The Rundown – Legislative Days 13-16
Week 4 (Legislative Days 13-16) was spent in meetings, coordinating with other conservative organizations, and formulating strategy for multiple pieces of legislation. Time spent testifying in committees and voting for bills is typically overshadowed by how much time is spent working behind the scenes. Committee Chairmen and members often want to discuss legislation privately and personally so they’re able to enter the Committee setting with an understanding of each bill and can more accurately deliberate on legislation before voting yes or no.
Legislative week 5 (Legislative Days 17-20) will be very busy with meetings and committee hearings as we approach Crossover Day. Crossover Day (Legislative Day 30, which is February 29) is the last day that a bill can pass from the chamber it was introduced in. Be sure to watch your inbox for action alerts!
For the very first time, we hosted our Pillars of Personhood training seminar and outreach at the State Capitol on February 5! We trained a room full of legislators, staff, and visitors on the critical issue of personhood from 9am-3pm on February 5. On Monday, February 8, from 9am-3pm, we will set up our Personhood display inside the Capitol Rotunda to engage the public with the pro-life message.
We had the incredible opportunity to speak to 200 Georgia Baptist pastors last week about our Personhood Amendment, standing on principles, praying for wisdom, and bringing their uncompromised influence to the State Capitol. You can watch a video of our talk here.
We’ve reached the point in the legislative session when enough bills have been introduced that it can get confusing hearing numbers and acronyms fly around. That being said, in this week’s Pro-Life Legislative Update, we’re going to take an opportunity to rundown all of the legislation that we are working on in 2016.
Georgia Right to Life Priority Legislation
- HR 1091, the Personhood Amendment, authored by Representative Brad Raffensperger, is our flagship piece of legislation and represents the ultimate policy objective of GRTL. The Personhood Amendment would add language to the State Constitution that recognizes personhood beginning at the moment of fertilization. It would require two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to pass and then would have to be ratified by voters on the next General Election ballot.
- HB 713 authored by Representative Brad Raffensperger, allows a woman to terminate the parental rights of her rapist if a child was conceived during the assault. Often times, rapists will file for parental rights of the child conceived as a result of rape and use the case to force a woman to drop her rape charges against him. This bill would free women from the grip of their assaulter and help keep children safe from predators.
- SB 305, authored by Senator Renee Unterman, is an oversight bill that requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide 60 days notice to all members of the House and Senate Health & Human Services Committees prior to making any changes to the Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. GRTL worked extensively to amend the current POLST law last year to prevent its use for physician-assisted suicide. This bill continues to protect the vulnerable, elderly, and infirm in Georgia.
- HB 287, the Human Embryo Protection Act, authored by Representative Tom Kirby, is a key piece of GRTL legislation that protects children in their most vulnerable state. This bill would prevent embryos from being created and used for human research, which results in the destruction of a child for scientific purposes.
Georgia Right to Life – Supported Legislation
- HB 770, authored by Representative Chuck Efstration, expands Georgia’s laws on sexual trafficking to include mentally disabled adults in the victim class of the sexually exploited as well as allow the prosecution of sex traffickers based on the cases built by undercover law enforcement officers before a victim is trafficked.
- SB 129, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), authored by Senator Josh McKoon, is the Senate’s legislation that would require courts to use a two-part test when handling religious liberty cases. The first part is determining whether the state has a compelling interest in interfering with the religious expression in question. The second part is determining whether the court is limiting that religious expression in the least restrictive means possible. This legislation is imperative to ensure that Georgians’ religious liberty is treated as a first-tier right, along with freedom of press and speech.
- HB 837, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), authored by Representative Ed Setzler, is the House’s legislation that would require courts to use a two-part test when handling religious liberty cases. The first part is determining whether the state has a compelling interest in interfering with the religious expression in question. The second part is determining whether the court is limiting that religious expression in the least restrictive means possible. This legislation is imperative to ensure that Georgians’ religious liberty is treated as a first-tier right, along with freedom of press and speech.
- SB 284, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), authored by Senator Greg Kirk, ensures that private citizens, Christian schools and adoption agencies, pastors, and churches cannot be discriminated against based on the exercise of their belief in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman and the exclusivity of sexual behavior within that marriage.
Georgia Right to Life – Monitored Legislation
- SB 308, authored by Senator Renee Unterman, would create a state grant for pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) to receive state funding that could be used to expand their facility, make repairs, purchase ultrasound machines, etc. The bill would prohibit PRCs from using any state funding for religious purposes. We wholeheartedly support our PRCs and support any meaningful measure to aid them in their critical work. We will keep a close eye on this legislation.
- HB 555, authored by Representative Joyce Chandler, is a bill that requires juvenile courts to report how many minors have requested waivers for parental notification to obtain an abortion.
- HB 757, the Pastor Protection Act, authored by Representative Kevin Tanner, would allow for pastors to speak on the sanctity of marriage inside their churches without state interference. The scope of this legislation is very narrow, but could be improved on through committee. We will monitor it through the legislative process.
Georgia Right to Life-Opposed Legislation
- HB 762, authored by Representative Wendell Willard, would prevent abortionists from selling aborted fetal tissue. The bill, however, does not prohibit procurement companies to sell aborted baby body parts. The procurement companies are responsible for obtaining, storing, and transporting aborted baby parts. That means that babies can be killed for money in abortion, then donated to a third-party company who will then make money by selling the baby’s body parts to biotech companies, research facilities, and universities for medical research. GRTL’s official position is that aborted fetal tissue should not be used for medical research in any circumstance.
Joshua & Johnny