Posted: 6:00 am Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Five issues to watch during today’s bill signing deadline 

By Greg Bluestein

It’s crunch time for Gov. Nathan Deal. He has until the end of Tuesday to decide whether to sign the dozens of bills still pending into law or take out his red veto pen.

The governor has already inked some of the bigger itemnathan-deal-signing-law-aps, including the $20.8 billion spending plan and the broad expansion of gun rights. But plenty of high-profile issues still await his decision.

Here are the five issues we’re closely watching:

Obamacare

Deal will decide on two pieces of legislation today that aim to send an unwavering message that President Obama’s healthcare overhaul is an enemy of the state.

The first, House Bill 990, gives lawmakers the authority to decide whether the state should expand its Medicaid program – a power that now rests in the governor’s office. The second, House Bill 943,  restricts state and local agencies or their employees from advocating for a Medicaid expansion and bans the creation of a health insurance exchange.

Both were strongly supported by Republican activists, and Deal is expected to sign them.

UPDATE: Deal has signed both pieces of legislation into law.

Food stamps

The governor has strongly hinted that he will sign a bill that would require drug testing for some recipients of welfare and food stamps — and require them to pay for the tests out of their own pockets. The measure, House Bill 772, is by far the toughest in the nation when it comes to public assistance.

Deal suggested Monday he would sign the measure, which he said does helps strike a balance between two competing forces: “One is the right of individuals if they qualify to be given assistance in terms of food stamps. And on the other hand, the right of the taxpayers not to be putting money in the hands of those who are abusing drugs.”

Update: Deal has signed the legislation.

Private Probation

This may be one of the governor’s toughest decisions. House Bill 837 would allow private probation companies to keep secret from the public details such as how many people they supervise and how much they collect in fines.

He told WABE earlier this month that he was concerned with language added into the bill late in the session meant to shield some of the records, but Deal walked back those comments on Monday. He said a deeper look made him “feel a little bit better” that the law would still allow the public to access aggregate data about powerful private probation firms.

Complicating his decision is a recently-released state audit that found courts provide little oversight of private probation companies and the companies do little to supervise the low-level offenders they are supposed to watch. Deal said he would read the audit before making his final decision.

Update: Deal said he will veto the legislation.

Snowjam response

In the wake of this winter’s double-whammy, a weather task force has endorsed stronger punishments for tractor-trailer drivers and others who ignore warnings and block the flow of traffic.

House Bill 753, which Deal plans to sign later today, allows authorities to fine truck drivers $1,000 if they ignore warnings to use snow chains during weather emergencies. It also imposes new restrictions on truckers from driving inside the Perimeter during a state of emergency.

Update: Deal has signed the legislation.

Political Monuments

Deal plans to live up to his pledge to honor Martin Luther King Jr. by putting his name on the statehouse grounds. He made that vow at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on King’s holiday, a move steeped in symbolism (and political undertones).

The legislation, House Bill 1080, requires the civil rights icon’s statue on the capitol grounds or another prominent place – one potential is the new park to be built across the street. 

Another monument bill is far more controversial. House Bill 702 calls for a granite monument containing the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state Capitol. Supporters hope it passes legal muster because the display also includes parts of the Georgia Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. But at least one scholar says it’s still “clearly unconstitutional.”

UPDATE: Deal signed the MLK statue legislation at a ceremony flanked by Martin Luther King III and Bernice King. He later signed the Ten Commandments legislation.

Check out this link for a running tally on all the high-profile bills up for consideration today.

75 comments
centgaboy
centgaboy

you really are being a complete jerk


centgaboy
centgaboy

you know your vetter is really being unreasonable in what you are denying- why not allow both sides to comment

centgaboy
centgaboy

so comments can be posted on here about white people taking back the country but not comments taking them to task- how republican of you

Rationally
Rationally

So Georgia increases it's lead for the most ignorant state!!


DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

House Bill 837 is legislation that is the most egregious example of vote buying in many years but it is receiving almost no notice because the bulk of the voters are paying attention to the red meat election year BS bills. Also the majority of the people affected are poor and can't afford to pay their traffic fines much less lobbyists. 

Private probation companies make undetermined tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in Georgia mostly from the poor. Why undetermined? Because current law allows most of their activities to be shrouded in secret to protect their companies' proprietary trade secrets, this bill takes that even further. WHAT TRADE SECRETS? That the same court you contract with to throw you the business is the one that backs your play in issuing warrants, extending probation terms, requiring useless traffic schools that you also provide, requiring electronic monitoring at $300 per month... those trade secrets?  Or perhaps the trade secret that you are saving the taxpayers money by having warrants issued to use up police time and jail at $50 per day to the taxpayer to collect the money.


BTW, the bill also ups the rate private probation companies can charge for their fees to a monthly price of $44. Felony offenders pay the still state run probation agencies $26 per month. 


Instead of name tags, when they are under the dome the legislature should just wear their price tag instead, it would be much simpler that way.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

After deal signs these laws, maybe he can head up to Kennesaw, where the law requires everyone to own a gun, and tell everyone how much safer they are now that the 'guns everywhere' bill has become law. He should be greeted by raucous cheers particularly at the FedEx facility.

Getting_Older
Getting_Older

I am sorry, I don't understand how people say drug testing for government benefits is unfair.  I have to take a drug test for my job.  They didn't ask me if I wanted to, they told me it was required.  Why should government benefits be any different?  I don't see how that equates to slavery.  Is my employer a slave owner for making me work, and under go drug testing, to get paid.  How terribly unfair.  I am sorry but I am never going to understand why the government should provide assistance to people who have enough money to buy pot or other drugs.  I am not against helping people, but I think people have to have some responsibility also.  I don't understand how that makes me a racist or uncaring as so many people have posted here.  I can state for a fact that I am neither. 


(I also support the increasing of the minimum wage and providing incentives to business to hire more employees.  But again, people might have to take a drug test to be hired...)

Kirsten4999
Kirsten4999

Having read all the comments thus far, it seems clear that many commenters have not read the actual proposed laws. Want a better Georgia?  Do your homework.  Make up your own mind.  Stop being blinded by your own political bias or having your opinion fed to you by the media.  

AllyanaZiolko
AllyanaZiolko

You can shoot one another. You can die if you can't afford medical attention.  We'll patronize you with an icon. Children can go hungry through no fault of their own if their parents are misfits. Here's the Ten Commandments cause we're doing all of this in the name of the Lord cause he helps those who help themselves.

Manman
Manman

Let there be no doubt that the GOP has nothing but the interests of their moneyed slavemasters in mind. Poor? Go ahead and die. Middle class? Lose your money, chump. On food stamps? Prove you're not a crackhead. This is the compassion we see from the GOP these days. Nothing but spite, anger, and hatred in these bills, and you better believe this will affect international companies' thoughts about moving to this backwater state.

GaBlue
GaBlue

I asked my ALEC-owned State Senator what was the real purpose of HB990. After all, our Governor is against expanding Medicaid, so... why the urgency?


He blathered on about how doing this is not a power our Governor has under our State Constitution. blah blah blah.


So I asked, "If he doesn't have the authority, then why would the legislation be necessary?" He stammered stupidly making no sense (as usual).


He doesn't like me very much. He'd prefer that only bobble-headed fans attend his town hall meetings.


Bottom line: Our ALEC-owned legislators are afraid we'll get a Democratic governor next year, so they want to strip the office of as many powers as possible.

petel
petel

Looking at these pieces of legislation, is there any doubt any more that the GOP does not care about the poor and the middle class? 

KathyHawkin
KathyHawkin

@Rationally  until I looked at the bank draft four $5896, I didnt believe that my sister had been actualy making money Wwith GOOGLE in there spare time on there computor..

...................................


jobs35


........................

centgaboy
centgaboy

@DewieCheatem_n_Howe actually I would prefer that they wear the logos of all the companies that own them on their jackets much like nascar cars have the logos all over their cars-that way we can tell who all has bought and paid for each of them

honested
honested

@DewieCheatem_n_Howe  

Doesn't political science provide us with a definition for a 'state' that allows law enforcement to become a 'for profit industry'?

Charles50
Charles50

@Getting_Older  First it makes no sense.  If they qualify to eceive benefits from the gov't it obviously means they already don't have enough money for daily needs.  So what do you do, slap them with the $35 drug test (now they have even less money) And you test them based on the vaguest reasons:  Their demeanor; they miss an appt.  pass drug use.  On top of that, you make a state employee who isn't trained to really make determinations about demeanor the person deciding that someone needs to be tested.  This law is screaming lawsuit and Deal no other Repub. give a rats arse about it.  They have been treating lawsuits like they are nothing but we have to pay for them.

honested
honested

@Getting_Older  

There are only two problems that may have flown over your head...

The restrictions are unConstitutional (and we will have to waste money funding sam olen's office to defend the efforts).

Forcing those with no previous suspicion of drug use to pay for the unnecessary testing is beyond unconstitutional and my run into 'cruel and unusual'.

DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

@Getting_Older  

It doesn't matter whether you think it is unfair or not.The money underpinning the food stamp program is federal money. They stipulate that the state cannot place further restrictions on the program. This bill is just more election year red meat and will cost the state of Georgia taxpayers more money in wasted court costs to see it eventually be thrown out. It is a legislature trying to prove their conservative bona fides while doing nothing but wasting taxpayer money.  If you  want drug testing you have to have the laws changed at the federal level. Period.

JoseWhales
JoseWhales

@AllyanaZiolko Criminals don't care about the law, they will shoot anyone at anytime... no law has ever stopped them... However, now us law abiding citizens are allowed to protect ourselves against the criminals... If you can't afford medical attention... maybe you should get a job... woooops... I just used a dirty three letter word

gafishgirl
gafishgirl

@Manman   Geesh!!!  If it will weed out the dopers and drunks then so be it.  At least I will know that some of my tax dollars are being spent for those that may truly need it.  If there is no legal (drug free) parent or relative to take care of them by applying as legal guardian for food stamp assistance then let the state take care of them. At least they would get 3 meals a day and not be subjected to the drug use and no telling what else.  Georgia has plenty of outside (foreign) companies to the state all the time to set up shop. There are LOTS of food banks and church organizations in Georgia to assist the poor with food and necessities that are not government run. I'd much rather see my tax dollars go toward testing and eliminating the abusers which will free up funds for those LAW abiding citizens.

JoseWhales
JoseWhales

@Manman Spite and Anger?  while the majority of us work for a living... to see people scam the system... get "Free Stuff" from the tax payers... you "poor" get your housing from the tax payers then destroy it, because since you never worked for it... you don't care to maintain it... its time you poor folks start earning your keep... and stop pan handling and stealing from the tax payers

DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

@GaBlue  

It needs to be stripped so I guess I will take the baby step here as a gift. The way Deal and Sonny have run the office is akin to a Banana Republic. A Governor shouldn't be able to hire and fire below the level of department heads. How 'bout stripping the budget out from under an elected Superintendent of Schools.  Putting a fired Gena Evans in position to control the GDOT purse and sell bonds for future anticipated federal grants.  Or even giving a political wing nut embarrassment a $150K per year job to do nothing but get out of your way without allowing current employees to even see an announcement of such a position. Without a two or 3 party system, regardless of how the State Constitution is worded there are no checks and balances. 

Charles50
Charles50

@GaBlue  Thanks for attending and asking the "hard questions".  Too bad he doesn't like Obamacare.  I'm sure you helped spike his blood pressure.  

JoseWhales
JoseWhales

@petel is there any doubt that the poor need to stop doing drugs... maybe... oh, I don't know... get a job?!?!?!?!  ooopss... I just offended all of the democrats by using the three letter word

DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

@honested  

Yeah, they were called debtor's prisons and the reason a lot of people came to this country in the first place. Which reminds me that the legislature tabled the bill to actually require the Sheriffs and other law agencies to report civil forfeitures or require that they prove that it is being used in the commission of a crime. So we have at least another year of your confiscated property being guilty unless you can prove it is innocent regardless of whether you are even charged with a crime.

Getting_Older
Getting_Older

@honested @Getting_Older  

It is still crazy, even if some liberal Federal judge rules otherwise.  I would love to have you tell me why it is "unconstitutional" to drug test for entitlements but not for employment.  I have done nothing to give anyone suspicion that I may be using drugs, but I have to be tested.  Why is that not cruel and unusual?  I don't believe anyone has the "right" to food stamps.   They may be entitled or allowed to have them through law, but it is not a right.  There is no way this can be cruel and unusual.  


I would change the law to have the state pay for the 1st drug test (or first at every interval it is required).  If you fail the test and want to re-apply, then you should have to pay for the retest yourself.

Charles50
Charles50

@JoseWhales  Remember, criminals don't become that until they break the law.  Quite a few of the shootings I've been hearing about lately were not from "criminals or those with criminal backgrounds"

Kamchak
Kamchak

@JoseWhales  

However, now us law abiding citizens are allowed to protect ourselves against the criminals...

James Brady and Ronald Reagan were both shot while being protected by the best trained and best armed security detail on the planet.

Just remindin'.

cholley2
cholley2

@JoseWhales @Manman  You sound like a person who only recently found a job and is overjoyed to be able to spout the conservative mantra

HonJL
HonJL

@JoseWhales @Manman Amen brother, lets bring slavery back and put them to work in the cotton fields. Long live the Tea Party and White America.

Charles50
Charles50

@JoseWhales @petel  Is there any evidence that the poor are using drugs?  Or that they are using them anymore than those who are not poor?  Or haven't you heard about the heroin epidemic in the suburbs?  Funny how it's an epidemic when it reaches the burbs and the numbers are too high to ignore.  Otherwise no one really gives a damn.

HonJL
HonJL

@JoseWhales @petel Amen brother, lets bring slavery back and put them to work in the cotton fields. Long live the Tea Party and White America

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Getting_Older @honested I would love to have you tell me why it is "unconstitutional" to drug test for entitlements but not for employment. 

The reason that it's unconstitutional is because it violates the 4th Amendment right to unlawful searches.  Drug testing began with government positions that were sensitive in nature.  The government jobs are the only jobs with legislation that covers employment.  

The private sector piggybacked on what the public sector was doing even though there's no requirement or legal justification for them to do so.  Once you voluntarily agree to taking that drug test, you've waived your 4th Amendment rights, and the companies are basically holding the job over your head to force you to waive your rights.

Getting_Older
Getting_Older

@honested  

It looks like 38 of the 50 states already have drug testing for welfare. If it is constitutional for welfare, what is the difference between welfare (TANF) and other programs?  A judge even struct down the law to test all FL state employees.  Again, if my employer can test me, why can't the state, if it was my employer?  Why do FL state employees and food stamp recipients have more rights that I do?  If there is a constitutional lawyer in the house that can explain that to me, I would appreciate it!

mrob
mrob

@HonJL


Lol...Put the dangerous fool on the presidential ballot and watch how Georgia would lQQk stupid in the media


The national voters will break your evil heart. 


Gov. Deal for Corruption...

mrob
mrob

@HonJL


Yea right, rise up! To what?? violence?

You puke, go suck an egg and blow out your evil heart.



gafishgirl
gafishgirl

@Kamchak @JoseWhales  At least now I can shoot LEGALLY whomever is trying to rob, harm or murder me or my family.  If they're killed then I won't have to worry about them suing me for harming them or attempted murder even though it would be in self defense on my part.

gafishgirl
gafishgirl

@Charles50 @HonJL@JoseWhales@Manman HA.. don't believe there are more whites on welfare.  Whites are a minority now.  POSSIBLY could be on food stamps alone but not when you encompass food stamps and housing projects provided free of charge.  Housing projects are made up of families with maybe 1 parent and 2,3,4,5,6,7, and up kids.  That's A LOT OF WELFARE by NON Whites.  Personally I don't care what skin color you are.  If you're too lazy to get a job and are capable of working and or you are a drug user then you don't deserve food stamps or housing.

Charles50
Charles50

@HonJL @JoseWhales @Manman  Hmm.  On a main street near my Cobb County house the 3 panhandlers I've seen were all white.  Holding little hand-made signs that say, just need a little help.  


PS - You do know there are more white people on welfare than black don't you.  And for the grand finale, remember recently the WHITE millionaire couple who collected about $167,000 in welfare.  

JoseWhales
JoseWhales

@HonJL @JoseWhales @Manman LOL... yeah... what are we thinking... expecting people to get a job... take on personal responsibility...  anyone who wants to lay around and do drugs and get free stuff should have that right...

Charles50
Charles50

@gafishgirl @Charles50 @JoseWhales @petel  There is a lot of crime in lower income neighborhoods.  And there is crime in suburbs that gets swept under the rug.  I have a friend who is a first responder.  He said you'd be surprised at the number of drug overdoses and suicides that take place in the burbs that never make to tv news.  

gafishgirl
gafishgirl

@Charles50 @JoseWhales@petel  Evidence is all the robberies, shootings, murders, attempted murders, rapes, etc. in the poor neighborhoods.  Crime is higher in the poorer neighborhoods than in the burbs.  Usually those that are caught committing crimes in the burbs come from the poorer neighborhoods.  Adults in poorer neighborhoods are the only ones who can instill PRIDE in their communities and set examples for their young people by not throwing trash down in their streets, put it in trash cans, etc.  Trying being a PRIDEFUL NEIGHBOR and not a LAZY one.  Little changes like that can make big differences. Adults that are not working take the initiative and help the younger ones with the school work, play and teach them games, show them what pride is and how to live in a nice neighborhood.  Yes I know you might see trash in the burbs but nothing like what you see in welfare housing.  Every time I hear of a shooting in my hometown I listen for the location and just shake my head because it is in the poorer neighborhoods where the hoodlums live.

JoseWhales
JoseWhales

@HonJL @JoseWhales @petel The tax payers... (that's the people who go to work) are the slaves... who have to pay taxes so, the lazy poor can do nothing but sit around collecting welfare and buy their drugs... its no simpler than that...