Saturday, March 31, 2007

State Representative John Lunsford's Weekly Capitol Update march 26 2007

State Representative John Lunsford's Weekly Capitol Update


March 26, 2007


The Georgia General Assembly has completed 29 of the constitutionally mandated not more than 40-day annual legislative session.  On Tuesday, we will begin Day 30 which for us means “crossover day.”  Crossover day is the day when any bills originating in the House or the Senate must be passed or it will not be considered for passage this year.  The days leading up to and including crossover day are very busy ones as many of us are trying to insure legislation important to us has its fair hearing and is passed out of the committee in which it was assigned, passed by the Rules Committee, and then passed by the entire House or Senate.  That is a tall order for normal legislation and that is why most legislation introduced doesn’t go any where and effectively “dies.”


Day’s 28 and 29 brought a slew of legislative initiatives that won passage.  It also brought a high profile bill that died when the requisite constitutional majority wasn’t reached.  First, the high-profile bill that failed was a bill repealing the prohibition on payday lending.  The bill would allow payday lending to be reestablished in Georgia, an action that was eliminated from the state a few years back.  The payday lending issue is a very emotional one that most of us have heard the pros and cons numerous times.  This bill, House Bill 163, was voted on by the House of Representatives and actually received a tie vote of 84-84.  Seeing it did not receive a constitutional majority of 91 votes, the bill was defeated and will be reconsidered on Tuesday.


Far too often, the legislation that we pass in the Georgia General Assembly can affect not just our lives, but actually save a life.  We did just that in H.B. 147 when we made a bold step in trying to save lives.  Far too often, women, when faced with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy chose to abort the baby.  The legislation we passed furthers the Women’s Right to Know Act by requiring that all women who are getting advice and information on getting an abortion, be given information on receiving an ultrasound.  If an ultrasound is performed, the woman will have the right to view the active ultrasound, and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child if audible.  In addition, the quality of the ultrasound shall be consistent with standard medical practices and show the dimensions, presence of external members and internal organs of the child.  We passed this legislation 116 to 54, and hopefully it will save some lives.


We passed legislation moving our Presidential Primary to the first Tuesday of February, which in 2008 will be February 5.  The bill would allow for Georgia to play a more important role in selecting presidential nominees for both the Republican and Democrat parties.  In addition, for statewide candidates running in primaries and general elections, the threshold for avoiding a run-off was lowered to 45 percent.  H.B. 487 passed easily, 154-11.


Another high profile topic is the death penalty.  Many of us view the death penalty as a needed deterrent for pre-meditated crimes of violence.  H.B. 185 would allow a judge to impose a penalty of death or life imprisonment without parole if 10 of 12 members of a sentencing jury recommend the death penalty.  The bill passed 106-65.


Red light cameras have been a point of contention for many legislators over the years.  H.B. 77 would provide that only certified peace officers may review and issue citations based on the camera’s photos.  Further the legislation would provide a split of the fees after the cost to cover the operation of the camera, with 25 percent going to the local government and 75 percent going to the state trauma fund.  This bill passed 110-60.



We also passed a somewhat controversial bill that would allow the legislature more oversight over Jekyll Island, a state-owned island that is controlled by the Jekyll Island Authority.  The legislation would create a six-member legislative committee to review all proposed leases and extend the Authority’s oversight by 99 years, a needed step in negotiating long-term deals with hotels.  Georgia law requires that 65 percent of the island remain in its natural setting and this law does not diminish or change that requirement.  The bill, H.B. 214, passed 130-35. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at



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