Lawmakers

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John Amis / AP Photo

On Friday's Political Rewind, the legislature has recessed at the end of the first week of the 2020 session. Members will spend next week in budget hearings. Agency heads will plead their cases for why they should not lose significant funding despite demands from Gov. Brian Kemp for big budget cuts.


Governor's Office of Planning and Budget

Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest budget proposal would increase state spending to $28.1 billion for the next fiscal year, largely driven by increases in formula-based funding for education and health care plus a pay raise for public school teachers. 

The proposal comes as many other state agencies have been asked to cut back.

The governor’s budget report released Thursday kicks off the next phase of budget discussions at the state Capitol, where lawmakers have been greeted with the news of tepid tax collections as the larger economy continues to grow.

The amended budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which ends June 30, has been revised down slightly from $27.5 billion to $27.4 billion as the governor’s office projects only a slight growth in the amount of money collected from taxes and fees.

John Bazemore / AP Photo

On Thursday's Political Rewind, we discussed Gov. Brian Kemp’s 2020 State of the State address to the General Assembly earlier.

The governor took the opportunity to lay out his legislative priorities during the speech before a joint session of the General Assembly.

Our panel will discuss the issues he highlighted and those he omitted. 


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Speaking on the state House floor in front of representatives from Georgia’s executive, legislative and judicial branches, Gov. Brian Kemp said the state of the state is strong.

“And folks, we’re just getting started,” he said.

The governor, entering his second year in office, painted an extended metaphor of the state as a house under construction.

John Bazemore / AP

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told lawmakers during his State of the State address Thursday that his budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes an additional $2,000 pay raise for teachers and school employees, completing a campaign promise to boost teacher pay and adding another layer of complication to a tight budget discussion.

In his second annual address to lawmakers, Kemp also said the General Assembly should continue to fully fund the state’s education formula.

“Let’s fully fund public school education for the third year in a row, accounting for growth and resources needed to properly educate,” he said.

David Goldman / AP Photo

Wednesday on Political Rewind, we tackled a range of issues that will be considered this year in the Georgia legislature, including sex trafficking and a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 

Some Georgia farmers interested in growing hemp will be paying close attention. They have been cautioned they cannot move forward with growing the potentially lucrative crop until the state finds funds for overseeing production.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

More than 2,600 lawmakers and business leaders filled a ballroom at the Georgia World Congress Center Wednesday to hear several top politicians share their perspectives on the state’s economy.

The overall message of the morning was that business is booming in Georgia: from low unemployment rates to more companies expanding their operations across the state. But state officials have difficult decisions to make regarding proposed budget cuts as slowing tax revenues don't match up with larger growth seen elsewhere.

John Amis / AP Photo

On Tuesday's Political Rewind, Georgians could soon be paying more for online purchases if a measure to hold companies accountable for collecting the taxes they owe on internet purchases continues to gain momentum under the Gold Dome.

Legislative leaders say enforcing collections could add $300 million or more to the state treasury at a time when budgets are tight.

Our panel also discussed possible tax cuts on the table in the new state legislative session.


Georgia State Capitol
John Amis / AP

Georgia lawmakers gathered under the Gold Dome for the first day of the 2020 legislative session Monday.

House Speaker David Ralston said last week he expects this year's session will largely focus on balancing the state's $27.5 billion budget.

Lawmakers could also consider legislation allowing people to vote on a constitutional amendment in November on whether to legalize gambling among other measures.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said his priorities for the 2020 legislative session include healthcare, foster care and boosting Georgia’s role as a technology hub.

Speaking to reporters in his office Monday, the first-term Republican said that he learned a lot during his first 12 months in office and is ready to continue working with the governor’s office and lawmakers.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The Georgia General Assembly gaveled in for Day One of the 2020 legislative session Monday. The day began with a pair of remembrances for lawmakers who recently passed away, and started the clock on a contentious few months of debate over funding the state budget as revenues lag.


John Amis / AP Photo

On Monday's Political Rewind, the General Assembly has begun its 2020 session. Major themes are likely to include significant budget cuts and the legalization of gambling.

In addition, legislators will be keeping the upcoming election in mind throughout the session's deliberations.


Ken Lund / flickr

Friday on Political Rewind, Georgia legislators are set to take up residence at the state Capitol once again next week. The 2020 session of the General Assembly gets under way on Monday.

Our panel discusses what you can expect from the legislature.


Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, speaking with the press ahead of the 2020 Georgia General Assembly.
Donna Lowry / GPB

The top Republican in Georgia’s House of Representatives is anticipating a lengthy 2020 legislative session as state lawmakers grapple with tax and budgeting rules.

During his annual pre-session press conference House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, laid out his expectations and offered a preview of the upcoming General Assembly.

State Rep. Philip Singleton's Office

The "Student Athlete Protection Act" was recently filed in the Georgia legislature by state Rep. Philip Singleton (R-Sharpsburg). His first filed bill, HR 747, would among other things give athletic organizations the authority to prevent transgender athletes from competing in sporting events that don't match the gender assigned at birth.


Jacquelyn Martin / AP

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler this week began her congressional tenure as Gov. Brian Kemp’s replacement for retired Sen. Johnny Isakson. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Washington correspondent, Tia Mitchell, joined us to talk about Loeffler’s first days on Capitol Hill.


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.


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 News

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.

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