'Religious liberty' debate moves into high gear

Look for opponents to mount a full court press today against HB 757, a once mostly innocuous “religious liberty” bill made much more far-reaching by the state Senate on Friday.

Over at Georgiapol.com, Anthony Michael Kreis lists the bill’s alleged sins. He says the bill would:

The other side, of course, is working, too:

Below is the letter of opposition that the Metro Atlanta Chamber put on the desk of every senator on Friday. We're presuming House members have one, too.

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Even before Donald Trump's victory in South Carolina on Saturday, important Republicans were testing their phraseology. Tim Bryant of WGAU (1340AM) in Athens caught up with Johnny Isakson a day earlier. Said the U.S. senator:

“I’m going to be enthusiastic for the Republican nominee, whoever it is. There’ll be degrees of enthusiasm based on who it is. But I’ll be enthusiastic, whoever it is.”

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If the hardened core of conservative activists who make up this state's GOP base are any indication, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is in for a good night in Georgia on March 1. From our friend Charlie Harper over at GeorgiaPol.com:

Ted Cruz’s anti-establishment message seems to be winning with the members of the GOP establishment who gathered Saturday to begin the process to select their leaders. “Large” counties with populations over 80,000 held GOP mass precinct meetings today, where delegates from Georgia are chosen to represent the state at the Republican National Convention in exciting glamorous geographically centered Cleveland Ohio.

He reported that Cruz won the straw polls in Bibb, Cherokee, Coweta, Forsyth, Muscogee and Paulding counties. Check out his chart here.

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Former Rep. John Barrow made clear he's left the political world after he lost the mantle as the U.S. House's last white Democrat from the Deep South. But some of the Athens attorney's fans want him to consider a return by launching a challenge against Republican Johnny Isakson.

Democrats still haven't landed on a contender to compete against the two-term incumbent - a litany of candidates have explored and then abandoned the notion - and a campaign has emerged to entice the Harvard-trained lawyer to mount a bid. From the petition:

Described as a "Blue Dog" Democrat, John Barrow understood the prime importance of balancing the Federal Budget, protecting the constitutional rights of hunters and sportsmen, and voted for the Public Option in the Affordable Care Act.

Currently the Democratic Party has no candidate to run for U.S. Senate this November. We are asking the voters of Georgia to petition Former Congressman John Barrow to run as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.

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We are picking up word that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is headed to Georgia on Saturday. His campaign is scouting a Cobb County venue, but nothing is confirmed yet.  If he visits, he will have company. Ted Cruz's campaign already sent word he's set to visit the same day.

John Kasich is in metro Atlanta on Tuesday. And Donald Trump will return on Feb. 29 with a visit to Valdosta State University.

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A campaign finance reform group based in neighboring Alabama has taken aim at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign for presidency.

John Pudner of the Take Back Action Fund called Sanders the only remaining presidential candidate who has refused to let banks verify his contributions by matching a credit card to the donor. The campaign instead relies on an outsider vendor for the work.

"Bernie Sanders needs to put his money where his mouth is on campaign finance reform," said Pudner, adding: " No politician has benefited more from talking about campaign finance reform, but now it's time for him to lead by example and not just words."

The group is pushing HR4177, which aims to add an additional layer of verification to prevent foreigners or others with access to fraudulent bank accounts to funnel money to political candidates. A Sanders spokesman told Al Jazeera it was a "solution in search of a problem.”

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...
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