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Day 18- February 12, 2009

While no one seems to dispute the devastating effects of falling real estate values, there are different thoughts about how to best help Georgia homeowners.  The House today voted to pass House Bill 233, which provides for a moratorium on all increases in assessed values of real property from 2009 through 2011.  The legislation would allow for the reduction of assessed values and requires that each parcel be reassessed at least once during the time period.  This morning, however, the House failed to pass House Resolution 1, which would have created a referendum for voters to decide if increases in assessed values of real property for ad valorem tax purposes should be capped at the lesser of 3% or the rate of inflation. We’ll have the highlights of both debates and post-adjournment reaction.

How to protect Georgia homeowners facing foreclosure is at the center of two measures under consideration in the Senate.  Lawmakers Valarie Edwards toured a south east Atlanta neighborhood with Senator Vincent Fort, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 54.  That legislation would make it a crime to sell subprime mortgages to a third party.

The Senate today voted to require the use of seat belts in pickup trucks.  Currently, Georgia law exempts drivers of pickup trucks from the mandatory use of seat belts.  Senator Don Thomas, who is also a medical doctor, sponsors Senate Bill 5 and spoke to the need for the change.  The legislation does provide an exemption from seat belt use for drivers of pickup trucks over the age of 18 working in an agricultural pursuit- in other words, farm vehicles.

Even with the State’s unemployment rate at its highest in 26 years, Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was positive about the future at a press conference held at the Capitol today.  He said the Department would do everything possible to help Georgians get back to work.

Reaction to the Senate passage yesterday of the Georgia Nuclear Financing Act continued this morning.  Senate Bill 31 would allow utility companies to charge customers to cover the cost of building nuclear power plants- before the plants are built.  Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown and Senator Don Balfour, the bill’s sponsor, have their say.

It’s the end of the fourth legislative week under the gold dome, a perfect time to check in with Tom Crawford, National Editor of CapitolImpact.com.  David talks with Tom about the Georgia Nuclear Financing Act, property taxes and the impact of the salmonella crisis centered on a peanut plant in South Georgia.

Senator Seth Harp’s controversial resolution to merge four colleges into two to save the state money has been put on hold.  Senate Resolution 84’s merger plans included two historically black colleges.  Lawmakers’ Emily Banks reports.

And today was Georgia Day under the gold dome.  The State’s charter and copy of the Declaration of Independence were on display.  Lawmakers’ Andrea Hummel-Shelton has that story.

All that and more tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

Lawmakers repeats on GPB Radio at 8 PM tonight and tomorrow morning on GPB television at 5:30 AM. You can also watch a repeat of Lawmakers tomorrow morning on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM. 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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