This Week Under the Gold Dome: Sine Die
Time during the final day of the 2016 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly expired on Sine Die. While lawmaking is technically supposed to end at the stroke of midnight on the 40th day, legislators found themselves voting into the early morning of March 25, what some would argue was actually the start of the 41st day. During these hectic hours, many pieces of legislation passed both chambers while others failed to clear the last hurdle necessary to make it to the governor’s desk.
A Victory for Justice
While changing the intent of bills after Crossover Day can often be frustrating for legislators, sometimes a great good comes from the ability to amend bills in this way. House Bill 827, the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act, was designed to improve the processing time of rape kits in the state of Georgia. Experts found that there were more that 1,000 untested rape kits in the state even after victims had asked for the kits to be processed. The original bill allotted 96 hours for law enforcement agents to be notified and then 30 days for submission of the evidence to the Division of Forensic Sciences of the GBI. While this bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously, members of the Senate blocked the bill, leaving supporters without many options for how to proceed. However, with the support of several victim’s rights groups, the content of the House Bill 827 was amended into Senate Bill 304. On the last day of session, the bill traveled back and forth between the chambers, and finally, in the early hours of March 25 and with a standing ovation, the House unanimously approved the Senate’s changes, and the bill passed. Rep. Frye was proud to support this measure from its earliest stages and is thrilled for victory for justice in Georgia.
The Fate of Frye’s Bills
Several bills sponsored by Rep. Frye passed on the final day of the session. HB 910, which addresses medical records and the costs associated with copying and mailing them, ensures that Georgians are not being charged unreasonably for their medical records. This bill passed the Senate 48 -3 and now awaits the governor’s signature. Additionally, Rep. Frye was a co-sponsor of HB 876. This bill updates license and surety requirements of livestock dealers and livestock market operators and provides for liability protection for certain activities related to livestock. The House adopted the conference committee report 145-3. Although these two bills found success on Sine Die, HB 764, the Crosswalk Bill, did not pass in the Senate.
Georgia’s representatives and senators may be finished with their work for the year, but the governor has many decisions to make before he signs or vetoes any bills. One decision has been made. House Bill 757, the religious liberty bill, garnered even more opposition from the business community over the last week of session. Several other companies, including the Walt Disney Co., threatened to pull production from the state should the bill pass. As a governor who promoted Georgia as the new state in the country for business, he and the state had billions hanging in the balance in economic ventures. Ultimately, the governor vetoed the measure today echoing sentiments he previously stated about not allowing discrimination in Georgia. For now, the measure is dead, but there always remains an ability to override the governor’s veto with two-thirds vote in each chamber, which some lawmakers are already threatening.
Additionally, the fate of the controversial carry on campus bill remains and must decided no later than May 3. Much hangs in the balance concerning the campus carry legislation. Students and faculty alike have expressed opposition to the bill, even staging a protest at the University of Georgia. The governor also expressed concerns over some parts of the bill and asked to see changes. Leaders in the House refused, and the version of the bill which originally passed in both chambers now sits on his desk.
Over 5,600 miles and 120 hours were spent driving back and forth from Athens to the capitol in Atlanta. And for Rep. Frye, that time, effort and energy was worth it in order to fight for the progress of the 118th district and the state of Georgia. Thank you for following Rep. Frye’s efforts this session in the Georgia House of Representatives. Much was accomplished, and he looks forward to working for you again in the 2017 session of the Georgia General Assembly. We’ll see you again next year under the Gold Dome!