Weathering the Storm - Pro-Life Legislative Update January 29, 2016

Weathering the Storm - Legislative Days 6-12
Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) has had a consistent full-time presence at the Capitol for decades. This team of activists works to lobby for pro-life legislation and helps influence its passage and works against against pro-death legislation that would send Georgia backward in our pursuit to create a culture of life. In 2016, GRTL's lobbyists are Joshua Edmonds, Director of Education & Legislation, and Johnny Crist, Mayor of Lilburn and our Government Affairs Administrator. 
 
For the last 8 years, Mike Griffin has served as our lobbyist and we thank him for his many years of dedication. This year, he has followed his heart to serve full time for the Georgia Baptist Missions Board. 
 
We have a robust legislative agenda that we are working to pass this year. Each week, we will pen a pro-life legislative update so you know what we have been up to, how we are representing you, and how you can be involved to help pass pro-life legislation in Georgia.
 
The Bullet Points
  • Weeks 2 & 3 of the 2016 legislative session were very productive.
  • We testified against HB 762 in House Judiciary Subcommittee.
  • The Personhood Amendment was introduced as HR 1091.
  • The POLST Oversight Bill was introduced at SB 305.
  • HB 713 was sent to House Juvenile Justice Subcommittee.
  • HB 287 was pulled from Subcommittee schedules entirely.
  • The Georgia March for Life on January 22, was a huge success.
  • The Pro-Life Lobby Day at the Capitol on January 26 had record attendance.
The Details
 
What was technically week 2 of the legislative session was actually only Wednesday-Friday (Legislative Days 6-8) of last week. On Friday they convened and adjourned quickly due to the coming inclement weather. Week 3 (Legislative Days 9-12) was far busier and more productive in terms of developing and introducing legislation.
 
We have been tracking HB 762, a bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard that would prevent abortionists from selling aborted fetal tissue. The bill, however, does not prohibit remuneration for procurement companies who are responsible for obtaining, storing, and transporting aborted baby parts. That means that babies can be killed for money in abortion, then donated to a third-party company who will then make money by selling the baby's body parts to biotech companies, research facilities, and universities for medical research. GRTL's official position is that aborted fetal tissue should not be used for medical research in any circumstance, and therefore we testified against HB 762 in House Judiciary Subcommittee last Thursday. We have been speaking with Chairman Willard's office about changing the bill to prohibit the use of aborted babies for medical research and will keep you informed of our progress.
 
One of our key pieces of legislation, the Human Embryo Protection Act (HB 287) authored by Representative Tom Kirby, was on the calendar for House Judiciary Subcommittee for last Friday morning and we were prepared to testify in favor of the bill. HB 287 was then removed from the Subcommittee calendar late Thursday and we have been told it will not be heard in 2016. Please pray that House leadership will see the importance of protecting human embryos from being created and destroyed for medical research and that it will receive a hearing.
 
The Personhood Amendment (HR 1091) was introduced in the House by Representative Brad Raffensperger. This amendment is our flagship piece of legislation and represents the ultimate policy objective of GRTL. It would require two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to pass and we craft all of our legislation to match the philosophy behind the amendment. We expect we will receive a hearing for this bill in the coming weeks. Be praying and watch for alerts from GRTL!
 
HB 713, the legislation dealing with the termination of rapists' parental rights authored by Representative Brad Raffensperger, was scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 28, in the House Juvenile Justice Committee. Before the hearing, you diligently emailed and called the committee members and requested they vote yes to protect women and children from violent sexual offenders, and we learned that we would be heard in a Subcommittee that will be scheduled in the coming days. We will update you as soon as we know when that will be.
  
There is one more piece of critical legislation, possibly our most aggressive this session, that we are putting the finishing touches on. It should be introduced next week and there will be a press release accompanying it, so be on the lookout.
 
We hosted our Georgia March for Life last Friday, January 22, despite the cold and rain and coming snow. Hundreds of Georgians and dozens of elected officials braved the weather to stand in Liberty Plaza where Suzanne Guy, Sarah Hughes, and Pastor Mike Stone gave rousing speeches ahead of our one-mile silent march. We've heard all week from legislators who were encouraged by your bravery and determination - thank you for joining us!
 
Our Pro-Life Lobby Day at the Capitol on January 26 was a huge success and we had a larger crowd than the last several years in attendance! We heard from Representative Mandi BallingerSenator PK Martin, andSenator Bruce Thompson before going to engage other legislators asking for their support of HR 1091 and HB 713. We hope you can join us for our event next year!
 
For the very first time, we will be hosting our Pillars of Personhood training seminar and outreach at the State Capitol on February 5th and 8th! We will meet in room 605 in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (across the street from the Capitol) from 9am-3pm learning about pro-life issues and how to articulate our beliefs. Lunch will be provided. On Monday, February 8, from 9am-3pm, we will bring both of our Pillars of Personhood displays to the Capitol to educate legislators, staff, visitors, and lobbyists about the issue of personhood! One display will be set up in Liberty Plaza while the other will be set up inside the Capitol Rotunda. We hope you can join us for this historic event!
 
That's all for this week. If you have any questions, email Joshua at joshuaedmonds@grtl.org or Johnny at johnnycrist@grtl.org!
 
Joshua & Johnny