At the Capitol: Week of February 26

Crossover Day has finally arrived as we found out which proposed bills moved on to the other chamber. While not quite as spectacular as the rush to the finish line we’ll see on Sine Die, this week had some interesting developments:

– Another week, and another long-time legislator announces retirement. Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, said she would not seek re-election for a 14th term. Butler has served in the Senate since 1999.

– The final version of Georgia’s mid-year budget was approved by the General Assembly. New spending will include adjustments for school enrollment growth, supplements for K-12 teachers and university employees as well as renovations to the state capitol complex.

– The impacts of Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) regulations have been a legislative priority, as well as a topic covered extensively by the Foundation, for years now. The House finally passed a narrow version of CON reform with HB 1339. While this bill, sponsored by Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, would remove certain CON regulations, it preserves them in most other circumstances. It should be noted that this approach is much less expansive than what last year’s Senate Study Committee on CON recommended.

– After last week’s narrow passage out of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, the “Boundless Opportunities for Georgians Act” passed the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 38-14. SB 147 was authored by Sen. Shawn Still, R-Nrocross, and it seeks to improve inter-district transfers for K-12 students.

– On Tuesday, the Senate approved a resolution to amend the state constitution to allow for sports betting in Georgia. This measure now needs two-thirds of the House vote before it would go to the ballot in November.

– A contentious vote in the Senate ultimately saw the passage of the “Georgia Consumer Privacy Protection Act.” SB 473, from Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, aims to provide protections for consumers’ personal data online.

HB 971, the “Firearm Safe Handling and Secure Storage Tax Credit Act,” overwhelmingly passed the House on Tuesday. This would allow Georgians who purchase a gun safe or enroll in firearm safety training to claim up to $300 in income tax credits. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta.

– For the second year in a row, the effort to allow craft brewers to sell directly to consumers didn’t advance. SB 163 is authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.

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