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The 2014 Legislative Session in Review: What Passed and What Didn't
“The shortest legislative session in recent memory.”
This is the phrase given to the 2014 Legislative Session. 40 days squeezed into 3 months. This hasn’t happened since former Speaker of the House Tom Murphy routinely pushed to end the session before St. Patrick’s Day.
Due to a federal judge’s mandate to give more time for oversea absentee balloters (especially for runoffs, which are typically held in July), the Secretary of State moved the state primary from June to May 20. According to state law, the Governor and legislators may not campaign while in session.
Thus, we had the shortest legislative session in recent memory.
Hundreds of bills and resolutions passed through the House of Representatives and Senate this year. Some of the more visible issues such as medical marijuana (HB 885) and regulating certain car-service companies, such as Uber and Lyft, (HB 907) did not pass. Other bills such as adding the Ten Commandments to the State Capitol (HB 702), opting out of the federal abortion mandate (SB 98) and allowing licensed gun owners to bring firearms into certain buildings and schools (HB 60) did pass.
Constitutionally speaking, our legislators fulfilled their job by passing HB 744, aka the Big Budget. The Senate and the House approved Governor Deal’s budget with certain amendments allotting $20.8 billion for FY 2015 (starting on July 1, 2014 and going through June 30, 2015). Major highlights of the budget are:
- $916 million of new revenue allotted for education
- $35 million for the Savannah Harbor project
Some of the other bills which passed are highlighted below:
SR 973: Creates the Senate Child Protection Study Committee tasked to study the conditions, needs and issues for the safety and welfare of children in Georgia.
HB 772: Requires a drug test to be administered to those receiving benefits and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards with a photo of the recipient. State employees have the right to determine who should be tested and who shouldn’t.
HB 697: Creates the Zell Miller Grant—a subprogram to the HOPE program. This grant will pay the full tuition of those enrolled in a certificate or diploma program who achieve and maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average. Aimed at helping those who attend the Technical College System of Georgia in FY 2015, experts predict that about 16,000 students could benefit from this grant.
HB 914: Requires the Department of Human Services and child protection agencies to consider seriously any reports made by school employees about suspected child abuse. It also creates a pilot program for foster care privatization through public-private partnerships.
HB 1080: Gives permission for a monument of the Atlanta native Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to be erected on the grounds of the state Capitol.
HB 774: Requires the maximum speed limit on interstates in urban areas with more than 50,000 people 70 mph.
HB 459: Gives a misdemeanor to any driver in the left lane on a divided highway who doesn’t move over when a car is driving faster behind them.
All of these bills and many more now reside on the desk of Governor Deal. He can either sign them or stamp them with a veto within 40 days after March 20.
About the Author
Bethany McDaniel is the Interactive Web Content Manager for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, GA with degrees in Visual Communication and History.