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March 3, 2005

Last night, Lawmakers reported that the House and Senate conferees on House Bill 84, Supplemental Appropriations for fiscal year 2005 had reached an agreement. Today we have the highlights of the changes to Georgia's $16.6 billion spending plan for this year.

The Senate today approved House Bill 191, a measure that would restructure corporate income tax
in the state of Georgia, saving corporations as much as a billion
dollars over the next ten years. The bill had widespread support but
some Democrats strongly objected to the bill being engrossed, meaning
no amendments could be offered on the floor.

Consumer advocacy group Georgia Watch rallied at the Capitol today
to endorse Senate Bill 198. The legislation would change industry
regulations that govern car title pawn loans in Georgia by lowering the
maximum annual interest from 300% to 60%. Lawmakers Jesse Freeman has

The Senate also approved a measure that would make getting a divorce in Georgia a longer process. Senate Bill 25
would require a waiting period for most couples seeking a divorce, as
well as educational classes for those couples who have children. The
bill's sponsor, Senator Mitch Seabaugh says the legislation is designed to reduce divorce, but that there are exceptions in cases of domestic violence.

Governor Sonny Perdue's Slam Spam Email Act passed the Senate
today. The bill is designed to give state and local law enforcement
more tools to crack down on email scams that prey on internet users. Senate Bill 62 passed by a vote of 50 to 3.

The Senate agreed to House changes to Senate Bill 125, a tourism marketing effort endorsed by Governor Perdue. The measure consolidates all of Georgia's Halls of Fame under the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The Emory University Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic has created a manual for Georgia legislators to reference for questions concerning children in foster care.
Author of the manual, attorney Danette Joslyn-Gaul hopes this manual
will help improve the lives of the 14,000 Georgia children who are
victims of abuse and neglect.

Georgians for Open Government held a press conference at the Capitol today to call on legislators to oppose House Bill 218. They say that the bill would allow the State to conduct business and spend taxpayer dollars in secret.

Senate State and Local Government Committee Chair John Wiles sponsored a bill that would change the way a school board uses the power of eminent domain. Senate Bill 276
would require a school board to hold three public hearings, at least
one of which will be in the evening, and would not allow the board to
use eminent domain if there were land available for purchase within three miles of the site in question.