School employees in Georgia could carry firearms to protect against armed intruders under a plan moving forward in the General Assembly. Rep. Paul Battles (R-Carters- ville) proposed the legislation after a gunman rampaged through a Connecticut school on Dec. 14, killing six adults and 20 first-graders. The plan has seen significant changes since Battles first introduced it. Originally, only school administrators could carry guns, though the latest version would allow any authorized school employee to be armed. It makes clear that employees cannot be punished for refusing to carry a weapon and spells out in greater detail the training and screening that armed employees would have to receive. Battles said his proposal is the best of several bad alternatives since Georgia’s state government lacks the money to put a police officer in every school.
ODDS AND ENDS:
— Gov. Nathan Deal signed into a law his plan to extend a key piece of Medicaid insurance funding without explicitly extending a tax on hospitals. The next step in avoiding a $450 million loss of federal support is now up to the Georgia Board of Community Health. The new law empowers that panel of governor’s appointees to do what lawmakers wanted to avoid doing themselves: levy a tax on Georgia hospitals’ net patient revenue.
— House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) tweaked his proposed lobbying rules to ban lobbyists from buying airfare for state officials. The rules would still permit lobbyists to pay for other transportation, lodging and meal costs when lawmakers and state officials are traveling to events related to their official duties. Ralston’s plan could come up for a vote as soon as next week.
— Georgia lawmakers once more asked to redraw the state’s northern border in the hope of getting water from the Tennessee River. The House of Representatives voted 171-2 on Tuesday to adopt a resolution seeking from Tennessee a strip of land leading to the river. The offer will be sent to Tennessee officials, who have laughed off similar ideas in the past. Georgia argues that a flawed 1818 survey misplaced its northern border, depriving it of access to the river. No one much cared until a water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida threatened metro Atlanta’s water supply.
— A Falcons executive told the Atlanta City Council this week that the team will consider moving to a suburban location if it does not strike a deal to build a new downtown stadium. Gov. Nathan Deal has been in talks with team officials over how much public money should go toward the project. It’s not the first time the team has raised the specter of leaving downtown.
“I see this bill as more of way of saying, ‘You’re going to find some resistance from coming into our Georgia schools,’” said Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) on his bill allowing the arming of school administrators.
DAYS IN SESSION:
22 days remain in the 40-day legislative session.
House lawmakers could vote as soon as next week on Battles’ plan to arm school employees and Ralston’s proposals to change lobbying and campaign finance rules.