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February 16, 2004

The Georgia Senate has approved a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Georgia by a vote of 40 to 14. Senate Resolution 595
calls for changing the state constitution to define marriage as only a
union between a man and a woman. We'll have highlights from the debate
and reactions to the passage of the resolution.

The House Appropriations Committee this morning approved the FY'04 Amended Budget.
Among the mid-year adjustments is a 271 million dollar restoration to
the education budget announced on Friday. The amended budget, or HB
1180, went to directly to the rules committee, which agreed to place
the Supplemental Budget on tomorrow's calendar.

Speaker Murphy hospitalized. Former Speaker of the House Thomas Murphy
has suffered 2 strokes and is in intensive care at Piedmont Hospital in
Atlanta. We'll have an update on the Speaker Murphy's condition.

Today Senator Bill Stephens said the extra 90 million dollars
the House Democrats found in the FY '04 Supplemental Budget was a good
thing, but lawmakers still needed to be cautious when it came to
spending in this year's Supplemental Budget. We'll have more on what
Senator Stephens had to say.

Members of the Georgia Coalition for Civil Justice came to the Capitol today support tort reform.
The group says tort reform is the only way to control rising medical
malpractice insurance premiums and lawsuit settlement agreements.
Lawmakers Chrissy Thrasher reports.

Those opposed to tort reform involving caps on non-economic damages
also came to the gold dome to argue their case today. Lawmakers Jesse Freeman has more on the event, which included several surviving family members of malpractice victims.

Representative John Noel announced legislation that seeks to
ban international outsourcing of any call centers which provide
information on state and local government within Georgia. The bill, House Bill 1357 is currently in the House State Institutions and Property Committee.

Preparing for future teacher shortages, the Professional Standards Commission voted last week to credential college graduates who do not hold education degrees. Lawmakers Nwandi Lawson spoke with the head of the Professional Standards Commission, F.D. Toth and has more on what requirements these new recruits must meet.

Many animal lovers are excited about the spay and neuter program made possible by animal friend license plates that is helping keep Georgia's unwanted pet population down. Angelena Washington reports.