legislature

Here’s what Georgia is doing to fight the spike in violent crime

Here’s what Georgia is doing to fight the spike in violent crime

Georgia’s top elected leaders vowed Monday to make the current spike in violent crime across the state and particularly in Atlanta a top priority. Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday he will add crime to the General Assembly’s agenda for a special session on tap this fall primarily to draw new legislative and congressional district lines. Meanwhile, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said House budget writers will allocate $3 million in additional law enforcement resources aimed specifically at fighting crime in Atlanta. Kemp, Ralston and state Attorney General Chris Carr addressed members of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security, which…
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Here are the new laws going into effect July 1

Here are the new laws going into effect July 1

The controversial election bill the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed in March garnered the most publicity by far of anything lawmakers did during this year’s session. But the legislature approved a host of other bills during 40 days under the Gold Dome covering a variety of issues that, like the election measure, take effect on Thursday. July 1 will see the implementation of a state tax cut and a series of new tax breaks for Georgia businesses. Local police departments will get new protections from budget cuts, and a new crime applicable to a type of theft popularized during the pandemic…
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Elected officials demand answers about Atlanta’s crime wave

Elected officials demand answers about Atlanta’s crime wave

Georgia lawmakers Wednesday launched an effort to examine what’s behind a rise in violent crime in metro Atlanta and consider potential solutions. “There’s going to be politics in this,” state Rep. J Collins, R-Villa Rica, chairman of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security, told committee members. “[But] this committee wants to dig down and look at the facts.” Murders in the city of Atlanta are up 50% so far this year over the same period in 2020, while rapes have increased by 82%. The city also has also seen a surge in incidents of illegal street racing, prompting the…
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Inside Look: Why Georgia’s video gambling machine reforms failed

Inside Look: Why Georgia’s video gambling machine reforms failed

Efforts to reform Georgia’s coin-operated amusement machines (COAM) business will have to wait until next year. Legislation aimed at cleaning up the industry by offering game winners redeemable gift cards as an incentive to stop illegal cash payouts fizzled on the last night of this year’s General Assembly session. The bill fell victim to a lack of consensus about whether and how to reform the COAM business. During the 2021 legislative session that wrapped up at the beginning of this month, the gaming companies that own the machines not only disagreed with the convenience store owners who house the games.…
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Georgia lawmaker leaves legislature to take job at Georgia Tech

Georgia lawmaker leaves legislature to take job at Georgia Tech

Georgia Rep. Bert Reeves is leaving the General Assembly to join the administrative staff at Georgia Tech, the university announced Thursday. Reeves, R-Marietta, will serve as vice president for institute relations at his alma mater starting May 1. He will report directly to Tech President Angel Cabrera and serve as a member of the president’s cabinet. “Bert’s unmatched passion for Georgia Tech and his firsthand experience as a leader in state government make him a perfect match for this role,” Cabrera said. “I very much look forward to working with him in moving Georgia Tech forward and finding ways to…
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Here’s how Georgia is spending your taxpayer money this year

Here’s how Georgia is spending your taxpayer money this year

(The Center Square) – The Georgia General Assembly has approved a $27.2 billion spending plan for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The Senate and House agreed to spend more money on health care, education, transportation, state positions, internet access and economic initiatives. The House approved the measure, 148-21, late Wednesday night after it cleared the Senate unanimously, 52-0. Lawmakers now must send the proposal for state spending through June 30, 2022, to Gov. Brian Kemp for consideration. The proposal reflects a 2.5% increase in spending over the current fiscal year, gradually replacing more than $2 billion that was…
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Here are the health care reforms that could come to Georgia

Here are the health care reforms that could come to Georgia

Monday shapes up as a pivotal day for high-profile health bills as the General Assembly enters its final week. Those expected to get a Senate floor vote include a bill that would establish rules for cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms. Senators will also consider a recently gutted measure involving visits to people in hospitals and long-term care facilities. And a third proposal, which has raised some concerns after recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado, would expand gun rights here. The timing is crucial for all pending bills. The Legislature adjourns Wednesday. Conflicts between House and Senate leaders over…
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Big changes made to Georgia’s election reform bills

Big changes made to Georgia’s election reform bills

Republican state lawmakers hammering out changes to Georgia’s election system have dropped controversial proposals to scrap Sunday polling hours and no-excuse mail-in voting amid pushback from Democratic leaders and voting-rights advocates. With the General Assembly set to adjourn the 2021 session next week, two omnibus bills moving through the House and Senate include dozens of proposed election changes that continue to irk opponents, especially tighter voter ID rules for casting absentee ballots and a ban on giving out water or food to voters waiting in line outside polling places. But the move to repeal no-excuse absentee voting and shrink weekend hours…
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Georgia lawmakers want to make protests that block highways a felony

Georgia lawmakers want to make protests that block highways a felony

A bill placing new restrictions on protests and the cities where they take place was revived late last week after failing to get a vote in a state Senate committee earlier. The proposed law would increase penalties for protest tactics including blocking a highway after police tell protesters to leave. It would also require demonstration planners to submit plans to a city or county for approval, including names and contact information for protesters and first aid and security plans. Cities or counties could be held liable if they negligently allowed violence or property damage at a protest, according to the…
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Georgia lawmakers pass tax cut despite federal penalty

Georgia lawmakers pass tax cut despite federal penalty

State lawmakers passed an income-tax cut for Georgians on Thursday that aims to give taxpayers relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic, though critics warn it could cost the state millions of dollars in emergency aid. The tax-cut bill, sponsored by Georgia Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, would let Georgians pay less income tax starting July 1 amid a rebound of the state economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, following up on a previous reduction passed in 2019 that lowered the state’s income-tax rate from 6% to 5.75%. Republican lawmakers had planned to reduce the income-tax rate further last year to 5.5% but paused…
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93-page election bill sparks outcry in Georgia House of Representatives

93-page election bill sparks outcry in Georgia House of Representatives

A new wide-ranging measure from Republican state lawmakers with changes to Georgia’s election system abruptly appeared Wednesday just before a scheduled committee hearing, sparking backlash from Democrats and voting-rights advocates about transparency. The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, passed out of the Senate last week as a two-page billfocused on restricting how many applications for mail-in ballots outside groups could send to Georgia voters ahead of elections. But it arrived in the House Special Committee on Election Integrity Wednesday as a sweeping 93-page amended billencompassing dozens of proposals contained in several other Republican-backed bills. Read the amended bill here. Democrats…
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Georgia lawmakers strike down pay increases for themselves

Georgia lawmakers strike down pay increases for themselves

The Georgia Senate has struck down a measure aimed at hiking salaries for members of the General Assembly as well as several other top state officials. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Valencia Seay, D-Riverdale, proposed raising salaries for Georgia elected officials including the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state school superintendent, and the commissioners of agriculture, insurance and labor. Backers argued the salary increases for state lawmakers would open the General Assembly’s membership to average-earning Georgians and not just more wealthy and retired politicians. Opponents shot down the measure on Monday’s annual Crossover Day in the General Assembly…
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The Sunrise Report: New laws start to take shape

The Sunrise Report: New laws start to take shape

Good morning, Georgia! State lawmakers passed a flurry of bills yesterday in one of the two busiest days of the legislative session. Yesterday was known as Crossover Day, the last day a bill can be voted on in one chamber to cross over to the other chamber -- it is also a day that gives a good indicator of what new laws will go into effect on July 1. Let's take a look at some of the highlights from your elected officials yesterday. Health Care Reform: The house passed HB 454, unanimously. The bill would require insurance companies to continue to…
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Georgia is one step closer to eliminating the citizen’s arrest law

Georgia is one step closer to eliminating the citizen’s arrest law

Legislation to overhaul Georgia’s Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law inspired by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery last year passed the state House of Representatives unanimously on Monday. House Bill 479, which now heads to the Georgia Senate, is a follow-up to the hate-crimes law the General Assembly passed last June in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis, at the hands of a white police officer. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was gunned down while jogging near Brunswick in February 2020 by two white men. The two, now facing murder charges along with a…
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Georgia senate passes major voting reform bill

Georgia senate passes major voting reform bill

A major overhaul of Georgia’s absentee voting system and other election changes brought by Republican lawmakers passed in the state Senate Monday by a party-line vote, sparking cries of voter suppression from Democratic leaders. The wide-ranging bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, was one of 12 measures focused on election changes up for debate on the Senate floor Monday, marking a swell of proposals to change voting procedures after the 2020 election cycle. Dugan’s bill contains some of the most sweeping and controversial election changes pitched so far in the legislative session, including provisions to require a…
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