Top Legislation Being Watched (Updated 4/4/22)

*TODAY, Monday, April 4 is the final day of the session.

Support: The Mental Health Parity Act

HB 1013, by Rep Todd Jones, is a bill that seeks to do things such as expanding insurance coverage for those with mental health issues, providing greater coordination, enhancing workforce development (59 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not have mental health professionals), and taking various steps to make it easier to get help for someone with mental health challenges. We agree that this is important and needed legislation with needed results. Some very good amendments were added by the Senate last week.

Status: PASSED last week and will be signed into law by the Governor today.

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: There is the possibility some type of gambling legislation (Constitutional Amendment and Enabling Legislation) could be coming out of a House Rules Committee today and going to the floor for a vote in the House and Senate.

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: It passed the Senate committee last week and will be vote on in the Senate today.

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: HB 1178 passed last week and will be going to the Governor’s Desk to be signed into law.

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: PASSED last week and will be going to the Governor’s Desk for signature into law.

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

SB 456, (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: It was voted out of the House Health and Human Services Committee last week and is available today to be voted out of the Rules Committee and voted on in the House.

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. It is still waiting for a hearing in the House Health and Human Services Committee. Today is the last day it can be voted out of committee and on to the House floor for a vote.

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 out of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and is in the Rules Committee for a vote on the House floor today.

Support: The Maternity Supportive Housing (Betsy’s Law)

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. Sharon Cooper.

Status: PASSED last week in the House and is available for the Senate to agree with and send to the Governor to sign into law.

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: PASSED and is available for the Governor to sign into law.

Support: “Student Technology Protection Act”

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

Status: The bill passed the Senate Committee and is available for a floor vote today in the Senate.

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 did not make it to the floor for a vote before crossover day. However, the bill has been amended onto a Senate Bill (SB 259) and could be voted on to the floor of the House today.

(New on List) Support: Child Victim Protection Act

This legislation, sponsored by Representative Heath Clark (HB 109), is important because it allows survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil action upon entities that would have had a duty of care for them. As now the law reads, victims of child sexual abuse can only file civil suits up to the age of 23. Under the new legislation, the statute of limitations would be extended to 38 years old.

Status: This bill passed the House last year but did not receive a hearing in the Senate last year or this year. However, it has been added to a Senate bill coming over to the House. The amended Senate bill was passed by the House last week and has been sent to the Senate for a vote today.

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: The House version of the bill received a hearing this past week in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, but no vote was taken. Another hearing was held, and the bill was amended. It is not expected to receive a vote on the Senate floor.

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: No hearing has been held in the House and it is not expected to make it to the floor for a vote in the.

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. Therefore, the bill was not approved before crossover day.

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 third hearing was held and the bill was tabled. It did not make it past crossover day.

Published April 4, 2022