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Day 22 - February 20, 2007

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss visited the State Capitol today. Sen. Chambliss made an appearance before the Senate and the House, as well as talking with Lawmakers' Nwandi Lawson. That exclusive interview is coming up on Lawmakers.

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen told reporters today that the pace at which Congress moves to reauthorize funding for PeachCare will impact the legislative schedule. Rep. Keen hinted that if a solution to fund PeachCare is not found soon, the General Assembly could take some time off.

Work on the 2007 Supplemental Budget has stalled in the House Appropriations Committee due to a $60 million hole in PeachCare funding. Alan Essig of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute said that the state can solve the PeachCare funding problem regardless of the timing of Congress's actions. We'll have the full details on tonight's Lawmakers.

U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful John McCain visited the State Capitol today to garner support for his run for the White House. Sen. McCain spoke with Republican lawmakers, Gov. Sonny Perdue, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Two state senators have declared that they will run for the U.S. Congress seat left vacant by the death of Charlie Norwood. Sen. Ralph Hudgens and Senator Jim Whitehead both say they'll resign their seats to run.

Two bills relating to court proceedings passed the Senate today, both sponsored by Sen. Bill Hamrick. He began with Senate Bill 97, which gives an attorney the option to object when the judge is giving instructions to the jury before they deliberate. Sen. Hamrick also sponsors SB 79, which would expand the range of punishment for defendants being charged with crimes punishable by life in prison or death.

The House today agreed to require that juvenile court judges practice five years before moving to the bench. House Bill 168 passed 167 to five. HB 153 is a measure to override a State Supreme Court decision stripping juvenile court judges of some powers. The House also agreed to reduce the bid bond amount for contractors to $750,000. HB 134 passed 153 to zero. HB 136 attempts to free subcontractors from certain liabilities, but will be postponed until certain concerns can be cleared up.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.