- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - In a story March 24 about the closing day of Georgia’s legislative session, The Associated Press reported erroneously the focus of Moms Demand Action. Moms Demand Action says it advocates against gun violence but is not opposed to gun ownership.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Latest: Georgia Legislature adjourns; some bills left behind

The 2016 Georgia General Assembly officially adjourned early Friday morning, with several highly-anticipated pieces of legislation left on the table

ATLANTA (AP) - The Latest on the final day of the Georgia legislature’s session (all times local):

12:30 a.m.

The 2016 Georgia General Assembly officially adjourned a half hour past midnight Friday, with several highly-anticipated pieces of legislation left on the table.

A bill that would expand conditions for medical marijuana patients failed to get a vote in the Senate, despite last-minute efforts by sponsoring Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon.

Another bill that failed to reach a Senate vote would have required those serving on local governmental boards and committees to be U.S. citizens.

On the last day of the legislative session, bills were passed for the expedited processing of rape kit tests, in addition to sweeping changes to public school teacher evaluations and standardized testing.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has until May to sign the bills into law.


12 a.m.

Georgia lawmakers have given final approval to a bill setting strict standards for law enforcement agencies in processing rape kits for sexual assault victims.

The bill appeared stuck in the Senate earlier this month. But pressure from House members and organizations that support sexual assault survivors helped get a new version moving in time for the final day of the legislative session.

“We are good,” Rep. Scott Holcomb, an Atlanta Democrat who sponsored the bill, told House members late Thursday before their final vote. Lawmakers gave a standing ovation following passage of the bill.

The bill requires law enforcement to pick up the kits from hospitals within 96 hours. Supporters said the change will help eliminate backlogs of rape kits around the state.


10:45 p.m.

Changes to Georgia law allowing law enforcement officers facing indictment to testify unchallenged are headed to the state’s governor.

Georgia is the only state that allows police officers to make a statement at the end of grand jury proceedings without any cross-examination. Officers also were permitted to be present throughout the grand jury session.

Grand jury proceedings are traditionally secret, with the person accused of wrongdoing often unaware the grand jury is hearing the case.

The existing law has drawn criticism, especially as police use of force cases face increasing scrutiny nationwide.

The changes would still give officers facing indictment the right to testify, but they would be subject to questions from prosecutors or grand jury members. They would no longer allow them to attend the rest of the proceeding.


9:30 p.m.

The Georgia Senate approved a bill on Thursday that would institute sweeping changes for Georgia public school educators and students.

The Senate voted 47 votes to 2, in favor of the bill, which would make changes to the way public school teachers are evaluated, in addition to lowering the number of standardized tests given to students.

Education associations from across the state have supported the bill, calling for less stringent teacher evaluations that would allow them to dedicate more time to test preparation. Additionally, the bill would ease evaluations on high quality teachers, who would be rated as such by the state.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for consideration.


9 p.m.

The Georgia Senate has approved a bill that would increase the regulations on unmanned aircraft, often referred to as drones.

The Senate greenlighted the measure 49-2 on the last day of the legislative session. The bill would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before flying a drone over private property.

If signed into law, the bill would also outlaw the use of weapons on unmanned aircraft, in addition to making it illegal to hunt wildlife with them. However, private users will still be allowed to film or photograph wildlife on their personal property.

Supporters of the bill say that regulating the industry would help attract the burgeoning aircraft sector to Georgia.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for consideration.


5:30 p.m.

The Georgia House has again voted to expand the number of people allowed to possess medical marijuana, hoping to force action in the Senate.

Republican Rep. Allen Peake of Macon gutted an unrelated Senate bill already approved by that chamber and replaced it with his proposal extending immunity for possessing medical cannabis oil to patients with autism, HIV or AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other conditions.

The House last month passed Peake’s original bill, 152 votes to 8. But it stalled when it reached the Senate. Sen. Renee Unterman, a Buford Republican who chairs her chamber’s Health and Human Services committee, has said there wasn’t time to hold a hearing on the bill.

It’s not clear if the Senate will act before adjournment at midnight.


5:15 p.m.

A bill headed to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk would prevent financial institutions from refusing services to legal gun or ammunition sellers.

The language was tucked into a larger bill making small changes to Georgia law regarding firearms permits. Sen. Jesse Stone, a Republican from Waynesboro, introduced the idea in a separate bill this year but it saw no action in the House after clearing the Senate.

A Senate committee then added the protection for gun or ammunition sellers to the House “cleanup” bill dealing with firearms. The combined bill won final passage on Thursday.

A gun industry trade association is pushing for such laws in a handful of states. Opponents say the measures create new protection for one industry.


3:15 p.m.

Students older than 18 could carry stun guns on college campuses under a bill headed to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk.

Lawmakers already voted this year to lift a weapons ban on Georgia’s college campuses. Deal has not said whether he will sign that bill, permitting licensed gun owners who must be 21 to carry concealed handguns on campuses.

Supporters say allowing stun guns gives students who cannot or prefer not to carry a gun another option for protection.


12:15 p.m.

The Georgia House has again voted to require that law enforcement expedite processing of rape kits for sexual assault victims.

Rep. Scott Holcomb sponsored a bill requiring law enforcement to pick up the kits from hospitals within 96 hours that unanimously passed the House earlier this year.

But it stalled in the Senate without a committee hearing. Republican Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford has said a federal grant will fix any backlogs of rape kit testing in Georgia and declined to act on Holcomb’s proposal.

Holcomb, an Atlanta Democrat, is using a legislative maneuver that still allows the full Senate to send the bill to Gov. Nathan Deal.

The measure now returns to the Senate, where its chances of passage before midnight on Thursday are unclear.


11:30 a.m.

Opponents of a bill allowing concealed handguns on Georgia college campuses say they delivered 30,000 signatures against the proposal to Gov. Nathan Deal.

Representatives from Moms Demand Action, which advocates against gun violence, along with several legislators, students and campus faculty gathered in the statehouse want Deal to veto the bill already passed by lawmakers.

The bill allows licensed weapons owners to carry concealed handguns on campuses, except in athletic facilities or in student housing. Georgia requires people be 21 to receive a license.

Deal has expressed concerns with the bill, including weapons being allowed in day care centers on campuses, in disciplinary hearings and in faculty or administration offices.

Lawmakers have showed no sign they plan to respond to the governor’s concerns before the legislative session ends Thursday at midnight.


5 a.m.

Georgia lawmakers have until midnight to vote on bills expanding the number of people who can use medical marijuana, cutting income taxes and trying to lower the number of abortions in the state.

Thursday marks the 40th and final day of the legislative session.

Leaders set an aggressive schedule this year, because all House and Senate districts will be on the November ballot. Members running for re-election are in a hurry to return home and begin campaigning.

Bills that don’t pass both chambers before adjournment must start the process all over again next year.

Those that survive head to Gov. Nathan Deal.

Lawmakers already have sent bills eliminating a weapons ban on college campuses and protecting opponents of gay marriage to the governor, and approved a state budget.

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