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February 15, 2005

Congressional redistricting is now officially on the legislature's map. Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, Majority Leader Bill Stephens and Reapportionment Chair Senator Chip Rogers
released their proposed maps in a press conference this afternoon.
Although the map has not been analyzed for dilution of minority voting
strength, the Senate leaders say this is just day one of what could be
a lengthy process. Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown says
that the legislature has more pressing business than changing
Congressional maps that have already been approved by the Justice
department. Lawmakers David Zelski has that story.

The Senate passed Governor Sonny Perdue's Tourism marketing legislation today. Senate Bill 125creates a tourism foundation and received unanimous bipartisan support.

Governor Sonny Perdue announced two plans to help boost
Georgia's economic development today. The fourth in his Centers of
Innovation, the Governor announced that the State will locate a New Life Sciences Center
in Augusta at the Medical College of Georgia. Perdue also told the
Association of County Commissioners that his floor leaders introduced
legislation this week that would create a State Infrastructure Bank. Lawmakers Chriss Knight has more.

A skeleton in a wheelchair made an appearance at the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee today. Senator Dan Moody, Sponsor of Senate Bill 5,
brought out the old bones to announce the official death of the
controversial legislation. Meanwhile, the committee decided to discuss
a bill that is becoming controversial in it's own right, House Bill 218.
The bill, designed to attract industry, is also attracting opposition.
Opponents of the measure charge that the legislation would allow the
State to spend tax dollars in secret. Lawmakers Jesse Freeman has the details.

The House Education Committee today approved one piece of Governor Perdue's education legislation, while retaining another for further review. Senate Bill 33, legislation that creates the Georgia Virtual High School
received a do-pass recommendation. The Governor's legislation that
would create the Georgia Master Teacher and Academic Coach program,
Senate Bill 34, did not fair as well. The committee decided to review
that bill further. Lawmakers Angelena Washington has more.

The Senate Appropriations Committee today gave a do-pass
recommendation to House Bill 84, the Amended Fiscal Year 2005 Budget.
The action approved $191 million in additions to the $16.6 billion dollar spending plan for the current fiscal year.

Senate Bill 58 also passed the Senate today. The measure is aimed at cracking down on street gangs.
It includes enhanced penalties for specific crimes committed by those
identified as gang members. Opponents say the bill creates the
possibility of additional profiling. We'll have the highlights of that

Valdosta State University's Blazers Football team visited the Capitol today. The Division II National Champs were honored in the House and Senate with proclamations about their athletic achievements.