- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - Lawmakers in Georgia were scrambling Thursday to pass legislation on the final day of the 2015 legislative session. By law, the session runs 40 days. Any bills that do not pass by midnight Thursday fail for the year.

Here’s a look at some of Tuesday’s action:


RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS: A religious freedom bill that became a flashpoint for a debate over anti-gay discrimination appeared stalled Thursday and headed for defeat. Supporters tabled the bill last week after a Republican committee member added language preventing it from being used as a defense for discrimination banned under federal, state or local law. The bill would forbid government from infringing on a person’s religious beliefs unless the government can prove a compelling interest. It would cover individuals, closely held companies such as Hobby Lobby and religious organizations. Opponents say it would provide a legal basis for discrimination against gays.


AUTISM TREATMENT: Health insurance plans would have to offer $30,000 in coverage to treat children with autism. The House agreed, 161-0, to a compromise measure between both chambers on Thursday. The legislation now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for approval. Similar proposals were defeated in previous years over concerns it would burden small business owners.


FIREWORKS: Fireworks sales would be legal in Georgia under a bill approved by state lawmakers. House lawmakers gave the plan final approval Thursday in a 124-41 vote. The measure would require fireworks companies or nonprofits using the sales as fundraisers to be licensed and to pay fees. The bill now goes to Deal, who must decide whether to approve or veto it.


RIDE SHARING: Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services in Georgia would have to provide at least $1 million of insurance for their drivers under a bill approved by state lawmakers. The House’s 153-14 vote on Thursday sent the bill to Deal. Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, said the proposal is a compromise between the services and insurance companies. He called the bill’s requirement that insurance coverage kick in from the time a driver accepts a customer using a mobile app to the end of the ride “a highlight.” Lawmakers previously approved a separate bill forcing services to register with the state and require background checks of their drivers.


MARTA SALES TAX: A proposal to raise the sales tax supporting MARTA has been trimmed back to the existing 1 percent. Senate Democrats earlier sought to raise the sales tax rate supporting the metro Atlanta transit system to 1.5 percent. House lawmakers voted to cut that tax rate back down to 1 percent, and the Senate approved the reduction Thursday.

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