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Monday is first day of Legislative session

Avondale Estates Decaturish updates Metro ATL

Monday is first day of Legislative session

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The state Legislature will begin meeting Monday, Jan. 11.

State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, recently offered a preview of what legislators will be considering this year.

Issues on the agenda this year include a proposed assault weapons ban, legislation relaxing regulations on craft brewers and a bill known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Here is Drenner’s full summary sent to constituents via email:

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I voted NO last year on SB 110 that allows sale and use of fireworks in Georgia, and I have followed the negative responses to this bill. I anticipate that there will be legislation to amend SB 110 to allow local cities and counties to impose their own restrictions on sale and use of fireworks.

Assault weapons

Expect legislation to ban assault weapons based on enactments from other states that the federal courts have declared to be constitutional and not violate of the 2nd Amendment.

Craft Brewers

Last year, the General Assembly passed SB 63 to give modest opportunities for expansion to craft brewers–tours and samples of products. The Georgia Revenue Commissioner has issued regulations to curtail this small business opportunity, and everyone is mad, and wants changes.

Kinship Care

Across Georgia, grandparents, relatives and family friends have stepped up to provide shelter and care for children whose parents can no longer care for them. These situations fall under the umbrella of what is known as kinship care, and impacts more than 100,000 children in our state. The study committee recently released its final report, which details policy and legislative solutions to consider during the 2016 legislative session.

A Promise Kept (APK)

In November, The Georgia House Democratic Caucus announced the A Promise Kept initiative aimed at fulfilling our obligation to Georgia’s military families and veterans. During the upcoming legislative session and beyond, members of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus will begin to address problems faced by Georgia military families and veterans.

Pending Measure

The biggest story of the 2015 Legislative Session might not be the bills that we passed. It might be the bills that didn’t pass: SB129 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (J.McKoon/R) and HB218 Preventing Government Overreach on Religious Expression Act (S.Teasley/R).

For the second year, the “religious freedom” or RFRA bill failed to pass in the final days of session. Without anti-discrimination language amended into the bill, SB129 would create a legal “carve-out,” allowing discriminatory acts when justified as an expression of religious belief. Massive opposition came from the LGBT community, a broad coalition of religious leaders, corporate leaders, the hospitality community, and goodhearted Georgians. The bill was tabled in House Judiciary when the author would not accept anti-discrimination amendment language.

These bills would have allowed individuals to cite religion and sue the government for forcing them to comply with our state’s laws, leaving our citizens open to discrimination in the workplace and beyond. Did not receive a vote from the House and is likely to be reconsidered in 2016.