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Friday, March 11, 2011 - 4:31am

General Assembly Day-27 Roundup

HOPE Plan Ready For Deal's Signature - Legislation to revamp the HOPE scholarship has made it through the General Assembly, and will get the signature of Governor Nathan Deal next week. The plan gives full funding of tuition, books and fees only to students with a 3.7 or better grade point average. Those with 3.0 averages would get 90 percent funding.

Budget Plan Ready For Full House Vote - The chamber could vote on the budget plan for Georgia’s upcoming fiscal year. On Thursday the $18 billion-plus blueprint got the approval of a House committee. The plan accounts for a loss in federal stimulus funds for education and Medicaid.

Billboard Legislation Goes To Governor's Desk - Final passage was given by the House to legislation allowing billboard owners to clear-cut trees blocking motorists from seeing their signs. Under the bill, only historic trees, those planted as memorials or trees that are more than 75 years old would be spared. Changes made in the Senate were agreed-to in approving the legislation-including changes that toughen penalties on obscene advertisements. The passage comes after years of battles over the measure, pitting environmentalists against business interests.

Bill To Allow Insurance Purchase Over State Lines Moves Ahead - It is a step closer for Georgians to get the option to buy insurance across state lines, after the House ok’d the measure. Supporters contend the bill would lower insurance costs by introducing more competition. But opponents say it would allow for watered-down policies that don't require coverage for some procedures that Georgia policies mandate. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

DUI Felony Illegal Immigrant Bill Passes Senate - A bill that would make driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs an automatic felony for illegal immigrants has passed the Senate. In Georgia DUI is a misdemeanor until a person's fourth conviction, when it becomes a felony. This bill would make it felony on the first conviction for illegal immigrants. Some senators raised concerns that the bill could be unconstitutional and could put an extra burden on the prison system. A national government group says Georgia would likely be the first state to enact such a law if it passes.

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