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Monday, January 10, 2011 - 8:42am

2011 General Assembly Session Underway

The Georgia Legislature kicked off its 2011 session with snow blanketing the Capitol's gold dome.

The House and Senate gaveled in at the Capitol Monday morning and are expected to formally elect leaders. The highlight of the day will be the inauguration of Georgia's new governor, Nathan Deal, and the swearing in of the slate of statewide constitutional officers.

Lawmakers this year will be tackling yet another round of budget cuts, with the state's shortfall projected to push about $1 billion in the coming fiscal year. Legislators will also be looking at a possible overhaul of the state's tax code, among other issues.

There was some action on Day-1 of the General Assembly session from the state Senate. It voted to strip Lt. Gov.Casey Cagle of some of his power and to require the chamber to include a pledge of allegiance to the Georgia flag as part of its daily morning business.

The new rules - approved 40-12 on Monday - will give an eight-person committee on assignments the power to appoint members to committees and name chairmen. Cagle maintains control of the gavel, but must now recognize some other Senate leaders when they wish to speak.

There'd been some controversy over the pledge to the Georgia flag. But Democratic state Sen. George Hooks, the longest-serving member in the chamber, offered his support on Monday saying the gesture had "nothing to do with nullification, secession or snubbing your nose at Washington."

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