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Georgia legislation that didn't make it this year

Thursday, March 6, 2014 9:37 AM
Last updated 7:46 PM
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ATLANTA -- Proposals making solar panels more affordable, raw milk available for human consumption, English the official language and hedgehogs legal pets are among the hundreds of bills that failed to make Monday’s Crossover Day deadline, effectively killing them.

By the midnight deadline, legislators had introduced 1,528 bills since the two-year term of the General Assembly began in January, 2013. Last year, just 353 became law, meaning the vast majority of bills never do.

Bills introduced last year or this year had to pass the House or the Senate by the 30th legislative day in order to remain viable for the remaining 10 days of the two-year term.

Only two bills have been defeated in the full House or Senate this year. The rest stalled somewhere along the process of committee consideration.

Every legislator has seen projects die after spending months working on them, some that gained publicity and most that perished in obscurity.

Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, said Tuesday he was disappointed that his House Bill 956 introduced this year never came up for a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee. It would have sweetened the tax credits employers get in prosperous counties to come closer to what’s available for them in economically struggling counties.

“I understand it. We don’t really know the costs, and you want to check it,” he said.

Harbin, who once chaired the budget-writing committee and was a senior member of the House leadership, credits the current leadership with using caution about which bills advance.

“A lot of the bills that got through were bills that had been vetted, that people had had a chance to talk about, had been worked on,” he said. “I think leadership did a good job of making sure that those things that we still have a lot of questions on, you just didn’t throw those out there to get them out there.”

Often, the bills that pass are those that have been under consideration for several years, like a Senate measure that mandates insurance companies cover early treatment of autism. It is a topic Harbin and others have been pushing more than three years.

Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, recognized that. When his solar-panel-financing bill got a hearing in the committee where it was assigned, members never had the opportunity to vote on it.

“We knew that,” he said. “To get the language right, with all of the people involved in the big companies that were interested, it was going to take a while.”

The idea isn’t dead. A subcommittee will hear expert testimony about it over the summer ahead of next year’s legislative session.

One avenue remains for bills caught by the Crossover deadline, become a rider on someone else’s bill.

That’s what Rep. Craig Gordon, D-Savannah, is hoping will happen to HB 1074 authored with Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah. It would extend a clean-energy tax credit due to expire in July.

“We’re hoping right now to find a bill that we can attach it to as an amendment,” Gordon said.

Crossover Day

Here is a look of some of the notable bills that effectively died on Crossover Day, and all but two simply never came up for a vote:

House Bill 1 - would have added procedures to protect property owners when law enforcement seeks to seize vehicles, cash and other items as tools in the illegal sale of drugs

HB 390 - voted down twice in the House, it would have allowed cities to increase their sales tax for transit systems

HB 718 - would have allowed the sale of unpasteurized milk for human consumption

HB 771 - would have removed the statute of limitations that prevent the victims of child abuse from suing their alleged abuser after turning age 33

HB 780 - would have permitted the keeping of African pygmy hedgehogs as pets

HB 874 - would have allowed companies other than utilities to sell electricity as part of a financing arrangement with property owners installing solar panels

HB 907 - would have required the online ride-matching limo services comply with regulations governing taxicabs

HB 925 - would have phased out the tax credit for buying a zero-emission vehicle

HB 956 - would have enhanced the benefits of tax credits for job creation and allowed employers in prosperous counties to enjoy benefits closer to the what is available in economically struggling counties

HB 1010 - would have expanded cities’ immunity from certain lawsuits to match what county governments have

HB 1033 - would have repealed the state law against loitering, including law-enforcement’s authority to question registered sex offenders found hanging out at playgrounds

HB 1023 and Senate Bill 377 - sought to preserve companies’ religious preferences by allowing them to deny service to potential customers with different beliefs or lifestyles

SB 174 - would have permitted microbrewers to sell packaged beer directly rather than through a wholesale distributor

SB 306 - would have made permanent a ban that will expire in July on pumping treated surface water into the Floridan Aquifer

SB 363 - defeated in the Senate, it would have allowed contractors to get information from banks about money available in the accounts of customers who haven’t paid for home improvements

SB 404 - would have prohibited the state from issuing driver’s licenses to young adults who were brought to this country as undocumented aliens

Senate Resolution 6 - would have created statewide grand juries

SR 1031 - would have let voters decide to amend the state constitution to make English the state’s official language


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