PG A.M.: Georgia House speaker vows to pass new law protecting IVF

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Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns supports protections for in vitro fertilization.

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns supports protections for in vitro fertilization.

Georgia’s top lawmakers say they’ll support legislation next year to preserve in vitro fertilization amid court challenges and growing conservative pushback to the procedure.

But major questions and significant challenges await Republicans if they push for legislation to enshrine protections for IVF in Georgia law.

House Speaker Jon Burns turbocharged the debate on Wednesday, when he sent us a statement that said there “should be no question” that in vitro fertilization will remain available in Georgia.

“Last session, the House passed a resolution supporting IVF, and we will look to continue that work next session by putting forward legislation to enshrine those protections in law,” Burns said.

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, president of the state Senate, has also indicated he backs legislation to preserve access to IVF. He said it “should be protected” in March comments that his aides say still stands.

Delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention voted to oppose the use of in vitro fertilization on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Credit: Maddie McGarvey/The New York Times

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Credit: Maddie McGarvey/The New York Times

Burns’ statement came hours after the Southern Baptist Convention — the nation’s largest Protestant denomination — voted to oppose the use of IVF in another sign of evangelical angst over the procedure. Cole Muzio, the head of the conservative Frontline Policy Council, echoed that stance.

“Only 7% of lab-created children will be born alive, and IVF routinely discards human life,” Muzio posted on social media of Burns’ stance. “This is the wrong side for the #prolife party to stand on.”

Beyond the potential internal strife, it’s not clear how the legislation will be drafted. When an Alabama Supreme Court ruling put IVF in jeopardy earlier this year, state lawmakers passed legislation that created immunity for IVF providers but skirted other questions about the legal status of embryos and what constitutes life.

Any GOP dissension plays into Democrats’ hands. Already, party leaders say Democratic candidates must do a more robust job highlighting abortion rights, threats to IVF and access to contraceptives on the trail.

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GEORGIA 2024. Democrats have an answer to former President Donald Trump as he plans his first visit to the U.S. Capitol since a mob led by his supporters attacked the building on Jan. 6, 2021, in protest of his defeat.

President Joe Biden launched a 30-second ad on Georgia’s airwaves on Thursday that focused on the rioters — and said Trump is “pouring gasoline” on the situation by pledging to pardon those prosecuted in the attack.

“There’s nothing more sacred than our democracy,” said the narrator. “But Donald Trump is ready to burn it all down.”

Trump is set to speak to House and Senate Republicans today about his legislative priorities, which include tax cuts, new crackdowns on illegal immigration and mass deportations of those in the country illegally.

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U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, wants guidance from the federal government on how Atlanta should move forward after a recent water crisis.

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

WATER WORK. A week after the city of Atlanta restored water service to residents, Georgia U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, along with U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, are asking the federal government to help the city understand what needs to happen next.

In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lawmakers asked that federal officials provide funding for “a comprehensive review of Atlanta’s drinking water infrastructure as a first step towards developing solutions to improve drinking water service and infrastructure reliability.”

On top of that, they also asked the Corps to offset the cost of local water fees, since residents had to endure widespread service disruptions and boil-water advisories.

“Unfortunately, the situation in Atlanta is the latest example of the significant investments needed across the country to repair the nation’s aging and corroded water infrastructure,” they wrote.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens recently reached out to the Corps of Engineers to help conduct the review.

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Usher made the rounds on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.

Credit: Office of U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock

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Credit: Office of U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock

OMG. That wasn’t just anyone riding the Senate subway to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. Atlanta’s own Usher made the rounds on Capitol Hill, pressing for government help on screening Americans for diabetes.

Warnock met with Usher and walked him to the House side of the Capitol for a separate meeting with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York. On his way, Usher paused for a minute to admire a large painting of President George Washington.

Pursued by a gaggle of reporters, Usher later said that he hoped to be back to work with lawmakers like Warnock again. “It’s my first time, and it won’t be my last time,” he said.

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U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, wants a Confederate memorial reinstalled at Arlington National Cemetery.

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

CONFEDERACY. The U.S. House is expected to vote today on a plan from U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, to force the Pentagon to bring back a Confederate memorial removed last year from Arlington National Cemetery.

In a commentary published in the AJC earlier this week, Clyde said it’s all about national unity. “As a 28-year Navy combat veteran, it pains me to see the fabric of our nation unraveling and the history of our country crumbling by the day,” Clyde wrote, denouncing the decision of a special Pentagon panel to remove the monument, which he calls the “Reconciliation Memorial.”

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Charles Bullock is a guest today on the "Politically Georgia" show.

Credit: AJC file photo

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Credit: AJC file photo

LISTEN UP. Today on “Politically Georgia,” author Ari Berman and University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock discuss Berman’s new book “Minority Rule.”

Listen live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 or follow “Politically Georgia” on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you missed Wednesday’s episode, Professors Fred Smith from Emory University and Amy Steigerwalt of Georgia State University discussed upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

And AJC education columnist Maureen Downey shared data on the declining interest among recent graduates in becoming teachers.

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Lt. Gov. Burt Jones is championing the work of a state Senate study committee on issues affecting veterans.

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

PTSD AWARENESS. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones highlighted the launch of the state Senate’s Veterans Mental Health and Housing study committee in a commentary published Wednesday in the Athens Banner-Herald. He writes that it is fitting that the group begins its work during a month designated to bring awareness to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

More from Jones:

Georgia's veterans have given so much to preserve our freedoms. The best way we can honor them is to make sure they are cared for when they return home.

- Lt. Gov. Burt Jones

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Isis Romero (left) speaks with Giovani Serrano (right) of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, after a recent gathering in Canton where he discussed House Bill 1105.

Credit: Lautaro Grinspan/AJC

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Credit: Lautaro Grinspan/AJC

IMMIGRATION LAW. Legislation set to go into effect July 1 that calls for closer collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials has metro Atlanta immigrant communities confused and anxious.

Our AJC colleague Lautaro Grinspan explores the implications of House Bill 1105, signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in May. The legislation requires jailers to hold undocumented immigrants if that person is wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sheriffs who fail to notify federal immigration agents once they identify someone who may be in the country illegally face potential sanctions.

The effort gained momentum following the February killing of 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley near the University of Georgia’s campus. Prosecutors have charged a Venezuelan national, who authorities say was in the United States without authorization, with the slaying.

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Nathan Wade says he's not to blame for delays in the Trump election interference case in Fulton County.

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

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Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

BLAME GAME. The attorney at the center of a legal appeal that has put the Fulton County election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies on hold is not taking the blame for the delay.

Nathan Wade, the outside counsel who until recently was assisting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in the case, told CNN’s Kaitlin Collins in a Wednesday interview that defense attorneys were to blame for using his romantic relationship to create delay and distraction.

“I don’t believe my actions played a role in it at all,” he said.

Defense attorneys argue Wade’s relationship with Willis constitutes a conflict of interest — Willis paid Wade her more than $700,000 in legal fees — and are seeking her removal from the case.

The judge overseeing the case, Scott McAfee, ruled in March that Willis could remain if Wade resigned. The defense challenged that order, and a Georgia Appeals Court recently agreed to review the ruling, pausing the case.

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U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (back row, second from right), D-Ga., was among the members of Congress who participated in seersucker day at the Capitol in 2023.

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden meets with international heads of state in Brindisi, Italy as a part of the G7 Summit.
  • House and Senate Republicans meet with former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill. It will be Trump’s first trip since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
  • It’s Senate Seersucker Day! Look for senators of both parties to be in their best Southern stripes.

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Tharon Johnson has won an entrepreneur of the year award.

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

AWARD WINNER. Congrats to political strategist Tharon Johnson, who won the entrepreneur of the year award this week from the Atlanta Business League. Johnson founded Paramount Consulting Group, a bipartisan government affairs and communications firm.

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AS ALWAYS, Politically Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.