As we move towards Day 28 of the legislative session, things have begun to pick up over the past two weeks.
The following legislation passed in the Senate:
SB 34 – Removes liability for individuals entering a locked car in order to remove a child under duress from the vehicle. Known as the “Hot Car” bill. Passed 50-2
SB 88 – Outlines requirements of employers paying employees by debit cards including: written notice of fees prior to issuance, ability of employee to opt out of card payment, request a check or authorize electronic transfers. Needed legislation to do automatically. Passed 43-2
SB 139 – Places regulation of plastic grocery bags with the state, trumping local ordinances. I understand the environmental concerns but felt if an issue was that significant then the state should deal with it. Even California has taken the same position. Passed 32-19
SB 133 and SR 287 – Governor’s Opportunity School District – SR 287 required a two-thirds vote for passage since it will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016 and it requires the necessary 38 votes. SB 133 allows the state to take over control of chronically failing schools.
The Superintendent of the Opportunity School District is appointed by the Governor and I added an amendment that requires the Senate to confirm this appointment. The voucher amendment failed and there was concern that with this amendment we could not get the necessary two-thirds vote in the House. The number of schools in this district will not exceed 100 at any given time with a cap of 20 new schools a year. This option is a last resort. We can’t continue to accept failure as the norm. SB 133 passed 38-17 and SR 287 passed 38-15
SB 129 – Georgia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – I had to be out of the Chamber at the time of the vote. I would have voted yes and the Republican vote was unanimous yes. The reason the bill was deemed necessary was the Supreme Court said the same federal provisions could not apply to states and localities. The original federal legislation was sponsored by Chuck Shumer (D) in the U.S. Senate and it passed. We added language to reaffirm discrimination would not be condoned. Passed 37-15
On a separate note the Democrats in the delegation continue to hold up the DeKalb property tax freeze renewal even though CEO Lee May supports it. Hopefully, reason will prevail.
We are working on the medical marijuana bill and I believe the House and Senate versions will be merged.
Also, the House finally passed a transportation bill and the Senate will come forth with its version in the not too distant future. Public reaction to the House bill has not been positive.
Senator Fran Millar