The Jolt: It’s the last chance for must-pass bills at the Georgia General Assembly

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
February 24, 2022 Atlanta - Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), standing, confers with Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) after he introduced SB-435 in the Senate Chambers at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Senate Bill 435 would ban schools from allowing transgender girls from participating in sports that align with their gender identity. SB-435 passed in the Senate Chambers. (Hyosub Shin /



February 24, 2022 Atlanta - Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), standing, confers with Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) after he introduced SB-435 in the Senate Chambers at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Senate Bill 435 would ban schools from allowing transgender girls from participating in sports that align with their gender identity. SB-435 passed in the Senate Chambers. (Hyosub Shin /

Buckle up, people-- it’s the last day of the legislative session at the Georgia state Capitol.

Along with an 11th-hour effort to get major legislation wrapped up, it’s also the height of “catfishing season” at the Georgia Capitol, that time of year when lawmakers resort to any means necessary to push or kill bills before midnight on the 40th day of the legislative session.

Our resident scholar James Salzer reports former state Rep. Denmark Groover Jr.* could often be heard in the final days of a session telling a bill, “Come here little catfish, I’m gonna gut ya!”

Although last-minute maneuvers can accompany pet projects and under-the-radar favor trading, they’re also being used this year to fast track serious legislation.

One that’s caught our attention is SB 276, a bill that passed the state Senate last year as a bill about county law library fees.

But the library fee language was stripped out last week and replaced by HB 109, the “Child Victim Protection Act of 2022,” a bill that’s already passed the full House three times. But it’s never gotten a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the four years that state Rep. Health Clark, R-Warner Robins, has been working on it.

The intent of HB 109 is to extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse to file criminal charges, a change that Clark told reporters over the weekend is especially important in cases when an organization has covered up abuse allegations and let the statute of limitations expire.

By replacing the old language with the new text, the House-passed bill can go straight to the Senate floor without first passing through the Senate committee.

“I’m fighting with everything I’ve got to get this done,” Clark told reporters over the weekend.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Democrat from Smyrna, supports the bill and the move to send it directly to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote Monday.

“This has been referred to as a bit of a Hail Mary and a lot of times that’s what we have to do in the last two days of the legislative session,” she said.

“It is so frustrating and so baffling that something that we know is necessary and that we know has support from all quarters has been so difficult to get through the Senate…so I hope that they will agree to these changes on Monday.”

(*An earlier version of the Jolt inadvertently reversed Rep. Groover’s names. We regret the error.)



  • 8:00 a.m.: A flurry of early committee work begins, with eight committees meeting before floor sessions begin;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes.


We’re keeping an eye out Monday for several other high-profile bills that have passed at least one chamber this legislative session and could still see final action today.

Those include bills on a possible income tax cut; transgender athletes in high school sports; additional requirements for mail-order abortion medication; a possible compromise on election regulations and investigations; a referendum to allow sports betting in the state; changes to Georgia’s stalled medical marijuana program; new limits on social media censorship; and a leaf blower bill that Saturday sleepers and suburbanites have flagged as especially interesting to them.

Look for updates at throughout the day and night-- and a full report on what we saw, heard and learned on “sigh-nee DIE” in tomorrow’s Jolt.


Even on the notoriously chaotic final day at the Capitol, we do know of a few items definitely on the agenda, including the mid-morning farewell address of state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus.

Smyre, 74, is the longest serving member of the Georgia General Assembly and one of the longest serving state lawmakers anywhere in the country after 48 years in the state House.

But he’s now on to even bigger and better adventures, having been nominated by President Joe Biden to become the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. We’re told Smyre’s formal confirmation process will begin shortly, now that his time at the Capitol has come to an end. Our AJC colleague Maya T. Prabhu has a profile of the Dean of the House to mark the day.


Also on the schedule Monday: Gov. Brian Kemp will sign the Mental Health Parity Act from House Speaker David Ralston at 1:30 in the Capitol.

The bill won a rare unanimous vote in both chambers after years in the works and a last-minute, far-right failed attempt to derail it, so expect a crowd.


Gov. Brian Kemp sat down with the Rome News-Tribune recently to talk about his record as governor and his campaign ahead. He lit into former Sen. David Perdue and others who lost the 2020 campaigns for the GOP, but are blaming Kemp instead.

“I don’t feel like our federal candidates did a very good job of that in the fall of 2020. … I think not campaigning on their record at the federal level in 2020… I mean look, David Perdue, incumbent U.S. senator, if he doesn’t go into a runoff, the balance of the U.S. Senate’s never in play, and the runoffs don’t matter. So I mean, that’s a question you’d have to ask him.”

Kemp also spoke in detail about the many things that former president Donald Trump told him to do after the 2020 elections that Georgia governors are legally barred from doing, and talked about the Trump team’s never-proven claims of fraud:

“Well, you know, Rudy Giuliani did a great job of going to a Senate committee and saying all this stuff. But if he had all this evidence, why didn’t he go into the courtroom? Probably because he didn’t want to perjure himself.”

And on Perdue giving a thumbs up to the crowd at last week’s Trump rally chanting “Lock him up!”

“They’ve been saying this kind of stuff for a year and a half. And it’s not true. So you know, if somebody thinks they have a reason to come lock me up, they can bring it on.”


With attention in Georgia shifting to the campaign trail, the Republican Governors Association is spending even more to boost Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign. The outside group has now reserved nearly $5 million in airtime through the May 24 primary to help Kemp stave off former Sen. David Perdue.

Kemp will make a North Georgia campaign swing later this week.


It’s not surprising that Republican lawmakers are blasting President Joe Biden’s proposal to close an Air National Guard training center in Savannah, a development the AP reported over the weekend.

But it’s more unique to see Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock swipe at Biden for proposing a budget that would shutter the Combat Readiness Training Center at the Savannah Air National Guard Base.

“Russia is aggressively threatening the world order, and the United States must be as strong as possible,” Warnock said in a statement.


POSTED: Greg Bluestein reported over the weekend that U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s ex-wife is seeking changes to their child custody arrangement in court documents that claim he’s in “willful contempt” of the agreement as she attempts to move outside of Georgia.


The 11-page filing by Ouluye Ndoye wants a judge to grant her additional custody of their two young children so she can complete a Harvard University program, citing an agreement she struck with Warnock while he was campaigning for the U.S. Senate in early 2020.

It also asks for Warnock's child support payments to be recalculated because of his “substantial" increase in income after his victory. He has continued to serve as the lead pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church after taking office.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


President Joe Biden was a guest at the Gridiron Dinner over the weekend and included a quip about Georgia in his remarks.

The annual white tie event includes high-profile journalists and D.C. power brokers, who hear satirical speeches from senators, cabinet secretaries and, often, POTUS himself.

“One of my colleagues pointed out they didn’t elect me to be the next FDR,” Biden said. “The truth is I’m not. FDR won the state of Georgia four times. The last election, I only won it three times.”


Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens will deliver his first State of the City address this morning at the Georgia World Congress Center Monday morning.

The contents of the speech won’t be available for a bit, but we can definitively report that the state of the city today is: Early.

Dickens’ speech was scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m.. Come back to for the full report from our City Hall team once it wraps up.


As expected, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has sued the Georgia Secretary of State in an effort to stop a legal challenge regarding her eligibility on the 2022 ballot.

The group that filed the challenge is following the same playbook it used in North Carolina against U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, by accusing Greene of violating a constitutional amendment barring insurrectionists from returning to Congress. So Greene is using the same playbook, as well, by suing her state elections board to stop the investigation from progressing.

The Cawthorn challenge was thrown out in North Carolina; the same is likely for Greene too. But in the process, the plaintiffs are hoping to force her to answer questions in court about her activities surrounding Jan. 6.


The U.S. Sen. Judiciary Committee meets this morning to vote on whether or not to recommend Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

Expect to hear from Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is a member of the committee. He told our Washington-based insider that the confirmation process has left him dismayed at times about politics in Washington but that he has worked to bring a sense of seriousness and respect for the job at hand.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. As long as Republicans attend to give the committee a quorum, Jackson’s nomination can be moved forward, even if the committee itself deadlocks with all Democrats in favor of proceeding and all Republicans opposed.

If that happens, the floor vote on confirmation will likely take place on Friday.


Finally, no session of the General Assembly is complete without Maya T. Prabhu’s annual list of the Best Dressed Lawmakers at the Georgia state Capitol.

If you think a well-dressed politician seems like a contradiction in terms, let Maya and these finely tailored legislators prove you wrong.


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

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