A state senator known for her work on child welfare issues has introduced legislation to regulate the operation of fantasy sports.
The proposed measure, chiefly sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman and joined by a quartet of four other Republicans, including the chairmen of the Rules, Appropriations, and Regulated Industries committees, explicitly differentiates fantasy sports from the state's illegal gambling statute but would adopt a number of consumer protections for players.
The bill—of which the full text may be accessed here—has been assigned for review by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, of which co-sponsor Sen. Rick Jeffares serves as chairman.
Working days until Sine Die: 20 legislative days
From fantasy sports to faith. The House of Representatives on Thursday unanimously adopted the Pastor Protection Act, reaffirming that clergy may not be compelled to officiate same-sex weddings when those ceremonies conflict with their faiths and views on marriage.
The bill passed 161-0, which Speaker David Ralston hailed as an indication that common ground on the religious liberties debate was possible even as some other Republican lawmakers grumbled the bill was insufficient. Eight bills related to religious liberty and same-sex marriage are pending consideration by the General Assembly, and the Pastor Protection Act was widely regarded as the most palatable to the business community, which remains opposed to the more severe Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Pay day. Senate Democratic Whip Vincent Fort introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at growing Georgia's hourly minimum wage to $15 and removing restrictions on cities and counties that elected to increase pay requirements within their own jurisdictions.
Budgeted. The Senate passed Governor Nathan Deal's amended budget for fiscal year 2016 and awaits consideration of the FY2017 spending bill upon the House's adoption.
Retired. A pair of veteran House lawmakers announced they would not seek reelection. The decision by Reps. Matt Ramsey and Stephen Allison is expected to trigger multiple candidates to fill both of these heavily Republican districts before primary qualifying in early March.
Reformed. Legislation to restructure the composition of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state watchdog that investigates misconduct on the bench, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. The new structure, proposed by Rep. Wendell Willard, would grow the body by three, giving the governor an additional appointment and offering for the first time a single appointment each to the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate.
Happening this week under the Dome
Sen. Brandon Beach’s bill to facilitate a major expansion of MARTA into Atlanta’s public transportation-starved suburban rings will win its first hearing in the Transportation Committee. Readers will recall that Beach introduced an amended version of the bill after it was parked for review in a committee from which few pieces of legislation ever escape. Once reintroduced, leadership assigned it to Transportation.
House subcommittees are expected to pass out their recommendations on the FY2017 budget, known in the capitol as the “big budget,” to the broader committees for review. Lawmakers in the Senate must await House action before taking up consideration of the spending package.