For the Georgia General Assembly.  2016 is technically the second half of the session, with some bills held over from last year.  Here is what we are watching now, with minimal comments so the article is not too long – but some of these things are BIG.  We will be updating this page as the session unfolds, but please help us – things change so quickly that if you have updates please post them as comments and we will adjust this page.  Thank you!

HB 34 – PASSED – Right to Try Act.  Awaiting Governor’s signature.

SB-250 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Prohibit the purchase of a firearm by any person who is currently a party to a divorce.  Proposed by Democrat Michael ‘Doc’ Rhett, this legislation will not go anywhere.

HB-731 – DEAD FOR 2016 – would ban “assault weapons.”  In an interview with the bill’s author (Mary Oliver) she said she would really like a way to confiscate them.

SB 368 –  DEAD FOR 2016 -Thanks to Nathan (see comments below) for bringing this to our attention.  Trying to sneak in Medicare expansion to boost Obamacare is, well, sneaky.  Don’t expect this bill to pass, but this shows why we need to keep up with what is going on downtown.

SB 330 – DEAD FOR 2016 – An add-on attempt to extend HB170 passed last year to give ½% additional sales tax to MARTA.  It is a badly-formed bill and is opposed by virtually everyone in N. Fulton.  Johns Creek and Alpharetta. City Councils have both passed resolutions in opposition.

HB 929 / SB 376 –  DEAD FOR 2016 – Some are trying to get Georgia on board with an end-run attempt on the U.S. Constitution – nullifying (they use the term ‘reforming’) the Electoral College or, at least making it moot.  Ten states so far have signed on – read about the movement HERE.  Liberals and Progressives are the driving force behind this movement.  Groups like Heritage are opposed and give some good reasons.  There is a similar bill in the Senate.

HB 719 –  DEAD FOR 2016 – Rep. Brad Raffensperger wants to make being registered to vote in Georgia as a requirement for anyone elected or appointed to any local or state public office.

HB 543 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Constitutional Carry (allegedly).  In a nutshell would allow Georgia residents to carry a gun without having to obtain a license.  Why?  Because the Constitution says so!  But it looks like this bill is not truly Constitutional Carry, and as it stands may not be a good bill.  We will continue to watch this one.

SB 85 – DEAD FOR 2016 – It passed the Senate but withdrawn by the House.  It proposes to strip from the law on Development Authorities ALL the criteria that define “projects” that qualify for “tax abatement” by these Authorities.  This would have the effect of making tax abatement the de facto tax policy for any new commercial development project regardless of purpose or merit.  Development Authorities were created as a means to provide tax abatement as “incentive” to attract and retain businesses and create jobs.  SB-85 would make the “incentive” automatic without regard to job creation or anything else.  The author of SB-85 is also author of SB-330, the MARTA Tax Expansion bill.

SB 323 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Here is one I haven’t heard anything about, but it looks bad.  Here is actual text from the bill “… provide for public disclosure not to be required for any documents pertaining to an economic development project by any agency”.  I’ll bet this is a Chamber of Commerce type bill to let the government do what it wants with being bothered by pesky citizens.  Someone please investigate…

SR 675 – DEAD FOR 2016 (pending a miracle) – Sen. Josh McKoon wants a statewide referendum on amending the state constitution to make English the official language of the state of Georgia.  English is already the official language of GA by law passed in 1996.

SB 129/HB 218 – Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – Has a decent chance to pass, even though Delta and other large companies are opposed, and even though the Speaker of the House will introduce something called the  Pastor Protection Act, which sounds good but looks like a ploy to stop RFRA.

SB 6 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Senator McKoon again.  Great bill that would have kept illegal aliens from being able to obtain a GA driver’s licenses and require the GBI to make public the information it is already getting from the feds on the capture, incarceration and the release of criminal aliens.  Should have passed last year but has stiff opposition.  NOTE: Many Legislators will try to lie to you and tell you that Georgia is not giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

HB 14 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Fiscal Responsibility Act – requires General Assembly approve any state/local government getting federal funds.  It’s about time to do something – Georgia ranks 14th in states taking the most federal money, with over 38%  of our budget coming from Washington.

HB 243 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Education Reform, including Education Savings Accounts, which would allow parents to use State money to send children to a private school .  The bill was introduced last year but didn’t make it through both houses.  Lots of Representatives are against this.

HB-142 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Require schools to adopt pro-LGBT policies

American Laws for American Courts, or ALAC (HB-171).  Would keep Sharia Law from being brought into our courtrooms.

SR-135 – DEAD FOR 2016 – A push for Casino Gambling with HR-807 (billed as the Save Hope act) and another attempt at allowing pari-mutuel betting to get a foothold in Georgia 

HB-8 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Provide for an increase in the minimum wage; to provide for annual minimum wage increases to match the rising cost of living; to eliminate various eligibility exemptions from the minimum wage.

Step 2 on legalizing marijuana in Georgia.  Step one was getting it approved for medical use, but the groups funding the bill want full legalization for recreational use (like Colorado).  They knew that getting it passed for medical use would require follow-up legislation to allow marijuana to be actually grown in Georgia since it is illegal to transport across state lines.  So this year they should try and get that passed.  In 2017 they can then go for recreational because it is not an election year.  But see SR-6 and SB-198.

HB 693 – DEAD FOR 2016 – and a proposed state constitutional amendment by House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington, would establish the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund.  He wants to raise money to purchase private land and put it in the hands of the State.  Better than the federal government owning land, but still not a win for private property rights.

HB 721 – DEAD FOR 2016 – Rep. Waites’ bill would limit the use of fireworks in and near residential areas. In some areas, they couldn’t be set off on big holidays after 10 p.m., under the legislation. The bill also would allow local governments to set new restrictions.

HB-370 – PASSED – AKA the “Gag Act”.  Started out as legislation this would force groups (like the Tea Party and even religious groups) who spend money to influence an upcoming vote to disclose their donors.  This was a direct result of the Tea Party running a campaign against the Speaker two years ago, and has already passed the House.  UPDATE: We have heard that the Senate Ethics Committee stripped everything out but the part concerning waiving of fines for county and municipal candidates.  Someone who attended both hearings this session now believes it to be a good bill, although there are good reasons why the fines should be waved.  The current version is LC 28 79585.

Things we wanted to see but didn’t:

Allow sale of Catastrophic Health Insurance – Tea Party Patriots is pushing this one.  Why shouldn’t young healthy people be able to buy inexpensive insurance to pay hospital bills in the case of some major accident or health issue?  Hopefully someone in the GA Legislature will pick this one up.

Hopefully a proposal to force any new EPA regulations to be approved (in some form) by the State Legislature.  Americans for Prosperity is pushing for this.

Merit Pay for Teachers – Not sure what form this will take, but the Governor is in favor.  However, as one might expect, the teacher’s unions are adamantly opposed.

Georgia for Fair Tax has been working on a state form of a Fair Tax proposal and will be looking for a member from Georgia to bring it to fruition.  If they can get it to the floor it will really be interesting.



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15 thoughts on “2016 Legislation Georgia General Assembly”
    1. Possible, but I haven’t heard anything. The way to get something like this done is work with a Representative. We met with a Representative (Buzz Brockway) and because of our discussion he is dropping a bill that has a good chance of passing. They do listen if you talk!

  1. Scratching my head about “Constitutional Carry” bill . . . HB543. IS it CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY, If there’s a requirement to be licensed ($6/year) at $30 for 5-year permit. Isn’t this what we have today, in GA?

      1. I have not heard an update, but I suspect that even though we have a favorable gun rights climate in the Legislature it will not pass.

    1. Excellent point! In fact, the very term “Constitutional Carry Bill” is a bit of an oxymoron. But as I understand it people who support this bill feel that, while the government may be able to require some checks on who can purchase a gun, gun owners should not need a license to carry the gun. But the legislation is curious. I will have our lobbyist talk with the author and try to get more of the story.

    2. I went back and quickly read the law. It does say that anyone can carry a weapon as long as they are not legally prohibited from carrying a weapon (and it lists several things that make you not legally able to carry a gun, and they are basically what now keeps you from getting a weapons carry license now). This would be ‘Constitutional’ carry – you are allowed to carry your weapon, and it is incumbent on the state to prove that you are not able to carry. Here is the section of the bill, and it says there are three people who can legally carry a weapon in Georgia – we are mainly talking about adding the first class of folks:

      (b) The following persons may carry a weapon or long gun:
      (1) Any person who is not prohibited by law from carrying a weapon or long gun as
      provided for in subsection (c) of this Code section;
      (2) Any person who possesses a weapons carry license pursuant to Code Section
      16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10; or
      (3) Any person licensed or authorized to carry a weapon in any other state whose laws
      recognize and give effect to a license issued pursuant to this part.

    1. It would, but when speaking with the bills sponsor (Rep. Tyrone Brooks) he admitted that it has no chance of passing.

  2. HB543 needs to pass! There is nothing ‘bad’ about it and it’s embarrassing that in a state where every single state wide office is held by a Republican, that Georgia’s citizen must get a permission slip (and pay for it adding insult to injury) to exercise the ONLY right enumerated in the Constitution that specifically says “shall not be infringed”.

    1. Thank you – I know that early on it looked like it was headed the wrong way, and I haven’t checked it lately. I believe in true Constitutional Carry, which means there is no licensing or permits or taxes. This bill unfortunately does not change that.

  3. HB 929 as well as the “interstate cooperation” is so overridingly unconstitutional it isn’t even funny. The Constitution was VERY SPECIFICALLY written so as to PREVENT the election of the President by a national popular vote. Even in 1787, the Framers knew that a national popular vote would place the election of the President in the hands of dense population centers and ignore the rural areas and smaller states. This is the very reason the Electoral College was created.

    The present form of electing the President and Vice President – using popular vote to select the Electors then bind their hands so that they really can’t VOTE at the Electoral College – pretty much violates the Original Intent, if not the Constitution. Giving states like California and New York a popular-vote, “winner take all” approach to the bound Electors pretty much gives the election to dense population centers anyway. Look at the election maps of, say, California, and you will see just how much of the state has its vote ignored due to the population centers. In addition, the award of Electors is not always “winner take all,” but is divided in some states. This presents an inconsistent form of election, which ought to be avoided.

    Because the number of Electors is calculated by the number of House districts plus two for the Senators, a better plan would be to elect one Elector PER HOUSE DISTRICT based on the popular vote in THAT DISTRICT, and only the two Electors corresponding to the Senate seats would be elected by popular vote of the entire state. Only in this way will the vote be representative of all areas of the country, not just the dense population centers, and also be consistent across all states.

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