Last week in the Georgia Legislature marked the passage of Crossover Day, the final day for bills to pass out of the chamber in which they were introduced. The bills that don’t pass from senate to house or house to senate are considered dead.
Here’s a rundown of the bills that made it through that we’re keeping a close eye on — the good, the bad and the “needs improvement.”
We’re keeping a close eye on these backwards bills:
- A bill that would endanger minors seeking abortion (SB 74). Currently, judicial bypass protects minors who would face serious harm, such as physical abuse or being thrown out of the house, if they told their parents they were pregnant or that they were seeking an abortion. This bill would make it more difficult for minors seeking judicial bypass and potentially endanger their lives.
- Anti-LGBTQ adopton bill. There’s an adoption bill contains anti-LGBTQ “religious exemption” language that would bolster faith-based adoption agencies’ abilities to legally refuse to work with LGBTQ couples and children as well as single mothers and unwed couples.
While we watch to make sure conservative lawmakers don’t push this measure, another much-needed adoption bill recently made it into law.
On Monday, Gov. Deal signed into law an adoption bill that brings critical reforms to the adoption policies in Georgia, streamlining the adoption process and bringing it up to date. The new legislation brings hope to the 13,500 children in foster care.
These bills are important step toward a more progressive Georgia, so we’re watching how they progress in the coming days:
- Guns and mentally ill people. One bill would help keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. The bill would lift a state mandate that requires GBI officials to purge the records from the National Information Crime Center database of people unwillingly committed for mental health treatment after five years. Meanwhile, federal law includes a lifetime ban. Since 2013, Georgia has added about 10,000 new names to the list of people.
- Public transportation. Another bill would boost state funding for public transportation by tens of millions of dollars and pave the way for transit expansion across metro Atlanta. This expansion would help alleviate some of the world’s worst traffic that has plagued Atlanta commuters.
These bills aren’t bad, but they’re missing critical measures:
- Paper ballots. For the past 16 years, we have used an electronic voting system for our elections. However, the touch screens use obsolete technology, which presents vulnerabilities, so some lawmakers have proposed using paper ballots. Before we revert back to paper ballots, which has its own pitfalls, we should look toward updating to more secure and advanced technology to improve voting in Georgia.
- Medical marijuana. One bill would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions covered by Georgia’s medical marijuana law. While covering more diseases would be a positive step forward, Georgians who suffer from serious illnesses have trouble actually accessing medical marijuana, because Deal is blocking in-state cultivation. Deal has repeatedly refused to lift his blockade and make the medicine accessible to Georgians, as the families of children suffering from debilitating diseases have continuously lobbied for.
With this in mind, let’s push back against backwards bills and show your support for the bills that would make Georgia more progressive by calling your lawmakers.
Call your lawmakers today. Tell them you don’t support the anti-LGBTQ adoption bill. Or talk about your support for the gun control measure and the legislation that would boost Atlanta’s public transportation.
Don’t wait to speak up! These bills could pass or fail within the next few days.