Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 15- February 6, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, after considerable debate, the Senate passes two pieces of property tax relief legislation… but it’s not over, one will be reconsidered next week; we visit an Atlanta area school that could serve as a model for some of Governor Sonny Perdue’s education initiatives and we’ll talk with Tom Crawford of for his thoughts on the session.

Two property tax bills were passed on the Senate floor today, one originating from the Lt. Governor and Senate leadership, which deals with doubling homestead exemptions, and the other from the House leadership which tackles homeowner tax relief grants (HTRG). Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers began debate on both bills with a motion to engross, meaning that neither Senate Bill 83 nor House Bill 143 could be amended. That drew disapproval from Senate Democrats. Both bills were ultimately engrossed. Senate Bill 83, which would double the current homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000 received the needed 2/3 vote. The fate of House Bill 143, which funds HTRGs for years when there is a budget surplus, garnered more opposition from Democrats and Republicans who called the bill both unconstitutional and obsolete. In the end, House Bill 143 narrowly passed but a motion to reconsider means it returns to the Senate floor on the next legislative day. Senate Bill 83 on the other hand now goes to the House.

Governor Perdue announced today that State revenue collections for January 2009 are down 14.3% compared with the same time period last year. We’ll have the figures- and some legislative reaction.

A bill revising guidelines of when a doctor can resuscitate a patient passes the House. House Bill 69 made corrections to a law governing when a patient may choose not to be resuscitated. The measure passed 158 to 4 and now moves to the Senate.

The General Assembly wrapped by legislative day 15 today but both chambers agreed that it’s time to slow things down a bit in order to work on the budget that has become the focal point of the session. See our post of the legislative schedule here.

Despite proposed education cuts to help close the budget shortfall, Governor Perdue has several legislative initiatives that would increase pay for well-trained teachers and principals. Today, Lawmakers’ Nwandi Lawson visited the engineering and early college small learning community at Atlanta Public School’s Maynard Jackson High School.

It’s the end of the third legislative week under the gold dome, a perfect time to check in with Tom Crawford, National Editor of David and Nwandi talk with Tom about transportation, property taxes and the legislative schedule.

And we’ll take a look back at this week under the gold dome. All that and more tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

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