Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 26- March 4, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, the House passes legislation that would increase pay for math and science teachers; the Senate passes an extension of a tax break on jet fuel for Atlanta-based airlines like Delta and AirTran; a measure that would require State Senators to be current on their state income taxes passes out of Rules Committee; the Senate Special Committee on Stimulus visits an economically disadvantaged community; and our leadership series of interviews continues with House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter.

Legislation backed by Governor Sonny Perdue to increase compensation for Georgia’s math and science teachers passed the House today. House Bill 280 is sponsored by House Education Chair Brooks Coleman. The legislation would add about $4,500 per year to highly qualified entry-level math and science teachers in public high schools.

The passage of House Bill 212 could mean two more years of jet fuel tax exemptions for Atlanta based airlines like Delta and AirTran. The bill received bipartisan support in the Senate, passing 47-5. No changes were made in the Senate so that bill heads to Governor Sonny Perdue.

Legislation that could remove a Senator from office for failure to pay income taxes received a do-pass recommendation by substitute from the Senate Rules Committee today. Senate Resolution 452 was authored by Senate Ethics Chair Eric Johnson shortly after the Georgia Department of Revenue announced that 22 state legislators are delinquent on their income taxes. Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans reports.

The House today passed 14 bills on the floor. Among those successful pieces of legislation was House Bill 422, a measure that would allow children under the age of 12 to ride their bicycles on sidewalks and House Bill 220, legislation that would require all Superior Courts in Georgia to uniformly decide motions within 90 days. Although designed to remove a population restriction, the bill also strikes language in that same code section regarding judicial impeachment. Debate on the House floor centered on the role of the General Assembly in the impeachment of Superior Court judges.

The Senate passed 11 pieces of legislation on the floor this morning beginning with Senate Bill 15, a measure from Senator John Douglas which provides certified clean up for sites where methamphetamine has been manufactured. Senator J.B. Powell’s “Made in Georgia” legislation also passed. Senate Bill 117 directs the Department of Economic Development to create and maintain a website that informs the public of Georgia manufacturers and their goods or products. Senate Bill 136, which provides deportation measures of illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes, passed. Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Chair Bill Hamrick presented Senate Bill 141, which deals with home foreclosure procedures and fees. That legislation also passed and all those bills now head to the House.

A bill that would double the current statewide homestead exemption failed to pass the House today. Senate Bill 83 would increase the current $2000 ad valorem tax exemption to $4000. The legislation requires that the exemption be approved by voters in a special election held on June 16, 2009. That provision had some legislators speaking up for their cash-strapped communities that would have to pay for the election. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini has more.

As you may recall, yesterday the Senate passed a bill that would create new standards for registering to vote. This afternoon, the House passed an almost identical bill. House Bill 45 would require voters show proof of citizenship when they register to vote. Bill sponsor Representative James Mills defended the legislation against House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter who called the bill “un-American”. Lawmakers’ Emily Banks reports.

The Senate Special Committee on Stimulus took their message on the road last week. The committee is working with communities to find out how Georgians feel the federal stimulus monies should be spent. GPB Radio’s Rome Bureau Chief John Sepulvado was there when the committee visited Sparta in Hancock County.

Our leadership series of interviews continues with House Speaker Pro Tem, Representative Mark Burkhalter. Lawmakers’ Nwandi Lawson had a chance to speak with Representative Burkhalter this afternoon about his legislation to re-create Milton County out of north Fulton; the importance of balancing the State’s budget so that no tax increases are necessary and avoiding creating a deficit like the one being created at the federal government level.

A bill that would require that all drivers license exams be administered in Georgia be given in English received a do-pass recommendation from the Senate Public Safety Committee yesterday. The committee had heard testimony on Senate Bill 67 last week as well. We’ll have the highlights of yesterday afternoon’s committee action.

And it was PB and J Day under the gold dome. Lawmakers’ Alan Friedman takes us on a taste adventure of sandwiches, peanuts and other assorted Georgia-grown goodies.

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.