APN Capitol Journal: 2016, Week Two
Legislative Session Budget Hearings (Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016)
Today was not an official legislative calendar day, but there was plenty of activity as various departments presented their budgets for fiscal year 2017 (coming up) and amended fiscal year 2016.
This is part of the annual appropriations process, with joint committee hearings lasting all day Tuesday, as well as parts of Wednesday and Thursday.
Mental health got a lot of air time during the first day of budget hearings, with the Departments of Corrections, Community Supervision (formed in 2015 to manage parolees, probationers, and certain juveniles), and Community Health all answering questions from legislators about funding for mental health initiatives.
Many departments were looking to expand, too, asking for funds for additional positions.
Legislative Session Day 6 (Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016)
More budget hearings today, with some notable bills getting traction.
New drone legislation: HB 779 introduced by Kevin Tanner (R – Dawsonville), and assigned to Judiciary Non-Civil. HB 779 limits where and how drones can be used, prohibiting the use of “an unmanned aircraft system to capture an image of a private place or an individual in a private place.”
See APN’s coverage of drone legislation in 2014:
Two anti-abortion bills were slated for hearings during the week.
HB 762 prohibits the sale of fetal body parts. This comes in response to the videos released over the summer purporting to show Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts for profit.
HB 762 is sponsored by the chairman of the House Judiciary committee, State Rep. Wendell Willard (R – Sandy Springs).
HB 287 was introduced last year by State Rep. Tom Kirby (R – Loganville), and was added to an agenda early in the week, but later removed. The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act bans the creation of human-animal hybrids.
Both bills were put on the agendas for House Judicial subcommittee hearings, however, only HB 762 ultimately received one.
State Sen. Harold Jones (D – Augusta) held a news conference at the State Capitol to discuss SB 254. This bill changes laws related to the possession of marijuana of any amount, making it a misdemeanor.
State Sen. Vincent Fort (D – Atlanta), who is considering a run for Mayor of Atlanta, presented his legislative priorities to a group of press.
They include: eliminating Park Atlanta and other private parking enforcement entities, putting the Streetcar in MARTA’s hands, and pushing back on a planned pedestrian bridge that would cut through Vine City and English Ave neighborhoods, among other primarily Atlanta-centric policy proposals.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) will not be seeking re-election for Georgia’s third Congressional District 3. District 3 runs just south of Atlanta to just north of Columbus.
Many Senate Republicans announced they are backing State Sen. Mike Crane for the position – Sen. Josh McKoon and Majority Caucus Chair William Ligon, among others were present.
Crane said he is a man that “fights the establishment. (My #anarchists4crane hashtag hasn’t caught on yet.)
There’s going to be a Run-off for former State Rep. Simone Bell’s old-seat HD 58, leaving those constituents without representation well into session. http://thegavoice.com/runoff-for-park-cannon-in-house-district-58-race/
APN has previously endorsed Park Cannon for HD 58 http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2016/01/15/apn-endorses-park-cannon-hd-58/
Legislative Session Day 7 (Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016)
State Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus) introduced the The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), SB 284. FADA protects those who believe “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
HB 762, banning the sale of fetal parts received a subcommittee hearing. Lobbyists from Georgia Reproductive Endocrinologists and Georgia Right to Life testified in support of the bill, both recommending changes.
The bill is being held in subcommittee, pending additional changes.
Legislative Session Day 8 (Friday, Jan. 22, 2016)
Sine die (last day of session) has been set for March 24, 2016 the day before Good Friday.
Craft brewers ability to sell beer continues to be negotiated http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2016/01/22/furious-negotiations-under-way-on-craft-brewery-bill/
A personhood amendment, establishing the “paramount right to life,” had been introduced by State Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R – Johns Creek).
Personhood makes abortion and some forms of birth control illegal. That brings the count to three bills targeting abortion that have gotten traction this week.
Georgia Right to Life had their annual march for life. Pretty straightforward event. There was little mention of their legislation, other than HB 713, which terminates parental rights for pregnancies that resulted from rape.