Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Day 27- March 4, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, major changes to Speaker Richardson’s tax plan, the House passes a measure to prevent senior judges from serving on death penalty cases and an exclusive interview Senate Democratic Whip David Adelman.

Speaker Glenn Richardson’s GREAT- Georgia’s Repeal of Every Ad Valorem Tax- Plan has gone through several changes over the course of the session, but the biggest by far was announced today. A repeal of the State portion of property tax has been eliminated from the bill. Instead, the Speaker has opted to pursue an idea originally put forward by Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter to eliminate the ad valorem tax on vehicles. Referred to as the “Happy Birthday Bill”, the combination of Senate Resolution 796 and House Bill 979 would phase out the ad valorem tax on personal motor vehicles by July 1, 2010 if adopted. The legislative package would also freeze tax assessments at 2008 levels and caps future valuation increases. Lawmakers Sandra Parrish has the details.

The House today approved a measure that would prevent senior judges from serving on death penalty cases. House Bill 1245 would also set up cost-sharing between counties and the State, allow Superior Court Clerks to collect and distribute funds, add four county commissioners to the Public Defender Standards Council and set an income cap at 100% of the poverty level for indigent defendants.

Our Tuesday Leadership Interview series continues with Senate Democratic Whip David Adelman. Lawmakers’ David Zelski talks with Sen. Adelman about the Democratic agenda as we approach the important crossover day- Legislative Day 30. Transportation, tax reform and education were also topics of discussion.

The Senate approved two pieces of legislation that aim to propel Tax Allocation Districts or TADs forward. Senate Bill 493 and Senate Resolution 996 are designed to help re-develop certain areas within communities to increase property values.

A measure that would require counties to have their water plans approved by the State Environmental Protection Division passed the House today. House Bill 1281 aims to assure that municipalities do not impose tougher restrictions than the State on outdoor watering.

Over 300 elementary and middle school students gathered today to celebrate the winners of the Parent Protection Act Art and Essay contest and show their support of House Bill 901. This legislation would provide job protected leave for parents to attend school conferences and routine medical appointments. Lawmakers' Bridget Snapp reports.

The Student Health and Physical Education, or SHAPE Act, got another workout this morning in the Senate. Senator Regina Thomas of Savannah took issue with Senate Bill 506, which aims to bring awareness to the problem by requiring Georgia schools to report the aggregate body mass index, or BMI, of their students. Although Thomas did not comment on Friday when the bill initially passed, she expressed reservations today about the funding of the measure as well as the impact of this legislation on student self-esteem.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.