A state bill that would prohibit city control of building design standards and drew the ire of local officials was one of the major pieces of legislation to die this session on Crossover Day. Other bills that did receive a vote before the deadline and passed include punishments for hate crimes and new regulations on school safety, wireless antennas and abortion.

Crossover Day, held March 7 this year, is a key day in the Georgia legislature when bills generally are required to pass either the House or Senate to continue on in this year’s session.

Building design standards

The legislation, House Bill 302, would have prevented local governments from regulating several design elements in one or two-family properties such as color, exterior material, windows, doors, number and type of rooms and foundation materials.

The bill drew opposition from Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Brookhaven, whose city councils all passed resolutions calling for the legislature to vote against it. City officials said it was another unnecessary strike against local control.

The bill, and the Senate version, SB 172, were not voted on before the deadline and will not move on this session.

Abortion

A controversial bill that would prohibit abortions once a heartbeat can be detected passed the House 93-73. All local representatives voted against the bill, including Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), who spoke out against it before the vote.

Hate crimes

A bill co-sponsored by Silcox that would create punishments for hate crimes committed due to prejudice against certain groups passed the House.

The legislation, House Bill 426, would create penalties for crimes targeting a victim due to their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or mental or physical disability. Punishments would range from a sentence of three months to a year and a fine of up to $5,000 for a misdemeanor offense to at least two years in prison for a felony offense.

Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven) and Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) had both been vocal supporters of the bill.

Gun ownership

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) that would have prohibited convicted domestic abusers from owning a gun did not come up for a vote.

The legislation would have affected anyone committed of misdemeanor family violence or subject to a “family violence protective order.”

Wilensky cosponsored a similar House version that also did not come up for a vote.

‘Campus carry’

Sen. Sally Harrell (D-Dunwoody) sponsored a measure that would repeal ‘campus carry,’ controversial legislation that passed in 2017.

The legislation allows people to carry a concealed gun on college and university campuses.

Harrell’s repeal bill, Senate Bill 50, was not assigned to a committee and did not come up for a vote.

School safety

The “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act,” sponsored by Sen. John Albers (R-Sandy Springs) was passed by the Senate Feb. 27.

The legislation, Senate Bill 15, was drafted based on findings of a Senate study committee led by Albers that received input from schools statewide last year.

The bill would require schools to conduct threat assessments every four years and practice an emergency drill annually. It also requires schools utilize a statewide mobile application to report potential threats.

Wireless antennas

The House and Senate both passed bills in February that would reduce local regulations on placing small-scale wireless antennas, commonly called “small cells,” on existing or new poles in the public right of way. Supporters of the bills, House Bill 184 and Senate Bill 66, say they would ensure high-speed internet access to rural Georgia.

Animal rescues

A bill by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Sandy Springs) that would protect people who rescue animals from hot cars passed the Senate Feb. 22.

The bill, Senate Bill 32, would provide immunity for anyone rescuing an animal from a hot car by breaking a window if they call 911.

Conversion therapy

Wilson sponsored a bill that would prohibit conversion therapy, a controversial practice that attempts to alter sexual orientation. The bill was introduced March 5, shortly before Crossover Day, and did not come up for a vote.

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