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March 26, 2003

Governor Sonny Perdue's proposed tobacco tax increase was defeated by the house after lengthy debate this afternoon. House Bill 379
was projected to generate as much as $348 million in revenue by
increasing excise taxes on cigarettes from 12 to 58 cents per pack.
We'll have the highlights of that debate and the Governor's reaction to
the loss.

The remaining pieces of the Governor's Ethics legislation were passed by the Senate today. Senate Bill 168 and Senate Bill 108
would place tougher scrutiny and more oversight of campaign
contribution disclosure, lobbying, nepotism and contributors to

Georgia's water resources have been the subject of continued
study and debate for several years now. Today, the Senate Natural
Resources Committee held a hearing about Senate Bill 180, a
comprehensive state water plan to control pollution and surface-water
use, ground-water permits and river basin plans. Lawmakers David Zelski

A bill that could garner new federal dollars for Georgia's nursing homes was passed by the House today. House Bill 526
is legislation that would enable the State to charge nursing homes
accepting Medicaid funds a per bed fee, that money would then go into a
general fund that would go back to nursing homes, but process allows
nursing homes to pull down over $200 million in federal matching

Legislation that would give the Public Service Commission oversight of utilities' powers of eminent domain are gaining more attention under the gold dome. House Bill 22 and House Bill 671 are being heard before the House Judiciary Commercial Law Subcommittee this afternoon. Lawmakers Nwandi Lawson has more.

If you refuse a breathalyzer test when stopped on suspicion of DUI, you could be charged with a crime. Senate Bill 13
creates a new offense of refusal to submit to chemical testing,
punishable by additional points on your drivers license. A lengthy
amendment requires that the bill wait overnight until the final vote

Employers may soon have a tax incentive to create new full-time jobs. House Bill 422
would give a tax credit to businesses that invest $450 million and
create 1800 positions, the company would then be eligible for a $5200 dollar tax credit per employee. The bill is specifically aimed at solidifying the deal to build a Daimler Chrysler plant in Pooler, near Savannah.

As the war on international terrorism continues, a Georgia Senate committee hears from missile defense expert Riki Ellison. The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee also considered Senate Resolution 232, urging Congress to enact a nationwide missile defense system. Correspondent Hamilton Northcutt has more on that story.

The Senate today passed several bills that aim to protect Georgia's children from sexual predators. Senate Bill 101 would prohibit convicted sexually violent predators from residing near schools and areas where children congregate. Senate Bill 51 would make it a felony to solicit children for sexual purposes over the internet. Senate Bill 52
would require schools, public libraries and other locations that to
provide computer access for children to have electronic safeguards to
protect minors from internet pornography, as well as chat rooms and
messages from sexual predators.

Parents, make sure your child is properly buckled up. The House today passed a bill that would require all children age 6 and under to ride in a child safety restraint. Under current law, children 4 years of age and under must ride in car seats. House Bill 217 does include some exemptions for medical and physical reasons.

The Senate also passed two bills dealing with adoption today. Senate Bill 55
simplifies the adoption process, reduces the amount of time in the
process and expands the list of relatives given preference in an
adoption. Senate Bill 192 requires the original birth certificate be provided for an adoption to take place.