I previously wrote about the emergence of S.B. 221 from the Judiciary Committee about two weeks ago, after being introduced on February 27. This briefly stated review closes the book on Sen. Harbin’s (GA-16) proposal, but the reader should note the legislation remains active for one year and could be amended to existing legislation that survived crossover day in either chamber of the Georgia Assembly. For the time being, Georgia Republicans have a significant fight on their hands with the “heartbeat bill” and voting machines. Another layer of religious freedom, after significant outcry from businesses and the film industry, would only compound the existing challenges.
Earlier last week, a stir came from the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee, as Sen. Harbin’s (GA-16) announced S.B. 221 titled the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” While the legislation mirrored the existing Federal law, one distinction was a clause permitting suit against certain judicial officers who overstepped their codified authority.
However, by mid-week as the bill failed to receive a hearing, opponents and legislators breathed a sigh of relief, fearing another difficult legislative fight similar to 2016 when H.B. 757 was vetoed by former Gov. Nathan Deal. As crossover day came and went without passing the bill, the measure is stalled until next year. Or as GeorgiaPol blog wrote, it could emerge as a so-called “zombie bill,” in the event it’s amended to an existing piece of passed legislation.