Legislators vote on execution drugs, DUIs and more

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ATLANTA — Georgia state lawmakers have approved legislation that would make the names of companies supplying execution drugs a “confidential state secret.”

Georgia Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn (left), and Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, huddle on the House floor in Atlanta. Lawmakers adjourn for the year Thursday.   DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Georgia Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn (left), and Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, huddle on the House floor in Atlanta. Lawmakers adjourn for the year Thursday.

The House passed the bill Tuesday by a vote of 117 to 60. It now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.

The Senate passed the bill Friday after adding language to prevent public disclosure of any records that reveal the name and contact information of any person or entity who participates in an execution. That includes any company that “manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the drugs.”

Supporters of the bill say it’s necessary to protect people and companies involved in court-ordered executions from retaliation. But critics say it eliminates government transparency surrounding the most serious act the state can perform: taking someone’s life.

In other action Tuesday:

• A proposal to make it easier for certain foreigners to get Georgia driver’s licenses cleared the Senate and needs only final House approval to head to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk.

The bill would allow Georgia to enter into reciprocal agreements with foreign countries so that each government would recognize valid driver’s licenses from the other for anyone who is a lawful immigrant. The administration has said it backs the idea behind House Bill 475. For Georgia, that would mean giving certain foreigners temporary licenses without those drivers passing the usual exams. Supporters pitch the measure as business friendly, given that foreign firms often send employees and executives to Georgia for extended stays.

• The Senate approved stiffer penalties for multiple convictions of driving under the influence.

The changes apply to anyone convicted of two DUIs within any five-year period.

House Bill 407 would lengthen the time those offenders must use a breath-test lock on their car ignition in order to have driving privileges. Multiple offenders now must go 120 days without a valid license. Then, they can get a probationary license for eight months, provided their car ignition is connected to a device that tests a driver’s blood-alcohol content before starting. The revised law would leave the 120-day minimum suspension in place and increase the probationary period to one year.

Because of Senate changes, the bill must return to the House for further consideration.

Lawmakers adjourn for the year on Thursday.

• The House voted 157-13 to adopt a resolution seeking a strip of land leading to the Tennessee River. The offer will be sent to Tennessee officials, who have rebuffed previous efforts.

Georgia lawmakers argue an 1818 survey misplaced the 35th parallel. If Tennessee’s southern border stretched along the parallel, as Congress decreed in 1796, Georgia could take water from the Tennessee River. The issue took on importance amid a dispute among Georgia, Alabama and Florida that threatened metro Atlanta’s water supply.

The resolution says a lawsuit can be initiated if an agreement is not reached by the last day of the 2014 legislative session.


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