The gavel fell at midnight Thursday, adjournment sine die (adjournment without a day specified for future meeting) of the 2012 Legislative Session. In the closing hours of the session a number of good bills received final approval by the House and the Senate, a number of good bills didn't and a few bills that needed further work were not passed. I will highlight some of the bills I found notable – in no particular order.
HB1176, the criminal justice reform bill, was agreed to by both chambers and awaits Governor Deal's signature. HB641, the juvenile justice reform bill was pulled back due to concerns about the cost. I expect it to be back up for discussion next year.
A compromise was reached on HB954, the "fetal pain" bill restricting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and passed both chambers. It has been sent to the Governor.
HB872 passed both chambers and was sent to the Governor for approval. It seeks to deal with the growing problem of metal theft. I was pleased to work with both Rep. Shaw (the House sponsor) and Senator Unterman (the Senate sponsor) on this bill.
SB350 would allow stolen firearms recovered by law enforcement to be returned to their rightful owner. It passed and was sent to the Governor. Unfortunately a couple of other 2nd Amendment bills did not come up for a vote in the closing days of the session.
After two years of hard work, SB33, the zero based budgeting act was agreed to and sent to Governor Deal. During his campaign for Governor, Deal indicated support for zero based budgeting.
HB175, a bill I co-sponsored, called the Online Clearinghouse Act passed both chambers. This bill will allow students across Georgia to access classes that may not be offered in their local schools. It will also compensate the teachers who teach these courses.
The two measures I authored passed both the House and the Senate last week.
HB899, an election clean up and reform bill hit a few bumps in the Senate but finally passed as SB92. I'm grateful for the help of Rep. Mark Hamilton and Senator Charlie Bethel for their work on this legislation. Here's a press release from Secretary of State Brian Kemp about the measure. Added to the bill was HB725 which would prevent politicians from slipping their hand-picked successors into office at the last minute. Sadly there have been a few instances in recent years where incumbents qualify for office only to withdraw minutes before the qualifying period ends and have their hand-picked successor waiting in the wings to qualify and run unopposed. Should this situation arise in the future, the qualifying period would reopen for a few days allowing other candidates to emerge and giving the voters a chance to make their choice of candidate to succeed the incumbent.
HR1151, which would create a study committee to look at the system of care we provide for victims of human trafficking, passed the Senate and House and was sent to Governor Deal. I'm grateful for the help of Senator Renee Unterman for getting HR1151 passed in the Senate.
There are a number of other measures which passed the House and Senate and were sent to Governor Deal. You can see all the House votes here and the Senate votes here. As Governor Deal signs bills into law you can see that list here.
As my first term in the Legislature comes to an end I want to express my gratitude to all of you and the other 53,000 residents of district 101 for trusting me to represent your interests at the Capitol. It has been a tremendous honor. I am running for reelection (announcment here). Due to last year's reapportionment the district lines will change and the district number changes to 102. Click here to see the map of the new district 102.
You can connect with me via Twitter and Facebook (personal or campaign page). Even though the Legislature is not in session I am still available to help you as needed. Please contact me at the phone number or email shown below if I can ever be of assistance.