Legislative Update, Week of January 25
The Georgia General Assembly was in session this week for legislative days 5 through 8. Committees in both chambers began to meet and introduced their members, voted on rules, and even heard a few bills. Activity at the Capitol will pick up in the coming weeks as the number of bills introduced this session continues to grow. As of last Friday, there have been almost 250 bills and resolutions introduced, and SCHR is tracking about 30 which relate to the state’s criminal legal systems.
New Bills That We Are Following:
- End Felony Disenfranchisement HB 101 & HR 28 (Sponsor: Rep. Josh McLaurin) – Both proposals, if passed, would repeal the portions of Georgia’s constitution and code that prohibit people convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude from voting until they have fully completed their sentence. (SCHR Position: Support)
- Punitive Street Racing Bill SB 10 (Sponsor: Sen. Emanuel Jones) – This is an effort to increase penalties for people who participate in street racing events, which will cause harm to Black and brown communities by creating new offenses, mandating the impoundment of vehicles alleged to be involved, and imposing harsher consequences for those convicted. While SB 10 may be intended to deter unsafe conduct, the punitive approach upon which it relies 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 impounding of a vehicle before its owner has been convicted of any crime is likely unconstitutional. (SCHR Position: Oppose)
House Passes Amended Fiscal Year 2021 Budget – This week the House of Representatives passed the amended budget for the current fiscal year, FY 2021. Notable for criminal legal reform, the House agreed to the Governor’s recommendation that security officers employed by the Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice receive a 10% pay raise starting in April. Both agencies will use existing funds in their budgets to cover this pay raise. Additionally, under this amended budget, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would receive an additional $223,600 in state funding for second-phase implementation of the gang database to allow agencies across the state to input data into the program. The AFY21 budget has been transmitted to the Senate, and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees have already begun to hold hearings on the bill.
The General Assembly will convene Monday, February 1 through Thursday, February 4, for legislative days 9-12. You can find the schedule for all House and Senate meetings and access meeting livestreams here: https://www.legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.
Talk Justice Tuesdays 2021 – Last week, the Justice Reform Partnership hosted its first event in the 2021 Talk Justice Tuesday series to share information with the public about opportunities for juvenile justice reform. We were joined by Judge Talia Nurse (Douglas County Juvenile Court) who shared her perspective on Georgia’s Child in Need of Services (CHINS) policies, Lana “DiCo” DiCostanzo (Deep Center) who outlined why Georgia should raise the age of criminal responsibility, and Polly McKinney (Voices for Georgia’s Children) who spoke about budget proposals impacting juvenile justice. Additionally, SCHR’s own Atteeyah Hollie and Kaitlyn Barnes gave presentations on abolishing juvenile life without parole and advocating for kids at the Capitol, respectively. With about 90 viewers on Zoom and Facebook, Tuesday proved to be a great start to the 2021 TJT series. You can access the recording here: https://fb.watch/3k4ztt1kFZ/.
The series will continue Tuesday, February 2, with an event on Community Encounters with Law Enforcement. Find more information and register for the event here: www.justicereformpartnership.org/tjt.
Justice Day 2020 – On February 25th, SCHR and partners of the Justice Reform Partnership will host Justice Day 2021: “Where Do We Go from Here: Community out of Chaos.” This year’s Justice Day will be the tenth annual criminal justice advocacy day at the capitol, and like previous years, will give everyday people an opportunity to learn about criminal legal reforms, build relationships with each other, and advocate for change to their elected officials. Register for Justice Day 2021 here: www.tinyurl.com/justiceday2021.
As the 2021 session continues, we will update you weekly on our work, and the ways you can virtually advocate for meaningful criminal legal reforms in Georgia. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Continue reading below to learn more about the bills we are tracking.
Ending State-Sanctioned Violence
- HB 45 (Sponsors: Rep. Carl Gilliard) – Repeals citizen’s arrest. (Status: Prefiled)
- HB 35 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – Creates a uniform form by the Attorney General for use in recording complaints alleging police misconduct and disciplinary actions; requires the convening of citizens review boards; establishes police misconduct for unethical practices; provides transparency and oversight. (Status: Prefiled)
- HB 20 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) Creates civil liability for medical examiners who conduct examinations of deaths caused by peace officers. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee)
- HB 69 (Sponsor: Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick) – Waives immunity for law enforcement officers. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee)
Improving Prison Conditions
- HB 58 (Sponsor: Rep. Kim Schofield) – Women’s Care Act – provides that women who have been arrested be offered pregnancy testing upon detention; defers a pregnant woman’s sentence until 12 weeks (about 3 months) post-partum; requires reporting of certain information. (Status: Prefiled)
Ending Mass Incarceration
- HB 12 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – Classifies 2 ounces or less of marijuana as a misdemeanor offense punishable only by a fine up to $300; reduces the maximum penalty for felony possession, purchase, and selling from 10 years to 5 years. (Status: Introduced)
- HB 190 (Sponsor: Rep. Scott Holcomb) – Prohibits use of private prisons. (Status: Assigned to House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee)
Ending the Criminalization of Poverty
- HB 19 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – Creates due process in civil forfeiture. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 101/HR 28 (Sponsor: Rep. Josh McLaurin) – Ends felony disenfranchisement. (Status: Assigned to House Special Committee on Election Integrity)
- HB 13 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – Makes changes to the old record restriction law and reduces fees. (Status: Introduced)
Punitive Response to Street Racing
- SB 10 (Sponsor: Sen. Emanuel Jones) – Creates new offenses for people who spectate and promote street racing events; mandates a $2,500 fine for street racing and laying drags and enhances those offenses to the level of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature; imposes an 8-point penalty toward license suspension for laying drags; requires the impounding of high-performance vehicles used in street racing or laying drags “until the adjudication of the offense” at the car owner’s risk and expense; requires special registration and the use of a special license plate for high-performance vehicles (vehicles that are not a common carrier or commercial motor vehicle and that hold a rating of 650+ horsepower) and punishes a violation of these policies as a misdemeanor. (Status: Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee)
- HB 47 (Sponsors: Rep. Carl Gilliard, Rep. Calvin Smyre) – Creates the Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission. (Status: Assigned to House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee)
- HB 18 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – The Police Accountability Act. (Status: Prefiled)
- HB 17 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – The End Racial Profiling Act. (Status: Prefiled)
- HB 16 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. (Status: Assigned to House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee)
- HB 15 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act. (Status: Assigned to House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee)
- HB 145 (Sponsor: Rep. William Boddie) – Regulates law enforcement use of force. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 175 (Sponsor: Rep. William Boddie) – Creates the crime of aggravated strangulation by a peace officer. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 21 (Sponsor: Rep. Sandra Scott) – Expands the offense of ‘unlawful conduct during a 9-1-1 call to include calls motivated by racial bias. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 94 (Sponsor: Rep. Bonnie Rich) – Creates the felony offenses of theft by possession of stolen mail and porch piracy. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- SB 18 (Sponsor: Sen. Harold Jones) – Revises the statute of limitations for rape, aggravated sodomy, or aggravated sexual battery so that these offenses may be prosecuted at any time. (Status: Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee)
- HB 131 (Sponsor: Rep. Mesha Mainor) – Revises the definition of stalking and aggravated stalking to clarify that stalking and aggravated stalking can be committed both directly and indirectly. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 133 (Sponsor: Rep. Mesha Mainor) – Requires that judges verify whether the victim has been notified in cases that require victim notification. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 140 (Sponsor: Rep. William Boddie) – Allows prosecutors to request a change of venue whenever they believe an impartial jury cannot be obtained in the county that the case originated in. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 143 (Sponsor: Rep. William Boddie) – Creates the District Attorneys Oversight Commission. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee)
- HB 194 (Sponsor: Rep. Steven Sainz) – Provides for lifetime probation for people convicted of a sex offense. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
- HB 168 (Sponsor: Rep. Jesse Petrea) – Allows for the disclosure of a person’s GDC file when information is requested by a DA for the purpose of submitting information to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. (Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)
School to Prison Pipeline
- SB 42 (Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Mullis) – Prohibits consideration of school discipline data in determining school climate rating. (Status: Assigned to Senate Education & Youth Committee)