Monday marks the culmination of work state lawmakers officially began in January, and the final day of the legislative session promises to be full of significant votes as the midnight deadline approaches.
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Legislation already on the governor's desk
Lawmakers have already been busy this session, passing a flurry of bills focused on parents' role in their child's education.
On Friday, the Senate gave final approval to the so-called "Parents' Bill of Rights." The legislation allows parents greater access to their child's records, enables them to review classroom curriculum and opt out of sex education courses. The measure does not cover supplemental material like news articles and websites.
Opponents argue that the law is redundant because Georgia parents can already see what their child is being taught.
House Education Committee Chair Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, said it was essential to have a single bill laying out the parental privileges. "We want to send a strong message that there's no ambiguity," he explained. "Parents have rights; parents have a voice."
Both chambers also already gave final passage to a bill that changes the process for removing books from school libraries that parents feel are inappropriate or obscene. Gov. Kemp signed a measure that lets parents opt their children out of school district mask mandates.
Once Gov. Kemp signs the so-called "Constitutional Carry" legislation, which lawmakers granted final passage last Friday, Georgians will be able to carry a gun without a permit.
Senate Bill 319, which passed 34 to 22, would still bar those with felony convictions and a history of mental health issues from carrying a weapon.
Republicans argue that the fee associated with the permit and the process to get one hinders a citizen's Second Amendment rights. Democrats believe this will only put more guns on the street.
"The proliferation of weapons without safeguards is what makes our streets dangerous and causes so much bloodshed," said Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta. "Through our state's laws, we have eliminated the ability for law enforcement to try to get the gun problem and therefore the crime problem under control."
Republicans, like Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, reject that. "Let's stop blaming an inanimate object," he said. "I'm proud to report that since I've been up here for almost three months, none of my weapons have broken out of my house and injured anyone."
Work to be done
Still on the table for lawmakers to vote on are bills dealing with taxes, elections, medical marijuana and the 2023 budget.
The most important item on the Day 40 "to-do list" is the 2023 budget. Passing this is the only constitutionally mandated requirement for lawmakers. The Senate passed its version, so now the House and Senate will go into a "conference committee" to work out the differences.
The measure restores the pandemic-related education cuts and continues $2,000 raises for school teachers and $5,000 raises for other state employees.
An elections bill still needs to return to the House after a Senate committee removed many of the significant provisions Republicans were pushing. Most notably, allowing the GBI to investigate election law violations, this provision was backed by House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
A bill that would restrict the way race is taught in K-12 schools is on its way back to the House. HB 1084 would limit the teachings of certain "divisive concepts."
"We can teach U.S. history the good, the bad, the ugly without dividing children along racial lines," Sen. President Pro Tem Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, told the chamber. "CRT (Critical Race Theory) is wrong...[it] focuses on victimhood, not triumph."
Still up in the air: sports betting. Last week, a House panel amended a previously approved Senate measure focused solely on sports betting to include "sports betting and other forms of betting and gambling." Senate Resolution 135 would put the question of whether to allow gambling in the hands of Georgia voters. To be approved, the measure will need two-thirds support in each chamber.
A separate piece of legislation, SB 142, would create a commission to manage how gambling would be conducted in the state if voters pass the measure.