Legislative deadline left many bills behind

ATLANTA — When the gavel fell in the Georgia House at 9 p.m. Thursday, it ended the prospects for hundreds of proposals as stand-alone bills that failed to make the General Assembly’s deadline.

Of the roughly 400 bills introduced in the House, just 193 came up for a vote during the first 30 days of the legislative session. Most simply died of neglect in committee. The numbers in the Senate are smaller, but only about half its bills got a vote.

Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy bills that are now dead in the water:

• Plant Vogtle profits: House Bill 267 would have allowed the Public Service Commission to reduce the profits Georgia Power could earn on expenses beyond what was budgeted for constructing two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.

• Augusta officials’ salaries: No bill has been introduced to raise salaries for the Richmond County sheriff and court officials whose jobs were created by the state constitution. The deadline isn’t until March 20.

• Transportation-sales-tax penalties: Senate Bill 73 would have repealed the discount in the required local share of transportation contracts for regions that passed last summer’s transportation sales tax.

• Left-lane slowpokes: House Bill 459 would have required drivers to vacate the left-hand lane except under listed circumstances, such as no vehicle behind, construction, weather or uneven pavement.

• Dog owners: House Bill 409 would have kept local governments from prohibiting tethers and certain dog breeds or from requiring dogs be spayed and neutered.

• Environmental emergencies: House Bill 549 would have established emergency response procedures within the Environmental Pro­tec­­tion Division to react to pollution spills like those that have triggered massive fish kills.

• Historic district subdivisions: House Bill 474 would have allowed the subdividing of land in historic districts without first seeking approval from local planning agencies.

• Seizure of crime-related property: House Bill 1 would have limited the circumstances in which law enforcement agencies can seize cars, cash and buildings used in the commission of a crime.

• Cellphone towers: House Bill 176 would have limited the time local governments could consider applications for new cellphone towers and allowed existing towers to be extended without additional approval.

• Government broadband: House Bill 282, one of the few bills defeated outright this session, would have prohibited local governments from competing with private telecommunications companies.

• Bridge renaming: No bill was introduced to change the name of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savannah, as local residents have requested.

• Solar power: Senate Bill 51 would have allowed property owners to use “purchased power agreements” to lease their rooftop to companies that would then sell them electricity.

• National curriculum standards: Senate Bill 167 would have required Georgia to withdraw from national school standards.

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