March 7, 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.

The 2024 session of the Georgia General Assembly is moving toward its 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 the House. The bill would provide for a “Promise Scholarship Account” (Voucher) for each student in non-performing districts. It remains active in 2024 and the Conference supports it. There are behind the scenes negotiations in progress.

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 but is being vocally challenged by the LGBT+ community and its allies who are concerned that it will be used to discriminate against them.

Human Trafficking
SR 616 (Still R) proposes a Georgia constitutional amendment to establish the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund. The proposed constitutional amendment also allocates additional penalties for perpetrators and rehabilitation services for victims. As a constitutional amendment, the resolution requires a two-thirds affirmative vote in both houses of the General Assembly and then it will be placed on the general election ballot in November.

SB 512 is a companion bill that implements the constitutional amendment if approved by voters. The bill would establish a Victims of Human Trafficking Fund Commission to study the issues related to trafficking and make recommendations to the General Assembly and State agencies. The resolution and bill have been approved by the Judiciary (non-Civil) committee and will be offered to the full House.

The Georgia Catholic Conference supports any measure which helps eradicate human trafficking or rehabilitation victims.

Following the murder of a UGA student by an individual without immigration documentation, HB 1105 (Patrea) proposes increased penalties for sheriffs who do not report non-citizens in their custody to federal immigration officers and sets forth procedures for detaining individuals who are believed to be undocumented foreign nationals.

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.”

If you have questions about other bills, please let me know.

Post expires at 8:47pm on Sunday March 15th, 2026