Lawmakers

Ways to Connect

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

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. 


Donna Lowry / GPB

Georgia first lady Marty Kemp took center stage at a press conference Thursday to announce a way to enhance the state’s roadways with Georgia plants.  It’s a partnership between the agriculture and transportation departments.

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.

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.

Lawmakers have only six legislative days left to debate and pass bills that could change policies all over the state. This week brought continued discussion about the potential Atlanta airport takeover and intense debate over women's reproductive rights. 

GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler joined "On Second Thought" to discuss this week in Georgia politics.


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."

Grant Blankenship/GPB

As the state Senate is set to vote on a sweeping elections bill that would authorize $150 million in spending to modernize Georgia’s touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines, the long-term cost of the proposed solution remains a point of contention.  

Donna Lowry / GPB

The Georgia House on Thursday passed what could become the state’s first hate crimes legislation. Georgia is one of five states that does not currently have such a bill.

“Hate can be used as a tool for evil to undermine the law and order that we take for granted some times,” Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula).

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. 

Skylar Nicholson / GPB

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has thrown down the gauntlet over a bill that would allow the state to take control of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 

“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s what I call an act of war,” Bottoms said during an interview for GPB’s Lawmakers show which airs  7 p.m. Monday.  “When you live in a glass house, you shouldn’t throw stones.  The state has had its own challenges.”

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.

Donna Lowry / GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Thursday a boost for Georgia’s workforce. Solar energy will power 400 new jobs in Early County, in the southwest part of the state.

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.

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.

Ten years after a hit-and-run driver killed a Cobb County man police investigators still have no idea who struck him, but Thursday at the state Capitol his family received some comfort in knowing they have helped future victims.

The Senate passed SB 1 known as "C.J.'s Law" after 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 struck him again.

Flickr/Todd Petrie

State lawmakers are hoping to bring changes to homeschool reporting in Georgia. This, after two children were found dead and buried behind their family's home in Effingham County.


GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed his first law since taking office.

"This was a team effort from the general assembly, law enforcement, educators and concerned citizens to do the right thing and help save kid’s lives," Kemp said.

Senate Bill 25 was the first measure Republicans passed under the Kemp Administration, and the law makes it illegal for oncoming traffic to drive past a stopped school bus in a road divided by a turn lane.

GPB

Georgia has a new tool to help those suffering from mental health issues.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced an app to go along with the Georgia Crisis and Access Line or GCAL. The hotline, which launched in 2006, receives almost 1,000 calls each day. Now, the state is adding a GCAL app.

GPB

Rep. Matt Barton (R Calhoun) called his first day as the newest member of the Georgia House “Lucky 13.”  That’s because he’s beginning his first term on the day 13 of the legislative session.

GPB

The Senate passed its first significant legislation Thursday to clarify a law about when vehicles must stop for school buses.

For years, Georgia law required motorists – on both sides of the road – to stop when a school bus extends its stop arm unless the way had a grassy or concrete median, and in that case, oncoming traffic could continue to move.

However, last year on the last day of the legislative session lawmakers passed a bill allowing vehicles to catch a school bus if the road had a turning lane.

GPB News

A move toward expanding school choice is expected to come up during this legislative session because both  Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan campaigned on the issue.

School choice can range from private to charters to magnet schools. Each are funded differently.

GPB News

Voters in Banks, Stephens, and Habersham counties are hoping three is the final number.

For the third time since December, voters will have to go to the polls to decide the race between incumbent Rep. Dan Gasaway and former Banks County School Superintendent Chris Erwin.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

As the hearings continue on the governor’s proposed budget, among the proposals gaining wide-ranging, bi-partisan support is the $69 million proposed for school safety.

In Fulton County Schools, thanks to voter support of SPLOST or the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax, the district is taking school security to the next level.

“The days of James Bond sci-fi is here in Fulton County Schools,” said Shannon Flounnory, the school system's executive director of safety and security.

Pages