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March 29, 2005

The House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on the FY 2006 Budget. After days of meetings and negotiations, the $17.6 billion spending plan is ready to send to Governor Sonny Perdue. The budget compromise includes $150 million for a 2% pay raise for teachers
and state employees. Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill says the
House position on local assistance grants prevailed this year, but that
a new system of awarding those funds will be explored in the future.

Governor Perdue's Ethics reform bill passed the Senate today
without a dissenting vote, but the bill passed is different from the
original version. A motion to engross House Bill 48 passed, but drew criticism from many Democrats. Lawmakers David Zelski has that story.

Today the House approved the third and final piece of Governor Perdue's education legislation.
Two previous House Education Committee Chairs, Representative Bob
Holmes and Representative Jeanette Jamieson, spoke against the plan extending class size flexibility.
Representative Jamieson spoke of the hundreds of millions of dollars
spent by local school districts over the past five years to reduce
class sizes. Current Education Chair Representative Brooks Coleman said
that money had been offset by cuts.

A bill that would reduce the number of forms of identification
allowed at polling places is once again before the Senate today. The
proposal has sparked heated debate since similar bills were heard in
the House and Senate simultaneously earlier this month. Lawmakers Jesse Freeman reports on the emotional debate over House Bill 244.

A bill banning local governments from requiring contractors to pay higher than Georgia's minimum wage passed the Senate today. Proponents of House Bill 59
say allowing municipalities to enfore their own minimum wage is bad for
business and the economy. Senator Chip Rogers introduced House Bill 59
to the Senate, the bill's author is House Rules Chair Earl Ehrhart.

House Bill 299, a bill capping the total number of hours students can receive HOPE scholarship
benefits may be dead for the session. The measure stalled in the Senate
after passing the House. The proposal could be added to existing
legislation or maybe reconsidered next year.

Senate Bill 25 received a do pass recommendation today by the House Judiciary committee after a controversial vote. The bill would make divorce a longer process in Georgia by increasing the waiting period for couples seeking divorce from 30 days to 120 days. Lawmakers Chriss Knight reports.

House Bill 452 passed with no opposition in the Senate today.
The legislation allows the State to add the dog and cat sterilization
fund contribution check off to State Income Tax returns. Senator John Bullock brought a friend to the well to express the importance of spaying and neutering pets in Georgia.