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2018 Legislative Update

March 15, 2018

The 2018 legislative session is nearing an end, with lawmakers maneuvering to pass bills before the two-year legislative cycle ends on March 29.

2018 Legislative Timeline

Here are the past and upcoming major dates associated with this year’s legislation:

  • January 8: Day 1
    Session starts.

  • February 28: Crossover Day
    The last day that one chamber can pass legislation to the other.

  • March 29: Sine Die
    Final day for the Georgia General Assembly to vote on bills.

  • May 8: Signing deadline
    Last day for the Governor to sign or veto bills. Any passed bills left untouched by the Governor become law.

  • July 1: Bills effective
    Unless otherwise stated, all bills passed this session become law.

  • November 6: Election Day
    Voting for new officials including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, and all state legislators.

With so many offices open for election this year, it potentially sets up 2019 as a year of change for our state.

First, though, members of the 154th Georgia General Assembly must finish the jobs for which they were elected.

Follow the Bouncing Bills

To find the status of a particular bill, visit the General Assembly’s website and use the legislation search box at the top left of the page. You can also use the advanced search function to find bills by keyword or sponsor.

On each bill’s page, there is a summary that lists all the steps it has taken so far in the legislative process: when it was first introduced, what committee reviewed it, whether it has been voted on in either chamber, etc.

Importantly, each page also includes a copy of the exact language of the bill in its current form. In the case of bills that would modify existing law, the text is marked so it is easy to tell what’s changing:

A bill’s original language is marked with strikethrough text and new language is underlined.

Each bill’s page also includes general information, such as who sponsored it.

Once a bill has won approval in both chambers it goes to the Governor, who may sign it into law or veto. As the Governor makes these decisions, they are announced on his website.

While a few bills are signed promptly after passage, the Governor has 40 days from the end of the legislative session to sign or veto; if no action is taken, the bill becomes law at the end of this time. For many high-profile bills, the Governor may wait until very near the deadline before announcing his decision. (Expect a flurry of activity in early May this year.)

Summary of Process

The complete legislative process is outlined on the Georgia General Assembly’s website. Check out our Life of a Law Infographic for a visual summary of this process.

Notable Bills

Here are some notable bills from this session and their current status (as of March 15):

Awaiting Passage

  • Regional Mass Transit: The House and Senate have separately passed bills that would allow 13 metro Atlanta counties to impose a sales tax to fund additional transit. The two chambers are now working to reconcile differences between the bills, HB 930 and SB 386, for passage.

  • Texting and Driving: The House has passed HB 673, which would tighten legal restrictions on the use of wireless devices while driving, and increase penalties for violations. The bill awaits action by the Senate.

  • Mining and Drilling for Gas and Oil: HB 205, which proposes stronger regulations on fracking, passed the House in 2017, but the Senate passed an alternate version. The two chambers have since been trying to reach agreement in conference committees.

  • Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act: HB 332 would put a statewide referendum on the November ballot. If passed, the referendum would create a land conservation fund. This bill has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Passed and Awaiting Action by Governor

  • SB 17: AKA “the brunch bill,” this legislation would allow local governments to put forth a referendum to allow restaurants to begin selling alcoholic beverages at 11 a.m. on Sundays (rather than 12:30 p.m. as the law currently allows).

Passed and Signed by Governor

Let Your Voice Be Heard

It’s always good to let your elected officials — the Senator and Representative for the area you live — know how you feel about a bill. Additionally, contact the sponsor(s) of a particular bill as well as members of the committee which is considering it.

You can find a specific bill’s sponsors, with links to their contact information, on the information page for a particular bill. (Again, to find any bill, go to legis.ga.gov and use the search box at the top left of the page. There is also an advanced search option that allows you to find bills by keyword or sponsor.)

Jon Suggs

About the Author

Jon Suggs is the Content Strategist for Digital Services Georgia. He writes on a variety of topics for Georgia.gov.

Jon is a Georgia native and former journalist who has worked in state government for more than a decade.

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