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Cannabis oil, child welfare bills among those crossing over in legislature
Lawmakers move slew of bills through one chamber and closer to passage
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ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers pushed dozens of bills through the House and Senate on Friday, working into the evening to meet a deadline for keeping proposed legislation alive.

A Senate rule requires that bills pass the chamber where they were first introduced by the 30th day of the legislative session, which fell on Friday. There are ways to get bills through in the final 10 working days, but it can be trickier.

Both chambers had passed high-priority legislation before Friday, including a transportation-funding bill in the House and Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to take over schools dubbed chronically failing in the Senate.

Here’s a look at some of the bills that passed either the House or Senate and are headed to the opposite chamber for review:

Medical marijuana

The Senate passed a medical marijuana bill that sets up a five-year scientific study involving only people under 21 with seizure disorders, while a key senator promised to meld it with a broader House bill.

The Senate bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Lindsey Tippins of Marietta, said he wants more evidence the remedy is effective.

“I want to protect our children,” he said. “We must gather a conclusive body of evidence.”

The House bill would legalize cannabis oil for people with seizure disorders, cancer and seven other medical diagnoses. Its sponsor, Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, announced Friday that one of Deal’s floor leaders, Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, will carry the bill in the Senate.

Republican state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford, who chairs the Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, said members will discuss adding some of the House bill’s conditions to a combined measure at a March 19 hearing.

Child welfare

A bill that will reform the Division of Family and Children Services and provide greater accountability in regards to child abuse records and reporting passed the Senate, 41-3.

Senate Bill 138 is strongly supported by Gov. Nathan Deal and was sponsored by Miller. The bill creates DFCS advisory boards and establishes specific measures related to case records, passed by a vote of 41 to 3.

“We have been actively working to address constituent concerns regarding the tragic accidents that have occurred this past year,” Miller said in a news release.

“Gov. Deal has made child protection and welfare a top priority for Georgia, and SB 138 will prevent future tragedies and better protect the families served by DFCS.”

Craft beer

The Senate passed a bill that craft beer brewers hope will give them a competitive boost. State law prohibits craft breweries from selling directly to consumers. The bill passed by the Senate, 51-5, is narrower than the brewers’ original request to lift that provision.

The bill would allow 36 ounces of beer for consumption during a paid brewery tour and up to 64 ounces to take home. It also says the beer could only be purchased in a single container, called a growler, or one 12-ounce bottle of beer.

Sponsor Sen. Hunter Hill, a Republican from Atlanta, said the measure still would create jobs.


The House passed a bill 140-26 adding threats made on computers or other electronics to the bullying law.

Sponsoring Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, said Georgia is one of 32 states without laws specific to cyberbullying. Her bill would also apply the bullying law to electronic threats directed toward students or school staff.

Boozy brunch

Counties or cities could approve alcohol sales as early as 10:30 a.m. Sundays under the “better brunch” bill approved by a 121-47 House vote.

Sponsor Republican Rep. Brett Harrell of Snellville said the state’s restaurant association estimates moving sales up by two hours will generate an additional $100 million in sales.

Others crossing over

The Senate passed a bill 41-1 to require young football players to be equipped with stronger helmets.

The Senate passed a bill 37-3 that would make a person smoking in a car when a child under 15 is in the vehicle subject to a fine up to $100.

The House OK’d a bill 170-3 expanding the number of locations where electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla can sell directly to Georgians.

Bills to change state campaign finance rules passed each chamber.

Left behind

Backers of a constitutional amendment to allow gambling on horse races in Georgia said they will try for passage next year.

Also failing: Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, had proposed a program allowing public-school funding to be used toward private-school tuition or other education needs and another to lower early voting days.