CROSSOVER DAY UPDATES
"Crossover day" is the last day that a piece of legislation can pass from one legislative chamber to the other.  This year, that day was February 28th.

adobe logoClick here to download our complete ACLU of Georgia Crossover Report Special Edition 2018.

If a piece of legislation passes the State House of Representatives by February 28th, the legislation then goes to the State Senate for consideration. Thus the term "Crossover" -- because the bill crosses over to the other legislative chamber. Likewise, any bill that failed to clear its originative chamber by February 28th is no longer eligible for full passage this legislative session which ends on March 29th.

For the remainder of the legislative session, the ACLU of Georgia will focus attention on bills in FIVE specific areas to pass or defeat as noted below.

  • Criminal Justice Reform 
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Voter Rights
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Immigration

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Senate Bill 407 is Governor Deal's comprehensive criminal justice reform bill.  Central to the bill are improvements to pretrial justice in Georgia, primarily as it relates to misdemeanor bail.  The bill also addresses probation costs, parole eligibility, Medicaid and other public assistance benefits to inmates, but adds sentencing enhancements for certain offenses.  In significant ways, Senate Bill 407 pushes Georgia in the right direction toward reducing mass incarceration.

The brightest highlight of Senate Bill 407 are its bail reform initiatives.  Falling in line with a national movement to improve misdemeanor bail practices, this bill adds critical requirements that were missing before now: a requirement that courts determine whether people are able to afford bail, a mandate to impose only the least restrictive conditions possible, and a restriction against setting excessive bail. While this bill does not include all the reforms we wanted, the ACLU of Georgia SUPPORTS Governor Deal's comprehensive justice reform bill because it is a strong step forward in reducing incarceration on the front end of the criminal justice system.  

This bill has already passed the State Senate and is now in the House of Representatives for consideration. The ACLU of Georgia supports this bill. 

ACTION:
Tell your House of Representative member to VOTE YES on Senate Bill 407.  Click here to find your House of Representatives member.

VOTER RIGHTS

Senate Bill 309 and Senate Bill 363: Under current law, polls close at 7pm on Election Day except in Atlanta, where polls remain open until 8pm. Senate Bill 309 and Senate Bill 363 will force Atlanta polling places to close at 7pm even though Atlanta’s notorious traffic problems make it nearly impossible for many people to reach their polling places by that hour.

Supporters of this bill argue that there should be uniformity in hours throughout the state. The ACLU of Georgia agrees, which is why polling place hours should extend to 8pm not only in Atlanta, but throughout the state. Voters in rural counties may have commutes that are just as long, if not longer, than the commutes in Atlanta. Yet the supporters of this bill rejected that sensible idea outright which raises questions about the real reason for their attacks on our democracy.
 
These two bills have passed the State Senate and are now in the House of Representatives for consideration. The ACLU of Georgia OPPOSES these two bills. 

ACTION: Tell your House of Representative member to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 309 and Senate Bill 363, and demand that they pass an amendment that would extend polling place hours to 8pm throughout the state.
 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA
House Bill 764:   Under current law, Georgia makes it legal to possess and control certain quantities of THC oil and marijuana in certain circumstances.  These circumstances are limited to specific medical conditions, such as cancer, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's' disease, seizure disorders, and other severe or end stage illnesses.  House Bill 764 adds PTSD and intractable pain to this list of qualifying conditions.  While it is still illegal to buy or grow medical marijuana in Georgia, these additions expand access to medical marijuana and further decriminalize possessing it.  The ACLU of Georgia supports this bill. 

Georgia ranks among the highest in the nation for the number of people arrested for marijuana.  In 2010, 389 out of every 100,000 Georgians were arrested for marijuana possession, and 64% of those arrests were of African Americans.  In fact, African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than Whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.   Given the racial disparities rampant in marijuana arrests, and the fact that 64% of all drug arrests in Georgia are marijuana possession, efforts to decriminalize mere possession go a long way to reducing disparate treatment and mass incarceration.
 
While Georgia still has a long way to go with decriminalizing marijuana more broadly, expanding medical marijuana is a good first step (of many) and is a promising sign that the state is still evolving and open to further change.  This bill has already passed the House of Representatives and is now in the State Senate for consideration. The ACLU of Georgia supports this bill. 

ACTION: Tell your State Senator to VOTE YES on HOUSE BILL 764. Click here to find your State Senator.
 

LGBTQ+ RIGHTS
Senate Bill 375 gives faith-based child-placing agencies a license to discriminate against LGBT parents who are looking to provide abused and neglected children a safe and loving home. Worse, Senate Bill 375 authorizes religious child-placing agencies to discriminate against vulnerable LGBT children and to refuse to help find them a safe and supportive family. Senate Bill 375 is a slap in the face to the 14,000 children currently in foster care who will have a much harder time finding a family if faith-based child-placing agencies can use government tax funding to exclude loving LGBT families from the pool of individuals who can provide safe and loving homes to children in their time of need. 

Additionally, Senate Bill 375 is blatantly unconstitutional. Under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, a government cannot perform government functions on the basis of religious criteria. One of the most important government functions is placing abused and neglected children into safe and loving homes. When the government contracts out those responsibilities and pays taxpayer dollars to child-placing agencies, the government is authorizing those private faith-based organizations to carry out government functions on the basis of religious criteria. That is a violation of the Establishment Clause.
 
The bill is not only discriminatory and unconstitutional, it is an embarrassment to a state that is seeking to attract businesses like Amazon that will create jobs and boost our economy.
 
This bill has already passed the State Senate and is now in the House of Representative for consideration. The ACLU of Georgia opposes this bill. 

ACTION: Tell your House of Representatives member to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 375Click here to find your House of Representatives member.
 
IMMIGRATION

Senate Bill 452, known as the “Deportation Pipeline Bill,” is unconstitutional, harmful to our communities and is a dangeorus use of taxpayer dollars. Senate Bill 452 would transform local police officers into federal immigration officers and mandate that, on the basis of a suspicion alone, they detain or transport people to a state or federal detention center. Detaining individuals without a judicial warrant or probable cause violates constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment. 

This bill would require police officers to engage in unlawful behavior when they have “verification” that a person is undocumented by mandating them to, among other things, detain the “suspected” undocumented individual or transport them to a state or federal detention center. This is unlawful because:
  • Detaining individuals without a judicial warrant or probable cause is unconstitutional in violation of the Fourth Amendment.1
  • “Verification” is not defined in this bill. This leaves open the possibility of a broad interpretation of the term giving police officers more leeway to detain individuals without a judicial warrant which is unconstitutional. For example, it allows the possibility to detain individuals who simply forgot their license.
This bill has already passed the State Senate and is now in the House of Representatives for consideration. The ACLU of Georgia OPPOSES this bill.


ACTION:  Tell your House of Representatives member to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 452. Click here to find your House of Representatives member.

 

Stay informed

ACLU of Georgia is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National