March 3, 2016

The General Assembly convened Monday at 10:00 a.m. for Day 30.  They worked through full calendars, then the Senate adjourned that evening around 8:00 and the House adjourned around 9:30.  Legislators reconvened with very brief calendars yesterday for Day 31. They will be off for the remainder of this week and will be in session four days next week, with Wednesday being an off-day.

Bills that crossed-over on Day 30 include the medical marijuana bill which expands the number of diagnoses that can be prescribed this treatment (HB 722), a moratorium on the use of eminent domain to construct petroleum pipelines (HB 1036), regulation of drones or unmanned aircraft vehicles (HB 779), a driver’s license prohibition for DACA residents (Deferred Action for Child-hood Arrivals) who would instead be issued a driving privilege card (SB 6), and a constitutional amendment declaring English as the official language of Georgia (SR 675).

Two notable bills that did not make the cut on cross-over day are the casino gambling measures (HR 807 and HB 677). These were both on the calendar for House action but were pulled by Speaker Ralston after consulting with some of his close House advisors.

Bills that did not pass one chamber by the end of the day on Monday are considered dead. The only way dead bills can pass at this point is if legislators can find related bills that are still alive to which the dead bills can be attached.

On Wednesday, the House passed resolutions creating four House study committees. In the Senate, there were two farewell speeches, a lengthy speech from Sen. Bill Jackson and a much shorter one from Sen. Tommie Williams. The Senate had two House bills on its calendar, but they voted to table both bills then adjourned.

The Senate Judiciary committee had a hearing only for the “campus carry” bill that would allow persons with a weapons permit to carry guns on college campuses, although housing and athletic venues are excluded (HB 859), and the Senate Economic Development & Tourism committee voted unanimously to approve the tax break for Super Bowl ticket sales (HB 951).

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill announced a meeting on the FY 2017 budget at 7:30 Monday morning, so we anticipate the Senate version of the budget will be coming up soon.

The House Transportation committee had a brief question and answer session on the “roadside enhancement” bill that would allow vegetation and tree trimming to expose advertising on the sides of buildings (SB 383).  This bill has been assigned to a subcommittee.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact any of us if you have questions or need information on any legislative issue. All bills can be found on the state’s legislative web site, and live action can be watched in the House and Senate chambers when they are in session.

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