What Bills Did Gov. Brian Kemp Sign In 2019?
The first bills were signed in mid-February and the most recent were inked Friday, just ahead of the 40-day deadline for him to take action.
Kemp also vetoed 14 bills and several line items from the state budget. A proposed mandatory recess for elementary school students, a commission to look at the border shared with North Carolina and Tennessee and a sweeping safety plan that included a call for schools to hold “mass casualty” drills all met the Governor’s red pen.
At a press conference on his hundredth day in office, Kemp said he delivered on promises made on the campaign trail and touted policies passed by the state House and Senate.
Here are some notable bills that were signed into law this year.
HB 31 – Fiscal Year 2020 budget
It’s the one bill lawmakers have to pass each session, and this one is the largest in Georgia’s history at $27.5 billion. Included: a $3,000 pay raise for teachers and certified school staff, $150 million for a new voting system and a 2% raise for state employees.
HB 228 – Marriage age increased to 17 years old
The minimum marriage age in Georgia is raised from 16 to 17. The bill also requires premarital counseling for those under the age of 18, and gives the courts instructions for when to deny a marriage license.
HB 316 – New voting machines and election reform
Voting in Georgia will be fundamentally different once polls open November of 2020. Lawmakers approved changes to state code that upgrade Georgia from outdated direct-recording electronic machines to a ballot-marking device with a paper component to it.
HB 316 also includes a number of bipartisan tweaks to election law. A big change is to the state’s “exact match” law, which holds up a voter’s registration process if the application doesn’t match one of two databases. The secretary of state’s office is currently evaluating RFPs from vendors seeking to replace Georgia’s machines.
HB 324 – Low-THC oil production and dispensing
This bill, entitled “Georgia’s Hope Act,” would grant more than 8,000 patients access to medical marijuana. Low-THC oil has been legal in the state since 2015, but there hasn’t been a legal way to obtain it. The bill also includes eight licenses for medical marijuana growers. Republican sponsors of the bill vow it would not lead to legalization of recreational marijuana.
HB 481 – “Heartbeat” abortion bill
One of the most controversial measures debated in the legislature, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act would effectively ban abortion in the state once doctors detect a heartbeat, around 6 weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant. Georgia’s bill also grants personhood rights to the embryo/fetus once the heartbeat is detected. Legal challenges to the bill could halt its implementation before it is supposed to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
SB 25 – Closed loophole regarding when to stop for a school bus
The first bill signed by Kemp this session, SB 25 closes a loophole from a previous bill that technically allowed some drivers to pass a stopped school bus. Now, it’s extra clear that you cannot pass a stopped bus unless you’re on the other side of a road divided by grass, a median or other physical barrier.
SB 106 – Medicaid/ACA Waiver
The Patients First Act is perhaps the largest piece of health care legislation put forth by the governor. The state is searching for a consultant to examine its health care system and craft a waiver for potential exemptions to the Medicaid and Affordable Care Act programs. Democrats have called for a full Medicaid expansion, but the governor has called Medicaid a “broken system” in need of reform.