Georgia bills in doubt include vote changes, horse racing
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers face a key deadline and there is still a lot of work to do. Tuesday is transition day in the General Assembly, when bills and other measures must pass the House or Senate and move on to the other chamber. On Tuesday, lawmakers will decide on issues including whether to legalize horse racing. Some key proposals have already moved forward, such as a mental health reform measure, but lawmakers will consider additional proposals on Tuesday. Measures that have already failed include a proposal to relax state law on hands-free cellphones for drivers. Because of legislative rules, it’s still possible for lawmakers to later resuscitate many proposals that don’t pass Tuesday.
TO BE DECIDED TUESDAY
LEGISLATIVE COMPENSATION AND PENSIONS: The salaries of Georgia’s 180 House members and 56 senators would reach 60% of the state’s median household income, reaching about $36,000, if voters approve House Resolution 842. Bill 824 would increase legislators’ pensions by about 40%.
VOTE: House Bill 1464 would allow people to inspect ballots after an election, only allow the state election commission to accept private donations for election administration, and let the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate allegations of voter fraud.
VOUCHERS: Senate Bill 601 would direct $6,000 to any student whose parents remove them from public school after at least six weeks in public school. Education savings accounts would be used for private school tuition and other education expenses.
HORSE RACING: Senate Resolution 131 and Senate Bill 212 would authorize up to five racetracks with gambling anywhere in the state, if voters approve.
CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING: Senate Bill 580 would prohibit leadership campaign committees affiliated with members of the General Assembly from receiving contributions while lawmakers are in session.
PROTESTS: Senate Bill 171 requires a permit for any assembly, increases criminal penalties for protests, makes it a crime to block a highway or deface a monument, allows people to sue local governments if protests become violence and makes it legal for someone to run over someone else fleeing a protest if the fleeing person believed their life was in danger.
FELONY BAIL: Senate Bill 504 would require cash bail for a judge to release from jail anyone charged with a crime.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Senate Bill 609 and House Bill 1425 would change how licenses are granted under the state’s medical marijuana program in an effort to reinvigorate a licensing process licenses bound by legal challenges.
SENATE TERM: Senate Resolution 623 would create staggered four-year Senate terms, instead of the current two-year terms, if voters approve the state’s constitutional amendment.
INCOME TAX CUT: House Bill 1437 would reduce Georgia state income tax by more than $1 billion. Republicans say it simplifies the state’s tax system while providing relief. It would create a flat income tax with a rate of 5.25%, increase the amount of tax-exempt income and eliminate many deductions.
GASOLINE TAX DAY: Bill 304 would suspend state fuel taxes until May 31, including a levy of 29.1 cents per gallon for gasoline and 32.6 cents per gallon for diesel. Suspending collections could take more than $400 million away from road construction. The governor plans to use some of last year’s surplus to replace the cash.
FIREARMS IN PUBLIC: House Bill 1358 and Senate Bill 319 would abolish Georgia’s background check and license requirement to carry a handgun in public. Republicans say it violates Second Amendment gun rights for people who must apply for a license and pay a fee, usually around $75.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: House Bill 1084 and Senate Bill 377 would ban the teaching of certain racial concepts that Republicans say are divisive. Opponents say the measure would scare teachers away from honest classroom discussion about race in history and the present.
TRANSGENDER ATHLETES: Transgender boys and girls would be banned from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity under Senate Bill 435.
STATEMENT OF PARENTAL RIGHTS: House Bill 1178 and Senate Bill 449 consolidate into one law a number of parental rights that already exist, including saying that parents have the right to review all school equipment.
SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION: Senate Bill 393 seeks to prohibit social media platforms from removing or censoring content
VACCINE WARRANTS: Senate Bill 345 would prevent state agencies and local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccines
MASKS IN SCHOOLS: Senate Bill 514 would allow parents to exclude their children from mask mandates
ABORTION: Senate Bill 456 would require a woman to undergo an in-person examination by a doctor before the doctor can prescribe abortion pills and prohibit mail delivery without such an examination.
RIGHT TO FARM: House Bill 1150 would strengthen protections for farmers from nuisance lawsuits by neighbors over issues such as odors.
HAS NOT ADVANCED
HOME LESS: Senate Bill 535, would have made it an offense for anyone to set up camp on public property. It would have punished cities that didn’t enforce the ban by withholding money from local governments and nonprofits.
DRIVING DISTRACTION: Senate Bill 203 would have allowed drivers to use cellphones mounted on their windshield or dashboard at traffic lights and stop signs.