ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The legislative session is over, but the debate on House Bill 838 is not.

ACLU Political Director Christopher Bruce said the bill quietly went through both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly last week while most were focused on the hate crimes bill.

“One, this bill has been rushed through the legislature; it hasn’t been completely deliberated,” Bruce said. “This was a poorly drafted piece of legislation that the Governor just needs to veto all together.”

House Bill 838 says a peace officer has the right to bring a civil lawsuit against any person or group for abridgment of the officer's civil rights. Something retired law enforcement officer Mike Brooks supports.

“Officers need to have protection because over the years there have been accusations against officers that were false and outright lies,” Brooks said.

The legislation also says that a person can get 1-5 years in prison if found guilty of maliciously harassing a first responder, causing bodily harm, death or damage to property.

“If it’s all one sided and the law enforcement officers in the state don’t have any fallback and can’t introduce evidence on their behalf, then it’s really not due process,” Brooks said.

Still, some say House Bill 838 defeats the purpose of a hate crimes law and they are urging the governor to veto it.

“I think at a time when Georgians are demanding accountability for the police that this is the wrong course of action,” Bruce said.

CBS46 contacted Governor Brian Kemp’s office to see if they plan to sign or veto the legislation. A spokesperson said they are waiting for the bill to go through legal review, like any other legislation, before a decision is made.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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