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Wednesday March 20th, 2019 7:42PM

Lawmakers reach halfway mark of legislative session

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s state lawmakers are working quickly to push bills through the legislature as this year’s session has reached the halfway mark.

Friday was legislative day 20 of 40 at the state Capitol.

The past week saw movement on bills that would protect people who save dogs from hot cars from being sued, help Georgia farmers produce industrial hemp and inform patients about their risk of breast cancer.

 

Here is a look at some of the recent activity by lawmakers:

 

ATLANTA AIRPORT

A state takeover of the Atlanta airport has been proposed in the Georgia Senate.

A bill introduced Tuesday would create the Georgia Major Airport Authority, a board appointed by state officials that would oversee operations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the world’s busiest.

The airport is currently owned and operated by the city of Atlanta. City officials have consistently pushed back against the idea of a state takeover, saying the airport has flourished under decades of city leadership.

But state Sen. Burt Jones, a Republican from Jackson and the bill’s author, says the airport is too important to the entire state to be left in the hands of the city.

DOGS IN HOT CARS

The Senate passed a measure Friday that would provide legal protections to people who rescue dogs from hot cars.

The bill would protect pet rescuers from being sued as a result of damaging a car to save an animal. But they would need to call 911 or animal control and wait for first responders to arrive for the protections to apply.

“We’ve tried very hard to make people understand that even in moderate weather it can get very hot in a car very quickly,” said Frank Mulcahy, an attorney with The Georgia Canine Coalition.

A similar bill to protect people who damaged cars to rescue children left inside hot vehicles passed in 2015.

DENSE BREAST TISSUE

Health care facilities could be required to notify patients that have dense breast tissue after conducting a mammogram under a bill approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.

They would also have to provide a summary to patients saying the condition can make it more difficult for a breast exam to detect cancer. The bill aims to make patients better informed about their cancer risks.

The proposal has already passed the House and could soon head to the Senate floor for a vote.

The proposed “Margie’s law” is named after Savannah resident Margie Singleton. She has advocated for change since being diagnosed with breast cancer just six months after receiving a clean mammogram.

Singleton said she wants to “protect other women so they do not have to go through this.”

LICENSING HEMP FARMS

A House committee approved a bill Wednesday that provides a regulatory process for Georgia farmers to grow and process industrial hemp.

“We’re not growing marijuana. We’re not legalizing marijuana,” said Rep. Tom McCall, an Elberton Republican and chairman of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. “We’re trying to find another crop for Georgia farmers to produce.”

Industrial hemp is used to help produce paper products, clothing and molded plastics.

Industrial hemp contains some THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. But it’s only a tiny amount compared to what’s found in marijuana, said the measure’s main supporter, Republican Rep. John Corbett of Lake Park.

The bill provides a process for the state to apply for a permit from the federal government to grow and process industrial hemp, Corbett said.

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Associated Press writer Ben Nadler in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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