Senate Bill 129, the Religious Liberty Bill, will have a hearing by a special subcommittee of the Judiciary – Civil committee on Tuesday at 2 PM, according to a meeting agenda posted this afternoon on the House electronic calendar by Rep. Wendell Willard. It is unknown whether the committee will take a vote on the measure, however.
The announcement comes after House Speaker David Ralston addressed the issue at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon earlier today. Calling the final days of the 2016 legislative session the Capitol’s version of March Madness, the Speaker touched on a number of topics in his half-hour address, but perhaps the most newsworthy were his remarks on the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Saying he doesn’t take the concept of religious freedom lightly, Ralston said he was listening to people promoting the bill, along with those who fear that the bill will lead to discrimination against homosexuals. In addition to the personal nature of the bill and its impact, Ralston stressed the need to understand the impact of the legislation on the rule of law, and if there would be any unintended consequences the legislation would bring about.
The Speaker denounced the amount of misinformation that was being spread about the bill, and he decried the “self professed thought leaders” who “profit from relevance and attention.” Saying he had no interest in rushing to a decision in order to coddle the overinflated egos of a few, he urged everyone involved to take a deep breath.
Just as he said about the individuals who criticized transportation funding proposals without offering any alternatives, Ralston indicated that he had no time for those who practiced the politics of personal destruction. Yet, he welcomes those who value inclusive discussion.
Saying he is a born again Christian, Ralston rounded out his discussion of the issue with a quote from Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together…”