State lawmakers only have seven working days left in this year’s legislative session. This week they will cast final votes on some key issues, including the budget, Sunday alcohol sales and possibly immigration.
The state Senate will begin the week with the 2012 budget. The Senate appropriations committee will vote on it on today, and it’s expected to reach the full Senate on Wednesday.
Gov. Nathan Deal has made his recommendations, and the House has already passed its version of the budget. But according to Tom Crawford of the online political publication, the Georgia Report, that won’t make the Senate’s budget discussions any easier.
“The Senate, like the House, has to figure out, how do you accommodate the fact that about $1 billion in federal stimulus funds that are doing away?” Crawford said.
The House is expected to vote this week on a Senate bill that would allow communities to hold referendums on whether retailers can sell alcohol on Sunday. The bill has been controversial because some opponents say lifting the ban on retail alcohol sales one more day in the week will result in more alcohol-related fatalities. Supporters, however, say the issue is local control. Communities that don't want to allow alcohol sales on Sunday don't even have to put it up for a referendum.
Legislative committees will also be looking at immigration. Major immigration control bills passed each chamber this session. Those bills are not without controversy. Five thousand people protested the two bills Thursday at the state Capitol in a rally that featured religious and political leaders.