January 26, 2018

The legislature was in session Monday through Thursday of this week and has now completed 10 legislative days.

The House and Senate passed an adjournment resolution yesterday (SR 631) that sets the calendar for the remainder of this session.  There are two important days to note: February 28 will be cross-over day, the deadline for bills to have passed one house in order to still be considered this session, and March 29 will be sine die.  Also, the resolution specifies that the session will not continue past midnight on the final day.

The Senate passed SB 194 to make some minor technical changes in the state’s garnishment law and conform it to federal law.

The House Energy, Utilities & Communications committee held a hearing on the net neutrality issue and heard from several spokespersons in the internet industry.  These spokespersons emphasized that their companies treat all customers equally and that they do not, and will not, decrease or increase internet speeds based on the size or importance of the customers.  The committee did not consider a specific bill, but Sen. Harold Jones has authored SB 310 to address the issue at the state level since the FCC has halted this regulation and Congress has taken no action on it.

The House and Senate Higher Education committees held a joint meeting on campus sexual assaults, due process and mandatory reporting.  While this meeting addressed issues included in Rep. Ehrhart’s HB 51 that passed the House last session and is currently in Senate committee, the bill itself was not directly addressed at this meeting.

House Ways and Means committee passed Chairman Jay Powell’s constitutional amendment (HR 158) that would require designated fees to be spent on the purposes for which they were intended and not diverted into the state’s general budget except in extreme cases outlined in the resolution.

Rep. Scot Turner has sponsored HB 680 that calls for replacing the state’s current touch-screen voting system with a paper-based system.  This would cost the state an estimated $25M to $35M and is not included in the Governor’s FY 2019 budget.  It has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs committee.

The House Medical Cannabis Working Group voted to pass along HB 645 to the House Judiciary Non-civil committee for further consideration.  This bill would establish a system in Georgia for cultivating and dispensing low THC oil.

In political news, Governor Deal confirmed that he will most likely appoint Tricia Pridemore to fill PSC Commissioner Stan Wise’s seat when he leaves office on February 20.  Also, former Senator Vincent Fort announced that he is considering a run for Lt. Governor.  He resigned his state senate seat last year to run for Mayor of Atlanta, a crowded race in which finished fifth.

The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, January 29, and work through Thursday of next week.

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