Mar. 1 2017 - Atlanta - Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who sponsored SB 1, watches the votes come in. The Georgia Senate backed a measure Wednesday that broadly rewrites the state’s domestic terrorism law, giving the state attorney general more power to prosecute alleged terrorists and creating a separate Homeland Security agency. The 27th legislative day of the 2017 Georgia General Assembly. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Deal endorses domestic terrorism bill

Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Monday a bill that expands the state’s domestic terrorism laws and creates a registry of information about unauthorized immigrants.

Dubbed the “Protect Georgia Act,” House Bill 452 requires the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to publicly post information about unauthorized immigrants who commit certain crimes. The new law also contains language from Senate Bill 1, a Senate GOP priority promoted by Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, that expands the definitions of domestic terrorism.

Under the bill, domestic terrorism is defined as an attempt to “cause serious bodily harm, kill any individual or group of individuals, or disable or destroy critical infrastructure, a state or government facility, or a public transportation system.”

After House members voted twice against mandatory minimum sentencing for individuals who violated the law, the chambers agreed on judicial discretion in such cases.

Civil rights groups objected to language previously in SB 1 that punished inviduals who block public passages, saying it targeted protesters expressing free speech. They also took offense to the database that, they said, targets groups based on ethnicity and national origin.

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