Deal’s Religious Freedom Veto Could Affect Support for the OSD Amendment

Georgia’s next battle and big ballot issue for November is the failing schools amendment for the Opportunity School District proposal. However, Governor Deal might have lost some political capital when he vetoed the religious freedom bill, and the backlash might now cloud support over the amendment, according to a story from 11 Alive.

The OSD would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools. However, the legislation requires a constitutional amendment which now needs a majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election.

Governor Deal is expected to use his pull to influence voters to approve the OSD amendment, but other groups have already voiced their opposition, such as the Georgia Association of Educators, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the Georgia PTA, and a coalition of black clergy across the state.

Rita Scott, who is with the Communications Workers of America, believes that some lawmakers voted to put the amendment before the voters in exchange for help from Gov. Deal with their own bills, including the religious freedom bill:

“Some legislators sold out. Voted for the governor’s bill in order to have their own bills pass out of the legislature and voted for and supported the OSD, when they actually were against OSD, to make sure that the religious freedom bill would come out of committee. It came out of committee. It passed. It’s been vetoed, so what they were promised as a legislature has now gone back,” said Scott.

Representative Buzz Brockway, a Republican from Lawrenceville, stated that “folks on both sides are sharpening their arguments to do battle on it.” He claims, however, that the veto of the religious freedom bill will not influence whether or not he supports the amendment:

“I could disagree with the governor over his veto of the religious freedom bill and I could still support him on what he’s trying to accomplish with the opportunity school district,” said Brockway.

State Senator Joshua McKoon, a Republican from Columbus, also states that the veto does not affect his support of the amendment. Although he fought incredibly hard to push through the religious freedom bill, he still favors the OSD amendment and thinks it is “a fundamentally good policy.”

It is thought by Students First Director O’Sullivan that Gov. Deal may have gained support for the amendment from Democrats and independents who supported his veto. Opponents, however, have already began a grassroots campaign to help stop the amendment’s passing.

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