Struggling schools, opioid addiction and the state’s medical marijuana program appear likely to dominate the rest of Georgia’s legislative session.
Lawmakers spent January and February consider bills introduced in their own chamber. On Monday, they begin focusing on the opposing chamber’s legislation.
Here are some things to know about the rest of this year’s session:
As expected, education dominated the first portion of the session. The House approved legislation to give the state broad authority to intervene at struggling local schools, with support from Democrats, after several revisions.
The Senate now takes over that issue, considered an alternative to the constitutional amendment proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal and rejected by voters in November that would have enabled state takeovers of some schools.
Influential teacher organizations are neutral for now. They’d like to see the elected state superintendent play a larger role in the “turnaround” process overseen by a proposed official selected by the appointed State Board of Education.
Both the House and Senate have approved bills inspired by opioid addiction rates in the state. There’s little disagreement on some points, such as making the overdose-reversing drug naloxone available over the counter.
Senators and House members may try to combine other proposals focused on preventing doctor-hopping and weeding out physicians who are over-prescribing opioids.
Lawmakers are likely to clash over proposed changes to a relatively new program allowing possession of cannabis oil for some medical treatments. The House approved expanding the eligible medical conditions, while Senators approved cutting the level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, allowed in the oil from 5 percent to 3 percent.
Tax changes could become a bargaining chip for lawmakers, as they consider various exemptions and a House proposal to turn the state’s multiple tax rates into a flat tax.
The state budget is the only bill the legislature must approve each year. The House passed its