Updated on Tuesday at 7:58 p.m.
The Georgian legislature reached an important deadline on Monday, the day of transition in the General Assembly. Then bills and other measures have to pass through the House or Senate and pass into the other chamber. Some important proposals, such as restrictive voting and electoral laws, had already advanced. The Senate passed additional voting restrictions on Monday. A bill to strip the state labor commissioner of some powers came back to life on Monday. Measures that have failed include efforts to impose new criminal sanctions on some demonstrators. There are ways to revive failed actions later by changing them to other invoices. Since it is the first year of a two-year term in office, measures that do not advance this year could still be adopted next year. Here’s a look at the status of some key issues:
VOTE: Republicans in the Georgia Senate have passed a comprehensive voting bill on opposition from Democratic Senators after more than three hours of debate.
The bill would end unexcused out-of-office voting, require ID for out-of-office voting, ban mobile polling stations except in emergencies, and allow government agencies to remove underperforming election officials.
Democratic senators compared the legislation to the election suppression tactic from Jim Crow’s time, saying this past election cycle has proven safe.
Senator Nikki Merritt argued against the bill on the grounds that many of the Republicans who advocated postal voting restrictions were elected this way.
“Many of you in this chamber won your elections by absenteeism, which, ironically, gives you the opportunity now to put forward mood-limiting laws,” Merritt said. “Were your choices fraudulent too?”
Both houses of the General Assembly have now passed major voting changes, although there are differences that need to be settled before a final version becomes law.
Robb Pitts, chairman of Fulton County, was one of the Atlanta subway district leaders speaking at a rally at the Capitol on Monday afternoon, speaking out against Republican electoral laws.
On the left, justice-based Asian Americans and other civil rights groups outside the Capitol are protesting election restrictions on Monday. Right, Robb Pitts, chairman of Fulton County, is speaking at a rally. (Emil Moffatt / WABE)
“Fulton County is wrongly targeted. I don’t know what happened in the other 158 [counties]but leave Fulton County, Georgia alone. Period, ”said Pitts.
Pitts said laws restricting the use of postal voting boxes, restricting weekend voting, and banning mobile voting units, are directly aimed at reducing voter turnout in Fulton, the state’s largest county.
“We think we were very innovative, very creative and very proactive. So much so that other jurisdictions locally and nationally are adjusting what we’ve done here and for the voters, ”said Pitts. DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson and Stephen Day, member of the Gwinnett County Electoral Committee, also spoke.
SCHOOL COUPONS: The house is still considering House Bill 60, which will be used to create a new education savings accounts program to provide coupons for private schools and home schooling. The Senate has already passed Senate Draft 47, which would expand eligibility for a program that pays children with special educational needs to attend private schools.
ADULT CRIME AGE: The age at which most people are charged with adult crimes would increase from 17 to 18 in Georgia under House Bill 272.
STREET RACING: House Bill 534 and Senate Bill 10 would increase penalties for illegal street racing and stunt driving.
CITIZEN FORTIFICATION: Georgia House unanimously passed House Bill 479 on Monday to repeal the law on the arrest of citizens after Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead in Braunschweig last year. The law was put in place to help the men now in jail for Arbery’s murder avoid months of prosecution.
PATIENT VISIT: A measure that would allow restricted access for family members in hospitals and long-term care facilities, even during a public health emergency, was passed at Georgia House. The measure’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Ed Setzler, says the bill will limit visits to one hour a day, with health guidelines set by the facility. The vote was 113-57 in favor of the bill.
House spokesman David Ralston spoke out in favor of House Bill 290, which allows limited hospital visits during a public health emergency. (Emil Moffatt / WABE)
DIVIDED DRIVING: With House Bill 247, the first waiver of distracted driving offenses is no longer necessary. Bill author, Republican John Carson, says the state has no way to prosecute first-time violations, which are often waived after the driver purchases a speakerphone. Carson said the number of distracted road deaths has declined since the passage of Georgia’s hands-free law, with the exception of preliminary 2020 figures. These deaths are attributed to motorists traveling at higher speeds and fewer people on the road.
ADOPTION TAX CREDIT: The House also passed law increasing the tax credit for adopting foster children from $ 2,000 to $ 6,000 per year. House Bill 114 was sponsored by Republican Bert Reeves and passed 158-0.
INCOME TAX CUT: Georgia would increase the amount of money someone could make before paying House Bill 593 income taxes and cut total taxes by $ 140 million.
SPORTS BETTING: With Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Law 142, Georgian voters could decide whether to allow sports betting. Lawmakers would divide the proceeds into college scholarships for low-income students, expanded high-speed internet access, and rural health services.
LABOR COMMISSIONER: The Senators on Friday abandoned Senate Draft 156, which would have created a chief labor officer to oversee unemployment benefits. The move would have undermined the authority of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler as lawmakers say his department poorly handled a flood of jobless claims.
HOME-SCHOOLED ATHLETES: Public schools would require home-schooled students to participate in track and field and after-school activities as long as they take at least one online course through the local school under Senate Bill 51.
LAWSUIT LIABILITY: House Bill 112 is extended to July 2022. Georgian law protects companies and others from legal action if someone accuses them of contracting COVID-19.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Senate Bill 33 would allow victims or state officials to bring civil actions against traffickers, while Senate Bill 34 would make it easier for people who have been trafficked to change their names.
PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: House Bill 146 would provide nearly 250,000 state, public university, and public school employees with three weeks of paid parental leave at any time after the birth, adoption, or care of a child.
TIME CHANGE: House Bill 44 calls on Georgia to permanently switch to daylight saving time if the US Congress approves it. Senate Bill 100 calls on Georgia to adhere to Standard Time year-round unless Congress allows states to permanently switch to daylight saving time.
DEFUND THE POLICE: House Bill 286 states that cities and counties cannot cut spending on their police services by more than 5% per year.
PORCH PIRACY: It would be a mandatory prison crime for people stealing packages from someone else’s porch under House Bill 94.
HAZING: Senate Bill 85 would increase penalties for bullying and make it a crime to force people to participate in bullying when someone is seriously injured, including from alcohol poisoning.
TEACHER INCENTIVES: House Bill 32 would give a US $ 3,000 per year state tax credit to some Georgian teachers who agree to work in certain rural or underperforming schools.
LAWMAKER PAY RAISE: The pay of 180 House members and 56 Senators in Georgia would nearly double under House Bill 675. Most nationally elected officials would also receive significant pay increases. Proponents say lawmaker pay hasn’t changed since 1999.
EMERGENCY FORCES: House Bill 358 would require lawmakers to renew Governor Brian Kemp’s emergency powers every 30 days and every 90 days thereafter to limit the powers Kemp has exercised over the Georgian health emergency for nearly a year.
IN-STATE TEACHING: House Bill 120 allows some people without legal immigration status to apply for tuition at most universities and colleges in Georgia.
TRANSGENDER SPORTS: Senate Bill 266 would prohibit transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in high schools. Proponents say those who were not born women could have an unfair advantage, but opponents say it is illegal and cruel under federal law to do so.
LIMITS: Voters in Georgia could limit the state legislature to 12 years per chamber and extend the tenure of senators to four years under Senate Resolution 37, a constitutional amendment. The measure would also limit the office of lieutenant governor to two terms.
STONE MOUNTAIN: Senate Bill 158 would require a civil, electoral and human rights memorial to be erected on Stone Mountain, which is home to a giant carving of Confederate leaders.
PROTEST RESTRICTIONS: Senate Bill 171 would have made blocking a freeway during a protest a crime, imposed penalties for other forms of protest, and expanded the state’s definition of illegal gathering. It never left the committee.
CASINO GAMBLING: None of the various actions that casinos would authorize have left the committee.
HORSE RACING: None of the various measures that would authorize horse racing betting have been removed from the committee.