Gun Bill, HOPE Legislation Among Those Going Forward
Patch has highlighted several pieces of proposed legislation since the Georgia General Assembly convened in January. See which bills state lawmakers will be considering during the session’s final days, and which ones didn’t get House or Senate approval.
Thursday was “Crossover Day,” the 30th day of the Georgia General Assembly’s 40-day session. Crossover Day is the deadline for bills to be passed in at least one of the General Assembly’s two chambers in order to be considered during the current legislative session.
In the last few weeks, we’ve taken a look at several pieces of legislation introduced by state lawmakers, and we’ve asked you to give us your takes on them. Below is a roundup of where some of that legislation went during the first 30 days of the session.
Charles Gregory, R-Kennesaw, was the primary sponsor of two bills aimed at lifting bans on carrying weapons in specific places within the state.
House Bill 28, dubbed the “Restoring Private Property Rights for Places of Worship Act of 2013,” aimed to take out the state’s restriction against carrying a weapon into a church or place of worship. House Bill 29, known as the “Georgia Campus Carry Act of 2013,” sought to lift the restriction against carrying a firearm onto a “campus of any public or private technical school, vocational school, college, university, or institution of postsecondary education.”
While House Bills 28 and 29 were not brought before representatives for a vote, House Bill 512 was approved Thursday by a 117-56 vote. HB 512, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, allows weapons to be carried into churches and parts of college campuses, as well as in bars and unsecured government buildings.
Though HB 512 now heads to the Senate for its consideration, the AJC reported that according to Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, senators might not tackle any legislation on guns this year.
A copy of HB 512 is attached to this article in PDF form.
Lowering HOPE Grant Prerequisites
In February, Gov. Nathan Deal announced a proposal to lower the required GPA of the HOPE Grant from its current 3.0 back to its original level—2.0. The aim of the proposed change is to strengthen Georgia’s workforce development efforts by expanding access to the HOPE Grant, which goes to students in the technical college system.
The proposal was put in front of state representatives in the form of House Bill 372, which was passed by the House Thursday by a vote of 169-1. It now heads to the Senate for consideration there.
Video Poker Profits for HOPE Scholarship
House Bill 487 was passed 166-4. Should the bill receive Senate approval and the governor’s signatures, the law would put the control and enforcement of video poker machines to the Georgia Lottery Corporation. A share of the profits from those machines would then go into the HOPE Scholarship program. The bill amends state law by striking language that prohibits video poker machines from rewarding players with tickets or products from the Georgia Lottery Corp. Currently, the machines, if operating under state guidelines, can only award gift certificates or similar type vouchers redeemable for merchandise at the business at which the machine is being operated.
Acknowledgment of Slavery
Senate Resolution 28, a resolution that aimed to “[express] remorse for the state's past practice of condoning involuntary servitude,” or slavery, was not brought up for a vote.
State Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, introduced the resolution in January, saying in a statement that it would have been the first official acknowledgement of the injustices of slavery and serve as “an official expression of regret and remorse for the condoning of the institution of slavery in Georgia.”
Eliminating the State Income Tax
Senate Resolution 8, a proposal that sought to create a constitutional amendment to phase out the state’s income tax, did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
Passage of the resolution along with the governor’s signature would put this question on a future state ballot for voters to consider: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to limit the authority of the General Assembly to impose an income tax and to phase out existing income taxes?”
Related: Should Georgia Ax the Income Tax?
Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving
House Bill 31 was not brought before representatives for a vote. The bill sought to make it against the law to use a “hand-held mobile telephone” while operating a motor vehicle in Georgia.
The changes the bill would make to state law would still allow for the use of hands-free devices while driving. There are already laws against texting while driving.
Ticketing Slow Left-Lane Drivers
House Bill 459 sought to amend state code by making it a violation to drive in a controlled-access highway’s left-hand lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle. Driving in the left-hand lane would be OK when no other vehicles are directly behind a vehicle in question. The bill was not brought up for a vote in the House.
Banning Sex Offenders from Driving Buses
House Bill 40 was aimed at prohibiting sex offenders from obtaining two types of commercial driver’s licenses— those with either a school bus (S) endorsement or a passenger (P) endorsement, the latter of which applies to charter buses or vehicles designed to seat more than 16 people, including its driver. The bill was not brought up for a vote.
House Bill 39 did not come up for a vote. If the legislation were enacted, it would make it a crime to impose someone’s face onto an obscene depiction. To put that simply: “Photoshopping” or digitally altering an obscene image by putting another person’s face on it would become illegal.
Editor’s note: The statuses of the aforementioned bills and resolutions were those reported by the Georgia General Assembly’s website as of the evening of March 10.