The Georgia General Assembly lurched this week past Crossover Day, the expiration threshold for general legislation to pass at least one chamber of the legislature if it is ultimately to land on the governor's desk, and enters now the final ten days of the session.
Among the proposals that failed to gain approval was the long odds casino gaming effort, horse racing, fantasy sports regulation, and a major expansion of MARTA—all rating among the year's most high profile bills.
Legislation to regulate fantasy sports—offered by Senator Renee Unterman, S.B. 352 would have set standards for operations and payout of winnings, deeming it a game of skill—was derailed when the office of the Attorney General of Georgia cited a 1934 case in declaring the convention illegal under state law. Fantasy sports operators say they will continue to fight for legislation that thoughtfully regulates the recreation.
But at least one marquee bill made the Crossover cutoff—sort of.
The Georgia House voted last week to pass legislation expanding the use of cannabis oil, non-euphoric form of medical marijuana, adding six new conditions to the list of ailments that qualify for treatment. The legislation was originally a vehicle to allow in-state cultivation of medical cannabis, but that provision was stripped by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill's sponsor, Representative Allen Peake, who also muscled last year's bill through the legislature, has vowed to reintroduce a second cultivation bill next year if reelected this November.
A smattering of religious liberty bills remain alive after Crossover Day, having already moved earlier in the session. They include the First Amendment Defense Act, which protects the conscience of individuals, businesses and non-profits who oppose same-sex marriage. Opponents, however, argue the measure will give open license to discriminate against gays and lesbians, and that the language is so broad that even single mothers, cohabitating unmarried couples, and divorced persons could face refusal of service.
The House last week passed legislation, supported by Governor Nathan Deal, that would allow firearms on college campuses. The proposal would greenlight persons 21 and older with a weapons license to carry a firearm on a public university or college. Dormitories, fraternities, and sororities were excluded and remain gun-free zones. That bill moves now to the Senate.