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February 25, 2004

The Federal District Court today heard from both parties to the redistricting lawsuit.
Both the plaintiff and defendant concurred that it was unlikely that
the Georgia General Assembly would have new maps by the Monday, March 1
deadline. The Court says that come Monday, if no maps are in place, the
Court will appoint a special master who will, under the courts
guidelines use an expert on redistricting to draw the maps.

Legislators have reached a compromise that would keeps money for books and fees in the HOPE Scholarship. The new compromise bill is expected in the Senate Higher Education Committee tomorrow.

With only two legislative days left before a looming federal court deadline, the Georgia House has yet to pass a new map of House Districts or approve the new Senate maps. Lawmakers' Chrissy Thrasher reports on today's House Reapportionment Committee meeting.

Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson is not happy with the
House Reapportionment Committee's lack of progress in passing new
district maps. Today Sen. Johnson sent a letter to House
Reapportionment Chair Carolyn Hugley expressing his frustrations.

The Senate Rules Committee passed a resolution by Sen. Jeff Mullis today that would encourage local governments to display the 10 Commandments as religious documents without fear.

SB 408 aims to exempt physicians volunteering with State and local
police from lawsuits and liability. However, when the Senate took up SB
408 today, proposed amendments prompted a heated debate over tort reform. We'll details on that debate.

Tim Echols of the Network of Politically Active Christians
held a press conference today in support of a constitutional ban of gay
marriage at both the State and National level. Lawmakers' David Zelski has the details.

Today the House passed three bills effecting utilities in Georgia.
HB 1300 would amend the licensing requirements for utility contractors.
HB 1352 would amend the penalties for damaging utility lines while
excavating or blasting. And HB 1430 extends the required grace period
for consumers to pay their natural gas bills.

Today was Georgia Home Education Day at the Capitol. Lawmakers' Samantha Cheshire has more on the day's events.