GA lawmakers rush to meet 30th day deadline for bills
The Georgia State Captol Building. AP photo
By KATHLEEN FOODY and BILL HENDRICK, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia lawmakers on Wednesday passed dozens of bills, rushing to meet a key deadline to keep legislation alive for the remainder of the 40-day session.
Friday marks the 30th day of the session, the deadline under Senate rules for bills to pass in the chamber where they were introduced in order to have a shot at becoming law. There are ways around that cutoff, but lawmakers still have been eager to get their bills through either the House or Senate before the end of the week. Neither chamber is in session on Thursday.
Here's a look at some of the bills that cleared at least one chamber on Wednesday and are headed to the other for consideration:
Car-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft would be allowed to continue operating in Georgia under a complex bill that passed the state House by a huge margin.
But the controversy over car-hailing services isn't over and could run into trouble in the Senate.
Uber and other companies that use apps to connect drivers and riders have become popular nationwide, but have run into skeptical lawmakers such as Rep. Alan Powell, chairman of House Public Safety.
Just two weeks ago, Uber and its allies accused the Hartwell Republican of trying to put them out of business.
They changed that tune when Powell's HB 225 passed 160-10 late in the day Wednesday. Powell said his bill will deregulate limos, taxis and car services such as Uber and Lyft.
Both Uber and Lyft applauded the move.
Car manufacturers based in Georgia would be exempt from competitive bidding for state agencies' business under a bill backed by all four of Gov. Nathan Deal's floor leaders in the House.
Lawmakers passed the bill, 153-15.
Kia Motors is the only company currently based in Georgia. Deal's spokesman, Brian Robinson, said in a statement that if "other car companies decide to manufacture here, they would get the same treatment."
The competitive process requires state agencies to take bids for needed items or services and accept the lowest "responsible" offer. The bill also increases the dollar amount that triggers the bidding process for other state purchases to $25,000 from $5,000.
Supreme and Appeals Court judges would receive a $12,000 raise under a bill headed to the Georgia state Senate.
The House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday by a vote of 142 to 21.
The bill also gives salary increases to circuit-court judges, district attorneys and public defenders.
The state would add up to $30,000 annually for those officials. Any salary supplement determined by counties or other local agencies would be subtracted - so a judge receiving a $30,000 supplement would receive no state increase but a judge receiving a $20,000 supplement would receive $10,000 more from the state.
Sponsoring Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, said the increase is meant to bring salaries in line regardless of local supplements. He said the last raise for Supreme and Appeals Court judges was in 1999.
Rep. E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd, a Milledgeville independent, questioned why other state employees are not receiving a similar percentage boost in their salaries.
AP U.S. HISTORY EXAM
The state Senate approved a resolution, 38-17, urging the New York-based College Board to redo its most recent revision of the Advancement Placement U.S. History exam.
The resolution, sponsored by Republican Sen. William Ligon Jr. of Brunswick, says the College Board's new test, taken yearly by 14,000 Georgia students, emphasizes negative aspects of U.S. history. Lawmakers in at least three other states have expressed similar views.
The measure said the test presents an inaccurate view of America's free enterprise system. If the College Board doesn't change the exam, the resolution says Georgia should look for alternatives and push for a reduction in federal funds for the organization.
Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, called the resolution unnecessary.
"People with degrees need to be doing this," he said. "We don't need politicians doing this."
The Senate passed a bill that would give only the state the power to outlaw certain breeds of dogs, rather than cities or other local governments.
Some municipalities have outlawed particular breeds of dangerous and ferocious dogs, but that is a responsibility best left to the state, said Sen. Ellis Black, R-Valdosta.
He waved a letter from the American Kennel Club while explaining the measure.
His bill said "the regulation of domestic dogs, which classifies based on breed, shall be provided for only by general law."
Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, said her bill, which passed unanimously, would strengthen Georgia's child- cruelty laws.
Under her measure, anyone leaving a child 6 years old and younger unattended in a motor vehicle, or supervised by someone under 13, could be charged with cruelty to children in the third degree.
Also, her bill would level the same charge against anyone who intentionally allows a child under 18 to witness a forcible felony or family violence.
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