Rep. David Clark, R - Buford, has worn patriotic colors on all of his past Sine Die sessions. Thursday was the 40th and final day of the 2018 General Assembly. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

Minute by minute: Georgia Legislature’s final day of lawmaking in 2018

The 2018 Georgia legislative session is now in the books as the clock hit midnight or slightly passed it on the 40th day. 

The day — known as Sine Die — usually features grueling debates, dealmaking and occasionally some shenanigans

Here’s a rundown of what happend: 

12:20 a.m. Is it really over? Gov. Nathan Deal said earlier this year he’ll call lawmakers to a special session later this year if Amazon lists Atlanta as a top finalist for its second headquarters. 

12:18 a.m. Georgia lawmakers didn’t pass a proposal Thursday that would have replaced the state’s electronic voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election.

12:00 a.m. Georgia lawmakers refuse to give sex abuse survivors more time to sue

11:56 p.m. A plan creating the new city of Eagles Landing by carving out a section of Stockbridge could head to voters. 

11:49 p.m. A bill that could pave the way for a dramatic expansion of mass transit in metro Atlanta passed the General Assembly.

11:45 p.m. It could soon be illegal to handle cellphones or other electronic devices while driving.

11:36 p.m. Lawmakers passed a resolution aimed at changing the name of Runaway Negro Creek

11:15 p.m. Georgia’s medical marijuana law could be expanded to cover post-traumatic stress disorder. 

10:56 p.m. Guest speakers on Georgia’s college campuses might not have to worry about being heckled anymore.

10:17 p.m. You’ll soon be able to protect your credit report for free in Georgia.

9:55 p.m. Tax credit scholarships for private schools to grow to $100 million

9:41 p.m. Big lottery winners could soon keep their names private

9:19 p.m. Gov. Nathan Deal, who endorsed a measure that would ban drivers from handling their cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel, jokes that he and his wife are nervous about driving after eight years of a security detail. 

“Sandra and I have had several conversations about the fact that since we haven’t driven for eight years, that we’re going to be a danger on the highway even without the issue of distracted driving with devices,” he said.

9:11 p.m. High school students lobbying against gun violence were denied entrance to the House and Senate public galleries

9:07 p.m. A federal judge has ruled that police must allow protesters to wave signs in the Georgia Capitol

9:06 p.m. Georgia lawmakers adopted legislation that increases funding for state charter schools.

8:17 p.m. Georgia communities will be able to effectively ban loud fireworks except on a few holidays under a bill that cleared the state Legislature.

7:52 p.m. Lawmakers gave Gov. Nathan Deal several standing ovations as he capped his final legislative session with praise for education funding and tax cuts.

Deal's budget, approved Thursday, provides $167 million in additional funding to fully pay the state's share of public education money.

"All of you can go home and say, for the first time in 33 years, the state of Georgia has fully funded the QBE (Quality Basic Education) formula. That is a great acheivement," Deal told the state House.

Deal also said elected officials should be proud that they cut the state's 6 percent income tax rate.

"You’ll be able to say, I was there and I voted for the tax cut that helped, not just the citizens you represent, but the citizens of the entire state," Deal said.

Deal leaves office in December after eight years as governor.

7:09 p.m. House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on final legislation that could lead to a dramatic expansion of mass transit in metro Atlanta.

6:11 p.m. Georgians will have to pay sales tax on more of their online purchases after the House passed a bill requiring retailers to collect the tax. 

6 p.m. A bill allowing victims of domestic violence to break their leases without having to pay a penalty wins final approval 

4:30 p.m. Medical marijuana for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder might be making a comeback. The House amended a bill, House Bill 65, to add PTSD to the list of conditions eligible for cannabis oil treatment in Georgia. The bill previously called for a study medical marijuana expansion, and now senators will have to decide whether to accept the latest version of the bill.

4:20 p.m. Gov. Nathan Deal discusses his final legislative session and reveals the issue he hopes the next governor will take on. 

4 p.m. Georgia voters will get to decide if the state should create a dedicated source of money to pay for the conservation of green space.

3 p.m. - The House gave final approval to a bill requiring lobbyists to sign a statement every year agreeing to comply with the state’s sexual harassment policy. House Bill 973 doesn’t include penalties against lobbyists who violate the policy.

2 p.m. - A bill making it free to freeze your credit report is one step short of final approval. The House voted 168-1 this morning to approve an amended version of Senate Bill 376, returning it to the Senate.

12:50 p.m. - Chow time! Both the House and Senate adjourned for lunch. A busy day of legislating awaits. 

12:30 p.m. - The Georgia House gave final approval to a new $26.2 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, sending it to Gov. Nathan Deal Thursday for his signature and clearing the way for lawmakers to end the 2018 General Assembly session. Read the whole story here. (James Salzer)

12:20 p.m. - Senate Republicans tried the first of several likely moves to attach stalled “religious liberty” legislation to other bills.

An amendment that would have allowed some adoption agencies to deny placing children with same-sex couples was tacked on to a foster care measure. It was ruled non-germane.  

State Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, said he knows of two adoption agencies that would move to Georgia if the measure passed. 

“We’re talking about children that no one is adopting, they’re aging out because no one is coming to get them,” said Ligon. “Surely we can work together on this, recognize that there are differences of opinion when it comes to marriage.”

The state Senate earlier passed a similar measure that is still pending in the Georgia House and seems unlikely to reach a vote. Opponents of the measure contend it’s a discriminatory effort that would reduce options for foster children to be adopted and hurt the state’s pro-business reputation. 

(Greg Bluestein)

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