Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day 39- April 2, 2008

Watch Online!

Tonight on Lawmakers, it’s Legislative Day 39 under the gold dome and the House and Senate are expected to meet long into the night. There’s more tax reform talk from both chambers, a bill is amended in the House to would allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons on public transportation and into restaurants and a bill aimed at seizing the vehicles of illegal immigrants involved in traffic incidents gains a wider scope.

HR 1246 and HB 1244 have become the primary vehicles for tax reform in the 2008 session. Yesterday, the House stripped Senate provisions out of HR 1246 and replaced it with an elimination of the ad valorem tax on personal vehicles. The House also changed Senate provisions in HB 1244, moving a proposed 10% reduction in state income taxes back by three years to begin in 2011 instead of 2008. House Speaker Glenn Richardson called the plan a compromise. Lawmakers’ Sandra Parrish reports on today’s developments.

House Bill 257 would allow constables to carry weapons to public gatherings. It was amended to include provisions that would allow licensed gun owners to carry their weapons on public transit and in restaurants. Although debate began in the Senate, the bill was tabled. Lawmakers’ Bridget Snapp has the details.

House Bill 978 was also tabled in the Senate today. The legislation would allow law enforcement to seize the vehicles of unlicensed drivers who are involved in an accident or pulled over for a traffic violation. Representative James Mills says he sponsored House Bill 978 after several of his constituents complained about being hit by illegal immigrants. Opponents of the measure say it raises a host of Constitutional issues. The bill passed the House back on February 28 by a vote of 104-51. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini has the latest.

House Bill 881 passed the Senate today by committee substitute. This is Representative Jan Jones’ legislation to establish the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The measure would offer an alternate route for groups and companies seeking to establish charter schools. In addition to applying to local school boards or the state board of education, this bill would allow petitions to be submitted to a seven member charter commission. Lawmakers’ Andi Dixon has that story.

The focus of Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears’ State of the Judiciary Address earlier this session was pay raises for superior court, court of appeals and Supreme Court justices. The current salary for those positions is approximately $120,000 per year. Excepting annual cost of living adjustments, the State’s jurists haven’t had a pay raise since 1999. Senate Judiciary Chair Preston Smith presented House Bill 119 in the Senate today, saying this 5% raise is long overdue. The legislation passed 49 to 1 and goes to the Governor.

Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson’s RoboCalls bill was gutted in the House today- apparently with the Senator’s permission. Senate Bill 379 was replaced with the contents of Senate Bill 408, a telecommunications licensing bill that was defeated last week after it was deemed a Senate attempt to originate a revenue bill. The revision sends the bill back to the Senate.

Last year the Georgia State Senate established a website for citizen input called The first piece of legislation generated from that citizen input was Senate Bill 1, which would prohibit registered sexual offenders from taking pictures of minors. The bill was passed last year in the Senate but warnings that the bill’s scope was too far reaching as originally drafted led the House Judiciary Committee to amend the bill to apply only to those photos taken for an “indecent purpose”. The House passed the bill today but changes send the bill back to the Senate.

Jekyll Island developers are backing off a plan to build condos on a beach front parking lot on the northern end of the state–owned island. House Majority Leader Jerry Keen read a letter today that he received from the chairman of the island's Development Authority informing him that legislation blocking the commercial development is no longer necessary. It’s a victory for residents of Jekyll who have pushed to restrict development.

The House today agreed that state investments in companies doing more than $20 million in business with Iran should be identified. Representative Bob Smith asked for a listing of companies that do not do business with Iran. Senate Bill 451 passed the House without opposition. Changes made in the House Retirement Committee send the bill back to the Senate.

All that and more tonight on Lawmakers.