Speaker Ralston Reacts to Governor Deal’s Statement on the Pastor Protection Act

During a break in the Crossover Day action, House Speaker David Ralston was asked about Governor Nathan Deals statement today that legislators should be able to come to a resolution on religious liberty that would preserve the rights of people of faith without discrimination. The Speaker responded,

I’ve been trying to to do that for two years here, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. One thing I found out this weekend from talking to people, even in my district is that people, they care about our image as a state. That was one of the things that I think informed the concerns of many people about bringing casinos into Georgia, and I think the same things informed them about that issue.

House Bill 757 was greatly modified in the Senate, when it added most of the language from Senator Greg Kirk’s First Amendment Defense Act to Kevin Tanner’s Pastor Protection Act. After the modified bill was sent back to the house, opposition to the combined measures from businesses including Microsoft and Salesforce.com grew louder. When asked about what legislators were doing to come up with a solution, the Speaker said,

We’re working hard on that issue. I respect that it’s a very intense issue on both sides. I try to respect that. I think it’s very unfortunate that it’s become so politicized, and with so much misinformation out there. I hope that once we get past today, we’ve still got about three calendar weeks that I hope that we can get some calm heads around the table and people that don’t have a political agenda in this to work out something that we can feel good about as a state because I think that’s very important.

Along with other options, the House can amend the bill and send it to the Senate, which would have to accept or reject it without amendment, or it can disagree with the Senate amendment, and return the bill to the Senate, likely resulting in a conference committee being named.

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