Crossover Day 2021
Welcome to Crossover Day in the Georgia General Assembly! Today is the deadline for bills to pass out of their chambers of origin (House bills must be passed the House and Senate bills by the Senate) if they are going to remain viable for final passage in the 2021 session. It is typically a long and busy day for lawmakers and advocates alike, and Southern Center’s public policy team will be virtually tracking the legislature’s business all day — and most likely, into the night.
SCHR has been tracking dozens of bills this session, but today, we’re paying close attention to just a handful:
Bills We Support
Repealing Citizen’s Arrest – HB 479 (Sponsor: Rep. Bert Reeves) – The Governor’s citizen’s arrest repeal bill, HB 479, passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee on March 4 after powerful testimony from SCHR’s Public Policy Director, Marissa Dodson, and other JRP partner organizations. You can watch the hearing here. HB 479 completely repeals Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law and allows owners and employees of restaurants, off-duty law enforcement, private security guards, and weight inspectors to briefly detain others in certain limited circumstances.
Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction – HB 272 (Sponsor: Rep. Mandi Ballinger) – HB 272 would ensure that most 17-year-olds accused of committing a crime are judged in juvenile court, not superior court. We know that the juvenile justice system is better equipped than the adult system to respond to children’s unique needs and incredible capacity for growth and rehabilitation. This bill was passed by the House Juvenile Justice Committee on Feb. 18.
We’ll be watching today and working with our partners in the legislature to make sure that these two important bills are voted on and passed by the full House of Representatives.
Bills We Oppose
Increasing Penalties for Illegal Street Racing – SB 10 (Sponsor: Sen. Emanuel Jones) & HB 534 (Sponsor: Rep. Josh Bonner) – Both the Senate and the House will be considering bills that propose punitive approaches to addressing increased concerns about street racing in the Atlanta area. SB 10 and HB 534, while not identical, create new crimes, increase penalties for existing crimes, and provide for the forfeiture of a vehicle in certain circumstances. SCHR continues to oppose these bills and to advocate that further study of illegal street racing is necessary to develop solutions that will solve the problem and not cause further harm to Black and Brown communities. SB 10 is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate today, but HB 534 hasn’t yet been scheduled – see the bottom of this message for an action alert to stop this harmful bill.
Mandating Lifetime Probation for Certain Offenses – HB 194 (Sponsor: Rep. Steven Sainz) – HB 194 requires that people convicted of certain sex offenses be sentenced to life in prison or a term of years in prison followed by lifetime probation under electronic monitoring. This sentencing scheme is unlikely to deter criminal conduct and denies judicial discretion to make individualized sentencing determinations. HB 194 was passed by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Feb. 25 and is now eligible for a vote by the full House of Representatives.
SB 10 will be voted on by the full Senate. HB 194 and HB 534 have not yet been scheduled for a vote by the full House of Representatives. We’ll be watching both chambers all day for action on these bills.
If you’re curious about what the Georgia General Assembly is up to today, you can tune into the floor sessions online – watch the House of Representatives here and the Senate here.
If you have five minutes today to help stop two bad bills that are likely to receive a vote today, we are asking you to contact the leadership in both the House and Senate and demand NO votes on HB 534 and SB 10.
As a reminder, both HB 534 and SB 10 are irresponsible efforts that unnecessarily increase penalties for street racing events, which will disproportionately cause harm to Black and Brown communities by:
- Creating new offenses,
- Declaring certain vehicles to be contraband and requiring forfeiture, and
- Imposing harsher consequences for those convicted.
While both HB 534 and SB 10 may be intended to deter unsafe conduct, the punitive approach upon which they rely will have no deterrent effect and instead will result in greater rates of incarceration, an especially harmful outcome during the current pandemic. Moreover, the mandatory forfeiture provisions will undoubtedly cause harm to working Georgians and families.
Please call or email the leadership in both chambers and DEMAND they VOTE NO on HB 534 and SB 10. Feel free to use the scripts below, and you can find more talking points below as well as social media graphics attached.
To Demand a NO Vote on HB 534:
Speaker David Ralston : (404) 656.5020; [email protected]
Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones : (404) 656.5072; [email protected]
Majority Leader Jon Burns: (404) 656.5052; [email protected]
Rules Committee Chair Richard Smith: (404) 656.5141; [email protected]
“I’m calling/emailing to demand that the House of Representatives VOTE NO on HB 534, which increases penalties for street racing activity. We of course all want solutions that will make our communities safer, but this legislation does not provide any. In fact, there’s been no evidence offered to suggest that increased jail time will have any deterrent effect on car events. Instead, this response will only lead to more young Black and Brown people in jail. Lawmakers should explore less harmful and more effective solutions to deter this activity as well as engage the car enthusiast community to find new and safe spaces for car-related activity. We need real solutions, not more punishment. Thank you.”
To Demand a NO Vote on SB 10:
President Pro-Tempore Butch Miller: (404) 656-6578; [email protected]
Majority Leader Mike Dugan: (404) 656-7872; [email protected]
Democratic Leader Gloria Butler: (404) 656-0075; [email protected]
“I’m calling/emailing to demand that the Senate VOTE NO on SB 10, which increases penalties for street racing activity. We of course all want solutions that will make our communities safer, but this legislation does not provide any. In fact, there’s been no evidence offered to suggest that increased jail time will have any deterrent effect on car events. Instead, this response will only lead to more young Black and Brown people in jail. Lawmakers should explore less harmful and more effective solutions to deter this activity as well as engage the car enthusiast community to find new and safe spaces for car-related activity. We need real solutions, not more punishment. Thank you.”
Thanks for your support and your commitment to these important issues! When you take action, it really makes a difference. Stay tuned to our social media throughout the day for updates: on Twitter @southerncenter and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/southerncenterforhumanrights. And we’ll reach out again on Wednesday with an update on which bills survived Crossover Day and which failed to pass by the deadline.