Next Story

Georgia Republicans sharply divided over health care plan

Capitol Recap: This year, talk begins early on campus gun bill


Gov. Nathan Deal says he’s talking with the supporters of the campus gun bill that just cleared the House.

The conversation began a lot sooner than it did last year, when the governor vetoed a similar piece of legislation.

“We’re receptive to continuing to talk with them, and hopefully they’re receptive to making some additional changes,” the governor said this past week.

Then he added, “Whether they do or don’t, that’s their decision.”

It was a little different in 2016. Deal waited until an inopportune time to begin chatting up legislators — after both chambers of the General Assembly had approved the legislation but before the end of the legislative session. Basically, he was telling legislators then that, as he put it this week, they should be “receptive to making some additional changes.”

The big alteration he was seeking then: In addition to dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses, as well as sporting events, he also wanted on-campus child care facilities, faculty or administrative office space, and disciplinary meetings off-limits for guns.

The legislators said, “We’re good with what we have.” And out came the veto.

So far, this year’s campus gun bill, House Bill 280, has conceded on-campus child care facilities.

When state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, proposed the bill, she said she considered Deal’s other requests. But she decided that the critics’ concerns did not outweigh the needs of others.

“We need to permit people to defend themselves,” she said.

House leadership appears to be unmoved.

Speaker David Ralston said lawmakers tried to be “accommodating” to the governor. But he added, “This is the will of the House of Representatives, by a very clear margin, after a bill that has gone through an extensive, very detailed process going back to April of last year.”

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, as head of the state Senate, seems ready to keep talking.

“I look forward to working with the governor’s office to see if there’s a compromise there,” he said.

Now that sounds receptive.

Just a bill, won’t be a law

Georgia legislators waited a few days to go back into session after racing through Crossover Day.

Some had to lick their wounds.

The 28th day of this year’s 40-day session was the deadline for bills, under normal standards, to cross over from one legislative chamber to the other with any possibility of becoming law.

When you have deadlines, some things are likely to die — nobody really pays much attention to a deadline if a little blood isn’t spilled every now and then.

Here are a few bills that face long odds if they’re going to make it to the final verse — at least this year — of the “Schoolhouse Rock” classic “I’m Just a Bill”:

House Bill 54: This was the second year that state Rep. Geoff Duncan tried to set tax credits at 90 percent for donations to rural hospitals. Last year, the Republican from Cumming managed to get the tax credit program created, but the Senate lowered the reward for contributions to 70 percent. It turned out that didn’t help much, so Duncan — who is viewed as a potential candidate for higher office next year — tried again to bump up the credit. Rural hospitals still appear to be struggling — at least five have closed in Georgia since 2013 — so look for this proposal to return next year.

House Bill 145: This was widely known as “the Delta Bill,” except to its sponsor, state Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, who told anybody who would listen that it was not about Delta Air Lines. It’s just that it would have meant up to $30 million in annual savings for the airline that posted a $4.4 billion profit last year. That prosperity may have been a factor in the bill’s demise, but it shouldn’t be ruled out that some legislators remain irritated by the very public advocacy in 2015 by then-Delta chief Richard Anderson for that year’s major transportation bill and the tax increase that went with it.

Senate Bill 17: This bears the markings of a clash between Senate kahunas. Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, put her considerable clout behind what she called her “mimosa mandate.” The bill would have given privately owned restaurants the same right as government-owned buildings to serve alcohol on Sundays before 12:30 p.m. — actually letting them start serving up those mimosas, bloody marys and screwdrivers at 10:30 a.m. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, who’s a little higher on the flow chart than Unterman, stood in the way. The Republican from Athens has blocked similar “brunch bills” over the past two years out of concern that it would scramble a “fragile compromise” between legislative leaders and the faith community over allowing any alcohol sales on Sundays.

Senate Bill 118: This is another difficult loss for Unterman and other Senate leaders who — inspired by the great-niece of a former colleague — pushed through insurance coverage for autism for children up to age 6 in 2015. SB 118 would have raised the age cap to 21, but it would have to get past opposition from insurance and business advocates who have long opposed expanding mandates they say can be costly. This is a fight that could resume next year.

Capitol Recap: Taxes are in the spotlight. Campaign in the shadows?

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

Capitol Recap: Georgia wins water battle, but Army engineers on notice

Capitol Recap: Will Deal keep veto pen in holster for new gun bill?

Capitol Recap: It’s ‘Groundhog Day’ in Georgia for some legislation

Capitol Recap: Sunny economic forecasts don’t convince every Georgian

Capitol Recap: Georgia Legislature opens with liquor, pot on its plate

Staff writers Greg Bluestein, Janel Davis, James Salzer, Aaron Gould Sheinin and Kristina Torres contributed to this article.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

GOP, facing tight deadline, makes one last run at health care overhaul
GOP, facing tight deadline, makes one last run at health care overhaul

The Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare seemed all but dead this summer. Now it’s not. Again. Against all odds, Georgians both for and against the effort are watching warily as GOP leaders try one last pass at taking down the signature health care law of the Obama administration before their ability to do so expires Sept. 30. What...
Accenture to add more than 800 jobs in Atlanta
Accenture to add more than 800 jobs in Atlanta

Business consultancy Accenture plans to expand its operations in Atlanta in a move that will create more than 800 largely tech-related jobs over the next few years, people familiar with the matter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The announcement is expected to come during a Wednesday press conference with Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim...
Opinion roundup from the Left: Ferguson’s legacy; surviving climate change; a ‘funeral’ to take note of
Opinion roundup from the Left: Ferguson’s legacy; surviving climate change; a ‘funeral’ to take note of

A roundup of editorials Tuesday includes a look the lingering damage from Ferguson; the argument of climate control; and a ceremony in Columbus, Georgia, that people across the country should take note of. Here are some opinions from the Left. From the New York Times: The 2014 police shooting in the Missouri town led to the discovery of systemic bigotry...
Georgia AG joins 36 states to demand answers from insurers on opioids
Georgia AG joins 36 states to demand answers from insurers on opioids

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Monday joined three dozen other states’ attorneys general in firing a shot across the bow of insurance companies in regards to the opioid crisis. Opioid addiction among Americans is at epidemic proportions. This weekend, ProPublica and The New York Times published an investigation into the role insurance...
How Jane Fonda's 1972 trip to North Vietnam earned her the nickname ‘Hanoi Jane’
How Jane Fonda's 1972 trip to North Vietnam earned her the nickname ‘Hanoi Jane’

On a hot, sticky May afternoon in 1970, a crowd of several thousand students and protesters took over the University of Maryland mall. Many were there to protest the Vietnam War. Others were hoping to catch a glimpse of a famous Hollywood actress. Her name was Jane Fonda. As the war raged, the one-time blonde bombshell cut her naturally brown hair...
More Stories