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Budget closes session
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Wrapping up the final legislative day 40 on Friday, we had a full week with many items on the agenda to accomplish. Due to the Georgia Constitution, the legislative session must end on Day 40. In addition, we had many conference committee reports that had to be agreed to or amended. This is the process where legislative conferees are appointed and the House and Senate versions of the legislation are worked out.

Working into the late hours of the day on Friday, the main issue of concern was the 2010 budget. On Friday afternoon, the House and Senate were still trying to insure that the items in this austere budget were truly needed. As legislators, we are constitutionally required to pass the budget and so there were some tense negotiations on Friday.

In an effort toward promoting Georgia to become the number one destination for entrepreneurs, we passed HR 165 on Monday by a vote of 152 to 1. This resolution would request that the colleges and universities under the University System of Georgia expand their education efforts toward the promotion and support of science, innovation, technology and energy. The end result would be the advancement and promotion of entrepreneurs in Georgia. We want to encourage entrepreneurship within our districts and across the state. Increasing the number of new businesses in Georgia will not only help our economy, but it will also encourage growth and innovation. Small businesses will be the economic growth engine that helps us grow out of the economic downturn we are in.

Relating to the Made in Georgia Program, SB 117 passed the House on Wednesday and was nearly unanimous by a vote of 165 to 1. This piece of legislation requires the Department of Economic Development to create and maintain a Web site for the citizens in Georgia to be able to be informed of Georgia manufactures and their products across the state. If at least half of the products are manufactured within Georgia, the companies will be included on the Web site. This Web site will be both educational for the people in Georgia and will also provide a convenient place to find this information.   

On Wednesday, we passed SB 128 by a vote of 167 to 3. This would allow the owner of motor vehicles to have the option to apply for and obtain a permanent license plate for their boat, utility, and/or noncommercial livestock trailers when registering their motor vehicle. Currently the law in Georgia does not give the owner the option of a permanent registration for these types of motor vehicles.   

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases that affect a large portion of our population. SB 163 passed the House on Wednesday by 171 to 1 and this bill would authorize the Commissioner of Human Resources to appoint a diabetes coordinator who will be responsible for the storing diabetes treatment and prevention data in an effort to properly coordinate the prevention and treatment. This will be beneficial in that it will maximize the diabetes program and will in turn lead to the reduction of health consequences and complications from diabetes.  

We adjourned the 2009 session at midnight on Friday. Numerous other important bills were voted on and I will report details in upcoming columns. As always, you may contact me at (404) 656-5116 or at