There’s much to do and to consider for state lawmakers with only two days to go on the General Assembly calendar, as Day-39 is underway at the Capitol.
Top of the list is hammering-out the final details of the state budget—the $17.8 billion plan for fiscal 2011.
But there are many other pieces of legislation on the docket.
Passed Tuesday morning by the Senate, a bill that would ban texting and talking on a cell phone while driving for teens. Under the bill approved 47-0, the driver's license of any teen who causes an accident while using a cell phone to talk or text would be suspended for 90 days or until the offender turns 18 for a first offense. The offender would also be fined $150, which would be doubled if a traffic accident occurs. The House on Tuesday adopted a separate measure aimed at banning text messaging while driving by a 131-19 vote. The chambers will have to hash out their differences. Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Virginia and Washington are among the states that ban text messages for all drivers. Nine states ban text messaging for teen drivers.
Of other legislation moving today:
Governor Sonny Perdue’s 11th-hour push to tie student performance to teacher evaluations is expected to get a hearing in the House.
Also in front of the House Rules Committee, a bill to require environmental regulators to consider more factors before transferring water from one river system to another.
The House on Tuesday adopted a plan that aims to crack down on illegal sex parlors that masquerade as massage parlors or tanning salons. The measure on the 150-8 vote was backed by legislators from middle Georgia, which seems to be a hub for such establishments. Lawmakers say the Macon area alone has about 25 of these parlors.
The measure would allow prosecutors to charge the operators of an illegal parlors with a felony. It also allows the state to suspend the operator's business license after an offense. House lawmakers must now hash out any differences with the Senate, which has already adopted a similar measure.
Also Tuesday, Georgia students would be required to study the pledge of allegiance under a measure headed to Gov. Sonny Perdue. The House unanimously adopted a measure Tuesday that requires public schools to include a study of the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and the Georgia flag as part of the curriculum. Sponsor state Rep. Tom Weldon says "it's something that all school students, all Georgians and all Americans need to have."
The Senate had earlier adopted the measure, which now awaits the governor's signature.