Ga. Capitol roundup: Senate Republicans outline top priorities

Georgia state Capitol
Georgia state Capitol(Gray)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 12:02 PM EST
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s Senate Republican Caucus held a news conference to announce their top four legislative priorities for the current session.

New bills are being filed this week focusing on critical race theory, protests and social media censorship.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, led the news conference Tuesday.

“Despite unprecedented challenges and distractions, I believe our Senate republican caucus stayed focused on getting real results that embodied our belief of real people solving real problems,” Dugan said.

“Senate Republicans showed that we will fight back on behalf of the people of Georgia. Two shining examples were Senate Bill 202, a monumental election integrity law that has become the national model for making it easier to vote yet harder to cheat,” he continued, also adding that the body made it illegal for city governments to “defund” local police departments by reducing funding resources.

Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, is sponsoring a bill that will punishing rioters who commit vandalism at protests and penalize city officials who don’t stop riots or minimize police resources.

“This legislation also holds cities accountable for their failure to provide resources to the men and women of public safety that they need to protect their citizens,” Robertson said as he expressed disapproval of the protests and and the handling of riots in Atlanta and other large cities during the social justice movements of 2020. “When local officials made the decision to have law enforcement stand down in the city of Atlanta, they should’ve been held accountable,” Robertson said.

The lawmakers planning take on big tech companies in an effort to stop them from selling user data through social media. Sen. Greg Dolezal is filing possible legislation to prohibit the censorship of Republicans and conservative comments on social media. Notable Republican leaders including former President Donald Trump and Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green have both been banned from Twitter.

“I will introduce legislation to protect Georgia users across all major social media platforms from the ongoing censorship that has unfairly targeted conservatives and anyone who seems to challenge the prevailing thought,” said Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming.

Dolezal says his bill would require social media companies to stop banning qualified political candidates from their platforms and publish their standards for shadow-banning users and implement those standards consistently across the board.”

In the classroom, the lawmakers want to block the teaching of critical race theory and concepts similar to it.

Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia, plans to file a bill Wednesday banning critical race theory from being taught in schools.

“We believe that there are concepts that are being taught in Georgia in Georgia colleges and universities that are seeping down in our k-12 schools,” Sen. Hatchett said.

He says schools may deny teaching critical race theory but he believes they still teach concepts that he views as problematic. “Take the term CRT out of the equation, our students should not be taught that any one race is inherently superior race ethnicity or skin color. They should not be taught that an individual solely because of her race, ethnicity, or skin color, is inherently racist, oppressive, or has some sort of prejudice whether consciously or subconsciously.”

The Senate Republican Caucus applauded their work passing the new Election Integrity law. At the same time, Democratic Rep. Donna McLeod filed HB941, a bill to repeal Georgia’s new election law, Senate Bill 202.

The Senate Republican Caucus did not answer questions at the press conference. They instead urged everyone to read the bills first and said they would answer questions later in the week after the bills have been filed.

Georgia lawmakers aim to tackle spike in suicides, overdoses

ATLANTA - Facing a surge in overdose deaths and rural suicides, Georgia lawmakers want to bolster the state’s dismal mental health system by pressuring private insurers to improve coverage and increasing state funding for treatment and crisis services.

Members of the state Legislature are scheduled to unveil a policy package for mental health and substance abuse on Wednesday.

Efforts to ensure private insurers provide the same level of benefits for depression, anxiety and other mental disorders as they do for medical conditions are expected to be a central part of the legislation.

The package is also expected to contain incentives for people to get trained as mental health workers.

Bill would give Georgia parents way to quash school materials

ATLANTA - Republicans in the Georgia House say they will push forward with a proposal that would allow parents to protest books and other materials that they believe are harmful to minors.

Under Senate bill 226, school officials required to decide within seven days whether to remove the material.

The measure stalled in the House last year, but began moving ahead again Tuesday with a subcommittee hearing.

Republican State Sen. Jason Anavitarte of Dallas introduced the measure He says it was sparked by complaints from parents. Conservative activists have particularly targeted online databases.

Opponents fear the bill will lead to censorship depriving students access to a broad selection of materials.

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