It’s day ten of Georgia’s legislative session. Bills are moving at a breakneck speed. Our Policy & Advocacy team is advocating against many distressing bills introduced this week. Typically, we do not see many bills introduced so early in the legislative session. Alarmingly, some of the bills include legislation aimed at chilling and criminalizing the right to protest.
Policy Director Christopher Bruce noted two troubling bills Georgians should watch. Lawmakers resurrected the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Senate Bill 180. While the language of the bill may not raise any alarms, we oppose it due to the substantial possibility of discrimination against vulnerable communities and potential violations of the First Amendment. Second, there’s Senate Bill 359, which would greatly expand the list of crimes that could be prosecuted under the state's RICO statute.
“These bills are a direct attack on our democracy,” Bruce said. “If we do not stand at this moment and stop these bills then we will continuously erode our democratic system to a point of no return. We need people to contact their legislators and tell them to vote ‘No’ on Senate bills 180 and 359.”
On Wednesday night, the policy team hosted its 2024 Legislative Preview. The virtual event offered a glimpse into our priorities for this session and tips for like-minded advocates to get involved in the process. We are focused on criminal legal system reforms, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. Check out our legislative session hub for a closer look.
You can keep an even more watchful eye on specific pieces of legislation with our new bill tracker, Fast Democracy. Find a link to the platform on our legislative session web page under “Follow Our Bill Tracker.” You can track bills and set alerts for things like committee meetings and votes.
Bruce also spoke before the Fulton County Board of Commissioners this week. The board had proposed to convert the county’s elected position of magistrate judge into an appointed role. The ACLU of Georgia opposes the change because it risks undermining key principles of a democracy. “The cornerstone of our democratic system is the direct election of public officials, ensuring that they are accountable to the people they serve,” said Bruce.
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