Thursday, February 14, 2008

Day 18- February 14, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, House Speaker Glenn Richardson testifies before a House Ways and Means subcommittee on his proposed property tax legislation, Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams expresses concerns over cancer treatment, “Made in Georgia” legislation passes the Senate, a measure that would revoke some minors’ driver’s licenses or instructional permits passes the House, House Democrats announce foreclosure reforms, and we check in with Tom Crawford of to look back at this week under the Gold Dome.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson testified before a House Ways and Means subcommittee today on his proposed property tax legislation. Speaker Richardson is the sponsor of House Resolution 1246, which proposes a constitutional amendment that would abolish ad valorem property taxes for education. Lawmakers’ Sandra Parrish has the story.

Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams took a point of personal privilege in the Senate today to remind senators of the importance of bringing Cancer Treatment Centers of America to Georgia. Senator Williams took issue with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the private company coming to Georgia. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce had not responded with a statement as of this posting.

The Senate passed “Made in Georgia” legislation today. Senate Bill 359 directs the Department of Economic Development to promote products designated “Made in Georgia,” and to inform the public about the diverse products available in the state. SB 359 passed without opposition, and now moves to the House.

A bill that would revoke some minors’ driver’s licenses and instructional permits passed the House today. House Bill 1111 would require minors who have not completed high school or have committed offenses like assaulting a teacher to return their licenses or permits. Minors would have the option to appeal. HB 1111 passed by a vote of 153 to 3, and now moves to the Senate.

A group of House and Senate members today announced plans to deal with the rash of foreclosures that has cropped up following the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. Among the bills announced was HB 1190, which will provide a homestead exemption for Fulton County ad valorem taxes. HB 1190 was read in the House for the first time yesterday.

Lawmakers’ co-anchor David Zelski spoke with Tom Crawford of today. David and Tom talked about the various tax bills that are currently before the House and Senate, as well as the recent concerns raised over the statewide water management plan.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers. Watch Online!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Day 17- February 13, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears delivers the State of the Judiciary address, a bi-partisan group of legislator announces a new measure they say addresses concerns over the statewide water plan, the House votes to tighten nursing requirements, the Senate passes a bill that allows discounts on hunting and fishing licenses, and bushels of apples are delivered to legislators to show support of the Parent Protection Act.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears delivered the State of the Judiciary address today before the House and the Senate. Chief Justice Sears spoke about the need to increase the pay of Georgia’s judges as well as telling lawmakers of the importance of judges in Georgia’s families. Lawmakers has complete coverage of the address.

Legislators from outside the Metro Atlanta area held a press conference today to announce legislation that addresses their concerns over the new water plan. They say the new plan does not adequately protect water councils that are downstream of other councils. The legislation has not been introduced into the House or Senate yet, but lawmakers say it will provide some of the same protections that Metro Atlanta gets. Sandra Parrish has the story.

In a move to block convicted felons and others from obtaining nursing licenses online, the House today approved the elimination of the Graduate Nurse designation. House Bill 1041 also requires a fingerprint check for all applicants to be licensed as a Registered Professional Nurse. HB 1041 now moves to the Senate.

The Senate passed a measure today that adjusts the fee structure of hunting and fishing licensure in Georgia. Senate Bill 382 also will allow both in-state and out-of-state temporary licenses to be valid for three days. SB 382 now moves to the House.

Hundreds of representatives from the Georgia PTA carried bushels of apples to state legislators today. They were at the Capitol to show support for House Bill 901, the Parent Protection Act. HB 901 would provide job protection for parents who must leave work to attend school conferences and routine medical exams. The bill is expected to be heard by a House Industrial Relations subcommittee next Tuesday.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers. Watch Online!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Watch the State of the Judiciary LIVE!

Georgia State Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears will highlight the accomplishments of this state’s 1500 judges in her third State of the Judiciary address today. She is expected to note the need for a pay raise for judges. Sears says Georgia's state compensated judges have not received an increase in pay in nearly a decade.

Among those the Chief Justice is expected to recognize during the address are a juvenile court judge and a family whose sons, now 4 and 6, spent time in foster care before they could return safely home. Sears says the family is an example of the challenges and creative solutions Georgia’s judges must craft daily.

The Chief Justice will address a special joint session of the Georgia General Assembly in the Georgia House chamber. Lawmakers' webcast of the event begins at 10:55 AM.

You can watch the address LIVE online at

Day 16- February 12, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, the Senate passes two similar bills that will freeze property taxes, Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams is featured on our Tuesday Leadership Interview Series, the House passes a measure aimed at limiting financial bonuses for Georgia Lottery management, and Governor Perdue announces legislation he says will protect landowners.

The Senate this morning passed two similar tax bills which both aim to freeze property taxes. Senate Resolution 686 would cap the value of existing residential property, while SR 796 would cap both residential and commercial property. SR 796 also caps the yearly property value increase at 2 percent for residential and three percent for commercial property. Both resolutions now move to the House.

The Lawmakers Tuesday Leadership Interview Series continues with Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams. Co-anchor David Zelski asked Sen. Williams about the state Budget, the need for trauma funding in Georgia, the various tax plans currently before the General Assembly, and the “border war” dispute with Tennessee and other states.

The House passed a resolution today urging the Georgia Lottery Corporation to be more conservative in awarding bonuses to lottery management. Concern over the three million dollars’ worth of bonuses given out in the last year prompted lawmakers to take up the measure. The Georgia Lottery has awarded overone million HOPE Scholarships since its inception in 1993.

Governor Perdue announced his support of legislation that he says will protect landowners at the Georgia Farm Bureau Day luncheon today. Senate Bill 449, which is known as the Landowners Protection Act of 2008, would shield landowners from lawsuits filed by individuals injured on their land, unless the injury was caused from gross negligence. According to the governor, Georgia is a prime destination for hunters and tourists, and this legislation will allow landowners to allow visitors on their property without worrying about liability concerns.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers. Watch Online!

Legislative Schedule Update

The Georgia General Assembly meets for no more than 40 legislative days each spring. The session commences on the second Monday after the first Tuesday in January. The legislature does not necessarily meet on consecutive days and the session often extends through March and well into April. The House and Senate set their schedule by Resolution, so, we at Lawmakers are often unaware of what the schedule will be until the Resolution is brought to the floor in one of the chambers for a vote.

When a Resolution is passed, it generally sets the schedule for up to two weeks at a time. On Monday, February 11, the Senate adopted HR 1225, which sets the following schedule:

Monday, February 11 . . . . . . .in session for legislative day 15
Tuesday, February 12.. . . . . . .in session for legislative day 16
Wednesday, February 13. . . . .in session for legislative day 17
Thursday, February 14. . . . . . in session for legislative day 18
Friday, February 15. . . . . . . . . in adjournment
Saturday, February 16. . . . . . .in adjournment
Sunday, February 17. . . . . . . . in adjournment
Monday, February 18.. . . . . . . in adjournment
Tuesday, February 19.. . . . . . .in session for legislative day 19

For all the latest from under the gold dome, join Lawmakers on GPB Television at 7pm every day that the Georgia General Assembly is in session. We will continue to update the schedule here on our blog when a new resolution is passed by both chambers!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Day 15- February 11, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, the Senate asks for Georgia’s fair share of federal highway funding, the House votes to allow defensive driving courses to be completed online, Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague is investigated by the State Ethics Commission, and Senator Eric Johnson and Representative Barry Fleming sponsor legislation to even the score between out of state collegiate emblems and Georgia license tags.

The Senate today passed a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to revise the way it distributes collected fuel taxes. SR 750 urges the DOT to cease the collection of fuel taxes from the states, and allow the states to retain fuel tax money for use on local transportation projects.

The House passed a bill that will allow defensive driving courses to be completed online today. The bill expressly prohibits participants enrolled in DUI Alcohol and Drug Use Risk Reduction programs from taking courses online. House Bill 1027 passed the House 103 to 56 after lengthy debate. It now moves to the Senate.

Lawmakers reported last week that Representative Sharon Beasley-Teague is being investigated by the State Ethics Commission over accusations of fraudulent expense and campaign disclosure reports. Lawmakers’ Sandra Parrish spoke with Rep. Beasley-Teague this afternoon about the allegations.

Legislation was announced today that aims to make it harder to stick a Florida Gator or an Auburn Tiger on a Georgia license plate. Bill sponsors Sen. Eric Johnson and Rep. Barry Fleming say this is important because states like Florida make it difficult for Georgia grads to show their school pride on license plates, but out of state graduates in Georgia have a fairly easy time of it.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers. Watch Online!