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March 11, 2005

The two block area surrounding the Capitol was a blur of law enforcement activity this morning after a fatal shooting at the Fulton County Courthouse. A suspect identified as Brian Nichols
allegedly shot and killed 3 people including Fulton County Superior
Court Justice Rowland Barnes less than a mile from the Capitol.
Governor Sonny Perdue offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the suspect.

The House today passed the Criminal Justice Act of 2005. The
bill is a part of Governor Sonny Perdue's legislative agenda. Among the
changes the legislation would make to procedures in criminal trials are
allowing a defendant to appeal to State court, requiring that the defendant personally appeal to a judge when asking the jurist to recuse him or herself from a case, and a controversial provision that would allow the prosecution and defense an equal number of jury strikes.

Governor Sonny Perdue's Faith and Family Services Amendment is expected to be debated in the Senate today. Senate Resolution 49
would allow faith-based organizations to compete for State funding to
provide social services. The legislation was debated in the Senate
earlier this session but failed garner the 2/3 majority required for
passage. Lt. Governor Mark Taylor says the amendment would open the door for school vouchers but others disagree. Lawmakers Chriss Knight has more on SR 49.

It may soon be more difficult to purchase certain cold medicines. The House today voted to put certain cold medicine products containing psuedoephedrine behind the counter. Psuedoephedrine is a key ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamine.
House Bill 216 will not require a signature from the purchaser, which
was an issue debated for over 20 hours in committee. Lawmakers David Zelski has the details.

Speaker Glenn Richardson discussed today, Legislative Day 30, being "Cross Over Day",
a day that the House has designated as a deadline for Senate bills to
be transmitted to the House. The Speaker explained that cross over day
will not effect any of the legislation that will be taken up tomorrow
during the special Saturday session, which the leadership is calling
Family Day.

A bill that would allow private schools to hold public prayers
at athletic events passed the House today. The Georgia High School
Association hosts playoff games for private schools. The bill would force the GHSA to allow prayer at those games if the game is played at a private school campus. Lawmakers Jesse Freeman has that story.

Legislators trying to improve health care in Georgia were at the Capitol today to advocate for patients' rights. Representative Pam Stephenson spoke about the "Consumer Right to Participate Act" and changes that proponents say need to be made in our State. Lawmakers Angela Von Drasek has more.