Ban would end single-party consent recordings

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Senate Bill 59, dropped this week by State Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) and sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), is already drawing fire from several directions.

The bill would ban people in the state from recording somebody without their permission. Georgia is currently a one-party consent state, meaning only one person in a conversation has to know that they are being recorded.

In a Saturday morning meeting with constituents at the Wagon Wheel restaurant, State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), said the bill has not made its way to the House yet, but in its current form, “I would have to oppose it. I don’t think it will go anywhere.”

Tanner, a former law enforcement officer who has conducted undercover investigations, said the bill could greatly hamper police in the investigation of crimes.

Dahlonega City Councilman Bruce Hoffman, another former law enforcement officer, agreed. “Florida is a two-party state and it has hurt law enforcement there,” he said.

The bill has also drawn public backlash. Georgia First Amendment Foundation (GFAF) President Richard T. Griffiths said it would be “very bad for the public.”

GFAF board member John McCosh told the Chattanooga Times Free Press this week the bill could hurt crime victims. “A domestic violence victim, for example, may need to secretly record threats to present as evidence for a restraining order. And the time-honored practice of using hidden cameras and surreptitious recordings by investigative journalists would also be chilled. That technique has done a lot of public good in holding government and business institutions to account.”

The bill has been dubbed “Cagle’s Law after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was secretly recorded during the 2018 election cycle saying he backed ‘bad public policy’ because of [expletive] politics and to prevent Hunter Hill from receiving millions of dollars in donations from a conservative group that supports school choice.”

If the bill is signed into law, Georgia would become only the 13th state in the U.S. to ban single-party consent recordings. It would join a number of far left states like California, Washington and Massachusetts.

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