Crossover day spells long hours for Georgia Legislature
by Matt Shinall
Mar 08, 2012 | 1980 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wednesday marked day 30 of the 2012 legislative session, also known as Crossover Day for the Georgia General Assembly.

If lawmakers were hoping to see a bill through this year, it had to be voted on and passed out of its respective chamber by the end of business Wednesday. A long night was ahead of local legislators, including State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, who expected to remain in session Wednesday until the deadline was reached at midnight.

The Georgia House of Representatives had a busy day, as is typical for Crossover Day, passing dozens of bills from their chamber to be decided upon by the Senate. The remaining few days of legislation will be full of committee work and voting to decide which bills become law.

"Today is day 30, this is Crossover Day, everything we pass today will go to the Senate and the Senate will send their bills over to us," Battles said Wednesday. "After today, we've only got 10 days left and a lot left to do."

Most of those bills passed in the morning were "clean-up" bills, or annual requirements, but one major piece of legislation did pass the House -- the annual state budget. By unanimous vote, the 2012 budget was approved in the House at $19.2 billion.

Battles noted a few bills passed the House Wednesday despite creating a stir, including a bill outlawing assisted suicide. The bill aims to replace a law currently on the books that was recently found to be unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Another bill passing through the House Wednesday will have effects felt statewide as lawmakers try to clamp down on copper theft with House Bill 872.

"It makes it a much more intense process for anyone who would sell scrap metal to one of the recycling dealers in Georgia. The bill, of course, what it does would require a lot of registration on the part of the dealer and also getting a tremendous amount of information on those who are selling it," Battles said. "And the intent is that this would curb some of the copper theft and air condition units and some of those types of things -- even cars. All of those things would have to be verified and cars would have to have serial numbers or titles to have those sold for recycling.

"There will be no metals bought by a metal recycler that would be paid for with cash, it would all be with check, and these checks would ultimately be another tracking agent to make sure these people that are selling it are doing it legally."

Battles also saw some of his own legislation through the House Wednesday, including a bill that would place a hold on any tag fees due during the deployment of servicemen and women. If the tag fee came due while the military personnel was on deployment, no late fee, penalties, fines or interest would be charged if the payment is made upon their return.

Also sponsored by Battles was a five-year extension of Joshua's Law, calling for drivers education in high school. Another bill, co-sponsored by Battles, passed the House Wednesday spelling out the proper funding channels for programs such as Joshua's Law and trauma care.

Attempts were made to reach State Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, and State Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, for comment regarding Crossover Day, but calls were not returned by press time.