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Georgia Capitol roundup: Billions in cuts, hate crimes, police reform and more

 Georgia Capitol
Georgia Capitol (WRDW)
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 11:47 AM EDT
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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

ATLANTA — A revised version of Georgia’s state budget for the upcoming year would cut $2.6 billion in state money after Gov. Brian Kemp told lawmakers to reduce spending by 11%.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday voted for the state budget for the year beginning July 1.

It now moves to the full Senate for more debate. The measure is less severe than the 14% reductions Kemp and top lawmakers originally were preparing. But it will still mean service cuts, unpaid furloughs and layoffs across state government, K-12 schools and state colleges and universities.

Republicans have chosen to focus on cuts instead of seeking more revenue from tax increases or spending from state savings.

Here’s what else is going on in the Legislature:

HATE CRIMES:

. The Georgia House of Representatives passed the bill last year, but the Senate may want to make some changes in light of the recent protests. Lawmakers are looking at creating a database for hate crimes.

POLICE REFORM

: Another change would be

"I think one of the things there, that I've been pushing, is reform and our drug law. That would be key to where you have less police citizen interaction in non-violent offenses. So that's something to look at, too. There are different levels that we can approach," said Augusta Sen. Harold Jones II.

CITIZEN'S ARREST:

With just a few days left in session, lawmakers are also looking at

-- which has been cited in Ahmaud Arbery’s fatal encounter with men in Glynn County who say they thought he was a burglar.

LAWSUITS:

The state House decided Georgians will get to vote on whether to make it easier to sue the state and local governments. The proposed constitutional amendment got final passage by the state House by a vote of 164-0 on Tuesday, sending the question to voters as a ballot referendum. Lawmakers are reacting to state Supreme Court decision that says governments can only be sued if they've waived a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity.

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