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Monday, March 3, marked “Crossover Day” at the Georgia State Capitol. On this day, a bill must crossover from the House to the Senate or vice-versa if it is to remain viable this session. Crossover Day typically goes until midnight and involves lots of lobbying, drama, and intensive floor debates. While the Senate finished their work early this year, the House stayed in session until 11:30. Below is a summary of some of the more newsworthy bills and their fate*:
*Please note that vote totals are indicated after the bill number. The first number is the total votes cast in favor of a bill (Y=yea), the second is the total votes cast against a bill (N=nay).
House Bills That Passed Crossover Day:
- HB 702: 138Y – 37N – This bill allows for privately funded monuments containing the Ten Commandments, a portion of the Declaration of Independence, and a portion of the Georgia Constitution to be placed on the grounds of the State Capitol.
- HB 707: 115Y – 59N – This bill prevents the State Insurance Commissioner from enforcing provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), local and state agencies and governments from spending money attached to the ACA, and prevents the University of Georgia from operating the navigator program that assists people who are seeking coverage under the ACA.
- HB 766: 163Y – 1N – The “Work Based Learning” Act would permit schools – in collaboration with the Department of Labor and the Technical College System of Georgia – to award secondary credit for approved off campus work to students age 16 and over.
- HB 772: 107Y – 66N – This bill requires that adult applicants for and recipients of food stamps or benefits under TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) submit to drug testing if a state caseworker from the Department of Family and Children Services determines that there is a “reasonable suspicion” of drug abuse. Eligibility of children under both programs is not affected by this legislation.
- HB 875: 119Y – 56N – This bill allows land owners/lessees the final decision as to whether properly licensed citizens may carry concealed firearms on their premises, potentially significantly expanding the places a licensed individual could carry a firearm to include churches, bars, and certain government buildings where security is not provided. It also allows for school boards to designate a school employee to be armed.
- HB 885: 171Y – 4N – This bill allows for the usage of medical cannabis derivatives for the treatment of patients who suffer from severe seizure disorders and encourages research on additional medical uses of cannabis.
- HB 886: 164Y – 3N – This bill would require the governing body of Charter Schools to hold a minimum of two public hearings to review their budget before its adoption each year.
- HB 897: 121Y – 51N – This bill would eliminate obsolete provisions, and update and clarify other provisions relating to elementary and secondary education. It is noteworthy that aspects of this legislation (section 36) would directly impact the approval process for homeschooling.
- HB 990: 118Y – 57N – This bill would require legislative approval for any future expansion of Medicaid in Georgia.
- HB 1080: 173Y – 3N – This bill would allow for the placement of a privately funded monument dedicated to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to be placed on the grounds of the State Capitol.
Senate Bills That Passed Crossover Day:
- SB 98: 35Y – 18N – Prevents coverage for abortions under qualified health plans offered within the state, including any exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
- SB 167: 34Y – 16N – This bill calls for the creation of an advisory council to review Common Core Standards and propose changes that are “in the best interest of students, their parents, teachers, and taxpayers.”
- SB 281: 40Y – 13N – This bill mandates that state employees and teachers be offered a high-deductible insurance option in the State Health Benefit Plan.
- SB 350: 31Y – 18N – This bill would begin a process of privatizing child welfare services through contracts with community-based providers.
- SB 365: 53Y – 0N – This bill focuses on lowering barriers to employment for those returning from prison. The legislation contains many of the recommendations from our Prisoner Reentry Working Group.
- SR 783: 38Y – 13N – This resolution allows voters the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to eliminate the state property tax levy through an amendment to the state constitution.
Bills That Did Not Crossover:
- HB 1023 & SB 377: While different bills, these pieces of legislation shared a common intent. If passed, they would have provided that there must be a “compelling state interest” for a state to burden the free exercise of religion. More specific details on this legislation are available on GCO’s blog.
- SB 404: This bill would deny the ability of non-legal immigrants who have been granted “deferred action” status or permission to temporarily work for humanitarian reasons the ability to receive a Georgia Driver’s License.
- HB 759: As GCO has already discussed, the Tax Credit Scholarship program in Georgia is in high demand. HB 759 would have increased the tax-credit cap to $100 million.
- SB 191 & HB 309 – Neither form of “Ava’s Law”, which would have required medical insurance coverage for treatment of Autism, made it through crossover day.
- HB 524 – This bill would have made it easier for adopted individuals to access their original birth certificates and the information about birth parents they contain.
Bills that are continuing to fight for implementation:
- HB 771 never saw a vote on the House Floor, but supporters are still working see its efforts attached to another piece of legislation this year. The bill would lift the statute of limitations related to civil damages brought by victims of childhood sexual abuse.
- Senate Resolution 7 would provide Georgians with an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment to separate the Georgia Ethics Commission from the office of the Governor.
- House Resolution 486 would permit local municipalities created after 2005 to form city school systems.
____________________________ Thanks to Eric Cochling, our VP of Policy Advancement, Jamie Lord, our director of government affairs, and Jacob Stubbs, our legislative intern and John Jay Fellowship alumnus for their able contributions to this update.