The Georgia legislature wrapped up the 2017 legislative session in the wee hours of Friday morning leaving the dust to settle on the nearly 400 votes cast. State Representative Matt Gurtler, a Republican who was just elected last year, was chastised by some media outlets for voting NO, some insinuating there were very few instances in which he voted YES. He was openly criticized for voting against the budget and the bill requiring fire departments to provide insurance for firefighters who develop cancer. So, how bad was it? What did his voting record look like?
Not as some would have you think. Of the 391 votes* cast over the last three months, Gurtler voted NO 147 times – or 37% of the time. The percentage did, however, place him at the top of the list for representatives who voted NO.
A few of the measures Gurtler opposed:
- House Bill 202 which increases the salary of the Governor to $175,000 annually
- House Bill 208 which increases hunting and fishing licensing fees
- House Bill 452 which was amended in the Senate during the final hours of the session. The bill allows for persons to be arrested and charged with domestic terrorism, though the language angered First Amendment activists who say the bill could target protesters – peaceful and otherwise – and the federal government already had such laws in place.
- House Bill 338 which is Governor Deal’s replacement bill for the failed Opportunity School District Amendment that flopped in November. The bill allows for takeovers for what the state deems as “failing schools.”
- House Bill 225 which adds a sales tax to rideshare purchases like Uber and Lyft as well as any other transaction which originates online — food delivery, Air B&B, etc.
- House Bill 37 that suspends any funding from public and private universities in Georgia if they allow sanctuary safe havens for illegal immigrants on campus
- House Bill 199 which grants tax credits to persons/companies that invest in the entertainment industry
- House Bill 264 which doubles the state bond amount for the Georgia World Congress Center from $200 million to $400 million
- SB 201 which dictates that business owners must allow employees to use paid leave time to care for family members, despite company policy, if the employer already provides sick leave
- Senate Bill 183 that allows state dollars to back bonds issued to private developers of the State Road and Tollway Authority
- Senate Bill 193, known as the “Friends with Benefits Bill,” which allows patients diagnosed with venereal diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea to obtain an extra antibiotic prescription for their sexual partner or partners.
- Senate Bill 70 which extends the Hospital Bed Tax for an additional 3 years
- House Bill 280 – the campus carry legislation to allow lawful Weapons Carry Permit holders over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm on public university campuses and introduced HB 156 which seeks to loosen firearms laws in state parks.
- House Bill 139 which requires the Georgia Department of Education to post all budget and expenditure information on its website for public viewing (sent to Gov)
Gurtler sits on the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs, Interstate Cooperation, and Small Business Development committees.
*431 votes were cast, however, 40 were attendance and were subtracted to amount to 391.