Rep. Leesa Hagan was elected first-term Georgia legislator. She wanted to write her first piece to encourage children to “put down the phones and get outside”. This bill has now been approved by the Senate and is set to move to the Senate floor.
Repurposed Soap Box Derby bill for sports betting
Hagan’s bill HB237 was originally meant to create the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby. Participants range from 7 to 20 years old and serve as the official soapbox derby for Georgia.
A committee substitute increased the bill’s size from three to 47 pages. The bill now covers a lottery-run betting infrastructure. According to Sen. Derek Mallow‘s explanation, this would not require a constitutional change and would have a 22% tax rate. Proceeds would be used to support education, just like similar bills died earlier in the session.
Before the March 7 deadline, all of the measures to legalize betting on sports failed to pass through the chambers.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Brandon Beach, credited Lt. Governor. Burt Jones was instrumental in keeping the effort to legalize betting alive. Jones was a senator and supported similar legislation for sports betting back in 2020.
Original sponsor requests that soap box elements be removed
At the hearing, the new bill was not made available to the public. Hagan was not even informed about the new bill.
“It is difficult for me to comment on a substitute that has never been seen. She said that she didn’t have a copy of the substitute. She also requested that her soapbox language be removed from the substitute committee.
“It’s the first bill I have ever written. “I’m a new legislator. This is very important to me. If this committee decides that they prefer sports betting, I respectfully ask you to remove my language.
Beach stated that Jones could attach her measure to another piece of legislation Hagan had.
Hagan wasn’t the only lawmaker who thought this was a bad idea. Vice Chairman of the Committee Sen. Mike Dugan didn’t hide his feelings.
This idea set back sports betting five years. “When you take over a soapbox derby and add sports betting to it, everyone on the Georgia fence has only how picked one side. This is why I don’t support it. Just to be clear, this small adjustment is on pages 3 through 47 of the bill. It’s your call. This can be voted out of committee. It will not be passed on the floor. It won’t be passed on the floor, and I believe everyone in this room knows that. This is unfathomable.
Dugan left the room after these comments, and did not vote. The Senate floor motion was passed by 8-1 vote of the committee.