February 29, 2024

The Georgia Catholic Conference witnesses to spiritual values in public affairs, and provides an agency for corporate Catholic service to the statewide community. Under the direction of the Catholic bishops of Georgia, the Conference promotes public policy positions related to Georgia governmental programs, legislation and policies which affect the common good and interest of the Catholic Church.

February 29, the 28th legislative day, known as “crossover” day when all bills that have not passed one house are not eligible for consideration in the other house during this session. Nonetheless, it is possible that the language of an ineligible bill can be grafted on to an eligible bill and still passed this session before the final day March 28 when the General Assembly will adjourn “sine die.”

The following is the status of current principal bills that the Conference is following:

School Choice
There is no change in the status of SB 233 https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/64762 (Sen Dolezal) which passed the Senate in 2023 but failed in House. The bill would provide for a “Promise Scholarship Account” (Voucher) for each student. The bill remains active in 2024 and the Conference supports it.

In addition, we are continuing to follow legislation to increase the cap for Student Scholarship Organizations (SSO), such as G.R.A.C.E. Scholars, to $150 million.

”The Right to Contraception Act,” (SB 564) and “The Right to IVF Act.” (SB 565)
Contraception and In Vitro Fertilization are currently legal in Georgia, but the sponsors want to make a political point for campaign purposes. Procedurally, neither of these bills can pass in 2024 unless they are amended onto another bill — a move that is unlikely. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, while not addressing Georgia legislation, issued a statement confirming the Church’s position opposing IVF. Letter_Access_to_Family_Building_Act_2024.pdf (usccb.org)

Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act
SB 180 has been introduced by Senator Ed Setzler (R-37) to provide that the government cannot substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in specified limited circumstances. The bill closely follows the language of federal law that has been in effect since 1993.

Human Trafficking
Several bills related to human trafficking have passed the Senate.

SB 512 would establish a Victims of Human Trafficking Fund and the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund Commission to study the issues related to trafficking and make recommendations to the General Assembly and State agencies.

SB 514 would require training for hotel employees in ways to identify trafficking in the hospitality industry so they can report those activities.

SR 616 proposes additional penalties and assessments for those engaged in sex trafficking.

The Georgia Catholic Conference supports these efforts to end human trafficking in Georgia.

The Catholic Conference is studying proposed legislation affecting immigrants in Georgia. We adhere to the USCCB position on caring for people of all nations as an expression of Christian charity and hospitality. Bishop Kevin Rhoads, chair of Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty has said: “It is hard to imagine what our country would look like without the good works that people of faith carry out in the public square.”

Post expires at 8:22pm on Sunday March 8th, 2026