Sine Die marked the end of the 2021 Georgia General Assembly legislative session. This legislative session brought so many positive changes to our great state. According to the constitution, lawmakers only have one obligation each general session – and that is to pass a budget. In the article we will discuss the budget, and what all passed and failed in the 2021 Georgia legislative session.
House Appropriations Chairman Terry England said the budgets lawmakers have worked on since May of last year have been the most in-depth he’s ever worked on. Passing a budget was not so easy this session as the House and the Senate had to appoint a conference committee to work it out. The committee was successful in agreeing where the budget was allocated and signed the report at around 2 pm on April 1. The majority of the budget went to Governor Kemp’s proposal of restoring K-12 education funding. It also went to funding mental and behavioral health programs.
In this session lawmakers passed several election reform laws and small income tax cuts. Because this is a two year cycle many bills have not been passed, but still have a chance next year. Listed below are some of the key House Bills and Senate Bills that passed:
- SB 202 – Governor Kemp signed this Senate bill into law on March 25th that will expand early voting and make IDs required for absentee ballots.
- HB 479 – Citizen’s arrest reform passed with a single “No” vote, just 13 days after Ahmaud Arbery’s death due to two gentlemen who gunned down Arbery claiming they were trying to execute a citizen’s arrest.
- HB 539 – Governor Kemp has already signed the bill that would cut overall taxes by $140 million stating Georgia will raise the amount of money someone could earn before paying income taxes.
- HB 285 – This bill prevents police defunding in counties by not decreasing the annual police department budget by more than 5% of the previous fiscal year and over a 1- year rolling period. Departments with less than 10 police officers or in cities where revenue is reduced and therefore need to have across-the-board reductions are the exceptions of this bil.
- HB 112 – COVID 19 lawsuit shield passed to protect businesses from being sued if someone contracts the virus within the business.
- SB 236 – Cocktails to go bill passed allowing diners to order alcoholic beverages to go after ordering food.
- SB 33 and 34 – These senate bills would allow victims to seek financial compensation by filing a lawsuit against human traffickers and would make the name change process easier for those victims.
Below are some of the House Bills and Senate Bills that failed this legislative session:
- HB 290 – This bill would have required hospitals, and nursing homes to allow patient visitors during the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate decided to postpone this bill for the current session.
- HB 272 – The adulting criminal age bill suggested changing the age of charging most people of adult crimes from 17 to 18.
- HB 247 – If this bill would have passed, Georgia drivers would not have been able to elude penalties by explaining they purchased hands-free devices.
To see a list of all bills that passed or failed – please visit https://www.legis.ga.gov
The above-mentioned bills that passed, failed, or were tabled are just a few of many. What we need to realize about this legislative session is that we have lawmakers that fought for us. We have lawmakers that listened to the voice of the people. We have laws that make voting and taxes fair – and this is just the beginning.