What passed and failed in 2021 Georgia General Assembly

What passed and failed in 2021 Georgia General Assembly
Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. (Source: WTOC)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s General Assembly ended its 2021 session Wednesday, with lawmakers acting on the state budget, a rewrite of the state’s citizen’s arrest law and many other proposals as they worked until midnight.

Some key proposals had already passed, including an overhaul of state elections law that adds new restrictions on mail voting and a small income tax cut.

Only a few measures that made it to this point failed to move forward, such as a plan to raise Georgia’s age for adult criminal charges from 17 to 18. Because it’s the first year of a two-year term, measures that don’t pass this year could still make it through next year.

Here’s a look at the status of some significant issues:

PASSED

INCOME TAX CUT: Georgia will raise the amount of money someone could earn before paying income taxes under House Bill 593, which Gov. Brian Kemp has already signed, cutting overall taxes by $140 million.

CITIZEN’S ARREST: House Bill 479 would abolish the Georgia law that allows private citizens to arrest someone, while still allowing security guards and store employees to hold people they accuse of a crime until police arrive.

TAX BREAKS: Senators and representatives made a deal Senate Bill 6, which creates or extends a number of tax breaks but forgoes an overall review of how much revenue the state is forgoing because of tax breaks.

SCHOOL VOUCHERS: Senate Bill 47 would broaden eligibility for a program that pays for children with special education needs to attend private schools. The House failed to consider House Bill 60, which would have created a new educational savings account program to provide vouchers for private schools and home schooling.

DEFUND THE POLICE: House Bill 286 says cities and counties can’t cut spending on their police departments by more than 5% a year.

LAWSUIT LIABILITY: House Bill 112 would renew until July 2022 Georgia’s law protecting businesses and others from being sued if someone blames them for contracting COVID-19.

STREET RACING: House Bill 534 would enhance penalties for illegal street racing and stunt driving.

HOME-SCHOOLED ATHLETES: Public schools would be required to let home-schooled students take part in athletics and extracurricular activities as long as they take at least one online course through the local school under Senate Bill 42.

TIME CHANGE: Senate Bill 100 calls for Georgia to observe daylight saving time permanently if the federal government allows.

HAZING: Senate Bill 85 would making it a misdemeanor to force people to consume any substance likely to cause vomiting, intoxication or unconsciousness.

PORCH PIRACY: House Bill 94 would make it a felony to steal packages from three or more different addresses.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Senate Bill 33 would allow victims or state officials to file civil lawsuits seeking money damages against traffickers while Senate Bill 34 would make it easier for people who have been the victims of trafficking to change their names.

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: House Bill 146 would offer three weeks of paid parental leave any time to nearly 250,000 state, public university and public school employees after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

COCKTAILS TO GO: Georgia diners could order mixed alcoholic drinks to go when ordering food under Senate Bill 236.

INDICTED OFFICIAL PAY: Senate Resolution 134 would let voters decide whether to amend the state constitution to suspend the pay of elected state officials who are indicted.

PROBATION: Senate Bill 105 would create a path for some people to ask a judge to release them from probation after three years of supervision.

TEACHER INCENTIVES: House Bill 32 would give a $3,000-per-year state income tax credit to some Georgia teachers who agree to work in certain rural or low-performing schools.

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FAILED

SPORTS BETTING: Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 would have let Georgia’s voters decide whether to allow sports betting. Lawmakers would have split the proceeds among college scholarships for low income students, expanded high speed internet access and rural health care services.

PATIENT VISITATION: Hospitals and nursing homes could have been be required to allow patient visitors, after many cut visitor access because of the coronavirus pandemic, under House Bill 290.

GUN LAWS: House Bill 218 would have loosened Georgia law to allow anyone from any state who has a concealed weapons permit to carry their gun in Georgia and prohibited gun permitting, gun sales and shooting ranges from being shut down in a state of emergency.

PROTEST LIMITS: House Bill 289 would have required a permit for any protest statewide, and classified it as an illegal assembly if two or more people harass someone in a wide range of public places, and enacted harsher penalties for acts including blocking highways.

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT: The state would have created a commission to investigate and discipline elected district attorneys and prosecutors in House Bill 411.

ADULT CRIMINAL AGE: The age for charging most people with adult crimes would have risen from 17 to 18 in Georgia under House Bill 272.

COAL ASH: House Bill 647 would have required 50 years of groundwater monitoring at coal ash ponds near power plants that are closed.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: Georgia drivers wouldn’t be able to avoid penalties by telling judges they have purchased hands-free devices for their cellphones under House Bill 247.

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