Top Legislation Being Watched (Updated 3/14/22)

Opposition: The Expansion of Gambling

There are approximately nine bills leftover from the 2021 session that are available to be passed expanding gambling on Sports, Horse Racing, and Casinos.

Status: Two weeks ago, two of the four Senate Horse Racing Bills were passed out of the Regulated Industries Committee. The two bills that were passed out of the committee are authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis. SR 131 is a constitutional ballot measure that would only allow parimutuel betting to take place at the racing track without any machines or off-track betting sites. SB 212 is the enabling legislation that describes how the resolution will be implemented. Both bills are in the Rules Committee and available to be sent to the Senate floor for a vote this week.

Support: Ban on Teaching Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

SB 377 by Sen. Bo Hatchett; HB 1084 by Rep. Will Wade: It is important our children know that they are all “image bearers,” and they should not be made to feel ashamed of who they are and be distrustful of their neighbor. Children do not need to feel as though they are inherently oppressed or inherently oppressors based on their race.

Status: HB 1084 was approved by the House two weeks ago (92-63) and has been sent to the Senate to be assigned to a committee. SB 377 received a Senate floor vote and was approved last week (32-20) and has been sent to the House to be assigned to a committee.

Support: The “Parents Bill of Rights” for Public Schools

SB 449 (Sen. Clint Dixon)/HB 1178 (Rep. Josh Bonner): These bills codify parental rights when it comes to their child’s education into law, including the right to access instructional material. The bills affirm a parent’s ability to request information from a principal or superintendent and requires that they provide the requested information within three working days.

Status: SB 449 approved by the Senate 3 weeks ago and has been sent to the House for a committee hearing. HB 1178 was approved by the House two weeks ago and been sent to the Senate for a committee hearing.

Support: The “Forum Act” (Forming Open and Robust University Minds)

HB 1 was introduced by Representative Josh Bonner, and it protects students on our college campuses regarding their freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Status: The bill was approved by the House (93-62) two weeks ago and sent over to the Senate for a committee hearing.

Support: “The Women’s Health and Safety Act” (Ban on Mailing Abortion Pills)

SB 466, (Sen. Bruce Thompson): We fully support this legislation, which would reinstate the Obama/Trump era restrictions of delivering the abortion pill via telemedicine and direct mail in Georgia. 

Status: The Senate voted in favor of the bill (31-22) last week and it has been sent to the House for consideration in committee.

Support: “Saving Girls Sports Act”

We support SB 435 (Sen. Marty Harbin), which would ban any biological males from participating in biological female sports.

Status: The Senate voted in favor of the bill two weeks ago, and it has been sent to the House for a possible committee hearing.

Support: Increased Penalties for Pimping and Pandering

SB 381 is authored by Sen. Randy Robertson. This legislation increases penalties (felony) on pimping and pandering related to human trafficking.

Status: The bill was voted on and approved last week by the Senate and has been sent over to the House for a committee assignment.

Support: Firearms Revision Bill

Rep. Rick Jasperse introduced HB 1378, a bill that allows churches the full authority in determining the use of weapons. Churches under this provision would be treated as private property, so they can determine what their own use of weapons policies. This legislation coincides with the 2021 GBC Resolution on Church Safety and Security:

Status: The bill received hearings and passed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and is now in the Rules Committee as a potential bill to go to the House floor for a vote.

Opposition: Adding SOGI’s to Workplace Laws

HB 1389 and HB 1390, introduced by Rep. Teri Anulewicz, added sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI’s) to workplace regulations. HB 1389 has to do with general employment and HB 1390 has to do with government. These bills would have a detrimental effect on individual and employer First Amendment Rights.

Status: Both bills received hearings in the House Judiciary Committee, but no vote was taken.

Opposition: Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAM’s) Revision Bills

SB 536 (Rep. Alan Powell) and HB 1424 (Sen. Clint Dixon) are two examples of legislation that add incentives to play the machines more. For example, the bills would add, amongst other things, $50 gift cards to the winnings. We are for tightening regulations on them, but not for helping create any incentives to play them more. These (Class B) machines (while technically are not gambling) are viewed by many as gambling, and they can be very destructive and addictive to those who play them.

Status: Both bills received hearings last week in the Senate and House Regulated Industries committee. The House version passed on to the Rules Committee for the consideration of a floor vote. The Senate version was amended (removing the $50 gift card and increasing divisions of income) and passed out to the Rules Committee for the consideration of a floor vote.

Support: The Maternity Supportive Housing

SB 116, authored by Sen. Randy Robertson, would allow non-profit organizations (churches) to provide free maternity supportive housing for up to 6 pregnant moms and their children not only during pregnancy but also up to 18 months postpartum. This would help on our focus of Pre/Post Natal Care with Mission Georgia. The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Rick Williams.

Status: The bill passed the Senate in 2021. It received a hearing two weeks ago in the House Human Services Committee, but no vote was taken. Another hearing is expected after crossover day.

Support: Appeals Process for School Library Obscenity

SB 226 (Sen. Jason Anavitarte) makes sure our children are protected from sexually explicit material. Georgia Baptists support legislation that allows a proper appeal process when parents see material that is obscene.

Status: Voted out of subcommittee to the full committee for a vote. Still awaiting another hearing.

Support: “Student Technology Protection Act”

HB 1217 (Chris Erwin) requires specifications for technology to filter obscenity from students in public schools.

Status: IIt was voted out a subcommittee and on to the full committee for a vote. The full committee voted in favor of the bill 3 weeks ago. It now goes to the Rules Committee for consideration and a possible floor vote.

Opposition: Exception to the 3-Tier System for Craft Breweries

SB 420, introduced by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, allows an exemption to the 3-Tier system on the sale of alcohol. Georgia Baptists categorically opposes any loosening of restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages. The 3-Tier system since prohibition has maintained standards of public health and safety in the sale of alcohol.

Status: A second hearing was held two weeks ago with no vote taken. A hearing was held and the bill was tabled.

Support: Ban on Animal Fighting

SB 512, introduced by Sen. Chuck Payne, seeks to update the statute to include all animals, not just dogs. It was submitted to address the cock-fighting issue. It also makes it illegal to take a minor child to an animal fight. Animal fights are never just about the act of watching an animal fight to the death. They are always associated with other unsavory or illegal activities such as illegal gambling, drug trafficking, and other illicit crimes.

Status: The bill was heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee and a favorable vote was later taken. The bill is now in Rules Committee and is available to be voted on in the Senate. 

Opposition: Recreational Marijuana Bills

The first week of February there were (3) bills considered in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee to expand marijuana legalization. In 2015, the Georgia Baptist Convention unanimously passed a resolution entitled, “The Dangers of Marijuana.” The resolution stated our opposition to the sale and use of recreational marijuana in Georgia.

Status: The bills received a hearing, but no vote was taken.

Published March 14, 2022