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State Politics

Crossover Day Is Over. Here’s What You Might’ve Missed.

We break down noteworthy bills tied to housing, education, criminal justice, and more.

Lawmakers work in the House chambers during crossover day at the Georgia State Capitol. (Alex Slitz/Associated Press)

Georgia lawmakers were up late Monday night. Why? It was Crossover Day, the General Assembly’s deadline for most bills to be passed by either the House or the Senate before becoming new laws by when the legislative session ends on March 29.

Text from bills that weren’t passed by the end of Crossover Day can still be added as amendments to other legislative items before they ultimately become law by the end of the month. 

Long story short: There was a lot of movement at the Capitol, and more developments to come.

Below is a breakdown of noteworthy bills tied to housing, education, criminal justice, and health that have been passed — or didn’t — in the House or Senate that could have a major impact on Black residents.


HB 404 — Tenant protections

What it does: Renters throughout Georgia would receive some basic legal protections and livability standards if this bill becomes law. 

The measure would cap the amount a landlord can charge for security deposits at two times the monthly rent and bar them from cutting off air conditioning during the eviction process. It would also mandate that tenants receive a three-day grace period to pay rent to avoid an eviction.

Why it matters: Georgia has some of the weakest tenant protection laws in the nation, according to a ConsumerAffairs study. The lack of landlord regulations in the state have allowed residential property owners to neglect repairs in some predominantly Black metro Atlanta neighborhoods.

What’s next: The House passed HB 404 last week. A Senate version of the measure was read and referred on Monday. If it eventually passes, a final bill could be signed into law before the end of the month. 

HB 490 — Investor-owned housing

What it does: This proposed law would do away with tax write-offs on the loss of value on homes owned by corporations. It was designed to discourage investors from buying up single-family homes in high-demand areas amid a housing market boom in metro Atlanta.

Why it matters: Private investors have been acquiring a huge share of single-family homes in Black neighborhoods in Atlanta. 

What’s next: HB 490 did not advance.

SB 125 — Rent control

What it does: This bill would remove Georgia’s statewide ban on rent regulation, which has existed since 1984. 

Why it matters: Rising rents have caused many Black families in Atlanta to lose their homes or relocate to suburban counties in recent years.

What’s next:  SB 125 did not advance.

Criminal Justice

SB 44 — Cracking down on gangs

What it does: People convicted of gang-related offenses must receive an additional five years in prison at minimum on top of their sentence for other crimes if this bill becomes law. The measure also requires a 10-year minimum sentence for people who involve minors or individuals with disabilities in gang-related crimes.

This legislation also would make it harder for judges to convert offenders’ prison time into parole time.

Why it matters: Georgia’s disproportionately Black prison population has been on the decline in recent years, but laws like this one could reverse that trend. The state still has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation.

Combating violent crime was one of the top concerns of Black voters last year. Law enforcement officials have linked increased gang activity to recent-year rises in violent crime rates.

What’s next: The Senate passed SB 44 on Feb. 13. A House version of the bill hasn’t been passed yet. If that happens, a final version could be signed into law before the end of the month. 

SB 63 — Cash bail reform

What it does: This bill would expand the list of offenses that require defendants to post bail before they’re released to await trial. Marijuana-related offenses, obstruction of an officer, forgery, and criminal trespass would be among the more than 30 new criminal charges requiring bail if this legislation becomes law.

Why it matters: In 2018, nearly 49% of people arrested for drug-related offenses in Georgia were Black. Eliminating cash bail requirements for low-level offenses was one of the criminal justice reform policies signed into law by former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in 2018. Law enforcement officials have partially blamed the same policies for rising crime in recent years.

What’s next: The Senate passed SB 63 on Feb. 23. A House version of the bill must be adopted before a final version can be completed and signed into law by the end of the month.


SB 88 — Talking sexual identity and gender

What it does: This bill, known as the “Parents and Children Protection Act of 2023,” has been compared to Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, (nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics).

The proposed Georgia law would make it illegal for teachers, child caregivers, and other adult supervisors to discuss “information of a sensitive nature” with them without permission from a parent or guardian.

Why it matters: Supporters of the measure have expressed concerns about children beginning gender transition without their parents’ knowledge. Georgia students protesting the bill have said it bars them from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with trusted adults at school.

What’s next: SB 88 did not advance.

SB 154 — Librarians under scrutiny 

What it does: This bill would allow school librarians to be prosecuted for sharing materials deemed “harmful to minors.” School library books concerning race, sexual orientation, and gender identity have been accused of being obscene in recent years.

Why it matters: Supporters of SB 154 have said its intent is to “protect children.” Detractors, including the Georgia Library Media Association, say students will pay the price if this measure passes.

“Threatening school librarians with significant fines and jail time of up to 12 months for following their school district policies and professional ethics would create an untenable position for these educators,” the association said in a statement. 

What’s next: SB 154 did not advance.


HB 129 — Relief for pregnant mothers 

What it does: HB 129 would extend the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or welfare, program, to pregnant women. Families with children that have strict income limitations and also meet weekly work requirements are already eligible for welfare.

Pregnant women would also be eligible to receive these benefits if this bill becomes law.

Why it matters: Lack of maternal health care and overall health care access has disproportionately impacted Black people in communities across the state as hospitals and other health service providers shutter in the absence of fully expanded Medicaid funding.

What’s next: The bill was passed by the House on Feb. 3 and is currently being heard in the Senate. A final version of the measure could be signed into law on or before March 29. 

HB 520 — Mental health challenges

What it does: This bill would create a pilot program to help individuals with mental health challenges who often end up homeless, in the hospital, or in jail.

Why it matters: The measure would expand an existing student loan forgiveness program for Georgia’s mental health care workforce and simplify licensing requirements. It would also convene a study to make policy and practice recommendations to state agencies that work with mental health patients.

What’s next: HB 520 is expected to be signed into law with bipartisan support.

SB 140 — Gender affirming health care

What it does: This bill would make it illegal for health care facilities in Georgia to give hormone replacement therapy to children age 17 or younger. It would also bar health care providers from providing related surgical procedures as treatment on minors, with limited exceptions.

Those exceptions include treatments for medical conditions other than gender dysphoria and treatments for people born with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development, such as ambiguous genitalia and chromosomal abnormalities.

Why it matters: The nationwide political battle over whether states should allow transgender youth to receive gender-affirming care is one of the latest culture war conflicts in Georgia, where an estimated 1 out of every 100 adolescents has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, according to Georgia Equality, an LGBT advocacy group.

What’s next: The Senate passed and adopted SB 140 on Monday. If the House does the same by March 29, the measure could be signed into law by the end of the month.

HB 226 — HIV health care

What it does: This bill would expand Medicaid coverage to low-income people with HIV.

Why it matters: HIV infections rates among Black men in Georgia were nearly 6 times higher than white men in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rates for Black women were more than 11 times higher when compared with white women, the agency found.

Georgia is one of 11 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid.

What’s next: HB 226 did not advance.