While Georgia lawmakers are busy debating major bills of statewide significance, they’re also considering legislation that isn’t getting as much attention.
Here’s a look at five lesser-known proposals that might have been overshadowed by proposals to improve public transportation, make adoptions easier, revitalize rural areas and pass the state’s $26 billion budget.
- Instant replay: After referees denied Peach County what would have been a go-ahead touchdown against Calhoun High in the Class AAA state championship, some state legislators are trying to make instant replay the law of the land. State Rep. Patty Bentley, a Democrat who represents part of Peach County, introduced House Bill 667 to require instant replay to review rulings on the field for high school football playoff games involving school systems that receive state funding. Currently, high school football calls aren’t reviewable or reversible under the rules of the Georgia High School Association.
- Free speech on campus: Rallies, protests and free speech on university campuses would be allowed in public areas without many restrictions. Senate Bill 339, sponsored by Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, protects “unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive” speech without a need to give notice of events in advance. Anyone who infringes on someone’s First Amendment speech rights could face a fine of $1,000.
- Public court records: Courtroom audio recordings would become a matter of public record if Senate Bill 311 becomes law. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, was filed in response to a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that the public can’t obtain or copy audio recordings made by taxpayer-funded senographers. The court ‘s decision rejected a request from the “Undisclosed” podcast to copy audio from the 2001 murder trial of Joey Watkins. The podcast raised questions about whether Watkins was wrongly convicted in the killing of Isaac Dawkins.
- Lottery secrecy: If you win the lottery, you could pay to keep your identity confidential, according to Senate Bill 331, sponsored by Sen. Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain. The legislation allows lucky lottery players to pay up to 4 percent of their winnings to the Georgia Lottery Corporation to keep all identifying information private.
- Tampon education: Every physician or nurse providing a tampon to a patient or student would have to warn them about the risks, according to House Bill 656, sponsored by Rep. Debra Bazemore, D-Riverdale. The proposal requires patients to be made aware of toxic shock syndrome, “a rare but serious disease that may cause death” among women who have a negative reaction to tampons.
The chances of these bills becoming law range from uncertain to doubtful. There’s no guarantee that legislative leaders will even bring them up for consideration in committee hearings.