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March 19, 2004

Today the Georgia House approved SB 467, the bill that would make child endangerment
a felony in Georgia. Only Governor Sonny Perdue's signature is
necessary to make this bill a law. We'll have highlights from today's

At a press conference this afternoon, Governor Perdue said he was pleased about House passage of SB 467, the bill to make child endangerment a felony in Georgia. However, the Governor said he is not happy that the state's Medicaid
program ran out of money yesterday to pay bills as a legislative
stalemate continued today over the FY '04 Supplemental Budget.
Lawmakers' Chrissy Thrasher has more on what the Governor had to say.

The Conference Committee for the FY '04 Supplemental Budget may be close to reaching a compromise. Today House Majority Leader Jimmy Skipper took the well to address the issue.

At a press conference today Lt. Governor Mark Taylor blasted
Senate Republicans for failing to act on a bill providing medication
for Medicaid recipients with mental health problems. Lawmakers' Jesse Freeman has more.

Georgia's child welfare system continues to face major problems. In Governor Perdue's State of the State Address, he proposed more caseworkers for the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), whose workload continues to skyrocket. Lawmakers' David Zelski
reports on how a collaborative effort in Cobb County between DFCS, the
police, and a children's advocacy center may be on the right track.

Late Wednesday night the House passed another bill pertaining to child protection. HB 1580 would guarantee foster parents
freedom from religious or racial discrimination, training, and
financial compensation, as well as access to relevant information. The
measure now goes to the Senate.

A Committee Chair has not been removed during a legislative session in two decades, but yesterday House Speaker Terry Coleman replaced the House Judiciary Chair, Rep. Tom Bordeaux, with Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver. Nwandi Lawson talks with Rep. Bordeaux about the switch.

Today House Speaker Pro Tem Dubose Porter attempted engross several tort reform bills
he is sponsoring, despite protests that after the 33rd day, none of
these bills has a chance for passage. Among the bills Rep. Porter
wanted to engross was the "Frivolous Litigation Prevention Act". It is
unlikely these bills will make further progress except as amendments to
other legislation.

Wednesday was Day 33 of this session, the deadline for
legislation to pass the chamber in which it originated. There were
several bills of interest that successfully made that deadline, and
several that did not. We'll have an update on which bills made the cut.