SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – State lawmakers are back at the Capitol in Atlanta for the 2021 legislative session, but it’ll look a little different this year.
State Senator Lester Jackson and Representative Ron Stephens are back under the gold dome getting ready for 40 days of legislative business. This year they’re doing it in the middle of a pandemic.
“We wear masks and we get COVID testing twice a week,” Jackson told News 3.
More than 200 lawmakers in Georgia will remain socially distant by attending meetings from their offices or in viewing galleries. Several new bills will start to be introduced starting Tuesday. Jackson and Stephens said they both have new plans for the state.
“I’m deeply concerned with getting weapons off our streets and getting weapons that are possessed by criminals out of their hands and making sure they’re not consistently reused again,” Jackson said.
He said this bill would allow police to destroy illegal weapons instead of auctioning them off again. Jackson also wants to raise the high school dropout age to 17 from 16.
“Young people must have the opportunities and the skills to have a livable wage,” Jackson said.
Representative Stephens is working on passing legislation that’s been shot down in the past. He’s pushing to allow sports betting in the state.
“We’ve got a major push to try to get this done and then we’ll start talking about things like horse racing for some of our folks in rural Georgia,” Stephens said.
He’ll be looking at the state of Tennessee’s sports betting laws for guidance. If the bill is passed, 20 percent of the earnings will go to the Hope Scholarships program that awards high school students help with college tuition.
“We’ve heard from the Falcons and the Braves and all the people that have major league sports teams and they want it,” Stephens said.
Lawmakers still have time to file new legislation. Jackson and Stephens say we could see new bills come forward regarding voting after claims of fraud during the presidential election.