ATLANTA — The state senate passed a bundle of Republican election bills Monday on “crossover day” in the Georgia legislature. The biggest of the bunch would do away with no-excuse absentee voting – meaning voters requesting absentee ballots would need to state a valid reason for getting it.
“Could we pause for a moment in this rush to shut down access to the ballot box?” state Sen. Nan Orrock asked the chamber during debate. She was among a parade of Democrats who protested it vigorously; the Republican majority passed it in the name of election security.
Apart from the election bills:
- Both the House and Senate passed bills increasing the penalties for drag racing.
- The House passed a bill requiring hospitals and nursing homes to allow some patient visitors.
- The House passed a bill to roll back Georgia’s citizens arrest statute – a bill prompted by the racially-charged killing of Ahmaud Arbrey in Brunswick a year ago.
“Anybody would have had to have had empathy for that young man,” said state Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) after the citizens arrest vote. “Right on the heels of (the police killing of) George Floyd (in Minneapolis), it was just a defining moment. Ahmaud Arbery has changed, in many ways, this state.”
One thing that appears unlikely to change is salaries for lawmakers. The state senate voted down a bill that would have given a salary hike of 85% to state lawmakers – who are part time workers.
Starting Tuesday, the House starts voting on senate-passed bills and vice versa – through adjournment at the end of the month.