Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 33- March 19, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, the House passes the $18.6 billion state budget for 2010; legislation that could add $200 to the cost of a speeding ticket clears committee; Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown speaks out against the nuclear financing act; the Senate passes the SHAPE act, legislation that aims to increase the physical fitness of public school students; and, legislation that attempts to protect the addresses of domestic violence victims passes committee.

The House today approved House Bill 119, the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2010. The House version of the State’s spending plan totals $18.6 billion. The budget includes $33 million for trauma care, restores $30 million to fund school nurses and 42% of the budget is the $7.5 billion for K-12 education. House Speaker Glenn Richardson is predicting a continued decline in state revenues and says a special session may be necessary to trim the budget again before the end of this calendar year.

Shortly after House passage of the 2010 budget, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle held a press conference to discuss the State’s fiscal condition. He said that Georgia is in a $3 billion deficit and although federal stimulus monies will help, there is still a deficit. Referencing a letter from Governor Sonny Perdue, Cagle agreed that there is not enough funding in the House version of the 2010 budget for Medicaid.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers also spoke out today about Georgia’s rising unemployment, which is now at a record 9.3%. He spoke about the JOBS Act, House Bill 481, which he says will help create jobs- a top priority.

Legislation that could add $200 to the cost of a speeding ticket cleared the Senate Public Safety committee this afternoon. Drivers caught speeding at a rate of 85 MPH on a highway or 75 MPH on a two-lane road would receive the fine. The “Super Speeder” bill, House Bill 160, is sponsored by Representative Jim Cole, the Governor’s Floor leader. Initially touted as funding for the State’s trauma network, the bill directs the revenue generated from the fines into the general fund, rather than to a trauma-specific fund. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards has that story.

Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown spoke out against Senate Bill 31, the Georgia Nuclear Financing Act today. That bill would allow a utility company like Georgia Power to charge current customers for future power plant construction. Brown is proposing several changes that would overturn the act, should it become law. Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans has the details.

Senator John Bulloch took the well this morning urging the Senate to agree to House changes to Senate Bill 80, dealing with food processing plant inspectors. This of course was the legislation filed in reaction to the salmonella outbreak emanating from a Blakely, Georgia peanut processing plant earlier this year. The Senate agreed and the bill now heads to Governor Perdue.

Protecting the confidentiality of certain registered voters in Georgia is the aim of legislation that was passed by the Senate Ethics committee this afternoon. House Bill 227 attempts to protect victims of domestic violence by shielding addresses on a voter registration list of anyone with a protective order. Lawmakers’ Tiana Fernandez has that story.

Last week the Senate overwhelmingly approved a Senate Bill 14, a measure that would prohibit anyone on the State or National Sex Offender Registry from serving on a school board. Today the House Governmental Affairs committee agreed that the House should do the same. Lawmakers’ Emily Banks has the details.

Legislation that would prohibit teens from using their cell phones while driving was heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee today. House Bill 23 is sponsored by Representative Matt Ramsey and would prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from using telecommunication devices. Today, Senator Valencia Seay asked about drivers over the age of 18 being included in this measure. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini reports.

David Poythress, the only registered democratic candidate for Governor in 2010 visited the Capitol today. Former Labor Commissioner and Former Adjutant General of Georgia’s National Guard, Poythress took a few minutes to share his plans for Georgia with Lawmakers’ David Zelski.

Georgia is currently the only state that does not require the use of seatbelts in pickup trucks- that issue brought Senator Don Thomas to the well again this morning on a point of personal privilege. Senator Thomas sponsors Senate Bill 5, which would change this law to require seatbelt use in trucks unless the vehicle is being used in an agricultural pursuit. The bill passed the senate earlier this session with little opposition. Thomas is urging the House to do the same.

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.