The Latest: House rejects Senate's domestic terrorism bill - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

The Latest: House rejects Senate's domestic terrorism bill

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

ATLANTA (AP) - The Latest on the Georgia General Assembly (all times local):

11:10 p.m.

The Georgia House has rejected an expansion of the state's definition of domestic terrorism.

The House tried for a vote twice Tuesday, and both times they failed to meet the threshold of 91 votes required for passage. Both Democrats and Republicans voted against the measure.

Opponents worried that the bill's definitions were too broad and took away judges' discretion in sentencing. Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, carried the bill in the Senate and said existing state law wasn't sufficient.

The failure was a hit to the Senate, which had made the bill one of their top priorities.

The bill said attacks against critical infrastructure, including religious and educational institutions, would qualify as domestic terrorism. Previously, attacks in Georgia were only considered domestic terrorism if 10 or more people were killed.

8:50 p.m.

The Georgia House has again backed a bill overhauling colleges' disciplinary processes in reports of sexual assault but opposed by advocates for victims of such crimes.

A Senate committee halted the bill's progress last week, but the bill sponsor, Rep. Earl Ehrhart, is using a legislative maneuver to send it straight to the full Senate. The House approved the measure, 102 votes to 56, with Democrats largely voting no.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn on Thursday.

Ehrhart, a Republican from Powder Springs, has criticized some Georgia schools, arguing that accused students' rights were violated. Organizations that advocate for sexual assault victims warn that his changes are focused on an accused student and would put Georgia at odds with federal guidance laying out specific requirements for campuses under civil rights law.

7:40 p.m.

Georgia senators have backed legislation cutting some income taxes while committing to collecting more sales taxes from out-of-state online business.

The tax cut will cost the state about $200 million and largely benefit upper and middle-income earners.

The House originally proposed a flat tax of 5.4 percent. The two chambers' differing approaches likely will have to be hashed out in a six-member conference committee to get any bill passed this year.

The Senate also tacked on language from a separate bill that requires online retailers with at least $250,000 or 200 sales to collect and pay state taxes.

Minority Leader Sen. Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain, said it's difficult to vote against a tax cut but the state needs to restore lingering cuts to education and other issues during the recession.

7:25 p.m.

House leaders are trying to force a vote on a bill overhauling colleges' disciplinary processes in reports of sexual assault but opposed by advocates for victims of such crimes.

A Senate committee halted the bill's progress last week, but the bill sponsor, Rep. Earl Ehrhart, is using a legislative maneuver to bring it for a House vote and send it straight to the full Senate.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn on Thursday.

Ehrhart, a Republican from Powder Springs, has criticized some Georgia schools, arguing that accused students' rights were violated. Organizations that advocate for sexual assault victims, though, warn that his changes would discourage victims from reporting to their schools.

Opponents also said the bill would put Georgia at odds with federal guidance laying out specific requirements for campuses under civil rights law.

6 p.m.

Both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly have passed bills changing tax credits for donors to rural hospitals.

Each version will increase existing caps on the amount of credit a donor can claim but propose different totals.

The House proposal also limits how much hospitals can pay consultants to attract donors. The version approved by the Senate would shield donors from having their names disclosed to the public.

Lawmakers say the changes are meant to attract more money to rural hospitals, many of which have seen financial hardship in recent years.

5:45 p.m.

Georgia senators have approved a bill that would create a new stand-alone department responsible for creating an anti-terrorism strategic plan.

The Georgia Department of Homeland Security already exists but is folded into the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for keeping the state ready to respond to any crisis from terrorism to natural disaster.

The restructuring language was added into a bill requiring the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to publish the names of people without permission to be in the U.S. and who are being released from federal prisons.

Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, sponsored the original bill and says the GBI already gets the information through a federal notification system that is focused on violent crimes.

5:05 p.m.

Legislation giving the state broader authority to intervene in struggling schools is headed to Gov. Nathan Deal.

The bill is an alternative to Deal's proposed constitutional amendment seeking to let the state take over schools dubbed "chronically failing" that voters firmly rejected in November.

Under the proposal, a new "chief turnaround officer" will be hired by the State Board of Education to work with the lowest performing schools. Education groups tried to change that because board members are appointed by the governor.

The "turnaround" bill prescribes some dramatic consequences for schools that show no improvement after three years or refuse to sign a contract with the state. State education officials can take actions including removing staff, turning the school into a charter or allowing parents to enroll their children elsewhere.

3:27 p.m.

Georgia lawmakers are cracking down on the expanding business of treating people addicted to opioids.

The bill stemmed from concerns about a cluster of opioid treatment centers in northwest Georgia along the border with Tennessee that are treating mostly out-of-state patients.

Those facilities use FDA-approved medications like methadone to treat addicted people.

The House on Tuesday passed the bill 164-10 and it will move to the Senate for a final vote.

The new regulations would require prospective programs to hold meetings with the community and would restrict how many facilities can open within given regions.

If the proposal becomes law, programs would be able to begin applying for licenses to open new narcotic treatment programs on Sept. 1 after more than a yearlong moratorium.

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