Georgia’s legislative session came to a frantic close late Thursday. Several controversial measures passed by the midnight deadline, while many others fell by the wayside.
One of the bills that died without a vote would have required life coaching for people on food stamps.
The debate included many of the same arguments used to pass a separate bill requiring drug testing for some welfare recipients. Supporters argue both measures take steps to protect taxpayer money.
Bill Crane, a political analyst with CSI Crane, said the food stamp bill failed because GOP leadership believed it would be too costly, both financially and politically.
“Some of the leadership realized that not only would Georgia possibly be held up to some degree of mockery for the law, but that it was going to be awfully difficult to do what the intent of the bill was in any logical, reasonable, short-term fashion,” said Crane.
Other high profile bills that failed: a ban on undocumented students at state colleges, and a religious exemption for contraceptive coverage in state health insurance plans.
Given the passage of the divisive abortion bill, Crane says Republicans are already taking a gamble with voters.
“Not all, but some of the GOP leadership, and I do credit Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to be among those, who understand that if they have a huge shift to the right in social legislation by the state, there will be a price paid at the polls in November.”
Crane says that especially goes for women voters.
“Georgia’s registered voter base is 54 percent female. They disproportionately pay attention to social issues,” he says. “And to have a legislative agenda that disproportionately impacts them on personal issues — health care issues — it’s not advisable, and I think there’s at least a portion of the state house and senate leadership that gets that.”
In any event, GOP leaders will definitely have plenty to discuss as they begin their campaigns for reelection.