Legislative Update 3/19/2012


March 7th was Crossover Day, the 30th day of the legislative session at the Gold Dome. This was the deadline for a bill to pass one of the chambers of state government to have a realistic chance of being written in to law. Below is a summary of some of the measures that were passed.

The House passed the 2013 budget, HB 742, a $19.2 billion spending plan that largely follows Gov. Nathan Deal's original proposal. The House cut roughly $15 million in spending.

SB 438, prohibits the State Health Benefit Plan from providing pregnancy termination coverage to state employees, passed the Senate and is headed to the House.

SB 460, provides an exemption for "religious employers" in Georgia from having to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. It is headed to the House.

HB 954, a bill that was covered previously in our newsletter, prohibits abortion after 20 weeks and is headed to the Senate. Current law is 26 weeks.

HB 713 extends the career pathways initiative, requiring Georgia Public ninth-graders to select a field of study for high school. The objective is to encourage career and college readiness for high school students by allowing students to choose a potential job in one of 17 broad career categories. This bill was approved by the House.

HB 692 deters cheating on state tests by requiring educators proven guilty of CRCT cheating to return all bonuses and incentive pay that they received as a result of their students' test scores. These funds would be returned to the local school system. This passed the House.

The issue of funding for state charter schools has moved to the Senate. HB 1162 would lead to a referendum that would amend the Constitution to allow the state to fund charter schools, provided that such funding does not decrease, offset, or reduce spending on public schools.

Both chambers introduced legislation to prevent undocumented immigrants, including U.S.-born children whose parents are undocumented, from attending colleges or universities in Georgia. The House version failed but SB 458 passed. As I have noted previously, I view this legislation as unnecessary because the Chancellor has testified that there are existing procedures within the University System of Georgia to prevent undocumented immigrants from taking slots away from Georgians.

The Senate approved a bill, SB 316, which would extend the statute of limitations related to sex crimes against children.

The Senate also passed SB 469, banning mass picketing at private residences or at the site of labor disputes when protests are blocking or threatening business entrances or specific public areas. Persons found guilty would be subject to a $1000 per day fine, with unions or organizations facing up to a $10,000 per day fine.

SB 493, which lowers the concealed carry gun permit age requirement from 21 to 18, is headed to the House.

HB 861, which requires drug screening for those on public assistance, passed the House. A similar measure passed the Senate.

HB 1114, which would make assisting suicide a felony offense, passed the House.

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