Governor Nathan Deal will soon begin the process of signing bills into law.
The Georgia General Assembly adjourned shortly after midnight Thursday for the year. Lawmakers finished their session after midnight following a whirlwind final day that included passing a $41 billion budget for state government.
Since convening in January, legislators also limited what lobbyists can spend entertaining public officials, tweaked the state's high-profile immigration law, adopted changes to teacher evaluations and rolled back unions' ability to collect dues through automatic paycheck deductions. They also gave final passage to a bill that lowered the HOPE Grant GPA requirement from 3.0 to 2.0.
But they passed on proposals to block state employee insurance from covering abortions. And a tense dispute between House and Senate leaders effectively killed any changes to gun laws, despite a strong push from gun advocates who wanted to arm public school employees and allow concealed weapons in churches and on college campuses. A measure allowing parents to petition their local school board to create charter schools also failed to gain passage.
Among smaller pieces of legislation that passed was one to set new guidelines for agencies that want to change a park or historic site. Sponsors of the Rural Tourism Protection Act say it will protect small communities that depend on attracting people to local sites for economic support.
Legal non-citizens can get a temporary driving permit under a measure approved by lawmakers. The bill allows for a one-time issuance of a 120-day permit extension if the person has filed to stay legally in the U.S. Sponsors say it makes Georgia more friendly to foreign visitors.
The General Assembly will reconvene next January for an election-year session.
Contributors: Associated Press