2019 Georgia Legislative Session

Donna Lowry

It looks like Georgia’s certified teachers could get the full $3,000 pay raise Gov. Brian Kemp promised.

Early Thursday morning the Senate Appropriations added back the $225 taken away in the House version – and still made sure librarians and counselors will get the hike.

“I think it’s time. I think it’s time that to do the pay raise just as the governor has promised,” said Chairman of Senate Appropriations Sen. Jack Hill.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

By the end of the week, the Georgia Senate could join the ranks of other state legislatures when they vote on a so-called “heartbeat bill” that would effectively ban abortions about six weeks into pregnancy.

While the proposed restrictions grab headlines, abortion rights opponents say the aim of this type of bill isn’t only to limit access to the procedure, but also to trigger a Supreme Court challenge to federal protections for abortion.

Both abortion rights advocates and opponents say language in Georgia’s bill could make the case.

 


Donna Lowry / GPB

The Georgia House has a new representative who will only be on the job for the last nine days of the 2019 session.

James Burchett (R-Waycross) was sworn into House seat 176 Monday morning before work in the chamber got underway.

Burchett won a runoff election last week to fill the seat vacated by Jason Shaw.  Governor Nathan Deal appointed Shaw to the Public Service Commission.

David Goldman / AP Photo

The Secretary of State's Office has released its Request for Proposals (RFP) to upgrade Georgia's 27,000 touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines. 

Gov. Brian Kemp still has to sign HB 316, which would make Georgia the only state in the country to conduct elections solely on touchscreen ballot-marking devices.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

The controversial bill that would prevent doctors from performing abortion once a heartbeat is detected passed out of committee Monday morning. 

Three Republican men voted for HB 481 and were greeted by a chorus of "Shame!" from dozens of protestors as they left the Science and Technology committee room. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) was also urged to "trust women" as he entered the Capitol this morning from women dressed in red cloaks like characters from the book and television series "The Handmaid's Tale."

The state Senate has approved HB 316, an omnibus voting bill that would tweak state election code and would make Georgia the only state in the country to solely use ballot-marking devices to conduct elections.

Lawmakers debated for about three hours on the measure, which was passed 35-21 along party lines.

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) carried the bill in the Senate. He said the $150 million price tag in the budget has been thoroughly vetted by lawmakers and the state.

The Georgia General Assembly session begins on January 14, 2019.
Ken Lund / Creative Commons

By the end of crossover day, bills must be clear of one chamber or the other to remain in play for the rest of the legislative session. The state House and Senate passed a wave of legislation by the deadline, including a "heartbeat" abortion bill. GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler and Capitol correspondent for GPB TV's "Lawmakers," Donna Lowry, joined "On Second Thought" to discuss this week in Georgia politics.


GPB

On this edition of Political Rewind, a dramatic day under the Gold Dome produces action on a series of historic measures that are still in play as the session continues.


GPB

The Georgia House passed a bill Thursday that would greatly restrict access to abortions.

HB 481 passed 93-73 after more than an hour of passionate debate from both sides of the issue and the aisle. 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), would ban doctors from performing an abortion once a heartbeat is detected, which is around six weeks into pregnancy, with a few exceptions.

Andre M / Wikimedia Commons

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.

Wikimedia Commons

The Georgia Senate has approved a measure that would move control of the world's busiest airport from the city of Atlanta to the state. 

SB 131, passed 34-22, would create the "Georgia Major Airport Authority" that would comprise elected officials and others appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker. 

GPB/ Grant Blankenship

Gov. Brian Kemp released a video Thursday urging legislators to pass a so-called "heartbeat" abortion bill before the Crossover Day deadline.

Kemp, who vowed on the campaign trail to sign the "toughest abortion laws in the country" if elected, appears to be sticking to his promise. 

Thursday signals the last day for bills to be passed out of one chamber, the House or Senate, to the other. It's known as crossover day. After that, legislators have about three weeks to get bills to the governor's desk.

So far, here are some bills that have been voted on:

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D- Md., the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform is seeking a trove of information from Georgia’s governor and secretary of state as it investigates reports of issues reported during the state’s 2018 elections.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

On this edition of Political Rewind, the House Oversight Committee announced Wednesday a new investigation into allegations of voter suppression in Georgia during the 2018 midterm elections. The announcement came a few hours after federal prosecutors announced charges in the ongoing Atlanta City Hall corruption probe.

 


The 2019 legislative session is nearing a pivotal moment: Crossover Day.

Lawmakers have made it through nearly two months of committee meetings, floor debates and votes, but many big-name measures have not yet passed the House or the Senate and crossed over to the other chamber.

Here’s a look at major legislation that has not yet been voted on.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION

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It's crunch time at the state Capitol as the legislative session barrels towards Crossover Day on Thursday.

That's essentially the last day a bill has to pass out of either the House or the Senate to be considered through the rest of the 40-day session. 


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A bill that would upgrade Georgia’s voting machines is winding its way through the Georgia Senate after clearing the House earlier this week.

HB 316 calls for Georgia to purchase touchscreen ballot-marking devices with a paper component, and makes numerous changes to how election law deals with absentee voting, voter registration and how votes are tallied.

New Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been following the bill’s progress closely, testifying at many of the subcommittee and committee hearings. He says that county elections officials overwhelmingly support ballot-marking devices as the best option for voters, and he thinks so, too.

While the bill was being heard for the first time in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday, I sat down with Raffensperger to talk about the bill and the future of Georgia’s elections.

Read the transcript of our conversation below.

GPB

On this edition of Political Rewind, it’s been some time since legislators have taken a serious look at further restrictions on abortion in Georgia. But now, a move to all but make the procedure illegal is up for consideration and Gov. Kemp has added his voice to the debate. Our panel looks at what might be the most explosive issue of the 2019 session.


A Transportation Security Administration employee checks an air traveler's identification at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Atlanta.
John Bazemore / AP Photo

This week in Georgia politics involved the ongoing discussion over House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and calls for his resignation, Gov. Kemp's Medicaid waiver plan and possible state control of Atlanta's airport.

 

GPB reporter Stephen Fowler joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the Georgia legislature and Crossover Day, the last day bills have to pass out of one chamber or the other in order to be considered during the session.

 


Senate feed screenshot

Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank stopped by the Georgia Capitol on Thursday to thank lawmakers and fans across Georgia for their support of the teams Major League Soccer championship.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A bill that will be filed in the Georgia House would virtually ban abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its Roe v. Wade decision or if states are allowed to outlaw abortion.

In a press release Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced support for the bill, which provides a maximum penalty of $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison for someone who performs an abortion.

On the campaign trail, Kemp vowed to pass the "toughest abortion laws in the country."

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

It's the end of day 23 in the 2019 legislative session, and the frenetic pace of lawmaking will only increase from here. More than 500 bills have been introduced so far in the House and more than 200 in the Senate. A bill must make it through at least one chamber before Crossover Day next Thursday.

One of those is the fiscal year 2020 budget that begins July 1. That document is set to be debated in the House Thursday.

Here are some brief updates from under the Gold Dome.

Donna Lowry / GPB

The Georgia House expects to take up the FY 2020 budget Thursday, and right now, it looks like teachers may get a little less than the promised $3,000 pay raises because of an expansion of the definition of a teacher.

State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, asks questions during a committe hearing at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.
David Goldman / AP Photo

If passed, a law proposed this week in Georgia’s house of representatives would make the state the most restrictive when it comes to abortion regulations.

Republican lawmaker Ed Setzler filed HB 481 titled the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act” or the Life Act. The legislation would require “physicians performing abortions to determine the existence of a human heartbeat before performing an abortion.”

GPB

On this edition of Political Rewind, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen is continuing his appearance before the House Oversight Committee on capitol hill. Have we learned anything new from his public testimony? Meanwhile, the President is in Hanoi meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

The Georgia Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would allow Georgia to seek waivers from Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

SB 106, the "Patients First Act," would use $1 million in state funding and a match from the federal government to hire consultants to research options to expand health care access to low and moderate income Georgians.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The state House voted mostly along party lines to advance a $150 million bill that would fundamentally change how Georgians vote in the coming years. 

HB 316 passed 101-97, with Democrats Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) and Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park) voting for the bill and one Republican, Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) voting against it.


GPB

On this edition of Political Rewind, plans to expand broadband to rural Georgia may be in jeopardy after legislators kill a bill that would pay for the project with a tax on video streaming services. Where will the funds to pay for the project come now?


flickr/ Jenny Cestnik

 

Georgia lawmakers have removed a proposal that would have added a state tax to Netflix and other streaming video services.

The sales tax on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu would have been used to help fund internet expansion in rural parts of the state.

House Speaker David Ralston steps away form the podium after speaking on the House floor on Feb. 11, 2016.
David Goldman / AP Photo

Republican House Speaker David Ralston is forming a bipartisan group to look at changing a law he is accused of abusing.  

Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) announced he wants to examine the century-old law often referred to as 'legislative leave' that allows lawyers in the General Assembly to postpone cases while doing legislative duties. 

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