ATLANTA — The state legislature goes back into session Monday after approaching snow and ice prompted an abrupt adjournment last Tuesday. The legislature missed several working Capitol days as the second major winter blast in less than a month hit Georgia, shutting down state government and slightly slowing the pace of the session.
The snow left about 1 million Georgians without power at some point over the course of the slow-moving storm. And you can expect to hear more about the cost of the winter storms soon. The weather disaster took temporary focus off an internal review of what went wrong and right during the first winter storm. Gov. Deal was slated to receive the findings of the internal review last week. Instead, he was overseeing one of the largest storm prep and response operations in recent memory.
For now, the state has borne the costs of the storms through the Governor’s emergency fund. But officials said the second storm will be costlier than the first, with record amounts of salt coating Georgia roads and emergency crews putting in overtime.
Dusting the snow off their shoes, lawmakers on the House side Monday will jump right into debating the 2015 budget. Passing a balanced budget is the only thing they are constitutionally mandated to do while in session. We’ll get to that in a minute.
But first, let’s take a look at the some of the other bills and issues making news this week.
Praying Under Friday Night Lights
Monday morning will find members of the House judiciary committee vetting a bill that could instigate another round of culture wars.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Dusty Hightower, a Carrollton Republican, and would give public school students more opportunity and more permission to make religious prayer part of school events.
It has some bi-partisan support as Rep. Stacey Evans, an Atlanta Democrat, is a co-sponsor. But it also inevitably has broad opposition from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League.