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Feb. 28 – Senate’s Morning Session on Crossover Day ends with win by Georgia Municipal

Category: Georgia Business News

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

February 27, 2018 – 1:30 p.m. - The Georgia Senate began ‘Crossover Day’ today, tackling a long list of bills in what promises to be a long session. The 'puppy mill bill' was defeated, as was a bill that would have significantly restricted control by local governments over products sold in their area, according to opponents.  

‘Crossover Day,’ means that if a bill is going to survive in this year’s session, it must be passed in the Senate to move to the House, and vice versa. This year’s session which ends March 31.  

Acted on this morning in the Georgia Senate:

SB 336 – Sought by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, states that an internet company cannot inform a customer if the GBI has issued a subpoena for the  production of their emails and electronic records.  The bill is aimed at combating child pornography and sex-trafficking. This allows the GBI to seize a computer and have access to all their files before someone using the internet can erase their files.  It passed 50-0 and moves to the House.

SB 418 – After an hour of debate, the bill failed 19 – 34, with bipartisan opposition. The Georgia Municipal Association opposed the bill which would have restricted a city or county from making a local decision to ban the sale of a product sold at zoned retail establishments. For example, a city would not be able to ban the sale of alcohol at a business next to a school. Opponents said that the bill was too far-reaching, and would have eliminated local control.  Opposition on the floor was led by Democrats. It has also been termed ‘the puppy bill,’ because it would have prohibited local governments from stopping puppy mills operating in their community, and was strongly opposed by animal groups.

SB 403 – Passed 36 – 15.  The bill requires uniform voting machines be used in Georgia by the 2024 elections, removing the decision by local boards of elections on the type of voting machines to buy or lease. 

SB 451 – Passed 49 – 2.  The bill requires the tracking of accurate data on water usage by the Georgia agriculture industry, which now has “unrestrained” use of water, versus many other industries that have their water usage closely regulated.  Proponents of the bill stated that Georgia was going to face more lawsuits over water if the agricultural industry is not regulated, as well  Georgia is currently in a water case with the State of Florida that is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SB 401 – Individual Graduation Plans; guidance in career oriented aptitudes and career interest legislation, passed 51-1.  The bill will improve the collection of data about graduation rates at technical colleges, and will require career counseling and aptitude testing starting at the 8th grade level in public schools.  The bill is aimed at the State’s efforts to increase the workforce in Georgia, and guide students on career paths that match jobs in the state, and expand their exposure to local jobs.

SB 463 – Passed 35-17, aimed at helping a Georgia company that is working on the manufacturing of Electric Motor Vehicles; and control motor vehicle dealerships.  There was debate over why one particular company was being assisted by being granted sales tax exemptions, but the Sen. Michael Dugan, whossponsored the bill, and who is Chair of the Senate’s Economic Development Committee, said that it was necessary to encourage this company. 

 SB 359 – "Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act" passed 52- 0.  It was explained that it will improve consumer clarity on billing, and improve the negotiation process over billing.

There are more than 40 bills yet to be taken up in the afternoon and evening session.  (See related story on Feb. 27 reporting on the Senate’s calendar for the day.

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