2013 Georgia legislative session ends Thursday at midnight - CBS46 News

2013 Georgia legislative session ends Thursday at midnight

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There are only a few hours left in this year's legislative session, and lawmakers are making deals up until the final moments.

Lawmakers have reached an agreement on the state's $19.8 billion budget, but there are still some big controversial issues on the table.     

Lawmakers are trying to finalize deals on abortion, lobbying and guns.

One controversial proposal would allow guns into houses of worship, on college campuses and public schools.

James Camp, with the gun owners' rights group Georgia Carry, said the bill would help keep the state safer.

"If you look at colleges in Atlanta, crime is up against students. If students have a way to fight back, you will see crime rates drop," Camp said.

Melinda Ennis, with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, said expanding gun rights could encourage poorly trained people to take the law into their own hands.

"Even if you are a registered gun owner, you are not trained like a police officer to understand  a crisis situation and how to manage it," Ennis said.

Leaders from the House and Senate have reached a compromise on a bill that would limit how much lobbyists can give to public officials.

House Speaker David Ralston said the bill would block lobbyists from spending more than $75 at a time on lawmakers, ban them from paying for entertainment and require people to register as lobbyists if they receive more than $250 to cover lobbying expenses.

"I think we got a good bill. What's important is we got a bill," Ralston said.

Lawmakers also were negotiating a hastily added amendment to a bill that would ban state employees' healthcare plans from paying for abortions.

State Sen. Mike Crane added language to an unrelated bill on healthcare benefits for employees of the Georgia World Congress Center.

Mike Griffin, with Georgia Right to Life, said the proposal would protect taxpayers.

"We don't feel that people who believe it's morally wrong to have an abortion should have to pay for it," Griffin said. "If somebody wants an abortion, they should use their own money."

Rebecca Dehart, with the Feminist Women's Health Center, disagreed.

"They pay every month in premiums to get health insurance coverage from their employer, who happens to be the state," Dehart said.

Dehart said the measure attacks women's reproductive rights.

She added that abortions are constitutionally protected and sometimes medically necessary.

"Care after miscarriage. Those are considered abortions under the diagnostic codes of Georgia," Dehart said.

The controversial proposal appeared to be in danger of being removed.

Gov. Nathan Deal supported the amendment, but said lawmakers had too little time to review the measure and make an informed decision.

"It was a short timeframe when the issue was raised, and because of that people did not feel comfortable knowing what the full implications would be," Deal said.

 Lawmakers are expected to work late into the night.

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