Sunday, February 3, 2008

This Week at the Capitol Lunsford

State Representative John Lunsford's Weekly Capitol Update

February 1, 2008

With just two weeks under our belt

The General Assembly is in full swing as many bills are moving forward through the legislative process. We easily passed House Bill 881, a bill that would establish the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The bill would establish a commission that would serve independently of the Department of Education but under the supervision of the State Board of Education and the Department of Education. The newly formed commission would have the responsibility to authorize municipalities, state universities, and community colleges to co-sponsor charter schools. In addition, the commission would be responsible for reviewing facilities and curriculums of charter schools, as well as, the ability to promote and disseminate best practice information. The bill passed 119-48.

We also worked on a somewhat controversial bill, H.B. 89, legislation that further outlines where individuals can carry guns. H.B. 89 would allow those individuals who have gun carry permits to bring guns into state parks and restaurants. In addition, gun owners would be allowed to bring guns to their place of employment. Business owners, who provide secure parking facilities, could deny employees the ability to carry guns on the businesses property. The bill passed 111-58 and now heads back to the Senate for consideration.

The House also considered legislation, in the form of a resolution. This would amend the State Constitution, to provide for the inclusion of statements of legislative intent in the general appropriations Act to require the state government departments to spend appropriated money as the legislature has deemed it to be spent, and not to be over-ridden by non-elected bureaucrats. The bill passed 167-1.

A bill that is designed to protect identity theft easily passed 167-2. The legislation allows a consumer to request a credit reporting agency not to release the consumer’s credit report information by placing a “security freeze” on their credit reports in order to prevent the extension of credit without the consumer’s authorization. It also allows the consumer to temporarily lift the “security freeze” in order to make credit information available.

We also worked on sex predators legislation that had passed in earlier sessions that had parts ruled unconstitutional by the courts. H.B. 908 amended the definition of “area where minors congregate” to add public libraries to the list of prohibited areas. It further amended the law by providing a definition of the term "day care center;" to provide that no registered sex offender or designated sexual predator shall volunteer within 1000 feet of a school, church, child care facility or area where minors congregate; to provide that the 1000 foot measurement for the workplace will be measured from outer boundary to outer boundary of the location where the registered individual actually carries out the functions of his or her job; adds language to provide that a registered individual who owns real property or who has established employment before a school, child care facility, church or area where minors congregate locates itself within 1000 feet of

the individual’s home or place of employment will not be in violation of the 1000 foot regulatory requirement; the registered individual will have ten days within which to prove, through acceptable documentation, to the sheriff that his residence or

Employment was established prior to the location of the school, church, child care facility or area where minors congregate. The bill passed 141-29.

A bill that I had discussed in earlier editions of this report dealt with dog fighting was easily passed 165-6. The bill prohibits owning or training a dog to fight. It further prohibits causing dogs to fight; betting on a dog fight, and permitting or aiding in a dog fight. A violation would be punished as a felony with a first offense punished by

one to five years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine and a second offense punished by one to ten years imprisonment and/or a $15,000 fine. Attending a dogfight would be punished as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature for a first

offense, punished as a felony carrying a term of imprisonment of 1-5 years and a fine of $5,000 or both for a second offense, and a third offense would carry a term of imprisonment of 1-10 years with a fine of $15,000 or both. The legislation would not prevent husbandry, lawful dog shows, hunting with or training dogs to hunt, training dogs to work with livestock, or training dogs to work with police. 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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