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Here’s a look at what’s happening during the last day of the legislative session

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Here’s a look at what’s happening during the last day of the legislative session

The Georgia House of Representatives in session on Sine Die on Thursday, March 28, 2024. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Atlanta, GA — Thursday, March 28, marks the last day of the legislative session for the Georgia General Assembly. The Legislature has taken up several issues, such as property assessments, immigration, and LGBTQ issues, among others.

Here’s a look at what’s still moving through the Gold Dome:

– The Georgia Senate has passed a bill to cap property assessment increases, and the bill is heading back to the Senate for another vote.

House Bill 581 sought to limit property assessments to 3% each year. The House amended the bill to base the cap on assessments on the inflation rate. The bill would also provide for a statewide homestead exemption.

The House passed the bill with a vote of 164-2 on Thursday afternoon.

The Senate also passed House Resolution 1022, which would put a property assessment cap in the state constitution, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If the resolution passes the Legislature, it would be on the November ballot for voters to approve.

If voters approve the referendum, both bills would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

HB 581 also changes how local governments have to advertise their millage rates. Under the bill, if the millage rate is not increased, only one advertisement and a public hearing would be required to adopt the rate. Local governments have to hold three public hearings if their millage rate is above the state’s rollback rate.

Local governments and school systems could opt out of the statewide homestead exemption under HB 581. If they chose to opt-out, the governing body would have to adopt a resolution, advertise their intent to opt out and hold three public hearings.

– According to the AJC, the Senate is also considering House Bill 1019, which would increase the state homestead exemption from $2,000 to $10,000 and lower the taxable value of residential properties. If the General Assembly passes the bill, it will be on the November ballot as a referendum.

That change would only impact taxpayers in about one-third of the state’s counties. The AJC reported that most already have homestead exemptions higher than the standard state exemption.

– House Bill 976, which deals with elections, is in the Senate. A section of the bill would remove the 90-day notice requirement for some elections and allow them to be held earlier. Under this amendment, a special election could be called for sooner than 90 days before an upcoming election if there will not be any referendum questions on the ballot.

If there are also special questions for voters on the ballot, then the 90-day requirement would apply.

State Rep. Saira Draper (D – Atlanta) told the Senate Ethics Committee on March 21 that currently, if a vacancy is created, and it’s less than 90 days before the next election, county election offices would have to decide between holding a separate and apart election or holding a special election at a later time.

“[For a separate and apart election] they have to use a new set of poll workers, they have to use a separate ballot for the special election, they have to use separate equipment for the special election,” Draper said. “Or if they can’t handle that administrative burden, they have to punt and hold that special election to fill that vacancy during that next election.”

“This is a quick fix in the law that would allow people to have the representation that they’re entitled to,” Draper added.

– HB 1104 is back in the House after passing in the Senate on Tuesday, March 26.

Rep. Omari Crawford (D- Decatur) sponsored that bill that was originally intended to bolster the mental health of student athletes, according to the Georgia Recorder. It was amended in a Senate committee to include the transgender bans, as well as a bill eliminating sex education in schools before sixth grade and charging school districts with creating policies to notify parents each time their child checks out materials from the school library.

– Immigration has also been a topic of discussion this session. HB 1105 would require local governments to coordinate with federal immigration enforcement agencies and is in the House for final approval, according to WABE.

“Republican lawmakers quickly advanced legislation targeting illegal immigration after a Venezuelan-born man who entered the U.S. illegally was charged with the murder of a 22-year-old college student in Athens,” WABE reported.

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