The early session logjam under the Gold Dome cleared finally as Georgia state legislators hurried through consideration of nearly 100 bills to meet Wednesday's "crossover" requirement that a bill must have cleared its originating chamber to remain eligible for full passage this year.

Transit projects

Two bills that would dramatically expand public transportation in Atlanta—the largest expansion in some 40 years—cleared their respective chambers. While the proposals are largely in sync—both would direct tens of millions of state tax dollars to transit projects and create a new regional transit governing board—lawmakers must now reconcile the differences if a bill is to reach Governor Nathan Deal's desk before the end of the month.

Medical marijuana

The Georgia House of Representatives voted Wednesday to expand the state's medical marijuana regime by expanding the list of approved conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intractable pain.

First passed in 2015, Georgia's medical marijuana law allows for the possession and use of physician-prescribed, low-grade cannabis oil for persons suffering from cancer, epilepsy and more than a dozen other conditions.

Rural healthcare

The Senate approved a proposal to marginally broaden the medical authority of nurse practitioners to remove a restriction limiting their authority to prescribe radiology tests to life-threatening situations.

The original measure, offered as a sort of primary care stopgap for rural communities, was considerably pared down after physicians argued that the bill would instead create a stilted care dynamic in which rural communities were served by less-educated providers.

Distracted driving

The House greenlighted legislation that bans any use of mobile phones while operating a vehicle, requiring drivers to use hands-free cell-phone technology.

The state already bans texting while driving, but law enforcement complained that because motorists aged 18 or older were still allowed to make cell-phone calls, it created an enforcement challenge. The House bill would also double the fine for distracted driving to at least $300 and would increase the license penalties for single and repeated infractions.

Paper ballots

The Senate moved to replace the state's 16-year-old electronic voting system with a paper ballot system for state elections, eliminating the possibility of voting machine hacking. Supporters of the bill also contend that the electronic voting machines, which don't produce a paper record, make it impossible to audit elections for fraud.

Child predators

The House advanced a proposal to extend the civil statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to age 38, up from the current age of 23.

The legislation also includes a provision that would allow victims to pursue claims against entities associated with their alleged abusers, such as churches or other groups that oversee children, though the scope and severity of the controversial plank was considerably lessened with the addition of a one-year liability window and a requirement that such groups may only be sued only if the victim can prove a cover-up.

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