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Busy finish to Ga.'s annual legislative session

Thursday is the last day

By Ray Henry Associated Press | 3/20/2014, 10:38 a.m.
Eager to get campaigning, Georgia's lawmakers will wrap up an unusually quick legislative session Thursday, likely making decisions on whether ...
Georgia Crossover Day Abortion: Georgia Sen. Judson Hill, R–Marietta, applauds as a bill he sponsored restricting abortion coverage in plans available through the state health insurance exchange is passed on the Senate floor, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Atlanta. State senators voted 35-18 to advance the bill, which now heads to the House for consideration. The federal health care law allows states to draft legislation prohibiting abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange. Supporters of the Georgia effort say 24 states have done so. Democrats opposed the bill, calling it a continuation of a "war on women" and saying it infringes on a woman's right to choose. Photo by David Goldman/AP.

EDUCATION STANDARDS

An effort to force Georgia to abandon national education standards appears to have politically collapsed. However, it is still too early to know for certain what legislation will fail for the year. Bills considered unlikely to pass sometimes surge forward as a result of the intense political negotiations that consume the final days of the legislative session. The plan from state Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, would have prohibited Georgia from testing students on national academic standards, including Common Core. A House committee rejected a heavily revised version of Ligon's plan after education leaders spoke out against it.

CHILD WELFARE

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have conflicting plans to change Georgia's child welfare services after the deaths of several children. Senate lawmakers wanted to allow faith-and-community-based organizations to contract for services such as adoption, foster care and case management, while state officials would investigate child-abuse claims. But the House wanted to run a pilot privatization program before committing to larger changes. Gov. Nathan Deal on Thursday created a council to study the state's child welfare program and signaled he wanted more time to study the issue. Assuming the General Assembly lets their proposals sit for this year, the debate could resume next year.