A flurry of votes brought this year’s Georgia lawmaking session to a close a few minutes after midnight early Thursday.
Several high-profile measures just made it across the finish line before the Legislature adjourned, but other bills were left unresolved and in position to fight another day. Bills can be reconsidered when lawmakers return to the Georgia Capitol next year.
Here’s a look at some of the state’s most closely watched bills:
Budget: The state budget is the one piece of legislation the state is constitutionally required to pass each year. And, shortly before midnight on the last day of the session, the House approved the state’s $32.4 billion budget, which would give state law enforcement officers $4,000-$6,000 raises while teachers and other state and university employees would receive a $2,000 salary boost.
Transgender treatment: Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that bans health care providers from providing certain hormones or surgical treatments to transgender children to align with their gender identity. Minors will be able to continue receiving hormone treatments if they begin before Senate Bill 140 takes effect July 1.
Prosecutor oversight: A new state board would be responsible for punishing or ousting district attorneys who skirt their duties under Senate Bill 92. The bill’s supporters say they want to crack down on “rogue prosecutors” whom they see as inept, but critics say it could be used to target prosecutors such as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating former President Donald Trump.
Tax cuts: Taxpayers can expect to get some money back from their income and property tax bills. Georgians who filed tax returns for the 2021 and 2022 tax years will receive up to $250 if single-filing and up to $500 if filing jointly. In addition, homeowners will receive an extra one-time exemption on the value of their homes at tax time, a move expected to save Georgians an average of about $500.
HOPE Scholarship: A deal on the state budget would fund public school HOPE college scholarship awards at 100% of tuition. Currently they are closer to 90% except for high-achieving students who earn Zell Miller scholarships.
Election limits: Lawmakers approved a bill that would ban donations to county election offices after a nonprofit funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg contributed millions of dollars beginning in 2020. Senate Bill 222 would make it a felony for county election offices to accept nongovernmental money.
Trucking: A compromise would allow heavier trucks on Georgia highways for two years. Under House Bill 189, the weight limit for trucks would increase from 80,000 pounds to as much as 88,000 pounds. Businesses said higher weights would allow them to ship goods more efficiently, but traffic safety advocates said heavier trucks would result in more traffic fatalities and higher taxpayer costs for road maintenance.
TikTok ban: Social media services such as TikTok would be banned from state phones and devices if they’re owned by “foreign adversaries,” including China. The pending law would apply to all state devices used by K-12 public school employees and by employees in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The bill wouldn’t ban the use of apps in colleges and universities.
Georgia Legislative session 2023
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-What passed the Georgia Legislature, and what will have to wait
- Live: Georgia bill tracker
- Opinion: Sine Die at the Georgia Capitol: What a mess
- A banner year for Georgia Legislature telling people what to do
- Podcast: An inside look at the final day of the legislative session
- Photos: Sine Die 2023 at Georgia Legislature
Private vouchers: A Gov. Brian Kemp-backed effort to establish a $6,500 annual subsidy for students who left a low-performing public school for a private school or to be home-schooled was voted down on Wednesday. Senate Bill 233 failed on the House floor 89-85, drawing cheers from many Democratic lawmakers and guests in the chamber gallery.
Sports betting: What was a battle of online sports betting bills ended with no winners. After two previous versions failed on the Senate floor earlier this year, Senate leaders took last-minute steps to amend House Bill 237 and try to hold a vote on a proposal that would have legalized sports betting as part of the Georgia Lottery. The bill never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.
Mental health: An effort to expand on the mental health overhaul that the General Assembly passed last year faltered in the Senate. House Bill 520 focused on addressing a shortage of mental health providers and streamlining the way agencies share information about patients. The Senate committee vetting the bill never voted on the measure, but lawmakers quietly amended another measure, Senate Bill 23, to streamline the way agencies share information about patients.
Antisemitism: A bill that would have made antisemitism part of Georgia’s hate crimes law didn’t receive a vote in the state Senate, preventing the proposal from becoming law. Under House Bill 144, crimes that target Jewish people could have come with harsher penalties.
Tenant protections: A proposal to require Georgia landlords to provide housing that’s “fit for human habitation” fell short without receiving a final vote in the state Senate. House Bill 404 also would have capped security deposits at two months’ worth of rent. The legislation came in response to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Dangerous Dwellings” investigation that showed tens of thousands of metro Atlanta renters living in perilous conditions.
Runoff elimination: Lawmakers didn’t consider proposals that would have eliminated runoffs after general elections when no candidate receives a majority. Georgia voters have returned to the polls for runoffs in three U.S. Senate races since 2020, but legislative leaders said they prefer to keep the requirement for candidates to get over 50% of votes cast. Georgia is one of three states nationwide with general election runoffs.