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Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 9:33am

It's A Big Day At Georgia's Capitol

State lawmakers wasted no time Thursday tackling some of the top bills on their calendar for the legislative session’s Day 30.

The House passed a bill that would lower the grade point average for technical college applicants to the HOPE scholarship program. They also passed a bill that would allow the state to control video poker machines that award non-cash prizes. It would then divert some of the proceeds to the state college scholarship program.

Both measures now head to the state Senate for approval.

Day 30, also known as Crossover Day, is one of the longest days of the session at the Gold Dome. That’s because it’s the day that any bill with a shot at final passage this year must have passed one or the other chamber by the end of the day.

Lawmakers in the House are expected to tackle several other key pieces of legislation, including a bill that would lift some restrictions on carrying firearms.

Lawmakers will likely debate dozens of measures in the course of the day. But some of the session’s most important bills don’t require action.

An ethics reform package that would limit lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers has already passed the House. That means, it’s already certain it will stay alive until the end of the session.

And Gov. Nathan Deal has already signed a bill into law that extends the Medicaid provider fee.

The session's most important bill, arguably, is the budget for the next fiscal year. But that measure is exempt from the crossover rule so both chambers have yet to debate it.

The state legislature meets for 40 days each year. In the final ten days of the session, Senators debate bills drafted by representatives from the House, and vice versa.