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.
- 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.
- Children in foster care: In its last governing act of the night, the Senate voted to send a bill back to committee that would have updated the state’s adoption laws for the first time in a generation. House Bill 159 unanimously passed in the House but was hijacked in a Senate committee with an amendment that would protect private adoption agencies that accept taxpayer-subsidized grants but don’t want to place children with LGBT families. House Speaker David Ralston, Deal and LGBTQ activists condemned the action. An amended version of Senate Bill 130, which included the new adoption rules and helped foster parents find volunteers, was unable to pass through the Senate.
- 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.