Our attorneys and staffers are watching with great interest on Crossover Day as many bills face their first major test. The bills we support in this legislative session are the ones that protect and/or enhance the constitutional rights of all Georgians.
We have our eyes on more than a dozen bills in the areas of criminal legal reform, privacy, women’s rights, free speech, voter rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and others.
For bills to become law, they must pass out of one chamber into the second chamber by Crossover Day. The deadline day is not yet finished, but here are some key moments and what we’re continuing to monitor as we march toward midnight.
SB 140 PASSED, ACLU GA STANCE - OPPOSE: Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 140 in a 33-22 vote late Monday evening, despite strong opposition from the ACLU of Georgia and various LGBTQ+ rights advocates.
“Hospitals and medical institutions in local communities that provide care wholly unrelated to gender-affirming procedures could be closed simply for offering hormone treatment to transgender youth. These implications reach beyond transgender minors not receiving needed care; it has the potential to exacerbate existing public health crises, especially in rural areas that struggle with medical access,” said ACLU of Georgia First Amendment Policy Advocate Sarah Hunt-Blackwell.
The harmful bill would prohibit gender-affirming surgical procedures for minors and subject licensed doctors to medical board violations for performing gender affirming surgeries. The substitute version of the bill that passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee also includes a ban on hormone therapy treatment. We’re continuing to oppose this measure because, first and foremost, it’s cruel, and for the following reasons:
- Gender-affirming care is medically necessary and saves lives.
- The bill infringes on families’ rights to pursue necessary and preferred medical care.
- And it restricts medical professionals and impedes medical access for all Georgians.
HB 231, PASSED, ACLU GA STANCE - OPPOSE: House Bill 231, which would create a Prosecuting Attorney’s Oversight Commission to oversee the conduct of prosecutors, passed on a 98-75 vote. Prosecutors are already subject to discipline by the State Bar of Georgia, so HB 231 creates a panel to review their actions.
If passed in both chambers, prosecutors could be punished for simply exercising judicial discretion, or for having a policy that the limited resources of their office are better spent not prosecuting certain offenses. It is contrary to the will of the voters.
“We believe local prosecutors, who are voted on every four years, understand the needs of their constituents and the resources of their office. If they are not adequately representing their constituents, the correct way to address this failure is at the ballot box, or if their conduct is unethical, through discipline with the state bar,” said ACLU of Georgia Policy Counsel Ben Lynde.
HB 462, PASSED, ACLU GA STANCE - SUPPORT: Early Monday morning, we saw a victory when House Bill 462 was passed in the House. The bill would give the state’s juvenile courts jurisdiction over 17-year-olds accused of most crimes.
Georgia is one of only three states, including Texas and Wisconsin, continuing to treat these teens as adults. Sending them to adult prisons is harmful, and we’re glad to see HB 462 pass one chamber.
Awaiting a Vote
HB 556, ACLU GA STANCE - SUPPORT: House Bill 556, the “Pregnancy Protection Act,” would provide accommodations to job applicants and employees for circumstances related to pregnancy and childbirth, such as longer breaks, time off for doctor’s appointments, lighter work duty, and more.
Fortunately, there is widespread legislative and executive support for protecting pregnant workers. A total of 35 states and the District of Columbia have each passed pregnancy protection legislation, the majority of which passed in the last five years.
“Georgia has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and more than 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable. Accommodations afforded to pregnant people under HB 556 such as employer-funded health care plans, benefits packages, and generally supportive work environments help foster safer pregnancies and deliveries,” said Hunt-Blackwell.
Each year, we review hundreds of bills introduced in the Georgia Legislature for civil liberties implications. Check out the bills we're tracking this session here.