Budget veto requires special session

by | April 30, 2007 12:00 am

By REP. BUTCH PARRISH

By REP. BUTCH PARRISH

This has been an extremely long legislative session, but I am honored and grateful to represent the people of House District 156. Although the General Assembly adjourned our 2007 session at midnight Friday, April 20, all indications are that Governor Perdue will call lawmakers back for a special session in the near future.

The Governor vetoed HB 94, the supplemental budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2007, which ends June 30. Although the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (163-5) to override the veto and avoid a special session, the Senate did not take similar action. The governor has said he will announce this week when he will call the Legislature back to revisit the supplemental budget, which included a $142 million property tax cut.

The special session is expected to cost taxpayers at least $250,000.

On the 40th and final day of the session, the House and Senate agreed on HB 95, for the $20.2 billion annual budget for fiscal year 2008, which begins July 1.

After a long, odd day of discussions private and public, both chambers unanimously approved compromise legislation, HB 214, to extend the lease of the Jekyll Island’s governing body and, possibly, its residents for an additional 40 years. The legislation includes provisions to prevent the arbitrary sale of any land, establish an important oversight committee, and protect the South end of the island so that untold generations can enjoy the pristine natural resource.

Lawmakers also agreed upon language for HB 147. The bill requires that in all cases in which a woman is seeking an abortion, a medical provider must offer her a chance to view an ultrasound image and hear the fetal heart before the pregnancy is terminated.

The Senate adopted HB 286, which I cosponsored and is awaiting consideration from the governor. The bill relates to controlled substances, so as to change certain provisions relating to Schedule II controlled substances, to Schedule V controlled substances, and the definition of “dangerous drug.”

The House adopted SB 10 by a vote of 91-84. If signed by the governor, parents would be able to use state money to send their special needs children to private schools. Opponents of this measure are concerned that K-12 education has already endured too much of a decline in funding and vouchers will take away even more needed dollars from public schools.

The House passed legislation that would give developers the power to build planned communities with tax-exempt bonds without the authority to tax homeowners. House members removed “taxing” language from SB 200 and its companion constitutional amendment, SR 309. Yet, lawmakers preserved another section in the legislation giving the so-called infrastructure development districts the authority to raise a flat fee from homeowners.

The districts could use the “special assessment” revenues to pay off debt on bonds issued to build roads, sewers and other infrastructure supporting their communities.

Other legislation approved by the House of Representatives during the final week of the session included:

SB 95, which would make it a misdemeanor for a minor to attempt to purchase cigarettes or tobacco related products. It also requires vending machines to prominently display signs prohibiting minors from purchasing cigarettes or any tobacco related product.

SB 23, which would supersede any local rules and allow judges to investigate someone’s immigration status before determining bail, handing down a sentence, or deciding on probation.

SB 38, which would close a license plate loophole requiring license plate applicants to have a valid Georgia driver’s license or ID card.

SB 148, which would promote nondestructive stem cell research in Georgia. The bill would require all state hospitals by June 30, 2009, to inform pregnant women that they can donate placenta, umbilical cords and amniotic fluid to either public or private banks for medical research. Georgians who contribute to stem cell research would be eligible for a state tax break. The bill also would establish a 15-member state commission that would oversee a system of umbilical cord blood banks and seek grants for nondestructive stem cell research.

SB 72, which includes two other proposals related to education. SB 72 allows administration managers to be employed in addition to, or en lieu of, assistant principals to handle business operations at schools. The measure also includes provisions of HB 603, which allows school districts to permit alternative teacher certification programs for certain candidates, and HB 208, which changes the composition of school councils.

SB 157, which would require the Department of Community Affairs to establish a grant program to fund E-85 projects, which will convert storage areas for gasoline into storage areas for E-85, a fuel that is 85 percent ethanol. The goal of SB 157 is to spark consumer interest in using alternative fuels.

Legislation that would have allowed judges to impose the death penalty with a less-than-unanimous recommendation of the jury failed to win final approval. HB 185, which had passed the House earlier in the session and would have authorized a death penalty recommendation of at least a 10-2 jury vote, was defeated unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Finally this week, I want to personally send my condolences and prayers to the Virginia Tech University community. We in Georgia support the families and friends of the victims in this time of grief and pain.

Rep. Butch Parrish (RSwainsboro) represents the 156th District (Bulloch, Candler, Emanuel and Johnson counties) in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 508 Coverdell Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334; by phone at 404-656-0213 or by e-mail at butch.parrish@ house.ga.gov.

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