At the Capitol: Week of January 29

There was a somber mood at the State Capitol this week with the passing of Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, early Tuesday morning. The Rules Chairman passed away unexpectedly after a short battle with the flu. Memorial services will be held on Monday. 

Here are some other updates from the past week:

– Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation defining antisemitism and incorporating it into Georgia’s hate crimes law. “There is no place for hate in this great state,” Kemp said. “In Georgia, we stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters, today and every day.”

– Senate Republicans held a press conference to outline their priorities for 2024. These include tax relief, tort reform, workforce development and public safety.

– The Senate majority caucus also reaffirmed their support for Senate Bill 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, which passed the Senate last year and awaits action by the House. “We urge lawmakers to pass legislation that prioritizes the best interests of students by empowering all of them to choose the educational setting that best fits their needs,” Kyle Wingfield of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation said.

– Legislation to exempt the professions of shampooing and blow-dry styling for licensure requirements passed the Senate 38-15. Senate Bill 354 is authored by Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry.

– Legislation requiring companies that receive economic incentives to hold secret ballot elections for union representation passed the Senate Insurance & Labor Committee. Senate Bill 362 is authored by Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick. 

– The Senate adopted legislation to legalize sports betting in Georgia, but only after approving a major change in the bill that would require a statewide referendum on the measure. Under Senate Bill 386, authored by Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, the Georgia Lottery Corp. would oversee sports betting, awarding licenses to 16 online sports betting providers.

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