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Georgia religious freedom bill stalls in House committee

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McKoon’s bill would forbid government from infringing on a person’s religious beliefs unless the government can prove a compelling interest and would cover individuals and closely held corporations. Critics say such measures are being considered in 13 states as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for a possible ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Some Georgia business interests made their strongest negative comments yet on the bill Thursday, while other opponents pointed to Indiana companies and convention organizers warning of economic harm in that state following Gov. Mike Pence signing a similar measure.

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Jim Sprouse, executive director of the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, said the issue boils down to the perception of Georgia as an “unwelcoming state” by convention site-selectors if the bill were to pass.

“Please don’t discount the importance of that perception,” he said.

The measure does have a narrow path forward. McKoon overcame a similar roadblock in a Senate committee before the chamber overwhelmingly supported the bill in a floor vote.

Committees can resume debate on tabled bills, but lawmakers plan to wrap up the 40-day session by midnight of April 2.

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