Georgia Baptist TOP Legislation Being Watched (2/23/23)
23rdth Day of the Legislative Session
Mike Griffin, Public Affairs Representative
1. Opposition: Sports Betting and Horse Racing added to the Lottery
Senator Billy Hickman introduced SB 57 to legalize sports betting and horse racing in Georgia through the Georgia Lottery. This legislative bill does not require a constitutional amendment, but only a majority vote in the Senate to pass.
Status: The Economic Development Committee has passed it out of committee, and it is now in the Rules Committee. It is available to be sent to the floor for a vote.
2. Support: Increased Penalties for Pimping and Pandering
Sen. Randy Robertson authored SB 36 to increase penalties for pimping and pandering related to human trafficking.
Status: This legislation has been approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee, voted out of the Rules Committee and the Senate. It has been assigned to the Judiciary Non-civil Committee in the House and awaiting a hearing. This legislation is in alignment with the Mission Georgia’s focus on combatting human trafficking.
3. Support: Ban on Animal Fighting
Rep. Scott Hilton authored HB 217 to update the statute to include all cockfighting and make it illegal to take a minor child to an animal fight. This bill aims to address the cockfighting issue and prevent unsavory and illegal activities, such as illegal gambling, drug trafficking, and other illicit crimes associated with animal fights.
Status: It had a hearing this week in the subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. No vote was taken.
4. Support: Expansion of Maternity Care
Rep. Soo Hung authored HB 129 to temporarily expand Medicaid assistance for needy families who meet the eligibility criteria for pregnant women. This legislation is crucial to help needy mothers during their pregnancy and relates to the Mission Georgia emphasis on Pre and Post-natal Care for mothers.
Status: It was passed out of the House and assigned to the Senate Children and Families Committee for a hearing.
5. Support: The Child Protection Act
Sen. Clint Dixon authored SB 141 to ban “gender reassignment” surgeries, chemicals and hormone treatment from being performed on minor children and prevents school officials from concealing from parents that a minor is “identifying” as a different gender than their biological sex.
Status: This bill had a hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee, but no vote was taken.
6. Support: The Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
Sen. Ed Setzler authored SB 180, and more than 25 other senators including Senate leadership introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This bill provides people of faith the same protections from state and local government actions that they currently have from federal government actions.
Status: It has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee and is awaiting a hearing.
7. Opposition: Georgia Lottery Game of Sports Betting Act
Rep. Marcus Weidower authored HB 380 to add sports betting to the State Lottery without a constitutional amendment.
Status: It has been assigned to the Higher Education Committee, has received two hearings, but no vote has been taken so far.
8. Opposition: Constitutional Amendment and Enabling Legislation to Legalize Sports Betting
Sen. Bill Cowsert authored SR 140 and SB 172 to legalize sports betting through a Constitutional Amendment to be voted on by the people. It also includes enabling legislation to show how the law will be managed, and when the tax revenue will be applied.
Status: These bills have had one hearing. A second hearing was had for SR 140 and it was voted out of committee to the Rules Committee. SB 172 has another hearing scheduled.
9. Opposition: Coin-Operated Amusement Machines (COAM Class B) Revision Bills
HB 353 (sponsored by Rep. Alan Powell) and SB 174 (sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon) are two examples of legislation that aim to allow $50 gift cards to be awarded as winnings for these machines. While we support tighter regulations on COAM Class B machines, we do not support creating incentives to encourage more people to play them. Although these machines are technically not classified as gambling, they are often viewed as such and can be addictive and destructive to those who use them.
Status: HB 353 has had one hearing in the Higher Education Committee and no vote taken. SB 174 is awaiting a hearing in the Economic Development Committee.
10. Support: Student Technology Protection Act
HB 338, authored by Rep. Chris Irwin, is designed to include methods for promoting safe and appropriate use of technology and responsible digital citizenship in comprehensive character education programs.
Status: This bill had a hearing and passed out of House Education Committee and has been sent to the Rules Committee for a possible floor vote.
11. Support: Removal of Library Exemption for Obscene Material to Minors
SB 154, sponsored by Sen. Greg Dolezal, aims to remove school libraries from exemptions regarding laws regulating access to obscene materials by minors.
Status: This bill is awaiting a hearing in the Education and Youth Committee.
12. Support: Foster Care Reform
SB 133, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland, seeks to establish a more uniform process for assuming custody of foster children. This legislation aligns with the Mission Georgia emphasis on foster care and adoption.
Status: It has passed the Children and Families Committee and is currently in the Rules Committee awaiting approval to go to the floor for a vote.
13. Support: Stricter Requirements for Posting Human Trafficking Hotline Information Senator Brian Strickland authored SB 42 to create stronger incentives for businesses to post accurate and appropriate human trafficking hotline information on various platforms such as the internet. This legislation is in alignment with the Mission Georgia’s focus on combatting human trafficking.
Status: SB 42 has already passed the Senate and is currently awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Non-civil Committee.
14. Opposition: Exception to the 3-Tier System for Craft Breweries
Representative Tyler Smith authored HB 407, which aims to exempt craft breweries from the 3-Tier system on the sale of alcoholic beverages. However, Georgia Baptists staunchly oppose any loosening of restrictions on the sale of alcohol and view the 3-Tier system as a crucial standard for public health and safety since the prohibition era. Status: Currently, the bill is awaiting a committee hearing after being assigned to the Regulated Industries Committee.
15. Opposition: Extension of Delivery Distance for Alcoholic Beverages
HB 397, authored by Representative Kasey Carpenter, proposes allowing the home delivery of malt beverages, wine, and distilled spirits up to 25 miles beyond from the business selling it. This excessively extends availability of alcohol into homes, where issues related to this product are going to be potentially made worse.
Status: The bill has been assigned to the Regulated Industries Committee and is awaiting a hearing.
16. Support: Prohibiting Certain Surgical Procedures and Medical Treatments for Gender Dysphoria
SB 140 is authored by Senator Carden Summers. This legislation prohibits certain surgical procedures and certain medical treatment, including hormone replacement therapies and surgeries that have irresistible effects for gender dysphoria on minors.
Status: The bill has a hearing and was passed out of the Health Human Services Committee. It is now in the Rules Committee awaiting a possible vote to go on the floor for a vote.
17. Support: Firearms Revision Bill
HB 560 is authored by Karen Mathiak. This is bill among other things, allows churches the full authorty in determining the use of weapons. Churches under this provision would be treated as private property, so that they could determine what their use policy would be. This legislation coincides with the 2021 GBC Resolution on Church Safety and Security: https://gabaptist.egnyte.com/dl/pIO6wJbmxO.
Status: This bill has been assigned to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and is awaiting a hearing.