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2021 Georgia End of Session Brief

On April 1, our legislature in Georgia adjourned for the end of the 2021 session. Here are some of the most important pieces of legislation that defined this session and how they will impact Georgians moving forward. 

Bills that have been signed:

SB 202: An omnibus anti-voting bill

  • As many of you already know, this was signed into law last week by *Governor Kemp. Several lawsuits have been filed against different provisions of this bill, and we expect to see more to come. 

  • This bill would criminalize line warming, impose new burdensome ID requirements for absentee voting, compress the time period for run-off elections, ban mobile voting, restrict ballot drop boxes, and more. You can find a summary of the bill here, including the vote count and each version of the bill. 

  • SB 253, authored by one of our freshman champions, Senator Nikki Merritt, was hijacked and added to SB 202. This bill required that signage be placed at polling precincts when location changes have been made. Senator Merritt fought hard for this great piece of legislation, and for that we commend her. 

  • Late last night, after Coke and Delta vocally opposed SB 202 (after it was already signed last week), Speaker Ralston, with a can of Pepsi in hand, stated that “you don’t feed a dog that bites your hand.” The house then passed a measure to eliminate tax breaks for jet fuel, which would  significantly increase costs for Delta. The senate did not end up passing that measure as they had already convened for Sine Die.

 

Bills that failed to pass:

HB 218:

  • This was a “gun reciprocity” bill that would have loosened gun restrictions in our state. While many Republican lawmakers pushed for its passage, Speaker of the House David Ralston held it from moving forward citing recent shootings in Atlanta and Colorado. We are glad to see that this bill did not pass and will continue to monitor its movement during the 2022 legislative session. 

SB 115:

  • After a last-minute amendment by bill author Senator Randy Robertson, SB 115 failed to pass. This bill would have required Georgians  receiving driver’s licenses to be trained on how to interact with law enforcement during a traffic stop. Law enforcement should solely be held accountable for their conduct. This burden should not fall on the shoulders of the citizens that they take an oath to protect and serve. 

HB 290:

  • The “Right to Visit” bill  would have required hospitals to allow patient visitations, even though COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. Amid a global pandemic, many public health professionals flagged the danger of overstepping the boundaries and procedures currently in place to protect patients. The advocacy from these groups ultimately led to the failure of this bill.

SB 40:

  • SB 40 was authored by our champion, Senator Jen Jordan. This bill, unfortunately, did not make it through the House after passing the Senate with a vote of 53-0. There were also attempts to  hijack this bill and make it a part of a larger voter suppression bill that would have undermined and tainted its original purpose. SB 40 was intended to solidify  the timeframe in which absentee ballots can be counted. It would have required that the tabulation begin a week before  election day, rather than after the polls close.

 

Bills that passed:

HB 479:

  • This bill passed both chambers with bipartisan support. It is a complete repeal of Georgia’s 1863 citizens arrest law. After the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, we are glad to see that it passed as a full repeal with no concessions. 

HB 286:

  • This is an “anti-defund the police” bill that will make it illegal in Georgia for counties and municipalities to reduce their policing budgets by more than 5%. This bill is harmful and a complete overstep of local control.

 

Bills passed earlier in the legislative session:

SB 75:

  • Sponsored by one of our amazing freshman champions, Senator Kim Jackson, SB 75 passed the House floor unanimously. This bill would allow  victims of stalking to terminate a lease once a protective order has been issued. This is a huge accomplishment for Georgia.

 

Let’s talk state budget and health care:

  • The 2022 State Budget finally passed last night. This is the ONLY thing our legislature is constitutionally mandated to pass, and is a reflection of where our state’s values lie. 

  • The budget includes expanded funding for mental health services and rural health. However, our failure to fully expand Medicaid creates added burdens that our budget alone can not correct. SB 172 and HB 630 were both bills that would fully expand Medicaid in Georgia. These are both financially responsible options that would cover around 500,000 Georgians that are not currently insured. 

  • HB 146 would expand paid parental leave for state employees to three weeks postpartum. While we will continue to push for longer extensions in sessions to come, this is a great step forward for our state.

  • HB 163 would require the Department of Community Health to allow children of families that apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to be automatically enrolled (or have their participation renewed) in Medicaid.

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Thank You For Standing with Planned Parenthood!

Now that session is over, we will continue to advocate as bills move from *Governor Kemp’s desk. While legislative session is only 40 days, the fight for justice is year-round. Thank you for hanging in there with us!

Every day we watched our champions on the front line of this fight, and we wanted to say thank you. These members of our legislature have shown an unwavering commitment to protecting Georgians every step of the way:

House members: 

Rep. Mary Francis Williams

Rep. Shea Roberts

Rep. Park Cannon

Rep. Betsy Holland

Rep. Stacey Evans

Rep. Erica Thomas

Rep. Erick Allen

Rep. Teri Anulewicz

Rep. Mary Robichaux

Rep. David Dreyer

Rep. Kim Schofield

Rep. Derrick Jackson

Rep. Yasmin Neal

Rep. Mike Wilensky

Rep. Matthew Wilson

Rep. Becky Evans

Rep. Renitta Shannon

Rep. Bee Nguyen

Rep. Rhonda Taylor

Rep. Dar'Shun Kendrick

Rep. Beth Moore

Rep. Marvin Lim

Rep. Sam Park

Rep. Donna McLeod

Rep. Rebecca Mitchell

Rep. Shelley Hutchinson

Rep Jasmine Clark

 

Rep. Regina Lewis-Ward

 

 

Senate members: 

Senator Nikki Merritt

Senator Sonya Halpern

Senator Sally Harrell

Senator Kim Jackson

Senator Elena Parent

Senator Michelle Au

 

Senator Jen Jordan

 

 

Please click here to thank your legislator for their hard work and advocacy throughout this challenging session! You can also find your legislator's contact information here.

We #WontBePunished

In states across the country, ultraconservative lawmakers are cutting women off from care — and punishing them when they dare to fight back.

We won’t let it happen.

Ways to get Involved

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Are you ready to join the fight to defend reproductive rights, expand access to health care, and protect those who rely on Planned Parenthood for care? 

There are many opportunities to get involved with Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. You can make a donation, attend an event or rally, take action on reproductive health issues that matter to you, volunteer, and even work for us!

We count on members, activists, interns and supporters like you to help us organize outreach programs, host events, stop dangerous legislation from passing and advocate for the diverse communities that rely on Planned Parenthood. 

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