SEVERE WEATHER:

Download the WSB Radio App and Enable Push Notifications for Storm Updates

ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

heavy-rain-night
64°
Thundershowers
H 68° L 44°
  • heavy-rain-night
    64°
    Current Conditions
    Thundershowers. H 68° L 44°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    68°
    Today
    Thundershowers. H 68° L 44°
  • heavy-rain-day
    56°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 56° L 44°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

State & Regional Govt & Politics
How will Georgia governor deal with major bills from the 2019 session?
Close

How will Georgia governor deal with major bills from the 2019 session?

How will Georgia governor deal with major bills from the 2019 session?
Photo Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Gov. Brian Kemp. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

How will Georgia governor deal with major bills from the 2019 session?

The end of the legislative session triggers the start Wednesday of another 40-day period — this time for Gov. Brian Kemp to sign measures into law or veto them.

Over the next few weeks, the Republican will set a tone for how he will handle some of the state’s most contentious debates, including an overhaul of election policy, an expansion of medical marijuana programs and what would be one of the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions.

His immediate predecessor, Gov. Nathan Deal, was never shy about using the red pen: He nixed dozens of measures over eight years, including a “religious liberty” bill and legislation that would allow gun owners to legally carry firearms on most parts of college campuses.

Live: Use AJC tracker to follow Georgia bills

Photos: Sine Die at the Georgia legislature

Kemp has until May 12 to decide whether to issue vetoes or allow bills to become law, but he has already staked a position on many of the highest-profile measures that cleared the General Assembly. But each piece of legislation must first go through an extensive legal vetting that could jeopardize legislation that may otherwise have broad support.

“I’ve always tried to be a governor who lets people know when we have issues early, so we’re not in a position to veto bills,” Kemp told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There may be things we didn’t realize there’s an unintended consequence, but I’ve been pretty consistent in letting legislators know where we are.”

Here’s a rundown of where the biggest bills stand: 

Abortion

In a series of votes packed with drama and tension, Georgia lawmakers narrowly adopted House Bill 481, which would outlaw most abortions from the moment a doctor can detect a heartbeat in an embryo – as early as six weeks.

The measure passed over the objections of a broad coalition that included influential medical groups, Hollywood celebrities and a small band of suburban Republicans. Supporters promised it would preserve the sanctity of life — if it first survives a legal challenge.

Will Kemp sign it? Certainly. The governor pledged on the campaign trail to sign the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions, and he told the AJC this measure fits the bill.

“I can’t govern because I’m worried about what someone in Hollywood thinks about me,” Kemp said.

Budget

State lawmakers approved a record $27.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year that includes $3,000 pay raises for public school teachers and 2 percent hikes for tens of thousands of state workers.

It would be one of the largest teacher pay raises in state history, and increases have been small or nonexistent for many years since the Great Recession crippled the state’s budget in the late 2000s. It passed with broad bipartisan support.

Will Kemp sign it? Yes. He’s called the spending agreement a “balanced, conservative budget” that reflects the state’s values and funds priorities.

Certificate of need

After a decade of debate, lawmakers approved legislation designed to free up some competition for hospitals and ease state certificate of need restrictions.

The compromise over House Bill 186 would allow the Cancer Treatment Centers of America to expand, while also protecting hospitals from the threat of a new wave of outpatient surgery centers they fear would gut their bottom line.

But they don’t go far enough for critics of the regulations, who say they are an obstacle to free-market competition.

Will Kemp sign it? It seems likely. After negotiations stalled, Kemp threatened to take “executive action” if the General Assembly failed to pass legislation.

Elections law

Legislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen system that spits out paper ballots was approved after a polarizing debate over how to protect the integrity of the vote while ensuring accurate election results.

House Bill 316 also would rewrite election laws dealing with voter registration cancellations, recounts and precinct closures that surfaced during the 2018 governor’s race between Kemp and Stacey Abrams.

She and other Democrats fought the legislation, saying it would leave Georgia’s elections vulnerable to hacking and doesn’t include meaningful changes to encourage more voter participation.

Will Kemp sign it? Yes. As secretary of state, Kemp created a panel that recommended that the state move to these types of ballot-marking devices. He said the measure “ensures our elections remain secure, accessible and fair.”

Medical marijuana

Georgia lawmakers struck a deal hours before the legislative session ended to allow medical marijuana patients to buy the cannabis oil they’re already legally allowed to use.

The compromise on House Bill 324 would for the first time legalize the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana through small growers, state universities and licensed sellers.

Will Kemp sign it? Likely. The governor helped broker the deal between House and Senate leaders who struggled to strike a balance between providing access to legitimate patients while preventing illegal marijuana distribution. But he still seemed torn over it.

“It’s a very, very tough issue. But there’s a lot of legislative support for it. I respect the legislative process, and I understand why people are doing it, and I understand why people have grave concerns about this,” he said in an interview. “I have all of those feelings. It’s a really tough spot.”

Health care waivers

Shortly after he was sworn into office, Kemp sought to regain broad powers to allow his administration to pursue two separate waivers with the federal government that could set a path toward limited Medicaid expansion and create new funds to stabilize private insurance premiums.

The proposal sets a limited timeline for him to fulfill the plan — and bans pursuit of a full Medicaid expansion, which he opposes in any case. Still, it would allow Kemp’s office discretion to seek vast changes that could reshape how hundreds of thousands of Georgians get health care coverage.

Will Kemp sign it? He did so last month, promising “this process will remain transparent” as his administration negotiates changes with the federal government that are no sure thing, despite Kemp’s alliance with President Donald Trump.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.

Read More

News

  • Residents in a Detroit neighborhood were startled to see an 18-foot reticulated python slither onto the roof of a garage Thursday, WJBK reported. >> Read more trending news  The reptile, named Julia, crawled up the building and onto the shingles over the garage, according to WXYZ.  >> Florida woman frees snake with head caught in beer can The snake’s owner, Devin Jones-White, who was at work when his 8-year-old pet got free from its cage, eventually showed up to retrieve his pet. 'When everybody came out and crowded around her, she was spooked even more with the crowd,' Jones-White told WJBK. 'That's why she never came down and stayed up there, doing her own thing.' Jones-White said it was his fault Julia slithered away from her cage. >> Florida woman finds snake in dryer while folding laundry '(I) didn't put the lock on, probably,” Jones-White told WXYZ. “(But) I was able to get here (and) get her back to her cage quick.' That was a relief to Jones-White’s neighbors.
  • A 19-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department is accused of assaulting a homeless man who was allegedly shoplifting pants from a Walmart, KNXV reported. >> Read more trending news  Roger Moran, 22, was arrested Dec. 8, and his mugshot shows several cuts and bruises on his face, the television station reported. According to Maricopa County court documents, Moran is accused on three occasions of resisting arrest and trying to assault an officer. The officer, Tim Baiardi, is accused of delivering “23 knee strikes to (the suspect's) face,' KNXV reported. The Phoenix Police Department has recommended Baiardi be charged with aggravated assault, the television station reported. The report, written by a different responding officer, added '(Moran) attempted to escape again and the officer was able to deliver 45 closed fist strikes,' the television station reported. When Moran continued to resist arrest, Baiardi allegedly 'struck (the suspect) about 23 more times with a closed fist,' according to the incident report. Phoenix Police Department officials said they have launched an internal investigation, KNXV reported.
  • A woman driving along a Nevada highway had a scary moment when a ladder bounced off her windshield, KTNV reported. >> Read more trending news  Madi Nelson was driving on U.S. 95 near Las Vegas when a van ran over a ladder on the highway, the television station reported. Video obtained by KTNV shows the ladder going airborne after a van drove over it and bouncing off Nelson’s windshield, cracking it. 'From across the right lane, the ladder kind of rolls and everyone else kind of rolls over it. I was in the far left lane, so I was just able to get over to the emergency lane. I threw my hazards on and I was just trying to figure out what just happened,' Nelson said. 
  • Easter is a day to spend with family and friends.  And if you don’t want to spend that time in the kitchen rushing to get a meal together, plenty of restaurants will be opening their doors Sunday. If you are going to take the day off from cooking and want to relax with family and friends at a local restaurant, here are a few deals that you might want to consider.  Some restaurants require reservations, and some locations may not be open. Call ahead to your local restaurant to make sure they will be open. Here are some restaurants open on Easter: Baskin-Robbins  Bob Evans   Boston Market >>Easter 2019: When is it; what is it; why isn't it on the same date every year? Buca di Beppo   The Capital Grille  Claim Jumper  Cracker Barrel  Eddie V’s Prime Seafood  >>Easter 2019: How to make perfect hard-boiled eggs for Easter egg dyeing Fleming’s  Hometown Buffet   Krispy Kreme    Legal Sea Foods   Maggiano’s Marie Callender’s   McCormick & Schmick’s   Mimi’s Cafe Country Buffet  Ruth’s Chris Ryan’s  >>How did crucifixion kill Jesus? Shoney’s  Waffle House 
  • A woman is accused of assaulting a 70-year-old Houston parking enforcement volunteer who was writing her father -- a double amputee -- a ticket for not having a disabled permit placard, KTRK reported. >> Read more trending news  Jade Williams, 18, was charged with misdemeanor assault for the Tuesday incident, according to the Harris County Pct. 5 Constable's Office.  David Hansen said he was writing a citation when the SUV owner and his daughters confronted him about it, KPRC reported. 'Then she wanted to fight me,' Hansen told KTRK. 'She's walking around going, 'Come on, let's fight.' I kept retreating all the way back to my truck, and when I got to my truck, she, with an open hand, slapped my face and that's when I called 911.'  Williams’ father, Byron Williams, was wearing a prosthetic leg at the time of the incident, KTRK reported. He also lost his arm in a motorcycle accident. 'He started swinging,' Williams told the television station. 'Yes, he pushed my dad and when he pushed my dad, my dad backed up, like my dad was about to fall, and I said, 'Don't put your hands on him.''  In a statement, Houston city officials said they were “very upset to hear about this incident,” KPRC reported. Williams denies she hit Hansen.  'He's trying to make it seem like since I'm young, I assaulted an elderly person,' Williams told KTRK. 'That's not me. I'm a very respectful person.' 
  • Three people, including a 1-year-old boy, were shot early Friday morning at a South Fulton apartment complex, police said.  Officers responded to the triple shooting at the Hickory Park Apartments shortly after midnight, according to South Fulton police spokesman Lt. Derrick Rogers. Investigators at the scene in the 4900 block of Delano Road learned there was an argument about a burglary at one of the apartments inside the complex. “The argument became very heated and at some point, gunfire erupted resulting in the three victims receiving a gunshot wound,” Rogers told Channel 2 Action News in a statement. A stray bullet hit the 1-year-old boy in the leg, according to the news station. He is expected to be OK. The others are stable at a hospital, Lt. Marcus Dennard told Channel 2 from the scene. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.  “I have no details on suspect(s) at this time and no names of the victims,” Rogers said in the statement.  We’re working to learn more. —Please return to AJC.com for updates.