Winners and losers of the 2017 Georgia legislative session
Mar. 30, 2017 - Atlanta - House members wait well past midnight to see what the senate would do on adoption, which failed, before adjourning sine die. The 40th and final legislative day of the 2017 General Assembly. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Deals were cut, compromises were forged and by the end of the 40-day legislative session that crept into the early hours of Friday morning, the Georgia General Assembly sent a list of bills to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for final approval.
Here’s a look at who came out on top and who was left behind by this year’s legislation.
Gun owners: Licensed weapons carriers, who have been fighting for five years to allow guns on college campuses — a matter they view as a Second Amendment right, were given special consideration after legislative negotiations. A conference committee between the House and Senate met Friday to make House Bill 280 more attractive to Deal, who vetoed a similar version last year. In addition to dormitories, Greek houses and athletic events, as well as on-campus child care facilities and classrooms where high school students are present, the committee agreed to add faculty and administrative office spaces and disciplinary hearings to the list of restricted areas where a concealed weapon cannot be carried. Deal has said he is "receptive" to the bill with those changes.
Police officers: The Georgia legislature sent a strong message of support for state law enforcement officials in passing Senate Bill 160. Dubbed "Back the Badge Act," the bill increases punishments to individuals who commit certain crimes against public safety officers. Language was removed that civil rights groups said targeted protesters who block public passageways, such as highways, streets and sidewalks.
Unauthorized immigrants: Georgia lawmakers also sent strong warnings to anyone who is undocumented. Lawmakers passed House Bill 452, which creates a public database of "persons who are aliens" and have committed felonies, and House Bill 37, which punishes colleges within the state that declare themselves "sanctuaries" for students living in the country illegally.
Religious conservatives: Deal vetoed legislation last year that would have allowed individuals to refuse service to people whose practices did not align with their religious beliefs, seeing it as a potentially discriminatory measure against the LGBTQ community. The Senate made an attempt late Tuesday to revive the measure by attaching "religious liberty" language to House Bill 257, an unrelated bill that involves a proposed mandate for local municipalities to register with the state Department of Community Affairs in order to receive state grants. This is the fourth session that religious groups have sought increased legal protections against marriage between same-sex couples.