This accusation may require some sorting out:
A House Judiciary subcommittee, chaired by Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, required several changes to the measure offered by Dusty Hightower, R-Carrollton, which will likely prevent it from advancing to the full committee.
The bill exempts business contracts in which parties agree to abide by the laws of another nation, but doesn’t offer that exemption to marriage, divorce or other family-oriented contracts.
Hightower said the bill was particularly aimed at upholding the rights of women.
“It’s not an anti-sharia law bill. It’s not in the bill. It’s just American laws for American courts. To label it an anti-sharia law would be a mischaracterization of it,” Hightower said after his hearing.
One reason that the measure can’t be an anti-sharia law may be the fact that many of the same people who support H.B. 171 also support the religious liberty bills now before the Legislature – bills intended to keep government, including the courts, from trespassing on an individual’s religious beliefs.
Mike Griffin, lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Convention and a major force behind the religious liberty bills, testified for H.B. 171 on Monday. “When it comes to guaranteeing our personal liberty, as guaranteed by the Constitution, I don’t think we can be too careful,” he said.
State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, chairman of the House Judiciciary Committee, appeared to question the non-religious intent of the bill when he asked Hightower to explain a change in this line of the Georgia Code:
“The laws of other states and foreign nations shall have no force and effect of themselves within this state further than is provided by the Constitution of the United States and is recognized by the comity of states.”
Willard noted that Hightower would strike the word “nation” and substitute the word “laws.” “What are we changing, and for what reason?” Willard asked.
“I’ll get this addressed, and I’ll find out,” Hightower said.
Even if it doesn’t make it pass Friday, H.B. 171 isn’t going away. Another of its sponsors, Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, said the measure is very popular in north Georgia:
Here's how the returning members of the Georgia delegation fared, starting with their rank in their respective chambers, their percentage score and their lifetime score in parentheses.
- Sen. Johnny Isakson: 37th, 53 percent (74 percent)
- Rep. Austin Scott: 28th, 91 percent (84 percent)
- Rep. Doug Collins: 35th, 89 percent (89 percent)
- Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: 40th, 87 percent (90 percent)
- Rep. Tom Graves: 43rd, 86 percent (93 percent)
- Rep. Tom Price: 53rd, 83 percent (92 percent)
- Rep. Rob Woodall: 94th, 72 percent (82 percent)
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