The 2022 legislative session was destined to be controversial and base-pleasing
- In his State of the State address, Governor Brian Kemp outlined his biggest priorities, including teacher pay raises, so-called “constitutional carry” for gun owners, and controversial red meat education changes.
- In the final minutes, first the House, then the Senate approved a bill that would ban “divisive concepts” surrounding race from being taught in Georgia schools, with one amendment many lawmakers had never seen before.
Kemp Still Has Work to Do
- Kemp wasn’t finished, he still had a few more things to do before leaving the office
- The budget is the only thing by law the General Assembly has to pass, and they did
- In addition to a $1 billion tax refund because of surpluses, lawmakers also voted to overhaul the state’s tax rate to a flat 4.99% by the end of the decade also increases exemptions to help lower-income taxpayers
If Kemp signs the divisive concepts bill, which he seems likely to do, the law would ban the teaching of nine specific concepts including “one race is inherently superior to another race” and “The United States is fundamentally racist.”
- The other last-minute amendment also paves the way for high school athletic associations to have an oversight committee that could decide if and how transgender girls can compete in sports.
The Mental Health Parity Act
- A 76-page bill that unanimously passed with bipartisan support: House Bill 1013
- Creates parity across treatment and insurance coverage, and backs up the federal law requiring insurance companies to cover mental health in the same way they cover other medical care
- Allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to directly investigate claims of election law violation
- Georgia often ranks near the bottom in coverage
Kemp signed SB 319, which allows individuals who are already legally able to have a firearm to carry their weapon in public without first going through the licensing process.
- Supporters say it does away with extra paperwork for lawful gun owners. But critics say it could allow people to slip through the cracks when gun violence is at a high level.
This year was the final curtain call for many lawmakers
- Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who continued to urge lawmakers to put policy over politics
- House appropriations chairman Terry England, who’s guided the state’s multi-billion dollar budget through good times and bad
- The Dean of the House, Columbus Rep. Calvin Smyre, had an emotional send-off after 48 years in the legislature
Battleground: Ballot Box from Georgia Public Broadcasting
- An unprecedented budget with pay raises and tax savings, further oversight and restrictions on education, and discussion of race in the classroom will shape the lives of 10 million Georgians.
- A handful of politicians facing primary challenges this May.
And to summarize
- The time is up for the 2022 legislative session. Legislators eventually found common ground on tax cuts and the state’s spending plan, among other big-ticket items, but not everything made the final gavel before the General Assembly dispersed for their hometowns across the state for a well-deserved off-season.
Credit: Original article published here.