‘Religious freedom’ bill runs into trouble

The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, which proponents say would draw a line against government encroachment on faith – and opponents say would be a license to discriminate against gays, is running into trouble.

This afternoon, as state Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, brushed by, I asked the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee if HB 1023, sponsored by state Rep. Sam Teasley, R-Marietta, would get a vote from his panel.

“Nope. Right now, hearings only,” Willard said before dashing onto the floor for a vote.

Jonathan Shapiro of WABE (90.1FM) got a few more words out of the judiciary chairman. From his report:

After two packed subcommittee meetings in recent weeks, Judiciary Chair Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, says more vetting is needed on the bill. He says it likely won’t make Monday's Crossover Day deadline, the date in which legislation must be approved by at least one chamber to remain alive.

“Can’t see it happening. It came in rather late in the session. Too many proponents and opponents,” said Willard.

Another hearing on the bill, which may involve an attempt at compromise, has been scheduled. For 7 (insert expletive here) a.m. in 606 CLOB.

Updated at 7:35 p.m.: This hearing has now been canceled.

Should HB 1023 fail to make it, that doesn’t mean the issue is dead. SB 377 was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week – no surprise, since the bill’s sponsor, Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, is also the chairman. The second signer of the bill is Senate President pro tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, which means a floor vote is highly likely.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.