Sine Die: What passed, what didn't in Georgia's 2018 Legislative Session

The last day of Georgia’s 2018 Legislative Session ended early Friday morning.

Here are the latest headlines from the final day:


Pending the governor's signature, Georgia will soon become the 16th state in the U.S. to enact a hands-free driving law.

The House gave final passage Thursday night to a proposal that would prevent drivers from holding their cellphones while behind the wheel.

Proponents say drivers who look at their phones are largely responsible for a recent spike in fatal crashes in Georgia -- and the resulting rise in auto insurance premiums.

Under the bill, first-time offenders would be fined $50, with the fees increasing for repeat offenders.

First-time offenders could avoid the fine by appearing in court with proof that they have purchased a hands-free device.

RELATED: Georgia lawmakers adopt hands-free driving bill


A proposal that could considerably expand public transportation in the Atlanta metro area is on its way to the governor's desk.

With only minutes left in the session, the House and Senate passed a compromise measure after reconciling differences between bills passed by each chamber earlier this year.

The measure would establish a regional transit authority, called the ATL, that would be responsible for overseeing transit expansion in the area.

A previous House version called for a statewide fee of 50 cents for all rides in a taxi or car-hailing service such as Uber that would go to transit projects, but that provision was removed in conference.

The state budget, which received final passage earlier in the day, includes $100 million in bonds for transit projects.

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Georgia lawmakers have agreed to expand the state's medical cannabis oil program to include those with post-traumatic stress disorder or intractable pain.

Senators voted 38-14 in favor of widening the cannabis oil program and establishing a joint study commission to analyze medical marijuana.

The Senate had weeks ago stripped PTSD and intractable pain from the bill, but the House added it back Thursday afternoon as Rep. David Clark gave a fiery speech accusing Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of "playing games" with people's lives by blocking the program's expansion.

Hours later, while introducing the new version of the bill, Sen. Matt Brass took to the Senate floor to denounce the comments Clark had made in the House. Brass said Clark had acted like a "child pitching a fit."

Clark, a former Army Ranger, says those suffering from PTSD who have access to cannabis oil are less likely to turn to highly addictive opioid painkillers.


Differing opinions in the Georgia House and Senate on amending the state's Hidden Predator Act appear to have doomed the efforts of victims' advocates this session.

GOP Rep. Jason Spencer had sought to significantly expand the law under which adults who were sexually abused as children could file lawsuits against their alleged abusers.

In a text message Thursday night, Spencer confirmed to The Associated Press that his bill is "dead."

Earlier Thursday, Senators voted 51-0 in favor of giving adults up to the age of 30 to file suit in the future. The current age limit is 23, but the House had last month voted to extend the statute of limitations to 38.

Unlike the House version, the Senate version does not give victims of all ages a one-year window to file suit.


Those who win a big lottery jackpot would be able to remain anonymous under a bill that's now awaiting the governor's signature.

The Senate on Thursday granted final passage to Minority Leader Steve Henson's proposal, which legislators say will help public safety.

Under the measure, those who win at least $250,000 and submit a written request can prevent their name from being publicly released.

Proponents say lottery winners can become prime targets of criminals.

The proposal has been criticized by open government advocacy groups, who say it is a bad idea to allow the government to hand out millions to private citizens without a public record.


Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has praised the General Assembly on the last day of the legislative session.

In speeches in front of both the House and Senate, the term-limited governor said that legislators this year should be especially proud for passing tax cuts and fully funding the state's K-12 education formula.

House Speaker David Ralston touted Deal's record in attracting business, overhauling the criminal justice system and education. He called Deal's administration "eight of Georgia's greatest years."

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, said whoever succeeds Deal next year "will have big shoes to fill."


Georgia lawmakers have given final passage to a proposal that would allow victims of domestic violence to terminate housing leases early without pay penalties.

The House voted 166-0 on Thursday in favor of the measure, sending it to the governor's desk.

Under the proposal, victims who have received a domestic violence order in either criminal or civil court proceeding will be eligible to terminate their lease early.

Proponents say victims who are trying to escape a dangerous environment should not also have to worry about the fees they would face if they break their lease.

A tenant would need to provide a landlord with a written notice at least 30 days before breaking the lease.


A Republican Georgia lawmaker has taken to the House floor to denounce Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, one of the leading candidates in the GOP governor's race.

Buford Rep. David Clark is furious that the Senate, which Cagle oversees, has thus far refused to vote on a House-backed proposal that would expand Georgia's medical cannabis oil program to include those with post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain.

In a fiery speech Thursday afternoon, Clark accused Cagle of "playing games" with people's lives.

Clark, a former Army Ranger, says the medical marijuana proposal will save lives, since those suffering from PTSD who have access to cannabis oil are less likely to turn to highly addictive opioid painkillers.

Cagle's spokesman declined to comment.


It could soon be a felony to knowingly provide a firearm to a person with a prior felony conviction under a proposal passed by the Georgia House Thursday.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jesse Petrea of Savannah, represents a rare specimen in gun-friendly Georgia: a piece of gun-control legislation with bipartisan support.

The proposal calls for a prison sentence of one to five years for a first offense and five to 10 years for subsequent offenses.

A late change made by the House to allow for the transfer of a firearm to someone that has been pardoned of a felony conviction must be approved by the Senate before the bill goes to the governor's desk.


The Georgia House has passed a budget for fiscal year 2019 that fully funds the state's K-12 education formula after over a decade of cutbacks.

The $26 billion-dollar budget will go to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk, where he is expected to quickly sign it into law. The measure passed the Senate on Tuesday.

The proposal, buoyed by a $195 million increase in the governor's tax revenue estimate, includes an additional $167 million for K-12 education and allows lawmakers to fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula.

The new budget also includes $100 million in borrowing for transit projects, $360 million toward the teacher retirement pension system and about $16 million in funding for school safety in the wake of last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida.