to pay tolls and would allow the Department of Revenue to withhold tax...
Bill ending funding for ‘sanctuary campuses’ passes Georgia House

Bill ending funding for ‘sanctuary campuses’ passes Georgia House

Private colleges and universities in Georgia could lose state funding if they declare themselves “sanctuary campuses” under legislation the state House approved Wednesday.  House Bill 37 would punish those schools that do not comply with state and federal immigration law. The bill passed 112-57 and now goes to the Senate.  Emory University previously had flirted with becoming...
Mass transit bills moving in Georgia General Assembly

Mass transit bills moving in Georgia General Assembly

The Georgia Senate Wednesday passed a measure that could eventually pave the way for state funding of mass transit. Senate Bill 6 would create the Georgia Regional Transit Council to develop a statewide strategic transit plan to develop a “seamless transportation network with dependable trip times for commuters.” The plan would explore topics like limited access highways, road congestion...
Bill would require Georgia drivers to go hands-free with phones

Bill would require Georgia drivers to go hands-free with phones

Motor vehicle fatalities rose by a third over the last two years. . JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week, motor vehicles fatalities in Georgia jumped by a third over the last two years.
Georgia House pushing truth-in-fees constitutional amendment

Georgia House pushing truth-in-fees constitutional amendment

House leaders are renewing what has become a Capitol rite of winter: the annual push to pass a truth-in-fees constitutional amendment forcing the state to spend the money it raises from fees exactly where lawmakers promise Georgians it will be spent. In other words, if lawmakers tell Georgians they are going to charge $1 for each old tire you trade in to pay to clean up abandoned tire dumps, that&rsquo...
Unusual fight is erupting over Georgia’s latest ‘religious liberty’ bill

Unusual fight is erupting over Georgia’s latest ‘religious liberty’ bill

UPDATE: The attempt to shield the bill from changes failed on a 18-34 vote on the floor. ORIGINAL POST:Georgia’s latest ‘religious liberty’ bill may have only been introduced Wednesday in the state Senate, but the chamber has quickly signaled it will be met with a fight. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the chamber, assigned Senate Bill 233 to the powerful Rules...
Bill would create public list of ‘criminal’ unauthorized immigrants in Georgia

Bill would create public list of ‘criminal’ unauthorized immigrants in Georgia

Legislation filed in the state House on Wednesday would require the GBI to create and maintain a website listing any unauthorized immigrant convicted of a crime who is released from jail or prison in Georgia.  House Bill 452, by Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, requires the GBI to update the website within 12 hours of receiving the names and must send a copy to the Georgia Sheriff’s...
Georgia justice reformers: Cut the number of offenders on probation

Georgia justice reformers: Cut the number of offenders on probation

Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform council on Tuesday said Georgia needs to reduce the number of people it has on probation — now the highest rate of any other state in the country. This would allow the state to put more resources into monitoring the most dangerous offenders on probation. It also would allow for increased scrutiny of offenders at the initial stages of their probationary...
House to vote on bill that groups say hurts minority voters

House to vote on bill that groups say hurts minority voters

An elections bill up for consideration in the state House Wednesday has raised the ire of voter advocacy groups, who say it could disproportionately hurt minority Georgians trying to join the state’s voter rolls. House Bill 268, which is scheduled to be considered by the state House, would create a 26-month deadline for voting applicants to correct discrepancies in what they submit to the...
‘Religious liberty’ fight returns to Georgia Capitol

‘Religious liberty’ fight returns to Georgia Capitol

Legislation reigniting the fight over religious freedom has been filed in the Georgia Senate, but Gov. Nathan Deal’s office made it clear Tuesday it will meet the same fate as its precesessor a year ago if it passes. Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, on Tuesday filed Senate Bill 233, which stops far short of the wide-ranging “religious liberty” bill that Deal vetoed in 2016. Harbin&rsquo...
Legislative tug-of-war ensues over noncitizen Georgia driver’s licenses

Legislative tug-of-war ensues over noncitizen Georgia driver’s licenses

State lawmakers Tuesday stripped a bill of language that would require the driver’s licenses of people who are not U.S. citizens to be stamped with the term “noncitizen.” But other measures that would alter the driver’s licenses of noncitizens — even legal permanent residents — remain alive in the General Assembly. The House Motor Vehicles Committee on Tuesday stripped...
‘Religious liberty’ bill filed in Georgia

‘Religious liberty’ bill filed in Georgia

A “religious liberty” bill has been filed in the Georgia Senate, the opening of what could be yet another explosive debate on whether the state should allow Georgians to cite their faith-based beliefs against government interference. Senate Bill 233, sponsored by state Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, was signed by about half of the chamber’s GOP majority. In one short sentence...
Georgia emergency official wins hefty pay hike after hurricane dustup

Georgia emergency official wins hefty pay hike after hurricane dustup

A top Georgia emergency response official who was threatened with being fired in the middle Hurricane Matthew’s wrath received a hefty pay raise as part of a settlement agreement with the agency. Clint Perkins, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s state operations center, got a salary increase of more than $20,000 after a dustup with the department’s then director...
University chancellor testifies against Georgia campus gun bill

University chancellor testifies against Georgia campus gun bill

The head of Georgia’s university system told lawmakers Monday that a bill to let people with permits carry guns on college campuses is unnecessary. “With respect to campus carry, we feel strongly current law strikes the right balance to provide security on our campuses,” University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley told the House Public Safety Committee. “We therefore respectfully...
Atlanta rally to save Affordable Care Act draws scores

Atlanta rally to save Affordable Care Act draws scores

Vicki Hopper was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2014, two days after purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Today, she, credits the health care legislation with saving her life. “Without insurance, I would be looking at $500,000 in medical bills and I would have no way of paying them since I haven’t been able to work,” Hopper, 58, said. “To have to figure...
Georgia university chancellor testifies against campus gun bill

Georgia university chancellor testifies against campus gun bill

The head of Georgia’s university system told lawmakers Monday that a campus gun bill under consideration is not needed.  “With respect to campus carry, we feel strongly current law strikes the right balance to provide security on our campuses,” University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley told the House Public Safety Committee. “We therefore respectfully oppose any change...
Tax breaks that help Delta, others, move through the Georgia House

Tax breaks that help Delta, others, move through the Georgia House

Bills that would make it cheaper for Delta Air Lines to buy fuel and for big yacht owners to get repairs done in Georgia are among several tax breaks moving through the General Assembly. The Delta and big-boat owners’ tax breaks come at a time when legislators are also moving to assure that the state can collect taxes from people who buy goods online, have ignored legislation to raise the...
Get off my lawn: Bill replaces ‘no trespassing’ signs with purple paint

Get off my lawn: Bill replaces ‘no trespassing’ signs with purple paint

A Georgia lawmaker wants to do away with “no trespassing” signs and instead allow property owners to paint their trees purple. Senate Bill 159, sponsored by freshman state Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, follows the decades-old lead of other states, starting in 1989 in Arkansas. At the time, according to reports, rural property owners wanted an alternative to the “no trespassing&rdquo...
Cobb rep’s bill would let minors who shoot cops be tried as adults

Cobb rep’s bill would let minors who shoot cops be tried as adults

A Cobb legislator’s bill making it easier for minors accused of shooting police officers to be tried as adults will be up for a vote on the House floor Monday. State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta sponsored the bill after Marietta police officer Scott Davis was shot on duty early Aug. 11 by an unidentified 15-year-old member of the Bloods gang. That teen’s case started in...
Georgia settles federal lawsuit alleging it blocked thousands of minority voters

Georgia settles federal lawsuit alleging it blocked thousands of minority voters

Georgia has settled a federal lawsuit that accused Secretary of State Brian Kemp of disenfranchising minority voters because of a requirement on registration forms that critics said blocked thousands of them from voter rolls. The state will no longer reject applications that don’t exactly match identification information in state and federal databases as part of the agreement...
How to contact your Georgia congressmen

How to contact your Georgia congressmen

Why should I contact elected officials?Feedback from constituents is a powerful tool for those who’ve been elected and it’s an opportunity to voice your opinion about the issues that matter to you. How should I contact them?While phone calls are the best way of contacting senators or representatives, email and snail mail are effective options as well. Emails can be sent directly from the...
Bill would impose greater transparency on state parole board

Bill would impose greater transparency on state parole board

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles would be required to hold public hearings before granting pardons or commuting a death sentence under legislation introduced in the state House.  House Bill 34, from Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, would impose even greater transparency on the board by declaring all reports, files, records and other information related to the supervision of probationers and...
Bill would close school sex loophole

Bill would close school sex loophole

Legislation to be introduced in the state House on Wednesday would close a loophole in Georgia law that weakened efforts to punish school officials that have sexual relations with students.  Rep. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, will introduce House Bill 32, which would make state law clear that any “employee or agent of a school” is barred from having sexual contact with...
Winter weather postpones Wild Hog Supper

Winter weather postpones Wild Hog Supper

The winter storm bearing down on Georgia has claimed another victim: the Wild Hog Supper.  The event typically occurs the Sunday before every new session of the Georgia Legislature, a welcome-back-to-Atlanta event for lawmakers, elected officials and voters. The 2017 legislative session begins Monday.  Sarah Jackson, corporate partnership manager at Georgia Food Bank Association, ...
AJC January 2017 poll methodology statement

AJC January 2017 poll methodology statement

Abt SRBI conducted the survey of Georgia residents, 18 years and older, on behalf of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The survey included telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,092 Georgia residents (including 919 registered voters). Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (n=396) and cell phone (n=696). Interviewing was conducted from January 2nd to January 5th, 2017. ...
The list of “chronically failing” schools grows as lawmakers await governor’s plan for the problem

The list of “chronically failing” schools grows as lawmakers await governor’s plan for the problem

The number of Georgia schools deemed "chronically failing” has grown by 20 percent, according to a new state count. It comes amid speculation about Gov. Nathan Deal’s plans to confront the problem after his proposed solution, a statewide Opportunity School District that required a constitutional amendment, lost at the polls in November. There’s been talk of a “plan...
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