Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 7- January 27, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, Democrats introduce a plan to pay for the State’s transportation system and preserve the homeowner’s tax exemption; anticipating a long process in changing the juvenile justice system and legislation that would overhaul Georgia’s indigent defense system.

Senator Steve Thompson introduced a democratic version of a statewide transportation plan which also includes protection for property tax relief. The annual homeowner’s tax relief grant is currently in jeopardy because of impending budget shortfalls. Senate Resolution 90 includes a 1% statewide sales tax aimed at raising $1.6 billion for transportation projects.

Just Georgia, an umbrella organization of child advocacy organizations, presented a proposal to modify Georgia’s 40-year old juvenile justice code to the House Children and Youth Committee today. Advocates believe the proposed changes will provide better outcomes for Georgia’s abused, neglected and delinquent children. Although the legislation is not expected to be introduced until mid-February, full implementation may not be realized until 2012.

Legislation that would overhaul the State’s indigent defense system has been introduced in the Senate. The issue is likely to pit advocates for poor defendants against state lawmakers who say that the system is not working. Senator Preston Smith is the sponsor of Senate Bill 42. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards has that story.

Representative Ron Stephens took an opportunity this morning to once again urge adoption of his proposal that would add an additional $1 per pack tax on tobacco products. House Bill 39 has pre-filed on January 6, but has not yet been assigned to committee.

More Georgia job creation through sustainable business ventures was the subject of a joint House-Senate Economic Development Committee today. Legislators heard proposals from businesses that want to create jobs and make Georgia more eco-friendly. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini has more.

This week our colleagues in GPB radio are beginning a series entitled “The Money Crunch”. These reports will be looking at how the State’s declining revenues and impending budget cuts will affect different areas of State services. Tonight, we get a preview of Columbus Bureau Chief Dave Bender’s report about possible cuts in the Economic Development budget that could close two Georgia Visitor Information Centers.

Senator Nan Orrock spoke this morning on a point of personal privilege to discuss Georgia’s ailing PeachCare program. Her argument was two fold, stating that the Governor’s proposed hospital and provider tax would further cripple health service and that health funding solutions lie in a federal partnership bill currently before Congress.

An estimated 800 nurses marched to the Capitol today to raise awareness of the importance of health care and health care providers. The march was a part of the Georgia Nurses Association annual legislative day. Lawmakers’ Tiana Fernandez has that story.

Current proposals to build and operate coal-fired energy plants in two Georgia counties have environmental groups concerned. Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans has more.

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 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.