Georgia’s Legislature adjourned for good last week, just in time for the Masters Tournament (as always). While the at-times tumultuous session was set to end on Thursday, the gavels didn’t come down officially until early Friday morning, capping off 40 days of the most intriguing political theater in recent memory.
Here’s what happened:
Rigged Maps: House Bill 515, sponsored by disgraced former judge Johnnie Caldwell (WATCH Samantha Bee’s piece on Caldwell here), went down in the waning hours of Day 40 as other items took precedence. The bill, which would have altered district lines to protect vulnerable GOP incumbents, had been watered down the week before thanks to heavy opposition from progressive groups, but still could have been amended at the last minute. Fortunately, HB 515 never came up for a final vote.
Campus Rape Cover-Up: Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s heartless bill aimed at protecting accused rapists to the detriment of victims, couldn’t withstand the onslaught of criticism from sexual assault survivors who lobbied heavily against the measure. Activists, like Georgia State Law student Grace Starling, showed up in force at the state Capitol to testify at committee hearings and appeal directly to lawmakers. In the end, their efforts paid off, and the proposal died on the last day.
Campus Carry: Determined to avoid another high-profile veto from Gov. Deal, pro-gun legislators have reportedly crafted a plan to allow firearms on college campuses which addresses previously-stated concerns from the governor. “Campus Carry,” as it’s known, passed both chambers and now heads to Deal’s desk for a signature or veto.
School Takeover 2.0: Only months after the embarrassing 60-40 percent defeat of his signature 2016 initiative, Gov. Deal pushed his second plan to take over some of Georgia’s most vulnerable public schools. The measure, which will not appear before Georgia voters like last year’s Amendment 1, passed the General Assembly and will be signed soon by the governor.