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Day 19- February 15, 2006

The Senate passed their version of the amended 2006 budget today. One of the more notable changes dealt with helping families who recently lost funding through the Katie Beckett waiver, a program that helps families with disabled children. The Georgia Department of Community Health
realized around Spring 2005 that several families who received the
Katie Beckett waiver did not meet the specified criteria to qualify.
Ever since then these families have lost their funding. Senator Regina Thomas took the well today to explain a way she believed funding could be restored.

In addition to the 3.6 million dollars for funding the Katie Beckett program, the Senate version of the 2006 amended budget includes: two million dollars for materials for Georgias public libraries, five million dollars for job growth projects, and 500,000 dollars
to assist sheriffs departments with courthouse security plans. The
senate based their version of the supplemental budget by a vote of 52
to one.

Today the Joint House and Senate Democratic Caucus announced official support of two House bills. The first is an ethics bill sponsored by Representative Mary Margaret Oliver.
She says she wants to limit dinners between lobbyists and lawmakers at
50 dollars and discontinue entertainment money all together. Representative Jeanette Jamison sponsors a bill that would raise the service retirement allowance for teachers to 2.5 percent. The current cap is 2 percent.

The House today agreed to provide an income tax credit for employers that provide retraining for displaced workers. An update to the 10 year-old "Georgia Best Act," House Bill 1157 is intended, in part, to assist Delta Airlines as the company struggles to overcome its financial woes. House Speaker Pro Tem Representative Mark Burkhalter said the measure applies to companies throughout the state.

The Senate Technology Committee sent Senate Bill 395
back to subcommittee. The bill will face further review after cellular
service providers said the bill would hinder competition. Bill sponsor Senator Cecil Staton called this bill a child of consumer concern.

Governor Sonny Perdue's constitutional amendment to change specific powers of eminent domain was discussed in last nights House Judiciary Committee. The Governor's House Floor Leader Rich Golick, who sponsors House Resolution 1306 and House Bill 1313, explained why he and the Governor believe changes are needed. House Bill 1313 defines the term "blight"
and other details on the power of eminent domain, however the
constitutional amendment in House Resolution 1306 must receive a
two-thirds majority vote before the effects of either bill can occur.