Georgia state lawmakers are taking a close look at a law that requires death penalty defendants to prove beyond a doubt they are mentally disabled to be spared execution on those grounds. A House committee plans to meet Thursday to hear input from interested groups and members of the public.
The state that was the first to pass a law prohibiting the execution of mentally disabled death row inmates is revisiting a requirement for defendants to prove the disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest burden of proof in the nation. A state House committee is holding an out-of-session meeting Thursday to seek input from the public. Other states that impose the death penalty have a lower threshold for proving mental disability, and some don't set standards at all.
Georgia’s new top judge says the state is already seeing the benefits of several years of criminal justice reform. Hugh Thompson took over as the Georgia Supreme Court’s chief justice in August. He said in an interview with GPB the adult prison population is stabilizing. He also said he’s keenly interested in following the juvenile justice reforms the General Assembly enacted earlier this year.
State Senator Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, is considering drafting legislation that would require members of the General Assembly to pay for special elections if they resign to run for higher office. Officials say special elections cost anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000.
An internal website created by a state lawmaker is being credited with helping Georgia House members during the most recent legislative session. The website developed by state Rep. Mike Dudgeon tracks changes to a bill while in committee or under consideration in the state Senate. The website is an example of national efforts to use technology to streamline the legislative process.
Georgia's sales tax holiday is expected to bring more shoppers to stores this weekend. Customers won't have to pay the sales tax on many back-to-school items. The tax holiday ends at midnight Saturday.
State officials have let a former Coca-Cola building in downtown Atlanta sit empty after buying it for $1.1 million instead of following through on plans to turn it into a state history museum. The General Assembly has killed funding to start work on building the museum twice since the state bought the property six years ago.
A discussion on tax reform could be on the horizon in Georgia. A Georgia tax code overhaul attempt failed a few years ago. Now, after a legislative session devoid of a broad discussion on taxes, there are signs conservatives plan to push for action next year.
A new program designed to combat prescription drug abuse in Georgia might run out of money to operate only a few months after it gets under way in June. Georgia lawmakers didn't appropriate any funding for the prescription monitoring program when they passed legislation to create it in 2011. The program involves an electronic database that tracks prescriptions.