Georgia ‘religious liberty’ backer vows to press on after his Senate snub


State Sen. Josh McKoon’s loss of a leadership position was seen as a sign that legislative leaders had little appetite for another “religious liberty” debate this year. But the Columbus Republican said he’s not giving up yet.

“My public service has always been about ideas, not titles,” he said in a statement late Monday. “My work will continue regardless of the committee assignments I receive.”

Georgia’s GOP senators last week agreed to merge the chamber’s two judiciary committees into one at a closed-door meeting. If approved next week, it likely means McKoon, who had chaired the judiciary committee that oversaw civil matters, would be left out in the cold.

McKoon has been one of the most outspoken supporters for the past three years of “religious liberty” legislation that backers say will provide more protection from government intrusion on religious beliefs but critics see as state-sanctioned discrimination. And he used his committee to launch the legislation in 2015.

McKoon’s critics saw the snub as a sign of better House-Senate relations in the upcoming session. McKoon has long been at odds with House Speaker David Ralston’s aides, and he sharply criticized the significant scheduling and procedural overhauls coordinated with Ralston.

Asked why his chamber’s leaders sidelined him, McKoon offered this remark:

“As to the motivations of those who circumvented the Senate Legislative Process Committee to effect this rules change, you would have to ask them.”

More: ‘Religious liberty’ debate bills will again challenge lawmakers, leadership


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