Winter storm stalls Ga. legislature’s work

The Georgia Senate voted overwhelmingly last week to adopt comprehensive reforms to the state’s outmoded adoption law, but the bill’s fate remains far from settled amid a swirl of election-year politics and personality conflicts.

A similar measure came up for consideration last year, but stalled after a religious liberty provision was attached in the final hours of the legislative session. The Senate’s newly approved version pointedly excluded last year’s poison pill, but it contains a provision—an amendment to grant temporary powers of attorneys to guardians of children—that Governor Nathan Deal vetoed last year.

The legislation will now return to the House of Representatives, which already twice passed adoption reform bills in as many years. The House has before it three options: agreement to the Senate version as-is; remove the offending powers of attorney’s plank and return it to the upper chamber; or send the bill to a conference committee of both chambers to negotiate a compromise.

The legislation has been a top priority for Governor Deal and Speaker David Ralston for two years running, and they entered the new year demanding a clean bill—that is, one not adulterated with controversial religious liberty language. Senate proponents insist the revised legislation is, in fact, a clean child welfare proposal that will also assist struggling working class families who may face short-term personal crises.

Elsewhere in the capitol…

The recent winter storm that dusted north Georgia with a mix of snow and ice suspended state and local government activity for much of the week. Both chambers’ budget hearings were cut short, but are expected to resume this week.

One-time House lawmakers Brian Strickland was sworn in last week to fill the Senate seat vacated by Sen. Rick Jeffares, who left his seat to pursue a run for Lt. Governor. The governor announced that Strickland would serve as one of his administration’s floor leaders for the remainder of the session.

Republican Geoffrey Cauble, a Henry County general contractor, was elected to House to fill the House seat vacated by Senator Strickland.

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Edward H. Lindsey Jr.

About Edward H. Lindsey Jr.

Edward Lindsey is a partner in Dentons' Public Policy practice and serves as the head of the Firm's Georgia State Government Affairs team. His focus is on advancing the public policy interests and objectives of clients in the transportation, infrastructure, health care and education sectors.

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Eric Tanenblatt

About Eric Tanenblatt

Eric Tanenblatt is the Global Chair of Public Policy and Regulation of Dentons, the world's largest law firm. He also leads the firm's US Public Policy Practice, leveraging his three decades of experience at the very highest levels of the federal and state governments.

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Elmer Stancil

About Elmer Stancil

Elmer Stancil is a member of Dentons' Public Policy practice. A highly respected communicator, presenter and team player, Elmer brings to the group's Georgia Public Policy team over a decade of government experience in the areas of economic development and transportation planning, including, most recently as a Deputy Executive Director for Georgia's State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and before that as Director of Government Relations and Policy with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDED).

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Virgil Fludd

Virgil Fludd

Dan Baskerville

About Dan Baskerville

Dan Baskerville specializes in state and local government affairs and has 20 years of experience representing clients at the Georgia General Assembly. He has extensive experience and knowledge of local government issues, especially in relation to local governments within the metro-Atlanta region.

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