Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Day 28- March 5, 2008

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Tonight on Lawmakers, Speaker Richardson’s ad valorem tax elimination plan fails to pass the House, the Senate approves a bill that would expand the use of school vouchers and a celebration under the gold dome for the peanut, Georgia’s official state crop.

Speaker Glenn Richardson’s proposed repeal of the ad valorem tax on vehicles has failed to gain passage in the House today. The constitutional amendment portion of the legislative package, Senate Resolution 796, required a 2/3 majority. That measure, along with House Bill 979 would have phased out the ad valorem tax on personal motor vehicles by July 1, 2010. The legislative package would have also frozen tax assessments at 2008 levels and cap future valuation increases. Lawmakers Sandra Parrish has the details.

The Senate approves a bill that could expand the use of school vouchers in Georgia. President Pro Tem Eric Johnson sponsors Senate Bill 458 and spoke about the choice the legislation is designed to give students and parents in school districts where there is a loss of accreditation or the school is on the “Needs Improvement” list for 7 years or more. Clayton County schools have been under scrutiny of late and may lose their accreditation on September 1. Lawmakers Bridget Snapp reports.

The House approved a measure that aims to increase mandatory sentences for driving under the influence. House Bill 336 makes DUI a felony on the fourth offense and mandates that judges cannot waive a jail requirement, even for first-time offenders. A minimum 24 hour stay would be required starting on the first offense.

The Senate today passed legislation that allows sugar gliders to be registered as pets rather than exotic wild animals. Senate Bill 522 would make it possible for owners of the small marsupials to avoid a $200,000 licensing fee. In other animal-related legislation, working dogs such as K-9 police dogs and guide dogs for the blind wear special collars contain tracking devices. Senate Bill 520 would make is a misdemeanor for anyone to remove this collar without permission from the owners.

Two licensing measures were also approved by the Senate today. Senate Bill 498 would require changes to licensing for the use of laser devices for cosmetic purposes. Under the measure passed today, a consulting physician would be required to examine each patient prior to any cosmetic laser service being performed and require that each facility offering cosmetic laser services have a supervisor with certain qualifications. Senate Bill 479 addresses ambulance licensing in a period of an EMS driver shortage.

And it was PB and J Day under the gold dome. The annual celebration of Georgia’s state crop always involves the sampling of peanut products of all kinds. Lawmakers Keocia Jackson makes friends with Buddy McNutty.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.