- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

ATLANTA (AP) - The Latest on the Georgia General Assembly session as lawmakers rush to meet a legislative deadline (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

Georgia schools would have to provide students with a recess period every day under legislation approved by the House.

Members backed the bill from Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D-Stockbridge, requiring an average of 30 minutes per day of supervised, unstructured activity time, outdoors if possible. Friday’s vote, 147 votes to 17, sends the bill to the Senate for review.

It applies to students in kindergarten and in first through fifth grades.

The bill also says local officials should develop policies to prevent students from losing recess time as a punishment.

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7:55 p.m.

Georgia senators have decided that it’s OK for optometrists, who are not medical doctors, to perform injections around the eye. They voted 34-17 Friday to approve the bill.

The bill heads to the House where a similar bill was narrowly defeated in committee earlier in the session.

State law now requires that only ophthalmologists, who have at least four additional years of medical training, perform injections.

Under the proposal, optometrists would have to do an additional 30 hours of training before performing injections, although recent graduates learn some of the skills in school.

Some senators said that they were uncomfortable with the expansion and questioned whether optometrists were capable of handling any complications that could arise from an injection near the eye.

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6:55 p.m.

Georgia schools will be required to test their water for lead by the middle of 2019 under a bill approved by the Senate Friday.

Schools would be required to report the results of the tests to parents and teachers as well as fix the problem.

The concern mainly lies with some old drinking fountains that the bill’s sponsor says can have lead in the welding that bleeds into the water.

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3:20 p.m.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital will be able to request the right to purchase a gun before the end of the standard five-year ban under a bill approved by the Senate.

The proposal creates a mechanism that allows courts to verify whether a person is of sound mental health before being removed from the five-year ban list. Currently that list is purged automatically.

In a late amendment before Friday’s vote, senators added a provision that will change the definition of a knife to from 5-inches to 12-inches, meaning that a person does not need a weapons permit to wield a blade shorter than a foot.

The bill received bipartisan support.

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1:30 p.m.

House Speaker David Ralston says an effort to legalize casino gambling in Georgia is unlikely to get a vote as lawmakers face a legislative deadline.

The House Regulated Industries Committee canceled a meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon to discuss a bill from Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah. Stephens’ proposal would allow two “resort destinations” that could offer gambling, one in metro Atlanta requiring $2 billion in investment and another requiring $450 million.

Ralston said Friday that “today was probably not the most appropriate time to do that.”

Legislative rules require bills to pass at least one chamber by the end of Friday to stay alive. Though there are ways around the deadline, Ralston said he “wouldn’t bet on it” for casino legislation.

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12:50 p.m.

Georgia senators have approved a bill lifting a yearlong moratorium on new oil pipelines being constructed in the state while establishing a “rigorous” licensing process.

The bill also sets up a process to allow for limited eminent domain, or the involuntary seizure of private land.

The bill was amended on the floor to forbid the construction of any pipeline construction within the Georgia Coastal Zone. Senators said that an oil spill in such an area could be “catastrophic.”

The proposal now goes to the House for review.

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11:30 a.m.

Opponents of legislation allowing casino gambling in Georgia hope to prevent a last-minute vote before a legislative deadline.

The House Regulated Industries Committee plans to discuss a bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, on Friday afternoon. Stephens’ proposal would allow two “resort destinations” that could offer gambling, one in metro Atlanta requiring $2 billion in investment and the second elsewhere in the state requiring $450 million in investment.

Legislative rules require bills to pass at least one chamber by the end of Friday to stay alive. There are ways around the deadline, but lawmakers try to pass as many bills as possible.

Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, introduced a similar bill but said Monday that he didn’t have enough support to get it out of the chamber’s Regulated Industries committee.

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1:47 a.m.

House members plan to decide whether licensed gun owners can bring handguns onto college campuses.

Friday marks a key deadline for Georgia lawmakers. Legislative rules require bills to pass at least one chamber by the end of Friday to stay alive for the year.

There are ways around the deadline, but lawmakers try to pass as many bills as possible.

The GOP-controlled House is expected to again pass the campus gun bill despite Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of last year’s version. The chamber also may vote on a bill that would label driver’s licenses issued to immigrants with permission to be in the U.S. “ineligible voter.”

The Senate plans to consider more than 30 bills, including requiring schools to test their water for lead by 2019.


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