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Belton: A significant week in the state legislature
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The fifth week of Georgia Legislative Session this year was by far the most significant, as the House passed a bill that would protect preachers from performing weddings and other ceremonies that would violate their religious convictions.

For the first time since anyone can remember, the Speaker entered the well himself and spoke convincingly about this bill. His message was that it is far more productive to first pass the things we can all agree on than to “leap across the bottomless chasm” and fight about things we can’t. He quoted Lincoln when he said, “A House divided cannot stand” and asked the House to agree on this limited measure and then to proceed forward from there.

The bill passed unanimously.

While I’m very pleased at that result, I hope we can indeed move forward on the other RFRA bills. Another RFRA-type bill that passed was a measure that states that if schools allow any sort of message on an athletic uniform, that it may not disallow a religious expression as that message. It also allows any private school to play sporting events with any other private or public school, provided both schools want to play those games.

I’m happy to say my School Transparency Bill had a unanimous vote in the House this week and is now in the Senate’s hands. This is a big deal, as it will allow — for the very first time — for ordinary citizens to clearly understand where exactly your $16,000,000 of education funding is going. I am also told my Study Committee to protect our Military Bases should be approved next week.

Another bill that passed unanimously was the “Military Spouses and Veterans Licensure Act.” Offered by a Democrat, it helps veterans and their spouses use licenses they have already earned in other states (or the military) to be accepted in Georgia so those people can work in Georgia. Another bill stops the double taxation of tobacco products, while yet another protects the consumer by disallowing vendors requiring payment on unsolicited merchandise.

I was very honored to host Pastor Doug Gilreath of First United Methodist Church of Covington as the Pastor of the Day. His passionate sermon about the need for Christians to love one another has been regarded as one of the best this year. You might be surprised, but we start every Legislative day with a sermon and every Committee meeting with a prayer. I was also pleased to speak with many of the Newton County Commissioners who visited the Capitol to speak about the proposed change in the County government. Your entire Legislative Delegation is carefully studying this brand new Resolution that the Commissioners presented to us this week. I also spoke with Ken Justice about RFRA.

As always, I am eager to hear how you feel about these topics. I hope you’ll continue to pray for me, and contact me with your constructive comments at or 706-372-4114.