The 30th day of the legislative session is always one that requires a lot of patience and strong coffee.
"Crossover Day" is a significant deadline for the Georgia General Assembly because it is the last day for legislation to pass the chamber in which it was introduced in order for it to move to the other chamber for consideration.
That means Senate bills must pass the Senate floor, and House bills must pass the House on or before Crossover Day. Any bill that does not receive a vote in its original chamber cannot move on in the legislative process and must be re-introduced the following year.
This year, 29 bills passed out of the Senate on Crossover Day, and although the day was long, the Senate adjourned before 7 p.m.
Many years, the Senate is in session until the late hours of the evening on Crossover Day, so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to head home to District 51, and my family, much earlier than originally planned. I credit our early adjournment to the Senate's efforts towards efficiency and cooperation.
The time spent in the Senate Chamber on Crossover Day requires a close listening ear and eager reading eyes. If a senator believes there is a way to improve or strengthen a bill, a floor amendment will be filed and voted on by the Senate body. Therefore, it is imperative to pay attention to the many sheets of papers passed out on the floor detailing the amendments and how just one single sentence can change the bill's intent.
The following bills of note passed the Senate on Day 30:
SB 76: If passed into law, SB 76 would create the Returning Veterans Task Force within the State Department of Veterans Services. The task force would meet at least quarterly to investigate how state services can be provided to veterans returning from military service in order to assist them in readjusting to civilian life.
SB 101: This legislation would remove burdensome reporting requirements for firearms dealers and recognize out-of-state weapons carry licenses in Georgia. Other measures proposed in SB 101 include removing the superfluous state required license currently required for a firearms dealer and requiring only a Federal Firearms License, and strengthening confidentiality by prohibiting the state from creating and maintaining a database of license holders.
SB 145: Under current law, farm owners who host weddings on their property may lose their Conservation Use Valuation Assessment status, even if they're not in the commercial wedding operation business. This legislation would allow farm owners to host weddings while maintaining their CUVA status.
SB 224 would create the Invest Georgia fund. This legislation would allow access to seed capital for Georgia high tech companies and would mirror current legislation in many neighboring states. The bill mirrors current legislation in many neighboring states, and has been successful in growing and retaining high wage jobs.
SR 293 dedicates two District 51 road infrastructures as the Ralph A. Pierce Memorial Highway and the Judge William Jeffrey Lowe intersection as part of Georgia's memorial highway system. Ralph Pierce was Lumpkin County's oldest living veteran, and Jeffrey Lowe served many years in public office as the chief magistrate judge. I am proud that my district will honor and remember their service for years to come through the dedication of these roadways.
The portion of Ga. 52 in Lumpkin County from Ga. 115 to the Hall County line is dedicated as the Ralph A. Pierce Memorial Highway. The intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and Cavender Creek Road in Lumpkin County is dedicated as the Judge William Jeffrey Lowe Memorial Intersection.
The Senate also passed the amended Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
HB 105, also known as the supplemental budget, was transferred back to the Senate from the House on March 5.
The Senate approved the $19.3 billion midyear budget by a vote of 48-0. The supplemental budget runs through June 30. It now heads to the governor's desk for his signature.
Sen. Steve Gooch can be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at email@example.com.