Friday, February 22, 2008

Day 22- February 22, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, Governor Sonny Perdue announces how the State plans to help the Clayton County School System. The 2008 Supplemental Budget is headed for a Conference Committee and legislation designed to monitor the use of prescription drugs is headed to the House floor.

House Bill 989, the Supplemental Appropriations for fiscal year 2008, is headed to Conference Committee. After failing to reach an agreement on the midyear budget, 3 Representatives and 3 Senators are expected to reach a compromise about how to spend more than $332 million in revenue.

Governor Sonny Perdue held a press conference this afternoon to announce three measures that he says will help Clayton County Schools without forcing a takeover of the beleaguered system. The school board in the county just south of Atlanta has been under fire in recent weeks since being threatened with the loss of accreditation. Lawmakers Sandra Parrish has the details.

Representative Ron Stephens says he hopes to prevent tragedies like the Chris Benoit family murder/suicide by encouraging monitoring of prescription drugs. House Bill 455 would to create a statewide database to be monitored by Georgia’s Drugs and Narcotics Agency. It would require pharmacists to report prescriptions they fill in an effort to stop what has been referred to as “drug shopping”. Lawmakers Bridget Snapp reports.

This week marks the half way point in the 2008 session. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle talks about his legislative priorities and his expectations for the remaining 18 legislative days.

It’s the end of another legislative week under the gold dome. That means it’s time to check in with Tom Crawford, National Editor of Nwandi Lawson and Tom discuss the budget, education funding, Grady Memorial Hospital and the fate of legislation designed to outlaw abortion in Georgia.

David Zelski takes a look back at the events and legislation that garnered our notice this week.

Lawmakers’ Andi Dixon provides expanded coverage of legislation to limit the use of no-knock warrants. Senate Bill 259 received a do-pass recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee late yesterday evening. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Vincent Fort, filed the measure last year after elderly Atlanta resident Kathryn Johnston was shot and killed by police in 2006. The legislation is now in the Senate Rules Committee, where it stalled out last year.

Today was GACollege411 day at the State Capitol. Members of the Georgia Student Finance Commission promoted their website which is designed to help Georgia students apply to college. Lawmakers Minoo Hosseini has that story.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Day 21- February 21, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, the Senate passes the 2008 Supplemental Budget and House Appropriations leaders discuss priorities for FY 2009. A measure that would create legislative oversight of Grady Memorial Hospital passes the Senate and the Trauma Care Commission meets under the gold dome.

The Senate today passed their version of House Bill 989, the Supplemental Appropriations for fiscal year 2008. The upper chamber made changes in the areas of health care, economic development and education. One other notable change is funding for public defenders. The Governor's recommendation of $3.6 million has been trimmed down to $513,000. The House is expected to disagree with the Senate’s version. A Conference Committee could be appointed as early as tomorrow to work out the differences.

House Appropriations leaders discussed the FY 2009 budget at a press conference this morning. Four key issues are expected to dominate State spending priorities in the coming fiscal year: Education, Natural Resources, Healthcare and Public Safety. Included in the goals are full funding for the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act and financial raises for Georgia law enforcement. Lawmakers’ Bridget Snapp has the details on House Bill 990.

Three pieces of legislation dealing with Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital passed the Senate today. Senate Resolution 748 urges Grady to adopt changes to their employees’ healthcare plan to encourage Grady employees to use Grady healthcare service providers. Senate Bill 353, the Public Hospital Integrity Act prohibits individuals with financial or family ties from serving on a public hospital board. Although the bill has a wider scope than Grady alone, it was introduced after recent decisions made by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority. Senate Resolution 722 creates the Grady Oversight Committee to provide legislative oversight for the State’s largest public hospital. Similar legislation failed back in 1999.

The newly created Trauma Care Commission met today at the State Capitol. This was its third meeting since its creation last year under Senate Bill 60. The Trauma Care Commission has two goals: to find long term funding for the trauma care network and expand the number of trauma care centers in the State. Today Commission members heard from the CEO of Savannah Medical Center, one of only four level one trauma centers in Georgia. Lawmakers Sandra Parrish has that story.

The Senate today also passed legislation that would allow law enforcement access to the GBI database to aid in investigations and trials to prove innocence or guilt. Senate Bill 430 would make it possible to compare DNA of a suspect to other open cases, current law only allows testing and comparison of those convicted of crimes.

Today was Disability Day at the State Capitol. Disabled Georgians and their advocates rallied to encourage the disabled to vote and to encourage legislators to “Unlock the Waiting List”. Lawmakers Minoo Hosseini reports.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day 20- February 20, 2008

It's legislative day 20, the official half way mark of the 2008 Georgia General Assembly session.

Tonight on Lawmakers, the House and Senate vote to create boundary line commissions to resolve the border wars between Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, the Senate approves Special Local Option Sales Taxes, or T-SPLOST, a measure that would expand the use of school vouchers is heard in committee, Governor Sonny Perdue supports a new health record program he says will help millions of Americans, and legislation that addresses concerns raised over the Brian Nichols trial is announced.

The House and the Senate approved resolutions today that create Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commissions. Senate Resolution 822 and House Resolution 1206 create the commissions with the aim to find a way to restore Georgia’s contested northern boundary to the 35th Parallel.

The Senate voted to allow local communities to vote on Transportation Special Local Option Sales Taxes, T-SPLOST, today. Senate Resolution 845 would allow voters to decide to fund local transportation projects with the special tax. SR 845 now moves to the House.

A bill that aims to provide vouchers to students in schools that lose their accreditation was heard by the Senate Education and Youth Committee today. Senate Bill 458 would give vouchers to those students’ whose schools have been designated a “needs improvement” school or has lost its accreditation for seven consecutive years. SB 458 remains in committee.

Governor Perdue announced his support of a new health record program today. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ new electronic record system will provide incentive payments to physicians who use it. Perdue says this system could improve quality of healthcare for over three million Americans.

Legislation that is designed to address concerns raised over the long delays in the Brian Nichols trial was introduced today. House Bills 1251, 1252, and 1253 address state funding for criminal defense and also specify that senior judges shall not serve on death penalty cases.

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 Wednesday, February 20, the Senate adopted SR 981, which sets the following schedule:

Wednesday, February 20. . . . . .in session for legislative day 20
Thursday, February 21. . . . . . . .in session for legislative day 21
Friday, February 22. . . . . . . . . . in session for legislative day 22
Saturday, February 23. . . . . . . .in adjournment
Sunday, February 24. . . . . . . . . in adjournment
Monday, February 25. . . . . . . . .in adjournment
Tuesday, February 26. . . . . . . . in session for legislative day 23
Wednesday, February 27. . . . . in session for legislative day 24
Thursday, February 28. . . . . . . in session for legislative day 25
Friday, February 29. . . . . . . . . . in session for legislative day 26
Saturday, March 1. . . . . . . . . . . .in adjournment
Sunday, March 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . in adjournment
Monday, March 3. . . . . . . . . . . . .in adjournment
Tuesday, March 4. . . . . . . . . . . . in session for legislative day 27

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!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Day 19- February 19, 2008

Tonight on Lawmakers, the Senate passes a measure allowing consumers to freeze their credit reports, the 2008 Supplemental Budget heads to the Senate floor, the Senate votes to ban Robo Calls, the House passes legislation to fund the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, and an exclusive interview with Democratic leader, Senator Robert Brown.

A bill that will allow consumers to freeze their credit reports passed the Senate today. Senate Bill 361differs from a similar bill in the House in that the fee for freezing and unfreezing credit reports is to be set by the State Banking Commissioner, instead of being capped at three dollars. SB 361 passed the Senate 45 to 4, and now moves to the House.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the 2008 Supplemental Budget today. Included were changes in funding for healthcare, economic development, and education. The 2008 Amended Budget has been trimmed down to $513,000 from $3.6 million recommended by the Governor, and now heads to the Senate floor for debate.

The Senate also voted today to outlaw automated phone solicitations, or Robo Calls. Senate Bill 379 passed by a vote of 40 to 9. If this bill becomes law, Georgia would be the first state to ban automated messages.

In House action today, a bill that provides funding for the Governor’s Office for Children and Families passed 99 to 67 after lengthy debate. House Bill 1054, the Children and Family Service Strengthening Act of 2008, drew considerable controversy because it provides for the consolidation of the state’s welfare agencies.

Continuing our Tuesday Leadership Interview Series, David Zelski talked with Democratic Leader Senator Robert Brown earlier today. David and Sen. Brown talked about the tax bills proposed so far, transportation, and the water crisis.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.