Crossover Day: Updates From The Gold Dome

Mar 7, 2019

This post originally published at 8:52 a.m. Thursday, March 7. It has been updated.

The (Crossover) day has come. Thursday is legislative day 28 of 40, and is the make-or-break time for most bills angling to make their way to the governor during this session. 

It's widely considered to be the final day a bill must pass out of the House or the Senate to continue its way through the legislative process.

All hope is not lost, however. Controversial bills (or non-controversial ones) can still be considered during the rest of the session for a number of reasons, like attaching themselves to somewhat-related bills that have already passed out of one chamber, or by completely changing the text of the bill.

And since this is year one of the biennial session, anything not passed by Sine Die still has next year to garner the votes to become law. 

Several big-name measures are set to be voted on, ranging from a bill making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion to a proposal to have the state take over control of Atlanta's airport, something the mayor has called an "act of war."

At least 20 bills are scheduled for debate in the House, and 36 in the Senate. Follow along throughout the day for updates on what bills cross over and what goes back to the legislative drawing board.

UPDATE 11:15 p.m.

Crossover Day has ended with nearly 90 bills voted on between the two chambers. The House has passed both the hate crimes bill and a controversial measure that would ban abortions once a doctor is able to determine a heartbeat, around six weeks into pregnancy. Gov. Kemp says he is pleased with the bill and looks forward to working with the Senate to give it final passage.

UPDATE 8:30 p.m.

It's 8:30 p.m. and we've got an hour debate ahead of us for HB 426, the hate crimes bill. Georgia is one of a small handful of states that does not have a hate crimes law.

UPDATE 7 p.m.

The Senate has adjourned for the day, having made it through their rules calendar. Lawmakers there voted on the airport takeover bill, a rural broadband bill and a measure that requires high school students and people getting a GED to pass the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test.

The House has another rules committee meeting to add more bills to the legislative pile.

UPDATE 6 p.m.

Sixty bills have been passed by the House and Senate combined since 11 a.m., ranging from requiring recess in elementary schools to a controversial proposal of a state takeover of Atlanta's airport.

Still to come: a bill that would strengthen restrictions on abortion.

UPDATE 3:20 p.m.

It's after lunch for both chambers, and lawmakers are chugging along with the dozens of bills on their rules calendars.

The biggest news is a potential looming vote on an abortion bill that has Gov. Brian Kemp's support and vocal opposition from House Democrats.

The Senate passed their version of a rural broadband bill that would allow electrical membership cooperatives to sell internet to their customers, and a measure that allows schools to being incorporating computer science courses into their curriculum.

The House approved measures dealing with "transmitting a false alarm," also known as "swatting," and a bill that creates the crime of staging a motor vehicle collision. 

UPDATE 2:10 p.m.

The state Senate passed a measure 34-22 that would create the Georgia Major Airport Authority, effectively moving control of Atlanta's airport to the state. That's after more than two hours of debate and several amendments proposed. Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) spoke against the bill, and said a vote for this would be going against the wishes of Delta Air Lines, the major Atlanta-based airline that's the largest private employer in Georgia.

House Democrats also held a press conference during their lunch break speaking in opposition to HB 481, a bill that would ban abortions in most cases once the doctor can detect a heartbeat, which is usually around six weeks into pregnancy.

UPDATE 12:40 p.m.

The House has rejected a plan to change the state's Certificate of Need requirements, or CON, by a vote of 72-94. The measure isn't fully dead, though – legislators voted to reconsider the bill later in the day.The House will be in recess until 2 p.m. for lunch, while the Senate is continuing debate on the airport takeover bill.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.

So far, the House has passed HB 296, 512, 373 and 337 with relative ease. The Senate has passed SB 211, 216, 200, 225 and SR 275.

Here's where some real debate is beginning: the House is considering HB 198, which would change the Certificate of Need requirement for health care facilities in Georgia.

The Senate is debating SB 131, the state takeover of Atlanta's airport. The City of Atlanta is aggressively lobbying against the bill, with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms calling it an "act of war" and saying it is a "theft" from citizens.

Complicating matters is Wednesday's announcement of 51 charges against a former city contractor for things like bribery and tax evasion. Republicans in the Senate are using that news as more evidence the city isn't fit to run the airport.