Legislative briefs

Lawmakers to keep working despite weather

Despite a slew of committee meeting cancellations for Tuesday afternoon, top leaders in the General Assembly said that despite the weather, they expect lawmakers to be at work Wednesday.

In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he would gavel the day open at 10 a.m. Wednesday. “You might want to make appropriate plans,” Cagle told his members. “We will continue our efforts for the citizens.”

House leaders said they will be back at work at 1 p.m.

Most lawmakers from outside of Atlanta keep temporary residences in the city during the legislative session. A number of condo and apartment buildings are within walking distance or a short drive from the Capitol, making their daily commute a bit easier.

— Kristina Torres, Jeremy Redmon

Medicaid protesters released

The 10 protesters arrested Monday in Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, including state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, were released on signature bonds at midnight and were met by a group of about 15 supporters at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.

Officers arrested the “Medicaid 10” after they refused to leave Deal’s office in a protest over his stance opposing expansion of the government health care program for the poor in Georgia. They have been charged with obstruction and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors.

Fort was back at work in the Senate chamber Tuesday morning, telling colleagues that his support of Medicaid expansion was not a partisan issue and should be a “no-brainer” for the governor. Fort also took umbrage to a tweet making fun of his arrest by Deal spokesman Brian Robinson, saying it belittled a serious issue. “People are dying,” Fort said, “and that’s the level of discourse we’re getting from the governor’s office on this issue.”

The others arrested with Fort were Kathy Acker, Marguerite S. Casey, Brittany Gray, Daniel Hanley, Megan Harrison, the Rev. Alan Jenkins, Kevin Moran, Karen Regae and Michael Sehumm.

The arrests were orchestrated by Moral Monday Georgia, a group that has modeled its political protests after weekly demonstrations that rocked North Carolina last year and led to hundreds of arrests each week. Georgia organizers count support from a number of different groups, and they advocate progressive policies at sharp odds with the state’s conservative Republican leadership.

The protests at the Capitol started on the first day of the legislative session Jan. 13, but Monday’s arrests were the first as part of the demonstrations.

— Kristina Torres

Disabled parking decal bill clears Senate

People with disabilities seeking a special parking decal could have their doctor sign an affidavit in lieu of a notary public under a bill passed Tuesday by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 298 would make the application process easier for people who need the decals, said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming.

It passed unanimously. It now goes to the House for consideration.

— Kristina Torres