Political Notes – The final day is underway for the General Assembly

[private]“Can we agree that we’re glad it’s Day 40?” House Speaker David Ralston asked as legislators strapped in for the final day of the 2016 session.

Ralston opened the House proceedings with a tribute to Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), who just announced he won’t run for reelection.

“He has completed 16 years of perfect attendance in this House,” Ralston said. “I don’t think they make t-shirts nice enough to commemorate that, Mr. Chairman, but please know that we take note of that.”

Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) was in a jocular mood as he gave a “Morning Order” speech to his House colleagues. “I’m not leaving,” Williams said, “but I will accept the right package.”

The rush to get bills across the finish line will hit its high point on Thursday, and some of the most intense lobbying will involve the bill to generate funds – up to $100 million a year – for fiscally ailing rural hospitals through a tax credit for charitable contributions.

The bill was initially introduced as HB 919 but has been transferred to SB 258 for the session’s closing day.

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) will also be angling to get his medical cannabis bill through, putting it on the back of SB 145.

And, as with any final day, there will be plenty of unexpected occurrences. Stay tuned.

Big worries about ‘religious liberty’ in Fayette County

The debate over the “religious liberty” bill and whether Gov. Nathan Deal will sign or veto it has caught the attention of the editors of the Fayette Citizen.

Fayette is home to the hub of the state’s film-TV industry, Pinewood Studios, and the studio could be in real jeopardy if entities like Disney make good on their threats to pull out of Georgia.

As reported by Cal Beverly:

The entertainment goliath Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Marvel Studios threaten to pull out of Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal signs what conservative legislators call the Religious Freedom bill, according to reports Wednesday in the industry trade publication Hollywood Reporter and other media.

That would leave Pinewood Atlanta Studios in west Fayetteville without its major tenant and would imperil the future of the film industry in Georgia, observers note.

“If they leave,” one source said Wednesday, “all that will be left out there [at Pinewood Studios] will be a lot of large empty concrete boxes.”

If that bill becomes law, the future of the smash hit television drama, “The Walking Dead,” filmed principally in Senoia, could also be a question mark, according to AMC Network, which called on Gov. Deal to veto the legislation.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a Disney spokesman said Wednesday in the Hollywood Reporter.

Marvel blockbuster “Ant-Man” and pending releases “Captain America: Civil War” and “Guardians of the Galaxy II” have been filmed at the Fayetteville studios. While Marvel and others were lured to Georgia by specific tax credits of up to 30 percent, the social issues involved with the legislation have taken center stage.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: final day of session , General Assembly