Tag Archives: Pro-Life

Legislative Report – March 11, 2013

The Georgia General Assembly has passed its halfway point and is focused on the thirtieth legislative day, “crossover” day, by which bills that have a chance of passage must pass at least one house of the legislature.

Parental Choice in Education. Inasmuch as the previously reported HB 140 became stalled in the House Ways and Means Committee, SB 243 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Charles Bethel as the Administration Floor Leader, meaning that the bill was supported by the Governor. SB 243 passed the Senate on “crossover” day and proposes to require students to attend a public school for at least six weeks before becoming eligible for a scholarship and to require an SSO to consider a recipient family’s financial condition, donate a higher percentage of contributions to scholarships, and report the aggregate average of recipient family adjusted gross income. SSO’s may not accept a donation designated for any recipient. These changes improve the integrity of the SSO program and are consistent with current practices of G.R.A.C.E. Scholars. We are actively supporting the legislation.

Pro-life / Biotechnology.  HB 481 (Neal) proposes to prohibit human cloning and creation of human – animal hybrids in Georgia. Since the bill was introduced very late in the 2013 session, a special subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee decided to postpone further consideration until after the session to resolve questions and ambiguities. We will work with legislators over the interim with the goal of developing legislation for consideration in the 2014 session.

Human Trafficking. We continue to support HB 141which has passed the House and is expected to get a hearing in the Senate. The bill would require posting of information about a toll free number for those seeking to escape from sexual and labor trafficking as a step toward ending such trafficking.

Abortion Funding under Insurance Exchanges. The Conference supports SB 98 which proposes to prohibit payment for abortions by insurers operating under the health insurance exchanges that will be created as part of the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee did not take up the measure but we are exploring additional alternatives.

Special Needs Scholarship. HB 70 has passed the full House of Representatives  and would improve the financial operation of the special needs scholarships which benefit students in some of our schools. Having passed before crossover day, the bill is available for consideration by the Senate.

Guns in Church. Current law prohibits a person carrying a weapon in a house of worship (as well as several other types of institutions); provided, that, a person holding a license to carry the weapon may approach the security or management personnel of the house of worship and follow the personnel’s instructions to remove, secure, store or temporarily surrender the weapon. Violation of this statute is a misdemeanor. HB 512 eliminates houses of worship as locations where carrying a weapon is prohibited and obviates the need to disclose that the person is carrying a weapon or following instructions. It should be noted, however, that a church, as the owner of private property, may exclude any person from its property and, if the person fails to leave, contact law enforcement officials to bring charges of criminal trespass. In effect, though, the bill reduces the options houses of worship have in prohibiting carrying guns.

Legislative Report – March 4, 2013

The Georgia General Assembly has passed its halfway point and is focused on the thirtieth legislative day, “crossover” day, by which bills that have a chance of passage must pass at least one house of the legislature.

Parental Choice in Education. HB 140 is intended to increase the statewide maximum for donations to student scholarship organizations, such as GRACE Scholars as well as correct some deficiencies in operations of SSO’s. The bill is now stalled in the house Ways and Means Committee but we are working to have parts of the bill adopted prior to crossover day.

Pro-life / Biotechnology.  After weeks of refining details by Georgia Right to Life and its consultants, HB 481 (Neal) was introduced on February 26 to prohibit human cloning and creation of human – animal hybrids in Georgia.  A special subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee has been formed to consider the bill but the lateness of the introduction strongly suggests that there will be difficulty in passing the bill this session.

Human Trafficking. We continue to support HB 141which has passed the House but will impose requirements only until the end of 2018. The bill would require posting of information about a toll free number for those seeking to escape from sexual and labor trafficking as a step toward ending such trafficking.

Abortion Funding under Insurance Exchanges. The Conference supports SB 98 which proposes to prohibit payment for abortions by insurers operating under the health insurance exchanges that will be created as part of the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate insurance and Labor Committee has been reluctant to take up the measure.

Special Needs Scholarship. HB 70 has passed the full House of Representatives  and would improve the financial operation of the special needs scholarships which benefit students in some of our schools. Having passed before crossover day, the bill is available for consideration by the Senate.

Legislative Report – April 11, 2011

The Georgia General Assembly’s 2011 legislative session will conclude on April 14 after meeting on April 11, 12 and 14. The week of April 4-8 had little public activity since the General Assembly was in recess and many legislators were out of town for spring break. Discussions continue behind the scenes in issues related to the Church in Georgia, our ministries and our people.

Social Justice:   “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011” — House Bill 87 (Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City) and Senate Bill 40 (Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming) now contain similar language, combining the most onerous provisions of each original bill. Please encourage Catholics to contact legislators by accessing the Georgia Catholic conference website (www.georgiacc.org) action center and directly contacting their senators and representatives asking that HB 87 and SB 40 be rejected.

The combined language of House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 40, as it now reads, will adversely affect Catholic parish ministries and will also have a significant impact in areas of the state that depend on agriculture. The bills retain language that criminalize “harboring” undocumented immigrants, defined as ‘any conduct that tends to substantially help an illegal alien to remain in the United States.” Sponsors have promised language that would protect charitable organizations but, to date, the only protection is afforded to those involved with children. The bill also gives little latitude to farmers who hire undocumented persons even when there are no other available workers.

Taxation: After intermittent discussion of structural tax reform, HB 387 was put on a fast track for passage until fairness questions were raised. A new version of the bill is expected but we have not had the opportunity to evaluate its effect.

Budget: The State budget effectively sets Georgia’s priorities. The proposed 2012 budget will eliminate State funding for sheltering victims of domestic violence.

House Bill 200 (Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta), which would increase penalties for human trafficking and provide greater protection for victims, passed the House of Representatives and moves to the Senate. We continue to follow and support the bill.

Abortion / Pro-Life: We continue to advocate for pro-life legislation but internal disagreements and confusion among Senate and House leadership make it likely that the 2011 session will be the fourth consecutive legislative session without prolife legislation.

Adoption: SB 278 (Sen. Shafer, R-Duluth) proposes to require that home studies be conducted prior to approval of adoptions through private attorneys. Currently, all adoption agencies, including Catholic Charities, conduct such studies prior to adoptions. The bill is vigorously opposed by private adoption interests and it currently incorporates amendments which will not allow us to support it unless changes are made.