Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 35- March 23, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, transportation takes center stage as the Senate passes legislation aimed at a funding fix; Governor Perdue wants the federal government out of Georgia’s reapportionment process; legislation backed by the Governor to restructure the Department of Human Resources passes the Senate; a bill that requires certain inmates to undergo HIV testing before release clears House committee, but with changes; and our leadership interview series continues with Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Tim Golden.

The Senate took up House Resolution 206, the Transportation Trust Fund and House Bill 277, the Georgia 2020 Transportation Act today. However, the versions of those bills that passed out of Senate Committee were quite different from the House’s statewide transportation tax. In fact, the substitutes to those bills are the regional T-SPLOST or transportation special local option sales tax that passed the Senate earlier this session. We’ll have the highlights of that debate.

Hearings continue as the House Transportation Committee considers the Transforming Transportation Investment Act or Senate Bill 200, the Governor Perdue-backed measure creating a new State Transportation Agency. The Governor has made I clear that he wants this new management infrastructure in place before he’ll sign off on any transportation funding plan- be it the Senate’s regional approach with a T-SPLOST or the House’s statewide sales tax. One sticking point in the new plan: the role of the Board of the Department of Transportation and who decides how transportation monies are allocated. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards reports.

The Senate also voted today to create a Department of Health in the State of Georgia. House Bill 228 creates this agency as the lead planning agency for all health issues in the state, and is a part of Governor Perdue’s plan to restructure the Department of Human Resources.

Georgia may one day have a “Comprehensive Community College System” similar to the Technical College System of Georgia. The Senate Higher Education Committee today gave Senate Resolution 627 a do pass recommendation. That resolution would create a study committee to investigate merging technical colleges and two-year colleges into a Community College System. Lawmakers’ Emily Banks has that story.

Governor Sonny Perdue wants the federal government out of Georgia’s reapportionment process. Late last month, the Governor filed an amicus brief in a current suit that is predicted to come before the U.S. Supreme Court next month. The Governor states that the results from President Barack Obama’s election are evidence that Georgia should no longer be subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires federal oversight of Georgia’s reapportionment process. Lawmakers’ Nwandi Lawson spoke with the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee Chair, Representative Roger Lane and Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Chair, Senator Judson Hill.

Legislation that would require HIV testing for certain inmates prior to their release received a do-pass recommendation from the House State Institutions and Property Committee late this afternoon, but not without changes. Senate Bill 64 is sponsored by Senator Kasim Reed. Lawmakers’ Tiana Fernandez has the latest.

Our leadership interview series continues with Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Tim Golden. David Zelski had a chance to interview Senator Golden about transportation, federal stimulus dollars and the need for a statewide trauma care network.

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.