Friday marked Crossover Day, when bills must pass at least one chamber of the Georgia legislature to have a chance of becoming law. Here’s a look at what still has life and what died on the vine.
Dead: Casino gambling
Supporters of casino gambling made a last-ditch effort to move a House bill Friday but ultimately fell short. The House Regulated Industries Committee canceled a meeting to hear the proposal from Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, after several hours of speculation. By late Friday afternoon, Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, delivered last rites to the bill. “If I was a betting man, I’d say it’s dead,” Dubnik said. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said Friday “was probably not the most appropriate time” to consider a bill when members still disagree on important details.
Despite Gov. Nathan Deal’s forceful veto last year, Georgia’s House approved another bill on Friday that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses. By a vote of 108-63, the Republican House majority sent the bill to the state Senate, which could set up another politically unpopular rejection by the Republican governor. The measure would allow anyone 21 and older with a state-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun on campus. Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, sponsored this year’s version, which would keep the guns out of on-campus preschools. Last year’s bill only kept weapons out of student housing and athletic venues. Ballinger kept those exemptions this year. Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, said he would again support the measure.
Gun purchase rights
People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital will be able to request the right to purchase a gun before the end of the standard five-year ban under a bill approved by the Senate. The proposal creates a mechanism that allows courts to verify whether a person is of sound mental health before being removed from the five-year ban list. Currently that list is purged automatically. Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said the bill was cleaned up considerably. “It protects the Second Amendment rights for gun owners, while making sure guns are not readily available to people who are mentally incapacitated,” Miller said.
The House approved collecting sales taxes on trips through ride-hailing services including Uber and Lyft. Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, said the 4 percent sales tax hasn’t been collected on rides using the services as limousine services and taxi companies do. Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said he was on the subcommittee handling this same issue three years ago. The Gainesville representative said the new measure will “tighten up what was passed three years ago.”
Georgia senators approved a bill lifting a yearlong moratorium on new oil pipelines being constructed in the state while establishing a “rigorous” licensing process. Calling oil pipelines the “safest and most efficient way to move oil,” Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said it would boost the state’s overall business climate.The bill also sets up a process to allow for limited eminent domain, or the involuntary seizure of private land. The bill was amended on the floor to forbid the construction of any pipeline construction within the Georgia Coastal Zone. Senators said that an oil spill in such an area could be “catastrophic.”
Georgia schools will be required to test their water for lead by the middle of 2019 under a bill approved by the Senate. Schools would be required to report the results of the tests to parents and teachers as well as fix the problem.