Lawmakers OK'd several controversial bills on a key day of the legislative session. 

Senate Bill 390, which passed the Senate in a party-line vote, aims to sever ties with the American Library Association, or ALA. 

The bill would prohibit libraries from receiving funding from the ALA. It would also prevent colleges from becoming ALA accredited using state funding. Colleges would still be able to use private donations for ALA accreditation, which is required for library science programs.

Sen. Larry Walker, who wrote the bill, said it was inspired by a library in his district providing material he felt was inappropriate. 

"The havens for learning that I envisioned, where children's imaginations could run free and young people could find inspiration for their future and the legacy of knowledge accumulated by our civil society, where it can be freely accessed, had become a political battleground for a radical agenda pushed down by this Chicago organization, the American Library Association," he said during floor debate. 


Arguing that the American Library Association is trying to push a radical, socialist, and extreme agenda on state libraries, Sen. Larry Walker III (R- Perry) sponsored SB 390, a bill to prevent state and private spending on ALA materials or services. The legislation passed 33-20, along party lines.

Democrats said the bill could hinder education and literacy efforts in the state by restricting funding and education for libraries and librarians. 

"When the state's literacy rates are in the bottom 10 in the nation, spending a lot of time and elected official capital on strictly strictly regulating libraries and librarians is not the — the wisest tactic," Sen. Elena Parent said. 

Another controversial bill, this time dealing with immigration, passed in the House. House Bill 1105 would force local sheriff's departments to cooperate with federal immigration officials, and report any offenders who are undocumented immigrants. 

"It is the intent of this General Assembly to require that law enforcement officials work in conjunction with federal immigration authorities and cooperate with them, again for public safety purpose," said Rep. Jesse Petrea, who wrote the bill. 

The bill gained traction after the murder of a nursing student in Athens in February. Law enforcement arrested a suspect in the investigation who was later found to be undocumented. 

Democrats pushed back on HB 1105, saying that it puts unnecessary pressure on law enforcement, and could instill fear in immigrant communities. 

"We all want to prevent crime, and there's many ways, and we can't do all the things," Rep. Stacey Evans said. "We have to be selective. What I want to know is if we're going to be selective about how we combat crime, why do we pick something that's going to have such little impact? I mean, even if you hit the target, even if you end up — you get rid of all the undocumented folks that you think are the ones that are doing all the crime out there, which is statistically just absolutely false?"

The bill ultimately passed in a party-line vote. 

The House also passed HB 1180, which would revise the state's film tax credit program and add requirements for projects. Critics said it could discourage the film industry from continuing to set up shop in Georgia. But Rep. Kacey Carpenter, the bill's sponsor, said it ensures the state is getting the best "bang for [its] buck." The bill passed 131 to 34.

In the Senate, a bill aiming to protect religious liberty was passed. Republicans who backed SB 180 said that it protects religious groups' rights, but Democrats said it opens the door for discrimination towards LGBT people. The bill passed in a mostly party-line vote. 

Bills that did not make it through one chamber by the end of Crossover Day will not make it to the finish line in their current forms. Parts of those bills could still be amended into bills that did make it over the hump. 

Host Donna Lowry and capitol reporter Sarah Kallis held a special hourlong episode of GPB's Lawmakers.