Political Notes – Religious bills will be front and center on Tuesday

[private]The religious freedom controversy should again be grabbing media attention Tuesday, both inside and outside the state capitol.

A rally by groups sympathetic to the LGBT communities – they call themselve Georgia Unites Against Discrimination — is scheduled for 12 noon in Liberty Plaza.

They’ll be voicing their objections to the several bills pending in the General Assembly that would grant legal exemptions, in one form or aother, to businesses and individuals that don’t want to provide services to couples in same-sex wedding ceremonies.

LGBT activists argue that the bills, if signed into law, would actually result in more discrimination against same-sex couples.

Depending on how quickly the state House of Representatives moves through its calendar on Tuesday, the House could be debating one of the religious freedom bills — HB 870 – at the same time the rally is being held.

HB 870, sponsored by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough), would prohibit the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) from disqualifying or penalizing athletes if they wear religious slogans on their uniforms.

The bill was inspired by the disqualification of a runner in a cross country meet last year because he wore a headband with a biblical verse written on it.

The House Judiciary Civil Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on HB 757, the “Pastor Protection Bill” supported by Speaker David Ralston that allows ministers not to conduct same-sex weddings if they have religious objections to the ceremony.

In other actions

A bill that should pass the House with less controversy Tuesday is HB 483, authored by Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City), which designates the shoal bass as the official Georgia native riverine sport fish.

In the Senate, passage is expected for SB 255, a bill that would extensively revise the state’s garnishment laws.

Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) introduced SB 255 after a federal judge ruled the current law unconstitutional for failing to give required notice to consumers that they can protect some benefits, such as worker’s compensation or Social Security payments, from garnishment.

More additions to the Rubio team

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has announced more endorsements from Georgia Republicans for his presidential campaign, including state Sens. Dean Burke and Tommie Williams, and state Reps. Jason Shaw, Sharon Cooper, Robert Dickey, Barry Fleming, Chuck Martin, Randy Nix, Jesse Petrea, Tom Rice, and Ron Stephens.

“The momentum behind Marco’s campaign is undeniable, and we are excited to add an impressive list of Georgia leaders to the team today,” said U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, the state chairman for Rubio.

Rest in peace

John Stevens, a longtime public affairs specialist and lobbyist for the banking industry, died last week of natural causes at age 86. He held leadership positions with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Bankers Association, and the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association during his lobbying career.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce Carter Stevens, his daughter, Alice Stevens DePass Miller of Athens, and two grandsons.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church of Monroe of Monroe.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Brian Strickland , Debbie Buckner , garnishment law , Jesse Stone , John Stevens , Marco Rubio , religious freedom