ATLANTA — The end of the 2019 legislative session went down to the wire Tuesday night as the House and Senate rushed to approve last-minute bills in what is known as Sine Die.
There were several controversial bills that were on the docket, including the "heartbeat" bill, medical marijuana and the Atlanta airport takeover bill.
Only some of them passed, and are now headed to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk for his signature.
One of the most controversial bills, the "heartbeat" bill, which ould ban abortions in Georgia once a doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat, approximately six weeks into a pregnancy, passed the House and Senate earlier this week.
Some Hollywood stars and producers say the bill could impact future film and TV productions in the state.
The clock ran out, however, on legislation giving airlines a jet fuel tax break, creating new rural transit options and allowing the state to take over Atlanta’s airport.
Some of this session's big issues were already out of the way before Tuesday. The $27.5 billion budget with a $3,000 teacher pay raise for the upcoming fiscal year won passage last week. Legislation that would outlaw most abortions gained approval Friday. A new, $150 million voting system got legislators' OK earlier in the session.
Another bill that passed was HB 83, which mandates recess for students in kindergarten through 5th grade.
Public schools in Georgia could soon need to receive a threat assessment every four years under school safety legislation passed by the General Assembly.
Passed late Tuesday, the legislation also says public schools must conduct regular violence and terrorism response drills. It allows for a new position called "school safety coach" and creates an app with which students and others could report suspicious activity.
Republican Sen. John Albers said previously that the goal of the legislation is to identify problems before they happen. Albers said he spoke about the bill with parents from Parkland, Florida, where 17 high school students and staff were killed by a gunman in February 2018.
Critics worried that the legislation would bring law enforcement into routine behavioral issues that should be dealt with by school officials.
A bill raising Georgia's minimum marriage age to 17 is heading to Kemp's desk after the House approved it by a vote of 155-14 on Tuesday.
Under current Georgia law, 16-year-olds can get married with parental permission.
Under the bill, a 17-year-old that wanted to marry would have to be legally emancipated from their parents by a judge and undergo pre-marriage counseling. A 17-year-old would also not be allowed to marry someone more than four years older.
Rep. Andy Welch, the bill's author, has said he worried about young people making decisions that could negatively affect the rest of their lives.
Law enforcement officials in Georgia could soon be required to preserve rape kits for a longer time under a bill approved by the state House.
The House unanimously approved the measure on Tuesday. The Senate approved it earlier in the day, and it now goes to the governor for his signature.
Current law requires rape kits to be stored for 10 years. The proposal would require Georgia to preserve the evidence 30 years after the arrest date or seven years from the completion of a prison sentence, whichever occurs later. If there are no arrests, the kit must be stored for 50 years.
The bill's author, Rep. Scott Holcomb, is an Atlanta Democrat and lawyer who said he's prosecuted rape and sexual-assault crimes.
After the vote, Holcomb said the measure is "among the best in the country, if not the best."
In an emotional speech on the floor, earlier this session, Holcomb said, "These crimes change and damage lives to a degree that is really incredible."
Holcomb was one of the main backers of a law passed in 2016 that helped cut down on the state's backlog of rape kits.
© 2020 Cox Media Group