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Ga. Capitol roundup: House votes to put porch pirates in prison

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 2:54 PM EST
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ATLANTA - Georgia could make it a felony with mandatory prison time for people who steal a single package off someone’s porch or front step, no matter the value.

The House voted 101-67 on Wednesday to approve House Bill 94, which creates a specific crime of porch piracy.

The bill also makes it a felony to steal at least 10 pieces of mail from three different addresses or mailboxes.

A conviction for either crime would bring a sentence of one to 5 years in prison. Supporters say the measures are needed to combat organized theft as people become reliant on package deliveries.

But critics say the move is too harsh. Some other states have declined to make a first offense a felony.

House passes budget, as GOP rejects Democrat Medicaid gambit

ATLANTA - Georgia’s House on Friday voted 136-31 to pass a $27.2 billion budget.

The spending plan puts back a fraction of the money that was cut last year. As part of the debate Republicans are spurning a Democratic attempt to more widely expand the Medicaid health insurance program.

Republican House Speaker David Ralston and others laud the House’s effort to add more money for mental health care in, replacing most of the money that was cut last year.

The state would spend $27.2 billion in state tax money, plus billions more in federal money.

That’s up from $26.6 billion this year.

The budget begins July 1. It now moves to the Senate for more debate.

Senate approves sports betting constitutional amendment

ATLANTA - Senators want Georgia’s voters to decide whether they’ll allow sports betting, passing a constitutional amendment and a bill to allow the practice Friday.

Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 would authorize sports betting. Lawmakers would split the proceeds among college scholarships for low income students, expanded high speed internet access and rural health care services.

Senators voted 41-10 for the amendment and 34-17 for the bill, sending them to the House for more debate.

The Senate’s approach is different than the House, where a leading lawmaker has argued a constitutional amendment isn’t needed as long as the Georgia Lottery Corp. is put in charge.

Georgia businesses and churches experienced throughout the pandemic under Governor Kemp’s leadership.

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