Progress But Much Work Remains

April 5

We need a culture change under the Gold Dome. For those who have heard me speak, this refrain- or a variation of it- is often at the forefront of my mind as I share what needs to happen in our state.

This legislative session, key bills and amendments protecting life, religious freedom, and parental rights were killed before they even hit the floor. Despite a thoroughly “red” legislature with a full complement of statewide office holders, they refused to even touch the most important issues.

BUT, there is reason aplenty to rejoice. First, the upcoming elections- featuring open seats at the key statewide positions and every legislative seat- give us a perfect opportunity to make that culture change.

Second, we made substantial progress in our first legislative session here in Georgia. We nearly passed a key parental rights bill (SB 437) in the House after getting unanimous passage in the Senate. With time being the only issue, this will pass next session. Also, we achieved significant progress on Tebow legislation (SB 384 and HB 905), where we will have a summer study committee with the goal of passing a bill in 2019. Our religious freedom in schools bill (SB 361 and HB 922) was the lead story on AJC, got attention from major broadcast stations, and was covered by national media. It will also be reintroduced as well and has been a key differentiator for who is truly supportive of religious freedom and who is not.

Finally, there is some strong school choice legislation now on the governor’s desk including Rep. John Carson’s HB 217- which increases the cap on scholarships for school choice- and Rep. Scott Hilton’s HB 787- which helps fund charter schools. This is a very positive step, though we want to continue to do more to make Georgia a more school choice oriented state.

This legislative session underscored the need to do more, and it also gives us reason to be grateful. It was an exhausting process, and, because of this, I would ask you to thank your representatives- regardless of Party or ideology- for their work on your behalf. Also, please take some time to thank some or all on this (incomplete, my apologies to anyone we forgot) list of legislators who put in tremendous legwork this session fighting for our values:

  • Rep. Mandi Ballinger (HD-23) for passing SB 437 out of the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
  • Rep. Wes Cantrell (HD-22) for carrying key pro-life and school choice legislation.
  • Rep. Kasey Carpenter (HD-4) for carrying our religious freedom in schools and parental rights legislation in the House for us.
  • Rep. John Carson (HD-46) for carrying school choice legislation to passage.
  • Rep. David Clark (HD-98) for carrying our Tebow legislation in the House.
  • Rep. Brooks Coleman (HD-97) for agreeing to set up a summer study committee regarding Tebow legislation.
  • Rep. Scott Hilton (HD-95) for carrying school choice legislation to passage.
  • Rep. Ed Setzler (HD-35) for requesting SB 437 be put on the floor for a vote in the House.
  • Sen. Marty Harbin (SD-16) for carrying RFRA, a resolution calling for a parental rights amendment, and passing a resolution calling for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
  • Sen. William Ligon (SD-3) for carrying legislation to protect faith-based adoption agencies and to protect free speech on college campuses.
  • Sen. Josh McKoon (SD-29) for carrying pro-life legislation.
  • Sen. Jeff Mullis (SD-53) for allowing SB 437 to go to the floor of the Senate.
  • Sen. David Shafer (SD-48) for requesting SB 437 be put on the floor for a vote in the Senate.
  • Sen. Renee Unterman (SD-45) for passing SB 437 out of her Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
  • Sen. Michael Williams (SD-27) for carrying our religious freedom in schools and Tebow legislation.

God Bless,

Cole Muzio
President and Executive Director