A photo of the Georgia State Capitol, facing the Senate Wing, on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Crossover Day in the Georgia Legislature is the day when any proposed legislation must favorably pass out of one chamber in order to be considered for further debate and final passage in the opposite chamber. For example, at least 200 bills were on the table in the Senate and 100 more pieces of legislation were eligible for debate and passage in the House of Representatives. 

Here are some highlights of certain bills that took the next step in either house Monday, March 6.

First, Senate Bill 76 passed in the Senate by a 52-2 margin. The legislation proposes to cap insulin prices at $35 for a 30-day supply and $105 for a 90-day supply. The author of the bill, State Sen. Nikki Merritt, a Democrat from Grayson, says the bill was a common sense measure and would be in lock-step with the recent action that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly took with lowering their insulin costs at 70%. 

Georgia State Senator Sally Harrell, D-Atlanta, looks on during a debate on Day 28 of the Georgia Legislative Session on Monday, March 6, 2023 at the Georgia State Capitol. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Next, Senate Bill 140 would ban gender-affirming procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors from being performed in hospitals and other licensed healthcare facilities. The bill passed by a 33-22 margin along partisan lines. The legislation would explicitly ban sex reassignment surgeries, or any other surgical procedures, that are performed for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics; or hormone replacement therapies for persons under the age of 18. 

“If this bill passes, if it becomes a law, we know that this bill actually may be deadly,” said State. Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, as she spoke out against the legislation. “Deadly. Now I know there’s been some concerns about children having procedures that may be irreversible but you know what? The ultimate most irreversible thing is? Suicide is death. For me more than anything, this is about mental health care.”

Georgia State Senator Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, speaks against Senate Bill 140 on Monday, March 6, 2023 at the Georgia State Capitol. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

The State House of Representatives passed House Bill 30 by a 136-22 margin. The bill would utilize the definition of antisemitism that’s established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organization founded by Sweden’s prime minister in 1998. Similar to the hate crimes measure the General Assembly adopted following the murder of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, the bill would provide additional penalties when crimes are committed because of the victim’s identity, in this case because he or she is Jewish. 

Additionally, Georgia Republicans passed a prosecutorial oversight bill, House Bill 231, which would require the Georgia Supreme Court to appoint a five-member investigation panel and a three-member hearing panel that will determine disciplinary consequences for prosecutors who decline to prosecute low-level offenses. State Rep. Joseph Gullett, a Republican from Dallas, submitted the bill. 

Last Thursday, the Georgia Senate passed a similar measure, which would create the “Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission.”  The commission would have the power to discipline, remove or involuntarily ‘retire’ prosecutors for several reasons:

  • Mental or physical incapacity interfering with the performance of their duties
  • Willful misconduct
  • Willful and persistent failure to carry out their duties
  • Conviction of a crime of moral turpitude
  • Conduct that brings the office into disrepute
  • Knowingly authorizing or allowing an assistant prosecutor to engage in any of the above.

“And I think you’ve seen that our system of ensuring that anyone and the judicial system, there is oversight,” said House Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington. “And I don’t think there’s any reason that we should exempt district attorneys and solicitors from that oversight. It is something that will be applied evenly across the 159 counties. In my mind, that’s what we intend for it to do. And I think that’s what the bill states and that is what will happen.”

However, opponents of the bill said it’s targeted at one person, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis.

Georgia Speaker of the House Jon Burns, R-Newington, speaks to reporters following Day 28 of the Georgia Legislative Session on Monday, March 6, 2023 at the Georgia State Capitol. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Next, the House passed House Bill 392, a bill that would create an endowment for active professionals that are teaching in Georgia’s Technical College System on an adjunct basis. According to the author of the bill, State Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, says the endowment will raise dollars and then choose where to place those dollars to pay the active professionals that are teaching. The bill passed by a 175-0 margin and will now head to the Senate for further debate.

House Bill 524 would allow people to operate three-wheeled motor vehicles with seatbelts and a frame that partially or fully encloses the driver within a cage with only a Class-C driver’s license. Also, it would allow those persons to not wear headgear and eye-protective device requirements. This bill does not apply to operators of slingshots. The bill passed the House by a 168-7 margin.

Finally, House Bill 538 would create the “Georgia Early Literacy Act”, which potentially would require the State Board of Education to approve high-quality instructional materials to be used for teaching students in kindergarten through third grade. According to lines 43-46, the proposed bill would promote ‘Foundational literacy skills’ such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, oral language, and the intersection of reading and writing. The bill passed unopposed by a 174-0 margin. 

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...