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Day 9- January 29, 2009

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle is throwing his support behind maintaining the Homestead Tax Relief Grant (HTRG). Cagle added that he believes government programs should be cut or state employee furloughs should be considered instead of taking away the tax relief for property owners.

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen says that the state can no longer subsidize local governments to give the homestead tax relief grant. He says that the House Republican leadership is introducing tomorrow two pieces of legislation regarding property tax. House Resolution 1 would place a 3% cap on raising millage rates. House Bill 143 would offer the HTRG only when the State has a surplus.

State legislators want to reduce the incidents of sexual exploitation of minors. Members of the Joint House and Senate Commission on Sexual Exploitation of Minors announced their legislative agenda today. The plans include what could be referred to as a “sin tax”- a $3 to $5 fee assessed on every visitor to an adult entertainment venue. Lawmakers’ Minoo Hosseini has that story.

Governor Sonny Perdue is backing legislation that would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a speeding ticket. House Bill 160, the so-called Super Speeder bill would add an additional $200 fee to speeders caught going 85 miles per hour or over. The super speed drops to 75 MPH on a two-lane road. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards has more.

Seniors’ rights groups gathered at the Capitol today to protest budget cuts that they say will adversely affect the delivery of services to Georgia’s senior citizens. Bright green “Be There for Seniors” stickers could be seen under the gold dome as advocates, legislators and seniors rallied for continued funding. Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans reports.

WMUM Macon Reporter Josephine Bennett continues GPB Radio’s “Money Crunch” series. She’ll give us a preview of her report about reaction to the proposed $30 million budget cut that would eliminate school nurses.

Talks about the safety of peanut products continued under the gold dome today after yesterday’s revelation that a Blakely peanut plant had knowingly shipped peanut product containing salmonella. Senator John Bulloch of Ochlocknee took the well this morning to vouch for the safety of peanuts and peanut butter.

Our leadership interview series begins this week with House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin. Representative Porter sits down with our Nwandi Lawson to talk about his priorities for the 2009 session.

The House and Senate passed their first bills of the 2009 legislative session today. In the Senate, it was Senate Bill 1, Senator David Shafer’s zero-based budgeting initiative. In the House, it was House Bill 117, an organizational bill.

The revitalization of Jekyll Island has raised new concerns for Senator Jeff Chapman of Brunswick. Chapman has been closely involved with the progress of the project. While the Jekyll Island Authority is focused on increasing visitation, Senator Chapman says this renovation could cost taxpayers $100 million. Lawmakers’ Tiana Fernandez reports.

Senator Kasim Reed and members of the Atlanta delegation want voters to decide whether to bolster the city’s police and fire departments by approving an additional millage on their property tax bill. Reed says the Atlanta City Government has been slow to respond to growing concern about public safety.

All that and more tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

Lawmakers repeats on GPB Radio at 8 PM tonight and on GPB television at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning. You can also catch a repeat of Lawmakers on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM tomorrow. GPB Knowledge is available to those with digital television receivers at .3 of your local GPB transmitter, for example 20.3 in Augusta, or 8.3 in Atlanta.

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