On Tuesday, the House passed a bill to limit public access to crime scene photos.
Here’s the take from today’s Athens Banner-Herald:
With little debate, the House quickly approved House Bill 1332, legislation drafted in response to Hustler magazine’s request for copies of crime scene photos from the 2008 murder of Meredith Emerson. The recent University of Georgia graduate was kidnapped while hiking with her dog two years ago; her nude and dismembered body was found several days later.
House Speaker David Ralston assigned Rep. Jill Chambers, R-Atlanta, to sponsor the legislation because in previous sessions she has championed giving the public more access to government documents.
The legislation has made the state’s newspaper publishers slightly queasy. Not because they’re eager to put readers off their Cheerios, but because measures like this can be interpreted very loosely once they become law.
But the Georgia Press Association might want to pay more attention HB 1386, sponsored by state Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), which was given a second reading on Tuesday in the House.
The bill would allow local governments to close meetings “when an agency is discussing or deliberating a future or existing service delivery agreement between such agency and a private company.”
Which could cover an entire range of shenanigans. Willard is the city attorney for Sandy Springs.
My AJC colleague James Salzer has this about a list of cost-cutting measures handed to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who quickly disavowed many of the recommendations:
Among them: freezing longevity raises for the state’s 150,000 teachers and making them pay more into their retirement system. New teachers also would be shifted to things like 401-K retirement plans rather than the current pension system. The task force report, released today, backs Gov. Sonny Perdue’s recommendation to create a “merit pay” system for teacher raises.
The task force calls for a review of college tuition “to ensure they are analogous with comparable institutions nationwide.” For schools like Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, which are considered low-tuition schools, that would mean a sizable tuition hike.
Another radioactive measure proposed “broadening the sales tax base to include additional selected services.”
Said Cagle to reporters: “That sounds a little bit like something a former [House] speaker was proposing a year or so ago.”
On the same topic, over at the Macon Telegraph, Travis Fain has this list of sales tax exemptions that are due to expire this year – and may not be renewed:
1. Non-profit health centers.
2. Non-profit volunteer health clinics.
3. Liquified petroleum gas/other fuel used in structures where swine are raised.
4. Food and beverage to qualified food banks.
5. Overhead materials used by government contractors in performance of contract with the U.S. government.
6. Gas/fuel/coal costs (above those that existed during 2008 session) used to manufacture property for resale.
7. Qualified job training organizations.
8. Annual sales tax holiday.
9. Motor fuel exemption for public mass transit vehicles and vehicles operated by campus public transportation systems.
This bit of farm news comes from Hoosier Ag Daily, out of Indiana:
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, a senior member of the Committee, have sent a letter to the President opposing budget cuts to farm programs in a tough economy. The letter was also signed by Senators Cochran, Thune, Risch, Graham, Crapo, Bailey-Hutchison and Vitter.
In their letter, the Senators wrote, “Cutting farm programs in the midst of an economic downturn sends the wrong signal to rural America. While we agree that fiscal restraint is necessary and spending in the Federal budget should be reduced, doing so in this manner places a disproportionate burden on the backs of farmers, ranchers and rural communities and fails to recognize the recent sacrifices these constituencies made to expand nutrition programs during the reauthorization of the 2008 farm bill.”
Finally, on Tuesday, there was speculation in this space that, by becoming a regular political contributor (Fox News aficionados would say fellow traveler) on CNN, that Erick Erickson of Macon-based RedState.com would have to sacrifice his late-night dinners with Sean Hannity.
This morning, Erickson assured us that this was not so in this e-mail: “I’ll still be doing my regular Hannity commitment once a month. Bring on the steak!”
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