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The following article is an opinion piece on the Georgia legislature. The views expressed below do not necessarily align with those of AllOnGeorgia.

The 2017 Georgia legislative session has come to a close and while any bill that didn’t make it out of both chambers is still “live” come 2018, we can rest easy for the next 9 months, knowing our legislators are home – away from their voting machines.

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Shoddy language and all, the campus carry legislation passed in a form that looked nothing like the original presentation, so it was a delight to see the medical cannabis laws expanded, though it is still not clear as to whether or not Governor Deal will sign either positive bill.

As for the “bad” ones, I considered simply posting the clerk’s office hyperlink because there was just so much and narrowing it down seemed nearly impossible. The 10 worst bills are below in no particular order. So, consider them all equally ridiculous.

This is what your government does while you’re busy working and raising a family.

House Bill 338 – Rep. Kevin Tanner

Ain’t nothin’ like a middle finger to the voters. HB 338 is the replacement legislation for the Opportunity School District Amendment that failed last November, causing Governor Deal great embarrassment across the state after a defeat by education interest groups.  So in this bill, instead of the Governor’s office, the bill allocates some of power to the State Superintendent, but also the state school board which is…you guessed it…appointed by the Governor.

For the Democrats, this is their chance to implement more social engineering by evaluating a school’s services in hopes to supplant them with a broad-brush approach to cure poverty. For the Republicans, it is more about “bringing home the bacon” for their districts at the expense of local control, which should be central to their conservative core.

Senate Bill 88 – Sen. Jeff Mullis

Legislators in the last year temporarily suspended the issuance of licenses for opioid addiction centers (better known as methadone clinics) in an effort to curb abuse. While the bill may be well-intentioned, the Narcotic Treatment Center Enforcement Act’s regulatory overreach mirrors that of the Certificate of Need requirements under which Georgia hospitals are currently governed – the same hospitals that are struggling to keep their doors open in all corners of the state.

Worse, if you read the language carefully, the state is broken down into regions and, in the beginning, clinics that are already eligible under the requirements will receive the territory on a first-come first-serve basis. The nail in the coffin is the state’s ability to REQUIRE full files on those being treated to be turned over to the state at any given time.

This legislation is nothing more than a band-aid on an amputated leg – it doesn’t address the problem and will likely just make the real solution harder to implement.

House Bill 196 -Rep. Matt Dollar

This legislation grants an income tax credit to persons who receive royalties from the music industry. As part of “The Year of Music,” Dollar presented a bill which  provides an exemption for musicians, composers and performers on taxable net income through 2022.

The bill is also one of the House’s biggest embarrassments because it failed on the floor and just a few hours later was reconsidered and passed because several legislators ditched their principles.

You can see who voted NO the first time and voted YES after dinner to the EXACT same language. Ultimately, it was agreed upon by a conference committee.

Senate Bill 1 – Sen. Bill Cowsert

While Senate Bill 1 did not pass as a standalone measure, the language was inserted into House Bill 452 and agreed upon by both chambers. SB 1 actually failed on the House floor…twice…in the same day, but Sen. Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and their pals were hell bent on making sure the language passed – and it did, thanks to some manipulation by Rep. Christian Coomer in the final hours.

SB 1 classifies a crime as “domestic terrorism” if it is a felony that causes bodily harm or death, or the disabling or destruction of “critical infrastructure,” but loose language means it could also affect protesters – the good ones and the bad ones – and cause so many more problems related to the First Amendment.

Reminder: Our federal government is already arresting and prosecuting terrorists – domestic and otherwise.

House Bill 251 – Rep. Darrel Ealum

This gem allows emergency responders to enter onto private property without the permission of the owner during a declared state of emergency. A clause does allow the property owner to request the responders leave, however, the bill is a reaction to the strong storms that slammed the state over the last year, so it is likely that, when implemented, a property owner would not be home to deny access. Unfortunately, “emergency responder” is broadly defined as anyone directed by the local, state and/or federal government. That’s it. Nothing else.

House Bill 434 – Wendell Willard

HB 434 expands the uses for eminent domain – the process by which the government can purchase and/or seize property of a landowner for infrastructure or public use. Under this language, eminent domain can be used by those seeking to renovate areas of blight, a term that has somehow been morphed into a responsibility of the government. 

Senate Bill 41 – Sen Renee Unterman

This bill requires any person or business that supplies durable medical equipment (like oxygen machines, insulin pumps, etc) to submit an application, pay a fee, and obtain a license in order to provide the equipment to a consumer – equipment that was prescribed by a medical doctor, approved by the FDA, and sold through an already-legitimate business.

Senate Bill 193 – Sen. Renee Unterman

The Pregnancy Resource Center legislation is a measure Unterman has unsuccessfully backed for years. The bill allows the state to give grant money specifically to pregnancy centers that promote life and not abortion options, setting a dangerous legal precedent for a Democrat majority that is not too far out in Georgia’s future.

Because it couldn’t pass on its own, the “Friends with Benefits” bill was also attached to this bill. The language allows anyone who is diagnosed with a venereal disease like chlamydia or  gonorrhea to obtain an extra antibiotic prescription for their partner without their partner seeing a doctor.

Senate Bill 201 – Sen. Butch Miller

This bill usurps control from business owners by requiring an employer that has AT LEAST 25 employees and also provides sick leave for those employees to allow them to use sick leave to care for an immediate family member. Because, apparently, the Georgia legislature is better suited to decide the conditions of paid leave than the actual business owner who is funding the paid leave.

Senate Bill 206 – Sen P.K. Martin

This legislation mandates that health insurance coverage provide hearing aids for children with a cap of $3,000 per aid, mandates a replacement aid every 48 months, and prohibits refusing coverage because of the need of a hearing aid. While the bill does exempt businesses with 10 or fewer employees, the rest is nothing but an Affordable Care Act, Jr.

So, to sum up, tax tax tax, spend spend spend.

At least the porn bill failed to get any movement. Thank God it is over…for this year.

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Jessica Szilagyi is statewide contributor for All On Georgia and Market Manager for Southeast Georgia. Her main focus with All On Georgia is state and local politics as well as agriculture. She’s served as a policy analyst at the State Capitol and as a campaign manager in political races across the state.

She writes for GeorgiaPol.com and has two blogs of her own: ‘The Perspicacious Conservative’, a political blog, and ‘Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers’, a blog on moving from Atlanta to rural Georgia. Jessica is also a contributor for Fox5 Atlanta’s ‘Like it Or Not.’

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