As I begin this update, let me say a big thank you to all of the pastors and leaders who attended one of the two pastor’s days here at the State Capitol. We had registrations of around 150 for both days. And, to top it all off, those attending the second day got to attend the Senate hearing on casino gambling. They were able to see (as some say) “how the sausage is made.” Hopefully that won’t keep them from coming back!
Well, as of Friday, February 17th, the Georgia General Assembly has reached the halfway mark of a 40-day legislative session. The session is scheduled to end Thursday, March 30th at midnight.
This year marks the first year of a two-year legislative cycle. That means bills introduced this year, but not acted on, will still be available for passage next year.
That being said, it has been an interesting session so far. Interesting in that, as of day 20, only one piece of pro-life legislation has been introduced and not one single religious liberty bill! That is odd, when so much was made last year about the need for religious liberty protection by both the House and the Senate. Of course the Governor’s veto last year of the “Free Exercise Protection Act,” House Bill 757, has done nothing to whet the appetites of legislators to pioneer another effort this year!
However, losing has not dampened the spirits of the gambling, marijuana, and alcohol lobbying efforts. The interest of some legislators to expand the use of these things seems to be re-invigorated, even though they suffered losses last year. This is in sharp contrast to legislation regarding “Campus Carry Regulation,” which is up and running with a full head of steam, even though the Governor vetoed their successful efforts last year! Some legislators do not feel this same conviction about religious liberty!
Nothing more represents the misguided efforts of some legislators than the attempt to expand predatory gambling in our state. To date, there are at least four (4) bills and one (1) proposed constitutional amendment dealing with the expansion of gambling. (Casino legislation: Sen. Brandon Beech, Rep. Ron Stephens, and Rep. Kesiah Waites; Sports Gambling: Rep. Trey Kelly) For the most part, these bills represent a bipartisan effort (Republicans and Democrats) to legalize gambling for the primary purpose of raising more tax revenue!
The scariest thing of all is that, it is as if “the sky has become the limit” and “the end now justifies the means” for what some legislators will do to raise a dollar for the ever-increasing appetite of big government. I hear, on a regular basis, that we are having to do this “for the children,” as in the case of casino gambling. I also hear things like, “well, the people are doing it anyway. We might as well legalize it, regulate it, and make some revenue off of it” in the case of Daily Fantasy Sports. May God help us when our moral convictions can be compromised this quick!
In many of these meetings through the years (gambling, for example) where “money is being chosen over morality,” I am hearing prayers being offered for God’s guidance and testimonies given by legislators to constituents on how they share their conservative Christian values. What difference does it make to Georgia Baptists if there are those under the Gold Dome who say they are Christians, but will not stand up and advocate for public policy that is “Christian”?
I say it makes no difference at all.
I have been told, on more than one occasion, not to make moral arguments when it comes to opposing the efforts of the gambling industry at the Capitol. What makes this hard to swallow, is it comes from legislators who are professing Christians. Friends, listen to me! If I don’t have biblical, moral arguments to make when opposing the evils of such things as gambling, alcohol, and abortion, what reason is there to genuinely oppose or, for that matter, be for anything at all?
Well, to say the least, your prayers are needed as Tom Rush and I seek to stand for what is right, just, and holy in our state government. We are not about to give up and give in.
We are trusting God that somehow we will have religious liberty legislation introduced during the 2nd half of the legislative session. We are trusting God that more pro-life legislation will be introduced. We are trusting we will be able to hold back any expansion of gambling and alcohol sales. And, we are trusting God that we can keep the cultivation and recreational use of marijuana out of our state.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. Your coming to the Capitol and contacting your state officials are helping us make a difference under the Gold Dome!