First Day of Session

The first day back is usually a rather calm one filled mostly with pomp and circumstance.

The first full female leadership duo, Speaker Valerie Longhurst and Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown opened the house with roll call and pledge. Rep. Tim Dukes said a prayer just before administering the oath of office to Rep. Valeria Jones Giltner (RD 37), taking the place of Rep. Ruth Briggs King. With her hand on the Bible, Giltner was sworn in surrounded by her parents, husband, and children.

Once the official roll call was taken, which included the newly sworn in Rep. Giltner, and a handful of other recognitions were given, business as usual began. Under the surface of this business as usual, were very clear worldviews at play with one another. Let me share with you some of the bigger statements of the day.

  • It’s not about religious conflict, but “settler colonialism.” -Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton in response to HCR 80.
  • The press and the government are to blame about general ignorance on issues and the “blind support of the Israeli government.” – Rep. Eric Morrison in defense of HR 26.
  • “Algorithms are a threat to democracy.” – Rep. Kerri Evelyn Harris while commenting on HR 26.
  • The important “difference between a period and a comma.” – Rep. Jeffrey Spiegleman responding to HR 26.

All of these are large statements that give us a direct birds eye view into the worldview of the speaker, but I want to focus on the last one, the difference between a period and a comma. If the tense discourse on HCR 80 and HR 26 were any indication of the tone of the 2024 Legislative Session, we are in for conversations that are more difficult than most of us would ever choose to have. In the midst of those difficult conversations, it is imperative that we take a step back and decipher which statements ought to have periods and which ought to have commas.

Human beings are made in the image of God and consequently have value. Period. There is no place within this statement to place a comma and include justification for the killing of the innocent preborn or to assist in the suicide of adults.

God ordained the family unit to care for and train children. Period. It is not the place of the school or government to usurp parents in child rearing and introduce ideology without parental consent.

We could continue to add statements that simply are true and deserve a period, rather than a comma. As we assess legislation this year, we would do well to keep the Truth at the forefront of our brains to reclaim the conversation–no matter how difficult–and not allow for compromise on principles. Be careful of your diet of information; line everything up against the ultimate standard of Truth in Christ.


Bills Watched:

  • HCR 80 – Rep. Minor-Brown (PASSED): This concurrent resolution is to show concern for the loss of life in the Israel-Hamas war and to recognize “common humanity.”
    • Jewish and Muslims shared the floor to provide “interfaith efforts” calling for unity.
  • HR 26 – Rep. Wilson-Anton (Laid on Table): To call on Congress and the Biden Administration to issue a permanent ceasefire.
    • Former Speaker of the House, Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf encouraged other members to follow long held tradition of not calling on federal government how to do their job and vote against HR 26.
    • After heated debate and disagreement on both sides, Rep. Wilson Anton motioned for HR 26 to be tabled.


Nandi Randolph
Policy Analyst

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