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2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia is committed to the protection of civil liberties and civil rights of all Georgians.

In the 2015 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly, the ACLU of Georgia will continue to counter growing threats to fundamental freedoms and remain steadfast in the ongoing fight for justice.

As the session moves forward, we will continue to update our legislative agenda. You may download a paper copy of our legislative agenda here.

The bills and resolutions listed below comprise the ACLU of Georgia’s current legislative agenda:

Criminal Justice

Death Penalty

Disability Rights

Drug Law Reform Due Process Economic Justice
Education Equality

Free Speech

Immigrants' Rights

Juvenile Justice

Open Government

Privacy Rights Racial Justice Religious Liberty

Reproductive Justice

Voting Rights Human Rights

CRIMINAL JUSTICE


  • No-Knock Search Warrant Bill (HB56)
    • Reforms
      • Execution: Requires search warrants that authorize executing officers to enter without giving audible notice of officer’s presence only if:
        • The law enforcement agency has adopted written policies for using no-knocks.
        • The no-knock search warrant is executed between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM, unless a judge finds good cause.
        • The affidavit supporting the warrant established, by probable cause, that significant and imminent danger to life or evidence would be posed if the officer knocked.
      • Policies:
        • Any law enforcement seeking to execute a no-knock must adopt policies that requires, among other things: (a) supervising officers to approve application for no-knocks, (b) supervising officers to be present during the execution, (c) the agency to have an operational plan for execution, (d) the agency to have a training program for applying no-knocks.
        • These policies shall be subject to public disclosure.
      • Reporting
        • Courts must make monthly reports to the Administrative Office of the Courts, on the number of search warrants sought, issued, and executed, including specifically those warrants seeking to execute no-knocks.
        • The Administrative Office of the Courts must publish an annual report on the use of search warrants.
    • Drawbacks
      • Evidence Generated by Illegal Searches: Failure to comply with these policies doesnotlead to the quashing of the search warrant or a suppression of the evidence generated by the search. Instead, it is considered a technical irregularity, not affecting the substantial rights of the accused. (Rep. Tanner does not appear to be willing to alter this, however.)
    • Notes
      • In the Senate, SB 45 also addresses no-knock warrants. However, HB 56 goes much further, while including everything that SB 45 includes.
    • ACLU Position: SUPPORT
    • Sponsored by: (1) Rep. Kevin Tanner (R), (2) Rep. Rich Golick (R), (3) Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D), (4) Rep. Chuck Efstration (R), (5) Rep. Dan Gasaway (R), (6) Rep. Bill Hitchens (R).
      • Committee: House Judiciary Non-Civil
      • Status: House Second Reader – 01/26/15
     

·     

DRUG LAW REFORM

 

  • Medical Marijuana Bill, or Controlled Substances Therapeutic Relief Act  (SB 7)
    • Reforms
      • Protects patients, physicians, and caregivers from prosecution for patients’ engaging in medical marijuana use.
      • Permits registered qualifying patients to possess and use medical marijuana and its derivatives; provides for regulations on registration.
      • Permits dispensation of medical marijuana by licensed, non-profit dispensaries within the state; provides for regulations of dispensaries.
      • Prohibits schools and landlords from penalizing those who are registered patients or caregivers, unless federal law would penalize school or landlord.
    • Drawbacks
      • Department of Revenue is authorized to obtain conviction for those applying to be designated caregivers and dispensaries.
    • Notes:
      • In the House, HB 1 also addresses medical marijuana. However, SB 7 goes remarkably further, including in legalizing the acquisition of medical cannabis within the state.
    • ACLU Position: SUPPORT
    • Key Legislators: (1)  Sen. Curt Thompson, District 5 (D)
    • Status:
      • Senate Prefiled, Nov/24/2014

IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS

 

  • Non-Citizen Driver’s Licenses, or the “Georgia Road Safety and Driver’s License Integrity Act” (SB 6)
    • Drawbacks
      • Limits category of non-citizens who may obtain driver’s licenses, or ID cards, to those with lawful alien status.
      • Requires lawful aliens who have filed an extension with the Department of Homeland Security for time to remain lawfully in the U.S. may, if their licenses or cards have or will soon expire (within 30 days), can obtain a temporary driving license or ID card only if they submit to fingerprinting, or DNA if they have no fingers suitable for fingerprinting.
      • Non-citizens without lawful alien status who are caught driving without valid licenses may have their cards impounded, and a lien imposed.
      • Department of Driver Services will participate in the Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify Initiative of D.H.S.
    • ACLU Position: OPPOSE
    • Key Legislators: (1) Joshua McKoon (R) (2) Mike Crane (R), (3) Steve Gooch (R), (4) Bill Heath (R), (5) Frank Ginn (R), (6) William Ligon 3rd. (R)


PRIVACY AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Equipping Police with AV Recording Devices on Their Person (SB 46)
    • Reforms
      • Requires certain law enforcement officers – namely, police who conduct traffic stops, or respond to emergency dispatch calls as their primary duty – to be equipped with audio and visual recording devices attached to their persons, which shall record all activities while peace officers are on duty; withholds state and state-administered federal funding to those agencies that do not comply.
      • Provides for the public disclosure of recordings that depict an encounter for a law enforcement purpose; prohibits public disclosure of recordings that do not depict such encounters.
      • Requires these recordings to be maintained for 90 days, except recordings depicting encounters for which complaint has been registered, or where the use of force, detention or arrest occurs, shall be maintained for 3 years.
    • Notes:
      • In the House, HB 32 also addresses AV recording devices for police. There are differences between the two.
    • ACLU Position: SUPPORT
    • Key Legislators: (1) Sen. Vincent Fort (D), (2) Sen. Emanuel Jones (D), (3) Sen. Gail Davenport (D), (4) Sen. Steve Henson (D), (5) Sen. Horacena Tate (D), (6) Sen. Valencia Seay (D)
      • Committee: - Public Safety
      • Status: Senate Read and Referred - 1/26/15

       

    • Equipping Police with A/V Body Cameras (SB 71)
      • Reforms
        • Equips all peace officers with A/V body cameras who primarily conduct traffic stops or respond to emergencies.
        • Provides for the public disclosure of recordings that depict an encounter for a law enforcement purpose; prohibits public disclosure of recordings that do not depict such encounters.
        • Requires A/V recordings to be retained in accordance with current 911 call laws.
      • Key Legislators: (1) Donzella James (D), Ronald Ramsey, Sr. (D), Michael Rhett (D), Horacena Tate(D)
  • Restrictions on Drone Use (HB 5)
    • Reforms
      • Restricts drone use by law enforcement to drone use pursuant to a valid warrant; if there is reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that suspect has committed an offense and law enforcement is in immediate pursuit; or for documenting crime scenes, investigating scenes of human fatalities or vehicular accidents, aiding in search of missing person, conducting high-risk tactical operations, surveying contamination and other hazards.
      • Prohibits drones to capture images of private property, with intent to conduct surveillance.
      • Prohibits the capture, display, and distribution of images captured with unauthorized drone use.
      • Restricts the use of images captured in violation, in court proceedings.
      • Requires agencies that use drones in a year to issue a written report.
    • Drawbacks
      • Allows police drone use with only reasonable suspicion.
    • ACLU Position: SUPPORT
    • Key Legislators: (1) Rep. Harry Geisinger (R)
      • Committee: -
      • Status: Prefiled
    • Restrictions on Drone Use (HB 157)
      • Reforms
        • Prohibiting aircraft – manned or unmanned – from operating above private property, up to 100 feet above the surface, for the purpose of surveillance, unless there is a search warrant or the permission of the property owner.
        • Valid warrants for this purpose shall be based on probable cause.
        • Any evidence obtained through prohibited use becomes inadmissible in judicial proceedings in Georgia.
      • Drawbacks
        • Does not give restrictions to law enforcement use outside of warrants.
        • Does explain when data should be deleted.
      • ACLU Position: SUPPORT
      • Key Legislators: (1) Rep. Kevin Cooke (R), (2) Stephen Allison (R), (3) Regina Quick (R), (4) Dustin Hightower (R), (5) Heath Clark (R), (6) Michael Caldwell(R)
  • Restrictions on Use by Law Enforcement of Through-the-Wall Radar (HB 112)
    • Reforms
    • Law enforcement and political subdivisions are prohibited from using radar systems designed to detect near-stationary persons through walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, and other building structures in Georgia. 
    • Evidence obtained through use of such radar would be inadmissible in any court in the state.
    • Law enforcement and political subdivisions are prohibited from assisting others in using such radar devices in the state.
    • Violation is a high misdemeanor.
      • Drawbacks
      • Should clarify that the only time such a radar system may be used is if a warrant expressly authorizes it, for the limited purpose of when it is necessary to ensure the safety of law enforcement undertaking high-risk operations.
      ACLU Position: SUPPORT
      Key Legislators: (1) Rep. Turner, Scot (R), (2) Rep. Brett Harrell (R), (3) Rep. Timothy Barr (R), (4) Rep. John Pezold (R), (5) Rep. David Stover (R), (6) Rep. Michael Caldwell(R)

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, LGBT RIGHTS & REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

 

  • Religious Freedom Restoration Bill (HB 29)
    • Drawbacks
      • Declares that the government cannot, whether through direct regulation of religious exercise or regulations that incidentally impact such exercise, (1) substantially burden religious exercise, unless it demonstrates that doing so (2) furthers a compelling governmental interest and (3) is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
      • This bill does not apply to penal institution regulations that are reasonably related to safety, security, or order.
      • This bill does not apply to private entities.
    • Notes
      • We anticipate a worse bill in the Senate.
    • ACLU Position: OPPOSE
    • Key Legislators: (1) Rep. Sam Teasley (R)
      • Committee: -
      • Status: Prefiled
  • Religious Freedom Bill (HB 218)
    • Drawbacks
      • Declares that the government cannot, whether through direct regulation of religious exercise or regulations that incidentally impact such exercise, (1) substantially burden religious exercise, unless it demonstrates that doing so (2) furthers a compelling governmental interest and (3) is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
      • Declares that a person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this law can assert this as a claim or a defense in a judicial proceeding.
      • It is an open question whether this bill applies to private entities claimed by to have burdened religious exercise.
      • This bill does not apply to penal institution regulations that are reasonably related to safety, security, or order.
    • Notes
      • We anticipate a bill in the Senate.
    • Key Legislators: (1) Rep. Sam Teasley (R), (2) Matt Ramsey (R), (3) Barry Fleming (R), (4) Andrew Welch (R), (5) Bruce Williamson (R), (6) Buzz Brockaway(R)
      • Committee: House Judiciary
      • Status: Read and Referred to Committee - 02/04/2015
  • Religious Freedom Bill (SB 129)
    • Drawbacks
      • Declares that the government cannot, whether through direct regulation of religious exercise or regulations that incidentally impact such exercise, (1) substantially burden religious exercise, unless it demonstrates that doing so (2) is essential to a compelling governmental interest and (3) is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
      • Defines compelling government interest as highest magnitude.
      • Declares that a person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this law can assert this as a claim or a defense in a judicial proceeding.
      • This bill does not apply to penal institution regulations that are reasonably related to safety, security, or order.
    • Key Legislators: (1) Joshua McKoon (R), (2) William Ligon, Jr. (R), (3) Mike Crane (R), (4) Charlie Bethel (R), (5) Marty Harbin (R), (6) Steve Gooch(R)
      • Committee: Senate Judiciary
      • Status: Read and Referred to Committee - 02/18/2015


VOTING RIGHTS