March 21, 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
The Georgia State Senate agreed to SB 233 which includes the establishment of education vouchers of $6,500.00 for students attending nonperforming public schools. Since the bill has now passed both houses in the same form, hence, it is on its way to the governor’s desk for signature. Governor Kemp is expected to sign the bill. The vouchers will be available for the 2025 – 2026 school year. The Conference has supported the bill.

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.

Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act
SB 180 (Setzler R-37) proposes 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 has passed the Senate and awaits action by the House Judiciary committee and the full House before the end of the session.

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. The resolution has passed the Senate and is awaiting action by the House Judiciary (non-civil) committee.

SB 512 is a companion bill to SR 616 to implement 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 Senate and is awaiting action in the Judiciary (non-civil) committee.

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

HB  1105 (Petrea R-166) 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. The bill has passed the House and is recommended by the Senate Public Safety committee.

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 on other bills, please let me know.

Post expires at 8:08pm on Sunday April 5th, 2026