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Day 26 - February 28, 2007

A bill that will allow restaurant patrons who wish to carry an opened bottle of wine home in their cars passed the Senate today. The bill makes it legal for opened bottles of wine to be carried in vehicles as long as they are corked. Senate Bill 55, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, passed 48 to 4.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that will give prosecutors the option of seeking life without possibility for parole in murder cases. Senate Bill 145 is sponsored by Judiciary Committee chairman Preston Smith. The bill now moves to the Senate Rules committee.

The House and Senate agreed today to adjourn for several weeks in March while waiting for the U.S. Congress to come through with funding to bridge the multi-million dollar gap in PeachCare. House Majority Leader Jerry Keen said that it is more important to pass a streamlined budget than to have a quick session.

The Senate passed two budget-related bills today. Senate Bill 29 will require the State to maintain a website for the public to view the State Budget. Sen. Cecil Staton sponsors SB 29. SB 12 calls for lawmakers to start work on the budget from scratch every four years in a system called zero-based budgeting, and is sponsored by Sen. David Shafer.

Legislation that would require a physician to offer an ultrasound to a pregnant woman before providing her with an abortion passed in both House and Senate committees in the past day. The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed Substitute House Bill 147, as amended, which adds the ultrasound offer requirement to the existing Woman's Right to Know Act. Senate Bill 66, which also requires a physician to offer an ultrasound to a pregnant woman before providing her with an abortion, passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee late last night. Both bills are headed to their respective rules committees.

The House and Senate honored former Lawmakers anchor Gerald Bryant today. Gerald is retiring from broadcasting after more than 30 years in the business. We here at Lawmakers will miss Gerald, and wish him the best of luck and health for many years to come.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.