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January 12, 2004

The Second Session of the 147th Georgia General Assembly
convened today under the gold dome. The House of Representatives and
the Senate met briefly and had no legislation to consider this morning,
but that should change soon- there are over 1,000 carryover bills, not
including the new legislation in committees.

Governor Sonny Perdue talked today about his child protection package of legislation, a bipartisan effort to ensure the safety of Georgia's children.
He also recognized the citizens whose 911 calls resulted in the arrest
of alleged murder and kidnapping suspect Jerry Jones on Friday.
Lawmakers Chrissy Thrasher has more on that story.

Welcoming back members of the Senate, Lt. Governor Mark Taylor
vowed to cooperate with the House and the Governor. Taylor urged Senate
members to listen carefully to their constituents and make this a
session of which they could all be proud.

Senate Higher Education Chair Bill Hamrick and House Higher Education Chair Louise McBee today unveiled the findings of a HOPE scholarship study commission. The funding of the HOPE scholarship has been a matter for concern for the past few years, as enrollment increases and state revenue decreases. Lawmakers David Zelski has more plans to protect the HOPE scholarship.

There is no doubt that the State budget will be taking center stage
this legislative session. Falling revenues have made budget cuts
necessary for the past two years and a 5% reduction is expected in
fiscal year 2005. Gerald Bryant talks with Senator Jack Hill, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Nwandi Lawson talks with House Appropriations Chair Tom Buck about the budget challenges facing the legislature.

Governor Sonny Perdue's home district was well represented at the
Capitol today. Two busloads of citizens from Middle Georgia came to
show their support for the Governor as part of the "We The People"
rally held by Senator Ross Tolleson. Tolleson was elected to fill
Senate District 18, the Governor's former seat.

Another item on Governor Perdue's legislative agenda is repealing Georgia's Blaine Amendment in order to allow faith-based organizations to receive State funds. Lawmakers Jesse Freeman has more about that Resolution's hearing before the Senate Rules Committee.

Representatives of the Southern Heritage Political Action Committee
came to the Capitol today to express their dissatisfaction with the
design of Georgia's State flag. The group favors a return to the 1956
State flag that contains the Confederate Battle emblem. The group vows
to boycott the State flag referendum on the Presidential Primary ballot
on March 2.

Legislators make a New Year's resolution to become more physically fit in 2004. We'll have the details about the Legislative Fitness Challenge.