Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 14- February 5, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, the House spares HOPE book grants… at least temporarily; Senate Democrats prepare to drop their second legislative ethics bill this session and we take a look at three bills that aim to relax restrictions on gun owners.

The HOPE scholarship grant book stipend is spared… at least temporarily. House today approved House Bill 157, a measure that would revise the trigger in the Lottery shortfall reserve subaccount that would reduce or even eliminate the school book purchase allotment allowed under HOPE. Representative Ben Harbin sponsors the legislation that preserves the $150 per student benefit as long as the lottery fund receives 92% of the highest year end balance each fiscal year.

The Senate today gave unanimous passage to a bill that allows students to carry self-administered injectible epinephrine for allergic reactions. Senate Bill 8 passed 51 to 0 and heads to the House.

Ethics reform measures continue from Senate Democrats. Senate Minority Whip David Adelman took the well this morning to encourage fellow senators to sign on a bill that closes a loophole that allows candidates to transfer campaign funds from their campaigns over to other campaigns.

A trio of bills now under consideration in the General Assembly would relax existing laws for licensed gun owners. Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Senator John Douglas repeals an existing law requiring that guns be holstered even while in some public places. House Bill 155, sponsored by Representative James Mills, allows gun permit applications to choose either a renewable five year license or a lifetime carry license at a cost of $40 per year. House Bill 182, sponsored by Representative Rick Austin, would allow the discharge of firearms on tracts of property five or more acres located within a municipality or county. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards has a preview of these bills.

Although the State budget would benefit from federal dollars, House Majority Leader Jerry Keen told reporters today that he’s not sure the General Assembly will have time to wait for Congress to act. He also addressed differences in the House and Senate transportation proposals.

Supporters of House Bill 39 say a $1 increase on a pack of cigarettes would bring the State $2.5 billion in long term healthcare savings. Today, organizers of the “Pass the Buck” campaign were joined by doctors to make the case for the imposition of the increased tobacco tax. Lawmakers’ Emily Banks has that story.

Georgians could soon receive flu vaccines without an individual doctor’s prescription under legislation approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee today. House Bill 217 is an initiative of Governor Sonny Perdue. The Access to Flu Vaccines Act would allow pharmacists and registered nurses to dispense flu shots without an individual doctor’s prescription. The committee also approved House Bill 194, Representative Fran Millar’s legislation, which would require the inclusion of additional information about generic drugs substituted for brand name prescriptions.

The Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act received a do-pass recommendation from the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee yesterday afternoon. Senate Bill 31 would allow utility companies to charge customers to cover the cost of building nuclear power plants- before the plants are built. Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans reports on the committee’s action.

If you cut, we’ll bleed- that was the mantra repeated by hemophiliacs today at the Capitol who gathered to opposed proposed budget cuts that would limit their access to the expensive medicine they need. Lawmakers Alan Friedman reports.

All that and more tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

Lawmakers repeats on GPB Radio at 8 PM tonight and tomorrow morning on GPB television at 5:30 AM . You can also catch a repeat of Lawmakers on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM tomorrow morning. 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.