Significant Legislation Potentially Held Up

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The Georgia General Assembly has seven legislative days left before the session comes to an end. With precious little time left in the 2015 Session of the General Assembly, there is growing concern that many important bills will fail to receive full passage as the House, Senate, and the Governor’s office bicker over the larger, more widely debated issues lawmakers face this session.

Many may remember how the 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly ended, with many bills failing as the House and Senate were unable to find a compromise on larger issues, most notably the medical marijuana, autism insurance, and foster care bills.

This year the medical marijuana and autism insurance bills are competing with three of the more notable pieces of legislation – the 2016 state budget, transportation funding, and the Governor’s “Opportunity School District” legislation.

As those larger bills attempt to navigate through the legislative process, other smaller bills attempt to jockey for position. Some fortunate bills may find a pathway through both chambers, but the vast majority will have to wait until the larger issues get resolved.

As with most pieces of major legislation facing the House and Senate, changes to the bills occur from one chamber to the other. When this happens, the bills are sent to a joint House/Senate “conference committee” made up of a small number of House and Senate members. The conference committee is charged with finding the compromise that their respective chambers were unable to accomplish.

If the larger issues do not get resolved, we could very well see a repeat of the 2014 Session when many important bills failed to receive passage because no compromise could be found.

Currently, the House and Senate have passed their own versions of the 2016 state budget and the transportation bill. The Opportunity School District bill is still being debated on the House side.

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