Holy smokes! Things at the State Capitol are really heating up — but not in a good way.
In the next two weeks, it’s going to be a mad scramble to get legislation through committees, then past the gatekeepers in the Rules committee, and then to the floor for a vote before the critical “crossover day” on Friday, March 3.
Before March 3, bills must pass out of at least one chamber — meaning that either the House or the Senate needs to have voted on and passed a piece of legislation — in order to stay active.
Here’s where some of the hottest (and worst) legislation is and what you can do about it:
Gov. Deal’s school takeover 2.0 plan has been introduced and will likely move quickly. A vote is likely this week after a long hearing last week.
It’s clear that Gov. Deal isn’t listening to the people of Georgia. His school takeover amendment overwhelmingly failed, but Deal is trying once again to silence parents and hand our schools over to out-of-state, for-profit corporations. We have to continue to keep our schools local and under community control.
Campus Carry and other gun-related legislation has been getting lots of unexpected hearings. This has included reports of both the public and sponsors getting only a couple of hours notice that bills were going to be heard in committee.
As of Tuesday evening, Campus Carry has had three hearings and no vote yet in the House Public Safety Committee. Check out news coverage here and here. Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety are two groups working on this issue. And Better Georgia has been an opponent of Campus Carry from the start. Allowing students to carry concealed firearms on campus will endanger the lives of students, teachers and staff and make it more difficult for campus police to do their jobs.
Religious “freedom” was just introduced on Tuesday in the Senate, and as of Wednesday has already been causing trouble in the Senate. Better Georgia, Georgia Equality and partners at Georgia Unites Against Discrimination have been working on this.
These religious freedom bills are nothing more than a license to discriminate. Businesses and individuals should not be able to use religion as an excuse for discrimination, child abuse or other criminal behavior.
Fortunately, today, Gov. Deal took a stand against the dangerous legislation, vowing to block the bill once again. That said, with a large and well-funded extremist coalition of bigoted lobbyists and lawmakers in Georgia, it’s always important to remain vigilant in the fight for gay rights.
Georgia’s version of Blue Lives Matter laws have passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee, although there have been updates to the “Back the Badge Act of 2017” and it has improved since one of our bloggers wrote about it last week. Nonetheless, this will be an issue to watch. Check out new coverage here.
A so-called “clean-up” bill related to the grant program the state set up for CPCs, or Crisis Pregnancy Centers, also passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Attempts by Democrats to add amendments failed. Feminist Women’s Health Center is working on this and other anti-abortion issues.
The bill banning private colleges from becoming Sanctuary Campuses passed out of the House floor on Wednesday, with party line votes. There are student groups opposing the measure. New coverage here and here.
Ehrhart has a reputation for hateful legislation at the Capitol, and his anti-Sanctuary Campus legislation is no different. Private colleges should not be punished for supporting undocumented students.
Branded driver’s licenses that designate someone’s non-citizen status (there are House and Senate versions) are currently held up in committee; Rep. Brenda Lopez has been posting to social media about the bills, including calls to action.
The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform just released it’s annual report on, as their name suggests, criminal justice reform. This body has the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal, and their recommendations will likely move before crossover day. Press release here.
After being introduced, every bill must first go through the committee process, and then go through the Rules Committee. The Rules committee decides which bills will go to the floor for a vote by the full body. The House and Senate maintain separate committees (for the most part), so once a bill has passed out of one chamber it goes through the same process in the other chamber.
Legislative session ends March 30.