Critical-race theory and “Big Tech” will be top targets of Georgia Senate Republicans as the 2022 General Assembly session unfolds, Senate GOP leaders announced Tuesday.
The annual Senate Republican priorities list also will include cracking down on violent demonstrators.
“Despite unprecedented challenges and distractions over the past two years, I believe our Senate Republican Caucus has stayed focused on getting results and has embodied our belief in the caucus being, ‘real people solving real problems’,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton. “This session, I am encouraged by the common goals that have been previewed by members of both chambers.”
While Senate Republicans will join their GOP colleagues in the Georgia House of Representatives in backing legislation to ease gun restrictions and increase funding for mental health services, Senate Republicans also will push a four-part agenda of their own. The caucus has chosen one Republican senator to spearhead each of the items.
One Senate GOP priority will be to ban the teaching of “critical race theory” in Georgia schools.
“We must stop divisive concepts from being taught in Georgia colleges and universities and seeping down into our k-12 schools – concepts that an overwhelming majority of Georgians outright reject,” said Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia. “We must ensure that no student is taught to feel guilty or ‘less than’ because of how they were born. Scapegoating and stereotyping are not acceptable teaching methods. Period.”
The Georgia Board of Education voted last year to oppose the teaching of critical race theory, which emphasizes the existence of systemic racism in the United States. While critical race theory isn’t taught in Georgia, it has been a hot-button political issue, with Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican legislative leaders making a top priority of banning it from Georgia schools.
Meanwhile, the banning of former President Donald Trump from social media platforms for disseminating false information about the results of the 2020 presidential election has Republicans in Georgia and elsewhere going after Big Tech.
State Senate Republicans pledged Tuesday to target “shadow banning,” the practice of banning a user’s social media content without their knowledge.
“For too long, Big Tech companies have gone unchecked, trampling on our basic rights as Americans by censoring our freedom of speech, while exploiting our private data to line their own pockets,” said Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming.
The Senate GOP platform also includes legislation requiring “opt-out” choices for consumers who wish to keep their personal information private.
Senate Republicans also hope to resurrect public safety legislation that didn’t make it through the legislature last year.
The measure was brought in response to the wave of violent protests in Atlanta and other cities in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis by a white police officer.
It would have made it a felony for groups of seven people or more to cause property damage or violence and hold city and county governments liable in civil court for interfering in a police agency’s protest enforcement.
“Many sympathetic local officials stood by and watched as angry mobs ran rampant in Georgia communities, destroyed private property, and looted Georgia businesses,” said Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula. “Allowing this unacceptable behavior led to increased crime and a more dangerous environment for frontline law enforcement.”
Robertson is spearheading this year’s push in the Senate to stiffen criminal penalties for riotous conduct and hamper law enforcement.
Finally, Senate Republicans are vowing to support $1.2 million in new funding to help Georgia’s technical college system expand apprenticeship opportunities.
This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.