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Pastor Protection Act moving forward
burns jon 2015
State Rep. Jon Burns

We are halfway through the 2016 legislative session and the General Assembly is making big steps to protect and strengthen Georgia families.

Protecting pastors, churches

On Thursday, I was proud to support House Bill 757 by Rep. Kevin Tanner, which protects churches and members of the clergy from having to perform wedding ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs and teachings. With unanimous support in the state House, it is clear that the Pastor Protection Act is the right step forward for preserving religious rights in Georgia.

Protecting religious expression

House Bill 870 will allow all Georgia students the opportunity to compete in sports activities regardless of which school they attend. Currently, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) allows large private schools to compete, but excludes the smaller Christian schools. HB 870 states that if two schools wish to compete, they can if all proper protocols are observed.
This bill also establishes clear rules regarding personal expression and prohibits the GHSA from arbitrarily prohibiting religious expression if expression is allowed during the competition.

Protecting highway workers

House Bill 767 adds utility service vehicles to the “Spencer Pass Law,” which states that a driver must make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to a stationary towing, recovery, highway maintenance, or utility service vehicle. If a lane change would be impossible or unsafe, the driver must reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable speed less than the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop. The intent of this law is to add the protection of utility service workers who work on the side of roadways to the existing law that protects law enforcement officers performing their duties while on our roadways.

Protecting consumers

To keep businesses honest and consumers safe, the General Assembly passed HB 697 this week, which prohibits the ability of solicitors to begin charging customers for unwanted goods and services after the “free trial” period has ended. Unless the customer provides expressed approval, the goods are deemed as an unconditional gift and do not require payment or obligation.

Young Farmer Organization members from Effingham and Screven counties visited the Capitol for their annual legislative reception this past week. It is always good to see friends from home.

Screven County hosted Sen. Jesse Stone, spokespeople for U.S. Rep. Rick Allen and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, and me for the annual Eggs and Issues meeting in Sylvania this past Saturday. A large crowd of citizens attended and topics of interest were discussed. As always, it was good to see several high school students present from Mr. Kemp’s AP class at Screven County High School. Thanks to the Screven County Farm Bureau and Screven County 4-H Club for preparing breakfast.

If I can be of service to you in the weeks ahead, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or send a message on Facebook ( It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House Majority Leader.