The four-day week for lawmakers following Monday’s Presidents Day holiday ended with the General Assembly finishing on Day 20, which is the halfway point on the 40-day session.
The first hurdles of overhauling state’s voting system dominated the week. Lawmakers will continue to wrestle over specifics of the legislation in the coming weeks.
On Tuesday, Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton gave the annual State of the Judiciary message.
“I am pleased to report today that the state of Georgia’s judiciary is sturdy, stable, and strong,” said Melton to the packed House chamber that included members of the judiciary.
Melton credited lawmakers for taking a lead with Georgia’s criminal justice reforms that have now become the federal model.
Also on Tuesday, a group of female lawmakers united to call for an end to what they call “period poverty,” which is the lack of access to feminine hygiene products. For a second year, Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City) is sponsoring a bill to eliminate the 4 percent state tax on things such as sanitary napkins and tampons.
Buckner's bill has gained support from women’s groups from across the state, including the Junior League of Georgia, the YWCA of Greater Atlanta and the League of Women Voters in Macon. At a press conference, STOMP supporters gave donations of feminine hygiene products to GEMA to distribute during state emergencies, such as Hurricane Michael. The group also recognized commissioner Timothy Ward of the Georgia Department of Corrections for increasing the amount of feminine products given to female inmates.
On Wednesday, the House Juvenile Justice committee took a look at a move to crack down on human trafficking in Georgia.
“This anti-human trafficking bill will give law enforcement the tools needed to investigate and prosecute those who facilitate human trafficking,” said Rep. Chuck Efstration, (R-Dacula).
“It also will give treatment for the victims so they can have trauma-informed counselors and services rather than treating the victims like criminals.”
On Thursday, the Senate passed “C.J.’s Law” after toughening penalties in hit-and-run accidents. The legislation is named for Charlie "CJ" Jones, 23, who while walking in North Cobb on Piedmont Road and Rio Drive was struck by a car in which the driver kept going. Jones remained in the street, and someone else hit him again.
On Friday, lawmakers passed the 2019 Amended Fiscal Year Budget, House Bill 30, the so-called “Baby Budget,” which is an amendment to the current fiscal year. It includes $65 million for school security. Also, there is$10 million for emergency disaster relief to aid our farmers in southwest Georgia following Hurricane Michael.