We’ve seen some political antics at the Capitol over the past several weeks, with Georgia lawmakers avoiding committee procedures and sneaking bad legislation into previously innocuous bills.

From not allowing testimony for egregious bills to front-loading limited testimony with only people in support of harmful bills, some legislators appear to have little respect for the process.

Earlier this session, Senate committee members rushed testimony on a bill that would have given schools the option to replace or supplement guidance counselors with chaplains. Despite it clearly being a dangerous bill that threatened to impose religious ideologies on others, members only allowed very limited testimony on it, with only several people being granted the opportunity to speak.

The process was even worse for a bill that would have allowed schools to place copies of the Ten Commandments in each classroom. They didn’t allow anyone to testify at all. Neither of those bills survived Crossover Day but they could still be reintroduced through unrelated legislation.

Speaking of which, the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee made a surprise amendment to House Bill 1170 on Monday, adding language to block access to prescribed puberty delaying medications for transgender minors. The bill was originally crafted to improve access to overdose-reversal drugs like Narcan, so the controversial turn took many by surprise. 

Legislators called last year’s SB 140 – a ban on certain medical care for trans youth in Georgia – a “compromise,” because it did not restrict access to prescribed puberty-delaying medications. Lawmakers are backtracking on their promises. 

The tactics around HB 1170 and the aforementioned education bills insult Georgians by excluding them from process, as well as serve as a reminder that keeping a watchful eye on daily goings-on at Capitol are paramount.

“Georgians deserve a fair democratic process. This upcoming election, people should vote for legislators who believe in democracy,” said ACLU of Georgia Policy Director Christopher Bruce.

Advocating for data protections and privacy

The ACLU of Georgia's policy team urged House members throughout the week to either improve or replace Senate Bill 473. The bill gets a failing grade for protecting consumers’ data in a report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

Sadly, the original bill is a handout to technology companies, aiming to protect their profits instead of Georgians. It’s missing several key parts included in model legislation passed elsewhere: 

  • Allows companies to collect as much data as they want, and use it however they want, as long as they disclose it in a privacy policy that no one ever reads.
  • No ability for consumers to hold companies legally accountable for violations of the law.
  • Doesn’t allow the state Attorney General to add clarifying rules to the law to keep pace with technology.

You can help us stop this bill by contacting lawmakers.