2019 Georgia Legislative Session

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

It’s been 100 days since Gov. Brian Kemp was sworn into office, and he says those days have been filled with keeping promises he made on the campaign trail.

In between the whir and whine of planes taking off at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport Wednesday, Kemp said his administration has been strengthening rural communities, reforming state government and investing in education throughout his first legislative session.


Kemp Signs Multiple Sex Trafficking Bills

Apr 18, 2019
Gov. Brian Kemp poses with a red X on his hand to raise awareness for the "End It Movement" aimed at combating sex trafficking.
Office of The Governor

Gov. Brian Kemp signed three bills into law this Thursday morning aimed at curbing human trafficking and safeguarding victims in the state.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds announced on Monday the head of a new anti-gang task force.

The anti-gang task force is part of Kemp’s campaign pledge to “stop and dismantle criminal gangs,” and will be used as a tool to help local prosecutors build cases against alleged street gangs across Georgia.


GPB

Sine Die is over and so is the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly. Lawmakers considered almost a hundred bills over a period of 14 hours on Tuesday.

GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler was there for the whole 40 days of the session, and he gave continuing updates to On Second Thought listeners throughout those weeks. Lawmakers capitol correspondent Donna Lowry provided ongoing coverage for GPB television viewers. They both stopped by the show after Sine Die to recap the closing hours of the session.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

SINE DIE. 12:00 a.m. April 3. Sine Die! The House and the Senate are done with the 2019 legislative session, using the final minutes to pass a medical marijuana cultivation bill years in the making. 

All bills not passed by both chambers today will be on hold until next session begins January of 2020.

One notable set of measures that did not pass? A jet fuel tax break for Delta and other airlines, a rural transportation plan and a proposal for the state to take over Atlanta's airport. 

Medical Marijuana Clears Senate

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

On the final day of the legislative session, actress Alyssa Milano and several local film and television workers held a press conference in opposition to a bill that would effectively end abortion in Georgia around 6 weeks into pregnancy.

Host Bill Nigut speaks with Greg Bluestein, Rep. Calvin Smyre and Sen. Nikema Williams at the Georgia State Capitol.
GPB

On this edition of Political Rewind, lawmakers, lobbyists and citizens here to promote favored legislation or just soak in the spectacle have all gathered under the gold dome today as the 2019 session rushes to a close.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

It's Sine Die, the final day of the legislative session in the Georgia House and Senate. If a bill does not pass both chambers and head to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk by the end of the day, it has to wait until next legislative session to continue its progress since this is the first year of a biennium. So while the stakes aren't quiet as do-or-die as Crossover Day or next year's Sine Die, today will be filled with last-minute efforts to pass policy changes large and small. 


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

Georgia is on track to have the toughest abortion laws in the country – and to have that law challenged in court.

Followed by a smattering of “Shame!” from the gallery, the Georgia House gave final passage to HB 481, which would effectively ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected, around six weeks into pregnancy and before most women know they are pregnant.

GPB

The penultimate day of the 2019 legislative session brings discussion of medical marijuana cultivation, a controversial ban on most abortions and a proposed takeover of the airport. Next week marks Sine Die, the last day for a bill to pass both chambers and head to Gov. Brian Kemp for approval. Otherwise, the legislation will have to wait to pass until January 2020.

GPB reporter Stephen Fowler joined On Second Thought to discuss the ins and outs of the legislative session.


Creative Commons

Georgia's teachers are getting a pay raise as part of Georgia's record-setting $27.5 billion budget. 

Lawmakers approved a conference committee's report on HB 31 Thursday that worked out differences between the House and Senate versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, beginning July 1.

Stephen Fowler / GPB

The last Monday of the 2019 legislative session was a busy day for health-related measures. 

A bill that would allow Georgia to sidestep some federal health care rules associated with the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid is now on the governor’s desk after passing the state House.

Donna Lowry

Families seeking help using medical marijuana in Georgia are frustrated about a bill that would make it legal for them to obtain it. They expressed their frustration at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“This medicine (cannabis oil) saved my life,” said Kyle White, who has used the oil to treat post-traumatic stress disorder he developed from his stint in Afghanistan medically. His step-daughter also takes medicine for autism and monoconidial disease.

Wikimedia Commons

Public high schools in Georgia could soon have greater freedom to offer courses on Christianity under legislation approved by the state House.

Passed by a vote of 122-44 Tuesday, the proposal would allow schools to teach electives on the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

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

GPB

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. 


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