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Session ends — Sine die: March 30, 2016

Working late into the night, the General Assembly has concluded the 2016 legislative session. The House and Senate voted final passage on a lot of legislation that will help Georgians all across the state.
In response to criticism from the business community, the General Assembly attempted to create a way to add teeth to the non-discrimination policies of Georgia businesses. The idea was that if a company operating in Georgia wanted to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies and practices then their employees would be able to cite those policies and practices in a discrimination lawsuit against the company in a Georgia court. This compromise would have provided an individual business or corporation the opportunity to protect the LGBT community if they chose to do so. Unfortunately, this measure also received strong opposition from the business community and was not brought up for a vote despite hard work behind the scenes.
With the session now over, the next step of the legislative process is the governor. All legislation that received final passage is now on his desk for signature or veto. Some legislation like the budget gets signed very quickly to make sure state agencies continue to operate smoothly. Other bills, including the Free Exercise Protection Act, are awaiting his action. He has 40 working days after the session concludes to sign or veto legislation. Any bills that are on his desk and do not receive action by that time will also go into effect. (EDITOR’S VOTE: Governor Nathan Deal announced his plan to veto the act earlier this week.)
I want to thank everyone who has followed and supported the First Amendment Defense Act that I introduced this year. Although Senate Bill 284 did not receive final passage, the operative language of the First Amendment Defense Act was incorporated into the Free Exercise Protection Act as part of the deliberate and thorough vetting of religious liberty legislation by the General Assembly.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent your interests here in the state Senate. It has been my honor to voice the concerns of Senate District 13 and work on your behalf. Stay tuned for a more in depth look at the final days of the 2016 legislative session next week.

Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, represents the 13th Senate District which includes Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner, and Worth counties and portions of Sumter and Wilcox counties. He can be reached by phone at 404-463.-5258 or email at greg.kirk@senate.ga.gov