Most bills got through on the final day – a few didn’t

[private]Legislators worked all the way up to 12:30 a.m. Friday to clear out the remaining bills and resolutions from this year’s General Assembly session, and most of the measures made it through.

But there were some that didn’t quite make it, either, which means the next batch of legislators elected in November can deal with the issues in the 2017 session.

Here’s what happened to the major bills on Day 40:

SB 369, the MARTA funding bill, was passed in surprisingly easy fashion on a 43-5 Senate vote after less than five minutes of discussion.

SB 258, which involves several tax issues, was amended to include the tax credit for charitable contributions to financially distressed rural hospitals. The tax credits will total $180 million over a three-year period. It passed.

SR 954, a resolution granting state property easements for various utility projects, passed in a version that deleted the easements necessary for the construction of the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline through southwest Georgia. This was a big victory for environmentalists and a loss for Gov. Nathan Deal.

HB 904 makes several required changes to the unemployment trust fund handled by the state Labor Department, including contribution rates. Conservative Republicans tried to add a provision to the bill that would have punished corporations lobbying for Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the “religious liberty” bill, but that move was squelched by the leadership. HB 904’s conference committee report was one of the last things passed before adjournment.

HB 838 was backed by Rep. John Meadows, the House Rules Committee chairman, and would have set a minimum 5 percent commission for insurance agents selling healthcare policies. The Senate let the bill die without a vote.

SB 145 was the vehicle used by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) to try to expand the list of conditions that can legally be treated with medical cannabis. The Senate would not vote on it, however.

HB 514, which authorizes a referendum on a City of South Fulton, received final approval. The bill only passed in the Senate after Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) cut a deal with the Republican leadership to vote for another bill opposed by the rest of the Democratic caucus.

SB 208 authorizes the creation of a new city of Stonecrest in DeKalb County and also received final passage.

SB 304 will require police departments to clear up a backlog of unprocessed rape kits. Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) succeeded in getting the bill passed over the opposition of Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who tried to block it in the Senate. “What I don’t appreciate is Better Georgia, or whatever that acronym is, accusing me of different things,” Unterman said as the bill passed the Senate.

HB 1060 makes “housecleaning” changes to the “Guns Everywhere” bill the Legislature passed two years ago, notably adding the language of SB 282, which says banks cannot refuse to offer financial services to a business simply because that business sells firearms. HB 792 will allow students to possess tasers, stun guns, and other electroshock weapons on public college campuses. All of these received final passage.

SB 302 will require health insurance carriers to post on their websites a current and accurate directory of the healthcare providers in each network plan. It received final passage.

SB 168 designates the “adoptable dog” as the official state dog and was passed as a tribute to retiring Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), who introduced the original bill. There were some complaints in the Senate, however. “It is a disgrace to have a state dog that is an unknown breed and unloved, and I would just urge you to vote against this bill,” Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen) argued.

HB 885 brings the Fulton County health board under the purview of the state Department of Public Health and provides that the county’s health director would report to the state. It received final passage.

HB 941 will restrict the access that police officers have to grand jury proceedings where a criminal charge against the officer is being considered. It passed.

SB 364 puts less emphases on student performance on standardized tests in making evaluations of public school teachers. It passed.

SB 255, a rewrite of the state’s garnishment law, finally received final passage.

SB 367, the latest set of recommendations from Deal’s criminal justice reform commission, received final passage.

HB 764 would have made it illegal for pedestrians to activate flashing lights at crosswalks “when there is no intent to cross a roadway.” The Senate fell one vote short of the majority needed to pass it. During the countdown on the vote, Sen. Butch Miller quipped, “A green light means that Sen. Ginn is a crosswalk flasher.”

SB 308 is Unterman’s anti-abortion bill that would create a state grant program to fund pregnancy centers that try to persuade pregnant women not to get abortions. It passed, but just barely, on a Senate vote of 31-16.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: final day of session , General Assembly