Archive for March, 2009

Activists push holiday to honor Cesar Chavez

Activists and some legislators gathered in front of the state Capitol Tuesday to call for a national holiday honoring the birth of labor organizer Cesar Chavez. 

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) speaks at rally honoring Cesar Chavez. Photo credit: Miguel Martinez/Mundo Hispanico

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) speaks at rally honoring Cesar Chavez. Photo credit: Miguel Martinez/Mundo Hispanico

Chavez was born March 31, 1927, and sought better working conditions for migrants as president of United Farm Workers. He died in 1993. Other states honor his birthday with a holiday, including California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. 

Rep. Pedro Marin (D-Duluth) introduced House Resolution 340, urging Congress to adopt a national holiday in honor of Chavez. He introduced similar legislation last year.

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) told a handful of listeners at the rally that many remember the long battle to make a national holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She urged supporters of the Chavez holiday not to give up.

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Insurance office cut, Oxendine blames rival Cagle

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is accusing his Republican gubernatorial rival, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, of playing petty politics with the state budget.

Oxendine is pointing the finger at Cagle over the Senate’s decision to take away his agency’s $1.86 million consumer services division.

Oxendine and Cagle are both running in 2010 to replace Gov. Sonny Perdue. Cagle is the Senate’s president. Oxendine said the Georgia Senate’s decision to transfer his consumer services division to another agency is more about gubernatorial politics than smart fiscal management.

 

“Obviously they (Cagle backers) are concerned,” Oxendine said. “Politics is politics, but government should not be about that.

“It’s one thing for people to have different opinions. It’s another thing to say your personal ambition is so important that you’re willing to hurt Georgia families.”

 

The transfer of the 33-employee division to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs is included in the fiscal 2010 …

Continue reading Insurance office cut, Oxendine blames rival Cagle »

Senate starts surprise debate on Sunday alcohol sales — kills the idea, for now

A surprise push for Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia met opposition during a debate on the Senate floor Monday and was killed for the time being. 

A bill dealing with other aspects of alcohol sales, including selling beer on Sunday at the new Gwinnett Stadium, became a big deal Monday when one senator added an amendment to allow for a vote on Sunday alcohol sales in localities across Georgia. 

Sen. Seth Harp (R-Midland) argued for his Sunday alcohol sales amendment, saying, “It’s time. It’s time. It’s time.” 

After lengthy debate, and much parliamentary maneuvering, Harp’s proposal to allow Sunday sales in Georgia was gutted by another amendment. 

It is unlikely the statewide Sunday sales proposal will surface again this session, said Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville).

The underlying legislation, House Bill 115, would have allowed a county, in certain circumstances, to issue a liquor license for Sunday sales. The intent was to pave the way for beer at Sunday games at …

Continue reading Senate starts surprise debate on Sunday alcohol sales — kills the idea, for now »

Hold on — things are starting to move

The House, still facing that 12-item supplemental Rules calendar, is in the midst of agrees/disagrees, that whiplash fast process of dealing with Senate changes to their bills. 

They fly through these items, but there are about 20 bills on the list. The choices are to agree to the Senate change or insist on their own version, which would trigger a conference committee. The House could, in some cases, also re-amend a bill and send it back. 

We’ll keep you posted on the more high-profile of the bills on the list.

Continue reading Hold on — things are starting to move »

Higher pay for math, science approved

The House has given final approval to a bill offering higher pay for some math and science teachers. 

H.B. 280 offers a step up on the state’s pay scale for teachers who are or who become certified as math or science educators. 

Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) asked the House to agree to a Senate amendment that simply made it clear the higher pay is only available if the Legislature decides to pay for it in any given year. 

The bill now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

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Transportation funding inches forward

House and Senate negotiators could soon be gathering to discuss how to pay for Georgia’s future road-building needs. 

The House moments ago insisted on their version of H.B. 277 and appointed a conference committee to negotiate with the Senate. 

H.B. 277 is the House’s version of transportation funding. It calls for a one-cent, statewide, sales tax to pay for transportation infrastructure. 

The Senate has long insisted on doing a regional approach. Once the House’s message makes it across the hall to the Senate, three senators could be appointed to join House conferees in search of a compromise. 

Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) appointed Transportation Chairman Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), Rep. Donna Sheldon (R-Dacula) and Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) as House negotiators. 

The same trio will also negotiate with the Senate over H.R. 206, the constitutional amendment that would allow the statewide sales tax.

Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), chairman of the Senate …

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Day 38 just got longer

The House Rules Committee just met to set a supplemental floor agenda for this afternoon and 11 bills and one resolution were added to the mix. 

But the list is most notable for what’s not there: S.B. 200, the transportation governance bill that passed out of House Transportation on Friday. 

Instead, we were given a laundry list of Senate bills that seem mostly benign, with the exception of S.B. 67, which requires that driver’s license examinations be conducted only in English. 

It will most likely pass, but it’s one of those measures that Democrats try to fight before falling to superior numbers. 

The day isn’t over and S.B. 200 could still come up, but Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) said a moment ago in the hallway that it is unlikely to before Day 39 — Wednesday.

Continue reading Day 38 just got longer »

Senate budget includes new cuts as session nears end

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an $18.6 billion budget plan for the upcoming year that includes new spending cuts and increases the cost of some health insurance plans for state employees.

However, senators say it fills a $140 million-$150 million potential hole they say the House left in the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

After the budget for fiscal 2010, which starts July 1, passes the full Senate Wednesday, senators will begin negotiating with the House. The House approved a fiscal 2010 budget less than two weeks ago. Negotiators will be racing against the clock because the 2009 session is scheduled to end Friday.

“We don’t have time to posture,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill (R-Reidsville).

Some of the big spending items expected to trip up the chambers appear to be on the verge of being solved. For instance, both chambers kept money in the budget for school nurses, which Gov. Sonny Perdue had proposed to eliminate.

Another program …

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An inauspicious start to Day 38

The House has only been convened for a few minutes here on Day 38 of the 2009 session and already things are getting backed up. 

We told you over the weekend about where things stand for the final week, and how much was left to do and how little time.

The House has 11 bills on its agenda today and a list of 12 uncontested resolutions honoring this or that (but not, however, the controversial President Barack Obama resolution). Ordinarily, the House would vote on all 12 of those resolutions at once, just to get them out of the way since they are — as noted — uncontested.

That would get them out of the way so the House can get to its actual work.

But, Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta), as he is wont to do, objected to doing it that way. With his well-read copy of House rules, Franklin noted that it’s not kosher in the body’s rules to do it that way. Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram), while frustrated, was forced to agree. That means each of those 12 resolutions will have …

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Bill to allow adoption of human embryos OK’d by Senate committee

Human embryos could be formally adopted by people who want to become parents, under a bill that passed a Senate committee Friday.

The bill is intended to clearly relinquish rights to a human embryo and allow the parents who try to bring the embryo to life to be the legal parents of any child who may be born. 

The legislation, House Bill 388, could come to the Senate floor for a vote next week. It has already passed the House. The bill defines a human embryo as a fertilized egg, from the single-cell stage to eight-week development.

The bill skirts the issue of whether the embryo is a person. While the embryo could be adopted – as a baby would be – the bill deals with a contract regarding a parent’s rights to an embryo. It does not give the embryo its own rights. 

Bill sponsor James Mills (R-Gainesville) said the bill would give peace of mind to those who accept a donated embryo and bring it to life. 

“If she’s carried it nine months, you’ve given it up,” Mills said. …

Continue reading Bill to allow adoption of human embryos OK’d by Senate committee »