Governmental policy and legislation report No.6

The Georgia General Assembly continues to work through its agenda with some bills advancing, some bills changing and some bills falling by the wayside. “Cross-over Day is March 11 and last day of session (“sine die”) is April 4.

Restrictions on Chemical Abortions. SB 456 has passed the Senate and moves to the House for further consideration. The bill (formerly identified as SB 315) imposes restrictions on the use of abortion-inducing drugs, which may now be administered without professional medical supervision. The bill would require that a qualified physician examine the pregnant woman in person. No abortion pills or chemical could be delivered by courier, delivery or mail service. No abortion inducing drugs could be provided in school facilities, including institutions of higher learning. The Georgia Catholic Conference supports the bill and encourages everyone to contact their state representatives and ask that the bill be brought to the floor and passed without amendments.

School Choice. HB 517 proposes to make changes in the statute governing student scholarship organizations (SSO’s) such as G.R.A.C.E Scholars related to audits and increases in the individual, family and corporate limits for contributions. The bill passed both houses in 2021 but now includes amendments that will increase the state-wide maximum contributions to $20 million over the next five years. The bill eliminates a “sunset” which is part of current law. The amendments will also allow insurance companies to contribute up to $6 million for credit against their premium taxes. The Conference supports this bill which will expand opportunities for G.R.A.C.E. Scholars.

Death Penalty.  HB 1426 proposes to prohibit or restrict imposition of the death penalty against persons with intellectual disabilities by changing the standard of proof needed to prove intellectual disabilities from beyond a reasonable doubt to preponderance of the evidence. This changes would be consistent with the law in other states which still implement the death penalty and would make proof of disability more reasonable. As this is being written, the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee is trying to work out language that will allow all parties to support the bill. The Georgia Catholic Conference supports this legislation.

HB 495 and HB 1542 propose repeal of the death penalty in Georgia. There is currently little support for this repeal and we expect no further action this session.

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