HB 159, the adoption bill sponsored by state Rep. Bert Reeves that has been the biggest storyline of the 2018 legislative session so far, passed the Senate by a margin of 53-2 yesterday, (state Sens. Bill Heath and Michael Williams were the two “no” votes), heading to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk where it is fully expected to be signed into law.
The bill, which seeks to overhaul the state’s outdated adoption laws, passed the House easily (unanimously, in fact) in 2017 before running into trouble in the Senate. A poison pill in the form of an amendment that would allow adoption agencies to deny service to same sex couples caused the bill to stall, putting it on ice until 2018. This year, following another passing vote from the house, that portion was struck – but debate continued over other, more minor issues including cost and timing.
On Monday, following a speech on the Senate floor from state Sen. David Shafer, those details were straightened out and the bill passed with relative ease. Supporters of the bill in the lower chamber, including Reeves and Speaker David Ralston, were pleased with the results.
— Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) February 5, 2018
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle was likewise proud of the Senate’s vote.
“Today, we have sent a great bill to the Governor’s desk that will help countless children and families. The legislative process worked. It demonstrated the sincere passion that legislators feel for children in need of a loving home, and it strengthened the final product,” said Cagle. “I stand behind the work of the Senate, the House, and Governor Deal – and commend all those who spent countless hours to accomplish one of our top priorities for this legislative session.”
While many onlookers had grown frustrated at the ordeal that an otherwise popular and non-controversial bill had become, with the adoption issue finally put to bed the state legislature can move on with its agenda as the calendar turns over to February.