This Week Under the Gold Dome: Week 8

With Crossover Day in the rearview mirror, work in the Georgia General Assembly is now overflowing across the halls. Bills passed in the House of Representatives will now need to be approved in the Senate, and the same goes for bills that received the Senate’s approval that await a decision in the House. There are only eight legislative days left until Sine Die,  the last day of the current session. On this day, all bills must have passed in both chambers or they will not continue in the legislative process towards the governor’s desk for his approval or veto. Keep reading to see what bills representatives and senators are fighting to save…or dispose of.  

A Strong Statement Against Religious Liberty

Governor Nathan Deal made a strong statement against potential religious liberty legislation. Deal said he would reject any measure that “allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith” and urged religious conservatives not to feel threatened by the ruling.  House Bill 757 would grant faith-based organizations and small businesses the right to withhold matrimonial goods and services if they so choose. This would allow faith-based organizations to cite religious beliefs in denying services to gay couples. According to HB 757, faith-based organizations are any legal entity whose governing documents or mission statement expressly acknowledges a religious belief or purpose.

University Presidents Against Campus Carry

HB 859 was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee after passing the House of Representatives 113-59. This bill would allow licensed weapons holders to carry a concealed gun on most parts of college campuses. Currently, the legislation prohibits carrying a weapon in dorms, Greek housing and at athletic events. However, even with these limitations, the bill is not appealing to the University of Georgia President Jere Morehead and Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby who raised concerns last Wednesday. Huckaby spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents, 29 university presidents, parents of students and police who all expressed opposition towards the bill. Huckaby stated that there are significant concerns about maintaining the safe environment on our college campuses and that “allowing students to have firearms would make police officers’ jobs extremely challenging.”

Georgia Casino Bill Dead

Supporters in the Georgia General Assembly folded their cards on casino gambling this past week. HB 677 would have allowed for up to four casinos to operate in Georgia. Opponents of this legislation cited a lack of significant economic impact, potential increased social problems, gambling addiction and crime as reasons for their opposition. The bill was introduced in hopes that casinos could help fund the HOPE scholarship and pre-K programs. Currently, the only form of legalized gambling is the state lottery. And for now, the status quo will remain as all bets are off until next year when similar legislation can be introduced to continue the gambling debate.

Rep. Frye is nearing the finish line of the 2016 session, but he continues working diligently for legislation that will benefit the state of Georgia. And today he’s taken another step towards that goal. Rep. Frye qualified to run for his current seat today, and this fall he will again ask for your support as state representative of the 118th district. He looks forward to ending this session on a strong note and working with you in his re-election efforts to build on the progress he’s made for the district in next session!