Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 30- March 12, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, it’s crossover day, legislative day 30, the last chance for bills to pass out of their originating chambers, Senate debate on embryo legislation focuses on donor compensation, legislation intended to stimulate Georgia’s economy passes the House, two ethics bills regulating lobbyists pass the Senate and the House votes to eliminate the ad valorem tax on vehicles.

Attracting new business to Georgia and giving the unemployed some breathing room was the focus of a handful of bills which passed the House earlier today. Representative Tom Graves sponsored House Bill 482, which would exempt business inventory from ad valorem taxes. House Bill 481, the Jobs, Opportunity and Business Act would give approximately a half billion dollars in tax breaks to small businesses. House Bill 581 brings $226 million in federal stimulus to help Georgia’s unemployed. House Bill 261 would provide a state income tax exemption for new home purchase and House Bill 439, backed by Governor Perdue, would provide corporate tax breaks for businesses in less developed parts of the State or who relocate to Georgia. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards has that story.

No more birthday tax- the House today approved a measure that would eliminate the ad valorem tax on vehicles. That tag is routinely collected at car tag renewal time on the birthday of vehicle owners. Representative Harry Geisiner sponsors House Bill 480. This idea was championed by Speaker Glenn Richardson last year.

The Senate today approved a measure that would allow voters in municipalities that employ in excess of 1500 police officers and firefighters combined to decide to create a special tax district. Senate Bill 77 is aimed at Atlanta’s current shortfalls that have forced furloughs in the public safety department. Senator Kasim Reed sponsors the legislation which aims to save these jobs and prevent possible furloughs and layoffs.

Senate Bill 169, the Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act, began as the “Octomom” bill, but was stripped of any provision limiting the number of in-vitro implanted embryos. The content of the bill substitute that passed out of Health and Human Services gives embryos the status of personhood rather than property. Today’s Senate debate on the bill centered on “valuable consideration”- or potential compensation- for egg donors. Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans has the latest.

The House voted today to allow pre-birth adoption. Opponents of House Bill 388 charge that a means for adopting embryos is not needed in Georgia, but bill sponsor Representative James Mills says the measure has the support of both pro-choice and pro-life groups.

The Senate passed two ethics reform bills today. Combined, Senate Bills 17 and 96 would make three main changes to the ethics law- changes legislators say will provide more integrity in the law making process. GPB Radio’s Rome Bureau Chief John Sepulvado reports for Lawmakers.

Committee chairmen could soon require legislators and anyone else testifying before their committee swear and oath that they are telling the truth. Senate Bill 7, the Truth in Testimony Act is sponsored by Senator Ed Tarver.

A bill that would prohibit teens from talking or texting while driving passed the House today. House Bill 23 would prohibit the use of cell phones or similar electronic devices while driving for those under the age of 18. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini has more.

And we’ll have the results of our weekly legislative issue poll! 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.