ATLANTA — Two zombie bills have surfaced at the state Capitol.
Zombie bills are bills that are killed – sometimes multiple times – but still come back to life in the last days of the legislative session.
One died a slow death on Crossover Day last week. HB 623 lost by two votes. The House decided to vote on it again, and it died again six minutes later.
"Dead, right?" asked Rep. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens), a legislative newcomer who helped kill the bill twice. "I have been told that a bill never truly dies."
HB 623 would turn fingerprints collected by state license applicants over to the FBI for its criminal database – even when licensees have no criminal history.
If you want to charge money to cut or style hair in Georgia, you need a state license. To get a state license, you have to submit a fingerprint. There are countless jobs in Georgia requiring such licenses – and requiring the fingerprint.
And the data, Gonzalez fears, could be hacked, or subject law abiding hair-stylists to unwarranted criminal scrutiny.
"I have confidence in the GBI and FBI taking good care of them," countered Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford). "The most important thing to me is protecting the public."
Unterman helped reanimate the fingerprint bill, by agreeing to attach the dead House bill to a mostly-unrelated Senate bill that passed last week.
Unterman says zombie bills aren’t necessarily bad bills – unless she’s against them. "Believe me, the Petland bill is not dead," Unterman told 11Alive News.
The Petland bill is another Capitol zombie. The bill, commonly known as the puppy mill bill, would prevent local municipalities like Sandy Springs and Canton from banning the commercial sale of puppies. Petland is a store that sells puppies. Critics say those sales encourage puppy mill breeders.
Unterman said the puppy mill bill is likely to reanimate as a tax bill. She helped kill it in the Senate last week.
"Nothing is dead down here at the Capitol until we walk out of here" on the last day, Unterman said.