Dozens of bills discussed during Crossover Day - New York News

Dozens of bills discussed during Crossover Day

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ATLANTA -

Lawmakers are debating dozens of bills on Thursday. It's Crossover Day, which is the deadline for most bills to pass the state House or Senate.

More than three dozen bills are on the agenda and more could be added later. One of the most closely watched bills in the House is an expansive measure opening new access points for guns in Georgia.

House Bill 512 would allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons into bars, churches and many areas on college campuses.

"I will fight for your right and my right to protect ourselves and our family. And as long as bad guys have guns, I'll fight for good guys to have guns," said Rep. Larry O'Neal, the Majority Leader.

The state university system and a number of Democrats argue that campus security is best left to police.

"There is no data –none -- to support the argument that the cure for gun violence is more guns," said Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Decatur).

After an hour-long debate, the measure passed by a vote of 117 to 56. It now goes to the Senate.

Supporters said that 19 other states allow guns to be carried on college campuses.

After an hour-long debate, the measure passed by a vote of 117 to 56. It now goes to the Senate.

Other bills getting a vote would be part of the HOPE Scholarship program.

HB 487 would move regulation of video poker machines to the Georgia Lottery Corporation.  

The machines are supposed to be registered and not provide cash prizes. The state has tried to curtail illegal operators.

"The lottery corporation has a built-in incentive to enforce the law because these locations that are paying cash are competing directly with the Georgia Lottery," said Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), the bill's sponsor.

Ramsey says a portion of the profits collected by the lottery would go to the HOPE Scholarship.

"We won't have the numbers for a couple years, but I think certainly conservatively we have heard in the millions. Which is, you know what we have dealt with the HOPE scholarship in recent years to keep it afloat. Anything we do to help is going to help and we think this will be a tremendous help," Ramsey said.

The measure passed easily, as did a second bill that would increase eligibility for the HOPE Grant, which is used by the state's technical college students.

"What we did today was expand access to the HOPE grant and so in turn, open up access to students who otherwise wouldn't be able to go into the doors of our technical colleges because they could not afford it. We have given them the ability to access the grant and so to access higher education and access to the middle class," said Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna).

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