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November 24, 2015

ICYMI: The Economics of RFRA and What it Means for Georgia

With roughly two months to the start of the 2016 Georgia Legislative Session, MAC and its partner organizations are undertaking efforts to educate state and regional policy makers as well as the public about the economic impacts of a pending "religious liberty" bill.  MAC produced a study on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) revealing that Atlanta and Georgia could suffer at least a $1 billion economic hit, unless anti-discrimination language is added to current legislation (SB 129)  Similarly, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) released its own report which also highlights the possibility of negative financial impacts resulting from SB 129 as it is currently written.

MAC Chief Policy Officer Katie Kirkpatrick is quoted in an AJC article about the report:

“We want to send the message that Georgia is a welcoming state,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s good for economic development, which is good for jobs, which is good for Georgia families. This study … allows all of us to go into the upcoming legislative session with eyes wide open as to what the potential economic risks are if Georgia doesn’t get this right.”

In the same article, Atlanta CVB President William Pate speaks on behalf of the Atlanta tourism industry:

“You can see our concerns about passing religious freedom without any anti -discrimination language in it,” said William Pate, the president of the Atlanta CVB. “It will have a significant impact on our business. The convention business is kind of the gasoline that runs the economic engine. You don’t see it, but when it disappears you really feel it.”


And, when it comes to college hoops, in particular NCAA Championships, it appears RFRA legislation will play in to decision-making about where events are held.

The AJC's Greg Bluestein spotted this item in the Indianapolis Star, home-base for the NCAA.

“We’ll continue to review current events in all cities bidding on NCAA championships and events, as well as cities that have already been named as future host sites, such as Indianapolis,” Bob Williams, NCAA senior vice president for communications, wrote in an email statement Nov. 12.


WABE meanwhile is reporting that the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an LGBT lobbying held a major event in Atlanta last week.  Its purpose was to launch a new campaign for workforce equality.  Why Atlanta?

"A representative from the Human Rights Campaign who was at the gathering said the foundation chose Atlanta because so many corporations here were at the top of the foundation's 2016 Corporate Equality Index and because of the recent controversy in the Georgia Legislature over the religious freedom bill."






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