Georgia House Bill 51, also known as the “campus rape bill,” didn’t pass the state legislature this year, but that doesn’t mean the proposal is dead. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this is, “the first of a two-year legislative session, anything that didn’t pass this week is still alive when lawmakers return in January.”
The new law purported to protect innocent people accused of rape. Although the actual language, in its latest form, mostly amounted to requiring school administrators to call the police when they received a report of a felony crime, (without saying how a random administrator would be able to grasp felony law), requiring universities to not deliver any punishment until the accused had “due process” (which it never defines), and preventing universities from obstructing criminal investigations. The bill did not address improving police procedures for investigating rape, or collecting data on Title IX procedures to see what they have accomplished.
If this doesn’t sound like the fix that Title IX needs—and many activists went to the legislature to tell them exactly that—it’s perhaps no surprise that the main force behind the bill was Rep. Earl Ehrhart, a familiar name around these part. He previously played a role in getting university athletic departments an outrageous exemption from Georgia public record laws, and he helped start the conversations that lead to the Braves moving to Cobb County at the expense of taxpayers. Cobb voters have since voted out the local leaders who made that deal, but Ehrhart remains in the state legislature.
The bill passed the Georgia House but stalled in the state senate, until Senate Bill 71, which dealt mostly with bankruptcy and medical savings accounts, was stripped of its language—with the text of House bill 51 added in its place. But the Senate didn’t agree on the substitute and never sent senators to a committee to hash out the differences, per the Red & Black. So the bill failed, for now.
As for next year, though, Ehrhart said expect it to be back; he even made a baseball comparison to prove his point, telling the Red & Black: “It’s the bottom of the first. This is a long game.”