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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:27am

Day-25 General Assembly Roundup

Deal Amends Planned Pre-K Cuts - Governor Nathan Deal says an outcry from parents and teachers made him rethink his original plan for cuts to Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program. Yesterday Deal amended that plan to keep the full day for Pre-K students and expand class sizes by two students each. But he announced the school year will be trimmed from 180 days to 160 days. The moves will allow the state to save more than $50 million while adding 10,000 slots to the program.

Amended Budget - The Georgia House and Senate on Monday approved an $18 billion amended budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. The midyear plan now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his approval. The House approved the budget in a 140-22 vote. The Senate unanimously approved the budget 53-0. The plan includes more than $12 million to help fund the Morehouse School of Medicine, which trains primary care physicians at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. The school asked the state for help after other funding fell through at the last minute.

Senate Panel OK's Utility Campaign Contribution Bill - The state Senate Ethics Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would allow regulated utilities to contribute to political campaigns in Georgia. Donations would still be banned to members of the Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities. The legislation now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, which decides if it makes it to a full Senate vote.

Daylight Savings Time Resolution - As state lawmakers struggle with priorities including balancing the budget and saving Georgia's beloved HOPE scholarship, some in the Senate have found a new issue: daylight savings time. The matter arose for a second legislative day after the Senate passed a resolution honoring the event. On Monday, senators moved to withdraw the vote and send the resolution back to the rules committee. Several legislators balked at the resolution as a waste of time amid more pressing issues weighing on the Legislature in its remaining 15 days. Daylight savings time is Sunday and clocks will spring forward one hour at 2 a.m. in much of the country.

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