Posted: 9:56 am Monday, January 13th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein
The legislative session starts again this morning and a record-early primary contest and wild races for Georgia’s top offices has just about every one under the Gold Dome predicting legislators will be out of here by April.
But there’s plenty of unfinished business for them to attend to first. Lawmakers are expected to quickly shift state and local primaries to May 20 after a judge moved the federal contests. And they will start hashing out a more than $20 billion state budget that’s expected to include money for teacher pay raises and the largest online expansion in Georgia school history.
The legislative crowd will soon weigh more criminal justice legislation aimed at helping released offenders readjust to society. A fight looms over loosening firearm restrictions, but major tax reforms and a medical malpractice overhaul will likely be shelved for the session.
And there’s always wedge issues or surprise proposals that could pop up. One possibility involves tax breaks for the construction of the two new stadiums that will soon spring up, although some legislators say they may hold off until next year. After all, there’s a November election looming.
About the Author
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012 after spending seven years with the Atlanta bureau of The Associated Press. He also contributes to the AJC's Political Insider blog. Bluestein has traveled to Haiti with President Jimmy Carter, journeyed to Panama with Gov. Nathan Deal and tracked down a suspected Ponzi schemer in suburban Kansas. He spent weeks in Louisiana covering the Gulf Oil Spill, became an unwitting expert on capital punishment after witnessing almost a dozen executions in Georgia's death chamber and was part of award-winning teams that descended upon the biggest breaking news events in the Southeast. Bluestein has covered a range of beats, including environment, legal affairs and economic development. He's now the AJC's political writer, charged with covering the intricacies of Georgia's lively government on the newspaper's front pages and in the Political Insider blog. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two daughters.