This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 9

This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week Nine

The Georgia General Assembly had another busy week as the 2016 session quickly approaches an end.  With only a few legislative days left in the session, the House and the Senate both passed several bills, and a number of other bills are working their way through the legislative process. Continue reading to learn more about some of the notable points from week nine.  

“Brunch Bill” Stuck in the Senate

The Brunch Bill, officially known as HB 535, is stuck in the Senate after passing in the House last year.  The Brunch Bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Frye, would allow restaurants to sell alcohol earlier on Sundays.  A few years ago Georgia banned any purchase of alcohol on Sundays.  Over the years, lawmakers have allowed Sunday sales as long as they were made after 12:30 p.m.  Those opposed to the bill believe it is offensive to the religious community to make alcohol sales on Sunday morning.  Proponents argue that nearly $11 million in tax revenue would be gained if the bill was passed.  Those in favor of the bill also state that convention centers currently are allowed to serve before 12:30 p.m. on Sundays because they are not privately owned restaurants.  If the law changes, approximately 4,000 restaurants across Georgia would likely take advantage of the change.  

Bill to alter Environmental Transportation Reports

House Bill 346 is designed to exempt certain construction projects in the state from being required to submit environmental effects reports. The Georgia Environmental Policy Act (GEPA) of 1991 created the requirement that environmental effects reports should be created when government officials determine that projects might significantly affect the environment. This bill alters GEPA by removing the requirement to create these reports for projects less than $100 million and not receiving federal funds. With a significant increase in transportation funds flowing from the new gas tax, Georgia will be able to self-fund many new transportation projects, and officials will not be required to create these environmental effects reports on these ventures.  Proponents argue that this legislation will save time and money for construction projects, but opponents argue there is not enough protection for the state’s archeological sites. The bill passed the Senate 36-15, but the House Transportation Committee has yet to vote on the measure. Members seeking to compromise on the idea have suggested an amendment to the bill requiring that archaeological sites be protected as well, and the committee is set to take up this amendment as well as the bill today.

Campus Carry

On Friday, the Senate approved a bill that will allow Georgia students to take weapons in classrooms, libraries and other academic buildings at public colleges and universities in the state.  HB 859, which applies to weapons carry permit holders, passed the Senate by a 37-17 vote.  The bill restricts weapons in residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses and sporting venues. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk and awaits his approval.   

For more information on what’s going on under the Gold Dome, continue following Rep. Frye to see how legislation is affecting your district and the state.