Atlanta Airport “Takeover” Alert. Please call/write/email Speaker Ralston and Chairman Jay Powell. You can reach them below:
Speaker Ralston: firstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 656-5020
Chairman Powell: email@example.com or (404) 656-5141
Crossover. Week eight of the 2019 legislative session began on Monday, March 4, and it was certainly our busiest week yet. This week, the Georgia General Assembly reached Legislative Day 28, also known as “Crossover Day.” Crossover Day is a crucial deadline for the House and Senate as this is the last day for bills to pass out of the legislative chamber from which they originated in order to remain eligible for consideration for this session. As a result, Crossover Day is typically one of the longest days of the session, and my colleagues and I worked into the night to pass meaningful and significant House bills to send to our Senate counterparts for their consideration.
THC Oil. This week, the House remained committed to helping suffering Georgians with the passage of a bill that would provide a legal pathway to manufacture and dispense low THC oil in our state. House Bill 324, or the “Georgia’s Hope Act,” would allow for the cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing of low THC oil with a lawful valid license issued by the Low THC Oil License Oversight Board to allow registered patients to obtain low THC oil in Georgia. As a result of previous legislation that was enacted in 2015, patients with certain medical conditions, such as terminal cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, severe autism and others, can register with the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) THC Oil Patient Registry to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of medical cannabis oil that contains up to five percent THC. While we have decriminalized the possession of this oil, these patients cannot legally purchase this oil in Georgia, and therefore, thousands of registered Georgians must still break the law to purchase low THC oil from other states. To solve this issue, this bill would authorize the DPH to issue two classes of licenses to produce, grow and manufacture low THC oil in Georgia. The DPH would also issue separate retail licenses for qualified Georgia applicants by January 1, 2020. This legislation would create a sophisticated seed-to-sale tracking system, and it would require facility inspections and sample testing of medical cannabis oil products. This legislation would help the more than 8,000 registered Georgians who suffer from serious medical conditions by establishing a secure, regulated and legal way to obtain this vital treatment.
Hate Crimes. The House passed important bipartisan legislation this week that would create a hate crime statute in Georgia. House Bill 426 would increase the penalties for anyone convicted of a crime that was committed because of an offender's belief or perception regarding the race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability of a person or group. Under this bill, a person convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime would be sentenced to three to 12 months of jail time and face a fine up to $5,000. Additionally, individuals convicted of hate crimes that are of a high and aggravated nature would face sentencing of six to 12 months of jail time, along with a $5,000 fine, and offenders of a felony hate crime would face a minimum of two years in prison. Georgia is one of only five states that does not have a law to protect its citizens from hate crimes, and this bill would bring our state in line with the 45 other states that have enacted similar legislation.
The “Heartbeat” Bill. While these are some of the noteworthy causes tackled by the late hours of Crossover, we also tackled the HB 481: the LIFE Act also known as the Heartbeat Bill. This bill defines fetal viability and life once a heartbeat can be detected. It would include embryos and fetuses in Georgia’s population which would allow parents to count them as dependents in-utero. Once a heartbeat can be detected it would ban any form of abortion with the exception of danger to the mother's life, danger to the fetus's life, and/or a result of incest or rape once reported to law enforcement. Any abortion performed is required to be performed in a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or a health facility licensed as a abortion facility by DCH. Doctors and facilities would be required to turn over abortion reports to law enforcement and would extend fetal homicide to “in the womb”. All of the changes in the bill would go into effect once Roe v. Wade is overturned at the Federal Level. This bill passed through the House and has been sent to the Senate. The entire debate is available by clicking this link and scrolling down to Georgia House, Afternoon, which is where the bill is introduced, and Day 28 Part Five, which is where the vote is. I highly encourage you to watch this speech by Representative Beth Moore; it is one of the most impactful speeches I have heard in the Well.
Below is a copy of Crossover Day's bills with a synopsis of each bill. There were more bills that went onto the Floor from the supplemental calendar provided by the Rules Committee.