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Day 16- February 10, 2009

The fate of House Bill 143 was finally decided today when the Senate chose not to reconsider their action in passing the legislation on Friday.  The bill funds Homeowners Tax Relief Grants (HTRGs) for years when there is a budget surplus and has garnered opposition from Democrats and Republicans who called the bill both unconstitutional and obsolete.  In the end, House Bill 143 was engrossed, which means no changes were made.  The legislation now heads to Governor Sonny Perdue.

Governor Perdue today told the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia that now is not the time for homeowners tax relief grants, but stopped short of saying that he would not sign House Bill 143.  We’ll have the highlights of his luncheon address.

Senate Democrats say they’re developing a plan to carefully consider how the State should move forward in these difficult economic times.  The development of the plan depends on two factors: 1) using a base of knowledge about federal stimulus plans from Democratic colleagues serving in Congress, and 2) meeting with State agency directors and commissioners to get a clearer picture of Georgia’s needs. 

House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter and House Democrats today announced their introduction of House Bill 356.  They claim that the legislation would streamline government, crack down on fraud and put over $1 billion back into State coffers by improving the sales tax collection process.

Legislation designed to spur biotech business growth in Georgia is being met with skepticism from some consumer groups.  Governor Sonny Perdue announced the initiative last month at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast.  Senate Bill 101, sponsored by Senator Bill Cowsert provides blanket immunity to drug manufacturers and makers of medical devices that have FDA- federal Food and Drug Administration- approval.  Lawmakers Valarie Edwards reports.

The Senate today passed three pieces of legislation.  Senate Bill 14 which would prohibit those on the National Sex Offender Registry from serving on a school board.  Senate Bill 24, the Probation Management Act and Senate Resolution 96, which urges the board of the Georgia Military College to maintain current military programs.

The House passed two pieces of legislation today.  House Bill 212 extends an existing sales tax exemption for sales or use of jet fuel by qualifying airlines at qualifying airports and House Bill 194 would require the inclusion of additional information when a generic drug is substituted for a brand name prescription.

State and federal law already requires directors and owners of day care centers to have background checks, but if House Bill 70 becomes law, all day care employees and adults who live homes that are also day care centers would have their fingerprints taken for background checks.  Lawmakers’ Emily Banks has more on committee action regarding this legislation.

On the heels of a recent salmonella outbreak across the nation emanating from a peanut processing plant in Georgia, the House Agriculture Committee today announced the creation of the Consumer Protection Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee.  The task before the committee: to oversee the safety of agricultural products in Georgia.

Our leadership series of interviews continues with Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown.  Lawmakers David Zelski had an opportunity to sit down with Senator Brown this afternoon to discuss the budget, education and transportation.

Teens may soon find that holding a cell phone in one hand and a steering wheel in the other is not a legal combination.  The Driver Safety and Services Subcommittee of House Motor Vehicles heard testimony on House Bills 21 and 23 Friday afternoon.  Both bills look to ban teenage cell phone use while driving but the specifics differ.  Lawmakers’ Brittany Evans reports.

Today was Foster Youth and CASA Day at the Capitol.  CASA is the organization of Court Appointed Special Advocates which serve abused and neglected children in the State’s justice system and social programs.  Lawmakers’ Alan Friedman has that story.

And the National Association of Social Workers trained their members to advocate for legislation at their “Student Lobby Day” under the gold dome.  House Bill 37, the Parent Protection Act, is at the top of the agenda.  Lawmakers’ Tiana Fernandez reports.

All that and more tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

Lawmakers repeats on GPB Radio at 8 PM tonight and tomorrow morning on GPB television at 5:30 AM. You can also watch a repeat of Lawmakers tomorrow morning on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM. You can also catch a repeat of Lawmakers GPB Knowledge is available to those with digital television receivers at .3 of your local GPB transmitter, for example 20.3 in Augusta, or 8.3 in Atlanta.