Ga. Capitol roundup: Lawmakers back election bill, ban on defunding police

Georgia Capitol roundup
Georgia Capitol roundup(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 2:03 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - The Georgia state House has passed legislation brought by Republicans that could lead to a sweeping overhaul of state election law.

Proposed changes include provisions adding new requirements and restrictions on absentee voting and giving the GOP-led Legislature greater control over the administration of elections.

Democrats and voting rights groups say the bill passed Thursday would disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.

It’s part of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in states across the country after former President Donald Trump stoked false claims that fraud led to his loss in November.

The measure is likely to result in a House-Senate conference committee where the chambers hash out their differences before voting again on a compromise.

Senate panel approves paid parental leave for state workers

ATLANTA - The Georgia Senate is supporting a plan to give three weeks of paid parental leave to state workers, teachers and university employees.

The Senate voted 52-0 for House Bill 146 on Thursday. Because the Senate made changes, the bill goes back to the House.  

Nearly 250,000 workers could be eligible for the leave after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, has made the measure one of his priorities.

A similar bill nearly passed last year but failed on the last day of the session in the Senate.

Currently, state employees in Georgia are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave as required by federal law.

Georgia Senate approves ban on ‘defund the police’ efforts

ATLANTA - A Republican backed bill to block “defund the police” movements in Georgia cities and counties is nearing final passage in the General Assembly.

Senators voted 36-15 on Thursday to limit governments’ ability to cut police funding by more than 5% a year.

Atlanta and Athens-Clarke County officials debated plans to cut or redirect spending following racial injustice protests last year.

Because the Senate made changes to the bill, it goes back to the House for more debate.

Some senators question whether it’s a good idea for lawmakers to intervene in local budgeting decisions.

Similar bills have been offered in Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida, among other states.

State study to look at Atlanta rising crime

ATLANTA - Georgia’s speaker of the House wants to study whether the state should intervene in policing the city of Atlanta.

House Speaker David Ralston says levels of violence in the state’s largest city and capital have become intolerable.

The study committee will meet this summer, likely reporting before the 2022 legislative session whether the state should take action.

A spokesperson for Gov. Brian Kemp didn’t immediately respond as to whether the Republican governor favors any possible intervention.

Deadly shootings have risen since last summer, when an officer’s shooting of Rayshard Brooks in a restaurant parking lot contributed to weeks of protests over racial injustice.

New Georgia school math standards roll out for comment

ATLANTA - New Georgia math standards are making their debut for public comment. State officials describe them as a removal of Common Core standards and a return to teacher freedom.

Georgia’s 1.7 million public school students will likely see the results in the 2022-2023 school year.

Officials involved in the rewrite say the the new standards are clearer and more understandable.

Applying them will take time, effort and money, with teacher retraining, new instructional materials and new state standardized tests.

State officials are hoping it will bring an end to complaints from parents that their children haven’t been allowed to solve problems the way they were taught.

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