Campus Carry (House Bill 280)
The campus carry bill resurfaced as House Bill 280 (HB 280) with a few tweaks this year following its veto by Gov. Deal in April 2016. HB 280 would allow Georgia weapons permit holders to carry firearms in most areas on public colleges and universities. Exceptions include dorms, Greek housing, centers hosting athletic events, child care centers and buildings where high school students attend class. Deal requested that faculty offices also be exempt, an addition that was included in the final agreement.
Sexual Assault (Senate Bill 71, formerly House Bill 51)
Senate Bill 71 (SB 71) was created to change how colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases to protect the due process rights of those accused. Currently under state and federal law, students and faculty can choose whether or not report sexual misconduct to their school or law enforcement, but this legislation would require certain school employees to report potential felonies. The bill’s main sponsor, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, said too many students are falsely accused of sexual misconduct, investigated and punished by Georgia colleges. Sexual assault victims and advocates worried about the rights and privacy of victims.
Medical Marijuana (Senate Bill 16)
Senate Bill 16 (SB 16) will add six medical conditions to the list of those eligible for treatment with a form of cannabis oil legal in Georgia. The added conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. Patients in hospice care would also be allowed to possess the oil.
Domestic Terrorism (Senate Bill 1)
Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) was proposed to revise the definition of “domestic terrorism” to include crimes such as felonies that cause bodily harm or death, disable or destroy “critical infrastructure” causing significant economic loss and intended to intimidate citizens or change public policy. The bill’s supporters cited the attacks in Orlando and Charleston as examples for its, necessity, but opponents said the legislation’s mandatory prison sentences were too rigid and that the broadened definition could potentially include protesters.
Confederate History Month (House Resolution 644)
Every year, dozens of resolutions are passed to honor individuals, associations and even sports teams. But this legislative session, a measure to establish April as Confederate History Month made its way into the House. Black legislatures immediately rebuked the resolution and criticized the fact that it makes no mention of slavery.
Mary Rolinson, Senior Lecturer in the Georgia State University History Department, said that although “some people consider celebrations of the Confederacy and the Confederate Battle flag as ‘heritage not hate’, those who defend it this way do not fully understand the history of the Confederacy.”
Eminent Domain Bill (House Bill 434)
House Bill 434 (HB 434) weakens protections against eminent domain – government condemnation of private property, allowing state governments to seize private property for economic development. Under HB 434, local governments can use eminent domain to condemn rundown and neglected properties and immediately transfer them to private developers. Critics of the bill worry that private property owners now have less protection from the government.
Legislation still in House or Senate committees:
House Bill 158: legalize casino gambling in Georgia
House Bill 156: make Georgia weapon’s permits voluntary, allowing anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit
House Bill 248: legalize driverless cars in Georgia
Senate Bill 219 passed the legislature this session, allowing pilot projects for driverless cars on certain public roads.
House Bill 471: require state colleges and universities to expand free speech areas, ensure equality in creating student organizations
Senate Bill 17: allow local governments to OK restaurants serving alcohol on Sundays starting at 10:30 a.m.
Senate Bill 79: allow two “destination resort” casinos in Georgia
Senate Bill 233: align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act