APN Capitol Journal: 2016, Week Five
(APN) ATLANTA — This installment of Capitol Journal covers Week Five of the 2016 year of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly.
Legislative Session Day 17 (Monday, Feb. 08, 2016)
HB 722 the medical marijuana bill had another hearing.
SB 278 passed 53 to zero out of Senate; this bill increases penalties for individuals found guilty of pimping and pandering.
Two gun control bills, SB 303 and 304 by State Sen. Elena Parent (D – Atlanta), had hearings only today in the Senate.
Also, State Sen. Nan Orrock (D – Atlanta) and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry joined community and faith leaders to speak out against HB 859, the bill permitting guns on college campuses, commonly called Campus Carry.
State Sen. Josh McKoon (R- Columbus) is proposing that DACA recipients be given special driver’s licenses marked “illegal alien.”
HB 762, to prevent the sale of fetal tissue, passed out of subcommittee.
An hour and half was spent on a bill to update notary public laws.
HB 849, Georgia Civil Rights in Public Accommodations Act, was heard in the Caldwell Judiciary subcommittee. An amendment was offered to expand who was included in protected class, adding religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and veteran’s status.
There was some discussion that followed about what “gender identity” is.
State Rep. Tom Weldon (R- Ringgold) opined that “those who get bullied, tend to do fine later in life,” as a reason not to expand protections to this group, nor any of the other groups in the amendment.
Some ex officios came to vote in subcommittee, just to make sure the amendment was killed. It is not clear if they can actually do that.
SB 242, the Family Care Act, allowing for employees to use earned sick leave to care for family members, passed out of Senate Health and Human Services.
SB 308, on funding for crisis pregnancy centers, had a hearing in Senate HHS as well, and passed out of committee. Only Sen. Orrock voted against it.
A joint (that is House and Senate) committee heard two bills – HB 870 and SB 309 – to protect religious expression by student athletes.
Legislative Session Day 18 (Tuesday, Feb. 09, 2016)
There was an anti-RFRA rally today, with Georgia Equality at the helm, a diverse group of speakers, and maybe two hundred folks who came out in the snow flurries.
Pro-MARTA press conference by Advance ATL and State Sen. Brandon Beach, sponsor of SB 330 and 313, advocating for a half cent tax to fund MARTA expansion over the next five years. Requires voter referendum to be put into effect.
SR 388, a constitutional amendment to allow religious organizations to receive public aid, passes out of the Senate Government Oversight Committee. Sponsored by State Sen. Bill Heath (R – Bremen).
The House Judiciary committee took up three bills and passed all three out of committee, although some amendments got tossed around.
Bills passed are: HB 757 Pastor Protection, HB 762 banning sale of fetal tissue, and HB 849 equal access to public accommodations for certain protected classes.
Legislative Session Day 19 (Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016)
Biggest highlight? 3,500+ Billy Graham Evangelicals came out to Liberty Plaza for “Decision America.”
Here’s what 3,500+ people look like: https://twitter.com/regina_tweeta/status/697474138257100800
Here’s the pledge they encouraged everyone to sign at the end, “Jesus Christ is the only hope for America.”
HB 827, to get a backlog of rape kits tested and have better procedures moving forward, passed out of committee. It was sponsored by State Rep. Scott Holcomb (D – Atlanta).
SB 308, funding for crisis pregnancy centers, advanced out of the Rules Committee.
Introduced: HB 972, the “Georgia Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” a bill to provide legal protections for pregnant workers.
Legislative Session Day 20 (Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016)
It is the fifty percent mark of this year of the Legislative Session, can you believe it?
HB 757, the Pastor Protection Act, passed out of the House, 161-0.
SB 308, funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers, passed out of the Senate, 38-16.
Minimum wage bills – SB 15, SB 292, and SB 293 – had a hearing today. 23 people signed up to speak in support of the bills. No opposition. It still didn’t move forward.