This year’s legislative session started Monday and promises to be a fast-moving one for a few reasons. First, according to law, legislators cannot receive campaign funds during the session, and the packed session schedule leaves little time for campaigning. This, in addition to recent Democratic wins in areas that used to be Republican strongholds, means Republicans are stressing like never before.
Considering the elections and the issues that have been in the national spotlight over the past year, here’s what you can expect to see happening in Georgia’s General Assembly this year:
A “Religious Liberty” bill will definitely make another appearance in the General Assembly this year. Casey Cagle, one of the movement’s biggest supporters, is running for governor. So although Gov. Deal has vetoed this legislation in the past, chances are Cagle will bring it up.
In the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, we can expect to see gun legislation this season. Whether legislators revisit bump stock restrictions or expand current legislation, it’s likely that whatever is brought up will not be enough. Contact your state senators and representatives to make sure they take this issue seriously.
Gov. Deal has not been happy with the de-emphasis on high-stakes testing since the introduction of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), so it’s likely he could bring up legislation to re-empower it. Obama’s ESSA gave state superintendents the opportunity to replace high stakes testing with more innovative assessments. Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods expressed intent to apply for permission to try new testing strategies. However, Deal was not happy about this and wants Georgia to go back to it’s high-stakes testing days.
State law still prevents anyone from “mutilating, defacing, defiling, abusing contemptuously, relocating, removing, concealing or obscuring” Georgia confederate monuments. It’s a heated issue that even led to one legislator issuing threats last year, so it’s hard to imagine that it won’t come up in the General Assembly.
We’re also hoping to also see some legislation, instead of just talk, addressing decline in rural Georgia, mass transit, and healthcare. These issues have been big talking points but so far haven’t yielded much more than chatter.
Keep checking back for more information as the session unfolds.