5 bills to watch in the final days of the Georgia legislative session

Proposals cover prosecutor oversight, elections and transgender children
The Georgia House debates the state budget Monday during Crossover Day at the Capitol in Atlanta.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

The Georgia House debates the state budget Monday during Crossover Day at the Capitol in Atlanta. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Now that many bills failed and some survived, the major issues facing the Georgia General Assembly have become clearer during the homestretch of this year’s legislative session.

Lawmakers will turn their focus to topics including prosecutor oversight, elections and transgender treatments after a long day of voting Monday on Crossover Day, the deadline for bills to pass their first chamber.

Several contentious proposals didn’t make the cut and are unlikely to become law, including measures that would have legalized sports betting, allowed Buckhead to secede from Atlanta, limited how sex and gender are taught in public schools, and enhanced “religious liberty” rights.

No bills are truly dead, however, until the gavel slams for the final time on the last day of the session. Their language could be inserted into other bills that moved from one chamber to another before the Crossover Day deadline.

Here’s a look at some of the measures that will be considered before the General Assembly finishes its work March 29.

Prosecutor oversight

Amid an investigation of former President Donald Trump in Fulton County, the Republican majority in the General Assembly might create a new state board that could investigate, punish or oust district attorneys for “willful misconduct” and other violations.

Supporters of the bill that passed the state House on Monday say they’re concerned about “rogue prosecutors” who have lost court cases involving violent crimes while refusing to prosecute drug offenses and abortion restrictions.

Critics say the proposal could be used to target district attorneys who have discretion over which cases to prioritize after they were elected by voters to decide how to enforce the law in their counties.

The sun sets Monday behind the Georgia Capitol on Crossover Day, day 28 of the legislative session. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Elections and voting

The state Senate approved a bill that would ban private donations to county election offices but declined to advance proposals to eliminate runoffs, allow paper ballot inspections and increase the ability to disqualify voters who might have moved.

Some of those ideas could still make a comeback if they’re added to the existing legislation that targets outside election funding.

The proposal would prohibit money from organizations such as the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which was funded in part by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and donated roughly $43 million in 2020 to strained election offices during a hotly contested presidential race.

Dangerous dwellings

For the first time in Georgia, landlords might be required to provide housing “fit for human habitation.”

A bill that passed the House would ensure that rental homes are in livable condition and increase protections for tenants facing eviction for falling a few days behind on rent.

The legislation followed The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Dangerous Dwellings” series of articles that identified low-income apartment complexes where tenants live in deplorable conditions and crime flourishes.

Transgender treatments

Medical professionals would be prohibited from giving transgender children certain hormones or surgical treatments under a bill that passed the state Senate on a party-line vote Monday.

Democrats opposed the legislation, saying it could lead to more suicides among transgender children, while Republicans backing the bill said medical procedures shouldn’t be allowed until after a transgender person turns 18.

The bill doesn’t ban medications that slow or stop puberty, and it includes an exception for the treatment of intersex children — those who are not born with the genitalia, chromosomes or reproductive organs of only one gender.

Truck weights

One of this year’s biggest fights at the Capitol is over whether to raise the weight limit for trucks on state highways, a proposal that would benefit businesses but increase wear and tear on taxpayer-funded roads.

The House narrowly passed the bill Monday to raise the weight limit on commercial vehicles from 80,000 pounds to 88,000 pounds for vehicles carrying certain agricultural and natural resource products.

Opponents of the measure, including the Georgia Department of Transportation, say it would make highways less safe and require state and local governments to spend billions of dollars more on road maintenance in coming years. Proponents of the bill say businesses need help to keep costs low amid a shortage of truck drivers.

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