2024 State Legislative Session

How did Athens’ state representatives vote?

Legend

Row color
Red rows indicate a bill sponsored by Republicans only.
Purple rows indicate a bill with sponsors from both parties.

(If you’re wondering why there aren’t any blue rows, it’s because without Republican support, bills have no chance of passing in this state.)

Vote color
• Votes (yes or no) colored red indicate that most people who voted that way were Republicans, with few or no Democrats voting with them.
• Votes colored blue indicate that most people who voted that way were Democrats, with few or no Republicans voting with them.
• Votes colored purple indicate that many members from both parties voted that way.

Nerd’s Take
Thumbs up means APN supports the bill.
Thumbs down means APN opposes the bill.

Athens’ legislative delegation

State House District 120 – Houston Gaines (R)
State House District 121 – Marcus Wiedower (R)
State House District 122 – Spencer Frye (D)
State House District 124 – Trey Rhodes (R)
State Senate District 46 – Bill Cowsert (R)
State Senate District 47 – Frank Ginn (R)

A closer look: 2024 legislation in Georgia

Renter Protection Act (HB 404)

Dubbed the “Safe at Home Act,” this bill would protect renters by requiring that landlords keep rental properties “fit for human habitation.” It prevents landlords from shutting off the air conditioning after an eviction order but before the tenant is actually evicted. It gives tenants three days to pay any money that is due after an eviction notice is filed and it limits security deposits to at most two months of rent.

HB 404 was signed into law.

Criminalize Protest (HB 505)

This bill would have expanded the definition of “rioting” to include “obstruct[ing] the performance of a government function,” something which happens during some peaceful protests. It would have made rioting a felony punishable by not less than one year in prison. It would have also provided a legal shield for those who kill protestors and other rioters with motor vehicles, provided that the driver “reasonably believes that such flight is necessary to protect his or her motor vehicle or himself or herself from bodily harm.”

It also would have expanded the definition of “terrorism” to include “influenc[ing] the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”

HB 505 passed the House but not the Senate.

State Budget (HB 915)

Governor Brian Kemp issued a press release describing the 2024 state budget which you can read here.

HB 915 was signed into law.

Paid Parental Leave (HB 1010)

This bill doubles the amount of paid parental leave to which state employees are entitled after having a child from three to six weeks.

HB 1010 was signed into law.

Expand Medicaid (using the shell of HB 1077)

A surprise bill to expand medicaid in Georgia gained bipartisan support towards the end of the session and almost passed through the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities committee. Athens’ Senators Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn, both members of the committee, voted no to stop the bill from advancing any further.

Cowsert voted no because he did not want to undermine Governor Brian Kemp’s Pathways program, which costs more per person than full medicaid expansion while covering fewer people. “My feeling was we need to support our governor and his approach, and let’s give it a chance to work,” Cowsert said as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This bill did not pass either chamber.

Require ICE Detainers (HB 1105)

This bill requires sheriffs around the state to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain undocumented immigrants in jail beyond when they otherwise would have been released. These detainer requests have been criticized for violating the 4th Amendment rights, but now they will be mandatory unless sheriffs want to risk losing state funding.

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute issued the following statement on this bill:

“Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is deeply disappointed by the passage of HB 1105 by the state senate. HB 1105 effectively turns the entire state into a 287(g) jurisdiction, mandating deeper local cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. HB 1105 is a state mandate without any supportive funding. Based on prior data, it is expensive and strips scarce resources from local governments, replacing local discretion with state-level decision making to the detriment of local communities. The bill is also likely to perpetuate the separation of immigrant families and expand the state’s system of carceral control and caging of people of color.”

HB 1105 was signed into law.

Ban Puberty Blockers (using the shell of HB 1170)

This bill would have banned healthcare providers from prescribing medications that delay the onset of puberty. These medications are used by teenagers who have doubts about their gender to give them more time to understand themselves and their feelings before making important life decisions.

This bill passed the Senate but not the House.

Require Cash Bail (SB 63)

This bill requires cash bail for a wide variety of offenses, including stunt driving, possession of cannabis, theft, domestic terrorism, unlawful assembly and many more. It also criminalizes charitable bail funds that help those accused of crimes bond out of jail.

Athens Representative Houston Gaines and Senator Frank Ginn were sponsors of this legislation.

SB 63 was signed into law.

Rush Vote Tallying (SB 189)

Among many tweaks to state elections code, this bill requires that absentee ballots be counted and reported no later than one hour after the polls close. This may be impossible in many if not most districts around the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia says that SB 189 “would make it easier for people to file baseless, mass voter challenges, requires all advance and absentee ballots to be counted within an hour of the polls closing, changes ballot design, makes harmful changes for unhoused citizens and creates unrealistic and burdensome requirements of election workers.”

The ACLU has threatened a lawsuit if the governor signs this bill.

SB 189 was signed into law.

School Vouchers (SB 233)

This bill, called the “Promise Scholarship Act,” will provide $6,500 in vouchers per student to families in the lowest-performing school districts in the state. These families can use the vouchers to send their children to private schools.

Supporters of the bill say that it will allow students to leave failing public schools and improve their education. Critics say that the bill will drain needed resources from public schools while not doing much to improve student performance.

SB 233 was signed into law.

Bar Library Association Funding (SB 390)

Is the American Library Association too “woke?” This bill would have forced public libraries in Georgia to disaffiliate from the American Library Association, prohibiting taxpayer funds from going to the organization.

Senator Larry Walker, the bill’s sponsor, accused the American Library Association of “trying to poison the minds of our children with their radical agenda and their Marxist leader.”

SB 390 passed the Senate but not the House.

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