Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 2- January 13, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, State leaders outline legislative agendas at the annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast, Georgia Power asks for the ability to charge ratepayers for power plants under construction and a look at the impact of legislation that expanded the rights of permitted gun owners.

Governor Sonny Perdue, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson spoke at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's annual "Eggs & Issues" Breakfast this morning at the Georgia World Congress Center. Before a crowd of over 1,000 business, government and legislative leaders agendas were unveiled. We’ll have the highlights.

Governor Perdue spoke to the assembled crowd at the Eggs and Issues breakfast about education, economic environment, transportation and tort reform. He talked about 3 new education initiatives all designed to improve Georgia student achievement. Governor Perdue also spoke about two new initiatives to limit liability and further reform Georgia's tort law.

Lawmakers David Zelski spoke with Bill Clark of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association about the Governor’s tort reform proposals. The first would protect companies with a significant presence in Georgia from product liability claims within this State if the FDA (federal Food and Drug Administration) approved the medical device, drug or labeling along with it. The second proposal is designed to deter what the Governor termed "frivolous" lawsuits. That tort reform bill is designed to provide relief to individuals or companies wrongly sued. If a claim is dismissed at the earliest possible stage, the litigant bringing the claim will be responsible for the prevailing party's attorneys' fees. If the attorney fails to advise his or her client of this provision, the attorney could pay the award. The bill will also ensure that the discovery process will not begin until the legal merits of a complaint have been tested.

Also at the Eggs and Issues breakfast, Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson spoke about four specific areas of legislative interest. Education: the Speaker indicated that he would support Representative Fran Millar's legislation to put Technical and Adult education classes in every high school in Georgia in order to better prepare those students who will not attend college for the workforce. Trauma: Speaker Richardson said that it is time to fund Georgia's Statewide Trauma Care Network. He stated that he would consider a 25-cent per phone line, $10 charge on auto tags or a $10 charge on auto policies to fund that network. Property Taxes: Speaker Richardson that he is supporting Representative Edward Lindsey's legislation that would freeze property tax values and cap assessments at either 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Transportation: Speaker Richardson spoke about several initatives to help relieve traffic congestion- moving truck routes out of metro Atlanta, expanding light rail and expanding major traffic arteries like Georgia 400- but says that he will back Representative Vance Smith's statewide transportation funding plan rather than regional plans.

Lawmakers’ Nwandi Lawson spoke with Representative Vance Smith about that transportation plan and with Representative Edward Lindsey about the property tax proposal.

Lt. Governor Cagle did not outline any specific legislative initiatives for 2009 at the Eggs and Issues breakfast but did state that his priority for the session is to bring State spending under control and balance the budget. Cagle went on to predict that 2009 will hold as many challenges as 2008 and urged his collegues in the General Assembly to stay focused, saying that they have only 40 days to set the tone for Georgia for an entire year.

One lobbyist group is saying most State agencies are ignoring immigration laws and rewarding illegal immigrants in the State of Georgia. Reporter Brittany Evans has the story.

One high school band from Georgia is on the march towards Washington, D.C. for the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Their first stop, the State Capitol... Lawmakers Evan Seitz has the story.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

Lawmakers repeats on GPB Radio at 8 PM tonight and on GPB television at 5:30 AM the tomorrow morning. You can also catch a repeat of Lawmakers on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM tomorrow. GPB Knowledge is available to those with digital television receivers at .3 of your local GPB transmitter, for example 20.3 in Augusta, or 8.3 in Atlanta.