Top Legislation Being Watched (Updated 3/21/22)

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: 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 were put on the Senate calendar for a vote a vote last week on crossover day. SB 131 was defeated and not brought up for a second vote. SB 131 was tabled.

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 (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 (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 was approved by the Senate and has been sent to the House for a committee hearing. HB 1178 was approved by the House 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 has been approved by the House (93-62) 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 has voted in favor of the bill (31-22) and it has been sent to the House for consideration in a 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 has voted in favor of the bill, and it has been sent to the House and assigned to a committee for a possible 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 has been voted on and approved 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 was sent to the Rules Committee as a potential bill to go to the House floor for a vote. It did not make it to the floor for a vote before crossover day.

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 hearing in the Senate and House Regulated Industries committee. The House version passed on to the Rules Committee for the consideration of a floor vote. HB 1424 did pass the House last week on crossover day and has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee for a hearing.  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. It did not receive a vote in the Senate.

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 2 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: It was voted out a subcommittee and on to the full committee for a vote. The full committee voted in favor of the bill. This bill was voted on in the House and passed. It has been sent to the Senate for a possible committee hearing.

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 with no vote taken. A third 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 it was passed out of committee in a second hearing. It made it to the Senate for a vote and passed on crossover day. It has been sent to the House for a committee assignment.

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 21, 2022