Legislative Notebook: Gun compromise published

January 28, 2014 

A new, negotiated House bill would expand gun carry rights to more places, but it stops short of a college campus-carry provision.

That provision stopped the bill last year, which was otherwise broadly popular with Republicans.

House Bill 875 “restores private property rights and strengthens the integrity of the Georgia weapons carry licensing process,” said the sponsor, state Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper.

It allows licensed, concealed firearms in churches and bars unless the proprietor prohibits it and in public buildings that do not have security screening.

College campuses will not open up to licensed firearms, as some Republicans sought last year, against public universities’ wishes. Instead, carrying on campus for a license holder would be downgraded from a misdemeanor to a civil offense with a $100 fine.

It also requires Probate Court judges to check gun license applicants against statewide records of Georgians found mentally incompetent to stand trial or those who have been involuntarily committed to hospitalization for mental health issues.

No hearing has yet been scheduled.

One inch of snow stops lawmakers

The stereotype is true: Georgians cannot do anything when there’s snow.

Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order early Tuesday afternoon giving department heads discretion over closing some offices due to wintry weather on Tuesday and Wednesday.

By that time, most of the state Capitol crowd was departing under a flurry of snowflakes, and most committees canceled hearings.

It’s up to the state House and Senate to decide if they will conduct business Wednesday.

Dog etiquette urged

One gang that stuck to the job in the snow Tuesday was the state House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, which heard a bill that would have law enforcement officers trained for interactions with domestic pets.

“Officers shoot about 250,000 dogs per year” in the United States, said the House Bill 803 sponsor, state Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson.

He’s calling for uniform, statewide training and standards on how to contend with domestic animals in a way that is least likely to cause harm to dogs, cats, birds, reptiles or other pets.

Law enforcement is not keen on the bill.

The committee planned no vote Tuesday, just a hearing.

Historically, dog bills seem never to go smoothly at the Capitol, the animals being the subject of much emotion.

The annual legislative session will end sometime in March.

-- Maggie Lee

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