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Day 24- February 26, 2009

The House has passed the midyear budget.  House Bill 118, the Supplemental Appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2009, is an $18.9 billion spending plan that uses hundred of millions of dollars of federal stimulus money to soften the blow of deep spending cuts.  Declining tax revenues have forced the Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate to cut $2.6 billion in state spending to avoid a deficit situation.  The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected on the floor next Thursday.

The House also gave final legislative passage to the Georgia Nuclear Financing Act, Senate Bill 31 today.  The controversial legislation sponsored by Senator Don Balfour was the subject of hours of debate in the House today.  The measure would allow utility companies like Georgia Power to charge current ratepayers for future nuclear construction projects. Lawmakers' Brittany Evans has that story.

Nine bills passed on the Senate floor today, including one House bill.  We’ll have the highlights of today’s floor action.  Senate Bill 68 would revise the guidelines of alcohol sales restrictions when it comes to proximity of certain housing authorities; Senate Bill 69 would expand the definition of sexual exploitation; Senate Bill 164 sets a 75 foot height regulation for highway billboards and creates a $4000 fee for vegetation removal; Senate Bill 165 creates an extra layer of evaluation for Medicaid and PeachCare applicants; and wrapping up today’s debate was House Bill 233, a measure that would place a two year moratorium on assessment increases for property tax purposes.

The Senate today also overwhelmingly passed a measure creating a new statewide trauma care agency.  Senate Bill 156 does three main things: 1) extensively revises the duties of the State’s existing Trauma Care Network Commission, 2) abolishes the Georgia Trauma Trust Fund and 3) establishes a new agency- the State Office of EMS/Trauma. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards reports.

It’s the end of the sixth legislative week under the gold dome, a perfect time to check in with Tom Crawford, National Editor of  David talks with Tom about federal stimulus funds headed to Georgia, tort reform and the proposed State Transportation Authority.

And a shakeup at the Georgia Department of Transportation.  GPB Radio's Rome Bureau Chief John Sepulvado was there when the announcement came about the removal of Gena Evans as DOT Commissioner.  He talks with Lawmakers’ Nwandi Lawson.

Governor Sonny Perdue backed legislation last year that would waive landowners’ liability for any death or injury to a hunter or fisherman on their property.  Time ran out on the legislation last session, but today, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave a do-pass recommendation to Senate Bill 75, The Landowners Protection Act.  Lawmakers’ Emily Banks has more.

The Senate Ethics Committee gave a do-pass recommendation to Senate Bill 96 today.  Sponsored by Senator Kasim Reed, the bill contains several measures intended to provide ethics reform in local and State government, particularly in relation to lobbyists.

Students from local elementary schools joined forces with senior citizens to show their support for the Parent Protection Act.  House Bill 37 would allow 24 hours of unpaid leave for employees to attend their child’s school events, their own medical appointments to an elderly parent’s doctor appointments without fear of losing their job.  Lawmakers’ Tiana Fernandez has that story.

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. 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.