Mar 28, 2024 - News

State lawmakers prepare for Sine Die crunch

Illustration of the Georgia State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Thursday is the last day of the 2024 legislative session, and state lawmakers will work well into the night on bills they hope will make it to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk for his signature.

Why it matters: A variety of legislation under consideration could address mining near Okefenokee Swamp, limit the number of voting machines and prohibit trans students from using bathrooms that line up with their gender identity.

Here is a rundown of what bills we are watching that could come up before the clock strikes midnight:

Libraries: SB 390 would prohibit libraries from using taxpayer dollars on American Library Association membership or programs. Supporters accuse the ALA of holding views that do not align with Georgia librarians.

Culture war mashup: HB 1104, a "Frankenbill" that was changed to address mental health issues for student athletes, is now the latest iteration of culture wars in Georgia.

  • It would prohibit trans girls from participating in sports that match their gender identity; require schools to notify parents if their children check out library materials; ban sex education before the sixth grade; and require students to use facilities that align with their assigned sex at birth.

Stiffer penalties for rioting: A bill that would make rioting a felony could find enough support to pass before midnight.

  • According to the legislation, a person can be convicted of felony rioting and sentenced to one to 10 years if they "engage in a public disturbance" with 10 or more people, cause at least $5,000 in damage, obstruct "governmental function" and cause injury or damage to property as a form of intimidation.

Mining: SB 132 would establish a three-year moratorium on surface mining in areas where no prior permits have been issued. The narrowly written measure is aimed at pausing a controversial mining proposal near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Budget: House and Senate leaders must work out the differences in the roughly $36 billion spending plans to operate state government, the AJC reports.

Gambling: A resolution to put online sports betting up for a constitutional referendum has passed the Senate and awaits a vote in the House.

Religious freedom: The House has yet to pass SB 180, or the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the government can't "burden a person's exercise of religion." Opponents say the law would give people the license to discriminate.

Election law tweaks: One bill that is now in the House would reduce the number of voting machines available on Election Day and upload pictures of paper ballots online for review.

  • The AJC reports the legislation is part of a set of bills that would, for example, make voter registration an opt-in process.

Medicaid expansion: This topic is most likely dead for the 2024 session, but don't be surprised to see advocates make one final push.

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