Georgia Legislature bills focus on taxes, law enforcement and elections

State representatives throw paper in the air to celebrate the end of the legislative session at the House of Representatives in the Capitol in Atlanta on Sine Die, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Arvin Temkar /

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

State representatives throw paper in the air to celebrate the end of the legislative session at the House of Representatives in the Capitol in Atlanta on Sine Die, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Arvin Temkar /

State lawmakers introduced more than 2,000 bills in the two-year legislative cycle that ended last month, most of which died before the final gavel.

But of the approximately 725 pieces of legislation that passed both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly, almost half dealt with taxes, the courts and how government — and especially elections — operates, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.

The AJC analysis looked at all of the successful bills and grouped them into subject areas like finance, healthcare or education. Some of the bills are counted in more than one category. For example, Senate Bill 533, a bill to allow local jails to provide prisoners with mental health treatment while awaiting competency hearings, rather than in a hospital setting. The bill was counted as both a bill related to the judicial system and a bill related to health.

The AJC found the largest category of successful bills involved finances, with 160 bills passing both the House and Senate. Of those financial bills, 130 changed state tax law and tax exemptions, mostly increasing local homestead exemptions. Others in that category levy excise taxes, reduce income taxes, or expand exemptions for sales and use taxes.

The remaining 30 financial bills targeted areas other than taxation, including bills allowing student loan repayment for peace officers and protections for elderly and disabled adults who may be victims of financial exploitation.

Lawmakers passed at least 126 bills applying to the judicial system, including bills raising the pay of some judges or adding judges to some state and judicial circuit courts. Other bills gave law enforcement new powers or responsibilities such as adding antisemitism to Georgia’s hate crimes statute and strengthening immigration laws by penalizing sheriffs who do not cooperate with federal immigration officers. Many bills also affect court procedures, like adding the collection of technology fees onto a fine as a cost of court.

Many of the bills passed in the 2023-2024 cycle do not have statewide implications and apply only to a specific local government or state district. This is the case among the more than 100 bills addressing matters related to the government, such as bills updating city charters, resetting the districts for city councils, and establishing anti-nepotism requirements for future mayors and council members in some towns.

About 40 bills dealing with government functions cover elections specifically. This category includes measures for creating boards of elections and registration in various counties, proofing ballots by local superintendents in certain races, maintaining a state-wide system for posting scanned paper ballots, and time off for employees to vote in advance.

Several of these bills are Republican-led election security bills to reduce the number of touchscreens in election day precincts, to add watermarks to ballots and display them online after elections, and to require ballot scanners to count votes directly from vote marked bubbles, replacing QR codes.

Roughly 75 bills pertain to education. These bills address topics such as funding requirements for charter schools, HOPE scholarship eligibility, and changes in boundaries to school districts.

At least 40 bills passed relate to healthcare within agencies such as the Department of Community Health, Department of Public Health, and Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce. Legislators reimbursed patient expenses for cancer clinical trials and funded a grant-based mental healthcare program for veterans.

At least 20 bills pertain to motor vehicles. This section covers standards for issuing driver’s permits and set the penalty of arson of a law enforcement vehicle to up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.