Georgia lawmakers pass measures on taxes, voting and schools

FILE- In this Jan. 10, 2014, file photo the dome of the Georgia State Capitol stands between tree branches in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File) (David Goldman, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ATLANTA – Georgia lawmakers pushed through dozens of bills in a rapid-fire conclusion to their 2022 session on Monday, delivering a tax cut and banning teaching on “divisive concepts” in schools. But lawmakers did not take up a measure that could have required physical exams before a woman could be prescribed abortion pills, rejected an expansion of gambling and turned down an additional pay raise for themselves. Some key proposals have already passed, including a mental health reform measure, a loosening of gun laws and a bill letting parents opt their children out of school mask mandates. Other measures died earlier, including a bill that would raise penalties for illegal acts during protests and an attempt to regulate social media.



MENTAL HEALTH: House Bill 1013 aims to force insurers to pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment in the same way they pay for other health care. The measure also allows a police officer to take someone for evaluation after getting permission from a physician, instead of arresting them for a crime.

GAS TAX HOLIDAY: House Bill 304, signed into law, suspended the state’s motor fuel taxes through May 31, including a levy of 29.1 cents per gallon for gasoline and 32.6 cents per gallon for diesel. Suspending collections could subtract more than $400 million from road building. The governor plans to use part of last year’s surplus to replace the money.

INCOME TAX CUT: The House and Senate agreed to create what would be an eventual flat 4.99% state income tax in House Bill 1437. The rate would be implemented in steps over a number of years, depending on revenue.

TRANSGENDER ATHLETES: The Georgia High School Association would be allowed to ban transgender boys and girls from playing on the public school sports teams matching their gender identity under House Bill 1084.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: House Bill 1084 would ban the teaching of certain racial concepts that Republicans say are divisive. Opponents say the measure would frighten teachers away from an honest classroom discussion of race in history and the present.

INCOME TAX REFUNDS: House Bill 1302, signed into law, gives $1.1 billion of income tax refunds including $250 to single filers, $375 to single adults who head a household with dependents and $500 to married couples filing jointly.

VACCINE MANDATES: Senate Bill 345 would prevent state agencies and local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccines.

GUNS IN PUBLIC: Senate Bill 319 would abolish Georgia’s requirement for a background check and license to carry a handgun in public. Republicans say it infringes on Second Amendment gun rights for people to have to apply for a permit and pay a fee, usually about $75.

VOTING: Senate Bill 441 would allow the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to inquire into election fraud.

PARENT BILL OF RIGHTS: House Bill 1178 would put into one law a number of parental rights that already exist, including saying parents have the right to review all classroom materials.

MASKS IN SCHOOLS: Senate Bill 514, already signed into law, will allow parents to exclude their children from mask mandates.

SCHOLARSHIP TAX CREDITS: House Bill 517 would increase the tax credits available for private school scholarship organizations from $100 million to $120 million.

RIGHT TO FARM: House Bill 1150 would enhance protections for farmers against nuisance lawsuits by neighbors over problems such as odors, giving them protection from most suits after two years of operation.

SCHOOL RECESS: House Bill 1283 would require daily recess for all public school children in grades K-5.

LAWMAKER PENSIONS: Lawmaker pensions would increase by about 40% under House Bill 824.



GAMBLING: Senate Resolution 135 would have legalized all forms of gambling — including sports betting, horse racing and casinos — if voters approved a constitutional amendment. Senate Bill 142 would have regulated sports betting. The resolution was amended to instead lower timber taxes.

ABORTION PILLS: Senate Bill 456 would have required a woman to have an in-person physician exam and ultrasound before she could be prescribed abortion pills.

LAWMAKER PAY: Pay for Georgia’s 180 House members and 56 senators would have risen to 50% of the state median household income, up to about $30,000, under a constitutional amendment proposed by House Resolution 842.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: House Bill 1425 would have changed how licenses are granted under the state’s medical marijuana program in an attempt to jump-start a licensing process tied into knots by legal challenges.

FELONY BAIL: Senate Bill 504 would have required cash bail for a judge to release from jail anyone charged with any felony.

PROTESTS: Senate Bill 171 would have required a permit for any assembly, increased criminal penalties for protests, made it a felony to block a highway or deface a monument, let people sue local governments if protests turn violent, and made it legal for someone to run over someone else while fleeing a protest if the person fleeing believed their life was in danger.

SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION: Senate Bill 393 sought to prohibit social media platforms from removing or censoring content.

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