Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 23- February 25, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, school board governance legislation passes the Senate; Governor Perdue speaks to state agency heads about how to handle federal economic stimulus funds headed to Georgia; the House passes two education measures- one aimed at student physical fitness, the other at decreasing the high school dropout rate; and our leadership series of interviews continues with House Democratic Caucus Chair Calvin Smyre.

Legislative reaction to last year's Clayton County School Board problems continued in the Senate today with the passage of Senate Bill 84. This bill, which is an initiative from Governor Perdue, would address a number of concerns brought up by the commission for school board excellence, ranging from conflict of interest, nepotism, the size of local school boards, and board member qualifications. Senate Bill 84 does contain one measure that has caused some controversy. That provision would allow the Governor or another school board member to remove a school board member from office. We’ll have the highlights of today’s Senate debate.

Governor Sonny Perdue spoke to state agency heads about how to handle federal economic stimulus funds that are headed to Georgia. He said, bottom line: no shortcuts, no secrets. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards has that story.

Legislation which targets those involved in email fraud also passed the Senate today. Senator Cecil Staton sponsors Senate Bill 59 which provides criminal and civil penalties for misleading headers and falsifying information within electronic mail. Also passed by the Senate today was Senate Bill 23. The original intent of the bill is to bring evidence of not wearing a seat belt into lawsuits, however, a committee substitute added in the Senate Judiciary Committee exempted pickup trucks used for agricultural purposes from the requirement. Bill sponsor Senator Lee Hawkins disagreed with that move and attempted to amended his own bill on the Senate floor.

When legislation providing taxpayer-funded school vouchers for special needs students passed the Georgia General Assembly last year, opponents feared that the move would open the door for more voucher programs. The Senate Education and Youth Committee today considered a new universal voucher bill. Senate Bill 90, sponsored by Senator Eric Johnson, generated lengthy and sometimes heated debate. Lawmakers' Emily Banks reports.

Legislation that would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a speeding ticket passed out of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee today. House Bill 160, referred to as the “Super Speeder” bill targets drivers who habitually drive in excess of 80 miles per hour. The legislation is backed by Governor Sonny Perdue and sponsored by his floor leader, Representative Jim Cole. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini has more.

Our leadership series of interviews continues with House Democratic Caucus Chair, Representative Calvin Smyre. Lawmakers’ Nwandi Lawson had a chance to sit down with Representative Smyre this afternoon to talk about the federal economic stimulus, the State’s budget situation and job creation in Georgia.

This afternoon the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee gave a do pass recommendation to two bills related to the current housing crisis. Senate Bill 57, the Georgia Fair Lending Act is designed to protect borrowers from subprime loans. Senate Bill 141 would allow renters to remain in foreclosed homes up to 60 days after foreclosure. Lawmakers' Brittany Evans reports.

Today was the 11th annual Disability Day at the Capitol. An estimated crowd of over 1500 gathered to hear speakers talk about access to housing and services for Georgia’s disabled. Lawmakers’ Andrea Hummel-Shelton brings us the highlights of that event.

And it was Skin Cancer Awareness Day at the Capitol. Medical professionals offered information on the disease, skin checks and the chance to talk with a dermatologist. Lawmakers’ Alan Friedman has that story.

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 watch a repeat of Lawmakers tomorrow morning on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM. 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.