2017 Georgia Legislative Session in closing

Tandra Smith

UPDATE 3:59 p.m.: House Bill 37, known as the Sanctuary Campus bill has passed the Senate. The Sanctuary Campus would cut funding to colleges that announce themselves as “sanctuary campuses” for students living in the country illegally. 

Under this bill, HOPE grants could also be taken away from students under HB 37, according to ajc.com. 

The bill is currently in Gov. Nathan Deal’s hands, in which he could sign it into law or veto it. 

Though the 2017 Georgia legislative session is quickly drawing to a close, there are still many high-profile bills that are weaving their way through the the legislature. Others, however, are officially dead for this year.

Destination resort act

On Feb. 27, Senate Bill 79 and House Bill 158, also known collectively as the Destination Resort Act, became officially dead for the year.

SB 79 and HB 158 would have allowed the construction of one to two “destination reports”, or casinos. SB 79 failed to make it out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Both bills have came a long way. SB 79 and HB 158 stemmed from a senate bill from that was introduced last year, Senate Bill 264.

SB 264 would have legalized horse racing wagers in the state, but was two votes shy of passing out of committee. This year’s bill also began with the constructions of up to six casinos in Georgia, but was eventually scaled down to just two casinos with the proceeds going to the HOPE Scholarship.

Currently, the Georgia Lottery is the only legal form of gambling in the state of Georgia. To date, the lottery has distributed over $17 billion to Georgia students in the form of scholarships, grants and Pre-K programs, according to the lottery’s website.

Campus carry

Campus Carry, otherwise known as House Bill 280, is currently awaiting a vote in Georgia Senate. The bill would allow anybody 21 and older to carry a concealed gun on campus with a permit.

Guns would not be allowed in student housing, sports facilities and other places. A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal last spring.

For the bill to arrive at the governor’s desk, the Senate has to vote before assembly adjournment on Thursday. The House has to approve the revised bill in order for it to reach the governor.

Currently, Deal has not gone on the record saying if he will sign the bill this year or not but there has been strong opposition and support for HB 280.

Sexual assault bill

House Bill 51 is currently in the Georgia Senate, after passing the House with 55 unfavorable votes and 115 favorable votes. However, it is unlikely it will survive this session, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

HB 51, which has been dubbed the campus rape bill, would limit how a university is able to investigate sexual assaults, as well as other suspected felonies. On-campus investigations of an incident would be limited to campus agencies with state-certified officers.

The bill has been tabled as of March 23, after various senators decided that the bill still had too many issues around it to be resolved before Sine Die, also known as the last day of the legislative session.

First priority act

The First Priority Act, or House Bill 338, is one of the few bills likely to be signed by Deal before the end of the session on March 30.

HB 338 will evaluate students attending struggling schools and provide them with better resources to succeed. The Senate approved the First Priority Act last Friday, March 24 in a vote of 37 to 18, according to wabe.org.