Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 27- March 5, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, the Senate approves the amended FY 2009 state budget, crediting federal stimulus funds with cushioning the blow of declining revenues; the Governor Perdue-backed plan to overhaul the State’s transportation agencies clears its first legislative hurdle; House Speaker Glenn Richardson amends marriage license legislation to allow Georgia’s Constitutional officers to conduct wedding ceremonies; controversy over allegations that 22 state legislators are delinquent on their State income taxes touches off debate on the Senate floor; and we’ll talk with Tom Crawford of for his thoughts on this week of the session.

The Senate has passed its version of the midyear budget. House Bill 118, the Supplemental Appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2009, is an $18.9 billion spending plan that uses hundred of millions of dollars of federal stimulus money to soften the blow of deep spending cuts. Declining tax revenues have forced the Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate to cut almost $2 billion in state spending to avoid a deficit situation. Senate changes to the bill send it back to the House, a Conference Committee will likely work out the final version.

The Senate today also approved the Governor Perdue-backed plan to overhaul the State’s transportation agencies. Senate Bill 200, The Transforming Transportation Investment Act, would abolish the State Road and Tollway Authority, establish a new State Transportation Authority and restructure the funding and powers of the Department of Transportation. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards reports.

In a rare appearance in the well of the House, Speaker Glenn Richardson amended marriage license legislation to allow Georgia’s constitutional officers to conduct wedding ceremonies. House Bill 184 is legislation that would require information about the importance of being tested for sickle cell disease be made available in an electronic format to all persons applying for a marriage license. The legislation passed with Speaker Richardson’s amendment and now heads to the Senate.

The Senate today failed to pass legislation that could have removed a Senator from office for failure to pay income taxes 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.

Patrons of strip clubs in Georgia could soon find themselves paying a surcharge. Senate Bill 91, sponsored by Senator Jack Murphy, proposes to impose a “sin tax” on visitors to adult entertainment clubs in the form of a $5 fee to enter such a venue. The additional revenue would not go towards the State’s general budget; rather, it would go towards the rehabilitation of victims of sexual exploitation. The legislation received a do pass recommendation from the Senate Finance Committee. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini reports.

It’s the end of the seventh legislative week under the gold dome, a perfect time to check in with Tom Crawford, National Editor of Nwandi talks with Tom about the FY 2010 state budget, legislation requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote, the fate of Sunday sales and pass the buck legislation, and the failure of the House yesterday to increase statewide homestead exemption from $2000 to $4000.

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.