Saturday, January 19, 2008

lunsford weekly update

State Representative John Lunsford's Weekly Capitol Update


January 19, 2008


Legislative Session promises to be contentious



The first week at the Georgia General Assembly proved to be full of activity as we got right down business. In the beginning of the week, Governor Perdue delivered his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly and in his speech announced three new initiatives that he proposed to further Georgia’s educational system and economic development. 


The governor announced his intention to create a State Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which allows local governments to fast build transportation projects using matching federal and state funds. Many of you may remember this original concept was one I passed through the house several years ago and I have been working on it for approximately 4 years, I am excited about the Governors intentions to Sheppard, support, and fund this important program.


 The first plan that the governor touted is the “Very Important Parent” (VIP) Recruiter Program which will target elementary, middle and high schools with high absenteeism rates. This initiative will provide a grant for a VIP recruiter in each school to ensure that parents, who might otherwise not be involved, become engaged in their child’s education.  It has been proven that parent involvement is the key to successful students and schools. The second program is Georgia’s Education Scoreboard which is a website that provides education stakeholders with a straightforward indication of student achievement in Georgia


The Education Scoreboard, developed by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, provides data for Georgia’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and technical colleges. Information on a particular school can be compared with data against school systems in Georgia, southeastern states, or the nation. Finally, Governor Perdue also announced his vision for the Georgia Research Alliance Venture Capital Fund. This fund will allow the state to partner with the private sector to provide early stage financing for businesses formed around intellectual property developed in Georgia’s research universities.


While the Governor addressed many other issues that legislators also view as vital to the state including water, transportation, tax reform, and trauma care, we will undoubtedly have differing views and  offer opposing potential solutions as we take into consideration the needs and concerns of our constituents. 


The other significant news this week is that there were twelve veto overrides by the House of Representatives on the first legislative day. Some of the legislation included:


HB 69 is a bill which allows for individuals to get a copy of their driving record from the Department of Driver Services’ website, free of charge. 


HB 91 is legislation that provides detail on state agency spending by requiring each agency to submit certain annual reports to the Lt. Governor, the Speaker of the House, Senate and House Appropriations Committees, the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee, the House Budget Office, and the Senate Budget Evaluation Office as well as make the reports available for the public, press, and other media .


HB 218 is a bill related to the Georgia Ports Authority. This bill intends on changing certain provisions for the application of traffic laws and enforcement by security guards employed with the Georgia Ports Authority. It will change the designation of security guard to peace officer and those with this designation will be subject to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.


HB 229 will establish a true measure of decreasing lottery reserve funds prior to eliminating student funding. Under current law, students are in jeopardy of losing their book allowances if there is any decline in lottery funds for education. 


HB 441 is a bill to repeal provisions of legislation passed in 2005 dealing with the tax liability computations on interest or dividends earned from US obligations, interest derived from international banking, and income from off-shore banking. Current law stemming from the 2005 legislation requires corporations to subtract direct and indirect expenses attributable to the production of income from US obligations before taking a deduction. This bill will provide for only direct expenses to be subtracted from the deduction, as was the law before the 2005 legislation was enacted.


HB 451 provides for the promotion and development of tourism attractions in Georgia. The bill provides that companies seeking to undertake a tourism attraction project may be granted a sales and use tax refund for state and local sales taxes generated by or arising at the tourism attraction.


HB 549 would simplify the process of application and approval of medical therapy services for children with disabilities. Such services are entitled under the Medicaid Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment Program. This bill would also simplify the paperwork which occupational, speech, and physical therapy services are applied for and received by eligible citizens.  


HB 559 relates to health insurance plans for teacher and other school personnel in elementary and secondary education, so as to provide for teachers and employees of charter schools to be considered employees for purposes of participating in the health insurance plans for teachers and other school personnel.


As the legislative session continues, I will keep you updated and informed about these issues and other pending legislation that comes before the Georgia House of Representatives. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. 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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