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Some Georgia lawmakers shocked transgender ban snuck into bill before midnight

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:35 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The 2022 Georgia legislative session came to an end early this morning with cheers and celebration.

But some lawmakers say they were left in shock to see a bill aiming to ban transgender sports tucked into a separate measure just before midnight. As lawmakers tossed their bills and calendars into the air to celebrate the close of the legislative session, they yelled out “Sine Die” commemorating the end of a long four months.

Senator Sally Harrell was one of the Senate Democrats who stood dismayed and disappointed

“We were in a state of shock and awe and I personally was in a state of sadness,” Harrell said.

Just before midnight a move to ban transgender student athletes in traditional sports was quietly added to a bill on seeking to ban divisive concepts in schools.

“We tried very hard to be recognized by the Lt. Governor but we were never able to be heard,” Harrell said, adding that she and other lawmakers never got to see the bill before the vote.

“There was no copy of the amendment put on our desks,” Harrell said. “This is my 10th year and I have never been asked to vote on a bill that I couldn’t see.”

She’s also the mother of a transgender child. “I had shared with very few people down here that I even have a transgender child, but I felt like people were missing the human aspect of his issue missing the fact that these children are real children that have real needs.”

The bill’s language is constructed from the Save Girls Sports Act, which did not pass the legislative body. This version, however, puts the decision to ban or allow transgender athletes in the hands of the Georgia High School Association which governs school sports.

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Marty Harbin was not available to talk with CBS46, Tuesday, according to his administrative assistant.

The GHSA executive director Dr. Robin Hines responded writing, “I have not had time to assess this bill as it changed last night. At first glance, the GHSA will need to determine if they believe this is an issue that needs a by-law clarification that goes beyond the current policy of accepting member school’s gender determination.”

The GHSA will have a ten-person committee review possible challenges, under the new bill, Harrell says.

Before the post-midnight bill change Governor Kemp paid the lawmakers a visit to remind them of legislative priorities he’s requested including the transgender sports bill.

“The speaker of the house referred to this as a compromise bill. I can see the speakers he said he will also ensure this does not target transgender children I will hold him to accountability on that,” Harrell state.

The bill now sits on governor’s desk.