Legislative briefs

Sentencing bill clears House committee

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Thursday approved one facet of this year’s legislation seeking changes to the criminal justice system.

House Bill 349 would provide limited changes to Georgia’s strict mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. The proposed changes in minimum mandatories follow recommendations by a council of criminal justice experts appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Under HB 349, if a prosecutor and defense attorney reach agreement, a defendant charged with a serious felony could receive a prison sentence below the minimum mandatory term. In other cases, a judge could give a person convicted of a drug-trafficking crime a sentence of less than the minimum mandatory, but only if the defendant was not a leader of the crime, did not use a weapon and had no prior felony conviction.

— Bill Rankin

Senate encourages after-school play

A measure aiming to get more kids active in after-school play groups unanimously passed the state Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 12 would limit the liability of Georgia’s public school systems for injuries and damages suffered in after-school play.

The idea, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, is to encourage more schools to sponsor after-school activities as the state confronts a major childhood obesity problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, Georgia has the second-highest childhood obesity rate in the nation. Nearly 40 percent of children in the state are overweight or obese.

SB 12 now goes to the House for consideration.

— Kristina Torres