Political Notes – Deal breaks silence on religious bill

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal abandoned his usual practice of not commenting on pending legislation to say a few words Monday about the “religious freedom” bill that’s ping-ponging between the House and Senate.

Deal acknowledged there are going to be changes made to HB 757, which now includes the text of two different bills: the “pastor protection” measure that the House initially passed and a “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA) added by the Senate.

“In its current form, it is not finalized yet,” Deal said at a newser with reporters. “We’re working with the leadership of the General Assembly now as that bill is continuing to move through the process.”

Deal’s comments effectively shot down a rumor that had been making the rounds after the Senate passed the consolidated version of HB 757 on Friday and sent it back to the House of Representatives.

The House could have simply voted on Monday to agree with language added to the bill by the Senate, which would have sent HB 757 straight to Deal’s desk for a signature or veto.

Deal clearly doesn’t want that to happen, in large part because there has been such strong opposition to the bill from the state’s business leaders. Business organizations say the negative media coverage resulting from the enactment of a religious freedom bill could cost Georgia $1 billion to $2 billion a year in foregone economic development.

Because of its anti-gay overtones, HB 757 also threatens to chase away the film and TV production business for which the state has spent so much money to attract in recent years.

Welcome back, Ross

Former senator Ross Tolleson stepped down from the Senate last fall because he was in the early stage of alzheimer’s disease.

His exit from the Senate didn’t mean a permanent departure from the capitol, however.

Tolleson returned to the Senate last Friday as his colleagues honored him with “Ross Tolleson Day” in the upper chamber.

Tolleson said one of his favorite chores was working on water issues when he chaired the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

“I loved working on the statewide water plan and working on something to keep us in business in Georgia,” he said. “The state’s better for that. Everybody has a fingerprint on that water policy. We worked with people, rather than against people, and that’s how you get somewhere.”

Kasich endorsements

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, Rep. Tom Taylor, and Rep. Wendell Willard have endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s in his GOP presidential campaign.

“I am proud and excited to support Gov. John Kasich. His proven leadership of balancing the budget, cutting taxes, and reining in government spending is exactly what our country needs,” said Hufstetler. “I look forward to working with the rest of the team to convey his message of conservative solutions to Georgia voters.”

Executive appointments

Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed the following people to state boards and commissions –

State Board of Funeral Service: William Bowen of Tifton, a funeral home owner.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Advisory Council: Demarius Brinkley of Madison, a Morehouse College student; Christine Miller-Betts of Grovetown, the executive director of the Lucy Craft Museum of Black History in Augusta; Rita Jackson Samuels of Atlanta, a former White House consultant and special assistant to the deputy director of Community Services Administration; and LaQuoia Singleton of Atlanta, a student at Georgia State University.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: John Kasich , Nathan Deal , religious freedom , Ross Tolleson