'Religious liberty' effort is only mostly dead. Keep your eye on HB 59

Or to paraphrase the great Billy Crystal: The "religious liberty" effort that was tabled Thursday is only mostly dead. But mostly dead is partly alive.

 Three days remain in the 2015 legislative session, and while the bill faces steep odds of recovering this year, it is possible. It would require Willard calling another committee meeting, a successful motion to remove the bill from the table, a vote to again amend the bill to make it palatable to Fleming and others, votes to fend off other amendments, and then a vote on the bill itself — just to make it out of committee.

There's another less arduous path that can resurrect some proposals. Battle-hardened lawmakers typically have a running list of other pieces of legislation they could potentially tack their bills on if they run into problems. Sometimes that means amending an otherwise innocuous proposal, other times it means forcing the language upon a bill that also happens to be a legislative leader's top priority.

With the latter in mind, keep an eye on HB 59, which deals with the obtuse topic of sovereign immunity. The prime author is Wendell Willard, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that tabled SB 129 on Thursday. It remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, author of SB 129.

Did we mention that revenge sometimes get personal at the Capitol?

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Supporters of SB 129, the religious liberty bill, have posted  images of the four GOP lawmakers, and phone numbers, blaming them for the gutting of the measure by endorsing the insertion of an anti-discrimination clause into the legislation. Erick Erickson, the WSB Radio provocateur, will certainly call down hellfire during his 5 p.m. program. He started off this morning with the image of Judas on his website and a post that included these words:

Given that Jacobs is Jewish, some caution might be in order if that metaphor is pursued.

But Griffin advised his followers to be courteous when chewing out the lawmakers.

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In Jacob's 80th District, Romney received 49 percent of the Romney vote in the 2012 presidential primary -- a hefty plurality. And it  defeated the aforementioned "personhood" question with 51 percent of the vote.

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The symposium, hosted by Georgia State University and the David Sencer Centers for Disease Control Museum, began Thursday and continues through Friday. Critics of the proposal are using it as a platform to derail the legislation.

“Nothing we use for 10 minutes should be around for hundreds of years,” said Jennette Gayer, who heads the Environment Georgia advocacy group. “Unfortunately the plastic bag industry seems bent on tying the hands of public schools, cities and counties when it comes to grappling with litter and plastic pollution problems.”

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Why? Perhaps because Kaiser recently announced she'll be a participant in the 2017 race for mayor of Atlanta. And Republicans may be trying to make her district a little bit more GOP-friendly.

Waites said she had no idea that the boundary change would alter the demographics of both districts so drastically. "That was not my intention," Waites said.

A redrawn line that would require another vote, Waites said, could even give Kaiser's district a higher black population than it currently has.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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