A funny thing happened on Friday. Republicans stalled their own hateful bill by trying to add in a questionable “anti-terrorism” measure.
This time of year, legislators have a habit of amending bills on the floor just before a vote, sometimes by adding in whole other bills. In the state Senate, if a long enough “amendment” is added, the bill has to go back a few steps in the process, before it can come back up for a vote on the floor.
This is precisely what happened last week. Republicans have been championing several anti-immigrant measures, including one that creates a public registry of certain undocumented immigrants (see the bottom of this post for more info). Republicans, in the Senate in particular, have also been championing anti-terrorism measures that have been criticized by the likes of the ACLU for broadly criminalizing first-amendment rights.
As the AJC reports:
“Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, used the bill as an opportunity to make a second attempt at creating a separate agency for a state Department of Homeland Security. The language was originally included in Senate Bill 1, but a House committee last week took it out.”
I just have to appreciate that Republicans stalled their own measure. Cowsert’s amendment was added and now the bill has to go back to the Rules committee before it can go back to the Senate floor for a vote. The testimony of impacted people about why a bill is dangerous is not nearly as effective as in-party fighting when it comes to slowing down bad policy.
On the other hand, an important adoption reform bill has also been stalled thanks to the addition of anti-LGBT language to the measure. Georgia’s adoption laws are decades out of date, and yet again, in-party fighting about when is the appropriate time to hate on certain groups has slowed down the measure.
Folks may cheer when divisive legislators bow out of the game, but I, for one, appreciate that as long as Republican legislators can’t build consensus about exactly who they want to hate and when is the right time to hate these people, they are less effective at passing bad bills. They are also less effective at passing much needed reforms, but in Georgia I take the “wins” however I can get them.
If you want to learn more about HB 452, the so-called immigrant registry bill, check out Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies or Project South for more information and ways to get involved. The ACLU of Georgia has more information about SB 1, the “anti-terrorism” measure.