Georgia Senate Passes Business and Religious Institution Protection Act

 

Members of the Georgia State Senate Friday passed SB 200, which would, if enacted into law, protect businesses and churches against government shutdowns during a COVID-19-like pandemic or other health emergency.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) emailed a press release Friday and said this bill “provides businesses and churches with common-sense protections against government shutdowns.”

“Georgia’s response to the pandemic saved countless small businesses and provided an avenue for citizens to continue to join together to worship, avoiding dangerous and regressive shutdowns,” Duncan said.

“While other states have not even given small businesses or churches the opportunity to adapt their operations, SB 200 follows the intent of Governor Kemp’s executive orders to ensure our small businesses and churches have the opportunity to stay open, keep employees on the payroll, and continue to operate critical non-profit ministries.”

The Georgia General Assembly’s website identifies State Sen. Jason Anavitarte as the bill’s primary sponsor.

Duncan’s press release said “small businesses have shown a remarkable ability to adapt and comply with health guidelines throughout the coronavirus pandemic.” The press release also said that states such as Michigan, New York, and California have forced businesses to close with excessive shutdown orders. But Georgia allowed businesses to continue to operate as long as they could modify their operations to follow public health guidance.

“SB 200 simply codifies in state law the protections Georgia businesses and churches experienced throughout the pandemic,” the press release said.

As The Georgia Star News reported last month, this bill defines emergencies as pandemics, epidemics, bioterrorism events, or the appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated infectious agent or biological toxin.

Anavitarte, in a prior press release, said his legislation will help many of the Peach State’s residents who attend church services.

“I am proud to be sponsoring legislation that continues to fight for churches and business owners in Georgia. This bill is especially important as it continues to support so many businesses and churches in my district across west Georgia, along with Latino-owned businesses across Georgia I have heard from, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Anavitarte said.

“Governor Kemp’s decision to reopen Georgia has made all the difference for some of these business owners and will ensure that they continue to remain open. As always, I am here to defend and will fight for the interests of my constituents, and this bill will allow me to do that by protecting small business owners and churches in their time of need.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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