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Friday, April 1, 2011 - 5:58am

Lawmakers Break, Capitol Roundup

State lawmakers will jump into spring break a day earlier than originally planned, with no General Assembly session Friday. That move is to give legislators more time to iron-out sticking points in a proposed tax reform plan.

At issue is whether the blueprint would actually raise taxes. Republicans want to lower the income tax rate from 6 to 4.5 percent, but some deductions would be cut. Democrats say the proposal does cut taxes for people with lower incomes and the wealthy, but not for people in the middle.

In other action out of Thursday's Day-37 of the General Assembly session:

Prescription drug database - the House has cleared a bill that would create a prescription drug database, allowing doctors and pharmacists to check a patient's history of drug use. The bill passed by a 117-45 vote on Thursday after more than an hour of debate. Opponents said the bill could infringe on patient privacy. But supporters, including the measure's sponsor state Rep. Tom Weldon, said it's needed to curb abuses by addicts or drug dealers. Doctors, dentists and pharmacists could search the database. Law enforcement would need a warrant to access the records. The bill was amended from one that passed in the state Senate so it must return there for approval of the changes before it heads to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk.

Bait and Hunt - the Senate has adopted a bill that removes baiting restrictions on south Georgia deer and hog hunters. Senators debated for nearly an hour over the issues of property owners' rights versus equal access to hunting and "fair catches" versus "easy kills." The chamber passed the measure Wednesday 34-17. The amended proposal now returns to the House.

Water wars study - the House has unanimously approved a study looking into whether Georgia can use parts of the Tennessee River basin as a potential water supply. Lawmakers have been seeking alternate water sources in the wake of a federal court decision ordering Georgia, Alabama and Florida to work out an agreement to share water by 2012. According to the resolution passed Thursday, four north Georgia creeks have an estimated combined flow of at least 725 million gallons per day which flows northward into the Tennessee River. The resolution suggests that water from these creeks could be stored in nearby abandoned rock quarries and distributed via a pipeline that could be built along a railroad line. A similar resolution passed the state Senate.


Edgar Treiguts