ATLANTA — From an income tax break to measures affecting what can be taught to kids in public schools, there are dozens of bills now sitting on Gov. Brian Kemp's desk that could impact Georgia families and their bank accounts. The bills simply need Kemp's signature to become law.
One of the measures that will affect students had a surprise amendment tacked onto it, and Democrats said they weren't able to read it before voting on it.
On Monday, lawmakers passed House Bill 1084. It will ban nine divisive concepts from being taught in Georgia schools, including teaching "one race is inherently superior to another race" and "the United States of America is fundamentally racist."
After midnight, Senate Republicans held another vote on the bill after it was amended. Democrats asked for the amendment to be printed so they could read it, but a vote on the request failed.
Democrats on social media reacted.
State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D - Atlanta) tweeted, "without even having a floor debate, Republicans pull a last minute stunt..." and State Sen. Elena Parent (D - Atlanta) tweeted, "we didn't have the bill on our desks, no one knew what it said..."
The amended version of the bill passed with language added stating the Georgia High School Association may ban transgender girls from competing against other girls.
House Speaker David Ralston (R - Blue Ridge) called it a compromise, as it stops short of an outright ban he previously blocked.
"Basically adopted the NCAA model by kicking it over to the GHSA," Ralston said.
A less controversial education bill that passed is the so-called "recess bill." It mandates kindergarten through fifth graders have 30 minutes of recess daily. In 2019, Kemp vetoed a similar bill and it's not clear if he will support the move now.
On Tuesday, 11Alive financial expert Andrew Poulos talked about the income tax cut lawmakers approved on Monday.
"This is a big step toward making us a lot more competitive especially with our neighboring states of Tennessee and Florida who are zero income tax states," Poulos said.
Currently, the state's income tax rate is 5.75%. The bill state lawmakers approved calls for it to drop to 5.49% by 2024 and then 4.49% by 2029.
"Just say an average family with a household income of $100,000 and two children, is probably going to be seeing somewhere about roughly 14 to 16, $1,700 difference in tax liability," Poulos said.
Several bills that failed to be sent to the governor's desk could return during the next legislative session. That includes proposals to address the state's medical marijuana program and restrictions on receiving abortion pills. Both bills received much debate during the session but didn't receive final votes on Monday.
"I'm at a loss on that," Ralston said when asked why medical marijuana proposals failed to be passed.
"I hope the families of Georgia know we gave it our best shot," he added.
The proposals considered during the session aimed to solve issues with how licenses for producing medical marijuana are issued. Currently, the state's program has failed to get off the ground because of legal challenges to the licensing process.
The House approved a proposal on the issue Monday, but the Senate voted 28 to 27 to table the matter and then never returned to it. That led to Ralston blaming the Senate for the lack of action.
"The blame is over there as far as I'm concerned. I know that is a little strong, but we've been trying to get this done in Georgia for seven, eight years now," he said.
Recently, the Senate did pass the Women's Health and Safety Act. It called for a ban on women receiving abortion-inducing drugs by mail and would have required them to see a doctor and receive an ultrasound before a prescription could be written.
"In essence, we want to make sure that the female is a good candidate to be able to take these medications," State Sen. Bruce Thompson recently said during a House committee hearing on the bill. "We want to make sure we aren't preventing her from making the choice, but we do want to make sure that somewhere in this state, we aren't putting that woman's life at risk by the choice she makes."
During the same hearing though, multiple doctors testified the plan wouldn't increase a woman's safety. Ralston said the House didn't vote on the bill as he needed to prioritize other bills.
"Just didn't have time. You can't get to everything," he said.