A look ahead to the 2023 Georgia legislature
Georgia's state legislature convenes Monday for its annual months of policymaking and other yet-unknown shenanigans.
Driving the news: For the first time in more than a decade, there are new leaders in both the state house and the state senate — plus a lot of new lawmakers. Therefore, much remains up in the air.
Yes, but: We've rounded up some policy issues we’re hearing about so far.
Runoff reform: After Georgia's second high-profile runoff, everyone is exhausted. Plus, after years of runoffs benefiting Republicans, the GOP has lost three. The Secretary of State has called for reform of the general election runoff.
- Ranked choice voting remains an option on the table.
- Republicans changed the runoff threshold to 50% from 45% in 2008 after losing a Senate race. Lowering back to 45% has also come up.
Sports betting: The idea of expanding legalized gambling — sports betting, casinos or horse racing — often gets traction at the Capitol only to fail at the last minute. This year there’s a renewed effort by groups including the Metro Atlanta Chamber to pass the legalization of sports betting as a standalone.
- Major sports teams have also endorsed the idea and a coalition has circulated a poll showing a majority of Georgians support it.
Electric vehicle regulation: A bipartisan study committee has recommended new policies to support the growth of electric vehicles and ensure state revenues don’t suffer from the loss of gas taxes. Recommendations include establishing per kilowatt-based charging fees and state inspections of chargers.
Okefenokee mining protections: There's an ongoing push to ban mining near the Okefenokee Swamp. One mining project by Twin Pines Minerals, has been trying to get permits for years.
- While it failed last year, the ban will continue to have Republican support, according to Capitol Beat.
Abortion pills: An effort last year to prevent people from accessing abortion pills by mail didn't succeed. But there are many anti-abortion legislators in the General Assembly who might re-introduce it.
Public park gun ban: State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) intends to introduce a bill to allow vendors to ban guns from public parks for large events. Currently, state law prevents that — which reportedly caused Music Midtown's cancellation this year.
Cold case murders: Efforts are underway to create a process for families to apply for a re-investigation of a cold case murder as well as to secure funding for a cold case unit to dig into the 500 unsolved murders in GBI’s files.
What's next: While officials are sworn in this morning, they won’t actually do much this week. They will gavel out early so many can hop on planes to California for Monday night's National Championship game. (#priorities)
- Gov. Brian Kemp and other constitutional officers' inauguration happens Thursday.
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