Political Notes – Religious freedom issue resurfaces

[private]It was more than halfway through the legislative session before a “religious freedom” bill was introduced, but state Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) has broken the ice with SB 233.

The one-page bill is largely a symbolic measure – it merely states that the federal religious freedom act will apply to Georgia. Unlike the bills introduced last year, there aren’t passages that could be construed as authorizing discrimination against same-sex marriages.

Of course, even the shortest bill can be amended at several points in the legislative process, so SB 233 could serve as a vehicle for other religious freedom measures. Harbin asked the Senate to engross the bill Wednesday morning, but was voted down 34-18.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office has indicated that the governor isn’t enthusiastic about the bill and will probably veto it if it passes.

It’s worth noting that Harbin’s bill was introduced two days after the NBA All-Star game was staged in New Orleans.

That game was originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte, N.C., but the NBA moved it to New Orleans after North Carolina enacted its “bathroom bill” last year.

If at first you don’t succeed, introduce it again

Two of the House’s most influential members introduced a bill earlier in the session — HB 36 – that would have allowed optometrists to inject their patients with a limited number of pharmaceutical agents.

The sponsors of that bill were Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Power Springs) and Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun), who wields a huge amount of power as the rules committee chairman who determines whether a bill will get a floor vote.

Despite that high-powered sponsorship, the bill floundered in the Health and Human Services Committee, with Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), the committee chair, breaking a tie vote to kill the measure.

Ehrhart and Meadows were evidently undeterred by that action. They have now introduced a similar bill, HB 416, that also authorizes optometrists to inject their patients with certain drugs.

The bill has been assigned to the same Health and Human Services committee that is still chaired by Cooper. Let’s see if it gets out of committee this time.

Albers on rules committee

Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) has been appointed to the Senate Rules Committee as an ex-officio member.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: John Albers , John Meadows , Marty Harbin , optometrists , religious freedom