ATLANTA, Ga (AP) — The Georgia General Assembly ended session Monday with several key bills passing through and others now out of the cards:
The sponsor of legislation to allow casino gambling in Georgia says the effort is dead for the year.
State Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, said Monday that he doesn’t have enough votes to get the bill out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Beach says he will travel around Georgia before the next legislative session to promote the idea.
Friday marks a key deadline for lawmakers. Bills must pass at least one chamber to remain alive for the year.
Beach’s proposal would have allowed two resorts to offer gambling.
The first required a $2 billion investment in the counties surrounding Atlanta and the second required a $450 million investment in another area. Taxes on gambling would support college scholarships along with rural hospital grants.
But religious organizations opposed any gambling expansion.___
A Senate panel has approved legislation that would reduce the punishment for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance the bill sponsored by Sen. Harold Jones II, a Democrat from Augusta.
Under the legislation, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would be punishable as a misdemeanor rather than a felony as is currently the case. The bill goes next to the Senate Rules Committee.
Separately, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee reversed course on an abortion bill.
The bill would have required abortion providers to give women information about potentially stopping drug-induced abortions midway through the procedure.
The committee chairwoman decided to pull the proposal after reviewing a court decision in Arizona that found a similar bill to be unconstitutional.___
IMMIGRANT DRIVERS LICENSES
Two bills that would change the appearance of driver’s licenses issued to immigrants with permission to be in the U.S. are moving through the Georgia legislature.
The House Public Safety Committee on Monday approved a bill that would label licenses “ineligible voter.” Rep Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, originally proposed a “noncitizen” label.
Voting rights advocates objected to the change during Monday’s meeting, but it passed the committee over Democrats’ objections.
The Senate Public Safety Committee separately approved a bill requiring licenses issued to people without U.S. citizenship be printed vertically rather than horizontally.
People without permission to be in the country aren’t eligible to receive driver’s licenses in Georgia but the state does issue licenses to people with legal permission to be in the country.___
CONCEALED CARRY ON CAMPUS
Licensed gun owners could carry concealed handguns on public college campuses under legislation approved by a Georgia House committee.
Members approved the bill on Monday despite opposition from the University System of Georgia and Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a similar bill last year.
The measure would allow anyone age 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with a state-issued permit.
The bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Mandi Ballinger of Canton, added an exemption for on-campus preschool to this year’s bill, hoping to win Deal’s support. The bill also exempts dorms and athletic venues.
Georgia is among 17 states banning concealed weapons on campus.___
A House committee has approved a bill greatly expanding the list of conditions that qualify for access to medical marijuana.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee voted in favor of the proposal, which is sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican. It moves to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.
The bill would add AIDS, HIV, chronic pain, and autism to the list of qualifying conditions. It removes some residency restrictions.
Qualifying patients have been able to legally possess cannabis oil since 2015 and there are currently 1,300 patients enrolled in the program.
The Senate has separately approved a bill that only adds autism to the qualifying conditions and cuts the potency of THC from 5 to 3 percent.___
OVERDOSE COMBAT DRUG
A drug used to reverse opioid overdoses called naloxone will be available over-the-counter under a bill approved by the Georgia Senate.
Senators on Monday unanimously approved the bill, which will codify an emergency order put in place by Gov. Nathan Deal last year.
Sen. Butch Miller, R- Gainesville, said the change will allow loved ones of an addicted person to be ready for the worst case scenario.
The House voted Monday to add fentanyl to state laws on penalties for possessing, manufacturing, delivering or selling certain drugs. Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, said the change would give law enforcement another tool against people selling fentanyl.
Fentanyl is more potent than other opioids. The Centers for Disease Control says roughly 9,500 people fatally overdosed on synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, nationwide in 2015.___
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
Victims of domestic violence could change their names privately under a bill approved by the Georgia House.
House members voted unanimously Monday in support of the proposal from Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton. The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence has also supported the change.
Allison Smith-Burk is the group’s director of public policy and says the change would give advocacy organizations another tool to help victims stay safe.
Name changes now are required to be listed in public court documents. Smith-Burk says that’s frightening for victims who worry that an abusive spouse or partner will continue to stalk them.
The bill would allow a judge to keep name-change records sealed in domestic violence cases.
Friday marks a key deadline for lawmakers. Bills must pass at least one chamber to remain alive.