Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 33- March 19, 2008

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Tonight on Lawmakers, the House passes legislation allowing judges to override juries in some cases in the imposition of the death penalty, the House and Senate battle over who has the better tax relief plan and an agreement is reached on the FY 2008 Amended Budget.

Capital punishment became an issue during House debate today. Senate Bill 145 would make it possible for prosecutors to pursue a sentence of “Life Without Parole” independently of a death penalty prosecution. Representative Barry Fleming amended the provisions of his legislation, House Bill 185, onto the bill. That measure would allow a judge to impose the death penalty in cases with a jury split on the imposition of lethal injection. The judge could override the jury in cases where there are one or two dissenting jurors. Current Georgia law requires that the imposition of the death penalty must be from a unanimous jury. House Bill 185 passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate. Due to the changes, Senate Bill 145 goes back to the Senate.

It’s the battle of the tax plans as the House and Senate face off over the best way to relieve some of the burden on Georgia’s taxpayers. The House proposal would eliminate personal vehicle taxes over the next 2 years. The Senate proposal would reduce state income taxes by 10% over the next 5 years. Governor Sonny Perdue weighs in and Lawmakers’ Bridget Snapp reports.

The battle may rage over tax relief, but the House and Senate have apparently reached an agreement on the FY 08 Amended Budget. The Conference Committee report for House Bill 989 is expected on the floor in both chambers tomorrow morning. Lawmakers’ David Zelski talks with conferee Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson about the outcome of negotiations.

Former State Representative Ron Sailor, Jr. plead guilty yesterday to federal money laundering charges and resigned from the Georgia House of Representatives. Lawmakers has learned that the investigation into Sailor came about as part of a broader corruption probe by federal authorities. Sandra Parrish has that story.

The House today also passed legislation that would allow for the incorporation of the City of Dunwoody. Senate Bill 82 passed by a vote of 106 to 60 and was immediately transmitted back to the Senate.

Georgia’s senior U.S. Senator announced his campaign for re-election today. Senator Saxby Chambliss was joined by Governor Sonny Perdue and Republican leaders from around the State at a Capitol ceremony this afternoon. Chambliss is seeking his second term, he was first elected in November 2002.

Governor Sonny Perdue today attended a special Promotion Ceremony for the Department of Public Safety today. Lt. Colonel Fred Snellings was named Deputy Commissioner and Major Mark McDonough was promoted to Commanding Officer. Lawmakers Minoo Hosseini reports.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.